DC Heroes: Faith
Chapter 4: Supergirl
Kara Zor-El had a nostalgic feeling as she looked around the room she had been placed in since her capture. It was like being back home, on Krypton, and she was at once happy and sad. She enjoyed being surrounded by items and memories of the home she had known most of her life; but at the same time, she realized what she was looking at was all part of a larger memorial to a dead planet
She had spent the first decade and a half of her seventeen years on Krypton. She had passed some of her time babysitting her baby cousin, Kal. Now, because she had been kept in suspended animation for several decades, her cousin was now a father figure to her. Being the older cousin had given her an identity, a place of importance in Kal-El's life. She had always envisioned how she would assist her aunt Lara in molding him into the perfect Kryptonian man.
Now, he was working desperately on trying to get her to accept her place in the Earth society she found herself thrust in. Having super-powers was great, there was no doubting that, plus she got to hang out with Teen Titans and every once in awhile see that hunk of a man Nightwing. Still, it wasn't home. She would trade every power she had and every friend on Earth to have her home back.
That was precisely what the Eye of Rao had guessed after the first few weeks of Kara's captivity, but she did not know that. All she knew was Earth had been attacked by Kryptonians that "protected" themselves from the yellow sun of Earth. Both she and her cousin, Superman, had been targeted first, along with all of the Green Lanterns. Then the Kryptonians had worked their way down a list that included super-heroes, super-villains, leaders and military officers.
The amazing thing about it, she told herself, was they had done it without the benefit of yellow-sun powers. They had about everything else including modified Phantom Zone projectors, hawkmen from Thanagar, Durlans and even some type of Green Lantern. It had been a complete surprise to everyone.
Then, suddenly, people began to turn on the heroes. People began leaving their mosques, churches and temples so they could join the religion of Rao. Kara was a devout follower of Rao, having been indoctrinated into the religion from her earliest years. Earthlings had similar concepts of Rao, but it was not the same. Personally, Kara felt all of the religions she had come into contact with, those she would put in the "good" category, all seemed to gravitate towards the same thing. There was a higher power, a sentient intelligence that guided events in ways that mortals, no matter how powerful, could even begin to comprehend. If Rao was not the God her friends talked about, they were probably cousins.
But these Disciples of Rao, she told herself as she watched their leader pour out two glasses of wine, were something different. She barely remembered them; their exile had occurred when she was very young and they were not discussed officially. She knew they had tried to take control of one of the city governments, to try and establish a theocratic safety zone within the confines of the scientifically-minded Kryptonian government.
She had picked up snippets of conversations from the cult members and had even been supplied with a tome of their beliefs. The Disciple's views were based on an obscure prophet from some three centuries before and many of their precepts and guides were very…strange.
"You have your doubts," the Eye said as he slowly walked over. Kara wanted to get up and help him. He was so old he seemed ancient. She half expected there to be cobwebs forming on him he moved so slow. She knew, however, it was not her place. She had already seen that nobody touched the Eye of Rao without permission. The practical reason for it was it made him seem somehow above everyone else as there were very few purification taboos in the theology of Rao. "I can see it in your eyes when you read."
She waited until he was closer before speaking, cautiously eyeing the red solar lamps that were used for lighting. It was disconcerting not seeing true color, but it also reminded her of the temple she used to attend twice every standard Kryptonian week. One day was for prayers of thanks; the other day was to assist in the maintenance of the temple. She smiled as she remembered how she used to be in charge of calibrating the solar collectors since her father and uncle were such famous scientists.
"Your beliefs do not match traditional doctrine," she replied. "It isn't blasphemous, it's just real old school."
The Eye chuckled. "I take it by that you are saying we have rejected many of the reforms of the last two hundred years? It is true. The high priests tried very hard to accommodate the people over the centuries because they felt it was the best way to keep the faith alive. What should have happened is they should have enforced the laws of Rao to the letter, to let all know Blessed Rao shines the same every day and does not adjust because we want Him to."
"I don't think I'm the person to discuss this with," she started. It was not exactly true. Even though Kal had been indoctrinated into the faith through other means, she was the only one of the two of them that had ever actively participated in the faith. She just wanted her cousin to be with her. "To be honest, I never really paid much attention."
He handed the wine over to her and she hesitated. "You have been on this world too long. We Kryptonians do not have prohibitions on our women enjoying the spirits of the fruit warmed by Rao." She knew he was correct because she had drank wine regularly with special meals with her family. On Earth, it was a different story and her cousin had been quick to point that out. "Embrace who you are, Kara," he urged her.
Sheepishly, she took the glass and lifted it to her lips. Her eyes opened in surprise and she pulled it away from her lips. "This is the real thing! I haven't had this since the last Festival of Days!"
"If you were more attentive, you would know by the Kryptonian calendar it is that time of year." He was admonishing her, but he was doing it in such a way that she felt she had learned something. In a way, he was right; she had partially rejected her heritage in order to fit in. "It is no matter; soon we will remove all of the zealot and false faiths from New Krypton and return the true celebrations."
"I don't think I would call them 'zealots' just because they are different," she quickly replied, thinking about her friends in the Titans. Kid Devil was a devout Catholic, just as Robin was, she thought. She had friends who were Christians, Muslims, Jews and Wiccans. Tolerance was something she had been taught because many scientists on Krypton did not worship Rao, but they were considered important in His overall scheme.
"They take the concept of Rao and twist it, much as the high priests of Krypton did," the Eye continued. "The Scientist-Prophet Jor-El, his name be revered forever, was the first to discover the anger Rao had felt because His way had been changed." He set the wine glass down on a small table, carved from the wood of a Cravat Tree. "Rao tried to warn the people and had we been on-planet then, we would have fully supported Jor-El as he tried to warn the government."
Kara suppressed the urge to inform the Eye that Jor-El had been considered a radical and alarmist by the governing Science Council when he brought his theories forth that Krypton was going to explode. The support of an extremist cult would have had very little positive effect for him.
The memory saddened her. She remembered how her uncle had been so frustrated when nobody in authority would believe him. "I do not believe Rao destroyed Krypton," he replied.
The Eye gave her a warm smile. "Neither do I, young lady; I simply believe He found Krypton lacking in faith and did nothing to prevent the destruction."
She wanted to call him an idiot; Rao was not so cruel. There were natural laws established at Creation and Rao ensured that life followed those laws. The tragedy of Krypton was nobody would listen to Jor-El. "Why Earth?" she finally asked.
He paused for a moment, considering his answer. Dressed in his casual robes, he no longer projected the image of power. She was also clad in traditional garb, which she mused, was more clothing than what she was normally used to wearing. Everything was sized correctly and made from the correct fabrics. When she was presented with it, she noted the cleaning instructions on the inside hemline was in Kryptonese.
Everything was just like home, even the slightly arrogant accent of the Eye's speech. Of course, she might have been used to Kal's way of speaking Kryptonese, which was something unique to hear.
"We have searched for decades for a new home. Earth is very far away from Krypton and it is under a yellow sun. We Kryptonians belong under a red sun." He looked at her and she detected something flashing in his eyes as she did so. She suppressed a shiver; for weeks she had been getting the distinct impression the Eye of Rao was attracted to her. "We live and breed under the guidance of Rao's giving light and warmth. It is our duty, as Kryptonians, to ensure our race continues on."
"Uh, huh," Kara said, drawing her legs up closer to her. She looked to the only door out of the cabin and saw it was guarded by a large man in Thanagarian armor. She had noted several members of that race as part of the Disciples security force. More than likely they had been refugees after the Rann-Thanagar war.
"You, Kara, have a duty to Rao," the Eye said cryptically.
"I also have a duty to the people of Earth…"
"New Krypton," he corrected.
"Whatever," she retorted, becoming very tired and very nervous. The isolation from her friends and family was beginning to takes its toll on her and she was bright enough to see that. All of the literature she had been exposed to indicated that women, with the exception of priestesses and scientists, were nothing more than walking wombs. The Disciples held to the old custom of marrying a girl off after her first menstrual cycle. Women who could not contribute significantly to society were expected to spread their legs for the good of the culture.
"I want you, Kara, to carry my child," the Eye announced. "Through you, my seed will mingle with the DNA of the revered Scientist-Prophet. I will produce an heir of pure Kryptonian blood, connected to the House of El."
Kara thought she was going to vomit. She was not a prude; but she was a virgin and intended to stay that way until, Rao willing, she met a nice, hot and rich guy to marry. The picture of the Eye's wrinkled form, naked and squirming on top of her, brought a wave of revulsion and fear over her she had never felt before. Immediately she tried to blast him in the genitals with her heat vision, but the red solar radiation had eliminated that. "No!" was all she could say. "I'll mix seed and DNA with who I want, when I want and how I want. I'm not interested in carrying on the Kryptonian race!"
The Eye laughed at her, making her feel foolish. "My dear Kara, you speak as if you have a choice! You must put behind you the arrogance this primitive planet has put into you. Nothing matters more than carrying on our race. You will submit to the will of Rao."
"The hell I will," she said, standing up. She threw the wine glass across the room. "You could be the last man in the universe and I'll be hopping in the sack with a good book instead."
Anger flashed in the eyes of the leader of the Disciples of Rao. "We have been monitoring you these past few months, Kara. You will reach you prime fertility point in three days. You have that long to come to terms with your place. You are no priestess. You certainly are not a scientist and there is no need for you in the security force. You are a womb with strong hips, you were meant to breed."
"If you're trying to say I'm a hottie, you really screwed it up, old dude!" she remarked, trying to sound brave. The truth was, she did not know what to do. She was being told in three days she was going to be raped, all in the name of her own god. "When my cousin finds out, he's going to be severely pissed off."
"Kal-El will be of no help to you," the Eye said, standing up and waving off her comment. "Nor will any of your former friends. Your life as Supergirl is over, Kara Zor-El; now you will be the instrument of bringing into this world our next leader. You will be a queen."
With that, he turned to leave. Kara wanted to go after him, attack him from behind, but she held back. True, she could kill him and thereby prevent anything else from happening, but she also wanted to live. If she could get outside the ship and into the yellow sun, then she could show them what was really up.
By the time she decided on some type of action, it was too late. The door closed and the clock started ticking for her.
Kara Zor-L went by the codename of Power Girl. She was not from this reality, but was actually the survivor of a great disaster that had placed her in this universe. She was Kryptonian and oddly enough, the cousin of Superman, just not the one everyone knew.
She also worshipped Rao, but she had begun leaning towards Christianity over the last few years. That was not the reason why the Disciples of Rao had marked her for death. When the invasion began, Power Girl was chairing a meeting of the Justice Society of America, the super-hero team she led. A Disciple security team, led by three Hawkmen armed with red solar energy weapons came after her. An armored Green Lantern had also been with them and it had been him that had taken down her team, catching them by surprise with tactics and brutality.
For six months she had been on the run with her small band of other heroes slated for execution. Kara was allegedly a demon, while her younger "cousin" had been captured and taken away. God only knew what had happened to Supergirl.
Next to her in the cloaked jet was Wonder Woman, someone not accustomed to running from any fight. Having once been proclaimed the goddess of truth, Princess Diana was also considered a blasphemous evil spirit by the Disciples. They had already captured Wonder Girl and sent her to a realignment camp; that had been reported in the news. Wonder Girl, however, never publicly claimed to be a goddess.
At the controls of the sophisticated flying machine was Mr. Terrific, an atheist whose super power was being invisible to technology. Michael Holt was also the third smartest person in the world, which was the explanation behind why he owned a private jet with cloaking technology.
There were other heroes in the plane. Blue Devil was a member of the Shadowpact and was a true-to-life demon. Red Tornado was an android possessing a soul. Like Wonder Woman, he was a member of the Justice League of America. Mr. Terrific was a teammate of Power Girl. Further in the back was Raven, a Teen Titan who was the daughter of the demon Trigon.
The last member of their little team was Connor Hawke, the son of Green Arrow. A Buddhist monk by profession, he was also a caring young man with a natural gift for archery. Like a few members of the population, he was able to resist the mind-control efforts of the Kryptonian invaders. His father and foster-brother had not.
Seeing ultra-liberal Oliver Queen and womanizing Roy Harper spouting the philosophies of the Disciples of Rao and attending temple services on a regular basis must have been quite a shock to Connor's system. He had no problem with either man finding religion, but he found it hard to believe they would simply accept an alien one. Especially his father, who questioned everything.
Connor was the newest member of their team and probably the last. Together, they had been trying to figure out a way to bring down the Kryptonians, but it was proving impossible. Oddly enough, most world leaders were very easy to control, their minds simply perfect for the machines employed by the Disciples. They had no idea where the machines were kept or how they worked. Mr. Terrific was sure if he had an hour or so, he could figure it out.
"I've tapped into an old LexCorp satellite," Mr. Terrific announced. "It seems like that fleet overhead is deploying devices that are helping to alter the sunlight. Certain parts of the world are currently not good places for you to be, Kara."
"I know," she said, looking down at her costume. The white leotard was now a dirty, dingy color. The large cutout over her chest, meant to display her ample cleavage, was torn and her breasts were bruised from the almost constant fighting she had been exposed to. It didn't matter what country they landed in, she was the most wanted woman on the planet.
And for once, it wasn't just for sex.
Despite the situation, she allowed herself a mental chuckle. How nice it would be to get back to the days of where people were pasting her head on porn star bodies and distributing them over the internet. "God, I miss those days," she said out loud.
Wonder Woman, somebody who could definitely sympathize, turned to look at her. There were bags under her eyes, proving even an Amazon could get exhausted. "What?"
"I was just thinking how good it used to be. Internet porn. Paparazzi. Right-wing pundits accusing me of being a lesbian." She laughed again and Blue Devil coughed.
"I'm a Republican," he said.
"Imagine that," Kara joked, thankful for the levity.
"I'm also tracking their patrol ships in orbit. They have about six craft that are small and fast; but they fly in distinct patterns. Must be Thanagarians," Mr. Terrific commented. The African-American hero was not looking good either. His leather jacket was torn so that his sleeve read "FAY" instead of the normal "FAIR PLAY". "If one of you can find me something capable of spaceflight, I think we can get help from the Green Lantern Corps."
Connor Hawke spoke up. "Is that wise, especially how easily both Hal Jordan and John Stewart were taken down? Do not forget they have a Lantern on their side."
Mr. Terrific shook his head. "I don't know who that guy was, but he wasn't a Green Lantern. Yeah, he had a power ring, but so does Alan Scott. Or he did. Whatever." He adjusted the altitude and they dropped even lower. Currently, they were in Australia. "Guy Gardner is stationed at their headquarters on Oa. He may not be aware of what is going on. I don't know. I do know it will be safe for all of us there and not here."
Nobody said anything different. They had no choice in the matter. In order to save the Earth, they had to abandon it. Their silence betrayed their seething anger at that thought.