THE LAST DAUGHTER OF KRYPTON
The Woman of Steel
High on a colossal tower of metal and crystal a figured moved onto a large balcony. A slight breeze tugged at the edge of ceremonial robes, causing the heavy material to dance against her legs. She raised her face to the sky, eyes closed as if relishing the feel of the wind moving against her. Illuminated crystal attached to a delicate headdress glittered against golden hair.
"Lara?" A woman's voice called from inside the building.
"Here," She said over her shoulder, before opening her lustrous blue eyes to take in the view before her. A seemly endless row of towers disappeared into the far distance, bathed in the final light of the giant red sun as in drifted beneath the horizon.
The woman appeared behind Lara. Her garb was much the same as Lara's, her headdress made of cords and plated metal.
"The council might…." She begun with a comforting tone, through it was clear to all that she too was shaken.
"Oh Alura you heard exactly what the council said," Lara said cutting her off as she shook her head without averting her gaze from the view. Taking in the sight and feel as if she had never seen it before. The beauty she had taken for granted, but never again. "They don't believe Jor-El. They think his results are inconclusive. They forbade any further mention of it, or action involving it."
"Jor-El is always right with things of science," Alura said moving to stand beside her. "I agree, as does Zor-El. But I do so wish the council was right."
Lara gave a short sharp laugh, cutting it off quickly as tears flooded her eyes. "Such a beautiful world." She said eyes glistening, "It's hard to believe that all this will be gone."
Her husband Jor-El was Krypton's leading scientist. He discovered that their world was doomed. The earthquakes and unusual weather a prologue to the end of their planet. Armed with his findings, he and his brother Zor-El had gone to Krypton's ruling body, The Council. They hadn't believed him. Blinded by arrogance and fear they had disregarded the warnings. The had ordered there be no further mention of the topic and forbade action taken for it. This meant for Jor-El and Lara that they could not leave the planet.
"Maaahh," A small voice came from besides her as a light tug pulled on her dress. Looking down she saw a tiny raven haired girl at her feet. The baby smiled up at her, her own blue eyes shining happily. Blue eyes, exactly like her own. Lara felt her heart start to break.
"Hello Kala," Lara greeted reaching down to pick up her daughter, as the little girl giggled.
"Oh I'm sorry Aunt Lara," A new voice said, "She got away from me."
Lara turned a small smile to her niece, as the golden hair teenager came to a stop from rushing outside. "That's alright Kara," Lara said, "Thank you for watching her tonight."
"Ehh…that's fine," Kara said after a beat, glancing from her mother to her aunt. No doubt sensing the strange mood.
"Kara gather your belongings," Alura told her daughter, "We'll be heading back to Argo tonight."
"Yes Mother," Kara replied before heading back inside.
"I wish Jor-El was wrong about this also," Lara said after a moment, "Oh how I wish. But he's not, he never is. Something else must be done." She reached a hand up to brush her daughter's thick black hair.
"Yes, something does need to be done," Alura echoed as her eyes drifting towards her daughter.
Together the two women went looking for their husbands, they found the brothers in Jor-El's private lab. The room was large almost twice the size of the rest of their house. As the double sliding doors opened they found the room dark, lit only by the main holo-projector in the centre of the room. The large device washing a pale blue light over Jor-El and Zor-El as they stood before it.
Kala's sudden giggle from her mother's arms drew the men's attention, as they paused their conversation to look. Alura moved towards them reaching out her hand.
"Come now husband," she said softly, "We should be heading home."
"Brother," said Zor-El while nodding goodbye to his brother and again to Lara. As Alura and Zor-El disappeared out the door, Lara turned to her husband.
"Jor-El…." Lara paused unknowing of what to say.
"I need to get my notes together," Jor-El declared as he turning to work on his computer. "For the appeal on the council's decision."
"Do you…do you think it will work?" Lara asked tightening her grip on her infant daughter.
"I do not know," Jor-El admitted, "But I will try, again and again."
She approached her husband slowly, embracing him with their daughter between them. Lara's attention was called to the holo image floating above to projector. She recognised the design as a ship but it was unlike any she had seen before. "What is that?"
Jor-El lent down and placed a kiss on her forehead and then one on Kala's responding.
"That is a contingency plan."
In the following days as the ground quakes became increasingly more common. Jor-El's appeals became progressively more vocal, as The Council disagreed with him again and again. Finally losing patience with the man, and refusing the even entertain his theories any longer they isolated him and the rest of the House of El in their home. With the ruling, that if he were to spread any rumours on the planets destruction, he would be imprisoned for inciting panic and discord.
Jor-El had taken the councils decision and disappeared into his lab, a cloud of determination settled over him unlike any Lara had ever seen before.
Finally he told her his plans, what he had been working on. Jor-El explained what it was, and what it was for. Their planet was doomed, and their lives nearing the end. But that didn't mean there was no hope. Hope that this ship would take its passenger away the doomed planet.
Hope that their daughter would survive.
In the highest tower of the city where all the citizens could look up at them, or rather so that they could look down on the citizens. Sat the ruling council of Krypton. A dozen of the brightest minds and largest egos of the planet, sat in silence as they listened to the report.
"Last scans indicate energy build-up," indicated the holographic image before them, "Signature similar to that of a star-drive."
"A star-ship's engine," One council realised.
"That impudent...! He was warned!" Exclaimed another. "Take troops to his house. Arrest Jor-El, and the rest of his family."
The holo-image bowed and vanished.
The faint ground tremors had become so common that Lara almost ignored it. That was until she heard the sound of engines. A sudden blinding light flooded through the enormous windows of her house. A ship that came to hover at the windows, Lara recognised as a council enforcement craft. Reaching for a near-by computer access point, she found troops were already in the building.
She ran to scoop her daughter was just in time, as the ground lurched underfoot. This time it wasn't a vehicle. The room shook violently as distance screams filled the air. Lara gasped in horror as a nearby spire gave way under the assault, crumbling to the ground. It wasn't the only structure to fall, debris and smoke was everywhere. Finally in the heaving chaos something above them cracked and wreckage fall past the window, raining down to the streets and buildings below.
The enforce craft swerved once before it was knocked out of the sky by rubble.
"LARA!" Jor-El's bellow kicked Lara from her horrified stillness.
She ran faster than she ever had in her life.
Jor-El was hard at work at his computer. The small star-ship was already powering up and in position for launch. It was a devastating blow to Lara's gut when she realised that this was finally it. For all the time working on this, she had never thought much beyond saving her daughter. But now, to know her daughter would go on out there…alone.
"Is it ready?" She asked, "Will it work?"
"It is ready. It will work!" Jor-El exclaimed will working, "I've chosen a world. Primitive in comparison, but they look like us. She will fit in with them."
"But she won't be one of them," Lara whispered, clutching Kala closer.
"She'll be safe there," Jor-El said turning to her, ready for her to put the child in the ship.
"She'll be an outcast. Alone." Lara said placing her baby in the capsule, running her hand over soft black hair.
"Are you sure you don't wish to go with her?" Jor-El questioned softly, "It would take just a bit of calibration, and the risks would be greater..."
Lara grabbed his arm, as he went to return to the console. "No my love," She said firmly, "My place, as it has always been, is by your side." They shared a sad smile before looking back at their daughter.
"She'll survive there." Jor-El said softly placing over Lara's, after a moment her pulled her away and back from the ship. With his other hand he pressed the launch sequence.
"Goodbye my daughter," Jor-El whispered softly, "All our hopes and dreams go with you."
"Live well my little Kala," Lara added, "May you find happiness somewhere out there."
The ship blasted off streaking through Krypton's red atmosphere into the blackness of space. As the planet it had left, heaved and tossed in its death throes, before finally giving out and tore itself apart.
The lone ship, so tiny yet carrying such precious cargo blinked once and then then vanished as the Star-drive activated.
Traveling away from one home and to another.
Everything was the same from the bell of the cash register to the voices greeting her, the sound that her footsteps made on the sidewalk. The same from one day to the next, day in day out. It was so familiar to Martha that it had been almost repetitive. Everyday life in the tiny rural town of Smallville was bound to be simple. But Martha never realised just how uneventful it was until recently. Her life was good, she loved her home, her town and most of all her husband. But sometimes she felt that something was missing.
But she knew exactly what it was that was missing. Martha had wanted a child for a long time, but so far it didn't seem like one was on the cards for her. The Doctor's response was generally 'It will happen when it will happen, there's no forcing this' and the local priest's sentiment was 'If it is meant to be…'
But all that didn't help Martha.
Her daydreaming cost her as she almost collided with someone, luckily she had stopped in time. It was a good thing, given the precious little cargo they were carrying.
"Oh sorry Jane," Martha said pulling back, "My head's been in the clouds all day." She turned her attention on the tiny red head the woman held. "Hello Lana. How are you today?"
A smile appeared on Lana's face despite being unable to understand Martha's words. Martha felt her heart melt, as longing burst within her.
A car horn drew their attention and Martha turned to see Jonathan waiting for her in the pickup.
"Oh I gotta go," Martha exclaimed, "Sorry again Jane. Bu bye Lana." She gave a little wave to her tiny fellow redhead, before turning and rushing to her husband's car.
The car ride back to the farm was quiet, Martha's attention on nothing. Staring out the window, watching farmland streak by.
"You okay?" Jonathan finally asked.
"Fine," Martha answered truthfully, because she was. Even if in her opinion she could be better.
Something in the distance caught her attention as it raced across the sky.
"What is that?" Martha asked frowning, she couldn't get a good look as it was moving too fast. But it did look like it was on fire and heading straight at them.
"Jonathan!" She screamed. He slammed on the brakes just as the fireball shot past in front of them. The car swerved and skidded, but Jonathan managed to bring the car to stop on the side of the road.
"What the hell was that?" Jonathan said looking out his window, "A meteorite?!"
The squeak of the car door opening caught his attention as his wife climbed out of the car and headed into the field.
"Martha!" Jonathan called while opening the door, and moving to go after her. "Ah," he cried as his seat belt pulled him back. He fought with it for a moment "Stupid thing…."
Martha walked into the field following the deep gouge that had been left in the ground. Dirt and rock had been kicked up, and small spot fires still burned. But through that all Martha could make out something silver and a something else, something that gleamed differently. Frowning slightly she took a step forward and then another and another. Taking in the sight of what looked like engines and metal plating, and something that looked like crystal.
Freezing at the sight on of something so alien, Martha took a deep breath. Curiosity won out and she moved to take another step when Jonathan finally caught up with her.
"Martha stop don't get any closer," He said catching hold of her arm.
"What do you think it is?" She asked.
"I dunno," He shook his head, "Which is why we shouldn't go near it."
The sound of metal shifting and rocks falling called their attention, and they watched metal parted and a small form all but tumbled out. Naked and tiny the little girl staggered to her feet, spotting the Kent's standing there. Held a rock she was holding out to them, as if it was the greatest treasure in the world.
Martha had wrapped the girl in her jacket, sitting in the pickup with her in her lap. She watched as the tiny thing plucked at the buttons. Jonathan lent against the side of the car, rubbing a hand across his face.
"This is insane," He said finally, "Where did she come from."
"Not from around here obviously," Martha said, they had taken a closer look that the…ship. The thing wasn't that badly damaged, from what Jonathon could tell. But it was obvious from the insides that the thing was not local.
A ripping sound filled the car, and Martha looked to see the girl had torn a cuff off the jacket. The little girl blinked at it and promptly stuffed the corner in her mouth.
Martha smiled, and pulled the fabric free. Not all put off by the strange sign of strength. The little not at all upset by the action beamed up at Martha.
"Oh Martha," Jonathan moaned, "No."
"We need to think of names," Martha said ignoring him.
"No, Martha. No"
"I always liked names starting with C," She continued.
"Are you even listening to me?"
"Like Carla or Charlotte?" She said deep in thought.
"What about Claire?" Jonathon muttered, Martha looked up to find Jonathon had reached hold brushing a hand over the girl's dark hair.
"Claire?" Martha said, "That's perfect."
"Your test results are ready." The teacher said moving around the classroom to hand out the papers. "Some of you did quite well, some of you could have done better. And I think some should have done better."
She shot Claire a look as she placed the test results in front of her. Almost as soon as she had moved off, a head appeared over Claire's shoulder. Long red hair spilling onto the other girl's desk.
"What did you get?" She asked craning to see, "Another B minus? Man I coulda' guessed."
"What did you get?" Claire asked, as Lana Lang smiled and proudly showed off her C plus.
"B minus again," Lana said as they left class together, "You always seem to get a B minus. It's like you aim for it or something."
"What do you mean?" Claire asked as she read over the teacher's notes. Anyone looking would think she was looking for ways to improve her marks. But truthfully, Lana wasn't far off the mark with her comment. She was looking to see if her attempt to dumb down her answers had been bought.
"There's nothing wrong with B minus," Claire deflected, "Just because I don't get the same nice range of C's and B's that you get."
"Hey don't forget the D in Math," Lana said waving a finger, "I'm proud of that D!" Sighing she looked around the courtyard. "Hey look isn't that Pete Ross talking to Jenny?" She asked spotting the couple talking some distance away. "Wonder what they're saying? Maybe something like this…"
"I'm so sorry Petey," Lana said making her voice high pitched and grating and un-Jenny like as possible. "Please give me another chance. Even if you are better off with Lana Lang."
Claire looked up from her notes shooting her friend a 'what are you on about' look.
"Actually she's telling him that her parents are out of town this weekend," Claire said going back to her notes.
"That tramp?!" Lana exclaimed, then huffed as she shook her head, "Heh, I like mine better."
*"They're going to be gone until Sunday night."*
Jenny's voice came to Claire so clearly she might as well have said it directly into her ear.
"Alright I'm off," Lana declared, "See you tomorrow."
Claire had no idea what drove her to catch her friends arm to prevent her from walking away. With no real plan and no real idea of what she was going to say, she had just acted. All she knew was the desire to say something that had always been there had suddenly overwhelmed her. As the redhead turned to blink at Claire in question, Claire knew it was her chance to brush her lapse off like it was something else. But the years of white lies, and half-lies and outright lies had left a mark.
"I need to talk to you," She said feeling a burst of freedom and defiance within her, and a bit of relief. At the same time as ignoring the warnings inside her, that sounded just like her parent's voices.
Sorry Ma and Pa, she thought, but I need to do this.
Lana had followed her towards the back of the high school, to where woodlands lined the boundary of the school grounds. As grass gave way to trees, Lana looked around.
"Ummm you're not taking me somewhere to declare your undying love for me are you?" Lana joked, "Coz I'm still hanging out for Pete Ross to come to his senses."
Ignoring her Claire scanned their surroundings, finding nothing she took a deep breath and blurted out.
"I have powers!"
"Ok..." Lana said slowly, "Eh…I'm gonna marry a billionaire."
"I thought we were listing things that are unlikely but would be really cool," Lana said.
"Lana I'm being serious!" Claire cried, "I have powers. For example, I know that under that sweater you're wearing a skirt that you totally stole from me."
Lana looked down finding no sign of said t-skirt showing, "I… I was going to give it back," She said finally.
"That's not all," Claire said scanning the ground for a moment before she found a rock, "I can do this."
She reduced the rock to fine dust between her fingers. Before whatever force that had been driving her gave out, leaving her tired and resigned.
Frowning Lana reached pinching the remaining rock, to find out just how solid it had been. Incredulous eyes looked up to meet Claire's.
"Go on," Claire sighed, "Call me a freak."
Lana had been looking at her closely, a small furrow between her pale brows. Her green eyes thoughtful, and for a change completely serious.
"Oh Claire you've always been a bit of freak," Lana said after a moment humour sparking on her face again, "It's one of the reasons why I became friends with you, when we were little. So what you have powers, you're still the same girl I meet the first day of kindergarten. You're just a hell of a lot cooler. Hey does this mean I get to marry a billionaire?"
"Lana," Claire laughed as she hugged her friend.
"Oh wow," Lana gasped as she was released, "You are strong. Hey can you do anything else?"
"Why I can do this," Claire said before speeding off to circle around Lana a few times, a blur of colours.
"Wow," Lana breathed, before her lip curled, "Wait you're not going to tell me you sparkle in the sun are you?"
Claire shot her a disgusted look and Lana laughed.
"There is this too," Claire said scooping up a dead branch, staring at it her eyes gleamed red from a moment and the branch burst into flames.
"Some kinda heat vision or something?" Lana asked.
"Yeah….oh!" Claire exclaimed after noticing the branch was proving to be better kindling then she thought. As the flames spread, she attempted to blow them out. After one blow, and a sudden waft of smoke they vanished. Leaving behind thick icicles following her breaths path.
Claire blink raising the branch to look at the ice hanging from it, "That's a new one."
"Ice breath?" Lana asked, then hummed thoughtfully "Hmmm what about Arctic breath?"
"We can name it later." Claire laughed before shattering the ice.
"Oh Claire!" Lana cried suddenly reaching for her friend's arm. The flames had reached Claire shirt, the sleeve of it blackened and brunt. Lana frowned as she spotted the unblemished skin underneath. "Didn't that hurt?"
"I could feel the heat, but there was no pain." Claire said, "You know I once destroyed a knife while cutting the veggies."
"Geez scare me half to death why don'tcha." Lana said.
"Well I should be going," Claire said, "I know what you're Dad's like if you don't get home on time."
"Don't remind me," Lana said rolling her eyes. As the pair started walking towards home, Lana turned to her friend. "So with your x-ray vision thingie, could you do me a favour?"
Claire took her usual route home after Lana went her own way. Speeding through the corn fields, a blur of motion. She did love the feeling of speed, but there was one thing she loved more. With a great bound she leapt into the air, feeling the ground drop away and rising to meet the sky. Almost too soon, she was heading back towards earth. She followed the jump by another and another, finally stopping at the end of the fields.
Claire looked up at the sky. She couldn't shake the feeling that there was something she wasn't getting, and if she could just figure it out.
She could stay up there.
Her mother was in the garden when she got home, smiling she stood to greet her daughter as she made her way up the drive way.
"Hi Honey," She said walking towards her, "How as school?"
Martha Kent paused for a second before sniffing slightly. "Why do you smell like smoke? Oh Honey did you set the barn on fire again?"
"Ma!" Claire exclaimed, "Why do you always ask me that?" She looked towards said barn, to side of it recently repaired and newer then the rest. Claire could remember the day perfectly when her heat vision had kicked in. She had been helping her father with burning off, when the heat and the smoke had gotten to her, and the pressure had built up in her head and behind her eyes. The beams had thankfully missed her father. The barn however hadn't been as lucky.
Putting out the fire had been simple. Even if it did take most of the wall off. It was also the day Claire had discovered her super breath.
"I've got that under control," Claire insisted, turning back to her mother.
"Hey Claire," Her father called coming from around the side of the house, "I'm gonna need your help later. I need you to lift the tracker for me."
"Sure Pa," Claire said, looking from her mother to her father. With a breath blurted out. "I told Lana today."
"Told her what Honey?" Martha asked, though from her tone she knew exactly what Claire had told her friend.
"The truth about me, you know that I have powers." Claire said, before feeling a defensive urge at the look on her parent's faces. "Lana's been my friend all my life, I couldn't keep lying to her."
"Oh Claire," Jonathon said softly, "We know okay. It's just so dangerous to talk about it. And the more people that knew, the greater the chance that they'll find out…"
"And come and take me again!" Claire finished, she'd heard that argument her whole life. "Who will come? And why?!"
"I need to talk to someone okay!" Claire cried, "Lana has been my friend my whole life. I feel like I'm about to start screaming. But what the hell am I? And I can't talk about it?"
Jonathan and Martha exchange looks. Grave looks full of secrets and a little pain. "Come with me sweetheart," Jonathon said leading his daughter towards the barn.
"You know we found you in a field right?" Jonathon started, as he led her down a trap door "Well...It's just there was a bit more to the story."
With that comment he pulled a heavy drape off…something. Dust and fallen hay went flying and Claire took in the strange sight. It was metal and vaguely cylinder shaped. There were crystal like spires coming off it that had long since been blackened and broken. On the top and down the side, there were strange symbols carved into the metal. Claire reached out the gently brush her fingers over that S shaped symbol in the middle.
"We found you in this," Jonathon finished. "At first we thought it was some strange science experiment or something crazy. But the technology and the writing or whatever it is didn't come this world. It came from somewhere else."
"Somewhere else." Claire echoed faintly.
"Just a way of saying it's…. alien." Jonathan said. "We thought after you crashed here, someone ...Some agency would come looking. But no one ever did. But we never stopped worrying they would eventually find out. Your Mother was more afraid that whoever had sent you, would change their minds and come get you. But there was no other sign, just this ship."
For the first time Claire noticed how small the ship looked, small enough to carry baby-her who knows how far.
"I'm an alien," Claire breathed, before repeating louder and full of the sheer absurdity of the statement. "I'm an alien?!"
"Claire Honey," Her father said reaching forward the grab her shoulders, "What you know now doesn't change who you were this morning or the day before that. You are Claire Kent, you are my daughter and I love you."
"I'm sorry I didn't I didn't tell you this sooner," He said softly, "I was waiting for the right moment. And truthfully kinda hoping that moment wouldn't come." At Claire's confused look he added. "That way we could just go on the way we had been."
"Can't we do that anyway?" Claire asked giving a little sniffle, momently afraid that this truth might have been too much. Too much for anything to be normal again.
"Of course we can sweetheart," Jonathon said pulling her into a hug, "It's just now you know that out there you have another father, another family. And I have to believe you were sent here for a reason."
"What reason?" She asked.
"That's for you to find out yourself," Her father said, "But your mother and I will always be here, whenever you need us."
Claire looked back to the craft, brushing her hand gently over its edges. Feeling the emotions well inside her. Relief over finally knowing the truth, being about to explain something about her. Sadness over the distance it actually put between her and the rest of humanity. Uncertainty over what this really meant for her, and her place in this world.
If she even truly had a place.
That was around then Claire decided that after her final year of high school that she would leave Smallville. She looked over her ship more times than she could count, finally pulling some of the crystals from their slots inside the pod.
When she did leave Smallville it was with no real destination in mind, only to travel. And travel she did, all across the world she now knew wasn't hers by birth but she had adopted as her own. She saw some of the most amazing things. Places she wasn't even sure some of the world's human inhabitants had seen. Meet people of all sorts, shy, brave, poor, rich, friendly and cruel. But she never found any answers for herself. No other sign of anything like her. Which was when she began to feel as if she truly was alone.
She wasn't sure what led her to the Arctic. It was different from all the places she'd been before, beautiful in its own icy way. It was in a massive plain of ice and rock that she finally stopped and looked around. Wondering how she managed to get herself here, when a strangely familiar humming filled her. She pulled open her backpack, one of the crystals she had pulled from her ship glowed and pulsed in a way that had her mesmerised for a second.
Instinct or whim she didn't know which, had her throwing the crystal into the depth of the ice plain. Silence reigned, and for a moment nothing then she watched as something erupted out of the ice. Pillars of ice crystals taller than most buildings. Locking together and fusing into a structure.
Inside was beautiful, full of pillars and sweeping stairs with lots of open air. She followed the pathways to wherever they led. Wondering all the while, was this what her home had looked like? Every now and then she would see the 'S' symbol covered in strange metal plates. The same symbol that was on the craft that brought her to this world.
There was a podium up ahead, with what looked like controls. She stepped towards them, a giddy feeling bubbling inside her that maybe, maybe she would have her answers.
The controls can to life at the touch. Sliding into place, and the strange glowing lighting around her dimmed.
The deep male voice echoed throughout the open space.
"My daughter," The ghostly image that appeared in front of was not what was startling. What was startling was that this man, looked like her. His hair the same raven black as hers.
"Who are you?" She asked.
"I am Jor-El," The image replied, "I am your father."
"Who am I?" She asked, the words leaving her with relief.
"You are Kala Jor-El," Jor-El said, "You are the last survivor of the planet Krypton."
He went on to tell her about the destruction of her home world, and how the actions of her father Jor-El and her mother Lara had done to save her. Saving her the only way they could by sending her away, to a planet that's yellow sun that gave her powers. Powers she was only beginning to realise. And there in her fortress of solitude he gave her all the answers she ever wanted.
Chapter rewritten 1st July 2016