Superman of 2499:

    The Great Confrontation

    by DarkMark and Dannell Lites

    Part 25

“You have learned much, Katherine de Ka’an.”

Kath smiled, easily.  She didn’t even try to adjust her sweatband.  Instead, she crouched on the exercise mat and waited for Dan-Le’s next sentence.

“But I question what you have learned it for.  Tell me.”  It was not a request.

 The beautiful blonde woman in the exercise suit sighed and gathered her legs into a lotus position.  “I’ve told you before, Danior.  It was because a woman beat me up, on Earth.  Badly.”


“This hurt your soul badly,” said Dan-Le.

Kath said nothing.

“Do you remember what you asked me to teach you, Katherine de Ka’an?”

She nodded.  “Horu-Kanu.”

“I told you I did not teach the Killing Art.  That I only taught klurkor.  Before I taught you, Katherine, I made you swear an oath.  Do you remember it?”

“I swore,” she said, “only to use it to defend myself.”

“Exactly.  Yet, in you I sense a need for revenge.  Could you deny this, Katherine?”

Once again, Kath chose silence.

“To use klurkor for offense is an offense in itself, Katherine.  I shall not go further with your teaching unless you swear not to fight in vengeance.”

She could not meet his eyes.

“Klurkor is an art of the spirit as much as of the body, Katherine.  I do not train murderers.  If you seek to avenge yourself on this woman, you will not receive more training from me.  If you foreswear such an act, we will complete your training.  Your answer, now.”

The descendant of Supergirl bit her lip.  “You ask a great thing, Master.”

“No more than any other klurkor Master would ask you.  Answer, Katherine.”

A vision of Sy Kent falling before a great flat-handed stroke of hers danced in her mind’s eye.  Such a satisfying vision, confirming her power, her will, her womanly superiority, her triumph.

Two more weeks...

“I foreswear vengeance,” said Katherine, in a voice only a shadow above a whisper.

Dan-Le looked at her for a long moment.  Then he offered her his hand.  She responded with a foot strike at his ankle.  He overstepped it and bounded to the other side of the mat.  Kath was up, crouching, her arms outstretched, a smile on her face.

The woman had much to learn.  But, thank Rao, at least she could be taught.

    -S-

Fin-El walked into the office of his cousin, Adam Kent, all his senses on alert: super-vision, super-hearing, even touch.  Adam was seated behind his desk.  Fin could tell his heart was beating hard, that he was angry, and a slight creak of the desktop Adam was holding onto indicated he was holding himself in check.  Any less, and he’d make ceramic and wood splinters of the thing.

“Hello, Adam,” said Fin, pleasantly enough.

“Greetings, cousin Fin,” said Adam, affecting a half-smile.  “Sorry about this, but you’ve probably heard about the labor problems.  I can’t spend a long time, right now.”

“That’s all right.  Can I have a seat?”

Adam gestured to the hoverchair before his desk.  Fin sat down, crossed his legs, tented his hands.  “How spyproof is this room?”

“Spyproof enough.  I’ve talked Family matters with Alan.  Nobody’s heard yet, that I know of.”

“Well, good.  Good.  Wish you the best with the union negotiations, by the way.”

“Thanks, I appreciate that.”  Adam rubbed his temples.  “What’s upmost mindwise, Fin?  It’s been a long day.”

“Just checking, Adam.  Thought I’d ask how you were doing.  How you were getting along with Sy.”

Adam laughed.  “Glad you asked.  She’s a caution.  Tough to keep up the old bachelor lifestyle with her underfoot.”

“But you manage?”

“I manage.”  

“I’m somewhat concerned, Adam,” said Fin.  “You know she assaulted Kath.”

With a sadder expression, Adam said, “Yes.  I’ve told her never to think of doing such a thing again.  What she did was wrong, and I can’t condone it.”

“Glad to hear.”

“However, I believe Sy deserves a second chance, as do all who stray from the Path,” said Adam. “I’m glad to be the one to give it to her.”

“You know Kath hasn’t been home for weeks,” said Fin.  “She left without much warning.”

“I know,” said Adam.  “I keep up with Family matters, Fin.  Believe me.”

“I’m sure you do,” said Fin.  He wondered how far he dared push it.  “I talked to Kath.  The beating Sy gave her...it scared her, Adam.”

Adam drew in a breath, let it out, and nodded, gravely.  

“What do you think of that?” asked Fin.

Adam said, “I regret it.  What do you expect?  Kath and I used to be lovers.”

Fin nodded.  “You know what they say about old lovers.  Nobody hates better than them.”

“And that’s supposed to mean...what?”

“Nothing.  It’s only a saying.”

“Fin.”  Adam stood, his hands on the desk, and Fin-El couldn’t suppress a twinge of fear.  “You’ve come all this way, interrupted my schedule, and gotten me in the middle of a really doubletragic day to do what?  Make small talk?  Throw innuendo at me?  Be straight, or make the door swing.”

Fin stood to face him on his own terms.  “All right.  I’m concerned about your position in the Family, Adam.  You were too eager to take in Sy.”

Adam swore in Kryptonian.  “Who the hell else was supposed to take her?  The Family wouldn’t have left her with her parents.  Nobody else would have taken her.  If I hadn’t made the offer, she probably would have gone to Rokyn.”

“Where Kath is right now.”

“Exactly.  But she wouldn’t be as free as Kath is.”

“How do you know how free Kath is, Adam?”  Fin bent in closer for a face-off.  “How do you know?”

Adam didn’t back up an inch.  “Make your point, cousin.  Then get the hell out.”

Fin sighed, leaned back a bit, and crossed his arms.  “I don’t like the way things are going now, Adam.  The Family isn’t holding together the way it used to.”

“It’s bigger than ever before,” said Adam.  “You want to complain, go back in time and talk to Kal-El I.”

Fin looked past his cousin’s shoulder.  “He wouldn’t like us anymore.  He wouldn’t be proud of what we’ve let ourselves become.”

“What are we supposed to be, Fin?  Prophets of the Old Age?   Hooded penitents on a pilgrimage?  Monks?  This is a new world.  Even after five centuries, it’s new.  We have powers they never dreamed about on Krypton.  We hide in the shadows, because we’re afraid the Earthers wouldn’t like us so much if they knew.  It’s a life.”

“Yes,” said Fin.  “I know.”

“Do you know if Katherine is coming back?  Or when?”

“I don’t know, Adam. I assume she’s coming back, sometime.”

“Well, I’d appreciate it if you’d tell me when she gets back,” said Adam.  “I won’t bother her, I’d just like to know she’s all right.”

“What have you got planned for the Family, Adam?”

Adam stopped in mid-turn of his head.  “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“I’m not sure myself,” said Fin.  “But there’s a lot more going on than we see on the surface.  Everybody seems to be working towards their own separate goal.  Nobody knows the whole picture.  Except, maybe you.”

Tiredly, Adam shook his head.  “I don’t know a thing anymore.  Except that my workers want to undercut my profits so much that I may not be in business next month.  The only goal I’m working on is staying alive, Fin.”

“Glad to hear it,” said Fin.  “Hope you plan for all the rest of us to stay that way, too.”

“I don’t hurt my Family,” said Adam.

“You and Alan used to have some punch-ups.”

“We were kids.”

“Yeah,” said Fin.  He turned to go.  “Oh, one thing LoriLe made me promise, no, swear to tell you.”  He smiled.  “It doesn’t even matter now.   But she made me swear to tell you.”

“What?”

“She said if you laid a hand on me, she’d come down here and scratch your frabbing eyes out.”

Adam threw back his head and laughed.  He laughed with pleasure.  It took him a very long time.  Fin was smiling through it all.

“Oh, Lori,” said Adam, at last.  “My old Lori.  Tell her thank you, and if that’s what it takes to get us together again, I’m game.  Lori.”

“Yep,” said Fin.  

“I really have work to do, Fin.  Can you excuse me, cousin?”

“Sure, Adam.  It was great talking to you.”

“Indeed.”  Adam extended his hand.  “Would Lori object to this?”

“She’d be too disinterested for words,” said Fin.

“Now that is scary,” said Adam, with a laugh.  They shook hands.  Fin showed himself out.

Adam faced the door for awhile after Fin left.  More going on than was seen on the surface?  Certainly.  That was true of Fin-El, too.  It was nice to know how the sides were shaping up, sometimes even before the people on them knew, themselves.

Fin would be an enemy.  Well, little challenge there.  Lori?  To be dealt with, if he had to.

But right now, the big pain in the back was the frabbing union.  He’d have to get more revenue to cover their demands, and there was no chance he could make it through conventional means.  

Adam began to whirl in place, in a most uncanny manner.  He lifted himself off the floor to prevent the rug from being burned by friction.  The air within his office began to bulk and compress against the walls.  A vase was knocked over by turbulence.

A few moments later, Adam Kent was no longer in his office.

But he’d be back in time for a strategy meeting, sure enough.

    -S-

Alan Kent was gratified by how quickly Akon and Reyna had taken to Tal Thorn as a houseguest.  Of course, the fact that Alan had greased the wheel with promises of a little more residual money from We’re All Martians had helped.  Anyway, it was only until Tal could get acclimated to Earth life, at which point Alan would help move him into an apartment, or Tal would have his own job and take care of it himself.  

He’d left the trio at their apartment and, cloaking himself in super-speed, had changed to Superman to thread the airways.  There were, as usual, a large number of hovercraft and a few brave souls with gravpacks braving it alone, who looked upon him with astonishment and to whom he waved and smiled.  Even back in the 20th, there’d been air traffic.  But a Superman really had to watch his path now when he flew.

What was left for him to fight?  Muto and Heaven’s Seven had both been put down.  Alan was looking forward to a bit of peace and routine, if such could be had.  In earlier eras, enemies had popped up like clockwork.  He wondered how Clark Kent had managed to do his reporting or newscasting jobs, what with all the menaces he had to fight around Metropolis, the world, and, occasionally, on other worlds.  

At any rate, he was glad he had the acting gig.  As the star of a show, he had value enough to the producers, directors, et al that he could afford to be late a few times (while, of course, doing his super-duties) and not get more than a chewing-out.  

There was always some work for a Superman to do.  Not too many hovercar collisions these days, what with the automatic traffic sensors.  But tonight there didn’t seem a lot the cops couldn’t deal with.  So, a quiet (or relatively so) night out in the sky was what Alan hoped for.

He barely tuned in his super-hearing to hear some of the banter from below.  They saw him, yes, and they talked about him.  Some of them revealed their jealousy.  Some spoke of their fear.  But most of them, he noted, felt reassurance and gratitude.  Was that the way of it for all the Supermen?  Alan thought about a cop on the beat.  He might not always have a crook to catch or an accident to write up, but the sight of him in a neighborhood was enough to make people aware of his presence.  And, yes, often they were grateful for him, even if they didn’t admit it.

Would any of them connect him with the actor on holovid?  It was probable.  All the Supermen had to fight for their secret identities, at one time or another.  He would have to find new ways of misdirection, new ruses to pull.  Every generation, there seemed to be new ways of detecting falsehood.  Every generation, it got harder.

But every generation, the Supermen had managed to pull it off.

In the midst of his reverie, Superman XXI felt a buzzing in his belt.

He, Bron, and Tal had set up a comm system similar to that used by the ancient Justice League.  Both he and Bron had the communicators in their belts, and Tal used his ring.  “XS-1 receiving,” he said.

“XS-1, XS-2 here,” came Bron Wayn’s voice.  “I’ve come up with something for you.  Might be quite revolutionary.  But it would require your consent.”

Alan sighed.  “What’s on your mind, XS-2?”

“Can you come in?  I’d like to talk to you face-to-face.”

“I’ll be there.  But I need to get some sleep tonight.”

“Acknowledged, XS-1.  We’ll have you sleeping in time for sunup.  Out.”

“Out,” said Superman.  Pragmatically, he sped up to invisibility and shot towards the Bat-Belfry.  Within seconds, he was there, and admitted by the autosensors.  Inside, he found Bron Wayn seated at the circular console.  Bron wasn’t wearing the mask and cape, but he did have on the Batman suit and had a towel draped about his neck.

“Alan,” said Bron, with as much of a smile as he ever gave.  “Welcome.”

“I’m here, Bron,” said Superman, stepping towards him.  “What’s the great revelation?”

Bron fixed him with a steady eye.  “What if you could trade your weakness to seawater back for the one to Kryptonite?”
Alan looked at him.  “I’d just as soon have no weaknesses at all.”

“That’s not possible, I’m afraid.  But we can trade a substance that weakens you and covers three-quarters of Earth for one that’s relatively rare, and more easily tracked.  Interested?”

“Tell me more.”

“Tell me something about the seawater weakness, first.”

Alan folded his arms.  “You know, Bron, about as well as I do.  It happened 155 years ago.  The Superman of 2344 had an enemy called Lady Hecate.  She was a sorceress.  To get revenge on him, she called on the god Poseidon, or whatever he is.  He agreed to make his realm poison to Krypts, but they had to take away the Kryptonite weakness to do it.  That was a long time ago, and we haven’t found a way around it yet.”

“I think we can find a way.  But it’ll take some doing.”

“What’s your angle, Bron?”

“Now that the Lantern is with us, we have a lot more leeway in travel.  And we’ll need his ring to track down the people we need to see.”

“Spit it out, Bron.  Doublequick, if you please.”

“Who from ancient times had contact with the gods of Olympus, Alan?  Who were the ones who sent an emissary to Man’s World, and who even married into your line, once?”

Alan’s jaw dropped.  When he found it again, he said, simply, “The Amazons.”

“Exactly.”

“But they left the Earth ages ago.  Went to another dimension.  Didn’t exactly give path-beacons to tell us where they were.”

“The Lantern can help us find them,” said Bron.  “And if anyone can reverse the Curse of Poseidon, the Amazons can.”

Alan’s brain reeled.  The image of the ancient Wonder Woman, almost the female equivalent of Superman, came to him, all beauty, sex, and power.  Where his line represented masculinity and science, theirs represented femininity and mysticism.  Some Amazon blood flowed in his veins, that was true.  But not even the association of the Family with the line of Princess Diana had kept the mighty women of Paradise Island from taking themselves away, two centuries ago.

Now, perhaps the three of them, their ad hoc Justice League, would be the first men to see the women of wonder since that time.  If they could find them.

“Well, Alan?”  Bron looked expectant.

Superman sighed.  “I’m going to need to get some sleep tonight, and shoot a full day’s work tomorrow.”

“And after that?”

“After that...I’ll meet you and the Lantern here.”

Bron smiled.

“Don’t be late,” said Superman, just before he turned and flew out the hatchway.

    To be continued...