Supergirl (Kara of Rokyn):
Kal & Lyla
Two weeks passed while the final preps were made on the holo and the
critics got their preview screening. Thankfully, they were as
drop-mouthed as the newsies had been when they’d seen the five-minute
teaser. That buoyed Kara up considerably, but she was still
nervous. After all, these were critics, not filmgoers. But
the reviews they wrote praising her acting and artistry (and Van-Zee’s
performance, too) were enough to make her cross her fingers and
pray. At any rate, the first week take would probably be huge.
Finally, everything was done that could be done to it. To-Bin
gave his okay. The techs at Ar-Rom Studios transmitted Kal & Lyla to receivers in
every theater that had signed up for the premiere showing. It
turned out to be a very large number of theaters. Kara and the
two Vans showed up for the New Kandor showing in a bit that made all
the news networks. Van-Zee waved resignedly. Kara waved
more enthusiastically, smiled, and hoped the butterflies in her stomach
wouldn’t find their way out.
In the midst of the showing, Kara decided she had to visit the women’s
room. On a hunch, Van got up, followed her, and waited outside
with his arms folded. After fifteen minutes, he banged on the
door and called her name.
“Not finished yet, Van.”
“Kara. I’ve lived with you long enough to know how long you
take. Come on out.”
“I’m scared, Van.”
He leaned against the wall beside the door. “You fought the
Zoners, Brainiac, Lex Luthor, and Lesla-Lar and you’re scared.”
“Is there anybody in there with you?”
“Half the female population of Rokyn.”
“I’m coming in there, Kara.”
The door opened. Kara, looking lovely in a blue outfit, clutched
her mini-purse hard with one gloved hand. “Sorry, Van.”
“Don’t apologize, Kara,” he said, putting an arm around her.
“Just get back to your seat.”
“I hate this part of the process most of all. What if they hate
it? What if they think that I’ve exploited Kal too much? Or
gotten Lyla wrong?”
“What if they think you’ve made one of the best pictures since Kandor
She said nothing.
“Come on, honey. Let’s get back to our seats.”
Not without nervousness, Kara allowed herself to be led back.
At the end of the showing, there was silence. It lasted a long
time...about 38 seconds, to be exact, as the recordings showed.
Kara had time to look at Van, her anxiety showing. He squeezed
her hand. To-Bin sat stone-faced.
Then, finally, somebody began to clap.
That started the avalanche. Kryptonians had never been shy about
showing approval. From all ends of the theatre, hands separated,
boomed together, separated again, repeated. Feet stamped the
flooring. Voices were raised in confirmation of the din.
The sound of affirmation was very loud, and very long. Incredibly
Even To-Bin acted as if he couldn’t believe it. Van knew his jaw
was trying to meet his chest. He looked at Kara. There were
tears in her eyes. They didn’t stop flowing. She sobbed,
happily, and hugged him hard. Then, because of who she was and
what she was, she pushed to the front of the box where they sat, waved
for the cameras, and smiled through her tears. She knew the
cameras would catch them, and that was all to the good.
The applause, loud before, became deafening. They called her
name, over and over again. She waved Van forward and took his
hand, holding it above her head. To-Bin came up beside her on the
other side. She took his hand with her free hand, and held it at
the same height as Van’s.
She couldn’t hear anything but the aircraft-roar of applause.
Not, that is, until To-Bin leaned in to her ear and whispered three
“Kara. We’ve won.”
Which, to all appearances, they had.
The movie’s gross and net broke box-office records, not only for the
year, but for all the time on Rokyn since the Enlargement. Even
To-Bin’s greed was exceeded, and he cancelled his intake of anxiety
Kara made the rounds of the interview shows, always with Van-Ol in
tow. Van-Zee had to give a few grudging sound-bites, and much
speculation was placed on his reticence for the spotlight. But
all agreed he’d given an excellent performance as Kal-El, and he had to
fend off a steady drumbeat of offers for further holo work.
“If this keeps up,” he said to Ak-Var in private, “we’ll never be able
to work as Nightwing and Flamebird again.”
“Hey, nobody’d believe that a guy making as much money as you would be
stupid enough to risk his life fighting crime,” said Ak. “Give it
The publicity was almost as much work as making the picture. Kara
had to map out time to host a party at her home the week afterward for
her parents, Nar, Hira, and Sylvia Van-Zee. Van himself begged
off, but Sylvia was glad he’d done it.
“We can use the money,” she said. “Besides, Dad’ll never believe
it when I send a message home.”
“He has a hard time believing anything you send him home,” said Zor-El.
“That, too,” she agreed.
Nar-Es made a point of seeking out Kara in private. “You did what
you had to do,” he said. “I’m proud of you.”
She sighed. “Well, Nar, I wish I could say the same.”
“Tell me about it.”
Kara sat down in a kitchen chair. “A gap’s been opening between
Kal and me for some time. It started probably when he found out I
was wrestling. Then I handled the Zoners without him. Now,
this. I think he could accept that I wasn’t going to wear the ‘S’
again, at least not on a going basis. But, Nar...I hurt him.”
“So there’s that.”
Nar sat before her and took one of her hands. “Want to hear what
an old wrestling manager has to say?”
“Always, Nar. Always.”
“Well, to begin, Kara, you left something out of that list. You
left out the fact that you saved his life.”
“Oh, yeah, that. But we did that a lot, Nar.”
“Does that make it any less special? Talk to me, Karaish.”
“......No. I suppose not.”
“You know it doesn’t. You charged down to Earth, rallied the
troops, saved him, and saw Lex Luthor cash the change at long last.”
“After I brought him back to life, a long time ago.”
“So you owe him nothing. But don’t you think that Kal knows he
owes you everything? Including getting that Lois woman to marry
Kara fidgeted. “Well, I suppose you could look at it that way.”
“You suppose! Kara, I
can’t afford to die. You’re too oblivious to leave on your own.”
“But the gap, darling, was there before I ever taught you your first
hold. It was probably there before you came to fight with Zora,
the time she beat you. If you hadn’t been pulling away from him,
if you hadn’t wanted to do something with your life other than fly
around in that copy of his costume, doing what he did, when he wanted
you to, why would you have decided to come here?”
The silence hung in the air like dust motes.
“Maybe we were growing apart, after all,” she said. “Maybe I just
didn’t see it. Not for a long time.”
Nar crossed his arms over his chest and laughed, softly. “You
almost make it sound like a divorce.”
“No. Not a divorce. From my fifteenth year on up
to...somewhen...Kal was like a parent. Or he thought he
was. I’ve told him about this, probably haven’t told you.
Sheol, back then I needed a parent, or a big brother, or
whatever. I thought my mom and dad were dead, and I hadn’t been
adopted. I cried, Nar. Cried a lot. But Kal was
always there for me, always buoying me up, always guiding me on a path
he thought was best for me.”
“He loved you, too.”
“Oh, yeah! This was the first time he’d had another Krypt on
Earth he could interact with, not a bunch of teeny people in a
bottle...uh, no offense, Nar.”
“But he...but he loved it. He loved me, and he loved having me
around. Teaching me how to fly, teaching me how to use my other
powers. Mostly, teaching me how to keep a secret identity and act
like an Earth girl. It was like having a big brother. And,
Nar...it isn’t uncommon for an only child, like Kal and I were, to want
a, a sibling of the opposite sex. Kal said he’d always wanted a
sister when he was growing up. I wouldn’t have minded a brother,
either. But for him, it was harder. He grew up among
Earthers, people who weren’t his kind. Till I was 15, I grew up
“Keep talking,” said Nar.
“I’d come here to Kandor, but I’d always have to leave. I’d have
to go back to Earth, to play Linda Danvers or be Supergirl. I was
never...never just plain Kara. Then we enlarged the city,
Nar. And when I had that fight with Zora, even though I lost the
first one, it made me know something. It made me know that I
belonged on Rokyn, with my own people. Here...I could be Kara
Zor-El. And I loved it.
“Here, I don’t have to be Kal’s shadow anymore. I really learned
how to use my sexuality, and I love it! I learned how to fight,
and while I don’t love it as much, I do like to be able to do it.
I can act, like I never did before on those Earth soaps...I can make
something of myself, Nar. Not for Kal. For myself.
After a long pause, Nar said, “And you know what, Karaish? I
believe you have.”
She went to her old mentor and hugged him for a very long time.
Shortly thereafter, Lady Jasmine called up and asked if Kara would spar
with her. To say the least, Kara was taken aback. That was
a retreat to a world she thought she’d left far behind. But,
after a lot of wheedling, reassurances that Jasmine wouldn’t be out to
cripple her, promises of secrecy, and the insisted-on presence of
Van-Ol as a chaperone, which he didn’t exactly refuse, she consented.
Both of them agreed to rent a hovercar, as paparazzi (or their Rokynian
equivalent) were starting the stalk syndrome. Jasmine’s house was
in a secluded but middle-class area, and Kara was thankful for that:
Jara must have enough money to take care of herself. There was
one hovercar in the port besides theirs. It wasn’t new, but it
“Are you sure you want to do this, Karaish?” asked Van.
“I’m not sure of a Rao-blessed thing,” said Kara, feeling her palms
sweat under her white gloves. “Just stand by and let me handle
Jara opened the door and stood there, smiling, in an orange blouse,
black pants, and brown leather sandals. She smiled at Kara and
gave her a big hug before the nonplused blonde could get a word
out. “It’s great to see you again, Kara,” she said. “Come
on in, and introduce me.”
“Uh,” said Kara, still in Jara’s embrace. “Jara, this is Van-Ol,
my man and my scriptwriter. Van, this is Jara Zot-Or, Lady
“Pleased, I’m sure,” said Van, wryly.
“I’ve got the mat set up in the back,” said Jara. “Let me show
you where to get changed.” She looked at Van. “No pictures.”
“Wouldn’t think of it,” he said.
“Oh, I’m sure you wouldn’t,” said Kara. “You still really want to
do this, Jara?”
“Of course,” she said. “It’s the only way I know to talk to you.”
“I’ll have to make a note of that,” said Van.
The two of them changed into bikinis, white for Kara, orange for
Jasmine, and went to a large room in the back Jara had outfitted as a
gym. Kara looked at the blue mat on the floor. “We’re not
going to talk while we’re wrestling, are we?”
“No,” said Jara. “After.”
So the two women grappled their hearts out in competitive but friendly
fashion, while Van-Ol looked on, as wide-eyed as he might be expected
to be. A couple of times he felt like intervening and calling the
match to a halt, but Kara managed to escape the hold she was in and
retaliate. He’d never seen her fight live before, only on
holos. To see her pitting her strength and skills against another
woman, both of them clad only in bikinis, was, he had to
But then again, Kara had never had a problem with that, as far as he
Finally, Kara, sweaty and hair-mussed, got Jara in an armlock and
really cranked it, sitting on her back. “Can we call it a day,
“Not asking you to. Just asking if we can call it a draw and get
“All right. In that case, it’s a draw.”
Immediately, Kara let go of Jasmine’s arm and got off her back.
In her pro ring days, she would have been wary of a
counterstrike. But those days had been left behind.
Jasmine, on her hands and knees, panted for breath. Then she
smiled. “Whoo! You’ve still got it, Kara.”
“Thank you,” said Kara. She hoped Jara, who was bent towards
women, didn’t still have a crush on her. She sat cross-legged on
the mat, getting her own breath back. “Now, what’s this all
Jara lay on her back and said, “Comp, drinks for all. Non-alk
okay for you?”
“I’ll take it, too,” said Van. “Thanks for the show, ladies.”
Jara beamed. Kara shot him a look of sarcasm. A hovering
robot zipped in a few feet above the floor with a tray in its
servoarms, bearing three glasses of iced juice. It went to
Jasmine first, then Kara, then Van. Jara sat up to sip from the
glass, sighed, threw back her long black hair with one move of her
head. “Okay. Now we can talk.”
“You’re not in trouble, are you?”
“No.” She shook her head. “Not in danger, anyway. If
Zora gets out of the Zone, that might be another thing. But so
far, I’m pretty safe.”
Van remembered Kara’s story of how Zora Vi-Lar, the Black Flame, had
conspired with Jara once to bring Kara down. But Jasmine had a
change of heart, and Zora tried vengeance on her own. It failed,
and she was sent back to the Phantom Zone. He reckoned they were
all better off if she never got out.
“Then what? You know Van and I are an item.”
“Oh, it’s not that, anymore, Kara. It’s just...” Jasmine
looked wistful. “Does it make any sense if I say I’m depressed,
and I wanted to see you?”
“You don’t have any friends?”
“None like you.” She massaged her foot with her free hand.
“You’ve been where I’ve been for awhile, Kara. I can talk to you.”
“Okay, Jara. But I hope you don’t think you can only talk to
Jasmine laughed. “I’ve got other friends, Kara. The
Traveling Clan loves me. But...well...does it make any sense to
say I’m jealous? Just a little bit?”
“Of what? Of me?”
“Yeah. I’m still in the ring, and you’ve gone so far beyond that.”
“No, no, Kara. To think that a couple of years ago we were
showing off our bods to thousands of people and trying to tear each
other apart on camera, and now you’re gonna be probably the biggest
holo star on Rokyn. That’s something, Kara.”
“Well, yeah, it is, Jara. But so’s being the champion wrestler,
“Yeah,” Jasmine conceded. “I make good enough money. But I
can’t do this forever, not more than a few more years, I think.
How did you get out of it, Kara? How’d you become an actress?”
Kara blew out a long sigh. “Jara, I didn’t just become an actress
over here. I was in a couple of movies and a soap on Earth, you
“You did cleaning commercials?”
Big laughter. “No, no. A soap, on Earth vids, is what they
call a soap opera...a women’s afternoon show. It was a show
called Secret Hearts. I
played this bitch called Margo Hatton. It was a lot of fun.
I’d also been in a couple of movies before that, all of it as little
ol’ Linda Danvers. So I had some experience before I got into
holos over here.”
“Oh. Okay. So how do I get that experience?”
Before answering, Kara ran multiple word choices through her brain’s
computer. Finally, she decided on honesty. “Jara, first you
have to have talent. And, honey, I just don’t think you have the
talent to do what I do on screen.”
The dark-skinned girl looked as though her dog had died.
“Hold on, Jara. That’s just to do what I do. What I used to
do, the action movies...you might have a place there. Maybe not
as a star, but in a secondary role, you might just make it. If
you work like hell.”
Jara’s grin seemed to fill each side of the room. “I’ve done that
all my life.”
“Yep. And we used you for stunt work on one of my pics. But
don’t forget, you were in some of those other kind of holos before.”
“I can’t do anything about that,” said Jara.
“No. I think the public will forgive you, too. It’s just
that sometimes those things will come up to try and bite you in the
rear when you start making it. Just be upfront about them to your
bosses and to the newsies. Tell the bosses what you used to do,
and if the newsies bring it up, just say that’s part of your past and
you aren’t ever going to do that anymore.”
“Like wrestling with you?”
Van struggled not to laugh out loud. Kara blushed. “In a
“Can you help me?”
“I’ll see about getting you some contacts. For the rest, you’re
on your own.”
Jasmine hugged her again. “That’s all I ask. A fighting
chance. Thank you, Kara.”
“You’re welcome, Jas,” said Kara, not daring to return the hug.
“Now, can we hit the shower?”
Jara gave her a hopeful look.
“Separately,” said Kara.
The reviews came out and, for the most part, praised the movie to
Heaven. Even those who had critical remarks about her performance
(which were few) negated them with rave notes about the rest of the
show. It was greatly regretted that Van-Zee had called off his
acting career. Regretted, that is, by everyone save Van-Zee and
The newscasts were certain to add items about Kal & Lyla to their
playlists. Most of the people concerned in any substantial way to
the holo, from Kal, Van, and Gro-Nas on down to the sound and lighting
people, had to make the rounds of interviews. They didn’t mind,
for the most part. Much speculation was made about the revealing
of Lyla’s daughter. Kara admitted that it was an extrapolation
from facts, and while nobody could call it absolute truth, they
couldn’t call it any less than a strong possibility. Not too many
objections were raised.
Much more problematic was the question of Kal’s reaction to the
movie. Kara stonewalled, as did most of the officials at
Ar-Rom. Superman could not be reached for comment. There
was much speculation, and some pundits ate out on the belief that
Kal-El would be incensed at the holo. But none could do more than
speculate, and the problem was, for the moment, swept under the table.
Lyla Lerrol’s old holos were unearthed and reissued with great
success. Old interview clips with her were rerun, and many of the
folks Kara had interviewed in her research were interviewed again, on
camera. A few new biographies were announced. Indeed, Lyla
Lerrol had become a cottage industry. When they asked Kara what
she thought Lyla’s reaction to that would be, she said she didn’t know.
One thing was for certain. Kara Zor-El had made it as a serious
There were more offers than ever before for her to play leads.
She rejected some, optioned others, considered a few out of the
latter. Within a few months, she knew she’d have to decide on
next year’s project. But at least she had a few months.
She took two weeks from one of them to go to a secluded part of the
coast with Van.
The two of them sat on the beach, in shirts, shorts, and bare feet,
watching the tide come in and go out, talking and often not
talking. At one point, Van said, “So. What do you think
Lyla Lerrol would have thought about all this?”
Kara said, “She’d probably be asking for a big cut of the action.”
She looked at the horizon. “I think she’d be grateful, Van.
All of us, actors and actresses, we do it for the attention. It
hurts a little when nobody’s paying attention to us. To know that
people were paying attention to her, decades after she was
dead...that’d mean something to her, I bet. It’d mean a lot.”
“At least they’ll remember you,” he said. “Supergirl, one of the
three survivors of Argo, the first baby born there after the
destruction, one of the two who enlarged Kandor, a movie star, the one
who fought the Zoners.”
“And a wrestler.”
“They probably won’t remember me,” he said. “I’m just the writer.”
“Like Sheol,” she said. “If they remember me, they’re gonna
“Why should that be?”
“Van.” She looked at him. “Are you too dumb to ask the question?”
“What question?” He looked puzzled. “What—“
He had to stop, mouth open.
She grinned. “I can’t say yes until you ask the question.”
“You want to...”
“Say it, Van.”
“You want to marry me?”
“Say it right!”
“Kara, will you marry me?”
She embraced him. “Mother Moon. These days a girl’s got to
do all the work herself.”
It wasn’t until high tide that they got off the beach.
This one’s for Jerry Siegel, who created both Kal and Lyla. You
won’t be forgotten, either, pal.