Supergirl (Kara of Rokyn):

    Kal & Lyla

    Part 5

    by DarkMark

To-Bin looked over the printout’s last pages once again.  He was used to reading stuff on a screen, but nothing really beat the feel of paper in your hands.  Thing was, he had to read it while lying prone on a transparent board while a robot masseuse helped pound the kinks out of his bad back.

But, all things considered, it didn’t hurt to have Kara Zor-El sitting beside him in one of her lime-green suits and red sandals.

Her legs were crossed and she clenched both hands over her knee, bouncing the sole of her sandal off the bottom of her foot as she dangled her leg.  This, she admitted, was a ploy to conceal her nervousness.  To-Bin wasn’t given to histrionics.  He finally finished it and looked up.  “You realize that, eventually, he’s going to have to see this.”

Kara nodded.  “Yes, I know.”

“What do you think he’s going to think of it?”

“I hope he’ll take it as a tribute,” she said.  “I meant it that way.”

“There’ve been lots of Kal-El movies made, Kara.  Not too many of them have gone this far into his private life.  Not without naming the lead character something else, that is.”

“That’s why I want to do it.  Do you think it’s a bad script, Toior?”

He shook his head.  “Not at all, Karaish.  But...there might be a counter reaction.  Some guys like their heroes on a pedestal.”

“And a lot of women like to fantasize about loving heroes,” said Kara.  “Or having a hero love them.”

To-Bin looked at her in a funny way.

“No, Tanth Bin,” she said, laughing suddenly.  “Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t have a thing for my cousin.  It’s just that I want to understand how he felt, and how Lyla felt, when they had their short time together.  It’s the most tragic romance of the Last Days.”

“Could be,” said To-Bin, underneath the gentle blows of the robot masseuse.  “You’ve been changing the script ahead a lot of different ways, though.  Minor, but still changes.”

“Yes, Toior, we have.  New insights, new perspectives.  I....”

“Say no more, Karaish.  I can tell.”

She flushed.

“You think I don’t know when a woman starts keeping company?  What kind of holo director do you think I am?  I’ve seen it more often than a marrying priest, probably.  I think he’s good for you.  If he isn’t, I’ll have him frozen out of the business.”

“Oh, not that!  Don’t worry.  Van is good.  On scripting, I mean.”

“I know what you mean.”

Kara drew in a long breath and let it out.  To-Bin continued.

“You got a talent for making people like you, Karaish.  Even love you.  I think you can make this work.  Emphasis on the ‘think’.  But just remember: when you burn some bridges, it isn’t so easy to build them back up again.”

She kept quiet.

“So I want you to be sure of this, Kara.  Be very, very sure.  It may be the best move of your career.  But if it loses you your relationship with your cousin...that’s not much of a tradeoff.”

“So...you think I shouldn’t do it?”

“I think if you stopped now, I’d have your mind laundered.  Keep going, Karaish.  Just remember what I said.  Now, scoot.  I’m going to a meeting with the directors and going to tell them how brilliant I think your script is.”

“Thank you, Toior.”  She smiled, sincerely.

“And if your boyfriend doesn’t make it even more brilliant than that, I’ll feed you both to a Thought Beast.  Go.”

    -K-

(Scene: Rainbow Canyon.  Huge aurora over the setting, set up by holos. [Note to SFX: Get references on this and GET IT RIGHT.] Kal and Lyla will be climbing stone stairs to the top.  They don’t go by the grav-lift.  Both will be panting a bit from the climb.  We won’t see them until they come around the bend, but we’ll hear them.  Also their shoes on the stair steps.)

KAL (unseen): Three-quarters of a mile up here and I don’t want to think about how many steps.

LYLA (unseen): Be nice, Kal.  Take a look at that, oh, that aurora up there.  Have you ever seen such a thing before?

KAL (unseen, getting closer): Yes.  Yes, I have.  At the North P...

LYLA (unseen, closer): What?

KAL (closer): No. No, Lyla, I’ve never seen anything like it before.

(Lyla comes into view.  We see her at first from above.  She’s wearing a protective helmet and a climbing suit over her dress.  Kal is right behind, wearing a helmet and a harness containing a backpack, but he’s still got on his costume.  We get the feeling he might even sleep in it.  Both are a bit tired and sweaty, but that’s understandable.  Lyla is in front, and as they get to the top of the canyon, they’re alone.  It’s almost dusk.  She takes off her helmet and uses a static comb to coif her hair properly.  Then she begins to unzip her climbing suit, revealing a posh party dress underneath it.  She presses the edges of the split in front and back together to form the skirt and, predictably, looks gorgeous.  We hear a grunt and thud to stage right.  She looks in that direction.)

LYLA: Kal?  Are you all right?

(Cut to: Kal, sprawled on the grass, face-up, lying on his backpack.)

KAL: I’m...just fine, Lyla.  Just fine.

LYLA: Let me help you off with that, dear.  Turn over a bit.

(He does.  She undoes the straps of his backpack and pushes studs at the side of it.  The backpack unfolds into a tripod table with a picnic lunch on it.  She pushes it lower to the ground so they can eat while sitting on the grass.  Kal is lying on his back, sighing and getting his breath.)

LYLA: Kal, you can’t be that out of shape.  For heaven’s sake, you don’t look that out of shape.

KAL: I’m just not used to doing this.  Not like this, I mean.  That is...I need to do this more often.

(Lyla profers drumstick to him.)

LYLA: Up.  Flamebird.  Just for you.

KAL: Thanks.

(He takes it and begins eating.  She starts in on a salad.)

LYLA: Where did you come from, Kal?

KAL: These days, Lyla...these days, I’m not so sure anymore.

LYLA: The Man of Mystery.  Did I tell you I love mysteries, Kal?

(His hand edges towards hers.)

KAL: Yeah.  I love a mystery, too.  Are you a mystery girl?

LYLA: The fans think I am.  Box-office beauty, dream lover to anybody who pays credits to see a show, mistress in the gossip rags to half the leading men in the city.  That’s what they think I am, Kal.

KAL: What do you think of that?

LYLA (shrugs): Legend.  Some of it’s truth, some of it’s lies, some of it’s publicity.  I’ve mostly ceased to care.

KAL: I’m glad.

(She smiles as he takes her hand.)

KAL (gently): But you have loved.

(Lyla looks at him, hesitantly, then leans back with both arms supporting her from behind, looking at the sky.)

LYLA: Yes, Kal, I have loved.

KAL: And...

LYLA: That’s all I want to say about it, Kal.  I’ve loved.

KAL: All right.

(Lyla begins eating again.  So does Kal.)

LYLA: What about you?

KAL: Ummm?

LYLA: What about you?  Have you ever loved?

KAL: Oh.  Uh, yes, I did.  Once.

LYLA: Only once?

KAL (hesitant): I’ve been busy.

LYLA: You must have been.

(Kal gives a look of emotional withdrawal.  Seeing it, Lyla reaches out her hand and lays it on his wrist.)

LYLA: Kal, I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to pry.

KAL: No, that’s all right, Lyla.  I think that’s what both of us came out here for, really.  To pry.

(Lyla is silent, looking at him.)

KAL (putting a hand behind her back): I appreciate your confidence.

LYLA: Oh, that’s all right, Kal.  Really, it is.

KAL: No, you don’t understand.  There’s a lot I can’t tell you.  Perhaps I never can.  I hope that isn’t the case.

LYLA: I understand, Kal.

KAL (shakes his head, sadly): No.  You don’t.

(Lyla looks at him, concernedly.  Then her expression softens.)

LYLA: Kal.  Tell me about the one.

KAL: The one I loved?

(Lyla nods.  Kal releases her and sits with his hands on his knees, contemplating the past.  She waits.)

KAL: I was a boy.  A young man, that is.  A couple of years from being an adult.  At any rate...I met her at a dance.  

LYLA: A dance?

KAL: Yes, a dance.  A school dance.  She was a redhead.  I knew another girl who was a redhead, and we’d gone out together a lot, but...this girl was different.  A girl of my dreams.  Intelligent beyond belief.  (Pause) She...knew a lot about me.

(Lyla crosses her legs, waiting.)

KAL: It was as though she’d been put together just for me.  And I...we...we loved.  

(Pause)

LYLA: Kal...

KAL (cutting her off): We loved, Lyla.  Within the space of a month, we loved.  My parents knew nothing about it.  We loved.  Then...(sighs)...it was over.  She was gone.  I never saw her again.  (Pause) A test.

LYLA: A test?

KAL (getting up, angrily): That was all it was, just a test.  A fr...a blasted test!  They, he had to know how I’d feel...

LYLA: Who did?

KAL: My teacher!  My...

(Kal suddenly realizes what he’s saying.)

KAL: I’m sorry, Lyla.  Believe me, I’m sorry.  Let’s forget about it, okay?

(Pause.  Then she shakes her head, taking his hand gently.)

LYLA: Kal.  Forgetting about it would be the worst thing you could do.

(He lies back, hands behind his head.  She lies beside him.  The sun has just about gone down now and they’re looking up at the aurora.)

KAL: See that up there, Lyla?

LYLA: Mmhmm.

KAL: They say that Rao himself put that up there, as a sign.  After the great flood.

LYLA: I’m glad he did, Kal.  

KAL: Yeah.  Me too.

LYLA: I’m glad he put something down here, too.  As another sign.

KAL (hesitantly): You said you, that you loved...

LYLA: Yes, Kal.  Yes, I did.  But not like this before.  That sounds like such a cliche, but...

KAL: No.  Don’t apologize.  Cliches are shorthands of the soul, sometimes.

(Lyla snuggles closer to him.  The sun is down and the sky is dark.  We can see Mother Moon above, near the changing aurora.)

LYLA: Is it all right to ask how long you’ve been alive, Kal?

KAL: Lyla, I never really lived until now.

(Pause)

LYLA: Nor I, Kal.

(Kal takes a long breath.)

KAL: Nothing matters but you.

(The two embrace and kiss, long and soulfully.  The aurora seems to surround them both.  They begin caressing each other, even more intimately, until finally we see hands go to clothing catches.  We cut from tasteful scenes of their embracing and loving, suggesting more nudity than we show, to, dramatically, a simulation of the boiling uranium at Krypton’s core.  The pulsing and force of the substance seems synchronized [and had better be] to the rhythm of Kal and Lyla’s lovemaking.  We get closer to the core, with appropriate musical effects, and cut back to their lovemaking, until the final powerful burst of core material causes a mild Kryptonquake as they climax.  It is night now, and both of them are in shadows.  Their breaths come heavily.)

LYLA: Kal...I felt...I felt the world move.

KAL (embracing her, so that she does not see his grim expression): Yes, Lyla.  (Pause) So did I.

    -K-

“Cut,” said the director.

Kara and Van-Zee, in their underwear, looked at the crew.  For the first time since the scene had started, he looked embarrassed.  Then the tech folks gave him a spontaneous round of applause.  He plastered on a sheepish grin.  She smiled and hugged him.  “You’re a star,” she said.

“I’ll see stars once my wife sees this,” said Van-Zee.  “I feel like a fool, Kara.”

“Don’t.  You did great.  It’s only make-believe, Van, and you’re doing a great job.”

“Well, I hope Sylvia takes it in the spirit of a job.”

“One thing I’ve found.  It’s a great way to get the juices flowing for the real thing later on.”

“Oh,” he said.  “Uh.  Maybe I should get dressed?”

“Of course,” she said.  “That’s all we’re shooting today.”

“Do you think you could, that is, talk to Sylvia about this?  I want her to know there’s nothing between us.”

“Van.  We’re related.”

“I know.”

“But yes, I’ll be glad to talk to her.  And...oh, you, Roj.  Do you have to get a picture of me like this?”

“Why not, Kara?” said the guy with the 3-D still camera.  “The best publicity for a picture is a half-naked girl.”

She gave him a sarcastic look, then did a pose that was a lot more revealing for him to snap before wrapping a towel about herself and heading towards the director.

“Well, Gro?  What did you think?”

Gro-Nas, the director, scratched his nose to give himself time to reply.  “Good scene,” he said.

“Thank you,” said Kara.  From him, that was praise indeed.

“You’ve never done that kind of lovemaking scene in one of your shows before.”

“Tell me about it,” she said.  “I think I’m gonna be schizoid until this thing is over.”

“You should be,” he said.  “Just remember to bring it here every morning at 7 sharp.  Got it?”

“Got it with locks on,” said Kara, giving him a playful tweak of the chin.  She walked off to her trailer.  Once there, she showered, dried with a heatlamp, wrapped herself up in a robe, and sat in front of her comlink camera.  With a command, the device put a call through to Van-Ol, in the office at the studios, writing and scooping up a bowlful of dinner.  “Vaaan,” she called.  “I’m lonely.”

“Kaaara,” he responded.  “I’m writing.”

“I’ve just done a love scene, Van,” she said.  

“I know,” he said.  “And without this next scene, we’re going to be up against it on Friday.”

“You’re incorrigible.”

“One of my better points,” he said, working his keyboard with one hand while he used the other to feed himself.  “Lemme alone for an hour, Kara.  I’ve got to get this done.”

“You’ll do better with inspiration,” she purred.

“Oh, you’re inspiring me.  Can’t you tell?”

“I prefer hands-on inspection,” she said.  “I’m coming over.”

“What?  Kara, hold on!  You can’t...”

“Out,” she said, and the comlink shut off.  Before he could call her back, Kara put on a pair of shoes and went out the door.  She grinned at the crew as she sashayed by, and they gave her a hoot and applause.

“Hey, Kara, where you going?” yelled one of the stagehands.

“Don’t worry, luv,” she threw back over her shoulder.  “You can read all about it in the gossip feeds tomorrow.”

The laughter made her smile.  So did the looks she got as she traipsed, robe-clad and sandaled, across the lot, across a street, and into the Ar-Rom Studios offices.  She didn’t have an ID, but they let her in anyway.  It only took a little vamping for her to get past the guard into Van’s office.  She threw open the door.

“I said, ‘Vaaaan,’” she smiled, looking in at the writer.  He gaped, an image of her deserted trailer room still on the comlink.

“Kara, I said...”, he began.

She closed the door and went over to him, lifting him up gently by the underarms.  “I know, Van.  And once we’re done, I promise to help you write.  For now...it’s break time.”

Her hands went to the robe sash, undid it, and let it fall on the floor.  She stepped out of her sandals.

“Oh, boy,” said Van, resignedly.  “Okay, break.”

    -K-

It was a good while before Van got back to work, with Kara helping, as promised.  He wouldn’t charge the studio overtime for the time in between. Pounding at the keyboard, he let the verbal recorder go for the moment.  “There’s something we’re still missing,” he said.  “Some blamed thing I wish I knew.”

“And what is that?”  She looked up, lying on the floor and once again enrobed, looking over books of research material and printouts of the new script pages.  “Tell me.”

“We’ve never found out that much about the incident in which Lyla lost her teaching job.  I know we can imagine it, but we don’t know for sure what happened.”

She shrugged.  “I’m sure you’ve been researching the supervisor.”

“He wasn’t a very public man, Karaish.  Still, you never know.  Comp, give me Ren-Tai, files, Fort Rozz Ed System, pre-Destruction.”

The computer gave a tone of compliance.  A holographic screen came up before Van, to the right of the screen he was working on.  With a touch of his hand, he scrolled it to the right, paging through what information there was.  Kara came up behind him and rubbed his shoulders, gently.  To her, it looked like the same stuff they’d gone through repeatedly.  Towards the end, the comp unit had dredged up a little more.  One was a larger version, less cropped, of the photo taken at the supervisor’s retirement ceremony.  Van was about to move past it.

“Hold on,” said Kara.  “Stop right there.  Blow that picture up a little.”

“Your wish,” said Van.  The holographic display expanded to a one-by-two-foot image in the air.

“Identifier,” said Kara.  “On this person.”  She pointed at a little blonde girl seated in the group behind Ren-Tai at the ceremony.

The computer’s synth-voice spoke.  “Altra X Ren-Tai,” it said.  “Ward to Ren-Tai.  No birth record.”

“No birth record?” repeated Kara.

“For further information, visit this datalink,” said the machine, as both Van and Kara scrutinized the image.

“Are we both thinking what I think I’m thinking?” asked Van, softly.

“I couldn’t think anything else,” said Kara.  “Hit that datalink, and anything else we can get on her.  Altra...here we come.”

  (next chapter)

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