Supergirl (Kara of Rokyn):

    Kal & Lyla

    Part 8

    by DarkMark

Director Mor-Wi sat across from Kara in a scene she’d begun to think she was playing too often lately.  “Blessings, Tynth Zor-El,” he said.

“Blessings returned, Tanth Wi,” said Kara.  “Thanks very much for making time for my request.”

“We don’t usually do this sort of thing for private individuals,” said the director.  He was in his forties, dressed in a conservative suit and headband, but he had on no less than four fraternal society pins on his chest.  Oh, well, thought Kara, everybody had their quirks.  “So consider yourself very privileged, Tynth.  We’d also appreciate you keeping this confidential.”

“I will, Tanth,” Kara said.  “But I did come here for information about Altra X Ren-Tai.”

“Yes.  Well,” said the director.  He raised a hand and passed it over a sensor beam.  The CompUnit in the wall projected a hologram.  It was, Kara noted, a genetic chart.  A label above it identified it as that of Altra.  “This is the chart of the girl in question.”

“I see,” said Kara.  “She died, of course, in the Destruction.”

“So many did, Tynth,” said Mor-Wi.  “We are lucky just to have the records we do.  Now, as to the chart of Tynth Lerrol.”  He waved his hand again, and a second hologram sprang up beside the first.  Kara caught her breath.  It was the genetic signature of Lyla Lerrol herself.

“Now, as to the matches,” said the director.  As soon as he said the phrase, red beams lanced out from one chart to the other, connecting points of similarity.  Kara counted them as best she could.  Over twenty.  No, more than thirty.  

She was silent.

The director enjoyed his moment of drama.  Folding his hands, he said, “So Altra X Ren-Tai was, as far as genetics can determine, the daughter of Lyla Lerrol.”

“Rao be praised,” breathed Kara.  “Thank you, director.”

“My pleasure,” said the man, and looked like he meant it.

She leaned forward in her chair.  “Now, can you get me a match for the father?”

His mien changed.  “I am sorry, Tynth Zor-El.  That I cannot do.”

“I understand your reluctance, Morior,” she said, using the superior suffix to flatter him.  “But all the parties involved in this have been dead for many years.  What would it hurt?”

“It would hurt our tradition of confidentiality,” said Mor-Wi.  “We must respect the families of the deceased.  I can tell you she was the daughter of Lyla Lerrol, who was a public personage.  As to who was Altra’s father...that I cannot say.”

“Do you know who it was, Director Mor-Wi?  Do you have this knowledge?”

It took him awhile to answer.  “Even if I had it, I could not reveal it, even to you.  The audience is ended, Tynth Zor-El.”

He stood and extended his hand.  Kara stood and took it.  At least he had confirmed that Lyla had a daughter, and that it was the one they decided was the most likely suspect.  And it had provided them with another chunk of story for the movie.

She made her way out of the building, half-acknowledging the waves and stares of the office personnel she passed.  Already, Kara was thinking about a way to leverage the last of the information she wanted.  Who to talk to, where to look, how to get it.

It was all story.  Without that, the best-photographed, best-acted, best-costumed motion picture was rot.  People came to the theaters to be told a story, to see people they could relate to.  And a story was what they would have.

The thrill of it was, Kara realized, that she was learning the story herself.  If it interested her, would it also interest an audience?

There was only one way to find out.

    -K-


Van and Kara took the next day off and went swimming in the ocean.  They needed time off, she declared, from the blasted movie.  Creative strain could be as stressful as physical strain, and usually was.  So she slipped on a red bikini and a transparent headset that provided oxygen enough for hours, drove a half-mile over the sea in their hovercraft with Van (also in an oxygen mask and trunks), and plunged in.  

The sealife was, of course, different from that of Krypton.  The zoologists had been careful about releasing aquarium fish from Kandor into the Rokyn seas, but a few species from the Old World were starting to thrive.  Meanwhile, there were enough interesting examples of flora and fauna for Kara and Van.  Of course, the most intriguing examples of fauna for both of them were each other.

To imagine, thought Kara as she looked at a color-changing spectrofish, that only a few years ago I was going nowhere on Earth, in a jerk job, pretending to be somebody I wasn’t, and only free when I put on a little red, yellow, and blue costume.  True enough, I saved a lot of lives, did a lot of good as Supergirl.  But that isn’t what I have here.

I love what I have here.

Purposefully, she swam through the well-lit waters.  True, she thought, it’s been a journey.  Wrestler, model, actress...it’s work.  But I’m appreciated here, a lot more than when I was on Earth.  I don’t have to be a switched-sex carbon copy of Superman here.  I can be who I am.  I can be sexy, I can be smart, I can be celebrated.  And yes, I can fall in love.

Even though I didn’t expect to.

Van sent her a text message that appeared just above regular eye level. [SURFACE?]

[YOU WANT TO?] she messaged back.

[DO I EVER!]
[I MEANT DO YOU WANT TO SURFACE!]

[YEAH, THAT TOO.]

She smiled to herself and headed upward.  When her head broke the waves, she kept the breathing helmet on–-no sense, after all, in being knocked down and drowned by a big wave–and swam towards their hovercraft, not far distant.  Kara saw Van doing the same thing.  He wasn’t any great hunk, but she had to admit she liked the looks of him more over time.  

Of course, it was obvious he liked her looks from Day One.

He made it to the hovercraft shortly before her and raised it a few more feet above the water, grinning.  “Down,” she directed.

“Up,” he said, just as it came within reach.  It went up above her hand by several feet.

“Down,” she said.  “I’m not in the mood for this, Van.”

“Up,” he said.  “Well, too bad.  I am.”

“You’re not getting any today!”

“If I’m not, you’re not getting in the hovercraft.”

“Fine.  Let me drown.”  She took off her helmet and floated on her back, holding the transparent globe in one hand.  “Take a good look at what you’re missing.”

“Won’t miss it for long.”  Van leaped from the hovercraft, which bounced a bit from side to side as he did.  He splashed into the water beside Kara and grabbed her.  She shrieked in laughter and grabbed him back.  The two of them grappled a moment in the water and then just held each other.  

Kara said, “I don’t want to talk about work for awhile.”

“Neither do I,” said Van.  “It’s our day off.”

“Not our day off from everything.  Bring the hovercraft down.”

At the sound of her voice, the craft came down to water level.  She watched Van for a long moment, wondering if he’d direct it up again.  He just smirked.  When he did nothing else, she disengaged from him and clambered aboard.

When Van’s hand touched the rung on the side of the hovercraft, she said, “Up,” and dragged him out of the water.  He hung there, dripping, his toes three feet above the surface.

“Very funny,” he said.

“If you can drag yourself aboard, you know what kind of reward you’re in for.”

“Out here?  In the open?”

“Why not?  You think the seabirds will mind?”

Van grabbed the rung with his other hand, swung his leg over the side, and came aboard.  Kara smiled and put her hands to her bikini top.

Things proceeded as expected.

    -K-

The next morning, both were at a long-table meeting with To-Bin and a small batch of financiers, as well as a number of creative folks connected with the movie and a couple of bean counters for the studio.   Also present was their historical advisor, Hi-Lor, who had done a multivolume series on the Days of the Destruction.  Hi, who was a bit too prissy for Kara’s tastes, nonetheless was a first class research man.

“Okay,” said To, opening the meeting in as formal a manner as he ever assumed.  “Today’s shoot is damn near the core of the movie.  We pull this one off, we can pull off anything we’ve got to come.  I hope.  What’s the word, you two?”  He was pointing to Kara and Dev.

“The word is,” said Kara, hoping she looked as convincing as she felt nervous, “we’ve got a great choice for Brainiac and the best sfx team in the world to back us up.  We can do this, Toior.”

Gro-Nas, the director, spoke in turn.  “You’ve seen the test holos on Ern-Yu, Bin,” he said.  “If we’ve got a better black-band in show business, I want to know about it.”

Kara tented her hands under her chin.  The term “black-band” referred to a bad guy in the movies, implying he wore a black headband...like a “black hat” in Hollywood.  Ern-Yu, whom they’d picked for the all-important part of Brainiac, was crucial.  He’d played villains so chilling even she had to force herself to keep her eyes on the screen.  Rokyn horror flicks weren’t as gory as Earth’s, but they made up in psychology what they lacked in blood.

“I’ve seen them,” said To, and left it at that.  “Anyone else?”

Tynth Te-Rab, a female among the financiers, said, “If Ern-Yu is playing Brainiac, Tanth Bin, I’d say you’ve at least got something worth a quarter of a billion credits right there.”

“Don’t let him hear you say that,” grumbled Van.  “He’ll want half a billion in payment.”

Gro-Nas cracked a smile.  They’d had to dig deep to pay Ern, true, but he ought to be worth it.  “We’ve got a week to do this segment,” he said.  “I think we can wrap it in half of that, but don’t quote me.”

“He’s being optimistic,” said Van.  “But I think we can finish this one on time and on budget.”

“I’m still concerned with Van-Zee,” said another financier.  “He looks great in what we’ve seen so far.  But he doesn’t have any drawing power, per se.”

Kara had to stand on that note.  “Neither do I, as a straight dramatic actress.  Yet.  Anybody want to kick me off the shoot?”  She looked up and down the double line of faces, challenging them.  Thankfully, she was mad enough not to take anything even from Ar-Rom, if he’d been there.  This was a gamble, but she had the cards to show.

She continued.  “If anybody thinks this is nepotism, you’d better think again.  I had to fight to get Van-Zee to accept the part, I had to fight to get the studio to let him in, and I’ve had to fight to keep him there once they did.  But anybody who’s seen the stuff we’ve already shot knows one thing: he can play Kal-El.  He can play him as well as or better than any actor I’ve seen, including Greg Reed, on Earth.  You haven’t seen him, but I have, and believe me, he’s great.  But Van is at least as good as that.  Why?  Because he’s an El.  Because he’s one of the Family, and he knows how the Family acts and reacts.  He doesn’t know Kal as well as I do, but he’s been around him enough.  And believe me, on this holo, you don’t want an empty name who just looks pretty and walks through the part of Superman.  You want somebody who can make you believe he’s Superman.  And believe me, tanthi and tyntho...when I see him, I do.”

“Well said,” put in the lady financier.  “But this isn’t an action holo or a wrestling match, Tynth Zor-El.  It’s a serious movie.  Will the audience accept you in that role?”

For a moment, Kara felt like the woman had stuck a hatpin into her soul.

“Frab it!”  Van was on his feet.  “You’ve seen what Kara can do with this part.  You’ve seen the dailies, and I’ve read your memos on them.  ‘Outstanding.’  ‘Worth the mint.’  Do those sound like votes of no-confidence?  Plus, something you may not have known: Kara started her acting career on Earth, as a dramatic actress, in a daily program.  That takes guts, endurance, and ability.  A lot more ability than any two actresses I’ve ever known, and that’s probably a low number.  Sure, it’s my picture, too, and I’m defending it on that ground.  But tanthi and tyntho, you damned well know that we’ve got a winner here, so far.  If you don’t pull out and make it one of the great lost holos of Rokyn, we’ll give you a winner.  Let us do this week, and we’ll prove it to you.  Come on, folks.  Show me some guts.”

To-Bin smiled, briefly.  “If this flubs, we’ll show you some guts, all right, Van.  Your own.  What of it, friends?  Can I have a show of hands as a vote of confidence?”

Hands went up, fairly quickly, around the table.  Even the female financier, after a moment, put hers up.  Kara held onto the tabletop with her hands to steady herself.  It wouldn’t do to let the woman know she’d found her soft white underbelly.

“I think that settles it,” To-Bin said.  “Boys and girls, let’s get back to the set.  And you’d better give me a Brainiac I couldn’t even take my kids to see.”

    -K-

(Scene: City Circle in Kandor. [Note:  We’ll be filming there, but you’d better make sure to convert it by sfx to its status shortly pre-Destruction.  Check with Hi-Lor and the photo archive to make sure of it, because they’ll never let us live it down if we have a building that was built in the Bottle. –Van]   A horde of extras is looking up at the big public address system with Jor-El’s face on it.  He addresses the crowd.)

JOR-EL: Tanthi and Tyntho, greetings.  Blessings on your houses.  Today we begin a new era for Krypton.  For today, we must actually save Krypton, by saving your very lives.  The tremors beneath your feet are not merely normal stratal shifting.  As I have said before, as I have demonstrated to my great dread, they are the harbingers of Krypton’s destruction.   Yet, they need not be your destruction.  The first of our great Space Arks will board today, and will depart a day hence.  We have purposely left five hundred berths open, after choosing volunteers with the necessary skills to begin anew on another world.  Those berths may be occupied by anyone of good health and no criminal record.  We offer this freely to you.  Those who volunteer shall become the pioneers of our new civilization.  Those who refuse are certainly free to do so...and to pray that I have been wrong.  I now leave it in your hands.  We shall return in a day’s time.  Rao’s blessings be upon you.

(A fruit hits the image as it winks out.  CUT TO: the crowd.  One guy, possibly the fruit-wielder, is waving a fist and yelling at Jor-El’s image.)

FRUIT GUY: Scaremonger!  Fear merchant!  IDIOT!

2ND GUY: I’m not getting on any damned spaceship, especially not if he’s the pilot!

3rd GUY: Crazy Jor...the guy had credibility longer than your arm, and he whizzed it all away.  Can you believe it?

4th GUY: (thoughtfully, pausing) Maybe...I can.

(We pull back from the City Circle, with a suitably antique entertainment on the telescreen, until we see on a nearby hill part of the Space Ark.  Continue to pull back until we see the whole Ark and the facility about it.  Techs are attending to it, some of the crew are standing outside jawing and looking up at the sky, passengers with bags in hand are lined up at the gate to the Ark.  Improv dialogue.

(Pull up from this for an aerial view of the Ark and the installation.  Keep pulling up till we see Krypton from low orbital space, with the shining arc of it at the bottom of the frame and outer space at the top.  Mother Moon may be in the upper left.  After a couple of seconds, we see a slight gleam in the distance of space.  Too unusual to be a star.

(We gradually and ominously move towards the gleam with appropriate foreboding in the music, until we see the spacecraft of BRAINIAC.  Hold there for a few moments, slowly capturing the ship’s image as it hangs in space, examining it from different angles.  Then, in overlay, we hear the cheeping of a simianoid.

(Cut to: the bridge of the ship.  Visible is the white simianoid, Koko, who chitters away on his perch of a control console.   Also visible is a green hand and purple-robed arm.  The hand punches a couple of buttons on the console.  Koko chitters and jumps on the arm.  He clambers up it, quickly.

(Different angle.  Face-on, from the knees up, we see BRAINIAC.  He stares at the telescreen (our POV) without emotion, without blinking, without displaying any human feeling.  Koko chitters and crawls around him like a snake on the body of the Devil.  Brainiac does not move, any more than is necessary.  Remember he is a humanoid machine, and, unless he is around sentient beings, has no need to display human mannerisms.  Keep us there long enough for the mood to build.  His expression DOES NOT CHANGE.

(Cut to: another angle.  Brainiac from the side, mostly a profile from the shoulders up.  Koko is sidewinding around him, but does not block our sight of Brainiac’s head.  Brainiac pays him no mind.  On the telescreen before him, Brainiac has a view of Kandor.

(Cut to: a matching shot of the real Kandor, and in the distance, not unlike the view we had of Brainiac’s ship, we get a distant shot of Jor-El’s hovercraft.  We zoom in until it becomes distinct.  Within it are four occupants: Kal, Jor, Lara, and Lyla.  All four of them have a more somber look than before, and we’ll find out why in just a moment.  Jor is at the controls.)

JOR: (pause, sigh) We have to press on, Kal.

KAL: We have no other choice, Jor.

JOR: Oh, yes, we do.  We can sit in ignorance like the vast majority of people on this planet, listening to their music-flowers, thinking that things are always going to be as they are today.  We can hope and pray that I’m a fool.  Ultimately, we can be blown to Sheol with the rest of them.

LARA: Jor.

JOR: But we won’t...we will not let this happen.  (JOR pounds control surface for emphasis.)  I will father a child, Kal-El.  I will not...will not allow this child to die along with the ignorati on Krypton.  Even if every other man, woman, and child on this planet dies, even if, Rao help us, Lara and I should die, my child will live!

(KAL looks pained, trying not to blurt out what he feels, struggling hard with his emotions.  LYLA catches it and reaches out for him.  But nothing is said, until Jor speaks again.  We see Kandor through the viewport in front of him.)

JOR: Even if my father had to die.

(Pause.  Then Lyla speaks.)

LYLA: I grieve with you, Jor.

JOR: Thank you, Lyla.  But you...cannot grieve as I do.

KAL (a bit aggravated): She understands that, Jor.

LARA: Kal, calm yourself.

KAL: All apologies, Lara.  And to you, my...

(Freeze for a beat on Jor, looking at Kal.  Then on Kal, mouth open, frozen-faced.)

KAL: ...mentor.

(There’s a lessening of tension.)

LARA: I didn’t know you would take the death of Jor’s father so hard, Kal.  You felt it as though you were family.

KAL: I don’t wish to speak of it right now, Lara.

(Lyla looks on Kal with curiosity.  She may be figuring out more than she should know.)

LARA: Even so.  If I had the power to, I would accept you as an El of my new family.

JOR (slowly): And I...do accept you, Kal.  As a grafted branch of our tree.  That is, if you will accept.

(Kal looks at him.  Then he extends his hand, in silence.  Jor shakes it.)

JOR: There was no other way.  Death does not care for our schedules.

KAL: No.  No, it doesn’t.

JOR: We had to be at my father’s bedside.  We had to make the arrangements, to attend the funeral and...and burial.

LARA: Should I drive, Jor?

JOR: No, thank you, Lara.  I...

LYLA: Jor-El, I can drive a hovercar, too.  Perhaps it would be best if I drove today, instead of one of you.

KAL: It’ll be okay, Lyla.  I’ll drive, if Jor needs me.

JOR: Will all of you be silent?  Please.  This is a day of triumph, not just a day of tragedy.  Look there.  See it?  Kandor.  And within it, the Space Ark.  And within that, our escape from our homeworld.  The beginning of a new life...that the seed of Krypton should never die.

(View of Kandor.  CUT TO: Brainiac’s starcraft, interior.  View of Brainiac, encircled by Koko.  Pan down rapidly to his hand, forefinger outstretched, stabbing down at the control console.  He touches a button.  

(CUT TO: Exterior of Brainiac’s starcraft, in space, above Krypton.  A ray shoots forth from an exterior cannon.

(CUT TO: Kandor, struck by the ray, glowing brilliantly for a long, long instant, burning so brightly our vision is obscured.

(CUT TO: Interior of Jor-El’s hovercraft.  All of the occupants look astonished.  Kal and Jor have their eyes shielded by their forearms, while Lara puts her hands over her eyes and Lyla, her eyes stung, turns her head.

(CUT TO: A bottle within Brainiac’s starcraft.  In an instant, the city of Kandor, miniaturized, materializes within it.  

(CUT TO: Kandor, inside the bottle.  We see the bottle wall in the distance, on the horizon.  The place is chaos.  People are picking themselves up from the ground.  Hovercrafts have crashed.  There is visible property damage.  Children are crying.  People are looking astonished, fearful.)

1st KANDORIAN: What...what in the name of Rao...?

2nd KANDORIAN: We’re...alive...

3rd KANDORIAN: Jor-El.  Was Jor-El right?  Was Jor-El RIGHT?

(Above them is a great noise, a huge sucking.  The Kandorians look up.  High above them, a huge stopper is being fitted into the neck of their bottle.  There is a hole in it, and a double plastic tube protruding a bit beyond the stopper.  We hear a soon-to-be familiar sound: the hissing of air being fed into the Bottle, and old air circulating out of it.

(Silence, as we see the Kandorians looking upward in awe.  Then a young girl looks outward, and, in terror, tugs at her father’s sleeve.  After a moment, he looks down at her, then looks in the direction she’s pointing.  His face shows the ultimate terror, and astonishment.  Others join him, individually, gape-mouthed in terror.

(On the horizon, looking through the wall of the bottle, impassive, sinister, we see the colossal face of BRAINIAC.

(The Kandorians begin screaming, and do not stop for a very, very long time.

(Cut to: Krypton.  The crater that once was Kandor.  We see the crater from full-view, giving the audience enough time to register it.  There are people, tiny by perspective, looking at it from the outskirts, but we hear no voices yet.  Everyone seems stunned.  We pan until we see a view of a landed hovercraft, with four figures outside it, standing near the crater.

(Cut to: Jor, Kal, Lara, and Lyla, the four of them standing outside the crater.  Three of them don’t know what has happened.  One of them knows all too well.  They seem immobile for a long, long moment.  Then Jor-El falls to his hands and knees.)

JOR: No...

LARA (going to Jor, trying to put her hand on his shoulder): Jor-El...

JOR: No.  No.  NOOOOOOOOO....

(Jor-El’s scream of agony, his face upraised and his eyes tearing, his fists clenched, echoes throughout the scene for minutes.  Lara, weeping, holds him and comforts him.  Lyla, absolutely uncomprehending, cannot get a handle on things.  Kal is standing by himself, his fists clenched as if he’s trying to burst them to pieces.  He’s looking down.  Lyla hears him muttering and goes to him.  We hear him more distinctly as she gets nearer.)

KAL: I knew.  I knew.  I knew.  I knew.  I knew...

(Look of astonishment on Lyla’s face.  Hold for a long moment.

(Cut to: shot from above and at an angle, the four grieving Kryptonians on the site of a tragedy that, ironically, would ensure Krypton’s survival.  We hold for an eternal moment.)

    -K-

Nobody could speak in the preview room for a very long time.

Kara hadn’t even been born when Kandor was shrunken.  She did help save and enlarge it, with Superman.  But for the rest of the people in the room, what they had seen was an absolute gut-shot.  Even Van, who had written the thing, could not say a word.

It was one thing to attend the filming.  It was another to see the entire scenario put together, expertly.  She’d seen Ern-Yu in his turn as Brainiac before the cameras, had been impressed mightily with his presence.  But it was so intense on holo that she could barely stand it.  To the Kandorians, Brainiac was Hitler.  No...check that.  He was closer to Satan.  If Satan had been visible and gigantic and looking at you from the horizon anytime he wanted.  

It was no wonder that a cult had sprung up once, claiming the Kandorians were in Hell.

Nobody, including Kara, was saying anything, because nobody, including Kara, could think of the right thing to say.

Finally, To-Bin broke the silence.

“If all we did was do this one sequence, we would have one of the greatest examples of cinema ever to come from this studio.  

“You have one Sheol of a job before you, tanthi and tyntho.  You’ve got to give us another hour and a half worth of movie that, by the end, can make them forget it.”

Kara, after about half a minute, spoke.  Smiling.

“We’ll try, Toior.  We’ll try.”

    (next chapter)

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