Supergirl (Kara of Rokyn):
Kal & Lyla
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
“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
His mien changed. “I am sorry, Tynth Zor-El. That I cannot
“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
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.
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
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.
[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
“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.
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
“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.”
(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
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
(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.
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
(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
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
(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
(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.)
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.)
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
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.”