Supergirl (Kara of Rokyn):

    Kal & Lyla

    Part 9

    by DarkMark

(SCENE: The great garden at Lyla’s home, at night. [Make sure we’ve got the plants right. - Van.] Lyla and Kal are sitting side by side.  Kal is tired, more so emotionally than physically.  Lyla is disturbed.  Things are about to break, and neither one knows who will break first.)

LYLA: Kal?

KAL: What?

LYLA: What did you mean by— (Hesitates.)

KAL: (more irritated) What?

LYLA: Well, don’t snap at me, Kal-El!  This is my garden, you know.  This is my house.

KAL (rubbing back of head): Yes, Lyla.  Yes.  It is your house.  (Stands up.)  And you’d better enjoy it, Lyla.  (Walks to edge of garden wall, not looking at her, facing away from us.)  You’d better enjoy it because—

LYLA (concerned): Kal—

KAL:  ----Because you’re not going to have it much longer!  Nobody, Lyla—

LYLA: Kal!

KAL:  ----Nobody’s going to have a—a Sheol-cursed thing on this world much longer.  It’s going to----it’s going to----

LYLA (grabbing his arm): Stop it!  It’s just a theory!

(Kal wheels, looks at her with terrible meaning.  Convey this mostly with the eyes.)

KAL: No, Lyla.  No, it’s not.  I know.

LYLA: How do you know?

KAL: I know.  I thought I could...make a change...

LYLA: To what?  Kal, you’re scaring me.

KAL: You don’t know what scared is, Lyla.  Nobody on this planet knows what scared is, yet.  Nobody but me.

LYLA (looking steadfastly at him, trying to conceal your emotions): You listen to me, Tanth El.  You listen damned well, and I absolutely mean that.  I want you to tell me who you really are, and what’s the meaning behind all this.

KAL: All what?

LYLA: All the----the cryptic talk you’ve been making!  All the strange ways you look at Jor and Lara and, and why you try to hide things from me, and everything.  Everything!  

KAL (trying to comfort Lyla): Lyla.

LYLA (shaking his hand off, almost in tears): You said you knew.  What did you know?  How did you know it?  Are you real, Kal?  Are you a, a human being?  Or are you, I don’t know, some kind of----messenger from Rao or something?

KAL: No, Lyla, no.  I’m a man.  I’m just a man.  A human just like, like you are.  And Lyla, I love you.  That’s—you and my parents are the only thing that makes this world...

LYLA: What?

KAL: ...bearable.  I couldn’t live in it without you.  I couldn’t face the...

LYLA: What did you say, Kal?

KAL (pauses): What?  I said a lot of things, what do you mean?

LYLA: You said your parents.  Who are they, Kal?  Do I know them?

(Kal looks at her a long time and then turns away, starting to walk off.  Lyla hurries after him and then defiantly places herself between him and the doorway.)

LYLA: No, Kal.  This time, I won’t let you walk.

KAL: Get out of my way, Lyla.

LYLA: I’m not going to let you walk away until you tell me who your parents are!

(Both start running over each other’s dialogue.)

KAL: Get out of my way, Lyla, get out of my way!

LYLA: Who are your parents, Kal?  Who are your parents?

KAL: Get out of my way, woman!  Curse it, get out of my way!

LYLA: Your parents, Kal!  Who are your parents?

KAL: Get OUT!

LYLA: WHO ARE YOUR PARENTS, KAL?

KAL: JOR AND LARA, DAMMIT!  JOR AND...

(Long pause.  We hold on Kal’s face, seeing his astonishment, his hands on Lyla’s arms.  He breathes through an open mouth, unable to believe what he has just said.

(CUT TO: Lyla.  She looks at him with equal astonishment, wide-eyed, tears visible, also open-mouthed, also breathing several breaths through it.  Give audience time to get the emotional import of this revelation.)

KAL (finally): Lara.

(CUT TO: A shot of both of them standing there.  Kal slowly lets his arms drop to his sides.  He is looking down.  Lyla reaches out gingerly to touch him.  He flinches back.  She still touches him.  When she speaks, her voice is a bit shaky.)

LYLA: You have to tell me.  Everything.

KAL: You don’t know what you’re asking.

LYLA: You have to tell me all.

KAL: There is so much to tell.  So much I dare not.

LYLA: Like you dare not love me?

(Long pause.  

(Kal takes Lyla in his arms, and she responds.)

KAL (almost in awhisper): For that, I’d dare anything.  Anything, Lyla.

(Cut to an aerial view of the two lovers embracing in the garden.  Fade out.)

    -K-

“Okay.  That’s a wrap,” said Gro-Nas.  

The crew and cast almost groaned with relief.  This had been a hard take, emotionally, and the director hadn’t cut them any slack.  He couldn’t, if it was to work.  Kara and Van-Zee leaned against each other from emotional tiredness.  Van-Ol and Sylvia Van-Zee, sitting side-by-side back of the cameras, looked on and empathized.

Beside them were Nar-Es and Hira, Kara’s advisor and trainer, respectively.  Nar ran his hand through his thinning hair.  “I never thought just looking at something could tire me out, unless it was my Aunt Nessie.  But, sha, Kara, that made me feel like I’d gone three rounds with Powerhand Ob in his prime.”

“Thanks, Nar,” said Kara, her eyes half-closed.  She looked up at Van.  “How about you?  Are you okay?”

“Fine,” said Van-Zee.  

She didn’t believe him.

Despite herself, Kara took him over to his wife Sylvia.  He pulled up an empty chair and plunked himself down in it.  Kara, taking Van-Ol’s hand, looked on as Syl cradled his head against her chest and kissed his hair.  “Van,” said Sylvia.  “I never would have believed you could be Superman.”

“Uh,” he said.

“Right now, I’m beginning to wonder how anyone else can.”

“Uh.”

Kara leaned over and patted his hand.  “Excellent work, cousin.  Just excellent.  Can you hear me?”

“Uh.”

She looked at Sylvia, meaningfully.  “Get him to bed, Syl.  Please.  And if he can’t make it tomorrow, he can’t.  Okay?”

The former Earthwoman nodded.  “Unless he’s a lot better tomorrow, Kara, I’m not letting him out of the house.”

“Know what you mean,” said Kara.  “Sheol.”  

She watched as Sylvia helped Van-Zee up and guided him towards the door.  Kara flopped down on Van-Ol’s lap.  “This shoot is a babootch,” she said.

“You were the one that wanted it.”  Van stroked her back with one hand.

“Don’t I frabbing know it,” said Kara.  “There were only twelve days from the taking of Kandor to Kal leaving the planet.  It’s gonna feel like twelve years when we’re done.”

“Better hope it doesn’t take that long.  Budget boys are already chafing.”

“Let ‘em chafe.  It’s their job to chafe.”

“Honeyhair, I suggest that we get the heck out of here before Gro can pin us to watch the playback.  You need a good night’s and a half sleep.”

“What about you?  Why aren’t you tired?”

“I was tired after I wrote it,” said Van.  “This is where I rest.”

    -K-

That night, she dreamed.

She dreamed of a great battle in the far future, or so it seemed to be, because the Legion of Super-Heroes were there, along with some others.  She was holding something that looked like a tent pole and poking somebody with it.  She was fighting with somebody who looked like herself, in a mask.  When she considered it, she was surprised to find herself in her old Supergirl suit.

Then she dreamed of another great war of heroes and villains.  She and Kal were involved, and someone else, who reminded her of Van-Ol somehow but wasn’t.  This one seemed of greater scope, somehow, and there was much confusion.  Many faces that came and went.  They might have been familiar, but she couldn’t register them all.  One great grey face, which seemed terrifying, loomed before her.  Then it was gone.

And then another dream.  In the future, once again.  Was that the Legion with her?  And she was...she was...

...awake.

She sat up in bed, almost unwillingly, and was glad to feel coverlets and see the comforting darkness, broken only by a small night-light hovering just above the floor.  There, too, was also a reassuring presence, whose sight and feeling and smell were anchoring to her.  Thankfully, he was awakening, too.

“Kara?”

“Van.”  Kara found his hand and squeezed it.  “Thanks for being here.”

“Not like I was gonna take off in the middle of the night.”

She snickered.

Van said, “What’s wrong, hon?  Bad dreams?”

“Kind of.  Just probably overwork.  Vanian, I really don’t know what I’m supposed to do.”

“Get some sleep.”

“Besides that, you idiot.”

“There’s no besides that.  If you don’t, you’re not going to function in the morning.  If I don’t, I won’t function in the morning.  We push back production, we lose money, the backers are unhappy, the newsies get more time to break our cover.  I say we go back to sleep.”

“Yeah.”  Kara embraced her knees.  “I’m just wondering how we’re going to work Altra into the script.”

“I’ve worked her in.”

“You’ve what?”  She threw the covers off.  Kara was only wearing a short gown, but right now she didn’t care what effect her dimly-seen legs would have on him.  “Van, you didn’t...why didn’t you tell me?”

“‘Cause you were busy with the scene with Van-Zee,” he said, looking at the ceiling.  “I wanted you to be thinking about that, and not about Altra.”

“You!”

“Yeah, me.  Furthermore, one of us has to get some sleep.  So if you’re going to be up and around, Kara...”

“Van.”

“...I’m gonna go in the front room and sleep on the couch.  G’night.”  He started to get out of bed.  Kara jumped back into bed on top of him and kissed him on the mouth.  She pushed up, her arms straight out, straddling him, resting her weight on her palms.

“Don’t tell me you want to, right now,” he said.

“Nope, that can wait till after morning.  You little towhead, I ought to know I could count on you.”

“Sure you can.  Up to 21.”

“You wish.”  She slung herself back onto her side of the bed and, with a command, made the night light go out.  “G’nite, Van.”

“G’nite, Kara.”

After awhile, they both snored dissonantly.

    -K-

“Twelve days we gotta cover,” said To-Bin.  “One month we got to do it.  One hour of holo time.  Cut the script.”

Van-Ol’s mouth went dry.  “But, um, Toior, we’re deep into production.  We’ve got a lot of ground to cover, and if we don’t cover it, the movie’s going to lose its impact.  By a factor of...”

“And if you don’t cut it, we’re going to lose financing.  By a factor of.  Do I make myself clear, Ol?”  To wasn’t kidding.  A bit.  Kara could see it in his eyes.  

Carefully, she said, “Toior, why are you doing this?  How have we failed?”

With a gesture, To-Bin summoned up a holoscreen of a financial graph.  “This.  It’s a marvelous production, Kara.  But if this thing fails, which it could...”

“But it won’t!”  She said the words almost involuntarily, standing up from her seat.

“...Which it could,” said To-Bin, with emphasis, “it could put Ar-Rom in the janitizer.  We’ve allotted a batch of money to this production, Kara.  You know that.”

“And we’re very grateful, To,” put in Van.  “You know that, too.”

“Save the sweet talk, Ol,” said To.  “It’s still Ar-Rom’s butt we’re talking about.  Do I think this holo is going to be a hit?  You bet.  Do I think it’s costing too much money for us to risk?  You bet.  We’ve got to cut costs somewhere.”

“To the tune of how much?”,  Kara asked.

“Eight million,” said To, without batting an eye.  “Either of you got that much money on you?  No?  I thought not.”

Leaning over the desk, almost grabbing To by his shirtfront, Kara pleaded.  “To, hear me out.  I know I’m working on a percentage for this one.  But I’m willing to give up even that, to get the picture done.  I’ll let you put the CompUnit on and do a verbal contract, right now.”

“No, Kara,” said To.  “In the first place, I wouldn’t let you.  In the second, it still wouldn’t make up the revenue.  If this thing flies, sure.  But if it doesn’t, I don’t have to tell you the alternative.  We’re going to make the picture.  We just have to cut it.”

“We just,” said Van. “Have to.  Cut it.”

“Right. So you better get out your razor pen and make the changes, boy.  And that’s final.”

Kara swallowed before she spoke again.  “What if it isn’t?”

“What?”  To-Bin gave her a look reserved for people on the edge of losing their jobs.

“What if I could get you something that would put in, Rao-help-me, so much publicity that it would force all of Rokyn to go see this holopic?”

Van was open-mouthed.  To was silent.  He gestured with his hand.

“We don’t have to blow the cover.  Just let them know that I’m working on a holo, and that all of Rokyn could show their gratitude by going to it.”

“They love you, Kara,” said To.  “But even so...”

“This would be something new.  Trust me, To.  Give me a week.  A cursed week.  Can you afford that?”

To hesitated a long moment.  “That could add a lot more credits to the budget, Kara, pushing it back a week.”

“It’ll give Van-Zee time to rest,” she said.  “You saw him, he needs it.  And trust me, Toior, the publicity we’ll buy with this will be worth more than eight million credits in the bank.  Will you trust me?”

He sighed.  “I want to.  What’s your collateral?”

“Your trust.  And my reputation.  On the screen, and in the blue, red, and yellow.  Talk to me, Toior.”

Van wanted to rip the arms off his chair in frustration.  But the moment was up to the both of them.

“One week,” said To-Bin.  “And it damned well better be good.”

Kara almost deflated.  “Thank you, Toior.  Blessings on your house.”

“Yours too, Karaish.  Your one week starts now.”

Van helped her out of the office and didn’t dare speak to her until they were in the parking lot.  “What in Sheol do you think you’re doing, Kara?  What in red-skied Mother Moon heaven are you thinking?”

She sighed and leaned against the hovercar.  “Thinking of the only thing that might save our backsides, Van.  We’ve got to go home.  You have to arrange a trip for me by the WarPort.”

“The WarPort?”

“Yes.  Like it or not, Van, this is a job—for Supergirl.”

    -K-

It was two days before the necessary things could be done, on Earth as it was in Rokyn.  It involved an audience with the president of the United States and calls to two separate prisons.  But, thankfully, the presence of a beautiful girl in a short-skirted costume still carried some weight on Earth.  Also thankfully, they agreed to keep it a secret from Superman.

It all came down to this, two distinct but similar persons in grey uniforms, their wrists and ankles chained, both moving into a high-security room under armed guard.  Each of them caught sight of the other when they entered.  They knew each other by reputation and had met at the rare gatherings of men of their kind.

“Hello, Mandrill,” said the one with the unruly black hair.

“Hi, Marsden,” said the one with the red beard.  “Any idea what this is about?”

“Not a clue,” said Mark Marsden. “They give you back your wand?”

“Nope,” said Mark Mandrill.  “Yours?”

Marsden shook his head.  The guards said nothing.  They waited for about two seconds.  Then one of the doors opened again.

In stepped a woman in a blue shirt, a red skirt, cape, and boots, and an even expression.  Neither one had ever met her in the flesh, but they didn’t have a doubt who they were facing.

“Gentlemen,” said Supergirl.  “The government has authorized me to offer you a little job apiece.  Neither one will be risky.  They’re prepared to parole you, with conditions, if you comply.  If not, it’s going to be a long time before either of you see anything but four stone walls and bars.  I’ll explain.”

Mark Mandrill, the Matter Master, sucked in a moaning breath.  Then he said, “Go ahead, missy.  Go right ahead.”

She did.

    (next chapter)

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