Supergirl (Kara of Rokyn):


 Part 6

 by DarkMark

 Kara Zor-El was not a dainty eater, either on Earth or Rokyn.  She wolfed the meat-and-vegetable meal on top of the clear plate.  If there was supposed to be anything in the food to dope her, that was just too bad.  Adversity was best faced on a full stomach.

 As she washed it down with a bit of iced juice, she heard Bar-Bann speaking from the adjacent cell again.

 "Tanthi Kara?" he said.

 "Yes, Bar?"

 "Tanthi Kara, I'm scared."

 She ate another bite,  to give herself time to think on her reply.  "Well, Bar, I'd say that would be a reasonable thing to be, given the circumstances.  But don't panic."

 Hal-Lorr said, "Bar, we're all scared.  But nobody's doing anything to us.  We just have to wait it out."

 Bar was breathing heavily, maybe hyperventilating.  "I know I'm not supposed to be a--I know I shouldn't be scared.  But R**'s Eyes, I am.  I don't wanna be here."

 Kara said, "Bar, look.  They don't need you for anything.  Before long, I'm pretty convinced they'll let you go.  I'm the big hostage here.  They don't stand to gain anything from keeping you here much longer.  They wouldn't gain anything at all by hurting you.  My guess is that you'll be out of here pretty soon."

 "What about you, Tanth Kara?" said Bar.

 "I don't know," she said, honestly.  "But don't worry about that right now.  Anything else you want to talk about?  Like super-heroes, wrestling, or movies?  Or even...girls?"  She drew out the last word slyly, going for a laugh.  It worked.  Hal snickered.

 Bar, at least, seemed to be fighting the fear back.  "Yeah.  What was it like, being Supergirl on Earth?  I mean, we got powers that time they blew up the Bottle, but we didn't have 'em long.  You got to meet the whole Justice Legion of Americans.  Why didn't they let you


 Kara was mopping the plate with a piece of bread.  "Oh, let's see.  It was really a challenge, let me tell you.  The first year, cousin Kal made me spend in secret.  He was afraid I might give my secret identity away, or that I might get into something I couldn't handle, if I didn't have some training.  So I was in an orphanage on Earth, and did most of my flying at night.  Of course, it was cheaper that way.  That's a joke, by the way."

 "Cousin Kal must have loved you very much," offered Hal.

 "We both love each other very much," said Kara.  "I don't think there's anyone else on Earth I feel closer to than him.  Except for Mom and Dad, he's the greatest person I've ever met."

 Bar said, "But wasn't it mean for him to keep you in hiding for a year?"

 "Sometimes I thought it was," admitted Kara.  "But you have to understand, boys, having power like Kryptonians do on Earth is a big, big thing.  You could destroy just about everything on the planet without half trying.  And Kal had been trained by his foster parents, the Kents, on how to use his powers and keep his identity secret for five years before he ever became Superboy.  He was three when he arrived on Earth, and eight when he first became Superboy.  So--he knew what it was like, to have the biggest secret, the greatest power on Earth, and to have to hold that
back from everybody.

 "He learned all that from an early age.  And he'd been Superboy and Superman for 17 years by the time I arrived on Earth.  I had to learn it when I was a teenager, and he had to cram it in within a year's time.  I didn't like it all the time.  Sometimes I thought it was unfair--I mean, there I was with the power to move the planet, and fly faster than light, and I was learning how to tuck my hair up in that little pigtailed wig I used to wear and cover up my accent and stop crossing my fingers when I was arguing.  I mean, sometimes I hated that planet!  But I was glad
it was there.  And I loved it, too."

 Both boys were silent.  She was talking as much to herself as to them, now.

 "And it was so fine to fly, boys.  Especially when there was so much to fly over.  Argo City was a big city, but there was only so much of it, and you could only go up to the edge of the Dome and that was it.  It was like living in a small town, once you'd seen all of it.

 "But Earth was so big, compared to Argo.  And I had no idea how big Krypton had to be.  Still, once I got used to that blue sky, I was fascinated by it.  I'd put on my old blue costume at night and just fly over the whole planet.  Had to make sure not to get picked up too often by the radar systems...they thought I was Superman, anyway.  But there was just so much of Earth, and so many different peoples, and so much to see.  Even as small as it was, there was always something else I hadn't seen on Earth.

 "That was when I fell in love with it."

 None of them said a word for a moment.

 Kara went on, "It's not like the love I had for Argo, or what I felt about the Krypton my folks told me about, or even Rokyn here.  But maybe you can fall in love with different places the same way you fall in love with different people, for different reasons.  I'm a Rokynian, I wouldn't leave for the world.  But there'll always be something special about Earth."

 They were quiet for a moment.  Hal said, "I'd like to go see Earth, someday, Tanth Kara."

 She smiled inwardly.  The boys were forgetting their predicament.  What to tell them next?  Maybe she'd talk about the Terran heroes of the JLA, or the Legion of Super-Heroes.

 She looked at her plate.

 Underneath the bits of gravy, wiped away partially by her bread, she saw some words.

 They were written in black on a piece of clear, adhesive plastic, in words that firmed up when the air hit the plastic's surface.

 They read:


 Taped underneath the plastic were a couple of strands of red hair.

 "Hang on, boys," said Kara.  "Let me try something."


 A hovercar landed at the main parking area of Separatists' Alley.

 The contingent of four guards rushed up to check out the passengers.

 Both were headbanders.  Not a good sign.

 One was older, his brown hair going white and his beard flecked with grey.  He wore a green suit with orange chest emblem.  The other was a younger man, shades covering his eyes, in a short-sleeved blue outfit.  He was driving and chewing some hanya leaf gum.

 They had something covered up between them in the front seat, and the guards scanned it for explosive material as soon as they were within range.  Satisfied it was okay, they put away their hand-scanners.

 "State your business," said Gar-Gunz, a muscular section leader.  "Are you aware the Delay is in effect?  If you are representatives of the Kandor government, you can legally be imprisoned without bail--or shot on sight."

 "Relax," said the young man.  "We represent our own interests.  Brought you something you might like."

 The old man looked the guard straight in the eye.  "Not all the scientists in town are on the headbanders' side," he said.

 He pulled away the cover and revealed a Zone projector.

 The guards tensed.  "What is this, some kind of gag?  Somebody already came in with a Zone projector."

 The old man sneered.  "Yeah, and it's in the hands of Jax-Ur and those other three coprolites.  It'll stay in their hands, too, or they'll break it.  How's about this one?  I made it, we're willing to sell it.  And we're willing to build more, for a price."

 The guard chief looked at the projector with a calculating look.  The driver whipped a small, hand-held device from his tunic.

 "Don't get any ideas about taking it from us yet," he said.  "I can blow this thing to pieces before you could shoot us.  Just take us to see the Chief."

 "I'd have to check first," said the guard.  "How do I know this thing is real?"

 For answer, the old man pointed the projector at the back of their craft and triggered it.  A white beam appeared.

 Within three seconds, two figures appeared, standing on the back of the craft.  They looked surprised.

 "What in Sheol is going on here?" said the black-haired one of the two.  "We're Out.  I thought Jax was going to get us Out."

 The second, a scar-faced baldhead, sneered, "I ain't complaining."

 One of the other guards had studied his criminal histories.  "Kull-Ex," he exclaimed.  "I don't know who the bald guy is, but the black-haired one's Kull-Ex."

 "Smart boy," said the one so identified, and stepped off the hood of the hovercraft.  "So what's the schedule?  Why are we here?"

 The old man piped up again.  "We can get you full access to the Zone.  Any time you want.  You can put people in, you can get 'em out.  But we want to talk to the Chief.  And you'd better hurry.  The Delay isn't gonna last that much longer."

 The guard's leader whipped a communicator out of his pocket.  He talked briefly to Fhi-Zor.  Then he deactivated it and put it back in his pocket.

 "He wants to see you all right away," said the guard.  "We'll take one of our vans."


 Kara finished scrubbing the rest of the grime off the plate with the water from her bucket.  She didn't know how she was being observed, but she assumed she was under some sort of surveillance.  So she had to act quickly, and she did.

 Once the plate was cleaned, she grasped it in both hands, held it over her head, and stepped underneath the light.

 She noted that the plate was of an unusual thickness by a fraction of an inch, and that its base, though transparent, was shaped somewhat differently than a standard plate for Rokyn use.

 She also noted that the plate was heating up, and didn't know how long she could hold it.

 "Tanth Zor-El?" said Hal-Lorr.  "Tanth, what's happening?"

 Kara felt a strange and welcome sense of power returning to her body.  Even though the plate was still heating up, she could take the pain now.

 Somehow, the plate was a prism that was converting the light of the lamp to another wavelength.  The wavelength of a yellow sun.

 The heat of the conversion process was melting the plate.  It wouldn't last for more than a few seconds, she knew.  But while it lasted, and while she stood under this light, she had a few of the powers of a Supergirl.

 Not the great muscular power, not the super-speed, and probably not the flight.  Those powers were still negated by the great gravity of Rokyn.  She also knew that her "invulnerability" beneath this light was very limited.  But her vision powers and super-senses had returned, if only for a short time.

 "Boys, get up against the door," she said.  "Move!"

 She turned to the wall between their cells and blasted forth twin beams of heat, more powerful even than lasers.

 The air filled with smoke as she burned a doorway arc into the stone and steel, then cut it quickly into sections that crumbled down and inward.  If she had super-breath, she could have vaporized and cooled it, but the breath was a strength function.

 "Whoa!" said Bar, from the other room, in admiration.

 Within seconds, Kara detected and fused shut the gas-vents through which riot gas could be forced, then disabled the camera recording her movements, then burned off the door tracks, though it still stood in place, and, finally, cut a hole in the ceiling, setting off some more alarms.

 The plate was turning into molten plastic in her hands.  She only had a few more seconds worth of power left.

 She used them to send her super-vision throughout the courthouse, taking note of the location of people within, seeing the two guards running towards them, and noting where Fhi-Zor was at the time (in his office three floors above).

 Super-power.  Lord, it was good!

 Reluctantly, Kara threw away the plate and saw it puddle into a soggy mass where the wall met the floor.  She heard the guards hurrying to her cell.

 When she heard them trying to unlock it, she ran full-tilt at it, banging it roughly with her shoulder and bruising it.  But it had the desired effect.

 The metal door fell forward, right on the two guards.  One was trapped under it and knocked cold when his head hit the floor.  The other only had his legs pinned underneath.  He screamed in pain, called Kara a bitch, and wasn't much good at trying to fire on her with a broken leg paining him.  She leaped at him quickly, disarmed him, and knocked him out with a sleeper pinch.

 On one track, Kara was astonished at herself.  She had never done battle this way before, without powers and with her very life at stake.  On the more important track, she knew she had important things to do.  The gun she held repulsed her.

 But on a world where she couldn't shed bullets from steel-hard skin, it would probably be a necessity.  She just hoped she turned out to be a great bluffer.

 Hal and Bar were looking out of the hole in the wall at her, and they had hero-worship and a thousand questions in their eyes.

 "Boys, don't ask," said Kara.  "Come here and give me a hand.  I want one of you to get up on my shoulders and see if you can reach through this hole in the ceiling.  Ready to try?"

 They looked at each other.  Bar rapped, "Ready for action, Tanth Kara!"

 Oh, boy...

 Within seconds she had boosted Hal through the hole in the ceiling, then Bar.  The office above was deserted, as she knew.  They handed her a chair through the floor / ceiling hole, and, standing on it, Kara was able to leap to the edge of the hole, catch its still-warm rim, and be helped through by the boys.

 "Now what do we do?" asked Bar-Bann, wide-eyed with delight and fear.

 Kara looked at the office about her, equipped with desk, chairs, communicator, and a few other oddments.  She didn't doubt that a weapon was somewhere in the desk under lock and key.

 "Now, boys, it's time for improvisation."


 By the time the hovervan pulled up outside the city courthouse, the alarms were going off.  The two guards in the driving compartment looked at each other and one stabbed his finger at a communicator button.  The other opened his door, jumped out, and opened the rear doors as carefully as he could.

 He had barely enough time to edge his gun around the side and tell them, "Come out slow, hands on heads."

 Nightwing, alias "Kull-Ex", whipped over the top of the opened back door, leaning his stomach against the top edge of it, and triggered a projector beam at the guard by the time he reached the last word of the sentence.

 The guard vanished from sight.

 Inside, Zor-El, Hi-Lor, and Flamebird, still in disguise, sat with the three other guards they'd knocked out with anaesthetic skin-patches.

 The guard up front was still listening to his communicator channel, catching the information about a possible prison break.  Someone asked him, "What's up, brother?"

 "Sounds like somebody's breaking jail," he said.  "Maybe even that Zor-El broad.  That's what all the alarms are about."

 "Is she all right?"

 "Well, I dunno, I--"  He looked up and saw the scar-faced "Zoner" grinning at him.

 They matched reaction times.

 Flamebird's fist was a lot quicker than his trigger finger.

 Kara had activated the communicator.  The boys were posted as lookouts near the door.  She didn't doubt but what the unit she was using was monitored, but that was something to worry about later.

 She keyed in the address of the Chief Justice himself.  It took three seconds to connect, and she prayed to Rao in every one of them.

 Len-Tarr's face came up in the screen.  "Justice Tarr," he said, and then, "Kara!  Where are you calling from?  Are you all right?"

 "Fine so far, Len," she said.  "Calling from the courthouse in Separatist's Alley.  Zoners are behind this one...Jax-Ur, Dru-Zod, Vakox, and Faora Hu-Ul."

 "All right, are you safe?  We've got a trace on your unit's location."

 "Safe for now, not sure how much longer.  I have two boys with me, Hal-Lorr and Bar-Bann.  If we can, we'll make a break."

 "Kara, you've established your presence there.  Now we can legally override the Delay.  It was only good for a few hours more, anyway.  I'll have a contingent of Rangers there as soon as possible.  Can you hold out till then?"

 Kara shot a glance at the two boys.  She could tell from their expressions that they were finally getting an idea of how serious their plight was.

 "I'll try.  But I don't know if I can stay here that long.  I'd better go, they've probably noticed this thing is active by now.  I don't know where the Zoners are, and I don't know what they're planning.  But thank your agent for the plate, okay?"

 Len-Tarr smiled briefly.  "Just hope your luck holds up, Kara.  If you can, stay out of sight and wait for us.  Rao be with you."

 She shut down the unit, saying, "Rao better be with me, chief."


 In a room of the courthouse that few guardsmen bothered to visit, and which was locked, Blackbeard was preparing to explore the glories of Xyla.  He was down to his briefs when the communicator in the pocket of his pants, which were thrown over an office chair, went off.  He cursed.  She smiled behind her hand.

 "I'm here.  What the Sheol is it?"

 "No report lately from the guys in the van," rasped a monitor man's voice.  "The communicator unit in 512 has been activated, not long enough for us to track, but looks like the message went to the 'banders.  Suggest check on our prize bird."

 Blackbeard cursed again.  "Can't you guys keep your thumbs out of your backside for half an hour?  All right, get the detail together.  I'll be down in five minutes.  Close."  The communicator snapped off.

 Blackbeard turned to Xyla, who was already off of the couch, one hand clenched, approaching him with a smile.  "Xyla, there's no time for that.  They've screwed up again downstairs.  I'll be back as soon as it's done."

 Xyla embraced him, both hands behind his neck.  "I couldn't let you go without a kiss."

 The big guard didn't resist.  And about three seconds into it, his knees went watery and he slumped to the floor, asleep.

 He fell face down, revealing the sleep-patch Xyla had placed on the back of his neck.

 "Guess my kiss was too much to handle," murmured the girl, as she started taking weapons from his discarded clothes.  "Be glad we didn't get any farther than that."


 Nightwing and Flamebird brought the van up to the courthouse, took out several guards with a combination of sleep-gas, stunners, and Zor-El's zone projector, and readied for a belt-jet leap.  "Remember, if you're in danger, turn that zone ray on yourselves and activate the destruct switch," said Nightwing.  "You'll be safe in the Zone, and they can't get you out without that projector."

 "Just find my girl," said Zor-El, at the controls of the van.

 The two masked men were already in the air.

 Flamebird's laser-torch gained them access through a third-floor window.  They knew an alarm had been touched off, but it couldn't be helped.  Two blackhats were inside, doing business.  They had time to draw weapons just before Nightwing cracked their heads together.  Flamebird punched out one of them and Nightwing stunned the other.

 "Get the door," said Nightwing.  Flamebird locked it as his partner torched through a section of flooring.  It fell in on a meeting room.  Nobody was in it at the time.  Everybody seemed to be heading towards the basement.

 Flamebird used his torch on the floor this time.  Two more floors to go, and this had to be quick work.


 On the fifth floor, the four Zoners, a lone guard, and Fhi-Zor were reacting to the alarm.

 Fhi-Zor was glad for the chance to leave.  "You'll have to excuse me, tanthi.  Must be a breakout attempt.  I'll be in my office."

 Fhi-Zor left, shut the door, and let an expression of fear cross his face.  He pulled out his communicator and talked on the run.  "Fhi-Zor here.  If Zor-El and the two kids have broken out, apprehend them but do not kill.  Repeat, do not kill.  Stay in touch.  Close."

 As he stepped into the elevator, Fhi-Zor knew he was giving Jax-Ur and company the chance to get away.  With any luck, they'd be smart enough to take it.

 They were.

 In the laboratory Fhi-Zor had just vacated, Jax-Ur mused, "Apparently the Delay has been breached.  We expected as much.  There are emergency vehicles on the roof.  Vakox--how ready is that stuff?"

 "It's ready," said Vakox, pouring the contents of his beaker into a metal container.  When he was done, he quickly clamped on the top seal and locked it snugly, then grasped it by a handle.  He looked up at Zod, Jax, and Faora.  "Let's go."

 The guard stepped in front of the door.  "Sorry, sir.  Can't let you leave without permission."

 Vakox threw the beaker into an eliminator pit that slid shut and virtually atomized it.  Faora stepped in front of Jax and Zod.  The guard already had his stunner in hand.

 Before he could trigger it, her leg whipped out and kicked his arm in just the right area to numb it.  He couldn't have moved his fingers after that if Death had been staring him in the eyes.

 And, as he looked up at the cruelly smiling woman bringing her flattened hand at his neck like a scythe, he realized indeed that it was.


 The two guards who played point men for the five who hung back in the corridor eased into the office from which the unauthorized message had been sent.  Three life-form heat-patterns had been sensed inside, but they couldn't pinpoint just where they were.

 The door was open and the lights were off.  The desk had been shoved perpendicular to the wall, right behind it.  The first guard whipped his stunner behind the door and let a burst go.  Nobody dropped to the floor.  He withdrew his hand and motioned his partner in.

 Still looking ahead, the guard in front stepped carefully onward, following the line of the desk.

 One step beyond it and there was suddenly no floor under his feet.

 He had time enough to cry out and grab with one hand the edge of the hole Kara had cut in the floor of the office.  The second guard was already in, running towards him.

 Kara, crouching precariously on the top edge of the door, leaped off and landed hard on his back.  He said a few swear words even Hal and Bar hadn't heard in a schoolyard.  They burst out of a closet and slammed the door shut, locking it as the rest of the unit raced down the hall.

 "Var, help me!" called the guard, who had managed to get two hands up on the edge of the hole.  Then he said, "OW!" as Hal swung a chair overhead and banged his fingers with it.  The guard fell and landed on his ass.

 Kara couldn't get a nerve grip on her opponent's neck, and was thrown off.  They stood and faced each other.  He glowered.  There were several weapons he could use to kill her, but the Chief had just said not to, and he wasn't eager to give the boss a tenth coin in his hatband.

 The blonde kiaiied and plowed into him hard, knocking the stunner out of his hand.  He responded with a hard right to the side of her head.  She rolled with it, still saw stars, but was thankful she'd had enough experience in the ring not to be a creampuff.  The boys stood back and looked on with awe and fear.  They'd never seen a fight like this up close and personal.

 On the floor, Kara kicked out at his legs.  He jumped over her kick--he was no stranger to fighting--but it gave her a chance to get back on her feet.  "Still feel like going for that stunner, sonny?" she said.  "Or do you feel tough enough to fight a woman?"

 Rage overrode the guard's common sense.  "I'll make you eat your own eyes, bitch," he snarled, and came for her.

 Kara darted aside in a matador's fashion and elbowed him hard at the back of the neck.  He fell and rolled, one arm going over the lip of the hole.  So that was where Ran had gone, as he could tell from the guy's cursing.  "Don't shoot, Ran, it's me!" he called.  Then he picked himself up and intercepted a rushing Kara with a kick to the chest area.  She grunted in pain and rolled over the top of the desk, scattering papers and equipment every which way, both arms clasped
over her upper body.

 The guard decided to see if he could find his stunner.  He saw the metallic glint of it against the wall to his left, in the part of the office that was behind the desk, and made for it.  Kara bounded out of her hiding place on the floor, landed near him on one foot, and swung her other foot at him in a savage kickboxing stroke, all in one motion.  Her kick caught him in the side of the head.  Half-stunned, he crashed upright against the wall.

 "To Sheol with the sparring," snapped Kara.

 Before her foe could bring his arms up, he was battered again and again by repeated upper-arm strikes, elbows, and fists.  She turned, yelled, and elbowed him in the gut, then smashed him in the face three times.  He struggled to rally, tried a hand strike of his own.  Kara caught it between her two arms, wrenched, and dislocated his shoulder.  He cried out.

 "Everyone inside, back off, we're coming through the door!" hollered one of the guards outside.  Hal and Bar flattened against the wall.

 "Not yet you aren't," yelled Kara, and, banging her foe's head against the wall with great force, ended the fight.  He slumped senseless.

 The beam of a laser torch was beginning to show through the top of the door.

 "Hold it!" yelled Kara, and, with all her desperate strength, hauled her unconscious foe and herself in front of the door.  "I'm in front of the door, and your flunky here is in front of me.  Send another beam through, and you kill us both.  Better back off."

 The laser snapped off.  "So what if we did kill you both?" asked one of the group outside.

 "He could have done that already," she replied.  "But he only tried a stunner.  I'll bet your boss has told you to take us alive, hasn't he?  Well?"

 "Get her the hell out of there!"  yelled the guard in the room below.

 Kara nodded at the boys.  "Get me that stunner."  They rushed to comply.  "The Kandorians already know I'm here.  I've just talked with the Chief Justice.  That means the Delay is off.  They're sending in the Rangers."

 "We've still got you," said another guard outside.

 "For the moment," said Kara.  "But let me point out some things."  Bar-Bann handed her the stunner and she zapped the guard in her arm with it, thus forestalling the chance of him waking up.  Then she continued.

 "First off, I'm not a nobody.  I hate to put it like that, but you know who I am.  I'm Supergirl.  If I get killed in this thing, or if they don't get me out in one piece, how long do you think it's going to be before the Drygur Moliom declares war on Separatist's Alley?  And there goes your independence, right up in smoke.  The ones of you that live, or don't get thrown in jail outright, will end up being headbanders.  Probably low-class headbanders.  How do you like that

 One of the men said, "She's got a point, sir."

 The squad chief said, "Shut up."  But Kara knew she was making headway.

 "Second:  I know the Zoners.  I've been fighting them with Superman for years.  Do you think that Jax-Ur and General Zod want to share any power with the Separatist government?  I don't know what they've got planned, but whatever it is, it's going to be directed against you, too, count on it.  Play dumb, and you'll end up slaves to all of them.  And they're a lot smarter and a lot nastier than you'll ever be.  With me?"

 There was silence outside the door.  Then one said, "We'd have to have authorization from the Chief to change our objectives."

 "So call him," said Kara.  "I'll wait."

 At that point, someone else in the guard contingent yelled.  There was a commotion outside.  Fighting, stunner sounds.

 Oh, frab, cursed Kara.  Just when I was getting somewhere.

 The laser torch was turned on, but in another direction.  In a few seconds, though, it had been turned off.  Whatever the battle had been about, it was over.  Then Kara and the boys heard another voice.

 "Kara, this is Nightwing," it said.  "The guards are subdued.  Let's get out of here."

 She knew Van-Zee's voice.  Easing the guard to the floor, she gingerly opened the door, stunner pointed in front of her.

 Outside, Nightwing and Flamebird stood amidst five kayoed guards.  Some had been stunned, but two had busted jaws.

 Bar-Bann gaped.  "Wow!  Are you really," he said.

 "I'm really," said Nightwing, grabbing his arm and dragging him forward.  "Let's get out of here.  It's good to see you again, Kara."

 "I don't mind seeing you, either, Wing," murmured Kara.  She and Hal stepped quickly through the doorway.

 "Let's get going," said Flamebird.  "I think Wing can get the two kids.  I'll carry you."  He gestured towards a large hole they'd cut in the ceiling.

 Before they could make another move, all the guards' communicators came on.

 "Kara Zor-El, this is Chief Fhi-Zor," they heard.  "I hereby declare your protective custody and that of Tanthi Bar-Bann and Hal-Lorr ended.  But we need to talk."

 "Let's go," said Kara.

 "Wait!" said Fhi-Zor's voice.  "There's somebody with me.  Listen to her."

 A female voice said, "Hello, Kara.  No word of thanks for me?"

 "Shyla Kor-Onn," exclaimed Kara.  "I've got lots of thanks for you.  But they'll have to wait."

 "Turn on the communicator in the office.  Link it with channel 016.  Aren't you curious as to why Fhi-Zor hasn't already doused you with sleep-gas?"

 She turned to Nightwing.  He said, "Go ahead."

 Kara walked over to the desk, set the communicator back upright on it, activated it, and set it to the proper frequency.

 On the monitor screen she saw Shyla, with her hair still dyed black, holding a gun on Fhi-Zor in the latter's office.  Fhi-Zor still didn't seem very perturbed, even though the weapon was deadly and both of them knew Shyla would use it without hesitation, if need be.

 "The Zoners got away in a stolen craft," said Fhi-Zor.  "What they're carrying with them is too big for us to handle.  And I didn't authorize it.  They've got a container of Virus X.  Now, want to talk?"

 A beat of silence.  Even Nightwing's mouth hung open for an instant.

 "My office is three flights up," said Fhi-Zor.

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