Too Many Long Boxes!
   
   

End of Summer
 

In Search of Kal-El

by Bob Meadows

Lara's hand brushed the metal rocket as a series of hydraulics lifted it through the sky light of her home. She stood frozen as it rose, her hand outstretched as if reaching for beckoning stars.

"Goodbye, my son," she said, a single tear streaking down her cheek. "My heart. The last survivor of a once great civilization."

Jor-El put a hand on her shoulder and waved to the ship. The gesture was a silly one, the scientist in him said. Kal-El couldn't see him, and even if he could, the infant was too young to register what it meant. The father in him ignored the scientist and waved again.

The tiny ship rose higher. In seconds, it would shift to hyperdrive and disappear from view forever. Kal-El would live, even as they died. The ship would carry him to a solar system Jor-El had spent years studying. He knew that as Kal-El grew, his body chemistry would be greatly enhanced by the energy from the system's yellow star. He would likely have tremendous strength and be able to perform great feats. But only the third and fourth orbiting planets would be able to nurture Kal-El's body until it reached puberty. Jor-El chose the third one because it was full of life forms. His son would likely rule as its king.

Lara had been horrified by the plan. She believed they were condemning their son to death. It was better that he die with them on Krypton than in the lonely void of space. It had taken Jor-El many words to convince her that he was right. Even now, as the ship became a dot in the pink sky, he knew she wasn't convinced.

"There it is," he said at the telltale flash. The ship had reached hyperdrive. "Now our son will be safe."

"I don't know what you've talked me into," Lara said. Her voice was a mixture of anger and longing.

"Kal-El will live," Jor-El answered. "We'll live on through him." Lara pushed from her husband's grasp. She reached for Kal-El's photo and cradled it to her breast. In that instant, the house began to shake. Jor-El rushed to his wife and put his arms around her.

"It's started!" he yelled. "Krypton is dying!"

"Oh Jory," Lara said, her voice barely audible above the fracas.

The world grew dark as the earth continued to shake. The two of them held each other tight, hoping their love would protect them from whatever was ravaging their world.


'Worst Earthquake Ever Rattles Krypton!' read headlines around the planet the next day. Videologues replayed the damage again and again while newspeople commented on the obvious: thousands had died in a worldwide cataclysm.

But it was the smaller headline, the afterthought headline, that haunted Jor-El: 'Scientist Wrong About End of the World'. Pundits didn't laugh at him the first day of the tragedy; the devastation was too great. By the fourth day, every show wanted to interview the mad professor. They called him a crackpot, a doomsayer, or worse. They brought up past errors of his, like when he had sworn Kryptonians had a common ancestor with myantias though everyone now knew cordisons were the distant relative. He'd become a punchline on talk shows. His colleagues, people he'd considered friends, were all over the airwaves distancing themselves from him, saying he'd always been a little strange.

"He's so weird," said Professor Kim-Da, "that he actually sent his son away in a spaceship because of his prediction. Can you believe that?"

Jor-El couldn't believe he'd been so stupid. He'd gone over his calculations again and again in the years leading to the quake. They were razor sharp. But he couldn't deny the undeniable. He'd overestimated the quake's power. It hadn't reached the planet's uranium core.

He'd wasted all his money building a spacecraft that wasn't necessary. He'd sent away his son for no reason at all. His and Lara's house hadn't even been damaged. Lara! She'd been almost catatonic since the earth had stopped shaking and they found themselves alive and her baby, her only child, lost in space. In that time, she'd uttered only three words:

"Find my son."


He dreaded the meeting at the Hall of Wisdom and he knew its ending even before it began. The Kryptonian Interstellar Space Guild stripped Jor-El of all rank and privileges and forced him to resign. They gave him a generous compensation package that would keep him from having to work for some years. It was really hush money, of course. Jor-El knew the guild's dark secrets and hidden agendas. The whole Phantom Zone program for one. The public would have a fit if they knew it existed.

"You have been our world's greatest scientist, but we just can't be affiliated with you anymore," Commander Arlan-Lo-Di told him after the meeting. "I'm sure you understand."

"I do," Jor-El answered. "I understand I'm getting screwed."

"Don't be that way, Jor."

"Why not? It's true. I was wrong with this, sure, but I've done a lot for the guild. My work with biodefribulation units pushed interstellar travel into areas we never thought possible. I led the team that discovered the existential warp inter/extrastential anomalous factor. Hell, my work in carbodyalisized ignatheism is praised throughout the eighteen sectors."

"All true, Jor, all true. I studied under your grandfather and was a friend to your father. Your work has been brilliant. But think about it. You built a space ship in your house and then used it to rocket away your only son to safety. How selfish is that? You couldn't have told us about your plan? You spent enough money to build three ships, but you couldn't have built this one big enough for more than just your son? The public is split on this. Half think you're a nut, the other half think you're a monster for sending a baby into space."

Jor-El held his tongue. He had nothing to say. Sending Kal-El away had seemed wise in the face of impending death. Now it looked idiotic. How could he expect anyone to see him as anything but a fool?


Lara was asleep when Jor-El arrived home that night. She had come out of her catatonia in recent days but had little to say to him. He stood over the bed, looking down at her. The last month had aged her ten years, but she was still beautiful to his eyes. If she had any love left for him, she didn't show it. She was better off without him.

He reached into his jacket and took out the note he'd written. He leaned forward and kissed his wife on the forehead. She stirred but didn't open her eyes. Jor-El suspected she might awaken if he spoke, so he stayed quiet. Everything he had to say, he'd put in the note.

Without a backward glance, he left the house.

As soon as she heard the door shut, Lara opened her eyes. She picked up the note and opened it.

Dear Lara, it said, I'm off to do that which you have asked. I'm going to find our son and bring him back to you so we can be a family again. Please forgive me. I meant us no ill will. I love you with all my heart, Jory. Lara set the note back on the nightstand, then pondered a moment as she looked outside. A light was on next door in Jor-El's laboratory workhouse. She panicked briefly. Her husband tried to keep his work from her, but she knew what was in there. She regained her senses and put her index finger on the cardiophone. It dialed and her target answered on the first ring.


Commander Arlan-Lo-Di had been partially right. Jor-El had spent enough to build more than one ship. What the commander didn't know was that Jor-El actually had built more. The other two ships were prototypes, designs to make sure the final product would provide safe passage for his son. The first prote had been a failure. Jor-El's calculations showed it would've exploded on liftoff, creating a conflagration that would consume three city blocks.

The second one, however, worked just fine, at least in simulations. It was bigger than the one Kal-El rode in. It could've held Jor-El's whole family and a few others. But in the months before he thought Krypton would explode, Jor-El realized he didn't want to live anywhere besides his home planet. He didn't want to leave everyone he knew to the fate he'd predicted. His parents, his friends, his colleagues. Lara's family, too. He couldn't build a ship big enough for all of them. He would've rather died at their sides. Jor-El strapped himself in and offered homage to Rao that the ship would see him safely through. He set the coordinates and began the liftoff procedure. He didn't notice the others at first. One minute he was alone in the ship, the next, three people were standing outside it, banging on the panels.

"Jory! Come out! Come out of there now!"

It was Lara. He seemed to be seeing her through a fog. Two others flanked her, but they were even more blurry.

"It's the suspended animation, Jory. Suspended animation. Click it off before it's too late!"

His hands moved as if he was stuck in mud. He reached for the control panel. It was a series of moves, that was all. Push the right buttons. But he wanted to sleep.

"Do it now, JoJo, or you're gonna die!"

He recognized the gruff voice. It was Jam-Gri, an old friend who had piloted more interstellar missions than anyone at the guild. Something about Jam's voice spurred Jor-El to action. He found the controls and though it seemed to take hours, he was able to push the correct combination. The countdown stopped, the panels opened, and he faced his wife and friend and whoever else was with them.

"Did I marry a complete idiot?" Lara demanded.

Jor-El shook his head. It felt full of cotton. He had been moments away from complete suspended animation, a procedure that wasn't supposed to happen until after hyperdrive kicked in. He had told himself he was trying to rescue his son. He realized he might've been trying to kill himself.

"We're here to go with you, old buddy," Jam-Gri said. He patted Jor-El on the back and waved his hand at Lara and the fourth member, her brother and Jam-Gri's co-pilot, the brash Nathon-Som. "We couldn't let you do this on your own, and apparently, we really couldn't let you do this on your own."

"But..." Jor-El tried to protest. Lara cut him off.

"Kal-El is my son too. You're not leaving here without me. Look at you, you would've killed yourself if we hadn't come in here." She held his face in her hands. For the first time since the planetquake, she kissed his lips. It was as comforting as stepping from a cold shower into a warm towel.

"I love you for what you were trying to do. And I'm sorry for how I've been the last few weeks. But we're a team, you and I. Now let's go get our boy back. Together."


The liftoff went as planned. They entered hyperdrive and moments later, suspended animation. The trip would take six years, but their bodies wouldn't age until entering the new planet's atmosphere. Kal-El should've arrived only one month before them.

Jor-El awakened little by little, as if coming out of a pleasant nap. He felt surprisingly energetic, as if he'd eaten six wraylon bars for breakfast.

He twisted his neck and saw that his companions were all coming to at the same time.

"Good morning," he said. He looked out the window. "It looks like we're here."

Lara looked out her side. A blue ocean spanned to the horizon.

"It's lovely," she said, her voice dripping sarcarsm. "Let's find Kal-El and get back home."

Jam-Gri yawned.

"Let me find somewhere to land this crate," he said.

He grabbed the controls, and they crumbled in his hands. He uttered a grunt of surprise and jerked his head back, which broke the headrest on his seat. He swung around and accidentally hit Nathon-Som, whose body flew backward into Jor-El. The two of them crashed through the back of the ship and into the blue sky.

"Jor-El!" Lara yelled at the gaping hole. She tumbled into Jam-Gri as the ship began to plummet.

"I've lost control. We're going down," Jam-Gri yelled. "I can't hold ..."

He stopped. The ship was righting itself. They were level again. Jam-Gri looked at the controls, then at Lara.

"What the hell?" he asked.

"Me the hell."

They both turned. Nathon was back in the ship, walking toward them. Lara's and Jam-Gri's mouths fell open.

"You two look like you've seen a ghost," he said, laughing.

"We thought...We saw...Where's Jor-El?" the two said together.

"Who do you think is flying this ship? Check it out. Look at what I can do."

Nathon-Som leapt through the top of the ship, tearing through inches of steel cables and plates as if they were confetti. To Lara's surprise, she could still see him, even after he'd passed from the hole. She was looking through the steel hull as if it wasn't there.

"What's happening to us?" She looked beneath her feet and saw Jor-El under the ship, carrying it along. "What's happening?"

They approached land. Jor-El set down the ship on a sandy beach and Lara and Jam-Gri climbed out. Lara ran to her husband but when she flung her arms around him, he flew back sixty yards.

"Oh my god!" she yelled.

Jor-El popped back up and sped back to her far faster than he should've been able to move.

"I'm OK. I'm OK. Something has happened to us, something amazing," Jor-El said. "We've been imbued with great powers from the solar energy. It's just as I theorized would happen to Kal-El when he got older."

"What does it mean?" Jam-Gri said.

"It means we shouldn't have any problem finding Kal-El. Not with these powers. Why, Jam, I can hear your heart beating. In fact, I can hear everything."

"So can I."

The three of them looked around but saw no one.

"Up here."

They craned their necks upward. Nathon-Som hovered a mile overhead.

"I can hear you three just fine."

"And we can hear you too, Nathon," Lara said. "Come down and join us."

"We can run this place," Jor-El said. "My studies of this sector show that it has a few beings with incredible abilities. But none are as powerful as the four of us together. It will be fantastic."

"I don't want to stay here any longer than we have to," Lara said, her voice flat.

"I know. I was just fantasizing for a minute."

"Then again," said Lara, "a fantastic foursome? That sounds pretty nice, sweetheart."

Jor-El smiled.

"Thanks. But we can't call ourselves that. We're more than fantastic. We're astonishing."

"No, we're miraculous," Jam-Gri said.

"No, no, no," said Nathon-som as he landed. "We're more than astonishing too. We're miraculous, yes, but that implies some type of Rao-like intervention. I don't think the Supreme One had anything directly to do with this. What we are, my friends, is super."

The other three nodded.

"You can call me the SuperStar," Nathon-Som said.

"That fits you kid. I must be Superpilot, then," said Jam-Gri, laughing.

"I'll be SuperLara," a grinning Lara added.

"Hmm," Jor-El said. He thought about it for a moment, then smiled. "I guess that makes me Superguy, or Superdude. No wait, Superman. Yeah, Superman. So what does that make the four of us?"

"Friends," Jam-Gri said, sticking out his hand.

"No," corrected Lara, as she took it. "Family."

Jor-El looked at the other three and his smile evaporated.

"Well let's go find Kal-El, family" he said, then looked directly at Lara:

"Let's go find our son."


Jam-Gri said, "OK, OK, break it up. Let's not turn this into knitting club." Then he turned his head toward the sky. "Something's coming." The others turned toward the sound. It was a craft flanked by two flying people. The foursome watched as it landed.

"I think this may be our welcoming crew," Jor-El said.

The two beings flanking the ship stood by it until the door opened. Three people stepped out of it and all of them approached. Jor-El held up his right hand, telling his friends to stay calm and then showing the approaching strangers that he meant no harm. Despite his bravado, he didn't have a strong desire to rule the planet. He wanted to find his son and thought these five people might be able to help. One of them held up his hand in a gesture that mimicked Jor-El's movement.

He whispered to Lara, "I've studied some of their languages. Let me try them out."

"I am Jor-El," he said, first in Chinese, then French, then English. One of the strangers stepped forward. He wore a green cloak that reached the sand.

He answered without using his mouth.

"Welcome Jor-El." Then he looked at the others, "And Lara, Jam-Gri and Nathon-Som. You are on Earth and looking for someone. Your son. Kal-El. I am called The Spectre." The Spectre swept a hand toward the four people with him. "We are the Justice Society of America. I am connecting all our minds so we may communicate."

"I'm Green Lantern," said the other flying man. Then he pointed to the three who'd come out of the ship. "This is Flash, Wonder Woman and Hourman." Nathon-Som nudged Lara and smirked. She returned his bemused look then said,

"Uh, I call myself SuperLara." She pointed to the others, "This is Superman, Super Pilot and SuperStar. We're, uh, the Super Family. We're looking for mine and Superman's son, Kal, uh, Super Baby."

Green Lantern didn't like her mocking tone. He said, "Spectre, are you sure these jokers aren't some Nazis in disguise?"

Spectre dismissed the comment. "They speak truthfully, if not respectfully." The other members of the Justice Society tensed as if readying themselves for battle.

Jor-El held up both hands and waved them.

"My wife meant nothing disrespectful by her words," he said, giving Lara a reproachful look. Then he turned to the JSA. "We seek your help, not trouble. You are as strange to us as I'm sure we are to you. The costumes you wear and the names you call yourself are somewhat odd. But can you help us?"

The Flash spoke up.

"What are you looking for?"

"A ship," Jor-El. "About the same size as ours. It should've landed here about a month ago."

All of them looked at Spectre. He appeared to be in deep thought. Before he could say anything, Wonder Woman spoke up.

"Great Hera! I remember something from the notes I took at our last meeting. Batman and Doctor Fate talked about some type of spacecraft crash landing that they'd monitored. Hold on a minute."

She ran into the ship and a moment later, came back out carrying a notepad. She thumbed through it quickly.

"Here it is. Batman said it was a cigar-shaped metallic craft that hit off the coast of Haiti. Here's a photo."

Jor-El snatched it from her.

"I'm sorry," he said, embarrassed by his rudeness. Then showing the photo to

Lara he said, "This is it, darling!" He turned to Wonder Woman. "Where is this place? We have to go there now."

Green Lantern nudged the Spectre who blocked the hive mind.

"I don't know if we should help them," Lantern said. "I'm not convinced they're not Nazis or Commies. Listen, it's 1940, an advanced age. But they've got a powerful spaceship and, from the looks of them, some type of super abilities. With their technology and power, they might be able to give us a run for our money."

Flash nodded but the look on his face said he disagreed. "You're forgetting one thing, Lantern. They haven't done anything that would make us be suspicious of them. We're here to uphold justice. That includes everyone, even space aliens. Why, these people might possess powers far beyond those of mortal men, but so do we. I'm faster than a speeding bullet and Spectre is way more powerful than a locomotive. Your bravado shows you're a man without fear. We should make friends with these people and perhaps we can shape them to our way. The world is experiencing enough intolerance without us contributing to it."

Hourman spoke up for the first time.

"I'm sorry Flash, but I agree with Lantern. They could be spies or anything. I say we jump them quick before they've had full time to acclimate to Earth. We might not get another chance. What do you think, Wonder Woman?" She giggled.

"Oh, I'll leave it up to you boys to decide. But I'll be there with my magic lasso just in case there's trouble."

Jam-Gri put a big hand on Jor-El's shoulder.

"What do you think is brewing over there, Big Brain?"

"I wish I knew. It seems like they're debating whether or not to help us find this location."

Nathon-Som threw up his hands.

"I've had enough of this!"

He sped toward the Justice Society and plowed through them into their ship. Working out the navigation system was child's play, and he quickly located Haiti and its distance from where they were.

His victory was short-lived. The Spectre was the first to recover from Nathon's charge. He grew to enormous size, flames shooting around him. He picked up the ship in one hand and held it before his face.

"You dare defile the Wrath of the Word with your touch! Let me show you what true power is!!

Nathon-Som cowered as his deepest demons reared themselves in full. Lara,

Jam-Gri and Jor-El heard him scream.

"Jor-El, what can we do?" Lara yelled.

He radiated the power of the sun. "If my calculations are correct, we can do plenty."

He flew toward the Spectre, and Lara and Jam-Gri followed. Jor-El had never felt so powerful, a power that seemed to grow exponentially with every minute he spent on this planet.

A green beam hit him in the side, spinning him around. Before he reacted, Lara did. She charged Lantern, and punched him full force. Something absorbed the complete power of her swing, but its force was enough to knock Lantern unconscious. She glared at Wonder Woman, Flash and Hourman, but none of them could fly so they were out of the fight.

She turned to see Jam-Gri and Jor-El attack the Spectre. They rained hundreds of blows on him. The first thousand did little damage. Then he began to falter. She snatched the ship from his hand and set it down a mile away. When she looked inside, her breath caught. Nathon-Som had become a shell of himself, his once blond hair now gray. His eyes, so bright and full, now sunken and distant. A violent rage filled her heart.

A whoosh of air distracted her. She turned to see the Flash speeding toward her. She cocked her fist, but he pulled up before she could connect. He looked at Nathon-Som and held up his hands in a peaceful gesture. Lara ignored. She re-cocked her fist and lunged toward him. Then he spoke.

"Can be reversed," he said too fast for human ears to pick up. The words saved his life. He'd already noticed that she was as fast as him and much stronger.

She grabbed him by the collar. "Repeat yourself!"

He put his hands over hers and said again "The Spectre can reverse it. It's not permanent."

She flung Flash aside. "Make him do it then."

Flash rubbed his throat. Oxygen had never tasted so sweet.

"Come on," he said and sped toward the battle.

The Spectre had regained some equilibrium and battled Jor-El and Jam-Gri to a standstill. Neither Kryptonian had much hand to hand combat training, but their immense might was irresistible, even to a demi-god.

"Stop!" Flash yelled. "Stop this now!"

Lara flew to her husband and called his name. She did the same with Jam-Gri, telling them both to stop. When the three 'men' had calmed, and Lantern and Nathon-Som had been tended to, Flash apologized. Nathon-Som did the same.

"The waiting just got to me," Nathon said. "I really didn't mean to cause all this. We're just desperate to find my nephew."

Jam-Gri said, "The kid's a hothead. What can I tell you?" He grabbed Nathon around the neck and playfully knuckled his head.

"Go in peace then, Super Family," said the Spectre in a tone remarkably calm for someone who'd only recently been in a life and death battle. The two teams shook hands. The Justice Society lifted off.

"Oh heck, Jor-El," Jam-Gri said. "We don't have a ship anymore. How are we going to get to this Haiti place?"

Jor-El shrugged. "We all seem to be able to fly and have great strength. I can only hope our endurance can match it. I don't know how many islands there are between where we are now and Haiti. Let's do this. One of us will fly as far as we can, as fast as we can, for five minutes. Then turn around and fly back. I'm sure we can operate at peak efficiency for ten minutes. Let's see how far we can go. Who knows? Maybe we can fly to Haiti in an hour or so."

All of them wanted to do the test, but Lara got the nod because she was in the best condition. Jor-El fitted her with a tracking monitor that would let her know if she veered from a straight path.

"Okay, honey, don't forget. Fly as fast as you can for five minutes, then turn around," Jor-El said. "Go."

Like a blue streak, Lara was gone. The three men kept a silent vigil on the beach, alternately looking at their watches and each other.

Jam-Gri heard the whistling noise first. He turned around and stared at the trees. Nathon and Jor-El heard it an instant later and followed Jam's gaze.

"Is this island under attack? Is that a missile?" Nathon asked.

Jor-El took a step forward, listening intently. His eyes narrowed. "Great Rao! You guys, look!"

Hurtling at them like a comet, gone only two minutes, was Lara. She looked as surprised to see them as they were to see her.

She landed a few feet away, kicking up reams of sand. Jor-El and the others threw their arms around her. She wasn't even winded.

"You flew around the entire planet?" Nathon asked, his voice incredulous. She brushed a hair from her face.

"Piece o' cake," she said. Then she winked at Jor-El. "Got anything tough for me to do?"

He laughed. "I think we can make it to Haiti."

They left five minutes later and arrived twenty miles from Port Au Prince in twenty-four seconds. Jor-El scanned the ocean and realizing that his already superior intellect had also increased to an nth degree, was able to locate the exact spot where the ship landed and calculate where it would've come to rest on the ocean floor.

"The ship should be there," Jor-El said, pointing to a spot about three miles offshore.

"Do you think he could've lasted a month under there?" Lara asked. "I know the ship could sustain him, but..."

"Are you kidding?" Nathon-Som asked his sister. "With the powers we have, that kid is probably ruling the world down there."

Lara smiled, but it was a nervous one. And it was more nervous when she realized Jor-El hadn't answered her.

They flew to the spot and hovered a moment while they attempted to scan the ocean floor using their special vision. The attempt was futile. They couldn't see down far enough.

"I've hypothesized that we must have special breathing abilities too,"

Jor-El said. "I don't know if we can breath down there, but we can probably hold our breath for quite some time. So let's do this: take a deep breath and follow me. There's probably not much light, if any, so we'll have to go by touch. We'll search and meet back up here in ten minutes, okay?" The others nodded then plunged into the water. Though the water was more difficult to navigate than the air they were still able to move at a good speed. They arrived at the ocean bottom in less than a minute. They found that they could still see clearly, their eyes able to pick up a much wider range of wavelengths than usual. Shimmering in the hazy glow of ultraviolet light, was the metallic husk of Kal-El's ship. Several creatures had attached themselves to the exterior and swayed with the lazy current. They surrounded it and if their voices could've been heard in the ocean deep, the sorrow they felt would've been known worldwide. The infant was still there, but it was obvious at first glance that he was no longer alive.

Jor-El held Lara while Nathon-Som and Jam-Gri engulfed them in a hug. After many minutes, far longer than the ten they'd planned, they took hold of the ship and gingerly lifted it from its resting place. They ferried it to the surface and flew it to the coast where they'd initially landed.

"Too much pressure for his little body," Jor-El said through tears. "Too young. No sunlight."

Jam-Gri put an arm around his grieving friend, searching for words that might offer comfort. Finding none, he sat there in silence.


They began repairing the ship the next day, fixing the structural damage and refitting the piloting column. The goings were slowed by their grief and the   Neanderthal-like technology of Earth, but within a week, the rocket was ready.

Jor-El noticed that Lara had been more distant the last couple days. As they prepared for lift off, she suddenly broke into tears and ran from the ship. Nathon-Som started after her, but Jor-El held him back.

"I'll go," he said then took off.

He found Lara on a mountaintop fifty miles away. Her tears froze in the frigid air. He didn't feel the cold but put his arm around her anyway.

"What is it, darling?" he asked.

Lara looked at him with eyes that could burn a hole through solid titanium. She shook her head then buried it in his chest.

"I-I can't go back, Jor-El. I can't go back to Krypton. Not without Kal-El."

"But we have his body aboard. He's coming back with us."

"Jor-El, how can you be so unfeeling? I mean without my son alive! I can't go back this way. Not now. Not yet."

He squeezed her tighter.

"I understand," Jor-El said softly.

Lara pushed away from him. "I don't think you do. My son has died and it has eaten at my soul. I'll never have that back, never have him back. I don't even know how I should be, what I should do. How much should I grieve? Do I have tears enough to express what I feel? But there's one thing I do know. I don't want anyone to ever feel this kind of pain, the pain of losing a child."

"What is it you want to do?" Jor-El asked.

"If we go back to Krypton, there's nothing but scorn awaiting us. People will continue to bring up how you sent Kal-El here, and now they will talk about this folly," she answered. Then she stood up and looked toward the faraway sea. "I want to stay here."

Jor-El's eyebrows arched. "Do you? Why?"

"Not to rule, as you once said. But to help. With these great powers we have, we can help people. You heard what those others called themselves, the Justice people. They have costumes and names. We could do the same. Maybe we could join with them. We could use the symbol of the House of El as our symbol, not just to honor our families but to remember our son." Jor-El's eyes brightened. He said, "All my life I've wanted to help others, through my science and compassion. You're right, as always, my wife. We can stay here and accomplish amazing things. This world can become the paradise that Krypton strives to be. The House of El will live on here." They embraced then flew back to the ship where Nathon and Jam waited anxiously.

"Didn't think you were coming back for a minute," Jam said.

"We have and we haven't," answered Jor-El. He explained everything. Jam and Nathon briefly tried to change their minds, but gave up. They shared hugs and said goodbye. The ship took off with just two passengers. Lara and Jor-El flew back to the mountain and buried Kal-El. Snow and high winds pelted their bodies, but they ignored it.

"What shall we do now?" Lara asked.

Jor-El smiled. "The first thing we need is a place to live. This is a desolate land. I don't see anyone around for as far as I can see. We can build our home here."

Lara frowned. "But it's so far from anyone."

"I know," Jor-El said. "It will be a home for our solitude. It can be our headquarters, where we'll be Superman and SuperLara."

Lara's frown turned to a smile. "Right. That sounds good. But, you know, I've actually been thinking of calling myself something different."

"Really? Like what?"

"I'm not sure," Lara answered. "I was thinking about something pretty and fun. Something like Robin."

 
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