It certainly is a noisy, noxious little planet, Kara Zor-El thought to herself as she stretched her shoulders and back - harder to do in the air than she’d expected, but she’d never flown under her own power before. It was a little like riding an anti-grav pack, except that she just thought about where she wanted to go and she did. It was a dizzying, glorious experience - almost as overwhelming, in its own way, as the flood of noise that had lashed against her ears until she’d broken atmosphere into the peaceful silence of space. Or nearly silent, at any rate - there was an annoying buzz at the edge of her hearing that resolved into a babble of voices when she focused on it, and it took her a moment to place it. Radio waves. I’m hearing radio waves in space. How remarkable... and how primitive.
She concentrated, slowly focusing her attention on a single point on the globe below her, and suddenly it rushed up to fill her vision so swiftly that for a moment she thought she must be diving through the sky before it registered that she didn’t feel the wind in her hair. Telescopic vision. How helpful. Father predicted there would be benefits to my senses, but this .... She watched a herd of horned, four legged brown animals moving across a great golden sea of grass, and the maned feline predators that stalked them, and sighed softly in wonder. Oh, Kal, but I can’t wait to show you all this beauty. From up here, it’ll be no trouble at all to find a safe, perfect place for me to raise you when you get here....
The thinness of the atmosphere hid the approaching object from her super-hearing until it was nearly on top of her - a sphere of green energy, shimmering in the bright sunlight above the sky, holding sufficient oxygen within to easily sustain human life for days. Also inside was a man.
“Well, this is a surprise. Superman said he’s the only one of you left...” The man’s Kryptonian was near enough to perfect - and in the Kandorian dialect! - that it took Kara a moment to realize that the motions of his lips and the sound of his words were not synchronous. “Jordan-Hal. Welcome to Earth.”
“Super-man.” She rolled the word around on her tongue, studying him. “I do not know of whom you speak, Green Lantern Jordan-Hal, but I have come to this sector to make a home for myself and for my cousin Kal, who will arrive after me. I will brook no interference in this sacred trust. You will make no objection.”
“Your cousin Kal... Kal-El?” Jordan’s eyes widened at the thought. “No way. You’re Kal-El’s cousin?”
She flexed her hands, eye blazing - literally, though she was unaware of it - with the sudden weight of her anger. “You will tell me how you know my cousin’s name, Jordan-Hal, or your Oan rules and regulations will not protect you from what I will do.”
“Once was enough, as far as getting flattened by Kryptonians goes. Kal-El is my friend... Superman. If we can go back to the planet, I can call him.”
She narrowed her eyes, calculating the impossibility of his statement against the difficulty of verifying it, and felt the speed of her own thoughts accelerate toward the speed of light. Another of my new abilities. How... fascinating. Finally - a tenth of a second later - she nodded once. “Very well, Jordan-Hal. I will accompany you for now, but if you deceive me....” She smiled, then, and it was the smile of a people who had once made the galaxy tremble before them. “We will have words, you and I.”
“No deception here.” Then he was streaking toward the planet, the northern continent of the Western hemisphere.
She matched him easily, wind dancing through her short blond hair and the stark red of her cape flaring out behind her as she cut the sky. The long, rolling report of the sound barrier breaking behind her send a shiver of delight up her spine, and despite the tension of the moment she turned a long spiralling barrel roll just for the pure joy of it.
Jordan turned his head and smiled at her roll. “First time flying? Nothing like it, is there? We’re almost where we’re going... he spends most of his time in Metropolis.”
“Metropolis.” Her eyes narrowed. “Most of his time? He was due to arrive in three years as a child - has he been fostered? Do his parents move often?”
“A child? Maybe I know a different Kal-El from you.” Jordan suddenly stopped flying, hovering over a great golden sphere atop one of the city’s largest buildings, and lifted his fingers to his lips and delivered a piercing whistle.
Quicker than Kara could think, a man in his prime - coal black hair and piercing blue eyes, the symbol of the House of El on his chest and dressed in Kryptonian armor - was standing beside them in the air, his red cape swirling behind him.
“Lantern. What do you need?” His voice was strong, confident, and entirely at ease - untouchable.
“I thought you might want to meet our visitor, Superman. My ring says she’s Kryptonian, and she says she’s Kal-El’s cousin. When she said it, I thought she meant you, but now I’m less sure.”
Superman turned to Kara, his eyes narrowing as they passed over her. “My father’s message said that our race was dead - that I was the only survivor. Who are you?”
She stared at him, some portion of her mind registering that she could see all of him - the lashes of his eyes, the muscle beneath that armor, right down to the twelve-stranded DNA in his cells. I can see through things - see the orbits of electrons. Oh, father, but you would have loved this. It was a fleeting, dancing thought, the echo of shock, and she flicked it away as she focused on those blue eyes and drew in a slow breath. “I am Kara Zor-El, daughter of Zor-El and Allura, Last Daughter of Krypton. I have come to make a place for my cousin, Kal El, in this new world. Jor El doubted that my father could succeed in building a second ship in time, so perhaps he did not wish to raise your hopes - if you truly are Kal-El. You wear his crest, at least, and you are of our fallen world. Still, it seems... impossible. I was meant to arrive first, though I departed last.”
“I am Kal-El, son of Jor-El. So, if that is who you seek, you have found him.” Superman’s eyes lingered on Kara for another moment before softening. “Welcome to Earth... cousin.”
“Cousin.” Her voice broke softly, sounding her age for the first time as she flung herself into his arms and hugged him with a fierceness that could have shattered titanium. “Oh, cousin, forgive me - I failed you, I failed our fathers. I left you to be raised alone, by savages - I can’t imagine how you must have struggled, but look at you. Rao, look at you - strong and proud and tall. Your mother would weep for joy, if she could see you.”
“I was raised by good people. I’ll introduce you to them.” Kal-El caught her, hugging her tightly. “They took care of me and kept me safe, and loved me as if I was their own. Made me feel like I was their own.”
She held him to her, cheek pressed to his, and there were tears on her cheeks as she murmured into his shoulder. “Then I and the House of El owe them a debt I can never repay, Kal-El. Still... to be raised by strangers, not even by your own kin....” She clung to him fiercely. “I am so very, very sorry, kaen .”
He held her against him for a long time before whispering, “Come with me. We’ll go to my home.” He then turned to Jordan. “Lantern... could you make sure Bruce knows what’s happened? There’s no way he doesn’t know something fell into the sea, and if he’s not told it wasn’t a threat...”
Jordan winced. “He’ll have Aquaman ready to invade the cosmos before sundown. I’ll make the call. And, Superman?”
Superman tilted his head. “Yes?”
“I’m happy for you. And you, Miss Zor-El... you couldn’t ask for a better relative. Best man I know.”
“You are a credit to your ring, Jordan-Hal, and I regret that I spoke harshly to you. The House of El will not forget your help.” Kara gave him a warm smile, touching her hand to the symbol above her heart. “Bright stars and swift journeys to you.”
“A family reunited. It’s a good day’s work.” Jordan saluted, then turned, speeding off toward another of the continent’s great cities.
She watched him go, tracking him easily and marveling at the speed with which she was becoming accustomed to such a range of abilities, then turned to her cousin and fixed him with an inquisitorial eyebrow. “Is this Bruce a friend of yours, cousin? He sounds very rash.”
“Bruce is... profoundly human.” Kal-El shrugged. “A good man - a great man, who, without any of the powers we have, without a ring like Hal has or the genetic lineage of Aquaman, does as much to keep this planet safe as any of the rest of us do, and more than most. He’s probably the best friend I have. But... well, I suppose one could say that he is, perhaps, a bit paranoid.”
“Hmmm,” she said, in a tone that was not entirely approving.
“Well... Ma and Pa don’t much like him either. Speaking of... let’s go. I can’t wait for you to meet them.”