“My name is Kara Zor-El.” Kara’s voice held an unaccustomed accent as she spoke. One Maggie had never heard, despite the weeks they’d spent together. “I’m the last daughter of Krypton.”
Appearing completely at ease, Cat Grant leaned back in her chair. “You saved the plane? You’re Supergirl?”
Even though they’d all sat down prior to the interview to discuss questions and possible answers, Maggie still marveled that the shy, rambling kid she’d rescued was an alien and a superhero. Watching Kara straighten under the bright studio lights, lines of stress and sleepless nights covered in heavy pancake makeup, Maggie realized there was far more to Kara. A sort of old school nobility and breeding.
“I believe that’s a name you created, Miss Grant.” Kara tilted her chin higher and stared directly into the camera manned by one of Kara’s co-workers at CatCo. “I saved that plane because a group of anti-alien terrorists, supported by the American government, placed a bomb aboard.”
Maggie could see Alex clench her fists at Kara’s bold statement. She’d been against this interview. Against Kara exposing her secret identity.
“We can’t keep running, Alex.” Kara took one of Alex’s hands and brushed a tender kiss over the knuckles. The gesture so intimate that Maggie would have glanced away if she hadn’t been part of the conversation. “I know you’re only trying to protect me, shesur. You have always tried to hide me from the dangers of this planet, but it’s time I protected you. CADMUS isn’t going to stop. Not until you’re dead, and I’m locked in a cage in one of their labs.”
Alex wasn’t on board. She gripped Kara’s fingers so tightly Maggie suspected only Kara’s alien biology prevented them from breaking. “That won’t happen. I’ll find another way!”
Kara glanced at Maggie. Not a plea for help. For once, Kara wasn’t caving to Alex’s promises. “There is no other way, ‘lex. Not this time.” There was a steely resolve in Kara’s expression as she continued to hold Maggie’s gaze. “There have been too many sacrifices. I owe it to every human and alien who gave their life for us and for other refugees.”
Cat was the consummate actor. She frowned. Tilted her head. “The American government?” Disbelief dripped from the words.
Damned if Kara didn’t meet that question with more poise than most Heads of State. “Do you believe I would come to you, the Queen of All Media, with only rumors and accusations?” Kara held out a flash drive. The culmination of weeks of investigation and semi-legal hacking. Everything that Alex, Maggie, Kara, and a host of friends inside NCPD and Alex’s black-ops organization, the DEO, could muster.
This was it. Maggie tensed, and saw Kara’s friend Winn typing frantically at his keyboard.
They’d chosen a live broadcast for the interview to make it harder for CADMUS or the government to shut down the feed. Winn was their last line of defense. He waved one hand in a warning signal.
“I see.” Cat didn’t show any sign that she knew they were on borrowed time. “I assume you are comfortable if we air this information?” There was a tablet on the Cat’s lap. They’d planned for this. She slipped the drive into the tablet without waiting for Kara’s consent.
In an instant, the monitor behind Kara’s head flickered to life.
Winn’s hand waved with increased urgency.
Maggie drew her weapon and moved into place. She watched Alex shift, so she had a clean line of sight to the studio entrance. Despite Cat using an old broadcasting station and Winn bouncing their signal off servers around the globe, they wouldn’t remain hidden forever.
As they’d rehearsed, Cat and Kara changed to Plan B. Questions about Krypton and Kara’s life on Earth went unasked. “Why is the government after you, Supergirl? You’re a hero.”
“I’m an alien, Miss Grant. And I am not the only target.” Kara’s voice caught; Maggie knew from the practice interviews that this was where Kara struggled.
“We need to focus on why the US Government is hunting a superhero.” Cat scribbled on a legal pad. “People will flock to Supergirl. The picture of the plane, with you holding it on your shoulders…”
Kara, huddled against Alex, shook her head. “It can’t be about me, Miss Grant.”
That got a fiery glare. “And which of us is the Queen of All Media, Kiera? Who knows how to manipulate public opinion better than Newt trying to excuse his affair with future Wife Number Three?”
“No!” Kara held firm, and Maggie saw Cat’s lips almost turn up in a smile. “This can’t be about one person or one alien. Not even one you turned into a superhero. This is about every being who was kidnapped and tortured, who died because of CADMUS or to keep other refugees safe.” Then Kara’s passion crumbled into a hollow shell. “I watched my planet explode. Billions of lives lost while my…while I escaped. I won’t let more lives be sacrificed for me again.”
As the real interview rushed forward, Maggie heard Kara’s voice ring with conviction. “I’ve been lucky, Miss Grant. I can pass for human as long as I hide the gifts your yellow sun provides. But so many of my fellow refugees can’t. And those differences make them targets for people like General Sam Lane and Lillian Luthor. Look at what your government has done to aliens and humans alike.”
The video footage Alex’s contacts had uncovered turned even Maggie’s stomach. She was glad she didn’t have to see it again.
“That’s…” Maggie couldn’t decide if Cat was playing a role as her voice faded at whatever horror she and all of CatCo’s viewership watched. “That’s unconscionable.” Cat was reacting to the video. “This group, the one kidnapping innocent aliens off the street, they’ve been hunting you?”
The lights in the studio flickered.
“Welt, I know I paid the electric bill this month,” Cat snapped. “Get those lights up and the video back on!”
Maggie raised her gun and took a deep breath. She had to make each shot count.
“And we’re back,” Cat announced. “It seems tonight’s special program has caused a few waves. Our broadcast was just hacked in an attempt to hide the truth. They won’t succeed!”
Footsteps in the hallway. They were down to the final minutes now. The room rocked with an explosion as the CADMUS or military troops triggered one of the traps she and Alex and designed.
“Miss Grant, too many have died for me. I won’t let you and your production crew...” Kara began.
“We’re here with you to the bitter end, Supergirl.” Cat had been clear on that fact all along. “While we wait for our guests to join us, tell us about your family here on Earth. I understand that you’ve found a bit of happiness in all this drama.”
Another explosion. The lights flickered – and remained off. The backup generator that Winn had dug out of the building’s basement kicked on. It wasn’t there for the lights. The only illumination was Winn’s laptop screen and the camera. Although, Maggie suspected the broadcast was not blocked.
Hopefully, Plan C (or were they now down to Z?) would keep the next part of the “show” on-air.
The double doors sprang open.
Maggie took the lead. “NCPD, put your weapons on the ground and drop to your knees!”
They didn’t, of course. Instead, the camo-clad soldiers moved with disciplined precision into the studio. “I’m afraid this is out of your jurisdiction, Detective Sawyer.” A man strode in behind the gun-toting goons.
“Under the Knott Amendment, General, your troops don’t have the authority to execute any laws within the boundaries of the United States.” Cat faced off with the general like he was a buck private and not sporting four stars on his BDUs. “You’re already facing court martial for at least six violations of your vaunted UCMJ that I can come up with off the top of my head.”
His smile made Maggie’s skin crawl. “Your dislike of the military is well-known, Miss Grant. When this evidence you seem to have disappears, this little broadcast of yours will be nothing more than a publicity stunt.” The general turned to one of his men. “Get that flash drive and anything they might have used to save or record information.”
“You move and I’ll shoot.” Alex had stepped in front of Kara the minute the doors opened. Maggie had expected nothing less. “Starting with you, General Lane.”
“Agent Danvers. I was hoping to see you. I have a cell with your name on it.” He didn’t even flinch, and Maggie knew just how scary Alex could be when she felt cornered. Lane thought he held all the power in this exchange. “The US Government takes treason very seriously.”
This was devolving into a shit show. One that went further downhill when two of the soldiers opened a flap on their body armor to reveal glowing green gems.
“Alex!” Kara sounded the way she had the day Maggie had rescued them from the safehouse. Young and in terrible pain. Maggie risked looking away from Lane and the guns. Kara had dropped to her knees.
“You bastard!” Alex broke at Kara’s cry. Before Maggie say or do anything, Alex fired. One of the green-glow-y men staggered.
Her actions triggered a chain reaction. Soldiers rushed at Maggie and Cat while others fired at Alex. “No! Alex!” Kara was a blur. One that shielded Alex from certain death. She writhed as the slugs landed, blood soaking the clothing Cat had arranged for the meeting.
Into the sudden vacuum created with Kara’s collapse, Cat’s cell phone rang. “General, you’ll want to hold off on shooting anyone for a minute.” She tapped the phone screen. “Olivia? I’d hoped you’d call sooner. General Lane just shot Supergirl. Oh? You’re watching it live on YouTube?”
With a flourish, she held the phone out to the general. “The President would like to speak with you.”
Sipping her beer, Maggie leaned against the porch railing. This place was a slice of white middle-class heaven. A far cry from her family’s two-bedroom ranch-style house in Nebraska. Then again… Glancing at the email she’d received that morning, Maggie decided she might be able to afford her own slice of heaven when she returned to National City.
“I take it you got the offer?” Alex wandered over.
Alex’s laugh was as unfamiliar as her new auburn-dyed hair. “Need me to spell it out for you, Loo?”
“Bitch!” But Maggie grinned and toasted Alex with her beer. “I’ll give you a free pass today only. I’m in too good a mood to ruin it by kicking your ass – on your wedding day, no less.”
“I think you have that backward.” The pushback was pro forma. All of Alex’s attention was across the yard. On Kara.
The kid was talking with Cat, all waving arms and electric smile. A smile not even the cold-hearted Queen of All Media could withstand from her warm expression. Kara no longer looked like a fugitive. She’d gained weight; her hair was blonde; there were no bruises under her eyes.
All in all… “She’s a keeper, Danvers.”
The angry, gun-toting, ready to go out in a blaze of glory agent turned into a puddle of sappy goo. “Fuck, yeah.” She pushed away from the railing, and Maggie read Alex’s sudden urgency. “See you around, Sawyer.”