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The Last Scion of El

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Author's note: Yes, I'm aware this is a HUGE tease but fear not, unlike my Halloween tale, this one is nearly finished. I'm actually 102,000 words in. I will post the rest once I've finished and given it a good edit through. Until there, here is the prologue and chapter one.

This premise made me really think and the idea wouldn't leave my head. No Superman or Supergirl, just Kara Zor-El, the only Kryptonian left who was inducted into a guild. It would be inconceivable that some of the greatest minds throughout the universe would have pods so unprepared for their children. Nor would they leave them so unprepared to thrive in a strange new world. Kara Zor-El and Kal-El are put into pods for the 10-year journey to Earth, with the promise their parents will follow, but Krypton explodes moments after their pods depart. While Kara was instructed unconsciously about her new planet, Kal slipped through a wormhole and landed after less than 2 years. Kara arrives at age 24, fully prepared to live on Earth and raise her 10-year-old cousin…except, she can’t find him. Instead, she goes to work for the most technologically advanced company on Earth which happens to be owned by Lena Luthor-Danvers, and run with the help of her adoptive mother, Eliza Danvers.

 

****

This is a ‘what if’ story where vigilantism is illegal and the DEO, along with "sanctioned" superheroes keep the peace on Earth. It's a world where all the Luthors except for Lena died in a car crash when Lena is 13, and she is adopted and raised by the Danvers. Kara is 24 years old when she lands on earth 10 years after Lena's accident, fully educated on Earth history, language, and science, and is a twelfth level intellect like her new coworker, Brainy. Two months after landing on Earth, she begins work at L-Corp and is immediately and immeasurably drawn to her new boss, Dr. Luthor-Danvers.

When Kara saves a woman from assault near her apartment, she tells the woman she is the Last Scion of El to protect her Earth identity. Later, after Kara saves a plane carrying Lena and Eliza, that same woman comes forward and claims that the mysterious hero is called Scion, by her own words and the incriminating S on her chest. Now the DEO is looking for yet another illegal vigilante, no matter how well-meaning she is. When someone begins targeting the person she holds above all others, Scion isn't one to let little thing like the law prevent her from keeping Lena safe. After all, it's not like any of Earth's heroes could stop her.

 

 

The Last Scion of El

 

Prologue

 

Everything was shaking and Kara could barely stay on her feet. She called out, frightened more than she’d ever been in her thirteen ahmzehts of life. “Ieiu?” Her mother was supposed to be working but she’d looked out the balcony earlier and saw a lot of shuttles rushing to their homes after the first tremor hit Argo City. Kara tried again. “Ukr?” Still no answer. She stumbled and fell to the floor, crying. “Kelex!”

“Do you have a request, Kara Zor-El?”

“What is happening? Where are my parents?”

Kelex hovered closer.  “Please remain calm, your parents will arrive shortly. They asked that you change into your ship suit, the one you received just before your last trip with Zor-El to Rann.”

The war with Daxam had taken its toll on both planets. While their sister planet and sworn enemy eventually succumbed to the stronger Kryptonians, they themselves had struck a final blow just before the Daxam monarchy fell. The last round of attacks terribly damaged Krypton’s core making it extremely unstable. The Thinker’s Guild had put stop gap measures in place with temporary cooling rods, but no one thought it would be a solution. All it did was buy them time and the quakes told Kara that their planet’s reprieve was over.

The most recent round of tremors stopped and Kara used that opportunity to stand. Trained from a young age to obey Kelex’s orders, she ran to her room. Kara was disconcerted to note the large cracks throughout the floors and walls of their home on the way there.

Though she didn’t have many years beneath the guiding light of Rao, Kara’s mind was one of the most brilliant ever conceived on Krypton and she had just become a member of the Thinker’s Guild, like Zor-El before her. The exceptional part of her achievement was that she was the youngest to ever reach such an honor. Kara assumed her family would seek refuge off world while the tremors shook their home, so she put together a small satchel of items that she’d need, much like she’d do for any of her scientific trips with her father. Just the bare essentials.

The only exception she made to the basic necessities was to add a few personal items she couldn’t bear to see destroyed in case the worst should happen. The mating bracelets given to her the day after her guild induction ceremony, even though a mate hadn’t been chosen for her yet. She also picked up a holo-cube that held information about her family, images, and videos. Lastly, she selected the shimmering silver cape gifted to her by her mother’s identical ie, Astra. Once her pack was complete, she slung it across her thin shoulders then made her way through her home to the balcony where she could see the family shuttle approaching to land.

The small ship touched down as tremors struck again and Kara watched as the mags kicked in on the landing rails, slamming the shuttle against the metal decking. Mags were typically used to hold the personal craft in place during times of high wind. The door opened and her father yelled to her. “Kara, come quickly!”

She obeyed and less than a dozen breaths later, she was secured as they lifted into the air. “What is happening? I thought the engineers announced that they found a way to stabilize Krypton’s core but these tremors indicate that is not the case.” She watched as her parents shared a glance in the front seats of the shuttle but neither answered her. “Where are we going? What about ie? Will she meet us?”

Finally, her mother turned with a solemn look. “Astra and Non were sent to the Phantom Zone this morning for crimes against Krypton. I’m sorry, Kara.”

“No!” Kara idolized her mother’s sister and couldn’t believe that the head adjudicator, her own mother, would allow such a thing to happen. “Is this because she has been talking about the unstable planetary core?”

Her mother exploded in a rare show of anger. “It’s because she was stirring resentment and distress among the citizens with her fearmongering and terrorist acts. Two people died when one of the coolant generators exploded after Non’s last protest!”

Just as Kara experienced the greatest fear of her life earlier in their home, she was now more furious than she could ever remember. She gestured out the window of the shuttle, taking note of the delicate spires crumbling and falling to the streets below. “Look around us! She clearly wasn’t lying, everyone else was. Why did you hide this from me?”

Her father spoke from his place in the other seat. “We were trying to protect you, inah—”

“Protect me? What about everyone else, all the other families, guilds, and people below us in both station and rank? Who will protect them?” They didn’t answer, instead stared at her thin-lipped while the shuttle took them to a part of Argo City she’d never visited before. “Where are we going?”

Zor-El sighed before meeting Kara’s furious and heartbroken gaze. “We thought we’d have more time…to fix it or to plan in case we couldn’t. But there was a catastrophic failure in the cooling rods and now we have to do what we can to be sure the house of El survives.”

Alura picked up where her zrhomin left off. “We’re meeting Jor-El and Lara at a private lab. We’re sending you and your sojehb, Kal-El, off planet to be safe until we can handle this crisis.”

“No! I can help—”

“I’m sorry, Kara, but we’ve already made up our minds. While you may have full rights intellectually under Krypton’s laws with your induction into the Thinker’s Guild, you’re still biologically a minor in society and our responsibility.”

Throughout their flight, Kara could tell whenever the tremors would begin and end based on the amount of damage to infrastructure below. Luckily it was calm again when they landed. All three exited the shuttle as Jor-El and his family rushed over. Kara’s odhoz and ynugh looked just as worried as her own parents. She could see Kal’s bright red birthing blanket wrapped around him, cradled gently within Lara’s arms. He began to cry as Jor-El spoke. “We must hurry. I fear this area won’t remain sound for long and if it collapses before the pods can lift off…” He didn’t need to finish the warning as another tremor hit and they all staggered.

Kara could see two pods prepped with their clear covers open. Lara rushed to the nearest pod and placed Kal-El inside, both parent’s fussing over the baby. Kara’s mother grabbed her hand and pulled her toward the other one. Once they stood next to the gleaming private vessel, her mother begged, “Please, inah. This is hard enough without worrying about you.” Kara looked from one to the other then finally nodded. She unslung her satchel and placed it in a compartment near the head of the pod. Then she climbed inside and lay back, trusting the cushioned surface to form around her and keep her snug.

Zor-El gently grasped her hand. “We are sending you to a planet called Earth. It is a long journey.”

“How long?”

“A little over ten ahmzeht—”

“What?”

Her mother grabbed her other hand. “Please, Kara. If we managed to stabilize Krypton’s core, we’ll send the code to bring back your pods. If we don’t, then we’ll follow and with any luck, we will all arrive within days of one another.”

Kara pleaded. “By why this planet, Earth? Why not one that is closer?”

“Reports from the Tau Ceti in our sector mentioned the technologically primitive planet and its yellow sun. They’ve been protecting it for generations but there were rumors that the Daxam ruling family may have fled there when the Krypton Military Guild took over for a few years during the war.”

Kara was confused by his statement. “I thought they died?”

“Yes, it was later proven that King Lar Gand and Queen Rhea perished before they could land. That is not why we’re sending you and young Kal-El. After running experiments, Jor-El and I suspect why. The testing indicates that their yellow sun may provide some sort of power to Kryptonian cells. We had theories that our race would be stronger and more powerful than any of the humans, aliens, or their metahumans, but we ran out of time for further testing.”

Kara shook her head as tears began to fall. “I don’t want to be more powerful. I want to stay with my zrhythrev.”

“Inah, you will always be with El, because the house of El will always be with you.” Her father touched the glowing emblem on her ship suit. “Krypton has enemies and we needed to send the two of you someplace safe where you wouldn’t be found before we can arrive. The new planet can still be dangerous though and you need to be strong.” She didn’t know if he meant stronger there, or stronger in general for what she was sure would be the destruction of their planet.

Her mother spoke with her own eyes full of tears. “Please trust us, ukiem. Take care of Kal-El on your new world and we’ll join you as soon as we can.”

“Okay.” Kara could see the sadness in her parents’ eyes and had a very bad feeling about their plans and machinations. She’d studied the ideas and designs for technology that could stabilize their planet’s core and didn’t see how they’d be able to reverse what had clearly reached a critical point. But she relied on her parents to stay true to their word and follow if things were beyond repair.

With one last wave, both pods closed and systems came online. Kara was happy to hear Kelex’s voice filling the small space inside, indicating its program had been installed as both teacher and guide for the journey. She watched as Kal-El’s pod left first, zipping through the lab’s exit, just barely missed by a large piece of falling debris.

It was Kara’s turn next and she felt the slight tremor as the engines cycled and her pod smoothly lifted to follow. She was already mourning the deaths that had occurred since the tremors began, and feared for the rest of her people should they continue. Her pod had just cleared the exosphere when it rocked violently. Kara immediately brought up the rear-view screen and gasped as glowing cracks appeared all over the surface of the planet. The pods were exceptionally fast though and both were clear of danger when it exploded and the shockwave hit them.

“No!” Kara covered her mouth with both hands and sobbed as she watched the end of everything and everyone she’d ever known, save one baby just ahead of her on their journey.

She didn’t get to grieve too long though before Kelex spoke. “Apologies, Kara Zor-El, but I have orders from your father to begin your education immediately in the event that they failed to prevent the destruction of Krypton. Prepare for yourself for hypnopedia in one dendahr.” Kara barely had time to realize what Kelex was saying before she was put into a deep sleep and her Earth education began.

What neither Zor-El, nor Jor-El could predict was that destruction of Krypton released an enormous amount of energy that affected more than the physical vicinity around them. Cosmic forces blasted out in waves and while they were not a danger to the integrity and coordinates of the escape pods, they caused another astronomical reaction in a pocket of dark matter. One section of space ahead of Kal’s pod folded, then folded again, and the pod disappeared into a flash of light. Kara’s pod continued onward along its course toward Earth.

 

One Year after the destruction of Krypton

Lena rose to consciousness slowly, clearer of mind than the first time after she’d been taken to the hospital. It had been a week since the accident and she’d already grown to hate the persistent beeping that sounded too loud in the large room. The last clear thing she could remember of that fateful night was joking around with her brother before a crack of lightning sounded outside the car. Then there was horrendous screeching after and her entire world turned end over end when their car was struck on the highway and they tumbled down an embankment. She lay there for hours, unable to turn away from the unseeing eyes of her parents. She was pressed up against Lex but he wasn’t moving and didn’t answer her cries. After a few hours his body grew cold below hers and she knew that he too was dead.

No one told her the cause of the wreck but she heard nurses whispering outside the door that police suspected it was a metahuman. Unfortunately, the other person found at the scene didn’t survive. Either way, Lena didn’t want to think about the accident, but every morning she woke in the hospital alone served as a reminder of her loss. To make matter worse, she couldn’t feel anything below the waist and knew it had something to do with the way her body had been pinned in the car. The doctors said she may get sensation back when the swelling went down, but further tests revealed that her spinal cord had been severely compressed, causing irreparable damage. She refused to speak with them for the rest for the day, unable to stand the looks of pity directed her way every time someone from the hospital staff entered the room.

Lena looked out the window and saw that it was already late afternoon and she’d slept nearly the entire day away. It wasn’t like there was anything else for her to do other than wish she had died with her family. Who was she to survive when everyone she loved was gone?

After a short while, someone knocked on her door before pushing through. She recognized her father’s lawyer, Dan Desmond, but she didn’t know the other two. Even though Lena Luthor was only thirteen, she was in fact a genius. Not only had she already graduated high school, but had been taking college courses for more than a year. Lena was frightened of her future, but she wasn’t stupid to the reality of her situation.

“Hi, Lena. You already know who I am.”

“Hello, Mr. Desmond.”

He gestured toward the man and woman that had come in the room with him. “I’d like to introduce you to Jeremiah Danvers, and his wife, Doctor Eliza Danvers.”

Eliza stepped forward. “Hi, Lena. You probably don’t recognize us. We haven’t seen you since you were about four years old. With me heading up the labs at the National City location of L-Corp, I’m afraid we don’t get to Metropolis very often.”

She gave them a curious look. “If you’re a doctor, are you going to help me with my legs?”

“Your legs, dear?”

Lena poked one of her skinny thighs. “I can’t feel anything.”

“Oh!” Eliza put a hand over her mouth, stifling the reaction.

Dan cleared his throat. “Actually, Jeremiah and Eliza are your godparents. Lionel left instructions that if anything were to happen to them, they would take you and your brother in and raise you.”

“What about L-Corp.”

“You don’t need to worry about that right now—”

Lena was not to be dissuaded by Dan’s placating tone. “I said, what about my family’s company?”

He sighed and the Danvers remained silent. “Contingency plan L-47 was initiated. L-Corp headquarters will move to National City, closer to the Danvers’. Eliza will act as temporary proxy until you come of age, at which time you’ll take over as CEO. Until then, you’ll be moving to a place a few hours outside National City to the town of Midvale to live with them and their daughter.”

Her mouth dropped open. “But what about school? I was supposed to start MIT this fall!”

He shook his head and lifted his hands in a gesture of helplessness. “I’m afraid I don’t know—”

He was interrupted by Jeremiah. “MIT has a satellite campus in National City which you can attend. I know it’s not the same as walking, uh, roaming the halls in Cambridge but it’s certainly better than nothing for the time being…at least until you’re more settled.”

“I see.”

“Honey,” Lena swung her gaze to Eliza, and something about the woman’s tender smile and overall bearing calmed her. “I know we’re not your real family, but we’ll do everything we can to make you feel welcome with us.”

Lena looked from one to the other, then turned her head to meet Dan’s dark brown eyes. “Okay.” It wasn’t like she really had a choice. Her father used to say that life didn’t slow down for anyone. You either kept up or fell behind. Lena had never fallen behind on anything and she wasn’t about to start now.

 

Chapter One

 

It was a few months before the young Luthor girl could leave the rehabilitation facility in Metropolis and move to Midvale. It was another four months before National City branch of L-Corp became the company’s new headquarters. Truthfully, not much changed other than announcing it and asking if anyone wanted to move to the sunny west coast, something many agreed to with the generous relocation bonus promised.

Because of the increased duties that had fallen into Eliza’s lap, Jeremiah made the decision to retire from the DEO and only work as a part time contractor when big issues came up. The director of the National City branch of the DEO, J’onn J’onzz, was surprisingly understanding and told Jeremiah that a place would be there for him if he ever wanted to come back full time. Stepping away from his duties there let him stay home with the girls he was glad not to make the commute. Jeremiah felt a bad for Eliza until if discovered that she’d get to use the L-Corp helicopter, a privilege he never had when working at the DEO.

National City was only about a forty-minute flight while flying, which meant that Eliza made the commute every day once she transitioned from Lab Director to acting CEO. It wasn’t the first time she’d run a company. She originally met Lionel and Lilian Luthor after they approached her about a buy out for her small medical technology firm. Years later Eliza agreed to take over their labs in National City and Jeremiah was occasionally hired as a prototype consultant, even though he still worked for the DEO. The two couples became good friends, though didn’t see each other often while living on opposite sides of the country.

The company helicopter began using after becoming acting CEO was actually a boon because after the accident, Lena had been terrified to ride in a car. Unfortunately for orphaned girl, the rest of her problems weren’t solved quite as easily. Because of her injury and all the other changes in her life, Lena agreed to wait a year before attending MIT. Between the loss of her family as well as her few friends in Metropolis with relocating across the country, and not being able to go to school, she’d fallen into depression. A therapist came to the house twice a week, paid for by her family’s money.

Luthor funds had also paid to renovate the house in Midvale to accommodate Lena’s wheelchair. Ramps were built, a lift for the stairs was added, and one bathroom was expanded to make it more accessible. All that would have at least been tolerable to the resilient girl, but Eliza and Jeremiah’s daughter, Alex, hated her immediately and wasn’t shy about it.

“Great, because they had to blow out the spare room to make the bathroom bigger, I have to share my room with some rich bitch!”

“Alexandra Danvers, you apologize this instant!”

Eliza was furious and Lena wanted to sink into her chair and cry. But she was tired of crying. She didn’t blame, Alex, really. Alex was two years older and an only child. Even Lena could see it had to be difficult for the girl to wake up one morning with an ‘instant’ sister. Lena had always been quiet and affable and attempted to placate the Alex. “I’m sorry, I’ll try to stay on my side and not bother you.”

“Oh, goody!” Sarcasm fairly dripped from her words before she stomped into the kitchen. A door slammed somewhere and Lena assumed it was a back door to the house.

“She doesn’t mean it, honey. Alex is just…she’s been going through something for a while now and we haven’t been able to get through to her. She’ll come around.”

Lena muttered, “Before or after she pushes me down the stairs?”

“What was that?”

“Nothing, Mrs. Danvers.”

Eliza squatted down so she could look Lena in the eye. “Please, none of that. I meant what I said about being part of this family now. You can call me Eliza. Now, how about I show you around the house. You can practice using the chair lift. After that, I’ll make us some homemade chocolate chip cookies. With my expanding duties at L-Corp, it’s going to get busy and I don’t know when I’ll get the opportunity for baking again outside the holidays.”

Lena sighed, staring off in the direction that Alex had gone. “Okay, Mrs—Eliza.” She quickly amended after seeing Eliza’s finger waggle.

She and Alex continued to butt heads for the next few months until one day Alex took it too far. “I can’t believe I have to share my room and my family with you. Things were great until you came along!”

That’s when the quiet and affable girl finally snapped. “It’s not like I had any more choice in this than you. And at least you still have your family! You didn’t wake up one morning with everyone you loved gone on top of being unable to ever walk again!”

Alex blanched. “I—”

“I loved my brother and you’re nothing like him. You might have the same name, but you’re just, just…cold! The only time he was ever cold was when I was pressed against him for hours in the car and I realized that he’d died. He was my big brother and now he’s gone.” She started to sob, not caring any more if Alex hated her. Alex was blocking the doorway to the room so Lena couldn’t’ even leave to prevent the older teen from seeing her break down and most likely giving her more fuel for mocking.

Instead of doing any of those things, Alex’s mouth dropped open. She stared wide-eyed at Lena. The younger girl was clearly lonely and in pain and it took mere seconds for Alex to realize she’d been part of the cause. “Oh my God, Lena! I’m so sorry.” She rushed to her side and knelt down next to Lena’s wheel chair. Lena flinched away, unsure of what to expect from the volatile youngest Danvers. “I didn’t mean any of it, honest. I’m just… I’m clearly the biggest asshole to ever ass.”

Lena’s tears abated, part from shock that Alex was apologizing, and partly from hearing the other girl call herself an ass. She sniffled. “Can you say that last part again?”

Alex gave her shoulder a little shove then pulled her into an awkward hug. “I’m being serious here. I just,” She sighed. “I suppose I’m a bit jealous that you came into my family and you’re getting all this attention. Dad quite the DEO for you and it’s great having him around now, but he never did that for me. Not that I blame them, you’re brilliant and I see the way my mom is so amazed by you. Not only that, but you humor dad by working out in the garage with him on all his crazy experiments.”

“You’re not stupid, Alex. Eliza tells me all the time how smart you are. You’re only two years older than me and you’re a senior in high school because you skipped grades when you were younger. I think that also qualifies as brilliant.”

Alex rolled her eyes and pointed at herself. “High school,” then pointed at Lena. “MIT. I think that proves my point.”

Lena grabbed Alex’s finger and gave it a shake, still in awe of the sudden transformation of their relationship. “We’re both still kids. Lex used to say that no matter how smart we were, both of us were still kids and allowed to be stupid once in a while. Of course, he usually said that before trying an experiment that he knew we’d get in trouble for.” She sighed wistfully. “He always took the blame though.”

“You really miss him, don’t you?”

“I feel like part of me is missing without him. I mean…part of me of what I have left.” She angrily slapped her dead legs.

Alex grabbed the hand and held it between both of her. Her eyes were down when she cleared her throat, but the words were heartfelt. “Um, I know I’ve been a real bitch to you. I’ve been coming to terms with something, uh, that I’m not sure how to deal with and you came along right in the middle.” She looked up to meet Lena’s hopeful gaze. “But I’m making a promise to you right now that I’m going to fix this. Can we have a do-over?”

Lena gave her a tentative smile. “I’d like that.”

“I know that you’ve lost your brother and he can never be replaced, but I’m going to try to be the best big sister that I can starting now. What do you say?”

“Promise?” Lena’s bottom lip quivered.

Alex let go of Lena’s hand and held up a single pinky. “I pinky swear.”

Lex used to say the same thing and he always kept his word. Lena hooked her pinky around Alex’s, feeling lighter than she had since the death of her family.

 

****

 

Meanwhile, sixteen hundred miles away, the pod of two-year-old Kal-El crash lands outside Smallville, Kansas. Jon and Martha Kent were on their way back from a hospital in the city where Martha had spent the previous night under observation after her recent miscarriage. They’d been trying to have a child for ten long years, since they got married, and were slowly losing hope. They were nearly home when the old truck blew a tire. Jon swore, more than the simple inconvenience of it all fueling his anger. He pulled to the edge of the road and turned to his wife. “I’m sorry, honey. This is the last thing you probably want to deal with.”

She shook her head and smiled at the man she loved more than anything. “It’s fine. Let’s get this tire changed, hmm?” Then she reached into the glovebox and removed a flashlight before letting herself out of the rusted old Ford.”

Ten minutes later the truck engine was still ticking as it cooled and Martha stood between the gravel and the grass aiming a beam of light toward the flat tire. She was holding the lug nuts that had just been removed.

“A little light over here?” Jon was on his back beneath the bed trying to break the spare tire free from years of mud and rust. With a crack, it finally came loose and he pushed it toward the side of the truck he was working, then shimmied from beneath the bed. His back was covered with dust from the dirt road but he’d been worse. “I’m gonna have to check this stuff more often. I don’t know how it got that bad.”

He quickly put the spare on, then Martha handed the nuts to him one by one while he fingered tightened them. Jon had three of the five tightened with the tire iron when they were both started by loud rumbling. They looked up to see a bright light in the sky growing larger by the second. The wind hit and all the corn in the field next to the road bent almost sideways when the light was nearly upon them.

Martha raised her hands to shield her eyes, as Jon squinted, used to long hot days in the bright sun. “What the blazes?” They were shocked as something crashed into the ground about thirty yards out amidst the corn rows. They could see a brief glow after it landed, then the field grew dark again.

“Jon…”

Jon quickly tightened the last two lug nuts then threw the tire iron into the back of the truck. “I’m gonna go check that out.” He glanced around, knowing they were in the middle of nowhere with their nearest neighbor miles away in the opposite direction of the house. “You should probably stay with the truck.”

“Oh no you don’t, Jonathan Kent! You are not leaving me by myself while you traipse off into a cornfield looking for some crashed meteor or satellite. I’m coming with you.”

With ten years married, and sweethearts since they were fourteen, he knew better than to argue. “Alrighty then.”

It didn’t take long for them to reach the strangely short gouge in the earth where the crash happened. To say they were surprised to see the gleaming silver craft at the end of it would be an understatement. Martha gasped and covered her mouth. Jon was a little more straightforward. “Well, I’ll be damned.”

“Do you think its aliens or metahumans?”

He shrugged. “Could be refugees, or even DEO. The government’s always got secret stuff floating around up there.”

Further conversation on the nature of the craft was interrupted as they both heard the loud psshh sound of depressurization, and the clear cover along the top slowly lifted on a vertical hinge. “It’s opening!”

Jon muttered drolly, “Ya think?”

Martha slapped his arm. “Hush, you!”

“Now Martha, whether this is an alien, metahuman, or the government, let’s agree now not to go near whatever is in that thing until we know it’s safe.”

“But what if—” The sound of a crying child interrupted whatever Martha was going to say. Rather than comply with Jon’s request, she broke into a run toward the craft. Jon was hot on her heals. “Oh! It’s a baby…a toddler.” She attempted to go toward the crying child only to be pulled back by her husband.

“Martha, wait! We don’t know anything about that babe, or where it comes from. No matter how much it looks like us, it could be dangerous to humans.”

Suddenly the toddler’s crying stopped as he noticed the two people watching him. Kal-El hiccupped a few times then pulled himself to stand within the cushion of the pod. He reached out a chubby little hand toward them in an age-old sign of ‘want,’ one that neither Kent was able to ignore. The blanket slipped from the nude baby and Jon scratched at his stubbly cheek as he amended his statement. “Correction, where he comes from.”

Both of them knew the boy had a family somewhere, but they also knew the family wasn’t there and they so desperately wanted a child of their own. Martha turned hopeful eyes toward her husband. “He needs a mother, at least until his own family shows up to claim him.”

Jon’s mind was already in motion, trying to come up with a solution. He remembered his old Sargent, one that he saved once when they were on active duty together. “Maybe Jeremiah can help us.”

Martha scooped up the blanket and baby, cuddling him close. They both jumped a little when the cover of the silver craft suddenly closed. “Didn’t he go to work for the Department of Extranormal Operations?”

Jon nodded. “Yup. The DEO plucked him right out of the army before I mustered out. They wanted his big shot brain in their science division.” While they weren’t friends exactly, they kept in touch over the years. Jeremiah shared pictures of his wife and daughter, and Jon sent him photos of his and Martha’s wedding. Last he heard, Jeremiah and his wife were living in California near enough to National City for that to be his home office. Jon knew he’d either find a solution for them, or know someone who could help.

Two hours later, Martha and the little boy were safely inside the house while Jon slowly lowered the ten-foot-long silver spacecraft into the cellar beneath the old barn. He’d already taken the tractor rake over the entire area where it had landed so the gouges were no longer visible. It just looked like someone plowed under a section of corn. A week later, the official adoption papers went through after Jeremiah pulled a few strings with people way above Jon’s pay grade to speed the normal process for alien refugee children needing placement. Martha cried as they wrote ‘Clark Joseph Kent’ on all the documents. They’d finally gotten the child they’d both yearned for.

 

****

 

No one batted an eye when Alex came out as a lesbian at the age of seventeen. Lena herself admitted that she was bi to make her older sister feel better. Eliza simply baked two cakes and Jeremiah frosted them to look like the flags he found online.

Life was good for their little family, until it wasn’t. Death came knocking again a year later, the winter break when Lena was sixteen and Alex was eighteen. Everyone was home for a week, even Eliza. L-Corp had shut down all its facilities to give its employees paid leave to spend time with their families. Alex was in her third year at NCU and, maintaining her level of prodigy, had begun pre-med studies. She pulled up the drive of their Midvale home to see her dad outside splitting logs at the side of the house nearest their wood shed. After parking, Alex grabbed her small suitcase and ran over to give him a big hug. “Why are you doing all this by hand? Don’t we have a log splitter?”

He chuckled. “We do, I just didn’t feel like hauling it out today.”

Alex looked at his sweaty red face. “You should probably take a break before you give yourself a heart attack, yeah? I’ll come out and split a big pile later after I put my stuff away and steal some cookies.”

“How do you know there are cookies?”

“Mom always makes cookies on my first day home.”

He swatted at her and she danced away. “Smarty! Remind me later to show you what I built in the garage.”

She rolled her eyes but was genuinely curious. “What is it this time, a portal to another dimension?”

Jeremiah aimed another swat at his daughter’s shoulder. “It was one time that I tried to do that and yet you never let me forget it!”

“Dad, you blew all the fuses in the breaker box and we were watching the final episode of Friends!”

He held up his hands in defeat. “Fine, I’m sorry for ruining your final Friends episode. But I promise, this isn’t something so pie in the sky. I created a new chair for Lena, one that would float off the ground rather than roll. It’s super slim, barely more than her hips, and it will give her more freedom of motion.”

Alex glanced toward the front door of the house, then looked back at him. “Did she ask you to do that?”

He lowered his voice in case anyone popped outside. “No, she didn’t. But Alex, you know how it is. Her dream isn’t just to take over her family’s company in a few years. She wants to work in the labs and bring all those ideas she has to life. You and I both know that labs aren’t really tailored to someone who is relegated to a sitting position.” He sighed. “It’s more than that though. Even now, years after the accident, I still hear her talking to Eliza about her nerve damage. She’s constantly keeping tabs on the biomedical community to see if there have been any advancements in nerve and spinal cord regeneration. I wish I could fix that for her but it’s not my field of expertise. I’m just an engineer.” He swallowed and looked away.

“You’re more than that and you know it. I think it’s really thoughtful of you, Dad.”

When he looked back, his eyes shimmered with unshed tears. “I thought if I could make things just a little easier for her, I could give back some of the mobility that was stolen in that that accident. As I said, the new chair is significantly smaller and less bulky. It can also raise and lower to bring her to whatever level she needs.”

Given her own pre-med studies and learning about patients with varying degrees of spinal injury, Alex was interested in this new invention of her father’s. “What about rough terrain or even stairs?”

He smiled. “Yes to both. I actually used L-Corp’s new batteries and agreed to share the design if I could utilize one of the company’s prototype hover-fields. Lena may be getting the prototype of this new chair, but with any luck thousands of others around the world will benefit as well.”

Alex shook her head and gave her dad another spontaneous hug. “You continue to amaze me.”

“Yeah?”

“Absolutely! Now, I’m gonna have some cookies with my sister, then I’ll come out and set up the log splitter. So, you can put that down now.” She pointed at the ax in her dad’s hand. He merely winked at her and stood watching as she grabbed her suitcase and made her way over to the front steps and into the house proper. Once she was out of sight, he began splitting wood again.

As promised, Alex made her way outside an hour later. Her dad never came in so she assumed he wandered off to his garage to tinker. She never expected to find him lying on the ground by the ax he’d been wielding when she first arrived. “Dad!”

Her scream pierced the cool morning air and brought her mother running to the front door. “Alex?”

Alex was already on her knees performing CPR. “He’s in cardiac arrest, call 9-1-1!”

Lena had followed Eliza out onto the wraparound porch, her breath fogging as she took in the sight of Alex compressing Jeremiah’s chest. Eliza was on the phone to the ambulance as she ran down the stairs toward her daughter and husband.

“Mom, I need you to give breaths while I do the compressions.” Lena had already rolled down the long ramp that had been built especially for her chair. She helplessly watched Alex perform CPR.

“Lena,” Lena turned to look at her adopted mother. “Take the phone and talk to the operator, let them know where to turn off from the main road so they can find our place. I’m going to go help Alex, okay?”

Lena swallowed. “Okay.” She took the phone from Eliza’s hand and nearly dropped it on the ground as fear made her hands shake. “Hello?”

“Hi, can you tell me who I’m speaking with?”

“This is Lena. My adoptive mother, Eliza, is helping my sister give my adoptive father CPR. Alex said he’s not breathing and in cardiac arrest.”

“Thank you, ma’am. The ambulance should be there in about fifteen minutes.”

She begged, “Please, they have to come sooner. She’s already been working on him for a few minutes and the human brain can only survive for so long. She’s going to get tired soon.”

“Do you know CPR? Can you spell her for a bit?”

“I…” Lena looked at the ground where they were located. One of the wood piles had been knocked over creating a debris field of split wood that her chair would never navigate. “I can’t get to them. I’m sorry.”

The kind voice over the phone prompted, “How old are you, Lena?”

Her voice wavered, the memory of another time and another accident bring tears to her eyes. “I’m sixteen.”

“Just hold on the line for me, okay. Help will be there soon.”

But help couldn’t have arrived in time. They were told Jeremiah had suffered a major heart attack and mostly likely died instantly. The emergency room doctor consoled the small family that there was nothing they could have done to save him, even with Alex’s knowledge of CPR. It wasn’t as much of a consolation as he thought.

Despite suffering the loss of a family member for the second time in her young life, it was Lena who was the surprising rock through it all. She’d dealt with grief before, and had years of therapy learning how to cope and move on. Alex and Eliza both leaned on during their grieving period. They all cried when Alex unveiled the new chair her father had told her about. Lena was grateful that she had Jeremiah in her life as long as she did.

The real turning point in Alex’s healing came about six months after Jeremiah died. She was home on summer break from NCU and disappeared after dinner. Lena found Alex a few hours later, drunk in Jeremiah’s garage. She pulled her big sister into her lap and took her back into the house. She was grateful that she no longer had to mess with the chair lift, the hover capability making her ascent smooth as could be. Once in their room, Lena was able to roll Alex into her sister’s childhood bed, then she sat holding the sobbing woman’s hand for the next hour. Once Alex was all cried out, Lena returned those words from years before.

“I know that you’ve lost your dad and he can never be replaced, but I’m going to try to be the best little sister that I can starting now. What do you say?”

Alex squeezed Lena’s hand and gave her a watery smile. “You already are. Thanks, Lee. Love you.” Then she closed her eyes and passed out.

 

****

 

By the time Lena turned eighteen and reached the age of majority, she’d already earned two doctorates and a master’s degree. Jeremiah’s death was a dark cloud that hung over all their heads for a long time but eventually life moved on. Alex was busy and perpetually exhausted, but loving her first year of residency at National City General Hospital. Though she was low on the pecking order as an intern, and the youngest to come through the program, she thrived in the medical setting of her dreams. Alex originally though that she wanted to specialize in surgery but after spending a stint in the emergency room, she decided that was where she wanted to be.

Eliza, Lena, and Alex all went out to dinner to celebrate Lena’s eighteenth birthday. “So how does it feel, Lee?”

Lena turned toward her sister, her brows scrunched in confusion. “How does what feel?”

“Being a rich bitch again.”

“Alexandra Danvers!”

Lena just laughed and shook her head. “You’re still an asshole.”

“But I’m the best sister, admit it.”

“Never!” Lena slapped Alex’s arm, and Alex slapped hers in return.

Eliza shook her head at their antics. “Children, do you think we can get through dinner now? We have an early start tomorrow, first at court to sign the paperwork for Lena’s transition, then off to L-Corp where she’ll be officially introduced to the board are all in National City for this transition.”

Lena made a face. “Fantastic.”

Eliza put her hand on top of Lena’s where it rested on the table. “Honey, you can wait if you want. I for one am happy to have you take over but if you’re not ready, just say the word.”

“No, I’m ready. I’ll be fine. I’m just inviting clouds into a clear sky.” All three of them smiled at what was one of Jeremiah’s favorite sayings. “As long as I have you as my VP of operations, I should be fine.”

“When is Miss Arias set to start?”

Lena smiled at the mention of the woman she met while attending classes the MIT satellite campus in National City. They were fast friends, even though Sam was five years older and in her last year of school at the time. To be fair, everyone was older than Lena. Sam was part of a special program for lower income students and was pursuing a double major in Business Technology and Accounting. She was over the moon to be offered a job at L-Corp when she graduated a few years back. Lena smiled at Eliza. “I told her to take a few days and relax before she starts in the corporate finance department next Monday. I would like to put her in as David Stein’s assistant. A little bird told me he’s thinking of retiring in a few years.”

Alex took a sip of her wine. “Who’s David Stein?”

“He’s the chief financial officer.”

Alex raised a dark eyebrow at that. “Your friend is pretty young to fill the size of those shoes.”

Lena rolled her eyes. “Sam is brilliant when it comes to finance and insight in regards to the direction of technology in the world, so I’m not worried about her being able to do the job once she knows what’s expected. But I’ve met some of the board members already. Too many of them stare at me as though I’m fresh meet in the piranha tank. I’d prefer to have people I can trust implicitly in the important positions.”

Eliza nodded. “She’s right. The board is a mixed bag right now. Phasing out all weapons manufacturing from the company and switching over to information technology, biomedical, and green energy projects within the first five years really put some of the old guard’s panties in a bunch.” Both younger Danvers’ women snickered but Lena got serious.

“I know it wasn’t easy for you, Eliza. But after reading about all those lawsuits over the years, I couldn’t in good conscience keep doing things the way my father did. The mass shooting with David Roger Coleman was what, maybe six years ago? I remember it was all over the television right before the accident.”

Alex and Eliza both frowned. “I’ve never been involved in that part of the company as the National City labs have always focused on the biomedical side of the business. But I remember that Coleman’s lawyer tried to say he snapped because of L-Corp’s marketing campaign at the time that glorified gun ownership and equated weapons with nationalism.”

“That was no excuse for him to take a fucking duffel bag of semiautomatic pistols and assault style rifles to a peaceful Earth Day protest in Metropolis. The loss of life that day, hundreds of people dead and injured, including kids. It makes me sick as both a human and a doctor!”

Lena sighed. “I mean, obviously Coleman was at fault because ultimately he pulled the trigger. But where does the blame end because he wasn’t wrong about L-Corp at the time. I may have been young but I wasn’t stupid.”

Eliza patted her hand. “I’m sorry, honey. I didn’t think you were paying attention to all that back then, what with the accident and recovery to deal with.”

“You were stuck in the middle of it and you never said a word to me at the time.”

The older woman smiled sadly. “I didn’t want to bother you. It was my job to deal with it and to be honest, that’s why I agreed with your request to phase out that part of the business, as well as selling shares to companies like Lord Technology and the like. As for L-Corp itself, obviously we had the best lawyers at the end of the day and none of the lawsuits from the families came to fruition. It was, as you said, ultimately the responsibility of one man.”

“No matter what the judge or jury said, I don’t believe that. I can’t. We have a responsibility to the world, to find against those that would make money off the backs of the poor, the disillusioned, and the victims.” Lena thumped her fist on the arm of the hoverchair. “I want L-Corp to be a force for good, starting now.”

Alex gave her shoulder a little shove. “With you and mom heading the company, it will be.”

 “I’m well aware that there are still some folks on the board who aren’t a fan of L-Corp’s current direction or the fact that Lena is going to take over at such a young age. That’s the main reason I agreed to serve in a dual capacity as VP of operations and head of the Special Projects lab.” Eliza shook her head and her lips twisted with a scowl. “Some were bad before, always pressing about profits and attempting to make deals behind my back. But a few of them really started to show their colors two years ago when the AMEOE passed and L-Corp put out an announcement that we were willing to hire all applicants, regardless of origin and power profile.”

Alex used a fork to stuff a shrimp in her mouth. She commented through half-masticated seafood. “Good, serves them right. Anyone on that board who still wants to discriminate after the uprising and reparations fifteen years ago are assholes.”

Lena shrugged. “I get it though, Alex. The world went crazy when Dr. Arthur Light started the metahuman uprising. The DEO has done a lot to regain the country’s faith in their ability to control both aliens and metahumans who go rogue. But there are still those that remember the damage and death that occurred because of one deranged man with a demented view of reality.”

“You know they tried to pin that one on L-Corp too?” Both Alex and Lena shook their heads. “The DEO found a lot of L-Corp technology as well as crates of high-tech rifles that were just barely out of prototype. Officially they were reported stolen but…”

Lena sucked in a breath. “You don’t think my father had anything to do with it, do you?”

“I knew Lionel for a long time and can’t imagine that he’d make such a deal with the likes of Light. No, it was more than likely someone lower down the food chain trying to make some fast cash. Either way, with the reports of theft filed before the uprising, L-Corp came away unscathed. Let’s just say I’m glad that we’re done with all that business because it would have weighed heavily on my conscience otherwise.”

“Me too. Thanks for supporting me, Eliza. And I’d forgotten about the uprising.”

Alex snickered. “That’s because you were just a baby at the time.”

Lena raised a dark brow at her adopted sister. “Like you’re one to talk. You were only five, Alex.”

Alex shrugged and gave her a lopsided grin. “It’s true. And honestly, I don’t’ remember it that well either, other than what I learned in school.”

“I wish I didn’t remember it. We’re just lucky that we had the hero members of the DEO, as well as Batman and The Flash available to quell it.” Eliza shook her head. “I was so scared for your father when all that happened. They actually put him in the field, can you believe it?”

“You know Dad could handle himself, he was a fully trained agent. He just contributed more in the labs.”

“Trust me, girls. I know better than either of you. Alex, with you being so young, the two of us stayed in Midvale the entire time until things calmed down. I was frightened that the world was going to burn. Things were bad, real bad. Not many of us in my generation forget so easily, despite all the reconstruction and education that came after.”

Lena scowled. “That still doesn’t excuse Jones and Strathmore’s behavior on the board. I saw the recording of that last meeting. Real healing on all sides can’t happen unless we give people a chance.”

Alex nodded. “Here, here. And on a lighter note, I’m glad that Lena is finally taking her rightful place as the head of L-Corp.” She swallowed and met her younger sibling’s eyes. “You are the embodiment of hope and progress and deserve this, sis.”

In a moment of rare insecurity, Lena asked, “You really think so?”

Alex leaned over to give her a quick one-armed hug, before straightening again and stabbing another shrimp with her fork. “I know so.”

Eliza lifted her glass of wine and the other two followed. Lena’s was filled with sparkling water because even though she was rich, she still observed the rules. “To the future that stretches before us like an unending blanket of stars.”

Both echoed portions of her sentiment. Alex called, “To the future.” At the same time Lena smiled and recited, “To the stars.” It was a good night for the Danvers family.