“I can’t believe I’ve been called to this meeting.” Kyle Rayner, known to most of the people of Earth as Green Lantern, shook his head slowly as he stared up at a panel of alien-looking shadows immersed in darkness. “She’s no danger to any of us. In fact, she’s a hero…just like me.”
“That does not concern us,” one of the shadows droned. “Our one concern is balance. What she saw was not meant for her eyes. And there is one new resident of your realm…a young female…who does not belong–”
“Yes, yes…you mentioned that.” Kyle folded his arms and looked defiantly at the panel seated above him. “What do you want me to do about it? Ask every one of billions of people if they belong on Earth?”
“This female is closer then you know, Kyle Rayner. She has abilities beyond that of the average creatures of your planet–”
“Oh, that really narrows it down–”
“–And she is close to the one who has seen what she should not.” The shadow’s voice sounded impatient with that last sentence. “The two are a source of Chaos in your realm, Kyle Rayner. The situation must be monitored closely.”
Kyle smiled mischievously, and nearly laughed. “Hmm…Watch Supergirl closely. Now that’s an assignment I can live with.”
If the shadows frowned at all behind the shroud of darkness, they did so at that moment. They were less then amused with Kyle’s comment. “Kyle Rayner, if Green Lanterns were not in such demand, we would strip you of your ring at this moment! You are the most disrespectful member we have seen in our eons of existence–”
“Yeah, yeah. Send me a memo, would you? I have to get home.” With those words, Kyle vanished in a blaze of green light, leaving the Guardians of Oa behind to fume quietly in the darkness.
Linda knew she was dreaming. After all, orbiting high above the reddish planet she remembered seeing below her the day before would be impossible. Even she couldn’t breathe in space, and she would most likely freeze to death before suffocating anyhow.
But she let herself enjoy the dream, as she coasted through the red planet’s thin atmosphere, feeling the cool moisture from the tops of pink clouds condense on her skin and slide along her arms and legs. It had been so long since she flew at such altitudes in real life…it seemed like an eternity.
Just when she was beginning to enjoy herself, her dream began to slip away. She felt a mixture of anger and frustration as she felt her mind waking from her deep sleep. She wanted to stay longer…
Her hearing began to tune into the sounds of her hotel room, and the faint sounds of Metropolis traffic outside as she felt a chill of cool air on her skin. She sighed to herself as she kept her eyes closed. The air conditioner probably went crazy in the room again – she knew that she would have to open her eyes now, and get out of bed for a moment to find the spare blanket in the closet.
Linda extended one leg to try and reach the edge of the bed as she started opening her eyes slowly. She frowned as she realized that she couldn’t seem to find the edge of the bed…or even the covers. Her eyes snapped open as she began to suspect something was wrong. She sat up quickly…and hit her head on something hard.
“Ow!” She twisted around quickly, getting a momentary glance of the bed below her, stripped of it’s covers, before crashing down to it head first, bouncing off of the mattress once and landing hard on the floor.
Her hands shaking, Linda reached for the lamp beside the bed and turned it on quickly. She sat up and began looking around the room. The bed was still next to her, its covers strewn on the floor around her. She looked up at the ceiling – there was a small dent where…she hit her head?
“What the…?” She slowly rose to her feet and looked up at the ceiling, staring, even dreaming a little at what caused the dent. She remembered hitting her head, and falling from…a smile creeped onto her face. “Could it be?”
Without another thought, Linda raced over to the backpack she left next to the closet and removed the white gloves, the tee-shirt, red boots, and blue skirt quickly. It didn’t take her long to put her costume on…and before she knew it, she was standing on the balcony outside her room, breathing the cool night air.
She glanced back into the room again, looking at the small dent in the ceiling, and took a deep breath. She could do it…she could fly. A quick look down to the hotel’s entrance ten floors below made her feel a little wary…but that dent in the ceiling gave her overwhelming confidence. There was only one way it could be there.
“Well…here goes.” Linda leapt off of the balcony, heading skyward, her right arm extended out ahead of her, fist leading the way. It felt wonderful, the cool air whipping through her hair again, to be free of the bounds of gravity. The joy of flying began to rush back to her…a feeling which had been too far out of reach for too long.
But then something changed. She was slowing down. The tethers of gravity once again took ahold of her…and she began falling. “Oh…no…no…”
Linda tumbled through the air, out of control, as she let the despair of the moment take control of her emotions. Her dream, the one thing she wanted most…torn away from her again. She began crying silently as she plummeted faster and faster toward the Earth…hoping for a moment that maybe this time, the fall might actually kill her. No…she had to dismiss such thoughts. She had to…
…Fly. She knew she must. Every fiber of her being began to fight the gravity pulling violently against her, trying to bring her crashing back to Earth. She remembered something Charlie told her once…’Don’t think, just do.’ And just as that thought crossed her mind…
…She realized that the Earth was moving away from her. Linda still felt herself falling…but she was falling away from the ground. She felt forces which would tear ordinary humans apart tugging at all of her limbs as the hotel became smaller and smaller. She gasped in wonder as she lights below her suddenly became a complete blur. And suddenly, she felt…nauseous.
Somehow, she instinctively found the balcony outside her hotel room in her rush to get safely to the bathroom. She made it just in time, lifting the seat of the toilet just as the remaining contents of her near-empty stomach emptied in an instant into the water. She flushed it down quickly, without even looking or taking a breath. Everything felt like such a rush.
Linda stumbled out of the bathroom and leaned her back against the wall around the corner, sliding down to the floor slowly. Suddenly everything seemed so foreign to her. She was just outside, flying…yet she found quickly that she was way out of practice. Her heart was still racing from excitement…she wanted to go back out and fly some more. But she was so tired. She crawled into bed slowly. It was time to sleep.
“Linda? Linda, wake up! It’s almost one o’clock!”
“Huh?” Linda opened her eyes quickly and looked up at Charlie. She was lying in bed, the covers pulled up to her chin. She had been sleeping so long, her entire body felt almost completely numb. She pulled her hands out from under the heavy blanket slowly, and rubbed her eyes. “Charlie…what are you doing in here?”
“I came to get you because you didn’t call…oh, excuse me.”
Linda watched Charlie retreat around the corner quickly as she sat up in bed. He seemed to be spooked by something…that’s when she spotted the white tee-shirt she was wearing last night carelessly tossed onto a chair at the foot of the bed. She was wearing only her undergarments under the covers. “Oh…I’m sorry. I was so tired last night after…Oh my God!”
Linda suddenly leapt out of bed, catching the robe which Charlie retrieved from behind the bathroom door and tossed to her. She paused to tie the robe’s belt around her waist, and quickly ran around the corner. “Charlie, I was flying last night!”
“In your underwear?”
“No, not in my underwear, Charlie. Come on!” She shoved Charlie lightly, trying not to laugh at the image his suggestion placed in her mind. “I was in my costume. It was wonderful, Charlie…I almost had forgotten what it’s like.”
“Linda…not to be rude but…could you…brush your teeth?” Charlie wrinkled his nose as Linda stood closer to him.
“I’m so sorry…I forgot that…oh, never mind.” Linda raced into the bathroom and grabbed her toothbrush.
“First you forget you’re in your underwear, then you forget to brush your teeth?” Charlie chuckled as he watched Linda hurriedly brush her teeth over the sink. “What’s going on?”
“I had an experience.” Linda spit out a mouthful of water and turned off the sink, wiping her face off on a towel as she headed out of the bathroom. “I dreamt that I could fly last night…and then I went outside and actually did it.”
Linda noticed Charlie looking away again before she looked down and then wrapped the robe around her more tightly. She frowned at him as she walked through the room to look for some clothing. “Could you um…wait in the kitchenette? I’d like to take a shower.”
“Sure, Linda. I’ll just raid the refrigerator while I’m waiting.”
She rolled her eyes and sighed as she watched Charlie head into the kitchenette and open the refrigerator. As she picked up an armful of clothing and headed toward the bathroom, she smiled to herself as she closed the door behind her. She knew that she flew last night…and she would prove it by doing so again.
“…right behind this door.” Lex Luthor unlocked a large steel door by placing his palm on a glass pad and typing in a code with his other hand. In the center of the door was a LexCorp logo. He didn’t seem the list bit afraid even as Vlad held a gun to his head.
“And you’re sure this weapon will kill Supergirl?”
“I call it Stardust. It’s a mold spore which grows inside the lungs…easily defeated, but deadly if not treated.” As the steel door slid open, Luthor stood aside and urged Vlad to go ahead.
Vlad slapped Luthor hard on the side of the side of his head, growling at him in a thick Russian accent. “Do I look stupid? You go first, it could be trap.”
Luthor sighed and walked through the doorway ahead of Vlad, walking quickly to stay a few paces ahead of him. Vlad discovered why an instant later – he ran right into some kind of invisible field which was now separating himself and Luthor. He immediately turned around, and ran into another invisible field – he was trapped.
“You’ll pay for this, you snake!” Vlad aimed the gun at Luthor, and fired two rounds. The bullets simply bounced off of the invisible field, landing on the floor at his feet.
“It’s a dampening force field,” Luthor explained. “It not only acts as a wall of energy, it cushions blows to it as well. When it’s completed, it’ll be extremely valuable in the mental health field.”
“You see, while the field prevents what’s inside from escaping–” Luthor picked up some sort of small device the size of a pager from a nearby steel countertop. He pointed it at Vlad, and pressed the button. A bolt of white energy immediately connected to Vlad, appearing and disappearing with the speed of lightning. “–It allows me to easily stun you from out here.”
“Is everything okay, Lex?” Mercy Graves entered the room quickly, carrying a heavy military style rifle and a knife on her belt. Two security men followed her into the room quickly, similarly armed. “We saw you taken into the building as a hostage, and–”
“Mercy, if there is one thing you can always be sure of, it’s that I’m never a hostage in my own building.”
She smiled and nodded, waving at the two guards to remove Vlad’s unconscious body. The two lifted Vlad off of the floor and left quickly. As soon as Mercy was sure the two had left, and the door slid shut, she removed her weapons and placed them on one of the steel counters next to her. “We were all worried about you, Lex. I was afraid that Superman had hauled you off to his fortress or something.”
Luthor smiled, walking closer to Mercy to shake her hand. It caught her a little off-guard, a man who was usually so bitter and stoic displaying friendship openly. “It’s good to be back, Mercy. Of all of the people here, I missed you most.”
Mercy stood frozen, her mouth hanging open from surprise, as Lex Luthor quietly left the room. As the door slid shut behind Luthor, she still found herself lacking words…and her head was swimming. If she didn’t believe it before, now she did…Luthor had changed.
“Can I go for a walk? I’m bored.”
Clark looked up from his desk slowly, a slight smile forming as he noticed that Kara still wore the jacket she left home with, in spite of the fact that it was much warmer since early morning. Much like himself, she was extremely tolerant of temperature changes. “This is a big building, Kara. Why don’t you explore it a little. And take the jacket off, it looks like you just got here.”
Kara smiled glancing over at Lois’ desk. She was out on assignment, having vanished the instant that a rumor began circulating that Lex Luthor had managed to escape from and detain one of his captors. Lois had been on her way to buy breakfast for herself and Kara when she got the call on her cell phone…and immediately detoured to drop Kara off at Clark’s desk. “I know how to get to Linda’s office. Can I go there?”
A deep sigh from Clark answered her question before he even said a word. She knew he wasn’t enthusiastic about her wandering around the city, given the potential for her to attract unwanted attention accidentally.
“I won’t do anything weird, I promise. I’ll just walk over there.”
Clark tapped on his desk twice, lost in thought for a moment, before reaching for his phone. “All right, Kara. But I’m going to call ahead first to make sure they know you’re coming.”
Kara rolled her eyes and slid into a chair at the other end of Clark’s desk, making sure he heard her sigh. As he began dialing his phone, she quickly picked up his steel letter opener, and began weaving it between her fingers as if it were nothing more then a plastic straw. She slid it off of the end of her fingers and smiled as she held it up to show Clark.
“Kara–” Clark sighed and snatched the letter opener from her, quickly stuffing it into his desk drawer as he placed his phone handset on the desk. He took a quick look around the room, leaning closer to Kara as he realized no one had seen what happened. “Don’t do that. Do you have any idea how dangerous it could be for someone to figure out–”
“I know, I know.” Kara dismissed Clark’s scolding with a wave of her hand and rose to her feet. “So…can I go?”
He nodded. “Yes, Charlie says you’re welcome to visit. Please try not to give him too much trouble.”
Clark watched as Kara gave him a quick smile and headed to the elevators quickly. He had a bad feeling about letting her walk around Metropolis alone, even if she was only walking a block. As soon as she was safely in the elevator, he lifted the handset again and took a deep breath as he looked at the letter opener in his open desk drawer. “Keep an eye on her, Charlie. I fear she may be looking for trouble…and I pray she never finds it.”
“I’m sorry, we have no leads yet.” Charlie sighed and leaned back in his new office chair as he looked across his desk at Emil Hamilton and the ‘essence’ who calls herself Sam. She looked and acted so closely to his former partner at LexCorp…he still couldn’t believe that she was almost entirely artificial. She was a testament to the work of the man Dr. Hamilton searched for – Tatsuo Takamura, inventor of the Pocket Protectors.
It worried Charlie a little bit that the Pocket Protectors – small personal security devices designed to increase safety – had to be taken off the market after a child watched his mother killed by one in a mall. If the same man designed Sam, did that mean the same fate awaited her? Or was it simply a manufacturing problem which caused a sound design to become dangerous?
Dr. Hamilton sighed. “I’m so sorry to hear that. If we don’t find him, Sam may be the last of her kind…and any research generated by the process of designing her will be forever lost.”
“Yes, well…” Charlie smiled and sat up, clasping his hands together in the center of the desk. “…I haven’t given up yet. In fact, Linda is out right now–”
As Charlie leaned back slightly in his chair, he couldn’t help but notice an orange glow coming from outside the window of his office. He turned slightly to fulfill his curiosity and look outside – and immediately noticed flames burning through the open fourth floor windows of a small six-story building across the street.
“Oh my God.” Charlie quickly reached for his telephone, dialing 911 as soon as he picked up the handset. But it was no use – the dispatch center had a recording indicating that all lines were busy. Luckily, it didn’t matter too much…the sound of sirens began to fill the streets quickly.
He looked outside again, noticing a teenager with blonde hair who stood on the sidewalk, staring straight up at the burning building, not moving or even coughing as thick clouds of smoke moved past her. It seemed like she was watching, or listening to something. He felt a moment of panic as he watched her remove her jacket and confidently stroll right into the building…but then he breathed a sigh of relief as he recognized Kara.
“Excuse me for a moment.” Charlie quickly raced around his desk and out of his office, heading straight for the stairway. He had no idea how quickly he managed to reach the first floor and run across the street, but it couldn’t have been long.
Unfortunately, as he attempted to cross the street toward the burning building, the heat and smoke drove him away. As he began coughing from breathing some of the smoke, he decided to retreat back to his office’s side of the street, and watch.
“Nobody’s in the building.”
Charlie’s heart began racing before he realized it was Kara’s voice who spoke to him from nearby. She was sitting on the trunk of a parked car only a few feet away. “How did you…I know I saw you go in there!”
Kara shrugged and bowed her head, avoiding Charlie’s gaze as if she were ashamed of something. “Takes some people longer to check then others. But I had to check…I couldn’t not know. I hope you’re not upset–”
“Upset?” Charlie hugged Kara across her shoulders quickly. “You’ve done a wonderful thing.”
“But…aren’t you worried about people finding out about me?”
“Seems to me,” Charlie said as he smiled at Kara, “I’m the only one who knows. But what’s important, Kara…is that you know what you did was right.”
“Right.” Kara laughed and slid off of the car trunk. “Try explaining that to Clark. He wants to keep me prisoner–”
“Clark is worried about you, Kara. If you walk around telling people who you are, you’ll gain enemies. Just look at Batman…he has more enemies then anyone.”
Kara folded her arms and frowned, looking up at Charlie with only her eyes. “That’s defective logic.”
The frown Charlie tried to give Kara dissolved quickly, giving way to a smile, and then a laugh. “You’re one smart teenager, aren’t you?”
He watched Kara return the smile as he pointed to his office building. Kara walked past him, and he followed her to the elevator. A minute later, the two entered the office suite Charlie had left only minutes earlier. He headed straight into his own office…but Kara froze as she stepped into the doorway, looking with fear at Sam, and then at Dr. Hamilton.
Kara looked at Charlie for a moment as if his question made no sense to her, before approaching Sam slowly. She reached out and poked Sam’s shoulder at arm’s length. “Are you…alive?”
Sam and Charlie both smiled at Kara’s question…but Dr. Hamilton looked perplexed. “She’s an ‘essence’, young lady. A living brain surrounded by an artificial body. But the question is…how did you know?”
“She–” Kara looked at Charlie again. She was almost afraid to explain, until he gave her an encouraging smile. “She…sounds different.”
“Sounds…?” Dr. Hamilton frowned and looked at Charlie. “Did she say that Sam sounds different?”
“She has excellent hearing.” Charlie smiled and nodded at Kara. She smiled in return.
“Very strange. I’ve taken audio readings on Sam.” Dr. Hamilton took a couple of steps toward Kara. “The only one who should be able to hear her is…”
Before Dr. Hamilton finished his sentence, Kara vanished from the room in a blur, leaving a wake of turbulence in the room, strong enough to toss most of the papers from Charlie’s desk into the air. Charlie laughed…but Dr. Hamilton was less then amused. He leaned over Charlie’s desk, and stared him straight in the eye.
“What’s going on here?” Dr. Hamilton’s voice was more serious then Charlie had ever heard before.
Charlie realized at that moment that as a scientist, someone with an innate need to explain what happens around him, it would be impossible to try and fool him. He took a deep breath, figuring that if Superman could trust his secrets with this man…
“Dr. Hamilton…can you keep a secret?”
Linda nearly dropped her backpack as she raced around the corner, heading toward her office. She had been occupied with thoughts of getting there before Dr. Hamilton left…until she noticed that the building across the street had two engines from the Metropolis Fire Department parked in front of it. She felt even more confused as she noticed Kara sitting on a the roof of a parked car, watching the firefighters work.
Kara didn’t even look as Linda approached her…but the movement of her eyes indicated that she knew Linda was there. Linda noticed that she looked a little depressed as she stared up at the top of the tall ladder the firefighters were using to fight the fire from above.
A light spray constantly rained down on the street as the wind blew back water sprayed from the fire hoses. It left small beads of water on the cars, and on Kara’s jacket. It felt refreshing to Linda, who had been walking around Metropolis all day attempting to gather information on Tatsuo Takamura…and coming up with nothing.
Linda easily hopped up on top of the roof of the car and sat next to Kara, watching the teen bow her head sadly. “What’s the matter?”
“Charlie is selling me out. Clark won’t let me leave his sight–” Kara sighed and looked up at Linda slowly. “Nobody likes me. I’m just…excess baggage. It’s like I don’t belong here, and everyone knows it.”
“I like you.” Linda gently put her arm across Kara’s shoulders, almost as if she were trying to shield the teen from an imaginary harsh wind. “I just can’t look after you because–”
“I don’t need looking after, Linda. I may be new to this city…to this planet…but I’m not stupid.”
“Hmm.” Linda looked down the street, toward the hotel where she and Charlie each had rooms until they found more permanent residence in Metropolis. They both learned within days that affordable housing was scarce inside the city…and it made Linda wonder just how much money Clark and Lois had to make to live there. “I may just have an idea…”
She interrupted herself as she suddenly noticed something out of the corner of her eye. A man she vaguely recognized was just standing behind the parked car, arms folded, as if he were listening to every word she and Kara were saying.
“Do you mind?” Linda turned around quickly, aiming an angry glance at the man standing behind the car. She almost followed her question with a couple of insults, before she recognized him. “Kyle Rayner? What are you doing here?”
He shrugged and held his arms out at his sides on dramatic fashion. “Can’t a man walk around on a public sidewalk without–”
He laughed as he leaned against the car, momentarily smiling as Kara turned around to give him a suspicious look. “Some very powerful associates of mine have taken an interest in you…and your little friend here. I’m supposed to keep an eye on you both.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me.” Linda shook her head and slid off of the car, realizing suddenly that she had to look up at Kyle now. “Is this one of your sick pranks? I’ve heard about the ones you pull at JLA meetings. Diana still hasn’t forgiven you for the last one.”
“That was a one-time prank. And I had no idea that material would stick to skin when frozen, I swear.”
“What material?” Kara slid off of the car, looking at Linda, and then at Kyle.
“Nothing,” Linda said quickly. “Never mind. I’d rather not relive the moment, if it’s all the same.”
Kara looked at Kyle, who shrugged, but gave her no other response. She rolled her eyes and sat down on the hood of the car, her expression telling both Kyle and Linda that she didn’t appreciate being left out of the conversation. “Fine. Whatever.”
Linda stared at Kyle, an obvious question hanging between them – obvious enough that he knew what it was, even if she didn’t speak it. Why were these ‘powerful associates’ interested in her? She watched him turn serious, and a little confused before he answered, as if he himself didn’t understand the answer.
“The Guardians…they said you’ve seen something not meant for your eyes. And that you and the kid are sources of Chaos.”
“You mean–” Linda glanced at Kara for a moment before lowering her voice to a near whisper. “That reddish orange planet?”
Kyle turned pale at Linda’s question…at which point she realized that he didn’t know! The Guardians must not have given him such detailed information. “What…reddish orange planet?”
Linda sighed and sat back down on the hood of the car next to Kara. She gave Kyle a half-hearted smile. “I supposed it’s too late to say ‘never mind’.”
“Oh, I’d say it’s much too late.” Kyle leaned against the car’s windshield, waiting impatiently for Linda to tell him more.
Closing her eyes for a moment, Linda’s memory rushed back to the vivid image of that planet. She was floating above it…and it didn’t seem real. It couldn’t have been real…but it felt like she was there. The cold of space intruding on the vehicle which held her aloft, the warmth of the planet’s star glaring against the side of her face. And the planet…it seemed so…alive.
“Sharon, Charlie, and I found this…cave hidden in Kansas somewhere. Inside it was this crystal wall, and some sort of control center. I touched the crystal, and it became a gateway–”
“A…gateway?” Kyle frowned as he kept his gaze fixed on Linda.
Linda laughed and shook her head. “I know. I wouldn’t believe it either if I hadn’t seen it myself.”
“No, that’s not it.” He shook his head slowly. “I believe it. In fact, it’s all too real.”
Jimmy Olsen stared, his tongue nearly hanging out of his mouth, as a tall blonde he had never seen before confidently strolled through the Daily Planet press room. She was dressed just as most other blondes walking along the streets of Metropolis below, in black jeans, a white shirt, and blue jacket – but there was something so familiar about her hair texture, her eyes…maybe even her face.
As she passed him, she rolled her eyes and sighed. Even that seemed so familiar to Jimmy – something about the way she presented herself, in how she seemed so strange and yet so normal.
The woman paused and glanced around the large room quickly, seeming to be perplexed by the sheer volume of activity, desks, and number of people walking back and forth. Yet she didn’t give up right away. Even her self-sufficiency felt familiar to Jimmy somehow.
“Excuse me.” She spoke in a steady, confident voice, as if she were some sort of royalty, confident that she commanded everything and everyone in her presence. “Could you inform Clark Kent that Karen would like to have a word with him?”
Jimmy nodded, but still found himself at a loss for words. He almost tripped over his own feet as he turned and headed into the newsroom, pointing himself directly at Clark’s desk. It was empty. “Nuts.”
He turned around and walked back slowly to face the blonde, Karen, preparing himself to disappoint her no matter how much he hated to. “Miss…he’s not at his desk. Would you like to leave a message, or wait?”
Karen lifted her hand, tapping her chin gently with her index finger as she pondered a question which, to her, was more complex then it appeared. She obviously went to a lot of trouble to come to the Daily Planet offices. “I’ll wait. I’d rather not travel all the way back here.”
“Drove up from Gotham City, did you?” Jimmy smiled as he tried to punctuate his comment with a dose of humor. But as soon as it left his mouth, his smile turned into one of desperation as he realized how stupid it sounded.
Surprisingly, Karen returned his look with a warm smile as she sat down in one of the chairs next to the newsroom entrance. “Something like that. Listen, uh–”
“Jimmy.” He held his hand out to shake hers, only to find his arm dangling between them awkwardly. He withdrew his handshake attempt quickly.
“Jimmy…could I please have a cup of water?”
“Sure.” He took a deep breath as he headed around the corner toward the water cooler, snatching a cup from the dispenser quickly. He felt confident now…the blonde knew his name, and maybe he could strike up a conversation as she waited for Clark. Maybe she might even get to know him…or even like him.
“Olsen! That water is meant for drinking, not irrigating crops!”
Jimmy instinctively cringed at the sound of Perry White’s voice, causing him to spill more water then had already overflowed from the cup he held as his mind wandered. “Oh…uh…sorry, chief.”
“Don’t call me chief!”
As usual, Jimmy didn’t hear Perry’s last phrase as he rushed back to the waiting room, full cup of water in hand. He paused for a moment as he passed Clark’s desk – he was back. A glance across the room to the entrance, and he realized that Karen was standing again – it was only a matter of moments before she spotted Clark as well. He sighed to himself – might as well face the inevitable, and just tell Clark he has a guest.
“Clark…someone named Karen is here to see you.”
“Uh-huh.” Clark looked up for a moment from his computer, quickly glancing at the waiting room. “Tell her I’ll be with her in a moment.”
Jimmy smiled to himself as he headed to the waiting room. If Clark was busy, it meant that he did indeed have some time to talk to Karen first. He was positively beaming as he entered the waiting room and handed Karen the cup of water. “Here you go. And I found Clark, he says he’ll be with you in a moment.”
“Thank you.” Karen stood quickly and took the cup of water, swallowing it’s contents in one gulp. She gripped Jimmy’s hand tightly, almost too tightly, and smiled at him. “Pleased to meet you, Jimmy.”
With those words, she simply walked into the stairway…and vanished. Jimmy turned pale as he walked back toward Clark’s desk – how would he explain to Clark that his guest had just disappeared?
But as he approached the desk of Clark Kent, he realized that explaining wouldn’t be a problem – Clark Kent was gone as well. “What is going on around here?”
“That’s a good question.” Superman stood on the roof of the Daily Planet building, staring past the large ball at Power Girl. She stood leaning against the large ball with her arms folded. “I’m not sure what you mean.”
“Kal, I found out where that kid came from. She’s not from this planet.”
He shrugged. “Neither am I.”
“That’s not what I meant, and you know it.” Power Girl unfolded her arms and walked closer to Kal, leaning against an antenna as she moved close to him. “You were bought up here from a young age, with Earth customs and traditions. These things are alien to her. How does she feel about killing, for instance?”
“Karen, we can’t just think the worst of every stranger who appears on our planet.” Superman sighed and looked over the edge of the roof to the street far below. “If there is one thing I’ve learned about people…of any planet…is that they want to be loved, and cared for. As long as we take care of Kara, she’ll fit in just fine.”
Power Girl frowned, a flash of anger appearing across her eyes momentarily before she rose to her full height in front of Superman, in an almost threatening manner. “That, Kal-El, is why this planet is doomed to be a victim of every disaster which comes along. Some ‘people’ out there don’t want caring. Some of them want us dead.”
“Look, Kal…I’m not saying it’s right, and we should train people to hate. But–” Power Girl sighed loudly and sat down on the edge of the roof, looking down at the street as if it were a pond, reflecting her image skyward. “–I dunno. I guess the idea of trying to look after a kid who can destroy the planet is rather…frightening to me.”
“If there is one thing ma and pa taught me–”
“Oh, no. Not that farm boy stuff again.” Power Girl lowered her face into her hands, shaking her head slowly.
Superman sighed and sat down next to Power Girl. “I may be a farm boy…but if not for that, I probably would not be the man I am today. Can you imagine me, or Kara being raised by someone like Lex Luthor?”
She rose her head slowly, looking across town at the LexCorp tower, which loomed over the city ominously. It was a constant reminder of who was ‘in charge’. While Gotham City was well-known for its useless government and law enforcement, few realized that Metropolis was much the same – only cleaner.
“I see your point.” Power Girl rose to her feet slowly, dusted herself off and turned to face Superman with a mischievous grin. “Oh…and by the way, I’ve learned something else interesting.”
Superman gave her a questioning, yet vaguely fearful look.
“Linda and Charlie have put Kara in a room in that hotel where they are staying.” Power Girl almost laughed as she noticed the look of shock on his face. She floated off of the roof of the Daily Planet, the wind tossing around her hair as she ascended toward the skies. “Good luck.”
Superman felt anger…followed quickly by a sense of regret. He remembered Kara’s reaction when he attempted to keep track of her at all times while he worked. He treated her more like a small child then a young woman with a mind of her own – he was much too protective.
And yet she remained so patient, as if she understood why she was treated that way. Still, it was clear that she wasn’t happy living with Lois and himself – because they were too busy to give her the attention she needed.
“I sure hope Linda knows what she’s getting into.”