By Adam Labotka <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted March 2001
Summary: Many millennia ago, warring super-beings nearly destroyed their home world. To prevent this from happening again, they decide to leave their planet and go somewhere where they will no longer have such powers. Thus, Krypton is born under the leadership of a war hero and his wife: Kal-El and Liera.
I wrote this because I never was satisfied with the way that Superman had his powers under a yellow sun, after his race evolved under a red sun. So I decided what if they had evolved on a different planet and moved to Krypton to suppress their powers? This is how it might have happened.
I'd like to thank Paul (Hatman), Missy Gallant, and Kylie for their help in editing this story. I'd also like to thank the readers on zoomway's boards for their feedback that helped shape this story.
Feedback is greatly appreciated at email@example.com.
From his lofty standpoint, Kal-El looked over the devastation of his beloved world. Even now, months later, the waters had barely begun to recede. He couldn't believe his own brethren had precipitated such devastation. They had used their abilities selfishly, to dominate those who couldn't defend themselves. He prayed to whatever gods that might exist for forgiveness.
Kal-El's people had always lived separate from the others. In the beginning, they had always avoided contact with those who weren't of their kind, living in inaccessible places that could only be reached through their innate abilities. For millennia, it had been like this — until several decades ago, when it all changed.
One man — Vorath — changed everything.
Vorath and his followers felt that they had a right to rule those who could not oppose them. They saw others, who lacked many of the abilities they themselves possessed, and saw an opportunity. They presented themselves as gods from above, who should be feared and worshiped.
At first, the Council of Elders had decided to leave them alone, to let them have their way. They felt it was none of their business. This policy caused much uproar among the people; many disagreed with the decision.
In the end, though, it was the cruelty of Vorath and his followers that, finally, galvanized the Council into action. Vorath had begun to torment those who lacked the power of his people. They killed men for sport, took women without consent, and abandoned their children to die. The Council was appalled by these actions, and decided they needed to put a stop to these atrocities.
Thus, the war began. Since he was the most vocal proponent of action against Vorath, Kal-El was elected by the Council to lead their forces.
Kal-El shuddered as he thought of what happened in that war. Millions of innocent, helpless people had died in that war, solely as a side-effect of battles, especially the last one. Kal-El remembered the last battle all too well.
After many years of fighting, both sides were at an impasse. Neither could inflict serious harm on the other side due to their speed and general toughness. Kal-El had spent hours locked away, planning with his top advisors. They needed a way to stop Vorath, whatever the cost, before the world was destroyed. They finally came up with a plan.
Kal-El's scientists had been working hard at a way to capture, and hold, Vorath and his men. They had discovered a way to "rip" space and create a pathway into what they termed hyperspace. This was a different form of existence, in which space and time had little meaning. If they could somehow trick Vorath's men into entering such a rift, without special equipment, they would be trapped for all time.
Kal-El's plan was simple: they were to set up a device to create such a rift in a remote location. He felt the southern pole would be best, as few creatures could survive the harsh conditions there anyway, so there was little worry about the fallout. He and a small group of men would journey there, as if trying to create a secret base from which to attack Vorath. Kal-El figured that he would be juicy enough bait to draw Vorath and his main forces, so that they could be trapped.
Oh, how Kal-El cursed his plan now. He had not foreseen the true outcome. Vorath and his men had showed up as planned, trying to capture, and possibly kill, Kal-El, hoping his defeat would break the spirit of the rest of their enemies. A short, fierce battle raged, heat vision darting out everywhere, trying to score on flesh. The temperature began to rise, and the ice began breaking and melting.
And then, when Kal-El finally managed to draw his foes into the rift, sealing them forever in hyperspace, there had been a large explosion, the machine having overloaded under the strain. Chunks of ice flew everywhere as the ice cap was ripped apart by the vast energies released. Large chunks of ice rained down into the seas, causing them to rise.
The oceans began to rise and quickly covered nearly all the land. Water flooded onto the continents. Those living there ran screaming and crying out in terror. Whole villages were wiped out by massive torrents of water. All but the highest ground was flooded. Those who survived the sudden onrush of water lived only long enough to suffer a cold, cruel death underwater. Quickly, mere minutes later, only the highest land masses remained dry.
Kal-El and his men worked quickly, saving as many animals and the different people of the world who could not save themselves. Even after all that, most of the life on the planet had died. Kal-El shuddered as he thought of how many people had died because of his oversight.
As Kal-El's musings came to a close, he came to a decision. Nothing like this must ever occur again. He would find a way to ensure that no-one would follow in Vorath's footsteps. All he needed was to find a way.
Kal-El spent days locked away in his chambers, alternately berating himself for his carelessness and desperately trying to think of a way to prevent another such catastrophe. He hardly slept; every time he closed his eyes, he saw the waters rising, the people fleeing, crying out in terror. When he did sleep, he dreamt of the bodies left floating on the waters, their eyes glaring at him accusingly as if saying, "You did this. You killed us all." He saw those that his people managed to save look at him with fear and horror. He heard them demanding to know why he let their loved ones die, why he destroyed their world. He began to see the faces of his wife and children among the dead, even though they couldn't have been killed by the disaster.
Every day, Kal-El slid deeper and deeper into his guilt and despair. He refused to eat after a while, and refused to see anyone, including his wife. In the first few days after the war, she had tried to comfort him, telling him it wasn't his fault, that he couldn't have known, but he refused to listen to her.
One day, something inside him snapped. He couldn't take the overpowering guilt any more. He felt the only way he would ever get over his guilt was to prevent anyone from being able to repeat the steps that led to this war and its horrifying end. He still hadn't thought of a way, but he needed to speak to the Council. Only they had the authority to make such a decision, anyway. They also had many more resources at their command to find a way to prevent another man such as Vorath abusing the innate abilities of their people.
Kal-El stood before the Council of Elders. "It is my belief we must find a way to prevent another occurrence such as that of Vorath. Such an atrocity cannot be allowed to occur a second time. We have learned that power such as ours cannot be trusted to everyone, as there are some who would abuse it."
Kal-El watched the Council members. He saw surprise on most of their faces, and watched them confer in low murmurs so that he could not hear. His face fell as he realized just what he was asking of them — to find a way to give up everything that allowed them to live as they did. He felt that they would never agree.
Finally, the head of the Council spoke. "We know that this war hit you hard, as you were on the front lines for most of it. But do not think that, though we were not directly involved, we were unaffected. We see your point and concur. We do not make this decision lightly."
He paused before continuing, "There is something we have kept very secret, even from you, for we feared Vorath might obtain such information as well. This is a dangerous secret for any to know; it might provide them with a great advantage. What I say next is not to leave this room, at least for now."
Kal-El could hardly believe his ears. What could the Council be hiding? Why was it so dangerous? He quickly nodded his consent.
The elder continued again after receiving Kal-El's promise. "During their studies, our scientists discovered that our abilities come from our yellow sun. Somehow, our bodies, somewhat like plants, absorb solar energy and use it to manipulate their immediate surroundings, even to the point of defying gravity. Our bodies create what they termed an aura, which both protects us and allows us to manipulate the very atoms that surround us. They hypothesized that, if we were to remove ourselves from the influence of a sun such as ours, our abilities would fade to the point of almost non-existence."
"We shall begin the search immediately for another home, one on which our abilities will cease to exist; thus, men like Vorath will be unable to wield such terrible power. You shall continue to lead us, Kal-El, as we will need a single strong leader to organize an exodus such as the one we plan. Project: Exodus shall begin immediately."
The leader of the Council finished speaking, and they all stood. "It is time to make an announcement. The people have a new leader. All hail Lord Kal-El." In turn, Council members bowed to Kal-El in the tradition of their people.
Kal-El stood there, stunned. He was overwhelmed by all of this. *He* was now the leader of everyone? But the Council had always led; as far back as their records went, there had never been a single ruler. He was still trying to process all the information and barely acknowledged the Council as they bowed.
When he was finally able to speak, he said, "How can you pick me? Look at what I've done. I've destroyed our world! I've ruined our beautiful home — how can you see me as anything other than a monster?" Kal-El was near tears. He was unable to comprehend why they would even consider him — why they thought he was deserving of anything, let alone leadership.
The head of the Council addressed Kal-El again. "You could not have foreseen the overloading of the hyperspace device. You should not blame yourself; you made the best decision you could. We also believe that, had the war continued, the devastation would have been far worse then the flood; at least you managed to save some life other then our own. We fear the whole world would have been destroyed had the war gone on much longer. The people look up to you, Kal-El. They see you as our saviour for ending Vorath's threat. You are best qualified to lead us; the people will listen to you. You are a hero, Kal- El."
Kal-El couldn't believe what he heard. He wasn't considered a monster? They didn't blame him for destroying their beautiful world? He was a hero? Such was his respect for the Council that he finally began to let himself believe what his wife had tried to tell him, that maybe it wasn't his fault, after all.
Oh, he'd never get over being the cause of such destruction, but maybe, just maybe, he could allow himself to move on and, instead of beating himself up, he could work towards making the future better. "It seems I have little choice but to accept, but the Council shall remain to advise me. I don't think I could handle it alone. I need a chance to adjust, to allow me to forgive myself."
Kal-El left the council chambers and returned home. He fell into an exhausted sleep. For the first time since the disaster, he slept peacefully, no dreams haunting him. The healing had begun.
The next day, Kal-El stood before another door, with even more trepidation then when he went before the Council. He knew she'd be here; after he'd driven her out of their home, she would have nowhere else to go. He was afraid she'd take one look through the door, see it was him, and decide not to open it. Or worse, she'd tell him to get lost and stay lost. He didn't think he could handle her rejection.
On the other hand, he couldn't go on without her, so he had to try and mend the broken fences. He cautiously knocked on the door and held his breath, his heart in his throat.
After what seemed an eternity — but was, in reality, only a few moments — the door opened. He saw her standing there. She was even more beautiful then he had remembered. Quickly, before he lost his nerve, he began to speak. "Oh, Liera, I'm so sorry. Can you ever forgive me? I was wrong to shut you out, drive you out of our house. I should have listened to you; you were right all along. It took the head of the Council to knock some sense into me." He stopped talking having run out of steam and watched her hopefully.
Liera couldn't believe it. When she had seen her husband through the door, she had almost feared she was hallucinating. After he had shut into himself, refusing to talk to or even look at her, she feared he might never speak to her — or anyone else, for that matter — again.
As she stood here now, absorbing what he had just said, she looked him over. He looked so dejected and lost; the haunted look that had been in his eyes since the war was still there, but not as deep as before. She pulled him into a fierce hug and said, "Kal-El, I'm so glad to see you. I was so worried about you. I thought that perhaps I had lost you forever. What happened to bring you out? What do you mean about the head of the Council knocking some sense into you? Of course I was right; you should know by now that I'm *always* right. That should teach you to listen to me."
Kal-El couldn't quite suppress a rueful grin as he watched his wife babble. Putting his fingers to her lips, he silenced her. "I went to the Council yesterday because the guilt was driving me mad. I wanted to talk to them about finding a way to prevent another person such as Vorath from abusing our abilities. They surprised me by agreeing with me — and *then* they told me I would be the new leader of our people. They said we needed a strong, singular figure to lead if we were to undertake such a task."
He paused, taking a breath, tightening his arms around her, unwilling to let go "I was incredulous — how could they see me in that light?" Kal-El's voice broke with emotion as he recalled those moments of the previous day. "They told me it wasn't my fault, just like you did. The accident was unforeseeable, and I did my best. They told me I was seen as a hero, a savior, for stopping Vorath. And I started to believe it, finally."
Liera's face clouded with anger. She smacked him on the chest with one hand as she said, "You idiot! I've been telling you that for *weeks*. See, if you had just listened to me, we could have solved this weeks ago instead of now." Then she ducked her head to hide the tears building and, in a small, quiet voice full of hurt, said, "I wouldn't have had to watch as I lost you bit by bit to your guilt."
Kal-El lifted her chin and wiped the tears which had begun to flow down her cheeks. "I'm so sorry I made you go through that. I was an idiot. I can't apologize enough for my actions. You mean everything to me. I never told you this, but…" His voice broke again with emotion as he fought to get the words out, tears building in his eyes. "…I had these nightmares of… the flood… In them, I saw all the… bodies… and, not at first, but eventually, I… I… I began to see your and our children's faces on them." He finished in a rush as the tears began to flow.
After a moment, he began "I know it's not logical, I mean, with our abilities, none of us would die in it, but it began to feel so real. I imagined losing you and it hurt. I thought I would lose you anyway because you'd hate me. You'd blame me for destroying our beautiful world. And I was losing you anyway by shutting you out."
Liera spoke in a soft, soothing tone. "It's okay, honey. I'm here now. You won't lose me. I love you more then anything. I'm so glad you've come back to me. We can't change the past, so let's just try to move on." Then her tone changed to a more teasing one. "Just don't shut me out any more, and remember to listen to me; we'll save loads of time."
In a resigned, yet somehow teasing and sarcastic tone, he replied, "Yes, dear."
Liera now took another good look at Kal-El and realized how exhausted he looked. She was surprised he was still on his feet. "Come on, let's go home. You look exhausted. You need to get some more sleep."
Liera began to fly them both through the air to their home. Kal-El was unable to do more then just hold on and be dragged along. She helped him into the bedroom and had him lie down. "You get some sleep now. I'll be just in the other room if you need me." She noticed Kal-El was already asleep and quietly left.
Liera set about tidying up the house as she let Kal-El sleep. She did it slowly, in hopes that she wouldn't disturb him. After about half an hour, she heard him tossing about and muttering in his sleep.
She entered the bedroom to see Kal-El floating about a foot above the bed and tossing and turning. He was obviously in distress, and began muttering again. "Liera… don't go… so sorry… my fault… never forgive… ruined everything… monster… I'm a monster."
Liera floated up and gathered Kal-El into her arms and began stroking his back, speaking in soothing manner as she held him. "Shhh, it's okay. I'm here; you didn't lose me. You aren't a monster. None of it was your fault. Shhh." Kal-El began to quiet down and she stayed floating there, holding him as he slept.
Liera floated there for hours, holding and comforting Kal-El. He slept peacefully after she quieted him down. She checked the time and realized Kal-El would probably be waking up soon — and when he did, he would be hungry. He was already beginning to show signs of waking up.
Gently, she lowered him to the bed and quietly floated out of the room. She checked the icebox and noted with relief that it hadn't thawed yet, but she blew into it again to make sure it would remain cold. She took some frozen vegetables and a chunk of meat. She set the meat on a metal plate and the vegetables next to it. She then took a large glass bowl and left the house.
Because of the raised ocean levels, she was unable to find fresh water, so Liera heated some of the ocean to steam. As the steam rose, she quickly cooled it over the glass bowl, so that the now salt-free water fell into it. She repeated this process until the bowl was almost full, then went back home.
Kal-El still had not risen, so she continued to make preparations. She poured most of the water from the bowl into two large glasses and set them on the table. She put the vegetables into the bowl with what was left of the water. She then put a lid on the bowl and concentrated on the water, causing it to steam, and left it to steam the vegetables.
She then quickly made some dough and spread it in a rectangular pan. She heated it to a nice golden brown with her heat vision. Finally, she cooked the meat in a similar fashion. She then portioned out the meal, giving Kal-El most of it.
Kal-El then emerged from the bedroom. He smiled as he watched Liera place the food on the table. He quietly came up behind her and pulled her into a hug. "Thank you for everything. I don't know how much longer I could have handled those nightmares on my own."
Liera turned and smiled at Kal-El. "You're welcome. I can't stand to see you suffer anyway. I made dinner, I figured you'd be hungry after all that time without food."
Kal-El began to nuzzle her neck and plant kisses along it "You're right. I am hungry." He kissed her passionately. "But not for food."
In between kisses, Liera protested weakly, "But… the food… will get… cold."
"We can reheat it later," Kal-El said as he began to float them toward the bedroom. "This is more important."
"All right," Liera responded slightly breathlessly, and they floated into the bedroom. Kal-El blew the bedroom door closed behind them.
Some time later, while still floating entwined above the bed, Kal-El spoke. "I guess we should go eat now."
Liera sleepily mumbled something incomprehensible and just snuggled closer to Kal-El.
"Come on, sleepy-head; can't let the food go to waste," Kal-El said, gently shaking Liera.
This time, she responded groggily, "Oh, you're one to talk, Mister-I-just-slept-all-day." And then she said, as he continued shaking her, "Okay, okay, I'm up."
They let go of each other and got dressed and headed back to where dinner was waiting for them. As they reheated the now cold food, Kal-El said, "I'm sorry for interrupting dinner, but…"
Liera interrupted, "I don't seem to recall objecting much. I've missed you a lot, too, Kal. We needed to reassure ourselves that we were together again. It's okay. Come on, eat; you haven't eaten in weeks. I don't want to lose you to hunger now. There's only so long even you can go without food."
Kal-El began to wolf down his food very quickly, inhaling it all within a minute. Liera watched him and said, "See, I told you, you needed to eat."
Suddenly, someone knocked on their door. Checking the door, Kal-El saw the head of the Council standing outside. Kal-El got up to answer the door. "Hello, Elder, what a pleasant surprise," he said.
The elder began to speak. "Forgive me, my lord. I hope I'm not interrupting anything."
"Oh, no, come in," Kal-El replied.
"Thank you," the elder said. "I'm sorry to bother you at home, but there is something we need to discuss. The Council has called a meeting of all our people. We would like you to be there so that we can introduce you as their new leader. In addition, we want you to explain our plan — leaving out the specifics about our abilities for now, of course."
"Of course, Elder, I am perfectly able to attend. When is this meeting scheduled?" Kal-El replied.
"The meeting should commence about an hour hence. I'm sorry to bother you again, but the sooner we start preparations, the better. I shall leave you to prepare." The head Elder then left swiftly.
Kal-El looked at Liera. "Well, we better get ready to go. I'd like you by my side for support; I'm not sure I can handle this alone."
Liera replied, "Of course, Kal — as if you even need to ask."
Kal-El gave Liera a soft, tender kiss. "Thank you for everything. I don't deserve you. I love you."
Liera replied, "I love you, too, Kal.
Kal-El and Liera cleaned up after dinner and made ready to head to the meeting.
Nearly an hour later, Kal-El and Liera were ready to head for the meeting. As they were leaving, Kal-El turned to Liera, running his hand through his hair, and said, "I can't do this. I'm just not up to the task," in a very agitated tone.
Liera turned to Kal-El and patted him on his arm comfortingly. "You'll do fine. There's nothing to worry about. I think the speech you prepared is great."
Kal-El gave Liera a soft kiss. "Thank you. I needed to hear that. We better get going; wouldn't do to be late for my introduction." His eyes sparkled with mischief as he teased.
With that, they both sped out of the house and flew quickly to their people's ancient gathering point.
Moments later, Kal-El and Liera arrived at the mountain-top. The Elders were waiting at the peak to commence the meeting. Already, hundreds of people were floating below the peak, waiting for the Elders to speak.
Kal-El hugged Liera quickly. "Wish me luck." Then he flew off to meet with the Elders.
When he arrived, the head Elder approached him again. "Thank you for coming. In just a few minutes, I'll introduce you and let the people know we've decided you will be our new ruler. Then I'll let you speak and tell them about our plans."
Kal-El nodded. "I'm ready when you are," he replied in a voice filled with a confidence he didn't really feel.
He watched as more and more people arrived to hover, waiting patiently for the Elders to begin speaking. He noticed several hushed conversations when people saw him with the Elders, but he couldn't decipher any of the comments. Nor could he tell from their expressions what they were thinking, other then surprise at seeing him standing with the Council.
Once people stopped arriving, the head of the Council stepped forward. Suddenly, all of the conversations stopped as all eyes turned towards the Elder. He began to speak. "We have called you all here in order to discuss great changes that must come to our people. The Council has decided that, in light of the situation, and to help keep a unified front for the transition, we need a single leader. To that end, the Council has decided that Kal-El, leader of the forces against Vorath, shall now lead our people."
The crowd erupted in a great roar and applause, surprising Kal- El. At best, he hoped they'd accept him, but apparently they enthusiastically agreed with the decision. Maybe the people really did see him as a hero. The Elder then stepped back and motioned Kal-El forward.
Kal-El moved toward the end of the peak nervously. He looked upon the thousands of people watching him, waiting expectantly. It was all very overwhelming. He tried to start his speech, but only mattered to stammer out, "Um… Thank you for… that… um, enthusiastic… welcome."
He couldn't do it. There was no way that everyone would accept what was required. They would be upset at what he had to ask. They would probably turn on him as soon as he told them about what exactly the changes were. He noticed he was beginning to rise off the ground and fought to keep himself down. As he scanned the crowd, he saw Liera, smiling up at him, full of support and confidence in him, and suddenly, from somewhere he didn't even know was in him, he found the confidence to do what was necessary.
"All of you remember the atrocities Vorath perpetrated with his followers, using their abilities to take advantage of those who could not defend themselves. His actions resulted in great devastation, the greatest of which came about through my own efforts to stop him. We have destroyed our own world." Kal-El fought to maintain his composure and keep his voice from breaking as the crowd listened in silence.
He continued, "We have learned a harsh lesson indeed over the past few years. We have learned that our abilities are dangerous. Who knows when another man like Vorath will come about? We saw what happened this time; next time could be far worse. To this end, it has been decided that we shall leave our home and find another, one where our powers will be suppressed. Our scientists are working on the problem of how as we speak." Kal-El paused again watching for a reaction.
He expected outrage, incredulity, but what he got was several people conferring together, which he could not make out. Then, surprisingly, everyone seemed to nod in unison, although somewhat sadly. Kal-El was shocked. He had to check and make sure his jaw hadn't dropped off. The people apparently accepted and understood. While no-one looked particularly enthusiastic about the idea, he couldn't see one person who looked defiant or upset at the news. In fact, everyone seemed resigned.
Finally managing to recover from his shock, Kal-El began to speak again. "On such a long road as we intend to embark on, we must take small steps. To begin with, I would ask for volunteers to help remove the large chunks of ice from the oceans and replace them on the southern pole. This should lower the water levels significantly, and allow other life to begin to re-establish itself.
"Those not involved with this clean-up I would ask to begin removing all evidence of our existence. It would not do for the people without our abilities to know we were here and maybe try and find us when they are more advanced. Also, gather as much in the way of supplies, livestock and seeds as you can, and bring it to the Council so we can have what is needed to start out life on our new home, as well as survive to make it there. Construction on a vessel to carry us to our new home will begin immediately. Anyone with experience in engineering and building is asked to help. Since we have often relied on our abilities, this shall be tough, but I have faith we can manage it. After all, we manage to send hundreds of unmanned probes out among the galaxies; surely we can adapt the technology for manned use."
Kal-El paused again to take a breath and calm himself. He was still surprised at how well this was going. He was also amazed at how calm his voice was remaining. Kal-El could hardly believe this level, virtually emotionless speaking voice was his own. He continued again, "I know this is a lot to ask, to leave our home, but I feel we must before we destroy it completely. I want to thank you for taking this so well. Those who wish to volunteer to help, please see the Council and they will give you instructions. The meeting is dismissed. I ask you all to go and prepare; the sooner we leave, the better."
Once Kal-El finished his speech, the mass of people began to slowly leave. They all flew slowly away, resigned to their fate. Kal-El watched them go sadly, realizing that many of them felt guilt, much as he did, for what happened to their once beautiful world. He rejoined Liera and they both slowly flew off towards home.
Kal-El floated above the southern pole, taking a short break. Through their efforts most of the pole had been fused together over the past few days. It had been a lot more difficult then he thought it'd be. First, he'd had to dismiss most of the volunteers because they had just got in the way of each other. Now, it was down to just him and 9 other people. He'd told the other volunteers to replant the vegetation as the waters receded. Additionally, they couldn't move very quickly carrying the ice or it'd vaporize; as it was, they'd had to use their breath on the chunks to keep them from fracturing as parts of the ice melted. It had also taken a lot of effort to find the right intensity of heat to fuse the ice chunks together. And, to top it off, there were just so damn many of them.
He watched as the others brought in the last of the chunks of ice to the pole. It was actually fairly mesmerizing to watch. A blazing band of color trailed each ice chunk as the light refracted through it. As a consequence, there could be seen several arching rainbows, following the paths flown to the southern pole. Once they arrived, they began fusing the final chunks into the now rebuilt southern ice cap.
Once the final pieces were fused, Kal-El felt a great sense of accomplishment. Helping to correct the problem he himself created gave him a sense of atonement. As he looked around the globe, he saw the water levels were much lower — nearly back to their original levels, barring a few new lakes. Now that he was done with the ice cap, he could go help with the replanting.
As he turned to go, he suddenly found himself face-to-face with an irate Liera. She began to speak. "I know what you're thinking, and don't you dare do it. You've been working day and night for days now; you need to get some sleep. You know the lead scientist has asked to speak to you about his findings. The volunteers can get along just fine without you." She punctuated her tirade by poking him several times.
Kal-El looked sheepish as he responded, "I should help. It's my fault this happened. I can't just sit back and do nothing. I have to help. I have to make up for what I've done." His voice was strained and full of pain.
Liera paced in the air, throwing her hands up and gesticulating wildly, "Oh, no, not this again. We've been through this. The accident was *not* your fault. I don't want you blaming yourself for what happened. I won't let you do this to yourself again. You're coming home right now, and that's that."
Kal-El sighed. He knew there was no dealing with Liera when she was like this. His only choice was to go with her and get some rest. He knew she was right anyway, and he was very tired. So he said in a deflated voice, "You're right, again. Sometimes, it just takes a while for it to get through my thick skull. Let's go home now." With that, Kal-El and Liera went home.
The next day, Kal-El met with the scientists. They met in the Council chambers. When he got there, the scientists were already floating around the table. Kal-El joined them, floating Indian-style. He felt better after a night's rest, though he was still a bit guilty about not being out there, helping to fix the problems they had brought upon the world. He snapped out of his reverie as Zhang, the lead scientist, began speaking. "My lord, we have spent day and night working on the problems of where to go and how to get there. We believe we have solved the problem of how to get there."
Zhang continued in a calm, collected voice, almost as if he was lecturing, "I'm sure you remember the method we used to imprison Vorath. We have been studying this hyperspace we found. We believe that we could travel instantly anywhere in the universe by entering hyperspace at one point, and exiting at the destination. This is the approach we have been pursuing, and we have developed a device, which should allow us to control our entry and exit from hyperspace. We call it a hyperlight drive."
At the mention of hyperspace and using it to travel, Kal-El began to have a panic attack. He began breathing in quick, short breaths. He began to drop to the floor and, blinded, groped out at the table for support. He could tell Zhang was still speaking, but all he could hear was the deafening roar of his blood pounding in his ears.
None of the scientists, too intent on the explanations, noticed the change in Kal-El. Kal-El was hounded by his own thoughts. 'Oh, no, not again,' was running through his mind like a mantra. 'Were they *mad*? Did they not remember what happened last time?' Kal-El thought.
After a few moments his panic began to pass, and he recovered before the scientists noticed. Kal-El interrupted Zhang, and said through gritted teeth, "What about last time? Last time, the device exploded when we tried to send something large into hyperspace. What if that happened again?"
Zhang was incredulous. "Of course we've taken that into account. We studied the designs carefully and noticed a flaw, which we have since corrected. I assure you, this time, it will not explode. We miscalculated the load, but shall not do so again. We have tested and retested hundreds of times without incident, much more than last time. We wouldn't even think of exposing our people to such risk."
Kal-El considered Zhang's response. He knew the scientist meant no harm; he wouldn't use an unsafe device on purpose. Kal-El thought, 'Can I make this decision again? If it goes wrong again, I would be responsible for the extinction of our entire race. But what choice do I have? Without this drive, it'd take centuries — or even millennia — to make the journey.' He replied, "I suppose we have little choice. We will use the drive."
Zhang responded, a hint of glee creeping into his voice, "The drive has already been incorporated into the ship being built. If all goes well, it should be up and running in a few days."
'That's a scientist for you — going ahead with what they think is right without waiting for permission,' Kal-El thought. "Very well. We have the 'how' solved, so that just leaves us the 'where'."
Zhang actually smiled at this. "We have been going over the data of our probes, and have found several suitable planets which revolve around stars unlike our own. Since we must have a planet on which our crops can grow, we have narrowed the choices to those revolving red stars. Photosynthesis occurs fairly well under a red light, so our crops should grow adequately under a red sun. The only problem is choosing which one."
Zhang handed Kal-El the information about the different planets. Kal-El looked over the papers: most of the planets already teemed with life; he rejected those out of a desire to not displace any natural cultures.
One planet caught his eye. It was barren and rocky but, surprisingly, it had a nitrogen-oxygen mix similar to the one they currently lived in. Reports showed that recently, some disaster had hit the planet, wiping out life. The danger was past, and it would be ripe for their needs. As a bonus, there would be little life to displace, so he wouldn't have the guilt of possibly displacing a sentient race. He removed it from the pile. "We'll use this one. It will be tough in the beginning, but I'm sure we can convert it to our purposes."
"Thank you, my lord. We will begin calculations on where to enter and leave hyperspace to get there. All should be in readiness for us to leave by the end of the week," Zhang replied.
"Excellent. Keep up the good work. Get in touch with me if you need anything else." Kal-El stood and walked out of the chamber, and flew to check on the replanting.
Kal-El stood at the mountain peak again, to give his second speech since he became the ruler of his people. As he watched the people arrive for the meeting, his thoughts drifted to the last month. He was amazed how much they had got done since the last time he stood here. Thanks to their valiant efforts, one would hardly believe that, a short month ago, nearly the entire planet was covered with water. The seas were almost back to their original level, and life once again filled the land.
The scientists and engineers had been very busy as well. They had worked tirelessly, day and night, preparing the ship that would take them to their new world. Kal-El remembered how they excitedly contacted him and told him that it was ready. That thought brought Kal-El back to the present and the reason he had called another meeting.
As his musing drew to a close, he noticed everyone staring up at him, waiting for him to begin. This time, he sought out Liera deliberately, seeking her love and support, and smiled at her before beginning, "Thank you all for coming here. Over the past month, we have all worked hard to prepare for our journey across the stars. I would like to thank everyone for contributing so selflessly to this task."
Kal-El paused a moment, watching for reactions in the sea of faces floating below him, but, so far, there were none. "The time has now come for us to leave our home and head to our new one — one where we don't have to worry about one of us causing such destruction using our inborn abilities."
This time, there was a reaction in the crowd. Kal-El watched as a look of disgust crossed most faces when he mentioned the abuse of their abilities, followed by each of them resignedly hanging his or her head. The mood became dark and somber as Kal-El continued, "I'm proud of everyone willing to make this sacrifice. I'm sure the transition will be difficult, but I believe we will be able to handle it."
As he spoke those words, there was another change in the crowd's mood. Everyone seemed to simultaneously straighten his or her back, and there was now an air of resolute determination. "The ship is now in orbit and ready for us to begin boarding. Due to restrictions of the airlock, as well as needing to get provisions aboard the ship, I would ask everyone to pair off, and then we can board in pairs, each pair taking what they can aboard. Hopefully, this will help minimize the time it will take. Let's get started." With that, the meeting ended and everyone flew off to prepare to board.
Kal-El watched over the people as they boarded the ship. They had lined up a while ago and begun flying up to the airlock, as it was available. The next pair would wait for the airlock to open again, fly up and enter. This had been going on for nearly an hour, and most of the people were on board, as well as a majority of the supplies.
Kal-El again found himself lost in thought. Initially, they had worried about getting the livestock aboard, seeing as the atmosphere was too thin to breathe where the ship was orbiting. The ship was designed to land, but Kal-El felt it best not to have it land here. The less visible their leaving was, the better. Luckily, by moving quickly enough, they were able to get the livestock aboard without any major problems.
According to Zhang, they would have to leave the solar system before entering hyperspace, just to be safe. Entering any earlier could cause major disruptions in the orbits of the planets in the system. By his calculations, it would take a little over a month to reach a safe point to enter hyperspace. All their abilities should have faded by that point from lack of exposure to the sun. After the hyperspace jump, there would be another month or so to reach their new home.
Kal-El hoped nothing went wrong during these two months. With so many people living in such close quarters for that long, there were bound to be frayed nerves. He just hoped it didn't get much beyond that. Things would also be difficult once their abilities faded, but luckily, the scientists had developed a way to simulate gravity.
His thoughts were suddenly interrupted by Liera. "Kal, honey, it's time to go. Everyone else is already on board, so it's our turn."
Kal-El grinned sheepishly and replied, "Sorry. Guess I got a little lost in thought. Let's go." With one last look around, Kal-El followed Liera to board the ship.
Across most of the world, a giant flaming streak could be seen as the giant spaceship began its journey into the depths of outer space.
Liera searched the ship, looking for Kal-El. Shortly after they had boarded the ship, he had disappeared. She was worried about him. Now that he was no longer busy getting ready to leave, maybe he had gone back to wallowing in his grief over what had happened. She wandered the halls of the ship, looking for him.
She eventually found him staring out a rear viewport at the shrinking blue-green world they once called home. She studied him a moment from the doorway. She could tell he was lost in thought, pretty much oblivious to his immediate surroundings. She quietly approached him and wrapped her arms around him from behind, resting her cheek on his back, murmuring, "Penny for your thoughts."
Kal-El turned at Liera's touch and brought her beside him, draping an arm over her shoulders. "It looks so beautiful, doesn't it?" he said, indicating the steadily shrinking planet. "And so fragile from out here. Well, we learned just how fragile it really is, didn't we?" He laughed bitterly.
He let out a sigh and continued, "I don't know, Liera. Can we really do this? Just leave our home, give up our abilities? Am I asking too much of our people?" Kal-El asked quietly, with a hint of sadness in his voice. "I don't know if I can do it — how can I expect them to?"
Liera tightened her hold on Kal-El to reassure him. "You're doing the right thing, you know that. Everyone knows that — why else would they be here, undertaking this journey. I know it'll be tough but, as you said, we can do it. We'll find a way to live without our abilities. We know it's possible to live, even thrive, without our abilities, as evinced by the others on our world. If they can do it, so can we."
"I know that up here," Kal-El said, indicating his head with his free hand. "But in here— in here, I'm not so sure," he said, now pointing to his chest. He tightened his arm around Liera. "You just keep telling me that till it sinks in. I don't know what I'd do without you. I know I couldn't get through this without you, honey. I love you."
"I love you, too, Kal," Liera replied. "And I'll always be here for you, you know that. I couldn't live without you, either."
Liera laid her head on Kal-El's shoulder, and then Kal-El rested his head upon hers. They both stayed that way, holding each other silently as they watched their former home shrink out of sight.
The days seemed to crawl by as they made their journey through the black void of space. As their abilities faded, they found themselves needing to eat and sleep more often. Tempers grew short as, not used to needing so much sleep, people found themselves tired and crabby most of the time.
Arguments were frequent between people around the ship. People would snap at the littlest things; raised voices could be heard echoing through the corridors almost constantly. This did nothing to improve the mood, making it difficult to sleep. Luckily, though, it never escalated beyond yelling.
Meals were somber occasions. Everyone was moody and tired, so they just sat there brooding as they ate, not bothering to try and have conversations. The scientists, luckily, had anticipated needing more food for energy as their abilities faded, so they had brought enough provisions to compensate.
Thus passed the first month.
Everyone was gathered for the big event. Soon, the hyperlight drive would be activated and they would be in another galaxy, millions of light-years from their former home. The air was full of excitement and trepidation as the appointed time for the jump drew close. They watched the final moments with bated breath, watching out the viewports when, suddenly, the stars changed.
It took everyone a few moments to realize the jump had occurred, and then a great cheer arose from the crowd. Kal-El checked with the people monitoring their flight and then turned to the gathered group and said, "The jump has gone according to plan. We should make it to our new home in about a month."
More cheering was heard at Kal-El's proclamation, and they started to celebrate. Glasses of blue liquid were passed around as everyone showed their exultation in different ways. There was lots of hugging and jumping around for joy. Then someone started up some music; people started dancing and reveling in their success.
Liera threaded her way through the crowd and came up behind Kal-El. "May I have this dance, my lord?" she asked.
Kal-El turned at smiled at her, chuckling as he said, "As if you need to ask."
He led the way to the area where couples were dancing, and then pulled Liera close. They began to move slowly in time with the melody. Liera laid her head upon Kal-El's chest and just enjoyed being in her husband's arms. He seemed so relaxed right now, the worries of the journey forgotten temporarily due to the success today.
She'd been very worried about Kal-El lately. As the time for the hyperspace jump had approached, he'd become increasingly tense and irritable. He hadn't been sleeping much, either, but, in the aftermath of the successful jump, that all seemed to have melted away. She knew he'd soon fret about how the landfall on their new home would go, so she wanted to enjoy this respite as much as possible.
Kal-El relished the feeling of his wife in his arms. Gone were the worries over the jump. The hyperlight drive had functioned exactly as the scientists had promised. He could unwind for a while before worrying about preparing for settling their new home. For now, he would just relax and not worry about tomorrow.
Several hours later, the festivities began winding down. Kal-El and Liera left the celebration and headed to their quarters. They walked down the corridors of the ship holding hands. Liera turned to see Kal-El smiling down at her. She began to speak: "It's so good to see you smiling again. You've been so worried lately, I was wondering if that frown would become permanent."
Kal-El chuckled softly. "I know. I've been very concerned that something would go wrong with the jump or the arguments would escalate into brawls. Right now, though, everything seems to be going great. Once the initial rush of succeeding so far wears off, I'll start worrying again but, for now, I say we enjoy it while we can."
Kal-El lightly stroked Liera's face as he leaned down for a kiss. Liera parted her lips slightly in anticipation. Kal-El began lightly nibbling Liera's lower lip before deepening the kiss. When they finally surfaced, both were a bit breathless. They resumed walking to their quarters and, if they moved a little bit faster now, neither noticed it.
Soon, Kal-El and Liera reached their bedchambers. They entered and had their own little private celebration.
The second month of their journey went much more smoothly, as everyone adjusted to the loss of their special abilities. The adjustment had come surprisingly easily. Kal-El attributed the easy adjustment to everyone being as deeply affected by the events leading to this journey as he was himself. As the days passed, excitement grew among the passengers of the tiny ship. The final day of their journey through the vast void known as space drew close.
On that last day, Kal-El went to the control room to oversee their landing on this new world. When he arrived, the room was ablaze with activity as preparations for landing were underway. One of the flight crew looked up from his console as he heard Kal-El enter the room. "My lord, welcome. We were just preparing to re-ignite the engines. We will need to begin braking soon in order to safely land on the new planet."
Kal-El nodded in acknowledgment. "I just wanted to be here when it all happened, so feel free to go back to what you were doing."
The man returned to his task. Watching everyone at work, Kal-El felt useless and out of place. He considered offering to help, but figured since he didn't really know what was going on he'd just get in the way. So instead, Kal-El watched the view port and the rapidly growing dot that was to be their new home.
Now that the trip was almost over, Kal-El began to worry about what they would do when they finally landed. It would be a struggle to survive at first, especially with their decreased abilities to rely on, though luckily, people seemed to be adjusting well to life without them, even if they did grumble when what used to be simple now required a major effort. Most of their stored food had been consumed on the long journey, so they'd have to get some crops growing as quickly as possible.
Kal-El was suddenly torn from his musings by an exclamation from one of the flight crew. "What's wrong?" Kal-El worriedly asked.
The young man who had exclaimed spoke in an agonized tone: "The engines won't ignite. I keep trying, but they just refuse to start. They haven't been used in so long; I think disuse is what's causing the problem."
Kal-El was stunned. Everything had been going so well, but now all seemed lost. If they weren't able to slow down, they would crash into the planet so hard that no-one would survive. Haltingly, he asked "Ca— Can anything… be done?"
One of the older flight crewmembers stood up. "Well, it's risky since we won't be able to start braking as soon as we should, but if we try bringing the engines back up slowly, we should be able to restart them. We'll have to run the engines beyond safe limits. Hopefully, they'll hold and we'll be able to land safely," he explained quickly.
Kal-El nodded grimly. "I guess we'll just have to try that. Doesn't look like we have much choice."
The man who had spoken barked a few orders, and everyone renewed their efforts. Again the control room was ablaze with activity as they worked on slowly reinitializing the engines. Kal-El watched them nervously, feeling more useless now then he did before the crisis.
After several minutes, the chaos settled down. The head crewmember spoke again. "My lord, everything seems to be going well. Soon, we'll be able to begin braking, once the engines are fully ready. If all goes well, we will land safely."
Kal-El let out a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding as he sighed in relief. The crisis had passed; everything seemed to be going well. He settled in and watched the dot grow as they grew closer and closer to their new home.
Some time later, the tiny ship drew near its destination. Kal- El watched the world as it grew and loomed large in the viewport. He was amazed both by the similarities and differences of this new planet to the one they had until so recently called home. There were vast expanses of sea, as well as continents spread throughout. Even familiar clouds swirled in the skies, but everything had a reddish hue.
One of the crewmembers' voices brought Kal-El out of his contemplation. "My lord, we are about to begin the final stage of braking in order to land safely. You should brace yourself for entry into the atmosphere; it'll be quite a jolt."
As Kal-El moved towards a chair, the ship jerked, and he heard what sounded like an explosion. An alarm began going off and many of the crewmembers exclaimed in alarm. "What happened?" Kal-El shouted over the din.
Someone worriedly replied, "The engines overloaded. We're going to crash."
He stood there feeling numb as people frantically rushed around him. Somewhere, he vaguely heard someone announcing what happened to the ship and advising everyone to brace for impact. Kal-El was unable to move.
The planet continued to rush towards them in the viewport; soon, it dominated the entire viewing area. The ship jerked and jolted many more times as they approached, buffeted around by the atmosphere. What would have been a haven had become an unknown graveyard.
Through everything that happened, Kal-El moved nary a muscle. He just continued to stare at the ground as it rose up to meet the ship. He watched all his hopes and visions for the future go up in the flames that now surrounded the ship. His last thought as the ship slammed into the ground was, 'What have I done?'
A giant fireball streaked through the reddish sky. The flaming craft crashed into the ground, digging a deep rut into the soil as it scattered dirt and debris into the formerly clear sky.
Eventually, the ship came to a halt after sliding many miles. The hull was bent and twisted but, amazingly, it was still intact. After the ship came to a shuddering halt, the air was suddenly silent.
Inside the ship, Kal-El slowly regained consciousness. As he slowly tried to get up, he viewed the carnage around him. The entire room was smashed almost beyond recognition. The viewport was no longer visible because the floor had buckled and a large projection was blocking it. The flight crew could be seen strewn about the room.
As Kal-El got to his feet, he cringed as pain wracked his body. His ankle nearly gave out when he tried to put weight on it. Having never experienced a twisted ankle before, Kal-El was baffled as to what was happening; upon inspection, he could find nothing wrong with himself.
He gritted his teeth and hobbled toward the nearest body — a man lying across a console. As Kal-El neared, the man shifted and started getting up. All over the room, other men were doing the same thing. Gasps of pains and groans of protest could be heard from just about everyone as they experienced pain for the first time. But the people's iron will, which had allowed them to give up so much, to prevent what might happen, allowed them to move through the pain.
For the most part, everyone in the control room was amazingly whole. Aside from bruises and some scrapes, they were largely uninjured.
"Is everyone able to move?" Kal-El asked.
Everyone acknowledged Kal-El, who grunted affirmatively. Struggling to keep his voice confident, Kal-El stated, "We should explore the ship, look to see who else survived and help those who need it. Remember, we're all vulnerable now, so be careful."
Despite his outward calmness, Kal-El was a mess inside. Not only did he have to deal with the new sensations of pain from his ankle and bruised chest, he was fraught with worry over the rest of his people — especially Liera. She had been his support through everything that had led to this point. How could he go on without her, especially after what had just happened? It would be his fault if she was hurt. He had to find out if she was all right or not.
Kal-El barked a few more orders at the men and sent them on their way. Then, after the last man had left, he hobbled his way out of the room to begin his own search of the ship. He prayed to whatever gods there might be that Liera was safe.
Kal-El limped into the corridor. Outside the control room, the devastation was even more apparent. The floor was bent in many places, and bulkheads littered the corridor. He carefully moved through the debris, trying to make his way to his quarters. Progress was very slow. Some areas of the ship were so damaged that the walls were close together, and it was all he could do to slip through the gap between them. The metal creaked and groaned in protest at the weight passing over it.
Kal-El reached a turn in the corridor that was almost fully blocked by a torn sheet of metal. He tried to push it out of the way, only to jerk back his hand as pain lanced through his palm. He looked and saw some red dripping from the jagged edge of the metal, then noticed a long gash in his palm. 'This not being invulnerable will take some getting used to,' he mused. He carefully bandaged his hand, tearing off some of his clothing to wrap his wound, as he had learned when they helped rescue people from the flood.
Being much more careful this time, Kal-El pushed back the piece of metal so that he could make his way past the blockage. Now he could see the door to his cabin. He hurried along towards it, filled with trepidation at what might greet him.
The door had been wrenched inwards, which was probably a good thing since the frame was bent out of shape and would have held the door fast. The room was a mess. The mattress had been flung off the bed and the furniture was strewn around the room. An arm stuck out from under the table. Kal-El moved to the table as quickly as he could and, with a feat of strength reminiscent of what he used to be capable of, flung the table off the body. Underneath lay the crumpled form of his wife, Liera.
Gathering the broken form of his wife into his arms, Kal-El began weeping, his, tears falling freely from his eyes, as he began rocking her. After a few moments of cradling her body in his arms, Kal-El felt movement from her. He glanced down in shock and noticed, for the first time, the rise and fall of her chest as she breathed.
As his tears of pain became those of release, Kal-El was overjoyed; he could hardly believe she was alive. When he had first seen her body, he was *so* sure that she was dead. He could hardly believe she was actually alive. He continued to rock the limp form of his wife, holding her close, protectively.
Liera let out a strangled groan as she regained consciousness. Kal-El's head snapped up at the sound and he watched his wife open her eyes, which were clouded with pain and disorientation. She smiled up at him, then winced in pain.
As Kal-El looked over his wife, checking her conditions, he silently cursed his inability to see through her skin to locate the problems. He clumsily felt along her body, trying to find anything wrong.
Liera let out a strangled moan as examined her left calf. He could feel the bone out of place. Liera was whimpering in pain as he felt around the break, and each anguished moan was like a dagger in his chest, but he knew it was necessary. After a minute of probing, he felt confident he could set the break. Thankfully, he had learned how while he had been rescuing people endangered by the flooding.
"Hold still, honey. This'll hurt a lot for a moment, then it'll feel a bit better," Kal-El said reassuringly.
Liera nodded slightly, and Kal-El gently gripped her leg both above and below the break. He twisted his hands and felt the bone snap into place as Liera let out a howl of pain.
After soothing his wife, Kal-El looked around the room for something to use as a makeshift splint. A straight metal rod that had come loose looked like it had promise. "Lie still, don't try to move," he told Liera gently as he made his way to the metal rod.
He hobbled over to the rod and carefully picked it up. As he stooped, his ankle suddenly gave out and he fell over. He cried out in pain as he hit the floor with a big thud.
"Kal!" Liera cried out; she began trying to get up.
Shaking his head, Kal-El noticed Liera struggling to get up. "No, don't get up! You'll hurt yourself more," he yelled harshly. Then, in a softer tone of voice, "I'm fine. I just slipped."
Liera settled back with a groan, and Kal-El let out a sigh of relief. He carefully tried getting back up, stifling groans of protest as best as he was able, so as not to alarm Liera. With a lot of effort, he was able to regain his feet with the rod.
He carefully moved to the bed and grabbed a sheet from it. He tried tearing it into strips, but the material just would not give. He cursed his weakened state. As he looked around, he spotted a jagged edge of metal sticking out from the doorframe. Hobbling over, he used it to help tear strips of cloth to bind the makeshift splint.
That task done, he turned toward Liera. Her face was all scrunched up and she was silently whimpering in agony. Tears from the pain leaked out through her eyelids. It pained Kal-El to see her like this, but he forced himself to concentrate on the task ahead.
Limping as quickly as he could, Kal-El made his way to her side. He carefully knelt down beside her, ignoring the shooting pains he felt as his muscles protested. He stroked her hair, soothing as he said, "Shhh… It's going to be all right. I'm going to use this rod to immobilize your leg so you can walk without injuring it again. It'll be out of commission for a while, but it will heal and you'll be fine."
As Kal-El spoke, he was carefully lining up the rod along the length of Liera's injured leg. Gently, he lifted the leg slightly to put a strip of cloth beneath it, near the top of her hip. Taking great care, he wrapped the cloth about her leg and tied it securely. As he tightened it, Liera stifled a gasp of pain. He stopped and looked up, concerned, but she nodded that he should continue.
Kal-El placed some cloth around her knee. Liera continued to make little whimpers of protest as the treatment sent pain through her leg. Soon, he finished his work by tying a final piece of cloth around the ankle.
Now that he was finished, the enormity of what happened washed over him again. He collapsed at Liera's side and tears flowed again. It was all his fault: *his* fault that Liera was severely injured; his fault that the ship had crashed. How many lives had he ruined? He curled up into a fetal position and let out all the pent-up guilt.
Liera, even through her pain, struggled to get up a bit and pulled Kal-El to her as best as she was able. She cradled him in his arms and tried to soothe him as he wept uncontrollably. They stayed that way for a long time.
Eventually, Kal-El's sobbing quietened down. He looked up and noticed Liera had fallen asleep while holding him. She looked so peaceful like that; a slight smile curved her lips. It was hard to believe that, after all that she had gone through, she would have that look on her face. Kal-El was afraid to move. He didn't want to bring her back to the world of wakefulness — and pain — just yet.
Not long after Kal-El stirred, Liera's eyes opened. She smiled at him, her eyes no longer clouded as they were before. "Glad to see you're doing better," she said, smiling at him.
Kal-El smiled wanly back. "I needed that release. I'm feeling a bit better about it all now. But, right now, I'm more worried about you. How are you feeling? Still in a lot of pain?" he asked quietly.
Liera took a deep breath before responding. "My leg does still hurt, but rather than a sharp, agonizing feel, it just kinda, well…" Liera shrugged slightly. "I'm not sure how to describe it, but it's not as bad. I'm getting used to it."
Kal-El sighed. "Well, if you think you're up to it, we better get outside and see how the rest of the ship faired. Come on, I'll help you up."
He made it to his feet with little difficulty, and was a bit surprised to realize his ankle didn't hurt much any more. In fact, he could only vaguely feel anything out of the ordinary as he stood. He then bent slightly and held his hand out to Liera. She managed to struggle to her feet with Kal-El's help.
Liera sagged against her husband, using him for support to avoid putting much weight on her broken leg. Concerned, he asked, "You sure you're up to this?"
A bit breathlessly, she replied, "I'll be fine — just need to get used to this. Just let me lean on you, and help me walk. I'll make it, don't worry."
"Well, if you're sure… but if you are having trouble, let me know and we'll rest. I don't want you to re-injure yourself. Okay, here we go," Kal-El said softly.
Supporting his wife, Kal-El carefully made his way out of the room. Liera was having a lot of trouble due to her nearly useless leg. They slowly made their way through the corridors and past the debris that littered the ship. More fallen bulkheads and torn sheets of metal greeted them as they went. The floor had buckled in several places, making the going tough. After nearly half an hour, they finally made it to the airlock. It was open, and they got their first glimpse of their new home.
As Kal-El and Liera slowly left the ship, their eyes were assaulted by the unfamiliar red glare of the sun. Holding up their hands against the dazzling light, their eyes slowly adjusted. When they could see again, they looked around and saw thousands of people already there. Kal-El and Liera slowly went to join the group.
While they were heading towards the group, a young man and a young woman ran over to meet them. "Mom, Dad, are you two okay?" they called concurrently as they grew near.
"We've been better, but we'll survive." Kal-El and Liera said simultaneously, and then, despite everything, began cracking up, laughing.
When they met up, they all had a group hug. "We're glad you two are okay. The men you sent to help people assured us you were okay and said you shouldn't be disturbed, but when you didn't come out for so long, we worried something really bad had happened. We've been watching for you to come out."
"I'm sorry. It's my fault. After everything that happened, including the way I found your mom, I just couldn't handle it. After I did all I could to help your mom, I just kinda broke down," Kal-El said in a weary, apologetic voice.
"It's okay, Dad. We understand. You have a lot going on. You're in charge of an entire planet now. Besides, just recently, you watched all your plans nearly vanish in a ball of flame. The flight crew is looking for you; you better go see them. We'll help Mom for you."
"Honey, you better go. You've got all these people to worry about. I'll be fine," Liera assured him.
"I almost lost you today, I'm not sure I ever want to let go of you again. People can handle themselves," Kal-El replied.
Liera fumed. "Now, glunkerhead, listen here: I can take care of myself. I may be a bit below par now, but I'll recover. You have responsibilities. Don't try to treat me differently just because I can be hurt now. Go! Do what you have to do." Liera's tirade ran down.
Sulkily, Kal-El replied, "Fine. I'll go."
Kal-El left his family and went to find the people he put in charge of the evacuation. He knew Liera was right; he was just very worried about her. She was going through an entirely new experience. Kal-El squared his shoulders and took on a serious look, moving with more confidence then he felt before, and met with the flight crew.
As he approached, the men snapped to attention and one of them began to speak. "My lord, it's good to see you up and about. After we finished searching the ship, we found you with your wife, but felt it best not to disturb you."
He paused to take a breath, then continued, "We are pleased to report that there were no casualties. While many people have been injured, some even severely, no-one is in danger of dying. It's really quite astounding after a crash like that. Something must have been watching over us, protecting us. We also saved most of the livestock and grain."
Kal-El was stunned. He couldn't believe it. The odds against it were… well, he didn't know the odds, but he was sure they were astronomical, against no casualties. After taking a moment to recover, he replied, "That's amazing. It's beyond what I could even hope for."
The men nodded in response. "Sir, the people have been eagerly awaiting you. We told them you were fine, but they haven't entirely believed us. They were afraid we were trying to prevent them from knowing what happened to you. They'll need you to reassure them. They look up to you a lot, as do we."
Kal-El nodded again then stood tall and looked towards the masses. They all noticed him and, suddenly, it got very quiet as he began addressing them. "People, I know our arrival wasn't exactly the way we planned it. But through some miracle, we all survived, and I for one plan to take this as a good sign. That what we are doing is right."
Kal-El paused a moment before continuing, "This has also been a harsh lesson in how much more vulnerable we are, now that we are no longer under the influence of a yellow sun. I hope we all take this lesson to heart and remember to be careful. I know it will be tough, building our new home here, but I believe we can do it."
Again, he paused to let his words sink in, then started again. "Now I've realized we never came up with a name for our new home. I think we should name this place Krypton, for the peace I hope it brings."
The crowd erupted in applause as Kal-El finished. Everyone seemed to approve. When they quieted down again, Kal-El finished up his impromptu speech. "We have a lot of work still ahead of us. The next few years will probably be the hardest, but I'm confident we will succeed. I want to thank you all for going along with me. You are all very courageous to embark on such a long arduous journey. I am proud to call you my people."
The crowd burst into applause, along with some hooting and hollering this time. For the first time in ages, Kal-El thought things were looking up. He felt confident that everything would turn out well.
Later that day, Kal-El and Liera were walking around their new home, exploring the surrounding country and just enjoying some time together. Short-term shelters had been erected, and some workers had begun clearing fields for crops. All in all, it had been a productive first day.
Liera broke the silence by saying, "You've been awfully quiet lately…"
Kal-El turned to her and said, "Oh, I've just been thinking a lot lately. About the huge task before us in establishing a new world. I just hope we can manage."
Liera told him reassuringly, "Things are going great so far. The people work hard and respect your leadership. I'm sure everything will go fine. Besides, we're in this together, and together, we can do anything."
"Together — I like that. With you by my side, I truly believe anything is possible. I don't think I could have survived, had I lost you in the crash. I was so sure you were dead when I first found you. I thought I'd die right then and there," Kal- El said, his voice thick with emotion.
"If I have anything to say about it, you'll never have to try. I love you, and I don't plan on going anywhere, ever," Liera responded, tears in her eyes.
"And I'll stay with you forever. No matter what, I love you, and, if we ever do get separated somehow, no matter what, I'll find you. If I have to cross millions of light-years to do it, I swear, somehow, I'll do it. I'll find you wherever. Not even death will stop me."
Holding each other close, they watched their first sunset on their new home.