By Adam Labotka <email@example.com>
Submitted July 2001
Summary: A sequel to the fanfic "The Exodus," this fic follows Jor-El and Lara as they get ready to say a sad farewell to their son, Kal-El.
This continues the story begun in The Exodus, this time focusing on Jor-El and Lara as they prepare to send Kal-El to Earth. Originally I intended this to be part of the same story, but I split it in two. Many thanks to my beta readers Missy and Cindy, who helped make this story better. Also many thanks to zoom's boards and the people there, without which I may never have started writing.
Feedback is greatly appreciated at firstname.lastname@example.org
Many millennia passed. On their former home, their existence was all but forgotten. The civilization eventually recovered and developed. Legends and myths were all the knowledge that remained of their removed brethren.
On Krypton, their fledgling civilization flourished. Development was quick for the now Kryptonians. They were able to quickly adapt much of their technology for uses that had previously been unnecessary. Knowledge of their previous home was lost when the last of the original colonists died. Kal-El became a legend, the great leader who led them from chaos and destruction to a better place.
As the years passed, Kal-El and Liera's descendents continued to reign as lords of Krypton. Under their leadership, they spread throughout the globe and reached new heights. Kal-El's vision was realized as they prospered peacefully on Krypton.
Lara looked up as Jor-El stormed into the room. He was obviously incensed. Groaning from the effort, she tried to get up, but her swollen belly prevented it. Attempting to sooth him she said, "Things didn't go well?" At his nod she continued. "Poor baby come tell me about it."
Jor-El sighed and went to join his wife on the sofa. She leaned into him and rested her head on his chest, as he held her and began to describe what happened.
"Well, I went to tell my brother, Sar, about my findings in relation to the recent quakes. So I arrived at the throne room, and the guards admit me." He sighed dejectedly. "It was obvious by the expression on his face that he still hadn't forgiven me. He never understood why I would disobey our father's wishes and abdicate the throne to spend my life with you, as well as pursue my research." Jor-El paused briefly again.
He continued in a sad heavy voice, stroking Lara's hair as he related the story. "Things did not start well. He obviously wasn't very open to anything I was about to say. He just glared at me as if he wanted to say 'Get on with it, stop wasting my time.' So I presented my case that these quakes were caused by a growing instability in the planet's infrastructure." Sighing, he shifted his position before continuing.
"He sat there completely impassive as I told him how my preliminary research showed the planet was beginning to shake itself apart. I couldn't even tell if he was actually listening to a word I said. When I finished and offered to hand over my data for other scientists to review, he called me a 'delusional scientist with intent to spread panic.' He then dismissed me without another word, ignoring what I had presented."
"He makes me so mad," Jor-El growled through gritted teeth. "Just because of our falling out he refuses to listen to reason. I'm afraid he's not gonna realize something should be done until it's too late." Having finished relating the tale, Jor-El slumped back dejectedly. "I pray that, upon review, I have made some error, or our entire race may be doomed."
Lara looked at her husband and said soothingly. "Surely if you confirm your data, even he will listen and we'll be able to put the best minds on this planet to finding a solution. You've done what you could; besides, maybe this is all premature."
"I guess you're right; I mean I'm not even sure that my experiments are correct. Maybe it is nothing and I'm blowing it all out of proportion. Until I do further research, nothing is certain. But if my findings are true, we won't have time to do anything." Jor-El lightly kissed his wife's forehead. "Thank you dear, I needed to rant."
"Anytime, my love." Lara replied.
Suddenly the room began to shake. Jor-El held onto Lara protectively, trying to cushion and protect her from being thrown around. After a moment, it subsided, but many of the room's contents had been strewn about. Suddenly Lara cried out. Jor-El turned to her concerned and hurriedly asked, "Are you ok?" His voice filled with concern.
"I'm fine." Lara replied a bit breathlessly. "It's just that our child suddenly began kicking and it surprised me. He's very active all of a sudden, think he's protesting all the shaking around." Lara finished with a chuckle, putting Jor-El's hand on her abdomen so he could feel the baby move.
Jor-El smiled proudly. "That quake was worst than the last one, I was just worried something might have happened to you or the baby. Boy, you're right! He is kicking up a storm. He sure is a strong one." Suddenly Jor-El frowned, remembering the situation.
Sadly, he said, "If only we weren't bringing him into such a world. He may not even have a chance at life." Suddenly, Jor-El sat up very straight and said in an authoritative voice, "I swear to you right now, I will do whatever I can to insure our son survives and has a chance to live his life. Whatever I have to do, I will insure he lives, instead of perishing with the rest of us."
Lara replied, "You aren't in this alone, I'll help you out along the way. Together we'll find a way to save our child. For now though let's just rest, besides I'm hungry."
"How can you think of food at a time like this?" Jor-EL asked incredulously.
"Because your son wants food, that's how," Lara replied sternly, but her eyes told Jor-El she was joking.
"Not even born and he's my son already?" Jor-El asked teasingly. "Uh oh."
She saw her husband smiling and thought mission accomplished as she went in search of sustenance.
Over the next few weeks, Jor-El poured over and over his findings repeatedly. Each time, he reached the same inevitable conclusion; Krypton was going to explode. He slammed his fist on the table in frustration, knocking down several glass containers. He cursed as one of them shattered, spilling a clear liquid all over.
Grumbling, Jor-El carefully cleaned up the mess. The stress was really beginning to get to him. The quakes had continued to grow stronger, yet his brother still refused to accept that Krypton was in trouble. Sar-El insisted that it was a natural shift in the planet and would die down eventually. Lara was also getting close to term, and he was worried something would go wrong. Even if they were to die with the planet, he wasn't sure he could handle anything happening sooner. Besides, he was still hopeful that something could be done to save them.
He had been unable to find a way to save Krypton, it seemed inevitable that the planet would destroy itself. Nothing could be done to prevent it. The only obvious solution was to leave the planet and find residence elsewhere.
Jor-El sighed. Finding another habitable planet would take time, but even that daunting task fell short in comparison to how they'd get there. So far, no Kryptonian in recorded history had left the surface of the planet. Not only did they have to develop a way to survive in space; a way to quickly travel the vast distance would be needed.
He rubbed his temples, trying to banish the growing headache; this was getting him nowhere. The long hours spent researching were taking their toll on him. Taking a few days rest would probably be a good idea, besides Lara might need him. Looking around his lab one last time, Jor-El stepped out and headed home.
A few days later, Lara went into labor. Jor-El was grateful for his decision to take some time off because it allowed him to be there for the miraculous event. Despite all that was happening, he was happy. The feeling of holding his newborn son in his arms for the first time was indescribable.
As he looked down at his son, all the troubles of the world were momentarily forgotten as he looked in awe at the wonder of nature. Lara was resting from her ordeal, but Jor-El couldn't tear himself away. He stayed with them for hours just sitting and watching them. Jor-El was still getting used to the idea of being a father.
After a while, Lara sleepily opened her eyes and smiled at Jor-El. "Hi," she mumbled. "You're still here?"
Jor-El chuckled. "Of course I'm still here. I couldn't tear myself away from you two," he grinned. "So how are you feeling?"
Lara sighed. "Wiped out. I never realized how tiring this all was."
"Well, if you're up to it, we need to decide on a name for this little guy," He said, indicating their baby. "We can't put it off much longer." Jor- El took on a melancholy look and continued sadly. "There might not be much longer."
"You're right. It might be pointless to name him, but we should. At first I thought we'd have all this time, but then in light of your findings, it just didn't seem like there was a point." Lara sighed again. "Still I guess we should. Do you have any ideas?"
"Yeah, well I've been thinking a lot lately as I've done research, and here sitting watching you two. I was thinking, how about Kal-El?"
"Kal-El? As in *The Kal-El*? The man of myth who brought us from chaos into order? The supposed first lord of Krypton?" Lara said, sounding somewhat surprised.
"Exactly," Jor-El replied. "He was the hope of our people, as our son will be if we manage to spare him the fate of our world. I think the name is very fitting."
She pondered for a moment, considering Jor-El's words, before responding, "I like it. It seems fitting." Looking at their son she said, "Kal-El," as if testing it out. "Yes. Definitely fits. Kal-El," she repeated.
"Kal-El, our son." Jor-El said, leaning over their son. "You are destined to be the savior of our race. I swear I will find you a new home where you can survive and prosper. Where you can find someone to spend your life with as I have your mother. One whom you will be able to have children with as well, so you can know the joy you've brought us, however briefly."
Jor-El and Lara sat watching Kal-El in silence for a while.
It was several days before Jor-El was able to return to his work. He had been afraid to leave Lara and Kal-El alone while they were adjusting to their new routine. Kal-El was still so small and helpless, it was hard for Jor-El to leave, but he had to work. There wasn't much time left, and so much planning to do.
First though, Jor-El needed to figure out how long they had left. By now he should have enough data on the rate of increase of the intensity of the quakes to make a reasonably accurate estimation.
As he made his calculations, he couldn't believe the results. He checked them over and over again, but each time he reached the same inescapable conclusion. In about two months, Krypton was going to explode.
Jor-El tried to quell his rising panic. He had only two months to get all this work done; the task seemed impossible. There was no way he'd have enough time to build a transport large enough for all three of them — one man could only do so much.
Attempting to calm down, Jor-El tried to collect his thoughts. 'No time for panic now', he told himself. He'd build a ship for his son, and that would have to be enough. There might not be much time left, but hopefully he could manage that much. It wouldn't need to be very large, so it should be easier to construct than a ship for all three of them, because it wouldn't require as much material and support systems as a larger ship would.
He began to methodically plot out what he needed to get done. First, Jor- El had to find a place to send his son where he could survive. Second, he needed to develop a way to cover the vast distance in a reasonable time. Third, a support system to keep Kal-El alive for the journey was needed. None of these tasks were simple, but haste was required to get them all done in time.
Jor-El turned to the computer and prepared to search the immense archive of planets discovered by Krypton's probes. He considered what criteria he should set for acceptable planets: atmospheric conditions and composition similar to Krypton's own were an obvious first choice. In addition, an edible, nutritious food source, that was readily available was required. Also, since Kal-El wouldn't be able to support himself initially, sentient and friendly beings that would be willing to take in and raise a child were needed. Finally, and Jor-El realized it was unlikely, biological computability with said inhabitants, so that one day Kal-El might meet a woman, fall in love and have a family of his own — much like Lara and he had now. The last was given low priority, as Jor-El knew it was highly unlikely any other species would be compatible with their own, especially one that developed on a different world in a different environment, but one could always hope.
After setting up and executing the search, Jor-El turned to consider the other tasks. Through most of recorded history they had been sending out probes to many different places. Those probes all had a special drive, which allowed them to travel great distances in a very short amount of time. Perhaps, Jor-El mused, this could be adapted for a living being. Little was known about what happened to the probe when the drive was used, but hopefully it wouldn't be anything Kal-El couldn't survive.
With that decided, Jor-El looked at the time. He was shocked by how late it was, not having noticed the passing of time much as he worked. It was time to head home and get some rest, there was still a lot of work to do and tiring himself out wouldn't help. Taking one last look around, and making sure the search was still running, Jor-El closed up his lab and went home.
Jor-El arrived home shortly after leaving his lab. Lara greeted him absently as he entered, busy fussing over Kal-El. He smiled as he watched the two of them together, momentarily forgetting about what was going to happen, before the reality came crashing down on him and his smile turned into a frown.
He must have let out a sigh, because Lara looked up at him worriedly and asked, "What's wrong?"
Jor-El sighed dejectedly, "Oh, nothing really. It's just when I saw you and Kal-El there I thought how great this is, then suddenly remembered the disaster coming. That ruined the mood."
"Oh," Lara said, in a small voice. "Well, we shouldn't dwell on that and enjoy what time we have left. If we worry about what is to come, then what time there is will be wasted."
"I guess," Jor-El replied, dejectedly. "It's hard though, especially with all this work I have to do to save our son. I've barely started and there's so much to do."
As they were talking, Kal-El began squirming in Lara's arms. She turned her attention back to him. ""What is it? Whatcha want? Huh?" She cooed. Noticing Kal-El seemed to be reaching toward the sound of Jor-El's voice, she continued in the same tone, "You want to see your daddy? Is that it?"
Lara gave Kal-El to Jor-El carefully, and he settled into Jor-El's arms. Jor-El smiled down at Kal-El. "Hey there, little guy." Jor-EL said in a soothing tone. "How was your day? Did you behave for your mom?"
Lara chuckled. "He was a perfect little angel, not very fussy at all," Lara said. Changing to a more serious tone, she continued, "So how did it go at the lab today?"
"Huh?" Jor-El asked distractedly, looking up from Kal-El as he was playing with the collar of Jor-El's shirt. "Oh, well I calculated the time we have left, and it's only two months as best I can tell. It doesn't give us much time, but I started a search for a place to send him," Jor-El said, indicating the child in his arms. "I also began formulating a way to traverse the distance in a reasonable amount of time. It's a long-shot, but if we can adapt the drives that we use on our probes for a manned flight, we just might be able to do it."
Lara tried to hide her surprise at the news. "Will we have enough time?" she said somewhat uncertainly.
Jor-El shook his head sadly, saying, "I just don't know Lara, but I intend to try."
Lara sighed. "I suppose that's the best we can do," she replied. "This makes what I was thinking about all the more important. I can take care of Kal- El as easily at our lab as I can here, so I think we should join you there so we can spend as much time together as we can, during what little time we have left."
After a few moments of musing, Jor-El replied, "Of course I want to spend as much time with you as I can… We can try it and see how it goes. Hopefully it won't hinder my work, but I'll take the risk for now."
"Okay. So tomorrow Kal-El and I will accompany you. We should get some rest, we'll need it in the days to come," Lara said, taking Kal-El from Jor-El's arms. She placed him carefully in his crib and watched him for a moment as he settled into sleep. Then she turned to Jor-El and took him by the hand, leading him into their bedroom.
The next few days went by in a blur of activity. Jor-El ceaselessly worked on adapting the probe drive for manned travel. Contrary to his fears, Lara and Kal-El's presence did not hinder his work. In fact with Lara there to help out it went even faster then before.
Taking the globe, an amazing piece of technology which had been around for millennia and could store incredible amounts of data, run several programs and even project holograms, from where it was sitting prominently on the skeleton of a ship, Jor-El approached Lara, who was rocking Kal-El. He watched with a light smile before clearing his throat to get her attention.
Looking up from the bundle in her arms, Lara asked, "What is it, dear?"
Somewhat uncertainly Jor-El said, "I've been thinking. I was planning on using this device," indicating the globe in his hand, "to store the navigational data to guide Kal- El to whatever place we find for him. But it has more then enough storage for that, so I thought maybe we could use the extra storage to leave something of ourselves for our son, so he'd know where he came from, and why we sent him away, that his parents loved him. I could tune it to him to only reveal them when he's old enough to understand. It's not much but at least we could leave him something of who we were."
Lara looked at Jor-El for a moment, then back down at Kal-El in her arms. Voice choking on emotion and with tears in her eyes, she said, "I don't think I could do that. It's hard enough for me knowing what will happen. I don't think I'd be able to hold it together to leave him a message. I get through the days by not thinking of the future…" She broke off, unable to finish.
Crossing over to her quickly, Jor-El carefully took her in his arms, wary of the child in her arms. "I'm sorry honey," he said apologetically. "I didn't mean to bring up painful thoughts. I should have realized how this would affect you. Don't worry I'll take care of them myself, you won't have to worry about it," he finished comfortingly, trying to ease her pain.
Sniffling a bit, and trying to gain her composure, Lara told him, "I'll be fine. You couldn't have known how your suggestion would affect me. It's a nice thought really I just don't think I could handle doing it. It'll be enough for me to leave him this blanket," she indicated the blanket Kal-El was wrapped in, "Something tangible, something I made for him. You should get back to work."
Reluctantly, Jor-El released them and picked the globe from where it had fallen when he carelessly dropped it. He buried himself in his work again, escaping from his own grief at what was coming.
The next day saw Jor-El busy in the lab again. Between working on adapting the drive and putting together a ship, he thought about what messages to leave his son. It was during one of these musings that someone chimed at the door. Sighing, Jor-El got up and went to open the door. Upon opening it, he was shocked to see who was on the other side.
In a cold, somewhat confrontational tone he asked, "What are you doing here, Sar?"
Sar-El started a bit, seemingly taken aback by the cold greeting. Affronted, he replied, "Can't an uncle visit his nephew, is he here? I went to your home and since no one was there, I figured I'd find you here."
Resignedly, Jor-El said, "Lara and Kal-El are in the back right now, they should be out in a few minutes."
Sar-El entered the lab and stood waiting. After a few minutes of awkward silence, Sar-El broke it by saying, "That's not really the reason I'm here. I came to apologize about my attitude earlier." Pausing, Sar hung his head dejectedly, the very image of a man with the weight of a world on his shoulders. "You were right. There's no escaping it, our world is going to end in just over a month."
At that point he broke down completely. "And I've doomed us all. If it weren't for my bullheadedness, we might have been able to do something to stop the destruction. But my inability to forgive you prevented me from listening to you. You had the courage to stand up to our parents and tell them you wanted to live your own life, pursue a career in science and marry the woman you loved, though it meant giving up the throne. I know I berated you for abandoning your duty and dishonoring our family, but I was really just jealous. You had the courage to do what I couldn't… to pursue your dreams. And now all our people will pay for it."
Jor-El looked in surprise at his brother who was actually sobbing on his knees before him. He hadn't known what to expect when he saw Sar at the door, but this certainly wasn't it. He hardly recognized his brother in his current state; the once proud man was completely shattered by the planet's imminent destruction. In an attempt to comfort Sar-El, he reached down tentatively to touch his shoulder. Trying to make his voice soothing, Jor-El said, "You can't know that discovering the chain reactions sooner would have allowed us to find a way to ease them. We might have panicked the population and given them false hope. It's probably better if they never know."
Sar-El visibly collected himself, managing to quiet down the sobbing. After a few minutes, he was able to reply, "You're probably right about not being able to stop the chain reactions, but there still might have been something we could have done. Ever since other scientists have come to your conclusion, I've ordered them to work on a possible solution. They seem to think we can build a space ship and move to another planet." Sar-El didn't notice the look of surprise that passed over Jor-El's face as he was speaking. "Together, almost all of the planets scientists and engineers have been working on a ship to take as many people as possible from here. If we had more time, we could build a larger one, perhaps even more then one. As it is, we're lucky we already had a manned exploration project in the works." Jor-El gasped at his brother's words, he had never heard of that.
Sar-El smiled wanly, "You seem surprised. Well, a few years ago, I started this project. Very few people knew of it beyond those working on it. If it wasn't going to work, I didn't want people to know about the failure. It's not supposed to be completed for a while, but I've stepped up the work and we're rushing to finish it before the planet explodes. I want you to come and help. We could use a mind like yours on the project, then you and your family can have a place on the ship."
When he paused for a response, Jor-El pondered. His brother had a point, and this would allow his whole family to survive, but it was also a large gamble. They were obviously rushing to complete a project that no one knew if it would work in the first place. Not only was there a good chance of problems from lack of knowledge, there was a large possibility of error due to a rush job. Finally he came to a decision.
"Look, Sar, as tempting as the offer may be, I doubt I could be of much help. Too many scientists do start to get in one another's way. Besides, there doesn't seem to be a great chance of success. I'm working on my own project here, and as much as I'd want to save my own life and that of Lara's, I think it's better if you let them take children in our place."
Grief stricken, Sar-El replied, "But you must, I can't bear to have your two lives on my hands as well. You're the last of the El line as well; they'll need you along to help guide them. Shouldn't you at least discuss it with Lara first?"
Jor-El looked as if he'd been hit by a metal beam. What was he thinking making such a decision without consulting his wife? Sure he still felt the same way, having come to grips with his own passing over the past month, but Lara deserved a chance to make up her own mind. "You're right, I should discuss it with her first, but I still feel the same way," Jor-El replied. Then something else his brother had said sunk in, 'last of the El line', what could he mean by that? "They'll have you there to guide them, and the council, I'd just be extraneous anyway."
Sar-El lowered his head in resignation again as he said, "I won't be going. I don't deserve to survive after what I've done. I will stay behind with everyone else who can't fit on the ship. It's the least I can do after having condemned them."
Jor-El noticed he looked about ready to cry again. He hated seeing his brother looking like this, but he was at a loss for a way to console him. How does one make someone feel better when he believes the destruction of the world is on his head? Jor-El shook his head sadly at the thought. "You are far to hard on yourself, Sar. Anyone could have made the same mistake as you did, after all I didn't have definitive proof of my findings. I wish you well in your endeavor, and I hope you can forgive yourself at some point."
Sar-El nodded sadly. "I should be going. I need to get back to my duties," Sar-El said. "Tell Lara I'm sorry."
Sar-El quietly went to the door and Jor-El watched him go.
It wasn't until after they had finished at the lab that Jor-El managed to tell Lara about Sar-El's visit. He had kept putting it off because it was a tough subject. Collecting himself, he said nonchalantly, "Sar came to visit at the lab today."
"That's nice," Lara said distractedly while she fussed over Kal-El.
Somewhat exasperated, the stress of everything wearing on his patience, Jor-El told her, "This is important, I need your full attention."
Lara was taken aback at his tone but complied, laying Kal-El down. After making sure he was comfortable, she turned to Jor-El. "Okay. What is it?" she asked.
Jor-El began to relate what happened, "Sar came to the lab today because he wanted to apologize about ignoring my findings. Other scientists have confirmed them, and he feels very guilty about wasting so much time. Also, he told me about a project they're working on to build a large ship to send as many people as they can to another world. He wanted me to come and help them work on it, but I declined. It seems to me it's too large an undertaking and will never be completed in time; I'd rather keep working on the craft for our son."
Jor-El paused to gauge his wife's reaction. She was listening thoughtfully, an unreadable expression on her face. He continued after a moments pause, "That wasn't all he had to say either. He offered us passage on the ship so that we all could survive. I turned him down. I'm getting on in life, I told him to send someone younger than me instead, there will be limited space and I'm beyond my prime. I won't be much help in building a new world, but you should have a say in this as well. It was callous of me to try and make this decision alone. Sar reminded me of this. So do you want to take up his offer?"
Jor-El watched with baited breath as he waited for her answer. Lara turned to face Kal-El, and looked down at him tenderly stroking his cheek. After a few moments she said, continuing to lovingly stroke her son's cheek, "I couldn't ask you to go if you felt it wasn't the right thing to do. And as much as I want to see little Kal-El grow up, I don't think I could survive without you. You're a part of me."
When she looked back at Jor-El, he saw tears in her eyes. Feeling as if his heart was being torn out, he quickly crossed to her and put his arms around her, holding her tight. "I'm sorry. If it hurts that much we'll go. I can't stand to see you in pain."
Shaking her head softly against his chest, Lara said, "No, you were right in the first place. It's better to let some of the younger generation take our place."
They stood there holding each other in silence for a very long time, as if they never wanted to let go.
The next day, Jor-El went to tell Sar-El about his and Lara's decision. He was somewhat nervous about his brother's reaction to his news, especially after how Sar-El broke down yesterday. He had a feeling this wouldn't go over well, but he felt obligated to tell him.
Jor-El stood anxiously in front of his brother's room, having been told he could find him there. Pausing a moment to collect himself, Jor-El cautiously knocked on the door. After a few moments, he thought he heard from inside, a quiet, "Come in."
Slowly, Jor-El opened the door and entered the room. Inside, it was nearly pitch black, only a tiny bit of red light leaking in through the curtains. His eyes slowly adjusted to the dark, as he scanned the room for his brother. A figure stirred at the far side of the room and said, "Who's there?"
"It's me," Jor-El said quietly, as if fearing to break the silence of the room.
"Oh, Jor-El," Sar-El said tonelessly. "I guess you've come to tell me about your final decision." His voice remained flat and dejected, never wavering.
Turning on a light, Jor-El looked at his brother, huddled in a chair. If he had appeared like a shell of his former proud self yesterday, today he was barely a shadow. Sar-El was crumbling quickly under his guilt. Jor-El almost decided not to tell him about Lara's and his decision, but he knew it was necessary.
"Sar, Lara and I have decided not to take your offer for a space on the ship under construction. We feel that younger people should take our space, I'm getting on in years and don't have much time left to begin with," Jor-El said quickly, before he lost his nerve.
Sar-El nodded sadly, accepting Jor-El's words. Then, quietly he asked, "What about my nephew, Kal-El. Will he be staying too?"
"I've been working on a space ship of my own for Kal-El for the past month. I feel we have a better chance, seeing as we aren't rushing a project that was meant to be finished years from now. We plan to continue as before, sending Kal-El in this ship. Maybe some day, if both ships make it, they'll meet up someday," Jor-El explained.
With that, he turned to leave but was stopped when Sar-El said, "Farewell Jor, good luck."
Leaving the room, Jor-El said, "Farewell Sar, good luck to you as well."
Three weeks later, Jor-El had completed the craft. Everything was ready, except they still hadn't found a suitable planet to send Kal-El to. Jor-El was beginning to worry. They had barely a week left before the planet exploded by his calculations, and not one planet had been found that a lone child might have a chance to survive on.
Jor-El looked sadly at Kal-El as Lara carried him around the lab. All this work, and he felt he had failed his son. Soon the computer would complete the exhaustive search started almost two months ago, but Jor-El held little hope that a planet would be found that fit the restrictive criteria.
Jor-El hung his head dejectedly, about ready to just give it up. It was too late to try to get Kal-El a place on the colony ship Sar-El had order built. It had launched a few days ago, the gamble had apparently paid off, though it remained to be seen if they would find a place to colonize. The ship might not even survive the journey.
Just as he was about to cancel the search, fruitless in his opinion, the computer beeped at him. Jor-El looked at the screen and finally, a planet fitting the criteria had been found. Hardly daring to breathe for fear the discovery wouldn't hold up to further examination, he began to check out the data on the planet.
It was the third planet from its sun. One large moon orbited the planet. There were seven other planets in the system of varying size and shape. One of the most interesting features of the solar system was that the sixth planet had large prominent rings surrounding it. Jor-El was briefly reminded of a legend of such a planet seen in ancient times, as well as a large moon in his ancestor's night sky, though no moon orbited Krypton and there was no evidence of debris that might have indicated one had existed in the past. He quickly dismissed the old legends and began examining the third planet, as it was the most important.
The atmosphere was a nitrogen/oxygen mix with some other trace gasses, much like Krypton's own. The world was much wetter then Krypton was, with nearly three-fourths of the planet's surface. The landmasses contained sentient civilizations, nowhere near as advanced as Krypton, but in the beginnings of an industrial age, barely a century old. A far cry from Krypton, but it would suffice.
Jor-El was mostly interested in the sentient race that dominated the planet. Their physical characteristics mirrored those of Kryptonians, so much so that he exclaimed in surprise.
Lara looked at him curiously and asked, "What happened?"
Not wanting to get Lara's hopes up, until he was sure this planet was suitable, he said cautiously, "I'm examining a possible destination for Kal-El, and I was just surprised by something I saw, that's all."
When she turned back her attention to Kal-El, he turned back to the computer. So far the results were better then he could have hoped for. Kal-El would blend in perfectly with the inhabitants of this planet. Next, he had to check biological compatibility. Their diets seemed to be roughly the same as Kryptonians, using similar plants and animals as food. According to comparisons between the compositions of the sustenance, they should be interchangeable and therefore, Kal-El should have no problem surviving on the food available.
He still had a few reservations about sending Kal-El to this planet, though. For one thing, the planet orbited a yellow sun, which would radiate different energy then Krypton's own red sun. There was no telling how it might affect the little Kal-El; he might not even be able to survive under its influence. Also, while the physical characteristics of the inhabitants were identical, there was no guarantee that they were compatible in other ways.
Jor-El decided he was willing to take the risk of possible disastrous effects from the sun, seeing as there was no other choice. On the other hand, he could explore the compatibility by checking out DNA samples the probe collected. And societal beliefs of the different areas, finding one that hopefully went along the lines of Krypton's and hopefully an area where people would be likely to take in a baby and raise it.
From the data compiled, the most likely place was one of the larger countries, in the northwestern part of the planet, based on the planet's magnetic poles. The people called it the United States of America, and it purported to support similar ideals to those on Krypton. Though other places too shared the same ideals, they tended to be much more densely populated; finding a place to land the ship would be more difficult. Jor-El began to scan the geography for a suitable place to land a ship. Since space travel was a new field for the planet, it seemed unlikely that a space ship falling from the sky would be well accepted. He felt that it should be a remote location, but still one where it was likely to be discovered by someone not too long after landing, since there was no guarantee the support systems would last much longer then the time it took to make the journey.
The country was divided up into what they called states. In the central region there were several sparsely populated states that might be sufficient. Jor-El picked the outskirts of a small, mostly farming, community in a state called Kansas.
Finally, he did a DNA comparison, running a test for biologic compatibility between Kryptonians and these Earthlings. The computer compared the DNA strands of the two species, looking for similarities and differences. Jor-El almost couldn't believe the readout. The DNA strands were less then one- tenth of a percent different, nearly identical. Save for two minor differences on chromosome pairs twenty-one and twenty-two, they were identical, sharing the same DNA coding, as well as the same number of chromosomes. It was hard to believe that two races evolving under different circumstances and millions of light years apart could be so similar. But there the evidence was right in front of him. According to this data, there was a very good chance that Kal-El would be compatible with an earth woman. It was more than he could have ever hoped for, but it seemed that it was the case.
Barely able to contain his excitement, he decided to tell Lara the wonderful news. Calling her over, his voice full of exuberance, he began to tell Lara of his findings, "Lara, it's unbelievable. I've found a planet that Kal-El should easily survive on. I can't believe how similar the inhabitants of this planet are to us. It's hard to believe they evolved millions of light years away from us. Kal-El could easily have a full, wonderful life there."
Looking over at Lara, he saw she had a big smile on her face. "Oh, it's wonderful," she said. "I can't believe it either."
Smiling as well, Jor-El said, "All that's left is to plot a course for the ship and program it into the globe. Then we can send Kal-El on his way."
Genuinely happy for the first time in weeks, they set to work on the finishing touches needed to send Kal-El to this planet called Earth.
A few days later, everything was set to launch the ship. Jor-El had checked and double checked, and in some cases even triple checked, the various systems. As far as he could discern, everything was in perfect working condition. Today would be the day they sent Kal-El on his way.
They were running out of time, but Jor-El had wanted to make sure things would go smoothly. Around them the planet was literally shaking itself apart. Buildings were crumbling, crushing those who still remained. Their screams echoed in the city, barely discernable above the sounds of destruction. Roads were splitting open, swallowing others as they raced about, trying to flee the carnage somehow. Lava was erupting from newly formed volcanoes all around the city, making it impossible to enter or leave. The end could come at any time now.
Jor-El and Lara rushed to get Kal-El ready for his long journey. Kal-El was obviously distressed by the chaos all around, and Lara tried vainly to comfort him. Jor-El was busy placing everything in the ship, getting it ready for the launch. Just then, an exceptionally strong earthquake ripped through the area, shaking the lab and causing some of the ceiling to cave in. Kal-El began wailing even louder as he was shaken around.
"We're running out of time," Jor-El said. "It's time we set Kal-El on his way, otherwise, we might not be able to."
Lara nodded sadly, reluctant to let her child go, but knowing it was for the best. She carefully placed him in the craft, cooing and trying to keep him calm, tucking the blanket around him carefully. Jor-El began closing the lid of the craft, which obviously distressed the baby, who had no idea what was going on, even more. It took all of their discipline not to stop and comfort their scared child.
Once the ship was sealed, Jor-El began the launch sequence, sending it out into space. Lara and Jor-El clung to each other, watching the tiny ship as it raced away from their dying world. As the vibrations of the planet increased, they continued to hold each other as their last moments passed their prayers with the tiny ship and its precious cargo.
Krypton gave its last gasp and the planet exploded, sending chunks into the vast depths of space, some chasing the craft. The tiny ship raced away from the fireball that had once been Krypton. Kal-El, last son of Krypton, was headed home.