and this isn''t called five directions

supercat week 3: day 8

Sunday, April 23 – Creators Choice

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Artemis

Going through her pod, Kara notices many things that she didn’t when she was thirteen. First: that the pod was one of five to leave Krypton, marked and tagged as other passengers, as the pod is an escape pod from a giant ship. Second: that there are five distress call, one from Kal-El’s pod that matches three of the others from each other pod, with the last being a different kind of distress call – one saying that one of the three mystery pods’ mainframe is being hacked. Third: that she can manually direct the other three pods from where they are currently trapped.

The Phantom Zone.

Original intentions put to one side briefly, Kara checks out what she can do from her pod. It isn’t the Master Pod, but with two distress calls coming from the Master Pod, she can switch control over to her own pod. However, it’ll take time and hard work that could have her working through the week without a break and her original plan when looking through the pod can’t exactly wait.

She’s promised Cat she can get her a way to contact Adam whenever she likes on a private, secure connection. All she has to do is take out the communication hubs of the two pods and…

“Dammit,” Kara can’t. She needs the communication hubs to figure out the control switch between the pods. “I can’t do it…” but can’t do what? What can I do? What should I do? The pods can wait, is what the truth is. Maybe not that hack into the mainframe, but in the time since Krypton’s demise, it’s only gotten to the equivalent of about sixty five percent. Two thousand and three, at the earliest.

Kara can give Cat and Adam six years. Maximum. Absolute maximum. Five years would be better. Four, a surety. That would be enough, right? Custody could be arranged differently by then…

She builds them receptors and screens, then she leaves Kal-El in Cat’s care, flying to Opal City. Kara knows Adam’s heartbeat well. He’d played with Kal-El enough, been in her vicinity in a close, personal capacity enough that she knows its distinct patter. Floating down to a dark alley-way, Kara leaves it, sorting out her windswept hair absentmindedly. Clutching her bag, she walks up the pavement to the townhouse where she can see Adam sitting in the window. He’s playing with some sort of sticky animal, coloured bright neon, his hair spiked up with gel.

Cat would never have let him, Kara purses her lips, seeing a tall, leggy woman come up to admonish him quietly, using ASL briefly before stopping and starting again. Kara can hear her voice, pitches wrong and unbalanced. This must be Karen.

To her surprise, Adam starts communicating back, questioning ‘why’ both in ASL and out loud in English. Karen signs about shapes on the windows and Adam looks briefly crestfallen, looking back to his sticky shapes before his eyes see past them to her on the pavement.

“KARA!” He yells, rushing away from the window. Kara watches him with x-ray vision as he runs, jumping over toys and a pouffe before coming out into a grand hallway, coming up to the door. “Dad, Dad! It’s Kara – Kara’s here!

Harold replies, Kara having the decency to tune him out, as she does most people, before a knock on the glass draws her attention back to Karen, who mimes a general ‘who are you?’ that has nothing to do with ASL. Kara gives a brief smile before bringing up her hands, signing to the deaf woman.

‘Hello K-A-R-E-N. My name is K-A-R-A. I am the mother of K-A-L, E-L, the best friend of A-D-A-M from N-A-T-I-O-N-A-L city.’

Karen’s eyes widen, before the door to the townhouse opens, Adam rushing down the steps with his father only a little slow to follow. Adam rushes up to her, jumping into quickly opened arms.

“What are you doing here, Kara? Is Kal-El here too? I thought Opal City was ages away from National City!”

“It is, but I took an aeroplane. It wasn’t that long,” Kara smiles at him, kissing his forehead briefly before putting him down, looking to Harold. “Apologies for showing up out of the blue like this.”

Harold’s hands start to rise for a second, before he drops them, frowning. “Sorry, who are you again? And how do you know Adam?”

“Kara’s Kal-El’s mama, dad!” Adam chirps, “He’s my best friend!”

“That’s right, I’m Kal-El’s mama,” Kara ruffles his hair, grimacing slightly at the gel. “Your mother would have a fit if she saw you like this.”

“Well, Cat doesn’t have custody of him anymore,” Harold starts, angry. “So keep her opinions to yourself.”

Kara eyes him, scratching her neck self-consciously. “It’s more about the mess I’m worried about and of course, so sorry. I didn’t mean it that way. It was just a stray comment.” She walks a little closer, holding out her hand. “Kara Zor-El.”

Harold shakes her hand shortly. “Harold Foster. How did you find Adam?”

“I’m an alien from outer-space,” Kara says in a breezy voice, before glancing at Karen, who now stands in the doorway. Repeating it in ASL, Kara makes sure to continue signing as she talks. “My escape pod had some tech in it that I thought might be useful for Adam and Cat, seeing as Adam’s a little young for letters and Cat, for all her talents, isn’t good at communicating her own feelings through writing or transposing her thoughts to paper in a way that’s plausible for a five year old to understand.”

“…you’re batty,” Harold shakes his head, taking Adam’s shoulder. “Come on, back inside, Adam.”

“No!” Adam starts, before Kara sees Karen start to sign.

‘What planet are you from?’

‘K-R-Y-P-T-O-N. So is K-A-L, E-L. He is my cousin but I adopted him. His pod arrived later than mine did.’

Karen stares at Kara pensively, before doing something that causes Adam to jump and yell in fright. Kara abruptly feels relief at the sight of ridged skin and elongated eyes, a bright purple against dark skin.

‘Hail, last daughter of K-R-Y-P-T-O-N’, Karen signs, before bowing her head. Kara curtsies, waiting until Karen had brought her head back up to sign again.

‘C-A-T misses her son. May I have permission to give him a communication device?’

‘If H-A-R-O-L-D agrees’, Karen nods again before returning to human form, skin morphing and melting into dark, coppery flesh, purple eyes turning olive.

“Karen’s an alien?” Adam questions, staring at his step-mother in awe. Harold lets him wander up to her, Adam poking Karen lightly before signing several questions in a row.

“You want to give Adam something?” Harold mutters, Kara nodding with a hum, taking it out of her bag.

“I’ll need it back in a few years, but otherwise, it should only let Cat and Adam see each other and talk to each other, like a television and phone put together.”

“Oh,” Harold takes the silver device delicately, eyeing the screen with trepidation. “I’ll assume we’ll have to keep it hidden from…guests.”

“It’s Kryptonian technology, so yes. Don’t let anyone but you three touch it. I’ve put some safeguards on it. Cat and Adam don’t live in different time-zones and while it’s not any trouble on my part to adjust it, I’ve made it so they can only have conversations between six pm and seven thirty. Cat will get a password to let it go on longer or earlier, as it were and I’ll give you and Karen Adam’s one.”

Harold meets Kara’s eyes, “This is a weighty gift for your child’s best friend and his mother.”

Kara beams at that. “Adam’s family. Cat and I are soulmate – or at least, Cat’s mine and I really, really, really like her anyway.” She bounces a little in thought of how Cat had reacted to finally being presented with the communications devices. “Is Karen your soulmate too?”

Harold softens, smiling a little. “Yes. Yes, she is.” He taps the communication device. “I’ll assume Cat will call tonight?”

“Yes. Just touch the screen to accept the call – green triangle. The orange circle beneath it cancels it. You can also send typed messages, so if you have surprise visitors you can tell Cat without calling her. There are other things too, but I think I’ll let you all figure them out.”

“Thank-you. Adam’s missing his mother greatly,” Harold glances at a passing biker, tucking the device in his suit jacket. “Adam isn’t very good at goodbyes.”

“I know. I’ll say hello again on the call tonight.” Kara nods before waving briefly at Karen, floating upwards before speeding up into the clouds, feeling a certain joy at Harold’s awed gasp.

Going home, Kara sits with Cat later, when they call Adam. All three of the Foster’s greet them when they appear on the screen, Karen in true form, to Cat’s shock and then close interest.

“Kara, nothing bad meant by it, but you’re rather humanoid in comparison to Karen – she’s absolutely beautiful, in all her glory,” Cat says, before Kara coughs lightly and motions to Karen on-screen, who knows exactly what she said because of the type that runs across the bottom of Adam’s device.

“Stop trying to steal my wife,” Harold bemoans, before Kal-El and Adam start up a rapid conversation in Kryptonese, to Kara’s raised eyebrow.

Cat has dinner with them on Saturdays, Sundays and sometimes, breakfast on Monday morning before she goes to CatCo. Her business is flourishing and the money that Martha invests in her is put to good use, fortune smiling on them. Cat’s empire expands and Kara watches her with admiration, helping her stand when the pressures seem too heavy to hold and continually putting smiles on her face.

The first time they kiss is on Adam’s sixth birthday, to the flash of Karen’s camera and Adam, Kal-El and Harold’s fake puking.

To Kara, the love she holds for Cat feels like Rao itself, a red sun that envelopes her even when Cat’s not around. When she tells Cat how she feels in a spiel of unprompted, seductive poetry, Cat whispers that she feels like the moon, that Kara shines to reflect the best parts of them both. One of the biggest decisions of her life – giving up Adam – has turned into an opportunity because of Kara. Adam’s life will be happy and full of sunlight, with a happy home and not just one, but three mother-figures alongside his father and best friend.

Kara gets picked out by an art critic during the National City University gallery, showcasing the Fine Art students’ works. Her style intrigues them, as it always does to those that first see her paintings and sculptures. Vast paintings of the skyline of Krypton, some beautiful, some devastating, fill giant canvases. The best work of hers in the gallery is of what she saw the day her pod flew away, Krypton blowing up in front of her eyes. Every time she looks at it, she’s brought back to the day it happened and she can’t breathe.

Other things – portraits, people – give her closure. Her mother and her aunt, Lara, clasping hands and smiling, heads pressed together on the day that Lara has married her uncle, Jor-El; her aunt, her face hidden even as she points up to an alien sky, teaching her constellations; her father, wisps of hair pulling away from his head as he leans over a computer, fingers trailing over designs and maps of Krypton’s underlayers. Everything is a reminder of her home’s demise, every single thing – but immortalising her family in oil and acrylic is…

Closure. It’s closure.

The art critic recommends her on various platforms, admiring her portraits but completely gushing about her alien sculptures and landscapes. Kal-El giggles when she shows him that comment, the use of ‘alien’ so apt that even Kara can’t help but crack a smile.

Her subsequent gallery opening brings more than just casual observers because of them. Within a month, Kara is being photographed by CatCo photographers, Cat’s little newspaper, The Tribune securing the rights to her first interview and pictures. It bumps her up in the world and Cat is both proud and adoring of her, each for their different reasons. Kal-El personally mails a copy of The Tribune to Adam, who wows over the fact that Kal-El’s mom is in a magazine.

Karen and Kara have a private conversation later, talking about each of their homes. Much like Kara, Karen escaped from her dying planet, but instead of natural implosion, it was destroyed because of a war – one that stole her voice as a child.

The side that wished for power used chemical weapons. One sent me into a deep sleep and I was injured in the rush to get away from it – someone stood on me, I think. My mothers and father never did explain it to me properly. I was very young.

Kara signs back her condolences, just as Karen does.

By the time Kal-El and Adam are finishing middle school, Kara is far more famous than she should be and has painted enough of Argo City and all the planets she’s visited that her other memories lose some clarity. Only, when an alarm blares far, far louder than she ever expected from her pod does Kara rush to it, mechanical beeps telling her that the hack – the hack that makes to take manual control of one of the pods in the Phantom Zone – has finished.

“Holy Rao and Krypton,” she whispers, before taking Cat’s communication device and getting to work. She plugs it in, rewires it as quickly as she can and ignores normal protocol, taking forceful control over the other pods.

Soon, type is scrambling across the screen, written in a computer language that Kara barely recognises but eventually has to, as the writer waits for a reply, even providing her with a key. Kara doesn’t know what else to do but reply, blood running cold as she comes to understand who is driving the hacked mystery pod.

I am a prisoner of Fort Rozz, known by the designation, Brainiac 8. Who are you?

Who’s in the pod? Is Kara’s reply and the holo graphic she gets breaks her heart, because- because no. No, no, no, no, no-

“Aunt Lara.”

For, inside the pod, in deep sleep, is Lara Lor-Van.