Dedicated to Christopher Reeve
This fan fiction was inspired by a story by Shhmommy1 called “Mother.” Both her story and mine were about one Mother who had to have enough love for a child to send that child away to save his life and about the woman that accepted the child and became a second Mother to him. My story was also about what really makes a man “super.” Instead of Clark Kent/Kal-El having more physical strength than any individual on the planet, he is the weakest. Yet, he still earns the name “Superman.” I re-dedicate this fiction to the memory of Christopher Reeve. It is a very small tribute to a man that made so much of his life – both before and after his injury.
"Strange Visitor: An Else World Story”
Chapter One: A Cold Paradise.
The planet Krypton was a world moderately bigger than Earth. It orbited an orange star that Krypton’s inhabitants called Rao. Rao was also the name by which they called God. They knew that their sun was not their god, but it was a symbolic honor to name the star that gave life to the planet after Him. The planet had one huge continent and one ocean. Krypton was beautiful beyond imagination or description. Part of the reason was that most Kryptonians loved of order and beauty more than anything else. Everything and everyone on the planet was the result of careful planning and heavy pruning. It was also a planet where there was love in abundance. Most Kryptonians were in love from the first moment they laid eyes … on a mirror.
Jor-El was more of a machine than a man. His art was his science. He was fundamentally different from most of the citizens of his world in that he loved what he beheld with his senses and through his advanced sensing mechanisms. The universe was a wonder to him and he greedily learned whatever he could. But one day his world became much smaller. He was in a park just sitting and relaxing and letting his powerful mind race. As he watched a child run, he thought about the science behind the motion. Then the child fell. He thought about the acceleration of gravity. The child got a nasty gash on his knee and began to cry. Jor-El thought about the chamber where the child would most likely go to end his life if the scar from that fall couldn't be removed. The others in the park turned their heads from the ugliness of it. Jor-El chose to observe.
Then Jor-el experienced something he was not used to -- profound shock and surprise at what happened. A young woman ran to the boy and lifted him. She cradled him in her arms and took him to a nearby bench. There she ripped a portion of her beautiful garment and wrapped the child's wound. To intentionally tear something that beautiful and leave yourself looking less than perfect was revolting by Kryptonian standards -- but Jor-El couldn't take his eyes off the woman. She was nurturing the child and talking to him in a soft, sing-song fashion. After a while, the boy left and the woman with the torn and bloodied garment got up to leave. Jor-El hurried to her and asked her about her strange behavior and her motivations. Not used to having people actually talk to her about her unorthodox feelings and behavior -- at least not in an open, interested and un-judgmental fashion, Lara talked freely to this stranger. It was the first of many conversations over the next several days. Soon the scientist asked Lara for a contract of co-habitation and she agreed.
Lara was so anxious to begin their year together that she moved in with Jor-El before the required procedures had been completed. After Lara returned from a series of examinations, Jor-El found her repacking her belongings as she cried uncontrollably. He had never seen anyone so upset. He considered seeking counsel from the medical mind that he had in his bedroom. He was afraid that if he did so, the machine would tell him that Lara was unstable and would have to be destroyed or cast out. Instead he went to her and tried doing what she had done to the child in the park. He pulled her to himself, but she pulled away. He thought to give up but pulled her close again and she collapsed into his embrace. He somehow didn't mind the salty water making his shoulder wet. He asked why she was packing. She sobbed that she had been found to have some defect and had failed the testing. Now she must go away. Jor-El told her she wasn't going anywhere. Lara said she didn't know how she could face him. She had wanted so badly to give him a dozen children, but having failed the test, the machines had followed protocol and immediately sterilized her. They sat together for many hours and then slept.
Jor-El became an outcast because he refused to be parted from Lara. They continued their lives together. Lara joined her husband in his research. She helped program the probes they sent to visit other worlds and collect samples. He had the mind for making the probes work, but she had the heart to program the probes to decide what could be worthwhile to explore and bring back.
Chapter Two: Doomed World
Clark was a bright and happy ten years old. He loved life. He loved his parents, the farm, the world, its people, the universe and, not last or least, God for giving him a chance to be a part of it all. He was strong as an ox, as beautiful as a child could be, so smart that they kept advancing him in school, compassionate as a saint and mature beyond belief. He was an endangered species in a troubled world. Those who knew him prayed that he would grow up quickly. A person like him should become President. Someone like him might be able to bring the world back from the edge of destruction. But that was not to be.
The terrorists had been boxed in. They knew their days were numbered. If they were going to die, they would not die alone. They began unleashing every weapon in their arsenal – an arsenal purchased from black market sources in USSR and from greedy capitalists around the globe. They died in the process, but not before dealing a death blow upon the world.
The Kent farm had been raided for food again and again. Finally Jon loaded up the truck with as much in the way of food stores as he could. They would hide out in the caves that Clark had discovered. Heading down the road, Jonathan saw something reflecting light up ahead. It was a strange metallic object floating above the road and they were going to hit it. Jonathan swerved and the truck rolled over. They were pinned inside the truck, but suddenly the truck righted itself. A bright light enveloped the truck and Jon, Martha and Clark’s nerves tingled. A soft woman's voice said to them, "Would it be all right if I talked to you for a few minutes?"
The Kents got out of the truck and looked at the hovering object. Soon a conversation started about many things: the Earth and what was happening to it, the world the probe came from, life in the universe and various other topics. Finally the probe asked if it could help the Kents in any way before leaving to collect samples and return home. Martha broke down crying and said, "Could you take my son back with you."
Clark was shocked. He said, "Mother, what are you saying?"
Martha held Clark so tight that he couldn't breathe and said softly in his ear, "We will all be dead within weeks, perhaps days. I love you more than I can say. Please, PLEASE, don't make me watch you die!"
Clark pulled back and said, "Mom, I could never desert you and Dad like that." Martha smiled at her son through her tears, then stepped forward and gave her son a right upper cut with enough force to shatter a few bones in her hand. Clark fell like a sack of potatoes. Martha collapsed as well. She was crying, not due to the pain in her hand, but from having to do what she just did. She had never hit her son before, not even in anger. Even in this instance, she hadn't hit him in anger -- she hit him out of her deep love for him and the desire that his life continue. The probe unfolded and Jonathan lifted his unconscious son, kissed him and placed him into the probe. The probe shot a light on Martha’s hand healing the broken bones. It probed Jon and Martha’s minds deeply to get to know them better and to learn how to best care for their son. Martha ran up and gave her son a last kiss before the probe closed around Clark and disappeared across the horizon.
Chapter Three: The Arrival
In front of Lara was a row of 11 probes. She was examining the contents, talking to the probes and making comments. A 12th probe arrived. Lara walked up to it and asked the probe what interesting things had it brought back for her this time. The probe opened up and she saw a boy lying asleep inside. She jumped back in horror, "What have you done?! This is strictly forbidden! The child must belong to some social group from which he will be missed. Return it at once. At Once!" The probe explained that Earth was a dead planet and that she had brought back the boy at the insistence of his parents. The probe had a record of the parents’ minds so it would be able to provide data on how to care for the child. It had brought back seeds to grow food that the boy would be accustomed to.
Lara moved closer to the probe and to get a better look at the boy. She took a finger and traced the outline of his face and stroked his cheek. She ran her hand through his hair. This boy was not the ideal of Kryptonian beauty. He was different -- which to most Kryptonians would mean "ugly" or "diseased." Yet Lara saw that Clark had a beauty of his own. She couldn't take her eyes off him. His breathing was a little labored so Lara would have to get an environment ready for him.
Suddenly, Clark’s eyes fluttered and opened. Lara smiled down at him. Clark's face contorted in pain. He tried to sit up and couldn't. Tears began streaming down the sides of his face. Lara's face became a mirror of Clark's. She was crying as well and yelling -- yelling for Jor-El. Jor-El came running and on Lara's order's carried the boy to an environment where the air pressure could be adjusted and the gravity's effects lessened to an extent. Jor-El had a thousand questions but knew Lara well enough that this was not the time to ask them.
Normally Lara would have simply picked up the boy and carried him herself. No man had to fetch or carry for Lara under normal circumstances, but she was trembling and unsteady. She detached the artificial mind from the probe and carried it with her to the environment where Jor-El had placed Clark. Using the mind as a translator, she spoke words of comfort to Clark. She told him that he was safe and that he would be well cared for. She told him her name and asked what name he was called by. Clark struggled to speak. All that came out was "Kkkaaahhh."
She lifted the boy’s hand and looked at his ring. There were the initials “SHS” above the stone set into it. The letter “C” was to the left of the stone and the letter “K” was to the right. She looked at his sweater and saw the name “Smallville High School.” She asked him, “Is your name “Smallville?” She saw by the change in his expression that Smallville wasn’t his name. She said, “Do the letters “C” and “K” represent your name?” His expression told her that she was on the right track. He felt warm to the touch so she inquired of the mind whether his temperature was acceptable for his species. The mind informed her that he was warmer than he should be. She gently removed Clark’s sweater and put it aside. On his shirt she saw the name “Calvin Klein.” She looked at him and said, “The closest Kryptonian name to yours is “Kal.” Since you are an orphan, today I will take you as my son. I adopt you into the house of my husband, the family El. On our world, you will be known as Kal-El.”
Chapter Four: New Life on Krypton
Kal adapted as best he could to his new life. He worked out life a madman. After a few months, he had an astounding physique which was adequate to allow him to crawl in Krypton’s gravity. His favorite activities by far were his discussions with Jor-El. They had heated debates they had on life and philosophy, but neither got angry. The exchange of ideas was stimulating and almost addictive for both of them. Jor-El had unknowingly picked up a habit from Clark. He startled himself one day when he found himself doing it. This laughter business was un-settling but he must remember to study it's effects on weight -- because when he laughed, he felt like his body was much lighter.
Clark's least favorite activity was trips to the park with
Lara. It was great to be outdoors and Krypton was beautiful, but as Lara
wheeled him about in his wheelchair, the look of horror on people's faces was
hard to bear. One day, he was teaching Lara and Jor about picnics. After Lara
spread a blanket on the ground, Kal pushed himself from his chair and crawled
to the blanket. People ran in horror. One brave young woman came forward and
said how much it hurt to see Kal that way and offered to help him get to the
nearest death chamber. Kal thanked her for her concern but said that he loved
life and was happy despite his disability -- that his disability had, in fact,
given him an even deeper appreciation of his life. The woman left with a
confused look on her face.
Years passed. Kal was able to get around in a special suit that Jor built for him. Kal had become a writer. He wrote of Earth, of philosophy, of politics. He wrote poetry about diversity and uniformity, about ugliness and evil and about light and shadow. He wrote about how a person can gain strength by facing hardship. Most people who had heard about Kal thought it ridiculous that his feeble person would speak of strength. They sarcastically referred to him as “Superman.” His work was considered perverse, but he had a small hard core following. Some had learned to tolerate the sight of him. A few had learned to see beyond his looks. Fewer still saw the beauty that his adopted mother saw. Some were concerned about a new disease on Krypton. The “contagion” of “laughter” had spread even to those who had never heard of Kal-El. Some had even taken classes to learn how to do it. Council would have decided to do something about it, but what would it matter; the world was going to end in the next 20 years anyway.
Chapter Five: Deja Vu
Kal was very upset when he found out that Krypton was a doomed world. How come he hadn't been told? Jor-El explained that Krypton's core was hollow. As the planet cooled, the molten center had condensed towards the dense outer layer of the planet forming a void inside. The planet’s center of gravity was actually a sphere about midway between the outer and inner surfaces of Krypton. In the past, it had been possible to stand and walk on the inside surface of the planet with “up” being the direction towards the theoretical center of the planet. Once safely beyond the heavy air pressure at the mid-zone between the inner and outer planetary surfaces, the inside of the planet was as comfortable a place to live as the outside. In ancient times, a fission reactor was set up to create a central light for the world below. Over the millennia, vast chambers had been hollowed out near the inner surface of the planet. The entire population had lived underground while the world was terraformed into the beautiful world it had become. When the inner world was vacated after the terraforming was complete, the center of the planet became a sanctuary in honor of all Rao's blessing on his people.
Eighty years before Kal’s arrival on Krypton, a group of people had rebelled against Kryptonian society and had decided to destroy the world. They struck by placing a bomb in Rao's sanctuary. That bomb’s explosion had destroyed the central sun and triggered a slow transformation of Krypton’s core into a green rock deadly to all Kryptonian life. Technology broke down in the presence of the radiation. The thinking machines and mechanisms were based on living organisms and broke down as any living being would. After 30 years of unsuccessful attempts to fix the problem, Kryptonians had accepted their fate. People had already booked their time in the death chamber years ahead of the projected date when all life would end on Krypton.
Kal asked, “Why wasn’t the planet evacuated? You obviously have the technology to do so.”
Jor-El explained that Kryptonians spent millennia re-forming
Krypton to suit their tastes. They loved the beauty of their world and saw the
universe as an ugly, unbearable place to live. In 5 years, all remaining
fertile Kryptonians would be sterilized. The population had already been
reduced by half due to people preparing for the end.
After Kal had gotten over his rage, he started thinking about the problem. He remembered once when a field had begun to burn back in Kansas how his Dad had plowed a trench, then started another fire that destroyed all the flammable material between the trench and the approaching wall of flame. This gave the original fire nothing to feed on. He remembered an old John Wayne movie about a crew of men that stopped oil well fires by setting off explosions that ate up all the air so the fire would stop. He discussed his ideas with Jor-El. Jor-El displayed a schematic that showed where bombs would have to be placed to counteract the chain reaction at Krypton's core. But they didn't have the technology to place them. All Kryptonian technology would break down that close to the green death.
Kal told Jor-El that he remembered enough about mechanics of Earth machinery to make a delivery system for the bombs. He could get within a few miles of the placement site with a Kryptonian probe without the probe breaking down from exposure. He would then launch an Earth delivery system to correctly place the bombs. Kal asked Jor and Lara to make the bombs while he worked on the delivery system. Jor mapped the locations in existing tunnels where bombs could be placed in the path of the chain reaction. Kal had specified that the locations were to be based on a detonation 3 years from that date. Jor-El questioned the time line and Kal said that the best Earth technology he could fashion was crude and slow. Jor, Lara and a group of people he trusted began work on the bombs.
Chapter Six: The Omega and the Alpha
As the bombs were manufactured, Clark had them sent to various places in the underworld where Kryptonian technology was safe from failure. He was strangely secretive about where he had stashed the bombs. The day finally came when the last bomb had been delivered. Jor was dying of curiosity to see this Earth technology that Kal was working on. Jor and Lara found Kal in his apartment sitting in his wheelchair wearing a strange costume. He questioned his adopted son about the strange clothing. Kal explained that he had several uniforms made out a strong material that would wear well and pad his body for the work he had to do. The "S" on his chest was a replica of the high school letter he could never earn because he was years younger than his classmates. It was a symbol of the strong, athletic young people who would fight to win despite the odds. Jor questioned why he didn't wear the walking suit. "Where I'm going it won't work."
A sudden flash of understanding struck Jor. His son was the delivery system. "Son, you wouldn't get even one bomb placed before the radiation would kill you." Jor-El walked forward and stumbled.
Kal said, "Dad, stay back. Please!" From inside his shirt, he pulled out a necklace with a green crystalline stone on it. "It doesn't hurt me. I'm the only one that can do this."
Lara started crying and Jor-El shouted, "Son, you don't know what long term effects the radiation may have on you. They aren't worth it. They're not. Let them march to those chambers. Not one of those vain, selfish people is worth one hair on your head!"
Clark looked at him for a moment and then said, "I know
at least two that are." Lara came forward against Kal's protest. She
stumbled then crawled to her son. He pleaded for her to stay back but she
pulled herself up and embraced and kissed him until she passed out. Clark lowered his Mother to the floor as gently as was possible for him and then wheeled
himself from the apartment to his waiting transport. He saluted his Father and
Deep below ground, Kal loaded a bomb in his backpack and crawled to where the first bomb was to be placed. He had much time to think over the long weeks that followed. The back pack reminded him of when his Earth Mother had bought him a “Star Wars” back pack for school. He had wanted that back pack but hadn’t told her. How did she know? How did she always know? … And boy did she have a mean right upper cut! Had he known, he might have kept his room a little cleaner. Clark remembered that he never bothered to learn how to lie because he couldn't ever pull a fast one on his Mother. His Earth Father had laughed when he confessed to every little thing that he did wrong. Jon used to say, "How can you ever hope to be President if you can't learn to lie -- or to at least conceal the truth." Well, it was the hardest thing he had even done to keep his plans for deploying the bombs a secret from Jor-El and Lara. He thought of OB1-KenOB and prayed to God that the force would be with him now as he crawled towards his destination.
Jor-El and Lara had been arrested and held in custody after their plans became public knowledge. More and more people began reading Kal's work and the public demanded that Lara and Jor be released. The government gave in to the demand after a year of protests. In unheard of acts of vandalism, many death chambers were destroyed.
Three years came and passed and there had been no word. The explosion came without warning. There was little more than a slight tremble but every artificial mind on the planet had reported first an increase in radiation levels from sensors in the underworld, then a sharp decline. There was a public celebration unheard of in Kryptonian history.
A global search was started for any trace of Kal. His
transport was found adrift in the Ocean. It was airlifted to the park near his home.
As a crowd gathered, the door opened and Kal crawled out. He looked 20 years
older than when he left. It was obvious that he was deathly ill. Lara ran up
to him and picked him up as if he was a toddler that she had to rush home to
bed. Rather that be repulsed by his looks, the crowd surged forward and
grabbed hold of Kal and carried him home.
There was no known cure for the radiation poisoning he had suffered in his years underground. As the days passed and Kal grew weaker, the crowd outside his apartment grew larger. They shouted "Don't give up! NEVER giver up! Superman! We need you!" One day, Lara wheeled Kal to the balcony. As the crowds cheered, a huge statue was unveiled. It was an image of Clark crawling with the pack on his back and a look of unstoppable determination on his face. The statue had a plaque that read, "Kal-El, Clark Kent of Earth. Our Superman, Our Savior." Kal smiled at the people who now accepted him for who he was and not for what he looked like. He turned to Lara and said, "I'm not giving up, Mom. I'm just going to see my other Mother now." With that he died.
Lara cried saying, "Martha Kent, he is yours again for
now. I will never understand how you found the strength to send him away."
On that day, a planet that had forgotten how to think of anyone other than
themselves cried for one who had ended his life -- not out of vanity but out of
love for others. He had given them a new beginning. Krypton was re-born.