by Starsky Hutch 76
May 18th, 1987:
Within his Fortress of Solitude, Superman sat forlornly staring at the statue of his deceased cousin. In years past, this had always been a happy day. Ever since the Crisis, though, it had been a time of sadness, because the one he had shared that happiness with was no longer here. It was the anniversary of the day Kara Zor-El had arrived on Earth.
He’d never forget how young and eager she was when she first arrived. She had literally blossomed into a woman before his very eyes. And over the years, she became more like a sister to him than a cousin, taking away the loneliness and isolation he had felt for so many years.
It occurred to him that sitting and staring at her statue might not be the healthiest thing in the world, so he let out a long sigh and rose to his feet. Suddenly, the space in front of him flickered, and Kara’s alien husband suddenly appeared. “Salkor?” he said, startled.
“Greetings, Superman,” Salkor said. “I pray this transmission reaches you on what I know must be a day of sadness for you. My research on my wife after she left my world told me that this day would be the anniversary of the day she first appeared to you.”
Superman sighed and sat back down. He knew Salkor meant well, but this wasn’t making this any easier for him.
“The reason I am contacting you is to make amends. I have done you a grievous wrong. I wish to make up for my poor behavior.”
Superman looked up at the holographic transmission, startled. What could he mean?
“I apologize for my deception. We all grieve in our own way, and I now realize I wasn’t behaving rationally. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me.”
Salkor squatted down and spoke softly in his own language to someone out of range of the holographic camera. Suddenly, a three-year-old girl with long, blonde hair ran into view of the hologram. He picked her up and said in English, “I would like you to meet someone very special to me. This is Jasma, daughter of the woman also known to me as Jasma and to you as Kara Zor-El.”
Superman jumped to his feet, visibly stunned. “How…?”
“I know you are asking how this could all be,” Salkor said. “After all, she was only with me for a short time before her old memories returned to her, causing her to forget me and my world. (*) That is explained simply enough. Birthing is different upon our world than it is yours. Conception takes place in artificial wombs. Once that is successful, the full process of gestation takes place within the birthing matrix.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Supergirl: Bride of X?” Superman #415 (January, 1986).]
This sounded very cold and clinical to Superman. Looking at the vibrant and lively child in her father’s arms, it was hard to imagine her being born in that way.
“Since my wife returned to your world while young Jasma was still in the birthing matrix, she was unaware of her birth.” Salkor looked down sadly.
“If she even guessed at the possibility, she died before she could act upon it. It is my deepest regret that young Jasma shall never come to know her mother. She was a truly magnificent person.”
“Yes, she was,” Superman said sadly.
“Soon, I shall travel to your world with young Jasma so that the two of you shall have the opportunity to know one another. Farewell, Superman, until next we meet.” The last image Superman saw until the transmission flickered out completely was that of young Jasma waving goodbye.
Superman sat down as the full weight of the information hit him. Kara had a daughter. There was no longer simply the matter of his feelings of loss for Kara, or her grieving husband, or her sick parents. There was a child who would grow up without a mother. As Salkor had said, she would grow up never knowing what an amazing person Kara had been. This was unacceptable to him. But it was also another instance in which he came head first with his own limitations. The unfairness of it all made him want to scream.
It suddenly occurred to him that the best way to make sure that her memory was preserved was to preserve it himself. He placed a call to Kristin Wells, the historian from the future who now acted under the guise of Superwoman. Since her arrival in their time, she had become one of his closest friends and confidants.
“Hello, Clark,” she said, sounding sympathetic. “How are you? I know today must be very hard for you.”
“That’s an understatement,” he said. “I just found out Kara had a daughter!“
“Oh, right! Today was the day you discovered Jasma!” Kristin exclaimed.
Superman’s mouth moved as he struggled unsuccessfully to come up with some sort of response to what she had just said, but nothing came.
“I suppose I really shouldn’t be surprised,” Superman said. “You are from my future.”
“Sorry,” Kristin said sheepishly. “Even Lydia doesn’t drop these bombshells on you.”
“That’s because she’s from so far in the future that our histories are too ancient for her to know it all. You’re only a few hundred years ahead. She’s also not a historian like you. It must be really strange knowing everything that’s going to happen before it happens.”
“I only know vague details from books. Life still offers me enough new experiences to keep things interesting,” she said, laughing.
“I need your help on something,” Superman said.
“Sure, anything,” Kristin said sincerely.
“I’m afraid Jasma may never know what a special woman her mother was. I can’t let that happen. I want her to be able to benefit from the many experiences Kara encountered in life.”
“Well, right now you have two women running around who are authorities on Kara’s experiences,” Kristin said.
“Lesla Nim-El and Karen Sorrell,” Superman said. “Both at one time thought they were her.” Superman grimaced for a brief second at the memories of thinking he’d regained Kara, only to lose her again. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Captain Comet’s Rehab Squad: The Return of Supergirl and Superman: The Apokolips Factor.]
“In both cases, Kara’s identity was eventually supplanted as their own identities fully took root again,” Kristin said. “But currently, they both still have most of the memories and should be able to fill in any hole that might be starting to form in the other’s recollection of Kara’s life.”
“So they could put together a biography,” Superman said.
“Or better yet, record her memories in their entirety,” Kristin said. “Lydia told me that in her time, it was customary to record the memories of the dying in order that the knowledge they accumulated during their lives can be preserved for those they leave behind.”
“In some parts of Krypton, it was a tradition as well,” Superman said.
“We have a rare opportunity here to save a record of her life that might otherwise have been lost,” Kristin said enthusiastically. “And to leave a wonderful legacy for Jasma.”
“I’ll contact Lesla and Karen,” Superman said. “Lydia, too. Jasma’s existence will answer a lot of questions for her.”
“Such as?” Kristin asked.
“Well, she believed herself to be a descendant of Kara’s,” Superman said. “So when she died without first having any children, it threw her for a tailspin, because her society’s records of this time were so poor. Finding out about Jasma should set her mind at ease.”
“I had no idea she was going through such turmoil. I wish she’d said something to me,” Kristin said.
“You would have told her?” Superman asked.
“Well, yes,” Kristin said. “She’s from both our futures. While I couldn’t have said anything to you without changing history, I could have revealed it to Lydia, because she’s from a time that is ahead of my own.”
“But is anything set in stone now since the Crisis?” Superman said.
“That I don’t know,” Kristin said. “But who am I to take that kind of a chance?”
Several hours later, Superwoman, Supergirl II (Lydia-7 of the far future), Valor, and the Powergirl of Earth-One had all joined Superman at the Fortress of Solitude. “I appreciate you all getting here so fast,” he said. “Especially you, Lesla. I had expected it to take you much longer to get here from Rokyn.”
“That’s the benefit of being an energy being,” responded Valor, alias Lesla Nim-El, Superman’s cousin. “You’re only bound by the speed of light. Sometimes not even that.”
“So when will this Salkor get here with the daughter of Kara Zor-El?” Supergirl said. “I am… quite anxious to see her.”
“We all are,” Superman said. “Anxious… and perhaps a little apprehensive.”
“That’s perfectly understandable,” Superwoman said, putting a comforting hand on his shoulder. “This must be so hard for you.”
“You should see her! Except for her skin tone, she looks so much like Kara it’s scary,” Superman said.
A worried look crossed Valor’s face. Was she causing him pain by being there? Since her own genetic code had begun to reassert itself, her eyes had gone from blue to green, but she was still almost identical to Kara Zor-El. Her gaze drifted over to Powergirl, who was strangely quiet. “Are you all right?”
“I’m fine,” she replied hoarsely.
“You look a little gray,” Valor said with concern.
“I’m fine!” Powergirl snapped.
This outburst caused both Superman and Superwoman to turn in their direction. Both noticed her unusual pallor, the dark circles under her eyes, and her unkempt appearance.
“If you’re feeling under the weather, we could use the instruments here to check you out before Salkor and Jasma get here,” Superman offered.
“Who knows what Darkseid might have left lying in your system?” Superwoman added.
“I’m… I’m fine,” Powergirl said nervously. “Really. You can run whatever tests you want to after we’ve done what we came to do for Kara Zor-El’s daughter. But you won’t find anything.”
“Be that as it may,” Superman said, “I still think it’s a good idea to look for any abnormal–“
Superman was interrupted by the hum of a transporter beam. There was a flash of light as a man-sized energy burst appeared. As the light faded, it was replaced by the form of Salkor, hero of the planet Makkor.