by Libbylawrence and Starsky Hutch 76
Lesla-Lar, the super-heroine known as Valor, landed in Midvale and smiled as memories of this tiny suburb of Metropolis came back to her. They were memories from the cloned body of Supergirl that she now inhabited; those memories felt almost exactly like her own, although she knew she had not actually experienced them herself. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Captain Comet’s Rehab Squad: In Search Of, Prologue: The Life of Lesla-Lar.]
She knew that Supergirl had not exactly enjoyed her time at the orphanage, for the time spent as Superman’s secret weapon had been a probation period — a time of constantly having to prove herself to her older cousin, who often treated her less like the loving older brother she wanted him to be and more like a stern teacher who scolded her when she disobeyed him.
Oh, she’d certainly had her share of adventures there. She had once posed as a fairy godmother to an orphan girl, and during a time travel trip she had even encountered the boy genius who would grow up to be the futuristic space hero Tommy Tomorrow. (*) However, the best feeling since she arrived on Earth had finally come with revelation.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Three Magic Wishes,” Action Comics #257 (October, 1959) and “Supergirl Visits the 21st Century,” Action Comics #255 (August, 1959).]
Revelation of her self to the world when Superman announced her existence to what seemed to be the whole admiring world. (*) She had felt proud and yet shy at the same time.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The World’s Greatest Heroine,” Action Comics #285 (February, 1962).]
She also recalled the time when she gained a family and real identity on Earth as Linda Lee Danvers. Fred and Edna Danvers had adopted her, and just before she was revealed to the world, she had revealed her secrets to them. She could never forget Zor-El and Allura, but the Danvers certainly had filled a real gulf in her young life when she believed her Kryptonian parents to be dead.
Valor landed at a law office in downtown Midvale and quietly entered, dressed in a blue dress and a brown wig.
“Linda?!” cried a startled young man.
She was oddly flustered, since she had not expected to run face to face with this man. “No, I am… her sister, Leslie Larson,” she muttered. “I tracked her here through old adoption records. I wish I had found her long ago.”
“I’m Dick Malverne,” he said, extending his hand.
“I am pleased to meet you,” she said nervously. “My sightseeing just led me here.” I had no idea Dick lived here again, she mused, blushing. Linda dated him for years, and I must admit that she — I still have feelings for him.
Lesla had never known her own parents, having been raised by a family friend on Kandor. So having the memories of the real Supergirl from merging with her clone made all these little family and friend connections meaningful.
She remembered Dick Wilson as he had been before he was adopted by the Malvernes. Then, after she was also adopted, she recalled walking through Midvale Park with Dick, as well as her prom, her pink gown, the homecoming queen pageant she won, and many other things. A million memories of this place and these people suddenly rushed to her, leaving her feeling emotionally drained.
“I — I never met Linda,” she sputtered. “I guess I’m too late.”
“Yes,” said Dick. “I’m so sorry to tell you that Linda died a short while back. Her folks never talk about it, but it happened during the Crisis.” As he spoke, he rubbed his nose in that old way he had when he was deep in thought.
Lesla-Lar gazed at him sadly, then said, “My family only found out where Linda ended up after a recent accident. I guess I came back too late. They are dead — our parents, I mean.”
She rushed off, feeling confused by her feelings of elation and guilt. She would need to settle her past by meeting the woman who now owned the right to the name Supergirl — Lydia Lee.
Lydia-7 was on a natural high. It was an elation she hadn’t felt since the loss of her own home in the far future because of the Crisis. She’d received the news that she’d gotten the part in Secret Hearts that she had sought and had even received a cash advance. Filming was on hiatus temporarily, and then she’d have a little more time before her part would begin. This gave her plenty of time to get her affairs in order, and she would have the money to do it.
She’d used some of the money to buy herself more fashionable clothes. Kal-El, while very caring, knew little of women’s clothing. Kristin Wells knew more, but her twenty-ninth-century tastes were somewhat outlandish. This made the wardrobe they’d helped provide her go from one extreme to the other. She preferred a wardrobe that was stylish, elegant, but conservative.
Her reverie was cut short as she passed a window full of television sets in front of an electronics store. People were gathered around as the screens showed footage of Valor from the recent alien invasion. (*) Lydia could feel her blood coming to a boil. She was having a hard enough time adjusting to this time and trying to gain acceptance from its people without this impostor of her ancestor garnering so much attention. Soon there would have to be a confrontation.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Captain Comet’s Rehab Squad: Strange Visitors.]
Lesla-Lar stepped into her dark room at the Meta-Human Rehabilitation Agency and, without turning on the lights, went directly to her closet. She reached in, fumbling around and cursed, “Where are they?”
Suddenly, there was a click from behind her, and she turned to see Lydia-7, the Supergirl from the future, sitting down in a chair across the room. Her hand was on the pull cord of a lamp sitting on an end table. “Looking for something?” she said coldly.
Lesla gasped to see that she was holding one of her prize Supergirl costumes. Around her feet were red, blue, and yellow shreds of material. Lydia brought the remaining Supergirl costume she held in her hands and began to rip it.
“Nooo!” Lesla screamed, charging at the intruder. “Who do you think you are, coming in my room like this?” she cried.
She blew Lydia to the floor with her super-breath as the blonde answered, “I am Supergirl. You know that, or you would not call yourself Valor! Only — these costumes make me think you have problems.” Lydia flipped Lesla to the floor as they wrestled.
Lesla slapped her in the face and said, “I want to know what you’ve ever done to earn that name! Where were you when the invaders came? I fought them off and battled the Secret Society of Super-Villains, the Cadre, traveled to Atlantis and saved many lives in my short career! What exactly have you done at all since you came here?”
Lydia pulled Lesla’s hair over her face and slammed her through the floor. “Those long locks won’t help you win in combat,” she said.
She gasped as Valor charged back up beneath her and slammed into her with both fists. “I am a merging of Lesla-Lar and the clone of the real Supergirl. It was made by the Council, and I thought to use it wrongly for power! It overcame me and reformed me. I redeemed my past, and I’ll keep doing good, if I may. If I am Kara with her memories and exact genetic structure, then how can you claim to be Supergirl? That hair style makes you look more like Superboy!”
Lydia spun into her and kicked her flat. “I am the descendant of Kara Zor-El — I am family.”
“Wait!” Lesla said suddenly. “Kara — I — had no children. You can’t be her descendant. Could you be mine, since I am her as well? We could be family.”
Lydia hesitated. “By Rao… that — that may be possible,” she said softly. Turning away, she frowned as she fell into deep thought. “Perhaps it is time for us to seek our roots on Rokyn — the world known as New Krypton.”
“That’s a great plan!” said Lesla enthusiastically. “That world is currently in phase with our dimension, and we can use the Fortress rocket to travel there. You fight well. I should say I knew that from my memories of Linda Danvers.”
“I, too, was Linda back then for a short time,” said Lydia, handing her a tattered costume to replace the Valor one scorched by Lydia’s heat-vision. “You may as well wear this one for this one trip, as will I wear mine.”
Lesla-Lar shook hands with her and slipped it on before they flew off.
As the two of them flew toward the Arctic Ocean and the Fortress of Solitude, a feeling of foreboding came over Lydia-7 as she stared at Valor in her replica Supergirl costume. “When we get to the Fortress, I think it best that we change out of these costumes,” she said to Valor, who flew serenely beside her with a blissful smile on her face.
“What? But why?” Valor said.
“When we arrive on Rokyn, the people we meet will have been very close to Kara Zor-El. Seeing us, who both resemble her — you, especially — in these suits might be very painful for them.”
“Oh,” Valor said. “I hadn’t thought of that. I suppose you are right.”
“There will be Kryptonian clothing at the Fortress we can change into,” Lydia said. They flew the rest of the way in silence.
When they arrived at the Fortress, Valor seemed overwhelmed by the monuments to Superman’s family and to Supergirl herself. “What’s wrong?” Lydia asked her.
“So many feelings come to me when I look at these. Yet I know they aren’t my feelings. They’re hers. I can’t even trust my own emotions anymore.”
“Hopefully this trip will help you to come to grips with that,” Lydia said.
“Yes, hopefully,” Lesla said. “But I don’t want to be the person I was before, either.”
“That’s really up to you,” Lydia said. “Sharing her memories has given you a glimpse at another life. Now it’s up to you to decide what you’ll make of it.”
“I guess you’re right,” Lesla said.
Their attention was suddenly diverted by the sound of antiseptic spray and cleansing flames as a figure moved through the entrance to the Fortress of Solitude security system designed to remove impurities. In this case, it was clinging kryptonite dust being removed from Superman’s protective suit.
He walked toward them as he removed his helmet. They were surprised to see his face looking so haggard. While he had already solved Metropolis’ kryptonite problem and had now fully recovered from the long months of weakness associated with severe kryptonite poisoning last fall, he still had to deal with the bodies of all the dead citizens of Argo City. (*) Although they were Kryptonian corpses and did not deteriorate under a yellow sun as human ones did, they were still contaminated with kryptonite dust and numbered in the millions. Ever since January he had been sending the bodies to Rokyn by rocket, but he could only send a limited number at a time. Finally, he was down to the last thousand. But it was gruesome work, and it showed on his face.
“Lydia… Lesla…” he said, nodding to each of them. “I’m surprised to see the two of you here — together.”
“We have come to an… understanding,” Lydia-7 said. “We wish to journey to Rokyn for the truth to our heritage, to find out exactly what the truth is. I had always assumed that Supergirl was my ancestor, though records of this time were not conclusive. Now I find out that isn’t possible because Kara is dead.”
“For that, I suppose you’ll need the use of one of my rockets,” Superman said.
“Please, Kal,” Lesla said. The sound of her voice and the way she said it were so much like Kara that the look of pain that crossed Superman’s face was inescapable.
“Very well,” Superman said in a voice cracking with emotion as he worked to keep his composure. “But I have a favor to ask you in return if you’re going to make this trip.”
Superman turned to Lesla and Lydia and said, “If you take a rocket to Rokyn, would you consider taking back the last thousand bodies from the Argo City tragedy? They deserve proper burial on Rokyn, as the final resting place with a real Kryptonian heritage. I’ve been sending the bodies on the rocket using autopilot for the last few months, but I think the final ones should be accompanied by someone. I would do it myself, but I’m needed here on Earth, and — and I have a problem with seeing my uncle and aunt again.”
“You mean my — Kara’s parents?” said Lesla, touching his arm.
“Yes,” he said. “I last left them after giving them Kara’s body for burial and breaking the news of our loss to them. I can still hear Allura’s agonized cry. (*) I know they don’t blame me, but I still can’t help replaying the scene and wondering what I could have or should have done to save her.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Revenge Is Life; Death to Superman,” Superman #414 (December, 1985).]
Lesla and Lydia both had the same response as their hearts moved at the emotions raging through this good man, who had always sacrificed himself in every way to protect others.
“Kal, I know — believe me — I know Kara would never have anything but love for you,” said Lesla. “She would consider any sacrifice on her part your due. You were more than just a cousin to her. She loved you like a brother. Never feel that you let her down.”
“In my time there are some discrepancies about just what occurred here during the Crisis,” added Lydia, “but you must know that your legend — for that is what it truly is — is revered for every heroic quality. No one has ever remembered you in less than a noble way. You are judged the greatest hero of this era.”
Faced with affirmation from the two women who resembled his late cousin so completely shook Superman in every way. “I appreciate the kind words. Lydia, you are a worthy successor to Kara, and Lesla, I want you to know that Kara herself would have forgiven you and been pleased with your reformation.”
“Thank you. We will try to be worthy of you both,” said Lydia.
Lesla added, “And we will gladly take the Argo City dead to Rokyn.” She mused about what awaited her there, too — friends and family who loved Kara Zor-El, as well as some who hated Supergirl but supported the Kandorian orphan Lesla-Lar. How can I relate to any of them now? she wondered.
They followed Kal-El to the rocket and saw to the storage of the bodies in their shrouds. Soon they left Earth with hopes and fears unique to each.