by Starsky Hutch 76
Nam-Ek had stayed in his cave as long as he could. Eventually, though, the machines that would change the mountains into jewelled replicas of those on lost Krypton had become too close for comfort. The need for food, besides what scraps he could scavenge, and the sights and sounds of other people was becoming too much for him as well.
He found an abandoned blanket as he approached the outskirts of the city and used it to hide his appearance from others. “Watch it, you filthy bum!” someone cursed as he nearly collided with him. The blanket blocked part of his vision, but he dared not reveal more of his face.
“Ugh, the smell! I thought everyone was provided for and didn’t need to live like that,” someone else said under their breath, unaware of his heightened senses.
“Some people just don’t want to work,” the man grumbled.
There certainly was enough work for everyone, Nam-Ek saw. New Kandor was expanding by leaps and bounds, now that they had an entire planet to work with. During the many generations it had been shrunken, the population had doubled, then tripled, pressing the confines of its bottle. New cities were in the works as well: New Kryptonopolis, New Argo, Rokyn City, and several others.
Jobs could thus be had by anyone who wanted them — but not for him. Able-bodied he might be, but he was one of the unhireable that included the disabled, the criminal, and the insane. Until recently, the criminal had rarely been a part of that number, but like him, the other Phantom Zone criminals were free once more. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See World of New Krypton: Supergirl and Valor: Homecoming, Chapter 3: Heir to the House of El.]
Even they might be hireable with the proper disguise. But there was no disguising his guilt. It deformed his very features and revealed him as the monster who slew the rondor to get everlasting life.
Suddenly, he heard a loud crash and screaming. He turned toward a construction site where the noise had come from and saw several people running to where a mass of debris had fallen.
“We’ve got to get him out!” someone yelled.
“We’ll never dig him out in time! It’s too heavy, and the lift is all the way on the other side of the site!”
Nam-Ek knew what he had to do. He’d had plenty of time over the years to dwell on his situation and knew it was his own selfishness that had led him there. With no thought to his own exposure or what might result, he threw off his cloak and ran to where the man had been buried.
Several people ran screaming. Those who didn’t made no move toward him. They were frozen in place with horror.
Using his animal strength, he hurled several large pieces of debris away as if they were nothing. The last, much larger piece he pried up, revealing the construction worker beneath.
Tossing the large slab of cement aside, he leaned down to check on the man. The man was otherwise uninjured, aside from his leg. He made a frightened sound as Nam-Ek’s hand went to his broken limb. A sharp piece of bone protruded. Nam-Ek took his leg in his massive hands and popped it back in place, resetting the bone. Then he wrapped his hands around the area of the break.
The small crowd gasped as his hands seemed to glow.
“Try to stand,” Nam-Ek commanded, helping him to his feet.
“Y-you’ve healed me,” he said, standing on the formerly broken leg.
A cheer rose up from the crowd, and it was Nam-Ek’s turn to be startled as he found himself surrounded by a smiling public that had once despised him.
General Dru-Zod stepped outside to meet the freighter rocket as it landed in the field by his remote hideout. He greeted the pilot as he stepped out and walked toward him. He was dressed in a shiny silk suit, wore sunglasses, and had several gold chains around his neck. “Greetings, Jax-Ur. I trust this was an uneventful trip?”
“Yes, General,” Jax-ur said, “and I cannot tell you how it pained me to walk among those primitives, pretending to be one of them.”
“I’m glad the temptation to use the abilities the yellow sun provides didn’t prove too much for you. A sacrifice that will prove most worthwhile, I assure you,” Zod said. “Did you make the acquisitions we spoke of?”
“And then some,” Jax-Ur said, beaming. “It’s amazing how those Earthling criminals went out of their way to accomodate me! And over such a worthless element as gold!”
“We are fortunate that gold is as abundant here as it was on Krypton,” Zod said. “On Earth it is so rare that they will kill each other for it. It will make things so much easier for us.”
They walked around to the side, and Jax-Ur slid open the massive door to the cargo hold. “Marijuana plants, poppies, and various other illicit plants whose products are addictive, either psychologically or physically — and highly profitable.” He reached for one and said, “This is the coca plant. It’s one we should cultivate the most. Diego, one of my associates there, instructed me that it is highly addictive and, once hooked, people will be willing to pay enormous sums for its product.”
“Excellent,” Zod laughed. “Once Va-Kox has used his talents to strengthen these plants so they can endure on this world, the Science Council be damned. We will be the true power on Rokyn!”
Fal-Ko was one of the most popular musicians on the planet Rokyn. Youth lined up by the hundreds to buy his holo-vids and music discs. His image was on holo-prints, plastering the walls of young girls across New Kandor and the other developing cities on Rokyn.
Most of all, though, they liked to see him perform. His shows always played to sellout crowds of screaming girls and their jealous but admiring dates. This lead to another perk — the groupies. He could always count on there being several women waiting backstage for him. It was up to him to pick and choose which one — or ones — went with him.
Fal-Ko eyed the lineup of scantily clad women, his eyes running back and forth, until his eyes stopped on a particularly beautiful brunette. There was something familiar about her he couldn’t place, but he wrote that off to the familiarness that comes with the features of all beautiful women.
“You’ll do,” he said, signalling for her to come forward. “Now who else…?”
“I don’t want to share,” she said seductively into his ear. “Trust me, me alone is an experience unlike anything you’ve ever had before.”
His eyes grew wide. Something in her voice told him it wasn’t just an exaggeration. “Very well,” he said, taking her arm and leading her to his dressing room, much to the ire of the other girls.
Thirty minutes later, Fal-Kor reached for his robe and gasped, “Water… I need water. You weren’t kidding when you said it would be unlike anything I’d ever experienced.”
“I know what men like to experience before the end,” she said.
“Oh, that was very nice,” he laughed, pouring himself a glass of water. “Not that the end was anything to sneeze at, either.”
“That’s not the end I was referring to,” she said, rising up and letting the sheet that was covering her fall to the floor. She suddenly spun around and delivered a kick toward him that sent the glass in his hand shattering against the far wall.
Fal-Ko let out a cry as he looked down and realized his hand was broken. She delivered another kick that sent him crashing into his dressing stand. When he tried to get up, she delivered a backhanded blow that sent him colliding into it again. In a panic, he slapped a button underneath to signal for security.
Two burly guards charged into the room and smiled as they saw the beautiful naked girl standing in front of them. “Har, I love it when he shares,” one of them said.
“Look out! She’s a killer!” Fal-Ko yelled.
One of them delivered an uncomprehending grunt, and Fal-Ko winced as she moved for them, delivering kicks and blows faster than the eye could see. As she made mince meat of the two guards, Fal-Ko suddenly realized where he’d seen her before — in history vids growing up. She was Faora Hu-Ul, one of the deadliest criminals Krypton had ever known — master of the ancient martial art of klurkor and a serial killer with a penchant for handsome men.
“That was… refreshing,” she said, shivering as she stood over the two dead security guards. She turned with a look of pure lust in her eyes as she began to walk toward him. “Now where were we?”
Nam-Ek sat on a bench in one of New Kandor’s many parks, feeding crumbs to the birds that fluttered nearby. They resembled pigeons of Earth but came in a more exotic variety of colors. For all purposes he appeared to be free, but nearby hovered guards, should he start to act less benevolent than when he had first appeared.
Suddenly, a gust of wind blew by, brushing the hood of his cloak down from his head, revealing his true face for the world to see. Nam-Ek was frozen in horror as a child, who had been playing with a remote-controlled rocket ship, turned toward him. He waited for what he was sure would be the child’s terrified reaction.
“Y-you’re the Rondor,” the child said.
“Yes… yes, I am,” Nam-Ek said.
“Everyone!” the child suddenly called out to his friends who were playing nearby. “It’s one of the new super-heroes!”
Suddenly, he found himself overwhelmed by a throng of worshipful children running toward him. Some jumped on the bench with him. A couple even climbed on his lap. Laughing heartily, he shooed away the Council’s security guards as they started to move toward the commotion. For the first time in all too many years, he felt tears of happiness building in the corners of his eyes.