Title: Rainbow’s Freedom (Justice Arc) (14/61)
Pairings/Characters: (this chapter): Kara Zor-El, Clark/Bruce, Dick, Alfred
Series Notes: In the 23rd century, Earth is a technologically-advanced society that practices the ancient institution of slavery. Clark begins training under the Bat and secrets are uncovered as the Abolitionist Movement makes rapid progress with old and new methods. Can Freedom outrace rumors of War as the Galactic Empire rushes headlong to a new future?
The entire series can be found here.
Genres: AU, Drama, Slavefic
Rating: (this chapter): PG-13
Summary: Kara and Clark learn startling revelations about each other.
Date Of Completion (First Draft): March 22, 2011
Date Of Posting: May 11, 2012
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 2273
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Note: The magnificent story cover is by the wonderfully-talented ctbn60. Thanks so much, luv! :)
‘Round the campfire
Of daring and danger,
Of sorrow and joy.
"The Ballad Of The Ancients"
Kara literally saw red as her eyes glowed, ready to slice into the Prince of Gotham as he choked and sputtered, clawing at her hand around his throat. She vaguely heard footsteps running down the hall as she squeezed tighter.
Suddenly she felt steel fingers grip her wrist and wrench her hand off Bruce. Startled, she stumbled back as she looked at the Prize.
“Bruce, are you all right?” He anxiously examined his Master’s neck, Kara’s fingerprints imprinted on pale flesh.
Bruce coughed, keeping a wary eye on Kara. He paled even further as he looked at the Prize. “You exposed yourself,” he rasped.
Before the Prize had time to react, Kara grabbed his arm. “Kal-El! Take off those manacles now!”
“Kal-El?” The Prize frowned.
“You’re my cousin!”
The Squire and Alfred were standing in the doorway, the butler’s hand on the Squire’s shoulder.
“You’re Kal-El, son of Jor-El and Lara of the House of El. Why are you a slave and a pleasure slave at that?”
“I’m Clark,” mumbled the confused Kryptonian.
“You’re Kal-El,” Kara aid gently. “You were sent away in a rocketship just before Krypton exploded. You are the Sal-Vor of Krypton, my cousin.”
Clark swallowed, still holding onto Bruce. The Squire broke away from Alfred and stood in front of Bruce defiantly.
“Dick,” Bruce croaked, squeezing his shoulder.
Kara reached out her hand toward Clark. “You look so much like your father,” she said softly.
Clark shied away from her hand but slowly took off his glasses, staring at her. “Mom said there was something about you,” he murmured.
Kara frowned but dismissed the non sequitur for now. “I knew you’d made it to Earth! Did the Human pigs enslave you fresh from the rocket?” She glared at Bruce and received a return glare from Dick. Despite her anger, she was amused by the slave boy’s fierce devotion.
A pity he’s devoted to his enslaver.
“Kal-El, you will lead our people to freedom against the murderous Empire!”
“This is all too much, too fast,” Clark protested.
He put up a hand. “Please, I need time to process this. First, I need your word that you won’t attack Bruce again.” At her glare he emphasized, “Please. I can’t listen to you if I’m worried about you going after him.”
Kara put her fists on her hips and scowled. “Fine. You have my word.”
“You say you’re my cousin. Can you prove it?”
Wordlessly she touched her sapphire ring and a hologram beamed out, the images of the man and woman from the rocketship holo glittering in the sunlight.
Clark stared at the images for a long minute, then said, “Let’s go out into the gardens.” He led Kara out of the library and into the study where the French doors were open, a testament to Clark’s hasty entrance. She followed him out into the fresh air.
Seagulls wheeled overhead as Clark led her to the center of the gardens, his glasses back on. “Are you sure that I’m this Kal-El?”
Puzzled, Kara said, “Of course! Kal-El, you act as if you know nothing about who you are.”
“Next to nothing.”
Kara scowled. “Was your memory tampered with?”
“Yes.” He shot out a placating hand. “Not by Bruce, and only for a handful of years.” At Kara’s uncomprehending look he explained, “I did have memory loss when Bruce bought me. Neither one of us had a clue who or what I was until recently.”
“So what about your life before that?”
“I arrived in the rocketship you spoke of an was found by two kind people who became my parents here on Earth.”
“So they were slaves?”
“No, they were freemen.”
Her eyes narrowed. “So why are you a slave now?”
He sighed. “It’s a long story.”
She crossed her arms. “I’ve got time.”
Clark studied her. Could she be trusted? He felt that she could, even though he had no proof. Bruce would disapprove, but Clark had learned to trust his instincts. He glanced at the Manor but nodded.
“Okay, here’s the deal…”
Kara listened to the incredible story, interrupting only once to exclaim, “That was you on that raid on Cestus III?”
Clark nodded. “The Govs got me with Green Kryptonite. I should have been killed, but someone had other plans for me.” He launched into the story of his memory and powers being suppressed as a slave-stealing ring took him away from Government hands. “It wasn’t until the ring was broken that Bruce discovered the truth.”
“And you got your powers and memory back?” At his nod she asked, “Then why are you still a slave?”
Clark crossed his arms as he looked down at the ground, the wind ruffling his hair. “It’s complicated.”
“So tell me, Cousin.”
He looked up, Kara firm in her resolve. He frowned slightly. “Your turn. Tell me about my birth parents. About Krypton.”
“This could take awhile.”
Clark indicated a nearby stone bench and they sat down. Kara looked at the beauty of a yellow tea rose and began to talk.
“Are you sure you’re all right, Bruce?” Dick asked anxiously.
“I’ll be fine,” Bruce rasped, instinctively wanting to put a hand to his throat but restraining himself as he saw the worried eyes of Dick and Alfred.
“She tried to kill you!”
“She didn’t succeed.”
“Only because Clark was around.” Alfred shuddered. “I hate to think of what might have happened if he had not been.”
Bruce silently agreed. He felt a flush of guilt as he realized just why the Empire feared the Kryptonians so much. How did one go about defeating people so powerful and unstoppable?
Alfred insisted that he sit down on the couch. “I will get you some tea, sir.”
Bruce nodded. Some Earl Grey would be just the thing. Dick sat next to him, looking at the two Kryptonians in the gardens. He scowled.
Bruce almost smiled at this show of fierce devotion. Dick was utterly loyal and had the heart of a lion when his loved ones were threatened. He put a hand on Dick’s shoulder. The boy looked at him.
“I don’t trust her.” At Bruce’s nod of agreement, he continued, “She’s a loose cannon! Who know what she’ll do?”
Bruce was wary, too. The unassuming co-ed who had been welcomed into his home had cleverly hid her true self. She had fooled Martha and Jonathan Kent, too.
Despite knowing that there was little that they could do if Kara decided to attack again, they both kept vigil.
“They were the head of the House of El, the most powerful house on the planet.”
Clark tried to absorb that first sentence, his fingers nervously plucking at his sleeve cuff. The manacle glittered in the sunlight.
“Uncle Jor-El was our foremost scientist. He was a member of the Science Council, one of the most influential bodies in Kryptonian society.
“Aunt Lara was a celebrated novelist, having won prestigious prizes for her writing. Together they were the cream of our society, contributing and making life better for our people.”
Clark thought of the hologram. He had always felt that their faces had reflected kindness. He wished that he had known them.
“Your father detected a disturbance in the planetary core and tried to get people to listen, but even his celebrated reputation couldn’t get past apathy and denial. Not even the Science Council wanted to believe that they were all doomed.”
Clark nodded slowly. “The Empire was tightening the screws. They were starting to crack down on travel and trade, trying to get our people to stop agitating for Abolition.”
“Yes, so most of our people were on Krypton when the end came, though luckily quite a few were off-world at the time.”
“It was right after the Great Destruction that the Hunt Decree was pronounced.” Clark shivered as a seagull wailed out over the ocean.
“Yes, even the Empire couldn’t get away with destroying an entire planet. Though there were rumors that a weapon of planet-destroying capability was in the works, codenamed Death Star, but nothing ever came of it. At least not to my knowledge.”
Clark looked our over the ocean with sad eyes. “I’m not surprised something like that was thought about, if the rumors were true.”
“Never underestimate evil, Kal-El.”
Clark nodded, looking down at his hands, uncomfortably aware of the slave manacles sparkling brightly in the sunlight. The sun had broken through the clouds, at least for the moment, but he could sense his cousin’s eyes on the symbols of his slavery. When he looked up, he saw the disapproval in her matching sapphire-blue eyes. He straightened up.
“You gave your name as Linda Danvers. What’s your Kryptonian name?”
“Kara Zor-El, daughter of Zor-El and Alura.”
“My aunt and uncle?” Kara nodded. Clark murmured the words with wonder. “And you’re my cousin.”
Clark smiled, Kara blinking at the radiance. She was reminded of the sun breaking out from behind the clouds. She returned the smile though it felt rusty.
“Tell me about them! Will I be able to meet them?”
Kara’s smile disappeared. “They’re dead.”
Clark swallowed. “I’m sorry. Of course, with Krypton gone…”
“They didn’t die on Krypton.”
He gasped. “Not the Hunt?”
“No.” Kara twisted the ring on her finger. “I wasn’t born on Krypton, Kal-El. I’m younger than you. A chunk of our planet blew off into space with Argo City on it. My father and other scientists were experimenting with dome living, so the city was protected during the blast. The meteor was flung so far that the Empire never found us during the first decade of our new life.”
Clark saw how her fingers twisted and her eyes stayed downcast. He sensed a great tragedy, his heart aching.
“Argo City didn’t just hurtle through space as it did in the beginning. My father and his colleagues devised a way of powering the chunk we were on though it was difficult because the explosion irradiated the meteor into Green Kryptonite.”
Clark’s gasp of shock brought her head up. She lifted her chin.
“The dome shielded us from the effects, and my mother rallied the people with her political skill.” Kara smiled at the memory, her happiness fading as she continued, “We lived good lives, if precarious. Then when I was fourteen, the Empire found us.”
Clark bit his lip, certain he knew where this story was going.
“They came with their warships and trained their missiles on our city. Admiral Nogura read the formal Hunt Decree and then opened fire, the missiles piercing the dome.” Her mouth twisted. “A traitor had sabotaged our defense systems and so we were completely vulnerable. When the shielding was full of holes, the warships hovered close by and prevented our people from leaving.”
"They didn’t destroy Argo City?” Clark asked with a frown.
“No.” Kara’s voice was hollow. “They let the Kryptonite poisoning do their dirty work for them.”
Appalled, Clark felt his throat close with horror. He said nothing. What could he say?
The sound of the sea was soothing as if a balm, washing over them in this peaceful garden on a cool November day.
“Father managed to send me off in a rocket. He used a Romulan cloaking device to hide my escape. I couldn’t bear to leave them so he put me in stasis. I woke up on Rigel VII, and had to hide my ship with its Kryptonian markings. Rigel’s under a red sun so I had to get off-planet the conventional way instead of flying under my own power. It took me awhile to earn the money to buy a ticket off, but I managed.”
Clark refrained from asking how she had earned passage money. He gently grasped her hand.
She looked at him, blue eyes intense. “You are the Sal-Vor, Kal-El. You will save our people.”
He stood abruptly. “I’m no Savior. I’m just a man.”
Clark frowned. “Kara…”
She stood up. “Kal-El, you can’t deny your heritage.”
“I’m not! I just…I have roots here.”
It was her turn to frown. “I realize you feel grateful to the Humans who raised you…”
“Gratitude and more, Cousin.” Her eyes briefly lit up at his use of the term. “I don’t know Jor-El or Lara, though I’m eager to learn. My parents here on Earth are the ones I know.”
“That’s understandable, but this…” She waved her hand at his manacles “…slavery is unacceptable. The Sal-Vor of Krypton is slave to no one.”
“I told you, it’s complicated.”
Kara narrowed her eyes as she studied her cousin. “Don’t confuse gratitude with love, Kal-El.”
Startled, Clark opened his mouth to protest, but instead said, “You have to keep my presence here a secret.”
“And I want hands off Master Bruce for more than just today.”
She crossed her arms. “I give you my word,” the words coming out through gritted teeth.
“Good.” He reached out and took her hand. “I want to get to know you, Kara. I want to hear about my parents and yours, about Krypton and Argo City.” He smiled. “Will you come to Thanksgiving dinner?”
Surprised, Kara shook her head. “No, Kal-El. I can’t sit at table with an enslaver. I thank you for the invitation, however. I’ll be in touch with you.”
Clark drew her into a hug and she reciprocated, drawing back.
“Remember who you are, Kal-El.”
She left the gardens, Clark watching her go.