It was a bright night – not that any other Kryptonian night was ever dim, but to Lara Lor-Van, it seemed particularly bright as she stood on first planetary level and watched the whiz and whir of the busy Kryptonopolis above her, around her, and beneath her.
She nodded to the passing council members – members who knew her father and recognized in her his proud bearing and intellectual cast of eye – and folded her arms against a rising breeze, feeling the heavy current tug at the loose sleeves of her gown and brush against the wall of her skirts. The Gold Volcano glimmered in the distance and beneath that, the Scarlet Forest, she knew, seethed with life and possibility. But the capitol city was her world. Born there, raised there, trained for her position in society... she would likely die here. Only recently had it become an unpleasant prospect.
Footsteps behind her proclaimed an approach; Lara turned an beheld a figure clad in a robe the color of bloodmorel, with eyes that glowed in the shadows like those of the flamebird. "Jir-An," she greeted, without turning to face the man. "Why am I not surprised?"
"I was attending the meeting of the council, as you well know," he chuckled, and Lara turned to face him.
"Why is it you always seem to appear where you are least wanted?"
Jir-An looked affronted. "Is my presence not welcome here?"
"Not now," Lara murmured. "I wish to be alone with my thoughts."
"You are seldom in any other company," Jir-An said quietly, placing a hand on her shoulder. Lara stiffened.
"Your closeness with my father makes you bold."
"My closeness with your father makes me fortunate."
Lara wheeled. "How so?"
Jir-An watched the flight of passing ship and in the retreating wake of it's whirring engines, he replied, "Many privileges belong to the man in close confidence with Lor-Van. Something was revealed to me today that has given me cause for great gladness."
"Is this a gladness that you are going to share? It may or may not be mutual," Lara said, lifting her eyebrows. Jir-An had been a friend to her since childhood, but as they grew up and took their places in Krypton's carefully orchestrated society, they had drifted apart. When Jir-An became her father's assistant, Lara had the opportunity of seeing for herself what kind of man he had become. She was not always pleased at what she saw.
"It seems your parents have been keeping things from us."
Lara didn't like the way he said "us", and told him so. "There is no us, Jir-An. Not anymore."
"Exactly. They have kept from us the truth of our purpose. It would seem that just as from birth you were intended for your position and I for mine... we were intended for each other."
Lara's brown eyes grew still as they met his. "Indeed," she murmured.
Jir-An stooped until his face was close to hers. "Does this not please you?"
Lara turned away and took a few steps toward the edge of the platform, looking below them at the flowing canal that glowed red in the dying sun's reflected light. At last she turned.
"I do not believe you."
Jir-An's face clouded. "Would I make this up?"
Lara nodded silently. "You are using your influence with my father for personal gain."
"Personal gain!" Jir-An scoffed. "Lara, I love you!"
She held her head high. "That does not mean we were intended for each other." Lara tried to pass by him, intending on returning indoors and escaping Jir-An's untimely interruption of her thoughts, but he caught her arm.
"I tell you, it is true," he said in a measured voice. "You know the ways of the genesis chambers; they cannot be changed by us, not now."
"I know the ways the council organizes it's citizens, Jir-An. Do not insult my intelligence by explaining population control to me now," Lara responded in a low tone. "It may be true."
"It is true."
"But I do not agree."
Jir-An's face was a picture of surprise. "Agree?" He released her and threw his hands in the air. "Who asked if you agreed? If any Kryptonian agreed?"
"No one. But I do not think it is right." Her dark eyes glowed with meaning.
"Right is an obsolete term, Lara. You just don't want to marry me."
"That may be true," she snapped. "But I do not think that planning a child's life before it is even birthed is right. No council should have a say over the existence of others."
"Do you even hear yourself?" hissed Jir-An. "You sound like a rebel. A revolutionary. Soon you will be in league with that mad scientist Jor-El."
Lara's face got a strange cast to it and she made no reply. Instead she abruptly turned on her heel and strode indoors, leaving Jir-An to stare after her departure. He knew Lara. He knew what a headstrong woman she was. And now he knew the sudden reason for her strong beliefs and her revulsion to him. She had met Jor-El. The hated Jor-El. The mad, maniacal, revolutionary, reclusive Jor-El. And she loved him.