Surprisingly, Tor-An, Jir's father, brought no objection against the warkite in the council the following day, though it was he who had sighted it and recognized it as an un-enhanced, unmodified creature. Daily Lara was becoming closer to birthing her child, and he was not a cruel man. In fact, he was curious if her body would sustain the birth. He told Jir this one evening as they stood together in the house of An.
"It is a strange business, to be sure. Strange to look upon."
"She will likely die," Jir-An said bitterly.
"And would that please you?" Tor-An looked at his son with distaste. "Really, I thought you were over that by now."
"Over that?" Jir-An rose, his armored suit enhancing his wiry muscular figure. "Lara and I were childhood playmates –"
"Children think little of love," Tor-An said with a wave of his hand.
"This one did. I loved Lara, and looked forward to the day she would be my wife. Our children would have been the brightest and best of Krypton's minds, and the genesis chamber would be the proper place for them to grow and develop. Think of the hazards –" he broke off in rage. "Flying about on a warkite, Father. And not one of the council's – a warkite straight from the Scarlet Forest..."
"It does seem a foolish way to foster the life of a child," Tor-An agreed. "But you did not answer my question."
Jir-An stiffened. "I do not want Lara to die.""Good." Tor rose, and fastened his cape on either side of his shoulders. "Lor-Van and I have been good friends, and I would not want enmity between our children. Look about you. Find another woman to love."
"It is difficult! She broke the system; we were intended for each other. Now I am supposed to defy my rearing and simply find another?"
"You know other intelligent women – what about Faora?" Tor said complacently.
"Faora is intended not to marry, she told me. She was designed that way, and will listen to no man, save the General himself."
"Hmph." was Tor-An's eloquent reply.
Meanwhile, at the house of El, Jor was readying himself for a practice run of the capsule he just completed. Lara looked on as Jor-El revealed the pod – it was streamlined, and rather small. Her face was somber.
"It just has to be large enough to prevent any atmospheric damage, and cushion the landing. This section for the codex is just above the place which will contain –" He broke off, and covered his hand with his mouth, too overwhelmed to continue. Lara placed a hand on his arm, sadness filling her eyes.
"It is a strong ship, Jor," she whispered. "You yourself said it will save us."
"I don't know that," he muttered thickly. "I only know that it will save him."
There was silence following this, and at last Lara repeated, "Him?"
Realization dawn on him; what he had said. Suppressing the sad smile, he affirmed, "Him. I – it wasn't supposed to be known –"
Lara crossed her arms. "The genders of the genesis chamber children are revealed as soon as they are distinguishable."
"I scanned you while you slept," he admitted sheepish;y. "I couldn't resist."
"And you weren't going to tell me?"
"I was waiting for the right moment."
"You missed it," she said, kissing him. Her husband pulled away distractedly, taking Lara's hands.
"We are going to be doing the best thing possible for him," he said firmly to her, reassuring himself more than his wife. "It will be best."
She nodded, silently particiapting in his struggle. He turned, disgusted with himself. "No more of this. Daily we fight this battle, and it has already been won."
Lara gave a firm nod, and he smiled. "Are you pleased?"
"A son..." she whispered, her hand dropping to her belly. "To reestablish Krypton. When he is born, there will be such a to-do –"
"Nonsense," Jor-El said. "If possible, I will keep the council busy with my talk and secure for you at least one quiet day, perhaps two, with the baby."
Lara's face glowed at the prospect. "But what of you?"
Jor-El smiled. "I will spend every moment I can spare with you. On the third day –"
Lara took in her breath. "So soon..."
"It is done."
Lara bowed her head, her hands idly caressing the tiny son within her. "It is done," she repeated, her voice much stronger than she felt.
In the chamber directly beneath the Law Council's platform, General Zod finished issuing orders to his men.
"It will be done," Jir-An repeated, setting his jaw as Zod gave a brief nod, and turned to Faora, his commander, uttering hasty words under his breath. Faora's stony face softened into the briefest of sinister smiles, and then she wheeled, exiting the chamber."The rest of you are dismissed," he intoned, and sighed as the tread of retreating feet filled the room.
"Now, Jir-An," Zod resumed, approaching him. "You said you wished to speak to me?"
"With respect, sir, I only thought it something you should know. Something I heard in the council some cycles ago, but which is becoming imminent."
"Imminent? Continue," Zod gestured, crossing his arms over his armored chest. "What has the son of An uncovered now?"
"You are not present in the law council and as such are spared the folly that is discussed there..." Jir-An began cautiously, but hurried on. "You are aware of the schemes of Jor-El, are you not?"
"Jor-El is a mindless maniac that can be easily ignored," Zod scoffed, turning away. "Is this what was so imminent?"
"No, sir. It is his wife, Lara."
"I know her."
"As do I. We were intended for each other.""Indeed!" The General looked surprised. "And why is it that she is now the wife of Jor-El?"
"She is a rebel, sir. And she carries within her a child."
Zod's eyes narrowed. "You jest with me.""Indeed I do not, sir. Daily witness is borne to the fact, and I have reason to believe that Jor-El is plotting something strange with this child – something... illegal."
"They are plotting something strange for certain if they think that a natural birth is something good for Krypton's future. Just think of how such a thing could interfere with our plans-!"
"Exactly. I propose that we eliminate this threat."
"What do you mean?" Zod stroked his chin. "Kill a woman?"
"No, not precisely, but endanger her life enough that the child is sure not to survive."
"And how do you propose this?" Faora's voice interjected. She strode in to the room, and regarded the General and Jir-An scornfully. "I thought I overheard that you loved Lara Lor-Van."
Jir-An was silent, pondering her use of the past tense. He did not correct her. "I don't suppose you will be of any help."
Faora shrugged. "It will be easy. You wouldn't need skilled help just to eliminate a bleeder."
"I never thought to kill her," Jir-An put in, irritation in his voice. "Just to ensure that we do not await the unnatural birth of a freak on our planet."
"Do what you must," Zod said at last. "Just don't let it interfere with our coup."
"Understood." Jir-An glared at Faora who returned the favor, and quickly left the chamber.