Lara was weakened by her experience, and was ordered by Jor-El to rest until she felt strong again. Unfortunately, with the coming of the child so near, even resting constantly could not completely renew her strength. Jor-El decided not to confront the council with this outrage since Jir-An had dealt with himself, and he wanted to conceal the facts that his son still lived from General Zod. But it was difficult, and rancor simmered in his breast.
A few days later Jor-El entered their chamber, seeing Lara reading quietly from a large tome.
"Lara, I have been such an idiot," were his first words. She raised her eyebrows.
"I have heard many remarkable things from you, but never anything this remarkable."
"We do not have to stay here, where all our business is known and discussed. Just today, I have completed plans for the launch at the tower outside the capitol. What a fool I've been – we should be waiting there for the child's birth."
Lara sat up, eagerness apparent on her face. "Let us go, then. I can be ready in an hour."
"Don't wear yourself out – we do not have to completely evacuate today," Jor-El said, holding up his hands. "We can come back as much as we want."
"Nonsense. There is no sense in going back and forth more than we must."
Forty-five minutes later Kelex docked to the back of a ship headed in that direction, bearing the cases of their necessary possessions while Jor-El and Lara boarded a passing transport, requesting to be dropped off at the first planetary level.
"Fortunately, 'bots have no suspicion, only intuition," Jor whispered to his wife as the craft obediently did as it was told, and skimmed the air. "Are you feeling well?"
"Yes," Lara nodded, letting her eyes shut. "Just trying to rest. I read that it takes strength to give birth."
Jor-El's eyes were bright with concern. "See that you are rested enough, then," he said. "Are you suffering any ill effects from the gasses?"
"Not that I am aware." She smiled, her eyes still shut and her husband took her hand, pressing it to his lips. Just then, the craft came to a stop, intoning:
"First planetary level."
"Thank you," Jor-El said, nudging Lara. "Come."
"We can't be there yet..." she murmured. He tugged on her hand.
"Sh. We get out here."
Obligingly, Lara roused herself, and they alighted, finding themselves on the stone-like tiers that led from the lowest levels of the undulating landscape down to the waters of the canal.
"What in the worlds–" Lara began, looking about her, but just then, the shriek of a warkite filled the air, and H'raka swooped down to meet them.
"Good girl," Jor-El smiled, giving the beast an appreciative pat. "Unrecordable transport." He smiled, and Lara laughed, making her son kick with enjoyment.
Sobering, Jor-El met his wife's eyes. "I have put a safety strap on the saddle, but it is only made for one. I am going to strap you in and sit behind you on the dock. Hold the harness, and don't let go. We will be going quickly."
Lara nodded. "Of course. I won't be so foolish again."
"Good." With a satisfied nod, Jor-El lifted his wife to her seat on the back of the restless warkite, fastening the safety strap across her lap, and clambering behind.
"Don't let me hurt you," he murmured into her ear, reaching around her and joining his hands together on the saddle's pommel. He gave a sharp command, and H'raka leapt to flight, beating the air with her four wings, and sending them faster through the sky with each powerful stroke.
The wind whipped through Lara's hair, but she knew better than to loose her grip on the harness to brush it back again. The soaring dragon suddenly dipped, and Lara gasped, feeling Jor-El's hot breath on her neck, and his body pressed close to hers.
"How far is this place?" Lara shouted to be heard above the whistling wind, turning her head, and seeming to feel her words fly out behind her in their wake.
"Not far," Jor's voice near her ear came back. "You should see it any minute."
H'raka took them away from Kryptonopolis, toward the shining red sun, and presently the bare rocky terrain was pierced by spires formed of the rock, jutting toward the sky like giant fingers pointing to Rao.
"There." Jor-El briefly pointed, and Lara saw, on a high cliff, what could easily be mistaken for a natural spire of rock, but which was in reality a tower with a domed top, carved in the glyphs of the ancient family's name.
H'raka feathered her wings and they landed lightly. Lara tried to climb from the warkite's back, but remembered the safety strap. Jor-El chuckled, and clambered down, unfastening it and assisting her to the ground.
"And we are here," he announced. "You'll find it much like any other Kryptonian tower, but, hopefully, with more privacy."
Lara lay a hand on his arm, and Jor-El turned, regarding her with a question in his eyes. "What is it, my love?"
"You are so good to me," she said, smiling.
"I love you," he returned simply, and she kissed him for that.
"I love you too," s he said at last, as he leant his head down and they rested their foreheads together for a brief moment. Just then, they heard a series of clicks and saw Kelex arriving.
"Good to know that even with leaving after Kelex, we still arrived first," Jor-El smiled. "Congratulations, H'raka. You beat a hoverbot.""I was slightly delayed, sir," Kelex responded, managing to sound ever so slightly annoyed in spite of only being a piece of highly advanced technology. "Otherwise I would have arrived long ago."
They both laughed at this, and Jor-El suddenly seized Lara's hand.
"Come. I want to show you the launch. It is completely readied for when we will need it." Lara followed him indoors as H'raka gave a screech and leapt from the pad into the glittering evening air. "It is not difficult, but you should know what to do, just in case.""In case of what?" Lara's voice sounded worried.
"In case I am prevented somehow from doing it with you."
Just as the entered the chamber, however, Kilor, the companion 'bot to Kelex rushed toward them with information:
"Lady Lara, your father wishes to speak to you." The core took the form of Lor-Van's face, and rippled as he scowled.
"Lara, I need you to come right away."
"You know that is unwise," she answered the apparition. "What it is?"
Lara exchanged a look with her husband.
"The council is voting about whether or not to harvest the core of the planet for energy."
"What!" Jor-El exclaimed. "How has it come to this?"
"The energy sources are depleted, and it was proposed as an alternative, and is now going to vote." Tor-An explained phlegmatically. "I thought you should come."
"At once," Jor-El assured him, and thanking Kilor, seized Lara's hands. "Come with me – this is too important to miss. They are making a grave, grave mistake."
"Will Zod be there?"
"Anyone who wishes can attend a vote. It is just that word does not usually get out in time. But every voice counts. This is so foolish..." he muttered, gripping handfuls of his hair in both hands. "So foolish -!"
"I am coming with you."
"Good. Then let us go."
Jor-El and Lara burst upon the council just as the head was droning out the count of the votes; Jor-El ground his teeth in desperation. "H'raka could have gotten us here in time," he muttered, and Lara placed a calming hand upon his arm. It was done; the energy core that sustained the planet would be harvested to generate the power to the needs of the city.
"Are you mad?" Jor-El demanded, advancing as soon as the final count was finished. "This gives our planet weeks at the most before we are flung to the stars!"
"Spare us your dire predictions," a female councilmember reproved. "We have decided what is best for Krypton."
"Best!" His voice held a tone of disbelief in his powers of hearing, and his voice rose in pitch. "Give me contol of the codex – it contains the data of all lives yet to be. I will assure it's safety. I have built a –"
"Jor-El, you are no longer a member of this council," the head's assistant interrupted. "You may request, but not dictate."
He took a deep breath. "I humbly request the honor of safeguarding the codex. I solemnly promise that all of the data it contains, and all of the future lives of Krypton will be saved if I can only –"
"That is impossible," Tor-An said, looking away. "General Zod requested the same thing and we were forced to refuse him.""Zod!" Lara cried out, and all eyes turned toward her. "Zod has nothing in mind but his own selfish plans! What did he propose by this?"
"To rebuild Krypton in the stars as Jor-El does," the female councilmember said tartly. "We refused him. Such a thing is preposterous."
"But Jor-El strives to save lives, not take them!" Lara exclaimed. "Anyone can see that."
"Anyone can see he believes in life on his own terms," the head replied with finality. "This council is adjourned."
The members rose, and exited in silence, all except Tor-An, who, in passing by his daughter, murmured, "I tried," so softly that Lara almost did not hear it. But her eyes were grateful, and her father hurried on a mere moment later. Jor-El sank to a seat in one of the vacated chairs, and lowered his head to his hands. Lara seated herself in the floor at his feet, and leaned upon his knee, offering silent support. His voice wafted up from his bowed head, heavy with grief.
"We have days – weeks at the most."
Lara furrowed her brow in sympathy, and when he looked up at last, there were tears in his eyes. "Krypton will be lost." His voice faded to a whisper. "And they are too blind to see it..."
As Lara sat silently by, his head dropped forward like the heavy heads of the flowers that blossomed from the ash of the Red Volcano, wavering on their fragile stems, and great wracking sobs filled the empty council chamber.