Jor-El wasn't so sure that this was a good idea, but although Krypton did have many injustices, it was a good society, and he loved this planet. Still – Jor-El knew that he had few friends on the council when it came his time to serve. He had no assistant either. Curse the fact that he was born into a noble family. Those living on the lowest levels at least were free. More free, his mind echoed back. But still within the confines of the roles society placed on them. He sighed, and shoved his personal feelings to the side. More important were the facts about Krypton's core.
"The council is aware of these things, Jor-El," the head repeated, "And I say again, that measures have been taken –"
"What measures?" he demanded. "Measures that are merely filling up time? We have little time to fill!" he exploded, and the angry remonstrances of the council filled his ears.
"Order!" shouted the head's assistant. "Lor-Van approaches."
They grew quieter as the tardy councilman arrived, with his assistant Jir-An in tow.
"Forgive my lateness, there were unavoidable circumstances that kept me," Lor-Van said, gravely taking his seat, his cape parting to reveal the glyph of his family upon his armored chest.
"We resume," the head's assistant announced, and the buzz of conversation filled the air. Jor-El gritted his teeth in exasperation.
There were several seats to the side of the council's circle which from time to time were filled with guests, special speakers, or privileged onlookers. Movement in the area caught Jor-El's eye, and he resisted the urge to smile when he saw Lara Lor-Van enter and take a seat, her dark hair bowing in the fitful breeze. Their conversations had been his joy and inspiration, and hardly a day had passed that they didn't communicate in some way. He had found, at last, a woman he could admire and trust, whom he genuinely enjoyed just being with. He intellect and beauty were in perfect accord, and Jor-El knew that he if let himself, he would love her passionately.
Lara felt the same way about Jor-El. In him she had found a man who inspired the best and most noble thoughts in her, and drove her to decision, not just intellectual ponderings. She felt fulfilled and completed when she was with him, and at the same time was spurred on to a higher purpose – one he believed Rao had planned before Krypton. Their gazes met, and they silently exchanged a motionless smile with only their eyes.
Jir-An had been observing Lara closely ever since their conversation on the platform the day Lara had met Jor-El. He knew something had changed. She was a thinker – that had been determined before she was even born. He was a thinker as well; together, they could accomplish much. That had been their parents' plan. But not. This thinker had found a leader. A dangerous combination. Jir-An sent a venomous look toward Jor-El, something not lost upon the scientist, who understood everything the moment Jir-An cast a scathing glance toward Lara as well. Lara merely held her head a little bit higher.
Lor-Van leaned back and spoke in his assistant's ear. "What is the meaning of this, Jir-An?"
"That man opposite you is the one your rebellious daughter chooses to consort with."
Lor-Van drew his brows together fiercely. "Consort with? How so?"
"I will leave that up to you to discover, sir."
Lor-Van grabbed Jir-An by the edge of his cape and jerked him down toward him. "Tell me what you know, boy."
"I know nothing beyond the fact that she is refusing my advances and has become friends with Jor-El."
"Advances? Surely you are not trying to woo her? Marriage is a matter of form – a mass yearly ceremony."
"Sir, I know that Lara cannot respect a man she cannot love."
"Othe way around, Jir-An. She will not love a man she cannot respect. But she will marry you, nevertheless. It cannot be helped. More's the pity for her."
With that, the two men returned to the discussion at hand. Jor-El's voice finally spoke out above the rest."Would the honorable council be so kind as to tell me approxamately how much time the core has left before Krypton is flung to the stars?"
"You should be telling us that, Jor-El," one of the councilmen mocked, and laughter greeted this jibe. But the head's assistant was calling for order.
"Sir, Jor-El is in need of an assistant. It is not proper for the councilman or woman to be shouting their own entrance into the conversation. An assistant does this for each councilmember, and then the councilmember speaks."
"I have no one to be my assistant," Jor-El began, but a voice spoke up.
All heads turned to see Lara, the daughter of Lor-Van rise, and stride into the circle. "I have not yet served, so the council can find no fault with my assisting him."
The head nodded. "As you wish."
Lor-Van tried to catch his daughter's eye, but she swept by him without a glance and took up her post behind Jor-El's chair.
"Why are you doing this?" he murmured after tugging her hand to indicate he wished a word in her ear.
"I want to be present for the meetings and I would like to have a say in the governing of my planet," she responded.
"Assistants are not supposed to participate before their councilmembers."
"And I will not. We will be speaking together, I presume." She straightened, and Jor-El had a hard time keeping a smile from his lips.