Old Souls – A Little Krypton story
Written by shadar :: [Saturday, 23 September 2023 21:21] Last updated by :: [Saturday, 23 September 2023 23:05]
Part of the Little Krypton story arc, although this story is pretty much standalone.
It features Nancy El, the fourth-born child of the El family who are living on a huge ranch called Little Krypton in Montana that was gifted to Kal El and Kara Zor El by Bruce Wayne’s descendants, and later declared a independent sovereign region by the US Government, much in the way of Native American reservations. It’s all part of thanking the Kryptonians for saving Earth, over and over, not to mention providing a suitable location for raising a new generation of Kryptonians who will make Earth their home, and will always protect it.
At this time, Kal and Kara have a dozen children, and have mostly retired from the superhero business as their children struggle and learn to take over the responsibilities.
Little Krypton Ranch, Montana, Earth. May, 2098CE
Nancy sat with her long legs dangling over the edge of a very high cliff as she looked down at her family’s vast property. This was the perfect vantage point for enjoying the sunset with her friends. And while anyone else would have been terrified to see her dangling over the edge of a thousand foot vertical, especially with the rock edge angling downward and crumbling at the edge, Nancy was not bothered in the least by the fall. She could, after all, walk on air.
The view was all the better because her best friend, Jarod Adams, was leaning up against a big Ponderosa Pine twenty feet behind her. And beyond him was parked his beat up old Ford pickup, a relic from back in the 2040’s, its doors wide open.
They’d stopped here at this turnout along Stony Ridge Road to admire the the snow-capped mountains that marched northward into Canada — all of them part of her families multi-million acre Little Krypton ranch. Since before her birth, it had been an independent nation inside the borders of a grateful United States and Canada, thanks to a joint Act of the US Congress and the Canadian Parliament after the Kryptonians had saved Earth from several attacks by powerful ETs, most important of all, Brainiac. Earth was the home of Homo Sapiens, a prolific but bothersome species in the eyes of many alien cultures, but more importantly, it was the home base for the last remnant of Kryptonians.
Brainiac, a non-organic being possessed of a terrible intelligence, had wanted to shrink Earth into a jar to keep forever on a shelf in his library next to the other worlds he possessed. He loved to gaze upon his glowing jars, each so full of different kinds of life, knowing that he alone possessed them.
In stark contrast, the New God named Darkseid had come to utterly destroy all life on Earth, simply because his hated Kryptonians were there. They alone had resisted his passion to enslave all of the galaxy. He would build his new Capital, the nightmare world of New Apokolips, on its ashes. And with his Furies, he’d populate it with his brood alone.
But such fears were not on Nancy’s mind today. She was just happy that she’d found time to hang out with her best friend from all the way back in grade school, the two of them enjoying the view and the moment.
High along the central spine of that craggy range they could see the distant silver towers of her home, the gleaming metal pinnacles rising from the tallest summits to catch the last rays of the setting sun. Nancy’s apartment was near the top of the tallest tower, which was glowing in shades of gold and red as it punched through a thin layer of cloud. The towers reminded her of a fanciful bit of fantasy art, but in reality they were a faithful re-creation of the architecture that her mother remembered from her original home -- the long-dead planet Krypton.
Turning southward, Nancy looked down into the gathering shadows of a heavily treed valley, focusing in on the Earth around them, her remarkable eyes tracking a distant bison herd as it huddled together nervously, the huge bulls circling ceaselessly to protect their cows and vulnerable calves. The forest landscape was starting to come alive with the howls of Grey wolves, calling to each other as they gathered for their nightly hunt. An old or sick bison would likely fill their hungry stomachs by morning — or even better, a tender calf if the wolves managed to cut it from the herd. The wildlife on Little Krypton had returned to its ancient ways, back before European settlers came here more than three centuries ago.
Back when it had all belonged to her best friend Jarod’s people.
This hidden lookout was their private refuge. Hardly anyone came up here these days, excepting of course during the Fall when elk hunters hoped to catch a big bull moving out of the protected ranch and into the surrounding National Forest. Most elk knew to stay away from the guns by remaining in Little Krypton, but every year, a few bachelor elk who’d lost out during the rut went further afield to look for a mate.
But no one was hunting now. Today, the two of them were celebrating Jarod’s birthday. The person Nancy was most comfortable being just herself with. The guy she could talk to about anything.
With that thought in mind, Nancy floated upward from her precarious cliff’s edge perch to prove why she had no fear of falling. Floating close to Jarod, she landed featherlight next to him, which made him smile.
In his boom, nothing was more beautiful in all the world than Nancy in flight. Snuggling against his larger warmth, she reached beneath her sweater to retrieve one of the two joints that were further nestled beneath the “S” of her iconic skintight blue tunic and warmed by her breasts. She twirled it between her fingers for a moment before sparking the twisted end with a bright flash of her eyes. She took a big hit before handing it to Jarod. He wrapped his arm comfortably around her slender shoulders as he enjoyed her endless warmth. A cold wind was beginning to descend from the snowcapped summits. In such a way, the two of them enjoyed their sweet smoke together, their eyes fixed on the beautiful sunset.
By summer’s end Jarod would be off to college nearly two thousand miles away while Nancy stayed with her family. She didn’t have to leave home to see the world — or the universe. She’d walked barefoot across the dusty plains of Mars and had soaked her toes in puddles of molten lead on the surface of Mercury. She’d taken a stroll through the methane snow on the frozen surface of Pluto and had warmed herself while diving through the photosphere of the sun. She routinely defeated the worst kinds of terrorists and criminals with her bare hands, deflecting their bullets and every other kind of weapon invented by man or ET’s alike, protected by nothing but her flawless bare skin and a sweet smile.
She'd also wrestled with aliens who could throw boulders the size of houses at her, smashing them with her fists, and while other girls her age soaked in the sun next to a pool or on a beach to get a nice tan. She had to surf naked in the sun to get her all-over tan.
As usual, she was the one who’d brought the weed, thanks to the gardeners on her ranch. They grew a couple of Cannabis strains that were locally known as Kryptonian Green and Supergirl’s Choice, strains that were prized for their strong but clear-headed and mellow highs. Far from muddling one’s mind, or making someone lazy, this weed provided insight and clarity and energy. There was something alien in its genetics that went beyond simple breeding. Something vaguely Kryptonian. Or so it was said.
Good breeding was something Nancy knew a great deal about given that was also her claim to fame. Standing tall and slender and very blonde and seemingly carved from lithe, sensual steel, she’d been conceived and raised under the yellow sun by her Kryptonian parents. She had her mother’s long, sunshine blonde hair and natural beauty, and her face and form had graced hundreds of Holo stories before she’d even become a teenager. Stories that told of the ways she helped her famous parents and older siblings to save people from natural disasters and stopping dangerous criminals.
Most dramatically, she had barely turned twelve when she’d single-handedly stopped a nuclear war on the Indian/Pakistani border by carrying an armed nuclear weapon into space before it could detonate — in her hands. For a brief moment, she’d become a new star in the heavens, yet the nuclear fireball that surrounded her hadn’t singed as much as a single strand of her golden hair. That alone said she was more powerful than her parents.
At first glance most would assume her tall lean blue-eyed blondness came from Scandinavia or maybe the Baltic states — but they would be so wrong. Her family were instead creatures of the universe, evolved (some say engineered) under the reddish light of a distant star on a technological planet that no longer existed.
Her mother had started saving lives and protecting the Earth in the middle of the 20th century, and her father even earlier. But now, Kara Zor El had famously turned over her day-to-day planetary protection responsibilities to the children she shared with her husband, the man everyone called Superman. Given that Nancy and her siblings had all been conceived under the yellow sun of Sol, and in Nancy's case, actually in the sun itself, S.T.A.R Lab’s testing indicated that they would grow even more powerful than their famous parents. Together they were destined to be the ones to someday bring final defeat to Darkseid, or die trying. Something their parents had failed to do despite many encounters.
Jarod was thinking of all those things as he took a hit and held it, trying for the thousandth time to comprehend that his best friend had that kind of power. Power greater than the original Superman and Supergirl who many people regarded as some kind of gods. Nor did he want to dwell on the history and biology that separated the two of them, or the fact that she wasn’t even technically human. They were the best of friends, and that was all that really mattered.
But today was the time for reflection. His 18th birthday and coming of age. The end of High School. The start of a new life, with his going away as Nancy remained here in Montana. He hadn’t realized until now how much he was going to miss her.
So much so that he’d decided to risk it all.
“So… are you planning on going to the Prom this year, Nanc?” he asked, trying to sound casual.
“We don’t have proms at my school.”
“I was, you know, kind of thinking of… my prom.”
She flicked some strands of pale hair from her face as she turned to pass him the joint, her fingers briefly sliding over his as their eyes met. Hers were large and a startling shade of intense blue, made all the more vivid by the blonde hair that framed her face before falling in gentle waves to taper to a point near her waist.
In sharp contrast, Jarod’s eyes were coal black and set in a wide, reddish brown face with the course, shoulder-length raven hair that was typical of his Tribe.
“So… are you asking me to your Prom?” she asked.
“Ah… yeah, I’m… I’m kind of trying to,” Jarod choked, his heart racing. He’d never stepped out of the friend zone before. “I mean, if you want to go. With me, I mean.”
“I don’t go to your school.”
“Yeah, but there's a rule that says a Senior can invite a date from another school.”
Nancy said nothing as she leaned further back against the rough bark. Jarod tried not to stare at her, but the weed was starting to kick in, dazzling him as the golden rays of the sunset made her hair glow so beautifully that it hurt just to look at her.
Dressed in a pair of antique jeans and a white lamb’s wool sweater with long, matching scarf, her slender legs were crossed yoga style, her feet bare as usual. Long legs that had the strength to lift a huge concrete highway overpass, and hold it there for many hours while an emergency support column was hastily constructed to take the massive weight from her shoulders. But given she was Supergirl’s daughter, most people took that kind of strength in stride — she might just be a teenager, but she was Kryptonian, and that made her a superhero.
While she didn’t have an alternate identity — her parents had long ago given up on that and gone public — only the barest hint of her iconic blue costume was showing where it attached to her red choker. She didn’t like broadcasting who she was when she was with Jarod, who had trouble dealing with the kind of crazy attention she garnered in public whenever she wore her skimpy red and blues.
Jarod’s hopes fell now as he saw her staring directly into the sun, saying nothing for far too long. He knew she was trying to figure out a nice way to say no.
“I don’t know if I can, Jarod,” she finally said, confirming his fears. “I mean, it sounds like fun, but I’ve gotta do my first wormhole dive with Dad next week. That’ll take a while. As you know, the closest hole is well outside the Sol system. Tricky stuff, given wormholes can cause time warping if we enter wrong. It’d be a bad trip if I returned a century before I left. Or in some distant future.”
“And create an instant temporal paradox,” he sighed as he heard her trying to change the subject. She was definitely turning him down. “Yeah, that would be very bad, coming back to Earth before you were born.”
“Yeah. And who wants to live in the 15th century or whatever and not know the way home? Not to mention the damage my presence there would do to your timeline. It doesn’t take many changes in the past to create a huge ripple effect. Which is why Dad is going to help me practice a bunch of dives, both ways, until he’s convinced I’ll go right down the center without time warping. So I might be gone for a while.”
“You’re serious? You’re actually going to dive through a wormhole, Nanc? Jumping partway across the galaxy and back each time. Like a whole bunch of times?”
“My parents do it all the time. Used to, anyway.”
“You do know that its been calculated that the gravity at the core of a wormhole is enough to crush a softball-sized chunk ball of solid steel down to the size of a BB? And you plan to dive through that, all alone, in your birthday suit?”
“Of course not — as I said, I’ll be with my dad, and most certainly not nude. I’ll wear the red and blues I’m wearing now. Like me, they can handle some rough handling, and I’ll be going fast enough to minimize the gravitational exposure. I mean, you were the one who calculated the physics of ricocheting off the event horizon of a black hole to bend space — something Dad figured out how to do by instinct. But he really enjoyed the fact that you’d worked out some of the math.”
“That was just theoretical stuff,” Jarod shrugged, feeling seriously bummed that Nancy was turning him down. “But I’ll say this, Nanc — of all the Prom date rejections this year, yours is definitely the most original. Wormhole diving, indeed.”
“I didn’t say no, Jarod. I’m just saying there are complications. I’m also signed up to start my second intern job at the UN when I get back. Not sure what that’s going to involve this time. Plus I’ve got the usual patrols and rescues and crime fighting that are the family business. I just might not be free.”
Jarod heard her searching for excuses, but the UN job didn’t wash. Metropolis was only minutes away from Montana for a girl who could fly in space. And the police-support and the whole Peacekeeper thing that her family did could be scheduled with her many siblings, leaving only one wildcard — an all-hands natural disaster or an alien attack. But what were the odds of those happening on Prom night?
He stared down at the dirt between his boots, feeling both depressed and strangely proud of himself at the same time — he’d finally dared to put himself out there. He’d never asked anyone on a date before, and asking his best friend Nancy was kind of crazy — especially given that everybody at school thought he was gay.
Sensing his darkening mood, Nancy turned to smile at him as she snuggled closer, the dimples in her cheeks so cute, her perfect teeth so white. “But yeah, Jar, if I can make my schedule work — and I’ll do my best — I’d absolutely love to go with you.”
Jarod grinned wildly as his depression soared into elation, his eyes opening wide. “Really? You’re sure? That you’ll go? With me, I mean? Damn — that’s great! Wow!”
She laughed softly. “Don’t sound so surprised. Or look so depressed when you thought I’d say no. Confidence is sexy in a guy.”
“I’m… you know, I’m working on that.”
Nancy was the only girl Jarod could really talk to, and they talked about absolutely everything. They’d been friends ever since his mother got a job working on the Little Krypton ranch and Jarod had started coming to work with her on the frequent Family Days, back when they were in 3rd grade. He and Nancy had quickly learned to disappear — something a girl who can fly is very good at. They’d spent countless hours exploring the local forests and mountains, often sitting on the highest peaks of the Rockies in mid summer.
“I wasn’t sure I should even ask you, Nanc, given it wouldn’t be a regular date. I mean, not romantically and all that. And you get around a bit.”
“Have you been stalking me?”
“No, no of course not. It’s just that you’re all over the Holo whenever you save somebody or stop some criminal or terrorist. Or prevent a dam collapse. Whatever. And then there’s social media. Not your posts, which are rare, but all the ones that guys post about you.”
“Don’t believe anything you see about me on social media. Certainly none of the stuff that guys post. The Holo lies and AI can fake anything and there are way too many overactive imaginations out there.”
“Yeah, I get that, but I did see you riding off in a pickup once, looking like you were getting spicy with some older guy while he drove.”
“My, my… you really are a stalker.”
“It was hard to miss with all the blonde hair and red cape streaming out the open window. Especially after the truck lifted off the road to fly over me instead of running me down. Thanks for that. I don’t think the driver ever saw me.”
“That’s funny, Jarod, but you’re confusing me with my sister Lara. She thinks it’s exciting when a guy tries to drive while she’s sitting in his lap, her back against the steering wheel as they make it. And since when have you ever seen me wearing a cape?”
“So that was Lara? Having sex while driving? I mean, for real?”
Nancy looked at him and sighed. “You know, many people actually have sex, Jarod. For real. It’s not some forbidden ritual.”
“Getting it on while driving is. And from the perspective of the guy in the road about to be run down, you do look a lot alike.”
“Not my style at all. Lara’s cowboy lovers always forget how to drive when she gets passionate, not that they can see anything anyway, what with that cloud of blonde hair. Thankfully, she’s always managed to fly her boyfriends and their trucks out of harm’s way at the last second.”
"And that's your sister’s idea of fun?"
Nancy shrugged. “Lara gets off on pushing boundaries. But there’s science behind it too — she claims that guys last longer when they're distracted.”
Jarod guffawed as he tried to imagine that. “Are you sure it’s just distraction? Sounds more like wide-eyed terror. Blasting down the road unable to see anything but maybe her boobs.”
“Not with her kind of macho guys. She loves muscle-bound jocks who are rough around the edges. Rodeo cowboys and the like. The kind of fearless, knuckle-dragging, overhung alpha throwbacks to the 20th century. She tames them the way your people tame horses, but then complains afterward that talking to them is boring as hell.”
“I like to talk to horses. It’s an Indian thing.”
“Yeah, but you don’t fuck them first.”
Jarod just stared at Nancy, smiling as he digested this candid revelation. Nancy had a strange sense of humor.
“But that’s no surprise,” she continued. “Big dicks and oversized muscles usually are connected to small brains. In humans, anyway. Nature’s way of evening things out.”
His mouth opened and closed as Jarod tried to think of something clever to say to that. He was the one with the scholarship to MIT. “Ah, I mean, sheesh… hope the sheriff didn’t see them racing recklessly around that way. Isn’t that the ultimate definition of ‘distracted driving’?”
She smiled. “I guess. A deputy tried to pull them over once, but Lara just flew off with the truck and driver. Later, when a couple of deputies tried to arrest her on the ranch, she stepped off her balcony on the 150th floor to fall in a stream of blonde hair to land at terminal velocity in front of them — dressed only in a pair of mom’s ancient red hot-pants. She’s totally into the Lady Godiva thing now, and she’s got the hair for it. Anyway, she very sweetly apologized to the officers by claiming she’d been ‘too busy’ to notice the sirens or red lights.”
“She actually said that?” Jarod gasped. “To the cops? As if it was an excuse?”
“She could have said anything at that point. The poor deputies were staring at her, fixated on one nipple that was trying to poke through all that blonde hair. Like most men, they were completely gobsmacked by Lara’s presence as they tried to work out whether having sex while driving really was a statuary crime.”
Jarod smiled. “That must have been quite the moment.”
“Yeah, given she wasn’t driving the truck, but rather was flying it, which she claimed was a matter for the FAA and not the county Sheriff. Fortunately, while the good deputies were puzzling out what to do with her, given what little blood remained in their brains, Dad showed up to personally fly the Deputies back to their vehicle over at the Visitor Center. Last he saw of them, they were racing away, eager to tell their fellow deputies and friends what they’d seen and to brag that they’d actually flown with Superman.”
“Lara is kind of assertive, isn’t she? Or is it exploitive? And your dad plays into it?”
“Both and more. She gives off something that drives men crazy. Might even work on you if you get too close. I’m just glad we’re friends and we don’t have to worry about any of that stuff.”
“Because I’m gay?"
“So you claim, virgin and all. But as I see it, sex gets in the way of deep, enduring friendships. I like you because you're smarter than anyone else I know. Plus your heart and mind are both open and pure in a way I’ve never found before.” She leaned her head closer and lowered her voice to a whisper. “And trust me on this, big brains are way sexier than big… you know. Given my muscle tone and all.”
Jarod laughed nervously, uncomfortable that she seemed to be an expert on the subject. “I am definitely not going to quote you on that. Imagine all the deflated… egos.” He wasn’t going to say more, for he had his own fantasies about such things.
"Exactly," she said, tilting her head slightly while watching the confused expressions flit across his face. As always, Jarod’s insecurities came out when it came to talking about sex. “Oh, and by the way, Jarod, don’t ever play poker. You are way too easy to read.”
“I’m actually still surprised you said yes. I figured you’d go to the Prom with some football hero kind of jock. They get all the hot girls. You’d look very good on some over-muscled jock’s arm.”
She made a face. “Now you’re making fun of me, because you know I absolutely can’t stand that kind of guy. Full of themselves and thinking they’re God’s gift and always trying to prove it. But even the strongest guy is like this to me.” She held up her hand, index finger and thumb touching.
“I gather Lara doesn’t tell them that?”
“No way. She gets off on big muscles and bigger egos… bigger everything. She eggs them on, daring them to prove how strong and sexually aggressive they can be. Taunting them. We used to have to listen to her screaming “harder, harder!” all night. Super-hearing and all. Thankfully, Mom forbid her from bringing any more of her Neanderthals onto the ranch.”
“She’s definitely something…” Jarod ventured, not sure what else to say. Mostly he was just pleased it hadn’t been Nancy in the truck. They might just be friends, but he wasn’t immune to feeling some jealousy.
“Besides, we all get turned on by different things,” Nancy finished with a shrug. “Me, I find intelligence and kindness far more attractive. There are so many dull or just ordinary men out there, but given you’re smarter than I am, it’s a turn-on. But there’s no human guy on this planet who’s even ten-thousandth as strong as I am. Which creates problems as you might imagine.”
A wave of pure happiness washed over him to make him feel like he was floating. She’d just said his mind turned her on? His only claim to fame.
Lost in that wonder for a few moments, the analytical side of his brain caught up with himself. He hadn’t actually asked her out on a real date. The way he’d set the stage, they were going to just be best friends hanging out, goofing around.
“I swear, Nanc, sometimes you talk like a forty-something woman with too much bad highway behind her.”
She shrugged. “I got no highway at all. Just a dusty side road or two. Dead-ends in the desert.”
“So… we’re just going dancing?”
“Sure. After all, you came up with the cutest moves at the Family Day celebrations back on the Ranch.”
“You mean the dorkiest. People always laugh at me when I try to dance.”
“So what — do you have fun?”
“Yeah, until people start teasing me.”
“Then ignore them. You have many fine qualities. And besides, when I’m dancing with you, nobody will even see you.”
“Ohhh… and she’s modest too,” Jarod laughed.
“Just realistic. I know how I look and how people look at me when I’m wearing next to nothing, floating weightless and all. Air dancing is an art form all of its own.”
Jarod wasn’t sure what to say to that either. Off balance, his emotions surging, he blurted out: “It’s just that… I , uh, I know this sounds weird, but sometimes I think about your brother when I’m hanging out with you.”
Nancy froze to stare at him, and then howled with laughter. “Oh, Jesus! You’ve got a crush on Dar, too? Join the crowd — the line stretches halfway around the planet. It’s also a total waste of time. He’s only into girls who can bend steel in their… well, their whatevers. He figures what with him being a Man of Steel… well, you know. But those Valkyries and every alien space-chick he’s met are total bitches — assuming they aren’t openly homicidal.”
“Yet you are so different.”
She shrugged. “I’m kind of channeling my mom. Dad too. The way they came here and everything. Their compassion for the people of their new home. They’ve worked hard to teach us the same things.”
She didn’t have to say more. Everyone knew the story about Krypton’s destruction and Superman’s pacifist vow to never take a life and her mom’s decades of peacekeeping and charity support.
“Good thing that Alura and Dar have taken over the old banners,” he said. “They’re the new Supergirl and Superman. Doing things differently, though.”
She shrugged again. “Different but not necessarily better. Dar’s nearly as powerful as Dad, just as built and getting stronger all the time, so he thinks he can do anything. But he doesn’t have all of Dad’s skills yet, least of all his vast experience. Alura has proven that she can beat Mom at everything physical. Which is good given there are some really dangerous people out there. Maxima and her offspring to start with. And don’t get me started on Faora. I wrote a whole research paper on her for school. She’d lead Dar straight into Hell… by his dick. Dad barely survived her, and only by running like hell once he realized what he was up against. And running away isn’t something Superman normally does.”
Jarod shook his head. “You know, despite our being friends for so many years, its still hard to get over the fact that the one and only Superman is your dad. The most famous person on Earth, and one of the most powerful beings in the universe. A god. And you say he ran from Faora to save his life.”
“She is one twisted bitch,” Nancy nodded. “While she wasn’t as strong as dad, she knew a hundred ways to fight another Kryptonian, given that’s what she was trained to do from early on.”
“Yeah, you had me review that paper before you turned it in, remember? How Faora damn near killed him. Your analysis of her physical powers and extreme martial arts skills was pretty scary, not to mention her lethal seductions and her ‘only gets off by killing men during sex’ thing. She sounded batshit crazy — a real man-hater and a sadistic killer. And then there’s Maxima’s daughter. She owned Dar there for a bit. Is she homicidal and crazy too?”
“Depends on how you define crazy, but she’s definitely homicidal. Life is cheap on her world, and she can do anything she wants with impunity, what with being a Princess and all. But the real problem we have is that Dar always thinks with his dick first. Sticks it places he shouldn’t.”
Jarod didn’t know what to say about that.
“But as far as Dar goes,” she continued, “I suppose I could introduce you if you really want.”
“NO. No way! Absolutely NOT,” he protested, shaking his head. “I’d just embarrass myself. You, I’m super comfortable with. Your brother… oh, fuck no!”
She turned to grin at him. “We really are an odd couple, aren’t we? But do you know how valuable having a good friend is for me, Jarod? Someone who sees the real me, not just the powers or the costume or whatever. Someone I can talk to about anything.”
“Works both ways, Nanc.”
“Glad to hear that. Besides, you should know that having sex with a Kryptonian changes a person. Or so Mom keeps telling me whenever she harps on safe sex. We can mess a man’s head up. Maybe forever.”
“That’s one of the many things I like about you, Nanc. You worry about stuff like that. You care. You really care.”
She shrugged. “Or maybe I just like your brain the way it’s currently wired. In either case, if you want to dress me up and take me dancing and be the nerd who shows up all the jocks or whatever, I’m up for giving that much a try.” She chuckled. “I can see the caption now: The Indian Brave and his Sun Goddess.”
He laughed as he elbowed her gently. “Sun Goddess my ass. You might be bulletproof and can fly and all that jazz, but you’re as normal as I am inside. Who was it who got you through Calculus last semester.”
“Shhh... don't tell anyone. But this gives me an idea. How about if I float around in the photosphere a bit right before our date. You know, to get a really fantastic tan, almost as dark as your skin. My hair would get lighter too. Maybe I could really look like a sun goddess.”
“You’re talking about actually sunbathing in the actual sun?”
“You know of any other nearby stars?”
He laughed. “With you, Nanc, clearly the words ‘getting some sun’ has to be taken literally.”
“Actually, I only soak in the cooler parts.”
“Yeah, where it’s ONLY ten thousand degrees Celsius.”
“Precisely. Those million degree flares are uncomfortable, but good for putting the finishing highlights in my hair.”
He reached out to rest his hand on her knee. “Uncomfortable? That’s all?”
She placed her hand over his as she smiled. “You know, it’s nice to be touched by someone who isn’t asking anything of me.”
Jarod withdrew his hand, a little embarrassed but not entirely sure what she was trying to say. “Ah… right. So, all that said, Nanc, we should practice dancing before the Prom. I’m normally stuck in the girl-free zone.”
“Sure. And as far as the Prom goes, should I come dressed in these red and blues? Maybe add a formal cape and some heels. Or perhaps come in a beaded deerskin outfit in Sioux fashion, except maybe with a miniskirt? Or maybe some over-the-top sexy Prom outfit from some shop in LA? I want to make everyone jealous of you.”
Jarod smiled crookedly, imagining those options. “I admit, there would be a certain satisfaction in doing that. It would be a hoot to see all that naked envy on display, no pun intended. I mean, everyone will assume we’re getting it on. Maybe some guy might want to figure out what phenomenal skills earned me a Prom date with you!”
She looked crookedly at him. “More likely the girls. And is that even how it works with gay guys?” she laughed. “I mean, how does hanging out with a hot girl turn a gay guy on?”
“Maybe it proves I have great sexual skills? Hell, I don’t know. I’m the only queer guy I know, trapped here in this throwback part of Montana and all.”
“And since when do attractive girls only date guys who are really good lovers?”
“Because… I don’t know… they get a choice?” Jarod asked, blushing. He was way out of his comfort zone now.
“You’re assuming that sex is all a girl would want?”
“When you’re young and beautiful and unattached? Sure…great sex… why not?”
Nancy laughed “You have an overactive imagination, Jarod. You may be brilliant, but sometimes you sound a lot younger than me.”
He shrugged. “I’m a geek in the land of cowboys, and I don’t get out much. I mean, hell… our local culture amounts to drunken bar fights. That and fighting over women or horses and stealing both like my ancestors did. Our local version of “high culture” is a wet T-shirt contest in some beer-splashed cowboy bar. Or in my family’s case, dancing around the campfire chanting old Sioux war-songs while getting stupid drunk.”
“Well, then you — the supposedly queer Indian — and me, the Sun Goddess of Sol — we’re going to have us some fun.”
“Now I’m getting worried,” Jarod laughed nervously.
“You should be. Dating a goddess is very dangerous, don’t you know? I’m beyond your control. Remember all those stories from mythology? How the humans who took divine lovers always died in horrible ways.”
Jarod smiled crookedly. “Except you were born on Earth… and technically not a goddess. And we aren’t lovers.”
“There are many who might disagree with you on the goddess thing. Especially lately.”
“Depends on your definition. I mean, superhuman for sure,” Jarod shrugged. “Spectacular muscles and bulletproof and all. But given that parallel evolution is statistically impossible, our two species definitely have to share an ancient ancestor — somewhere.”
“Had to be waaayyy back. Krypton had a hundred-thousand years of recorded history. We’re talking from back when several other subspecies of Homo Sapiens were still walking around on Earth. Neanderthals and so forth.”
“Except most of that history has been lost now. And you are most definitely not Neanderthal, Nanc. Me, on the other hand…” His voice trailed off as he shrugged.
She winked at him. “My sister Lara thinks we’re related to the old gods of your mythology.”
He shook his head. “I don’t buy it. I’m thinking instead of hyper-technologically advanced ETs who artificially evolved their own species, starting with tweaked humans.”
“Or maybe you guys are just a de-powered version of us. Our civilization was far older.” She shrugged. “But since nobody knows, and until someone proves otherwise, I’m sticking with goddess.”
Jarod chuckled, knowing she was just teasing him. What was certain, however, was that he was WAY out of his comfort zone here. So he shut up and turned to stare into the sunset, the two of them silently sharing the last of their joint.
“You wanna see something cool?” Nancy asked. “Now that I’m getting a little stoned.”
“Well, its like this. My younger sister Mia has invented this routine that we’re going to perform during the upcoming Krypton Games. She’s never won anything before — but I think this’ll be her year, assuming I don’t screw it up for her. We have to do it in perfect synchronization. How about I show you my part?”
“Yeah, sure… but what are the Krypton Games?”
She floated weightlessly upward while lifting Jarod to his feet, holding him to her side until he got his balance.
“It’s a very private family thing. Mostly contests of skill and creativity and strength. Maximizing our powers. But the games are WAY too dangerous for others to watch, even from a distance. One wrong glance of heat vision or a ricocheting bit of shrapnel could be fatal. We go all out.”
She continued to hold his hand as she led him out into the dirt parking lot, floating like a hummingbird while he trudged behind her, feeling like a lumbering buffalo in comparison. Pausing in the center, she released him to rise higher yet as she removed her scarf. Then she crossed her arms to pull her white sweater up and off before tossing them both down to him.
Jarod gathered up the warm fabric while staring up at a very skimpy variant of the El family uniform. Nancy’s tiny, blue top was attached to her red choker as usual, but unlike her other tunics, this one left her shoulders and arms bare, along with her back and a wide expanse of abs. Just a triangle of blue fabric with the family “S” in the center, and just wide enough and low enough to securely cover her breasts. A nearly invisible but unbreakable thread connected the lower corners of the triangle to secure it across the middle of her back, stretching it very tightly over her firm chest.
Her body was spectacularly defined, starting with strong shoulders that befitted Superman’s daughter. Jarod traced his gaze from those powerful shoulders down her supple back with its deeply-indented spine to her narrow waist and finally to those perfect dimples just above her butt, which were fully on display now given her low, hip-hugging jeans. She was smoothly curvaceous and sleekly feminine while remaining tightly muscled from head to toe, a combination of traits that only a Kryptonian could manage.
Turning around in mid-air, she revealed tightly-toned abs that extended from the base of her ribs to the waistband of her faded Levis 501’s, the flared cuffs of her button-up jeans a throwback to the middle of the last century. Her collection of faded and worn Levis were genuine antiques, passed down by her mother who’d worn them so long ago. Putting it all together, the phenomenal sense of pure physicality that she projected was stunning.
“I… ah, I haven't see this outfit before, Nanc. Did you guys run out of Kryptonian fabric or something?”
“It’s new. My mom just finished a project to recycle all her old outfits, Dad’s too, with each of us older kids getting a lot less square inches to work with than they’d worn. After all, there are a dozen of us now. The boys are easy with just a pair of red shorts that are closer to Speedos than what Dad used to wear, but I’ve got younger sisters who will need extra coverage at first. Seems the older we get and the more we fill out, the skimpier the clothing we can get away with. Weird, huh?”
He chuckled “Hardly weird. And we are talking the ultimate unobtainium here — true Kryptonian artifacts.”
“Yup. S.T.A.R Labs has been trying to synthesize something like it for decades. They’ve got some ridiculously tough carbon nanotube fabric now that’s mostly indestructible — at least if we don’t get hit with an energy weapon or get too close to the sun. But our skirts and capes always have to be made of the original stuff given it doesn’t get the forcefield benefit. Which is why mom’s mostly doing away with skirts and going with hot pants. Except for me. I wore short shorts for too long when I was young. Now I like skirts.”
“And that’s because skirts and capes don’t fit tightly to your skin?”
“Exactly,” she nodded. “My personal field only extends a few millimeters or so. Here, check it out.” She held out her bare arm, her skin glowing with a golden tan.
Jarod reached toward her hesitantly. During all the time they’d been friends, despite watching her and her siblings on the Holo News all the time flying around in skimpy outfits, she’d always worn long sleeves and her 501’s when she was with him.
That said, they had flown together many times, so he knew exactly what her body felt like — smooth curves of warm, sculpted steel. But seeing those muscles on display this close, along with all that tanned, flawless skin, suddenly made touching her seem very sensual.
He slowly and hesitantly ran his hand just above her extended arm, trying not to touch her as he got as close to her skin as he could, trying to feel the forcefield. Her skin lacked the tiny hairs that even the palest blonde human would have, but as far as a forcefield went, he felt nothing at first. He started to shake his head when she clenched her fist slightly, and a swell of steel muscle rose to gently brush his fingertips.
He felt something now, but he had trouble defining it. “There’s this faintly warm glow when I’m almost touching you, almost like your body heat except it feels more… I don’t know, solid somehow? Kind of tingly. I don’t know how else to describe it.”
“That’s it. It’s Ok to push through it and touch me. The field deflects things that are moving fast, but passes a slow touch.”
He closed his hand lightly around the soft and warm skin covering a swell of rounded muscle that felt like warm steel. That tiny bit of “solid warmth” seemed to envelop his hand as their skin touched, rising slightly over his wrist and up his forearm. Yet it was so faint that he wouldn’t have noticed it if she hadn’t clued him in.
“Now, hold me very tightly.”
He gripped her arm as hard as he could, but he might as well have been squeezing a bar of steel for all the give he felt. She clenched her fist tighter yet as he held her, and her forearm swelled further as he traced his fingertips over dramatic cuts and curves, a maze of steel muscles filling his hand.
“Ah yes, Kryptonian muscles,” he grinned. “Strongest in all the universe. But why doesn't the field itself resist me?”
“Because you’re being gentle. But if you punch me really hard, it will resist you. The faster and harder I’m hit, the sharper the forcefield pushes back. Here, try it — but don’t hurt yourself.”
She turned to face him, resting her hands on her hips to offer up her faintly rippled abs.
Jarod made a fist, but only gave her a light jab, his knuckles bouncing off drum-tight skin.
“See. Slow is Ok. But try that with a faster punch.”
He punched her again, at least twice as hard and fast, and this time she felt really solid. Almost like he was punching thick, hard rubber that overlaid steel.
“Now, punch as hard as you dare.”
He cocked his arm and threw a punch that would have doubled a large man over — and the sudden shock of his fist’s impact against her immovable abs drove a sharp pain back through his wrist.
“Yeow!” he cried while shaking out his slightly jammed wrist.
“See. The faster I’m hit, the harder the rebound. Works the same all the way up to ultra-velocity tank rounds, which completely vaporize on impact. Especially if I tense myself, which backstops the forcefield.” The ripples of her abs suddenly grew very pronounced as she showed him.
He nodded numbly, suddenly finding it hard to breath for some reason. He was impressed beyond words, far more than he’d expected, especially the way her skin was so soft while her muscles were so hard, a contrast that was both feminine and infinitely powerful at the same time. He blinked, finding to his embarrassment that he was getting seriously aroused.
He quickly forced his mind back into gear to stop thinking about that. “Ah… yeah, I looked up that tank ammo once when I heard you were facing down some M5A1 tanks, Nanc. Those 160mm anti-tank rounds travel at over 8500 ft-s and have 12 million ft-pounds of energy on impact. And three tanks shot you simultaneously. It was totally ridiculous.”
“Yeah. Silly me, I just stood there all relaxed as the impacts knocked the wind out of me and threw me more than a mile backwards — and that was after getting blasted through a bunch of tree trunks and a reinforced concrete wall. Talk about a serious punch in the gut. It almost hurt.”
"Well, maybe a little," she grinned. "Not that I'd admit that to anyone else." He stared down at her as she took his hand in hers to run it down her rippled tummy. “See, just as advertised all over the Holo… abs of steel.”
The way her warm, silky skin stretched over those hard curves felt incredible as she brushed his fingers down her belly to touch the waistband of her 501’s.
“Steel, my ass, Nanc. Each of those tank rounds could penetrate more than two-meters of the very best armor. Yet in that high-speed video, your abs barely dimpled while deflecting three at once.”
“Ok, steel is the wrong word, but that’s how I feel to humans. But not to me. Steel is way softer than my muscles, at least when I'm tensed up. Steel probably feels about the same to me as sculptor’s clay does to you. Solid at first if I smack it a bit with my fist, leaving impressions of my knuckles, but it gives easily if I begin to work it. I can shape it with my fingers or even squish it around and squeeze it hard enough to make it melt, but I’ve gotta work a little.”
“A little…” Jarod mused as some crazy thoughts raced through his mind, starting with imagining how much more dramatic her brother’s abs might feel. He brutally pushed that thought away, along with any further forbidden thoughts about Dar, but Nancy saw the flicker in his eyes, and smiled. “And yes, every part of him is more or less this hard. Every part.”
“I wasn’t…” he gasped, his face turning red.
“You were trying not to think what his dick would feel like — while you were touching me.”
“I did not… no way, I wasn’t… and you can’t read minds anyway.”
“It’s Ok, Jar. We don’t control all our thoughts, and besides, mom says that back on Krypton they never cared or judged who someone was attracted to. But I still find it odd that you claim to be gay despite never having a boyfriend or a girlfriend. You don’t even know what you are imagining.”
Jarod was too embarrassed and turned on now to answer that, given she’d just voiced the forbidden thought that he’d brutally cut off before it could fully form. She was assuming his arousal came from thinking about her brother, but it wasn’t. This was all about her, but how could he tell her that? The last thing he wanted to do was to screw up their platonic friendship.
“Can we… you know, change the subject?”
“Sure, but I like that we don't have any secrets. So... how about this new flight outfit? The skirt I’m wearing under these 501’s is the same one my mom wore back in the 1980s. Our skirts always have to be made of authentic Kryptonian fabric given it's seriously uncool having them blown off, especially given we don’t waste the good stuff on mere panties. At least, when I bother wearing any, that is.”
Jarod swallowed hard as he stared down at the buttons on the front of her 501’s. Her words “when I bother wearing any” was echoing inside his skull.
“You wanna see?”
He jerked his eyes up to hers. looking shocked. “Your panties?” he gasped, eyes wide.
“No, dummy, my old recycled skirt. It’s a real Kryptonian artifact in its original form. It was sewn on a distant star, not to mention made of technical star stuff that nobody can make today.”
She didn’t wait for him to answer before unbuttoning her antique jeans to push them halfway down her thighs, revealing the red miniskirt her mother had made famous back in the 80’s. His first thought was that that tiny bit of nothing was way too short to fly around in without panties, which were somehow stuck in his head now. She giggled as she saw the strange look in his eyes, and responded by pushing her jeans further down while lifting both feet together to hover in thin air, kicking them off to toss to him.
He hugged the softly worn denim to himself, warm with her body heat, staring as she just hung there in mid-air, the red fabric of her skirt shimmering ever so faintly as it brushed against her upper thighs. Her bare legs looked so impossibly long and lean beneath that tiny hemline that he had to look away as he struggled to keep from losing it.
“So, what’ya think?” she asked, amused by the stunned look on his face.
“W…Wow!” Jarod breathed, unable to say more. His thoughts were racing down unfamiliar paths given the sight of all that sculpted, bare skin. It didn't help knowing that the fabric she was talking about had come from the other side of the galaxy. Awed by both, his eyes had a mind of their own as they were drawn back to her legs. Like the rest of her, they were tight with smooth muscle yet slender and shapely and impossibly strong. It was amazing the way such a short skirt could make her legs look so long, especially when she was barefooted like this.
The golden belt of her skirt sat very low as it hugged her hips, with the hem rising just enough in the back when she bent over to provide a peek of the lower curves of her very tight and perfectly pert and round ass. His mouth was dry as he said: “I remember this skirt from some very old picts of your mom. Always thought she was being a tease back then. But Jesus… it makes your legs look a mile long!” he gushed.
She laughed at his reaction. “So says the guy who’s supposedly not into girls. Sorry for mostly undressing in front of you, but my street clothes won’t survive what I’ve got in mind. And these antique jeans are almost as irreplaceable as my skirt.”
“But no cape or boots any more?”
“Fabric economy,” she said with a shake of her head. “One Kryptonian cape can make several complete outfits. You’ve probably seen picts of my siblings with torn and ragged capes after a big fight. That’s because they use Star Labs fabric. But I don’t want to fly around with a raggedy cape, or have my boots blown off or whatever. Mom says this is a traditional casual outfit for a Kryptonian girl my age. Capes and shoes were only worn for more formal affairs. And we’d never heard of anything as silly as panties.”
“Kryptonian customs regarding nudity were different. I love my mom’s old fashions — they were so avant-garde and controversial in the mid-20th century. Even more so now in the New Morality that people around here are into.”
“So says the about-to-be 22nd Century girl. Between that tiny bit fabric and how much of you it doesn’t cover, not to mention the primary colors, this is going to look shocking in any polite gathering. The 1960's and 70's were obviously a wild time, which makes this outfit kind of a time capsule from that era."
“Hadn’t thought of it that way…” she mused. “I just like wearing as little as possible. Invulnerable skin and all.”
Jarod had seen uncounted pictures of Nancy on the Holo over the last few years, always dressed in her earlier hot pants version of red and blues with a tunic that covered her upper body, not this bare shoulders and back and arms and abs bit of fabric nothing. He’d watched her grow up from a weedy, skinny grade-school supergirl to being this sculpted athlete, her breasts slightly oversized for her lean body and so pert that they sat nearly perfectly round on her strong chest. The fact that she was floating right here in front of him — live and in person and not just some pixels floating in a Holo display — made all the difference.
“Truth be told, I’m still getting used to flying around this close to naked in public,” she shrugged, crossing her arms demurely. “It feels very free but also a bit provocative.”
“Don’t worry,” Jarod said, trying to sound cool. “You can get away with whatever you want. Go naked if you wish. You’re like totally fucking gorgeous in or out of clothing.”
She tilted her head as she smiled. “That? Coming from you? You’ve never even mentioned how I look before. Or what I wore.”
“This tiny bit of nothing can’t be legal in hyper-conservative Montana,” he said, struggling to change the subject a little. Their friendship had never been based on her looks, but Nancy was growing up fast. So was he.
She laughed at the look on his face. “My family doesn’t exactly worry about what Montana thinks. We own a good-sized chunk of it, and we provide a lot of good jobs, but everyone knows our playing field is global. Even Galactic.”
“Yeah, I got that, Miss Girl-From-a-Distant-Star.”
“But to the point, Mom says this would have been pretty normal clothing on Krypton. In fact, she said some women didn’t cover both their breasts when attending formal affairs. It was a sexy fashion statement. And hell, this design minus the “S” would fit in perfectly in Paris even now — especially on a hot summer day.”
“I’ll give you France,” Jarod shrugged, “given they were the first after the Russians to legitimize embryonic GenHancement. They now have the most beautiful population of young people on the planet. The most athletic too, which got them kicked out of the Olympics for obvious reasons.”
“Yeah. Dad is very unhappy about GenHance given there is so much stolen DNA from Wonder Woman in the embryonic tweaking. Its Russian militarized LuthorCorp stuff that they initially turned into profit before the world banned it. Well, except for France, which went the other way. Dad’s never had anything good to say about the Luthors, but he couldn’t legally stop the project. He's such a stickler for the rule of international law.”
“Then it’s a good thing LutherCorp got broken up when Russia went broke after the Ukrainian war.”
Nancy sat down cross-legged on the gravel while pulling Jarod down to face her. Their knees touched as she leaned closer to toss her long, blonde hair behind her shoulders. “So what do you see when you look into my eyes?”
He stared into her large eyes as she opened them wide, finding as usual that the whites were unnaturally clear, devoid of any visible blood vessels. Her amazing irises reflected an uncanny shade of Caribbean blue as they sparkled like cut diamonds.
“I see what I’ve always seen, Nanc. Pupils so clear they seem like deep wells into your soul. But then, I’ve always been convinced we both have very old souls. That we knew each other a very long time ago.”
“You see… that’s why I like you, Jarod. Most guys would talk about my blue eyes as their brains melted, all of their blood going downhill while they were unable to think of anything except undressing the rest of me. But you look far deeper inside me and see a completely different kind of truth.”
Jarod shrugged. “All I know is that there’s always been this incredibly familiar vibe between us. Felt it from the first time we met back in 3rd Grade. I can’t explain it except to assume that our souls know each other from another time and place.”
“Except your people are members of the great Sioux nation and mine are from a technological civilization on the other side of the galaxy. We have only one thing in common — both our cultures were utterly, fucking destroyed by assholes.”
“True enough,” he nodded. “Maybe that explains some of the vibe. But not even close to all of it.”
“Yeah, maybe. I’ve been wondering myself lately whether there could have been direct connections between our peoples long ago. Mom says our ancestors traveled far and wide — especially to yellow star systems — and she says our scientists had known about Earth for tens of thousands of years. Maybe one of my exploring ancestors could have moved in with your ancestral tribe back then. Hell… maybe our ancestors sat together here on this same exact spot of ground many thousands of years ago, watching sunsets like we are.”
“I like the sound of that,” he smiled. “And I’m glad you think about the reincarnation of souls too. I’ve always found the possibility fascinating. It would explain a lot of things.”
“All I know is that we share something special, yet on the surface, we have almost nothing in common.”
“I suppose. But my ancestors had lots of spirituality in their old religion, and the sun dance was their most powerful dance.”
“And my powers come from that same sun. Maybe my ancestors had something to do with your sun worship. Your ancestors would have been pretty impressed with our ability to fly up into the sky. To seemingly come from the sun, and with our hair the color of sunlight.”
“Or maybe they just liked being warm after these ungodly winters up here. To your point, Nanc, they wouldn't have ever seen blue-eyed blondes before. And seemingly descending from the sun, looking like you do…” He shrugged. “Goddess would be the only answer they’d know.”
“Some things don’t change.”
“I know. All those people who think you guys and the Amazons are some kind of gods. Not to mention the Asgardians, who actually are. Easy to believe that some ancient Indians would have totally bought that after they saw you guys fly. Or start a bonfire with your eyes. Or stop stampeding buffalo with arms outstretched. Not to mention plucking an arrow from flight, or have one bounce off your nose. But I’m surprised so many buy into the divinity thing today.”
Nancy nodded. “People’s gut feelings don’t change all that much over time. And as far as the reincarnation thought, according to my mom, Kryptonians believed that only a fixed number of souls existed in the universe, and they were reborn over and over — well, except for the ones who went into the Place of Lost Souls. You know, the Phantom Zone.”
Jarod’s eyes were sparkling with interest. He’d never been very spiritual before meeting Nancy, but now he’d started wondering about a lot of things that science couldn’t explain. “I’d have loved to hear what my ancient ancestors and yours talked about, assuming we’re right in guessing that they met.”
“I’m betting they sat together at someplace like this, Jar, smoking whatever herbs they had as they watched the setting sun. Just like us. If so, then it would make perfect sense that your Sioux source of ultimate power and the actual source of my power is the same.”
They sat silently, pondering that, enjoying the resonance, wondering if their souls were replaying some ancient scene, imagining what they might have been to each other back then. Friends? Lovers? Their vibe could go either way. What was certain was that their connection always seemed stronger when they were stoned.
Nancy spoke after a long silence. “You know, Jar, my dad has all these crystals and a reader that came from his father, Jor El. He studied them to learn who he was and where he’d come from, back before Mom arrived. But I wonder if there are crystals he didn’t look at which dealt with the history of early visits to Earth. I’ve been thinking of going through them sometime up in Dad’s old Fortress of Solitude. If I do, you wanna help?”
“Oh hell yes! I’d love to visit that place.”
“Great. I think Dad’s first wife, Lois, and maybe a few others saw some of those crystals, but Mom wasn’t interested because she grew up on Krypton and prefers her own memories. But no scientists have formally studied the crystals. Dad has always kept them very private, but I’m sure he’d be Ok with my looking at them. They’re part of my heritage after all. And he really respects your intelligence.”
Jarod swelled inside with pride. Having the former Superman think highly of him felt really special.
“But you know, Nanc, as far as the earlier question about your eyes, beyond being big and clear and deep and ridiculously blue, I know exactly what you can do with them. They’re not only beautiful, but those ring lasers in your irises are lethally scary, to be honest.”
“Aha,” she exclaimed. “That brings me to the point of this little routine of Mia’s that I’m going to show you.”
She floated from the ground to hover weightlessly over him. “You need to stay sitting and out of my field of view, Jar. Just watch that big Ponderosa Pine behind me. It’s got a rotten core and might fall on some hunters a few years from now. Big winds up here during the Fall hunts.”
She rose higher while demonstrating her superior flexibility by extending her legs absolutely straight out to her sides as she began to rotate slowly, and then faster and faster, her extended arms and legs blurring like a helicopter rotor spinning up. Soon she was spinning so fast that dust was blowing outward in all directions.
And then it happened. Her eyes began pulsing arc-welder bright as the beams sliced the huge Ponderosa Pine tree apart, starting at the top and working down, sending large and small branches flying outward to crash down in the woods. The bright cut-line kept moving down until only the lower half of the tall trunk was left standing. Then she slowly closed her arms and legs the way a figure skater does to increase their spin rate. In seconds she was a blur of red and blue, her long hair forming a wide disc of pale gold around her head, a second red disk from her skirt around her hips.
This time, when her eyes flashed, she sliced the thick trunk at incredible speed, cutting it from top to bottom so fast that the newly sliced disks crashed down almost at the same moment to pile nearly perfectly on top of each other. The tall pile of disks, nearly as tall as the trunk had been, stood there for a long moment, and then slowly toppled to one side to spill across the parking lot, their edges smoking slightly.
Nancy slowed her rotation to land in front of Jarod, her irises still glowing electric blue but now with a reddish glow tinting the whites. She wobbled slightly from dizziness until Jarod leaped back to his feet to grab her hands to steady her.
“Shit, the damn disks fell over again?” she cussed. “Can’t seem to get that part right. We’re supposed to cut the trunk together, one from bottom, one from top and leave the slices standing in a tall pile. I just know I’m going to mess it up for her.”
Jarod was gobsmacked by what he’d just seen. He knew as much as anyone about Kryptonian laser vision, but he’d never imagined it could be combined with her spinning and that kind of microsecond coordination to slice up a whole tree in mid-air.
“Hell, Nanc. That old tree was nearly four feet thick at the base.” He could still feel heat radiating from her face.
She smiled as she reached out to take her 501’s and sweater from him as she started getting dressed again, dancing around in mid-air as she pulled her tight jeans up. She was still a bit dizzy. “I almost had it this time. So what do you think?”
Jarod started to reply, only to pause when they both heard a loud cracking sound.
“Oh, bloody hell!” Nancy gasped as she leaped high over his head, her 501’s still unbuttoned. He turned just in time to see her jeans peeling downward as she flashed toward an immense Douglas Fir that was falling from behind the pile of pine discs — right toward his truck. She grabbed the falling tree, but it pulled her with it before she could adjust her flight, crashing down on his truck to totally flatten the center, the truck’s ends bending up into a U-shape. The 501's she’d peeled off in flight fluttered down to land in the dirt.
Walking over to pick them up and shake them off, Jarod watched with a sinking feeling as she sunk her fingers deeply into the tree and effortlessly hoisted the massive trunk and all its branches off his truck. She then spun around in mid-air to toss it completely across the parking lot, where it landed with an Earth-shaking crash at the edge of the woods. She then picked up what was left of his Ford, the battery pack sparking wildly. Floating there with his truck hanging casually in hand, she sheepishly turned around to face him, her sweater half torn away to reveal parts of her “S” rune.
“Oops. Guess I’ve still got some work to do on my timing. I owe you a truck.”
Standing there with his mouth hanging open, Jarod stared back and forth between her and his three-tons of flattened truck hanging on one finger.
“Ah… you know, it was old anyway, Nanc,” he shrugged. “Not worth much.” He didn’t say that it was the only truck he’d ever owned. And that it wasn’t insured. And that he loved it.
“Yeah, but it ran well and you need wheels. I’ll get you a new one.”
“Don’t bother. My dad owns a used car dealership. He's always getting trade-ins.”
“Offer remains, Jarod. I could find some criminal down in California or maybe Mexico with a late-model UberTruck and seize it, right after I put him in jail.”
He shook his head, horrified. “Oh, that’s all I need out here. The one gay Indian in this county driving a pimped-out gangster truck? I’m already a round peg in a square hole.”
“Well, at least let me help you get rid of this one.” She tore the sparking battery pack away from the frame, followed by the axles and motor mounts, effortlessly ripping the truck frame apart with her bare hands to extract the valuable electric motors. The truck’s high-strength steel frame squished like rubber and then tore in her grip while the carbon-fiber composites crushed to dust.
“We can recycle most of this stuff.”
Jarod watched sadly as she started stomping barefoot across the remains of his Ford to crush it further, and then bent the chassis in half, and then half again, and again, finally hugging it between her arms and legs as she slowly wadded it up like an oversized ball of tin foil, even as the deafening screech of tortured steel and the sharp crunch and pop of breaking composite said otherwise. He stared in awe as she used her fantastic strength to compress everything into a crude ball, managing to tear the rest of her sweater off in the process.
Her nearly nude backside was a wonder as he watched her amazing muscles work, her skirt lifting flirtatiously.
“You know, you have got to have the tightest ass…” He started to say, voicing his internal thoughts, only to freeze as he heard what was coming out of his mouth.
She turned to see him staring wide-eyed at her butt and laughed. “So, you don’t much care for boobs, but you like my butt? Is that a gay guy thing?”
Jarod blushed. “I… I have no idea. It’s probably just me.”
He tried to change the subject as he always did when it came to this kind of discussion.
“Ah, you know, Nanc, my wallet is still in the glove compartment. Any chance to get it?”
She stared pointedly at the wadded up wreckage for a long moment, eyes flashing, and then plunged her arm into the wreckage almost to her shoulder. The sharp squeal of overstressed steel filled the air again as she rummaged around for a moment, and then pulled her hand back holding what was left of his wallet. It was frayed and smoking and falling apart as she handed it to him.
He gathered up the bits and pieces to stuff into his pockets. “Thanks for that. I think.”
“You going to be Ok with your dad about this, Jar? I noticed his name was on the registration.”
“After I tell him how it happened, he’ll just be envious. Probably make a shrine out of the remains. He’s very much into the fact that you and I are friends.”
“Still figures you’ll change your ways, huh?”
Jarod shrugged. “He says that since I’ve never had a boyfriend, or a girlfriend, then I don’t know what I am. That I’m making stuff up about being gay. That I’ve watched too many artsy HoloFilms or whatever.”
“Holos don’t make people gay.”
“No shit. And while he says he’s Ok with it and all, he’s absolutely not. Everything he knows about sex involves women, so he’s not exactly open to other thoughts. Or sharing anything. Or hearing anything from me. To him, my gayness is like a scab that hopefully will heal and go away if he doesn’t pick at it.”
Nancy casually kicked the remains of his former truck across the parking lot, rolling it like an oversized beach ball. Except that it was so heavy that it left a little trench in the hard ground behind it.
“That sounds tough, Jar, but at least he’s not actively trying to change you. And why should he listen to you anyway? He’s right that you don’t know much, and even less about where experience might take you. But as I see it, he’s doing more than a lot of dad’s around here would do. Half of them would have kicked you out.”
“If not for you, I’m not sure what he’d do.”
“I shouldn’t be his reason for hope,” she shrugged. “I’m just a friend.”
“He was asking me something odd the other day, Nanc. About you. He wondered out loud if all Kryptonians are as perfectly built as you.”
“Was he creeping on me?”
“No… well, maybe, but he tries to be cool about it. He’d never admit it, but I think he’s one of those people who think you guys are gods or whatever.”
She rolled her eyes. “That’s all I need. Despite my teasing earlier, there are already too many drooling idiots with a head full of fantasies. I’m just glad you aren’t overly impressed.”
“Oh, I’m plenty impressed, Miss El,” Jarod grinned. “I mean… you can bend steel in your bare hands. Like it’s nothing. And bullets bounce off you — like everywhere, even from the really soft spots. And you have to go to the sun to get a good tan. And you just crunched my F-150 into a beach ball. Did you know that they’ve been making trucks like that for a hundred years, and this is probably the first one that anyone balled up with someone’s bare hands.”
“Definitely not the first,” Nancy smiled. “And I think it’s more like 150 years. Mom liked to do stuff like this to make a point when men underestimated her. And… really soft spots?”
“Sorry… I can’t unsee that bizarre video I saw of you blunting a stream of bullets with your chest — after you’d pulled off your top. Your boobs really bounced around a lot. And that was when they were a bit less… mature.”
She frowned, her cute dimples disappearing. “That video was supposed to have been vaporized. I was underage and all. And hell, Jarod, I was being shot by an anti-armor Gatling gun. They’re kind of the definition of ‘dramatic’.”
He nodded. “You know that nothing on the Holo ever actually disappears. Not from someone with skills.”
“Um, hum…” she said softly. “Hope you didn’t hurt yourself finding it. Or watching it.”
“I stumbled across it while researching info about this ancient military airplane — the A-10 Warthog. A 20th century jet fighter. It fired 30mm armor-piercing shells at a hundred rounds per second. A single one of those shots would turned a normal person into so-much hamburger. They were designed to take out armor. Anyway, there was a link from there to your video given that’s what they shot you with.”
“Well, you should know that I took a lot of shit from my mom for allowing that video, Jar. She called it BulletPorn. Something I didn’t even know was a thing back then.”
Jarod chuckled. “Sexual fantasies have no bounds, Nanc.”
“Whatever… it wasn’t a fantasy for me. It was a gazillion foot-pounds of abuse slamming into my boobs. But I guess guys imagine all kinds of things.“
“I’m taking the Fifth on that,” Jarod smirked. “You already pinned a fantasy on me about your brother that I don't really have.” Or I try not to have, he said to himself.
“Sorry. Dar draws a lot of attention in that way. You’re different, which is why I’m going to enjoy going to the Prom with you. The queer geek brings the hottest girl on Earth to the dance. We'll give them a show that’ll melt their brains.”
Jarod laughed. “Hottest girl on Earth? Just the simple truth, huh?”
Nancy shrugged. “You know what I mean, and in fairness, I have been called that in the media.”
“I think you have sisters who might argue the ‘hottest’ label,” Jarod teased.
“You mean Lara. That’s not fair. She’s got the ability to change how people see her. Some kind of magic. Guys don’t see her as she really is, which isn’t much different than me, but instead they see their personal super-idealized ultimate version of her. I’ve heard men talk about her “raven-black hair”; but she’s as blonde as I am. Some want to see her as a teenaged girl, others as a twentyish woman, others as some kind of super-athlete with bulging muscles. Anything goes, and no two people see her the same. What about you?
“To me, she looks a little older than you but otherwise clearly your sister, except she’s got this weird glow about her. But then, your whole family is blessed with out-of-this-world genetics. Hell, your mother could still walk into my high school and pass for one of those blonde cheerleaders if she dressed and acted the part, and she’s nearly two hundred years old. I bet the two of you could even pull off being sisters if you worked at it. Some people would definitely call your mother’s lack of aging divine.”
“If that came from anyone else, Jarod, I’d think you were creeping on my mom now.”
“Sorry. You know I’m not. It’s just that you and your mom look similar enough that old vids from the 20th century always make me think I’m looking at you.”
“Well, whatever, it’s going to be just you and me, Jarod… unless you’re proposing getting even more outrageous. My mom and I? You with two Supergirls as Prom dates. That’d be a legacy your classmates would remember.”
Jarod blanched. “No, no way. I wasn’t going anywhere with that. Just commenting on magic.”
“Good. I just want to have some fun at your Prom, Jarod. Me being me and you being you, but in maximum party mode.”
“That’ll be awesome!” Jarod beamed. “But I’m not sure if it wouldn’t also be mean. The other guys’ dates aren’t coming to watch their boyfriends drool all over you.”
“Oh, I’m sure they’ll have their boyfriends’ full attention after a little inspiration. Prom dates are already kind of infamous around here — as in, everyone gets laid, right?”
Jarod shrugged uncomfortably as he considered ‘everyone’. “Well, rumor says so. But there are always exceptions.” He was going to say “like us”, but he held back as something new was starting to grow within him.
"Maybe a few of those girls will be studying you, Jarod. Trying to figure out what you’ve got.”
“The girls? What am I supposed to do with them?”
“Take advantage of the opportunity. You’ve never been on a date before. Never even made out or anything. And certainly never met another gay guy, living way out here in the middle of nowhere in cowboy country. And you haven’t seen me in full party mode.”
Jarod was suddenly nervous. “You sound like my dad. Are you offering to try an experiment?”
She laughed. “No, I like you the way you are. It’s so refreshing to be around you. I mean, imagine what it’s usually like when I float into a room full of straight guys? Especially dressed in this outfit.”
“Ah… an entire room full of woodies?”
She giggled. “Yeah. Not much thinking going on in those blood-starved brains as they suffer.”
“Looks that way to me. Mind-locked and drooling. Obsessed. Whatever it is, it’s really bad for conversation. I feel badly for Lara. I can dress down, hide myself a bit, but guys always lose it around her. Her erotic power is absolutely overwhelming, even when she’s not trying. I think she truly qualifies as being a goddess, what with her special power and all. We’d have to tie her up in a sack and put that sack in a box and bury it deep underground to tone her influence down, and I’m not even sure about that.”
“So her special power is… the power to make woodies?”
Nancy laughed. “Ok, so maybe it’s not so special. But at least I can beat her in arm-wrestling. She doesn’t work out much.”
“And you do?”
“Every day. I’ve never shown anyone outside the Family — it weirds people out — but Dad has these old weights made of steel-coated metamorphic rock that are really heavy. Gneiss and marble and stuff. I’ll have to take you to his gym someday and show you. The biggest weight is the size of an apartment building and the smallest is the size of your truck… well, you know, as it used to be. Alura and I used to toss those truck-sized blocks around like beachballs before she left for college. She could do it one-handed. And when she wanted to leave, she’d flatten me with one of those house-sized rocks before flying off. Back before I was strong enough to throw them back.”
“And you were in what… Middle School then? Those things weigh thousands of tons, right? That takes some serious muscle!”
She shrugged as she made a fist and flexed her slender arm, which blossomed into a baseball-sized biceps that was split and defined enough that any bodybuilder would be in awe.
“Muscles I definitely got, even though I don’t usually look it.”
Given her Kryptonian muscles, Nancy could look sleek and lithe at one moment, slender even, and then tremendously defined and cut at another, depending on what she was doing.
“I could bench 10x100 when I was a Kindergartner, Jar.”
“Bench 10 by what?”
“10 tons for 100 reps. I could do 100x100 by the time I was ten. That’s as much as Dar could do at that age. But he’s stronger than me now. Testosterone and all.”
Jarod said nothing for a moment as he tried to envision a six-year-old doing reps with a city bus. Or a ten year old doing reps with the weight of two Army main battle tanks. “You know, if there’s one thing I do find sexy about you, it’s your muscles.”
“These turn you on?” she said as she twisted her arm while continuing to flex it, showing off more hard curves. “Normally I totally downplay my strength around guys. Some think I look freaky when I’m pumped.”
“As we’ve discussed, I’m not most people.”
She tilted her head to look at him oddly. “At least this explains your reaction when I was wadding up your truck.”
“Can we change the subject?” Jarod quickly asked, visibly embarrassed by the way that flex of hers had his dusty jeans feeling way too tight.
“Sure. How about we burn that second joint? Nobody else on the ranch much likes this weed, except the gardeners, who like it way too much. I think they’re all starting to grow wings the way they float around, all elevated and all.”
She somersaulted slowly in midair to return to the tree they’d first been leaning against, her blonde hair a cloud that settled around her, her skirt falling back to properly cover her. Reaching under the “S” of ultimate power on her chest, she retrieved the second joint of super pot.
His thoughts were racing wildly as he followed her over to sit next to her, still impressed as hell by her show of muscle. Nobody human or even Asgardian for that matter could ever attain that kind of definition, least of all be so incomprehensible strong. His thoughts drifted as he suddenly found himself wondering how much larger her brother’s muscles would be? How much stronger? He brutally pushed that thought away just as he had the other, and instead studied the ragged ball of crushed steel on the other side of the parking lot. One of his truck’s F-150 badges was twisted but still readable on the surface of the wreckage, as if anyone would believe that an entire truck had been crushed into such a small ball.
He was already missing his truck. Like every other guy in rural Montana, he and his truck had been one. A truck was more than just mobility for an Indian out here. It was part of his identity, just as horses had been for his ancestors.
Lost in that bit of funk, he asked the next thing that came to mind. “So, when you’re trying to fit in sometimes, you know, pretending to be human and all, where do you go? Do you have a secret identity?”
She looked at him with one eyebrow raised. “Oh, I thought you said that was my private thing and you didn’t want to know?”
“Sorry. I’m interested now. And it’s my birthday. Humor me.”
“Ok… but remember you were the one who asked.” She paused for a moment to gather her thoughts. “As you remember, I was gone for a few weeks last Spring. I was in Paris pretending to be an American college student who’d gone there to practice my French. Several French men volunteered to help. Well, more than several. One of them was very attentive and super-cute.”
“Given how you look, I’m hardly surprised. And he didn’t know who you were?”
“Nope. Just a nobody. But he was a somebody. Son of a wealthy couple who’d had him seriously GenHanced in the womb, he’d grown up gorgeous and strong and athletic like most young Frenchmen of his generation. So I told him I was GenHanced too — you know, to explain these muscles — even though its not nearly as common in the US. He kept marveling that my parents must have spent ‘seriously biggy bucks’ to order up my geno-tweaks, taking me to ‘Full Amazon’.” She smiled at him. “I think that’s what currently passes for a high compliment in Paris these days. Full Amazon.”
Jarod laughed with her, despite suddenly feeling strangely jealous. “Amazing how that’s all worked out for the French,” he said. “I mean, at first it was just an illegal LuthorCorp thing — injecting Amazonian DNA into harvested human embryos to make super-soldiers — then the Russians stole the tech behind it and made their BlackWidows, who looked like supermodels despite being able to flatten an armored vehicle with their bare hands. Soon, everyone was racing to weaponize it, just to keep up. LuthorCorp was making money from all sides by controlling the embryos and charging millions each. So then the French government comes along and blows all that up by giving it away at low cost to any of their citizens who wanted to tweak their kids at conception. The New France movement. They also sold the tech on the world market for a fraction of what the Russians were asking, least of all LuthorCorp. Both of whom are still pissed at France after their market collapsed.”
“Except the French didn’t juice their kids to turn them into homicidal monsters like the Russians did,” Nancy smirked. “Their BlackWidows were deranged killers despite their stunning looks, yet all the French GenHances I met were very friendly. All of them were solidly ‘make love not war’ types.”
“Yeah, Nanc, but that’s because they thought you’re one of them. They look down their noses at the rest of us, and more than a few of them are off doing Special Ops or whatever. Spy stuff for the highest bidder. I mean, every one of them can bench at least a ton, some many times that, and the best of the girls could briefly stand in for Wonder Woman if they wore a good enough costume, being that they’re mostly bulletproof. That makes them very dangerous if they want to be.”
Nancy shook her head. “Except as you said, the French Enhance process doesn’t juice them with steroids and raise them to be killers, Jar. Even outside France, where they exist mostly as government agents, we’ve only had to deal with a few bad ones, most of them Russian. Instead, the French are terribly proud that they’re the foremost believers in world peace and harmony. Which they combine with their true pride at being better than anyone else at love, and looking hot while doing it.”
“So, Nanc, did your French hunk know that his new girlfriend was at the very tippy top of a genetic ladder that reaches beyond the sky?”
“Nope. But he thought I was super cute. And once he figured out I could match up to him in strength, toughness and endurance, he was very happy. He’d never met a woman before me who could keep up with him.”
“But he wasn’t suspicious?”
“Nope. I made sure he thought he was a little more powerful than me, but that he didn’t have to hold anything back with me. Which is why he was continuously amazed that anyone in America had spent the kind of money to tweak me that much.”
“Hmmm… so, do French men live up to their lofty reputations?”
“Oh my, he’s stalking me again. Searching for my secrets,” Nancy laughed.
“No… well, yes,” Jarod stammered, blushing. “But… you know, I have an interest in French supermen too.”
“All I’ll say is that their romantic skills are not exaggerated. Ooh-la-la.”
Another stab of jealousy found him. “So… you refined your French in the ancient and proven way — taking a French lover. Let me guess, he thought you were like 20 or something?”
“My passport said 22. Senior at UCLA majoring in the History of Languages. Grandparents French. Thinking of moving to France given all the other GenHances. I told him it was hard to fit in with normals, which is absolutely true.”
“So, how’d it feel to be someone else? I won’t say ‘someone ordinary’, because with your looks, you’ll always be special.”
“It was a gas. I got to act older. I tinted my hair red and used some green contact lenses to hide my sparkling blues.”
“You must have a damn good fake ID, because you sure don’t look 22.”
“Everyone knows that GenHance aging is slower than normal, and besides, everything in Paris is open if you have the sauce. No age of consent silliness.”
“So, you and your Frenchman, who didn’t ask too many questions, worked with you on your accent for a few weeks. Day and night, I suppose.”
She winked. “He was a very hard worker.”
“So how did you make your exit? Graceful or awkward?”
“Graceful. Emergency call from back home. Favorite uncle with a stroke. I left him with a phone number that went nowhere as I grabbed a cab for the airport. But I stopped the cab after a few kilometers to disappear into an alleyway. From there, I flew home to Montana. Took me way less time to get home than it would have taken to get to the Paris airport in that taxi.”
“Broke another heart, you did.”
“Not that guy. His skills definitely didn’t include fidelity. Probably took him almost until dinner to get over me.”
Jarod felt a growing jealousy of a kind that he couldn’t process. How could a guy be so callous that he didn’t bemoan losing a girl like Nancy? After she’d spent weeks as his lover, day and night. How could any man be so shallow. So self-absorbed.
“I guess I’m officially jealous then,” he finally managed to say, trying to sound worldly and witty, although he didn’t feel like either. “Maybe he knows his way around men too.”
“Hah… very likely. A lot of GenHance folks are Bi. All I know is that he was amazingly sensual and open. And wildly athletic when and where it counted.”
Her nipples tented her blue tunic as her eyes glanced up and left as people do when recalling a memory, smiling off in space. Jarod’s jealousness surged, only to have those thoughts washed from his mind when her eyes flashed brightly enough to dazzle him. Blinking, he saw her blazing the second doobie. She took a long hit before handing it to him.
“Here… let’s finish this. This strain always gets me high as fuck.”
“I always wondered about that chink in your famous armor. Girl of Steel brought to Earth with a few grams of cannabinoids. Who would guess?”
“Hopefully nobody. The bad guys are always looking for our weaknesses. Former LuthorCorp goons most of all. But this is a unique strain of weed that only grows on our ranch.”
“Yeah, otherwise the bad guys would hit you with a sticky weed bomb,” he laughed as he took another hit. “I can see it now. You coated in weed oil and forgetting about the bad guys as you super-speeded around the city eating all the donuts.”
“Not a pretty image, I admit."
"But if this is your idea of advanced superhero training,” he chuckled while handing her the joint again, “learning to resist the evil power of weed, then I’m very honored to help.”
They sat quietly for a while after that, Nancy leaning gently against his shoulder, the two of them content to just enjoy the ancient ritual of sharing the sunset, their souls mingling. The same thing people have been doing since there were people on this world. The passing of day into night was always a time of rest from the day’s labor and a moment to reflect on the coming night.
Except Jarod wasn’t interested in the sunset today. His mind was racing. He was intensely aware of Nancy leaning against him. He struggled not to stare down at her bare legs and that ridiculously short skirt, or to enjoy the warm silky golden hair that spilled over his shoulder. Trying to think of her as just a friend while she looked so totally Kryptonian sitting there in that brightly-colored bit of nothing, her shoulders and abs and legs so tanned and bare, her pale hair accented by the oranges and reds of the setting sun.
He’d always tried to keep who she was in perspective, wanting only her friendship, but now all he could think about were all the ways she was superhuman. That and imagining what it must have been like with that Genhanced superman in Paris. Maybe it was this weird weed or maybe the fact that they were going to the Prom, or maybe the way she was dressed in these very skimpy red and blues — but somehow, things felt totally different today, and he wasn’t sure how to handle it. Starting with the angry way he’d felt inside when she talked about Paris. This kind of jealousy was new to him, but he shouldn’t be having these feelings in any case. That wasn’t what he and Nancy were about.
“This truly is bizarrely wonderful weed,” he finally said, hoping that’s all it was.
She nodded. “Yup. We got some awesome gardeners on the ranch. That and a bit of alien soil that they it grow in. Came from Maxima’s planet.”
“She flew around the galaxy delivering dirt?”
“It was supposed to be some kind of gift to Earth after she and my dad got married. Which of course never happened. But he wound up with the dirt. Sort of like Galadriel’s gift to Sam in LOTR.”
“I don’t think I’d want to be friends with Maxima’s daughter.”
Nancy laughed. “No… definitely not. Like her mother, she’s all about trading up in genetics to gain power, not down. That’s all she saw in my dad. His Kryptonian genes.”
Jarod struggled to rein in his surging emotions instead of just relaxing and enjoying the smoke and the pleasant company. Her family was so incomprehensibly different than his family, who were alcoholics, all of them. Most of them saw weed as something to smoke during some sweat-lodge religious ceremony — but never at Happy Hour. They slammed down beers and shots until they were stupid drunk instead, poisoning their livers.
But he kept those thoughts to himself as they burned the second joint, and then Nancy lifted his mood by floating up to catch the last high rays of sun high overhead, sparkling in the sunlight as she started doing flips and spins in mid-air, lost in the simple joy of stoned flight. Soon, she dropped down over the edge of the cliff and into the gathering dark, where she tried to catch a few small bats which were rising up the cliff face, following swarms of insects. Jarod rose to walk over to the cliff edge to watch as the bats natural radar sent them fluttering just out of her reach.
He’d seen her try to catch bats before without success. It was his theory that they got really strong echoes from her invulnerable skin. And given she had to go slow and be ever so gentle to not hurt them, they always got away from her.
After putting on a bizarre display of delicate air dancing along with her strange ineptness with bat catching, often flying upside down along the cliff face, she finally landed at the very edge, her back toward him as she stood tall, facing the sunset. He’d retreated to sit back down against the tree again, enjoying watching the way her long, tapered hair fell down her back, her legs spread slightly to allow the last rays of sunlight to shine between them. Watching the sun slowly fall out of sight between those long legs was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen.
She finally sighed as the sun disappeared, and turned around in the dusk to face him, spreading her sunset-blonde hair over her shoulders.
“So, how about I get you home along with your truck. Such as it is.”
“What’s the hurry?”
“It’s Family Night. It’s when Mom gets all dozen plus of us on the same page. Teaching. Sharing. Planning. Talking about alien stuff and . world politics. Stuff like that.”
“Yeah, we have family time every day too,” he said sourly. “It’s when everyone in my family practices getting drunk and talking shit.”
“Don’t be so negative, Jarod. Your people have many fine qualities.”
“Yup. Being Sioux isn’t the problem. Being in my family is. My family has this drunken gene. Makes drinking way more fun for us than for most folks. But hopelessly addictive too.”
“Except you can handle it.”
“Yeah, but only by avoiding it completely. Toking this weed of yours instead of drinking.”
Given it was time to fly, he rose to walk over to stand a few inches behind her, just like he had so many other times. She’d usually hold him to her side to fly short distances, but it was far more comfortable for him to lay on her back during longer flights. But this time it was different. Given this new flight outfit, he swore he could feel the warm glow from all that bare skin before he even touched her, and his eyes had a mind of their own as they traced the tight curves that descended from her shoulders all the way down to those cute dimples at the base of her spine. And then up down over the sexy rise of her very pert butt. Whenever they’d flown before, she’d worn her street clothing, which usually involved sweaters or jackets and always her 501’s. He’d never really touched her skin before today, other than a grazing touch when passing joints back and forth. But now that’s all there was to hold onto — an acre of golden skin and those flawless curves and all that silky blonde hair.
Holding his breath, he hesitantly lifted his hands to place them on her bare shoulders, gasping softly despite himself as he felt the way her warm skin stretched so tautly over supple, warm steel. The dual sensations of Kryptonian sexuality and power were so intense that his legs nearly deserted him as his body got fully into it. He tried not to press himself against her butt as she slowly tilted forward while lifting her legs behind to support him, bending her legs to press her heels gently against his back to hold him securely in place. She shifted her hips sensually beneath him until his unbidden erection slipped so wonderfully into the crack of her ass.
She seemed not to notice as she floated silently over to what was left of his mangled truck. Reaching down, she grabbed the large ball of wreckage with one hand, her left shoulder swelling with curves of steel as she easily lifted three tons of compressed Ford off the ground. He shifting his arms to wrap them around her neck and held on very tightly as she started climbing into the night sky, picking up speed. Soon he had to burrow his face beneath her silky hair to block some of the wind, only to have her ass grip his erection very tightly as she accelerated, which made sure he wasn’t going to slip down. The supple steel curves across her back flexed lithely as she twisted sensuously beneath him, this way and that, to control her flight.
Lost in the incredible sensations of Kryptonian flight as always, free as a bird, they soared high and flew fast, arriving at his house far too quickly. There, she dropped the mangled scrap that had been his truck.
It landed with a loud crunch among a half dozen other ancient pickup trucks that were parked next to the barn.
“Dad fixes these antique trucks up to sell at his dealership,” Jarod explained. “Mostly to reservation Indians. Pre-antigrav trucks are a big seller for the Blackfeet and Crows who live past the ends of the powered roads. Rubber tires still work just fine in dirt and they like the old tech.”
Nancy just nodded while flying him over to the driveway to settle barefoot among a small group of family members, all of whom stared up at her in drunken awe. Once she’d dropped him off, she floated back up over their heads, preparing to leave, looking for all the world like an exotic tropical bird, primary colors and all, caught as she was in the floodlights that lit their yard. He was about to wave goodbye when the remainder of his family suddenly exploded out of the brightly lit ranch house through every door, many of them dressed in party hats with drinks in hand. Loud music came out the now open doors.
“Jarod, Jarod, Jarod, Jarod,” they chanted. “The birthday boy finally arrives!”
“So much for no one remembering your birthday,” Nancy laughed.
Jarod watched in dismay as his dad along with various drunken aunts and uncles and cousins surrounded him. Yet all eyes were on Nancy as she hovered beneath the bright yard lights, glowing like a fancy Christmas ornament. Someone turned a powerful hand spotlight on her which made her look even more exotic at this angle.
Jarod walked up to his dad, who seemed less drunk than his uncles. “She said yes, Dad!”
“Yuh? Yes to what?” he asked.
“The Prom. Remember?”
“No shit!” He stood up taller to shout: “Hey everyone, my boy is going to the Prom with Supergirl.”
Everyone began to cheer, drinks sloshing in celebration.
Jarod winced. “Supergirl is her mom, Dad. Or actually now her older sister, Alura. Nancy is just Nancy.”
“And you said you were gay!” his dad laughed as he leaned close. “Glad you got past that silly phase before you did anything you couldn’t undo.” He raised his drink again to shout, “My boy has the hottest date for the Prom in all of Montana.”
People cheered as Jarod looked up at Nancy, who looked as pained as he felt. She made a fist and extended her arm, preparing to exit into the night, when his uncle Jed shouted: “Hey, Fred, you still wanna get your god-damned dozer out of that muck? Might be doable with Supergirl here.”
His dad turned to look at Jarod. “Could she do that? A D9? I got a buyer ready to go for a dozen of those old dozers after I demo this first one for him. We could sure use the money.”
Jarod sighed, his head dropping. He was too stoned to deal with this right now.
His dad had recently purchased an ancient Army surplus Caterpillar D9 that had been designed for jungle warfare in Vietnam — more than 130 years ago. It had an armored driver’s position and an oversized blade designed to withstand anti-tank mines. Amazingly, it had been preserved well enough out in the desert to be returned to running condition without great cost.
D9’s like this had flattened villages and plowed up exploding mine fields. But it was now the key to his dad’s new plan to earn extra money to pay for his room and board — now that he’d accepted the tuition scholarship to MIT. The Army was selling off a hundred of these old dozers for the cost of hauling them away.
It was, of course, another one of his dad’s endless list of get-rich-quick schemes. Except this time he was doing it for his college expenses. Problem was, his crazy Uncle Frank had buried their first refurbished dozer while trying to prove his claim that nothing on Earth could stop a D9.
Jarod rolled his eyes up at Nancy, shaking his head as he hoped she’d hurry and fly off before his family embarrassed him any further. But she didn’t get the hint, and instead dropped down to land in front of his dad. What with her blonde hair and that teensy bit of colorful flight uniform, she looked completely out-of-place among this group of dusty denim-clad and booted Indians.
Jarod shook his head even more vigorously behind his dad’s back, hoping she’d take his hint. But she didn’t. She had no idea how batshit crazy his family was. Between their wildly optimistic plans and endless dreams of getting rich without really working, they managed to overflow with enthusiasm while somehow managing to fail at absolutely everything they tried. Mostly due to the drinking.
“Guess I could help a little while I’m here, Mr. Adams,” she said “Anything for Jarod’s dad. So where’s said machine?”
Uncle Jed gave off a Sioux’s keening war cry as he jumped into an antique diesel-powered truck that had a bar of high intensity lights mounted on top. It started with a roar and a cloud of black smoke as its lights turned night into day. The roaring, stinking diesel drew a dozen half-drunk cousins and uncles his way. They piled into the truck bed and cab with sloshing drinks in hand.
The party was about to get even crazier.
Jarod cursed as he ran over to jump onto the running board to hang on to the right-hand mirror as Uncle Jed roared off into the night, everyone shouting and pointing in different directions as they tried to figure out where the crisscross of dozer tracks finally disappeared. Nancy floated down to sit crosslegged on the hood of the truck, seemingly unaffected by its bouncing and swerving.
After a bunch of wrong turns, they eventually stumbled upon a straight row of tracks that went down into a grove of Aspen trees. The dozer had plowed a path through the grove, bending and snapping trees off with its huge blade like they were saplings, leaving the broken timber plowed up along the sides of what was now a crude road. All of which gave some credence to Uncle Frank’s the claim that nothing could stop a D9.
The truck bounced its way through the grove, dodging stumps until they came out the other side and saw what had stopped the dozer — the massive machine was buried so deeply in a mud bog that only the armored driver’s compartment was visible.
Nancy floated down to hover beside the truck, her face in Uncle Jed’s window.
“You said your dozer was stuck. I call that buried.”
“Wasn’t in that deep earlier. Must be some kind of slow quicksand. Likely if we get any more rain, it’ll disappear completely.” He turned to smile at her, their noses almost touching, his breath boozy. “Unless you make the dozer reappear first, darlin’.”
She wrinkled her nose at his boozy breath. “Can I just lift it by the driver’s cab? It looks pretty sturdy.”
“Nope. That there’s 70 tons of American steel, darlin’. Plus that mud ain’t gonna let go easy. That cab might be armored and bulletproof, but no way is it strong enough to pull it out of there.”
Nancy sighed as she glanced past Jed and Uncle Frank to meet Jarod’s eyes across the cab, realizing for the first time how messy this was going to get. He shrugged as he mouthed “told you so”.
“Ok. So… where exactly do you want it?” she asked icily, making it sound as if Uncle Jed’s asshole was her preferred location.
“Just back there in the driveway, darlin’,” Jed grinned. “A little washin’ down and it’ll be good as new.”
Nancy nodded as she floated forward into the truck’s intense lights, her bare back and long blonde hair and that bit of red skirt glowing. Then, with a little backward arch of her back, she silently rose straight up over their heads to disappear into the darkness.
Everyone was staring upward, straining to catch sight of her again, the drunks in the back staggering around enough to get the truck swaying on its springs. One of his aunts fell out as she lost her balance. Jarod took advantage of that moment of hilarity to squeeze into the cab with his uncles.
He was trying to act cool, like this was normal stuff for him and Nancy, but his heart was racing. Despite the two of them being friends for so long, he’d never seen her do anything all that amazing in person — other than flying and her recent dicing and slicing of that tree. And he had some doubts about what they were asking her to do. A D9 dozer was monstrous, and the clinging, sucking quicksand was likely going to quadruple its weight before it broke free. Nancy was still in training, still learning how to be a super girl. Did she even know how to do this? Dropping that bulldozer on someone would not be pretty.
Lost in that troubling thought, Jarod was startled when a red and blue streak flashed down through the headlights to hit the ground at a slight angle. The impact sent a wave of thick mud flying outward to cover the truck, coating everyone in the back, turning the drunken revelers into a bunch of mud wrestlers as they slipped and fell. The truck’s wipers struggled to move enough of it so they could see out the windshield.
Jarod couldn’t help but laugh — she’d clearly done that on purpose! He was really happy he’d squeezed into the cab.
Moments later, the entire bog started to shake and tremble like jelly in an earthquake, with concentric circles spreading outward around the dozer. Then, it began to very slowly rise as Jarod’s eyes bugged out of his head.
He had a sudden vision of that ancient Star Wars movie scene where Yoda made an X-Wing re-emerge from a watery swamp. Except in this case, the mud gave off loud sucking and wheezing sounds as the dozer rose steadily until it was hovering in mid-air. Nancy had to be under there, but Jarod couldn’t see her inside the huge blob of mud that clung to the bottom. As if controlled by the Force and not a teenage girl’s muscles, the huge dozer began to rotate as it slowly gained altitude to head back toward the house.
Uncle Jed gassed his truck to spin it around, which threw half the remaining drunks out of the mud-filled truck bed to land in even deeper mud, and then roared off without them to chase what he called “that flying fucking super slime-dozer.”
He was really drunk now. So much so that he bounced off a bunch of stumps as he tried to drive back through the rough road through the trees. But he finally made it through to race across the field beyond to skid to a stop in a smear of mud at the end of the driveway. Everyone who’d managed to hang on slid from the bed when Jarod opened the tailgate. They were all gawking at the monstrous slime-dozer as it settled gently onto the driveway. And then through it. It was so heavy that its huge treads were collapsing the asphalt.
Every jaw was hanging open a moment later when a smaller blob of mud slithered out from beneath, looking like a swamp monster. She shook herself like a dog, sending the thickest of the mud flying. Some of Jarod’s less drunken cousins grabbed hoses to begin spraying Nancy down while Uncle Frank fired up a huge gas-powered industrial pressure washer.
“Sheeiit, she actually made that look easy,” Uncle Jed exclaimed as he stood to the side with Jarod and his dad. “Given she’s such a slip of a girl.”
“She’s Superman’s daughter,” Jarod shrugged. “What did you expect?”
“That is sure some hot girlfriend you got there, Jarod my buddy. Careful she don’t break you in half. Or burn you down. A lot of fire in that one.”
“I’m gay, remember. She’s just a friend.”
“Bullshit. You don’t know what you are. Easy to see that girl likes you, and she’s goin’ to the Prom with you! That’s a date, my boy. And you know what they say about Proms?”
Jarod rolled his eyes. That old Montana myth again. But he had to admit he was filled with a kind of pride he’d never felt before — right up to the moment Uncle Frank put that commercial pressure washer to work. He seemed to be greatly enjoying himself as he revealed more and more of her skimpy red and blues and all that bare skin. Another uncle aimed his garden hose at her head, and she bent over to comb her fingers through her hair while shaking her head vigorously, splatters of sticky mud flying. A second cousin took more careful aim at her frontside, revealing more and more of her S rune. And then there was Uncle Frank, aiming his industrial pressure washer at her ass while she stood leaning over washing her hair, the powerful blast lifting her skirt as he blew the mud beneath it away with a roar.
Jacob cursed silently as he watched. As usual, things in his family always turned from fun to abusive as the night wore on. Inappropriate didn’t even begin to cover it, what with her costume so wet and super clingy and tiny as she stood in the convergence of those streams of water, her skirt up around her waist, her blue panties barely maintaining her essential modesty. He felt a rising sense of both jealousy and indignation — his cousins and uncles were enjoying themselves WAY too much — with someone they thought was his girlfriend.
Yet no matter how inappropriate or exploitive it was, Nancy clearly seemed to be Ok with it, going so far as to flip upside down and rotating slowly in mid-air to give them a better angle to spray her. She especially seemed to enjoy the paint-stripping blast of the big pressure washer.
Jarod told himself that it was impossible for any of them to truly take advantage of a Kryptonian — if she didn’t like it, then she’d just fly off. Nobody could stop her or make her do anything she didn’t want to do. And looking around at the way everyone was whooping and cheering, it was clear that they didn’t believe the usual rules applied to a girl who could carry a bulldozer on her back. They weren’t seeing her as a high school girl, but rather a force of nature — a true superheroine, an alien goddess — and in their drunken logic, helping her clean the mud off was simply being considerate.
Still, he needed to get Nancy out of here before things that couldn’t be forgiven or forgotten were said or done. This kind of drunken gathering always escalated and he wasn’t going to suffer through another dysfunctional family gathering the way he had so many others. Not with Nancy.
Thankfully, she saw the pained look on his face, and the moment the mud was gone, she floated out of the streams of water to wrap her arms and legs tightly around him, her cold, hard nipples pressing pointedly against his chest as her wet hair fell over him. Startlingly, her warm lips found his in a kiss.
The sudden and unexpected combination of unfamiliar sensations sent an electric explosion of pleasure through his body. His eyes grew wide with surprise as she held him almost painfully tightly while deepening her kiss while floating off the ground with him to spin around slowly in mid-air.
He was so startled that his first instinct was to try and push her away. “What… what are you… what was that for?”
“Sorry,” she giggled. “I’m just going with the vibe here. Don’t spoil everyone’s fun. You’re their hero right now.”
“Yeah, and you’re feeding into their twisted fantasies, the vicarious bastards!”
“Yeah, and so what if I am?” she said as she kissed him again.
Despite himself, Jarod was completely overwhelmed by his first really intimate kisses. He’d had no idea that lips could be so soft. Or that such a simple touch of her tongue to his could send such amazing waves of wild pleasure running through his entire body. He’d never been so turned on, so much so that he swore it was his feet that were floating, not hers. He couldn’t resist hugging her back while boldly returning her kiss.
His entire family began hooping and hollering at that point, but he was so lost in Nancy that he didn’t even hear them at first.
“My boy might be slow getting going,” his father shouted, “but hot damn, he catches up fast. Hottest girlfriend on the entire fucking planet!”
Jarod knew it wasn’t just the booze talking this time.
“Sorry about all this, Nanc,” Jarod whispered in her ear “My family is just a bunch of drunken Indians. All of them idiots. Me too. I’m way out of my space here.”
“Maybe they are,” she whispered in his ear, “and maybe you are too, Jarod. Or maybe you are right where you should be. They all came here for you. As did I. It’s your coming of age party. You are a man today, with all the rights and privileges. So… Happy Birthday.”
“Thanks. I mean, really. But even with all of this?”
“You aren’t responsible for your family. And I’m sorry I didn’t bring you a real gift, Jarod. Whenever you think of something you want, absolutely anything under the sun, just let me know. Call me later, Ok?”
And with that promise floating on the air, and the sensation of her kiss still thrilling him to his toes, she released him to float upward and disappear into the night sky.
Everyone stared slack-jawed after her until an incredibly loud triple BOOM shook the air around them, the shockwave spilling drinks and knocking many people off their feet — which wasn’t hard considering. Jarod just smiled. He was pretty sure that Nancy had just flown low over them at several times the speed of sound, and trailing a sonic boom louder than any firework.
Despite the loud ringing in his ears, he heard everyone shouting and cheering like they really were at the finale of a fireworks show. Those closest to Jarod slapped him on the back to congratulate him as they forced beers into his hands.
One of his younger cousins proudly began telling everyone his favorite factoid: “Did you know that a supergirl’s triple sonic boom comes from shockwaves first from her shoulders, then from her boobs and finally her hips. Boom, KABOOM and boom.”
Jarod couldn’t help but laugh. Of the myriad of little known facts about Krypts, this was the one his cousin was into?
For the first time since he’d tried to come out as gay, Jarod found himself being treated like a normal guy again. His family might mostly be drunk, and they might think differently tomorrow, but tonight they wanted to celebrate both his birthday and the fact that they believed he had a girlfriend. Which led one of his uncles to declare too loudly: “that girl proves absolutely positive for sure as goddamn hell that Jarod ain’t really gay no more’n we are.”
Jarod didn’t have the heart to argue this time, especially given he wasn’t so sure about anything right now. He just smiled and went with the feeling, enjoying his best day ever.
Maybe, just maybe, his family wasn’t so bad after all.
And then there was her promise: “absolutely anything under the sun.” She was truly a girl who could make any dream come true.