Written by willow :: [Sunday, 09 April 2017 04:10] Last updated by :: [Sunday, 09 April 2017 09:22]
[In Mandarin] “This is Channel 7 News Asia with a breaking story in Singapore. Singapore police are currently looking for two super-powered women that fought in a local nightclub. Video from the fight is extremely grainy and had made early identification of these two individuals extremely difficult. Locals in the surrounding neighborhood claim that the nightclub is often frequented by members of local Triad gangs. Police are asking for anyone with more information to come forward.
In other news, a warehouse in Singapore’s industrial district collapsed under mysterious circumstances during the night. Several bodies have been uncovered from the rubble. Sources from within the police have claimed there is evidence of heavy fighting before the building collapsed. Anonymous sources from within the Singapore Police claim that officials currently speculate that these two instances are signs that an inter-Triad gang war may be heating up. Once again, police are asking for anyone who has more information to come forward to assist in their investigation.”
I woke the next day to find that Superman was gone from the master bedroom. I showered and dressed into my power suit. As I walked into the main room, Superman was working furiously at the main computer. He was reviewing news reports about the fighting in Syria. I watched the news and satellite images flash on the screen.
“I never understood why you don’t just fly over there and stop all of the fighting.” As I spoke, I walked over to Superman’s computer to better observe what he was doing.
Superman sighed, “I tried when I first starting doing this. The problem is that humans need to solve these types of problems themselves. If I remove one dictator from power, I am declared a puppet of American governments and interests, and then a new dictator just rises to replace the old one. Fighting stops briefly, but no long-term solution is truly formed. I can do a lot to help people, but sometimes you need more than just one man to really make a difference. There is also the problem of escalation.”
“What do you mean by a problem of escalation?” I asked.
Superman stopped working for a moment, and turned to speak with me directly. “It is a common problem that I have seen when police obtain new technology or superheroes show up. Each side brings in larger guns or weapons to counter the other. Police start using bullet proof vests; criminals start using armor-piercing ammunition. Vigilantes show up with amazing powers to stop crime; criminals start hiring their own super-powered henchmen or find ways to gain powers themselves.”
The logic felt familiar to me, “Isn’t that what happened in Gotham?”
Superman nodded, “Yes. What started out as a city stuck in deep economic recession and political corruption has steadily grown worse and deadlier over the years. Batman arrived to bring the mob families that were untouchable by the police to justice. The mafia responded by hiring anyone who could had some fancy way of taking down Batman. By the time that Batman broke the mafia’s stranglehold over the city, a new wave of super-criminals had risen to replace them and cause even more chaos in the city.”
I felt like I was hearing a disturbing truth that I had willfully ignored for years of reading stories of superheroes and villains fighting each other across the world. Batman had been fighting crime in Gotham for years, but the city barely ever seemed to get better. Instead of stories of mafia-bought politicians or corrupt police officers under investigation, it was now about the latest super-criminal that had appeared in the city to cause havoc and chaos. I turned back to Superman, “So what is the escalation if you got involved in the Syrian Civil War?”
Superman drew in his breath and exhaled loudly, “If I got involved in trying to stop the conflict, other nations that are backing the Syrian government would likely get more powerful and dangerous weapons into their hands to test against me. Any weapon powerful enough to hurt me would cause considerable collateral damage to anyone nearby. It would easily put refugees and civilians in harm’s way in a vain effort to test some new experimental, anti-Superman weapon. There is also the symbolism of my involvement since I am commonly associated with the United States. Suddenly, the conflict could stop being seen as an internal civil war, but something more akin to the proxy wars fought in third world nations during the Cold War.”
I pondered on the somewhat depressing response from a man who can fly around the world and toss tanks into orbit. However, his logic on the situation seemed sound. I decided to change the subject for the time being, “Any word from our muscular friend?”
Superman turned back to his work as he spoke, “Not yet. She has been trying to break out, but the cell is doing what it was designed to do. The medical tests still need several hours to develop any meaningful results. However, I am surprised that her body does not appear to be reverting to its old, enhanced state. Based on my research, the major effects of the enhancements for other Ambrosia Amazons would have worn off by now.”
“Do you think these changes are permanent for Terri?”
“I hope not. In her present form, she would be tough to handle without major collateral damage. However, an entire army of people like Terri would be near impossible for me or you to take down.
“What do you think Lex is thinking right now?”
Superman chuckled, “Lex is probably scared witless right now, but he is too sure of himself to let that show. The Synthetic Ambrosia turned an Ambrosia Amazon into a near-indestructible juggernaut that even we would have trouble controlling. If Superior Girl got ahold of that formula, she could create an army of hulking giants like Terri who only answer to her. That is a nightmare scenario for Lex.”
“What do you think he will do?”
“Eventually, he will setup a new lab to continue the experiments and trials. However, I am certain that he will be extra cautious this time. If Superior Girl learns what happened to Terri, Lex would have a hard time keeping Jessie away from his Synthetic Ambrosia experiments. He probably has his own men scouring Singapore for clues on where Terri went. His first priority will be regaining control of the situation, and ensuring that Jessie does not learn the full extent of what he was doing.”
“Any news from the other hard drives that you are decrypting?”
Superman finished his work on the computer, and turned back around to face me. “Why, yes. I think you will find this interesting.” Superman brought up a video on his computer and pressed play. The video showed what appeared to be a laboratory. A balding man was talking to a woman who appeared to be Jessie Nelson. I did not realize how much the infusion of Supergirl’s powers have affected her. Jessie was athletic and toned, but seemed plain otherwise compared to her now super-self. Her breasts were easily a cup-size smaller, and the rest of her body looked decidedly less toned than her super muscles made her look now.
Superman paused the video before spoking, “The balding man is a Dr. Mendenhall. He used to work at Stanford University, but disappeared about a year ago.”
The video resumed its play with the now-identified Dr. Mendenhall beginning to speak with Jessie. “So, Jessie, do we have everything ready for tomorrow?”
Jessie turned around to look at Dr. Mendenhall, “Almost, Dr. Mendenhall. I still have to check out the collector grid. I was getting some erratic voltage readings off of it earlier.”
Dr. Mendenhall rubbed his hands together, and sounded like he was giving some wry smile to Jessie, “Ah, that's one of the most important pieces of the apparatus. Let's check it together, shall we?”
The two walked over to a door, and entered a small room. The video cut over to another scene. The timestamp showed that it was the following day around noon. Jessie and Dr. Mendenhall were working in what appeared to be a control room with a window into the open area of the factory floor. Suddenly, the what looked like a loading door flew into the shot. Shortly afterwards, Supergirl walked confidently into the room and looked around the area. A thin green laser shot out from a device implanted in the wall and hit Supergirl. Supergirl fell over, and appeared to be having a heart attack. However, after a few moments, she stopped writhing on the floor and got up. I could tell from her face that she was furious.
Supergirl flew through a wall nearby. The crumpled body of a large man flew out shortly afterwards. Almost right behind him was another large man trying to run away, but was quickly captured by Supergirl. She seemed to be rubbing herself against the man. I could swear that she looked like she was getting turned on. Supergirl crushed the man slowly against her chest even the camera’s microphone picked up the sound of his bones breaking. I looked over at Superman who was clearly distressed by the video and swallowed hard.
Supergirl dropped the dead man, and pointed directly at Dr. Mendenhall. “You! You’re responsible for this!” Supergirl began to storm towards the control room. Her face was clearly one of rage and anger. Jessie got up and ran out of the room. Through the open hole that Supergirl had created in the wall earlier, I saw that Jessie had run into this room. Two other men ran through the hole out of the room that Jessie entered, and headed towards Supergirl who had just busted through the wall to the control room. Superman stopped the video.
Superman sighed, “I would rather not watch this again. You can watch the rest in private, if you would like.”
“While Jessie is in that room, she gets bathed in a green glow similar to the one that came from the laser. She then rushes out to fight Supergirl who had just broken Dr. Mendenhall’s neck. During the fight, it appears that Supergirl’s powers and life force are drained into Jessie. Jessie beats Supergirl almost to death, and the effects of Dr. Mendenhall’s machine finished her off.”
I put my hand on Superman’s shoulder. This was clearly hard for him. He finally knew the full story of what happened. Unfortunately, Supergirl’s own behavior was not exemplary either during the altercation. Despite all of Superman’s training and tutelage, Supergirl had killed several people in a rage. I tried to console Superman, “I am terribly sorry.”
Superman wiped away a tear forming in one eye as he continued, “I had left Earth to help NASA with an errant probe that had gone off course. The world seemed quiet for once so I thought it was a good time to let Supergirl be on her own.”
I rubbed Superman’s back with my hand. I never knew Supergirl, but it was hard not to share the obvious pain that Superman was feeling. This was clearly something he considered to be a major failing on his part. Superman seemed ready to choke up, but was able to compose himself. He immersed himself into telling me the rest of what happened. “According to the research papers that were bundled with the hard drive, Dr. Mendenhall was working on a secret project for Lex Luthor. He had a fascination with Kryptonite, and how it affected Kryptonians. The laser was a specially built machine that was designed to use modified Kryptonite to weaken and then steal my powers. The plan was that those four individuals in that special room would be imbued with my abilities. Dr. Mendenhall was not sure if the effect would be permanent or temporary, but he did believe that each of the four people would get a fourth of my power.”
I stated the obvious, “Strong enough to be useful to Lex Luthor, but not strong enough to become gods among men.”
“Exactly,” Superman nodded in agreement.
I inquired about why the plan did not work then, “So, the beam hit Supergirl, but those men clearly did not get superpowers. What happened?”
“I am not sure. My best theory is that it was something to do with the gender mix-up. Dr. Mendenhall had expected for me to show up, but he got Supergirl instead. When Jessie was in that room, she was the only person so she got the full brunt of stolen energy. Her fight with Supergirl seemed to cause more transfer of Supergirl’s powers until there was nothing left. Supergirl’s body actually crumpled to dust after she died.”
I was shocked at the entire event, “Dear god, that is horrible! And that is how Jessie became Superior Girl?”
“Yes.” Superman stated rather flatly.
I sat down in a chair next to the computer. I thought about what happened, and ran the video again through my mind. It all made sense now. I understood why Jessie had gone to LexCorp in the first place.
“So was Jessie always on Lex’s payroll then?”
“From what I can tell, she was working for the professor while attending Stanford on a volleyball scholarship. Her field of study was biochemistry.”
I was honestly surprised, “Stanford! That’s on the opposite end of the country.”
“Jessie moved to Metropolis shortly after making her first public appearance as Superior Girl. Based on class attendance that I have seen; she was only half-heartedly still interested in college after gaining her powers.”
“So what happened to the machine?”
Superman actually smirked a bit, “Thankfully, destroyed. The experiment was being run in an old factory outside of the city. The fight with Supergirl practically demolished everything of use in that laboratory. It is one of the reasons that this has been a big mystery for so long. Little was left in the factory to reveal what experiments were taking place. Supergirl’s body was never found. Jessie mostly disappeared for several months. Supergirl just flat out disappeared while I was away from Earth. I tried searching when I returned, but could never find anything concrete.”
I placed a finger to my lips as I contemplated this new information, “Could it be rebuilt?”
Superman was perplexed by my question, “What? The machine. Why?”
“If that machine gave Superior Girl her powers, then it might be able to take them away from her.”
Superman thought about this. “Hmmm, it makes sense. We still have more hard drives to decrypt. There might be additional information on them about the machine. However, there is something that we need to be prepared for?”
I finished Superman’s thoughts for him, “If the machine can remove Superior Girl’s powers, there is no Supergirl to give them back to.” I could see where Superman was going with this question, “So, do you siphon them off into nothing so no one gets them, or does another lucky human being become the new Superior Girl?”
Superman nodded as he was clearly thinking the same thing, “Definitely food for thought.”
I left the Fortress of Solitude a few days later, and flew back to California. Terri was not yet saying anything beyond curses in Mandarin, and the decryption process would take a while on the remaining hard drives. After the events in Singapore, I needed a rest and time to recover. I thought more about what Superman had discussed about the machine. If we could remove Superior Girl’s powers, then to whom should we give them to? It seemed like a waste to not allow anyone to have them. However, assuming that the gender theory was right, it meant that neither Mike nor Jimmy Olsen would be candidates.
Lois Lane seemed like the obvious choice. She was a strong reporter who had shown through countless stories that she was willing to take risks to get the truth out. She was smart, capable, and trustworthy. Her reporting and attempts to bring corruption and criminal activities to light showed that she had a strong streak towards justice. Lois could be an equal partner to Superman.
However, what about Lana Lang? Based on what Superman had told me earlier, Lana was the first person to discover Superman’s powers. They had a long relationship through high school. Superman clearly still cared for her based on how he spoke of her. He also admitted that their relationship fell apart because of the complications of being a normal human woman dating a super-powerful Kryptonian. Could Superman still have feelings for his childhood friend and crush? Would it not be fairer to Lana whose relationship with Superman broke down due to her lack of powers?
Of course, why should it be either of those two people. What about the girl that I was flying back to in California? Cheryl was a good person whom I seemed to be building more feelings for. She wanted to help people by becoming a doctor. She was also clearly smart thanks to her getting into UCLA. She would jump at the chance to have my powers. However, Jessie seemed nice from the video that I watched. Did Supergirl’s powers corrupt Jessie Nelson into becoming Superior Girl? How could we be sure that the same would not happen to Lois, Lana, or Cheryl? Have I allowed myself to become corrupted by the power that flows through my veins?
I thought more about the options as I flew into Los Angeles. I quickly flew into an area near UCLA where there were not a lot of people. A quick change into civilians clothing and I was out walking down the street back to Cheryl’s apartment. I loved summers in California. The weather was perfect. The sun was shining and giving me a boost in energy. The hustle of activity on the street without feeling overly crowded like in Metropolis or Boston. I had no illusions that the area around UCLA represented all of Los Angeles, but this felt like a little slice of heaven to me.
I entered Cheryl’s apartment, and noticed several boxes of clothes and other nick knacks in the spare bedroom/study. I walked over, and began to go through the contents of the boxes. Whoever had bought these clothes had done a good job in the selection. They were fashionable, but not overly expensive. They also showed signed of a woman’s touch in the selection. Was I seeing the handiwork of Lois Lane? Did she even know about me?
I unpacked the boxes, and hung up the clothes in the closet in the main bedroom. I refrained from doing so at super speed. There was something relaxing about acting like a normal human after the fight that I went through in Singapore. I felt like I was beginning to understand how Superman could have all of that power, but not constantly flying around as Superman. Having a normal life seemed to be a good grounding for me. I had actually been looking forward to it on my flight from the Fortress.
An hour into my unpacking the door opened as Cheryl came home from work. She immediately spotted me in the bedroom, and ran over to greet me. She was clearly ecstatic at my return. Before I could fully turn towards her, Cheryl jumped into my arms and embraced me. Holding her was no effort on my part, and it gave me a good reason to squeeze her tight ass. Cheryl had clearly been working out while I was gone. She gave me a kiss as I held her, and our tongues played with each other for a bit. Finally, we had to break our kiss so Cheryl could get some air.
“I am so happy that you are back! I was beginning to wonder.” Cheryl said breathlessly.
I smiled back, “It was only a couple of days. I am glad that my stuff arrived intact. Was it hard to move it all in?”
“No, the movers did all of that for me. The guys seemed to feel bad that a small, petite girl like me was going to have to move all of these boxes inside. Of course, the $50 that I gave each of them also helped too.”
I honestly laughed at the idea of Cheryl bribing two delivery men to bring these boxes inside. I asked back, “Are you hungry?”
I let Cheryl down. We went out to a local Chinese restaurant down the street. While we walked, Cheryl brought me up to speed on local events over the past few days. Nothing too terribly exciting. Her classes for the next semester were about to start back up. Her job at a local medical clinic was fairly routine and boring, but the doctor was making a good mentor for her. Her friends from the trip to Dubai were back in town getting ready for school themselves. The restaurant was not too crowded, and I found a place in the back where no one would overhear us. While we waited on our food, Cheryl brought up the topic that I knew was coming.
“Did you hear about what happened in Singapore?”
“No, what?” I tried to feign ignorance.
“Some super-powered girls destroyed a nightclub. They say the place was a hangout for some gang.”
Cheryl got a coy look towards me, and leaned into ask. “Did you have anything to do with that?”
I scoffed at her question, “Ha, no. I was in Boston cleaning out my old apartment. Everything was shut off so I am pretty behind on the news from the past week.”
Cheryl smiled at my response. I was not entirely sure if she believed me. “They said that there was even a sighting of Superior Girl after the fight. However, no one has reported seeing Superman around Singapore.”
“Huh. What do you think it means?”
Cheryl leaned back as she thought about my question, “I don’t know. The news seems to think that Superior Girl and Superman appear to go out of their way to avoid each other. Depending on which news channel you watch, one is afraid of the other.”
I smiled at that, “Let me guess. Each one depends entirely on their opinion of Superman and what he does or does not do.”
Cheryl laughed, “I know right.”
The food arrived. I ate and let Cheryl fill me in on what the news was reporting from Singapore. All of the video and photos of me were too dark to get a good look. The shots that I was in either had me from behind, or my head was luckily obscured by other debris. Most seemed to focus on the massively muscled Asian woman that I was fighting. However, with breasts like what Terri had, it would be hard not to look. No mention of the destroyed warehouse, however. Either it was mostly covered up, or the news channels do not think the two events are related.
As we finished our meals, Cheryl mentioned that her friends were going out on Friday to do some club hopping. We walked back to Cheryl’s apartment while chatting some more. I inquired if she was asking me out on a date to which Cheryl blushed. However, I easily agreed to join her and friends. Based on my adventure in Dubai, the alcohol would have little effect on me, but that still left fun conversations and dancing.
I spent the rest of the week unpacking my things, and doing more research online. Superman sent me a number of documents and links to news articles regarding mysterious deaths and events. Two football players for the Oakland Raiders had been crushed to death at night. Another man who was seen leaving a popular nightclub with a beautiful woman was found dead in an alley. A man named Curtis who went to Jessie’s high school had every bone in his body broken before being crushed to dead. Curtis was the most interesting article since he had been accused of raping a fellow classmate during his senior year in high school. However, no charges were ever filed by the police who claimed a lack of hard evidence.
The picture that was forming from these articles was rather clear. Jessie had been leaving a trail of bodies in her wake after getting her powers. Whether these were by accident or design, she had quite a lot of blood on her hands. That was also before she started working for Lex Luthor. However, the story about Curtis was the most interesting. It had taken place in a suburb on the other side of the mountains bordering San Francisco called Dublin. According to the data provided by Superman, Jessie was originally from Dublin where her older brother and parents still lived. Her brother worked with computers at a major tech company. Jessie’s parents were both retired with the words “government pension” written on the side. Apparently, Jessie’s father used to work in the defense industry back in the good ‘ole days of the Cold War.
The night out with the girls and Cheryl was very amusing. We had a great time dancing at different local clubs. I got a lot of looks and offers from men, but turned them all down. I even spotted a few boners in some men’s pants as Cheryl and I made out from time to time. Overall, it was a great time and wonderful chance to meet more of Cheryl’s friends. It was good to feel almost human again for a time. The rest of the weekend passed uneventfully as Cheryl prepared for her next semester of classes, and I continued my own research into the origins and habits of Superior Girl.
In the early hours of Monday morning before the sun had risen over the horizon, I put on my Power Girl outfit, filled a travel bag with a change of clothes, and took off into the sky. A trip by car from Los Angeles to San Francisco would have taken over five hours. I made the journey in a little over thirty minutes without pushing myself too hard. I was beginning to understand what Superman had meant by spotting landmarks to know where you are. A large metropolis area is easy to spot from the air. The large bay and Golden Gate Bridge told me that the spotted city was my destination. I hovered over the city for a moment until I spotted where the airport was. I scanned the area around the San Francisco International Airport until I spotted the rental car areas. It was still dark, but the sun was starting to peak its yellow glow over the horizon more and more. It would not be dark for much longer, and soon people would easily spot a figure hovering in the sky over their fair city.
The airport and car rental area would be crawling with security cameras. So I spotted a Comfort Inn just outside the airport that would make a great landing spot. I darted down to the roof of the Comfort Inn as daylight was forming. A few seconds later, my Power Girl suit was stuffed inside my travel bag while I wore a nice pair of casual, civilian clothes. Nothing fancy or that would attract large amounts of attention. A pair of slacks covered my finely-crafted, long legs while my impressive cleavage was mostly covered. It was an outfit that any woman would consider to be casually respectable and completely ignorable. The door to the roof of the hotel was locked, but a quick and precise blast of my heat vision removed that problem. I could have easily ripped the door off, crumbled it into a ball, and tossed it into the San Francisco Bay. However, stealth was the name of the game right now. Thankfully, this hotel had neglected to put functioning security cameras in their stairwell. I grabbed my bag and casually walked into the hotel’s third floor. After a quick elevator ride to the lobby, I ducked into the room with their continental breakfast. I had to suppress a laugh at the selection. I could eat their entire table of donuts, bagels, and pancakes with all the syrup and toppings that I wanted without gaining a pound. I grabbed a blueberry muffin and a glass of orange juice while I waited for the inevitable airport shuttle to arrive.
Thirty minutes later, I was driving my rental car down to Dublin to do more research on the articles that Clark had sent me. Fighting morning traffic in San Francisco was annoying considering my alternatives, but it gave me time to think. I wanted to understand the person that Jessie was before and might now be. To me and the world, she had just been Superior Girl. The mysterious woman that had replaced Supergirl, and used her powers for her own desires and goals. For all intents and purposes, Jessie Nelson had disappeared on the day that Superior Girl was born. Sure, Jessie still had a social media presence. A few pictures of Jessie in Metropolis or working at a desk that was definitely not her office. However, it was all too clean. Clark suspected that Jessie Nelson’s social media presence was almost entirely run by someone else. It gave the illusion of Jessie being this hard-working employee of LexCorp, who had a moderately fun life in Metropolis. It was designed to be normal and boring to everyone. No bikini-clad photos showing off her amazing body. No bragging about juggling cars or flying herself to Brazil for lunch.
My trip took nearly an hour, but I did have the benefit of going in the opposite direction of most rush hour traffic. Dublin was a nice town. Clean and upscale with lots of green all over the place. However, it was clearly full of that class of people who were very well-off financially, but still thought of themselves as hard-working middle class America. In truth, these were the families who just did not have enough money to live further south in Pleasanton, and turned up their noses at those “crime-ridden inner cities” that they fled from. In other words, it was a WASP nest. Part of me felt like I was driving back into my hometown of Concord, Massachusetts.
I drove over to the Dublin Library for my first stop. The library was rather beautiful with its curved columns in front and surrounded by trees. The inside was spacious with moderately high book shelves that most children could reach and a well-lit reading area. The library had a good number of people already inside ranging from families with kids to older adults. I spotted the research desk and headed to straight towards it. The woman behind the desk was extremely polite and could have blinded someone with her smile.
“Welcome to the Dublin Public Library! How can I help you?”
After spending several years in Boston, there was something about her smile that put me off guard. It probably felt similar to how New Yorkers feel when strangers make direct eye contact walking down the street. I quickly recovered from my hesitation, and asked “Hi. I am doing some research about the Dublin High School. Could you point me towards your newspaper archives?”
“Oh, sure! We have been digitizing our local papers for a while now. Do you have a range of years?”
“It would be around 2005, possibly 2006.”
“Oh, perfect! Let me show you how to access those records with the computer.”
The librarian left the research desk, and walked over to the bank of computers set in little cubby areas for privacy. I guess she just expected me to follow her. As I walked over, part of me was rather perturbed that the records were now digital. X-ray vision, super speed, and an eidetic memory would allow me to read and retain just about every scrap of paper in this building. However, I had to play nice with a computer. Speed reading could help, but I still had to go through every page at whatever rate that the computer could feed them to me. The system was easy to use without any instruction from the librarian. Date ranges, keywords, and categories all wrapped around a little search engine.
I got to work on the topics that I wanted to research. I started off with some easy stuff, and focused on the high school’s volleyball team. Jessie’s name quickly came up in the local papers when discussing the team’s victories. Apparently, Jessie had been very good at volleyball in high school. She had helped get the team to the state championships, although they did not win in the end. There was even a final article discussing the fate of the volleyball team that Jessie was a member of. After high school, many of the girls scattered to the wind as they went off to college. One of the highlights was a mention that Jessie Nelson had received a full scholarship to Stanford in no small part due to her talent on the court.
I was happy to see that the library also kept records of the local high school papers. Apparently, someone wanted to make sure that their glory days in the Friday Night Lights was preserved for all time. I switched over to the high school paper, and started reading through the articles and photos from Jessie’s time on the volleyball team. The school newspaper said mostly the same thing as the other papers. Jessie was an exemplary athlete who got herself a scholarship to Stanford. Her older brother had stayed close to home, however. He was active in town council activities, and worked for a tech startup over in Oakland.
The photos are what really struck me. They showed Jessie Nelson in her uniform, smiling and happy as can be. You could tell that she did not have a worry in the world. Her friends crowded around her as well. She seemed popular and happy. It was hard to imagine that this was the same woman who seemed to have no hesitation about crushing a man to death with her body. What could turn the smiling, happy girl in these pictures into the super-powered, narcistic monster that Superior Girl seemed to have become. Was I seeing the whole story? Was Superior Girl truly the narcissist that the Superman and the media seemed to make her out to be?
After going through several more articles and photographs, I decided to switch subjects. I entered the keywords ‘Curtis Jones rape’ into the search engine. I got enough results to keep me busy for a while. Curtis Jones was apparently a star football player while at the high school, but not enough of a star to get him a scholarship. However, the rape allegations may have played a factor in that. According to the articles, the incident happened in early 2006. Elizabeth had been on the volleyball team with Jessie, and by all accounts, just as equally good as Jessie. According to the allegations, she had encountered Curtis at a local party. Both had been drinking heavily. However, this is where their stories begin to diverge. According to Elizabeth, she had been tricked into one of the bedrooms with Curtis. When she spurned his advances, he forced himself on her. According to Curtis’ lawyers, Elizabeth had approached Curtis while at the party. They claimed that the sexual encounter between Curtis and Elizabeth was entirely consensual, even if both were heavily inebriated. Several other members of Curtis’ football team also stood up to this version of events. Several other students from the high school also appeared to make statements that made the local papers that, in effect, slut-shamed Elizabeth. The police looked into the case, but concluded that it was a case of buyer’s remorse from Elizabeth. However, it was clear that the entire case was litigated in public through the local newspaper with the main theme being “Jealous slut slanders star football player.”
The event left a sour taste in my mouth. I could feel my anger brewing. It made me actually glad about what Jessie did to Curtis years later after getting her powers. The worst part was that I knew there were thousands of cases just like this that regularly went without any justice. Dublin may be right next door to San Francisco, but in many ways, it was still just another small town.
I turned my attention to more recent events about the mysterious death of Curtis Jones. These articles were not hard to find as the death had caused quite a sensation in town. Curtis had been found in his apartment. He was a complete and bloody mess with nearly every bone in his body broken. No one understood how it had happened or how no one had heard about it. There had been a pool party going on at the time just outside. The police had no leads on the case, but then again who would suspect a 5’8 former volleyball player could snap and crush a man’s bones like cheap plastic.
The article was an interesting read since it detailed what had happened after Curtis’ romp through high school. Curtis had apparently not lived up to the dreams espoused in the high school papers when he was tossing footballs. Some quotes from his parents clearly blamed Elizabeth’s rape allegations for dashing any hopes that their boy would get a football scholarship for some big-name school. Instead, Curtis just seemed to languish after high school. He was in and out of college, but never seemed to be able to graduate. He seemed to live mostly off his parents’ money, and never had anything that really resembled a career. Based on various social media comments in the related articles and appearances on the local police blotter section of the paper, Curtis mostly lived in the past of his old high school glory days. Lots of drunken parties that tended to have several seniors from the Dublin High School looking for free beer and pot. In fact, it would not have surprised me in the least that Curtis had been something of a regular dealer of pot and other less hardcore drugs to local high school kids. This was definitely a case where I felt more satisfaction over what Jessie did than I probably should have.
I turned my research to Elizabeth to find out what had happened to her. She was quoted in the article that discussed Curtis’ death. It was clear that she still lived in town. I actually found that surprising. Given what I read about her in the newspapers, I was amazed that her entire family did not move immediately after it was over. I decided that I wanted to talk with Elizabeth. I wanted to hear her side of the story. I might even learn a bit about Jessie. I opened up a web browser, typed in Elizabeth’s name and Dublin to see what I would find. Nothing of interest, unfortunately. So much for the good ‘ole days when I could just look her up in the local phone book.
I pulled out my phone, and sent a secure message over to Superman. I asked if he could find out where Elizabeth lived in Dublin. After sending the message, I saw that it was well past noon. While my stomach needed little food to keep me going, I still liked to keep to a normal schedule. It was the same with sleep. I could probably go for days without sleep, but felt that keeping as normal of a schedule was important. It made me feel more human. I thanked the librarian for her help, and left to grab a burger from a local diner. While I may not need to eat much, I definitely knew that none of what I ate would add any unwanted pounds to my waistline. About midway through with my lunch, I got a response from Superman with the address. Apparently, Elizabeth was still living with her parents. Not exactly a good sign. I finished my meal, and headed over to see if Elizabeth was home.
I pulled up to Elizabeth’s parents’ house. It looked just like every other house in this area. Nice, green trees in the front and back. It was a rather large size, but nothing truly extravagant or bordering into McMansion territory. I scanned the house with my x-ray vision to see if anyone is home. The house had a definite lived-in feel with lots of pictures of Elizabeth as she was growing up. I spotted Elizabeth in what looked like her bedroom. She was laying on her bed in jeans and t-shirt while she took several puffs from a joint in her hand. She had nice blonde hair, but it was tied up into a series of dreadlocks. She had a nose ring, and worse a series of wrist bands around each arm. Every bone in my body told me that I could easily find this girl at next year’s Burning Man.
I got out of the car, and walked to the front door. I kept an eye on Elizabeth through the walls. I rang the doorbell, and waited for her to response. Elizabeth looked towards the front entrance muttering something under her breath. She tried to blow away the smoke from her joint as she tapped it out in a tray next to her bed. Elizabeth scooted off the bed, and walked towards the front door. She opened it a crack, but kept the security chain on it. I hated security chains since they were utterly pointless. A strong kick even without super strength could usually tear those right off a door. My parents always taught me to rely on a deadbolt, instead.
“Yeah?” Elizabeth seemed a little stoned, but still easily coherent.
I tried to put on my best smile, “Hi. Are you Elizabeth …”
I was quickly interrupted before I could even finish saying her full name, “Yeah, yeah. That’s me. What do you want?”
I was taken a bit back by her abruptness, but tried to continue on. “I am from Stanford University, and am writing an article for our paper about rape accusations. I was hoping to speak with you about your own experiences so that other victims can learn from your situation.” Ok, I have to admit that part of my gut turned inside-out at using a fake story like that to get Elizabeth to speak to me. I hated having to lie to her about such a horrible experience, which made me feel like a bad person. I made a mental note in my head to follow-up with Clark about this. Once this is over, he might be able to do a real story on her experience that would get real attention in the press rather than a college paper.
Elizabeth just looked at me for a solid minute. She was clearly trying to size me up. Without warning, the door slammed in my face. I was a bit shocked. I had expected the possibility of a no, but at least expected her to say so rather than just slam the door. Then I heard the security chain being removed, and the door opened all the way this time for me to enter. Elizabeth seemed to be in a different mood entirely.
“Sorry about that, please come in.”
I was not sure what to say and just stuttered out, “Ah, ok.”
“I try to give everyone who knocks on my door the angry bitch face, as I call it. This town has long memories, and the death of Curtis just brought everything back to the surface.”
Elizabeth disappeared into her bedroom, and came out with her ash tray and joint. I sat down on the couch in the living room while Elizabeth sat down in a chair opposite me. “Would you like something to drink?”
“No, thank you.”
Elizabeth lit her joint back up, and took a deep, strong puff. “I hope that you don’t mind. If we are going to talk about Him, then I need something to keep me mellow.” She eyed me funnily when I did not take out any notepad or pen. She asked, “Aren’t you going to take some notes?”
I smiled at her question, “No, I have a near photographic memory. I usually don’t take notes so I can keep the conversation flowing. I also won’t mind the smoke. It won’t affect me.” I leaned back into the couch and got comfortable. It was a very nice couch. “So, I wanted to start with the recent events that happened in Dublin. The unexplained death of Curtis Jones?”
Elizabeth laughed, “Ha. There was nothing unexplained about that. Curtis was murdered and good riddance to that asshole.”
“I can understand why you might feel that way. How did it make you feel when you heard the news?”
“You know, it was like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. Like I was finally free. Dublin is still kind of a small town, and it is possible to run into someone quite easily. Curtis always blamed my accusations against him as the reason that he never got a scholarship. The truth is that Curtis was never really that good of a player. He had a good team to back him up, and nobody else in town was a better quarterback than him.” Elizabeth took a big puff and exhaled towards the ceiling.
“Curtis blamed you for not getting a scholarship?”
“Yeah, it all happened right around that time when universities are starting to look at candidates and make choices. I am sure the local press helped for anyone that googled Curtis’ name.” Elizabeth smirked, “I also know someone made sure several key places that Curtis wanted to go to knew about the accusations. The offers and interest all quickly dried up afterwards.”
I doubted it was Elizabeth, but more likely a sympathetic friend maybe even her parents. I continued, “So what was life in town after the accusations?”
“Like I said, small town. I floated around in various circles. I moved out for a while into San Francisco, but eventually had to move back here. No one talks about how hard it is to trust or have a real relationship with people after an event like that. To be honest, I just floated around aimlessly.” She took another puff.
“What about Curtis?”
“From what I heard around town, his ambitions died when his scholarship offers disappeared. He got stuck in the past too, and just wanted to always re-live those glory days when he was king of the hill. He sold pot, but I made sure never to buy his crap. Liked to throw parties for high schoolers who would worship him in exchange for free beer or a joint. In fact, they say that he was killed at one of his own pool parties. That’s irony for you.” Elizabeth laughed at the last part.
“It has been several months since that happened. How do you feel now? Do you feel different than before?”
Elizabeth thought about the question while she took another drag from her joint. Finally, she responded, “Yeah, it does feel different. Like I said earlier, I feel free. Like I can begin to move on. I am already enrolled into a liberal arts school out in the Midwest. I will be leaving next month for the Fall semester.”
I was genuinely happy for her, “Congratulations!”
Elizabeth smiled brightly, “Thank you.”
“So what about your friends from the volleyball team. I was doing some research, and it seemed that you were very close to Jessie Nelson.”
Elizabeth smiled softly at Jessie’s name, “Yeah, Jessie has always been a good friend. She was always by my side when I came forward about what Curtis did to me. She stood by me the entire time. I love her like a sister for that, even if we have grown apart since high school.”
“Why is that?”
“Distance, mostly. Unlike Curtis, she did get a scholarship to Stanford, and went off to get a biochem degree. Just as Curtis’ reputation got tarnished with the allegations, his parents made sure that my own name was just as much in the mud. I probably could have gotten a scholarship just like Jessie, maybe even to the same school, but Curtis’ parents made sure that never happened.” Elizabeth gave me a small, toothless smile that showed more hurt than happiness, “So Jessie went away and I stayed here for a time.”
It was an interesting what if scenario to ponder. Jessie and Elizabeth were close. They might have even been closer than Elizabeth was implying. How could things have been different had Curtis not raped Elizabeth? Would Jessie and Elizabeth go off together to Stanford? Would there be two Superior Girls flying through the skies of Metropolis instead of just Jessie Nelson? Or would Jessie attend an entirely different school to be close to her friend, and never become Superior Girl at all? Or could it have been Elizabeth that would now be wearing Supergirl’s old uniform and calling herself Superior Girl with her blonde dreadlocks waving in the wind? I broke out of my thoughts, and brought myself mentally back to the room. “Sorry, just thinking about what you said. Now that you are getting your life in order, do you plan on keeping more in contact with your old friends like Jessie?”
“Not really. Jessie and I actually met shortly after Curtis’ death. She explained that she had been at the party, but had left early when Curtis tried to make advances on her. It was good to see her, and put some closure on that aspect of my old life. However, Jessie has her life, and I want to build my own.”
It seemed odd to me that Elizabeth did not seem too concerned over why Jessie had been at a party hosted by her best friend’s rapist. There was more there, but I was worried about pressing her on the matter. I felt that I might already be asking too much about Jessie. I needed to bring the conversation away from that woman, “What about the other members of your volleyball team? How did they help you during the ordeal?”
Elizabeth got a pained look on her face. It was clearly a painful topic. She looked away from me as she spoke as to hide her disgust or anguish on the matter, “It was a mixed bag. Our volleyball team that year included only nine people so it was a tight-knit group up to that point. Lydia and Tara sided with Curtis and the football team, but they were cheerleader rejects, so go figure. Kate, Caroline, and Kirsty just wanted it to all go away, and did everything they could to stay out of it. Jesse, Milena, and Kim were the only ones who stood beside me through the whole thing. However, it effectively broke the team up. We never meshed as good together as a team with it hanging over us, and I never played as well I did before it happened.”
“Did they all go off to various colleges after high school?”
“Mixed bag. I drifted apart from everyone else after high school. It was a sore reminder of what had happened even with the people that stood by me. Milena would be a good person to contact since she has been keeping a diary since she could write. Although I hear that she is living somewhere in New Jersey now.”
I gave a clear expression that would not work, “Sorry, I chose to speak with you because you are so close to San Francisco. Speaking with your friend on the East Coast might not work so well.”
Elizabeth nodded that she understood. This was an article for a college paper, not the Daily Planet. Seeing that face made my stomach turn a bit more inside of me. I needed to end the interview. I had what I wanted, and there was no reason to question her further on the matter. She had already suggested that I speak with Milena, but things could get dicey if she insisted that I reach out to Jessie as well. Speaking with Elizabeth put me dangerously closer to Jessie than I wanted, which made me think that my stopping by was a mistake. I tried to change the mood by putting on a bright smile as I said, “So this is all you going forward?”
“All me.” Elizabeth held up her hands as she smiled back at me. I was not sure how genuine her smile was, but it seemed like she was trying to make it as good an effort for herself regarding this topic. I did not need superpowers to see the hurt that was lying just behind her eyes.
I stood up from the couch, “Well, I think that is all that I need. Thank you very much for taking the time to speak with me.” I reached out my hand to Elizabeth. She smiled and shook it.
“It’s no problem; it was good to speak with someone. This town can get very lonely for someone who is still something of an outcast.”
I looked back towards her, “That reminds me. Why didn’t your parents leave after this? Your whole family was practically crucified in the papers.”
“My mom and dad talked about it a lot. However, it was senior year for me. We all expected for me to graduate a few months later, and then leave town anyway to build a new life. Under those circumstances, it seemed silly for them to leave their friends and family who supported us through it all. I think that they hoped that Curtis would see justice, and we would be vindicated. When it was over, they told me that leaving this town felt like admitting defeat and allowing Curtis to completely get away with what he did.”
I nodded my head, “So they became a constant reminder to the people who stood by Curtis on what he did.”
“Right,” Elizabeth took a deep breath, “I don’t know if I could have done it myself.”
I thanked her again, and left Elizabeth to finish her joint in peace. There was no doubt in my mind that the death of Curtis had helped lift a very heavy weight off of her. The torture and murder of Curtis Jones was abominable, but I understood why Jessie did it. If that had happened to such a close friend, I am not sure that I would have been able to hold back doing something similar. I got back into my car, and began my drive back to San Francisco before returning home.
I hit traffic on my way home. I can’t say how much I just wanted to get out of the car, pick it up, and fly both it and me back into the city. However, it gave me time to think about everything that I had learned. It still amazed me how one event could set a series of other events in motion that would bring us to this point. I imagined Superman dealing with two super-powered Superior Girls, Jessie and Elizabeth, wreaking havoc through the streets of Metropolis. Or maybe Supergirl could still be flying through the skies, saving kittens from trees, and foiling Dr. Mendenhall’s plans as no female assistant would be there to absorb her powers.
I returned the car to the rental place, but decided against immediately flying back home to Cheryl’s apartment. One of the benefits of my speed in flight was that if someone was not looking or snapping a photo at that moment, then you completely missed my taking to the sky. I remembered a time that the President flew into Boston on Air Force One for some campaign rally. If you did not know exactly where to look at the right time at the right distance, you missed it or may have just thought another jumbo jet was flying into the city. It is not like fireworks and sirens went off every time I took to the air or flew over a crowd of people. However, there was no need to risk some lucky cameraman getting a beautiful snapshot of San Francisco and the setting sun with me flying openly in the frame. I did not want to make a public appearance just yet. It was better to keep Jessie wondering what was going on. Who was this mystery woman? Was she working with Superman? Was she Supergirl returned from the dead as some suggested in secretly recorded conversations at LexCorp?
After dropping off the rental car, I hailed a cab to take me down to The Castro district of San Francisco. I had never been to San Francisco, but always heard about the district from friends. I had the driver drop me off in the middle of the district, and wandered the streets somewhat aimlessly as the sun set. I grabbed dinner at a nice-looking restaurant, and drank some coffee at some hipster coffee shop. In between, I spent my time window shopping through the various stores that dotted the area. I made a note that I should come back here someday to check out the local nightclubs. However, I was not terribly interested in staying through the night. After the sun had set with darkness falling over San Francisco, I found a street away from the main strip on Market St and ducked in between two buildings that had a small alleyway between them with a plain wooden fence blocking direct sight to the street. I quickly changed into my Power Girl suit, stuff my civilian clothes neatly into the bag, and then took off into the sky for my return flight to Los Angeles.
Just like in the morning, the flight back home was quick and uneventful. I landed quickly on the patio of Cheryl’s apartment, and ducked inside before any neighbors could see me. I hopped onto the laptop that Superman had given me. I wrote a quick message to him detailing all that I had found. I was sure that he knew a decent amount already, but was certain that I could help fill in some gaps that had so far eluded him. I also wrote a message about Elizabeth, and asked if Superman’s friends could quietly help her. Scholarship, work, or just a friend at her college to ensure that she stays on track this time. Either Clark or Superman could help open some doors that might be otherwise closed to Elizabeth. In a more cynical mindset, it was also a good idea to keep her close in case she reaches out to Jessie or for that day that Jessie goes to trial.
A few minutes after I sent the email, my phone started to ring. The number was unlisted, and this was the first time that someone had actually called me on it. I picked it up hesitantly, and answered the incoming call.
“Hello?” I asked slowly with a clear question in my tone.
The voice on the other end of the line was that of a nervous and agitated man, “It’s Clark. Jessie’s friends are tailing me so I don’t have much time. I got an alert from Jimmy Olsen. He got trapped in the city of Aleppo in Syria when the fighting intensified. Jimmy activated his emergency signal that I gave him, but the signal went dead a few minutes ago. I need you to go to Syria to find and save Jimmy.”
The request took me for a moment. I was not sure that I could hide my identity in an open battlefield. I inquired back, “Shouldn’t you go? This doesn’t sound like something that would cause a reprisal from Jessie.”
“Normally, yes. However, Jessie’s associates have been following me non-stop since the incident in Singapore. I think Jessie might pay me a visit soon, and I can’t risk Jimmy being in the way. It is easy to spot when someone is hiding something or lying when you have super hearing. Jimmy knows too much to risk him being compromised or in the same room as Superior Girl.”
“How bad is a visit from Jessie?”
“Well, let’s just say she shares your urges, but with a lot less qualms about hurting people when she indulges. I also need to convince her that I don’t know anything about you or recent incidents in Dubai or Singapore. Take the ear pierce that I had shipped with your clothes. I will call you on it as soon as I can. Gotta go.”
Superman disconnected the line. The idea of Jessie visiting Superman, and having her way with him made me worry. It all hinged on his ability to keep quiet about me, and find other ways to distract Superior Girl. If she was experiencing the same urges that I was, then I had a pretty good idea how Superman could handle that distraction. Moving at super speed, I changed back into my white leotard power suit, put the ear piece in my ear, and then stepped onto the balcony. Thankfully, it was concealed enough to prevent a peeping tom. A second later, my body was hurtling through the sky towards the Middle East.