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Birth of the Undead – Being Undead 4

Written by kshoo :: [Monday, 10 January 2022 00:00] Last updated by :: [Saturday, 08 January 2022 17:57]

<Daytime, ADELAIDE>

“You’ve been holding out on me, Luke.”

Luke spluttered slightly into his morning coffee, scalding his tongue slightly on that comment. “Wait, what? What do you mean?”

“You never told me that you are into cosplay.”

It’s Saturday morning, and THIS time Luke had managed to pull himself out of bed on time at 6am (YES!) to finally do a leisurely lap around the housing area. Along the way he had picked up some freshly baked waffles and bread at the local deli, and had made it back just in time to see Kara emerging from the basement, all dressed in a comfortable cotton blouse and knee-length skirt.

They had just polished off their waffles when that comment came out of left-field.

Luke frowned. “That’s because I’m not. What makes you think that I’m into those kind of stuff?”

“Well,” Kara pushed her plate away and stood up from the counter. “if that’s not the case, how come you have such a wonderful collection of these down there in the basement?” Her hands reached down towards the hem of her blouse, and she rolled-up the garment slowly, upwards along her torso and past her abdomen and chest, finally revealing the reds and blues that she had worn since yesterday.

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Luke’s eyes widen at Kara’s daring reveal, and it was all he could do to try and keep calm. Even so, his eyes roam all about her, taking in her young, maturing body which is now stretching the costume daringly in all the appropriate places. Kara laughed inwardly as she heard his heartbeat skipping a few beats, and his breathing quickened slightly. Nothing beats having this kind of influence on the male population of the planet whenever she wears her skin-tight costume.

Or in this case, a pretty good replica of what she used to wear.

Turning around and walking towards the full-length mirror on the side wall, she did a few poses in the revealing costume. Even though it’s a replica, its slightly smaller size meant that the costume has accentuated her young budding figure even more. The tight blue top is now being pushed to its limit by her own gentle, thrust out bosoms; while the red-skirt is only long enough down to her mid-thighs as it was clearly made for someone who is shorter in stature.

Kara had to admit though; it still made her look really good.

Still posing and looking at her reflection in the mirror, she asked nochalantly “Well, what do you think? How do I look?”

Luke swallowed again, before replying “They look great on you, Kara! In fact” he walked up to her and stood behind her “I’d say you look just every bit like her.”

Laughing, Kara turned around and remarked “And who do I look like specifically?”

“You know… the real deal. The girl who goes around saving people in that costume.”

Placing her hands on her waist, Kara spread her legs slightly and settled into her standard power pose. She then looked into Luke’s eyes, her superhearing picking up his flutering heart and the slight faster breathing. Not missing a beat, she asked in her most sexy voice “And who exactly is that?”

“Well, Supergirl of course!”

Kara laughed out loud, and said “Well, given that I’m here in the flesh, you should call my name to my face personally.”

“Call you… what?”

“Don’t look so confused, Luke. You’re a PROFESSOR! I know that the thought had crossed your mind when I mentioned my name the other day when I stepped foot into your house. Just that I didn’t have my” gesturing to the red and blues on her “costume on me that day… among many reasons…”

“Prove it.”

“Prove what?” Kara raised any eyebrow.

“Prove that you’re Supergirl.”

Again, the blonde young woman laughed at Luke’s challenge and moved back slightly before replying “You know, for an engineer and a science graduate, you don’t seem to notice things around you very much. Didn’t you realise that I’ve looking at you at your eye level since a few minutes ago?”

Luke’s eyes suddenly opened wider. He looked down towards the floor as the realisation dawned on him, and seeing his guest currently floating a few inches in the air confirmed that as a fact.

Kara landed softly on the floor, and walked towards Luke’s workbench. Looking at the electronic components, she noticed a soldering iron on it. Smiling, she picked up the thin solder coil and holding it on top of a metal plate, then squinted her eyes focusing on the end of the solder.

Luke looked on in astonishment as twin red beams projected from Kara’s baby-blue eyes to heat the solder, which gradually melted and dripped onto the metal plate beneath them. After about half a minute, she shut off her heat vision and passed the metal plate to Luke, who yelped and promptly dropped it the scalding hot plate. Wrapping fingers on the edge of his t-shirt, he gingerly grabbed the edges of the metal plate, and saw the cooled solder drops on the face of the thin metal plate.

“Now do you believe me?” Kara smirked.

“… why?”

Kara was puzzled with that question. “What do you mean?”

“I mean, why are you here? Is there, or was there a major incident here in Australia? We’re quite far away from where you are normally seen…” he quickly raised his hands and waved them “not that I’m complaining though!!”

“Well, there WAS… something” Kara’s voice dropped low when again she remembered about her current predicament. And what brought her here. While she had gleefully revealed her superheroine side to her host, showing the other side of her current self is just a little too much, and too fast.

“I guess I needed a bit of time to… just be someplace else, where it’s more foreign to me… like a… like a…”

“Like a long vacation? Well, you’ve found the right place. Sun, sea, mountains and more, plus one of the most hospitable nation in the world, if not THE most hospitable nation, that is. If anything that’s reported is correct, you can always get anywhere on Earth in minutes, no?”

“Well, if I push myself, yes” Kara replied shyly.

“OK. Since it’s a vacation, and it’s the weekend, what say we just spend a bit of time going around the city? I know it’s slightly cold during winter, but there’s still lots to do around here.”

That lifted Kara’s spirits slightly, and she smiled before pretending to be a little more serious. “Not if you don’t tell me who the person is.”

“The person… who are you talking about?”

Lifting her hands, Kara pointed both her index fingers at the <S> insignia. “The person who wears THIS! I want to meet and tell her in person how wonderful these are!”

Luke seemed lost for a little while, seemingly debating about something in his mind, before he replied “Well, those belonged to my sister. My twin, actually.” With that, he left Kara standing and made his way up to his room on the second floor, before returning minutes later with the photograph from the wardrobe in his left hand.

Kara took the photo from Luke and observed the photo closely, before frowning slightly. “I thought you said you are a twin.”

“Unidentical ones, Laney and I.” Luke laughed, before continuing “Taken a few years ago at a friend’s wedding bash.”

“She looks very different from you though.”

“Courtesy of my mother, who’s from South East Asia. That’s why she’s shorter than me and other Aussies in general.”

Kara looked up “So she’s a cosplayer?”

“An amateur, actually, though still very good. She started when both of us were in university. Initially she was more interested in dressing up as anime and game characters, but when Superman’s exploits became commonplace all over the news and the Internet, she started to focus more on cosplaying as superfolks. She started designing a more ‘feminine’ style of his costume for herself, obviously because a man’s cutting will obviously not fit her; and as you might have gathered from all that is in the suitcase, there are many different combinations of tops and bottoms, right?” Kara nodded.

“And then YOU turned up about 18 months ago. She was SO excited that your preferred costume is so similar to one of her designs. She thought that maybe one day she might have a chance to share her ideas with you? So that you can ‘change your ensemble once a while’. ”

Kara grinned at that most women DO think alike. “Where is she by the way?”

“You know… funny you should ask. I’m actually planning to go and see her this morning. Given that you’re her idol… if you’re interested, would you like to come with me?”

“Sure. If you’re ok with me tagging along, that is.”

“Yes, yes. Give me a few minutes…”as he walked back up to his room to change. When he came down minutes later in a fresh set of t-shirt and jeans, he realised that Kara has duffed her outer layer, and is now only dressed in the replica costume. A pair of red boots completed the ensemble.

“Err… Kara… is that wise?”

“Why not?” Kara crossed her hands under her chest “After all, it’s only us right?”

“Well, it is still winter, and where we’re going, we’ll need to take the bus…” Kara snorted, and cut him off. “Luke, I’m SUPERgirl. I can get us there must faster, and more direct. And don’t worry about me. This body” pointing to herself again “can take the cold. Or heat, for that matter.”

“You… you mean…”

“Yeap. We’re going to take the Supergirl Express. So…” she then opened the door, and gestured to Luke, "After you.” Luke paused for a moment, before putting on his coat and, picking up a small bouquet of flowers that he had brought back from his morning run, exited with her.

Once both of them stood in the hallway outside the door, Kara turned towards Luke and hugged him to herself. “Ooff… not too tight.” Luke gasped slightly before moving her arms hugging her back along her waist. Kara merely grinned, as she could see colour rising in his host’s cheeks despite his gentlemanly gesture, no doubt feeling the difference of her womanly curves against his own body. “Trust me, I’ve done this MANY times. You’re in safe hands. Just tell me where to go, and I’ll do the rest.

“So we have to go soooOOOUUUTTTTHHH…”he barely finished his sentence when he felt Kara floating and flying, up up and away into the morning sky…

<Moments later>

“Oh, Luke… why didn’t you tell me sooner…” Kara apologised profusely.

She thought that something was amiss as they flew, and then it hit home when she saw the place that they were heading for with her telescopic vision. It only took all of 10 minutes before Kara deposited both of them at Centennial Memorial Park, south of the city. Conscious of Kara’s presence, Luke had asked for both of them to be dropped at one side of the 40 hectar cemetary, which incidentally is also nearer to where his destination anyway.

The place where they landed was just one section of a wide area that seems to cater to cremation memorials. This well-kept area is akin to a landscaped garden, and using different parts of nature as part of the memorial. On one side there are rose gardens with a fountain; on the other there are stone tablets laid tastefully along a crafted path, where each tablet has a plaque of the deceased.

Feeling self-conscious and woefully ill-dressed despite no one being around, she followed Luke as he walked down the path towards an area where there seemed to be focused on small trees and shrubs. He finally came to a stop near a three-foot tall shrub, and his sister’s name inscribed on the plaque which was laid on a stone foundation that surrounded the plant.

Luke laid the bouquet of flowers on the ground next to Laney’s plaque, and both he and Kara said their own silent prayers in their own way before they made their way to a nearby bench to sit down. Kara felt terrible, and Luke just patted her on the shoulder as she buried her face in her hands for a while.

“I’m sorry…”

Luke shrugged. “Don’t be. In fact, I should have prompted you earlier. But rather than explaining, I thought it would be easier to just show you.”

“When did this happen?”

“Six months ago.” Luke replied, his gaze seemingly far away despite Laney’s memorial being in his line of sight, his left arm still draped over Kara’s shoulder. He pulled his coat tighter usng his right hand as he felt a slight chill from the winter breeze. “A bit unexpected too. But it was fast.”

“How?”

“Leukemia. Very sudden actually. Laney noticed some bruising after playing football with friends, and when it didn’t go away, she got herself checked out. That was around… 9 months ago? The oncologist was very optimistic that she will pull through based on the prognosis. Not sure why, but after one round of chemo, her condition got worse and she passed away soon after.”

Kara laid her head on Luke’s shoulder, and mumbled quietly “Luke, I’m so sorry. I realise this is a very private thing for you.”

Luke cast a sideway glance at her and turned back to gaze at the memorial “I’ve already passed that stage. It wasn’t easy, but I dealt with it. But, as I remember,” Luke looked back at Kara,”I can’t imagine how you coped, if what they reported in the papers is true.”

“Regarding?”

“That you and Superman are the only remaining survivors of an alien race. I might be alone, but yet I’m not TRULY alone, you know. I can’t imagine what it feels like for both you and your cousin, and how you deal with it.”

Silence hung in the air for a while, and Kara couldn’t help but wipe away a few tears that formed involuntarily in her eyes.

Eventually, Luke added “As I told you, she’s a big fan of yours. That you’re here now visiting her means a lot to me. Besides” he pinched a bit of the costume’s sleeve “ I couldn’t think of a better way to honour Laney than to wear the very thing that she spent so much effort making in the first place.”

“Is that why you kept all the costumes? Down in your basement?”

Luke paused for a while before replying “I’ve given or thrown away most of her stuff already, but she really did pour her heart and soul into these. Especially the ones that is of you and Superman’s. But at the same time, I couldn’t bear to have them lying around as it reminds me about her so much… so,” he scratched his head, and continued “I just thought of keeping it somewhere but out of sight, you know…”

“I understand…”

Both of them just sat on the bench, letting time pass as they lost themselves in their own thoughts.

____________________

<Night time, Metropolis>

“You know, it’s not like you to be late.”

Superman smirked at that comment,and replied good-heartedly “I can’t help it. There’s always something happening here and there in the city.”

“Do tell."

For Clark was actually on his way towards his rendezvous when he heard the alarm go off at one of branches of Metropolitan Bank just outside the city. He found two would-be theives at the scene when he arrived. Despite having tripped the alarm, instead of running away, they had instead pushed their luck and tried to load on a few extra sacks of cash first.

That one of them even dared to pull their pistol on him when he floated down towards them was even more absurd, given that everyone should already know that Metropolis is HIS city.

As in that invulnerable, indestructible, and infallibly boy-scout goody two-shoes, Superman’s city.

Similar to how he had normally handled such situations, all he had to do was just to walk up to the man who kept firing away, whose eyes just grew wider with every shot that hit Kal on his chest, abdomen and other parts of his front body kept ricocheting off his powerful solar-fueled muscles. Finally standing in front of the man, he plucked the gun away and crushed it nonchalantly in his left hand, before dropping the useless piece of metal on the floor, still slightly red from the sudden pressure to crush it.

“Come on, you guys should know by now guns don’t work on me.” Superman chided the gunman. The two thieves seemed frozen in place, seemingly transfixed by the superhuman standing in front of them with his standard <S> insignia costume, and it was all he could do to contain his laughter. Faster than a blink of an eye, both men suddenly found themselves floating upwards, lifted up only by their collars by Superman. Pretty soon they found themselves about five stories above ground.

“Hey… HEY!!! LET GO OF ME!!” The one with a five o’clock beard seemed more energetic, though his struggles are futile, while the other seemed to have fainted away. “Are you sure you really want do that? It’s a long way down from here.” Realising his predicament, he immediately ceased struggling, and was cooperative enough for Clark to drop both of them off at the nearby precinct without any other issues before flying towards his appointment, at the rooftop of Metropolis Police HQ.

“Cost-cutting is really taking their toll.” The person replied back good naturedly, though the meaning behind his words do reflect reality.

Clark would know. He had covered enough of politics to know that many national policies have mainly only benefited the wealthy and the influential. That, and that the Kent farm had barely survived foreclosure had made him even more wary whenever a politician promises the sky.

“That bad?”

“Apparently , one of the reason for the cuts is you.” Superman was taken aback by that comment. “Given that you and Supergirl have given your tireless service for Metropolis voluntarily, the city decided it would be much cheaper and rational to divert the budget away from all these critical services elsewhere. After all,“ pointing at Superman “both of you do take care of various crimes and incidents on our behalf for free, no?”

Clark opened his mouth, agape, before he noticed the slight wink. Grey-haired and with a weather-beaten face, Fred Danvers had joined the force ever since he returned from a Tour during the Gulf War tour the mid 2000s. Now in his mid-forties, the creases and wrinkles showed, though the betting man wouldn’t want to take those as signs of weaknesses at all. Word among those in the force and on the street is that he can still outrun, outhustle, outshoot and outsmart the best among the police has in its ranks, and the worst the crimeworld has to offer.

Unlike many others in the service line, Fred Danvers had welcomed and embraced his presence in Metropolis from Day One. This seemingly came from his realisation during his own military experience that no one can ever do things alone. He had mentioned a few times in passing how he had relied on locals and others who had given their lives in order to do the right thing, and in certain situations, sacrificed themselves to save him.

Detective Danvers had quickly realised that Superman had every intent to help out whenever he could but had chosen not to meddle; and so had actively sought him out as an ally to his side. He had quickly built up a sort of informal working relationship with the superhero, and in fact, even Superman himself had to admit that despite his superpowers, it would have been nought were it not for Fred Danvers’ sort of indirect apprenticeship in evaluating crime scenes and solving cases through leads. The latter’s attention to details, and the uncanny ability to connect the dots had made him the envy of many as well as an enemy on both side of the fence.

It is mainly due to Fred Danvers’ reputation and personal capabilty that led to him being appointed the leader of Task Force Zero. Together with his main right-hand man Dan Turpin, the task force had succeeded in closing many major cases in Metropolis during the past 12 months; the latest being the crackdown of a major human smuggling ring recently, with no less help from Clark Kent the reporter as well as the person’s even more famous alter ego.

“Come on Fred, Kara and I are just two persons. You know even with all our speed and abilities, we can never replace the police protecing the city. The politicians and especially the people should realise this.”

“That I have no doubt.” Fred Danvers laughed together with Clark.

“So, anything up that you wanted to talk to me so badly?” Superman asked.

“Two things. First, I heard from a reliable source that the human smuggling ring is NOT dead despite our efforts. In fact, there is a good chance that there will be another transport coming into the country in another few weeks’ time.”

“Well, given that we both know who the leader is…” Clark and Fred turned together to look at Luthor Tower towards the North of the city “… I have no doubt that it is true.”

Facing each other again, the detective continued. “This time however, I finally found out who they are targeting .”

“Who?”

“Witches.” Grinning at Superman’s stare, he remarked “Oh, don’t look so surprised. If we can have Kryptonians, Thanagarians and Amazons on Earth, surely it doesn’t take a leap of imagination to realise we can also have witches, daemons and vampires living amongst us too. All law abiding as well.”

“No, it’s not that. Just that… if they are true, then they would be powerful, right?” Clark’s minds turned to his colleague Zatanna, a powerful magician /witch who seemed to be able to conjure up anything by just saying the right words backwards.

“Word has it that the organisation is just the middle man. They are doing the vetting of the right type of witches to be trans-shipped to a major buyer.”

“That’s major. Do you have any photos or other leads? I can pass them around so that we can all keep an eye out during patrols.”

“Unfortunately, no. My source didn’t provide any. Knowing our friend…” Danvers tapped on his forehead “those information are only kept within his own brain. That’s what he’s famous for anyway.”

“Fine. We’ll have to keep a closer eye out on anything that’s extraordinary. What’s the other thing?”

“I’ve been reassigned.”

“WHAT? Why?”

Fred turned away from the Man to Steel to look out at the city. He took his time before finally replying “Officially, the task force is now dispersed given that we have technically solved the biggest case in Metropolis PD and crashed a major human trafficking ring. While there are still some odds and ends, there really isn’t anything new as yet that warrants the top brass’ interest, at least not for now."

“And unofficially?”

“Remember the cost cutting? And the influential playing a role? Now THAT would be my bet as the real reason. We’ve gotten very close to the main guy, so of course he wouldn’t just sit there and twiddle his thumbs in his armchair. I think Commissioner Grant had to strike a compromise with him just so I can move on and move out relatively intact. So they make it agreeable for everyone – a good job done, hence no more need for such a major task force, and then a 'promotion' to someplace else because I wanted a change of scenery after so many years in the big city. Convenient eh?”

“When are you moving?”

“Technically last week, but I’ve asked for an extra 2 week’s extension, so that I can clear-up some of my cases or at least hand them over to the rest other than Dan. He’s overworked anyway; you can practically see that he’s bursting out of his suit with all the donuts he’s wolfing down.”

Clark walked over to his friend and laid his hand on Fred’s shoulder. “I’m sorry that you’re leaving, my friend.”

Fred just smiled “Don’t be. To be honest, it’s a pretty good offer. They've agreed to send me home actually, to take up the position as the Chief of Police in the Midvale-Leesburg area.”

“That’s a surprise. I didn’t know you came from that part of the country. Also, it’s only a couple of hours from Metropolis and National City. Maybe Grant is still keeping you at arms length so that he can quickly bring you back in when the heat has died down?”

“I doubt it. After all, there are many younger men and women who are much more political-savvy than me here. It IS something that Eliza and I planned to do eventually; just that the timetable has moved up much faster than I anticipated.”

“How is Eliza taking it?”

“Funnily, she’s looking forward to moving back. Even went for a couple of interviews already for something around the place. Said she’s tired of her tenure at Metropolis Uni. Go figure.” Both men laughed, as they both know that Eliza Danvers has been earmarked as the Head of Department of Biomedical Science for some time already. Eliza’s gesture just confirms how much the couple are in love with other for her to give up her research and teaching career just to move with her husband back to their hometown.

“What about Alex?”

“Let’s just say that she’s learning to deal. She just needs time… and space.”

“I can understand.” Fred raised an eyebrow at him, which invited a retort “What? Did I said something wrong?”

Fred shook his head while raising both his hands in a surrender gesture “Nothing. Though it sounds awfully clear as if someone close to you might be a handful too.”

Superman grimaced at that comment. “Is it that obvious?”

“I’m a father of a young woman who has an IQ of 160, loves motorcycles, booze and leather, and not necessarily in that sequence. Trust me, I know.”

Both men stayed silent for a while, before Fred Danvers said something surprising.

“You know, given that Eliza and I will have an empty nest soon, assuming Alex DOES eventually graduate, both of us are thinking of having another child.” He cast a sideway glance at Superman who looked at him sharply. “Oh, I don’t mean the natural way, though both of us still enjoy a good night on our own once a while. We’re thinking adoption; maybe someone a year or two younger than Alex… mature enough to be independent, yet young enough to keep us company for a while as we settle down. What do you think?” he finally turned around to look at Superman.

“I… that sounds like a big commitment. Have you discussed it with your family?”

Fred chuckled. “Of course! And the youngest in our family blew her stack and left the house mid-conversation. Eliza is onboard; In fact, she’s the one who put that notion in my head anyway. She thought that Alex could learn to be more responsible both to herself and to her family members if she were to have a younger sibling to watch-out for.”

“I see. Well, there are many adoption agencies available, though you will need to sift through quite a number of potential children, not to mention the potential red tape. But I can be a referee if you’d think it helps.”

“That’s a nice offer, and I appreciate it. Don’t worry though, we should be fine. In fact, we or rather, I, already have someone in mind.” Again, that damn wink. Despite all his superpowers, what wouldn’t Clark give just to figure out what is turning in the detective’s mind at the moment. “I promise to keep you posted. I will let you know soonest once everything is finalised, and also tell you the juicy details of how Alex hits the roof and more when the adoption is finalised. How’s that?”

Superman stared at Fred for a while, before nodding his head. He then hugged his friend before bading him goodbye, flying off into the night sky.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­_________________________________

<LunarCorp, Midvale-Leesburg around the same time>

“I’m so sorry for being late, Dr. Danvers.” Lena apologised profusely as she finally sat down in front of her guest at Rossini’s. All those damn meetings with investors and Lex’ white collars from HQ, plus an unusually heavy traffic had resulted in her turning up almost an hour late.

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She didn’t even have time to change, and had no choice but to turn up in her three-piece business suit.

Dr Eliza Danvers didn’t reply. Instead, she coolly observed the young CEO take a seat opposite herself at a private corner at Rossini’s, one of the more fashionable restaurants in town. Given the going prices in this location, it wasn’t some place that her family nor her acquaitances frequented.

Despite past forty, she looked and exuded the kind of elegance and charm of an eliteborn woman who had done and seen it all, and yet have none of the arrogance nor the sarcastic tone so associated with such social standing. With a grey coat over her black dress, her wavy blonde hair cascading down her shoulders, she looked more like a cultured socialite rather than the usual stereotypical nerdy researcher buried in their work three stories down in a building.

Dr. Danver’s non-reply wasn’t lost on Lena. Among the notes that Sara Lynn had scribbled on the edge of the scientist’s CV included a note about Eliza Danvers’ affinity to keeping her word. Not just a promise on any action, but also on keeping to time. Lena could practically feel the heat simmering just beneath the doctor’s calm and cool demeanour.

To try and turn the situation around, she instead turned around to order and got what she thought were the best the restaurant has to offer. Lena then tried a bit of small talk about the latest in sports (Eliza seem’s to be a major basketball fan) before moving on to the main topic. Instead, Dr. Danvers beat her to it.

“So, tell me Ms Luthor. For what do I owe the pleasure of tonight? I don’t seem to recall if our paths have ever crossed before.” Her deep azure eyes stared into Lena’s own emerald gren pair.

“Dr. Danvers, I heard from sources that you are considering employment options. I have here today , to offer you a position with us in LunarCorp.”

Raising an eyebrow, Eliza folder her arms, sat back and again observed Lena Luthor. The way the conversation is going, it looked more as if Lena is the one who is in the hot seat this evening.

Undaunted, the young CEO ploughed on. Leaning forward slightly and placing her arms on the table, she continued “LunarCorp is at the moment trying to expand other fields that are complementary to our current robotics and mechanical engineering fields, and one of the areas include the bio-medical aspects. You might have heard about the various mechanical devices, solar batteries and the like that we are developing. I believe that there is much good that we can do if we can combine our engineering expertise with your in-depth knowledge within your realm of research.”

When Dr. Danvers still didn’t reply, Lena continued “I have read-up about your research topics, and you have extensive experience in gene splicing, gene therapy and the like. Your latest on stem-cell research, cloning and the like are revolutionary and very forward-thinking, and I personal believe that with our partnership, we can definitely help to realise many of your thinking sooner than later. Imagine devices and tools that can speed up detection of faulty genes with an almost perfect accuracy within minutes instead of weeks; the abilty to improve or remove at risk markers almost painlessly. Wouldn’t you agree that as a holy grail that one can shoot for?”

Again, silence.

Lena sighed inwardly from the one-way conversation that she’s having. Looks like a change in tactics is needed. “Now, if what I heard is true, the university is still keeping its options open when it comes to replacing Prof. Stanley as the Head of Department when he retires later this year. Despite all your accomplishment throughout your career in your alta mater it would seem that they still value the male sex in a leadership role, rather than yourself. Why do you want to keep putting up with all this crap when you deserve more?” This elicited a slight quiver from Dr. Danvers’ lips at last.

“In Lunarcorp, I can promise you full authority in deciding on the research direction that you want to take; my other team leads will work and collaborate with you to the fullest. We believe in treating everyone fairly and with respect, and we try to recruit the best. Why don’t you consider us as an option?”

“And why should I?”

Lena opened her small handbag and extracted a folded-piece of paper. She laid it on the table and pushed it halfway towards Eliza.

“You will find that I am prepared to offer you a compelling package to join us. We can come to an agrement on the research topic focus and oversight committee members as part of the ethics oversight, but in essence you will also have a free reign in choosing whomever you want for your own team.

Lena then stopped, and both ladies looked at each other for a short while.

“So what do you say?”

“No.”

That the answer came so short and curt was less surprising than the fact that Dr. Danvers didn’t even open her offer letter on the table.

Lena’s eyes narrowed, her cheeks reddened with slight embarrassment, though she quickly checked herself and asked “May I ask why?”

“Did you know Lex sent Mercy Graves to see me two days ago? She too seemed to lay out a very similar argument to yours in order to encourage me to join LutherCorp, or rather Cadmus. However in her case I would be partnering, rather than LEADING the research. VERY CURIOUS about the timing. ” When Lena didn’t reply, Dr. Danvers continued “Which begs the question, why would BOTH brother AND sister approach me at different instances to talk about the same thing?”

Lena conceded. “I did hear about your meeting with Mercy through an acquaintance, which is why I had my secretary arrange to see you as soon as possible. Now I don’t know why, nor do I care about what they are working on; but I can assure you that I am my own woman, and I call the shots in my own company. As you mentioned, given that Cadmus is Lex’ baby with dear old Lilian Hamilton, so it would be logical to assume that they decide on all research-related items, and its related budget as well irregardless of what they promise.”

“You said that you are independent, and yet it’s not exactly a secret that LexCorp has a major share in your company.”

“Yes in terms of shareholding from a financial standpoint, but the funding support has explicitly laid out terms that we do NOT compete with each other, and that I and I alone have sole authority to on the organisation’s day-to-day. This include hiring, or firing, restructuring, research leadership, topics focus and the like. And also, LuthorCorp is but one of a few that I managed to entice to support our cause. Queen Consolidated and Wayne Enterprises both have stakes too.”

“In that case, then are you sure that all these… large corporations will continue to allow you to run the company as you like, given that you are burning through cash still. And with this little project that you want to do…” Dr Danvers placed a finger on the offer letter, “… it’s going to cost them even more.”

“Leave those boardroom fights to me. Trust me on my word.”

Eliza just smiled, before replying “Trust takes time and effort to earn, little one. And even more so when your surname is a Luthor. Despite your bravado, I can tell that I’m not the first on your list, or if I am ever on it.” She held up a hand stopping Lena’s retort. “I, too, have done a bit of homework. I am guessing that one main reason that you’re here is to prove to that person sitting at the top of LuthorCorp towers that you are on par, if not BETTER, than him. You just want to see if there’s any possibility that you can somehow swoop in and snatch away an asset away from your dear old brother, and rub it in his face, isn’t it?”

Feeling a rising flush in her face, Lena kept her poker face while retorting “That’s not true.” But deep down she knew that comment had partially hit home.

Turning all serious, Dr Danvers stared into Lena. “Well, I refuse to be part of your family’s feud. So please little old me out it.” With that, she stood up and got ready to leave.

“I know about Fred. Mr. Danvers, I mean.” Eliza stopped and turned to look back at Lena. “I know about your family’s situation. I know that the main reason you’ve been pursuing gene-related research so diligently, and have achieved so much in such a short time, is because of Fred Danvers. Please,” Lena gestured to the chair, “won’t you please sit down?”

As Eliza took her seat again, Lena ventured “I know that he has Multiple Sclerosis, and have had it for a while. Given his occupation, it could prove fatal to him, but so far he has not shown any symptoms. Until the past month that is, when he mentioned a little vision problem, and a little slurring in his speech? That’s one of the main reason that he has accepted the new role to be the Chief of Police in Midvale-Leesburg area, so that both of you can have more time together with Alex, in a more managaeble and less stressful environment.”

Eliza continued to stare at her, daggers almost coming out towards the young Luthor, who continued “At the very least, I can understand the path that lies ahead of you and your family. Given the proximity of LunarCorp with both Midvale and Leesburg, I promise you that you can have all the time in the world for your family if you need to. Irregardless of your reservations, I DO keep my promises. That is one thing that I am VERY different from my brother.”

Eliza looked away for a while, before exhaling. She turned back towards the unopened offer on the table, took it and put it into her handbag without a second look. She stood back up and tossed out a sentence ”Let me think about it” before walking out of the restaurant, leaving Lena with the untouched main dishes for two.

_________________________________________________

<Gotham>

Standing at the landing of the Batcave’stairs, Alfred waited for Batman to exit from the Batmobile before walking down bringing him his towel and water. Given that he is used to the Batman going out until wee hours in the morning, that he had returned home earlier is somewhat of a surprise.

“Quiet night, Master Bruce?”

“Tim and the rest are on it. Took a tour outside of Gotham instead. Did anyone call or text, Alfred?”

“Nothing of importance that I can recall Master Bruce, unless you count the meeting with your bankers tomorrow on the funding for a proposed acquisition to be of similar importance.” Having been with the Wayne family seemingly forever, Alfred Pennyworth’s understanding of Bruce’s wants and needs bordered on telepathy, though he continue to have reservations about the master’s vigilante exploits. However, on more than one occasion, Alfred have always been there for Bruce through thick and thin.

Sitting down into cockpit like armchair in front of the huge computer system that were seemingly built into the cavewall, Bruce took off his cowl and looked through the alerts and the monitors, as Alfred laid a plate of cold cuts next to him. “If that would be all…”

Turning around, Bruce said “I thought of inviting Clark Kent over sometime next week. Do you think we can partake a late supper at the library?”

“Very good Master Bruce. Will that only for two or…”

“Two for now. I will let you know ”

After Alfred took his leave, Bruce took out the two vials and another memory card and placed them on the table in front of him. Taking off his gloves, he took the memory card and slotted into the console. Punching in a few commands on the touchpad just in front of him, he brought up the recorded video that he managed to recover from some of the roadside cameras near to Leesburg high school and the orphanage. Scrolling through the recording he found the timing that he was looking for, and he watched the playback as he muched through the sandwich.

Based on the videos that he watched yesterday and today, the Batman now has a very good idea of what transpired. He even hypothesised what happend following the two women’s faithful encounter just a week ago. Given that one of the woman in the video is missing, all that is left is to have a chat with the other woman now.

That is, if she wants to meet him. Given that she was last seen going up to the penthouse suite in LuthorCorp, is she now ally or foe??

And even she is willing to see him, in what circumstances? Would he, a normal Terran male albeit with many gadgets and an extremely keen mind, be able to survive a run-in with a powerful vampire such as she?

He was so lost in that thought that he missed the text on his superhero communicator; vibrating slightly for a few seconds before falling silent again.

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