I'm Super, Thanks For Asking

August 31, 2014: Clark Kent and Karen Starr go to dinner at a bistro. They discuss things ranging from the Phantom Zone, to secret government agencies, to the warping of reality, to the arrival of a younger version of Karen — the Kara native to this universe.

New Troy - City of Metropolis

"1930's architecture stretched like a rubber band."

New Troy is the largest borough in Metropolis and is where all of the main city life seems to be established as well as take place. Here is where you will find skyscrapers that reach the heavens and commerce that spreads as far as the next business that picks up.

The heartbeat, lifeblood, and veins of The Big Apricot.



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Ostensibly, the reason that Karen Starr has invited Clark Kent to dinner at a local bistro is simply to catch up on what has been going on in their respective lives. But, while that is definitely something she is glad to talk about with her cousin (as much as their relation may not be known to most people, on account of secret identities), there is another, bigger matter to discuss. Presently, Karen is seated at the bistro, wearing a navy-blue pantsuit, suede shoes, and with her blonde hair styled up in a bun. She has a menu, but is waiting to order until Clark gets here. Though she is listening to the sounds of the city all around, people-watching a bit and keeping an eye (and ear) out for trouble, she is mostly focused on her thoughts about a certain incident at the recently constructed Titans' Tower…

And what it might mean if the U.S. Government is sponsoring such a thing. Oh, and there's another little matter, slightly less critical, but still on her mind. She isn't sure how to address it herself, let alone bring it up in conversation however.

Alternate selves is a weird business. The weather is nice, even if the hour is a bit late, and a mix of electric lights and candles provide illumination at the blonde's table. She has already notified her waiter that she is expecting company, so there shouldn't be any problem with just coming over.


Karen doesn't have to wait too terribly long before Clark shows up. He's perhaps a mockery of nerd-dom with his oversized suit that looks as though it might have been in style in the 1980s, his thick black mop of hair that hangs over his coke bottle glasses-glasses so thick the accent of his blue eyes look owlish.

He nearly trips as he takes a seat, but he's all smiles. "Karen, what a wonderful surprise. I'm really excited to meet up with you." He's got a lot of questions for Karen about her world. Like Power Girl, Superman has run into some serious matters recently and needs to cross reference.

"What's good here?"


Karen hears Clark's approach, of course, but takes the time to wait until he announces himself before looking up and smiling as though just realizing he was there. She rises partway from her seat, as she replies, "Same here, Clark. It's been too long!" Once Clark is seated, Karen also sinks back down. She flips open the menu, and turns it around, so she can point at a list of quiche. "The quiche aux champignons or the quiche aux florentine are both pretty tasty, though I wouldn't recommend ordering a whole once unless you'd like to split it or have some to-go. Salads are made fresh, and likewise their bread." Might be a bit too much carbs for some people to stack pastry-crusted quiche with French bread, but neither Karen nor Clark technically NEEDS to eat. It isn't going to impact them nutritionally, one way or the other.

"How have you been lately? Catch any big scoops?"


It's funny. Usually Clark Kent is the most clumsy, awkward, and goofy person one might meet in a day, but around Karen he acts much more normal. Aside from the glasses of course. "Well, that's why I'm glad we met up. I wanted to ask you…" He looks over his shoulder. "I wanted to ask you about your home world. I have run into some friends from our shared home and they weren't too friendly. I'm looking for a way to shut down the highway, so to speak."

It seems as though he's talking in some sort of code, and it's not clear if she's understanding him or not. Soon he realizes, however, that they can talk openly. "Long story short I had a visitor from the Phantom Zone. Did your world ever have stories about the Aethyr?"


Karen grasps the gist of what's being said, certainly, especially when Clark gets to the point. However, the mention of the Phantom Zone has her friendly smile turning into a lopsided frown. She doesn't know of any Kryptonian who has a positive view of the Phantom Zone, but she reaches the same conclusion that Clark does about who is within range to hear or see them. She knows lip-reading is a skill here on Earth, so she is still keeping an eye out for anyone watching them, but overall she feels they are safe enough discussing this matter as long as they keep their voices at conversational volume or quieter. "Ahh, I see. I'm not sure. The name doesn't sound familiar, but from what I understand, there's not a lot of good that can come from that dimension. We've been putting so much bad there for so long… These 'unfriendly friends'… Are they Kryptonian?" While she has experience with 'evil Kryptonians' from back home, they were still a minority compared to the ones who were either good or, at worst, somewhat selfish. Like humans, their people could have a wide variety of motivations and personalities, but there tended be less of a focus on materialism, and less need for military action (in general. Prominent exceptions are prominent).

She has no idea if that's the case here or not, but people with the powers that Superman and Power Girl wield, acting to dominate, destroy, and oppress those weaker than themselves, has never been a pleasant situation, and probably never will be, no matter how many times it happens. Yet, it still needs to be dealt with, regardless of the difficulty. "And is there really a way to shut off access to the Phantom Zone completely?" Outside of eliminating every Phantom Zone projector, she hadn't really though of the possibility. And given that if Krypton could make such devices, there's no reason someone else can't do it, she didn't think it was truly possible.


Clark nods to her, "Well, there's only one. It's hard to believe, but the legend I found in the records of the Fortress show that there was an old myth about the Aethyr. Hundreds of lost souls came together and somehow inhabited the body of a Kryptonian prisoner. Somehow that being got here. She's more powerful than us, Karen. I needed help to defeat her and I have her in stasis. I want to take her back to the zone and figure out what created the fissure. I want to stop the leak."

Clark sits back and looks to her, "I know full well what it means. When I go there, I will lose my powers. I'm thinking of bringing a team from here to the Zone, but it's going to be rather dangerous." After a moment of silence, he adds, "What did you want to meet about? Sorry, I'm hogging all of the conversation."


Grim news indeed. It's not that Power Girl (AND Superman) haven't faced more powerful opponents than themselves before, and won, but it typically requires clever thinking, careful planning, outside assistance, capitalizing upon a weakness rather than just punching the problem away, or some combination of any or all of those. Something that much more powerful than the two of them combined, and that is — or that she is assuming from the description, anyway — a malevolent entity is a frightening proposition. Wracking her memory for ideas, she gets some information, but like many things from her old universe, there are strange gaps in her knowledge. Almost like a mental fog. She recalls something about an incredibly powerful explosion on this plane breaching the boundary with others… And something about two blackholes…

The details escape her, and whether they are actually relevant or not is uncertain. She says, "Well, for whatever good it will do, you have my help if you go over there." She smiles sardonically, however, when the subject of what she wanted to talk about is brought up. "Gee, it almost seems minor next to that news. But I still think it's important." Karen pauses and scans the area properly, with X-Ray vision, infrared, heat vision, microwave, even listening on various frequencies for any radio transmissions. There don't appear to be any 'bugs' or other spying tools in the vicinity, but she still feels caution is warranted.

"A lady by the name of Waller apparently had a stealth strike team go after that new team of young heroes and heroines, the 'Teen Titans'. When that failed, she ordered a missile strike on the tower that blew it up. They have a magic-user who managed to fix it by bending reality, but from what that did to local space-time, I don't think it's something they should have to rely upon. Don't need Icthultu or Starro or more Phantom Zone rejects slipping through a hole in the Multiverse." Clark might not know either of those names mentioned towards the end, but she doesn't pause, because they aren't the main problem here. "But that's not the main problem here. The main problem is that Waller is apparently a government operative. Like, the U.S. government. She even announced her identity to the kids she attacked, because she seemingly doesn't fear reprisal. 'Untouchable' and the like. I was hoping to track down Batman and see if he could aid in a covert investigation, but he's Batman, and if he doesn't want to be found it's hard to pin him down."

Karen has to pause as their waiter approaches, and takes their order. She's all smiles as she provides such, waits until Clark has done the same, and they are alone again, before continuing on — even more cautiously than before. "I don't know who she's 'with', or what they hoped to gain from attacking the Titans to brazenly, but if the government of this country is actually backing some kind of anti-metahuman organization… Any hero, villain, or bystander could be in danger."


Clark looks relieved when Karen says she'd go with him to the Phantom Zone. He's going to need her help. He's going to need a lot of their help. "I'll pencil you in. I hear the Phantom Zone is great this time of year," he says sarcastically. Sometimes when things are bleak, dark humor is the only way to get through it.

As she begins the comments about Waller, Clark nods along with her. "Yeah, I was visited by one of the heroes from the Titans. A young man by the name of Vorpal. I attempted to track down information about this Amanda Waller, but so far I've come up with absolutely nothing. As closely as I've worked with the government I was pretty shocked to find she was somehow involved with them. But everywhere I've turned I've come up with nothing. As to the magical rebuilding, I hadn't heard that. But if that's confirmed, we should definitely see about closing down that loophole. I don't know much about magic, but I know enough to know I don't like messing with it."

Back to the other topic now. "As far as Waller goes, what do you suggest? Where should we go from here? I can track down Batman. He's a personal friend of mine and I can put him in contact with you. Just let me know when you want to meet him. I'll warn you though. He's not very lovey dovey."


It makes sense that Superman would already be in the loop. It's 'his' town, after all. People come to him with their problems because they trust him to help. Karen thinks about solutions to the Waller problem while she explains about the building. "Apparently there were things leaking in from another reality, while I was there. Some kind of magical or extra-dimensional circus." She decides not to mention the distress it was causing for Changeling. It's not her place to spread rumors or talk about someone else's personal matters. From what she heard on her way out, he was going to stay somewhere else until it was all resolved anyway. "Given the rest of the tower didn't seem terribly magical, it was a bit out of place. I couldn't detect the magic myself, but one of their members… Wiccan was the name, I think. He's the one responsible for its… Condition. I think they expect it to stabilize on its own eventually, but in the meanwhile, I do have concerns about Things trying to capitalize on the situation. There always seems to be SOMETHING waiting for a chance to break through to our reality."

Karen takes a drink of her water as she rubs her forehead a bit. She doesn't tend to get headaches, but it's a human habit to try to massage away stress-induced muscle tension. She doesn't even think about these things anymore from all her years among them. "On legal grounds, I don't think there's anything they can actually use to defend the actions taken if we were to bring in Waller and whoever she works with, or for. The problem is bringing them in at all." She grins a little at the description of Batman. "I remember that much at least. Just like I remember what a great detective is. But there's other things I feel like I SHOULD know that just aren't…" She trails off and decides to change subjects. Discussing her weaknesses, even with her only family on this planet, and someone she trusts implicitly, doesn't come easy to her.

"I think finding out more should be our first step, and keeping an eye out for further action in the meantime as well. Acting rashly, as often as I've done it, probably isn't going to solve any problems this time. And letting Waller know we're trying to find out about her will probably just result in the 'dome of secrecy' closing up even tighter." Subtle thinking isn't Karen's strong-suit, but she's doing her best to consider the possibilities this time around.

"One last topic, and hopefully a lighter one, before our dinner arrives." She can smell it from here. "I ran into my younger self recently, trying to stop a UFO crash. She seems very frustrated with her situation here on Earth, and I think she could use help with not just a living situation but also emotionally, and educationally. I'm not sure if she has contacted you or not, but I was going to offer to train Kara Zor-El, since she has a hard time controlling her abilities, and maybe show her Earth culture a bit too. If you'd rather take care of her yourself, you're welcome to, but I thought that since you already helped me, 'paying it forward' might be a good call."


Clark strokes his chin as Karen relays the information about the Titans, Changeling, and Wiccan's changes to the space time continuum. "Who's all part of that team? They've kind of stood separate from a lot of things we've done, although there's some overlap. I know they were originally funded by the Swedish government as odd as it is. Perhaps we should either continue to monitor the situation, or if you'd prefer I can confront the Titans and this Wiccan myself."

Clark seems to agree with Karen on the Waller front, too. "I'm not really sure there's anything more that we can do. I'm afraid that if I continue to press I might accidentally trip some of her alarms. There's no telling how powerful she is or where her ears are, so to speak."

As Karen talks about her younger self, the world stops for Clark. "You're younger self? Wait, are you telling me that Kara Zor-El is alive? And here?" He smiles, overwhelmed. "My cousin is here?" Karen is as much family as Ma and Pa Kent, and that is to say she's family in every sense of the word. To find that his other cousin, Karen's doubleganger, is also here. Well, it's a revelation and one that makes him incredibly happy.


Karen recites the list of members, as-given to her, "Phobos, Raven, Wiccan, Flash, and, as you already know, Vorpal and Changeling are the current roster. That's what I was told at least, and I don't presently have a reason to suspect otherwise. I am not the subtle kind of gal. I can only guess at how they'd react if 'the adults' came checking up on them or trying to regulate their team's activities, but some degree of oversight is probably wise. If nothing else, maintaining a friendly relationship should put us in a position to help if it's needed, as opposed to pitting 'the teenagers' against 'the grown-ups'. I'm sure you recall what it was like to be a rebellious youth, even if it amounted to staying out past curfew square-dancing or whatever you did in Smallville." She's teasing, really. She has a hard time imagining her cousin doing anything truly 'bad' even as an adolescent. But there's other youths who might not have has well-defined a moral compass, who could use guidance.

When the topic moves forward to other-Kara, Karen seems slightly surprised. "Oh, you haven't seen her yet, then? Sorry to have held off on telling you! Yes, I met her up in space. Some alien vessel came flying towards the planet, expected to burn in the atmosphere, and we both had the same idea to stop it before that happened. She seems thrilled to meet another Kryptonian. I gather she feels very alone here on Earth. I… Haven't quite told her what my relationship to her is yet. One thing at a time, after all. But I'm sure she'll be just as glad to see you as she was to see me. More so, if your reaction is anything to go by." She seems slightly amused by how just the metnion of this universe's Kara lightened the mood at the table so much.

"As I mentioned, I don't think she has anywhere to stay, and she's still getting used to having her abilities, but I didn't manage to get her to agree to stay with me for now. It almost seems like she has other arrangements, but I'm not sure who with." Karen goes back to the topic of Titans after giving Clark some time to have all that sink in. "I've already talked to them once, and from what I could get with super hearing while I waiting to be let in, the teenaged boys there seemed thrilled that I came to visit for some reason. So if approaching them about reckless use of reality-warping magic is needed, I'm willing to be the one to do it. But you have a more established reputation." PG's semi-sarcastic smile from when she was describing the two Titans' members reaction to her stopping by changes to a more genuine one as she says, "People, especially kids, respect you. If you give them advice or a warning… This is just an assumption on my part, but I think they'll listen."


"Maybe we could go see them together. So they know it's a united front. If they know you already, maybe there's an element of trust and respect instead of just respect. And maybe hearing it from more than one voice might convince them. Even though it was just squaredancing and hayrides, I could be pretty stubborn in my youth." He won't go into detail about the true Smallville days.

Clark seems a bit crestfallen to learn that Kara might already have other plans to live that apparently did not include her family. He'd assumed that, in such an event, family would be the first people sought out. Perhaps he assumed wrong. "Well if she stays with you that'd be great. She could always stay with me or Ma too, but I think it'd be nice for her to have someone-a young woman to show her the way. Either way, I'd just really like to see her."


Karen tries to assuage Clark a bit by saying, "If it makes you feel better, I think it was a matter of an obligation, and wanting to talk it over with whoever was helping her out before running into me. Would you just abandon someone you had befriended on an alien planet, who had shown you kindness when you thought yourself alone, simply because family showed up? Or would you at least take the time to thank your friend, explain the situation, and so on? Family is important. But so are friends. I admire her loyalty to this mysterious friend of hers, and the fact that she didn't just drop everything to run off with a stranger just because I'm from the same planet." Sort of the same planet anyway. "Like I said, I'm sure she'll be glad to see you. Now that I know she's here, I can probably find her and let her know you're eager to meet her. She seemed to think she was the only Kryptonian on Earth, so I think she may well have looked for you before anything else but had difficulty finding you. I'll do everything I can to help her regardless of what she decides."

"On the subject of the kids, that does seem like a good idea. Young adults may challenge authority, but they tend to respond well to respect. As long as we are respectful of them, I think there's less chance of antagonism. And with both you and me coming to talk, maybe they'll be too star-struck to put up a fuss." The blonde grins and says, "Our dinner will be here in a moment. Times may be as busy as ever, but I'm glad you took the time to sit down to a meal with me." She identifies with Kara's plight a lot. She already lost everyone twice now. She'd probably feel just as lonely and frustrated if she'd shown up in this universe and found out her cousin didn't exist here. She's sure she can talk things over with her next time she sees her.


"You're probably right, Karen," Clark says to the woman who is chronologically two years his senior. Sometimes it feels like she's been doing this for decades longer than he has. Certainly, she knows what it's like to have a Kryptonian family far better than he does. What's he's learned through crystals that make like books has all been at arm's reach. Having a link to that in Karen has been a blessing. Hopefully Kara's presence will be the same way and hopefully he can do his part in helping her too. Another Kryptonian, wow. Ma is gonna flip.

"I'm glad too. We have to eat. Even if, we technically don't have to eat," Clark says as he smiles towards his cousin. Even if she's not here, Kara's arrival is cause for celebration. He agrees with her assessment on the Titans, but it seems as though the topic of his cousin has completely taken over his thoughts. And as the waitstaff arrives with the food, Clark Kent is all smiles.

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