The Midvale Girls
The further adventures of the teenaged Alex and Kara Danvers
"Wow, that has to be Gotham City across the bay," remarked Kara, pointing into the distance. She almost blurted out that the view reminded her of the view from the ancient Imperial tower on Starhaven, but quickly thought better of it. Alex hated when she talked about all the exotic places she had visited when she had still been living back on Krypton and more than once implied she was bragging. And perhaps she sometimes had when the two of them had been going through one tiff or another. But she was here to enjoy the time away from Midvale and didn't want to start another fight with Alex.
Therefore, instead, she added, "Do you think Clark knows Batman?"
Alex glanced around, worriedly, even though she knew they were alone. They were on the observation deck on the 70th floor of the Metropolis Institute of Technology tower. It provided a clear view of much of central Metropolis, as well as the bay and across it, the second most famous city on the East Coast. From what the placards said, the next level up bristled with astronomical and meteorological devices.
Apparently, the day before Thanksgiving was not a popular day to hang out at the Institute. Only a few people had been milling about in the museum and gift shop on the main floor. And they had ridden the express elevator up alone only to discover this public space, which could easily hold fifty people and which was lined with the familiar coin-operated binocular viewers, was utterly empty.
Alex turned her thoughts to Kara's question. On the few occasions they had met with Clark before, he had never mentioned anything about Batman. Perhaps it was another thing to asked Clark when they were safely alone. Of course, even if he did know him, he might not acknowledge the fact. Superheroes probably had many reasons to maintain secrets.
"I have no idea. I do remember reading stories that Batman lined his cowl with lead so Superman can't use his x-ray vision to identify him."
Kara wasn't certain if Alex was being serious or not. Yes, lead would block Superman's special vision, but she knew if she was determined to learn Batman's secret identity, she could figure a way to do it without needing to see through his mask. She would simply wait to spot his masked figure out in public and then track him from a high altitude until he returned to his lair or whatever he called his secret base. Once she knew that location, it shouldn't be too difficult to determine his identity.
And Clark could easily do the same. Of course, it wouldn't be Superman's style to spy on someone out of simple curiosity. She abruptly remembered how she had stormed down into the boys' locker room to confront Jake Donahue when she had thought he had been responsible for Kenny's death. She had basically roughed up and humiliated the boy in front of his friends and teammates. She couldn't imagine Clark doing anything like that. How did he always manage to keep his temper in check and do the right thing? She needed to learn how he did it before she carelessly used her own great strength to hurt someone.
"Actually, Superman does know. Or at least he will, eventually," remarked a boy's voice, seemingly from right behind them.
Kara and Alex spun around. They had both scanned the room barely ten seconds earlier and there had been no one there. They hadn't heard any ding associated with the elevator arriving or the sound of its doors opening. The only other way in or out was via an emergency exit on the far side of the space, which could only be opened from the inside and was alarmed. And even if the boy had made it through that door, he still would have had to have moved at a dead run to reach their position in the handful of seconds since they had turned back to the window. Surely, Kara and probably even Alex would have heard him if he had been running.
So how had he gotten there? And had they said anything that would reveal secrets that weren't theirs to blab?
Quickly, they took in the boy. He had a mop of medium brown hair somewhere between Kara's light brown and Alex's dark brown. He looked about fourteen, certainly younger than Alex and possibly even younger than Kara. And he was outlandishly dressed in a skin-tight black body suit with a white panel down the chest that gave it a quasi-tuxedo look. Around his waist was a black belt with small pouches along the sides. The front of the belt was held together by a large gold buckle shaped like a stylized capital L inside an oval circle. The outfit was something no boy they knew would be caught dead wearing.
"Who are you?" demanded Kara, taking a step forward to place herself between this stranger and her sister. She might be an alien and merely adopted into the Danvers family, but right this minute she definitely considered Alex her real sister and she would do whatever was needed to protect her.
"I'm Lyle Norg of the Legion of Super-Heroes," he paused almost as though he expected a spark of recognition at this announcement. "I've traveled back from the 31st Century because we need your help, Miss Danvers." He was looking Alex directly in the eyes when he said the second part.
"My . . . My help? You must be mis . . . mistaken, I'm just a girl," stuttered Alex. If he truly was who he said he was, and since she personally knew Superman she was more inclined to believe him than the typical girl on the street would, she figured he must be here for Kara.
"Oh, oh, I know that reference," he said with a grin. Then he continued with his voice pitched higher in approximation of a girl's, "I'm just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her. Notting Hill is one of the few classics that survived from this era. Brainy can recite the whole thing, word for word. Say, you wouldn't know where I could get a copy before we head back? Even with all he could do to enhance it, the quality of our only copy is pretty bad."
Why was he babbling about an old movie like Notting Hill, wondered Alex, now even more confused. She had enjoyed it when it first came out, when she was like seven or eight, but she wouldn't even pause on it now if she crossed it while channel-surfing.
Kara was still operating in protective-sister mode and tried not to be distracted by his non-sequitur. "How can we know you are who you say you are? And how did you get right up next to us without my noticing?"
Lyle glanced briefly in Kara's direction, but his attention was still focused on Alex when he replied. "I've been tracking you for over twelve hours trying to find a time when you were alone so I could speak to you."
"I knew someone has been watching me," exclaimed Alex in triumph, before realizing this boy might be a lot more dangerous than some FBI agent like she had suspected.
"As far as how I got here without your noticing?" he paused, dramatically, and then simply vanished. Ten seconds later, as the girls were wildly looking about, he reappeared about ten feet to their left. "Well, my superhero moniker isn't Invisible Boy for nothing. I simply rode the elevator up with you."
He walked back over. "Now, Alex . . . ah . . . you don't mind if I call you Alex? Anyway, Brainy and Dream Girl both say we need your help. And while singly they are rarely wrong, when they both agree it is almost a certainty, which is why I've been sent to fetch you."
"Me? But I'm just a girl," Alex reiterated. She glanced at Kara. If they needed help from a Danvers girl, surely it must be Kara. If the boy was truly from a thousand years in the future, perhaps their information about their family was just as sketchy as their knowledge about old movies. But she wasn't about to out Kara's Kryptonian nature.
"If you really need help from someone of this era, we do know Superman," interjected Kara. She wasn't much more enthused to reveal her secret than Alex was. But the existence of Superman and his abilities was common knowledge.
Lyle turned more fully in Kara's direction. "Supergirl, you are welcome to come along, too, if that makes you feel more comfortable. I'm sure you can pass the initiation test to join the Legion. But it is Alex's help we really need."
"Sup . . . Supergirl?" echoed Kara and now she found herself stuttering in surprise like Alex had done earlier.
"You are Superman's cousin from Krypton, right? That makes you Supergirl. Or haven't you assumed the moniker yet? I'm a little hazy on the specific date you picked up the superhero mantle."
Alex and Kara shared yet another glance. What the hell was going on? It was sort of logical if Kara was going to be a superhero that she would use that title, but Clark and the Danvers had all said she needed to live a normal human life.
"But why me?" asked Alex again. She knew in her heart that Kara would probably one day follow in Clark's footsteps, but she had no personal delusions on that front. She was just a girl.
"I'm not at liberty to say until we return to 3008. Okay, truthfully, I don't know. It's Brainy's turn to be in charge at the clubhouse, or at least until some of the other legionnaires make it back, assuming they survive. He told me I needed to fetch you and I merely saluted and said Aye, Aye, sir."
"Clubhouse?" asked Kara.
"It's what we call headquarters," Lyle explained, trying to sound more patient than he was really feeling. These girls asked way too many questions. Of course, that meant they would probably fit right in with some of the others.
"And Brainy?" asked Alex.
"Ah that would be Brainiac 5. His real name is Querl Dox. He's a Coluan cyborg from the planet Colu. He is really fond of saying he's a twelfth level intelligence, but truthfully, he doesn't seem that much smarter than the rest of us. Okay, he did design the time bubble for time travel, but, still, I think sometimes he comes across a little too much like a braggart."
"You expect us to just drop everything and go with you?" demanded Kara. She was familiar with the name Brainiac from the history classes before she left Krypton. He had destroyed Krypton's capital city, Kandor, and his actions may have, at least in part, contributed to the destruction of the planet. "Clark is expecting us to meet him down in the lobby in fifteen minutes."
Lyle waved his hands. "Time travel, remember? You come with me now and save the 31st Century. Then I can return you back to this exact time and place. Superman need never know you've been gone."
Kara looked at Alex and realized she was wavering. "I don't know. The only Brainiac I know was evil incarnate."
"That was a thousand years ago. Okay, I guess it's not a thousand years ago from your perspective, but Brainy is nothing like that. He has single-handedly saved the Earth at least twice and while he has been working with the Legion, the team has saved it at least a half dozen more times.
"The Earth is in trouble again and he says there is a 78% chance we will fail this time without Alex's help. Now, granted, by the 31st Century humanity is spread across the 5,000 member worlds of the United Planets, so it's not like we are talking the death of the human race, but Earth is still the ancestral home of mankind and the home to forty-three billion people. Do you really want their deaths on your conscience? What kind of superheroes are you?"
"We aren't any kind of superheroes," Kara exclaimed at almost a shout. "We are just a couple of small town girls making their first trip to Metropolis."
"Kara," said Alex quietly. "What if we really can make a difference? I mean, look at what we went through to find Kenny's killer. Wouldn't you have been willing to go through that again, and even more, if it meant we could have saved him? It may be too late for Kenny, but if we can truly make a difference to the fate of the planet, don't we have to at least try?"
Kara knew Alex was right, but she had always thought saving the planet was Clark's job. She was just supposed to enjoy being an ordinary girl. But obviously fate had different plans for her. For them.
She sighed. "Okay, how do we do this?"
Lyle grinned. Brainy had calculated it would take at least two and probably three meetings to get Alex to agree. Now he could do a little bragging of his own to Brainy when he got back.
"Easy-peasy," Lyle replied. He pulled something the size of a golf ball from a pouch on the right side of his belt and twisted and turned it like a Rubik's Cube for about ten seconds. When he was done, an eight-foot diameter silvery sphere abruptly appeared about twenty feet from where they were standing. The sphere shimmered for a few seconds before fading away to leave a complicated looking machine occupying the lowest twenty percent of the space.
"This way, ladies," Lyle said while gesturing for them to follow him. Then he paused and opened another of the small pouches on his belt. He pulled out what looked like two small gold coins each about the size of a quarter. "I almost forgot. Take these and stick them at the top of your chest, right below your throat. They are universal translating devices. People up in the 31st speak a bunch of different languages and nobody speaks 21st Century English. They interact directly with your neural system. To you, everyone else will appear to be speaking in English. And when you speak in English, everyone else will hear you in theirs."
The girls took the devices gingerly. They appeared to be simple, unadorned disks. Alex glanced at Kara and the other girl just shrugged. If this Lyle intended them harm, there were probably easier ways than these disks. Kara pulled the neck of her tee down a couple of inches and touched the device to her skin. It was self-adhering. When nothing particular happened to her, she gestured for Alex to do the same.
By this time, Lyle had climbed atop the machine and was looking expectantly towards them.
The girls grabbed their backpacks from where they had been leaning against the panoramic window. Then, as they moved towards the waiting platform from the distant future, Alex unconsciously reached out and clasped Kara's hand. After taking a deep breath, she stepped up onto the machine. Kara was only a half-step behind.
Once he was certain they were within the envelope of the time bubble, Lyle twisted the control device through another pattern. Within seconds, the silvery sphere reappeared, only this time they were seeing it from the inside. Less than ten seconds later the sphere faded away and the observation deck was, once again, as quiet and empty as it had been for most of the morning.