Kara woke up slowly, her eye felt heavy but her body was feeling good, as if a weight she didn’t know she was carrying had been lifted from her shoulders.
Then something jumped on top of her with enough strength to drive the air out of her lungs.
“Ugh,” She groaned, she felt a wet tongue furiously licking her face and, on instinct, pushed the creature away and opened her eye, this time fully awake, “Krypto?”
The large white dog squirmed on her lap and continued to try to lick her face causing her to laugh out loud as she fended off its advances.
“I see you’ve met Krypto.” Said the mature male voice and Kara finally looked to the side.
Kal-El looked good, very tired but good.
He had a warm smile on his face as he observed Krypto’s antics on top of her, Kara didn’t know what to feel. Awe at being in front of one of, if not the greatest hero ever written, relief to see her little cousin was doing well or guilt for not being there when he needed her.
Looking at her situation she sighed. She was supposed to be there for him damn it, not the other way around.
“I met him when I first saw you,” She confessed and laid back down putting an arm over her eye, remembering the old memory. “You were such cute kid too…”
Kal-El warm hand touched her arm and slowly held her hand and squeezed causing her to open her eye again.
“I’m sorry you had to go through that,” Kal-El told her with a soft voice. “Krypton destruction still hurts and I can’t even remember it, I can only imagine how it is to have seen it.”
“Krypton wasn’t that different from here, besides how cold and distant everyone was that is.” She confessed with a sigh. “Did you know uncle Jor-El got Krypto because he was worried he wouldn’t be able to give you affection?”
Krypton had been a very distant planet, its people were too logical to the point Kara doubted her own parents had kissed more than once or twice in their own lives.
She still remembered her parents putting her inside the escape ship, they hadn’t been able to shed a single tear and the strongest sign of affection was a single kiss on her forehead from her mother.
She knew they had loved her but showing it was just not done on Krypton, Kryptonians just didn’t know how.
Were it not for her previous life’s memories Kara doubted she herself would be this expressive.
Turning away from his smile she squeezed Krypto’s fur, “I should have been there for you.”
“I’m glad you’re here now.” Kal-El said and squeezed her hand again. She squeezed it back and finally smiled.
They stayed together for a few minutes, only Krypto’s breathing to break the silence, finally Kara pushed herself up from the healing chamber and looked at her body.
She no longer had any of the wounds she received from Amber or Mr. Mind but her leg and eye were still missing, she wore a skintight dark blue Kryptonian solar suit that left only her head, hands and foot uncovered.
Suddenly Kal-El embraced her, his large arms enveloping her body and pushing her face against his wide chest. For a few seconds Kara didn’t know how to react but finally her arms moved and hugged him back.
“I really AM glad you’re here now,” he told her when they separated “What happened?”
“After Krypto’s test run the Kryptonian council became even more alert to any ships leaving the planet,” Kara explained as she leaned against the healing chamber and remembered “both Father and Uncle Jor-El had to include stealth equipment on the ships and mine was the larger one, more noticeable and harder to make modifications.”
“Your ship was launched only a few hours before Krypton exploded but mine almost didn’t make it, I was still in sight of the planet when it exploded.” She stopped as her voice started failing her.
Kal-El’s hand never left her shoulders giving her strength, pulling her into another hug the man whispered, “It’s alright now, you don’t need to say anymore.”
“A piece of Kryptonite hit my ship and disabled it while wounding me,” she continued anyway feeling like she had to tell the story, “I entered a healing coma but the close proximity to Kryptonite never let me awake until I was rescued, then I made my way here.”
“I see, is that how you lost the leg and eye?”
She looked at his protective face and couldn’t bring herself to put even more on his shoulders. She never wanted to put anything on his shoulders, she just nodded.
“Why not come to me when you arrived? I would have been happy to meet you.”
Kara’s hand went up slowly and touched her missing eye for a second, she sighed again, “I was supposed to be here for you. Uncle Jor-El made it my responsibility to raise you, to guide you and teach you about our world” She took a deep breath and gave him a somewhat bitter smile while pointing at her missing leg, “I didn’t want you to meet me like this.”
“I would have liked to meet you no matter how you were, you’re family.” Kal-El told her with a laugh, “After so long I never thought I’d meet someone else like me and, well, you may be a little late but I think things turned out alright.”
“Yeah, your parents would have been so proud of you.” Kara finally smiled back at him and then she laughed as something occurred to her. “Well, uncle would probably tell you to use a little more of the Fortress’ technology instead of punching bad guys but he was always an intellectual.”
“Not that different from the fortress AI then,” he sighed, equal parts frustrated and amused, “Come, Ma got you a change of clothes and I have some food stored here if you want.”
“What happed to Kori after I passed out?”
“Wonder Woman says your friend is having a lot of fun in Themyscira but she asks about you every day,” he told her as he led her through the crystalline fortress. “The girl you saved is still in four bodies but Star labs is doing the best it can to help her.”
“And Mr. Mind?”
“The League is still searching for the mutant worm,” He said and Kara heard some anger in his voice for the first time. “We’re gonna find him I promise you.”
“Just how long have I been recovering?”
“Just a little over a week.” He said as we approached a table, Kal-El flashed around faster than Kara could move and set the table at record time, “Here, Ma made some pie for when you woke up.”
Kara sat down and took a small bite from the meat pie, it was delicious. She still didn’t trust her stomach to eat as much as she ate with small nibbles. “Can I meet them?”
“My parents?” Kal-El lifted an eyebrow, his mouth already filled with pie, “I wasn’t really sure you’d want to see them so soon. You look so young I didn’t know how much time it has been since you woke up.”
“They did raise you when I couldn’t, I have to thank them.”
“Sure, they’d love to meet you.”
They made some small talk while eating and, when her stomach couldn’t take it anymore, she pushed her plate away and saw Kal-El getting serious.
“About your situation,” He said awkwardly, as if he didn’t know how to start.
“Did the Fortress find anything about it? I had looked at my situation but, without Kryptonian technology, I wasn’t able to find a lot about it.”
A hologram of her uncle formed at her side, his usual impassive face looking at her.
“Greetings Kara Zor-El,” he nodded with his arms crossed behind his back. “The Fortress did its best to heal your wounds but some of the problems are beyond the current medical data available.”
“Your ability to absorb radiation has been damaged by the years you spent exposed to Kryptonite. In your healing coma your cells were constantly healing but also being damaged by the harmful radiation around you, until most of them suffered permanent damage.”
“Permanent?” Kara interrupted the hologram, her hands gripping the table, “You mean I won’t recover?”
“Incorrect, most of your cells were permanently damaged not all of them and your body is slowly renewing itself based on the healthy remains,” Jor-El’s hologram told her as he showed a display of her body, most of her body was a dark grey color but there was a core of blue in several locations which was slowly spreading “Exposed to yellow sunlight radiation the healthy cells in your body are capable of absorbing it more effectively and multiply faster than the unhealthy ones such that, in fifteen months, your entire body should be healthy.”
“Unfortunately that also means usual healing methods for Kryptonians can’t accelerate your recovery.”
“Why not?” Kara asked frustrated, she hadn’t wanted to get her cousin’s help because she didn’t want him finding out how hurt she was. Now that it was no longer a concern she was eager to get back into shape.
“While a healthy Kryptonian’s cells don’t have a limit to the amount of radiation they can absorb it is not the same for your defective cells, as we do not have any means of delivering radiation directly and exclusively to your healthy cells there is a risk of overloading your damaged body and causing it to fail, resulting in death.”
“What about my eye and leg?”
“As explained, usual Kryptonian healing is not a possible. The next best option would be to clone your missing limbs however, the Fortress currently does not have such facilities. It would take two months to build them and another three to fully grown them until they’re ready for transplantation.”
She just stared at the holographic representation of her body, at its missing leg and the grey color.
“Kara.” Her cousin’s voice snapped her out of it as he put a hand over her own “You’re safe now, you can take your time recovering there’s no need to hurry.”
She huffed, easy for him to say he didn’t know what kind of horrors were out there in the galaxy.
Ah, who was she kidding, he probably knew them better than her since he was the one stopping many of them.
“Here, I got this for you,” Kal-El put a large box on top of the table and pushed it towards her. “I know it’s not exactly what you wanted but it’s the next best thing I could manage.”
Opening it Kara found herself looking at a new prosthetic leg, it looked sleek and had a coat of paint matching her own skin color, there were no visible joints and it could pass as a normal leg even from a close examination.
“The casing is made from what little Kryptium I had left so it should actually be able to match your durability while the programming was done with sunstone.” He scratched the back of his neck a little embarrassed.
Kara touched the prosthetic. She could still feel the coldness of the metal but the texture was a perfect match for her skin, “Thanks.”
Taking it out of the box she quickly found the sunstone control system and floated in the air while adjusting it to her missing stump, with a click it connected to the receptor and she could feel her lost limb again.
It wasn’t the same feeling as that of a real limb but it was the next best thing, she wiggled her toes with a smile on her face as they obeyed her commands with only a barely perceptible delay, she was sure she wouldn’t even notice it if she wasn’t a Kryptonian and her senses weren’t so much faster than the average man.
“Really, thanks.” Then she looked at Kal-El’s sheepish smile and narrowed her eyes, “Alright what else did you do?”
“Well, I noticed you had some extra functions on your previous one and… I just couldn’t resist,” he said while handling over his tablet with information about her new leg.
She quickly read everything. It seemed her cousin had put a lot of modifications on her leg, while the external casing was made from hard metal the insides were mostly sunstone and modular, capable of reorganizing themselves in order to generate a protection field around her body that blocked external radiation.
In the right configuration it could also absorb and store electricity or kinetic energy for later release, hold a small amount of medication and, at the cost of the limb itself, teleport her back to the Fortress by overloading its internals to generate enough energy.
Kara approved. If she was gonna have a metallic leg for a few months it damn well was gonna be a cool one.
Seeing his embarrassed face she lifted an eyebrow and joked, “What, you didn’t put any weapons in there, not even a rocket kick?”
“A rocket kick would be cool,” he nodded as he saw she wasn’t angry, “but it would be kind of unnecessary don’t you think?”
“I’d have found a use for it.”
“I’m glad you liked it, I was afraid you’d think I was being too overprotective.”
“Kal-El, I’m in this planet for only a few days and I already got attacked by a megalomaniac caterpillar, I’ll take every protection I can get.”