Kara Zor-L blinked and sat up, only to find herself in a misty limbo. She shook her head and said, “No pain. I can’t see through the fog, but I think I have my powers again!” She stood up slowly and exulted in being her old self again.
“Be careful, Kara. Don’t overdo it,” said a warm female voice.
Kara frowned in annoyance. “Who’s there?”
The woman laughed gently and stepped out of the mists. “You do hate having people fuss over you, don’t you?”
“Yes, I do,” said Kara. “Where am I?”
The young blonde woman smiled and said, “That’s what bothered you when you first landed on Earth. You didn’t like the way Clark tried to protect you. You do know that he only acted out of concern and not from a lack of respect for your abilities.”
“Who are you — my psychic friend or something?” said Power Girl.
The woman sat down near Kara, and she noticed her lovely features. Somehow she trusted her, but she was unable to recognize her for some reason. She accepted the woman’s seemingly omniscient knowledge. “You know our secrets,” said Kara. “You even sensed what I was feeling. I did see Clark as just a pain at first. He was always trying to control me.”
At that moment, Kara recalled one of the earliest moments she had shared with her cousin after her arrival on Earth. The weird nature of the limbo in which she had awakened left her with an odd lack of concern about Doctor Kryptonite. She merely felt reflective. As she recalled the old memory, her companion sat quietly as if she was silently watching the memory like an old movie.
The memory played out as follows.
An angry Kara Zor-L stood frowning in Superman’s mountainous Secret Citadel as her graying cousin Kal-L faced her. His eyes were squinting in that old habit of his as he listened to her shout.
“I’m the same age as you, or at least I’m supposed to be. We left Krypton at the same time. My voyage took longer, and I slept in a form of suspended animation while I experienced a kind of virtual life. That’s not my fault. You can’t treat me like a child!” she shouted. She slammed her fist down on the marble table and shattered it into dust.
“Great Scott, Kara!” he said. “That temper of yours gives me more than enough reason to be concerned about unleashing you on the world. If you struck someone with that force, it would kill them. You can’t be active until you prove to me that you won’t hurt others or yourself! Why, you almost brought the floor crashing down the first time Lois taught you to walk in high heels!”
“I think I can distinguish between a table in your super-clubhouse and a human,” said Kara. “Don’t patronize me.”
Superman had frowned and thrown up his hands. “You have to understand that my powers didn’t come to me overnight. They developed gradually in time. I believe yours will follow the same course. I want you to learn how to use them before you are forced to risk your safety or someone else’s.” She had fumed and stalked off to her room in the mountain retreat.
Now Kara shrugged and said, “I know, I know. He was right. He was just being careful. I wish I had not caused him so much trouble. I know I hurt him when I defied his orders and revealed myself to the world.”
Her friend smiled sadly. “It was hard for me to remain in hiding, too. I wanted to be more than his secret weapon. Still, Kara, you need to know that he was always guided by love. He’d die for you. I’ve seen the same level of sacrifice from… my own cousin.”
Power Girl nodded. “If I could change things, I would. I think, since the birth of Mary, Clark and I have become closer.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Superman’s Wife, Lois Lane Kent: Smallville, Epilogue: Mary.]
Her companion nodded. “Seeing a man like that raise a child would be a wonderful thing.”
“I feel like I should not be here,” said Power Girl. “I have unfinished business elsewhere. Something about a woman with a deadly touch.”
“Letting others get close enough to touch or hurt you has been hard for you, hasn’t it?” said the woman next to her.
“I grew up in that rocket,” Kara said slowly. “The Symbioship fed my mind with fake memories. Those memories were all the growing up I knew. (*) I left Krypton as a baby and exited that ship as a woman. The emotional development was all via that symbiotic program of my father’s. I have never been very good with people.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See Power Girl, Showcase #97 (February, 1978).]
“A hard shell keeps people away,” said the blonde. “That’s why you’ve always used that tough girl act. You’ve mocked and challenged those around you in order to protect yourself. You can let your guard down with Dick. He’s able to see your tender side without giving you any reason to worry about being hurt. He’s a good man.”
Kara nodded. “I know. That makes me feel even guiltier over our last fight. I blew up at him because of the stupidest thing. I didn’t even consider his feelings. You know, he cares so much. He gave me my past via a trip to Krypton before it exploded. He took me to a hypnosis-using friend who arranged the trip. (*) He’s always thinking of the smallest gestures that mean so much.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See Power Girl: Kara’s Quest, Chapter 1: Return to Krypton.]
Her blonde friend added, “It’s wonderful that you’ve found the right man. I did, too, but I was not myself at the time. I’d had too many relationships end suddenly. You can learn from what we’ve shared. You can improve your relationships when you go back. You do need to go back now. One last thing before you leave — I thought my parents had died when I lost my home, but they survived in a special dimension. I was given a second chance to love them. You can’t have your folks back, but you can hear from them once more. I wanted to give you a parting gift. You know we only met once or twice before, but we could have been sisters!”
Kara blinked as the odd fog parted enough for her to finally truly see her mysterious benefactor. She smiled sadly and nodded.
The next thing Power Girl knew, she was sitting up in Doctor Kryptonite’s cell with Red Robin and Batwing bending over her.
“Kara, honey? Are you OK?” said Red Robin. “When I returned to Gotham and learned you were missing, I tracked you down and learned you’d last been seen with Kathie Lee Kane. I took her down easily. Her radiation can’t hurt me. She’s on her way to a cell. I was afraid that coma you were in was going to be serious. She’d claimed that she had killed you. I guess her powers work so differently from regular kryptonite that they affected you differently.”
Batwing nodded. “Yeah, we were worried. You were so still.”
Kara stood up and smiled as she felt her old power slowly returning. “I was gone for a while, but I’m back now. I’m sorry for our last fight. I’m a jerk. Forgive me?” she said as they kissed.
Red Robin smiled and took her hand. “Sure. I have something for you back at the cave. Superman found it while he was looking for you. It’s a Kryptonian relic. He figured it fell off of your Symbioship all those years ago. It caught his eye as he searched for you.”
Back in the Batcave, Kara wept softly as she watched a sphere glow and display her late parents in holographic form. They spoke of their love and hopes for her. She thrilled to the sound of their voices and realized that, aside from the virtual images from the Symbioship and her trip back in time, she had not seen or heard them since she was a baby.
“It’s a memory recorder,” she explained. “They made the image just before sending me into space. Now I can play this message anytime I feel like seeing them and hearing them say they loved me. It’s wonderful!”
Red Robin nodded. “I’m happy for you. It’s a real miracle that it turned up after so many years. I am also thrilled that you’ve recovered from Doctor Kryptonite’s attack so rapidly. I really thought you were dead for a moment back in that cell. My heart almost stopped!”
Power Girl kissed him and said, “I have a lot to be thankful for, too. I’m going to try to remember that from now on, too.”
She looked over at the flickering image of Zor-L and Allura In-Z and thought of the lovely blonde who had guided her back to life and given her so much to consider.
“Thank you, Kara,” she whispered.