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In The Gray Light of Dawn

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Stretching her arms around and looking at the sky, Lyta smiled. She didn’t know how they did it, but Brainiac was defeated and Kandor was free. Even those few minutes of paralysis had been too much.

Her mother was gone, and Lyta would have to carry that guilt with her. But the new day began with Kandor safe, her son alive, and the tantalizing possibility of a new timeline with Seg. If they could change the future and make sure Brainiac never took Kandor, then the two of them getting together didn’t seem so farfetched.

Of course, she could not go to see him right away. Her duty came first, and with so many Sagitari and civilians dead, the city was in a state of chaos. While relief was putting people into a temporary calm, she and Dev had to give orders to what was left of the military and begin rebuilding.

Trampled bodies had to be removed from the streets. Structures had to be repaired. Food distributed. And the dead all had to be counted.

It was as she led one family to a temporary home with shaking hands that Dev came up to her, and with a gentle hand whispered into her ear, “You should rest, Lyta. The Sagitari can handle it from here.”

Lyta nodded, understanding the meaning hidden underneath. She needed her strength for the hard days to come.

After all, a good amount of the leadership of Krypton were dead. The Voice of Rao, eaten up by Brainiac. Daron Vex, executed. Primus Zod, probably-

Anyway. She needed rest. Physically, mentally, emotionally- Lyta had never been this tired before, not even when she had to go to the foot of a mountain in the outlands.

She slipped away to her quarters, miraculously unharmed and still very much the same room as it had been several weeks ago, before future men and alien conquerors.

Somehow, that was not very comforting. But Lyta needed the shower and the rest, so she began to strip before there was a knock at her door.

Sighing and zipping her smelly clothes back up, Lyta dragged herself over to the door and expended her little remaining energy on standing at attention. Appearances needed to be kept. She pressed the button, allowing it to open. Dru Zod was standing there.

He had a grim smile on his face. Lyta didn’t think she ever saw her son give a pure, genuine smile before.

If he was here, though, he probably knew what happened. Glancing around, Lyta asked, “Where’s Seg?”

Her son’s reaction told her all she needed to know before a single word left his lips. “I’m afraid he sacrificed himself to send Brainiac into the Phantom Zone. The control panel was blasted, so Brainiac cannot return. I swear his sacrifice won’t be forgotten.”

At that, all pretense and energy left her. Lyta felt like her strings had been cut as she fell, so worn out, into Dru’s arms and began sobbing without pretense. She cried out the moments of fear from when she had been paralyzed, looking at a still world. She cried out the guilt she had felt for shooting her mother. And she cried out for the future she and Seg had dared to hope for in hushed whispers, only to be destroyed by duty.

Lyta did not know how long she had showed shameful weakness to her own son. All she knew is that she had been so tired, and the bliss of sleep had taken her.

When Lyta woke up, she noted that her uniform had been taken off. Rolling her head to stretch her neck, she noted a clean uniform carefully hung up on the outside of her closet.

She vaguely cataloged how thoughtful that was, and how her mother-

Primus Jayna Zod was left in the tunnels with a giant wound in her torso. She was probably dead at her own daughter’s hands.

Zods are strong, and honorable, and do not show weakness. In the privacy of her own room, Lyta allowed herself some deep breaths and meditation. Underneath some of the panic the stray thought that hah, now she and Seg were both orphans floated through her head.

Except he was gone now too, probably dead. Though that was still a far sight better than all the poor Sagatari she ordered to their own destruction. They didn’t even make a scratch on that alien bastard.

She couldn’t let emotions get the best of her. The Sagatari being decimated meant that she needed to work hard to rebuild their ranks and ensure the safety of the people of Kandor while they were so undermanned. Her future son would be a great help and could potentially counteract the destabilizing element that losing their Primus introduced.

It was at that moment she heard a knocking at her room’s door. Hoping for Dev, she hid her disappointment from her future son when she saw him standing there.

For his part, he gave her a respectful nod. “Mother. I trust you are well rested?”

She nodded sharply. “Situational report?”

“The citizens are settling down, but we need to gain hold of Kandor’s government. The Council has proven to be useless and ineffective. And there are more threats out there.”

His words should have been a comfort, but the weighed down on her chest. He was right; the only members of the Council who did anything were Daron Vex and her mother, and both were probably dead. She nodded.

Dru seemed to take it as something more. He put a hand on Lyta’s shoulder. “Mother, Kandor needs a strong hand who knows the future to guide her. I will unite Krypton, and make sure we never suffer at the hands of such a threat again.”

That sounded nice. No hectic scrambling to defeat a world conquering alien, no aliens from the future who go from saving the world to trying to condemn it, no more last minute sacrifices because it was illegal to suggest there might be something to build defenses against…

“With you by my side, we can build a Kandor without fear”

And she would. “You have my support. I am sure you will have Dev’s as well.”

Together, they would surely build a Krypton without senseless sacrifices and death.