FANDOM: DC AU, I guess. Or retcon. Or badfic. I'm not sure.
SUMMARY: Eehhh... Everything you thought you knew about Krypton is wrong?
WARNINGS: Explicit content: Zero. Non-explicit content: between slightly over zero and brain-breaking, depending pretty much on what you choose to read here.
THANKS: Te wrote this. I wrote this comment. I should learn to shut the hell up. Mad, mad props to hermitsrme and adn_heming for their many helpful suggestions.
Necessary notes at the end, because it's that kind of
The Value of Restraint
It's a spaceship, you realize with a sudden spike of fear. Before you can tear your eyes from the hologram, the House's defense systems sense your distress and target your visitor. He drops to one knee in the standard gesture of submission/not-threat, but the soft hum of the armed weapons persist. If they were to fire, his own personal defense systems would activate and both of you, along with a relatively big section of the city, would die.
No society with technology as advanced as Krypton's could survive without an inflexible system of hierarchies, submission and control. And technology isn't even the most dangerous thing about your people.
You look again at the real-time hologram your visitor is projecting, showing the small spaceship located in his own House. In the elaborate structure of prohibitions that you learned as a child to follow and uphold, there's nothing worse than this.
Space travel. The possibility - the temptation - of a yellow sun over your head and a galaxy under your feet.
There was a time when Kryptonians traveled through space and were like gods. There is also a thousand dead planets to remind yourselves that power and wisdom are very different things.
A thousand painful reminders about the value of restraint, and yet this man has built a spaceship. You don't dare to let him raise from the floor. A man capable of doing that, even if he were stripped of his defense systems, shackled, broken, would still be dangerous. Mad.
"Why?," you ask, attempting and failing to sound disgusted and imperial. In control.
"Krypton is dying, Kij" -it's the word for 'owner of the House and everything in it', the most complete surrender a Kryptonian can make outside his House. Your defense systems barely waver, as does your fear. It is surrender, but it's also a gambit.
"And if it were, Kon?" There's volumes of irony in how you've chosen to address him. 'Kon', 'he who is a gift'. He has made a gift of himself, and yet it's a dangerous one, even if you don't know yet why. "Would you try and escape? Rule other planets, become the abomination we were in our past?"
You see him wince, his eyes still locked to the patch of floor in front of your feet. Kryptonians are taught to obey and be peaceful. They are too good at conquest, too terrible in war, for their society to work in any other way. They break each other so they can all live.
He's not as mad as you feared, then. But then he adds "But my son could escape."
You run to him and strike him in his face before you know what you're doing. His forcefield activates, your House's weapons achieve maximum charge, and there's but a word, now, between both of you and death.
"Not to rule," he says, still not raising from the floor. "To serve."
You blink once, twice, and when he smiles mischievously you have to smile with him.
"All the other Kryptonians will be dead. Who will he serve?"
"Everybody." The sheer scope of it takes your breath away. Mad. Tempting. Exciting.
"Who will teach him?"
"We'll send mnemonic crystals with him in the ship . His adoptive family, if we choose them well, will provide an adequate environment. And we shall also burn the teaching in his very cells before ever sending him away. He will enjoy serving. Protecting. Making them happy."
You shake your head with amusement at the image of an unshackled, untamed Kryptonian serving aliens willingly and with joy. You are not sure if he will be the peak of Krypton's civilization or its last, most degenerate heir, and you realize then that you won't stop this Jor-El from trying. "You really think whatever planet you send him to will have any chance of surviving?"
He nods, and it's both faith and despair, and also shame and joy. "They must. Our culture must."
Next to you, the image of the spaceship promises death to an entire planet but also a whispered teasing of flight and life.
"This son of yours, does he have a name?"
"He... he doesn't exist yet. That was why I wanted to visit you, Kij." He touches your hand once. You're not in the Reproduction Chambers, and you haven't been Appointed, but you sigh and lift him to your lips.
It's just another obscenity.
It all comes down to this: It makes no sense for a society as advanced as Krypton's not to have had space travel way before Jor-El's prototype (maybe it made sense in the 1930's, but not now). This means Kryptonians did explore space before their planet went boom. This means they encountered yellow suns.
You see the problem, don't you? What kind of society could stay away from that sort of potential power? What kind of society would want to, and why?
The traditional canon about "cold, rational Kryptonians" (e.g., the whole Erradicator storyline) mixed in my head with the alien emo porn that is toon!Clark, a bit of science-fictionish elements (whereby you try to make technical sense of things, even if it's just not possible) and I ended up with this.
The fact that this also retconned toon!Superman into something far weirder and scary, but without needing to change anything at all in his actions, is not accidental. At all.
Can I go back to something sane and cheerful now, like Bat-angst or Slade/Dick?