The Last Herald of Galactus #2
Written by Dannell Lites,
Edited by Marvelite
The Last Herald of Galactus
Continues from The Last Herald of Galactus #1
In the dream, he
is smiling, happy and loved; surrounded by others of his own kind. They greet
him. "Ho, Kal-El! Greetings to the son of Jor-El!" they cry. "You
are well, my son?" inquires his anxious mother, Lara. Rising to join his
father in their laboratory, Kal-El of Krypton, youngest member of the ruling
Science Council and proud heir to the House of El, assures his mother of his
continued good health, smiling at her motherly concern.
In the dream, his
father and other members of his large and illustrious family gather to see him
joined with the dark dressed, beautiful Lyla Lerrol, Krypton's most famous
emotion-movie actress. In the dream he is never alone.
But the dream
shifts and flows, changing shape before his despairing eyes. No longer is he the
adored first son of Jor-El. As always, his father is gone. No longer is he
cradled safely in the company of others like him. There are no others. No, there
is only one. Before him looms the visage of Galactus, the Devourer of Worlds.
Like him, Galactus is the last of his kind. There are no others like him. Kal-El
has often wondered, in idle moments between the stars, if this disturbs
Galactus. If so, there is no sign of it. Most likely he will never know the
answer to this and many other questions. Galactus is ... Galactus.
loyal Herald," thundered the voice of Galactus, "what troubles
you?" Always the same question.
Always the same
Herald!" ordered Galactus. "You trouble me."
" He gazes reluctantly up into the face of his savior and only companion.
"Who am I? Where do I come from?" For many long minutes Galactus was
silent. The great square pupils of his eyes widened. The World Devourer blinked
and his Herald stood astonished.
More silence. And
then Galactus opened his closed hand to reveal a jewel, glowing softly green
like a growing thing. "Here is the answer to all your questions, Kal-El of
Krypton," said Galactus. "Your father has provided for your education,
Herald. Learn well."
When the jewel
rose and sank into his forehead there was cold, great cold. And knowledge.
Great, wondrous knowledge that flooded him like rainwater after a storm.
son," whispered a deep, pleasant voice, not at all like the voice of
Galactus. "Hear me! I am Jor-El, your father ... "
And through the
eyes of his father he saw mighty Krypton, the world of his birth: the Jewel
Mountains, the Fire Falls and the Scarlet Jungle. Meteor Valley spread itself
before him in all its glory. The wonders of his birth-world were laid out for
like a feast and his father, this Jor-El, was his guide. And the people! So many
His mother Lara
smiled at him and the beauty of it stole his breath away. Never had he seen
anyone smile before. He looked like his mother. Such a simple thing ... But
until that moment he'd not known it. There were no mirrors in the mighty
planet-sized starship that was home to Galactus and he was not vain in any case.
So many, many
His staid uncle
Zor-El, who moved to Argo City to be free of the shadow of his elder brother,
the brilliant scientist and statesman. Who is plodding and steady, but very
through, in his research into the mysteries of interdimentional travel and the
science of erecting force fields. Unlike his brother Jor-El, whose mind soars on
the winds of Krypton like a flamebird on the wing.
His lovely aunt
Allura, wife to Zor-El, whose whole world is wrapped up in the tiny person of
her infant daughter Kara, cooing and gurgling happily in her mother's arms.
His uncle Nim-El,
the weapons master, twin to Jor-El his father, who was nothing like his peaceful
brother at all. His cousin Don-El, the son of Nim-El, the Police Chief of the
city of Kandor.
Jaf-El whose hair, red as the sun of Krypton and of the Sun God, Rao, who
kindled it in the heavens. Because of his hair, a rare color indeed on Krypton,
Jaf-El is marked for the priesthood, but Jaf-El does not want to be a priest.
And he was Kal-El
... The Star Child.
The visions fade,
waning and flickering like the dreams they are and he grasps after them in
Come back!" he pleads, but silence is his only answer. When he looks to
Galactus, the World Devourer says nothing, standing like a statue with no sign
of feeling on his cool metallic visage.
"What - what
happened to them, Master?" he cried. "Where are they now?"
dust on the Cosmic winds, my Kal-El," said Galactus. "With his last
breath, your father Jor-El gave you, his only son, into my hands. Then he, along
with his world, perished."
The world twisted
and changed shape, writhed with a sickening motion that left him nauseous for an
instant. But when it righted itself, he was standing in a large laboratory. The
world shook and convulsed crazily. Through the clear front windows of the lab he
witnessed the toppling of tall towers, the destruction of mighty building ...
heard the screams of people, it seemed.
care for him?" inquired an anxious voice that he did not at first
recognize; it was so muffled in weariness and despair.
struck a bargain, Jor-El of Krypton. You have the word of Galactus,"
proclaimed another, very familiar voice. "Your son will live. He shall be
my Herald." Through the eyes of Jor-El there passed an instant of great
suffering. He hesitated. But, just then, the earth shook itself again like a
great wet dog and Jor-El clutched the precious bundle held closer to his body,
as if to protect it's fragile existence. Galactus waited.
slender hand, gently pushed the colorful red, blue and yellow blankets away from
the face of the sleeping infant and stared into the opening blue eyes of her
child. Lara Jor-El leaned down carefully, so as not to wake the baby, and
tenderly kissed him. Without hesitation then, Jor-El handed the child into the
outstretched hand of the World Devourer.
you, my son," he whispered and Kal-El watched the towering figure of
Galactus fade from sight, carrying the infant Kal-El away from death and
destruction. His last image was of his father Jor-El, doomed along with his
world, as he reached to take his weeping wife Lara into his arms in a tight
For many cycles
after that his dreams were full of the wonders of Krypton and her people. In the
dreams, he was a cherished part of a large family; a large world and a thriving
culture. He was not alone.
In the dreams.
But, this time,
when he woke from his dreams, he was not alone.
Feather light and
fragile as gossamer in his hands that could rend steel and change the course of
mighty rivers, rested another hand.
child!" exclaimed Martha Kent, "you tossed and turned so I was worried
about you." She patted his hand in reassurance, and although he did not
completely understand her she was sure, she watched him relax into the pillows
with a sigh. Her smile was warm.
hungry?" she asked, her bright blue yes twinkling. "I'll just bet you
are. Growing boys are always bound to be hungry!"
against his will, his hand clutched at hers for an instant when she moved off to
leave him. Was he being abandoned again? But the slight squeeze she gave his
hand in reply helped to calm him and he flushed with embarrassment as he
right, now," she said softly, in understanding, "I'm right here. Just
going into the kitchen is all. I'll be back directly, don't you worry none.
There's a fresh pot of hot, homemade chicken soup on the stove. It's good for
what ails you, I say. Why, I read that very thing in one of Jonathan's
'Scientific American' magazines just the other day!" Warily, he watched her
Could he trust
her? He thought perhaps he had no choice. At the moment he was weakened; the
Power Cosmic lay dormant within him, waiting. And her mate? What of him? Neither
of them look to be formidable, true. But he had learned many things in the
service of the World Devourer and trust was not one of them. It was not easily
come by. His Master hungered. He should go from this place; he knew this. And
yet ... And yet ...
He feels safe
here. Safe with these people who have cared for a stranger they do not know with
no hope of material reward. They are kind. And he ... he is in need of ...
When the woman
returned she brought a wonderful aroma wafting in her busy wake. His sensitive
nose recognized the smell of food and he realized for the first time that he was
hungry. For him, eating was not strictly necessary, but it had, upon occasion,
brought him pleasure. He dared to smile.
better!" the woman said merrily and he understood that his happiness
pleased her. The flavor of the soup was delicious and he marveled at the many
textures his sensitive palate brought him. "Try this," Martha Kent
urged him and laughed when his eyes widened with indescribable pleasure at the
taste of her freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, still hot and gooey from the
oven. He gobbled his way through all four of them on his plate and the
accompanying glass of cold milk with such joyful abandon that Martha was
wiped away the milk mustache, chocolate smears and cookie crumbs from his mouth
with a corner of her apron. When he held out his empty plate and pleaded, "Droma?"
or some such, the farmer's wife needed no translation.
sir, may I have some more'," she laughed fully, now. "Maybe I should
name you Oliver." She studied the distressed young stranger carefully.
"No," she finally decided. "You don't strike me as an Oliver,
somehow. I - I always planned to name my first son Clark. Could be I'll call you
Clark. Would you like that?"
he said again, hopefully, widening his blue eyes in entreaty.
declare!" Martha smiled, "how could a body resists someone who likes
their cooking that much?" With another reassuring pat to his hand, she
moved off. When she returned, she had three extra cookies for him, more milk,
and some colorful picture books.
these might help," she said. "I hoped, once, that Jonathan and I were
going to be parents. I - lost the baby, but I still have these. Just never could
bring myself to get shut of them ... well, you know how that is ..."
he inquired with a frown when he spied her gathering tears.
Martha Kent wiped
her eyes, opened "My First Picture Book", and pointed to the bright
image of a young boy.
she instructed, enunciating with care.
he repeated around the cookie he was still chewing.
your mouth full, Clark," she chided.
By the time
Jonathan came in from the fields with the setting evening sun the boy was
speaking in choppy, incomplete sentences.
be," murmured an astonished Jonathan Kent. "He's a smart young fella."
The days that
followed were happy ones. "Clark" learned quickly and seemed to enjoy
physical labor. As Kal-El, he had never been planet bound for long and he
discovered to his surprise that he liked the feel of warm wind in his face, the
texture of rich soil in his hands. The accomplishments of farming, planting a
seed then waiting patiently for it to take root and grow amazed and delighted
he cried, pointing at the sprouting tomato vines he had planted just the
previous week in Martha Kent's vegetable garden with wide, wonder-filled eyes.
Most of all, he
relished the company of Jonathan and Martha Kent.
For the Kents
there were many unexpected things about their young guest ...
should I put it, Pa?" the boy asked one day.
alive, Clark!" gasped Jonathan, staring at his newly acquired 'son'. But
regardless of how many times he blinked and rubbed his eyes to clear them, Clark
still stood there, holding aloft the elderly farmer's battered John Deere
tractor with one hand.
there," he finally responded weakly, pointing to a patch of relatively dry
set the heavy piece of farm machinery down, light as a feather and turned back
to face his new father with a smile. Thoughtfully, Jonathan Kent wiped his
forehead, then began to absently polish his rounded spectacles, watching the
young man with care. At the look on his face, Clark lost his smile.
"Did - did I
do something wrong?" he ventured, biting his lip uncomfortably. He was very
anxious to please. "The tractor was stuck in the mud. Should I have left it
there?" Jonathan slipped an arm around the boy’s broad shoulders in
comfort and patted him reassuringly on the back.
no," he said, "you didn't do anything wrong, boy; nothing."
Clark's look of gratified relief touched the old farmer's heart. "But son
... we've got to talk a bit. You need to be careful about things like
that." Unbidden, his eyes drifted to rest on his two ton tractor sitting
innocently to the side of his field, now; free of the mud. "Some folks
might be ... frightened by such as that. Not everyone would approve. You
understand?" Solemnly Clark nodded and Jonathan began to breath easier.
good boy," he chuckled.
It was simpler
than he expected for him to fit himself into the nearby tiny rural Kansas town
of Smallville. "My nephew," explained Martha Kent proudly, "my
youngest sister's boy, Clark, come to stay a spell." In pubic, he called
them "Aunt Martha" and "Uncle Jon" ... but in private, when
he called them "Ma" and "Pa" they did not correct him.
slow moving and peaceful, full of people in all their endless diversity. Clark
became very popular, very quickly. He always had time to stop and talk. He never
seemed to tire of hearing all the local stories, those turgid folktales of the
past. He was fascinated by almost everything. As if it were all new and shiny
bright like a child with a new toy. He was a good listener. No one appeared to
notice that he rarely spoke about himself.
Soon, he found
himself embroiled with the complexity of women. Her name was Lana. Lana Lang.
And she had the most amazing hair he had ever seen. Red, the color of crackling
flames and the sun of vanished Krypton. Never in all his travels had he quite
seen its like. When they danced at the New Hope Baptist Church Sunday Social,
tongues wagged and lips smiled. Dazed, blushing and stammering, Martha Kent lead
him home with a laugh.
And not once
during that golden time did he allow himself to think of Galactus his Master ...
or of his aborted mission. But his dreams were haunted; full of dead and dying
worlds and the harsh demanding face of the World Devourer.
It all had to
come to an end, of course.
And eventually, it did.
Continued in The Last Herald of Galactus #3
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