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Saturday, December 30, 2023

Interlude: Shadows of Terra

Previously on Jedi/Superman . . . 

Last Son of the Republic
Growing Up Under Twin Suns
Chariot of the Gods
The Emperor's New Genocide
The Quality of Mercy
A Job for Supermen
The Green, Green Glow of Homicide
A Dream of Droids
A Vision of Future Past
The Dark Heart of Krypton
The Phantom Hope
Wrath and Recrimination
Jest of the Fates

Not so long ago, in a star system far, far away . . . 

Deep underground on a primitive backwater planet far from the Empire, a small group of forgotten baseline humans huddled in a dark room lit only by an array of flatscreen monitors that glowed in hues of green and amber. These people were perhaps the surviving descendants of some long-castoff tribe, people who had long forgotten their true origins. Or perhaps the truth was quite the opposite; perhaps these were the original humans, fallen from grace, backsliding into barbarity after having conquered the stars. Or perhaps they were a rare example of parallel evolution. 

Whatever their origin, they shared an experience common to most humans: they were yoked in slavery to a great power. As ever, some submitted to their fate; others fought. 

“There hasn’t been a sighting for months,” said a voice in the half-dark. 

“It’s a trick. He’s waiting us out. Waiting for us to come out of hiding,” said another. 

“Or maybe he doesn’t care what we do while he’s gone, because he knows he can crush any organized resistance when he comes back. Even if we imprison every human Quisling tomorrow, he’d just set them all free when he returns or kill them all and put more traitors in their place.” 

A woman in her mid-20s stood up in front of the wall of monitors, throwing her shadow on the greenlit faces of her companions. 

“If nothing we do matters, then all that matters is what we do,” she said. “If it’s hopeless, I’d rather go down fighting. I say we muster all of our remaining assets now. International Rescue, Universal Exports, the ILC—they all kept weapons and materiel in reserve for a chance like this. 

She paused. What she had to say next wasn’t easy. 

“And we should risk a transmission to Alpha.” 

Someone hissed in dismay. 

“Alpha’s our ace in the hole. It’s an absolute miracle he missed it during the initial takeover. If we lose Alpha, we lose everything!” 

“Risk is our business now,” the woman said. “We can’t just cower here anymore. When Zod returns, we need to hit him with everything we have. We know we have the numbers and the support to dismantle his puppet government. But that will take at least a month, maybe more, and we’ve already let months go by. I refuse to wait any longer to seize an opportunity that may never come again.” 

“She’s right,” said the industrialist, moving to stand beside the woman. “We’ve been too cautious. If we agree to act now, I promise you I’ll throw my entire fortune behind the effort.” 

One by one, others rose up—some more reluctantly than others. But they rose. 

“Freedom or death,” the woman said quietly. 

“Freedom or death!” the room shouted back. 

Even as the echo of that defiant cry faded, six billion Terrans went about the stale business of a defeated people—some daring to look to the stars above, many casting their gaze to the earth below, trying to ignore the finely-wrought statues or gleaming neon billboards that lionized their conqueror: 

Praise be to Zod, Ruler of Earth and Heaven. 

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