The Chattel Girl

BY : tooshoes
Category: DC Verse Television > SuperGirl
Dragon prints: 1804
Disclaimer: I do not own Supergirl, nor the characters or any story elements from TV show. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

Chapter image:

My name is Kara Zor-El. Forty-four years ago, my planet was in serious peril. My cousin Kal-El, the heir to the House of El, was sent to Earth for his own safety and protection. You may know his story.

The story you don’t know is that I was sent to protect him. I'll never know why they chose a chattel girl like me for this important mission, but I felt honored.

But things did not go according to plan. As Krypton neared destruction, millions of people clung to life and projected themselves into the Phantom Zone all at once. Then, when Krypton finally blew up, the explosion ripped a hole in the Phantom Zone a million miles wide, and it sucked my rocket in before it could escape.

Thirty-four years passed on Earth while only a day passed in the Phantom Zone, until somehow my spacecraft escaped the timeless prison, and I arrived here, on Earth, exactly where Kal-El’s pod landed years before. I was supposed to find him there, take care of him, but instead, he found me. I was barely into puberty, yet Kal-El was fully grown and had become the most powerful man in the universe, as he was destined to be. I felt ashamed. I had no part in his glory, and so my life became as meaningless on Earth as it had always been on Krypton.

I was surprised how much the culture of Earth resembled the culture on Krypton. Even the things that are different were the same for me.

Everyone knows that Krypton was far more advanced than Earth, but being advanced did not make it kinder or fairer. Kryptonian social structure was determined entirely by genetics and an algorithm. Kryptonian technology could judge everything inherent in a person’s genetic structure and give that person a grade, a career path, and determine their worth to society. There was no escaping destiny, and it was a crime even to try.

I had a price tag attached to me since I was born: I was a bargain-basement chattel girl.  I was an embarrassment in the House of El. The gene police determined that I would grow up with a feeble mind and chronic emotional problems. I was physically attractive, but that was considered a curse on Krypton. My cousin Kal-El, on the other hand, hit the genetic jackpot. He was a big-ticket item on Krypton, then he was adopted by one of the most powerful men in Metropolis. He was truly blessed by Rao.

So when I first saw Superman on Earth, towering over me in that wonderful costume and with the world at his feet, it was almost reassuring, because once again the elders in my society were proven correct. Krypton was gone, but its legacy would go on. Kal-El grew up like a god, and my life would be an afterthought. I was a back-up plan that wasn’t needed. I could hardly blame Kal-El when he rejected me and passed me off to Eliza and Jeremiah Danvers. At least I could do some good there. They needed a Kryptonian guinea pig for their research, and they were even willing to pretend I was their daughter, so I considered myself lucky.

As fate would have it, they also had a real daughter, Alex, and she didn’t like me one bit. Why should she? I was a scrawny wretch who cried all the time, and she was bigger and stronger and smarter. Better genes, of course. She was like a princess in the house, and I was just a free-loader or a family pet. Alex made sure I never forgot that, yelling at me and slapping me around. She towered over me, and I was helpless.  I guess I deserved whatever punishment they gave me, but it was still scary.

Several months after the Danvers adopted me, I felt my body changing, and everybody noticed. I was becoming the chattel girl I was destined to be. I felt like a total freak, and I guess I acted like one, too, because Alex slapped me a lot when I acted up. The Earth’s yellow sun was changing my cell structure.  First, I started hearing and seeing things.  My muscles cramped up as I grew stronger. My skin became so sensitive and resilient, but I felt itchy all of the time. Maybe worst of all, my appetites were getting out of control.

That’s when Eliza gave me the little green pills for the first time. She called them Kryptophen.

She told me that without Kryptophen, I would go through the same transformation my cousin had gone through as a child, but the result would be much worse for me. The defects in my genome would cause all kinds of problems and might even corrupt my mind. It scared the hell out of me. But Eliza promised that the little green pills would prevent the curse. I just needed to take them every day, and I would be fine. Skipping even a day would be a disaster.

I promised to take the pills. I needed to stop the sensory overload that was driving me crazy. I wanted people to stop staring at me. Puberty and culture shock were already too much for me to deal with.

My life improved the day I started taking Kryptophen. My senses returned to normal, my new parents trusted me more, and people stopped looking at me everywhere I went.

Then, a few weeks later, I entered the same private school as Alex, except that I was two grades behind her and was taking special needs classes. The Danvers said that schooling was pointless for me, but American laws required an education, so I had to go. Several kids bullied me because of my accent, and they laughed when I couldn’t stop crying, but Alex defended me. I didn’t know what to make of Alex's kindness until Alex eventually opened up to me.

She apologized for hurting me all of those times, and she surprised me by admitting that she had been jealous of me, of all people! She said she had felt displaced when I moved into their home, and that she worried that I was the daughter her parents always wanted.

How could she think that? I am worse than a nobody! I told her that my parents on Krypton would have traded me in a second for a daughter like Alex.

I learned a long time ago that it was best to admit one’s place in the world rather than fight fate. It put my betters at ease.

Alex was kinder to me after that. She still pushed me around because I acted up sometimes, but it was only because she loved me. Her love was worth the pain. I may have been a worthless piece of Kryptonian scum, but I was HER worthless piece of scum.

I finally felt like I belonged in the Danvers home. Families on Earth are a lot different than on Krypton. Siblings are not ranked according to their genes on Earth, and parents can love a total loser like me as much as a winner like Alex. At least that's what they told me.

Eventually, I learned how to fit in at school, and I passed most of my classes. Boys went from bullying me to touching me, which I guess was an improvement. Some asked me out on dates, which was flattering, but the Danvers would never allow me that freedom. Finally, I completed high school with satisfactory grades, and the Danvers celebrated my farce of a graduation just like when Alex graduated two years before with high honors. Eliza even told me that she was more impressed by my achievement than Alex’s two years ago, considering all that I had gone through. That made me blush, but I wish Eliza never said that because she said that in front of Alex!

Alex was quick to remind me that things never really change. That summer was tense and a little scary.

But then Alex went back to college, and I got a late-night job as a waitress. At the time, the job was perfect for me, and I was perfect for it. Chattel girls like me were never meant to have it so good.

Maybe that’s why the good feelings did not last. The problems began when I moved into my own apartment. Without my family beside me, keeping me on the right path, I struggled with temptations and resentments. I should have been happy, but many days I sank into a deep depression, and I could never understand why.

Alex must have sensed that something was wrong because soon after I had a contentious phone call with my foster mother, Alex started visiting me regularly. We began eating dinner and watching TV three times per week. I would complain how stressed and bored I felt, or how I felt like my life wasn’t going anywhere, and she would calm my corrupt angst with reminders of how good life was for me. If that didn't work, she would set me straight the only way she knew how. It was like I never left home to begin with.

But even with Alex’s frequent visits, I suffered from loneliness and longings for a change. I began questioning everything.

I kept wondering what my life would be like if I didn’t take the Kryptophen. Would it really be so bad to skip a day? Or a few days? Nobody could possibly have done a study on the long-term effects of Kryptophen, since I was the only person on Earth the pills could be tested on. What were the side-effects?

Was Kryptophen hurting me more than it was helping? Maybe the pills messed up my vision, making me nearsighted. I am a very petite woman, so maybe they stunted my growth. I was sick quite often, which I blamed on my defective genes, but maybe Kryptophen was part of that problem, too.

I didn’t have any good reasons to support my worries, yet I worried about it non-stop until I couldn’t resist the temptation any longer.  I knew it was dangerous, but I would be careful, and as soon as anything felt wrong at all, I’d end the experiment.

So I skipped taking the Kryptophen one morning and I went through the day on pins and needles. But nothing happened.

Then I tried two days straight, and I started to feel something, but it didn’t feel bad.

Finally, I took a sharp knife and cut all of my pills in half. I still took my medicine every day, but at half dose. Gradually, my vision returned such that I no longer needed glasses, but I wore them anyway. I could hear things my coworkers couldn’t hear. And I didn’t feel tired after work anymore.

I had been so worried that something bad would happen, and that I would become a kind of monster, but my life only seemed to get better.

So, I cut back my medication even more, now to only half dose on Mondays and Thursdays, and soon I could feel a real difference. I could see through fabrics, but only if I focused. I could jump twice as high as before, and my skin never blistered or broke out with acne or even bruised. Despite being more durable, my skin was also much more sensitive, which surprised me.

Physically, I was doing great, but I was feeling very guilty and impatient most of the time, and I wasn’t sure that I hadn’t gone too far. Was it affecting my mind? Maybe that’s how it starts. Maybe I was turning bad like everyone said I would, and I was blind to my corruption.

I bitched about my job with one of my fellow waitresses, complaining that work wasn’t challenging to me anymore. She told me that I would be a good fit for her last job at CatCo, which paid much better than the restaurant, even with tips.  CatCo also offered advancement opportunities in a more liberating environment, and the position would let me work for the most powerful woman in National City, Cat Grant.

I laughed at the suggestion, sure that I didn't have what it takes. CatCo was a media company that shaped a world that I knew almost nothing about. But my co-worker explained that the entry-level position didn't require any education or experience or even references. It only required one talent that I had in spades.

My coworker had quit the job because it was exhausting work that required super-human attention to the whims of a woman who constantly demeaned her. But that kind of abuse was familiar to me. I was sure that I would never get the job, but I applied anyway in person. I guess the receptionist at the main office at CatCo liked the look of me because she introduced me to Cat Grant that day.

The media goddess took one look at me and smiled, but then she immediately attacked my character -- like she knew I was worthless. But when I agreed with her assessment, she became curious.

I told her I’d do anything for the job, and she replied, “Just figure out what I want and get it for me. If you can do that, you have the job. Now, go, go, go.”

I was dumbfounded. What kind of interview was that?

There was no way I could give her what she wanted without cheating a little. I hated that my first act upon meeting her was to invade her privacy, but I wanted this job. So I looked inside her purse for clues.  I found a gift card to a local coffee shop, a shopping list filled with vegan items, and a cell phone with a cracked screen. So I got Cat exactly what she wanted. She didn’t even question how I knew. She hired me on the spot.

Alex was furious when I told her, but she worked just outside of National City herself, so the job gave her more opportunity to keep track on me and snap back my leash if necessary, so she reluctantly allowed it

That was almost six months ago, and now I am the longest-tenured assistant Cat Grant has ever had. She trusts me enough to babysit her precocious twelve-year-old son Carter, and I'm proud of that. Being Cat's assistant gives me many opportunities to use my powers in a small way, without all of the shame I’d feel if anyone knew who I really am.

But working at CatCo is not the liberating experience I hoped for.  Cat’s frequent belittling of me reminds me of who I had always believed myself to be. One day she went too far and made me cry. I thought she would fire me on the spot, but instead, she asked me to sit down, and then she gave me some advice that would change my life.

“Now, Kara, I can’t have you crying in my office. It doesn’t reflect well on me, so let me try to put myself in your shoes. You lack self-confidence, and you won’t believe me, but I’ve struggled with confidence all of my life,” Cat confessed. “Suffice to say, my family did all they could to discourage my success. But did I let that stop me? No, I created this empire! Did I hide in shame? No, I wrote of all my struggles in a best-selling autobiography. I cried plenty in my lifetime, and I endured many an insult, but one thing I never did was cry in front of my boss. This outburst doesn’t help either of us. Someone has hurt you Kara, that much is clear, but I assure you that the guilty party isn’t me. So figure out why you are crying and deal with that, or I’ll have no choice but to let you go.“

I slunk out of the room with my tail between my legs, still crying, but I knew she was right. I knew all along why I cried so much for so long.

I had let everyone tell me what I was worth and push me around.

Last week, I decided to kill the chattel girl once and for all and be born again as an American girl with the same right to pursue happiness as anyone else. I no longer wanted to play by the old rules.

So, I stopped taking the Kryptophen altogether, and then I waited to see if I had made the biggest mistake of my life.

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