[ Mojave Desert, North of Las Vegas ]
Through the desert land that sits between California and Nevada, the kryptonian in jet black sprints through the barren stretch with dirt trailing behind, and no sign of exhaustion stopping him any time soon. No doubt the sweltering, hot sun’s embrace aids in keeping him energetic instead of dwindling in pace thanks to a certain half of his dna.
It was also thanks to his extraterrestrial half that he was able to zero in on the coordinates the mysterious voice provided faster than almost any other means of travel.
When his eyes spot a ravenette dressed in dark casual wear standing near a vehicle in the distance, he knows he’s finally reached his destination. Eventually, he desists his running and glides along the ground, skidding to a stop that leaves him three feet away from the woman. As the dust settles, the two take a moment to trade looks in silence, studying one another.
“Glad you were able to find your way to me with such ease. How are you feeling after traveling?” She, Meredith, finally ends the silence with a welcoming smile. Though, all she receives is a blank gaze in turn.
“I only detect an increased heartbeat rate. Nothing besides that. I am unharmed and well.” He answers in a stoic manner.
“I see. You exceed human capability in terms of movement and stamina, so I’d say it’s safe to assume you’ve successfully inherited more from the process.” She muses, a hand raising to her face, its respective thumb and point finger cradling her chin in thought.
“Have you tried flying while making your way here?” A question that catches the boy off guard, evident by his eyes widening. His brows wrinkle as his eyes advert from hers, contemplating why he hadn’t tried - wondering if he’s even capable of such.
“No… I didn’t think to try. Sprinting seemed efficient enough.”
“Understandable. Still, why don’t you give it a try? Maybe you’ll surprise us both.” She suggests, and he heeds it. Tilting his head back to glare up at the great blue sky above, he bends his knees a few degrees and clenches his hands into fists. Then— He takes an abrupt impressive leap into the air, dispersing a gust of wind that somewhat startles the woman.
Like a torpedo, he ascends with no real clarity of what he hopes to do. He just keeps going and going until finally gravity nullifies the momentum of his jump, then begins pulling him back down. Much to his dismay. Upon looking down, a sense of panic strikes him. Like worms crawling underneath his skin, fear spreads and begins to cloud his judgment, though not entirely.
“Fly… Fly! I can fly just like Superman. I can just like Superman.. I can fly just like SUPERMAN!” He cries out, hoping his body listens and picks up on the realization as he plummets without an ounce of control, flipping about like a rag doll in the wind. Just seconds later, Meredith spots him dropping out of control. Worry instantly fills her.
“Superboy!” She exclaims, her hand extending and her eyes becoming consumed in pools of crimson. However, before she can do anything, the boy suddenly pauses in place about 50 feet above ground. Just as quickly as it came, her eyes revert back to normal.
Above, the child was breathing frantically through his nose, his eyes fixed upon the solid ground below. All it seemingly took was the desperate thought of wanting to halt in place — to just float in place.
“Y-you.. You did it, Superboy! Now, can you carefully bring yourself back down?” With the lady’s voice in his ears, his eyes shift toward her briefly then to any ideal place to land. First thing first, he straightens himself out. The youth begins advancing forward ever so slowly, but not descending. His body feeling like a foreign vehicle, more so than it already did to the artificial newborn.
“Hnnn…” His frustration was steadily growing.
“Are you okay up there? Where are you going?”
“I’m trying to land, but this is proving to be difficult… I’m not too sure how this works.”
“Don’t worry, just take your time. I’ll meet you wherever you land.” She assures, which he finds comfort in knowing. In fact, it makes him that much more determined to get down. He spends about two minutes trying to navigate himself, only managing to stop in his tracks, ascend a bit, and descend a bit. When he notices somewhat of a pattern with his flight, he makes the decision to relax his entire body. That very moment of relaxing results in him dropping with the help of gravity again.
“Gu-aaaaaah!” The boy yells out mid drop, though finds his fall cushioned by something that snaps under him and tumbles over, sending him rolling a short distance on the ground. The sound of tires coming to a screeching halt draws his attention, and there’s the woman climbing out of her car and hurrying toward him. He begins pushing himself up to stand on his feet, swatting himself down to dust off his suit.
“My goodness, are you okay? Are you in any pain?”
“No. Something broke my fall, anyway. I’m completely fine.”
“Glad you have invulnerability, because that something was a cactus.” She gestures toward the green plant lying on the ground nearby.
“Huh. Didn’t feel a thing.”
“Splendid. How about we head back to my home? I can help you develop a better understanding of your powers, as well as controlling them. Plus, you’d have a place to call home.”
“That would be beneficial… I accept your offer…” he trails off, squinting curiously when it dawns on him that he doesn’t know the woman’s name.
“Meredith. Dr. Meredith, one of the handful responsible for giving you life.”
[ Meredith's Home, Nevada ]
Since agreeing to take residency within Meredith's place, It was becoming ever apparent that there was more to the woman than he could have imagined. Her manor resides in an isolated area, sitting at the clif of elevated land. Honestly, Superboy couldn't help but to question how the supporting foundation underneath it was capable of holding up the entire structure so well. Though, that pales in comparison to what the interior holds. The way the woman's home was implemented with technology made it feel as if it was alive and conscious. The kitchen, living room, and even half the doors react to physical presence and her voice. The kitchen counter rises on command, and retracts back into the floor when no individual is detected in proximity - the same for the furniture elsewhere inside. She also brings up holographic screens with a gesture or phrase, one capable of accessing the internet, storing her compiled data, making a call, and playing video feed. The tv and other devices seem outdated and devoid of any unique purpose, but he hasn't bothered prodding her about how she lives her life, as curious as he may be. Her fixation on him aids in distracting him from such.
A day passes before the two begin testing his capabilities in her backyard and early as possible. A yard that converts between an artificial spread of grass and a pool, both contained within a rectangle picket fence. It doesn't take long to discover that the surroundings aren't exactly what it appears to be. While in the process of learning to fly, there's more than occasional bump into a hidden wall that far extends the height the fence, and another transparent surface that keeps the boy from leaving craters with every harsh landing he makes. The session goes on for hours and would likely proceed past noon. Right now, the clone is flying within a controlled pattern, looping in circles at a gentle pace. It's clear to see he's developed some level of understanding of how his flight works.
"You're doing well, Superboy. Seems you've learned to control the momentum of your flight. You haven't went veering off into a wall in quite some time!" Meredith praises from her seat near the entrance, legs crossed and transparent tablet in hand. The item mentioned being used to monitor his speed and heartbeat.
"I think I'm picking up on how it works, but it's difficult to manage any faster than this. Still, I feel I can easily improve on it." The youth responds without breaking focus on what he was doing. Meanwhile, the woman's eyes settle onto the device in hand, tapping away before giving directions.
"How about building on your ascend and descend movements? Learning to fluently move within those maneuvers could be the key to gaining a perfect comprehension of your flying." A suggestion that has him stopping in his tracks, then gradually moving skyward. Slowly and awkwardly, the boy seemingly loses some of control and begins gradually flipping on his way up.
"It shouldn't be this difficult to do this..." He huffs in annoyance, soon lightly making contact with the top of the barrier twenty feet above. From there he descends just as gradual, arms extending to his sides while fidgeting to maintain balance in his stomach-down position.
“It’s totally normal. It’s not like you had any opportunities to use your powers while you were in the labs. Just keep calm and take your time.” Meredith encourages. For a moment, silence settles in as the boy tries to find a pattern behind rising and lowering with control. Then, his startled yelps put an end to it, followed by the thunderous impact of him colliding with the surface overhead, then him dropping at an alarming rate. He would’ve landed twice as harshly, but luckily his flight halts him mere meters above the grass just before he does.
“Oof.”Instead, he promptly drops down with a much lighter force.
“Why don’t you take a momentary break, Superboy. We can address other aspects of your life besides the more obvious of the lot.” Meredith suggests, standing up from her seat as she gestures for the other to follow her back inside. After pushing himself back onto his feet, the young hero-in-the-making does just that. Inside, the two settle within dining room, sitting across from one another.
“Are you thirsty? Hungry, perhaps?” She asks with deep curiosity, brow rising and all. Much to her delight, she receives the most ideal answer possible.
“No. I’m not exactly sure how to tell if I’m hungry or not… The solar energy my body absorbs sustains me, so I theorize I won’t know until my cells run out of resources.” He explains casually, knowledge retained from what was implanted within his mind.
“Wonderful! Superman’s physiology is serving you quite well, then. You were isolated for months under that building. Gives a reason to believe you store energy much like a chargeable battery. It dwells until dispersed.” She muses, piquing the boy’s attention even further.
“Superman’s physiology… Were you in charge of my creation?”
“Not quite, though I was heavily invested in you. I did my best to find a perfect balance of DNA that could stabilize your creation. We made several attempts using Superman’s DNA, but you were perfect by far. An additional dna donor seemed to be the elusive fix for the failures.”
“I see. Why was I left in the sub floors of the Lex Corp building, by the way? Are you certain that I wasn’t a failure?”
Absolutely. The subjects before you were nothing like you. They were very much defective. We fixed their flaws in YOU. However, Lex one day decided that the project was no longer a necessity. We had to abandon it, much to my dismay. I suppose Luthor lost his motive for green lighting you after Superman died. I’ll never understand how that man’s mind functions.
You were stored away, likely to be terminated any day. I felt it was such a massive waste to let you die, so I helped you escape.”
“Hnn.. How did you do that, by the way? Your voice in my head?”
“Ah, that. I can’t share too many details about it, but you could say it’s a gift of mine. A very useful one.” An answer that earned a look from the boy.
“Why can’t you tell me?”
“Classified, I’m afraid.”
“You feel I’ll spread information about you?”
“No, not quite. It’s just a subject that serves as a, shall we say, a spiderweb that links to more complicated subjects.”
“I am more than prepared to listen until I understand them all.”
“Perhaps. However, I’d like you to focus your efforts toward yourself first. You’ve only experienced a fixed simulation of life in the world, Superboy. I want you to explore what it’s like outside the labs with a raw introduction to a real society.”
“Explore? Is there something from my knowledge of the world?”
“Yes, Superboy. You’re missing real-time experience. Something you’ll definitely need if you’re to replace Superman one day. Which is why I want you to go into the city and have a look around tomorrow. Observe the people, and keep an eye out for trouble if you can. It’ll help develop your mind.”
“Is that truly a good usage of my time? Protecting, I understand. But surveying civilians for no particular reason, I cannot quite fathom.”
“To become more human, of course. Superman interacts with everyday people when he’s out saving the day. It helps the public accept him, and it can very likely do the same for you. Just give it a try, Superboy. It’s all necessary in the long run.”
“I see. . . Very well, then. If it means being more like him, I’ll do it.”
“Good! In the meantime, I’ll monitor you from here. I’ll have an AI follow you around to record your progress for me, as well as provide live feedback. I’ll also try to prep more training methods for you.
“Understood. For now, I’ll head back out to continue learning how to fly.” The boy informs, his curiosity not quite satisfied, but dwindled enough to be pushed to the back of his mind. He rises to leave the table, though pauses briefly.
“If… there’s nothing more you want to say, that is.” He adds, peering over a shoulder.
“No, can’t say there’s any more I’d like to say. By all means, spend your free time however you’d like, Superboy.