I can't keep quiet for anyone anymore

It was a walk in the woods. Baby steps towards clarity. She was a fool if she thought she could find peace in a matter of days, and neither the Saylors nor Zor-El had raised a fool. The fluffy white dog traipsed beside her, sniffing out all of the new nooks and crannies he suddenly had to find. This wasn't Boston. This wasn't Oakland. This was Truckee, California. All of the sights and smells were new to his doggie brain, and Pork Chop had to figure out what the woods had to offer.

Nora had him on a metaphorical loose leash. She trusted him not to wander too far and knew that he would come right back to her if he found trouble or thought that she was in danger. Since coming into powers of his own, the dog was truly a new sight to behold. Companion and protector to Nora, ally to Kara, though the two women were one and the same.

Maybe a hike on rough terrain wasn't the best idea in the days leading up to a half-marathon, but those felt like human problems. Strength, stamina, and speed weren't things that Nora had to worry about anymore. She knew she could get through that race half-asleep and without any training if she really wanted to. It begged the question of why she insisted on participating in endurance events like those if they were no longer a connection, but in a way, they made her feel more human than alien. Her humanity was something that she had taken for granted, and she was quickly realizing leaning into that humanity, and doing so hard, would help her feel more like herself than she had in months. It seemed like it would be an obvious solution, to revisit the things that made her her, but she had been so caught up in being an alien and what that meant that she had yet to take a minute for herself and breathe.

As she walked through the woods, she tried to process the events of the weeks prior. The sudden appearance of Lantern rings that only signaled desperation from the Guardians. The zombies that had attacked the city and needed to be cured, strangers and loved ones alike in haunting grotesque forms that likely wouldn't leave the region's collective memory anytime soon. She rifled through her memories in sequential order, trying to piece things together and knowing that somewhere, something was missing.

Zor-El's reappearance in his cyborg zombie form was something that Nora would never forget. It had happened before, that much she knew; her shared memories with Kara had informed her as much and she grimaced at the memory of what Zor-El had managed to do to his own daughter. The threats he had made. The trauma that he had inflicted upon Kara by insisting that he kill her to reconstitute his human form. The promise of a new life on New Krypton that would come at the expense of the entire Earth. Ultimately, his plans were foiled, but not without turning the public against his daughter one more time. National City could no longer trust Supergirl; he made sure of that.

Nora stood where she was and took a deep breath, taking in the fresh, woodsy air and holding it for a moment before exhaling. She closed her eyes, and like some kind of fucked up zoetrope, she forced herself to relive the events of that last fight. How Zor-El had found her at UCSF and lured her out, and how she had walked right into that trap. How there had been some damage done as she tried to lure him away from the hospital and further away from the public in general. San Francisco was too dense for its own good; it was apparent in its own way in the stupidly priced real estate market, but it became another risk as she lured Kara's father—her own father, in a way— away from the city center and out towards San Mateo County where they could find more open space. When Zor-El was joined by Blight later in the evening, when the two powerhouse forces were meant to be used against each other. The fights, the battles, the casualties, the injuries, the "conversation" that Zor-El insisted that he have with his daughter one more time. He was doing all of this for her, couldn't she see that? Krypton could live once more, and Kara could live amongst her own kind.

She hadn't realized that she was sitting on the ground until Pork Chop approached her and began to nudge her face with his head out of concern. The memory stopped there; she couldn't recall his cutting words after that moment or what it was that she'd said that had caused him so much sudden anguish. There was a flash of white, and suddenly everything had a yellow tint to it as Hal hit her with a yellow energy blast so as to counter the Kryptonite coming from Simon's ring. And with that, Zor-El was gone. Again, and hopefully, for good. So much had happened and so quickly that she was unable to recall all of the details, and a nagging feeling in the pit of her stomach told her that she was forgetting some of the most important parts.

"Eidetic memory my ass," she muttered as she pulled herself up from the ground. "Come on, Pork Chop," Nora said as she brushed her jeans off and turned to tackle the trail once again, this time in reverse. "Let's go back inside before it gets dark."

She stared him down, just a few feet ahead of him, looking at Zor-El in his lifeless eyes. His face was mangled and littered with cybernetic implants, as was most of his body, and Nora couldn't help but pity his existence. For as entrenched as she may have been in her own existential crisis as of late, fighting Zor-El was forcing her to appreciate that though she might have always felt whole or like herself these days, at least she was still herself. No robot parts, no crazy eyes. She was just her. She was Kara as much as she was Nora these days, and as she studied Zor-El in an attempt to anticipate his next move, he opened his mouth first before forming it into an ugly snarl.

"Don't start what you can't finish."

His low, gravelly voice echoed in her head as she watched him go for those around her, trying to take down her friends and allies one by one as if he were saving her for last. Nora scrambled to do what she could to protect them and to redirect Zor-El's attention to her; she could take the hits while not all of her friends could. Her plan had worked and suddenly she was face to face with him again, this time with him yelling at her in Kryptonian once more. Nora felt a chill run down her spine as she realized that they'd had this exact same fight once before.

"There's a story in the Kryptoniad," Zor-El began. "During the wars of ice and fire. The Goddess Cythonna gave Jor-Ne, Drom of mythic Zal City, an impossible choice—kill his son and spare his city, or save him and let the city burn. Jor-Ne chose his people. He sacrificed his son. His family line. And so Zal City prospered."1

Nora listened to those around her. She could hear movement. She could hear heartbeats, some more calm than others, and she could sense people trying to place themselves strategically around them as Zor-El continued his diatribe.

"Your mother saw wisdom in myths. Stories. I never did. Until now. I cannot save you and Argo. You've forced this choice on me.

"Did you really think this is why I sent you to Earth? Do you really think you're here to help these people? To inspire them?"2

Nora glared at him once again, knowing that she had friends on her side. That Joe, Connor, and Isla could easily dismantle Zor-El's cybernetic elements. That Etta was there, ready to drain his energy and weaken him for the others. That Simon could take him down with Kryptonite once and for all. "No, father," she finally said without breaking eye contact, stern and sure of herself and filled with more confidence than ever before. "We are here to inspire each other."3

It was enough to enrage Zor-El once again, and in the flurry of attacks that followed, she fell back to find cover from the Kryptonite floating around in the atmosphere. She was so enthralled at how hard everyone was fighting that she almost missed the streak of blue that was headed straight towards her.

"Kara Zor-El of Earth. You have the ability to insti—"

Nora sat straight up and bed and gasped for air. The exercises, the meditations, the cognitive behavioral therapy, something had worked. Something had clicked in her brain and unlocked that memory, that thing that she felt that was missing from that one night near Linda Mar. But...was it real? Was it right? She didn't have a blue power ring in her possession. Surely that was something she wouldn't have missed, especially not for an entire month? Her breathing slowed and returned to normal once again, and she hugged her knees to her so that she could think and try to talk herself back into sleep mode. But once she could no longer hear her heart beating in her ears, she noticed another sound, this time coming from somewhere to her left. Frowning, Nora pulled the top drawer of her bedside table open and tentatively peered inside. The blue light was so bright that it nearly blinded her and she recoiled, sitting straight up in bed once again as the ring flew around her room.

"Nora Saylor of Earth. You have the ability to instill great hope. Welcome to the Blue Lantern Corps."