Link to: Last Issue
Diana sat atop the edge of the world, peacefully preparing for war.
She was in a cross legged position upon a golden temple spire depicting ancient folk hero, Hercules in a heroic pose. Currently Diana rested upon the statue's shoulder where she silently cleaned her sword, resting upon her knee, with a damp cloth. There was a peaceful dark that seemed to permeate the city of Olympus most likely due to the view of space from above as the city of the gods rested just under the Earth's atmosphere.
Olympus... Diana finished inspecting her weapon and took a moment to take in the place's beauty, gazing with a soft smile at an unending view of white marble buildings resting atop clouds. In truth Diana had only known this place for a few short weeks but already she considered it home, a place to rest in between the many crusades she'd enacted in the name of her father.
A soft wind seemed to flow through the air, accompanying it was the sound of even softer music that drew the young warrior's gaze to the temple courtyard below. A faun stood in the yard below, playing music from a lute that he twiddled in his hands with the expertise of one much older, and all for a woman seated by a nearby fountain. Transfixed by the tune drifting her way, Diana stepped down to a lower part of the temple's roof and stared at the performance below in a mixture of awe and amusement.
"What do you think of my new verse?" The faun asked his companion, taking a break after several minutes of non stop music. "Personally I think it's a vast improvement over that last sorry affair." He started to prance about excitedly, his horse like waist making clipping noises as his hooves dashed upon the pebbled ground. The woman by the fountain, who Diana now noticed to be blue of skin and formless from the neck down, clapped her hands in a similar state of excitement.
"Oh it's lovely Rheadus!" She said with a waving, dancing voice. "Definitely your best work yet! You must play it again."
"Yes! You must." Diana said from atop the roof causing both figures below to look up towards her. "Your music is quite beautiful, easily the sweetest sound I've heard in ages."
Whatever happiness had once filled the courtyard below immediately disappeared, from the frosty look that filled the woman's face, and the look of panic on the faun's it would have been highly acceptable for one to believe a murder had just taken place. Rheadus turned and left without saying another word taking his lute with him, the woman stayed seated at the fountain while the surprised Diana stepped from the roof and let the wind current glide her to the ground below, sword held backwards in the grip of her hand.
"What did I say?" She asked as soon as she touched upon the ground.
"It's not what you said." The blue woman sighed before swinging her legs to the interior of the fountain. "It's who you are." Diana looked at the woman, confused as her robes flapped in the wind.
"Who is it that you think I am?"
The blue one frowned, more than likely annoyed with the whole scenario. "You're the daughter of Ares." She answered before disappearing into the fountain, diving into it as if it were a vast ocean, her last word thing being the sole thing that kept Diana company.
The water nymph's insult still rang in Diana's ears as she walked through Olympus' deserted streets. She could feel eyes upon her from all around, people staring from the safety of their homes, afraid of the one who had invaded their city. Not wishing to cause them greater fear Diana simply stepped onward until finally she arrived just outside of her destination.
Within the Armory of Olympus, Lord Ares stood alone. The former god of war, now sky father of Olympus was dressed in the black, spiked armor that had been worn on every battlefield that had ever or would ever exist. He gazed under his helmet towards a cabinet protected by a mystic seal, and within the cabinet lay a golden lightning bolt that had once belonged to the god he called father.
Ares did not bother to turn around. "I've been awaiting your arrival."
The former god of war's voice seemed to bounce against the walls of the armory making the man's tone almost deafening. Diana stepped quickly into the room and knelt before her lord, sword pointing down into the ground by her boots.
"I sensed your call, father." She said, not looking up from the floor as she spoke. "You have need of me?"
"I do." Ares confirmed as his helmet slowly peeled away from his face and merged into the rest of his suit. He turned and placed a gloved hand upon his daughter's shoulder, looking up from the ground Diana saw the man to be smiling, aged features seeming young for the first time in many months. "I am quite proud of you, Diana." He said, letting his General rise to her feet. "You have accomplished in mere months what would have admittedly taken men years."
"Thank you, father."
Ares began to slowly walk further into the armory, beckoning Diana along with a single wave of his hand.
"I have raised you since your birth. I sculpted you from clay and gave you life and in return you have given me a kingdom to rule and protect." He looked to Diana who was following behind as an almost passive observer. "I've taught you to fight and you defeated the traitor god Hades for me who now rests mere feet below us." A faint smile passed over Ares' face. "I showed you how to lead and you helped command my armies upon Olympus as it lay empty..." There was a shift in his tone that sent a chill up Diana's spine. "But Diana... I've taught you to kill..." He pointed out. "And you have yet to do so."
Diana's mouth hung open as she tried to consider what her lord was trying to say. "I'm sorry." She said, sounding calm. "I don't-" Ares stopped walking and turned directly towards his daughter, he towered above her in his armor and as his tone shifted to that of anger a red heat seemed to radiate from his body.
"Your loyalty is very important to me, daughter." He said, again placing his clawed glove upon Diana's shoulder. "Yet if you refuse to take a life for my own, then I don't know where that loyalty is placed!"
A burst of energy, generated by the god of war, shook the room scattering in objects, and in turn shock shook Diana. In a brief flash of anger she stated: "You have no reason to doubt me!" Yet was cut off about halfway through.
"Then prove it!" The god snapped, grinning as he spoke, helm reappearing around his face and casting him in shadow. "Prove it..." He repeated, voice lowering as he turned and waved his hand conjuring up a map of seas and islands upon the glass of a nearby armor cabinet, the armor cabinet in fact that contained the suit Diana wore into battle. "There exists an island, daughter. Once it was an land of warriors but now it exists as a place of hiding for the cowards that have escaped our campaign of peace." He paused, either to take a breath or for more dramatic purposes. "I want you to go there with your forces and claim the island. Kill all who try stop you and prove yourself worthy of my trust."
The young General starred at her commander as he turned away once again. For the first time she felt a feeling of doubt within her stomach... and as she asked her next question she wondered what the future might hold.
"What is this island called?" She asked. Ares kept his back to her.
"Themyscira." Came the answer.
The ships left dock at midnight, and Diana left with a heavy heart. She was dressed in the black armor she'd worn against Hades, freshly repaired and polished by the finest smiths in the skies. Yet it gave her very little confidence for the battle ahead. It was not doubt about the outcome she felt, Diana felt certain that victory was in her grasp. No, instead it was the thought of what she would be facing.
In previous conflicts Diana had faced the undead hordes of the underworld as well as the machine armies of the godly blacksmith Hephaestus, but any living, sentient forces she'd encountered had always surrendered quickly before the might of her and her army, long before she would have been forced to use any lethal force.
"What am I to do, Circe?" She asked, standing atop her war vessel's sails in a moment of contemplation. Lieutenant Circe watched from the safety of the ship's mast, purple hair drifting out from under her helmet.
"Well first, Diana. I'd like you to come down from there before you fall." The Lieutenant answered, making the General smile. Not wanting to worry the woman Diana did as asked, stepping to the wooden overlook that let them see for miles. "And then... well... I think you should do as your father asks."
"I won't kill an innocent." Diana said, looking out to the ocean. "Not even in war. And these people's only crime is that their beliefs clash with mine and my father's own."
A silence joined the chill in the air, and slowly Diana began to feel uneasy.
"He's your father." Circe finally said, sounding wary as if she were choosing what she were saying carefully. "If he gives you an order, my General, you should follow i-"
"Diana..." The General sighed. "Call me Diana."
Nothing more was said and with the only noise of note being the waves crashing gently against the ship as well as the sound of the soldiers below going about their duties eventually Diana found herself drifting to sleep, a dreamless rest brought about by the gently rocking ship. It was a good while before she was awoken.
"General!" Eyes snapping open, Diana looked to the deck below and saw a Goblin Watchman looking up to her, telescope in hand. "Themyscira lies ahead!" And looking where told Diana witnessed Themyscira, bright in the night sky thanks to the light of numerous buildings dotted about the place.
"I see catapults." Circe said to her General's right, purple energy around her eyes presumably enhancing her vision. "We're fifty ships strong, they've definitely seen us."
A moment of tense waiting passed among the crew. Some looked up to their general and some looked to the island ahead, waiting for some kind of response from the home of the Amazons. There was none. As the time for orders came Diana began to feel guilt and in turn she grit her teeth.
"They're not attacking..." She muttered. "...they're not attacking..."
"I know." Circe said. "What are your orders, General?"
It was decided that Diana would lead a small group to the island, much to the protests of her Lieutenant who came along. Stepping onto the beach, the sand still golden even at night, Diana was joined by the aforementioned Circe as well as a large, iron armored Minotaur named Praxis with the rest of the group waiting by the ship. Without a word the group began to walk towards the giant black gates wedged between the hills that would lead to the rest of the island.
"Hold!" A mighty voice rang just as Diana arrived before the barred gates. Looking upward towards the top of the entrance Diana noted six or seven archers, all female and all aiming flaming arrows towards her and her companions. "Who dares approach the island of the Amazons?" One of the archers, a heavily armored woman with bright red hair seemed to be the one speaking, so it was to her Diana spoke.
"My name is Diana, daughter of Skyfather Ares! To whom am I speaking?"
There was a moment of quiet from above.
"I'm Artemis." Came the reply just as Diana began to feel suspicion creep into her bones. "I am the protector of Queen Hippolyta and while I live you shall not enter!"
Angered, Diana bit her lip and glanced to Circe who simply shrugged. "There you have it, Diana." She said almost whispering. "Order the attack." Turning again to those above, the General spoke once more.
"Please." She said. "We've come here for peace, not for war. If you'd just-"
"No." Artemis said, voice sounding firm even as it traveled many feet down. "You can't enter. I wo-" Then there was a pause, Diana and Circe shared a look with the Lieutenant seeming somewhat irritated, at her General, Diana realized, not at the enemy. Finally Artemis' response came down from above, she sounded surprised. "By order of my Queen... you, Lady Diana, you alone may enter."
As if opened by a magic word the black gates opened a fraction, just enough for one person to enter at a time.
"Very well." Diana's eyes remained fixed on the massive gates. "Lieutenant, inform the troops what's happening. If you've received no signal from me within the hour you may attack at will." She began to step forward only to feel a hand grip her own.
"Don't do this, Diana." Circe hissed, nails digging into her friend's skin. "Remember. Your father..."
A grim look filled the General's face. Effortlessly she pulled herself free from Circe's hold. "If Lord Ares truly wants peace then that's what he'll have." She said before marching smartly towards the gate. Angered, Circe watched her General leave before she herself disappeared in a flash of bright green flame.
Left alone, Praxis the Minotaur simply stood around awkwardly.
Artemis met Diana just behind the gate, dressed in a mix of red and gray armor and with her bright red hair tied into a long ponytail, judging from the look on her face she was not happy.
"Follow me." She said simply, and following that she said nothing more. Diana did as requested, walking behind her guide as she was lead up a wide set of stairs. She noticed Amazonian guards staring at her from either side as she entered the main part of their civilization, all speaking to each other in hushed tones.
Themyscira's architecture was understandably similar to Olympus, white, marble buildings with statues to the gods placed at different areas. The city was built on a slant with building being built on top of building, yet there were no civilians Diana noticed, with them having presumably been sent to shelter once the invading fleet had been spotted. That was when Diana spotted a camp in the distance, and looking close she saw a sight that filled her heart with despair.
"Recognize them?" Artemis asked as they walked, not sounding smug but keeping consistently stern. Diana looked at the camp to her right and saw dozens of tired, war torn faces.
"The refugees..." She muttered, turning away out of shame.
"See what your peace has brought them?" Artemis asked, and Diana could not bring herself to answer.
A short time passed by and the whole while Diana could barely think. She thought about what she had seen and did not notice when they arrived at the location Artemis had been leading her to.
It seemed Artemis had said something and she hadn't been paying attention.
Artemis turned to Diana in front of a set of golden doors, seemingly leading into a circular temple.
"Your weapons. If you truly want peace you won't need them." This time Artemis was smug, looking like she'd caught Diana off guard. Without hesitation Diana handed over her sword and shield, catching the Amazon by surprise.
"I'll want those back." She said as she stepped into the building.
The temple, if it was indeed a temple, was circular in nature with beautiful, ancient art of the gods lining the walls. There was a balcony in the corner that overlooked the ocean and in the center of the room where the Queen of the Amazons was sat there was a sort of war table.
Looking up as Diana entered the room, Queen Hippolyta, dressed in beautiful gold armor, did something entirely unexpected. She stood up from her seat and smiled at her visitor.
"Hello Diana." She said, blonde hair reaching down behind her back. "It's good to meet you, please take a seat." Diana stepped cautiously towards the war table.
"I've come on behalf of Lord Ares." She explained, sitting down on the other side of the table. "The former god of war." A laugh escaped Queen Hippolyta's lips as she herself sat down.
"Lies." She said. "He's the god of lies if that's what he's been telling you." Stunned by the response, Diana slammed her fist onto the table and stood up.
"How dare you! This war we wage is one of peace! We fight for the good of all that live!"
The smile on Hippolyta's face quickly faded. "There are hundreds of refugees on this island who would disagree with you. The god of war must have infested your mind with dark magic to have you believe such falsehoods."
"My father would never do such a thing." Diana said, shouting now as she felt anger being to flow through her.
"Your father has done nothing but harm you since he acquired you." Hippolyta replied, sounding completely calm.
"He raised me well." Diana said. "He taught me to protect myself and others."
A chill filled the air coming from the balcony. The two women locked eyes and Hippolyta spoke her next words.
"He didn't raise you, daughter." She said. "I did."