“Hola, Green Arrow,” Wonder Woman hailed a greeting as she floated gently down from her hovering invisible plane to the observation deck of the highest tower in Star City. The beautiful goddess Aphrodite followed closely behind her. “I hope I’m on time.”
“Punctual as always, Princess,” Green Arrow said. “Thanks for coming on such short — well, hello!” The archer’s attention was diverted by the comely goddess as her dainty feet touched down on the deck. She smiled a catlike smile at Green Arrow.
“Greetings, Green Arrow, is it not? I understand you are a fellow champion of Wonder Woman’s in something called the League of Justice.”
“That I am,” Green Arrow agreed. “And may I say, any friend of Wonder Woman’s is someone I’d love to know better!” The archer took off his cap and made a sweeping bow; Aphrodite giggled at the gesture.
“Green Arrow,” Wonder Woman said, a trifle icily, “may I present the goddess Aphrodite.”
Green Arrow dropped his hat. His jaw fell nearly as far. “The… the Aphrodite? Goddess of love and all that?”
“None other,” Aphrodite said, extending her hand. “My pleasure, Green Arrow.”
“Um… likewise,” Green Arrow stammered, taking the hand briefly. He had been expected to kiss it, but the best he could manage under the circumstances was a brief shake before he released it. Martians and super-speedsters were one thing, but to meet an actual Greek goddess was quite another.
“Green Arrow, about this centaur…” Wonder Woman prompted.
“Oh, right, right!” Green Arrow said, recovering his hat. “Actually, I’m beginning to wonder if it really was a centaur. Someone suggested to me that it was a hoax — a disguise or a robot or something. That’s always a possibility.”
“True, but so is the possibility that it really was a centaur,” Wonder Woman said. “You fought it; how did it seem to you?“
“Fought is a bit generous for what went on between us,” Green Arrow said. “It mopped the floor with me. As to whether it seemed real to me, I don’t know what a real centaur seems like. That’s why I called you.”
“Well, until and unless it strikes again,” Wonder Woman said, “we don’t have much to go on.”
“I was thinking we could go to the museum, sniff around for clues,” Green Arrow suggested. “Maybe centaurs leave some kind of a trail; I don’t know.”
“It’s worth a try,” Wonder Woman suggested. “Let us go to this mu–” Suddenly, Green Arrow’s belt buckle started beeping. Aphrodite glanced at it with wide eyes.
“The phone in my Arrowcar is ringing,” Green Arrow explained. “Pardon me, ladies.” With moves so fluid and graceful they seemed like a single continuous motion, Green Arrow drew an arrow from his quiver, notched it to the bowstring, drew, fired, and swung out into space on the nylon cord released behind. Wonder Woman and Aphrodite watched him twirl gracefully to the street forty stories below where he had parked his sleek yellow automobile.
“What skill he has with the bow!” Aphrodite remarked. “And did you see those arms? Heracles himself would be jealous of those muscles!”
“I’m certain,” Wonder Woman said impatiently. “Come, let us join him.” The Amazon princess leaped off the deck, floating gracefully down to the street. Aphrodite accompanied her. When they landed, they found Green Arrow leaning over the open car, cradling a phone to his ear and yelling into it.
“Say that again,” he demanded. “It’s being attacked by who? What, that guy from the comic-books? No? A what?! Are you sure? I know, I know, stupid question. OK, I’m on the way!” Green Arrow slammed the phone back into its cradle on the dashboard and turned to stare at his Justice League colleague. “Wonder Woman,” he began, “we may be on the trail of the centaur sooner than we thought.”
“What is it?” Wonder Woman demanded.
“Boston University is being attacked,” Green Arrow declared, “by a cyclops!“
“Not nervous about flying, are you, Green Arrow?” Wonder Woman asked as she piloted her invisible jet through the skies over Boston. It was not far to Boston University; Star City was in the vicinity of greater Boston. The journey would have taken an hour by car but just a few minutes by Wonder Woman’s jet.
“No, no, of course not!” Green Arrow said, making a point of not looking out the window or down. “I pilot the Arrowplane all the time, you know that! It’s just, well, in the Arrowplane I can’t see the ground below me!”
Aphrodite laughed, a high-pitched titter. “What a clever champion you are, Green Arrow, to jest at not feeling at ease in Father Zeus’ sky! I have not met one who made me laugh so since Hermes!”
“Oh, yeah, that’s me, a real kidder,” Green Arrow said, puffing out his chest. “Why, I would have suggested I ride on the wing so I could get first shot at this cyclops, but the Princess would have vetoed the idea.”
“Don’t be too sure,” Wonder Woman said, her fingers tightening on the jet’s controls.
“There’s the university up ahead!” Green Arrow cried, pointing. “Holy and cow, Wonder Woman, it looks like they weren’t kidding, after all!” One of the smaller buildings on campus was under siege by a hairy-limbed giant of a being who towered over the building. The creature had one enormous eye in the center of its forehead. Campus security officers were firing handguns and rifles at the monster, but this only annoyed it and made it roar with anger.
“Hera preserve us, that’s a true cyclops, all right,” Wonder Woman declared. “No mortal artifice could counterfeit that!“
“I’m inclined to agree,” Green Arrow said. “Buzz him, Princess, I’m gonna try something!”
Wonder Woman smiled slightly at her comrade. While he was a bit arrogant and boastful in the presence of Aphrodite, when it came to the task at hand he was all business. “I’ll get us as close as I can,” she promised. “I’m not sure what those hands could do to this jet, though, and I’m not eager to find out!”
“Me neither, Princess,” Green Arrow said. “Can you open a window so I can get a shot out or something?”
At a mental command from Wonder Woman, the cockpit hatch slid noiselessly open. “Thanks,” Green Arrow shouted over the wind. His hat blew off and tumbled into the rear of the jet. The cyclops saw the plane approaching and roared in rage.
“I’ve got to veer off quickly,” Wonder Woman cried, “or risk being caught in that monster’s clutches! Whatever you’re going to do, do it now!“
“Roger that!” Green Arrow shot back. He had lashed two arrows together with nylon cord; he now notched these to the bowstring, drew, and fired. One arrow shaft burst into a fiery rocket-stream, sending the double shaft straight at the monster’s single eye. The other arrow exploded into a dazzling burst of brilliant white light. The Cyclops howled in pain, clapping its monstrous hands over its eye. It stamped its huge feet in pain and rage. “Woo-hoo!” Green Arrow called out as the cockpit hatch slid back into place. “No Odysseus, me, but I learned a little from classical literature!”
“I knew Odysseus,” Aphrodite declared. “Odysseus was a friend of mine. And you, Green Arrow, are no Odysseus. Not even he could have claimed such a magnificent feat!“
“What did you do, Green Arrow?” Wonder Woman demanded. “I saw you tying those arrows together, but what were they?”
“One was a rocket-booster arrow,” Green Arrow explained, “to make it fly straight when fired from a moving jet. The other was a magnesium flare arrow, just the thing to blind that Brobdingnagian blinker of his. Now, while he’s still doing the Mr. Magoo bit, let’s press the advantage!”
“I’m with you!” Wonder Woman cried, rising from the pilot’s seat. “Take the controls!”
“Wha–?” Green Arrow said, sliding into the seat. “W.W., I don’t know how to fly this crazy peek-a-boo plane of yours!”
“The controls are mostly mental,” Wonder Woman explained. “Think what you want it to do!”
“OK, but what do you want me to do?”
“Aim for its legs,” Wonder Woman declared, taking out her magic lasso. Sensing his friend’s plan, Green Arrow nodded and sent the plane into a dive. Green Arrow’s success with a bow was due to supreme concentration, which had sharpened his mind; he mastered the mental controls of the jet quickly. As it banked near the trunk-like legs of the cyclops, Wonder Woman hurled her magic lasso. The unbreakable links snaked around the giant’s ankles. Green Arrow then sent the plane into a rapid circling pattern, winding the lasso around and around the creature’s legs. On the tenth trip around, the cyclops, blinded and hobbled, toppled to the ground with a thunderous crash.
“Excellent flying, Green Arrow!” Wonder Woman declared. “I”ll take the controls now.”
“Ooh, thanks,” Green Arrow said, holding his forehead. “You got an invisible airsick bag on this crate?” Before Wonder Woman could comment, there was a loud thunderclap — a sound of air rushing in to fill a sudden gap. The monocular behemoth had vanished without a trace.
“Incredible!” Wonder Woman said, gathering up her lasso as the three stood in the empty space where the cyclops had been. “It just vanished completely! One second it was there, and the next — it wasn’t!“
“If I needed any more convincing that we’re dealing with bona fide magic creatures,” Green Arrow said, “I’m convinced now. Moreover, I’m sure the cyclops and the centaur were working to the same end.”
“How can you be certain of that?” Aphrodite asked.
“Take a look at the building the cyclops was attacking,” Green Arrow said, pointing at the small building. A large sign read ARCHAEOLOGICAL DEPARTMENT AND UNIVERSITY MUSEUM.
“Merciful Minerva!” Wonder Woman exclaimed. “The cyclops must have been after something inside, some sort of antique like the one the centaur took!”
“But the beast was thwarted in his thieving designs,” Aphrodite said with admiration, “by the heroic actions of the champion Green Arrow! And you, too, Wonder Woman.”
“My thanks,” the Amazon princess said coolly.
“I’m not so sure he was thwarted,” Green Arrow said.
“What do you mean?” Aphrodite asked. “Your efforts felled the giant before he could gain ingress to yon structure! The treasures within it are safe!“
“Maybe,” Green Arrow said. “Still, I’ll feel better when I see for myself that everything inside is as it ought to be.” Without another word, the emerald archer began striding toward the entrance to the museum. Wonder Woman and Aphrodite exchanged glances and followed him. They found him just inside the entrance helping a middle-aged security guard to his feet. The man had a large lump on the back of his balding head.
“Great Hera!” Wonder Woman exclaimed.
“I thought so,” Green Arrow said. “The centaur was at least subtle. The cyclops was about as subtle as a piranha fish in a rice paddy. It was a diversion, keeping everybody occupied while the real thief was in here.”
“Is he not brilliant?” Aphrodite sighed with admiration.
“Hera give me strength,” Wonder Woman muttered.
“Take it easy, pops. You’re all right,” Green Arrow said soothingly to the security guard. “Just a knock on the noggin, that’s all.”
“Oww, easy for you to say,” the guard muttered. “My head feels like it got kicked by a mule!“
“You see who did it?” Green Arrow asked.
“Naw, I was watchin’ that King Kong thing outside, and I got knocked from behind,” the guard said, rubbing the back of his neck. “Man, the dean is gonna fire me sure if anything’s missing!”
“Well, take it easy, and when you feel up to it, look around and tell us if anything is,” Green Arrow said.
“Look there,” Aphrodite said, pointing. There was a life-size marble statue of the god Zeus standing against one wall. One leg of the statue had been broken and shattered.
“That wasn’t like that before, was it, pops?” Green Arrow asked.
“Hell, no!” the guard spat. “Damn, I’m gonna catch it over this!”
“They broke in to vandalize, not to steal?” Green Arrow asked. “That doesn’t make sense.”
“Look here, Green Arrow,” Wonder Woman said, examining the statue closely. “The leg was hollow — thick-walled, to give the appearance of solidity — but hollow! Perhaps there was something inside that the thief wanted!”
“Hey, good eye, Princess!” Green Arrow exclaimed. “And if that’s the order of the day, maybe there was something hidden in the clay pot, too!”
“It’s possible,” Wonder Woman said pensively. “Perhaps the pot had a false bottom or a double wall. If so, the hidden object would have to be very small and thin, perhaps circular, hidden in the entire circumference of the pot and the leg of the statue. A ring, or a band, or…” the Amazon princess’ eyes suddenly grew very wide. “Merciful Minerva,” she whispered.
“What is it?” Green Arrow asked, suddenly concerned. He had worked with Wonder Woman for over a year now, and he had never before seen such fear on her face. “What are you thinking of?”
“Great Aphrodite,” Wonder Woman said, turning to the goddess, pleading in her voice, “tell me it’s not possible! Hidden objects, small and thin and circular? Two objects, possibly three? Tell me it’s only a legend!“
Aphrodite’s lovely face was suddenly full of fear as well. “Oh, Diana!” she exclaimed, taking the princess’ hands in hers. “The Thesian thunderhorn!“
“Huh?” Green Arrow said, in confusion. “The cheesy what? What are you talking about?”
“The Thesian thunderhorn,” Wonder Woman said in awe. “It’s the most powerful destructive weapon ever created! Far, far mightier than your atomic bomb!“
“OK, I’m just going to gloss over the my atomic bomb part,” Green Arrow said. “Tell me about this thunderhorn doohickey. Like, for instance, what is it?”
“Let me explain,” Aphrodite said. “When the world of mortals was young, Father Zeus realized its people had great potential for good and for ill. He knew that one day they might achieve great things, become as gods themselves. If that day came, if mortal man were able to challenge the gods, they must be wiped away, and the power of the Olympians secure. Thus, Zeus created the Thesian thunderhorn, a vessel for his mighty wrath, that might be used to erase the mortal slate so that the gods might begin again. So dangerous was this weapon, Father Zeus ordered it broken into three sections and hidden forever from the eyes of god and mortal alike. None but Father Zeus knew where it was hidden — or were supposed to, at any rate.”
“Now, wait the heck a minute,” Green Arrow said. “I’m as open-minded as the next fella. I mean, I’ve got a buddy who has a magic ring that can move mountains and another pal who doesn’t need a ring to do it. But you’re telling me this — this horn can destroy the world?“
“No,” Wonder Woman said. “All worlds. One blast on the Thesian thunderhorn would totally eradicate the universe — all universes.”
“Oh, man,” Green Arrow said, “I’m gonna need a minute to get my mind around that idea!”
“And it seems that someone, somehow, has discovered the hiding places of the sections of the horn,” Wonder Woman said. “If we can’t find the third piece before they do, the world, the universe, all that we know may cease to be!”
“But where do we start?” Green Arrow said. “It seems like these pieces of the horn are hidden inside ancient Greek artifacts. They’ve been scattered all over the world; we can’t possibly find the third piece without even a clue where to look!”
“Perhaps I can help,” Aphrodite said, striding gracefully to the broken statue. “The thunderhorn was fashioned by Zeus himself. It was truly hidden within this statue, I will be able to sense its lingering presence.” The beautiful goddess knelt beside the broken leg of the statue, running her slender fingers over the surface of the marble. Green Arrow and Wonder Woman watched silently for long moments. Then Aphrodite finally rose lithely to her feet. “It was here,” she said simply. “I can feel it.”
“It’s as bad as I feared,” Wonder Woman said gravely.
“Princess,” Green Arrow said to Wonder Woman, “you said your plane’s controls are mental?“
“That’s right,” Wonder Woman said. “How can that help us now?“
“Well, if Aphrodite can sense where the thunderhorn was, maybe she can tune in on where it is, too. If we can somehow, I don’t know, plug her into the plane, maybe it can home in on the last piece of the horn and take us to it. Or maybe to whoever’s got the other two.”
“Wonderful!” Aphrodite exclaimed, clapping her hands. “Such wisdom! Athena herself could have done no better! You are truly wonderful, Green Arrow!”
“I’d deny it if I could, Aphrodite,” Green Arrow said proudly. “Now, what do you say we get busy saving the world?”
“Such passion! Such determination!” Aphrodite marveled. “Lead us into battle, great champion! Aphrodite shall follow you anywhere!“
“Um, Aphrodite, why don’t you go out to the plane and get comfortable in the cockpit,” Wonder Woman suggested. “I need to discuss… strategy with Green Arrow for a moment.”
“As you say, Diana,” Aphrodite said, and gracefully walked out of the building. When the goddess was gone, Wonder Woman turned on Green Arrow.
“All right, archer, I’ve been patient, here, but enough is enough!” she snapped.
“Wha–?” Green Arrow said, spreading his hands. “What’d I do?”
“Don’t act disingenuous with me,” Wonder Woman warned. “I understand Aphrodite is beautiful, but for Hera’s sake, the universe is on the brink of destruction! Do you think now is the time to be flirting with a goddess?“
“Hey, I like to mix business with pleasure,” Green Arrow said. “Don’t condemn me for that. After all, you had a fling with one of your fellow Justice Leaguers before I ever joined the team!“
Wonder Woman gasped in shock. “How — how did you know that?“
Green Arrow grinned widely. “I didn’t,” he admitted. “Now I do. Come on, let’s get going. Like you say, now’s not the time to dawdle.” Whistling to himself, Green Arrow walked out of the building, leaving Wonder Woman standing there dazed and confused. Finally, with a frustrated cry and a stamp of her foot that set all the glass cases trembling, Wonder Woman stalked after him.