As soon as Artemis, Raven, Kole, and Starfire had made certain that Doctor Psycho arrived safely at the mental hospital for care, the four women strolled away from the clinic deep in their own individual thoughts.
Finally, Starfire turned to Artemis. “That horrid little man hated Diana so much. They battled several times before, did they not?”
Donna Troy nodded. “Yes, they did. It makes me wonder what has become of her other foes, now that she’s basically gone. Nubia doesn’t seem to have become as active outside the JLA, nor does she base herself in D.C. like Diana did. The Cheetah has reformed. Silver Swan did, too, or so I heard. Still, there were plenty of others. For that matter, Steve Trevor himself vanished along with the robot plane. Paula said she could only detect that both had somehow crossed over to other worlds before the Crisis ended such travel.”
“Wonder Woman!” marveled Kole. “It’s amazing to think that she was — is — your sister. I had her poster during the days when Lynda Carter played her on TV, not that the made-up secret identity they gave her of Lucille Lawful was accurate. Of course, they had to do something with her, and the money all went to charity.”
Raven frowned. “I also wonder how the infant Diana is doing. Surely, in her current state, she is frightfully vulnerable to any former foes who may also seek revenge.”
On Paradise Island, the baby Diana was cradled gently in the arms of a tall, reddish-blonde warrior woman who had posed as one of the Amazons for some time now. She had even thwarted the earlier attempt of Mars to abduct the baby. (*) Now she abducted the child herself for an entirely different mistress.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Wonder Woman: Paradise Lost.]
“Come, little princess,” she cooed. “I need to use you to redeem myself for past humiliations. You’ll buy my way back into Granny’s favor. Yes, you will.”
She vanished in a technological wonder called a Boom Tube, and Diana found paradise lost to her cries for now.
Queen Hippolyta raced across the palace halls in search of her missing child. The blonde beauty showed worry on her flawless features, but more than concern, she displayed anger and determination. She would find her daughter no matter the cost. Her Amazons had joined her in frantic search, but so sudden, so silent, and so swift had been the abduction that no traces could be found.
Paula Von Gunta, chief scientist of the Amazon nation, frowned in dismay. She hated to reveal what her investigation had uncovered. She approached Hippolyta as the queen of the Amazons was strapping on a gleaming sword. “Majesty, I detected energy traces — something foreign, something known as Element X,” said the shapely blonde. “The infant princess, my dear Diana, was teleported away via a device called a Boom Tube. They are related to the science of the dark tyrant Darkseid. One of his minions named Knockout posed as one of us to gain access to Diana.”
“Then I’ll storm the gates of Apokolips and take back my child from that fiend!” declared Hippolyta. She rushed off to the armory as Paula smiled oddly.
The blonde’s features shifted and revealed a woman known as Callisto. She served Mars, god of war. Her efforts to steal Diana had been stopped by the selfsame Knockout.
Departing in a magical flash of light, she quickly materialized elsewhere, in the war-ravaged realm of Mars, the god of war.
Bowing to her master, she said, “Great Mars, I have alerted the Amazons to Darkseid’s scheme. Thus is he repaid for his effrontery toward your own person.”
Mars grinned an evil smile. “Excellent. Let Hippolyta and her brood wage war upon that craggy-faced whelp, to better teach him that the true god of war cannot be trifled with thusly.”
Later, in her room at Titans Tower, Lilith Clay gazed intently into Azrael’s dark eyes. She concentrated, and flames that gave no heat flickered around them.
She sighed. “No use. My empathic powers reveal nothing about your past. Your origins are as dark and mysterious as once were my own. When I was in Kentucky with the Clays, I little dreamt that my true mother was a Titan out of myth. What can be your own secret past, my love?”
Azrael kissed her and said, “It matters little, as long as my future is with you.”
She smiled and drew him closer.
In another part of the Tower, Raven hesitated before knocking on Roy Harper’s door, now wearing a floor-length pink dress. “Roy, may I disturb you a moment?” she asked.
“Come on in!” said Roy, who grinned as he bounced bounced his daughter, little Lian Harper, on one knee. “Raven, you look great. A hot babe like you is never a disturbance to this guy.”
Raven blushed. “Am I indeed a ‘hot babe’?“
“Sure,” he replied. “Now that you’ve stopped dressing like Morticia, you could give Donna a run for her money. Come in and see Lian.”
Raven smiled and entered. Sitting next to Harper, she began to play with his bright and active baby.
She is really something, mused Roy. I might have to give her some serious consideration, romance-wise, after all.
Raven smiled again as she picked up on his interest, especially since she had done nothing with her powers to increase his natural attraction. The natural attraction pleased the shy woman immensely.
Garfield Logan sighed as he showed Cyborg a pile of papers. “Dayton’s slowly getting better,” he said as he perched on Cyborg’s shoulder in the form of a bird. “We’re bonding, as they say on Hallmark cards, but he’s keeping a firm reign on my Titans time table. I’ve got to get the tutors to okay it before I rejoin the team.”
“Man, I do hope you’re potty-trained,” Vic Stone joked. “Take me a week to shine off any bird-droppings on this chrome.” The truth was he was very pleased to see his friend again. They had been apart too long due to Dayton’s mental health issues.
A message buzzed across the screen of the computer. And as he saw that the signal came from Paradise Island, Changeling quipped, “Oh, man, trouble in doll land. I’ll call Donna.”
It was a determined and steely Queen Hippolyta who summoned her daughter Artemis back home. Artemis, along with Starfire, Kole, and Raven, arrived in the communications area in the meeting room almost immediately after receiving the initial message from Paradise Island. The Amazon queen looked every inch the warrior queen of myth in her silvery armor and gleaming helm as she had explained the situation.
A worried Artemis replied, concern evident on her lovely face and in her tone, “Mother, we’ll get Diana back. Don’t worry. If necessary, we’ll even call in Nubia and Diana’s friends in the League.”
Hippolyta shook her head, sending her blonde curls cascading. “I have taken that step already, but Nubia is on a case with the Martian Manhunter. I have decided not to involve the others, and thus left no message with American Justice League. I hope to achieve our goal personally.”
“But, Queen Hippolyta, surely you cannot leave Paradise Island,” cautioned Raven.
“I would risk even the disfavor of our goddesses to safeguard my child,” replied the queen. “Besides, the Amazons have made numerous journeys into outer space without offending the goddesses, who have always been more concerned about any unauthorized visits to Man’s World.”
“It will not be a problem,” said Lilith. “I have already communed with Aphrodite herself, and she grants you full permission to briefly visit us in Man’s World prior to accompanying us to Apokolips.”
Hippolyta frowned as she gazed at the girl in the short tunic. “You speak so readily to the goddess of love?” she asked.
Lilith nodded. “I am a demigoddess of Olympus now. She is kin, in a way. My precognitive abilities informed me that a delegation to the realm of the New Gods led by the queen of the Amazons would be necessary, though I knew not why at the time. Thus I had already sought Aphrodite’s advice on the matter prior to your call.”
Gar Logan grinned. “Lilith’s quite a woman.”
Cyborg elbowed him. “Yeah, she is at that, so get your eyes off her hemline.”
“Look, Hippy, join us,” said Arsenal, “and we’ll get this show on the road.”
Hippolyta ignored his manner and said, “Bring me into your presence, if you may, Lilith.”
Lilith smiled. “Certainly.”
Kole Weathers huddled close to Jericho and whispered, “Joe, I know Lilith is okay, if a bit eccentric, but I really dread another encounter with so-called gods. The Titaness Thia had me as her personal plaything for two years. I could not stand to end up like that again. These beings from Apokolips sound even worse than Thia.”
Jericho hugged her and signed earnestly, “Don’t think that way. We’ll be together, and I won’t let anything happen to you. I’m not going to lose you again, after what happened during the Crisis.”
She smiled, hoping his words bespoke his true feelings for her, even if he had asked for more time to let their relationship grow when she’d made her impromptu proposal.
Artemis felt a bit strange as her regal mother paced restlessly in Titans Tower, the first time she’d ever seen her mother off Paradise Island since her wedding. She knew Hippolyta as only a daughter could know her mother, but it was still a bit daunting to see her in her present state, that of the warrior queen who had fought off invading ancient Greeks thousands of years ago. This side was new to Donna, even after their last battle against the Titans of myth.
Raven wondered what awaited them in Apokolips. She had her suspicions and expected dark emotions like none she had experienced since her time with Brother Blood. Still, while once she might have worried that such darkness would overwhelm her, the cleansed empath now felt ready to bring her own light to any darkness.
Arsenal eyed Raven approvingly as they gathered together. He, the Flash, Artemis, Raven, Starfire, Kole, Jericho, Changeling, Cyborg, Lilith, and Queen Hippolyta made an impressive group.
Suddenly, Azrael swooped down from outside. “Wait! You must not leave without me!” he cried.
The angelic winged man had been reluctant to even allow Lilith to depart briefly to bring Hippolyta back from Paradise Island. Now the winged youth rushed closer to scoop her Lilith in his arms. “I could not let another tragedy separate us, my love,” he cried. “I remain at your side as always.”
Garfield Logan shook his head, seeing that Azrael’s ardor had cooled little, if at all, since the last time he’d seen him. The alien youth was devoted to the point of obsession with the leggy Olympian. Gar thought about Jillian and wondered if he would ever feel as strongly for the wacky socialite as Azrael felt for Lilith, or even as he’d felt for poor Tara Markov.
Recognizing that old expression on his friend’s face, Cyborg nudged the green-hued teen. “Okay, salad-head, before we go, do you need to make a stop at the little shape-shifter’s room?” he joked.
“Nope, but what if I do? Are you gonna make Lilith turn herself around and bring us right back home?” quipped his friend.
“The baby was taken by one of Darkseid’s Female Furies,” said the Flash. “They are trained killers with super-powers and no regard for life. I got this data from the JLA files, and we can expect a real battle from them.”
“Quit worrying, speed freak,” said Arsenal. “We can get in and out before they know what hit ’em.”
“But perhaps some precautions are needed,” cautioned Artemis.
After making a few quick plans, the New Titans and their guests were gone in a sudden flash, as Lilith brought them to a realm beyond the stars.
Deep in the Atlantic Ocean, Garth and Ulla Påske — the aquatic heroes known as Aqualad and the Mermaid — waited as an Atlantean shipment of vitally needed resources made its way from one city state to another. It was dull but necessary work, since the Crisis on Infinite Earths had destroyed the Atlantean city-state of Tritonis and had left other parts of the undersea realm in damaged condition. This way, no one would starve due to ruined agricultural areas. King Vulko, ruler of the city-state of Poseidonis, had made wise choices.
Garth and the beautiful blonde Ulla had been contacted by Artemis before her departure from Titans Tower. The former Teen Titan knew where his friends were headed, and he hoped they would return safely. If not, he would go after them along with Nightwing and other former Titans.
It was a trip he hoped would not be necessary.