Granny Goodness scowled as Knockout prostrated herself before the sturdy old hag. The tall, reddish-blonde woman had kidnapped little Princess Diana, the former Wonder Woman, in an effort to redeem herself in the eyes of her fierce mistress. The redemption was needed, because the warrior woman had fallen into the magical clutches of the mortal called the Enchantress before being freed by another of Granny’s pupils from the elite warrior band called the Female Furies. This shame had caused Knockout to lose her old position, and she now found herself beneath such youths as Gilotina and Malice Vunderbar in status.
“You bring this Earthly whelp to me? You think that I desire another mewling infant?” mocked Granny.
Knockout said, “She is no mere infant. She carries within her tiny form the blessings and powers of the Olympians — the old gods.”
Granny knew all this. She was even pleased by what her pupil had done, yet she knew not to show too much favor. “Oh, well. I’ll make some use of her, I suppose. Return to your sisters and prepare for the arrival of the baby’s heroic peers,” she hissed.
The New Titans arrived in the nightmarish area called Armagetto, where the oppressed lived in perpetual fear of their dread master Darkseid and his cruel group of warriors.
Cyborg whistled softly. “Man! This place makes my apartment look like Michael Jackson’s ranch.”
Changeling nodded. “You can just feel the misery. It’s like something out of the concentration camps from old films.”
Raven nodded slowly. “Indeed, the sense of overwhelming fear and hopelessness weighs heavily upon me. I would give much to offer hope to these poor souls.”
Artemis nodded. “Raven, there’s just so much even we can do. Our first step to to find Diana.”
Queen Hippolyta brandished a sword and said, “Truly, that is my only priority.”
Arsenal glanced at the Flash as he looked at the bleak gray faces of those who lived in the slums and felt little elation or even curiosity at the arrival of the colorful Titans.
“Imagine what it’s like growing up here,” said Roy Harper. “I’d die before I let Lian be taken to this kind of place. I can sympathize with Hippy.”
The Flash replied, “Me, too. I can also pity you if she hears you call her Hippy again.”
Lilith frowned. “The Olympian spark that the patrons granted to little Diana is like a shining beacon to me — yet I feel nothing.”
Azrael held her hand and said, “This place fills me with a sense of doom. Let us save the child and be away.”
Artemis said, “Azrael, I forgot that you also possess assorted empathic and tracking abilities. Can you detect any trace of where we need to go?”
He listened and seemed appreciative of her attention. Too often he had felt as if the Titans saw him only as an annoyance. “I also feel as if the Princess is not here,” he said.
Hippolyta said, “Enough! I will have the truth, if I must ring it from the lips of Darkseid himself!”
She charged toward a dark building that loomed above the slums like some grim watchtower or military barracks. She moved with the grace of one who had been called Mistress of the Horses in ancient Greek. She kicked against the door, and it shattered into kindling even as the blonde queen broke through to demand answers.
“Where has the Princess Diana been taken? I want her and nothing else!” she said in a stentorian voice.
Artemis raced forward to keep up with her angry mother. “Mother, that armament matches what I pulled from JLA records. We’ve found some of the Female Furies,” she said as she saw a hulking woman hurry out to face them.
Lilith caught the Flash by the arm. “Flash, could you accompany me and Azrael to another locale? I sense we may be needed there.”
The Flash shrugged and obeyed the reddish-blonde beauty. He and Arsenal soon joined her and Azrael as they teleported to a large chamber.
“This is the only point in this foul realm in which we together sense any sign of Diana,” she said.
Arsenal glanced left and right. It was more of a personal room than a public one. Perhaps this room full of weapons and horror was Granny Goodness’ personal abode.
The Flash said, “Lilith, there’s a blanket — too clean, too fresh to belong here.”
Lilith fingered the delicate weave. She pointed to an inscription.
Arsenal interrupted the woman from Olympus and said, “That’s Greek, right? I speak a bit of it.”
The Flash blinked. “You speak Greek?”
Arsenal shrugged. “A guy gets around.”
Lilith nodded as she sat on a rough bed and crossed her legs. Light gleamed off of her silvery sandals. “This was Diana’s. She was here, and that is what tempted me to take this path. But where could she be now?” she asked.
A hag of a woman rose from the floor in the shadows. She scowled and cursed at the youths. “Granny will kill you all for coming here and attacking a poor defenseless lady,” she hissed.
Meanwhile, Hippolyta charged the woman called Stompa. She grabbed her by the heavy armor she wore and heaved her high in the air. She crashed down on her shoulders and gasped as her special boots were rendered useless.
Hippolyta spun to kick the screaming Mad Harriet backward. “Bring me my child, you Stygian harpies!” she cried.
Artemis danced high to avoid a coiling lash that cut toward her from the darkly sinister Lashina. She felt one coil slice across her shoulder and tear her skin in a deep swath.
She gritted her teeth and grabbed the lash. With steely determination, Artemis bore down with her high-heeled boots and swung the surprised Lashina into the wall. “Going for a ride? Good. That makes these metal coils useful,” she said with a smile.
Starfire’s eyes were a luminous green as she crashed directly into three Furies. The princess of Tamaran kicked the gaunt Bernadeth in the chin as she ducked a grinning Speed Queen’s lunge and blasted the shadowy Cheshire aside.
X’hal! That creature seemed to resist even my star bolts! she thought as the catlike monster growled and grew nearer.
She tensed as the monster crouched low and pounced for her. She whirled in mid-flight to blast away at the beast with all her considerable power. It whimpered as Starfire fought with all inhibitions unleashed.
Raven vanished as Gilotina, a petite blonde in pink, sliced at her dress with razor-sharp hands. The fabric tore before the empath could teleport. She arrived behind her foe, who whirled to face her.
“My hands can cut you to pieces!” she said, smiling.
Raven, repulsed by the girl’s sheer bloodlust, drew back and said, “You are in thrall to hatred. Let me help you become at peace.” She projected calming emotions, but the raging girl merely sliced at her remorselessly.
Cyborg pushed between them as Raven fell back, her white gown in rags, her expression one of disgust and pity. “Get back, Raven! You’re gonna be the naked Witch of the West in a minute,” he joked.
He frowned as the blonde girl’s lethal hands damaged even his metal frame. He activated a white sound blaster and dropped her to the ground. “My tunes seem to be just what we needed. These gals must not dig our Earth grooves,” he joked.
“Dig? Grooves? How did Vic suddenly switch vocabularies with Greg Brady?” joked Garfield Logan, the Changeling. He was in a green gorilla form, and he struggled with a sexy but vampiric beauty called Bloody Mary.
Her red eyes held his gaze as she smiled and revealed fangs. “I’ll dine upon this odd mortal!” she announced.
Kole Weathers sent a crystal cage sailing around the pale redhead. “Not if I can stop you, Elvira!” she said.
Queen Hippolyta fought like a she-demon as she slammed Mad Harriet to the ground and blocked a dagger with her golden shield. “These monsters fight like Furies of lore. True, enough. Still, I see nothing in their hate and venom that quells the warrior spirit of a true Amazon,” she said.
Artemis was proud of her mother as she saw her take down one foe after another with skill and precision. She ached where the coil of Lashina had cut her shoulder, but she too fought on. She blocked other coils with her flashing bracelets and said, “We want Diana. Surrender her, and we’ll leave.”
“Impudent witch!” cackled Bernadeth as she hurled a glowing dagger toward Artemis’ back.
Gar deflected it as he switched to bird form and barely managed to match its flight path. “Watch your back, Arty. I always do,” he said. She grinned and kicked her foe down.
Starfire flew higher and yelled, “Artemis, I see Flash and the others. I think they’ve found her!”
Hippolyta heard the word and leaped over the streets to reach the spot where Flash and his allies faced a rampaging Granny Goodness. Granny fired a baton-shaped weapon, and the entire street was gutted by golden fire.
“Man, that’s one souped-up joystick,” called Arsenal as he fired an arrow. It tore the weapon out of the old woman’s fists and pinned it to a wall with metal clamps. “Good ol’ magno arrow,” he explained.
The Flash raced forward and vibrated in such a way that he was able to skirt the gaping hole in the street. He shoved onlookers aside as their evil mistress fired without regard for anyone’s safety. She couldn’t care less if she wipes out all these poor people and their homes. She’s pure evil! he mused.
Lilith bent low, and Azrael stood over her protectively. “What is wrong? You look dismayed,” he asked.
She nodded. “Diana has been taken by someone else. Someone… close to me in some manner.”
Changeling changed from soaring hawk to plummeting whale. He crashed down on top of Bloody Mary and smiled. “Kinda soft for a psycho vampire.”
Cyborg jumped through the dark streets and crashed into the hulking Speed Queen. “Hated roller derby,” he said as he dropped her flat.
Kole soared on a ramp of her own creation as she led them across the city to where the others fought Granny Goodness.
Hippolyta’s sword flashed as the dynamic blonde charged Granny Goodness and struck her across the chest. “Be thankful to whatever fiends you hold sacred that I use the flat of my blade only,” she said as she forced the evil woman back relentlessly.
“My, what a pretty little thing you are! Granny could make a decorative slave of you,” she replied.
Lilith said, “Diana is no longer here. We may leave.”
Artemis caught Raven’s eye. “Get us out of here!”
The girl’s soul self rose up and enveloped some of them, even as Lilith teleported the rest away.
They left Granny angry and humiliated at how Hippolyta had defeated her before all of her pupils. She also raged because she had lost Diana to another mysterious abductor. “By Tigra’s lips, I’m glad I never reported the babe’s arrival to the master,” she sighed.
The heroes and heroines rested in a spot separate from normal realms. It was much akin to Raven’s old favored limbo. They caught their breath and took stock of the situation.
Hippolyta stalked forward toward Raven and Lilith. “Why in Athena’s name did you take us from the scene of battle? I was ready to force the truth from that ancient harpy,” she said.
Raven said, “Please, Hippolyta, calm yourself. Diana had been in that dark realm, but was no longer there. Only her blanket remained. Granny Goodness experienced considerable anger at her loss. She knew nothing more.”
Hippolyta frowned. “Forgive my haste. I only fear for my child. Where do we go from here? Mars attempted to take her before. Perhaps he has her now.”
Kole cried out, “What about Jericho? Where is he? He hid within me as we planned.”
Gar whispered, “Kind of our ace in the Kole.”
Kole continued, “But he departed to possess Knockout. He figured she could lead him to your child. He was right, I assume. Before I could join him, I had to help Gar against that vampire woman. So what became of Jericho?”
The Flash said, “We know he travels from one body to another, and it’s all too easy to lose track of him. Maybe we can track him via the new com-links.”
Arsenal grinned. “If he is in his own body.”
Artemis said, “The JLA keep up with each other in such a manner, and it was long overdue that we developed the same kind of technology. That could have saved us much searching during the Crisis.” She smiled as a signal beeped from her belt. “Joe’s active. He’s on another world entirely,” she said with worry in her tone.
Cyborg said, “Let me run the data through my internal CPU. Man, never heard of this world.”
Kory shook her head. “It is not known to the Citadel worlds, either.”
Hippolyta said, “But I have heard of it as legend long ago. New Chronus.”
Artemis said, “Mother, I have never heard of New Chronus.”
Lilith said, “Chronus is a Titan. Is this world honoring him in some manner?”
Hippolyta said, “The world was rumored to be one created by the Titans eons ago when man first walked the earth. It was an experiment of sorts. They took selected unwanted infants from earth and brought them to that world to raise. Such was their plan before Zeus rebelled and brought them all down to imprisonment for eons. What became of the world and their infant charges is unknown to me.”
Artemis said, “Diana once told me that the other Wonder Woman of Earth-Two said her Amazons had such worlds as well. Duxo was the name of one. Unwanted children were raised there in the ways of the Amazons, while on another world, infants were trained by Mars.”
“That’s where she is!” said Hippolyta.
“Then that’s where we’ll go,” said Donna Troy Long.
Azrael said, “The thought of your venturing to another world worries me, beloved. I will not leave your side.”
Lilith caressed his face. “That goes without saying. I want Diana to be safe, yet I feel good about this New Chronus world. Perhaps it is only due to the fact that I come from Titan stock, but more may be behind my feelings as well.”
Arsenal rolled his eyes. “You know, I liked her better when she was just a go-go dancer.”
The Flash said, “How do we get to New Chronus?”
Starfire said, “The ship we took during the invasion is working well. Right, Vic?”
Cyborg grinned. “Yeah, Kory. It runs real fine now.” He referred to a Thanagarian craft they had captured during the invasion at the end of January. It had become theirs by default, and they had hoped to use it in place of the one they lost when Blackfire destroyed it.
Thus, they soon were hurtling through space and approached the coordinates of a red world called New Chronus.
Kory said, “It excites me to be in space again. If only Nightwing could be with us.”
Raven smiled. “Koriand’r, he will rejoin us. I feel that. Perhaps sooner than you anticipate.”
Kory hugged her and said, “Thanks for your support. I know it’s hard for you, since you believed you had feelings for him, too.”
Arsenal frowned. “Raven, just stick close to me, and I’ll show you how to cut loose and have more fun than Mr. Bat-this and Bat-that could ever do.” She sat near him and smiled appreciatively.
Kole said, “Jericho is on this world. We assume that means so is the baby. I only hope he is unhurt.”
The Flash turned to the flame-haired girl and said, “You really are crazy about him, aren’t you?”
Kole smiled as she thought of the curly-haired hero. “He’s wonderful. He paints, he plays guitar, he writes poems. What woman would not love him?” she gushed.
Gar turned to a snake and curled around her legs. “Listen, Kole, I’m something of a charmer myself. Get it? Snake charmer?” he said. Kory laughed as Kole forcefully pushed him away.
Artemis sat near Hippolyta, who tried to hide her worry but failed. I pray to Hera that mother does not lose Diana a second time. Her guilt over their troubled past haunts her so, she mused.