Artemis found herself kneeling before a massive ornate throne in a temple dominated by statues and busts of a handsome dark-haired man with familiar-looking eyes. Donna Troy Long frowned as she recognized the eyes and the man himself as she looked up to see him posed regally on the throne.
“Lord Chaos!” she cried, rising to her feet while seeing no sign of Nubia, Cassie Sandsmark, or even the Time Master. Feeling a gentle breeze waft through the open columned temple, she caught a glimpse of a starry sky beyond. “What have you done with the others? This is certainly not that void dimension we were in before. Are you working with the Time Master?” she demanded, readying herself for battle. She remembered the cosmically powered madman all too well from their previous encounter. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See The New Titans: Quest, Chapter 6: Seeds of Chaos.]
Looking at her with a rather amused expression, Lord Chaos shifted slightly on the throne. He was dressed in the gleaming black and silver robe that he’d worn when last they met.
“Donna, you wound me!” he said as he stood. “A being of our lofty station does not associate himself with petty mortals. It was our power that liberated you from whatever paltry plan he had in mind for your comely form! We have our own plans for you that you will find far more pleasing! As you know from our last meeting, we are the scion of your fair sister Diana of Paradise. In our future timeline, our power is supreme. However, disturbances in that power led us to journey back to your era in order to secure our rightful destiny. It was with anger and shock that we learned the cosmic Crisis had altered history, and my mother was not a grown heroine, but rather had been reduced to an infant. And not only that, but my presumed father had vanished as well!”
Artemis shook her head in dismay. This cosmic nutcase claims he is Diana’s grown son, she recalled. He certainly has her eyes, although I can’t see any other resemblance between her and such a raving madman! Last time he tried to abduct her because he claimed he wished to protect her and thus ensure his own life would play out over time as it supposedly had in the life he knew!
As Lord Chaos smiled, Donna shuddered when she realized that he did have her sister’s smile, though it lacked the warmth and compassion she had always displayed.
“It disturbed you that I referred to myself with a divine we instead of a more mundane I,” he said. “Very well. I shall adapt my diction and accommodate your mortal sensibilities. After all, you and I must learn to embrace one another if we are to mate!”
“Mate?” said Artemis. “You must be completely insane! Setting aside certain small details, such as the fact that I think you’re completely delusional, according to you, I am your aunt!”
Lord Chaos laughed dismissively. “Our kind has never let such pedestrian matters divert us from our pleasures!”
“I can’t deal with this now!” said Artemis. “My sister is in peril! Take me to her, and I will try to make you see some sense afterward!”
Lord Chaos smiled broadly and said, “So be it! I will teach the Time Master not to presume to interfere with beings of our nature. After all, it might have been his foolish actions that placed my own timeline in jeopardy to begin with! Take my hand, fair one, and we shall journey to his misty void!”
Artemis nodded and took his hand. As they vanished from the temple, she thought, I hope I know what I’m doing!
Wonder Woman had landed with her normal athletic grace. She gazed at what appeared to be Mars Isle, but the buildings had changed greatly, as had the landscaping and other subtle features.
Hera! The city is much larger! thought Nubia. This is clearly my Floating Island, but not as it was before! Has Time Master shunted us into some future of his making? No matter where he has placed me, I will find him and restore order! I didn’t strive so tirelessly with Diana’s help to reclaim my people from the rule of Mars to see them enslaved by some other would-be tyrant!
This was no idle boast, as Nubia had all of her sister’s courage and perhaps even more determination. Some of Mars’ teachings had left her with more of a warrior’s sensibility than the original Wonder Woman had possessed, and Nubia was more than capable of putting those martial lessons into dire practice.
Walking down a street, she approached the heart of the futuristic city. “Is this truly progress?” she said. “The streets are empty. The city is oddly silent. I see no signs of commerce, nor of leisure activities. The island as I knew it last was a place of joyful endeavor and near-constant activities!”
A solitary man suddenly flickered into view, approaching her with a nearly palpable arrogance. He wore black pants and boots with a white top. He was handsome, but his expression showed no warmth, just a relentless confidence and personal courage.
“Who are you?” she said. “I am Nubia, the Wonder Woman!”
“My people call me Tyroc,” he said. “This island is under my protection! I’ve never heard of you, and I sure don’t remember seeing you before! I think you better come with me and answer some questions!”
“That’s odd. I have the exact same plan for you!” said Nubia, moving with the swiftness of Hermes as she hurled her golden lasso at the proud man.
Tyroc didn’t move, and instead merely raised his chin slightly and shouted at her.
With that ear-shattering utterance, the magic lasso suddenly froze in midair and whipped backward to ensnare Nubia herself.
Before Tyroc could pick up the other end of the lasso, Nubia kicked him in the face and sent him sailing across the street.
Shaking off the magic lasso, she smiled grimly as she thought, Binding me with my lasso did him little good, since he failed to actually touch it and give me a command!
Racing forward, Wonder Woman frowned as she found no sight of the fallen Tyroc. He seemed to teleport here. Perhaps he used the same power to vanish! she mused.
“Turn around, woman!” said a stentorian voice from behind her, and Nubia whirled to see Tyroc standing defiantly to the side. “You are lucky I don’t strike women!” he said. “Still, I may have to subdue you unless you surrender now!” He shouted once more.
Nubia grasped her head as the world began to blur around her. “Dizzy!” she cried. “Can’t think straight!”
As she fell to the ground, she slammed both fists against it with all of her considerable strength. As planned, the tremor sent Tyroc crashing to the ground. He opened his mouth to fight back, but the super-swift Nubia had already reached him, and rammed her fist into his throat. As he choked, she used the moment to knock him cold with one sure punch. “His screams caused my dizziness,” she said. “I could not afford to allow him to utter another sound.”
Picking him up, Wonder Woman tossed him over her shoulder and thought, I hated to strike so ruthlessly. It is no longer my way. There is something noble about him in spite of his actions. He certainly is a handsome man. He may be under the Time Master’s control!
Nubia encountered no people as she made her way deeper into the city, finally approaching what appeared to be some type of courthouse or civic building.
This must be the town hall, for lack of a better way to describe it! she thought. At least I see no palace. This Tyroc must not be a would-be ruler as I’d first assumed! He seemed more like a champion!
Placing Tyroc gently on the ground, Wonder Woman raced up the stairs to an open hallway, her high-heeled boots clattering. She then gasped as the ground in front of her suddenly became thin air.
Nubia fell down hard, only to rise up in a cloud of choking gas where only clear air had been but a moment before. Before she could scatter the fumes with her magic lasso, her bracelets were suddenly fused together by a sizzling electrical burst.
“My strength is gone! A male has bound my bracelets together!” she realized as she collapsed to the ground.
That ancient weakness had not always applied to her, but when Nubia renounced Mars and accepted the Amazon teachings, she had also became bound by their traditional adherence to the rules that governed the wearing of the bracelets of submission.
She gasped as another bolt blazed through the air and struck her, and Nubia fell unconscious as a female laugh rang out, and three sinister figures emerged from the shadows.
“She never had a chance — not against all three of us!” said a sultry, red-haired woman. Her two companions agreed readily.
“Now, what do we do with her?” asked the first man.
The second man grinned as lightning crackled from his eyes. “We kill her, of course!” he said.
Cassie Sandsmark had found herself in an equally weird environment. She was no longer in the white void of the Time Master’s lair, but was in a breathtakingly lovely glade where trees lined a peaceful field, and a gentle stream flowed nearby.
“O-kayyy, I died and ended up in a Disney movie!” she said, looking around for Wonder Woman and Artemis. I sure hope Mom is OK! I feel like a real witch for the way I treated her before that freaky super-villain showed up! If I ever get home to her again, I’m going to be the perfect daughter… or try to be!
“My child, you are and always have been the apple of your mother’s eye, and your father is rightly proud of you as well!”
The words came from a powerful-looking man with a thick head of hair and a luxurious beard. He was the man from her vision of the past, and he carried himself with nobility that could be felt as well as seen.
“You’re my father!” she said, too startled to realize that he must have read her thoughts. “I don’t know how I know that, but I do! I’m sure of it!”
Smiling, he said, “It is most natural that the daughter of Zeus should recognize her sire!”
“Zeus? You’re Zeus?!” she cried. “I don’t know much mythology, but everybody’s heard of the king of Olympus!”
Smiling benevolently, Zeus replied, “As it should be, Cassandra! I am your father, and I am indeed the king of Olympus!”
With tenderness, he placed one hand on her shoulder and guided her toward a series of small huts that were almost concealed by the thick patch of foliage that covered the bases of the towering trees.
“Cassandra, I loved your mother Helena and have watched over her and you until this moment,” he explained. “It is time for you to take up arms and truly become all you are meant to be! You have latent powers that come from your Olympian heritage. I took you from the dimension in which the mortal Time Master held you. You will learn the skills a daughter of the Thunderer should have! You will become the demigoddess you were meant to be!”
Cassie shook her head as she whirled to face the towering figure. “This is too much at once! If you are my father, where have you been all my life? I want to go home! I need your help also. Can you rescue my friends?” she said in one frantic breath.
“My feelings for you and your mother were sincere,” said Zeus. “However, my place is at Olympus, and I could not remain with you. Your friends are more than capable of helping themselves, for they are children of Athena, and thus are my own as well. As for you, you must remain here in Arcadia and be taught the ways of war and become a true heroine! Noble Chiron and his brethren will make you the warrior princess a daughter of Zeus should be!”
“No way!” cried Cassie. “I can’t stay here! You’re crazy!”
Zeus glowered at her as the blue sky darkened, and a distant roar of thunder shook the ground. “Do not presume so much! Your mortal sensibilities will be numbed while you are here in order to alleviate any pain! You will learn that, in all things, Zeus knows best!”
As her apparent father vanished, Cassie found herself feeling oddly complacent. She retained all of her memories, but they seemed like a dream, and she felt no regret or longing for home or family.
A centaur emerged from the hut and shook back his thick dark mane. “I am Chiron. Know that, as a daughter of Zeus, you are welcome here! I have trained all the heroes of what you call legend. I taught Hippolyta, and her daughter became the Wonder Woman you recently met. I also taught Nubia’s brother Hippolytus, who is a hero among your mortal kind in Greece.”
Without a word in reply, Cassie nodded and meekly followed the remarkable being as he began what would turn out to be a life-changing education for her.
In that place outside of time, Cassandra Sandsmark was taught everything she would need to know for a heroine worthy of being a daughter of Zeus, from archery and combat skills, to the use of an incredible array of superhuman powers. She grew stronger and faster every day, while never feeling any longing for home due to the manner in which Zeus had numbed her emotions.
Finally, after what may seemed like years within the timeless grove, Chiron deemed her ready for a return to the outer realms.
“You are as strong, swift, skilled, and wise as Wonder Woman herself!” declared the ancient centaur. “While no time has passed for us within this sacred place, I may return you now to a time of your own choosing. You shall return to the very moment that you first departed from without. Your feelings will revive as you leave. Noble Zeus knew best. He enabled you to learn things that would have taken much longer without, and he has enabled you to do so without missing your loved ones. You will return to the time he plucked you from, but now you will return as a true heroine!”
Cassie smiled eagerly and said, “I will miss you! You’ve been a great teacher!”
“Such has always been my calling,” said Chiron. “Go forth, daughter of Zeus, and know that you are loved by the Olympians and their humble servant!”
She hugged the huge centaur, then walked out of the grove. As she left the magical dimension, Cassie found herself back on Mars Isle with all of her formerly suppressed emotions now intact once more.
“I don’t understand it,” she said, unsure of what she should have been feeling at that moment. “I guess Zeus wanted to help me, but I can’t help but feel he was a jerk about it. He just took over my mind and made me forget all about Mom and home! Still, if I’m really back at the time I left, I guess I didn’t really lose anything. It’s like in Scrooge, when those ghosts do everything in one night, and the miser doesn’t miss Christmas!”
As she looked around the city, she frowned in confusion. “This isn’t the island I left at all!” she said. “Mom isn’t here, and the kids aren’t at any dig. This is like some Jetsons version of the place!”