Wonder Woman and Green Arrow: 1976: The Horn Blows at Midnight, Chapter 3: Final Joust

by HarveyKent

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The invisible jet soared through the sky at supersonic speed. Green Arrow and Wonder Woman sat in the rear of the cockpit. Aphrodite sat in the pilot’s seat, a headband taken from Wonder Woman’s mental radio fastened around her head and plugged into the plane’s controls. The goddess sat with her eyes closed, concentrating on the emanations she had sensed at the university museum — the lingering presence of the Thesian thunderhorn.

“We’re heading back towards Star City,” Green Arrow pointed out. “Don’t tell me all three of the segments were in the area! That’s too much of a coincidence!

“We may not be heading to Star City itself,” Wonder Woman clarified, “but merely in that direction. Then again, we may be homing in on the two stolen fragments, which are probably together and not very far from–”

“There!” Aphrodite suddenly cried, pointing forward. They were nearing the Star City coast, approaching a huge mansion built into the side of a hill overlooking the sea. “The thunderhorn is in yon structure! Or parts of it are, at least.”

“I’ll be a son of a gun!” Green Arrow exclaimed.

“You know the place, Green Arrow?” Wonder Woman asked.

“It’s the home of a friend of mine,” Green Arrow explained. “Roger Stonecutter, a billionaire from old money and a big-time expert on Greek mythology. He’s the expert I consulted before I met with you.”

“He collects Greek artifacts, does he?” Wonder Woman asked. “It’s possible the third section of the thunderhorn is hidden inside a piece in his collection!”

“As Speedy would say, bouncin’ bowstrings!” Green Arrow exclaimed. “If that’s true, Rog is in danger from a harpy or a three-headed dog or whatever! Come on, we’d better–”

Before Green Arrow could finish his sentence, an enormous creature burst from the water below them. It was a scaly, reptilian creature easily a hundred feet tall or more; only its head and arms broke the surface, but they dwarfed even the cyclops. With a thunderous roar, it grabbed for the plane, missing only by inches.

“The kraken!” Aphrodite squealed in terror.

“Aphrodite, remove the headband!” Wonder Woman cried. “Let me take control of the plane before–”

Suddenly, the kraken’s webbed claw struck the tail end of Wonder Woman’s invisible jet. The force was insufficient to damage the mighty material, but it sent the plane spinning out of control like a pinwheel. The three passengers held on for dear life as they were hurled end over end, out into the sea. Wonder Woman knew that it would require tremendous mental concentration to regain control of the plane against such force; it would be far less taxing to simply flee the plane and recover it later. With her mighty Amazonian strength Wonder Woman forced open the cockpit of the plane, took hold of Green Arrow and Aphrodite with an arm under each one’s shoulders, and took to the sky.

“Good save, Princess,” Green Arrow said, watching the kraken sink beneath the water. “Godzilla Junior, there, must think he got us good; he’s giving up.”

“Whoever is after the thunderhorn must know we’re on his trail,” Wonder Woman said as she touched down on the hilltop outside the mansion. “The kraken was obviously sent to stop us, not steal the artifact that hides the third section.”

“Then we must get to your friend immediately, Green Arrow!” Aphrodite declared. “Before the villain’s inhuman acolytes can find him!”

“Um, sorry, goddess,” Green Arrow said, “but it looks like that ship has sailed.” Coming out of the mansion and moving rapidly over the lawn toward the trio were an enormous man with the head of a bull and a hideous woman whose hair was a writhing nest of snakes — a minotaur and a gorgon bent on destruction.

“Our foes press the attack!” Aphrodite cried. “They will soon find the mighty champions of the League of Justice no easy prey!”

“Here’s hoping,” Green Arrow said, watching the creatures advancing rapidly. The gorgon was so far away her features were indistinguishable, but she was closing in fast. Green Arrow drew an arrow from his quiver, but instead of notching it to the bow, he hurled it to the ground at his own feet. The magnesium flare exploded into white brilliance, and the intense light momentarily blinded the archer. He drew another arrow, notched it, drew the string, and listened for the sound of the hissing snakes that made up the gorgon’s hair. Homing in on the sound, Green Arrow let the arrow fly. Straight and true it flew, and halfway to its target the upper half of the shaft unfolded into four panels covered with a thin, highly reflective film. The hissing sound suddenly stopped.

Rubbing his eyes, Green Arrow cautiously advanced until he could see well enough to find that the gorgon had been turned to stone by the sight of her own gaze. “Well, all right!” the archer said triumphantly. “I designed that mirror-arrow for use against Doctor Light, but it looks like it works equally well on Medusa, or Megara, or Zsa-Zsa or whichever sister this was!”

Wonder Woman, meanwhile, was grappling with the minotaur. The Amazonian princess and the bullheaded monster had locked hands and were exerting their strength against each other, each trying to push the other back. Hera help me, Wonder Woman prayed silently, the minotaur’s strength is as great as my own! I cannot back him down! Wonder Woman dug in her heels, summoning every ounce of strength. Then she remembered a practice combat session in the Justice League headquarters, how Batman had prevailed against the much stronger Aquaman. Wonder Woman felt the minotaur exerting all its unearthly strength against her. Then she suddenly dropped to the ground, and the minotaur’s own strength sent it hurtling forward; Wonder Woman helped it along with a quick thrust from her legs. Howling in inhuman rage, the minotaur sailed out over the edge of the hilltop and down to the sea below.

“Nice move, Princess,” Green Arrow said in admiration. “Now let’s get inside fast and rescue Rog!” The archer broke into a run to the mansion.

“Green Arrow,” Wonder Woman said, racing alongside her teammate, “are you certain your friend needs rescuing?”

“Sure!” Green Arrow said. “Neither of those nightmares had the horn with ’em, right? That means they haven’t got what they came for, so there must still be someone inside! The master thief, or more kooky creatures!”

“That’s not exactly–” As Green Arrow threw open the French doors of the terrace and he and Wonder Woman charged inside, their progress was suddenly impeded. A net woven of golden thread had been stretched across the doorway at chest-height. The heroes’ arms and torsos were hopelessly tangled in it; they struggled to free themselves but to no avail. “–what I meant,” Wonder Woman finished.

“So you got past the gorgon and the medusa,” a voice snarled from inside. “But all your efforts have come to nothing!” The owner of the voice stepped into view, and Green Arrow gasped in surprise. It was Roger Stonecutter, and he held in his hand a small golden object, cylindrical in shape, flaring out at one end into a wide cone — the Thesian thunderhorn.

“Roger, no! Not you! I-it can’t be!” Green Arrow protested, struggling against the golden net. In his shock, he forgot that Roger Stonecutter was not supposed to know Green Arrow, only Oliver Queen; but if Stonecutter noticed it, he did not comment.

“Struggle all you want, archer,” Stonecutter said. “That net was woven from the golden thread of Ariadne. You can never break it!”

Wonder Woman struggled, too, but it was no avail. Her wrists had become tangled together in the net, and her bracelets thus bound together by a man removed her Amazonian strength. She was as helpless as a mere mortal.

“How did you do it?” Wonder Woman demanded, stalling for time and praying to Hera for a miracle. “How did you summon the monsters of ancient Greece to do your bidding?”

Stonecutter smiled ruefully. “When I was a young man,” he began, “before my father’s death forced me to take over the family business, I devoted much time to my passion of Hellenic studies. I even participated in a few archaeological digs back in the ’40s. On one such dig I found a parchment that, once I translated it, claimed to contain a mystic spell that would grant any man power over the ancient creatures. I scoffed at it then, but lately I have had occasion to test its truth for myself.”

“The thunderhorn!” Aphrodite gasped, stepping into the room. Stonecutter held the horn out before him; Aphrodite stood powerless, transfixed.

“Grab it!” Green Arrow cried. “Get it away from him!”

“It’s no use,” Wonder Woman said. “The horn was fashioned by the power of Zeus himself. Aphrodite is powerless in its presence.”

“Oh great, like Olympian kryptonite, huh?” Green Arrow said, struggling. “Roger, why are you doing this?”

“I — lost my wife and son, both over the space of a year,” Stonecutter said, looking away from the archer’s eyes. “In my grief, I threw myself back into my ancient Greek studies, hoping to forget. It didn’t work, of course; it only made my loneliness all the more vivid. But hidden inside a sculpture I purchased from Athens was a section of this horn and an ancient tablet explaining its purpose. I knew then what I had to do. Providence had led me to find the horn, to fulfill its ultimate purpose!

“And you think that will eradicate your loss?” Wonder Woman asked. “You think it will bring your wife and son back?”

“No!” Stonecutter roared. “It will not! But don’t you see? I have to avenge myself on my family’s murderer — society! Our sick, twisted society killed them! My wife was killed by a drunk driver, whose high-priced attorney got him probation on a legal technicality. Probation, for murdering my wife! Then my son was killed defending his country in Vietnam, in a war everybody now says we had no right to fight in! My son died for nothing, they’re all saying! The world has become too evil, too corrupt, to survive! It has to die! Zeus himself saw that, Wonder Woman, and he gave me the means to end it!”

Green Arrow strained his mighty muscles against the golden threads, but they did not give an inch. “Roger, don’t!” he cried desperately. “If society is as sick as you say, try to fix it! There’s things you can do–”

Stonecutter laughed cruelly. “I heard FDR say something very much like that,” he said, “and do you think the world is any better now than it was then? Oh, no, no, no, the time for words and idealism has passed! As has the time of life on this Earth! Goodbye, Green Arrow, Wonder Woman! I enjoyed the final joust, but I’m afraid you lose!”

Closing his eyes and whispering a final farewell to his departed family, the tortured man raised the thunderhorn and prepared to blow the final note. As Stonecutter’s hand moved the golden horn to his lips, Wonder Woman closed her eyes and tensed herself for what was to come. She had no idea what it would be like. She supposed it would be like shutting off a switch; light and color one moment, the next, nothing. Her sensitive Amazonian ears heard Stonecutter draw a deep breath, preparing to blow the chaos note. Then she heard a muffled thump. She opened her eyes and saw the end of an emerald arrow sticking out of the thunderhorn. In astonishment, she turned to look at Green Arrow. His arms still helplessly ensnared in the net, the archer had braced his bow with his feet and drawn the bowstring with his teeth.

“What — what was that?” Wonder Woman asked in amazement.

“Boxing glove arrow,” Green Arrow said simply.

Wonder Woman smiled with relief. “And to think Green Lantern says your trick arrows are stupid!

Green Arrow did a double-take. “He does?

“Look!” Aphrodite cried, pointing. Stonecutter still held the thunderhorn in his hand, but his entire body was quivering, shaking. Bright points of light began shooting from his body, as if his insides were on fire and his skin was leaking light. The points rapidly multiplied, Stonecutter growing brighter and brighter. Then, in a brilliant burst of light, he winked out of existence.

“Wha hoppen?” Green Arrow demanded, amazed.

“When your valiant act plugged up the thunderhorn,” Aphrodite explained, “just as the mortal blew the note, it must have turned the power of the horn back upon him!”

“Instead of destroying the world,” Wonder Woman said grimly, “he only destroyed himself.”

Green Arrow looked away. “His suffering is over, at any rate,” he said. There was not the slightest trace of triumph in his voice. Wonder Woman, understanding Green Arrow’s pain, said nothing.

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