On the world of New Cronus, a shrouded figure cradled Diana. The infant’s keen eyes held a secret — Jericho was within the baby.
Joe Wilson had possessed Knockout and had used her memory to find Diana, and had arrived in time to see the shrouded figure teleport in and pick up the child. Granny Goodness’ guards were stunned with ease by the mysterious figure. Joe had tried to make contact with the figure, but no features were revealed beneath the shroud, so he did the next best thing — he locked eyes with the infant Diana and rode within her tiny body to this odd new world.
Once there he ventured out just long enough for his signal to register on the com-link. The baby was thus left alone for only a brief time as he marveled at the wonders he saw. Greek architecture rose with ancient splendor on this alien planet. He wondered if this world was tied in with Lilith’s Olympian heritage or Donna’s Amazonian past. Either could explain why the infant that was once Wonder Woman had been brought here.
A new figure entered, apparently some servant or nurse sent to tend to the baby. She cooed to the child and said, “Fear not, precious. Here you’ll join the other Seeds and grow in power to better serve the Master.”
Joe listened intently to the mention of the Seeds and the Master, wondering what madness this was. Switching bodies, he possessed the nurse, whose memories became his. He learned what Hippolyta had already explained to the others. This world had been a Titan experiment in which they hoped to raise a generation of mortals in their image. The rebellion of Zeus had ended all such plans, and their Seeds had been in timeless suspended animation of sorts for eons.
This had changed when he had come. The Master had freed the Seeds and made use of their Titan-spawned powers. Who was the Master? Joe could view a regal form, but no name beyond the Master came to his searching mind. He saw the Seeds — Earth children cast aside in ancient times and brought through space to this world and given wonderful powers by the Titans before their fall. He gasped as for a second he recognized the image of one Seed that he had already met.
Queen Hippolyta pointed at the columns and said, “This world is clearly the one from my old legends. It has the feel of Olympian glory about it. If Diana has been brought here, it must be related to our gods and goddesses. Perhaps they mistook her for another abandoned child.”
Artemis patted her mother’s arm gently. “We’ll find her.”
“I hope so,” said Kole Weathers. “Plus, we must be getting closer to Jericho, even though we’ve lost his signal.”
Racing through the streets, the Flash returned and said, “As we already detected, the atmosphere is like that of Earth. My powers work the same here, too. We should be okay. I saw very few people — some scattered servant types. They spoke of tending the Seeds. I did not see Joe or Diana.”
“Seeds?” said Arsenal. “Great. We’re on the Home and Garden planet.”
Gar Logan grinned. “Pod people!”
“Can’t take you anywhere,” muttered Cyborg.
Lilith turned to her companion and said, “Azrael, I feel this place was designed by Thia and the other Titans as Hippolyta said. This is a real chance to experience my heritage.”
Azrael held her tightly. “Something about this world calls to me as well. Have I been here before?”
The shrouded figure called the Master appeared in a thunderous crash of lightning. “Indeed, my pawn, you have!” he said. “You were among the early Seeds rescued and brought here by the Titans before their fall. They gave you your wings and empathic gifts before placing you and the other altered infants in suspended animation. You would have remained as such, had I not spanned time and space to locate you. I implanted within you your tracking abilities and sent you to find the one I sought. You did so — at last!”
Azrael gasped. “I sense he speaks the truth. At last I know my past. But why did you use me to seek Lilith? She and I have such a bond because — because of our common Titan-influenced past — our heritage — our very formation! Still, why send me so unerringly to her? She is my love, not yours!”
Lilith’s eyes widened in understanding. “Because he did not send you to find me,” she said, “although we were drawn together as you said. He wanted you to locate–“
“I wanted you to locate the baby Diana!” said the man as he cast aside his cloak to reveal a tunic and armor of Olympian design. “You did that indirectly, as I saw all that you witnessed through my control of you, my loyal and unknowing hound.”
“Your mistaken in this case,” said Hippolyta. “Diana is not one of the abandoned children in need of rescue. She is not a Seed for you to use.”
Laughing, he said, “Indeed, she is not, Grandmother. She will be much more someday. She will be my mother.”
Artemis gasped. “You’re from the future?!”
“Correct, Aunt Donna,” he replied. “Only, rather than saying I come from the future, let us say the future belongs to me — to Lord Chaos.”
“You do have a masculine version of Diana’s features,” noted Hippolyta, “yet what madness do you speak of?”
“Diana will give birth to you?” Artemis questioned. “You’re her future son? She is just a baby now. She was returned to her infant state after the Crisis.”
Lord Chaos sneered in disdain. “The Crisis! The Crisis! It was that insanity that caused me such trouble. I fully expected to find my mother as an adult and my birth occurring at a specific time. Yet the Crisis ruined all! Mother vanished. The man I believed fathered me vanished. My very birth became problematic. Thus I realized in some timelines I was born, while in others Diana died, became an infant, or only became Wonder Woman much later. Thus I journeyed back to one possible timeline to make certain my birth occurred as it had in the history I knew. That history led to my conquest of the world. I found this world and freed the Seeds. The Titans had abandoned them in their rejoicing over being allied with their own children, the Olympians.”
“So,” said Artemis, “you freed Azrael and empowered him with tracking skills, raised him to instant adulthood, equipped him with his vaguely Olympian garb — all to find and protect your mother?”
“Indeed!” said Chaos. “I seek to make her life follow a path of my choosing. Since she did not give birth to me in this one timeline, I shall still benefit from her.”
“You will not harm my child,” vowed Hippolyta.
“Of course not,” Lord Chaos replied. “I intend to age her to womanhood and mate with her. The Olympians have never shared the mortal repulsion at such acts. She will help me secure my dynasty, since it was alterations to her fate that first endangered it.”
“This guy is a flake,” said Arsenal. Kole nodded in agreement as she searched for any sign of Jericho.
Lord Chaos turned to Hippolyta. “You are my grandmother. Thus, I shall forgive your impudence.”
“I want Diana,” said the Amazon queen, brandishing her sword in a battle-stance. “And I’ll have her!”
With a smile, Chaos waved his hand, and Hippolyta vanished from view.
“Mother!” cried Artemis. “What did you do to her?”
“Oh, I put my darling old granny back in time,” he replied. “She is reliving her last few weeks, oblivious to what has since occurred.”
“This dude’s better than a wake-up call,” muttered Cyborg.
“Yeah,” said Gar. “Trouble is, with a nut like him, you could be sleeping for a thousand years!”
“I tell you, I knew nothing of this,” said Azrael. “He may have freed me from the Titans’ spell and sent me to find Diana, but I recall nothing before STAR Labs.”
“We believe you,” said Lilith. “He is clearly a madman.”
Lord Chaos frowned. “Were you not the spawn of my ancestors, I’d teach you manners, you nubile nymph.”
“I thought that was Kory,” joked Gar.
“Your power is great, but you are also quite ill,” said Raven. “The power has driven you mad. Let us help you.”
“Let me help you — to your grave.”
The Flash raced forward and tackled Raven as energy flashed and missed the girl by less than an inch. “That was too close!” he sighed.
Raven remained in his arms, enjoying the sensation as she said, “Thank you, Wallace.”
Starfire flew toward the mad god and said, “Let’s stop him now!”
“Alien, I will let you vent your animalistic rage upon my other Seeds,” replied Chaos.
A pale beauty in black rode forward on a silvery shield. Next to her was a woman all of crystalline clarity and sheath. A blond youth in green charged forward near a black teen and a vampiric youth. A redheaded girl with wings soared into sight as well.
“Argent, Prysm, Risk, Joto, Mirage, Nightrider, Redwing — they were the other Titan Seeds but are now under my thrall,” he said. “I introduce them, but you may just consider them to be your murderers.”
Arsenal reached for an arrow. “Pick a target,” he said. “This could get rough.”
Meanwhile, Jericho had departed from Princess Diana’s body, and he scooped her gently into his arms. He had hurried out to see the battle raging between his allies and Lord Chaos, and gasped as Queen Hippolyta vanished in a flash of light. He prayed Diana had not just lost her mother.
During his time in the nurse’s body, he had experienced her memory of how Chaos had freed the winged Azrael from the Titan gestation pod and endowed him with maturity and tracking powers. Jericho hoped he would live long enough to give the mysterious alien the answers to his clouded past.
Catching Garfield Logan’s eye, Jericho indicated that he had Diana. Gar smiled, turned into a large bird, and flew up to meet him. “You found her!” said Changeling. “Good work!”
Joe Wilson grinned and handed her to Gar, who changed form again, but not to a larger beast who could carry both down to safety. Instead, he shimmered and became an attractive South American woman with dark hair and copper skin wearing a revealing white costume tinged with black and yellow. The most striking thing about her, though, were her eyes — they were completely black eyeballs, with white corneas, and reminded Jericho of the way his own eyes looked when he took over another person’s body.
“Sorry, handsome,” she laughed. “I’m just Mirage, not that there’s anything just about me.”
Jericho tried to grab her, but she dodged and vanished, and he realized that she could control what he saw or where he saw her. He figured that she had concealed the infant as well.
The real Changeling gasped as the pale beauty called Argent sent slivers of silvery energy toward him. She had short black hair with chalk-white skin and wore a very revealing black outfit tinged with a pattern of red, yellow, and blue on her left thigh, with red, yellow, and blue streamers trailing from golden gauntlets. Turning into a rabbit, Changeling bounded clear. Man, she looks like Ally Sheedy or Brooke Shields minus a tan, he thought as he looked at the teenage girl.
Cyborg punched directly at Risk, an overconfident teenage boy with unruly blond hair who wore an aquamarine jacket, gloves, and boots over a black bodysuit. The devil-may-care youth shrugged off Vic Stone’s best effort and smacked him down with apparent ease. Shoot! This punk is strong, thought Vic. I’m the one at risk here, not him.
Arsenal sent a net-arrow toward the flying Redwing, who twisted agilely to dodge it. The teenage girl who flew with the help of large red-feathered wings wore a red and white costume over her torso, along with red and white gloves and boots, and sported pointed ears and a severe haircut that swept her strawberry-blonde hair up into something akin to a horned owl. These kids are under his spell, thought Roy Harper. They aren’t to blame. Still, they’ve made us look bad so far. We gotta regroup. Maybe Dick is the only leader for us, after all.
Raven vanished in smoke as the girl known as Prysm flew toward her. She was well-named, as the girl’s semitransparent crystalline body, which pulsated with electricity and glowed with an inner fire that changed color with her mood — she currently glowed red with rage — acted as a human prysm. Raven sensed within the girl’s mind a bizarre image of fantasy and sitcoms mixed together in her emotional composition. “She lacks any tie to actual reality,” Raven noted. “I suppose that is due to Chaos and his mind-games.”
The Flash frowned as he sped toward Joto, a muscular black teenage boy with short dyed-red hair, who wore a yellow and gray bodysuit with a gray hood, short white jacket, and silver gauntlets. “They’re victims, too,” said the Flash, “but I need to shut them down fast to help Donna cope with this.”
Artemis had tossed her lasso toward Lord Chaos, who stepped through it and slapped her to the ground. “I never liked you, Auntie Donna. You were so-o-o prim and proper. Perhaps you need to let down your hair and see life on the wild side. Yes! Let me use my time-powers to make you live a few dozen lifespans as women of rather looser circumstances.” He laughed at the thought.
“Never!” she cried, even as his touch sent Donna Troy Long spinning through time.
The black teenager called Joto seemed to generate heat and was stronger than a normal man. Thus the Flash vibrated his own body as Joto sent both heat and a huge rock toward him. The speedster allowed both to pass harmlessly through him as he delivered dozens of super-fast blows to Joto’s chin, causing him to fall forward at Flash’s feet, unconscious.
At that moment, Artemis returned to the present with her eyes wide and a silent scream on her lips.
Raven rushed to comfort her, as did Starfire. “Artemis is full of pain,” explained Raven as she held Donna in her arms. “She — she has lived several lifetimes full of pain and hurt within seconds. Let me take away her pain.”
But the empath called Raven could only gasp as she truly experienced what could only be called generations of suffering in one concentrated dose. Nevertheless, she refused to stop until she had drawn all the pain from her friend’s body and soul. As she completed the painful work, she fainted at Donna’s feet.
“Raven?” muttered Donna. “Raven, th-thank you. What have you done to yourself? That — that fiend! He made me love — and lose all those I loved. He gave me hope — then snatched it away.”
Flying skyward, Starfire blasted the girl called Redwing to earth without slowing before she began targeting Lord Chaos himself. “You monster!” she cried as she blasted star-bolt after star-bolt at him. “You sick monster!”
A vampiric figure was bent over the prone Changeling, drinking deeply of his blood. Nightrider looked for all intents and purposes like a typical vampire from pop culture and had pale white skin, pointed ears, red eyes, and long black hair. Accompanied with his black leather trenchcoat and pants, along with an open red shirt revealing a bare chest, Nightrider could have stepped out of the pages of an Anne Rice novel.
Seeing his teammate in trouble, Arsenal kicked the vampiric Nightrider off of Changeling, then rolled aside to fire a flare arrow. The brilliant light sent the toothy youth reeling as his nocturnal senses suffered from the flash of light. “Always works in the films,” quipped Arsenal. “If Cushing had had one of these babies, Lee would have been toast.”
Struck by a blast of colorful energy from Prysm, Kole was knocked flying across the field until Cyborg caught her.
Jericho managed to make eye contact with Risk, and took control of the youth’s body, immediately belting Nightrider and shoving Argent aside.
Kole smiled weakly and caught the woman called Argent in a quickly spun crystal cone. “That should hold Little Miss Personality,” said Kole.
Jericho signaled his approval with his J gesture.
Lord Chaos watched as Mirage was struck down by white sound, when Cyborg’s mechanical sensors detected her masked heartbeat. “Bah!” he cried. “These striplings are useless to me. I’ll try them again in fifty years or so. To me, Diana!” Immediately, the child materialized in his arms.
“No!” cried Artemis, who leaped toward her sister and her supposed nephew, but too late. A look of despair passed over her face as both vanished.
Suddenly, Lilith Clay appeared in a flash of light. “I have brought help!” she cried, dropping to her knees from the strain, while Azrael guarded her as always. He wondered what these siblings of his were truly like when not under the spell of Lord Chaos.
“Where’d you go, legs?” asked Arsenal.
“To Olympus — to get the true Titans!” she replied.
All those present watched as the looming figures of the surviving Titans of myth appeared and reclaimed their world after millennia.
“By Saturn!” said Themis. “I had little dreamt of this place during our eons of imprisonment.”
“That was because I used my gifts to block the memory from us all,” said Mnemosyne. “I thought it all too painful for us to stand.”
Lord Chaos reappeared with baby Diana, looking utterly shocked as the sheer power of the true Titans came to bear upon him. “Mother!” he cried aloud once, then fell senseless to the ground.
“Is he dead?” gasped Artemis as she held Diana.
“No,” said Rhea, “we merely clouded his mind so that he has no sense of self or memory. We shall tend to his needs, and perhaps someday restore this misguided man.”
“What about this place and all of the other Seeds?” asked a concerned Azrael. “Must they suffer for his actions, too?”
“No, my child,” said Rhea. “They are free as well. I suggest we help them a bit to cope with their roles, and then send them out to the world to do good works with our lessons and our gifts.”
“Mr. Jupiter would make a perfect teacher for these mighty teens,” suggested Lilith.
Embracing her emotionally, Azrael then swept her up into his arms. “I have found myself, dearest one!” he cried. “The birthright I claim is tied to your own. Thus was I drawn through time and space to find you, though that was never Lord Chaos’ true intent for me!”
Tears in her eyes, Lilith kissed him and said, “The amnesia must have been a side-effect of your journey to Earth in that odd craft of his — his chariot, or so he thought of it.”
“Let’s get back home, folks,” said Arsenal. “The fruitcake is on ice, and the kids are in good hands.”
Artemis nodded, looking shaken but relieved the ordeal was finally over. “I agree with you. A calm homecoming is all I want — peace, quiet, and a night in Terry’s arms.”