During the next few weeks, Wonder Woman spent time in a fruitless search for either the missing Sofia Constantinas or the Sword of Artemis itself. She also found no trace of Nikos Aegeus. But the fact that he had escaped from prison made Nubia more certain that Sofia had become involved with her former lover once more.
She also was busy with other cases and missions with the Justice League of America. In spite of her busy schedule, the young woman still found time to brood. She sat alone with one leg propped up against a table during one solitary shift of monitor duty aboard the JLA Satellite, staring at the screens with vacant eyes.
“Nubia, a penny for your thoughts? Or should I say a denarius?” asked a tall, green-skinned bald man with a decidedly alien brow as he emerged from the laboratory.
“J’onn, my love,” she began, “I fear my mind wanders. I have been active as Wonder Woman for nearly a year and a half now. I have proven my right to the role to the satisfaction of myself, my people, and those I defend. I have also established an accord of sorts with Donna Troy, who once resented my use of the name Wonder Woman. I have made good friends on this team. I value them, and I certainly love you. You have come to mean so very much to me. Still…”
“I do not need my telepathic abilities to see what is the source of your troubles,” replied J’onn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter. You have devoted so much time to becoming Wonder Woman that you have neglected that part of you that is Nubia. Unlike Diana, you have not taken any civilian role. Perhaps it would do you good to adopt such a disguise and walk among ordinary people. It helped me greatly when first I came here to interact with peers as plain John Jones. The JLA could easily draw upon our resources to establish a secret identity for you. A place in human society awaits you at your command.”
Nubia stood up and kissed him. “J’onn, I know not what Martian culture dictated about such matters, but you would have made a wonderful seer. You see to the heart of me, and I appreciate your words of wisdom. I do long to be both more and less than Wonder Woman at times. Before I take more deliberate steps to resolve the matter, I would meet some of those people who called my sister friend in her role of Diana Prince.”
J’onn nodded. “Excellent idea. Many resided in the Georgetown area.”
“Indeed,” said Nubia. “I know the locale. By connecting with her past, I may begin to create a future for myself.”
That evening, Wonder Woman soared over the country and reached Georgetown, a neighborhood in Washington, D.C. An older brownstone rose up below her as she commanded the invisible robot plane to hover unseen above. She swiftly climbed down the rope ladder to alight gently on the roof. Diana lived in this structure before her alteration, mused Nubia. It is here I should find her former roommate, Etta Candy.
She used her magic lasso to effect a clothing change, and attired in a brown dress and boots, she entered the building and walked down the steps from the roof to the apartments below. She knocked at a particular door labeled Candy/Huckaby and smiled as a plump woman opened the door. “Hi. May I help you?” she said.
“I believe you knew my sister Diana well,” said Nubia. “May I come inside?”
Etta Candy, now known as Etta Huckaby since her marriage, sputtered in surprise. “You’re Di’s sister!” she cried. “But then that means you’re — I can’t believe it!”
A short man with thick glasses and curly red hair came to the door. He placed one hand on Etta’s shoulder in a protective and comforting manner. “Etta, honey, what’s wrong? Who’s the visitor?” he asked.
Etta led Nubia inside and said, “Howie, this is Diana’s sister. She must be the new Wonder Woman!”
“Forgive my intrusion,” said Nubia. “I knew you learned Diana’s secret before the end of the Crisis, and I knew she loved you dearly as a friend in her Diana Prince role. This man is your husband?”
“Right, and proud as punch of it!” said the man, extending his hand. “My name’s Howard Huckaby, and Etta and I got hitched not too long after the Crisis. We kept each other going during that scary time, and we knew we’d found soul-mates in each other.”
Nubia admired the rather cluttered domesticity of the apartment and noticed the obvious and endearing affection they had for one another. “Etta, Howard, I am Nubia,” she said hesitantly. “While the news no doubt enabled you to know that I am Wonder Woman’s sister, it could not inform you of more personal concerns. I would like to know more about Diana’s life as Diana Prince. I may create such a role for myself and would welcome your help.”
“Gosh, I’d be glad to help,” said Etta. “Diana was a swell pal. Artemis of the New Titans did stop by here after the Crisis and gathered Di’s stuff. She also told us what had happened to her. I appreciated that gesture a lot.”
Nubia nodded abruptly. “Yes, Artemis is a caring woman. Now, could you share some of your memories of Diana with me?”
The evening passed quickly as Etta and Howard showed Nubia photos and told her tales about the woman Diana Prince had been.
Finally, around midnight, Nubia stood up and said, “I thank you both. Diana was blessed by the gods to have known such friends as you.”
“Nubia, we’d be happy to have you back anytime,” assured Etta.
“Say, Nubia, I’ve got an idea,” said Howard. “I work for Senator Abernathy. See, I used to work for Senator Covington before his troubles. Anywho, I’ve been invited to a black tie affair for the boss. He’s our landlord, too, and his daughter Eloise is a buddy of ours. She’s throwing the bash for her pop. She’d be happy to have you come, too. Can you make it?”
Nubia smiled at the little man and said, “I’d be delighted.”
The next evening found an elegantly gowned Nubia mingling with Etta and Howard Huckaby and their friends. Senator Russell Abernathy was a charming if irascible old man with a refreshingly open love of the spotlight. He clearly relished the attention his daughter Eloise Abernathy had lavished on him. Having a celebrity of the status of the new Wonder Woman present only delighted him more.
“If I had known my birthday would lead to this type of adoration, I’d have hit this milestone long ago!” he joked.
Eloise turned to Nubia and said, “I must warn you, Wonder Woman, don’t underestimate my father’s charms. He might prove to be more dangerous than any of your super-villains!”
Nubia laughed and said, “He is possessed of a fatal charm.” Senator Abernathy chuckled and took her arm.
A sudden scream echoed from the patio, and Nubia rushed over to see the guests scattering as a group of green-clad gunmen stormed the room. “We want a few of you as our guests. If you come silently, none shall suffer!” warned their leader. He wore the same green costume as his men, but a serpent emblem was on his chest.
Nubia changed into her Wonder Woman costume and bounded across the room to challenge them. “Kobra’s minions. I recognize your crest from the JLA files. Like all serpents, you are best dealt with by swiftly striking off your head!” she declared. She unsheathed her sword and knocked the man across the room with the flat of the blade. She spun around to kick a second man into a buffet table.
Etta rushed forward and smashed a glass punch bowl over the head of another of the intruders. “Have some punch!” she cried.
Howard eyed his wife in amazement and smiled proudly. “That’s my gal!” he said.
Wonder Woman spun her golden lasso in a tight circle, and the sheer wind force swept them together where she crashed into them with reckless abandon. Wonder Woman kicked other Kobra pawns aside and plunged into their midst. “There are many of them, but I need no help against such craven foes!” she said.
Senator Abernathy yelled for help, and Wonder Woman looked up to see the wily politician as he pointed to the patio. “They have Eloise! Help her!” he cried.
Wonder Woman charged outside and fought to free the woman. As she rescued her, her would-be abductors fled. She fell into Wonder Woman’s arms and sobbed. “Thank you! If they had taken me, what would have become of my daughter? Is my father OK?”
Nubia glanced around the room and saw a scene of horror. The goons had vanished, but so had Abernathy, Etta, and Howard. “Great Hera! They’ve taken my friends!” she said.
Three men struggled forward with a pinned goon. “We managed to hold this guy for you. Can you get anything out of him?” asked one of the men.
Nubia slipped her golden magic lasso out and smiled confidently. “Oh, yes, I think I can,” she said. Concealing her concern for the missing guests, she wrapped the rope around the man’s arms. “Who are you? Why do you want Abernathy?” she demanded.
“I am Raymir Salvo,” said the man. “I live only to serve Kobra. I was ordered to join the others to attack this party and to abduct the Huckabys and the old man. If I could not get them all, I was to make sure to take Etta Huckaby.”
“Nobody can lie when bound in that rope, right?” said Eloise.
Wonder Woman nodded. “You are correct. He is speaking the truth, and it disturbs me. Kobra wanted my friends more than the Senator. This entire assault was aimed at me. It’s personal.”
“Wait a minute,” said Eloise, frowning. “Howard told me that he only met you yesterday. How’d this Kobra learn that you even knew Etta and Howard?”
Wonder Woman frowned. “I do not know, but rest assured that I will find out.” She continued to question the man and finally turned him over to the authorities before she rushed out and summoned her robot plane. Robot plane, I need you! she thought.
She swiftly climbed aboard and zoomed off into the night, leaving a worried Eloise Abernathy below. “That worm told me where his master skulks,” Nubia said. “I little expected to find a Kobra compound in the middle of Nevada. Still, he could not lie, and he gave me the exact location.” She sighed as the plane took her toward the destination.
“I fear in some manner Kobra has been watching me. How else could he know I was going to even meet Etta and Howard or become friends with them? If he wanted them merely to strike at Diana because she had opposed him in the past, then he could have killed them long before now. I feel that it was precisely my involvement with them that led to this disaster. It makes me doubt the logic behind my desire to create a civilian life for myself.”
Wonder Woman brooded as the plane carried her to her goal. There, she spotted a large compound in the desert. To all outward appearances it was merely an elaborate ranch, although she thought she detected certain odd signs in the design of the buildings that suggested hidden purposes. “I will not allow this vermin to harm my friends. He will regret this cowardly ploy.”
She ordered the plane to hover above, and she dropped down to crash through the reinforced window of the highest part of the tallest building below. She rolled across the room in a tight ball and then rose up to confront a squad of startled Kobra cultists.
“By the serpent, we are under attack!” cried one as he activated an alarm.
“Figured that out, did you?” said Wonder Woman as she ripped a huge metal console off the wall and hurled it into other machines. The cultists opened fire, and she darted forward with her arms moving in a remarkable display of agility. Her gleaming bracelets deflected the bullets even as she scattered the gunmen and wrecked their base. “Bring out your leader. I would dearly love to wring his scaly neck!” she said, then jumped high into the air and ripped down a row of pipes. The water that exploded out of them drove back other cultists as they avoided the scalding spray.
“You ssseek the great high Naga-Naga? Well, face him and know the meaning of fear!” said a hooded man who emerged from below. He stood defiantly before her and said, “I am Kobra. Feel my venom!” He pressed a button, and a rain of acidic liquid poured down on those below. As his own men screamed in pain, their leader remained impassive.
“Wonder Woman, you dare invade my home?” he said. “Sssuch effrontery must earn you a painful death!”