With the great battle over, Wonder Woman bids a fond farewell to her new friends in the JLI. As they go their separate ways, Martian Manhunter thinks to himself what prowess the Amazing Amazon had shown in battle and what a valuable addition to the team she would make. Guy Gardner admits that Diana was not the “bleeding heart” he had thought she was and had stepped up to the mark when needed. Fire admits to Ice that Wonder Woman can certainly fight, although surely nobody can be that perfect. Rocket Red cannot get her lovely image out of his head and has to keep reminding himself he is married. Finally, Diana muses that she will miss fighting alongside the JLI as she feels a certain kinship in that she is not alone in her uniqueness. She had always regarded the JLI as a politically partisan organisation but it appears to be so much more. With members from as far a field as Russia, Japan, Latin America and even from other planets, it truly is international. Perhaps they would consider a Themysciran…someday?
Her thoughts are cut short however as she arrives over Boston and sees it in the light of day for the first time sine the battle with Ixion. The level of destruction below shocks her and as the Amazon Princess glides gracefully across the sky, some Bostonians are not that glad to see her, saying she has done enough already while others retort that it was Wonder Woman who stopped Ixion. As bodies are cleared away from the ruined buildings, Wonder Woman muses to herself sorrowfully if Hermes pride had been worth this terrible price. It may not have really been the Messenger God’s fault, but she prays that some day the people will be able to forgive him; forgive the both of them.
Meanwhile in the nether region known as Perdition’s Pit, Hermes also asks for forgiveness as he sits beside Phobos, now entombed in stone. Hermes asks how he could have let himself be played for a fool by this fear mongering cretin. He would have killed Phobos if not for the fact that the Messenger God himself is as much to blame for what happened as Ares’ son. Still, at least Phobos is home. What has Hermes left?
Just then he hears a voice say that to begin with he has a wealth of self pity. Looking up he sees Harmonia standing there and warns her not to try and rescue her wretched brother. She assures him that is not why she is here and says she has come to speak with the God. Hermes is right to imprison Phobos because the balance of creation can be greatly shifted by the interference of malevolent Gods in the affairs of mortals. Her own father, Ares, has taught her that fact. Yet it may have been Hermes who brought the greater harm. The Messenger God had misjudged mortals and let his Godhood blind him to their dignity as humans. They do not accept blind subjugation so readily and need to know that their respect is worth earning. The Gods cannot afford to lose any more worshippers, particularly among the Amazons and so as distasteful as it may seem, he must seek the mortal’s forgiveness. On hearing this, Hermes nods in agreement and as he disappears back to Man’s World adds, “And Diana’s!”.
At Hanscom Air Force Base Wonder Woman touches down just as the helicopter returning Etta lands. The Amazon greets her friend and asks if she is feeling better. Etta replies that she is much better though looking forward to seeing Steve. They are then driven to General Hilary’s office in a staff car where a stern looking General asks them to come in and close the door behind them. Etta asks if something is wrong and Captain Atom steps forward, saying “I’m afraid so Lt. Candy”. He says he has some bad news for her and Wonder Woman regarding Steve Trevor.
He then goes on to explain the events that led up to a Durlan (one of the alien races) impostor being dead and the real Steve missing (these events take place in Captain Atom #24). Captain Atom says he wants to believe that Steve is still alive as Etta sheds tears. Hilary assures Etta that they are doing everything they can and are looking for the last person to have actually seen the real Trevor. Captain Atom adds that he has already screened the rest of the Hanscom Air Base personnel which just leaves the helicopter pilot who flew Steve into the command base. General Hilary replies that he is looking into that right now as he picks up a telephone and calls General Eiling at the Invasion Command Centre.
Once Eiling is on the line, Hilary asks if there is any word on the pilot and when Eiling asks one of his aides, is told that Airman Gaffney is not responding to any of their calls. A furious Eiling demands to know how Gaffney got off the base and is told that Eiling himself had asked for volunteers to ship supplies out to the war zone. The aide adds that at the time, Gaffney had seemed almost a little too eager to volunteer for the mission. The aide then punches up Gaffney’s last known co-ordinates on a screen, which are twenty miles off course. As they discuss whether Gaffney might have crashed or something they hear a shout from another operator who points to his display screen. It shows an image of Gaffney’s dead body which has just been located a few miles away from the base. He appears to have been dead for days and they realise that they have been tricked by another Durlan impostor!
Hilary immediately requests that Eiling supplies him with a projected trajectory on the plane that the Durlan is flying and they come back with a course southwest towards Cuba. Before General Hilary can even say another word both Wonder Woman and Captain Atom are speeding towards the co-ordinates provided in order to rescue Steve!
Meanwhile back in the ruins of Boston City Centre Hermes appears before the people, who are not particularly pleased to see him! As he is subjected to a barrage of abuse he demands they be silent and tells them that he knows he has brought death and pain to them. He allowed their city to be destroyed because of his own folly and he has overstepped his bound as a God. Although not even he can bring back those who have crossed the river Styx, he can still use the power still left to him to give them back their beloved city. He announces that he will restore Boston to its former glory and asks them to open their hearts and minds to him, as a God that seeks pardon from mortals is unprecedented but he happily bestows the great honour upon them.
As Live TV coverage is beamed to homes across the state, Julia and Vanessa watch the proceedings at home. Vanessa asks her mother if she thinks the Messenger God can really do what he has said and Julia replies she hopes so. Still, even now the Professor feels there is something about his attitude and tone that makes their forgiveness sound like a gift he has allowed them to grant him. It appears she is not the only one, because from within the shadows of an alleyway, a lone figure watches the Messenger God’s proclamations with distrust as Hermes holds aloft his Caduceus and lets forth a crackle of divine energy…
Elsewhere, somewhere over the Atlantic, the Durlan pilots his plane towards his rendezvous point. He radios though to his two comrades that he has already learned of their legion’s defeat and the routing of their main armada and requests new orders. He is told that there are none and that they are alone now, although they will never surrender! The captured Terran, Colonel Trevor, will be the means to their victory. His will is strong despite the painful torture they have inflicted upon him and he has somehow managed to deceive them with false information. Trevor knows many military secrets though and he will soon reveal them before he dies! The Durlan onboard the plane begins to ask what the point is if they have already lost the battle when his radar picks up a signal behind him. He turns to see Wonder Woman and Captain Atom in hot pursuit and immediately speeds up. The heroes know they cannot afford to let him escape or kill him as they need to know Steve’s whereabouts. Captain Atom therefore places his hand on the fuselage and absorbs the plane’s power.
Suddenly the Durlan finds his controls not responding and it begins to spiral out of control. Wonder Woman swiftly moves underneath and guides the plane to a safe crash landing. Seconds later the Amazon Princess and Captain Atom are onboard but find the plane deserted. Captain Atom reminds Wonder Woman that their quarry is a Durlan who can disguise himself as anything. The Amazing Amazon then has an idea and wraps her golden lasso around the fuselage hoping that the Durlan’s coat of deceit will be stripped away. Captain Atom is skeptical but is surprised to see a pile of ammo boxes suddenly transform back into the Durlan who find himself unable to hold his shape. Captain Atom the fires a stun blast at the alien so that Wonder Woman can then use her lasso to question the Durlan to determine where Steve is being held.
Meanwhile back in Boston, Hermes uses his powers to rebuild the shattered buildings and monuments. Like a movie being rewound, the debris seems to reform around the steel skeletons of the skyscrapers and what was once a ruin becomes whole once more. The great Olympian’s laughter sings out through the furore, the strain of his acts intoxicating him into blissful euphoria. People have to leap out of the way as brick and glass suddenly spring into the air on their way back to their original resting place. The stranger in the alley though remains unimpressed and thinks to himself through the commotion going on around him that Hermes is always whipping up trouble ever sine he came to his town!
With that the villain known as the Creeper suddenly leaps from his hiding place and punches the unsuspecting God! Creeper tells the stunned Hermes that the city is not big enough for the both of them and proceeds to unleash a barrage of punches! Finally gaining his composure again, the angry Hermes throws the Creeper off of him and warns the villain that he can destroy him with but a single thought. But the Creeper is unfazed and kicks Hermes in the face! The watching TV crews cannot get enough of the brawl and provide live commentary to the spectacle, telling viewers back at home that although the Creeper does not seem to be actually harming Hermes, the self proclaimed God is nevertheless having a little trouble keeping his dignity in the midst of the furious onslaught! It seems that the power being used to miraculously rebuild Boston has drained Hermes somewhat.
Back at the Kapatelis home, Julia tells Vanessa that this is probably just what Hermes really needed as an increasingly frustrated God demands the mocking Creeper to stop laughing at him!
Over the Atlantic once more, Wonder Woman and Captain Atom approach the island that their Durlan prisoner has described as the rendezvous point. Touching down in the undergrowth, the Amazon says that they need to move stealthily because of the Durlan’s detect them they may kill Steve. Captain Atom agrees, saying that he will never forgive himself if his old friend Steve is hurt. He then goes on to explain that his real name is Cameron Scott and when asking for Steve to join the mission, had told his friend that it was Captain Atom who needed his help. He regrets not having revealed to Steve that in fact Cameron Scott and Captain Atom are one and the same.
Soon they come across a cave entrance with a tree standing next to it, just as described by the Durlan. Captain Atom uses a blast from his hand to fell the tree, which is actually a Durlan guard in disguise and which their prisoner had been forced to warn them about while bound in Wonder Woman’s lasso of truth.
The two heroes then make their way inside and agree to split up when they see that the cave splits into two passageways. As Wonder Woman silently prowls through the alien base, her hunter’s eyes dart feverishly about her, examining every turn and every shadow, urgently seeking for any sign of her beloved friend. As she approaches a doorway and begins to feel that something is beyond it she hears her name called from behind her and turns to see Captain Atom standing there. He tells her that there is no need to search any longer as he has found Steve and that the Amazon Princess should follow him. She turns back to the door, saying that she still feels there is something on the other side of tit…as if…
She suddenly asks Captain Atom whether he has also located Cameron Scott. When he replies “Eh? Why yes he’s with Trevor” her suspicions are confirmed and she bluntly tells the man in front of her that he is not Captain Atom! The Durlan throws a “knockout” blow and says that although she has seen through his ruse she will still die. As he punches her hard again he is frustrated when she refuses to fall. As he grabs her around the neck she calmly tells him that an Amazon does not fall so easily, before pushing him backwards and slamming him through the wall. With another Durlan vanquished, she wonders whether the remaining Durlan is currently trying to deceive the real Captain Atom by impersonating her.
Elsewhere in the base, Captain Atom has indeed been confronted by a double of Wonder Woman and has also realised it is a Durlan in disguise. He proceeds to punch the impostor, sending the Wonder Woman double sailing through the door and into the control room. The alien recovers quickly and grabs a weapon, but Captain Atom calmly advises the Durlan that it will prove useless. A few seconds later the alien is out cold on the floor as Captain Atom steps through into the control room and sees Steve strapped to the torture device. As he approaches though he suddenly find himself wrapped in the coils of Wonder Woman’s lasso, who tells him that she has already freed Steve and that she just needed to make sure he was the real Captain Atom. He in turn says he is relieved to see it is the real her as her lasso is the one thing the Durlans could not duplicate.
Steve informs the concerned pair that he is OK though he was sure he was a goner. He wants to get back to see Etta and explain but Wonder Woman tells him that they need to get him to a doctor first.
Back in Boston, the crackling energy is gone and the city is complete once more while on the street the furious brawl continues! The TV commentary explains how the Creeper’s blows are coming thick and fast and the crowd is going wild, with some chanting “Creeper! Creeper” and which presumably is not going down too well with Lord Hermes! The Olympian appears to be simply taking the blows, not feeling a thing and just staring at this opponent. Finally, Hermes decides enough is enough and grabs the Creeper’s foot before slamming him down on the ground. He tells the villain that Boston’s stability hinges on him keeping control and his work is not yet finished. With that he unleashes a blast of energy at the Creeper and some of the crowd seem disappointed. Hermes thinks to himself that they are an ungrateful rabble and that although Harmonia was indeed right, there must be an easier way to make atonement!
As he ponders the Creeper gets back to his feet and prepares to charge at the Messenger God once more, but is stopped in his tracks when he finds himself ensnared in Wonder Woman’s lasso. As the Amazon Princess touches down carrying Steve, Hermes greets her and thanks her as he had no stomach for destroying the emotionally disturbed Creeper. She asks him what has been going on and he gleefully explains that he has bequeathed some of his own Godly energy so that the city may flourish again; a penance if you will that has not been made without some resistance. Mortals are certainly a fickle race. As the events continue to be broadcast on the TV, Julia grumbles how easy it is for Hermes to casually shrug aside the history of the God’s own capriciousness.
The Messenger God then adds that perhaps he is simply too impatient and that the mortals need time. On Olympus time was but an abstraction; an insignificance noted only for its fleetingness. Here though, it crawls so sluggishly!