It is night time in Gotham and at the Arkham Asylum, Barbara Minerva lies in her small, dark cell. Her sleep is disturbed by the sound of fluttering wings as a bird lands on the window ledge. She sleepily calls out “Chuma?” as she begins to awake and sees the bird staring back at her with evil red eyes. She screams out for it to go away and to stop tormenting her!
Elsewhere in one of the State Rooms at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, Queen Hippolyta wakes up with a start and Diana asks her what is wrong. Hippolyta replies that she had heard a cry in the night, like some poor tortured soul. As the phone beside her bedside rings again she says she can still hear it. Diana laughs and tells the puzzled queen that the “tortured scream” is merely the sound of the telephone! Julia had arranged a wake up call for them and after all the festivities of the day before Diana had forgotten to warn her mother.
Hippolyta wonders how mortals tolerate being shocked awake from slumber in such a way. Phillipus says that it might explain why they are such a hyper active race! Just then Phillipus sneezes and hearing the sound, Menalippe rushes from her own bedroom and chastises them all for not waking her before the sun had risen, as it is supposed to be her duty as Oracle to usher in each dawn with prayer. Diana assures her that no harm has been done and that the Gods will forgive her. Hippolyta then jokes that with all the pollution it is a wonder anyone can discern the sun’s rise!
At that moment the door opens and Julia and Pythia enter, smiling. Julia apologises for keeping Pythia out all night but they had so much to catch up on and were simply too excited to sleep. Seeing that none of the Amazons are dressed yet she suggests that they hurry up as today’s U.N. schedule is very tight. She adds that she wishes them good luck as she has to return to Boston today with Vanessa. Phillipus wishes her a safe trip and suddenly sneezes again. A concerned Menalippe asks if the Amazon Captain is alright and Julia surmises that Phillipus may be allergic to the air conditioning! Diana rolls her eyes as the problem of allergies to things here in Man’s World had never crossed her mind. Menalippe wonders what sort of a world they have come to where even the very air assaults them, compared to the virgin skies over Themyscira.
Diana apologises to her sisters for their trip being more unusually problematic than they had foreseen but not to judge Patriarch’s World so quickly. She assures them that in time they will encounter natural wonders that would even humble Paradise Island, with air that is pure, crisp and clean. She pauses and suddenly looks out of the window. Seeing her expression, Julia asks what the matter is and Diana replies that Lord Hermes beckons her.
The others look out of the window and can see nothing but a streaking blur but the Amazon Princess assures them that it is the Messenger God and that something is amiss with him. She then hugs her mother and says she has to go to him. Hippolyta tells her to take care while the watching Menalippe ponders to herself why she had not felt the God’s presence, when he had assured her that her gifts of precognition and divination still endured within her? And why does she still not feel his presence even now?
Meanwhile amid the woodlands of New Hampshire, Hermes is using his Caduceus to telepathically raise the rubble of his destroyed temple, attempting to rebuild it. Bone and sinew grind from exertion as he focuses all his energies on the task. It had been all so much easier on Mount Olympus. Life among the humans was not what Hermes had hoped it to be. It has left him weakened and depleted – more human – less God.
Suddenly the marble column he is lifting falls back down to the ground as it becomes too much of an effort and he curses, wondering what penance he must perform before this cosmic joke is ended? He cries out in anger, demanding the Gods to stop laughing at him as he hurls another stone high up into the sky in frustration. Even as it crashes back down to the ground Hermes is aware of real laughter around him. It swells from a chortle into a guffaw, into a bellow and finally into a thunderous roar. All around him the shattered temple whirls up into the air and begins reconstructing itself before his eyes, including a statue of himself.
Smiling, he assumes it is a sign and feels the power of Olympus enveloping him once again. He thanks the Gods and raises his Caduceus into the sea of energy around him. Like a thirsty man in a desert drinking deeply from a well, he barely notices the energy’s unusual taste…
Meanwhile a few miles away Wonder Woman is closing fast and muses to herself that she hopes the God will not be offended by her arriving in her battle armour, but Menalippe’s concerns that something was not quite right had disturbed the Amazon Princess. As she approaches the site of the temple she sees a massive tornado crackling with godly energy. The last time she had seen such an effect was when Hermes had discharged his power to rebuild Boston.
She hears him call her name and as she navigates around the swirling funnel she replies that she hopes this means that his powers have returned. As she touches down in the courtyard of the now restored temple with its statue of Hermes in the centre, she marvels that it is more beautiful than ever! Suddenly she realises that her attire has transformed into a beautiful Amazon gown and she notices a nearby statue of herself dressed similarly. Hermes’ voice tells her that the accoutrements of a warrior ill serve to accentuate her comeliness!
He then appears at the doorway of the temple and continues that “hers is the soft sensuous beauty of Aphrodite. Her radiance should ever be enhanced by nothing other than the most tantalising of drapings; a blossom gilded in glittering gold; fitting attire for such an occasion as this – the glory of Olympus restored!”
Diana says that she is pleased to see him so robust and vibrant again but asks how he had managed to do it. He had told her before that such creation was beyond him now? Hermes replies that nothing is beyond the gods and eventually all things bend to their will…and everyone! Suddenly he grabs her and pulling her close to him, kisses her passionately on the lips. The startled Amazon Princess pulls away and says that she understands his exuberant feelings but reminds him that they had discussed the matter of their relationship. He replies that they were simply words and mean nothing to a God!
Holding her tightly he instructs her to bow low and deep to her God and prove she is worthy. She responds by throwing him across the courtyard into a marble column with a curt “No!”. Realising what she has done she begs forgiveness as she had not meant to strike out quite so hard. However, God or not, he has no right to command her to submit to his lust. Even Zeus himself does not have such power. Surely Hermes knows this too?
Lying dazed on the ground he lists his head and scowls back at her, saying that she had made a grievous mistake! It is time the Amazons remembered who are the masters are who are the servants. Now, he will make her remember! As Wonder Woman stares at the approaching Hermes something does not seem right about his appearance. Suddenly the God raises his Caduceus and the gilded serpent that decorates the staff springs to life and snakes out towards Diana! She suddenly finds herself wrapped in its clutches as Hermes tells her it is time for her to learn a lesson in humility! She asks what has happened to him and he snaps back that her duty is to worship the Gods unflinchingly and to adore them. It is they who decide how!
He pulls on the Caduceus and the serpent tightens its grip on her, squeezing her until she can almost no longer breathe. He orders her once again to surrender herself and gasp her acquiescence before there are no more gasps left within her crushed body! She sternly looks back at him, resolute in her defiance and straining against her bonds she bursts free of the serpent, declaring “You are not my God! You are not Lord Hermes”.
Simultaneously, her Wonder Woman costume re-materialises as he replies that he is indeed not Hermes – but something better! Transforming before her eyes he reveals himself to be the God Mercury. He snarls that the fool Hermes does not deserve to be mentioned in the same breath. He is nothing compared to a true Olympian of Rome! He then raises his Caduceus and fires an energy bolt at her and although weakened, Wonder Woman manages to deflect the bolt. Even Mercury cannot hide his look of grudging admiration; nor can he fail to read the unspoken question in her eyes – where is Lord Hermes?
He fires another bolt and as she again protects herself she sees that his look of admiration has now faded to contempt – the contempt one reserves for a fool! And that makes the Amazon Princess very, very angry! She deflects the bolt of energy back at the God sending him flying backwards into the wall of the temple with a shuddering crash!
As she readies herself for his next move she hears a familiar voice in her head – Lord Hermes! She calls out, asking where he is but his faint voice is barely distinguishable, sounding almost muffled as if by a pillow – or stone! She turns to where the statue of Hermes stands and uses her lasso to wrap around the torso. No mere facade can withstand the fiery flames of Hestia’s lasso of truth and the marble explodes apart to reveal the entombed Hermes!
Mercury gets to his feet and the two Messenger Gods face each other. Hermes rages that Mercury will pay for such ignominy but the Roman God laughs off the threat, replying that the Olympian is but a shadow of his former self. He should just surrender now and spare himself further embarrassment. If he does then Mercury promises to kill him painlessly!
Just then Wonder Woman steps forward and says “Not unless you can defeat me as well, pompous one!”. But Hermes orders her to stay back as he will let no human fight his battles for him. Before, Mercury had benefited from the element of surprise but this time the advantage belongs to Hermes! With that he flashes across the courtyard and punches Mercury hard before flying up into the sky, taunting the Roman God to come out into the open – if he dares. Mercury shoots up after him and New Hampshire’s woodland spires are torn from their roots – caught in the wake of two devastating hurricanes slicing through the air like cosmic scythes.
Each God goads the other with his speed; each pass a tossing of the gauntlet. The challenge is accepted and they focus their hate as they charge at each other! The sonic boom is deafening as Wonder Woman watches the exchange of punches from below. Mercury rubs his jaw and says “Not bad pretender. There appears to be some spark of life within you yet…but not for much longer!”. Hermes startled eyes betray him as he barely sees the bolt of energy coming towards him. Mercury smiles, closing in for the kill and although his bolts fail to hit their darting target, each blast gets ever closer. Mercury knows that Hermes is getting tired and finally the inevitable happens and a bolt strikes the God squarely in the back. Mercury follows the attack up by ploughing into him and clutching the weakened Hermes, raises a hand and blasts him at point blank range!
Down below Wonder Woman watches and decides she cannot sit back and let this happen. Even though she will be disobeying Hermes’ command, she decides that the God has come to her rescue more than once and it is time she returned the favour. She shoots up into the sky and seeing her, Mercury says that he had almost forgotten there was a debt still to be paid by her. She dares him to collect it and he responds that although he had hoped to save her for dessert after feasting on Hermes’ vanquished carcass, who is he to refuse such a tantilising threat.
As she darts through the air avoiding his blasts he compliments her on her great speed. Hermes, having gathered his senses, sees Wonder Woman being pursued by Mercury and yells that he had ordered her to stay out of this fight because this is a matter to be settled by Gods. Mercury laughs on hearing this and responds that he flatters himself. “Even a mouse should be grateful for all the help he can get even if such aid is spurred by misdirected faith…or perhaps pity.”
Mercury’s words sting Hermes deeply and enraged, he lifts his Caduceus and unleashes everything he has at the Roman God. But Mercury simply absorbs the blast, all the while laughing in a mocking tone. He then returns fire and blasts Hermes from the sky. As the Messenger God tumbles earthwards Wonder Woman swoops down and catches him before he hits the ground. A furious Hermes tells her to let him go and reminds her that he had expressly commanded her twice not to interfere. He then scans the sky, calling out for his opponent to show himself but Wonder Woman says that it appears Mercury has disappeared into thin air.
Hermes shakes his head, saying that is sure he can still hear the mocking laughter in his head but the Amazon Princess gestures that even the temple has now vanished. Hermes meekly replies that to the victor belong the spoils of war. One further indignity. Wonder Woman says that she does not understand what has happened here today, but Hermes tells her he does not want to talk about it and orders her to go because he wishes to be left alone. She says that she cannot just leave him here like this, but he says “Do my commands mean nothing to you girl? If I am no longer worthy of your capitulation, then at least honour it as a request.”
Sadly, Wonder Woman turns away to leave the God with his thoughts while their every move is watched by an unseen Circe who says ominously “And so it begins Diana. So it begins”.