Aaron Lopresti returns to art duties.
Aaron Lopresti returns to art duties.
Following on from the events of last issue, Diana finds herself stripped of her ceremonial costume, bracelets and tiara and locked away in a dungeon cell. As she lies there, quietly contemplating her fate she hears a voice outside and sees Artemis peering through the cell bars. Artemis informs Diana that just as Diana had freed her recently (see Secret Six), she has now come to return the favour. Diana seems surprised that the cavern had not been guarded and Artemis casually says that it had been – by three males. “It’s almost insulting”.
Diana reached through the bars and thanks her for her loyalty. Artemis sees that Diana no longer has her bracelets and feels her blood boil in anger. “You know I have little use for pageantry Diana, but I’ll bury them neck deep in compost for what they’ve done!”. she snarls. Diana smiles and then continues that the cell door is ensorcelled. Her sister holds out her hands to reveal null herbs – grown by Menalippe for just such an occasion. Diana just has to eat them and the door will open for her.
Diana replies that they still have her mother and that if she sets one foot outside this cell Hippolyta dies. “Go please.” she asks. A surprised Artemis responds that she is being a fool and that Alkyone intends to kill Diana. They know that Achilles’ spear can pierce her flesh and they intend to impale her! They intend to light a magical pyre and burn her body on the southern bridge. “You can’t stay!”.
Diana quietly responds “Artemis of the Bana-Mighdall. If ever I was, even for a moment, your Princess…please follow my command.” A frustrated Artemis reluctantly agrees but handing Diana her dagger, she adds that Alkyone and her sisters want to expire the Amazon Princess in agony and humiliation – and that Diana should not give them that pleasure. If she cannot live as an Amazon then at least die like one. Artemis leaves Diana alone to her thoughts again, cradling the dagger.
Meanwhile in the palace gardens Alkyone is doing some planting. Achilles storms up to her and demands to know what she is up to as he he had given no order to execute Diana! She calmly replies that she had given the order herself because by Amazon law, there is no such provision for a king to give such a demand so she as the queen has given it. “Who’d have thought that – when you took pity on a scullery maid and asked her to marry your beautiful self” she taunts. “And I thought you were loyal to the Gods.” she adds. He snaps back that she should not question his faith but she responds in turn that Zeus had given him a clear mandate and yet he selfishly shirks his duty in the face of all he has been given. “He gave me no order to kill the Princess” Achilles growls. Alkyone replies that she was a Princess in title only and never cared for the island. She could not wait to abandon her people and she dallies with men! She now has even given up that anemic position and has renounced her claim here! She continues that since Diana’s arrival as a babe, instead of being a “paradise” it has been a place of endless war and invasions and death and pain. And yet the Amazons still love her. Still see her as the helpless babe in the rain. “You will never be king to them while she lives and she had attacked us – which in itself is treason.”
Achilles reluctantly asks what she would have him do and she replies he must execute Diana. It is a tragedy but it must be done. Alkyone then continues that Diana has loyalists who have conspired against him. They must be jailed before the ceremony of her dispatch. And the remaining Gorillas – her allies that she left behind as spies – will all be executed. “In fact I have already given the order.”
Just then an Amazon named Phinea walks up carrying a box and hands it to Alkyone, who turns to Achilles and tells him she has made him a wedding gift. He reluctantly takes it and says “I thought I had disarmed the Amazons, And yet here I find I left a venomous dagger in plain sight to do its poisonous and bloodthirsty work!” “You flatter me” Alkyone smiles before leaving with Phinea. Just then Jason steps up and says that this execution is all wrong but Achilles simply replies “I know but leave me to my thoughts please.” He opens the box to see that Alkyone has fashioned an armour for him using Wonder Woman’s own costume!
A short while later on a cliff top Alkyone stares out across the ocean deep in thought. Just then she hears a voice and turns to see Donna Troy standing there. Alkyone reaches for her sword but Donna warns her to not even think about it. She then grabs Alkyone by the neck and orders her to cancel the execution. Alkyone replies “Kill me then! You don’t belong here. You have no voice in this. Our entire tribe is fading and cracking and only I have the courage to do what must be done! What should have been done the night of the Dragon’s birth! I will save my people. Kill me, It is the only way you can stop me. I have Hippolyta and you won’t find her!”. “We’ll see, my queen” Donna replies icily. She then flies off and Phinea runs up, asking if they should stop her. Alkyone replies that they could not make this scheme work without Donna, but that the timing of the execution will have to be moved up. “Tell everyone and gather the Circle!”.
As Diana continues to sit in solitude in here cell, unaware of her fate, the men of the island report to Jason that the execution has been moved forward and that the Amazons will riot. Jason reluctantly tells them to arm themselves and guard Achilles. “And pray for our damaged souls” he adds. Elsewhere Artemis is instructing her Bana-Mighdall sisters to prepare to fight for Diana’s life.
Down in the dungeon Alkyone and the other members of the circle arrive and tell Diana that it is time. They kneel down outside her cell and perform a ceremony around a freshly lit fire. Diana asks what they are doing but is told to remain quiet inside the cell. Alkyone proclaims that with Wonder Woman’s death Themyscira will be re-born. She then removes the whittle baby that Ares had given her and places it in the fire. They then all grab the blade of Alkyone’s sword and squeeze, so that their own blood runs down the blade and into the pyre. They then thrust the blade into the whittle baby releasing Genocide’s spirit locked inside. The room is filled with a maelstrom of magic as the spirit of Ares enters their very souls!
After a few moments all falls silent and Alkyone and her sisters groggily get to their feet. “Prepare the prisoner for her execution!” orders Alkyone.
Elsewhere Artemis confronts Donna and tells her that she is not one of them. Donna has always followed the rules but does she understand that after today, if she lives she may never be welcome back on this island again? Donna asks what Artemis wants of her. The Amazon places a hand on Donna’s shoulder and says that they cannot trust the other Amazons. Some will choose the Gods over Diana’s life. They have been trained for no other way. And Alkyone has Hippolyta hostage, so Diana is preparing to go willingly to her death. “Find the Queen Donna.”
A short while later at the Southern Bridge, Alkyone and her sisters lead the hooded figure of their prisoner towards the plinth. As a muffled voice from under the hood says “This is wrong. I can’t be a part of this!” Alkyone instructs her prisoner to be silent and do her duty. Alkyone informs the gathered Amazons and Olympians that this is where she and Wonder Woman had previously met and fought and where Diana had taunted her. As some of the Amazons angrily advance towards the bridge to try and stop the execution Jason reluctantly orders his men to form a perimeter while adding “Can we blame them? We have brought them nothing but pain and now we assist in the death of their Princess.”
Artemis orders her sisters to wait for her word before they slay every man on the island. Alkyone cries out that this is indeed a sad night bit it is a night that brings hope. Hope for a return to what the Amazons were. Before the Dragon was born. “She abandoned us. She renounced us all. And she has offended the Gods. There is no choice left to us.” At that moment Artemis gives the order and the Amazons race across the bridge, fighting their way through the men…
Meanwhile in the cell, Achilles is speaking with Diana, who has never left the dungeon. He asks her to forgive those who have been foolish and come to regret their foolishness. He needs her to use that forgiveness for both of them. Alkyone must be stopped. He has done many misdeeds but he will not allow Diana to sacrifice herself. “And we have a war to kill”.
Back at the altar Alkyone and the others watches the fighting and one of them comments how the other Amazons will despise them for what they are doing today. “Yes. But Hippolyta will be Queen again.”
As Artemis and her sisters draw ever closer, Alkyone raises her sword above her “prisoner”, who is in fact Phinea, and impales her with Athena’s spear in front of a horrified Artemis and Jason who both cry out “No!”.
Suddenly from nowhere Diana and Achilles appear and the Amazon Princess slams Alkyone into the altar. Achilles attacks the other members of the circle raging ” Every army, every soldier suffers at the whim of zealots like you. No more!”.
Diana punches Alkyone again saying that she had murdered an Amazon and that she had wanted this bloodshed all along didn’t she? Alkyone punches Diana back, sending her flying, snarling “If one true Amazon survives and Hippolyta is one day Queen again, then this is a day of victory!”. Diana hits her again but is shocked just how strong Alkyone has become since their previous encounter. Diana sees that Achilles is under attack from the other members of the circle but she cannot help him until she has taken Alkyone down. She beats down upon her opponent again as Alkyone screams back “You fool! I tried to spare you. We all tried to spare you the truth.”
Suddenly Alkyone uses the spear and slashes a stunned Diana across her stomach, slicing through her tunic. “Yes I took poor Phinea in your stead. Because I made a bargain with the dark heart of Themyscira – and he wanted you alive, Diana.”
At that moment a huge, multi-armed creature rises from the bowels of the earth and grabs a surprised Amazon Princess.
Alkyone roars in triumph “Meet the Cottus, Diana. Meet the maker of your flesh. Meet your true father!”