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Chapter 1 - Prologue
Johann Schmidt, the Red Skull, believed he walked in the footsteps of the gods. He believed that there was an ancient power left behind on Earth by them, and that only a superior man would have the means to seize that power. His faith in this was so big that had ultimately led to creation of HYDRA and even to their betrayal of Hitler himself.
Peggy Carter, of course, didn't believe in that. To her, it was bloody nonsense, the words of a maniac, even if a dangerous one. To her, there was only humanity and men were responsible for everything that happened with themselves, good and bad. She wasn't much of a believer in anything, but in the end, if there was a god, Peggy thought he would remain far away and let people deal with their own problems.
That didn't mean she could explain every single thing under the sky; not even Howard Stark could hope to do that, and she knew she wasn't nearly as intelligent as he was. Even then, Peggy wasn't ashamed to answer questions with a well placed "I don't know" when faced with things she didn't understand. The Tesseract, for example, that Schmidt called the "Jewel of Odin's Treasure Room", was one of those things.
A source of unlimited power that HYDRA used to make fearsome weapons, the Tesseract was one of the reasons Schmidt had so much power to face them. It was something that no one, not even Howard and their best scientists, could explain; but it wasn't because she didn't understand it that she would simply call it a "power left behind by the gods". It was simply something they still didn't comprehend.
In that aspect, she differed from Diana almost completely. While she doubted the existence and influence of the gods, Diana had unshakable faith. Not only she wholeheartedly believed in Schmidt's claims that the Tesseract was a godly power, she also believed that he was Ares, the God of War, himself. She believed that he was responsible for all that was evil in "Man's World", the World War included. And she believed that if she could kill him, she could end the war and save countless lives.
Peggy also thought all this was bloody nonsense. No matter how much she liked Diana and how much she trusted her, her faith wasn't Peggy's; which didn't mean that she could explain everything about Diana either. She had no answers as to why Themyscira wasn't on their map, even when Steve had guaranteed he had been there; she had no answers as to why Diana was so incredibly powerful, far outclassing Captain America's own strength, something that should be impossible without the Super Soldier Serum; she had no answers as to how her equipment - an armor that seemed to be made of leather, a sword and a shield – could withstand virtually anything, being as strong as Steve's vibranium shield; and she had no answers as to how her glowing lasso, that Diana claimed it "burned with the fire of Hestia", could force people to tell the truth.
No one could answer those questions, no matter how much they tried, so the Allies simply accepted their very own "Wonder Woman". Few of them really believed what Diana told them about the Olympian gods and Ares, but since her mission of killing Johann Schmidt was aligned with theirs, they had learned to work with her and not ask many questions; hard not to, when the Howling Commandos, with both Captain America and Wonder Woman, were so amazingly efficient at annihilating HYDRA bases.
But even telling herself that all this god nonsense was impossible, it was very difficult for Peggy to deny what her very own eyes were seeing right now.
A thunderstorm being created out of nothing from the hands of a man she thought an ally and a human until that moment, exploding in a flash of light so powerful that the entire top of the mountain on that hangar became dust, the cold air of the Alps invading the place.
Her friend, her sister, Diana matching blow by blow a man… a creature… a god covered from head to toe in a hellish four horned armor that he had summoned from debris around him.
Diana battling a god that had simply withstood every conceivable attack they dealt him, his armor actually seeming to get stronger every time it was hit, absorbing bullets, bombs, fire and even the Tesseract energy weapons in its dark metal.
Wonder Woman and the God of War fighting with all their power, tossing cars, tanks and planes in the air as if they were nothing, moving at impossible speeds, punching each other so strongly that gigantic craters were formed on the ground.
Peggy simply didn't have words to explain what was happening before her eyes. Suddenly, all that "nonsense" Diana told her seemed very real. Ares, the God of War, the entity she claimed was responsible for the evil in the world, was standing right in front of her. Her friend was in a battle for her life and there wasn't a thing she could do to help.
Because apparently, no matter how much she wanted to deny it, gods were very real; and not all of them were benevolent.
Colonel Chester Phillips was a hardened, gruff and tough old man. A soldier to the bone. Someone who believed deeply that wars were won by the best men and that was why he had worked hard to find and train the best of them.
Captain America was one of them. Steve Rogers. He had trained him since he was a skinny, shorty recruit, who looked like he needed to eat a sandwich more than he needed to be trained. Even though he didn't believe in Erskine's choice, he had respected it and had given everything he had to make Rogers a true soldier.
It worked. Not only because of his training, not only because of the Super Soldier Serum, but because of Steve Rogers himself. And that was the one time Colonel Phillips didn't mind being completely wrong, because Captain America had been a blessing they thoroughly needed in that war.
HYDRA was stronger than they had imagined. While Adolf Hitler could very well end up conquering the world, Johann Schmidt was doing his very best to destroy it. Fanaticism, blind faith and general madness seemed to be the common traits every HYDRA soldier had, but that didn't make them any less lethal. And he wasn't ashamed to admit that things were not going well until Captain America appeared.
And until he brought them Diana Prince, the Wonder Woman, as the men called her.
Maybe it was the old age that had made Colonel Phillips a skeptic. Maybe it was the constant war. But the same way he did not believe in Captain America right up until Agent Carter disobeyed him and sent him on a mission to rescue the men captured by HYDRA and he came back successful, he did not believe a little woman could fight.
Of course, he had completely eaten his own words.
Not only Diana could fight, she was a warrior. Maybe not trained exactly like he trained his men, but honed in the art of war in a way he had never seen before. More than that, she was powerful; now, he couldn't explain why, Howard couldn't explain why, but that little woman was stronger than Captain America himself.
Luckily for him, he didn't have to be able to explain anything, he just needed to point her in the right direction and unleash her upon his enemies. Between her, Captain America and the Howling Commandos, for the first time since the beginning of this fucking war HYDRA was the one being punched in the mouth for a change.
And if he had to listen about Greek gods and Ares and her mission on "Man's World", well… It was a price he could pay.
Frankly, all this god business wasn't his cup of tea; he already had more than his fill with the Red Skull's craziness. But sometimes, even if he would never admit it, he would have liked to believe as strongly as Diana did.
To believe that by killing one man, they could end every horror in this world. That by ridding the Earth from Schmidt they could not only end this war, but every other war. That evil itself would be destroyed and the hearts of men would know only peace.
It was a beautiful belief. He was a soldier to the core, he had fought since he could remember. And that was why he really wanted, even for a second, to believe this could be true; because war was terrifying, dirty and all around horrible and to imagine a world without it would be a blessing.
But at the same time, he knew it was naïve. Diana, for all her competence as an amazon warrior, still was very much a child; untouched by the filthy that surrounded all of them. Even when covered in blood and mud, she glittered like a diamond in the battlefield, a bright sun that would charm his soldiers as if they were seeing the most beautiful sight in the world.
He didn't know from where she came from, how she could do the things she did, but it was plain as day that she was new to this; maybe from where she came from, war was just present in stories. Because only someone who had not seen what people could do to each other could possibly believe that a god was responsible for all that.
No, Colonel Phillips didn't believe in gods; he believed in men. Which was why the sight of that monstrosity battling Diana in the middle of what was HYDRA's last headquarters hangar was so hard to swallow.
He didn't know how to possibly understand what he was seeing. That armored man… God, was not something he could accept. Because everything Diana had told him, about men's hearts being corrupted by the God of War, suddenly looked much more believable. That thing levitating huge steel beams with his mind and tossing them around was the very personification of war.
He could only watch as Diana fought, her fists making sounds like cannons firing when hitting, her legs powerful enough to propel her to the sky as if she could almost fly, her body withstanding blows that could destroy tanks with ease.
Colonel Phillips, for the first time in his life, reevaluated his belief; maybe this War couldn't be won by men. This time they would need a Goddess.
Howard Stark was a man of science. When he looked at the world, he didn't see the certainty provided by faith, he saw possibilities, questions, puzzles to be solved. He didn't want to hear that it rained because the gods wanted it to rain; he wanted to know how it happened, when it happened, what factors were involved in the process… He wanted to understand every single thing that happened in this world, down to very last equation. And for the most part, he could do it, with different degrees of success.
And yet, no matter how hard he tried, he simply couldn't comprehend Diana.
She just made no sense. There was no scientific explanation that he could find to explain how she did the things she did. Maybe he didn't have sufficient knowledge yet or the necessary technology to do it, but the truth was that she was one big mystery to him.
That fascinated him.
Her strength, speed and resistance, so incredibly off the charts that Captain America looked a simple man at her side; the way she could fight, always in complete control of everything that happened around her, to the point that she could deflect bullets with her bracelets; which brought into question the very nature of her weapons, made of some unknown material that seemed as strong as vibranium, and a piece of glowing rope that could force people to tell the truth; add to that her mastery of every single language in existence, be it her capacity to speak them or understand their written form, and Howard had a long list of questions he didn't know how to answer.
The fact that she was definitely the most beautiful woman he had ever seen – and he had seen lots of beautiful women all over the world – didn't hurt his desire to know her better either.
Not that he had any chance with her anyway, he knew that. Being the womanizing idol he was, he had tried his charms on her at the very first time they met; it was simply impossible to resist. Maybe it was the fact that she probably didn't even notice his attempts or maybe it was her innocent look, but Howard immediately felt bad after doing that. Gorgeous as she was, Diana was not like other women at all and that made it awkward to try to seduce her for real, the same thing he felt with Agent Carter. They were his friends, as weird as the thought sounded.
And, of course, there was the way she looked at Steve; and the way he looked at her. Neither of them had noticed at first, but he did. Lingering eyes, small touches, always together… All the signs were there and he wasn't such a bad person to get in the middle of that. On the contrary, he, Agent Carter and Sergeant Barnes had actually tried to help as much as they could; that's what friends did for each other and he didn't have that many to spare.
Which was one of the reasons he was there, at the final attack on the last HYDRA base in the Alps. He wasn't a soldier; he just didn't go to the field, it wasn't his place. But to try to help his friends he had volunteered to go, to help in any way he could, to counter any scientific trap they could run into. He expected a hard battle, lots of gunshots and explosions, a lot of people dying.
He did not expect to see what he was seeing right now.
All those things he didn't understand about Diana, that she had explained to him with her usual "the gods did it", and he never believed it? Well, he was rethinking his position. As scientific oriented as he was, Howard had his limits; because right now, there wasn't a single explanation he could come up with to shed some light in what the hell was happening.
Diana was battling the God of War from the mythology. He had no words to express how earth-shattering to the understanding of the very nature of the universe such a thing was. Because it seemed gods were very real and very present in their lives, even if Howard didn't like to admit it.
Howard had lost his ability to think when the whole thing began, witnessing a man they thought until then an ally simply explode half the mountain with a thunderstorm summoned from his fingers. And that - because of course it was - was just the beginning of all the madness.
While Diana and Ares fought, the SSR engaged the HYDRA troops, Captain America and the Howling Commandos leading them. That is, until Johann Schmidt disengaged and embarked in the Valkyrie, the plane he would use in his plan to bomb the main cities in the world, according to Zola, which forced Steve to follow him in a desperate chase and also embark.
Howard was, right now, trying to avoid the explosions and blue energy shots everywhere, at the same time he calibrated a radio to try and reach Steve; what was proving to be the most difficult thing he did on his life, because there were two fucking gods destroying everything in sight!
When Ares began throwing Diana everywhere, her body smashing vehicles and the very stone from the ground, the Howling Commandos focused on him, giving everything they had, bullets and bombs and even the Tesseract weapons they had stolen; the God of War simply stood there, until an explosion covered everything.
And the moment the fire lowered, he walked out, unscathed, and summoned an armor made of debris from the war to cover him.
Howard wasn't ashamed to say he almost had to change his trousers when he saw that and, by the reactions of the people around there, even amongst HYDRA troops, he wasn't the only one. After a few seconds of stunned silence, the Howling Commandos started firing again.
Only to see everything they shot being absorbed by the armor. Not deflected, not simply blocked, absorbed into it, as if every bullet, every bomb, every fire made it stronger than it already was. Ares kept walking, apparently not bothered by any of this, and formed two swords the same way he had made his armor.
"Let's see what kind of god you really are!" he said, his voice making Howard tremble.
Diana started to run in his direction, jumping to attack him, only to be thrown back when he launched his two swords against her. He flew against Diana, forming two other swords, and attacked her, each attack breaking the ground and everything else it hit.
He formed a black chain and wrapped it around Diana's arm, pulling her with force against a cargo truck, her body bending the metal of the vehicle when she crashed against it.
"You will help me destroy them, Diana!" Ares claimed, bringing the chain down in a powerful swing, so strong that it cut the truck in half when Diana dodged. "Or you will die."
Diana yelled in fury and jumped against him, almost flying in the air when they collided, breaking everything in their path. They fell like a bomb back in the ground, getting up immediately, in a flurry of black blades and Diana's golden lasso.
Howard couldn't believe in what his own eyes were seeing. Nothing in his life had prepared him to witness something like this. This wasn't just a simple war anymore; it was a clash of gods and he never felt more insignificant in all his life.
Ares managed to grab Diana's neck and fly to the sky.
"Is that all you have to offer?" he asked, tossing her like a toy right in top of a tank, reducing it to rubble.
With a movement of his hand, he lifted the two tracks from the destroyed tank in air and threw them against Diana managing to wrap her entire body with them and bring her down, immobilized; her body made a crater on the ground.
"It is futile to imagine you can win," Ares said, as he tightened the tank track around her, making her grunt in pain. "Give up, Diana."
Howard could see how desperate Diana was, trying to escape, her breath failing; and there wasn't a single thing anybody there could do. Peggy, Colonel Phillips, the Howling Commandos… They could only watch, helpless, as their Wonder Woman was defeated.
The radio he was adjusting came back to life, suddenly.
"Come in, this is Captain Rogers. Do you read me?!"
Despite the sounds of battle all around, his voice carried through the hangar, making every head turn; including Diana's.
"Steve…" Diana mumbled.
"Steve, are you alright?" Howard asked, after a stunned few seconds.
"Howard, Schmidt is dead!" Steve answered.
"What about the plane?" he asked.
He hesitated for a second.
"That's a little bit tougher to explain."
"Give me your coordinates, I'll find you a safe landing site," Howard answered, already trying to remember any known bases.
There was an even bigger pause.
"There's not going to be a safe landing," Steve said, finally, "but I can try and force it down."
"What?! No!" Howard exclaimed, looking immediately to Diana; her eyes were wide with fear.
"There is not enough time, Howard. This thing is moving too fast and it's heading for New York," he stopped talking again. "I… I got to put her in the water."
"No! Steve, listen to me, don't do this, we have time, we can work it out!" Howard retorted, everything else around him forgotten at the moment.
"Right now I'm in the middle of nowhere. If I wait any longer a lot of people are gonna die," Howard could hear him breathing. "This is my choice."
Howard could hear the engines of the plane roaring when Steve started his descent; he looked at Diana, unable to say anything.
"Howard. Please tell Diana I'm going to need a rain check on that dance. Tell her… Tell her I lov…"
The radio died.
Diana had never felt such pain in her entire life. It was like her heart was being torn apart inside her chest, like the air inside her lungs had become fire, like every fiber of her being was being shattered. No, no, no… She didn't even feel the tears running down her face or heard her piercing yell. She couldn't see anything besides pain.
She felt her rage take almost physical form and suddenly her restraints felt like nothing; opening her arms with a scream, she ripped the metal apart, a burst of energy flying from her and throwing every single person on the ground, even Ares. Her eyes fell upon HYDRA. It was their fault Steve was dead.
They would pay, they would all pay!
Moving so fast that she glided on the ground, Diana was upon them, hitting, breaking, maiming, killing. The fire around her seemed to grow with her fury, making everything a red inferno; bullets and even the Tesseract guns simply bounced on her skin as if nothing could hurt her anymore.
The world was shaking as she destroyed her enemies, as she avenged Steve.
"Yes, Diana!" Ares congratulated, laughing. "Take them all! Finally… You see. Look at this world… Mankind did this, not me! They are ugly, filled with hatred, weak… Just as your Captain Rogers! Gone and left you nothing. And for what? Pathetic! They deserved to burn!"
Diana was yelling as she hurled herself on top of Ares, punching his armored face with everything she had, the ground breaking under them at each blow; and then he retaliated, throwing her to the other side of the hangar with one single punch.
She fell on top of a tank, folding it like it was made of paper. Ares got up and started walking to her, lifting his arm; but, instead of attacking, he looked behind him, to what was left from the HYDRA troops. With a gesture, they were pulled from the ground and tossed right in front of her, their masks ripped from their faces.
"Look at them and tell me I'm wrong," he said, as the HYDRA soldiers got on their knees, terrified. "They killed, they tortured, they followed a man who wanted to destroy the entire world and for what purpose? They are the perfect example of these humans. And unworthy of your sympathy in every way!"
Diana's fury burned inside her as she looked at them; Ares was right. They were guilty of everything. The war, all the innocents dead, Steve… She lifted the tank over her head, her eyes filled with rage, ready to crush them all.
"Destroy them, Diana!" Ares ordered. "You know they deserve it, they all do!"
She looked at their terrified faces, no longer the nameless soldiers now that they had no mask on, crying in the middle of a circle of flames… She closed her eyes, a memory playing in her mind.
"Diana! I have to go," Steve said, as he pulled her from the ground, her ears ringing because of the explosion.
"What… What are you saying?" she asked. "Steve… Whatever it is, I can do it!"
"Let me do it!"
"No! It has to be me!" Steve interrupted. "It has to be me. Schmidt is escaping on the plane, I have to go after him."
He looked at her eyes.
"I can save today. You can save the world."
Steve smiled and caressed her cheek.
"I wish we had more time."
"What? What are you saying?" Diana asked, her heart beating fast.
Steve stepped away, ready to follow the already moving plane.
"I love you!" and, leaving his compass with her, he turned and went to stop Schmidt.
Diana opened her eyes, all the burning fury leaving her. She looked down at the terrified soldiers, not with the need to kill them all now, but with mercy.
She smiled, feeling a tear running down her face.
"You are wrong about them," she said, throwing the tank down, far away from the HYDRA soldiers and starting to walk in Ares direction.
Diana understood now.
"They are everything you say, but so much more."
"Lies!" Ares yelled, summoning a cloud of blades and throwing them against her, as he flew with his swords pointed in her direction.
She didn't even try to dodge. Diana finally understood: she couldn't fight War. The more she did it, the stronger Ares became. The more violence, the more power he had. The more fury, the more his influence spread. Diana was done with this.
Ares's blades never touched her, disintegrating themselves before hitting her; she crossed her arms, focusing her powers on her bracelets, and unleashed it. Ares was thrown back with incredible force, falling on top of a car, losing his helmet.
What was war if there was nobody willing to fight it?
He got up, summoning a lightning bolt from the sky, the electricity dancing on his hand.
"They do not deserve your protection!" he yelled, throwing the spear of lightning against her.
"It's not about 'deserve'," she answered, blocking the spear with her bracelets and deflecting it to the side with ease. "It's about what you believe."
Diana looked at him and smiled.
"And I believe in love."
Ares looked at her with all the hate he could muster.
"Then I will destroy you!"
And the sky glowed blue as he pulled every single lightning bolt from the clouds into his hands. The electricity danced on his body for a second, before he unleashed all his power in the form of one single concentrated lightning bolt.
Diana crossed her arms and blocked it with her bracelets, the power of the attack dragging her back, the ground breaking as she kneeled to support herself; the lightning finally stopped, now surrounding her own arms, as if she had control of them. She played with it for a second and looked at Ares.
And saying this, she jumped up, floating in the sky with her arms open, the blue lightning dancing on her body; then she crossed her arms, using her bracelets to deflect the attack back, the huge lightning bolt hitting Ares straight on the chest, piercing him like a spear.
Everything flashed blue for a moment, the entire mountain trembling.
The skies seemed to open after that, the sun shining peacefully on the horizon. Diana floated down, her feet touching the ground softly, as she looked around. Everyone was looking at her: her friend, her sister, Peggy; her commander, Colonel Phillips; her brother, Howard; her best friends and brothers-in-arms, the Howling Commandos.
They had won; she just wished Steve was there, by her side, to see it.
Hey guys, I don't usually do this, normally I talk with you directly via PM, but I just want to say somethings to you. First, this is a new story I'll be working on, it happens in a different universe from Avengers of Steel, just so you know. One of the readers of Avengers of Steel was the one who actually sugested this story (Amir-015) and I began to think about it and finaly came up with a plot.
Now, to those of you who read Avengers of Steel, I just want to say don't worry, because that story still is my priority and I will keep updating it weekly, unless there is an emergency.
This story I also plan to update weekly, but, like I said, Avengers of Steel comes first. But I'll do my best.
Anyway, you guys are awesome, your suport and feedback helps a lot. It's always good to know when your work is being appreciated (or not, and in this case why). But I already said too much, please review, favorite, follow... Tell me what you think about this new story. Thanks a lot again.