Disclaimer : No copyright infringement is intended in this work. This is a non-profit effort done out of affinity and respect for the characters.

This story is one of five based upon a general 'The Measure of A Heroine' theme. The style of the five tales differ. Some are very much action oriented whereas others focus more upon the dynamics between two super heroines using the crisis as a backdrop. The setting is Elseworlds because much pre-Crisis material is used. The stories are stand-alone but can be read in succession. (There is some time and content overlap). This is the first story posted and the others will follow soon. Recommended order of reading is
1) Wonder Woman : The Measure of a Heroine
2) To Silence a Deadly Silence (features Supergirl & Hawkgirl)
3) Fortress (features Wonder Girl and Starfire)
4) Birds of Prayer (features Black Canary, Batgirl and Oracle)
5) Quick Tricks (features Zatanna and Jesse Quick)

Enjoy!

******************************************************************

WONDER WOMAN : THE MEASURE OF A HEROINE

Chapter 1.
Ominous black smoke billows up towards the clouds, increasing in volume by the second. It seemingly takes the shape of a giant hand, first to attract her attention and subsequently to pluck her from the sky. A fire rages below on an enormous oil tanker off the shores of Puerto Rico. An ecological disaster is imminent unless a miracle is forthcoming. Fortunately, she happens to be in the area code.

Wonder Woman flies above the Caribbean islands on her way to America. She is responding to a triple priority Justice League alert, the most critical of emergencies that requires the entire membership to address. Although her presence is vital, she will be momentarily delayed. The oil fire must be extinguished immediately and in her judgment this takes precedence over the JLA signal.

The Amazon slows her invisible plane as she arrives directly above the tanker. She disembarks from her wondrous aircraft and descends through the smoke to the deck below. Upon reaching the ship, it is now apparent what has happened. A safety patrol helicopter crash landed onto the vessel and exploded on impact. Flames are quickly spreading throughout the tanker and should soon reach the crude oil stored underneath.

Diana knows she must act fast. What remains of the helicopter is barely recognizable. Clearly no hope remains for any persons unfortunate enough to have been onboard, hence there is no need to treat the craft gingerly. The super heroine whips out her glowing golden lasso. With a swiftness barely discernible to the naked eye, she snares the white-hot wreckage, pulls it free from the tanker deck and hurls it two miles away from the portside of the ship. The residual flames on the deck are easily snuffed out by a vacuum created by the Amazon's super speed.

*****

From 22,300 miles above, the Earth appears to be a very tranquil place. Alas Hawkman and Hawkgirl have good reason to believe otherwise. They have just returned from a rare visit to their native Thanagar. Their space flight back was expedited by the activation of their Justice League emergency signals. Upon arriving at the orbiting satellite headquarters, they find a most disturbing setting. The satellite has been abandoned in the wake of an apparent attack that has left most of its systems inoperable.

Katar and Shayera Hol are both confused and concerned. A triple priority alert is only sounded during the gravest of situations. The JLA satellite is always to be the command center during times of crisis, yet there are no league members present. Hawkman quickly discovers that the damage, while considerable, is not catastrophic. Life support still functions and computer and weapons could be restored without too much time or effort. It is not readily apparent why the Batman, the leaguer currently assigned monitor duty, would evacuate the base given his expertise and his appreciation for its tactical importance.

To their dismay, Hawkgirl's efforts to contact their fellow Justice Leaguers fail. All lines of communication throughout the planet are being interrupted. The Thanagarian couple is at a distinct disadvantage, for they have no idea what terrible menace threatens their adoptive world. With a great sense of foreboding, they opt to journey down to the planet.

*****

She possesses heightened senses which rival any non-Kryptonian on Earth. So sharp is her vision that she was able to spot a burgeoning trail of smoke from a distance of nearly fifty miles. Curiously enough, this same vision failed to detect the obvious. So focused was she upon extinguishing the fire, that Wonder Woman failed to notice there is not a single person on board the tanker.

The super heroine quickly scouts throughout the ship and the surrounding waters to no avail. There is no sign of the crew, dead or alive. Wonder Woman is perplexed. The helicopter could not have crashed more than five minutes earlier. None of the life boats have been deployed. No rescue ships are on the way despite the tanker being within range of the coast guard.

Diana has an inkling that this mystery of hers may somehow be tied to the Justice League emergency. The Amazon tries to raise her JLA colleagues via communicator only to encounter the same jamming of transmission waves experienced by Hawkgirl. She contemplates her next move when her thoughts are interrupted by the startling sight of a jetliner soaring dangerously low. Its current trajectory is such that it will crash at full speed into the sea within a minute.

Using her gods-given speed of Hermes, the princess ascends towards her invisible plane. Responding to her mental commands, it meets her halfway. She takes the helm of her craft and expertly pilots it in pursuit of the runaway airliner. Given the invisible airplane's phenomenal velocity, it overtakes the other in seconds.

The magic lasso glides smoothly through the overcast skies. As per her telepathic commands, its noose expands to a size large enough to encompass the nose of the passenger plane. Once ensnared, the lasso goes taught. Wonder Woman flexes her sinewy muscles, gnashes her teeth and applies as much strength as she dares. The heroine must level the plane and slow its descent, but she fears the sudden upward pull could tear the craft and its occupants apart.

Wonder Woman succeeds in leveling the airplane, but there simply isn't enough altitude left to reach the airport. She therefore opts to settle for a water landing in the Atlantic Ocean. As she safely sets the craft down off the coast of the Dominican Republic, she is puzzled as to the cause of the trouble. The engines are all functioning and there is no outward sign of any damage or sabotage.

*****

The Hawkship reenters Earth's atmosphere and soars towards the United States. Even with their sophisticated equipment, the Thanagarians are still unable to contact anyone. Their destination is their Terran home of Midway City, a bustling locale which can hopefully provide them with some explanation of the crisis the planet faces.

Upon penetrating the cloud cover above Midway, the Hawks look on in shock at a city in flames. Scattered fires burn unchecked in apartment buildings, factories and department stores throughout the city. The question of which one to address first is put on hold for the moment as Hawkman spots a blimp dangerously off course. Its present path will collide with a skyscraper and result in a terrible explosion.

The husband and wife team of Katar and Shayera Hol springs into action. They know one another so well that they need not waste time hashing out a plan. The Thanagarians work superbly together, each correctly anticipating what the other is thinking. Hawkman flies underneath the gondola of the blimp. Using both his superhuman strength and his ingenious anti-gravity belt, the hero propels the derrigible upwards.

Meanwhile Hawkgirl enters the gondola to pilot the craft. She is bewildered to discover that there is no one on board. For the moment, she can't concern herself with why. The blimp must first clear the Kanigher building. Shayera guides the craft up and around the tall skyscraper, narrowly averting catastrophe. The Thanagarians proceed to land in a clearing on the outskirts of the city.

During the rescue, Hawkman begins to experience sudden dizziness and nausea. These feelings intensify rapidly and Katar is barely able to complete his half of the mission. Upon landing, Shayera realizes her husband has taken ill. She rushes to his side but can do nothing to alleviate his misery. To her horror, the man she adores inexplicably fades. His body grows transparent as it loses substance and within seconds Hawkman vanishes before Hawkgirl's disbelieving eyes.

*****

500 miles southeast of Midway City, Wonder Woman discovers that every male aboard Carter Airlines flight 724 mysteriously vanished about 15 minutes earlier. Included amongst the missing is the entire flight crew. There was little warning, save a brief bout of nausea. The unnerved stewardesses dispatched a series of mayday calls, but until the Justice Leaguer's timely arrival they went unanswered.

The remaining female passengers and attendants are in a state of panic. They rush towards the super heroine begging her to find their loved ones. Diana would like to console them, but if what she fears is true, she can not spare the time to do so. The Amazon hastily instructs the women to use the life raft equipment on board the plane to reach the shore which is only a couple miles away. She assures them that help will be on the way as soon as possible and that every effort will be made to find their missing families and friends.

Wonder Woman regrets being so short with the frightened passengers, but she doesn't wish to further alarm them with speculation. Given the empty oil tanker and the missing men from the airplane, Diana fears that men may be disappearing on a large scale, perhaps even worldwide. This may even include the male members of the Justice League. She shudders at the very thought. The remaining women are also in peril due to the countless planes and vehicles with no one at the helm.

It is inevitable that she can find disasters at every turn, yet Wonder Woman reasons that she must concentrate upon the big picture. Something terrible and deliberate is happening to her planet. The Justice League of America has never been needed more than now. The predominantly male JLA is seriously depleted; therefore it is all the more important that the remaining super heroines pool their knowledge and talents to save their world.

Since communications are being jammed, Diana must seek out her colleagues. Her present location is closest to Midway City, thus she journeys there first. To their mutual relief, Wonder Woman and Hawkgirl are united. Shayera is still shaken by Katar's disappearance, but Diana's presence helps her to refocus. The Justice League heroines will work together to find fellow leaguers Zatanna and Black Canary as well as others like Supergirl and Wonder Girl. Their combined forces will have the best chance of success.

Hawkgirl uses the advanced Thanagarian technology onboard the Hawkship to scan for the life signs of the other super heroines. This process will take Shayera several minutes to complete. Wonder Woman opts to use that time to make a trip to Washington DC. She hopes that perhaps someone within the government can provide them with some information on the Earth's plight.

As Diana and Shayera embark upon their separate tasks, they each share the same ominous thought. Through experience, a Justice Leaguer knows enough to coordinate a team effort during an emergency. Black Canary and Zatanna were both in position to respond to the initial emergency call when it was first issued. As the JLA members first on the scene, it is their responsibility to organize their forces. While it is possible that the two heroines are attempting just that, women's intuition tells Wonder Woman and Hawkgirl that this is not happening.

Hawkgirl's genetic scans of the Earth locate Supergirl relatively swiftly due to her unique Kryptonian biology. She expects the others to be much harder to find because their DNA patterns are essentially the same as the rest of the population. To her surprise, the computer identifies them only moments after locating Supergirl. Shayera discovers that all of the heroines she seeks are concentrated in the same geographic location, a place most curious given the dire peril facing the planet. "Why is the name of Thanagar are they all there", the perplexed heroine asks aloud.

While Hawkgirl ponders this latest mystery, Wonder Woman arrives at the White House. The situation proves no different in the nation's capital. The men have all disappeared, including the president and his cabinet. The first lady has assumed control in the absence of her husband. There is little however that can be done in the short term. Through word of mouth, she has called upon the military and national guard for assistance, but their forces are too lean to be of much good. No warnings or demands have been received and everyone is in the dark as to what is happening and why.

Wonder Woman naturally presumes that Black Canary and Zatanna sounded the triple priority alert after the men started vanishing. To her astonishment, the signal originated before any of the disappearances. The first lady theorizes that the missing Justice League heroines probably responded to the emergency call the White House had discretely forwarded to JLA only minutes prior to the craziness throughout the globe. Upon noticing the Amazon's quizzical expression, the first lady notes "Surely you must have heard? Doomsday was spotted in rural Montana!"

*****

With thoughts of her missing Katar constantly on her mind, Shayera Hol is understandably anxious to take action. The plan was to wait for Diana, but she did not expect to find their allies so quickly. She has no means of calling the Amazon princess; therefore Hawkgirl proceeds to Montana on her own. The Thanagarian leaves a message on board the Hawkship which Wonder Woman will find upon her return.

Her wings whip through the ozone layer as she soars due west above the continental United States. At such an extreme altitude, the thin air provides little resistance. Driven by urgency, Hawkgirl achieves a velocity far beyond that which she's ever previously attained. As a result, she manages to reach Montana ahead of Wonder Woman, who only now discovers that her partner has forged ahead without her.

Shayera Hol is an exceptionally talented woman. Her mastery of flight and her great courage and combat skills make her a tough opponent for most foes. Alas she is no match for the monstrosity that awaits her. No sooner does she touch down in the Montana countryside to aide a fallen Black Canary, when the enormous Doomsday seemingly emerges out of nowhere.

His assault is vicious and swift. Hawkgirl has no chance to defend herself as the force of the monster's initial blow sends her reeling through the air. Blood flows freely from Shayera's nose and mouth. The heroine struggles valiantly to regain her senses, fearing all the while that her attacker will unload a punishing and lethal barrage on her person. To her astonishment, the behemoth chooses not to bludgeon her, opting instead to storm off in search of more sites to destroy.

*****

Wonder Woman now recognizes the diabolical and shrewd plan. An unknown enemy has caused the disappearance of presumably every male humanoid being on Earth. Although the purpose of this action is not certain, a reasonable surmise is that it is a precursor to an invasion. Increasing this likelihood is the fact that the world's super heroines were so cruelly accounted for. The notorious monster Doomsday appeared in the sparsely populated countryside of Montana mere minutes prior to the disappearances. His presence lured the unsuspecting women into a deadly confrontation. The heroines were left to perish, tragically unaware that their noble efforts were not even focused upon the true threat to the planet.

Fortunately for the super heroines and the Earth itself, Doomsday serves no one's agenda. He is an unwitting pawn in this strange escapade. The alien behemoth thrives on death and destruction, but also has a short attention span. Having defeated his attackers, he has chosen to move on rather than finish them off. By now he is nearly two hundred miles East of the battle scene.

A veritable who's who of super heroines is sprawled across a two square mile area of Montana wilderness. Zatanna regains consciousness as Batgirl helps her up into a sitting position. Supergirl lies face first in the hard ground. The battered girl of steel groans as she struggles to her feet. The Huntress nurses a broken left arm and separated shoulder. Black Canary is worse off. The Justice Leaguer has suffered a grievously injured left knee and is unable to stand without the assistance of a sore but otherwise uninjured Wonder Girl.

Doomsday is far too dangerous to be allowed to roam unchecked throughout America. The primary threat must be the priority however. Princess Diana takes control of the situation. She instructs Hawkgirl to organize the others. Suitable teams are to be dispatched to address the mysterious invader and the recovery of the missing men. Wonder Woman will to handle Doomsday by herself, thus giving her colleagues the best chance of success.

Although she is accustomed to personal risk given her line of work, Shayera Hol's initial reaction is one of objection. Diana of Themyscira is a close and valued friend. Battling Doomsday alone is akin to a suicide mission. Hawkgirl briefly attempts to talk her out of it, but she quickly holds her tongue. Wonder Woman has made this choice and despite the danger Shayera respects her decision and the wisdom and courage behind it.

Hawkgirl experiences a mixed reaction when she assembles the heroines and quickly explains their general plan. Supergirl is very outspoken against it, suggesting that Wonder Woman must be crazy to tackle Doomsday alone. The Justice Leaguers stand behind Diana's strategy as does Wonder Girl. The younger Amazon is terribly worried about her sister, but she knows enough not to doubt her. Donna Troy implores everyone to honor Wonder Woman's judgment and follow the example of her leadership.