Lex Luthor looked at the attractive research scientist with the violet eyes and red hair as she rose to meet him. She had been recently employed by Starlabs and had claimed to have made a scientific breakthrough, creating some sort of chemical to enhance human ability and potential. Lex had been informed by his new head researcher, Burke, who had some reservations about her work.
"Burke thinks this breakthrough of yours is too dangerous...Miss Doe, is it?"
She shook Lex's hand. "Yes, Jane Doe."
Lex laughed appreciatively at that. "Miss Doe,you are aware that the market is flooded with chemical enhancers that claim to make you stronger, faster,intelligent,even more virile? Why don't you try to get a patent from the health food industry? Or maybe the sporting fraternity? Steroids have been destroying the career of many an ambitious athlete for decades."
"My potion is not for athletes or impotent men, Mr Luthor. It can create super soldiers...Beings loyal to the death,who have speed and strength. It can be sold to governments. Luthor Corp can make billions..."
He folded his arms. "Quite a boast."
She said, "I don't boast. Let me prove it to you."
She got out a chimp from its cage and put the creature onto the floor. She produced a syringe filled with a purple liquid and injected it into the animal. In less than a minute the chimp was writhing on the floor and seemed to be getting bigger and muscular. Its teeth lengthened,it grew talons, and began to salivate and roar. Luthor took a step back.
She laughed."Oh don't be alarmed. He wouldn't hurt you. He's under my control.''
"And you think I'd want to manufacture a potion that turns animals into freaks of nature?Have you been mad enough to trial this on humans?"
She looked sly. "One human."
He scowled. "You had no permission to do so!"
"Since when you care about ethics,Mr Luthor?" She walked around to the door that led to enclosed cells,where subjects were normally keep in quarantine. She opened a door and commanded,"Come out."
Lex's eyes opened wide as he saw a half man, half reptile emerge. It bowed to Lex. "What is your will?"
Lex gasped. "Who?What?"
She smiled. "Why,that is Burke. I'd say he's much improved, don't you? He's extremely powerful and fast;his tail can whip as fast as a cobra strikes,he secretes venom,and his limbs grow back."
Lex looked horrified and fascinated."What do you call this?'
After the chimp and Burke had been put back in their cells,Lex faced the woman."How did you do that?"
She smiled."Ah. That is my secret. I can create more but we need to get, er, volunteers."
"Why don't you just give over the research and I'll see to the volunteers. Shall we settle with, say, a five million?"
"Oh,no,no,no. I'm not that easy to buy off."
Lex cut to the chase. "What do you want for it?"
"Well,you have something I want."
"In your collection of illegally begotten treasures. You have something that interests me."
"It's a staff. Of Egyptian origin."
Lex frowned. "Now why would a scientist want the staff of Anubis?"
She folded her arms. "Just say I have a love for antiquities."
Lex took her to the mansion. She was ushered into the living room where she waited. He appeared minutes later with a beautiful, golden staff topped of with an onyx head of a jackal with ruby eyes.
Her eyes seemed to glow at the sight of it. "Give it here."
He said casually,"Now why would I just give you something worth millions?"He pressed the buzzer on his desk and in ran three guards with guns.
Miss Doe looked at them in amusement."You think these men with their toys can hurt me?"
Lex said,"Just hand over the disc or whatever you have of the research,and I'll let you live."
She said,"How magnanimous. But it's not that simple,Luthor."
She spoke some arcane words and to Lex's surprise,the guns in the men hands turned into bananas and an invisible force banged the heads of two together and Lex's own golf club levitated and whacked the third. All three fell unconscious.
Luthor backed away,the staff in his hands held up defensively."Who are you?"
She changed before him. The red hair changed to violet. The violet eyes changed to red. Her shirt and skirt turned to a tight green dress. She laughed."Call me Circe."
He watched her warily. She was making no move to attack him. He held the staff tighter."Well,why don't you knock me out too?"
She said nothing. He smiled. "You can't,can you?You really want this. Well,you'll have to prize it off me.."
She looked irritated. "I can't. It belongs to you."
"That I know. But surely you can do that little illusion and take it away?"
"It's not how these things work,"she retorted goaded by his mocking tone."You have to give it to me."
"Yes and I was born yesterday. How did you do that?"He asked nodding to his comatosed men.
"Don't be foolish. There's no such thing."
She smiled."I knew science was the way to get to you. But, Lex,there are many things in this world you will come to realize that exist alongside your precious science."She flicked her wrist and levitated several books of the book shelf and they fell at his feet.
Lex regarded them with impressed eyes. He said,"So,we're at at impasse. You have something I want. I have something you want. I'm a businessman,and I think we can broker a deal."
"Tell me, why do you want this staff?"
"It is a magical conduit. It can tap into unreserved power from the esotheric planes and it allow it's bearer to vanquish anything,be it organic,inorganic,or spirit. Coupled with its counter part,the Eye of Ra,an orb that sees the future ,at the next solar eclipse,one can control time itself."
Lex laughed mockingly."So,I get an army of Beastiamorphs whilst you get to control time?I don't think so. Why don't you keep your potion and I just keep my staff?"
"Look,Lex,the Eye is hidden from my sight. It can only be summoned with the magic of that staff."
Lex,came up to her,using the head of the staff to tilt her chin up ."Why do you want to control time?"
He smiled appreciatively."You're a woman after my own heart. Why not indeed. Maybe we can do this thing together."It was a statement,not a question.
She came closer into him,smiling seductively."Maybe we can. And we could make an army and enslave mankind."
The Oracle had spoken. The priestess Menalliape had seen and heard the Gods cries of a future doom. Ares would go mad with power and run rampant over the earth and not even Themyscira would be spared. The Gods deemed that a champion go out into the world,to fight the forces of darkness and spread ideals of peace,love and justice. Hippolyta had ruled that a tournament would be held on the morrow to choose that champion amongst the best warriors of the Amazon nation.
As the Queen made this decree,her young daughter,on the brink of her eighteenth year,listened from a gallery above the throne room. She clenched her fists and took a deep breath and waited for the priestess and the other senators to leave. Hippolyta stood with her adviser and commander of the army,General Phillipus.
Diana,Princess of Themyscira,hesitantly came forward. "Mother?"
Hippolyta turned. "Daughter,what are you doing here?Shouldn't you be studying with Cleo today?"
"Mother,I would like to join the tournament."
Hippolyta glanced up from the scroll in her hand. She said indulgently,"Don't be foolish,child. You should let us worry about such things. You are too young to understand."
"Mother,I'm of age and have been trained by the best." Her eyes went to Phillipus. "I also understand what can happen to the earth and our way of life if this vision comes to pass."
"Diana,"she said patiently,"that is very commendable but this is the outside world of which we speak. All other Amazons here have experienced something of what the Patriach's world has to offer. You are inexperienced."
Diana replied, with a tilt of her chin. "I was granted gifts by the Gods themselves. I have skills none of my sisters have. Great strength,speed,I can fly,..."
Hippolyta interrupted sternly,"That maybe but you're still not going to join the tournament."
"That is not fair!I am ready. Why do you bar me?Because I am Princess?I am no better or worse than my sisters. I should be allowed to participate because I too wear our symbols of bondage."She held up the bracelets on her wrists that all Amazons wore."And Ares would not care about whether one is royal or not...he will destroy!Let me prove my self..."
Hippolyta flung down the scroll. She shouted,"I said NO!You will listen to your Queen if you will not listen to your mother!If you are equal to your sisters,know that they always obey. Do you understand me,Diana?"
Diana's lips tightened. She said tightly,"Yes,Your Majesty."
"Go to your studies. Now!"
Diana bowed and left.
Phillipus said gravely, "You were very hard on her."
Hippolyta said regretfully, "I know. But she knows nothing of the outside world,Phillipus. She does not know how evil and brutal mankind can be. She may be powerful but she would be like a lamb to the slaughter. The Goddess did not grant me my heart's desire to see me sending her to her doom. She...she is mine to cherish and love..."
The General said nothing.
The young princess stalked away from the Senate but instead of going to resume her language studies,with the royal scribe,she flew away from the Palace towards the wooded areas. Here she would be alone. She landed on a secluded area of beach front and sank upon the sandy shore.
She let a frustrated cry. "Oh Hera,what is this restlessness I feel?Was I born for just this?There must have been a reason why you granted me with such gifts. It cannot be to live like this for all eternity."
She heard the sound of rustling behind her. The bushes were moving. She became still and somersaulted into the air and grabbed at the heads in the bushes.
Two girls yelped."Princess,it's only us!"
Diana sighed. It was Althea and Zoe,the wood and sea nymph. They looked about ten years old but were in fact immortals. They were her childhood playmates and still had a love of mischief and games. She had loved playing with them,but in the last year or so found it was difficult to want to tease centaurs,or swim the ocean for treasure or play hide and seek in the cypress grove. It didn't help having grown to five foot ten either in the last month.
"Sorry," she sighed.
"What's wrong,Diana? You look unhappy," said Althea.
"I feel so frustrated, little one."
Diana filled them in one what took place with her mother.
"Well,that's great!" declared Zoe,who was never one for serious matters. "Let them have their old tournament. We'll have loads of fun. Do you want to go swim in the mermaids' lagoon?"
"Something has changed with you. What is it?" asked Althea.
"I don't know. I just feel as if I'm missing out on something. As if there is a world out there that is calling to me."
"I wish I knew what was in store for me."
"Do you want to know?"queried Zoe.
"I'm not allowed to go near the Oracle."
"No,there is another way. A way to see your future."
Althea protested, "Zoe!No!"
The water nymph ignored her woodland sister and said, "It lies in the old ruined temple of Isis on the far side of the island,where the Bana reside."
Diana stiffened. "I am not allowed to go there."
"No one wouldn't even know. It's nowhere near their city but in what used to be an old series of caves."
"The Bana do not answer to Olympus. Your patrons will be none the wiser."
"How do we even get there?The border is guarded."
Zoe said,"You forget I am daughter to Nereus,old man of the sea."
The Bana-Midghall was a tribe that had split from the original group of Amazons led by Hippolyta and her sister Antiope. The split had happened after the tribe had been betrayed by mankind,and subjected to all manner of humiliation. The Bana,unlike Hippolyta's Amazons, remained bitter and vengeful. They denounced the Olympian gods and fled to Egypt where they found replacement deities in the form of the goddess Isis,Mammitu and Neith. They lived for centuries beneath the sands of Egypt but eventually was discovered by mercenaries and had the Egyptian armies descending upon them. The sorceress Circe took up their cause and transported them and their desert city to the far isle of Themyscira. There they now dwelt in an uneasy peace with their former sisters.
Diana,despite, having the freedom to roam the island had been banned from breaching those borders. Now in the company of two immortals she was led via the the route of the sea in a boat to the shoreline of the Bana's part of the island. They saw miles of sand ahead of them.
Althea shivered. "It's so barren. I don't like it. Zoe,are you sure you know where you're going?"
Zoe waved dismissively at the horizon."We will not be going there. Come."
She led them along the rocky shoreline until they came to what looked like a large cliff. There was a cave at the bottom. She pointed."Inside are the ruins of the temple and buried beneath the altar lies an orb many believe destroyed when the armies razed the Bana temples to the ground."
They came to the spot Zoe had spoken of. "Dig,Diana,"she urged.
Diana used her fists and punched the hard, dry floor and it shattered. She dug with her fingers,deep into the earth,finally coming to something round and caked in mud.
Zoe whispered excitedly, "That's it. The Eye of Ra!"
Diana dusted it off. She could see it was a golden orb,the size of an orange,with an eye made of a kind of glass. Althea suggested worriedly, "Let's take it and go before we're discovered!"
They hurried out. Diana put the orb in her pocket and took the nymphs in her arms and flew with them until they reached their boat. They fell into it and rowed swiftly towards Themyscira. Diana washed the Eye with the sea water. It came up glistening and glowing.
"What do I do?" she wondered.
"It is essentially a seeing stone. Ask it to see your future," Zoe said.
Diana cleared her throat and whispered,"Show me my future."
Diana eyes widened as she saw images in the orb. She saw miles of fields,golden fields of wheat and corn. A farmhouse,with a box with the markings,KENT,on its gate. She saw a face unlike any in her entire life:that of a young male. A beautiful face;a face she had seen only on the statues of the ancient heroes. Of Perseus. Of Theseus. But it was the eyes that held her. They were bluer than the skies above Themyscira. She took in a breath as she beheld herself fighting with the man.
"Who is he?"she demanded.
Zoe wrinkled her face uncertainly. "A future enemy?"
Then she saw another man. His head was shaved. Behind him was a woman with red eyes and violet hair. The woman seemed to be watching her. She was praying in a circle of candles in a six point star. A staff with the head of a jackal was lying on the floor before her.
Diana felt the orb heat up. She gasped."Althea!Zoe!Something isn't right!"
Althea reached for her but was repelled. She fell in a corner of the boat. Zoe screamed as she saw the orb begin to glow and a forcefield surround the princess.
"I cannot! It...it..burns!Hera!help me!"
The nymphs watched in horror as they saw their friend vanish into nothingness before their eyes.
Diana was sucked into something like a vortex and she felt her body hurtling at a great speed along a tunnel that was alive with light and sound. She felt her skin crawling with spidery sensations. She could hear ancient chanting. She felt herself falling. She landed with a heavy thud upon wooden flooring. Clutching the orb,and groaning in pain,she tried to sit up. Blood was leaking out her nose and lips.
She heard voices. The language was not her native Greek. It was one of the languages of the Patriach's world. Due to her station her mother had deemed it fit that the princess learned other languages. She had been tutored in Latin,Arabic,Sanskrit,French and what they called the universal tongue,English. She recognized what was being said. It further emphasized that she was far from home.
"I know. I see her. Who is she?"
"I don't know."Circe had been barred from Themyscira in the last century. She knew nothing of Hippolyta's daughter."But she has the Eye."
Diana looked up and saw the woman and man watching her. The woman was in green robes and she stretched her hand."Give me the Eye,there's a good girl."
Diana struggled to her feet. She looked around at Lex's library in some bewilderment. The decor was like nothing she had ever seen."Where am I?''she uttered in Greek.
Circe said dulcetly in Greek,"You must be a Bana. You would remember me. I helped your sisters flee Egypt from the oppressors and delivered you safely to Themyscira."
Diana stiffened. She may be only a two months short of eighteen but she knew her history. She knew of the deceit of Circe. She also knew of the brutality of man. She eyed the man,who was looking at her with something akin to admiration. She did not even know it but she cut a very aesthetically pleasing picture. Her tall, lithe figure was evident in her knee length tunic;her blue eyes, beneath high arched black brows, gleamed like sapphires;her nose was classical perfection above full lips and her hair fell like an ebony waterfall over her shoulders.
Diana also sensed that giving the Eye was not exactly a good idea.
She put the Eye behind her back."No."
Circe moved towards her. "Why you insolent ..."
Lex grasped her arm. "No." He said softly,"Come on. Tell her there's nothing to be afraid of. To give us the Eye and we'll send her home."
Diana took a deep breath,and said in halting English,"This...belongs to...Bana. Not yours...not...not hers. I will not give it up."
Lex looked at her taken aback. "She understands English. Impressive."
Circe snapped abruptly raised her hand and uttered some words. A large desk hovered in the air and came flying at Diana. She saw it and with one upward movement punched it apart.
Lex ducked and shouted,"Jesus!"
Circe's eyes glowed."Who are you?"
She clutched the Eye to her chest and turned to kick the wall into the living room. Lex pressed the alarm. Diana gasped and saw men running in with guns. She lifted an armchair and flung it at one and moved so swiftly another felt her fist in his jaw. The other tried to fire at her. Bullets whizzed past her ear. She gasped in bewilderment as she saw them splinter the shelving unit behind her.
"Merciful Minerva!"she gasped and pulled a sword from the wall. She skillfully disarmed two more,slashing one across the chest and the other across the back.
Three more ran in. She heard the one called Luthor shouting,"Don't kill her!Just maim her. I want her alive!"The bullets were now coming at her fast,too fast. She dropped the sword and stamped the ground and the entire wooden flooring splintered and the ground shook. The men teetered and fell over. Diana crashed into a wall and burst out into the grounds. With the speed of Hermes she fled into the woods behind the house.
Circe looked at Luthor. "You fool!You let her get away!"
He turned to her. "You told me the Amazons were immortal. But is that normal what she's doing?"They looked around at the injured men,damaged furniture,splintered floor and broken walls.
"They are a warrior race but this is nothing like I have ever seen. She's also gotten away with the orb."
"Can you track it down?"
"I can try. But she has it and unless she gives it up willingly,we can't get it."
Clark had come home for the weekend. Since his father's passing, he had tried to come home as often as he could,knowing his mother felt the void more than ever now he was in university. Martha was managing the farm. She had hired hands to help with its running and made it clear to her son that she would not have him sacrifice his education. It was hard work but with the demand for biofuels and grain it made the cultivation of wheat and corn profitable. It meant she could afford to continue Clark's education and house him in decent accommodation in the city. The hired hands had the weekend off and this left Clark to use his invaluable strength and speed to help repair the fences.
He was taking a break;sitting with his mother on the porch when he suddenly paused in drinking his lemonade and looked up.
Martha looked at him."What is it, sweetheart?"
"Do you feel that?"
"A tremor. Like a small quake. It's coming from there..."He got up and stared at the horizon."From the Luthor mansion."
Martha said cynically, "God knows what Lex is up to."
Clark frowned. "I hear sirens. Cops. Ambulance. Sounds like trouble,Mom. Maybe I should check it out."
She warned. "Don't let anyone see you."
Moving like a blur he reached the periphery of the Luthor mansion. He could see squad cars near the house. One car waited near the road.
"What's going on?"Clark asked casually of a young deputy.
"Seems someone robbed Luthor and did a job on his guys and the house."
Clark moved aside for an ambulance to turn up the driveway. A year ago he would have been able to go up to the house and see if Lex was okay. But after what had happened with Lana,it was now impossible. Lana had left Lex and Smallville. She had been gone some months. It had all been too much for her. She had accepted that she'd been a fool to get involved with Lex and that she had hurt Clark. She needed time away from everything. Being near Clark would only confuse her more. So she was in Europe, trying to sort out her feelings and find herself. Lex had not taken her rejection graciously,blaming Clark for it. It was another thing that was further driving the wedge between the former friends.
His eyes could see the house. He frowned. Who could have damaged the place so much?He saw two injured men,bleeding from deep gashes being put into the ambulance. It was strange. He saw the three cars pulling off. He could hear the deputy as he got into his car and picked up his radio. "They got the location of the thief? Where? The old saw mill? Got that!"
Clark did not wait. He backed into some bushes and sped off.
Diana sat huddled on a pile of old lumber and looked at the orb in her hands with desperate eyes. It looked dull and lackluster. She looked around at the deserted mill and the sight of piles of unused wood,mildewed shavings and tumbled down buildings were as a blot on her soul. Used to greenery and trees being treated with respect and not left to lie around rotting,the surroundings only served to make her feel more lost and confused.
She didn't know where she was but logic told her that somehow she had been wrenched out of her island into the Patriarch's world. And it was due to Circe's doing. Circe had a staff of some sort and wanted the Eye. It did not bode well. She must not have it. She shook the orb and pleaded,"Give me sight."
She suddenly felt the orb glow and saw in its depths the face of the young man. Then she saw strange chariots speeding along a road and Circe saying to Luthor, "I've located the orb. She's using it. She's in a place where there are piles of logs and old derelict buildings..."
Lex answered, "The old saw mill!"
Diana gasped, and tore out a piece of her skirt and wrapped the orb. "Must not let them see me!"
She stood up and looked around in vain. Where could she go to hide? She stepped down from the log pile when she heard a crunching of wood chippings behind her.
Diana spun around and saw a tall young male in a blue t-shirt and jeans. The face was his! The one who she saw in the Eye! He was the enemy! Diana pushed the orb in her pocket and turned to face him.
Clark saw a tall figure step down from the pile of logs. It was a female figure!He saw the white tunic and sandals. Long black hair whipped around and he saw a face that stopped him dead in his tracks. He blinked. For years,since he was a kid,he thought Lana the loveliest of all girls. Chloe,his best friend, was very cute. And he couldn't deny Lois was pretty attractive. In university he was surrounded by beauties from different ethnicities and walks of life. Yet none of them made him stare like he was doing now.
This girl...he could see from her soft smooth oval cheeks that she was young...she was the most beautiful thing his eyes ever beheld. He felt a strange sensation in the pit of his stomach. Was she the thief? He saw her pocket something and get into what appeared to be a defensive stance.
He came forward. "Don't be afraid."
She said,in a voice that was accented,"Stay...away..."
Clark frowned. "Please,I'm not here to hurt you. What happened?Why are the cops after you?"
She stepped back. "I ...do not come near..."
Clark saw that she looked as if she was about to stumble over a piece of wood. He came forward."Watch it!"
To his astonishment,she picked up a log as if she was picking up a bat and she whacked him with it. He went flying backwards into a pile of logs and slithered to the floor.
"What the hell..?" He struggled up and stared at her in astonishment. "How did you do that?"
She replied by hurling another three logs at him. This time Clark anticipated them and back handed them away. It was Diana's turn to gape.
She jumped over the logs and tore out an old rusted round saw and hurled it at him. He caught it an inch from his face and crushed it as if it were paper. An iron pole came at him next and he bent it as if it were a twig.
Her heart began to beat faster. She clenched her hands and asked impatiently,perplexed at the feeling coming over her,"Gaea!Who... are... you?"
Clark flung the iron pole aside."I could ask you the same question."
She was about to pick up a heavy,rusted iron chain when the sound of sirens assailed her ears. She dropped it,ran to wards the river and leaped over to the opposite bank and vanished amongst the trees.
Clark swore."Damn it."
He cleared the bank and went after her. Diana was running like the wind,and she skidded to a halt in a glade when the young man appeared like some apparition before her. She turned and sped off in the opposite direction. He did the same. She burst onto a cliff and turned to see him behind her.
She looked bewildered."How?"
He said wryly, "I know. I'm fast. But so are you."
Diana saw him take a step forward and she warned,"Keep back!"
Clark put his hand out,seeing she was backing towards the edge of the cliff."Please...let's talk...I'm not here to hurt you..."
"You...lie...,"she swallowed. She was confused. This male was as fast as she. Seemed as strong as she. Had he been blessed by the Gods as well?Worse was the seeming sincerity in his gaze and the candid honesty in his voice.
"I'm not lying,"he said simply.
She hissed."All your kind... do!"
"Hey,you're going to fall!"he warned,not liking that she was two steps away from toppling over the edge. If it came to the worse,he would catch her but he wasn't too sure how she'd view that considering she was looking at him as if he was some kind of wolf about to pounce upon her.
Diana turned and faced the edge. She smiled almost arrogantly,"I won't."
To his dismay she stepped off. He rushed to the edge to go after her but let out a "Whoa!" as she swooped like a bird in the vale and soared upwards into the air. She was flying!
Clark shook his head in amazement."Now I've seen everything!"
He pushed off and went straight towards her like a rocket.
Diana heard the rushing of air behind her and turned to see the young man on her gasped."Blessed Apollo? He flies too?"