Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Thank you, Kipling-Nori, for the beta. In thanks, have a strawberry daiquiri. Or perhaps you would prefer a vodka martini, extra dry with three olives? Also, thank you, Hepburn, for letting me bounce off tons of ideas on you and for providing me with some information that will lead to a better story for all involved.
So, I came to the decision that I needed to write a story that wasn't solely about a romance between BMWW, a story that had an actual case that needed to be solved and bad guys to defeat. This is it (though for all you BMWW fans, there will be plenty of that as well). Apart from being my first action story, it is also set in an AU, where Bruce, after the death of his parents, is raised in Themyscira, like Aresia was in some JLU episode that I can't remember. I am a huge fan of mythology, particularly of the Greek variety, and the gods and goddesses will be playing an expanded role in this fiction. Where possible, I try to include the classic stories as is, but I will twist them for my own purposes :D. Same thing with the comic book history of the Amazons. Since this is an AU, I've given myself latitude to do so, though I'm trying not to stray too far from the source material.
The prologue might be more accessible to those who are familiar with Greek mythology. This will be the only chapter set in the past and with unfamiliar characters. After that, you will recognize all of the characters from the comic books/tv show. I try to be as clear as possible. If you have questions, let me know. :D Just in case you weren't aware, Troy and Ilium are the same place. And the Greeks were also known as the Achaeans.
Warning: this chapter contains unsavory events that have come to be associated with the fall of any kind of kingdom, namely rape and pillage. I'm not graphic, but still, it's not something that is very pleasant, either to write or read about.
Without further ado...
Stranger in Paradise
Unseen by mortal eyes, the goddess stood upon the city wall, gazing upon the empty streets of Troy as its inhabitants slumbered.
Ten years she had waited for this moment—ever since the Trojan prince Paris had given the golden apple to the goddess of love, preferring the gift of Aphrodite over those offered by Hera and Athena. That gift was the lovely Helen, already the wife of Menelaus, king of Sparta. But that made no difference to Paris or Aphrodite. As a guest in the king's home, Paris seduced Helen, whisking her away to Ilium, setting into motion the greatest war the world had ever seen. Led by Menelaus' brother, Agamemnon, the Greek army had launched a thousand ships to reclaim the unfaithful wife. Allied with the kings of the Greek city states and supported by the spurned goddesses, Agamemnon and Menelaus had waged war upon Troy these last ten years.
Ten years of betrayal, blood, and death. One by one, the heroes of both sides fell. Patroclus, Hector, Achilles, Paris, and hundreds of others who no one would ever remember.
And there were many more to come.
Ten years, and now the end. The goddess shook her head at the waste.
A creaking noise from the middle of the large city captured Athena's attention. There stood an enormous wooden horse, a gift from the Greeks, dedicated as an offering to the great goddess Athena. The horse's belly opened, and thousands of Greek soldiers poured out of its side—the same Greek soldiers that the Trojans believed had sailed from their shores, defeated, just that very day. Thinking that they had won the war, the Trojans had celebrated. Wine flowed freely as the long-suffering citizens of Troy drank themselves into a false sense of security and, eventually, sleep.
A grim smile settled on the goddess's mouth, the only sign of her appreciation for the cunning and guile of the Greeks.
"You could still stop this, Athena."
The most radiant of the gods appeared beside her, as still and implacable as any marble statue but infinitely more beautiful. Athena barely acknowledged the golden being. "It is inevitable. There can be no other ending."
"And no winners."
Athena finally threw a wary glance at Apollo. As the god of prophecy, his cryptic remarks carried more weight with her than the other gods' offhand comments.
"Why is that?"
"Do you really believe that this will end tonight? The war will be over, but there can never be peace between the Trojans and the Achaeans. This is Troy's last night, but by the end, you will wish that they had won. You've chosen to ally yourself with the wrong people, Athena. You should have chosen our side." Artemis, Zeus, Apollo, Aphrodite, Ares: our side. Athena almost smiled at the bitterness implicit in his words.
But Apollo was right, and Athena knew too much of the world to object.
The Greeks had already defiled her Trojan temple, slaying her guards in the process. With bloodied hands, they stole the image of herself—the Palladium—she had given to the founder of Troy so many years ago. Her hatred for Troy was so great that she had allowed it, because without the Palladium, the Greeks would never win. She had spared their lives because the abomination was necessary. No city with the Palladium would ever fall.
And yet, in the end, Athena knew it would all be for nothing. It would not matter that she had preferred the Greeks or that she had battled by their side for a decade to reach this day. All the stratagems and battle plans that she had devised and inspired would be rendered futile. Ilium would be destroyed, but the Trojans would establish Rome, and Rome would rule the world.
For the first time in all her existence, the ageless one was weary. "Perhaps I did choose the wrong side."
Together they watched as the Greeks slayed the sleeping guards along the walls of the citadel. The gates were flung wide open, and the incoming stream of warriors seemed never-ending. The disciplined troops began to fan out all over the slumbering city.
"You will make amends."
As Athena opened her mouth to ask his meaning, a blood-curdling yell pierced the silence and Apollo vanished. His words would remain a mystery for now, forgotten as fire started to devour Troy from within.
At first, the soldiers of Ilium put up a fight. Aeneas, the greatest of the Trojan warriors since the death of Hector, roused all the soldiers he could find and was planning one last stand. For all the good it would do him.
As the flames crawled higher and higher, Athena floated through the conflagration untouched and unseen, watching the other gods hard at work. Poseidon was pushing and pulling at the very foundations of Troy, so that the city swayed side to side, on the verge of toppling over. Ares had no fixed spot, but darted around, feeding on the destruction around him, all the while flaming the soldiers' bloodlust. At the entrance to the city, Hera ushered in more and more Greek soldiers, while high atop the citadel's walls, Artemis spurred the Trojans on to a glorious death. She could not see Apollo or Hades, but she knew they were there, along with a host of other gods and goddesses. Lastly, she saw Aphrodite protecting a family from the fighting around them.
There was little for Athena to do, so she sat back and observed.
The Achaeans showed no restraint as they destroyed Ilium. There was nothing left untouched, nothing considered sacred. Children lay slaughtered in the streets, their grandparents' lifeless bodies sprawled around them. Brute beasts forced themselves on countless women, sometimes over the still-warm corpses of the husbands and fathers who had died defending them. Soldiers were looting the dead, stripping them of their armor or anything else that caught their fancy.
Athena made her way over to the Trojan palace. She saw the aged King Priam, wearing armor that no longer fit his shrunken body. His wife was begging him not to fight, to join her and their daughters, who all sat huddled at the altar of Zeus in the hope of obtaining mercy.
Instead, they witnessed Achilles' son, Pyrrhus, drive a spear through one of their sons, causing his blood to splatter on their clothes and faces. Enraged, Priam threw his spear at the murderer. He lacked the strength to cause any real damage—the weapon stuck fast into Pyrrhus' shield, vibrating harmlessly. The younger man laughed at the king's impotence, calmly removed the spear and killed the venerable Priam, beheading him on Zeus' altar.
Athena had seen enough. Thoroughly disgusted, she flew to her own temple. What she saw there caused her heart to blaze.
Clinging to her statue was Cassandra, a maiden daughter of King Priam. She too had sought refuge in a temple, and like her family, she had found none.
Ajax, the commander of the Locrian contingent of Greece's army, was diligently at work, removing the princess's clothing. Determined to do a thorough job, he had even tied her hands, so she couldn't fight back. Not that she could have; he easily dwarfed the delicate daughter of Priam. Cassandra pleaded with him to stop, to consider his impiety, but he refused to listen, his mind set on evil. With his soldiers laughing and egging him on, Ajax, raped her.
The virgin goddess's fingers tightened around the grip of the shield that rested against her thigh. The sight stirred old memories: Medusa and Poseidon having sex in the hallowed walls of her temple. When Athena had found them, she made sure that Poseidon, and everyone else, would never look at the beautiful nymph again—unless they wanted to be turned to stone. After Perseus had beheaded the now hideous Medusa, Athena had mounted her head on her battle shield. A wave of satisfaction washed over her as she felt the snakes of the Gorgon's head brushing against her wrist.
She raised her shield, intent on turning every last one of them to stone. She took a step forward but was halted by someone touching her shoulder.
Athena's head snapped to see who was disturbing her.
At her side was Artemis, goddess of the hunt and Apollo's sister.
Athena brushed her aside. "I cannot allow this to continue."
Artemis stepped in front of Athena and placed a threatening hand on her chest. She was so furious that her skin was sparkling incandescently, though her voice was glacial and unbending. "But you will."
Out of all the gods, Artemis was the last one Athena would have expected to step in. Artemis, who like Athena, valued virginity above all else. Who had killed a man for even seeing her naked. Whose eyes shone murderously as she watched Cassandra being defiled. Whose fingers were now twitching at her side, aching to string her bow and end the soldiers' disgusting lives.
Conceding, Athena lowered her shield and took a step back. "Where's Apollo?"
"He couldn't watch."
Of course not, Athena groused. He had loved Cassandra, and had given her the gift of prophecy. But when she had spurned him, he turned his blessing into a curse. Even though she could see the future—had predicted Hector's death and the betrayal of the Greeks—no one ever believed a word she said.
And it was no different tonight.
By now Ajax had finished and Cassandra was slumped over at the base of Athena's statue, crushing the floral offerings that had been placed there. She made no attempt to hide her nakedness or the large purple bruises that were forming all over her pale skin. The ribbons that had decorated her lovely hair had been torn from her head, and her disheveled locks streamed around her. Her eyes wildly searched the temple, overlooking her rapist and those who had celebrated her ruin. They finally settled on the two goddesses, though both knew it was impossible for Cassandra to see them. The princess raised her still pinioned hands to the heavens and groaned.
"Look, goddesses, look at what has befallen me. Me, your most devout worshiper, who refused all men, even a god, so that I would find favor in your sight. I came here for protection only to be vanquished and crushed. But for all that has happened to me, worse will happen to those who defile your worshipers. What has befallen Troy will seem pleasurable in comparison."
Someone in the crowd yelled out, "Prophesy, wench. Tell us our future." The whole company of soldiers burst into laughter, hoping to provoke more frenzied ravings from the unhinged princess.
Ajax walked over and slapped her roughly across the face, but she ignored it, continuing to look off into the distance. Standing up, she began to laugh, her mirth bubbling over uncontrollably. She practically shrieked with joy as she saw the futures that lay ahead of them. "Yes, goddesses, I see the homes they'll never enter. Within sight of their land, the waters will rise up and choke them, bringing them down to the depths, a death too good for them. They will be remembered throughout the world, not for defeating the Trojans, but for being a godless, deceitful, and treacherous people. Let Ajax and his Locrian army curse the day they ever thought of Troy. And the one who lives…" Cassandra began to tremble with delight, her dark eyes glowing like coals. "Yes! His descendants will be cursed forever, an abomination to all men, fighting against the Trojans, until Love's fruit brings an end, first to itself, and then, remade, to that which Love began."
Ajax hit her again, hard enough this time that she fell to the ground, putting an end to her prophecy. "Out of all the daughters of Priam, I had to find the lunatic."
He threw her clothes in her face. "Get dressed. My comrades are dying to meet you." Once she had put on her robes, he threw her over his shoulder. Cassandra thrashed against him and stretched her arms out toward the goddesses as Ajax carried her out of the temple, but Artemis and Athena remained immobile. The soldiers followed behind their leader and his prize, mocking the Trojan princess.
Athena closed her eyes, envisioning their doom. "Now that I think of it, I will enjoy their deaths more this way. They will see their homes and think they're safe, and die in the middle of their triumph. And if they are lost at sea, no one can perform the burial rituals. They will never find rest."
Artemis chuckled in approval. "I would ask to help, but I have other things to take care of. No doubt you will see that they receive a worthy sending off."
"Of course. Some other time, then."
Artemis departed, leaving Athena in her temple. However, the goddess of wisdom was not alone. One of Ajax's soldiers had stayed behind. Making sure that no one was around, he ran up to her altar and, with bloodied hands, started taking the gold and silver ornaments that decorated the instrument of worship, wrapping them up in the linen cloth that lay across the top of the altar.
Athena just smiled and let him continue. She had special plans for this one.
When the altar was stripped bare, the thief formed a sack, throwing the valuables over his shoulder. He cautiously made his way to the temple doors and stole out into the darkness. The fighting still raged, and he was so burdened down with the treasures that he kept stumbling. She saw the fear in his eyes as he quickly dashed into one of the abandoned houses to hide. Clearly, he had no plans to rejoin his regiment.
This suited Athena perfectly. She had been intrigued by Cassandra's last words. And if all the soldiers were on the boat, the goddess would never know what it had all meant. Yes, she would make sure that the wretch lived a long life, or at least live long enough to provide an heir.
Athena stationed herself across from the house's entrance, atop another building, overlooking what was left of Troy. The fires were still devouring the city. The dirt of the streets was stained dark red, and the stench of death hung in the air, mingled with the aroma of charred buildings and flesh. With the outcome of the war now a foregone conclusion, most of the gods had left. Only Apollo and Aphrodite remained.
Athena knew the god of light was waiting to see what would happen to Cassandra. Aphrodite's reason for staying was less clear, but it must have been connected to the family she had been protecting earlier. It had been a group of three: an older man, a young boy, and one of Priam's daughters. Athena only recognized Princess Creusa. But since Athena had seen them last, the woman had disappeared, only to be replaced by the Trojan warrior Aeneas.
Now it made sense. Aeneas was Aphrodite's son, the product of an affair she had with the older man, who was now being carried through the destruction on Aeneas' back. The young boy was Aeneas' son with Creusa, Ascanius. He clung to his father's hand, as Aphrodite shepherded them in Athena's direction, towards an old temple near the entrance to the city.
A sound from across the way caught Athena's attention. Her little thief had decided to follow the lucky survivors.
Though they could not see Aphrodite and probably did not even know she was there, Athena knew how much the family was indebted to the goddess of love. They passed through flame and sword, unscathed and untroubled. As most of the fighting was taking place in the heart of Troy, Aphrodite led them to a valley located outside of the city. There, hidden within the hills and old cypress trees, stood an old temple dedicated to Demeter. Aeneas put his family down and began looking around him, first calmly, but then in frenzied panic. Without a word, he bolted from the temple, running at full pelt back towards the inferno.
Athena stopped paying attention to the scavenger, intrigued by Aeneas' actions. It didn't make sense. After escaping the chaos, why return? But his reasons became clear when Aeneas began desperately calling for his wife.
Once he reached the city, he ran wildly through the streets, retracing his steps. He raced all over, towards the places where the fighting was fiercest, narrowly escaping death multiple times. But he was unaware of it all.
It was foolish, Athena reflected. Why has Aphrodite allowing her son to act so recklessly after she had just gone through the trouble of saving him? It was all so mystifying, and yet, thoroughly engrossing.
Suddenly, Creusa reappeared. She no longer needed Aeneas' help.
The warrior cried as his wife's ghost spoke to him. "My love, you must calm yourself. You know that I would not have died if the gods had not allowed it. It was not for me to leave Troy. But you will. You will see. There is a land waiting for you, of which you will be king, and you will have a new bride. And you will be the father to the greatest nation the world has ever seen." Creusa's words made Aeneas sob harder.
"All will be well, my dear husband. I know you love me, but you must stop crying. Only think. I was not captured; I will not become the concubine of some Achaean ruler, or the slave to his wife. I am a proud daughter of Troy, and that is what I will always be. This is where I belong, but you have greater things ahead of you. I must say good-bye now. If you love me, you will return to our son. Do not fail him."
And then she began to disappear. Her husband reached out to grab her around the neck and hold her, but her phantom was insubstantial. His hands passed through her image, distorting it. Three times he embraced the air, desperately trying to hold on to what was already gone.
As Athena watched the scene between the husband and wife, she realized she was looking at the man who would be the father of Rome. He did not look like much. His face was blackened by the smoke, and there were streaks running down his cheeks caused by the tears he was shedding. His armor was covered with blood and gore, and deep gashes marred his arms and legs. His shoulders were hunched over and his head hung in grief. He looked defeated.
Heedless of his surroundings, Rome's future trudged back to the old temple. This time, Athena guarded his passage.
When Aeneas finally made it back to the valley, it was nearly dawn. Before making his descent to the temple, he turned back to look at his homeland. The twilight revealed the extent of the damage. Troy was no more. The city wall had been breached, the stones thrown down and scattered. Columns of gray smoke threatened to block out the newly arriving sun. Athena wasn't sure if any of this registered with him. His eyes were glazed over, and he looked utterly shell-shocked.
Aeneas turned around and approached the temple. He looked up and saw how many people had converged on the spot. Athena was sure he would collapse under his pain and the heavy burden of his new responsibility, but he threw his shoulders back and raised his head. He was more resilient than she had supposed.
His young boy ran up to Aeneas, accompanied by his grandfather. "Where's mother?"
The warrior crushed Ascanius in his arms, holding him tightly to his chest before releasing him. "She won't be coming."
Ascanius looked up at his father, and his chin began to tremble. "Why not?"
The hero knelt before his son, taking the young boy's face between his callused hands. "Only the gods know. But she told me that we are going to a new land, and that she loves you."
The little boy nodded his head, then ran over to his grandfather, hiding his face in the old man's side.
Slowly rising to his feet, Aeneas turned and addressed the people that were looking to him for answers and hope. He was now their leader, and they pledged to go wherever he led them.
Lifting his father again and holding his son by the hand, Aeneas trudged toward the mountains, leaving Troy behind forever. His subjects shuffled after him in silence.
Only Athena noticed the thief that followed them.
To Be Continued
I borrowed heavily from Virgil's Aeneid Book I. The only thing I really added was the curse.
I hope you enjoyed, as much as you can enjoy the destruction of Troy. Please review.