I do not own Superman, or any other D.C. character mentioned. The rest, I made up for my own story. This is a fanfic, and not for profit, so just enjoy.
Clark rose out of the frigid sea, genuinely astonished at the lightning that flashed overhead, and the sheer violence of the storm raging around him.
"Diana, do you read," he asked, but heard only a faint crackle over the intercom as he turned, and flew southward.
He heard only static.
The fact she was almost just over the curve of the globe, and beyond even his powerful did not help. Anything could be happening. Anything at all. Launching himself toward her probable location, he flew as fast as he ever had as he tried not to think that the storm he left behind might not actually be a good thing.
Diana parked the jet below the towering peak that was the traditional home for Mount Olympus near the ancient city of Thessaloniki that existed today as a modern hodgepodge of culture and style near the Gulf of Salonikia.
She pulled out the faux Spear, and using a makeshift sling, fixed it across her back before turning toward the mountain before her. She could have just flown to the top of the peak, but this was a distraction, and she needed time. Time to keep the right attention in the wrong place.
She ignored those in the nearby fields that turned from their flocks to gape at her. One of the men gave her a timid wave, and she smiled back at him.
Then she began to move toward the nearest cliff. A sheer rise she easily spanned by simply leaping up to the first ledge, and continuing her climb from there. She was halfway up the side when she felt the change in the air.
"Ares," she murmured.
"Diana," came the soft, venomous whisper out of nowhere.
She could sense him, though. The bloodthirsty god of war who tended to spurn Athena's calm strategies for the violent berserker rages of those like the Vikings he once championed under another name. She continued to climb, ignoring the creepy sensation at the back of her nape as she knew he had yet to show himself.
She knew Ares well enough. He favored big entrances, and flashy spectacles. She doubted that had changed overly much simply because they were on a new world.
When she reached the top, she found a lean, powerfully build man in traditional armor waiting on her. He stared smugly as she clambered over the ledge, and eyed him coolly.
"What now, Ares?"
"Diana. Honestly, is this how you greet an old friend?"
"Old….friend," she growled.
"You know, you could have just flown to the precipice. Zeus would not care. I know I don't."
"I'm not concerned with what pleases you, war god," she snapped impatiently.
He was too casual, she mused as she studied him standing there. Too indifferent. This was not what she expected.
"How did you even come to this world?"
"Ironically enough, close behind you. I was, in fact, coming to see you when we were both torn from the multiverse we knew, and dropped in this quaint little backwater. Unlike you, however, I had an instant source of strength and nourishment to call upon. These people are just as mad as any mortals in any realm. Of course, I'm certain you've noticed."
"So you were here all along?"
Ares only smiled.
"Why reveal yourself now?"
"Don't be coy, Amazon. You know what I want. I don't know how you got it here, and do not care. With the Bolt, even that fractured sliver you carry," he said, "I can extend my grip on this world in ways you cannot yet imagine."
"I can imagine. I've already seen some of the madness you've helped spread. Strange, though, that I did not see you around when the Titans threatened this world."
"I knew your friend would drive them back. Besides, I was….preoccupied getting my pawns in place."
"Now, I'd like that bolt, Diana," he said, a chilling smile stretching across his broad features as his eyes glittered with malice.
"By all means, come and get it," she said, gripping the spear in both hands as she pulled it from its sling.
"We don't have to go through this. Just hand over….."
He was still tensing, ready to strike, when the sky suddenly darkened, and a long, roiling peal of thunder filled the airs.
He glanced north for a moment, frowning thoughtfully, then looked back at Diana, and threw back his head in raucous laughter.
"Well played, Amazon! Well played! But you have only postponed the inevitable," he mocked as he vanished from the cliff.
Not, however, before a blast of power sent her flying off the ledge, and out over the valley before she could so much as blink.
She didn't move after she hit the ground.
The laughter interrupted him as the very air shook with the force of the dark mirth.
It was not Abby.
Turning, Jacob's eyes rounded hugely as he saw the impossible figure standing before him, and for the first time in his long life, he felt raw fear as the very fabric of reality seemed in danger of collapsing within the usually orderly confines of his rational mind.
"Who…..are you," he asked.
"Who? Don't you mean what, mortal?"
The veritable giant chortled, and looked down at Abby. "Better than I hoped. When I inspired my dupe to create new, and more powerful soldiers, I never expected him to harness the very power of the gods to do it?"
Jacob stared up and up and up at the nine foot behemoth in seemingly antique armor, and felt very certain he had just gone mad.
"As to my identity. I am Ares, god of war. But you, do you survive, may call me master!"
"This can't be happening," Jacob gasped, noting some of the surviving soldiers were picking themselves up, and starting to aim weapons at the giant.
Ares laughed as the soldiers opened fire, and Jacob hit the ground again, ducking ricochets this time. The giant took a single step, ignoring the soldiers, and looked down at the living energy that had been Dr. Walters until a few moments ago.
"You are going to do nicely, my dear," he smiled, and then gestured at Thomas Billings. "Now, kill that brainless clod, and join my ranks as the first of my loyal followers who will rip this world asunder, and bathe it in its own blood!"
"Abby, no," Jacob shouted as her the crackling, energetic form turned to face the still twitching man whose clothes continued to smolder from her earlier attack. "Don't do this! It's wrong! All wrong!"
"You have power, woman," Ares growled. "Use it! Or do you prefer that helpless shell you inhabited previously."
Abby gave a furious, hissing screech, and turned to point both hands at Billings who was only now starting to recover. His eyes locked on the giant, then on the former scientist, and knew he was about to die.
Lightening blinded Jacob when Abby released torrents of raw energy from both hands. All he could do was scream in vain denial as Thomas literally disappeared beneath that furious onslaught. Then, Ares pointed to him, and demanded, "Now. Kill the rest of them."
The solders were still shooting as Abby turned his way, for all the good it did.
Jacob swallowed hard, and grit out, "Abby. Please."
Her hands didn't even waver as they rose again.
Three of the bolder shepherds moved toward the downed woman, curious as to what had happened to her. Even they knew of the colorfully clad heroine who had recently come to their world. Anything that had the might to throw her down from so great a height had to be powerful. Very powerful. Yet it was not in them to turn their backs on someone that might need help.
They were just approaching the fallen woman when the rush of air announced the arrival of another newcomer.
Blue eyes fluttered opened, and she looked up at the caped figure who landed beside her as the awed shepherds looked on.
"I'm…okay. Ares was here. He was definitely here."
"I did what that witch said, but something feels off here. Did you notice the skies," he asked, noting the sky was grayer than before, and a distant storm rumbled ominously over the horizon.
Diana followed his gaze.
"Great Hera. Clark, it's Zeus! Zeus himself is coming, but….. He may not be in time," she warned him as she jumped to her feet. "Ares said he could still use this to his advantage. We have to find him. Now! Before he can undo what we've done here."
"He'll be at the heart of the storm. To exploit the energies at their strongest."
Clark nodded, and rose into the air. "The radio seems to be jammed, but I noticed on the way down that the worst of it seems to be moving toward North America. Near the Midwest."
"Then that's where Ares will go," she said, heading for her jet. "Ready to fight a god?"
Clark gave her a faint smile as he rose into the air even as she loped for her jet. "It's hardly the first time," he reminded her, and flew northwest even as she leapt up into her jet, and the aircraft rose to speed after him.
One of the shepherds turned, noticing only then the glowing staff with a jagged bolt at the top that glowed with a peculiar inner light. He reached down to lift the surprisingly light staff, feeling the odd tingling that surged through his arm, and then into his body.
Even as he tried to image what this was, and what might be going on, a woman in white appeared simple materialized before him, took the staff, and smiled at him.
"Sorry, mortal. That's mine. I'll be having it back," she told him, reaching for the staff that she made vanish at her touch.
Having claimed the staff, she simply vanished again, and he turned to call to his companions who were still looking in the direction of the departed heroes. He started to call out, but there was nothing to show them. Nothing at all.
Now if his body would simply stop…..tingling.
"You are the mortal that controls the barrier on this island," Circe asked as she walked into the communications room in the great temple that slightly impressed her in spite of herself.
"I am Dr. Li," Chang nodded. "Diana told us of you. What do you need?"
"I need to depart for a time. Only your barrier interferes with my magic. Could you please lower it for a time."
"No. But I can give you this," he said, holding up a small box. "It allows you to pass through the energy frequencies broadcast by the protective sphere. It's how Clark and Diana go back and forth without having to lower the island's protective cover."
"Intriguing. How does it operate?"
"You simply press the button on the side, and wear it on your person. It will allow you to come and go after you activate it."
"I see. Not as simple as magic, but close enough. You don't mind watching the children, do you. I may be taking the sorceress with me when the time is right."
"She means me," Anna stated as she walked into the room, having finally escaped both her lessons, and the fourteen girls all wanting to watch, and participate in them.
"Ms. Graves," the scientist frowned. "Since when you did you become…."
"Things are changing, Dr. Li," she told him. "Fast. So, Circe? Where do you need to go that you might need…?"
The witch had just vanished.
Just like that.
"Not much for the usual amenities, is she," Chang said, trying not to show his unease.
It was one thing to accept Clark, who could fly, and perform incredible feats beyond those of mere mortal men. To see someone literally vanish so was beyond his ability to comprehend.
Even as Anna shook her head, Circe was back, and holding out her hand. "Come, apprentice. We have to go now. We shall be needed."
"Do you wish to sit and discuss it, or do you wish to ensure your world does not become a trophy dangling about Ares already crowded throne?"
"Ares? The god of war Ares? That Ares?"
"He's the only one I know," she admitted, and held out her hand. "Ready?"
Chang gaped as the two women just vanished.
His wife chose that moment to appear.
"Husband, Mrs. Hastings has the afternoon meal ready. Is Ms. Graves….? I thought she was here?"
Chang gestured helplessly.
"Stepped out," he finally concluded.
Alicia frowned, but shrugged. "Well, come along. The girls are already headed to the house to eat. Are you coming?"
He eyed the sophisticated equipment before him monitoring radio transmissions, satellites, and ensuring their barrier shield remained strong, and unwavering just in case. Suddenly, he felt like it all meant very little. Because as impossible as it seemed, he had the feeling he had just witnessed magic. True magic.
And he did not think science could cope with such forces if they were half what legend claimed.
The soldiers now turned their weapons on Abby, for all the good it did.
"Stop firing," Jacob shouted, still on his knees, and still expecting to die any second as Abby raised her hands again. "Abby, for the love of God…..!"
"God! There is no god but Ares," the giant shouted. "Kill them, girl. Kill them now!"
Jacob howled as the world shifted even as lightning flashed, and he found himself kneeling beside a moaning Thomas Billings a quarter mile away as a caped demigod stood over them for a brief instant.
"Stay here," the improbable figure in primary colors instructed him needlessly as he vanished in a blur of speed even as the shrill whine of a jet roared from overhead even as another colorfully clad figure leapt from that vehicle to fly down before the god.
"Overcompensating again, Ares," Diana spat at him as she landed. "It's just like you."
"Diana. How delightful. And you brought your paramour," he mocked as Clark returned to stand at her side as the solders, figuring out there were getting nowhere, now ceased firing, and began to back off, or seek cover.
"Give it up, Ares. We beat you before, and we'll do it again."
"Oh, I don't think so. You don't have your precious gods here this time. Not as yet. And without your League, I doubt you'll be having much help this time around."
"We're not beaten yet," Clark told him grimly, bunching his own fists.
"Ah, but I've a trump card this time, alien. Magic is a veritable thorn in your side, is it not? Well, I've a very potent thorn I've crafted just for you. Woman, kill this pest," Ares demanded even as he shrank down to a mere six and a half foot to face Diana himself. "As for you….."
"Kal," Diana shouted, leaping to intercept a bolt of energy on one bracelet, and deflecting it towards Ares. "Don't let that hit you. He's right. I feel the raw magic in her energy. You may not be able to resist it."
"Thanks, Diana," he nodded, then moved almost faster than lightning to slam a pair of fists into Ares' now human-sized jaw, knocking him back several feet with a impact that created a thunderous boom on contact.
Jacob stared from his vantage point just out of sight of the unlikely confrontation, and prayed.
"Mortal vermin! I would have spared you to serve me, but now….."
His own fist slammed Clark over a mile from the compound, planting him deep in the soft earth where he hit.
"You won't win," Diana said, deflecting another bolt, and dodging two more.
"Win? I've already won, you witless Amazon. This world is mine. Thanks to you, I've been influencing it for years!"
"Years! You said you arrived with me…..!"
"I also said that unlike you, I was not hampered, or limited upon my arrival. I simply chose the best historical periods, and added a touch of my own special motivation to certain individuals to ensure this world became the churning cauldron of hate and despair I require. With the right match, this globe shall explode, and send shockwaves through the multiverse fueling an orgy of blood and violence that shall feed me for eons!"
"You're mad," Diana hissed, and the next bolt she missed struck her full in the chest, driving her back into a chain-link fence, and sending raw power through her protesting body.
"Mad," Ares laughed. "Hardly, Princess," he mocked. "Now, yield, and I might make a place for you in my new panthe….. Eh?"
Ares turned at the tap on his shoulder, and this time he went flying as a punch far harder than before sent him up and flying over the compound.
"Sorry," he told Diana, helping her stand as the blazing pawn stood staring now, as if unable or unwilling to act without Ares commanding her. "I forgot not to hold back. Too used to….."
"Save the apologies, Kal," Diana called him out of habit before their enemies. "This isn't over."
"Indeed it is not," Ares growled furiously as he strode like a living tank through the few building before him, literally tearing them down as the hiding men scrambled like insects for new hiding places as it seemed gods did indeed walk their earth.
"I think it's time to…"
"Oh, get over yourself, blowhard," a new voice cut in.
All eyes went to the newcomers as Diana frowned most at the appearance of Circe with Anna at her side.
"Are you mad," Diana exclaimed. "This is no place for you two…..!"
"Actually, it's the perfect time and place. I would like to finish this little mission the gods set me so I can get back to my own home, if you don't mind. Sorceress. Contain the girl," she told Anna, who stared blankly at her.
"Sorceress," Clark echoed in confusion.
"How," Anna whispered, audible only to those closest, and those with superheating.
"Oh, for…. Use the lessons I have taught you. Channel her energy as you would your own. She is suffering from containing too much energy, and it overwhelms her. Remember the lesson?"
"Oh, right. Right. I can do that. I hope," she added less audibly as she turned to the living lightning bolt even as she nodded at Diana.
"The gods sent you," Ares began to laugh.
"Watch it, gruesome. Recall who still has your sons in her care," she smirked.
"Phobos," Ares grumbled. "Deimos. I have not forgotten, witch," he swore, and turned to her.
"Yes, the little pups are still well hidden. Hera herself declared they be contained until she ruled on their fate. You don't ease their sentence with this gambit, god of war."
"How is it that you are here, witch? Even your magic is not that great!"
Even as he spoke, Anna gave a shout, and began to burn with bluish-red flames as Abby tried to incinerate her only to find her power being drawn off. For the moment she attacked Anna, the loop had been forged, and remained open. Now she shrank down slightly, closer to her mortal height even as Anna began to grow in size and bulk. If fiery energies could be described so.
"We'll discuss your….lessons later," Diana spat. "We have to….."
"Are you full yet, Anna," Circe called to her even as she reached to her belt, and 'produced' the fallen bolt that Diana had left behind.
"Think…..so," she called back distractedly as Abby began to flicker visibly, and her more human façade could just be made out behind her energetic form now.
"Then here," she said, tossing the staff that drew Ares glance.
"Channel it through this. Now."
"But channel it to where," she demanded.
Circe gave her a look that defied description.
Right before Anna understood, and Ares screamed.
"All of it," Circe shouted at her as raw, mystical might was unleashed on the god. "Give him everything, sorceress!"
Ares roared, turning to reach toward Anna now who pointed that spear at him that became a conduit for raw power. He staggered forward three steps even as Circe gestured for Clark and Diana to fall back when they would have moved on the visibly weakened god.
"Now," she declared, throwing out her arms, and chanting something in a long dead language that made Diana gasp.
"What are you…..?"
Before Diana could even complete her explanation, Anna stopped the assault, and plunged the radiantly glowing sphere into the ground at her feet.
The resulting explosion coincided with a new, and deafening burst of thunder as a bolt of lightning that looked eerily like a hand slammed down simultaniously, and flung them all back as Ares' roar died stillborn as he vanished from before them. This was followed instantly by a massive explosion of energy beneath the ground that set off a quake that had the ground rumbling as if a volcano were about to erupt beneath their very feet.
The rumbling extended in every direction, but began to fade even as they regained their feet and looked around.
"Is it….over," Anna asked, looking around as she staggered toward Circe.
Who was smirking widely.
"Not again," the naked woman groaned as she realized she had just burned off her clothing yet again.
Clark came forward, wrapping her cape around her, and Circe only laughed.
"You'll learn, sorceress. Until then, a final gift."
She gestured, and the scarlet cloak became a skintight garment that covered her from the neck down.
"Something to preserve your modesty," she winked, thought the garment was more than snug. "It will not burn, nor char. Now, princess, the conduit to Olympus is open, your new world is safe, and I am going to collect my due."
"Wait," Clark barked. "Does this mean we can go home?"
"Why ask me? Ask the god's favorite pet," Circe smirked, nodding at Diana. "As for you, apprentice. Practice all I've taught you diligently, and in due time it is you who will become the premier power on this planet," she teased right before she vanished.
The three stared at one another as Abby's soft moan reached their ears just then, and they all turned to look at the confused woman standing there barefoot in a charred lab coat, covering equally scorched slacks and blouse as she blinked owlishly up at them.
"What….happened," she frowned. "Where….did everyone….go?"
Clark caught her before the woman could fall on her face.
"We should take her with us," Diana decided. "Until we are certain is no longer a threat."
"I'd like to know what happened here," Clark frowned as they watched the soldiers trying to restore some semblance of order in their shattered chain-of-command. "Is this really over?"
"We'll find out soon enough," she said. "Coming," Diana asked Anna as she gestured to her jet.
"You go on," Anna told her. "I want to try flying on my own again."
"Intoxicating, isn't it," Clark asked, lifting the once more human biologist into his arms.
"It's like a child's dream come true," she grinned before bursting into bluish flame, and rising into the air after him.
Jacob, on the hillside overlooking the shattered compound where the earth now visibly sagged downward, stared at the departing heroes as emergency vehicles began arriving. He would later learn that Superman had already ascertained there was nothing left underground. The discharge had completely destroyed everything below. Not that it mattered. Half his captive staff had died when Abby had been reborn.
Billings, now sitting up, just stared blankly at the destruction left in Ares' wake, and kept murmured, "Mine. Should have been mine."
Jacob was hard-pressed to wonder why he had tried to stop Abby in the first place.
"Circe was right," Diana told Clark as she joined him on the track the next afternoon. "The way to the gods' home is now opened on this world."
"But," he asked, knowing that tone well enough.
They both watched the girls, all of them now, running as they all matched one another as Anna cheered them, and ran along with them. It was, apparently, one thing to coach from the side. Another thing, it seemed to have 'one of their own' alongside them, inspiring them.
"The only way home is through Olympus itself."
Clark, who had been to Olympus, only sighed.
"Which could take years. Or even whole lifetimes," he knew all too well.
"Exactly. If the gods even allowed it. For now, our charge on this world remains according to Artimus. Now, more than ever. It seems that Ares might have been….repelled, but the mischief he created here will only grow worse now that he has managed to unleash raw magic upon the world."
"I've heard," Clark nodded. "Over a hundred and twenty-nine meta incidents across the world already. And those studying the 'outbreaks' expect it to spread."
Then, too, there was Abby, who turned into living lightning the moment she grew upset, or emotional, and it was going to take time to teach her how to control herself. The last thing they wanted was a magical version of 'Livewire' loose on this planet.
Diana nodded. "Exactly. It looks like our jobs are only going to get harder from here on."
"Don't look so sad, Diana," Circe smirked as she appeared behind them, putting an arm around both of them. "Isn't this the sort of thing you two enjoy?"
"Circe! I thought you had left?"
"Funny thing. Hera gave me access to the world-gate, but failed to mention that without the Spear, I couldn't return. Oh, I could. But as you said, it would take me…..quite some time. So, I thought, why bother? For the moment, I've got all the time I need. And, I've my favorite rival right here. Along with a promising new protégé….."
"You are not going to corrupt Anna Graves," Diana spat, pulling away from her as Clark frowned uneasily at the witch.
"Oh, please. I've done nothing but show her the proper way to control her power. You made a good start, hero," she smirked, patting Clark's cheek. "But, trust me, magic is my bread and butter. And Anna has the makings of a very fine sorceress if she is properly instructed. So…. Diana. Truce," Circe smiled.
"It wouldn't hurt to have her on our side," Clark admitted.
Diana only eyed her suspiciously. "All right," she murmured, "But no transforming people," she spat, pointing an accusing finger.
"Even if they ask," Circe teased.
Clark sighed as Diana's eyes narrowed on the witch, and some of the students spotted the woman, and came over to greet her as if she were a friend.
"This….is going to get interesting," Clark murmured as he considered the challenges before them.
"You lost again, did you?"
"Lost," Ares snorted, showing no hint of displeasure as he lounged with his godly kindred in the bowels of Hades. "Is that how you see it, uncle," he smirked.
He had been exiled from Olympus for his latest scheme until Zeus relented, but he was not worried. He had long since stopped fretting over his father's displeasure.
"What do you call it, my dear nephew," the other drawled, his dark countenance eyeing him speculatively.
"But one more opening gambit in my bid for true power."
"I was watching, you know."
"So was Zeus," Ares smiled. "So I gave him the show he expected, and wished, and allowed the heroes their day. In truth, did any of them had a single wit betwixt them, they'd know how poorly they fared this day."
"Think, uncle. Until now, that world was but a void. A mote in the multiverse without draw, or import. Until I unleashed divine magics upon its surface, and stirred the pot, as it were. Now, it has become a part of the greater whole, and the warring inevitably to come will but fuel my own needs, and aid in sating my own unquenchable hungers. Surely you understand that, don't you?"
"And how does one world aid you in doing anything?"
"One world, you say? One world among many. The ripples in the multiverse will be traveling for generations after this one. I helped stir the very titans this time, dear uncle," Ares laughed as his wine was refilled by another dead slave. "I birthed heroes and warriors upon a world that had known neither. Which, naturally, will soon be spawning villains of equal mettle to rise to face them. No, Uncle Hades. This was no defeat. This….was only the beginning," the bloodthirsty god chortled. "Only the beginning."