The Trojan parallels are all too familiar to the Amazon survivors from that long ago war yet that conflict as well as what men did to them before the war lies at the heart of the Schism that leaves them still on opposite sides in the war for the future at hand. Some like Batman persist because he cannot give up and others like Aresia believe mankind's time is up.
Batman struggles against blurring vision, against head pains, against the feeling like his insides are being torn apart, and enemy Amazons are still charging at him. The vapor trails alerts him to the recent launches. If that is true then they had another problem that couldn't be dealt with here especially if it goes beyond the barrier.
His attackers notice his movements are slowing and becoming almost sluggish. They didn't know he and the other men are now literally dying, but not from battle with them. He drops to his knees because as determined as he is, his body can only fight off enemies for so long because he is neither invulnerable nor can his body heal itself. He sees the Royal Palace in the distance and someone's back to him atop its highest overhang of a balcony. Perhaps it is almost better that he cannot see who is responsible for what could kill him especially given the face that she wears to perform this role. He had come too far to fail Diana and their twins.
"You have fought well, now accept your fate, no dishonor in a battlefield death, but you and your allies have no right to interfere with the inevitable," says Grace.
"You have no idea what your leader is really up to do you?" quivers Batman weakly.
"She leads us to the Reunification of the Tribes separate since the Schism," answers Grace.
"Right, do you have any idea who will die for that delusion?" continues Batman.
"Those who must die if they stand in the way of the future," replies Grace.
"Even if it means genocide?" asks Batman.
"What could you possibly mean by that? Amazons aren't mass murderers!" retorts Grace.
"Look around you, look at the men that came with me. You notice any similarities besides the gender!"
She frowns realizing the truth of his words.
"Hold!" orders Grace.
"What are you saying?" snaps Livia.
"These men are ill. They are dying from something other than their wounds."
"Why does that matter? Aresia will rid of us of the evils of mankind. If they die in battle despite being sick, I have no misgivings," hisses Livia.
"What about the wives that must watch their husbands die, the mothers that see their sons slip away, and much more such as those with child or children who lose the life inside to a disease that murders the unborn?" rebukes Batman.
"He's right… you must see this at least my sisters… I wanted our people to be reunited, but not over the bodies of billions dead simply for one woman's hatred of men who murdered her family. I believed we needed different leadership, but this prospect is too grim even for me… who will help me carry him?"
Down the street advances a wall of Themyscirans led by Artemis and Donna.
"Diana?" groans Batman.
Donna flies down the street to the dying Batman.
"It is only me Donna," apologizes Donna.
"My mistake, you two look so alike," murmurs Bruce.
"What's happening to him? To them?" exclaims Artemis.
"Gender specific disease, she must have set one off over city because of us," answers Bruce.
"It is not your fault… come let us get you back to Diana… those who are with me, with us, we still have a captive sister to reclaim and her unborn twins," continues Donna.
"She's pregnant… but that's unheard of… no Amazon has been with child in centuries," interjects Livia.
"My older sister Diana is pregnant… with this warrior's… this man's children… such an event is linked to the promise that the Goddesses made to her after she was one of the Justice Lords," responds Donna.
"We know that last fact, that she was one of those Justice Lords, but not the rest," confesses Grace.
"It took a long time for her to reclaim that which she had forsaken to follow the misguided extremes of safeguarding the world from the evils of humanity."
If there is anything Donna still retains from her link to Diana – it is Diana's gift for words.
"Can you not see the path that Aresia is leading our people to by doing this?" says Donna.
Donna's attempt to dissuade the bloodthirsty supporters of Aresia wins over some, but not all.
"Heed her words at your own peril," snaps Callisto.
Weapons are drawn, armored warriors position themselves, and soon sister battles sister.
"It appears we are at a divide. All of you pick your side or get out my way," Artemis declares.
Artemis is no longer in the mood for side shifting oratory. As gifted Donna may be with words, the time for words is over in her mind. The foundation of Amazonian ideals pivots against Aresia's genocidal tactics, as to which shall prevail, that rests on the shoulders of those who fight here and elsewhere.
She joins with Antiope and those who fought with Antiope to reverse the tide of battle while Callisto and those still staunchly loyal to Aresia stand their ground. Themyscirans follow Antiope's lead at Hippolyta's decree that they follow the Bana-Mighdallian Queen as they would their own. The Schism weighs upon much of the division between the tribes, but right now there is something more dangerous than the legacy of the Trojan War threatening to drive a further wedge between the Amazons.
The wedge is the consequences of having a hand in the end of mankind. As much as any Amazon distrusts men, it is still not their place to rob from women what gives them much of their happiness aside from whatever work they labor over outside partnership and motherhood.
Donna picks up Batman then bolts into the air with him pushing himself to stay conscious. He clearly hates being struck down by something from the inside. The only hope for those already ill is that a cure can be made in time to save him, his unborn son, and countless more. Otherwise all futures will not be worth living to see simply because it would mean the end of everything many hold dear to their hearts. It would be double grief for Diana should Bruce and her little sun be killed by this whereas for Donna she would have to deal with a world without Kyle.
Also having already been to one of the bleaker futures imaginable, she could not allow such another such future to be a reality when she could still prevent it.
Shayera, Supergirl, Stargirl, Fire, Doctor Light and every other flight capable female Watcher takes to the skies seeking out the pathogen missiles. Even with a formidable number to call to the line, they still did not have enough to block all the missiles. Wherever it goes off, it will eventually spread so it becomes all the more important to track down a method to synthesize an antidote for mass production and deployment. Until then everyone else is on standby especially in the event that the disease spreads with a vengeance.
In a surprising turn, many female villains appear in the skies near the shorthanded Watchers.
Supergirl is met by Galatea. Fire faces Volcana. Stargirl finds Queen Bee floating next to her. Doctor Light encounters Silver Banshee and as for Shayera there is Star Sapphire. The five women are in completely different regions so how these five found where they were remains
"Oracle – I have got company," chirps Kara.
"Who do you see?" queries Barbara.
"Galatea is back in action," answers Kara.
"This is not good… we have to learn her intentions just the same."
"Right – I am not up here to fight her again… "
Galatea flies towards her genetic progenitor.
"I'm not here to fight you despite how much I want to pay you back for Metropolis and Central City."
"We have got a bigger problem – those missiles – surely you have seen them too."
"Yes – we know all about them."
"Who exactly is that?"
"I don't have to tell you anything… the decision was made to assist you once a pattern was found in your deployment across the globe. We detected the missile launches by radar and satellites."
"Sounds like you are still well connected."
"We have to be given what is happening right now."
"Guess we call this a truce."
"It is something like that."
The first wave of missiles are drawing closer to them so they go supersonic to intercept them then force the first two to a higher attitude only after ripping out the guidance system. Together they repeat this pattern with every pair of missiles they tear into over North America.
Meanwhile over South America the blistering Brazilian known as Fire has a similar conversation with Volcana who as anyone last knew was incapable of flight.
"How is that you can fly now?" wonders Fire.
"Let's say fringe benefits include power augmentation," responds Volcana.
"It must come in handy aside from the obvious rush of being a pyrokinetic."
"You would know since you have both Beatriz."
"Indeed… so let's say we smoke the missiles."
"You know me I love fireworks and light shows."
Together the flying pyrokinetics incinerate the inbound missiles, which in effect chemically dissolve the payload. They keep at it with each wave they encounter, but even they have limits. However they intend to destroy as many as possible. Fire is just glad she does not have to cover an entire continent on her own especially not the one where her beloved Brazil looks to the sky for their flame. As for what motivates Volcana that is yet to be seen though for the moment it doesn't seem important least of all to Fire.
Farther to the west over Asia, Doctor Light and Silver Banshee are using a mix of photonic and sonic frequencies to short-circuit the missiles' guidance system. The malfunctions cause the missiles to smash into each other. Under other circumstances their encounter over Asia could have lead to a fight yet for now the mission takes priority.
Stargirl and Queen Bee are busy hammering away at missiles over Africa by way of breaking them into halves. The halves carrying the disease inside them are then thrown higher by Stargirl who uses her staff to coil an energy bind around them. It is strain to do this though for now there appears no other way to disable them without leaving to fall to the surface because impact might still rupture the missile.
Shayera and Star Sapphire lash out the missiles that are coming for Europe.
"I wouldn't have expected to see you here Star Sapphire," comments Shayera.
"Just because we have been enemies in the past doesn't mean I like the idea that someone is trying to kill all the men in the world. Plenty have been bad, but there are exceptions."
"Yes there are… they are why I am up here… aside from what you just said."
"I met someone… of course he is willing to risk his neck to help destroy the missiles too."
"He must be a stubborn guy."
"He is on your team too."
"Who is he?"
"He is Justin… y'know… the Shining Knight."
"You and Shining Knight… a man like him could change anyone's attitude once they push aside disbelief in his chivalry."
"He's been a lot better to me than all the egoists I have been involved with. He seems too pure for me, but when you love someone you look for the better in them."
"That's in the past... here's to making a future with those who have earned their place in our lives."
"Let's just wipe out the missiles and save the mush for later."
"Agreed… I just got caught up in the moment."
"I know that… I just prefer to put an end to this madness quickly."
Back in Africa, Stargirl and Queen Bee find they have backing from Giganta who is using her size changing ability to become tall enough to crush the ones that slip by them.
Supergirl and Galatea gain backup from Mera and female Atlanteans. Atlantean warships open fire on the missiles from the ocean surface. Neither Argoan is about to question help from Atlantis though the only reason to know its Mera is that the queen is riding one of the open rider hovercraft. Together they continue to strafe the inbound missiles and send them rocketing too high to have the intended effect on detonation.
Starfire and Raven materialize over South America not far from Fire and Volcana. The fire ladies are still busy burning away at the inbound missiles so the newcomers lend their firepower to the ones already up here. Fire notes their arrival with a faint smile and even these two pyrokinetics would need a reprieve. The only problem is that the size of Aresia's missile stockpile defies explanation.
Shayera can't exactly believe what she is seeing slashing away at the missiles, but the newcomers are armored warriors on flying horses similar to Justin's Pegasus.
"Who are they?" asks Star Sapphire.
"Good question though I'll let them tell us when they are ready to talk," remarks Shayera.
If Shayera remembers right from Earth's mythology, the closest explanation to these new allies would be the Valkyrie, but usually they are there to deliver the honored dead to Valhalla.
"You wouldn't happen to be the Valkyrie?" asks Shayera.
"You are correctly informed," responds Brunhilde.
"So how many Pantheons are actually still active?" wonders Star Sapphire.
"More than is generally known, but we all tend to prefer it that way though we serve the Asgardians as we were chosen by Odin long ago. It is however Sif who told us we must aid Midgard once more."
"Midgard?" murmurs Star Sapphire
"It is another name for Earth, the one used by the Gods of Asgard," asserts Shayera.
"It appears more knowledge of our ways has survived to modern times than we thought."
"Batman's libraries go beyond informative."
"He sounds like a wise mortal."
"Not to cut this short, but we still have missiles coming our way."
One had to wonder how Aresia amassed such a stockpile yet who is to say they didn't have help from a supernatural source to that end – like a God or Goddess of War. Shayera would have to consult Batman as to the identity of Aresia's supernatural 'allies' though like many things it could wait until the missiles were no longer an issue except it appears this would take longer than they all thought it would.
Diana-in-Aresia awakens to the sounds of battle above her so it appears that Batman had come as she felt he would though she could only hope that he'd believe her when he finds her in this body instead of her very pregnant body now being used by Aresia.
"Diana?" calls Donna.
"I'm down here in the dungeon… is Batman with you?" responds Diana-in-Aresia.
"Yes and no… I'll explain once we reach you… I know you are not quite yourself either."
"You felt it through our link didn't you?"
"Yes I did and she used it to find me as well as the reinforcements Mother sent with me."
"I trust this did not impede your odyssey for long."
"No – it did not – we have a further problem, which I am sure you know of by now."
"Aresia's biological weapons – she already launched them some time ago."
Diana refrains from gasping at the sight of a feverish Batman now limp in Donna's arms.
"All the other men that came with him are like this and I can only hope that someone outside this city has taken care to destroy those missiles before they can harm anyone else."
"We must hurry then… he's dying. So is our unborn son as even wombs are vulnerable."
Donna places the unconscious Batman on the ground and proceeds to rip the cell door off its hinges.
"I tried to push the door off myself, but it appears Aresia doesn't have the same physical strength as the rest of us – that or something else is making me feel as depowered as the night the Achilles' disruptor beam first hit me."
"Either way we need to return you to your body especially if your twins are to survive… more than just an antidote is need … they are in need their mother too."
Diana sniffles and tears stream down Aresia's face.
"It feels like this body has never cried before."
"Maybe she has though not in a very long time."
Diana-in-Aresia kneels next to her husband and father of her twins.
"Bruce… can you hear me?" she whispers.
"Di…Diana… you sound different."
"Your ears and eyes don't deceive you my love. I am temporarily stuck in her body after she used some manner of transference to switch her consciousness into my body."
"What… how has she done this… to you?"
"I'm not sure, but I will need Inza's help to undo this."
An ankh shaped portal opens nearby to reveal a rather coincidental arrival of Inza Nelson.
"My husband has imparted onto me the necessary incantation to reverse what's happen to you, but the window is shrinking."
"Then we must hurry for to do otherwise would be something I could never live with as her intentions are nothing less than the end of Man."
Donna and Diana-in-Aresia shoulder the weakening Batman between them as Inza follows in their wake.
Artemis and Antiope continue to battle their way through Aresia's supporters yet it is slow going despite the numbers are their side on top of Aresia having very apparent supernatural benefactors such as Sekhmet – Goddess of War. Sekhmet is seen as both counterpart and rival to Ares among the dwindling race known by many names across the world. Isis' herald Horus keeps watch on the battle unable to set aside his disdain for not aiding those who have shown themselves to be the better part of the mortal races that dwell upon the surface.
"As timeless as we are, we have long since felt our powers waning as fewer still look to us as the Gods they once feared and revered on a daily basis. Just as Ares took great revels in the wars that nearly destroyed the world in centuries past, now shall I surpass him to become the only Goddess of War," declares Sekhmet sharply.
"What of love? Where hath passion fled? I feel its power yet it stands in the shadows of your war cravings from those who still feed centuries old hatreds for that which the world known as the Trojan War. Still remains the war fought between ourselves and those of the outer world who aligned with the banished Titans," interjects Hathor quickly.
Love and War soon find the imbalance between themselves yet in the midst of all this appears Ma'at. Another of their pantheon, a counterpart to Themis, the Goddess who stands for Justice, Ma'at is now fully aware of their scheming so they suspect Isis must know as well if she did not know that plan is already in motion.
"The Twilight of the Gods is that we all fear for it means immortality never equals invincibility."
Sekhmet and Hathor look to Ma'at realizing that her words are true as their alliance springs forth from the fear that being immortal doesn't keep death away. Soon the three find themselves in the presence of the Jackal God, their brother Anubis, and his reappearance signifies that he senses what Aresia has unleashed upon mankind.
"We cannot undo what is happening to us, to humanity, and so it is pointless that even immortals would dare to manipulate forces beyond their control. If we are to end, if humanity is to die, then it shall come to pass, for humanity's salvation rests with whom gods destroy."
The Goddesses are for once unable to counter a sentence, least of all one spoken by Anubis.
Aresia-in-Diana wipes her nose, it continues to bleed, and so it dawns on her that she could die before seeing her plan done yet her legacy would be Diana's daughter or so she deludes herself as Diana's body weakens from the blood loss. She observes the fighting continues in the streets, but her supporters are losing ground to the Themyscirans and their Bana-Mighdallian allies.
"Damn you Artemis," groans Aresia.
"More like damn you Aresia," snaps Diana.
"Why aren't you dead yet?" quips Aresia.
"You can thank me for that!" adds Donna.
"Sisters to me!" shouts Aresia.
Several bodies thud nearby indicating that they already had overcome Aresia's remaining bodyguards.
"It would seem your only allies left are busy fighting ours in the streets."
"This is not over until I say it is over."
Aresia in her blustering fails to notice Inza sneaking up on her until it is almost too late to knock her backwards yet as she tries both Donna and Diana grab her by the arms.
"Let me go!"
"This has gone on long enough!"
Inza applies the necessary pressure to certain points of the skull as she starts chanting rapidly.
Both Aresia's and Diana's bodies convulse as the transference overtakes them. In a matter of moments, both bodies buckle under the shock and Diana's very pregnant body saps into Donna's arms. Aresia's body is caught by Inza after she lets go of Diana's skull.
"She needs to be taken as far away from the epicenter of the pathogen as possible. The same goes for the men."
Inza generates an ankh portal to Fate's Tower. Specifically to the Circle of Power, it is where Kent told her to send Diana after the reverse transference. Once there Dr. Fate examines his wife's handiwork only to find his faith and foreknowledge in Inza is proven right. He then proceeds to magically examine Diana's womb to ascertain the condition of her son. Although it would appear that restoring Diana to her body did the necessary magic to regenerate him. His potential early death appears unlikely yet the same cannot be said for his father who is now in stasis along with other infected heroes.
It clearly pains Diana to see him like this. The elation she felt only hours earlier is now cut down by his motionless form, she and their twins would live, but he could die despite having so much to come back. Diana instead turns her attention to a crying Zatanna who is distraught by what happen to Jason for not even as Etrigan, he is not immune to this. Both while sitting together notice their other female friends likewise share concern for their friends and lovers alike for this leaves them all on a precipice.
Elsewhere around the world, the pathogen missiles are mostly gone except for the few that got through.
Teams stand ready to deal with the aftermath head-on with the Atom acting as information hub from the Watchers' lunar station. Atom's alter-ego, Professor Ray Palmer, possesses both necessary expertise and experience to undo what could easily be the end of his gender except he must remain out of physical contact with anyone who has it otherwise he'll be in one of those stasis pods. They were already short handed as it was so he could not afford to be out of action.
Two Weeks Later
Diana presses her hands against Bruce's pod realizing he would have to remain inside until Palmer's medical personnel can mass synthesize a cure. Suddenly Diana feels an intense pain from inside her and so it would seem by remaining in proximity to so many heroes including Bruce she might have caused their son to become infected again. Science and sorcery clash as the pain worsens. She yells for Donna and within seconds her lookalike sister is at her side. She didn't have to ask what's wrong because she could feel it through their bond, the one made between them long ago. Donna picks up her sister with ease and hastens her pace towards the infirmary.
"What happen to her?"
"It would appear that switching them back doesn't mean the pathogen couldn't get back in."
"How is that possible because we all have been around the men since this began?"
"How many others are pregnant?"
"I'll have to check… this about the ones that are having sons right?"
"Yes… the ones with sons… are in danger."
A Z-8 drone walks in then shimmers before resolving to appear as the Atom.
"She got sick again didn't she?"
"How did you guess?"
"It is happening to all the mothers who are expecting sons."
"So what do we do?"
"Pregnant women can't be put in stasis. It just wouldn't work as long as it would for the men."
"You mean you are going to suggest forcing her to give birth?"
"She is nearly six months into her pregnancy."
"They can't be separated from her yet leaving him in there means he'll die in there."
"For now give her something to ease the pain. Donna I'm going to have you consult with your mother or your Gods if possible. Your sister and her offspring are still in danger."
"I can feel it Professor. I have seen too much to allow harm to come to her or her future children."
Donna prepares to pray to the Goddess most tied to fertility and motherhood. For if science cannot prevail in the coming days then they would have to call upon the mercies of a higher power.
Smallville - Kent Farm
Clark receives a video call from Ray. if human science cannot crack this pandemic than they will need Kryptonian science as it is considerably more advanced than anything on Earth. The disease's self-adapting tendencies are disturbing to him because he never seen anything like it.
Clark agrees with Palmer since he understands the urgency to resolve this crisis even when he himself can't actively take part in it because he already heard down the grapevine how it is affecting males only so it would be ill advised to expose himself. However he is the only one besides Kara who knows the way to the Fortress of Solitude that isn't sick at the moment. Of course anyone with Superman like abilities and appearance would draw unwanted attention from certain factions that still resent what he had done during the Justice Lords' 'stewardship'.
The other catch regarding the Fortress is that the Kryptonian Repository of Knowledge is keyed specifically to Clark or rather to Kal-El of Krypton. If there is anything to be found in its archives spanning the 28 known galaxies then only Clark could gain access. For once in years mankind's salvation might rest with a Kryptonian that billions have a reason to hate with a passion. Clark didn't need to be shown video feeds of the two people who still chose to forgive despite him trying to kill them and him trying to provoke them into killing him.
He looks towards Lois and Lara after ending his video phone call with Ray Palmer. Lois looks back to where he is standing only to notice a blur as he zips over to her. He didn't have to explain where or why he is leaving the farm. Sooner or later the hero he used to be would return and today happens to the day that she could quietly say to herself Superman without any trace of disgust that used to linger. As much as she needs him, his friends and enemies need him to do something to help them save humanity. She doesn't need details, somebody would fill her in later, and she could smile knowing her husband did his part.
Lois scoops Lara into her arms and they watch the rapidly fading outline of Clark as he begins his journey towards the Arctic. One could scarcely imagine what might be left of the Fortress, but Lois had not been there in years so she did not want to wonder about its current state. This mother looks to the future, which happens to be nestling in her arms. She believes Clark and the others would everything in their power to ensure that the world Lara grows up in would be one she could be proud of.
Watchers Tower - Bio Labs
After talking with Clark, Palmer summons Kara to his laboratory. He tells her about having Clark go to the Fortress of Solitude to consult with the medical archives from the orb he was able to save from the destruction of Brainiac's vessel over a decade earlier. Kara had not been present for those events and Clark rarely spoke of certain enemies even after she got her first taste of the Furies led by Lashina. She also had been slow to forgive Clark and the others for what they did as the Justice Lords. However after all that went on following his return from that other reality – she found herself seeing more of his old self in him, there is still good in him.
They still had much to do so she joins the teams scouring the globe to find all those carrying the disease as to affect quarantine yet despite destroying virtually all the missiles, the disease is spreading with a vengeance across several continents.
Kara heads out and passes Barda on the way to the teleporter station down the hall from the labs.
Watchers Tower - Monitor Hub
"You and I are likely to still be persona non grata on New Genesis."
"I won't have you face your people alone. This is my battle too."
Scott at times couldn't fathom what she sees in him because he thought she would have gone for someone like Orion, but then he never knew that she had seen how he withstood Granny's attempts to break him years ago. At first she would say she admires his resilience yet later when he finally broke out, she had her doubts about being a part of the Furies, but she found peace until she found him again. Love set her free.
Barda and Scott Free are journeying to New Genesis though even they fear it is in vain for them to being going 'home'. Highfather and Darkseid have been enemies since before Scott was born and Scott could not easily forget that he took Orion's place as Darkseid's 'son'. Orion likewise took many years to come to terms with being the actual son of Darkseid. They were united in their opposition to Darkseid's designs. It was they who finally convinced Highfather to intervene on Earth's behalf during Darkseid's third attempt to invade then occupy Earth. It was also they who continue to oppose Darkseid because with the disappearance of the Justice Lords, Darkseid saw opportunity anew.
However the Justice Lords' action made Highfather reconsider the protection he had given Earth at the behest of his son and his enemy's son, which is why Darkseid made another play against Earth and why the Frees chose to relocate to Earth to stop him. Even in the absence of Superman, they still had enough heroes and heroines on hand. The casualties and the damages were fewer than they could have been if not for the Frees' advance warning. Earth's governments however were never told who gave this information to them yet on the surface it was attributed to a physicist named Ray Palmer.
Palmer spent years studying boom tube technology and claim to have made advances that would allow them to detect boom tube portals before they open. The origins of the sensors that could track incoming and outgoing boom tube portals actually had come from technology 'borrowed' by Scott Free who went to great lengths to obtain the necessary means to duplicate all of it for Earth's sake. Orion takes the fall for the Frees when Highfather learns of their disappearance and the missing technology. Scott could scarcely imagine how Orion might feel after all this time and how Highfather would react to their return.
Unofficially they are no longer wanted or welcomed by the people of New Genesis despite their intentions several years prior, but no avenue can be left unexplored during this crisis. Scott knew sooner or later they would have to own up to what they did and as for Barda she will face it with him.
A/N 1: Much happens rather quickly and this story overall has seen its share of dramatic shifts as the plot went forward. However I put this story aside when I turned most of my energies to Tangents and In The Shadows. However I intend to complete this story this year.
A/N 2: The unleashed disease/pathogen is much worse than the one used by Aresia in the League reality.
A/N 3: Many supporting characters make the scene in short order. As for the Frees ever since Ties That Bind, I have had an affection for these two. Barda conveys much without words towards Scott in that episode. In this reality, much remains the same for them except why they are on Earth.
A/N 4: With both Bruce and Diana down for the count, Palmer turns to Clark for help and so Clark returns once more to help his friends.
A/N 5: As for the whole cryo-stasis plot device, the idea really came from a Trek novel.