I do not own Wonder Woman, or any DC characters named within. I am writing this story as a parody/fanfic only.
*(Inspired by a very fetching image by Ric Quiroz).
Diana screamed more in shock than pain as the strange ray struck her even as she lifted the black filly from the mud in a narrow ravine.
Caught by surprise, she was struck full in the back, the green glow surrounding her like a nimbus as the Amazon dropped to her knees, her body convulsing briefly before she rose to her feet to look around. The small foal she had pulled from the ravine shook itself as if everything was fine, and loped over to its waiting mother near a young cowgirl smiling happily as the twelve year old watched the pony rejoin its dam.
"Are you okay," the girl's mother asked, having seen the ray, and her reaction.
"Yes. Whatever it was seemed to have stunned me more than it injured me. Still, I should investigate its source.
"Did you see where it came from," she asked as she rose to hover just off the ground even as the rancher's wife that had drawn her attention to the foal's plight as she flew over the Midwest toward another commitment pointed straight up.
"It came straight out of the sky, Wonder Woman," she exclaimed.
"Then that is where I'm going," she smiled, and looked up even as her body joined motion, and she vanished into the sky in the blink of an eye as the woman gasped, wondering what it was like to have such power.
Diana, meanwhile, brushed the edge of the planet's atmospheric envelope. She tried to see what might have been responsible for the strange attack, for that was how she viewed it, but couldn't see anything out of place. The Watchtower was still on the far side of the world on its perennial orbit of the planet, so it would have been little help. She spotted a few innocuous satellites, but nothing out of the ordinary. Unless, of course, there was a cloaked vessel somewhere just out of sight. These days, anything was possible.
Turning back toward the planet below her, she flew downward with the speed of Hermes, and put the matter behind her.
Diana rolled over, her restless, and vaguely disturbing dreams keeping her from sleeping well that night, and then all but leapt straight up out of her bed as she yelped in pain, and both hands went her to throbbing backside even as her bare feet touched the hard deck of the Watchtower's flooring.
She gasped as she felt the pain shoot up her spine. Standing beside her bed in a blue silk nightgown she favored, both hands probed the offending area, and she couldn't help but gasp as she felt the peculiar appendage that she knew should not be where she felt.
Still, as she jerked her gown up, her hands going to that smooth, firm skin, there was no denying the six inch appendage that had sprouted from her tailbone. Her eyes still round with shock, and disbelief, she went to the small mirror in her room she used when on the orbiting Watchtower. Taking it from the wall, she held it angled to her side to better see what her hands were feeling.
She could not dismiss the impossibility any longer.
A six inch stub of hairless flesh had grown out from her tailbone, but it was looking as if a few, tiny dark hairs were starting to grow in at its base.
Replacing the mirror, she took stock of herself, but did not seem to notice anything else out of place. This was, however, far more than she could manage herself just then. Finding a modest robe, she belted it around her rather than pull her uniform back on. Not that she was going far. And thankfully, J'onn was on duty tonight, and she need not reveal this bizarre anomaly to anyone else.
She moved down the circular halls on bare feet, swift as ever, and found the onboard clinic open as always when J'onn was doing his research. She walked into the advanced medical facility, and smiled at the Martian's broad, green back, his own cape having been set aside while he was off-duty save for his medical expertise.
"J'onn," she called from the door rather than risk startling him. Not that you could truly surprise a telepath who could 'hear' you coming a mile off, or more.
"I know, Princess," the somber tone of her Martian comrade replied as he remained focused on his work just then. "I 'heard' your shout a few minutes ago."
"Then you know….?"
"No," he turned to face her now, his expression impassive as ever even seeing her standing before him in only a robe, and thin nightdress. "Not knowing what prompted your exclamation, I chose to preserve your privacy," he told her in all sincerity.
She smiled wryly, knowing few men had J'onn's ethical standards when it came to employing the impressive array of powers he possessed. Only a few stood out in her mind, and even some of her own allies tended to gray the boundaries when attending to their own concerns. Only a very few held firm to the principals she had been charged with bringing to Man's World by her mother, and her gods.
"Then I think it is best if I skipped the explanations, and just showed you," she told him as she closed the clinic door, and reached for the belt of her robe.
"Diana," J'onn exclaimed himself now, looking darker green than ever as his eyes narrowed at the display she made of herself before she dropped her robe, and turned to lift her nightie.
"By the Ancients," the Martian frowned, his surprise heightened. "What happened?"
"That was what I was hoping you could tell me," she told him, dropping her nightdress, and pulling her robe back on.
"My shout was me rolling over on that….unusual, and unlikely limb."
"I shall have to run some tests. Meanwhile, can you recall anything unusual that might have happened….. Ah, recently," he amended, knowing the irony in question when you considered she was an ageless Amazon helping heroes of unprecedented power and ability defend their small world in their at times crowded corner of the galaxy.
"No. That's just it. I had a rather normal day, considering, and….. Wait. Yesterday I was struck by some kind of greenish beam while I was…..Great Hera, while I was pulling a young foal from a ravine it had blundered into in its youthful curiosity. It stunned me, but did no true harm, and while I investigated the sky around the area where it originated, I could see nothing.
"I had forgotten about it until just now."
"Well, Princess," he told her as solemn as ever. "Let me run a few tests, and we'll at least have a clue as to what is happening. In the meantime, consider your coordinates, and the time, and we'll also start a search of the suspect region, and determine if this was an accident, or some new attack.
Diana waited patiently as J'onn did whatever he did with his technology even as he simultaneously ran star charts that were overlain with time stamps showing the Earth's neighborhood in incremental periods before and after the time she had been struck by the green light.
At times, he was just as thorough as Batman, but she doubted even the incomparable Martian could truly compare to the 'ordinary' detective who approached life as if it were some grim game he had to win at all costs. She had seen him take on odds that would have caused even their more powerful allies to hesitate. She still could not believe the stories about him going face-to-face with Darkseid himself. And yet, she could. Who else would have that kind of daring?
"I fear all I have found are more questions," he finally told her as he turned away from a monitor that was displaying some arcane symbols that represented her health, or so she supposed.
"One thing I do know is that your genetic matrix has been intermingled with that of a terrestrial equine. A horse."
"The ray that hit me must have infused me with it when I was lifting the foal out of that gorge" she realized.
"I surmised as much myself.
"Why, or how, are yet beyond me. As well as how much you may change."
"Change," she frowned.
"Diana, you are growing a tail. It is obviously just the first indicator of the new genetic code only now making itself known in your body."
Then he paused, and frowned just slightly as he stepped forward, put a hand to her loose bangs, and shoved them back.
"My mistake," he told her. "Your tail, and your ears are the first indications of your new genetic code."
"My…..ears," she frowned as her right hand went to her exposed ear as J'onn's hand held her hair back and up. She swallowed hard as she felt the tapered, elfin lift of her ear, and knew the other likely matched.
"This is beyond bearing," she rasped, more outraged than frightened at this point. "Can't you reverse this madness?"
"I'll keep exploring possibilities," he told her helplessly. "However, without knowing what was done, I cannot begin to consider a means of undoing it. You also have to consider the possibility your changes may also affect your powers. That being said, I think it behooves you to remain here until we are certain just what is happening to you. As well as what its end result might be.... What," he asked, frowning as she stared curtly at him.
"Behooves," she grumbled, tightening her robe as she shook out her long, dark hair. "J'onn, I thought you had better bedside manner than that," she blustered.
"I don't…. Oh, I see. A regrettable choice of terminology, I admit. Forgive me, Princess," he nodded. "Rest assured, though, I will continue to work on this. Still, we had best alert the rest of the League as well. If this is an attack….."
"I'll contact them. I'm up anyway," she sighed, and headed back to her room to dress before facing Wally, who was on monitor duty this week.
She stopped, thinking of the irascible speedster, and groaned. "J'onn," she turned back to ask even as her hand reached for the door.
J'onn was there, holding out his voluminous red cape even before she asked the question.
"I did not read your mind. I simply know Flash."
"Don't we all," she sighed, taking the cape with a smile of gratitude.
"Hey, Diana," Wally grinned, sitting before the monitors with his mask pushed back off his youthful head as he simultaneously watched the many monitors before him, shoveled alarming amounts of junk into his mouth, and read some book whose title he carefully kept hidden the moment she appeared wearing J'onn's cape to mask her unusual appendage.
"Nice fashion statement. This the year for capes," he grinned, and shoved another nugget of questionable origin into his mouth.
"I need an open circuit to all members," she told him seriously, ignoring his usual byplay as she stood beside him, studying one of the monitors.
"That's only for…."
"Emergencies. I know, Wally. Do it. Now."
Ten minutes later, after the message and warning had been sent, Wally stared blatantly at her, his green eyes round with shock.
"Uh…..Nothing, Di. It's just….I can see your ears now. And I mean, I can see them."
She groaned as she reached up and felt them, realizing they were not only tapered, they had grown. Upward by at least an inch.
"You've nothing to apologize for, Walter," she sighed, starting to sit in a nearby chair, and then remembering. She chose to lean against a console, waiting to see if anyone responded. The problem was, as she leaned against the nearest console, her eyes fell on her exposed legs, and so did Wally's.
"Whoa. Uh, I'm not going to joke about this, Wonder Woman," he told her somberly as they both stared at her legs that were now dusted with short, black hairs that covered her flesh from ankle this thigh. "Honestly."
Diana, who did not feel very amused just then, said nothing.
"Maybe you should go see J'onn?"
"I've already see him. My presence would only distract him now," she said quietly as she felt unusually drained just then. Almost before she realized it, she had picked up an open package of Wally's favorite cookies, and began to eat them.
"Wow. Guess your metabolism must be speeding up, too?"
"What," she frowned, and looked down to see she had just emptied a full package of cookies. "Oh, I'm sorry."
"Don't sweat it. I know all about out-of-control metabolisms," he smiled wryly. "You might want to stock up a little, though, if that was any indication."
She nodded, and then decided, "I think I will go see my mother. She may have some ideas yet to occur to us."
"You know, Diana," Wally asked after a moment. "I may not be the scientist here, but….what about that filly you were holding? Do you think anything is happening to it after being hit by that beam in tandem with you?"
Diana frowned. "I did not think of that. I'll alert J'onn. He may want to check it out."
"Glad I could help," he told her as she walked away with a sack of his favorite fast food he had smuggled onboard for himself.
He sighed, shaking his head, but couldn't help but notice the way her ever admirable bottom swayed a little more than usual. As well as the way her borrow cape was sticking out at a strategic area that suggested…..well, more than she was willing to show just then.
Diana woke with a monstrous hunger, and looked around the room to realize there was nothing left for her to eat. That in itself was something considering the trash left behind from her last meal made it look as if Wally had been living in her room the past few days. She pushed herself up from the usually soft bed with a groan, careful of her tail this time after a few painful reminders, and levered herself onto her aching feet.
Only her feet weren't there.
She gasped, fighting the urge to scream as she stared down at dark, dainty hooves on the end of her much harrier legs. Legs that were once sleek, and smooth were now all but covered in a dusting of dark hair that made her look as if she wore an animal's coat.
A thought occurred to her, and she rose carefully on her new appendages, still shocked she had never felt her feet change, and that they also felt quite…..normal to her. She found she balanced well enough after a moment, and then in a moment of uneasiness, she tore off her robe, the only garment she was currently wearing after her tail had ended up 'flowering' so quickly earlier that afternoon.
She stared down at herself in genuine dismay.
There was no hair on her upper torso, but from her hips, now flared all the wider, to her hooves, she was covered in dark, smooth hair that now hid her once unblemished flesh. Her tail stood out, she noted, glancing around her, only because it was as dark as the hair on her head, and thus darker than the nearly as black hair on her legs. She couldn't be sure, but she felt her chest had elongated slightly, and her breasts seemed more swollen, too.
She wasn't sure, because as with her hooves, she felt a peculiar sense of appropriateness when she focused on the apparent changes that had seemed obvious for a moment before her mind fixed on them. He moved slowly, carefully toward her mirror, and looked into the silvered glass yet again, and almost sighed with relief that her features remained unchanged.
Until she caught sight of the tip of one tapered ear that made her pull back her hair to see her ears had indeed changed, too. They weren't tufted, or hairy, as she almost expected, but the organs were narrow, and elfin tipped as they had not been before now.
Once again, even as she looked at her new ears, turning her head one way, then another, she felt a rightness about their shape and presence, and let the fear and concern fade even as she let her hair fall back in place.
Still, she was not meant to be this. She still knew that much, and could think it without it being molded into another line of thinking.
She decided she had better see J'onn again, and was halfway down the hall before she remembered she was naked. She started to hesitate, considering she had best return for something to cover her body in case someone was still up at this late hour, when her mind shifted again, and simply accepted that going as she was did not constitute any great restriction on her part. Once again, she felt it was simply something that felt right.
She kept heading toward the clinic, to see J'onn, only to remember with a loud rumble from her belly that she was still hungry.
A snack first, she told herself, and then she would see J'onn. After all, there was not really anything wrong just now. Aside from the fact she was still unbearably hungry.
"…..was nothing remotely extraordinary about the animal," J'onn was telling Batman who was on a rare night of monitor duty since Superman had a mission on the outer rim of the solar system that week.
"I'm sure its owners were glad."
"They are more concerned about Diana. They felt it might be their fault that something had happened to her by drawing her attention, and getting her to rescue the foal."
"I hope you explained that risks come with our jobs," Batman said as the door slid open, and both men stared at the woman standing there.
Stoic and disciplined as both men were, they couldn't help but show their surprise at seeing the seven and a half foot, very naked Amazon standing there on her own hooves, and eyeing them with supreme indifference as she ate avidly from the apple in one hand, the other holding a half empty sack of ripe fruit.
"J'onn…..I….seem to recall needing to see you, but I can't remember what it was about," she admitted as she walked into the medical bay, having to duck slightly to manage it.
"She's definitely still changing," Batman said somberly, having quickly regained his usual composure.
"To say the least. That confirms my theory that her hunger is directly related to her metabolic rate, and subsequent transformations."
"Are you saying…..the more I eat…..the more I change," Diana asked as she walked over to stand with them, still eating as if starving.
"Yes," Batman told her, glancing down at the dark tail that whipped her thighs in agitation as she frowned, obviously trying to think.
"Her mental state is obviously being clouded by these changes," J'onn said without inflection, and his eyes narrowed as he focused on her, and then blinked in surprise again.
"What is it," Batman demanded.
"She has….two distinct personalities present in her subconscious mind now. The one, we know, and is normal. The other is new, and growing rapidly. It is…..for want of a better explanation, completely bestial in shape and origin. I suspect the infusion of equine DNA also brought with it a certain primal memory and instinct that is now trying to supplant Diana's own mind."
"We cannot allow that to happen," Batman scowled. "Surely you've figured how something that will stop this by now?"
"It's only been a few days, Batman. And to be honest, I've yet to ascertain how it began, let alone how to stop it. To blindly start tampering with her genetic structure, skewered as it has become, would only invite more trouble."
Batman scowled. Or rather, he scowled more darkly than usual. Then he nodded at J'onn.
"Then you can ensure her primal subconscious does not overwhelm her conscious mind and will."
"Of course. I was already working on that after I detected the imbalance. It is simply taking….a little more time than anticipated," he allowed with the faintest of smiles as Diana continued to stand silently, chewing placidly now as if she were but a grazing animal. "The host mind is strong, but the animal growing within her shares that strength, and cannot simply be…..dismissed.
"For the time being, I believe melding them is the only way to keep our friend both sane, and herself."
"Do what you think best," the detective nodded as he studied the now vacant-eyed Amazon. A moment later J'onn sighed, and turned away, and Diana blinked, and looked down at herself.
"Great Hera," she exclaimed, and darted around a privacy curtain. "Why am I naked," she demanded of the men as she tugged a sheet from a nearby bed. "And my…..my feet," she exclaimed.
"When did this happen," she demanded as she came around the curtain wrapped in a sheet as if it were a toga. Not that it did much to hide her very voluptuous frame, but neither men said anything.
"Apparently, Diana," J'onn told her. "You absorbed some of the foal's instincts and memory when you absorbed its genetic pattern. It was….beginning to overwhelm your own conscious mind, and compelling you to accept what you were becoming."
"Wonderful," she frowned, and then looked down at the nearly empty bag of fresh apples she had dropped.
"I believe your hunger is a direct link to your transformation. Your body is burning up calories faster than you can replace them, and that is why you keep feeling as if you are starving."
She bit into an apple as she nodded at the Martian. "I guessed that part myself, knowing what I do of Wally's metabolism and genetics in general."
"Yes, well," J'onn grumbled. "That said, I wish your permission to put you on a nutrient serum IV to feed you more efficiently. It will likely speed your changes, but at least we can control your progress, and keep anything untoward from happening due to malnourishment during this event."
"Untoward? J'onn, I've got hooves," she told him, pointing at her delicate hooves with a half eaten apple.
"J'onn has a point. In time, you might not be able to take in enough to feed the genetic transformation, and it could….harm you."
She sighed. "Very well. But keep Wally out of here. I caught him trying to bring a camera into my room last night."
"Wally's busy. Central City has had a recent crime wave thanks to one of his usual nemeses," Batman told her. "I'll see he's kept busy, too."
"Thank you, Bruce," she told him, and looked back at J'onn. "So, shall we get started?"
"Yes," he nodded somberly, and gestured for her to accompany him back into the rear of the medical bay.
"Planned ahead, did you," she asked, seeing the wide bed, and the medical equipment surrounding it.
"Always," he agreed with his solemn smile.
"Well, that gives me hope. You have my trust, J'onn," he was told as she carefully sat on the side of the bed. "You always have."
"Thank you, Diana. I'll get you a proper robe. Then we will begin."
"I'll be up in control," Batman said as he cast a last glance at Diana, and turned to leave.
"Of course," J'onn nodded without looking back as he produced a more modest medical gown for Diana before turning away to let her pull it on.
A few moments later, she was reclining on the bed, careful of her now fully grown tail, as both arms sported IVs that filled her veins with pure liquid nutrients and proteins to fuel her ravenous metabolism. She felt a rush of strange heat even as the first drips began, and then fell back, trembling as she felt her body begin to change yet again.
"J-J-J'onnnnnnnn," she groaned as she felt herself growing heavy, and somehow larger.
"Don't panic, Diana," the Martian instructed her as he rushed back to her side, staring at her with an expression that suggested he was trying to take his own advice.
"No," she cried when he reached for the nearest IV. "Let it happen. This is what you…..wanted…."
"But not what we expected. Not this fast," he fretted.
"Let it…..happen," she groaned as her body felt as if it were twisting in and around itself. "Let's….get this over with, and…..deal with whatever comes," she growled, the warrior in her refusing to yield even as J'onn backed away.
She felt the bed groaning beneath her, and then she felt it give as it bent, and broke, and she landed on the floor with a hard smack. She was too weak to stand just then, not that it mattered. She felt her legs twitch violently, only they were not her legs. They were legs that were somehow stretching out behind her from a larger, alien part of her body that had suddenly just there as her lower body elongated, and warped, and she stared back over her shoulder in horror as the larger frame of a black mare grew out of her lower body.
"Great….Hera," she rasped, and never had she prayed more desperately as she stared at that real, living flesh that twitched, and moved, and seemed to be attached to her. "I'm a centaur," she realized as she suddenly found she had control of her four legs, and managed to coordinate them enough to lift her to her feet.
Whereupon she immediately banged her head atop the low ceiling.
Low, she frowned as she craned her head, and realized she had put a dent in the soft metal. The ceiling was nearly fourteen feet high in the medical bay. She looked down and realized J'onn had not shrunk, nor had the room. She was now that big.
A fully grown mare.
"Well," she snorted, raising her still human hands on the end of her still hairless arms. The mare's coat seemed to end just above her hips. "This could be…..difficult to explain."
"It would seem you are still as powerful as ever," J'onn remarked as he stared up at the dented ceiling. "Even without your power belt on."
"I am an Amazon," she grumbled at him.
"I did not mean any disparagement, Diana," he told her. "I was simply concerned that your transformation might somehow….diminish you."
"I feel as strong as ever. Stronger," she realized, flexing her arms as the gown strained to contain her human form as she did.
"So, if this were an attack, it was obviously not meant to augment your power levels," the Martian suggested. "So perhaps it was….an accident of some sort. Or….?"
"We can speculate all day, J'onn. But I'm still hungry, and I need to know what I can, and can't do now."
"I'll prepare another IV," he sighed. "Then I suggest we take you to the training room if you check out physically, and see how well you handle a few combat scenarios."
"A good idea," she nodded, smiling eagerly as she noted the serum bags had been emptied by then, and she had not even noticed. "In the meantime, could you hand me the rest of those apples? You would not believe how good they smell to me just now."
"Indeed," J'onn murmured, eyeing the bag with the few remaining apples across the room on a counter.
"She's definitely stronger," Batman said as he watched her from the observation deck with J'onn as Diana tore through the virtual combat drones as if they were papier-mâché toys. Those her hands could not reach, her hooves did as she reared, or kicked with powerful results as she tore through the entire simulation in less than half her usual time.
"Faster, too. And she moves almost instinctively now, rather than relying on sight or sound alone. As good as she was before, she is even more formidable in this form. Which again makes me doubt this was intended as an attack."
"Or that those responsible had any idea what they were doing," Batman asked.
"Just so. Not that such speculation helps, but…..I do not think we need to fear this was an intentional strike at the princess, or the League."
"All the same, we should keep up precautions, and try to find out just what it was."
"That goes without saying. Without knowing what it was, we cannot reverse it," the Martian agreed as he watched Diana dust her hands of the remains of the last drone.
"How was that, guys," she grinned, her eyes bright with the usual excitement she exhibited when losing herself in battle.
"Very well done, Diana," J'onn told her as she looked up at the observation deck where they stood over the training simulator room.
She wore her own costume again, as much as she could wear of it considering her lower body. Still, with her bracelets and power belt back on, there was likely not anything the Amazon couldn't handle just then. As she had just more than ably demonstrated.
"Come up now, and let me check your vitals, and status."
"I can tell you now, I feel fine," she said, and kneeling slightly, she leapt straight up, her seemingly fragile mare's legs launching her high into the air to land nimbly on the observation platform with the two heroes.
"Better than fine," she smiled down at them now as she flexed her powerful muscles, and shook her head as if a true mare despite her dark hair being held back now by her tiara.
The gesture was not lost on either man.
"Feeling our oats, are we," Batman asked dryly in his usual grim tone.
"Still working on a sense of humor, are we, Bruce," she countered with a grin.
"As strong as you are, you have not yet appreciated the debilitations that come with your form."
"What impediments could you be referring to," she demanded. "I'm as good as ever in battle."
"Yes, you are. Out in the open. What if you had to enter a building? Or an aircraft? Like the hijacking you stopped last month? What if……?"
"All right," she frowned, her spirit dampened by his words. "You've made your point. But I believe in dealing with things realistically, and practically. Whatever happened to me, it's done, and I have to live with it. At least for now. Sitting and brooding is your trademark, Bruce," she told him sharply. "Not mine. I'm an Amazon. A warrior. We do not sit and fret over things we cannot control. We face life, and death, and we do it on our…..feet," she said after a sour look down.
"You go, girl," a curvaceous blonde applauded as she walked up behind them.
Clad in black, her legs in black fishnets that should have made her look more like a cheap hooker than a famous heroine, Black Canary smirked at the Batman as she walked over to stand beside Diana. "When the rumor mill said you were changing, they weren't kidding. But I think you've got the right idea, Wonder Woman. Whoever did this to you probably thinks they knocked you out of the running with this. I think from the looks of the combat sims down there, you can more than prove them wrong."
"I don't doubt my abilities," she sighed, nodding her gratitude to the blonde heroine. "Still, Batman does bring up a valid point. I would have trouble getting into certain….places."
"I suggest you keep your activities limited to outside arenas, then," J'onn told her. "And perhaps carry a partner….. I mean, take a partner along with you in case you cannot pursue someone into smaller avenues," the Martian amended as he realized what he had been saying.
"I know what you meant, J'onn," though even Diana was grinning again as she replied. "And that is a good idea. For now, though. I think I had better go down and see mother. She might have an idea of what's going on that we don't. After all, I do seem to be rather stabilized at this point. And the form suggests a certain Greek flavor."
"Centaurs are extinct," Batman grunted.
Diana smiled knowingly. "Only in this dimension," she told him as she headed for the exit, and the transporter since she couldn't too well take her own plane down in her current shape.
"Just be careful," J'onn asked. "While your physical form may have stabilized, I am still uncertain as to the state of your….."
"I'll be fine," she shot back. "You worry too much."
Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, could not do more than stare.
As did every Amazon that trailed after their princess after she materialized on the island near the palace. She felt oddly nervous as her sisters stared incredulously at her, and then followed her toward the queen's throne.
"Diana," her mother finally exclaimed, only able to blurt out her name, and no more as she continued to stare herself.
Finally, she cleared her throat when Diana only stared, and smiled helplessly.
"What have they done to you? What devil….?"
"Mother, we don't know how, or who is involved. I was struck by a beam of light out of the skies, and over the past few days, I began to….change. For now, I seem to have finished changing. I came to see if pe rhaps you, or the gods might know of this….event."
"I can assure you, Diana, that we know nothing of this. And while the gods ever keep their own counsel, they certainly would have told me if they intended to…to….to…."
"I understand, mother. It was an avenue I had to explore. My allies in Man's World continue to seek answers from other avenues. I am sure we will yet prevail."
Hippolyta nodded, her smile weak, and then she asked, "Other than the obvious….how do you fare," she asked.
"I've developed quite an appetite," she grinned, eyeing the platters of fresh fruit around her.
The queen nodded, and clapped her hands. "Prepare a feast for my daughter," she shouted, and feet began to scurry as the Amazons moved to obey. "In the meantime, you should visit Asiana."
"The smith? Why," she asked.
"Your hooves need caring for, daughter. However long you are in this form, you do not want to end up lame by neglecting them. And even I can tell you're in danger of doing just that."
Diana looked down at her hooves, and said nothing as she saw the tiny fissures along one front hoof where she had pummeled a combat drone.
Apparently, she had a few weaknesses to consider that had not occurred to her.
"I suppose you're right," she sighed.
"I shall go with you. Asiana is our best smith in many years," she assured her. "The horses seem to love her attention. I mean…."
"I understand, mother. I am still getting used to this, too," she reminded her.
"Of course," the queen murmured, eyeing her daughter who walked alongside her as they left the palace, and headed toward the smithy.
"I win again," Diana grinned, and turned to face the two other sisters who had managed to keep up with her on a matched pair of white mares that they rode as if they were one. "But it was close. You are excellent riders," she complemented them.
"And you are much lighter without a true rider," Rheana told her with smirk. "I wonder if you would win did you carry a rider yourself?"
"Rheana does not like to lose," Eleana told Diana with a knowing smile.
"I remember," she smiled, having played with the other Amazon growing up. "So, have you not have much competition since I've been gone? Or have you browbeaten everyone else into letting you win?"
Rheana scowled, then laughed, and told her, "Guess."
"I do not think I have to," she laughed with the two as the others in the race finally reached them, and they received their sister's congratulations.
Diana had to admit that her mother had been right. Her newly shod hooves had more of a grip, and did not risk splitting, or worse as they had before did she have to walk over stone, or concrete when she returned to Man's World. In the meantime, she felt like exploring more of her new shape, and discerning just what her true limits might be.
Other than size, as Bruce had mentioned, she had not found any.
"I shall have to think of a special gift to reward you for your victory," Rheana told her with a smirk as she dropped from her saddle, ever mindful of her mount as she loosened its girth, and let it breath as she wiped it down.
She even led it to a nearby stream, allowing it drink deeply as her sisters did the same. Warriors all, they knew the importance of their horses, and cared for them both as friends, and comrades even though they had not fought in earnest as warriors in some years. Not since the last incursion from Man's World, and centuries before that.
"You know you need not offer me anything, Rheana. Save your friendship," she told her as she hefted the canteen she carried over her own shoulder to drink deep from the cool, clear water available only on Paradise Island.
Rheana only smiled all the more.
"Mayhap I could help groom you," she tittered. "You're going to need some help after today's races. Your tail is full of briars."
"It is," Diana frowned, lowering her canteen to stare behind her. "I never felt anything….."
"It is a tail," Eleana laughed at her. "Not a hand. You likely didn't even notice the brambles you jumped cutting us off by the pass through the canyon."
"No, I did not," she laughed with her. "Very well, Rhea," she called her. "I would be honored would you help me groom myself this evening."
Rheana smiled. "It will be my pleasure."
"Uh-oh," Eleana murmured, and moved to whisper to Diana. "Better watch her. When she talks like that, she usually has some prank planned."
"That's what I expected all along," Diana whispered back. "But it's been so long since I was last here, why spoil her fun," she asked.
Rheana smiled curtly as she watched the shape move in the darkness beyond the corral.
Diana slept, by necessity, in a stall of her own just as any other of the finest mares in their care. She waited until the Amazon slept deeply, assured she would remain so for the time being as she crept forward to open her paddock, and swing open the outer door to her stall. She then moved back, and noted the shadow arrived almost at once.
She knew what drew it.
The tall, roan stallion, one of the few males on the island, sensed a mare in heat.
And the special curry comb, and herbs she had used on Diana as she groomed her as carefully as she did her own prized mares had made it seem that she was entering estrus. For the stallion, that was enough. He scented a new mare in heat, and he came for her.
That was the true prize Rheana had decided to give Diana.
While she truly loved her sister, she also envied her. Just enough to be a little bitter at how easily things came for the warrior blessed by the gods themselves. Even at their darkest hour, it had been Diana who stood beside heroes from Patriarch's World that saved the Amazons, not her, or her sisters. Now, Diana had come to seek sanctuary from yet another misfortune visited upon her, but this time Rheana could exploit it.
She would see how swift Diana remained when her new womb filled with new life, and her very flesh trapped her as no other Amazon ever had been in recent memory.
Then, too, she remained rather envious of Diana's strength and beauty in her new shape, too, and couldn't help but wonder what manner of offspring she might birth.
Dragon sniffed the sleeping mare before him, nudging her as he snorted, and nipped at her flanks after inhaling the magically induced estrus he scented from this strange mare. Detecting no resistance, he gave a short neigh of masculine arrogance, and reared up to mount this strange mare.
Diana gave a quiet, nickering sound in her sleep as she remained quiet, and still enchanted.
Then Dragon hunched forward, and inch by think inch, he filled her receptive channel with his hard flesh before he began pounding that long, hungry flesh into her with abandon. Rheana couldn't keep her fingers from sliding beneath her own skirt, and to her golden furred flesh to tease her aroused slit that had been swollen with need the moment Diana had returned.
She had been one of Diana's lovers in the past, but it had been years.
And she had wanted her back for most of those years.
Now, in her own way, her best stud was going to ensure Diana was hers once more. She had it all planned out. The breeding Diana would not be able to return to Man's world as she was. Rheana would offer sympathy, and care. And she would be her closest friend, and offer her all the support she would need as both mother-to-be, and mare.
The plan was perfect.
"Couldn't leave her alone, could you," Eleana asked, her strong arms winding around her sister as she cupped, and squeezed her full, firm breasts.
"Don't worry. I won't say anything. You'd just better hope the queen, or especially Diana doesn't figure out what you've done," Eleana murmured as she nuzzled Rheana's soft neck.
Rheana moaned as her current lover nibbled on an earlobe, and then she asked her, "So, will you make her your mount? Or your mistress?"
"Both," Rheana giggled, and reached back to cup Eleana's bare, damp slit that welcomed her touch. "Now, be quiet. I want to watch."
"She's not even awake?"
"She won't be awake for a while. Not until the third mounting."
"I made it part of the enchantment. To ensure Dragon seeded his new mare."
"So, this is about more than spite?"
"Just think. She might well be the work of the gods trying to restore the centaurs upon our world," Rheana murmured as Eleana's hands teased her in very delightful ways.
"And if not," Eleana asked pointedly.
"Then it will be I who help bring them back if our princess breeds true. As well as giving her a cause to remain with us for a change."
Eleana snorted, but said nothing else as she returned to teasing her lover with her skilled fingers than now replaced her own between her thighs.
Rheana cried out in her first climax even as Diana's eyes suddenly flared open, staring sightlessly as she cried out in echo of Dragon's trumpeting neigh as he filled her womb with his thick seed for the first time.
And continued to thrust into her even as she stared blankly, her mare's mind now awake and in control as she accepted her lover, and encouraged his mating more actively as the two shadow-cloaked Amazons watched their princess bred by the large stallion that covered her.
Diana, however, remained completely unaware of what was happening to her just then.
That knowledge would not come until late the next day.
Rheana smiled as Dragon trotted close to Diana, eyeing her with a possessive gleam in his dark eyes as the Amazon swatted at him with her tale not for the first time.
"What is with that stud of yours," she demanded.
Dragon responded by nipping her close to her tail, and Rheana, riding with the princess alone that afternoon, chuckled as she realized her stallion was wanting a repeat of their night of passion, and Diana didn't seem to understand.
"Really, Di," Rheana giggled as Diana turned to glare at the roan shadowing them. "I didn't think you were that naive. You have been among men for some time now, after all."
Diana figured it out.
"You can't mean….?" Dragon snorted, and tried to nip her side again before Diana quickly sidestepped him.
"He's a stud, and you're a mare, sister," Rheana grinned. "I would imagine your body comes with the usual functions, and drives," she asked suggestively.
"That beast cannot actually think…"
"Diana," she smiled knowingly. "To him, you are just as much a beast as he."
Diana gasped as the stud circled her now, and snorted, and shook his massive head. Even she knew enough to understand what he was doing. He was 'courting' her. Only he was doing it as if she were but a real mare, and not….
She suddenly heard herself nicker from deep in her throat. The sound surprised Rheana, too, but she said nothing as she simply gaped as Diana flicked her tai, and spread her hind legs. Dragon noted the change instantly, and moved behind her to sniff, and nip, and nudge yet again.
This time, her mare's body reacted predictably to the stud's mind, and a moment later he mounted her as he had the night before, and Rheana gasped as she realized belatedly that Diana had screamed, "It was no dream!
"Get him off me, Rheana," Diana shouted, unable to make her bestial body obey her as the stallion planted his hard rod firmly in her animal's cunt, and then began rutting with the intent of filling her womb with his seed yet again.
"Why did you let him mount you," she asked more curiously than distressed as she nudged her mare around to face Diana who blushed furiously, but couldn't seem to move an inch.
"I….I don't seem to be controlling my own body now. It's as if…..as if the mare side of me just took over. I have to call J'onn. I have to get back to the League. Only he can help now."
"I don't think Dragon wants to let you go anytime soon," she told her earnestly. "And he is only doing what comes naturally. Give him time, and he'll release you. You know how males are, sister."
"But….Rhea," she gasped, then her bright, blue eyes went vacant as she gasped anew, this time in what sounded like bliss, and actually neighed her delight as she felt Dragon pumping his life-giving seed into her very womb.
"Don't worry, Princess," she smiled as Dragon remained mounted as he paused to rest, obviously not intending to release her anytime soon. "Whatever happens, I'll help take care of you."
Diana's mind had been overwhelmed by then, and she didn't even hear the words.
She was nickering to her lover, her arms once more dangling limp at her sides as the mare accepted her insistent mate who intended to ensure she knew her place before he released her this time. Diana spent most of the afternoon beneath Dragon before he finally spent the last of even his prodigious strength. Still, the stallion kept trying to drive her off to join the main herd of mares he protected, and had Rheana not been there, he would have succeeded with Diana's mind now controlled by the animal within her.
Rheana eventually had to loop a rope about Diana just to lead her home, much to Dragon's frustration. She was halfway back to the palace when she realized Diana was still carrying her magic lasso at her side, and she couldn't help but smile as she nudged her mare closer, holding Diana still with her own rope after she reined in to a stop. She then shook out the gleaming, golden cord, and looped it around the object of her desire for more years than even an Amazon cared to think about.
"Diana, do you understand me," she asked, staring into the wide, blue eyes that looked back at her.
To her shock, Diana nickered.
"If you can, nod."
"Are you Diana," she asked with a peculiar sense of premonition.
Diana shook her head no.
"You are the mare inside her mind," she asked, having heard Diana's story at her welcome home feast that first night.
Diana nodded, and nickered again.
Rheana saw the opportunity here almost at once. "Are you always present, or only when Diana sleeps or loses control," she asked.
Diana snorted, and gave her a sour expression.
"This would be easier if you could speak properly," Rheana complained, realizing she had overlooked the limitations of yes and no queries.
"I can speak," Diana snorted again, though her tone was strange.
"I am Tira," Diana's chin went up smugly. "Not that other silly creature that fears our lovely form."
"Is….Diana still aware?"
"No. Her mind sleeps within us."
"For how long," Rheana asked her.
"For as long as I will it thanks to your magics, Mistress Rheana. You returned my dominance, and woke the instincts that let me regain control of my body."
"And she has no idea what happened? Or is happening?"
"No," Tira snorted. "Unlike myself, her mind is not that complex, and easily subdued for all her will."
Rheana smiled slyly. "I am….glad I could help."
Tira eyed her. "You find me beautiful," she said in realization.
"Yes, but….how is it you can manage to maintain enough will to ask questions when I hold the magic lasso?"
Tira's eyes looked down, and Rheana's eyes followed hers.
She smiled appreciatively when she saw Tira's hands now held one end of the lasso that was coiled around her torso just where the power belt was buckled around her still sensual body.
"My will is not so easily overwhelmed, mistress," the mare in Diana's flesh smiled.
Before Rheana could react, Tira tugged, and recast the slack in the lasso between them, and Rheana was suddenly ensnared by the gleaming coils herself.
"Shall we have a test of wills," Tira asked as she stared in Rheana's green eyes.
"Yes," the Amazon slurred, half conscious, and struggling instinctively within her mind to free herself, and yet perversely pleased to have been 'captured' by this glorious creature forged of her beloved sister's flesh.
"You said you thought I might be mother to a new race. Do you believe that," Tira demanded.
"Yes," she answered instantly, and honestly.
"Is that why you arranged for your Diana to be bred?"
"Ah. And what were these other motivations?" "I have but one other.
"I hoped that blessed with life, she would relinquish the role of Wonder Woman, and remain at my side. I have missed her greatly these years she has been away."
Tira smiled. It was a reason a communal herd creature could well understand.
"I am breeding, so you have succeeded at least in half. Only I have greater ambitions now that my mind is free, and am fully aware of other possibilities."
Rheana said nothing.
"Can you guess my ambitions?"
"Logic suggests you would wish to preserve yourself, and your foals, as well as increase your number any way possible," Rheana replied, as all Amazons are both mental and physical prime specimens that had centuries to hone their skills and knowledge.
"You are correct. I have a theory, and you will help me test it. Take me to your medical lab, and let us begin this very night. For by morning, I intend to know one way or another if I am fated to be alone here."
"Never alone" Rheana cooed as she smiled at her transformed sister, and dropped her hands from the lasso where she had been struggling to maintain her grip.
Tira smiled knowingly, and understood the Amazon was a strongly submissive creature that required a dominant companion. Little wonder she had chosen the most powerful of Amazons to obsess with, then.
Only Tira was stronger than even Diana's tiny, human spark of sentience. Her mind and will was much greater than even her Martian comrade could have imagined. She was still furious he had almost destroyed her wit and will earlier, but at the moment, playing 'dead' was more useful to her than engaging in a battle of wills with the alien.
She yielded to Diana's dominance for a time, but still managed to plant the desire to see home, and family so they could escape the Martian's scrutiny.
Now, as she held the lasso coiled around Rheana's shapely form, she had the means to not only survive, but ensure her kind did indeed prosper. "Even when I release you, you will obey me, and work willingly with me, as well as help cover the truth of our labors if any others approach.
"Nor will you betray the fact I am not truly Diana. Now, come," she told Rheana after recoiling the lasso, and securing it to her side once more. "I do not wish to waste time."
"Yes, mistress," Rheana called her exuberantly.
"For now, you must call me Diana. Do not forget that."
"I won't, mistress. I will call you Diana when we are with others. Otherwise, I shall address you as is proper."
Tira snorted. Definitely a subordinate filly.
Still, she was useful. She had certainly been useful to this point, helping to wake her, and give her the tools to begin her plans.
Dragon trotted nearby, snorting and neighing in frustration, and she laughed.
"Don't fret, my lord," she called to him. "You've done your job well, and now I shall do mine."
Dragon seemed to understand her, and shook his massive head, neighing again before trotting off toward the small herd he watched over in the wild. She smiled, looking forward to joining her sisters in the freedom of ever green pastures and clear waters once she had secured her place in history.
"I heard you had some trouble," Superman drawled as he stepped out of the airlock.
In his usual casual fashion, the man made coming in out of deep space look like stepping out of another room. No one could fault him, though. The Kryptonian was the epitome of what it meant to be a hero. There were few that could stand up to him, and while many emulated him, or tried to follow his unyielding example of self-sacrifice, he was still literally one-of-a-kind.
"Yes," J'onn told him as Oliver Queen glanced over his shoulder from the control panels where he was on monitor duty that night. "How did you hear about it?"
"I ran into a pair of alien ships on the way back from the Rim," he told him. "They weren't any trouble, unless you consider what they told me confirms my fears."
"What d'ya mean, Supes," the ever insolent Green Arrow asked. "They weren't more advance scouts, or something like that were they?"
"Hardly," the big man in a snug costume of primary colors that seemed far from silly on his powerful frame drawled. "More like joyriding kids caught by their parents."
"I think you had better explain this one," J'onn told him as he gestured for him to join him as they left the control room.
"Don't I get to hear the story," Ollie demanded petulantly as he turned from the monitors that surveyed most of the known planet below. There were a few nations they discretely bypassed, not wishing to violate certain treaties, or anger would-be agitators.
"Come along," Superman told him with his usual smile. "I'll hear anything that pops up on the monitors."
J'onn gave Oliver a neutral glance, but the archer already knew the Martian thought he was a little too much of an anarchist to trust. Oliver smiled back at him anyway as he dropped his feet from the console where they had been resting, and scooped up his bow as he followed them to the cafeteria where a few late shift workers were sipping coffee, and enjoying a snack before returning to their posts.
"So, give," Oliver demanded as they sat down with coffee. "What happened out there?"
"I ran into the two ships, and soon realized they were harmless."
"If they were behind what happened to Diana, then I would hardly count them harmless."
Kal-El sighed as he eyed J'onn, and shook his head. "Then she was affected by the beam the children fired at her."
"Children," Oliver asked.
"She became a centaur. Or centauress, I suppose one would more accurately describe her."
"Why," J'onn asked bluntly.
"Because according to what the parents of those youngsters told me, there is not any way to reverse the scanning ray that struck her."
"A highly advanced device from what I was told that literally downloads the subject being scanned into a DNA simulacrum for later study. Apparently, the children were interested in animal life on our world, and decided to scan the pony Diana was interacting with at the precise time they engaged the device."
"I see. I suspect this device was never meant to be used on two specimens simultaneously?"
"Specimens? You're talking about Diana, Mr. Green," Oliver spat.
He then turned his attention to Superman. "Are you really saying some glorified alien MRI is what turned our girl into an animal? And you didn't do anything about it?"
"They were harmless children, who were joyriding, and little else. I think their parents are more qualified to punish them than I am," Superman told him somberly. "And from what I saw of their parents, that is precisely what will happen when they return to their world."
"Right," Ollie snorted as he climbed to his feet. "Figures you wouldn't have the stones to do what needed doing. Look how long you've let Luthor string you along."
Kal-El sighed as the man stomped off.
"He is upset, that's all."
"Is Diana okay," he asked without mentioning Oliver. He had long ago reached the awareness that even with his power, there were some things he couldn't or wouldn't do.
"Yes. She's adjusting to her new form, and went to Paradise Island to seek succor, as much as possible, and perhaps aid from her sisters, and her gods."
"Good. That relieves some of my concerns. To be honest, even the A'q'liss did not know the outcome of two life forms being scanned as one. Considering the youngsters were not experienced, or skilled enough to have been using that equipment, they are very upset with them. Especially as they used it on one they considered a primitive species."
"These offworlders view mankind as primitive," J'onn asked, curious about any other aliens they encountered. Especially when they seemed of a rare, and peaceful variety.
"Actually, they don't regard man as anything but a universal aberration," he told J'onn with a faint smile as he pulled out a small digital recorder he had taken to carrying in his belt buckle. "Meet the A'q'liss," he told him, opening a video display.
"Fascinating," he murmured, staring at the tall, bipedal, and very obviously equine creatures that filled the small screen.
"They are. Very protective, but very firm with their young, too."
"So, Diana was likely not even an afterthought to them when they were using their scanning device," he realized.
"Exactly. They were more interested in the 'primitive' horses on our planet, and weren't even paying attention to Diana when they scanned the foal's DNA."
"Which, apparently, scrambled with her own on a subatomic level if what I saw happen, and what I now theorize is true."
"The A'q'liss did share some concern one of our species might have been….genetically damaged. The scan the youngsters uploaded was less than twenty percent complete, and badly degraded. I suspect part of Diana's DNA must have corrupted it, and they simply dumped it, feeling it was useless."
"This is troubling. The implication is….there is no way to separate the pair, since her transformation is not merely a superimposed creature, but a melding of two genetic patterns," the Martian realized.
"That thought crossed my mind on the flight home," Kal admitted as he finished his coffee with a single gulp despite the steam rising from its dark surface.
"I almost hope she does not return very soon," J'onn sighed. "It will be difficult breaking this news."
"Whatever happens, we are still friends. Remind her of that, and that we'll stand by her as we always have," he told J'onn.
"Now, I'd better get back to Metropolis," he said, giving J'onn the recorder's memory card for his studies. "Nine days is five days longer than I planned on being away," he said, and headed for the nearest airlock.
"I'm sure Lois will understand," J'onn grinned knowingly.
"Are you sure you know Lois," Superman joked as he waved goodbye.
J'onn smiled for a moment, and then scooped up the memory cards with Kal-El's encounter with the A'q'liss. If nothing else, he could record them into his database as friendly sentients so no one mistakes them for invaders did they show up again.
Tira worked for almost for das nonstop as she studied her own blood and tissues, rarely stopping even to eat as she plunged into her research on her own body with almost manic fervor. Rheana stayed at her side, and declared she was helping take care of their princess even as a few of the other Amazons would come and go, stopping to see what their champion was up to, and then wishing her luck before they inevitably left her to the apparent boredom of endless tests.
None of them understood precisely what she was doing.
Not until Rheana stumbled one afternoon on the way to the stables with Tira, and could not stand.
"What's happening, mistress," she groaned, her body in pain as she rolled one way, then another, and finally curled up on herself.
"The beginning of a true paradise," she smiled down at the Amazon as she heard fearful wails coming from all around her even as Rheana began to change.
Unlike Diana's slow transformation into Tira, the viral genome Tira had set free over the island just two days ago made the modification of the hosts if not instantaneous, then quite close.
She watched placidly as over the span of approximately thirty minutes, Rheana burst out of her simple garments as she changed from a golden-haired Amazon to a four-legged, palomino centauress that slowly recovered to eventually struggle up to all fours, and stand panting before Tira.
"Mistress," she beamed. "I am like you."
"As every Amazon on the island will be by nightfall," she smiled contentedly.
"So long as I may serve you first and ever, mistress," the blonde said as she moved to embrace her.
Even as she did, her belly rumbled loudly, and Tira laughed. "We'd better start gathering provender. Our sisters are going to be very hungry tonight," she told Rhea, as she named the new mare.
"I know I am," Rhea agreed, and stepped back to bow to her dominant sister who led their herd as she waited to follow her, and to obey her orders.
Superman reappeared over the skies of Metropolis with little notice.
Even as he scanned the streets for trouble before he headed home, he noted a rather peculiar fact. Despite the lateness of the hour, the streets of the always busy city were virtually abandoned. Cars were parked haphazardly, and were outright abandoned, and yet his super hearing picked up no indication of trouble.
"Superman," Oliver's voice cut in on his transceiver just then. "Remember that trouble you thought wasn't trouble. You'd better open those super peepers, buddy, cause we got it in spades."
"What is it, Green Arrow," he asked even as he focused his hyper senses on the city around him.
And faltered in his flight as Oliver's grim voice filled his earpiece.
"Something must have snuck in over the east coast, Big Blue, because sometime within the past thirty to forty minutes, most of the seaboard has been shutdown while people became…..incapacitated. So, tell me. Are you seeing what I'm seeing," he demanded in the same breath.
"Yes," the Kryptonian replied grimly as he hovered over the city, unable to believe his eyes as he stared at the thousands….millions of men, women, and children who were in various stages of becoming centaurs. "I see it. Lois," he rasped, and turned to fly uptown at sonic speed, leaving a series of window-shattering sonic booms behind him.
"Now you show up," the dark-haired centauress sitting with her long limbs folded beneath her in the middle of their living room with the furniture shoved back glowered at him as she kept chewing on the mound of carrots before her.
"I'm starving," she told him. "You have to go get me something to eat. I can't get out of here like this, and the fridge is empty," she complained.
He tactfully chose not to notice the reek of bodily wastes in the apartment, though he couldn't see any in the living room.
"I'm sorry, Lois. You're not the only one. The whole city….."
"I know. Perry's still at the planet, and I can just see him with a whip just now, ensuring the next edition gets out hell, or high water."
"I can see that, too. I'll be right back," he promised her, and leapt out the window of their apartment once more.
He was back in less than two minutes, after having paused to help a pregnant mother deliver a morphing child as she lay helpless in the street crying for help that wasn't coming. He then carried both to the nearest hospital, hoping the professionals would recover in time to help them.
He then confirmed what was happening with Oliver, and J'onn, the latter informing him they had contacted the CDC who were rushing to try to discover what was changing everyone into animals even though the League knew all too well what was likely at fault.
"Have you contacted Diana," he had asked J'onn almost immediately as he gathered fresh food for Lois in a surprisingly empty supermarket, paused to use Clark's Daily Planet expense card to pay at the register after checking out so fast he almost burning out the store's computers, and then headed home.
"I'm still trying. You know how contact with the Amazons can be.
"It could be worse if they are the source of this….virus."
"Which, unfortunately, seems more than probable. The question is, why didn't you, or anyone on the Watchtower change if you were in immediate contact with her all along?"
"I don't know," J'onn admitted. "There is much about this I do not know," he said as Superman approached his apartment once more.
"I'm back," he told her, breaking contact with J'onn even as he dropped to the landing outside the balcony window.
"Thank God. Food," she moaned, and rose to bump her head on the ceiling as she reached greedily for the fresh fruits and vegetables he had chosen, knowing something of horses from his days in Smallville growing up on his father's farm.
He stood back, watching her eat as she settled into the middle of the apartment floor again, and frowned.
"I read you, Superman. Do you have any news?"
"Just a question? When precisely did this start?"
"Over an hour ago by best estimates at the first reports, confused as those are at this point."
"Right. And how long ago did Diana return to Themyscira?"
"Over a week ago now."
"Then something doesn't add up. If she were….contagious, why take a week or more for whatever agent is involved to reach the mainland?"
"I've been trying to contact Queen Hippolyta without success," he admitted. "Short of going to the island, which you know is frowned upon, we are going to have to simply wait to hear from them."
"Maybe not," he said. "Call Shayera."
"That might be difficult."
"She's in D.C. this week doing some charity work. She's just reported that she's…..affected, too."
"I see? Does she need help?"
"Only food. Apparently all the victims report the same overwhelming hunger. If this is related to Diana, it is likely the result of a hyperactive metabolism requiring energy intake to speed the transformation, and rebalance their systems."
"J'onn," Superman told him as Lois ignored him to gorge on the feast before her. "They aren't changing. They are changed. Full, four-legged centaurs as far as I can tell."
"That is….unusual. Diana's change took several days, and only came after she fueled her metabolism."
"We need to get in touch with her, J'onn. Are there any other heroines that can reach the island?"
Even as J'onn's voice faded in a patch of static, a white bubble of pure energy appeared in front of him, and a familiar figure in blue and red materialized before him. "I can, Kal," his young cousin Kara told him, standing before him.
"Supergirl," he smiled.
Then he immediately sobered. "I take it your return is no accident of coincidence?"
"Hardly. Brainiac V sent me. Three days ago, the future began to change. Only a handful of us even remember the past, our past, or that the planet did not use to be overrun with centaurs, or…. Is that Lois," she blurted out as she looked down at the brunette stuffing her mouth with lettuce now, barely chewing as she tried to swallow all she could almost at once.
"Yes. Apparently, this all started no more than hour ago. We think it began with Diana, but we're not sure how. Can you….?"
"I'm on my way," she nodded, and was gone so fast even his eyes almost didn't detect her passage.
"Did you hear, J'onn," he asked.
"Yes. But the fact the future is already being so impacted concerns me. And I'm confused as to why there are those that remember a different past at all, as well as why Supergirl remains unaffected."
"As do I, up to this point," Kal-El reminded him.
"Perhaps your alien physiologies…..?"
"Shayera is alien, too."
"Yet more human than yourself. No offense," J'onn added, knowing it was a touchy point with the Kryptonian.
"None taken. That makes me wonder about you, too. If you were exposed….?"
"I'm still a shape shifter," J'onn remarked as solemnly as ever. "I take the shape I desire. Still, I would prefer not to end up part horse as a base form."
"I'm going to try taking air samples from around the globes. Still, we may have more of a problem than we want. If the agent is indeed airborne, the prevailing Atlantic winds are going to blow past the Midwest before they circle, and turn back toward the south because of the recent storms. That done, the vehicle for the changes will cover the entire globe within seventy-two hours if not stopped."
"Considering the manifestation of hunger, and how short food already is in certain regions, untold millions are going to die when they start to change. If not from hunger, then from the chaos that is inevitably going to follow."
"How is the CDC doing," Superman asked, turning toward the window as he realized he could do little for Lois just then. J'onn's words told him he was better off on patrol, helping those like that woman who had been caught during the birth of her child.
"Not well, but it's only been an hour. The President is trying to plan an address, but just now, no one is up to doing anything just yet."
"And it's only going to get worse. You'd better warn the League members yet to be affected to try to take precautions, and…."
"Already done. We've spread warnings, and hopefully the usual biological precautions can help filter out the agent. We'll know soon enough. I'm sending down the League on duty here to try to help out. With biological masks and filters, of course."
"Good. I'll sweep Metropolis again, and start patrolling the immediate vicinity for any that need emergency help. I suggest stockpiling food, and getting it ready to deliver to those that don't have adequate food supplies. I can help deliver it once they're ready."
"We may still lose….."
"I know, J'onn. I know. But one step at a time."
"Of course, my friend. We will do what we can."
Superman was gone an eye blink later, but Lois barely noticed. She was still too hungry to care about anything but the rapidly dwindling food set before her.
Kara landed near the palace, but saw no one.
Absolutely no one.
She walked up to the palace steps, called out, but still received no answer.
Frowning, she swept the grand structure that impressed her every time she saw it, and found no life at all. Had there been some trouble the League had not noticed? Some disaster, or attack? Faust was gone, she knew. Luthor supposedly reformed. So who could it have been?
She rose from the palace steps, hovering over the island just a few hundred feet from the earth, and swept her gaze out over the beautiful, and aptly named Paradise Island, and soon found what she sought. The Amazons. But in a form she had not wanted to find them in just then. She flew fast and low, and stopped just inside the forest that bordered one of the wide, rolling meadows in the foothills before a tall mountainous peak that rose behind her before she landed.
She had learned well enough in the future that human minds, or not, these centaurs could be spooked as readily, and easily as any true horse.
She searched the heard, found Diana, and walked out of the forest to hail her.
Almost instantly, fifty sharp spears were flung right at her chest.
The deadly weapons clattered away, or shattered on impact as she looked down at them.
"I'm a friend," she said, holding up both hands. "Diana, don't you remember me?"
"Diana is the past," the centauress in Diana's costume told her haughtily. "I am Tira, leader of this herd. And you are a trespasser. Leave our island, or die," she ordered as she moved to face her as if very intent on carrying out that threat.
Kara hesitated only an instant.
Diana was virtually as strong as Kal, and had given him a run for his money more than once. She wasn't sure if she actually matched her in strength, but something told her she was still just as strong in her current form. Maybe stronger considering her size and mass.
Still, something wasn't right.
The people that had changed remained people in the future. Not mindless grazing animals like these Amazons seemed to have become.
"I want no trouble," she said, and fixed her gaze on Diana's human waist where it melded into the animal she had become.
Diana's words seemed to slow interminably as Kara flung herself at the Amazon, flying so fast she seemed to vanish as she sped past her, and stopped only a few yards behind her, hovering in the air. As fast as the Amazon's reflexes, they couldn't match a Kryptonian at high speed.
Diana looked up at her, and howled in wordless fury as she saw her power belt, and lasso dangling from the young blonde's hands. "What kind of demon are you," the woman calling herself Tira demanded in obvious fury.
Kara frowned. Diana knew her as well as anyone in the League her cousin helped found. If she didn't remember her, then something was seriously wrong.
"I think it's time we got to the bottom of this," she said, and once more flew down at high speed, this time to circle the heroine whom she had admired for years, entangling her in her own lasso as she kept a firm hold of one end while tying the rest around Diana's torso so tight she not only couldn't loose, but she also ended with her arms bound tightly at her side.
Diana screeched again, and Kara shook her head as she thanked God and Rao, and anyone else listening that Wonder Woman had once demonstrated her magic rope, and how it worked.
"Calm yourself," she ordered, noting quite a few of the Amazonian mares were starting to circle them, looking intent upon doing battle if necessary.
"And call off your sisters. I do not wish to harm them."
"Stand….down, sisters," Tira ground out, wanting to resist, but unable to do so. Unlike when Rhea; weak, submissive Rhea held the lasso, she couldn't resist this stranger's powerful will that dwarfed her own and left her without even a chance of working free, or defying the magic in the coils about her.
Who was this woman?
What was she?
Kara noted Diana was calm now, but still wore fury in her eyes like a second personality. She chose to go straight to the heart of the matter, and simply asked, "Who are you, and how did you do what you have to this world?"
Diana, calling herself Tira, answered her as she was commanded.
Supergirl absorbed all she had learned, hiding her own shock, and asked pointedly, "What do you know of how to stop the plague turning people in creatures like yourself?"
"Plague," she frowned. "It was not a plague, but a simple genome I isolated from my own blood to convert my sisters so I would not be alone," she told Kara. "It was never intended for Man's World. It was only for my sisters," she told her with an earnestness that was hard to feign.
"It spread," Kara told her bluntly. "And worse, it has already affected the future of this world. You have to help us stop it before humanity is lost forever."
Diana's face twisted now, and she shook her head. "But…..I would be alone."
"Listen, Dian….Tira…..Whoever you are. You don't think others feel the same. Superman and I are the last of our kind. There are others on this world also exiled forever from their own home worlds, or their own true times. What you are feeling isn't unique. Nor is it an excuse to try to force your will upon an entire world," she said, remembering she held the magic lasso at that point.
"Now, you will help me stop this genetic plague before the world is turned into one big centaur herd, and you will do it now," she told her.
"Very well," the transformed heroine sighed, her proud head dropping. "I will do as you bid."
"Good news, and bad news," Kara reported as she flew in over the north Atlantic, joining her cousin as she carefully cradled a small, vial of greenish liquid.
"Just tell me we can stop this nightmare," Kal-El demanded of his cousin.
"We can stop it from spreading," she said, and held out the vile. "All we need do is put this into the air, vaporize it just ahead of the point of contact where the original serum is spreading, and it will negate the effects of the first, and keep any more people from transforming."
"I'm assuming that's the good news," the Kryptonian hero asked.
"Yes. The bad news is, we can't change back the people already transformed.
"Aside from the stress on their already genetically-altered metabolisms, there is a degree of magic added to what was originally a technologically-based accident that forbids even making an attempt. According to Diana, the real Diana, trying will only cause irreparable harm to those so altered."
"That's definitely bad news," the iconic hero grimaced, thinking of his own wife.
"Think how the Amazons felt after they were freed of the mind-control that Tira subjected them to in order to start this entire debacle."
"I have definitely missed something here, haven't I," Superman frowned.
"I'll explain later. We need to calculate the air flow, and dispersal rate to get this new serum into place immediately before even more of the world ends up requiring grazing space."
"Already done, Supergirl," a sonorous voice filled her earpiece. "If you will head northwest from your present location at a ten degree angle, I'll advise you the moment you've reached the optimum location for dispersal of the antigen."
"On our way, J'onn," Kara told him. "And Diana relays her apologies for not trusting your instincts. She said you'd understand."
"Regrettably, I do."
"The world will never be the same," Diana murmured as she stood at monitor watch, more than one hero having come by for incidental reasons to see the centauress Amazon. "I just wonder if they will ever trust me again?"
"The League, or men in general?"
"Both," Diana sighed, glancing at Shayera who stood beside her idly thumbing the haft of her mace that dangled from her belt.
"I can't say. I still ask the same question myself," she told her with a rueful expression.
"Surely you know you were forgiven years ago," Diana turned from the monitors to frown at her.
The Thanagarian warrior sighed, and shrugged. "True. But they have an expression here. Forgiven, but not forgotten. Sometimes, I look into certain eyes, and I do not think either is true."
"So I try to ignore those looks, and try harder to earn their respect one more," she cut Diana off. "As no one outside the League actually knows you, or rather a part of you unleashed the….genetic….or mystic plague as they called it, I doubt anyone is going to lambaste you. Not when it's so obvious that you were also one of its victims."
Diana sighed. "Still, it will be a long time before my sisters care for the sight of me."
Shayera frowned. "I thought you had healed that rift…..?"
Diana sighed, and shook her head. "That argument between mother and I is nothing compared to this one. It seems I…..as Tira…..managed to get a full third of my sisters bred before Kara intervened. They are not very happy with me just now."
"Oh. Yeah, I can see how they would be…..upset."
"You've acquired Bruce's ability to understate things," Diana huffed. "Believe me, an island full of Amazons forcibly transformed, and impregnated against their wills is not something you want to face."
"Right," she grimaced, remembering the times she had visited during certain festivals that seemed more like all-out brawls to her. And that was when they were happy and smiling. She didn't want to think about those same woman being angry.
"I'm taking leave soon. I may not like it, but I do have to face them. Besides, I can't very well go into battle myself until I've delivered my own foal."
"You, too," Shayera exclaimed, looking at her belly, but seeing no indication of pregnancy in the powerfully built mare's frame.
"Ah, should I say congratulations," she hazarded.
"I suppose. New life is rare on Themyscira, but we're about to have a lot of it. All at once, apparently. I have to face mother, and the Council, and discover if I am to face….judgment, as well as arrange for my own child. I only hope it is a daughter."
"Only women may stay on the island," she reminded the winged Thanagarian whose equine shape only seemed to add to her sensual frame.
"Then I hope you have a daughter," Shayera told her earnestly.
"So, when do you leave?"
"After J'onn clears me. He's keeping a very close eye on me this time until he's certain there is not any trace of 'Tira' left in my mind. Until he's finished, I'm also stuck here on monitor duty, and I think he's also hoping that gives mother, and my sisters, time to cool off."
"You think that will work?" Diana cast a sidelong glance at her.
"You have met my sisters?"
"Right," Shayera nodded.
"Well, whatever happens, you still have the League. And Clark has a farm in Kansas," she teased.
Diana groaned. "He's already suggested that option. I believe his wife already told him what he could do with his farm."
"She's one tough woman," Diana grinned. "She refuses to let a little thing like a few extra legs keep her from doing her job, as I heard her put it."
"She's right. And neither should you."
Diana nodded. "I'm not. I'm just, as J'onn says, taking things slow until I know where I'm going from here. Until I find my place once more."
Diana smiled at the image of the planet below. "Then I'm going to run as fast as I can."
Both women laughed, and then started at the sudden rush of air that preceded a sudden flash of light before both seemed to disappear even as she turned.
"Wally," Diana shouted.
Shayera only laughed as the transformed Amazon turned to give chase. She put her money on the Amazon as Diana's blue eyes flashed with fury as she went after her tormentor.
J'onn barely got out of her way as she barreled down the corridor, and simply chose to phase right though her so he wasn't run down before he turned to Shayera.
"Do I want to know," he asked her plaintively.
"Wally was playing with his new digital camera again."
The Martian was a master at stoicism, but Shayera would have sworn he rolled his eyes just then as he turned to follow the pair down the corridor where the sound of battle could already be heard. Or something very close.
"We just rebuilt this place," he complained as he disappeared down the passage.
Hawkgirl only smiled, and knew Diana needed a chance to vent. Wally might not realize it, but he was giving her just what she needed. Then again, maybe he did. The young, often impulsive hero did tend to be smarter than he sometimes appeared to show himself at times.
She looked at the monitors, and eyed the one that showed the growing centaur city where a growing number of those transformed were now picketing their own government for equal rights. Sometimes, humanity could truly amaze her in the way they tried to make minor differences into such a monumental schism between themselves. Yet they always stood together when it counted. She learned that well enough when Thanagar had almost destroyed this planet. Just as every other would-be dictator, or conqueror had learned over the years. She had little doubt, that in the end, Diana would be welcomed back by her sisters, and her mother.
They were, after all, family.
She stared out into space, smiling sadly at that thought, and pondered her own place.
She stared for a very long time.