Chapter 23

Kal turned to Bruce. "Who are you?" he growled. This was not Batman. His heartbeat was all wrong. He smelled wrong. He moved wrong, like he was offbalance. Bruce wasn't clumsy – far from it – and this…thing, whatever it was, seemed on the verge of falling on its face with ever step that it took. HeHekljlBeyond that…Kal looked closer. It was a parademon. With a hiss, he rushed forward and slammed the creature against a tree. "You better have a good answer for why you're dressed like that," Kal said. His eyes glowed in warning.

"Kal, what is this?" Diana asked, looking worried.

"It isn't Bruce," Kal said. He didn't take his eyes of the creature. "It's a parademon."

Diana was furious, that much was clear from her stance as she came to stand alongside Kal.

Bruce smiled. At least that part of him looked the same. "I've got a story to tell," he said, sounding as calm as always despite having the two most powerful beings on Earth ready to tear him into pieces. Bruce turned to Diana. "Could you lasso me?" he asked. "It's the only way the two of you will believe what I have to say."

With that, Bruce explained what had happened in the Phantom Zone.

Kal was horrified. "And you're ok with this?" he asked.

Bruce smiled wryly. "I'm much more dangerous now than I ever was before," he said.

That wasn't much of an answer, and Kal hid a shudder. Batman had always been dangerous, skirting the edge of what it meant to be human. Kal worried that this transformation would be the tipping point beyond which Bruce Wayne would become that which he had always struggle against: a psychopath.

"Are you sure? You're agreeable to this change?" Diana asked, searching Bruce's face since she no longer had him lassoed.

"No, I'm not alright with it." The smile fell. "Didn't really have much choice, though, did I? Shit. What's Alfred going to say?"

A few more minutes of discussion, and Bruce ended the conversation. "I've got to go back to the Javelin," he said. "I left it up above the elliptic."

"We'll talk later," Kal promised.

"Looking forward to it," Bruce said, sounding sour.

After he boomtubed away, Kal turned to Diana. "We should get back and help with clean-up," he said. "The battle's still going on."

"How many are left?"

Kal concentrated. "By the number of parademon heartbeats I'm hearing, I'd say about forty thousand." He listened more closely. "The Amazons are in pursuit, flying in teams of two. The parademons are just flapping around, killing anything that moves, including each other." A second later, his face fell, and his eyes closed in pain. "Damn," he said softly.

"What is it," Diana asked, almost afraid to ask.

"It's Lantern," Kal said. "He's gone. Shayera's killing parademons by the score. Atom and Steel are flanking her as her wingman."

Diana's face fell. "Let's go, Kal. The sooner we get this done with, the quicker we can…" She ran out of words. Hal was dead. Why did that hurt so much? So many of her sisters had likely died today, and she would mourn them and honor their memory. But, Hal…that one hurt like one of Kal's punches to the gut.

"Let's get it done," Kal agreed.

They took to the air and split up, with Kal taking the north and Diana the south. It took hours more to finally put down the last of the parademons; hours in which some of the phalanxes began the long and bloody work of sorting through the carnage, finding the dead, and hoping to find the wounded. There were painfully few of those. Those were rushed to Epione, the Amazon's healer, and placed under the Purple Ray. When the final tally was taken, of the roughly seven thousand Amazons that had started the day, five thousand still lived. It could have been worse, but that was small consolation for women who knew that friends and lovers that they had known for hundreds of years, even millennia, were now gone from the world.

When the last parademon was killed, the phalanxes reformed and marched back to Themiscyra proper. A strange silence filled the air. It was a sad and melancholy victory for a nation of women that had once known no other way of life other than battle and war. That had been three millennia ago, though, back when they had been mortal. Death hadn't been a part of their life in so long, that to see that cruel reaper once more took away any joy they once may have had in such a resounding victory.

The queen had taken part in the battle from astride a Pegasus, along with Phillipus. The Gorgon Watch had flown with them, guarding the general and the queen as they oversaw the battle. She watched as her proud Amazons marched silently and with heads held down. They had always been so few, and now were even fewer. What would they do?

They reached the capital, and formed up in the main square. Hippolyta took the stone stage from which she had spoken the commands of both queen and council on countless other occasions. The phalanxes were waiting to be dismissed.

A tremble in a cloudless sky and a loud peal of thunder. Everyone glanced up, looking for the source of the sound; all hoping it wasn't a boomtube. Electricity arced in a long and continuous discharge, striking directly in front of the queen. Riding the lightning came Zeus. With him were the other four remaining Olympians: Athena, Apollo, Hera, and Aphrodite.

Zeus wore a countenance of utter fury. The others mimicked that expression to various degrees.

Hippolyta bowed low. "Lord Zeus, it has been over a hundred years since we have been graced with your presence."

Zeus glowered. "I wish it could have been in happier circumstances," he said. "I am sorry for the losses you and your tribe suffered this day."

Hippolyta nodded acceptance at his words.

Kal and the League stood in the back of the phalanxes. Pride of place belonged to the Amazons, not interlopers from the Patriarch's world. That included Diana in this instance. Kal couldn't help but think that the losses wouldn't have been so grievous if the Olympians had taken part in the battle.

His thoughts were echoed by Shayera. "Fuck him and his sorrow. Where was he and the rest of those fucking assholes when we were out here fighting and dying. Hal might be alive if it weren't for those candy-asses sitting on their fucking thrones." She looked at the Olympians with undisguised contempt and disgust. "Bastards."

Atom and Steel nodded at her words as did Flash. Some of the Amazons had also heard what she said and turned to look at her. Some pursed their lips and nodded, as though in silent agreement. Once, Diana would have smashed a fist into the face of anyone who would have dared say such a thing. Today, she kept silent.

"Let the one known as Diana step forth," Zeus proclaimed.

Diana had almost been expecting this. She had denied Ares as a god, and she had slain him. The gods would punish her for both offenses. She flew to the stage, glad to see Kal had joined her. With a start, she realized that it was actually the entire League that was at her back.

She bowed. Once she would have bowed lower. "I am come as my Lord commands," she said.

"Am I your Lord?" Zeus asked. "Are any of us still?" He gestured behind him to the other Olympians.

"Your words were heard, child of Hippolyta," Hera said, her voice cold. Anger was in her posture and her eyes. After all, Ares had been her son. "You denied the godhood of one of the Olympians. That is an offense punishable by banishment."

"You compounded your error by then slaying Ares," Athena said. "That too is a punishable offense. In this case, death."

"I do not know that we need be so cruel," Apollo said. "She has been a loyal and valuable servant to us in times past."

It seemed as though she had at least one ally amongst the Olympians. Although. She gave Apollo a considering look. Apollo and Ares had detested each other since their birth. Perhaps the sun god was simply glad to be rid of one with whom he always quarreled.

Hippolyta's face drained of color. She prostrated herself before Zeus. "I beg of you my Lord, do not do such a thing."

Zeus regarded the queen gravely for a moment, before turning to Diana. "Punishment must be meted out," he said. "Have you anything to say in your defense, Champion?"

Diana looked upon the Lord of Olympus. Where had his majesty gone? Once she would have been prostrated before him, alongside her mother, but now…the god, and all the Olympians no longer seemed so bright and powerful. They seemed petty and all too human.

"I freely acknowledge killing Ares," she said. "There is no defense against that." She held up a hand for quiet at the murmurs that began amongst her sisters. Until then, the rumor of Ares' death by her hands had been just that: rumor. Now it was fact. The Olympians were also muttering to each other. "However, I was performing my duties in my capacity as the Champion of Olympus. I took action that I felt was needed."

"How so?" Aphrodite asked. "And what happened to your nose? It ruins your beauty."

Diana smiled wryly. "Ares happened to my nose," she said. "Did you not see our battle?"

"I try to avoid such unpleasant things," the goddess of love said in an lofty and airy tone.

"Regardless, the nose will heal, and my looks will be as they once were," Diana said. "As for my actions, Ares allied with Darkseid. Their plan wasn't simply to conquer Themiscyra, but also to conquer Olympus. Themiscyra is the only remaining place on Earth from which one can reach the celestial city."

Zeus nodded his head. "That is the most likely scenario," he agreed. "My son was always a fool."

"So you claim you acted in our best interests," Athena said.

Diana nodded. "Yes. I was defending my life as well as my charge."

Aphrodite looked at the assembled League standing behind Diana. "And what of them," she said. "The winged woman's words were heard." She turned to Diana. "Do you agree with them?"

Diana hesitated, and in hesitating, knew that her fate was sealed. The gods would know that she was no longer devoted to them as their worshipper and devoted servant. She no longer felt certain of their divinity or even their worth as divine beings. Right now, she still served because she had taken an oath to do so, and Diana had always been and always would be a woman of her word.

Hera noticed her hesitation. "The fact that you equivocate is answer enough," she said, a sharp and vindictive expression on her face.

Zeus snarled. "You dare judge us?" he asked. "You rise too far above your station, Diana, once Champion of Olympus." Diana closed her eyes. He had said it. Her title was gone. She heard the gasps from her assembled sisters as well as the cry of horror from her mother. She flicked her eyes open again a moment later. Zeus was still speaking, his voice growing louder as his anger built. "You are not meant to judge us," Zeus said. "We are the gods of Olympus, and you will know that we are your gods." He loomed large, the other Olmypians coming to stand at his back. All of them glowered in fury at Diana, who suddenly felt very small. "Bend knee and accept your punishment," he commanded.

Diana moved to obey, but Shayera spoke just then. "Fuck. You," she carefully annunciated. "You heard my words from before? Good. I meant every word of it," she said. "You five stupid assholes aren't fit to lick Diana's shoes." She glared at the gods in contempt. "You're nothing but trumped up humans with some extra juice and powers. There's plenty like you in the universe. What makes you so special that people should bow down before you?"

"Shayera, you're not helping," Diana whispered.

Zeus looked at Hawkgirl in amusement. "Why am I special?" he asked, smiling at her. "I am special because I am the one who will re-unite you with the man you love." The smile left his face, and he looked at Shayera with bleak and uncompromising judgment. "Die, Shayera of Thanagar." He lifted a hand, and lightning came at his call, aimed straight for Hawkgirl.

Atom had already been moving, though, and he floated above Shayera, taking the lightning bolt meant for her. The energy cascaded through him, flickering around and then through him before dissipating. Atom burped. "That tickled," he said. He looked at the stunned Zeus in mild disapproval. "I wouldn't do that again if I were you."

Zeus looked apoplectic. "How dare you! You will know my wrath!"

"Maybe so," J'onn said. "But try to harm another of us, and you'll know ours."

"The League ain't in a playing mood," Wally said. He gestured to the sword of Ares, still scabbarded at Diana's hip. "If that thing could kill Ares, then it can kill the lot of you." It was now he who favored Zeus with a bleak and uncompromising judgment. "And I could take it from Diana and put all of you down before any of you could even blink."

Zeus glared at the assembled League. "You do not want us as your enemy," he said softly.

"And you don't want us as yours?" Kal said, coming to stand in front of Zeus. "You have judgment to make on Diana? Make it." He held up a warning finger. "If you say death, then it's your ass."

"Leave it be," Athena urged. "Fair Themiscyra has known enough despoilment on this day. Let us not wage another battle so soon on the last."

"It really would be such a bore to have to kill all of them," Aphrodite said, affecting a bored air. She glanced at her nails and polished them on her toga. She glanced at the League. "And we would. Never doubt that. We are gods, after all."

Kal smirked. "Yes, you think you are, don't you?" he said, before turning back to Zeus. "What's the punishment."

Zeus crossed his arms in front of him and turned to Hippolyta. "Another will have to win the honor of Champion of Olympus," he said. "Her gifts must be stripped from her. The bracelets, the sandals, and the lasso." He turned now to Diana. "Your immortality and all the other gifts we gave to you at your birth shall also be rescinded." He smiled harshly. "You will find life quite different without flight or strength."

"Leave her with beauty and wisdom," Aphrodite said. At Zeus' questioning look, she explained, "That way she will get to watch her beauty fade into ugliness and old age." She paused. "And she'll also be wise enough to recognize that she can longer be with the one she loves." She smiled vindictively at Diana. "You should have held a leash to your dogs. We might have just taken away your tools and your title."

Diana sighed. "No you wouldn't," she said.

Kal looked at Diana. "Are they worthy of judging you?"

"Regardless of how I might think of them right now, they are my gods. And it is in their prerogative to strip me of the gifts they gave to me."

Kal disagreed, but this wasn't his call. "As you wish, Diana." He stepped back.

It didn't take long, and Diana felt the change instantly. The vibrancy, the preternatural senses, the strength, the vivid awareness of life around her; all of it was gone.

When it was over, Zeus turned to Hippolyta. "Take care that you and yours don't offend us any further," he said. "Your immortality can be just as transient as your daughter's powers."

Hippolyta looked at him, boldness and determination in her posture. "Take my immortality," she said. "I will not live safe and secure on Themiscyra while my child withers and dies in the Patriarch's world."

Her request was met by gasps. This was a day that would not soon or ever be forgotten. Phillipus looked to the queen, as though Hippolyta was mad. "Are you sure, Majesty?" she asked.

"Mother, don't do this," Diana shouted.

"I cannot hear you, Diana," the queen said. "Your are no longer an Amazon. Again." Hippolyta turned to her oldest friend. "We have all of us lived too long," she said, sadly. "We were never meant for immortality. This blessing we received has kept us safe, but it has also kept us from growing and evolving and renewing ourselves through our children. Where are our children? Who will replace those who died today?" She shook her head and turned to face the Amazon nation. "All of you will have to make this decision separately," she said. "Our Council will have to guide us in how we recover." She looked at the sea of faces, some of them horrified; some proud; most confused. "In the Patriarch's world, they have technology that allows a woman to bear children without need for a man's seed to be sewn within her. Think on that: they who we scorned and mocked have developed the means to re-invigorate our people." She pointed to the League. "And think on the League who helped us in our darkest our; fought alongside us; and who suffered loss with us as well." She nodded to her people. "We have much to discuss in the coming days and weeks and months." She turned back to Zeus. "I am ready."

The Lord of Olympus stared Hippolyta in the face, understanding that certain ties when severed can forever separate a woman from those she worshipped. He was silent, also knowing that he could lose all the Amazons if he misspoke here.

It was done.

The League helped the cleanup of Themiscyra before departing a few days later. Diana, being banished, was forced to leave immediately. Kal took her to his parents' farm in Smallville. He didn't want her alone, and he was glad when his mother and father, and even Lex welcomed her with open arms.

The funeral for Hal Jordan took place a few days later.

A long week, beginning with Kal's near miraculous return to health, ended with the burial of one League member, and the loss of another due to capricious gods.


Bruce glanced at Shayera. Hawkgirl had insisted on staying on the rotation, saying that she needed something to take her mind of her grief. Monitor duty was as good as anything else. She'd been working non-stop since the battle of Themiscyra, and he had insisted that she take time off. Today, she was visiting him at Wayne Manor. He opened his mouth, prepared to say something, but then thought better of it.

Shayera looked at him and rolled her eyes. "Just spit it out, Bruce," she said.

She looked at him in irritation. Now wasn't the time for one of his indecipherable utterances. "How what?" she said, not bothering to hide her annoyance.

"How is it that you are pregnant with Hal's child? Hal was human, and you're Thanagarian. The physiologies should make such a mating impossible."

Shayera glanced down and smiled as she stroked her own belly. No bump marred her taught abdomen, but that would soon change. She looked at Batman, unshed tears in her eyes.

Bruce swallowed hard and involuntary tears came to his own eyes. Dammit! Ever since he got stuck in Thistle's body, he seemed to have a constant state of waterworks. He'd blubbered like a baby when he found out Hal was dead. He'd cried just as hard when he found out Diana had to resign from the League. He was used to complete control his emotions, but this body kept betraying him. It kept tripping him up. He'd have to figure out what the deal was. It was very irritating.

"Still having trouble with parademon's body, I see," Shayera noted.

Bruce wiped away the tears. "Thistle's memories showed me how to keep Darkseid from commanding me, through his telepathic ties to his parademons, but the general made no mention of this emotionality that I'd be afflicted with."

Shayera smiled. "If any of the others were here, they'd tell you that you're learning how to be human. Ironic since you're not. Human that is."

Bruce grunted. "Being human is over-rated," he said. "Besides, it was only through complete control of everything within and without that I was effective at what I did."


"Am," Bruce amended.

Shayera looked at him. "You do realize that your new body is many times stronger and faster than your old, don't you? In fights, you'll be able to recover from any mistakes you make much more quickly than you ever could before." She shrugged. "Maybe that maniacal sense of control isn't quite as necessary now."

Bruce frowned. "Control and planning are who I am," he said.

"It doesn't always have to be that way, Bruce," she said. "You are allowed to smile." Shayera considered him. "Have you flown yet?" she asked.

Bruce frowned. "You mean with wings and everything?"



"Why not?"

Bruce didn't answer.

Shayera took his hand. "It's because the only form your body knows when it's flown is that of a parademon. It makes you feel ugly and inhuman, doesn't it?"

He looked at her, startled by her perceptiveness. "You know for a bug-eyed alien, you certainly seem to understand us well."

"I had a good teacher," she answered, a wistful smile on her face.

"You still haven't answered my question," Bruce said, wanting to direct the conversation away from himself. "How is it that you're pregnant?"

"The ring," Shayera answered. "Hal could do anything he wanted with the ring. All that was needed was his imagination and will." She shrugged. "Hal wanted us to have a child. A boy to begin with, and before you knew it, he had me knocked up."

Bruce was flabbergasted. "The ring?" he repeated, needlessly.

"Yes. The ring," Shayera said.

Bruce shook his head in disbelief. "And you know it's a boy?"

"Yes," she answered. She looked at her abdomen as though she could peer at the small baby growing inside her. "It's very strange, but suddenly, I find myself loving the color green." She looked up at Bruce. "I wonder if it has something to do with this?" She pulled a chain out from beneath her blouse. Hanging on the end of it was a green ring. Hal's ring.

Bruce's eyes widened. "Where did you get that?" he asked. "I thought it flew away."

Shayera shrugged. "It did, and then it came back." She held the ring out. "It won't stay on my finger, but whenever I throw it away, it always floats back to me," she said. "I wonder what that means?" she mused.

Bruce smiled. "Have you considered that it's waiting for Junior?" he asked.

It was Shayera's turn to be startled. "I hadn't," she said. "But it makes sense."

Bruce was shaking his head again. "I'm still having trouble getting my head around this," he said. "I never even thought that something like this would ever be possible. I never planned for this," he almost wailed.

"No one did," Shayera said. "There aren't that many Lanterns in the Corps to begin with, and few, if any, take on a spouse. Those that do have always been married to those within their own species."

"Until Hal."

Shayera flushed. "He and I were only engaged." She said looking down. Unaccountably, her hands knotted.

Bruce gently tilted her head up, forcing him to look at him. "You were married in your hearts," he said.

"No one else other than the League knew about us, though. Not even his parents. I couldn't even go to his funeral," she said, bitterly.

"Maybe now's the time to fill them in on their son's true calling," Bruce said. "They'll want to know that they have a grandchild." At Shayera's continued silence, he added, "I could go with you," he offered.

Shayera smiled. "I'd like that," she said. She stood and drew Bruce to his feet as well. "You'll have to do something else for me as well."


"Come fly with me. You said the parademon generals are shapeshifters." She gestured to her own body. "Model yourself off of me so you don't have to look like that disgusting bat form they take." At Batman's wry smile, she quickly added, "Present bats excluded, of course."

Bruce smiled. "You're going to pester me about this until I cave, aren't you?"

"Probably." She looked at him, an earnest look on her face. "I don't feel right flying alone," she said. "I need someone up there with me."

Bruce gravely nodded his head. He studied her form, and after a few mis-steps, he had it. He transformed. "How do I look?" he asked.

Shayera smiled. "You look fine," she said.

"Being like this, maybe I should change my name to Hawkman," he said.

Shayera rolled her eyes. "Stick with what you know, Bruce" she said.

As they took to the air, Bruce asked her one final question. "Have you thought of any names?"

Shayera nodded. "Hal always liked the name John."


"Why did you bring me here, Kal?" Diana asked. For some reason, Kal had insisted that they visit their island home in the Caribbean. She rubbed her shoulders and saw goosebumps rise on her skin. While the island was in the tropics, the ocean breeze on the beach at night was cool. She wasn't used to being chilly.

She glanced at Kal, who walked silently be her side. She smiled sadly. He was still so beautiful. She wished she could be the right woman for him, but it wasn't to be. The Fates were never so kind. After their one night of overwhelming happiness, this was usually what the Fates had in store for mortals. It was a humbling reminder of the vagaries of life.

In this case, Diana was no longer his equal. He could never be with her; not as he had been that one special night. Now, he had to treat her like porcelain. She could tell it was so in his every movement, how delicately he needed to handle her. How careful not to hurt her. It was humiliating.

How had Lois been able to overlook such embarrassment for so many years? It made Diana sick to be so limited in what she could offer Kal now. Had that been Lois' secret? Had Lois simply been more selfish?

"I brought you here because I wanted to ask you something," Kal said.

"What's that?"

Instead of answering, he pulled out his vambraces, the legacy of the House of El; the ones that had once been of blue kryptonite and were now purple. "It took me a long time to understand why the color changed," he said. "But now I know."

Diana wasn't in the mood for riddles. She was tired and she was hungry and she was cold. And she hated being all of those things. For two thousand years, such prosaic things had never been a concern of hers. To suddenly be so much less than she had once been stung anew with every small hurt and limitation that she came across. The ambrosia that she had been fed from the time she was an infant had made her much stronger and faster than normal humans, but it wasn't enough. She was used to being so much more.

The power wasn't what she hurt the most, though. That was reserved for Kal. She had to give him up. It was the reason she had agreed to come with him to the island. It would be there last time together here on this special place. He needed someone he could be with who wouldn't break if he had a bad dream and flung his arm out while in bed.

Kal took in Diana's silence. "Are you still an Amazon at heart?" he asked.

Diana looked at Kal in amazement. "How can you ask me that? You know I am."

"So, you still have your Amazonian physique and training?"

Diana rubbed her arms again. She really should have dressed in heavier clothes rather than this light, sleeveless dress. With bemused acknowledgment, she realized it was the same one that she had worn to the Kent's for Thanksgiving when she thought Kal was dead. "Kal, what's this about?"

"When your gods took your powers, they were using magic," Kal said. "I was watching very closely, and I was sure I'd seen something like that before. I talked it over with Fate, and we can do something very similar, but on a much smaller scale."

Diana tapped her foot impatiently. "Kal, my powers are gone, and they're not ever coming back. The sooner we accept that, the sooner we can move on and discuss what's really important."

"Your powers are gone, but that doesn't mean that this has to be the end for you. Or for us."

"Kal, you're speaking in riddles. Would you just spit it out."

Kal held up the vambraces. "The blue kryptonite doesn't cancel my powers. It absorbs them, along with most of my emotions," he said. "It turns out that the blue can only hold so much, though. When it's overloaded, it turns purple."

Diana shook her head and sighed. "And what exactly does this have to do with me?" she asked, her voice soft. She was trying very hard not to yell at him. Why couldn't he just get to the point.

"The blue is basically a storage battery and it turns purple when it's full," he said. "And like a battery, it can be discharged."

Diana blinked. "Discharged? Into what?"

"Into another person. That person would then have all the powers that were stored up within the vambraces."

"You're thinking of having them discharge into me," she said.

"We would be equal again," Kal said.

"Is it permanent?" Diana asked, trying to keep the desperate hope at bay.

"No. It would last about the same length of time it took to charge the blue. In this case about a year."

"Great," Diana said, suddenly deflated.

Kal went on as though he hadn't heard her loss of enthusiasm. "In fact, in a normal human, such a transference would probably kill them, but with you and your curious heritage, I think it would do something different."

"What's that?"

"The spell Zeus used is basically a lie. It's a spell of deception, but an order of power greater than what a human practitioner could come up with. It simply blocks your ability to access your powers, but they're still there. They're just hidden from you." He held up the vambraces. "I can't lie to myself, or forget anything about myself or my past. That's one of my powers." He grimaced. "Or curses in some cases," he said. "But, that power of perfect memory of who I am and should be is just that: it's a power. If you were to wear the vambraces, you'd have that power also; of perfect memory. It should be able to break through Zeus' spell so your powers are no longer hidden."

"And you think I need both."

Kal shrugged. "I want to make sure it's enough to get through the spell."

Diana reached for the vambraces. "What are we waiting for?"

Kal hesitated. "It may hurt," he warned.

"I can take pain."

"The emotions I stored up were one of being burned to death."

"Oh." Well, that wasn't very good was it? It didn't matter. She could take it. She had to. She didn't want to have to give up Kal; not like this; not when they'd been so close to true happiness. "Give me the vambraces," she said.

Kal handed them to her and watched as she put them on. "Look into them and let your mind go blank. That's all that's needed." He watched anxiously as her face went still. The vambraces began throbbing, waxing and waning in intensity. She gave a sharp cry that rose in pitch and volume until she was screaming. The vambraces continued to wax and wane, but now with each throb, the color was a little duller. The power was pouring into her.

It didn't take long; only about ten minutes, but they were the longest ten minutes Kal could ever recall. Diana had screamed in anguish the entire time. When it was over, she opened her eyes, and Kal couldn't remember seeing a more beautiful sight.

"Diana," he began hesitantly. "How do you feel?"

A broad grin came across her face. She jumped into his arms and kissed him, pulling him to her as tightly as she could. His ribs creaked in protest, and he kissed her back. "I'm perfect," she said, her lovely face inches from his. Her bright white smile was like electricity, and he had to kiss her again.

"Is it my strength or yours?" he asked a moment later.

"Mine," she said. "You were right. It took both vambraces to break through the spell." She wore a wicked smile. She stepped back and slapped him on his rear. "Tag. You're it," she yelled as she gleefully took to the skies. "And same rules as last time."

He grinned and chased her all the way to the Pacific, where the sun had yet to set. She teased him, but eventually, she let him catch her. Her arms were around his neck, and her legs wrapped around his waist.

"Are you sure it's just your own powers?" Kal asked.

"I'm sure. I drained both vambraces completely," Diana said, sighing. "I'm afraid I've got nothing left of you inside me."

He grinned evilly.

She rolled her eyes. "Honestly Kal. I thought you were better able to control your lust than that," she said in mock disgust. That didn't stop her from kissing him, long and sweet and enough to buckle his knees.


So, that's the end of the story. Lot's of threads left open, I know, but then that's a lot like life. I hope that those of you who know a lot more about the DC Verse than I ever have (or will) won't be too annoyed or angry about the changes I made to some of those great characters. The truth is that I figured if I was going to muck with things, then I was really going to muck with things. BTW, please tell me someone caught that reference that Darkseid killed the Marvel Universe Apocalypse. I laughed out loud writing that; thinking it was pretty cool.

Also, a most grateful and sincere 'Thank you' to everyone who read this. It's an author's greatest hope that someone will enjoy reading the words he/she puts to paper, or in this case, computer.