I do not own any DC characters named herein, and am only borrowing them to tell a nonprofit tale meant for entertainment purposes only.
Inspired by a challenge from Invader Johnny.
Long, tapered nails the color of the blue sky tapped rhythmically on the edge of the marble table as the darker blue eyes watched the translucent haze in the air before her as the shimmering images of two lovers entangled in twisted sheets after an afternoon of passion.
The two were warriors.
Both carried their own scars, inside and out.
Unfortunately, the watcher eyed only one of them with admiration. The other, she viewed with absolute, and complete loathing.
"Why," she hissed at no one in particular,"Did I ever promise to change her back?"
She glared at the Amazon reclining next to the one mortal man that had actually drawn her admiring gaze for the first time in centuries. Such specimens were incredibly rare. And Diana, Hippolyta's bitch of a daughter, had to go and snag him.
Then she suddenly smiled.
Sure, she had changed her back from a cuddly little porker to her nauseatingly human form, and Zatanna had later cleverly managed to make her vow to never turn the woman into pig again. Still, she had not promised never to transform her again at all. So, if not a pig? What, then?
She smiled, and began to ponder the possibilities.
As she watched the sated lovers in the ethereal haze that revealed their private moment to her eyes, she began to plot anew.
"Hello, Diana," Circe cooed as the Amazon Princess in her civilian guise turned from closing the door to her apartment just as she spoke.
Circe held up her hands with a smirk when Diana tensed, looking ready to leap on her.
"Truce," she told her. "I'm here to talk. Not turn you into pork again," she teased.
"Why would you want to talk to me," she glowered at her as Diana dropped her purse, and walked over to stand in front of her unwelcome guest.
"Believe it or not, I've come for your help."
"My help? You? Pull the other one," Diana spat, both hands fisted, not yet transformed into her alter ego, but ready to fight all the same.
"No joke. I'm very serious. In fact, considering the….task, I suspect you're the only one that has a chance of pulling it off."
"What's the task?"
"I need you to rescue someone," Circe smiled.
"Who? From where? And why should I…..?"
Circe sighed. "Can we just relax, Princess," she complained. "I'm not here to fight. I really did come for help. The truth is, well, it's complicated, but I really do need your help. You see, someone….ah, enchanted my old island so I can't get near it."
"That must hurt," Diana quipped, only then relaxing her stance as she still stood over the woman sitting on her divan. "What does it have to do with me?"
"Because the enchantment I once used is still in place, too. A….friend of mine went to investigate the new spell, hoping to break it, but…. They haven't come back. I can't even look for her, because whatever keeps me from the island, also keeps me from viewing it."
Diana frowned now.
"You mentioned your own spell on the place?"
"You have to know. If you eat or drink anything on my island, you become a beast. Usually one based on your….own nature."
"Right," Diana glowered.
"The point is, the spell makes you a beast in body and mind. Only, as I recall, when I changed you, you were able to keep your own mind and consciousness. You're the only one in all history who has ever done so. So even if you were…affected, you could still think. Still act. Hopefully, still save Aria, and get her off the island, so I can hopefully figure out what is going on, and undo it."
"Why not just confront the spell caster," Diana asked blandly.
"I would. If I knew them. Whoever did it is acting in secret. Unfortunately, theirs is a shroud I have yet to manage to penetrate. I'm guessing…. Hoping actually, that the answers are somewhere on my island. Which is why Aria volunteered to go try to find answers for me."
"Wouldn't you be better off calling for someone else….magical?"
"I considered it."
"The three mages, and two witches I trust, and who wouldn't attack me on sight, have yet to return either."
"So, six people in total have vanished going to your island?"
"Yes," Circe grumbled. "And it truly vexes me. Someone is acting against me, but they are doing so from the shadows. I don't mind a good, blood-pumping fight. You know that as well as anyone. But I like to know the opponent. Frankly this skulking in the shadows is all so…..uncivilized."
"Welcome to the real world," Diana huffed, and walked over to a chair, sitting down only then. "Tell me everything. And how you expect me to actually be able to help."
Circe only smiled, saying, "Oh, thank you. I knew I was right in coming to you."
The Amazon tried very hard not to roll her eyes.
Diana banked her invisible jet low over the island, flying over it once as she remained wary, and looked out for any sign of trouble.
She had never actually visited Circe's island, but she had read of it before when she first starting having trouble with the immortal witch. As expected, the entire island was a jungle, except for a clearing near one side that boasted a huge, Grecian-style temple that was obviously the witch's home. Still, there was no place to set down, and that meant she needed to find a place to land before she could assess anything.
Flying back over the island, she returned to the east side, for that narrow strip of sandy beach was literally the only place to land. Or even approach the small island. Circe, obviously, wasn't much for warm welcomes.
It made the cynical Amazon wonder just what was going on here.
She didn't doubt that Circe had made more than her share of enemies over the years. Even her mother, as good a woman as she could imagine, had her own share of rivals in spite of her attempts to be a godly, and good queen to her sisters. She was here not so much for Circe's sake, as much as for the innocents trapped on the island that had tried to help her.
A bit of discreet checking had confirmed that certain people named by the witch had indeed vanished recently, and no one seemed to know where they had gone, or why. Diana just didn't realize that any of them were connected to Circe. Not at the time.
Then again, the witch had been surprising her since the first time she popped into her life. Not always, however, in positive ways.
Cutting power, she lowered her jet to the beach, and shut down the engines. She waited, studying the serene view around her beyond the cockpit, and then raised the hatch before jumping down to the ground to look around again.
The air was fresh here. Almost genuinely pure.
The heavy scent of earthy smells, and perfumed flowers lingered. Reminiscent of Paradise Island's own unspoiled beauty. She closed the jet's cockpit, and walked down to the beach. She didn't sense any trouble, and didn't see any signs of recent visitor's on the beach, but when you were dealing with an enchanted isle, could you be sure of anything?
She turned, and eyed the thick forest before her that seemed to just rise out of the ground leaving only that narrow beach as if designed.
Knowing Circe, she was almost certain it had been.
She turned west, and headed directly for the temple. She was going to check out the witch's temple, and see if any clues might be found there. Only after she checked out the obvious would she survey the island itself. She carried a small canteen, and a pack of her own provisions. Even she wasn't foolish enough to eat or drink anything on this island. Not even if it looked safe.
Aside from what she carried, she also had more provisions in her jet.
Best to ere on the side of caution when dealing with this particular witch. Or magic in general.
Setting out at a steady pace, she saw nothing of any wildlife, or any other animal that might have occupied the island. Still, there had to be someone here. The missing people aside, she knew Circe always kept her own guardians on call. And someone had been doing something for Circe to have come to her as she had. Which meant someone might still be here.
She made good time, but it was close to dark by the time she reached the temple.
She eyed the statues of anthropomorphic beasts that lined the columns across the portico, and grimaced. For all she knew, those had once been living beings. It was hard to tell with Circe. She walked into the temple, hearing, or seeing nothing.
She paused to light several lamps, giving birth to eerie shadows around her as she found the place neat, clean, and looking as if its owner might appear at any moment.
Nor did she see any of the expected animal guardians here, either.
Something, she sensed, felt wrong, though.
She finally realized it was growing late, and she had searched only half the huge temple without finding a single clue. Retreating to a large chamber filled with rather indolent décor that obviously served as a bedchamber, she took a few cushions, made a pallet near a window, and settled for the night after refreshing herself from her own stores. The water was tepid, but she didn't even think of trying any of the wine she had seen, or the obvious delicacies that had been left out as if to entice.
Even she remembered Odysseus' tale, and knew it had not all been fictional.
Yawning, she lay back on her makeshift pallet, and let her eyes close. In the morning, she would finish checking out the temple, and then start a search of the island itself.
She watched the Amazon from afar, using her ethereal gifts to spy without being seen.
Clever woman had brought her own food and water.
Not, however, clever enough.
It took less time than the thought itself to replace her water with waters from her enchanted isle's springs, and she contented herself with that. The changes would be slower, of course, but even Diana might notice if she tampered with her food.
The foolish woman had delivered herself willingly to her island, and that was enough. Just as she was about to willingly drink of the isle's waters, even if she did not realize that truth. Still, that, too, was enough, and it would put the willful warrior firmly in her grasp for once.
Something even the gods could not argue, or deny.
Not this time.
And once she was fully prepared, no one would ever come looking for her, because Circe had a plan. A very clever plan. One that would ensure that no one would ever come looking for the Amazon, because no one would ever miss her.
She would ensure herself of that personally.
Smiling, she closed the portal that let her watch the sleeping Amazon who daringly used her own room, even if she didn't risk her bedding. Not that it mattered. The victory, the final victory, would soon be hers.
All the sweeter, too, in that Diana herself had walked so eagerly, if blindly into it.
She woke instantly, as was her custom, the faint rustle of a soft morning breeze enough to disturb her keen senses.
She jumped up, looking around, but saw nothing.
Nothing that warranted immediate attention, at least.
She gave a faint sigh of relief, but a part of her still felt disappointed.
She was looking forward to finding what was behind the problems here, and doing battle. The warrior in her favored a straightforward attack to all this skulking about, and hunting for a shadow. Part of her, however, remained cautiously skeptical about Circe's entire tale. Something did feel wrong about it. Still, there was no denying that people had vanished. People that Circe claimed were friends.
She resisted the temptation to use the washstand to refresh herself, and simply combed out her thick, black hair with her fingers before slinging her small pack, and canteen over her shoulder after a quick morning meal from her provisions. She then left the palace, having found nothing within, and headed into the forest itself.
Apparently, it was the only place where she had yet to truly investigate.
Which meant that somewhere out there, the answers had to be waiting. She intended to find them. Hopefully sooner than later.
Rather than hunt blindly, she mentally reviewed her flyover of the island, and began a careful search in grid fashion as she kept her eyes and ears open. Oddly enough, even after hours of searching, she didn't find a single trace of Circe's usual animal guardians.
That, in itself, was suspicious.
Just before noon, she paused to take a quick gulp of water, and some of the food she had brought along. She took another swallow of water to wash her simple meal down, and again set to work, but another three hours had yet to find anything that stood out.
She was feeling more and more uneasy, though. Her very skin seemed to be tingling, and then, walking into a small clearing just after the fourth hour she stopped to stare.
Across a small pool of pure, crystalline water was a large pack of black canines that resembled a Lab/Great Dane mix. She didn't move. Didn't react. Just stared.
Even she knew you didn't startle wild beasts. Not sure if these were some of Circe's enchanted beasts, she was all the more cautious. The animals, fifteen in number, just stared at her with dark, knowing eyes.
"I mean you no harm," she told them, keeping her eyes on what she took to be the leader. The biggest Lab that stood before the pond, looking up from lapping at the cool, clear water.
Water that looked quite inviting to the sweaty, weary Amazon, but which she knew was just another lure for the unwary on this island.
"I seek someone that is troubling your mistress. Causing her problems. Do you understand?"
The big Lab barked once, and every animal around him came to their feet, moving to circle around the small pond, obviously moving to intercept her.
Diana sighed, and rather than risk vain battle with them, she leapt into the sky, using the air currents to carry her as she left the clearing behind even as the animals barked and snarled viciously in challenge as she flew past their apparent territory, kept her eyes focused, and landed in another clearing more than a half mile from the pack.
Even as she landed, she stumbled, feeling a strange, numbing weakness that sent her reeling even as she dropped to all fours to catch herself before she sprawled ungainly fashion in the thick grass. She blushed furiously at the display of clumsiness that was very unlike her, and started to push herself back to her feet when he felt something sharp stabbing at her lower back.
A pain that made her whimper in genuine pain unlike any she had ever felt before now.
"By the gods, no," she moaned as she felt her spine abruptly twitch, just before elongating, and a long, ropey tail suddenly burst free behind her shapely flanks.
She looked around in horror as she balanced clumsily for a moment, startled by the unlikely alteration to her body.
She knew for a fact she had taken not one bite of food from the island. Not one drink of water from its pools.
Then she had a beyond disturbing thought.
Had the very air been enchanted somehow? Was every breath going to slowly transform her?
It was a fear she couldn't risk, and she tried to leap into the sky again to reach her plane, and fly away from here until she could better prepare for what else might be happening. Even as she tried, she found she only stumbled forward, landing in another ungainly sprawl as she realized something was suddenly blocking her godly attributes, and keeping her grounded.
She blindly flung the canteen and pouch from her as she turned, and bolted in the direction of the beach. Whatever else, she had to get away. She had to reach a safe haven before whatever was affecting her could change her completely.
She barely made a half mile before she found herself stumbling, and dropping to hands and feet again, finding it almost too painful to stay upright as she realized she was being forced to all fours. She cringed, but kept herself moving, and was almost to the beach when she realized the pack had not stayed behind.
They had followed her. Or anticipated her flight.
Because even as she crashed through the jungle, she found she was suddenly facing the panting animals that all formed a solid line between her and the beach just ahead.
"Let me pass," she demanded, and almost gasped, but only whimpered when she realized her words came out as a barking whine.
The animals bunched, forming a solid front, and Diana, not noting her body was growing darker with thick fur of its own, found herself lips curling back as she instinctively snarled when the urge to meet their threat with her own woke older instincts within her.
One animal lunged forward, but while she couldn't stand, she could still use her knotting fists as she drove a hard right that sent the animal flying backward with a pained yelp. She ignored it, staring instead at one of her bracelets that had fallen from her noticeably thinner wrist as her limb began to reform before her eyes.
Becoming a genuine canine foreleg.
As was the other.
Even as she trembled, and whined, her entire body shrank down slightly as she became a large, dark canine that much resembled those before her. In the process, her uniform and accessories pooled, or fell away from her, leaving her 'clad' only in the dark fur covering her.
She stared into the dark eyes of the pack's leader, and realized she could read his intent.
The beast, whatever he had been, or not, saw only one thing before him. A female he intended to tame. To claim for his own.
Diana gave a low growl as the animals circled her at his signal, tails straight and back, showing signs of potentially attacking.
Then, as if on cue, one of them lunged forward again, but she ignored them, exploited the break, and bolted for the beach. She saw her plane just ahead, and just as she was about to hit the beach, she slammed into what appeared to be an invisible barrier that sent her rolling back with a stunned yelp.
Even as she lay there, head reeling dizzily, and trying to understand what was going on, the other animals moved to surround her again.
And standing among them was a tall, voluptuous brunette holding her uniform, and accessories in one hand.
She should have known. The witch was totally without honor!
She snarled, but before she could recover enough to rise, the witch leaned down and snapped a silver band around her throat. Diana felt a frission of energy surge through her body, and its passing dramatically lightened her coat, making her look more silvery-gray than black.
It hardly mattered as she locked eyes on the smirking witch.
Diana yelped as she felt that collar snap around her throat, and she looked up and growled at the woman standing over her before managing to rise to her trembling legs.
"Behave, bitch," Circe sneered as she wrapped the lead already attached to her collar around one hand. "Or I won't change you back. Ever."
Diana still growled.
"Don't worry, you won't be missed in the meantime," the witch laughed, and held up her lasso. "What do you think," she said, suddenly a very convincing doppelganger of Diana's true self. "Do you think Bruce will notice the difference when I kiss him," she asked fixing the Amazonian bracelets around her own wrists now.
Diana snarled, but Circe only laughed.
"I can't say how much I enjoyed duping you into trapping yourself here. Enjoy your life. For the time being," the faux Diana declared. "I've new adventures to enjoy, and a new life to live. I have always wondered what it was like to be a hero, and be lauded. I think I shall spend a bit of time finding out. As you," she laughed.
Diana whined as the witch vanished, her plane with her, and she realized only then just how completely she was trapped as the pack of large Labs circled her, eyeing her, and, she knew, all of them assessing her as a potential mate.
She gave them a bitter growl, and turned to run into the forest, determined to find another way off the island before one of them turned her into a true bitch. Her only thought was vengeance. She would escape, she never doubted it, and then she swore she was going to kill that witch the first chance she got. No more second chances.
Just as soon as she was back in her own body.
Behind her, the sound of the pack followed, and Diana kept running. Somewhere, her mind told her, was a way off the island.
The two teens gave a wan smile to one another as they sat in the small sailboat watching the small island they had just left slowly crumble, and drop into the sea.
It was, admittedly, the third shelter they had lost.
Unfortunately, it wasn't natural forces at work.
It was them. Their own fault. Their own uncontrollable power.
Zandor wasn't sure why, but he and his sister were…..volatile. All they had to do was touch at times, and they triggered molecular shifts that could be spectacular. Sometimes dangerous. Sometimes they didn't have to even touch. Just be close. In the same room. It had something to do with emotion, too, the young teen had finally figured out.
As the time when some bullies were picking on Jayna, and he had run toward her, intending to help, and somehow became a genuine swirling cyclone of surging water that literally swept the gang of bullies away to dash them against a brick wall.
That was one of the milder 'accidents' they had suffered after learning that puberty had changed the two twins in ways as dramatic, as they were unexpected. For while he became…..forms of water. Liquid, gaseous, even icy. Janya become…..bestial. Any animal, real or imagined, and she turned into it. Right down to some serious fangs and claws.
Or like that time she turned into a griffin, and accidentally burst through the roof of their house when she had the urge to bolt.
Their parents tried to protect them. At first. But as they got older, it became obvious they were growing more dangerous. Guessing what was coming after that confrontation with the bullies, he and Jayna blazed, intending to find their own way, and hide from the world until they got a handle on their strange powers.
So far, they had managed to destroy an underground bunker, inadvertently collapsing part of an entire mountain. Then they had caused a flood that nearly wiped out a small city. Now, he sighed, staring at the sinking island, they had somehow managed to sink an entire island.
"This is getting serious," Jayna complained.
"I know," Zandor agreed, looking back at his seventeen year old twin who shared the same fear he did.
Not just that they might kill someone the way they were going, but that they would end up imprisoned, or experimented on if they were caught by the wrong people on either side of the law.
That fear was what kept them moving. Kept them trying to learn to harness their power so they didn't accidentally hurt someone.
"I guess the tropical storm was a bit much this time," he sighed, knowing that at least a dozen pirates who had invaded their hitherto safe sanctuary wouldn't be getting off that island in time. He had lost his temper when a few of them tried to molest Jayna even as the others attacked him.
It didn't matter she could take care of herself. He still saw red, and then everything went white.
"You meant well," Jayna told him quietly, the beautiful young brunette giving him a sad smile.
"I wish I could be sure of that. It seems like….I'm getting stronger. And it's harder to control every time."
"Me, too," she said, having become a huge crab as she smashed through the men, and sank their other boats before she and Zandor got onto the remaining sailboat, and fled the crumbling island.
He checked the rudder, tied it off, and then looked out to the endless sea ahead of them, refusing to look back again.
"So, what do we do now," he asked. "We can't keep on like this."
Jayna gave him a sad look, shaking her head. "I don't know. I really don't know. It's a shame we couldn't find some of those real heroes. Maybe they could…. I don't know, give us some pointers. Some way to…..keep us from….."
"Look," she pointed off the starboard bow. Do you see that?"
They both turned, and he frowned.
"That can't be….? Is that…..?"
Jayna dove into the water without hesitation, and an instant later, the sleek, silver body of a dolphin swam gracefully toward the splashing body that was obviously in danger of floundering, and going down.
He turned the sailboat toward them even as Jayna reached the silvery dog that he couldn't believe was out here in the middle of an ocean. Jayna turned back to human form, and began to steer the sodden animal toward him even as she checked the sail, and prepared to intercept them.
A few, fumbling moments later, and he had them both in the boat, and was still gaping at the big, silver Dane that lay at Jayna's side.
"Is he okay?"
"Check again, genius," Jayna grinned from where she lay panting beside the animal. "She's a girl."
The big animal grumbled at him, but didn't seem to have the energy to do more than lay there.
"I wonder where she came from," Jayna murmured, rolling over to gently stroke the big head of that animal.
She didn't know that Diana had climbed a cliff, risking all to fling herself into the ocean from there since every other beach was shielded, driving her back. She had risked the cliffs, hoping no barrier was there. There was none, and she hit the ocean, and began swimming. She refused to go back. Refused to give up, and just kept swimming. All she knew was she would escape. And she would reach Circe.
"No telling. It's a wonder she's still alive, though. She must have been swimming for….who knows how long."
"Yeah," Jayna smiled at her, petting her gently. "She's a real wonder dog. But, you know, I think she's a sign. We can't give up. Not yet. We'll figure this out, and we will gain control of our powers. Then…. Then maybe we can even be heroes. Like those other guys on TV," she grinned, excitement lighting her dark blue eyes for the first time in a long time.
"What about the dog?"
"We'll keep her. It's not we can figure out where she came from," Jayna grinned. "After all, she deserves to live if she got this far on her own. That makes her pretty special, too. She's like a sign. To us. Doesn't it, girl? Would you like to stay with us," she beamed.
Diana gave a grumbling rasping snort, unable to do anything more than lay there just then. She really had been tired.
"I wonder what she would call her," her brother mused as he reset the tiller.
"I think she has a name," Jayna said, seeing the small tag on the collar. "This says….Diana."
Diana barked weakly.
"See? She knows her name," Jayna hugged the big animal. "Don't worry, girl. We'll take good care of you," she grinned, and Diana lay there, resting, and hoped that somehow these two, strange kids could get her home.
And somehow back to the League.