[AN: I know dear readers that you like Amazons so much so here's a little more with these wacky gals...!]
Chapter 36 – Grandson
Vanessa stayed with Selene inside the Royal Tent, hoping the baby in her arms would stay asleep and quiet. So far he had been very good, but she could hear the Amazons outside, a low and ominous muttering. They were restless, with both Queen Hippolyta and Princess Diana gone. Laodice and Eurydike, the surviving members of the High Council, were in charge of the encampment. It sounded to her like half the Amazons wanted to retake the capital immediately, while others insisted that they wait and see if Hippolyta and Diana would return. Vanessa thought that if they did not return quickly, then perhaps the Amazons would do something rather reckless.
That would not be a good thing.
Selene stared at the baby in Vanessa's arms, and thought of what it represented. Yes, it was a boy baby (she had never even seen one), but it was a royal baby, the offspring of the Princess Diana. Hippolyta's grandchild, and descendent of Zeus Himself. She knew that the Queen had ordered the child to be killed if it was a boy, and that was why she had spirited Diana away from the Palace. She had gone against all her Amazon upbringing and training to do that. Only a few short months ago she wouldn't have thought twice about being ordered to kill a male, even a child perhaps, but now, she knew with certainty that she couldn't do it. What had happened to her?
Kal-el was what had happened. He had been nothing she imagined. He had the power of a god, but he had behaved so humbly. At first she thought it was a trick to lull Diana into complacency, to make her a submissive wife. But she had seen how gentle he was with the Princess, how kind he was even to her, who had treated him coldly at best. He had made her question herself, and her traditions. Was this not the change the envoy had mentioned? Could it be him the Alarians wanted?
Somehow, she didn't know how she knew, but it wasn't Kal. It was the baby they wanted. She could feel it. For what purpose she couldn't, or didn't want to imagine, but it could not be for any good. Hearing some of the chatter outside, Selene knew the other Amazons must be thinking that too: if the baby was the "singularity" they wanted, why not give it to them and be rid of them?
After all, it was only a boy.
Selene knew that she could not allow that to happen.
"What do you think they're talking about?" Vanessa asked, making small talk, although by her troubled expression, Selene thought she knew already. She only shook her head.
Suddenly there was loud shouting outside the tent, and Selene and Vanessa leapt to their feet. Berenike rushed in, looking excited.
"What is it?" Selene demanded.
"It's Hippolyta! She has returned!"
The three of them rushed outside the tent as the host of Amazons cheered wildly as the Queen and the other escaped Amazons rode into camp. All the Amazons looked thrilled but somehow Vanessa didn't feel so reassured. She clutched the baby tighter in her arms, and it stirred, uncomfortably.
Eurydike, Laodice and all the Amazons bowed low as the Queen dismounted, staggering a little. One of her surviving Bodyguards steadied her.
"Hippolyta, praise Gaia that you are alive!" Laodice exclaimed. "We had thought you fallen in battle!"
Hippolyta grasped her old friend's arms, grinning. "They tried very hard, but I am not so easy to kill! I trust the Alarians have somewhat of a bloody nose now," She explained how they escaped and then gestured to the rescued Amazons. "Have their injuries tended to."
"It shall be done, Majesty."
"What of you?" Hippolyta looked around the assembled warriors. "How many are we?"
"A thousand, but many of us are also wounded."
"Philippus and Cyanna?" Hippolyta asked urgently, but Laodice shook her head sadly.
"General Philippus was seen fighting, but no more. We haven't found her body yet. Cyanna...we do not know."
Hippolyta bowed her head. "May Gaia see them safely to Elysium." The Amazons murmured in their grief and affirmation.
"What of the rest of the Island? How fare our sisters?"
"More are coming in from the interior, every hour," Eurydike told her. "We are not defeated yet."
"The Alarians' cursed demons have struck even our villages and tents there," an Amazon in the crowd spoke up. "The whole island is under assault, but we are fighting back!"
"What of the Getai?" Laodice asked. "Is Mara alive?"
Hippolyta nodded. "Mara escaped to warn her sisters. If she reaches them safe, Boudicaa will come to our aid," She looked around. "Where is the Princess?"
Eurydike and Laodice exchanged worried looks. "She…is not here, Hippolyta. We thought she had gone back to rescue you."
Hippolyta's expression faded. "She is not here?"
Eurydike shook her head. "She left with the-the Batman, to go to your aid."
"She freed us from the dungeon, then she went to fetch her arms and lasso while we escaped," Ismene said solemnly.
Silence descended upon the Amazons gathered as the revelation dawned on them.
"Perhaps she has gone to the Getai for help," Eurydike gently suggested. "She may yet be all right."
"No," Hippolyta said in faint voice. "She has been recaptured...or she has fallen. My daughter..."
Vanessa's mind reeled. No, it wasn't possible that Wonder Woman was dead! There had to be some other explanation...
Just then, the baby awoke, and began a thin hungry wailing. Suddenly all eyes were on the grad student and what was in her arms, and she wished she had stayed in the tent.
Hippolyta whirled around at the sound, her eyes wide. For a moment she stood stock still. Then, very slowly, she walked towards Vanessa, the Amazons silently parting to make way. It seemed that the entire camp held their breath. There was no sound except for the crying infant.
Vanessa would have preferred to vanish like a soap bubble, but she dared not so much as take a step back. She held the baby close and in response it cried louder. She carefully watched the Queen's face, apprehension growing in her, but Hippolyta's face was like stone. Finally, she stopped directly in front of Vanessa and stared at the small wailing bundle in her arms.
"This is…my grandchild?" Her voice was flat and emotionless.
There was no hiding it, Vanessa thought, so she spoke up. "A boy, your Majesty," Vanessa said in an uncharacteristically bold voice, wishing she felt like how she sounded. She wondered if the Queen would try to take the baby, but she made absolutely no move, only stared down at the crying bundle without a trace of affection.
Selene and Berenike waited tensely behind Vanessa, wondering what the Queen would do next. By Amazon tradition, a male child would be taken away immediately before the mother could bond with it, by Amazons specially designated for that purpose, and flung from the high cliffs into the sea. It was considered the most merciful way to dispose of them, so that the creatures would die quickly, with no chance of survival. Hippolyta was one of the strongest Amazons on the Isle. If she decided to follow tradition at this moment, they could not stop her, and not with the other loyal Amazons here. But Selene knew she would try.
"Diana's child," Hippolyta murmured underneath her breath, but still she remained motionless.
"My Queen," Laodice said to Hippolyta in a low, dark voice. "The tradition…"
"Yes…" Suddenly Hippolyta sounded uncertain, and a little confused. "The tradition…I must…"
Abruptly Eurydike stepped forward, surprising everyone. "The Princess is not dead," she said firmly. "There is no proof that she is. She will not want this. You cannot do this, my Queen."
A gasp raced through the assemblage. Selene and Berenike exchanged stunned looks. It was unthinkable that an Amazon, much less a member of the High Council, would suggest that the ritual not be carried out as it had been for centuries.
Laodice glared at her colleague as many of the Amazons began debating amongst themselves, their voices rising, some in favor of carrying out the tradition, but to her shock, some began arguing that they should wait, at least, until Diana returned, or was proven to be dead.
"We make no exception for any Amazon, not even the Getai! If we stop now, then we might as well surrender to the Alarians this very hour!"
Selene stepped forward, further stunning the Amazons.
"We have greater concerns, Lady Laodice! Our island is invaded by men and demons and you want us to fight back by killing the Princess' child? I say no!"
The Amazons were now in uproar. Some looked angry and outraged, others confused and uncertain. Vanessa realized this situation could turn very tricky indeed.
"Vanessa," Berenike whispered in her ear. "When I saw the word, you run. Understand?" She nodded quickly, gulping.
"How dare you!" Laodice pointed accusingly at Selene. "You were the one who was supposed to look after the Princess! You have failed in your duty! You are a disgrace as a Bodyguard!"
"I, a disgrace, you say?" retorted Selene. "My duty was to protect the Princess, and I did so to the utmost! She was safe when I left, as ordered, to return to the Palace! I fought until I was captured! It is you and the Council who have failed the Amazons!" If possible, the commotion grew even more heated. "The enmity between the Alarians and us began because of our tradition!"
"Those are treasonous words!" Laodice accused. There was a rasp of swords beings drawn as the Amazons began dividing into two camps. Vanessa tensed, ready to begin running in a second...
"Silence!" Hippolyta bellowed, and the Amazons instantly silenced. "Shall we fight each other instead of the invaders? Shall we do their work for them?"
The warrior women sheathed their weapons, looking abashed before Hippolyta's fierce look.
"What shall we do now, Majesty?" Eurydike asked quietly.
The angry look faded from Hippolyta's eyes, and she looked up at the sky, as if expecting the heavens to open and the Gods and Goddesses to provide guidance, but the skies were empty and streaked with smoke. There was no answer there.
"Majesty...an Alarian envoy came here wishing to exchange your life for something they wanted. They called it a 'singularity'," Laodice said. "They did not tell it what it was, only that it was something foreign to us. They said if they received it from us, they would leave Themyscira."
Laodice's meaning was implicit. "No!" Vanessa cried.
Hippolyta looked sharply at her, as if seeing her only just now.
"The Alarians lie, you know this Majesty," Selene urged. "They will not just 'leave' us, they want to conquer us for their dark purposes!" Selene told the Amazons. "Giving them what they want will not make them leave!"
"You do not know that, Selene," Laodice glared at her angrily. "None of us do! And as it stands now, we are not prepared to fight the Alarians yet. We must buy time until we are reinforced with our sisters and the Getai! We must use every tactic we have if we shall wrest victory from this defeat!"
"You cannot use the Princess' child!"
"Enough!" Hippolyta ordered. There was another moment's tense silence as the Queen deliberated to herself. Then she stared hard at Vanessa and Selene.
"Those two shall be held under close arrest. They are not to leave the camp for any reason whatsoever, without my express permission. No one is to address them except for myself...and no one shall touch the child. Without my permission. Is that understood?"
Vanessa stared at Selene in alarm, but the Bodyguard stared stolidly ahead, a soldier. Amazons surrounded them, and took away their weapons.
"What now, then, Hippolyta?" Laodice asked.
"Now," the Amazon Queen replied. "We shall prepare for war. We will march on the capital, with or without the Getai, and drive the Alarians back into the sea."
[AN: Did two papers, so I can take a breather and bang this out! Oh, those Amazons, what shall we do with them? ideas? Please review!]