The Twelve Labours of Wonder Woman

BY : Ksennin
Category: DC Verse Comics > Wonder Woman
Dragon prints: 40060
Disclaimer: I do not own DC Comics, Wonder Woman, or any other Wonder Woman characters. I make no money from publishing this story.

FIRST PROLOGUE:        THE DEBATE    Some places and things are states of mind, ways of thinking, ways of seeing.  Depending on the chosen perspective, Love and War were abstract  concepts contraposed yet interwoven in the field of metaphysical consideration, or maybe were instead antropomorphical manifestations engaged in post-coital chit-chat on a terrace at nebulous Olympus.  "My husband won't be pleased."  Aphrodite smiled, long golden hair  pooled all about, her beauty made even more luminous by the sheen of recent sexual exertions.  "Again."  Ares, Olympian god of War, shrugged.  Rising from the couch, he  gathered his scattered attire, which could be obsidian armor, or a designer business suit, depending on the point of view.  "Never stopped you before."  The goddess of Love stretched languorously, her body's contours  redefining sensuality with every minor shift.  "Love knows no boundaries."  "And Boundaries are meant to be broken in war."  "Tarry longer, lover."  Ares shook his head.  "I must go."  "Of course.  You got what you wanted already."  "You wanted it, too, I recall."  "I always do.  Love is Want."  She turned face down, one finger  playing with her golden locks.  "Everything is."  "Everything?"  "Everything is Desire.  Everything is Want.  Everything is Love."  Ares did not find her tone amusing.  Love was often selfish and petty  and self-deluding.  Irritating, too.  "Maybe I only needed you.  For a moment."  He smiled.  "Need is not  want, Sister."  "You want what you need, Brother."  "The act is more important than the impulse."  She smiled, arching her back fetchingly.  "The act of Love.  The culmination of the impulse.  Both are the same."  Ares sneered.  "No.  The act of conquest.  Of victory.  The basic need  is just a starting point.  I took you.  I had you.  I came, I conquered.  Literally.  I got what I needed.  The act of taking it, that is all that really matters."  "Please!"  She laughed.  "You did it because you desired.  You desired  me, my dear Brother!  You desired my body.  My Love."  "Maybe my need was of conflict with your lame, pathetic husband.  Things have been too boring around here lately."  "Even your desire for conflict, for violence, is still desire, dear  Ares.  In the end, you are still beholden to me, and you know it.  You all are."  "Insignificant.  The action is the reality.  The taking, the  possession, the conflict of bodies, penetration, explosive culmination.  It is all conflict, it is all War."  "Love of War is still Love."  He strode several paces away, and long shadows filled the terrace.  "Dear Sister, I took you, used you, and now I leave you, as all always  do.  Where is your Love now?  Once the act has been achieved what have you left, Sister?"  His voice became gravel under a war chariot's wheels.  "You are just the discarded spoils of War."  "You Little Shit,"  she said, angry and hurtful, as love so often is.  "You can't even understand your own desires, the ones that rule you and everyone else.  Desire moves the worlds!"  "I recognize desire, yes.  But look about you, Sister.  It only serves  conflict.  It serves War.  It serves Me.  Like you just served Me."  "You served Me, Brother.  You pleasured Me.  You were a tool for Love.   You are always a tool."  "Calling what we did Love is disingenuous, poor deluded Sister.  We  just fucked."  "It is still love, disgusting as it was."  "I used you.  You served Me.  War rules the world!"  "Only because of the dark desires in men's hearts."  "It is the act of war that triumphs and rules men!"  "Oh, really?  Did the Princess of the Amazons not triumph over you  through her loving heart?"  The instant of silence was a violence in itself.  "The Amazon did open my eyes, Sister, to the need for constant,  perpetuating strife instead of a fruitless, single final conflict, yet she dared to face me because of her warrior's heart!  Ultimately, she, too, serves War -serves Me!"  "Please!  My Sisters and I created the Amazons and their Princess!  We endowed them!  They serve us!  They serve ME!  Their Diana serves LOVE!"  The eyes of Ares shone with blood-red light.  "Care to wager?"   SECOND PROLOGUE:        THE REWARD    Perennial clouds ringed the island, but directly above Themyscira the sky was clear and undisturbed, unlike the mind of the young woman strolling through the level, grass-covered field of the Amazon competition grounds.  Diana, Princess of the Amazons, brushed a curling lock of lustrous  black hair off her face, and looked about.  Less than a year ago, at this very field, she had faced her sister amazons in athletic and martial competition.  Winning the Contest against her mother's openly stated wishes, she had earned the title of Champion and the role of Envoy to Patriarch's World, so dressed in the colors and emblems of her destination, she could leave behind the centuries-old seclusion of Themyscira, to face the larger world beyond.  She had fulfilled her original task, and saved the world from the  destruction planned by the God of War, but had she really been ready to know the World of Man, to live among its people?  She had learned of the wonders and horrors of the so-called "modern world", where everything nominally good or evil had grown to scales far beyond what the Amazons could have ever imagined.  Despite meeting new friends and allies, she had seen much that made her fear for the future, not at the whims of Lord Ares, but rather at the hands of man himself.  It was all so baffling, so contradictory.  So much beauty and horror alike.  But her disillusion was also personal.  For a moment, she thought she  had discovered what love was, the love of tales and poetry, but though she did experience the physical aspect of the union of male and female, Aphrodite's true blessing had proved elusive, and her soul ached at her failures.  Was it her fault?  She did what she had judged to be right, trying to  make the best of difficult situations.  But which had been the costs?  She tried to banish from her mind the bittersweet image of the  handsome, noble hero the world called Superman, to forget his face full of shock and rejection.  But it refused to leave her, just like the memory of the touch of the dark god of Apokolips still lingered in her, its disturbing echoes deeply reverberating in her very flesh, despite all her determination to overcome such weakness.  She wondered if it would have been better to never experience such  sensations, never know the touch of a man, the bodily pleasure of the union of male and female, the inner joy of anticipation, and the heartbreak that came afterwards.  She wondered if she should tell her friends.  She wondered if she could tell her mother.  Suddenly, clouds gathered in the sky, and became filled with golden  light.  A voice thundered, everywhere and nowhere at once.  "DIANA.  PRINCESS OF THE AMAZONS.  MOST BEAUTIFUL OF ALL EARTHLY  WOMEN.  COME!  THY HIGHEST MASTER SUMMONS YOU."  It was the voice of Zeus, Lord of Olympus, King and Father of the Gods.   **********************************************    From the terrace of the royal palace, Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, saw the sudden light, heard the echoing voice, and blanched.    **********************************************   "THOU HAST EARNED THE GRATITUDE OF OLYMPUS, COMELY CHILD."  The presence of the Olympian was dazzling in its sheer majesty and  splendor, with golden light radiating in all directions from his taller-than-human figure.  Zeus's robe was white, like his hair and beard, the white of fire at its hottest, the white of lightning.  Yet Diana found it less impressive than she might have a year ago.  In  her mind, she compared this display of godly power with the simple modesty of Kal-El, who embraced his adopted humanity, and with the dour, controlled puissance of Darkseid, whose power was even more fearsome all for not being openly flaunted.  Somehow, though it felt like heresy, Zeus and his extravagance suffered in comparison.  "My Lord-?"  "THY LORD ZEUS GRANTS THEE THE BOON OF HIS ATTENTION.  COME CHILD, AND  WORSHIP ME!"    **********************************************    Driving her horse mercilessly, Hippolyta raced towards the Competition Fields.    **********************************************    "WORSHIP THY LORD!"  The robes vanished and Zeus stood unclothed before her.  Diana let one eyebrow rise slightly.  Again, comparison was not  flattering for the Olympian.    **********************************************    Hyppolita's stomach clenched at the sight.  Her horse panicked and threw her.  Cursing in gutter Themysciran, the Amazon Queen stood.  Her curses  then turned to desperate pleas of succor from the patron goddesses of the Amazons, as she charged towards her daughter and the Lord of Olympus.   **********************************************   "BLESSED ARE THEE AMONG ALL AMAZONS!"  "You mean I-?"  "THY COURAGE AND BEAUTY DOTH EARN THEE THE GREATEST HONOR OF ALL!"  She looked away, embarrassed.  Greatest?  It did not look like that  big an honor, she dared to think.  "REJOICE NOW IN THE BOON BESTOWED UPON THEE!"  "My Lord Zeus, I am not sure I deserve-"  "THY MODESTY IS MISPLACED.  THOU ART MORE THAN FITTING FOR A GOD'S  ATTENTION, LOVELY CHILD!"  "I am-?"  "THOU CAN START ENJOYING MY GENEROSITY!"  "But-?"  Zeus frowned.  "BUT?"  Diana looked down, baffled and unsettled.  She had read about  situations like this, supposedly fairly typical back in the ancient times, when the gods frequently claimed lovers among mortals, most often disguising themselves as beasts first.  Yet she had never expected it to ever happen to her.  Though she should probably feel flattered, it was now not just embarrassing, but also, somehow disappointing.  It felt devoid of the gravity she had imagined during her readings.  It felt prosaic.  "Are you not supposed to be...  ah, in some other...  semblance?"  "UH?"  She blushed deeply.  "I mean, was not that the... uh, traditional way?"  "Traditional way?"  "In the form of a beast, or-?"  "THOU WOULDST RATHER ZEUS RESEMBLED AN ANIMAL?"  Her ears were hot with embarrassment.  "Well, like with Europa, or Leda-"  "LEDA?  THOU WOULDST ZEUS WAS IN SWAM SHAPE?  REALLY?"  Zeus was  actually surprised.  He had forgotten how kinky the mortals could be.  "Uh, not really.  It is just that..."  She realized she was struggling  for any way out.  "My Lord, this is just so sudden!"  "A BULL, THEN?"  "No, no!"  Diana waved her hands in confusion, though a part of her  wondered if it would not be an improvement.  "I just do not...  I cannot accept something like this-"  "THOU NEEDS NOT ACCEPT IT."  "What?"  "LORD ZEUS!"  Hippolyta's voice rang out loud and clear, without any  hint of fear, as she joined her daughter, to address the supreme deity of the pantheon her people worshipped.  "SPARE MY DAUGHTER!"  "Mother?"  Zeus frowned ominously.  "WHAT?"  Diana's voice rose as well, turning back to see Zeus.  "Excuse me,  Lord Zeus, what did you mean by saying that I do not need to accept it?"  "SPARE MY DAUGHTER, LORD ZEUS!  SHE IS BUT A CHILD!"  "SPARE HER?  I WAS NOT GOING TO HARM HER!"  "Did you mean I have no choice?  Really?"  Zeus turned back to Diana.  "INSOLENT CHILD, IS THAT HOW THOU WOULD  ADDRESS THY LORD?"  Hyppolita's fists were clenched and her eyes shone with barely  controlled emotions.  "SPARE MY YOUNG DAUGHTER!  DEAL WITH ME INSTEAD!"  "THEE?"  Zeus frowned.  The Amazon Queen was a comely woman, but not  quite like her flawless young daughter.  "WELL, MAYBE LATER..."  "Mother, please.  I can handle this."  "DIANA HAS SERVED OLYMPUS BRAVELY!  SHE DESERVES BETTER!"  "BETTER?  BETTER?"  Lighting suddenly coursed the skies.  "THERE IS NO BETTER!"  "I meant-"  "THY LORD'S ATTENTION IS A BLESSING!  SHE SHOULD BE HONORED-!"  Hippolyta's reply was full of furious bitterness, the shadows of past  betrayal souring her soul.  "Like your son Herakles HONORED ME?"  "THOU WOULDST DARE-?"  Diana stepped forward, standing before her mother, and bowing her head  formally to speak.  "My Lord Zeus, let me express my deepest gratitude for your great generosity, but I must respectfully decline accepting such offer."  "WHAT?"  The god's voice became one with the thunder.  "THOU DECLINE?"  "My Lord, yes."  "DECLINE?"  "Yes."   THIRD PROLOGUE:        THE GESTURE    "ARE YOU MAD?"  "SILENCE, WIFE!"  "HOW-HOW DARE YOU?"  "I RULE OLYMPUS, HERA!  DO NOT FORGET THAT!"  "YOU PATHETIC DIRTY OLD MAN!  YOU STILL RULE HERE ONLY THANKS TO THIS  AMAZON'S EFFORTS!"  Before the assembled Olympians, Diana of Themyscira was held immobile  and unconscious inside the nimbus of shifting energies that had brought her to Olympus.  Gathered in gravity-defying positions, half a dozen goddesses surrounded the Amazon, shielding her from the wrath of Zeus.  "SILENCE, I SAID!"  "WITHOUT HER, ARES WOULD HAVE DOOMED US ALL!"  "Please, don't be so dramatic,"  the God of War said with a faint  smile, in a nearby terrace.  "It was just a small... experiment."  "AND THE DARK GOD OF APOKOLIPS WOULD HAVE DESTROYED OLYMPUS!  SHE  SAVED OUR HOME!"  Lightning flashed all around Zeus.  "DOES THAT GIVE HER THE RIGHT TO  SPIT ON ME?"  "WHAT, JUST BECAUSE SHE WOULD NOT BE YOUR WHORE?"  "STOP WITH YOUR JEALOUSY!"  "MY JEALOUSY?  WHAT ABOUT YOUR IDIOCY?"  "Father."  Athena, goddess of wisdom, strode forward, dressed in robes  and armor, or maybe the brisk suit of a modern Earthly executive. "Please reconsider."  "RECONSIDER WHAT?  TO ALLOW THEM TO INSULT ME?  ALLOW HER TO-?"  "Who began the insults?"  Artemis, the Huntress goddess, laughed  bitterly.  "You thought Themyscira could become your brothel!"  "IT WAS AN HONOR I-!"  "Honor?  What a crock of shit!"  "Father, please."  Solemnly, Athena gestured towards the other  goddesses.  "You know the Amazons are under our protection.  They have always been."  "WOULD YOU TOO DEFY ME?"  "Anger may not be the best strategy.  The Amazons have not only served  us through Diana's recent efforts.  Their continued worship has been our strongest remaining link to the mortal plane.  Would you forfeit that?"  "WHAT USE IS THEIR WORSHIP IF THEY WILL NOT SERVE ME AS I DEMAND?"  "Serve?  As your concubines?"  Artemis spat on the floor.  "They may  be better off dead."  Zeus stood up from his throne.  "FINE BY ME!"  Hera clenched her fists.  "I WILL NOT ALLOW IT!"  "HADES TAKE YOU ALL!  THEY MUST PAY FOR THIS INSULT!"  "Oh, Lord Zeus, I beg you," fleet-footed Hermes began, bowing  elaborately.  "Is one girl, gloriously beautiful as she may be, worth all this contention?"  "SHE SPURNED ME!"  "Your glorious proposal probably just overwhelmed the poor child.  She  was likely not ready for such an honor."  "STOP KISSING MY ASS!"  "They are just human.  We must be lenient with them."  "LENIENT, MY ASS!"  Athena moved daringly before the enraged god, and her voice was soft  but sharp as unsheathed steel.  "Surely the self-esteem of all-powerful Zeus is not so fragile as to  be so wounded by a child's mistake?"  "IT IS NOT THAT!  IT IS THE GESTURE! IT-!"  "Then should your response not be also a gesture?"  "A GESTURE?  HER DEATH SHOULD BE GESTURE ENOUGH!"  "No.  A lesson.  One she may benefit from."  "A lesson?"  Zeus leaned back in his throne, frowning.  "Maybe...  Yes, something to teach her, and them, their rightful place."  Artemis gritted her teeth.  "Their rightful place?"  Unexpectedly, Ares spoke, and even Zeus grew silent.  "Perhaps the  Amazons are worth more than being just... that kind of servant."  Artemis laughed.  "Fuck.  FUCK!  The end must be near!  Ares agrees with us!"  "A test,"  Ares continued.  "Let our gesture be a test.  Of the  Princess Diana, and of all her people.  If these Amazons believe they can determine their own destiny, let them prove it."  "Prove it?"  Artemis faced the God of War, hunter's eyes full of  indignation.  "She made YOU change your mind, remember?  And saved Olympus from the invasion of the Dark God of Apokolips !  What further proof do you want?"  "The weapon must be honed, Sister, lest it turn dull.  You should know that."  "FUCK YOU!"  "It could be fun,"  a sultry voice added.  All eyes but those of Ares turned towards Aphrodite as she approached  Zeus.  The Ruler of Olympus stared at her deep cleavage, only partially concealed by her flowing brunette tresses, while she whispered softly in his ear.  After several smiling whispers, Aphrodite finally withdrew, smiling,  secretive, as love often is.  And Zeus laughed.  "I like that.  I LIKE THAT!"     FOURTH PROLOGUE:        THE CHALLENGE OF THE GODS    "DIANA OF THEMYSCIRA!"  Down on one knee, surrounded by dense, opaque mists revealing only the  towering outlines of the Olympian Pantheon, still Diana, Princess of the Amazons, kept her head unbowed,  as Zeus rendered judgment upon her.  "THOU HAST DARED TO CHALLENGE THE WILL OF OLYMPUS!"  She bit her lip, fighting the impulse to speak up.  "ONLY THY PAST SERVICES SAVED THY LIFE!"  "Gratitude's a bitch,"  Hermes muttered, and Diana smiled, recognizing  his voice.  "BUT NOW, THE GODS WILL CHALLENGE THEE IN RETURN!"  Diana nodded.  She knew she would have to make amends of some kind.  "AND THE LIVES OF ALL THY PEOPLE WILL DEPEND ON THY FULFILLING THE CHALLENGE!"  "The lives-?"  Diana stood, her fists clenched.  "Why would-?"  Zeus pointed a finger at her.  "HEAR THY CHALLENGE, AMAZON.  LIKE  HERAKLES, MY SON, ONCE DID, TWELVE MIGHTY LABOURS MUST BE PERFORMED, LABOURS THAT SHALL TASK THY POWER AND SKILL, TO PROVE THEE AND ALL THY PEOPLE WORTHY!"  "Twelve labours?"  Ares stepped forward, bearing in his armored hand a circular amulet,  one handspan-wide, inscribed deeply with ancient designs.  "Recognize this, Amazon?"  Diana's eyebrows arched up.  "Harmonia's Talisman!"  It was the  mystical object that had guided her to Patriarch's World, in order to stop Ares' plan of initiating a final war that would unleash man's atomic weapons.  Ares smiled under his dark helm, and the Talisman suddenly shattered  into fragments, all which sped away from each other, at right angles to every dimension known to man, racing far beyond sight and reality, but for a single piece that remained in the palm of the god's gauntlet.  "You must now rejoin the trinket, my dear."  Causally, he tossed that  single remnant at the Amazon, who caught it.  Zeus spread his arms, calling for attention.  "AMAZON!  THOU MUST PASS  THROUGH DOOM'S DOORWAY INTO THE NETHERWORLDS OF TARTARUS, TO SEARCH THRU ITS SHADOW REALMS FOR THE TWELVE SCATTERED PIECES OF THE SHATTERED TALISMAN!  ONLY ONCE IT IS WHOLE AGAIN WILL THY CHALLENGE BE OVER, AND THEE AND THY KIND BE DEEMED WORTHY! BUT EACH FRAGMENT SHALL BE WELL GUARDED, AND THOU MUST FACE EACH GUARDIAN IN CONTEST OF MIND AND BODY!"  "Anointed-?"  "OLYMPUS HAS SPOKEN!"  

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