In the beginning men were created to be good: strong and just. But war was in their blood and quickly they gave into violence. When the Gods set out to fix this it was already too late. Greed and corruption had become men's nature and women fell victims to them one by one.
The women's souls became stars, shining in the darkness, pulsing with energy, each to its own rythme and yet in perfect harmony. They refused to move on. So the Goddesses plucked the stars from the void. They made them bodies from clay they scrapped from the bottom of the sea and breathed life back them.
Only one little star did not move. It wasn't her time yet.
Hippolyta is the first to emerge from the sea. She catches a deep breath and looks around her in wonder. Antiope's head bobs up right after, closely followed by hundreds of other women. Confused yet full of energy they swim to the shore and pull themselve onto dry land.
The Goddesses are waiting for them: Athena, goddess of war and wisdom, Aphrodite, goddess of love, beauty and pleasure, Artemis, goddess of the Moon and hunting and Hestia, goddess of the hearth and family, according to the avatars they have chosen in this time and place.
This is the island of Themyscira, they tell the women. It is their land to use as they will, unhindered by the presence of men.
The women break into a joyful run. They spread across the wide plains and rocky hill, exploring every nook and crevice of their new home.
There is a whole city - white stone and gentle curves following the slopes of the hill it was built upon - completely furbished with all the necessities, only waiting for the women to inhabit it and give it life. Two peacocks and an armadillo stroll lazily through the sunny streets, barely bothered by the intrusion.
Themyscira is generous. The water is clear and fresh, trees are heavy with fruits and the heard of goats the women spot in one of the valley will provide a most welcome source of milk and meat if they so desire.
At twilight they all come back to the beach. They gather driftwood and build several large fires around which they huddle for the rest of the night.
With the first morning light come the first memories. One by one the women start to remember the life that was their own before they were offered Paradise.
They were Amazons the most of them, ruthless daughters of Ares to the Greeks, simple horsewomen and warriors from nomadic tribes around the Black Sea as far as they are concerned.
They ask Hippolyta to takes back her role as Queen.
"It should be Otrera," she protests.
Otrera was the original Queen, the very first one in a series of valliant women. But Otrera isn't there. She passed away surrounded by her sisters at the height of her glory. Unlike Hippolyta, Otrera didn't die at the hands of a man, seduced then tricked and killed so that a murderer could atone for his crimes. The Goddesses had no reason to pull her from her peaceful afterlife.
So Hippolyta becomes Queen of the Amazons again.
As soon as Antiope gets her memories back, she is by Hippolyta's side, pressing her body into hers in a desperate embrace. For while the last memory Hippolyta has of her former life is Antiope brandishing a sword ready to strike down a Greek soldier, Antiope remembers so much more. Hippolyta's blood and Heracles' victorious smile, the anguished cry that tore her throat raw, and years and years of mourning a sister she never thought she would see again. They may have been warriors once, tough and trained to hide their emotions, but all that matters now is the bound they have, built through years of rivalry and teasing, and the knowledge that they would, and did, die for each other.
Hippolyta grabs her little sister's head and runs her hands through her hair and over her face. It is her alright, the sandy blond hair, big blue eyes, strong jaw and high cheekbones much like hers. Only the teenager Hippolyta remembers is now a grown woman almost as old as she is, the tiny lines etched at the corner of her eyes and mouth signs of the years she had gone through without her.
"You're still so short," she says and Antiope punches her in the shoulder for an answer.
Menalippe falls to her knees before the two legends she had only known by the shadow of their fame.
She remembers a time when she was Queen of the Amazons too, only long enough to fall at a Greek soldier's dagger. She never really understood what made her people chose her after Hippolyta's loss. She had been an exceptional horsewoman and fighter, but that didn't mean she had what it took to be a leader.
"We attacked Athens a short while later. To avenge you," she says to Hippolyta. "And to bring you back," she adds turning to Antiope. As soon as she sets her eyes on the petite woman her heart leaps in her chest and she finds it unbearable to look away, for there she is, finally, the object of the quest she had led until her last breath. "But we couldn't find you," Menalippe finishes sadly.
When Heracles defeated Hippolyta, Antiope was taken away by one of his mate, 'as a spoil of war' he claimed in that typical way men have to believe themselves entitled to a woman's body. He pulled her from the wide plains of Pontus and hauled her up on a boat to a foreign land with the promise of a good life as a hero's wife. But the hills of Athens were narrow and dry and the horses there sad skinny creatures. They never got the space to roam as freely as they deserved and neither did Antiope. She longed for nothing else but to see the endless sky of Colchis again. Her husband only had eyes for the sea. Antiope made every effort to fit in. She learned the Athenians' language when none of them would try to understand hers. She respected their ways and customs. She let her world be reduced to the walls of her house, all in the hopes that one day she might be rewarded with enough freedom to go see her people again. This wasn't what happened. Soon Theseus set his eyes on a new adventure, a new trophy, and let her be forgotten without thinking of setting her free.
"By the time my sisters came," she explains, "I had grown so weak I could barely lift a sword."
She never fought on the Greek side, as some bards might have sung. Only she was so untrained that she went down in the first minutes of the battle, before she could have a chance to signal to the Amazons that she was there, that she hadn't forgotten her home.
From then one she vows never to let herself grow that weak again.
"I am sorry," Menalippe says simply with her head down. "I failed you. I couldn't free you," she says to Antiope, then turns to Hippolyta. "And my failure allowed the Athenians to wipe out the army you had built."
Neither Antiope nor Hippolyta know what to say to her, they just stand awkwardly, looking for words to say that they don't blame her, that if she considers herself a failure then they are no better than her.
"That is absolutely untrue," a voice pipes up that belongs to a tall, bright, young girl. She is Penthesilea and she was Queen too some time after Menalippe. "The Amazons remained very much alive. And for each of you that went down in the battle of Athens, three more rose and swore to avenge you. And we did. At Troy. Destroyed those Greeks like they had once destroyed us."
"But we lost," Venelia, points out. She knows, she was there.
Penthesilea turns around and winks at her. "Worth it!" she says with all the proud restlessness of her youth. "Besides, we are here now and we will live forever. Them on the other hand, who will remember their names thousands of years from now?"
As Queen of the Amazons Hippolyta recieves a golden girdle from the Gods : a heavy belt that holds the source of their superhuman strength and longevity. As leader she will wield the most power, it will also be her responsibility watch over its source and make sure it doesn't fall into enemie's hands.
Hippolyta's first decision as Queen is to have the Amazons rebuild Themyscira as a society and as a city as glorious as Pontus had once been.
It is not done in a day of course, but the island lacks of nothing: from hemp and flax for clothes to clay and iron ore from the eastern side of the island. It is clear that the God's willed it that they got anything they need. Pretty soon they have a fully functional economy base on fair trade and sharing. Everyone has a role and gets their wants met without seeking to hoard any more than what they need. They bring in leather and weapon from the outside world, until Io sets up her own forge. She is good, the weapons she makes way better than any the Amazons could hope trade in from the world of men.
Antiope's first decision as Antiope is to rebuild an army.
The Gods willed for them to be the fiercest warriors and so they will be. Even if there are never any more battle to fight, she will always be ready and so will her sisters.
But there are more battles, there always are. Men are relentless in their cruelty. They fight for everything: honour, power, wealth, religion. The last one is the most confusing one. Haven't men learned already that their gods are always the same energies only taking different avatars according to what the men want to see. The Amazons know theirs are still there. You can't kill a god unless the gods themselves want it so.
Time runs differently on Themyscira. Every time the Amazons set out to battle they face new enemies, cross the path of new heroes, see the rise and fall of uncountable empires and tip the fate of the world one way or another according to their whim, always towards the greater good. Towards peace.
It's ironical, really, this whole fighting for peace thing. But apparently it is the only language men will understand.
More stars light up in the darkness and the Goddesses take care of them. The Amazons welcome new members almost every day. Like fiery Boudicca with her red mane, who united and led her people into revolt.
Boudicca who wakes up broken and haunted on the island, unable to look into her daughters' eyes for every time she does she sees them being raped and slaughtered by roman soldiers.
They get teenagers, children who picked up weapons and died for their people before they were old enough to understand what was worth fighting for so hard.
They get non fighters too. Women who fell victims of a war that wasn't theirs or under the fists of a man who called them wives. Women who died without a chance to defend themselves but with so much rage, so much anger at the injustice of it all that their gods just had to grant them a second chance. Those are Antiope's most diligent students and when Menalippe sees the smile on young Artemis' face as she lands her first death blow on a Spartan warlord she knows they are doing the right thing.
But of course nothing compares to Antiope's glee when she is on a battlefield. Slashing and thrusting, her face covered in blood and her head thrown back in delight, she is magnificent.
Sometimes a battle will turn into a contest between Hippolyta and her, although the two sisters always come out as equally matched in the end.
Hippolyta in the midst of battle is majestic, all about raw power and ruthlessness.
Antiope is just as fierce but her style is built on stealth and efficiency. She's the shortest of the Amazons - something they never fail to tease her about - but also the lightest. Her signature move is using Menalippe's shield and strength as a spring board to leap into the air and take down up to five soldiers at once with her bow. The move requires perfect coordination, it takes them years to develop it and never works quite as well when they try it with someone else.
As the general of the Amazon army Antiope asks Menalippe to be her Second in Command. Menalippe doesn't understand why. Her own experience at the head of an army still haunts her and she wouldn't want to ruin Antiope's hard work by her own inadequacy. She suggests Antiope picked Penthesilea instead.
"I need someone I can trust. Penthesilea is too impatient and hot blooded, she couldn't bear the discipline this position requires," Antiope says.
"Like this wasn't a perfect description of yourself," Menalippe says.
"Which is exactly why I need you, Second."
If Antiope wants it, then Menalippe will make sure she gets the best Second in Command there can be. It's her way to make amends for letting her down in Athens.
"You don't owe me anything," Antiope tells her later when she lets this slip. "I didn't need saving then and I certainly do not now. You're not responsible for what happened in my former life, just like I'm not responsible for what happened to Hippolyta. We all got a clean slate here, just let yourself be," Antiope says.
She puts her hand on Menalippe's shoulder. It's the first contact they share that isn't training or battle related and they both imperceptibly lean into the touch. Antiope leaves her hand there a little longer than would be considered proper. Neither of them mentions it.