She told him, "I have no quarrel with the color of your skin, but with your phallus," for she would have no unspoken truths between them. They that fought now side by side, and had shared bread and wine at a celebration that his lover had thrown.
In fact, Diana princess-of-Themiscyra had lent Lois Lane investigative-reporter her clothing, for it seemed that was the tradition at parties in man's world for some reason.
Even so, Diana, who would be truth-bringer, had to give this truth to Kal-el man-of-steel.
Though it was said of him that he was faster than a speeding bullet, his look lingered long and in such a way as to let her know that she'd made a Gordian of this. Then like a man, he glanced down at the bright-swathed lodging of the problem.
Before she could explain more fully, one of the lumpen creatures gripped a mantis' claw round his ankle and dragged him down into the wine-dark waters of this lake of Michigan.
She called out to Athena joiner-of-battles for strength and dove that she might save him, but he'd already pulled himself free. The thing had slashed his chest with that razored claw and for all the stories told of him, he bled like any other.
Kal-el super-man rolled his eyes at the wound and said, "I hate magic," but still a hero, he hummed under his breath and went to give the gift of greater battle to the swarming things that threatened the listing tanker on the spring waters.
As she'd fought for the privilege to come to man's-world as an emissary of peace, she went to her own place in the battle. Swung her hands in fists and flung impossible creatures into the sky. As she fought, she composed a poem to their deeds. Taking comfort in the language of her sisters. Taking comfort for she was troubled with her earlier inability to explain herself. She looked up as the cloud-girt moon. Diana princess-of-Themiscyra called out, "Artemis bare-fisted give me strength."
"Do you have to do that?" asked Shayera hawk-girl, as she smote a blinking blood-red eye to a greater hue with her lightening-struck mace. The sound made Diana princess-of-Themiscyra miss home. Miss too the curve of a strong maiden's arms and a modest face gold-helmed. Sun-bright hair so unlike the night-dark of home.
She flew closer. Also, this made it the easier to wrap the creature in the lasso of truth. The creature had many mouths. But it spoke no truth from any of them. At least, it seemed that the thing could be flung all the better with the use of a golden rope.
Shayera hawk-girl laughed into the cloud-chopped sky. "Good one." Grinned a pleasing curved-bow of lips beneath her hawk-helm. Diana clay-child thought idly that here was one who saw her only as a woman. No memory of swaddling there.
Looked up. Felt her heart lift with the arc of the creature's flight. She ventured to ask, for even in this she felt that sting of wishing to explain herself, "Do you think I have offended Kal-el last-krypton-son? I merely wished to explain why I am hesitant to join his Justice-League."
Shayera hawk-girl swooped down and struck a creature such a blow that it rang bone like a bell. "Wouldn't worry about it. He probably heard you right then." She snapped off a trophy of ivory horn from the creature's jaw as it sank below the waves. She yelled, "He hears everything. Like big brother!"
Diana clay-child had only big sisters. She wondered what a brother would be like.
Another creature tossed past the watching moon seemed to support that Kal-el super-man heard all, but then there were more creatures and then the battle was won and Kal-el super-man seemed to want no more explanations from her. She covered her embarrassment by asking, "What do you think sent these creatures?"
He was silent. Diana had come to know that he was a man of some songs, but few words. Growing up, she'd been taught such a thing to be impossible, but it was so. Shayera hawk-girl covered the silence with words as one might throw a cloak over a pit. "I know a guy, who knows a guy. Come on." She gyred up into the sky-road. They flew after her.
Diana wondered if the flight of their passage seemed as slow to Kal-el super-man as it did to her. But she did not know how to ask. Wanted for him to understand her. Respect her. She said, "You were very impressive. My mother often told me of the bravery of Nubian warriors in man's-world."
He did not say anything for a very long time. Such that she'd wondered if he'd heard her and she should repeat herself. But clearly, he heard everything, because he said, "I'm not Nubian," and flew faster then.
Shayera hawk-girl laughed. "For a princess, you suck at this."
Then there were no more words until they came to man's great city of Chicago by the waters of the wine-dark inland sea. They flew over the ordered grid of it and past great-towers covered in stone monsters. The streets teemed with men. Women too. Tiny from distance. They pointed up at them as they flew. Called out unfamiliar names and Diana princess-of-Themiscyra felt the hot flush of their stares. Shayera hawk-girl wound through the towers and seemed armored to the gaze of men like Artemis arrow-showering. Diana clay-child coveted that calm like she would covet a cup of water in the midst of an ocean. Wondered what it would be like.
The towers grew shorter and blended into rows of houses. They swooped down among them. Close enough to see dark faces watch them through thick barred windows. Shayera hawk-girl alighted next to a building of cement with a bright-lit sign above it that declared that this building was Steve's.
It was a tavern. Narrow. Barely wide enough for the planks of wood that were placed in a U-shape down the center of the room. Much less for the people, men and women and children, who swarmed around the planks and watched the television attached to a wall.
Diana princess-of-Themiscyra crossed her arms without knowing why and the black-barman in the center of the U grinned at her. He was missing a tooth in a jagged line. She wondered if he had lost it in battle. Wondered if she should speak to him as an emissary of peace. Wondered what those words should be. How to earn in her heart the name peace-emissary.
Shayera hawk-girl slapped down some coins that bounced and lay flat on the boards. Slapped down her trophy of horn. "Three gins."
Kal-el super-man crossed his own arms then. "I don't drink."
"Yeah, yeah, boy-scout." Shayera hawk-girl picked up the first of the three small clear glasses that the black-barman lined up for her. "Didn't buy them for you." She winked from behind her gold-helm. Drank the glasses down in quick succession. She belched. Flashed a scimitar-smile.
A little dark-girl with her hair in tight black braids bumped against Diana princess-of-Themiscyra's leg. The girl looked past her. Held out her arms to Kal-el tomorrow-man and yelled, "Airplane." A smile spread across his face like lightening-struck. He picked the girl up. Carried her around the room one handed, as all the children screamed, "Airplane."
Diana clay-child could throw a tank, fly, and fight off thirty men with machine guns. Perhaps, that last was hyperbole. There had only been sixteen men, and one man with a revolver. New challenges. Nothing she had ever faced on Themiscyra. She should offer to fly one of the children. She should do something.
She sat down on a bar stool. She tried to order sweet spring wine, but they had none. She had a shot of thing called gin instead. It was far inferior to ouzo.
Amid the swarm, Shayera hawk-girl slipped away and spoke with a fat-man by a flat-green table in the small room beyond.
It was not what Diana princess-of-Themiscyra would have expected of this adventure with other heroes. The tavern, yes. Heroes drank to the Gods guardians-of-cities. Drank and traded words and poems. She had not expected this.
"Airplane!" The children screamed, "Airplane." Two children were flown around the room. One on each hand.
Diana forced herself to sit still. Nodded at the unfamiliar room. Crossed her arms again.
Which was how it was until Shayera hawk-girl returned and yelled, "Supes, my guy knows the guy." She shoved her trophy of ivory at the black-barman in his bar. "Hold onto this for me will ya." Then she strode out the door. Her wings brushed the horse-shoe that hung over the lintel. It curved up to hold luck in.
Diana princess-of-Themiscyra brushed it with her hand to take blessing from it as she followed.
The sky-road took them to a small park and at the park's center, a tower with no doors. It was much more to the shape of her expectation. It was gold stone and marked with the signs of Egypt. Egyptian gods with hawk's heads.
Shayera hawk-girl called out to those who dwelt within, but there was no answer. Kal-el man-of-steel knocked, but his great blows brought only dragonflies that blue-buzzed from the places where his hands struck. He waved them away from his face. He said, "I hate magic."
But Shayera hawk-girl's mace made a more than adequate opener of doors. They flew inside the tower, which was larger on the inside than without and put Diana to mind of her philosophical studies, but for all the black space that winked star crossed sky-roads at her, there was no time.
A living dead-man, dark-gray, lay on a slab of grain-bright stone. The wizard of the tower chanted over him. The sea-king had joined with the wizard, which explained the lake creatures. What followed was a chariot-flail of fists and feet. Shouting, the wizard threw them through doors light-carved. Diana princess-of-Themiscyra found herself in a place of great-stone heads and pea-soup waves. She was the better fighter than the sea-king. She thought. But as they fell into the water, they both prayed to Poseidon bull-of-the-sea . Her prayers were not answered.
The sea-king ruled both the wine-dark and pea-soup seas. Also, she could not breathe under water. Woke to find herself back in the sky-road tower. Blinked at Kal-el super-man, his arms folded and the sea-king in a wet unconscious pile with the living dead-man. She felt her face flush, for she had not fought for the privilege of being an emissary of peace to man's-world to be beaten by water.
Then it seemed that Doctor-Fate, the wizard of the sky-road tower, was carrying out a ritual to save the world from an invasion of Old Ones, who were streaming into the world. Which explained the lake creatures. She felt a flush of shame at her earlier conclusions.
Let go of shame in the following battle that was of such span that the throat of the singer-of-songs would close at the indescribable-cyclopean nature of the melody, which is to say they fought against creatures with the heads of squids.
The living dead-man, Solomon Grundy monday-born fought beside them. Not a sacrifice. A seeker for the lost half of his soul. Stolen a century before. Fought and bent his will to Doctor-Fate's spell.
Diana fought at Kal-el super-man's side and listened to his song as he fought the indescribable things that flew between the worlds. He sang, "Way down yonder in the graveyard walk, I thank God I'm free at last," and punched a thing into the beyond.
Wishing to answer him, Diana sang the hymn of Demeter at the crossroads. She struck her blows and flew. Her voice a counter to his as they held back the night, "O Demeter, never may that man be my friend who is hateful to thee, nor ever may he share party-wall with me; ill neighbours I abhor."
She fought at Shayera hawk-girl's side, who did not sing. She thought that here was one with no phallus. But a mace that she swung in time to the beat of her wings. Winged-Nike.
The sea-king she ignored, even as she planned a way to next test mettle with him on more even ground.
She fought, while behind them, Doctor-Fate sealed the space between the worlds and Solomon Grundy monday-born died. Again.
And Shayera winged-nike wept for it seemed he was her friend.
They gathered around and mourned the loss that the world would not know.
Doctor-Fate opened a door in the tower with no doors and they emerged back into man's-world.
It was on fire.
Sirens wailed in a chorus as if Persephone vernal-maiden had once more been dragged into the underworld. Buildings smoldered, but lately they had burned and Diana's eyes watered from the gas-of-tears that gusted up on the winds.
They flew into it. Cooling smouldering buildings. Rescuing the trapped. Shayera hawk-girl drove off looters with her mace lightening-struck. Yelled something that Diana princess-of-Themiscyra could not hear.
Kal-el super-man floated a still bright point in the sky. Motionless. He did not move.
Shayera hawk-girl yelled, "You coming," and flew in the direction of a group of men in green uniforms.
Kal-el man-of-steel went the other way.
Diana princess-of-Themiscyra found herself following the other fork in the sky-road after him.
Flew over rows of houses. There were no men and women walking down the streets. No swarming children in the blush of spring. The buildings were all closed up.
Steve's was closed. Diana clay-child wondered if the horse-shoe was still upturned. Wondered why she hadn't given a child an airplane ride.
A woman stood in the center of the street taking pictures. She had a gas mask on under a bright blue hat. She glared at them through the thick lenses.
Kal-el super-man said, "Lois?"
The woman, Lois Lane investigative-reporter, pulled off her mask despite the lingering gas-of-tears. Blinked. Shook her head. Breathed in and breathed out. Coughed. Gritted her teeth. Took another picture. "I have work to do."
"What is happening?" Diana princess-of-Themiscyra heard herself ask the question.
Lois glanced at her. "Oh, look heroes. I don't have time for this. Gotta call this in." She walked away from them toward a pay phone box. It lay on its side. Lois took it's picture.
"Lois?" It was spoken like another question by Kal-el super-man.
"This is me not dealing very well, okay." Lois shook her head. Looked at him for a long time. Laughed with no sweetness to it. "You don't know." She shook her head. "How can you not know." She stared at him. "They shot him. There were riots." She spread her arms wide. Spitting words like Artemis arrow-showering. "And it was Pandora's box flung open." She coughed. Brushed her eyes. Kept speaking. "An apocalypse that loosed furies brooding in the shadows of America's sullen ghettos." She looked up. "Three days ago. That was my byline." She let go of the camera. It dangled on leather straps around her neck. She sighed. "Where have you been?"
Kal-el super-man said, "Lois, what are you talking about?"
She closed her eyes. "They killed King."
Kal-el super-man shook his head then. Stepped back on Lois' look and words. "Yeah. I know. I feel..." She laughed as one does with the hand-of-Ares on their heart. "I'm a reporter. I'm not supposed to have feelings. Just tell it like it is." Their eyes met, the lovers.
Diana clay-child wondered what it would be like to share such a look.
Kal-el super-man nodded then. A rush of air and a sonic boom. A flash of color straight up. Lois turned her camera to the sky.
A mark appear on the cheek of the moon. Diana princess-of-Themiscyra looked up and said, "Perhaps the gods will take up your king as a constellation." A stray bullet in a high arc from some far shot place descended. Lois ducked. Diana peace-emissary pushed it away with her bracelet, calmly as she'd been taught, though her heart raced. She said, "As you go to gather your story, can I follow and listen. I would hear why Ares warlike hand is so hard upon this place."
Lois looked at her and took her picture. Titled her head. "Sure." She tilted her head. "Try to keep up."
Diana nodded and followed her. Walking on the ground.
Later, much later, the crater on the moon's cheek got its name from the slain peace-king.
Diana peace-emissary raised a glass of bubble-bright wine. Lois Lane investigative-reporter ran off to make a phone call. Shayera hawk-girl rolled her eyes. Kal-el super turned his face to the sun through the tinted glass of the window.
They did not take long in this. Monday born may live again. And again. The arc of history, as she'd been told, was long, and yet there was much to do in arc.