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Family Reunion

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Chapter 4

Themyscira; September 13th, 21:33 EST

“Hera…no,” Diana gasped sharply as hot, angry tears stung her eyes, threatening to spill over as she stared at the sheer destruction that stared back at her. “This…this can’t be happening.”

“I’m so sorry, Diana,” Hippolyta softly said, her heart breaking for her daughter and the pain that she was obviously going through. “We haven’t even had a chance to do anything about this part of the island yet. We’ve been working to repair the damage above ground before even thinking of starting down here.”

Shayera and Artemis stood to the left of Diana, Hippolyta and Phillipus to her right as they studied the mass of rubble that completely blocked the entrance to the cavern where the gateway to the Underworld was hidden. The destruction was at least fifty feet deep…likely far more, but they wouldn’t know for certain until they began working to remove it all.

Raw fury tore through Diana as sure a bolt of lightning, scorching every inch of her. Even if they worked day and night, it would take weeks to get through all of this rock. Bruce didn’t have weeks. She feared that he was already beginning to feel the effects of being in the Underworld. How long could he last before it would be too late to save him?

She bit at her bottom lip as her mind raced with ways to get around this. There had to be another way into the Underworld, one that didn’t involve dying. “Mother, do you know of any other gates to the Underworld besides this one?”

“I’m afraid this is the only one that I know of,” she regretfully replied, shaking her head as she thoughtfully considered her daughter’s question. “We’ll need to consult the ancient texts to see if there is another gate or we’ll need to petition the gods for the information.”

Diana drew a shuddering breath as she stared in disbelief at the unimaginable obstacle that stood in her way of getting to her husband. She’d never dreamed when they’d left Gotham this morning that this was what they were going to be greeted with when they reached Themyscira. There was no way in Tartarus she was going to sit back and let Hades take her husband away from her.

“We need to get this rubble out of the way as quickly and as efficiently as possible,” Diana stated with steely resolve and authority. She wasn’t the Queen of Themyscira, but she was taking charge. “We need someone to go to the temple and study the scrolls and ancient texts to see if there is another gate to the Underworld that we don’t know about yet…one that we may have missed from previous studies.”

“I’ll assign a couple of sisters to that task right away,” Hippolyta agreed.

“In the meantime, I’m going to petition the gods for some answers,” Diana announced, her hands on her hips. “Hopefully, they’ll be a little more willing to talk to me now that I’m on Themyscira and circumstances have become that much more dire.”

“I wouldn’t hold your breath if I were you,” Artemis grumbled under her breath. Everyone turned a stunned eye on her, causing her to shrug a shoulder. “What? They can be unpredictable. Am I wrong?”

“They may be, but we don’t say such things out loud,” Phillipus hissed with a frown.

“Let’s get to work,” Shayera said, palming her mace. “We’re burning daylight.”

“Please, come to the palace and eat something first,” Hippolyta suggested. “I’ll have several Amazons get started on this mess and then you can join them once you’ve had a chance to eat.”

“I’m not hungry,” Diana evenly stated, turning on her heel. She glanced back over her shoulder to speak without pausing in her step. “I’m going to the temple to pray.”

Hippolyta turned to follow her, Artemis placing a hand on the queen’s arm to halt her. “Let her be for now,” she suggested. “This has been very difficult for her and it just became that much worse. Just give her a little space.”

Hippolyta nodded in agreement, releasing a disheartened sigh as she watched her daughter walk away. She could see how deeply all of this was affecting her. She should have done more…should have found a way to stop Circe before she could destroy the island.

“It’s not your fault, my queen,” Phillipus said in a subdued voice.

“I know, but it feels like it is,” she softly replied as her worried gaze roamed over the destruction that still marked her home. It could take years to completely rebuild Themyscira. “I should have done more to avoid the war. Then, we wouldn’t have this obstacle standing in the way of getting into the Underworld and rescuing Bruce from Hades.”

“The war was not your fault,” Artemis adamantly stated. “We’ll find a way through this rock and get to Bruce. We will not let Hades win.”

“Well, there’s no time like the present,” Shayera said, raising her mace as she flew in to attack the rubble as if it were a living, breathing enemy.

Shayera began slamming her mace against the large chunks of rock, causing tiny shards to fly in all directions. Artemis smiled to herself as she followed suit, deciding that she liked the Thanagarian’s mindset when it came to attacking an obstacle. Hit it hard and hit it fast.

The Bana-Mighdall Amazon attacked the rock with a fierce vengeance that rivaled Shayera’s, equally determined to get to the Underworld. Phillipus immediately went to work as well as Hippolyta waved over more Amazons to help clear the entrance to the cavern below.

The Queen feared what they were going to find once they got past all of this rock. Would they only find even more rock or possibly a gate that could never be opened? She raised her chin, banishing those thoughts from her mind. She wouldn’t allow herself to dwell on such things.

She knew if anyone could find a way around this in order to save Bruce it was her Diana.

Underworld; September 14th, 14:56 EST

Ra’s al Ghul walked through the grand palace of the Underworld that was now his home, his hands clasped behind his back as he made his way towards the vast library. He was more than anxious to see what more he could learn about his situation and if there was any way of escape.

While he had been granted certain privileges by lord Hades, he didn’t intend to make this his permanent home. He still had much that he needed to accomplish, and he very well couldn’t accomplish any of it from the dismal depths of the Underworld.

Entering the library, Ra’s found that it had seen better days as thoughts of Talia crept into his mind. He wondered if she’d been able to make it to their rendezvous point with Ubu. Hades had assured him that she was alive, her soul not traveling to the Underworld. Ubu must have been able to get her out of Gotham after Hades had attacked her.

He’d had a front row seat to Hades’ deeds when the god of the Underworld had fully taken over his body, watching in rapt fascination but not able to deter him from doing as he willed. Hades had been able to make Batman his personal slave at first, but Ra’s wasn’t entirely convinced now that he still was. He knew the Detective far too well. It could be nothing more than a very convincing performance on his part, biding his time until he could make his move.

The corner of his lips quirked as he thought about possibly working with the Detective to escape the Underworld together. It was a tantalizing thought, one that he was going to have to seriously consider. He knew that if anyone could find a way out of here it was Batman.

Their chances of escaping would be far greater if they worked together rather than attempting it alone. He also had no doubt that Batman’s wife would not remain on the sidelines waiting to see if her husband was able to escape. The Amazon was likely on her way here now.

Walking past countless volumes of books laying scattered all over the room, Ra’s paused before a book that came in contact with the toe of his boot. Tilting his head slightly, he crouched down to lightly run the tips of his fingers along the spine of the tome before finally picking it up.

Straightening up, Ra’s began to flip through the pages of the ancient volume. It appeared to be a book containing ways to master the mind. Deciding that it could come in handy, he tucked the book under his arm before continuing his exploration.

It appeared some sort of a fight had taken place in this library, but no one had bothered to take the time to put it all back together again. Of course, time was inconsequential down here, nonexistent while the world of the living continued on without their participation.

Stepping over various piles of books and pieces of broken shelves, he allowed his intent gaze to continue its search for anything that could prove helpful in his pursuit. He had a feeling if there was anything down here that could provide any information about how to escape the Underworld Hades would have already studied it.

If the god of the Underworld couldn’t escape, he wasn’t certain how he would be able to execute it. That, however, did not deter him in the least especially knowing that he had the skill and genius intellect of the great Batman on his side if he could coerce him into joining him. He had a very strong feeling that it wouldn’t take much encouragement.

He was certain the Detective was more than determined to return to his Amazon and the family they had formed…a family that included his grandson Damian. He thoughtfully stroked his chin as he thought about his grandson and what it would take to get him back with them where he belonged.

He was concerned that Damian had grown attached to the Wayne’s. He didn’t want them unraveling everything that he had already been able to instill and accomplish so far with his grandson. He was being groomed to be the eventual leader of the League of Assassins and he wasn’t about to let anything stand in the way of that vision.

“Ah…I see you’ve found my glorious library.”

Ra’s turned around at the booming sound of Hades’ voice. He smiled pleasantly as the god of the Underworld approached him. “I was just looking for some reading material,” he revealed. “I don’t want my mind to begin to slip.”

Hades chuckled softly as he wandered around the books lying scattered on the ground. “You have no need to worry about that, my friend,” he informed him. “I have protected your mind. You won’t lose your memories like my son-in-law will.”

“I appreciate that very much,” Ra’s replied with a grateful nod. “Losing my faculties is a rather frightening prospect. It’d like very much to avoid it all cost.”

Hades grinned broadly, an amused gleam in his dark eyes. “I suspected as much,” he divulged. “You’re a very cunning, very intelligent man. You were able to find almost all the pieces of my armor. It’s a very impressive feat that you accomplished. No one has been able to do that in thousands of years.”

“It took some extensive research, but it paid off…at least for a short time,” Ra’s decided.

“It paid off indeed,” Hades agreed. “If only my daughter and her husband hadn’t interfered along with her friends. We might have been able to accomplish so much together.”

“Alas, we’ll never know just how much,” Ra’s said, his voice thick with regret.

Hades swept his arm out before him as his gaze fell on the destruction that surrounded him. “I must apologize for the mess in here,” he stated, changing the subject. “I’m afraid I haven’t gotten around to putting things right in here since that interfering little fool Faust tried to take my throne from me.”

“How could someone be so bold?” Ra’s inquired.

“My daughter and her winged friend actually came to my aid and assisted me in getting my throne back.”

Ra’s frowned as he considered what Hades had just told him. “I must admit that I am quite surprised that the Amazon would help you. She was determined to force you to return to your prison down here.”

A fond smile tugged at Hades’ lips. “Yes, my daughter is very determined,” he agreed. “It’s something that we both share. I’m afraid her assistance wasn’t exactly her idea. The gods saw fit to send her to aid me in regaining my throne and restoring balance to the Underworld.”

“And the interloper?”

“Don’t worry about him,” Hades replied, holding up a hand. “Faust got what he deserved. I made certain of that. He’ll never make that mistake again.”

“I can certainly appreciate the very tight-grip you hold on your realm,” he said with great respect. “I too hold a very tight rein on my organization.”

“I greatly admire that,” Hades thoughtfully stated. “Well, I will leave you to the business of finding something to read. Maybe I’ll order my son-in-law to repair the damage in here and restore my library. It seems like a very good task for my new slave.”

“Do you despise him because he is a mortal man who won the heart of your daughter?” Ra’s inquired, his eyes alight with curiosity.

Hades thought for a long moment before responding, a devious smirk dancing on his lips. “I actually don’t despise my son-in-law at all,” he confessed. “I just want to make him suffer for his audacity in opposing me and keeping me from seeing my grandchildren. If I can’t see his children, then neither can he.”

Ra’s mind began to spin with new ideas and plans that were taking shape in his mind. “I imagine any offspring between Batman and Wonder Woman would be quite formidable to deal with and nearly impossible to overcome.”

“Just like their grandfather,” Hades said with a boisterous chuckle. “I shall see you later, my friend.”

Ra’s watched as Hades walked out of the library, leaving him all alone once more. He stared at the doorway the god of the Underworld had just passed through, lost in his thoughts. Hades was a very interesting god, one that surprised him at every turn.

When they had been joined as one, he had been amazed at the sheer cunning and craftiness of the Greek god. He was definitely someone not to be trifled with nor did he want to get on his bad side, or he just might end up like the Dark Knight.

Continuing his search of the ramshackled library, Ra’s gaze narrowed as he spotted a book lying all alone, partially obscured by a piece of shelving. It caught his attention because it seemed to be all by itself whereas the other books seemed to be grouped together.

He made his way towards it, crouching down to retrieve the lonely tome. He tossed the piece of shelving aside before retrieving the book. He brushed off the layers of dust and debris that the fight with Faust had created. His lips curled as he noticed the title, his eyes brightening.

This book could prove to be very useful…very useful indeed.

Gotham; September 15th, 01:18 EST

“Check over there,” Nightwing ordered his partner as he drew his escrima sticks, his steely gaze sweeping over the area.

Robin gave him a dark scowl of disapproval, not particularly accepting of the fact that he was being ordered around. He wasn’t exactly accustomed to being someone’s sidekick or taking orders like this. It prickled his pride, but he grudgingly complied as he drew a couple of Batarangs.

Nightwing frowned as he watched Damian walk away. He had a very bad feeling they were walking directly into a trap, but there was little he could do about it at that moment. They were already in the building. He waited until Robin rounded a thick cement post, hoping he remembered his training and didn’t get himself hurt or captured. He had enough to worry about right now without adding anymore to it.

Tightening his grip on his escrima sticks, he slowly began to make his way through the dark building, the only light coming from the flashes of lightning from the thunderstorm outside that was besieging the city. “I’m coming in from the west,” Red Hood announced in Nightwing’s ear.

“It’s about time,” Nightwing grumbled in response.

“Hey, give me a break,” Red Hood retorted. “I was taking care of a couple of thugs over on Elm trying to hijack a pickup truck.”

“Glad to see you helping out for once,” Nightwing shot back.

“Gotta do something to keep myself occupied while Artemis is away,” he quipped. “Now, what have you found?”

“Nothing yet, but I don’t have a good feeling about this,” Nightwing revealed.

“Did O tip you off about this place?”

Nightwing peered around a piece of equipment, his eyes narrowing with the shifting shadows. “Yah…and she’s rarely wrong.”

“There’s always a first time for everything,” Hood said.

“Not her…not this time,” he told him.

“Why? What did you find?”

“You’re going to have to see it for yourself.”

“I’m headed to you,” Hood replied. “Don’t move.”

“Don’t plan on it,” Nightwing muttered in stunned disbelief, his hand going to his commlink. “Nightwing to Robin.”

Several moments passed by without a response causing Nightwing’s concern to rise. “Nightwing to Robin…respond.”

Dick’s panic was beginning to spike as several more moments passed before finally receiving a response. “What do you want?” Robin snapped.

“You are to respond right away when you are called,” Nightwing angrily ground out.

“I was doing what you told me to do,” he reminded him.

“I need you over here,” he stated. “Track my signal. We’ve got a body.”

“Finally,” Robin huffed in obvious annoyance. “I was beginning to think this was a complete waste. I’m on my way. Robin out.”

Nightwing grumbled under his breath as he slid his escrima sticks into the straps on his back as he silently crept closer. He crouched down next to the body to find it was a young man…probably in his early twenties, but it was somewhat difficult to determine due to the amount of torture he’d obviously endured.

It was one of the most gruesome sights that he’d encountered in quite some time and that was saying a lot after what’d dealt with over the years between Blüdhaven and Gotham. It looked as if it was a fresh kill and dump and he had a sneaking suspicion he knew who was behind it.

Hearing a gagging sound behind him, Nightwing turned to find Red Hood walking towards him. “What happened to this guy…if that really is a guy?”

“That’s what I’m trying to find out,” he told him with a frown as he turned his attention back to the body. “Whatever happened to him it was pretty ugly. He was beaten and tortured before being dumped here.”

Red Hood came to stand beside him, his hands coming to rest on his hips as his gaze wandered around the room. “And I assume it’s his own blood that was used to write those words on the wall.”

Nightwing looked to where Hood was pointing to find a message waiting for them. “Ha! Ha! Ha! This is just the beginning,” he read out loud, groaning. “There can only be one person behind this.”

Red Hood studied the body, catching sight of something. “What’s that laying beneath his left hand?”

Reaching across the body, Nightwing carefully lifted the left hand, picking up a Joker card. “I had a bad feeling it was Joker’s handiwork,” he spat out with derision.

“How did you know?”

Nightwing slowly shook his head. “Just a gut feeling.”

“Well, I guess you don’t need me here,” Hood decided, rubbing his hands together.

“Where’s the body?” Robin asked as he made his way closer.

Red Hood stepped aside, revealing the horrific sight. Robin was somewhat surprised to feel a sense of anger burning through his veins at the heinous act lying on the ground before him. It had to have been committed by a sick individual.

“Search this area for any clues that Joker might have left behind,” Nightwing told him.

“Joker did this?” Robin asked.

“Yah,” he informed him. “He left his calling card behind.”

“I’m going to search the area for anything else,” Red Hood interjected as he walked away, leaving Damian with Dick to handle the messy work.

“None of us will think any less of you if you’d rather join Red Robin on patrol,” Nightwing reassured him, his tone gentle as he gave him a way out of being here. “This can be pretty rough to handle.”

“I’m fine,” Robin insisted, lifting his chin in stubborn determination. “I’m not a child you know. I’ve seen death many times before. This isn’t new to me.”

Nightwing watched as Robin began to methodically work his way around the large room like he’d taught him to do, feeling the weight of responsibility of helping his younger brother deal with this if needed. He remembered how horrifying those initial cases had been when he’d first donned the Robin costume, accompanying Batman on some of the most horrific murders in Gotham.

He’d had nightmares for days after, but Bruce had helped him learn to cope with it…to focus on the clues and the task of finding the killer. He had taught him to remember that finding justice for the victim and the victim’s family was of utmost importance. He also recalled the overwhelming sense of pride that had filled him knowing that he was working to make a difference in the lives of the people around him by protecting the city and bringing a murderer to justice.

Dick couldn’t help but feel a subtle wave of nostalgia as warm remembrance washed over him. As much as he had resented Bruce at times…despite their difference, he couldn’t deny the fact that Bruce had instilled a real drive to fight for justice, to fight for those who could no longer fight for themselves. He’d taught him so much, helping to shape him into becoming the man that he was today.

And now, he had the chance to teach Damian those very same things while Bruce was gone.

Turning his attention back to the body lying on the floor before him, Dick had a nagging feeling this could turn into one of the biggest teaching moments that they’d ever encountered especially if Bruce never returned home. The thought caused his throat to tighten as he set to work finding out what the Joker was up to this time.

Themyscira; September 15th, 05:35 EST

Diana’s head was lowered in supplication as she prostrated herself before the alter that burned her sacrifice. She’d been here for hours pouring her heart out to her goddesses in hopes that one of them would provide her the answers that she so desperately needed right now in order to save Bruce from this nightmare.

So far, she had received no answers, the never-ending silence deafening and only adding to the panic that had become her constant companion since the moment her husband had vanished right before her eyes with her father. She hadn’t been able to hardly breathe since that moment.

She could feel her anger deepening and expanding in her chest, blossoming through the rest of her body. Why was this happening to them? All they had ever done was fight to preserve justice and right wrongs and this was how they were rewarded?

And now when she needed them the most, her goddesses were ignoring her continuous pleas for help. Deep down in her soul, she knew that she had no right to question their ways or allow her anger with her father to extend to her goddesses, but she was angry with everything and everyone right now.

She wanted a chance to face her father and unleash every ounce of hell he had put her and her family through because of all this. She could feel tears beginning to burn in her throat, fighting to escape, but she refused to allow them to fully form.

She was a warrior raised from the moment she drew her first breath and she would face this hellish nightmare with the same courage and strength. She refused to return home without her husband with her. Her children needed their father and she needed Bruce. They had so much more life to enjoy together, love to share and memories to make. She would never give up on him until her very last breath, knowing that he would do no less for her.

“Rise, Diana.”

Startled, the Amazon princess raised her head to find the goddess of love standing before her, tears instantly filling her eyes. “My lady Aphrodite,” she softly gasped. “I am truly honored that you have chosen to show yourself to me.”

“Diana, no need for such formality,” she gently said, extending her hand. “You fight daily in our name and make us proud.”

“Thank you, lady Aphrodite,” she replied, her chin falling to her chest as those pesky tears slipped down her cheeks. “I apologize for my tears, but my heart is breaking. My father Hades has taken my husband to the Underworld with him and I cannot reach him.”

“I have heard your prayers, my friend,” the beautiful goddess reassured her. “Unfortunately, I am unable to provide you any information regarding the dark hero who is your husband. The happenings of the Underworld are beyond our knowing.”

Diana lowered her head once more. “I understand, my lady,” she sadly choked out.

“While I we cannot meddle with the doings of the Underworld, I could send Hermes on a mission to check on your husband for you,” she offered her with a cunning smirk.

Diana’s head snapped up as an appreciation of renewed hope bloomed inside of her where despair had taken root. “You would do that for me?”

“Of course,” Aphrodite confirmed. “You have done much in our names and honor us daily with your works, Diana. It is the least that I can do for my friend.”

“If there is any information you can give, it would be greatly appreciated,” Diana replied. “The gate to the Underworld that rests below the island is currently blocked by stone. We’re working to remove all the destruction, but it’s taking a lot of time…time that I fear my husband does not have. Do you know if there are any more entrances to the Underworld?”

“Yes, there are four others,” the goddess revealed, her hands clasped before her. Her expression was somber at best, her eyes ablaze with regret as she pursed her lips. “I am afraid I cannot disclose those locations to you. Hera feels that it is something that you will need to find for yourself. This is a test for you, one that the gods are watching intently.”

Diana swallowed hard, using the backs of her hands to erase her tears. “I understand, my lady,” she softly said. “I will not stop until I bring my husband home where he belongs.”

The corner of Aphrodite’s lips twitched with mild amusement and understanding. “If anyone can perform such a feat, I know it is you, Diana,” she told her. “Please, do not lose hope. You are not alone in your quest to release your husband. While Hera has forbidden us to aid you, we will always be here to give you strength and wisdom and hope.”

“Thank you, my lady,” Diana said as she bowed her head once more. “It is far more than I could hope for.”

Aphrodite gently placed her hand beneath Diana’s chin, lifting her head up to meet her intense gaze. “You are very strong, Diana, and so is your husband,” she reminded her. “You chose your mate wisely. He is truly a remarkable man. Do not underestimate his abilities or his intense desire to return to you.”

Diana’s lips curled as fresh tears brimmed in her eyes as thoughts of Bruce flooded her mind. “I love him very much,” she confessed. “He is my heart and soul…my very life.”

The goddess of love’s smile was dazzling as the noonday sun as she gazed at the Champion of the Gods. “I know feels no less for you. You two share a love that is unbreakable. Remember that when things look bleak.”

“Thank you, Lady Aphrodite,” Diana managed to choke out, overcome by the wealth of warm emotions brimming inside of her. It gave her renewed strength and determination, an overpowering hope that she would see Bruce soon.

“You’re more than welcome,” the goddess replied. “I will appraise you of what Hermes finds as soon as he returns.”

“I would appreciate that very much.”

Aphrodite gently erased the tracks of Diana’s tears from her cheeks. “Now, go save your husband, princess.”

“Yes, my lady,” Diana said, feeling as though she could conquer the whole world with the hope that Aphrodite had given her. She momentarily closed her eyes, drawing in a deep breath in an effort to calm herself once more.

Opening her eyes, she found herself all alone once more. She quickly got to her feet, her fingers instantly curling into fists as she turned to leave the temple only to find her mother coming towards her. “Diana, are you all right?” the queen asked as she approached.

“I am fine,” she reassured her with a smile. “Aphrodite visited me, mother. She’s sending Hermes to the Underworld to check on Bruce for me. She also revealed that there are four other entrances to the Underworld. There are other possibilities if we can’t make it through the rubble in the next couple of days. We just have to find out where they are located.”

“That is such a relief,” Hippolyta agreed as she released an emotive breath of relief as she pulled her daughter into a tight embrace. “I’m so sorry you’re having to endure all of this especially after all that you’ve already been through.”

“It’s all right, mother,” she insisted. “I will succeed in getting Bruce back. It’s only a matter of time.”

“Come, my sun and stars,” Hippolyta told her as she released her hold on her, taking her by the hand. “You must be exhausted. You’ve been in here praying for hours. I finally convinced Artemis and Shayera to take a respite from their work. I have ten Amazons working on it as we speak.”

Diana tightened her hold on her mother’s hand in appreciation. “Thank you, mother. I’m going to get something to eat and then go help them.”

“Diana, you need to rest,” Hippolyta countered.

“I’ll rest when Bruce is home with me where he belongs.”

Looking up, Diana spotted Antheia walking towards them with a basket in hand as the morning sun rose over the horizon behind her. “Antheia!” Diana exclaimed, running to greet her. She wrapped her friend in a warm embrace, relieved to see that she had survived the civil war. “I’m so happy you’re all right.”

Antheia halfheartedly returned the princess’s embrace, tears shimmering in her eyes as she pulled away. “It is good to see you too, princess.”

Diana’s hands came to rest on Antheia’s shoulders as a frown formed on her face. “Antheia, what is it?”

The Amazon averted her eyes, finding it difficult to meet the princess’s intense, scrutinizing gaze. “It’s just been very hard lately,” she softly confessed.

“I’m so sorry, Antheia,” Diana told her, her voice choked with raw emotion threatening to break lose as it clawed its way up her throat. “I wish I could have been here to fight with you.”

“You should have been,” Antheia suddenly responded with a burst of anger, her green eyes alight with fury and resentment. “It’s partly because of you that we had to fight that war.”

“Antheia…it…it wasn’t my fault,” Diana attempted to tell her. “I was fighting Hades in Gotham. I had to keep him from trying to destroy the world. He took my husband from me.”

“And I lost my best friend,” Antheia revealed as tears streamed down her face. “Calliope is dead because of you…because you weren’t here to stop this war…because you went to Man’s World and married a mortal man and bore his children. I supported you…was happy for you…Calliope and I both were. We fought to protect the queen and the choices you made for your life and look what it cost us!”

“Antheia…” Diana gasped, rendered speechless by her words.

“Calliope is gone, and I’ll never see her again this side of the Elysium Fields,” she continued on, her breaths convulsing and shuddering as her grief consumed her. “Go back to your home, Diana. You’re not needed here.”

Diana watched in shock as one of her closest friends dashed away before she could respond. She felt as though she’d just been gutted, her heart splintering for the pain that her sisters were enduring. It was her fault no matter how anyone looked at it…no matter how anyone tried to justify it.

She had brought this derision and division upon her island home. This war was the product of her choices. She had been able to reconcile it at home in Gotham, away from where all the turmoil had taken place, but being here in the midst of the tumult and devastation only served to reopen the wounds that had yet to heal.