by Starsky Hutch 76 and Tynnechris
In Georgetown, Wonder Woman stared at the loudly snoring form of the man she used to think of as her husband. She had no idea where he had been that night. Frankly, she didn’t want to know. He smelled of alcohol and smoke, with faint traces of perfume. There were small spatters of blood upon his tunic that were not his own. Obviously, he had celebrated a night of his unique brand of crime-fighting with a night of carousing.
Despite whatever Ares might have told her, Diana knew in her heart that this was not the man she had married. Steve Trevor was a true hero in every sense of the word. People said the same about the Odysseus of old, but they also said the same about Heracles. Her mother would be willing to tell anyone of the truth to those stories.
Diana gave a sad, weary sigh. He was much taller and larger of frame now, with muscle packed upon muscle. He was as large as Superman, if not larger. Yet while asleep, there was still so much in his face that reminded her of Steve when he was young, because it was not twisted with arrogance, vanity, and rage. It hurt to look at him now.
She rose from the large bed they shared and went to her closet for her suitcase. After packing a few belongings, she walked out to the backyard where her invisible plane stood waiting. Soon, this situation would have to be resolved. But until then, Odysseus was too painful a reminder of the man she had loved. The invisible plane left the ground and took to the air away from the home the Trevor family had lived in together for so many years.
Lyta Trevor lit the incense in the large bronze bowl that sat upon the recently constructed dais and spoke the secret words of summoning Amazons used to commune with their gods as she had seen her mother do so many times before. Unlike her mother, she did not truly worship the Olympians but simply thought of them as powerful beings like any other she had encountered in her career as the heroic Fury, member of Infinity Inc. If it were not for current circumstances, she might never have used this small temple she had constructed in her home. Until now, it had simply been there to make her mother happy.
A cloud of smoke appeared above the bronze bowl, and an image formed. “I am surprised to see you standing before me,” Athena said. “I did not think you had much use for the gods of your mother.”
“I’m concerned for my father,” Lyta said. “Since his transformation, he’s hardly been himself. It’s as though he’s possessed.”
“The spirit within the powerful frame of Odysseus is the same one that was there before. It is still that of Steve Trevor.”
“I know Ares told my mother that Odysseus and my father were one and the same,” Lyta said with a voice cracking with emotion, “that my father was the reincarnation of Odysseus, but I cannot believe that that’s the man who raised me!”
“My father was a hero. He was decorated for valor in World War Two!”
“Many songs were written of the valor of brave Odysseus as well.”
“He sure doesn’t behave like a hero,” Lyta sniffed.
“Nevertheless, he was. You must understand that Odysseus was the product of a different time. In those days, the influence of Mars could be felt heavily upon the land. To a certain extent it still can, but not to the degree it was in those ancient times. As man’s weapons became more and more world-threatening, Zeus has decreed that his son’s influence would not be so great. This, of course, angered him, and as a result your mother has come into conflict with him on a few occasions. Still, that is another story.
“The spark of nobility was still in Odysseus in those times. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have been able to accomplish what he did. But Mars laid heavy in his heart. And now he does again.”
“How can I help him?” Lyta pleaded.
“For your father to be as he was, you must overcome this influence and reawaken that which made him the man known as Steve Trevor.”
“I’ll try,” Lyta said. “Thank you, goddess.”
How to do it, though, was the real question.
UltraCorp press release in the Daily Star:
In the months following the devastating multiversal Crisis, we still have only begun to repair the vast damage done to our world by the battles. Metropolis, seemingly always a target, was hit hard as any city. It is time that we rose above the wreckage and become the city of tomorrow once more.
To that end, we are proud to announce the debut of UltraCorp — tomorrow’s technologies for today’s troubles. We vow to bring radical innovations in technology to improve the condition of our city and the world. We draw our inspiration from the radical heroics that saved our world and others from destruction. Our hand-picked team of new experts, unknown to the world at large due to their wildly original theories and inventions, will soon startle and amaze you.
Our grand opening reception will be held in a week’s time on Friday at 5:00 PM. We invite you to glimpse the future.
A laboratory below the UltraCorp Building:
“Our agents tell us that Blitzkrieg has managed to locate more of the isotopes,” said Alexis Luthor. “They were in the location you said they would be, but untouched. Another example of your looking to the parallel world for leads?”
“You begin to know me too well,” growled the Ultra-Humanite.
“So these isotopes lead to… clay-forming power?” clarified Alexis. “What an odd concept, though no more bizarre than any.”
“More potent than that old fool the Plastic Man, to be sure.”
“Recruitment goes well, on both levels. Are you sure that this Baron’s experiments will keep the public fooled?”
“I have no doubt,” said Ultra. “And if they don’t, he knows that I’m one of the few smart enough to catch and kill him.”
“I can’t get over this,” said Alexis, looking all around at the impressive-looking, well-equipped laboratory she was standing in. “It’s falling into place so well. Perhaps this is what kept Father scheming for years?”
“It is… stimulating to me as well,” said the Ultra-Humanite, staring only at her.
“Are you all right?” asked Alexis, turning around suddenly. “Your breathing is so heavy.”
“Pay it no mind,” said Ultra. “Even this mutant primate form of mine tires eventually. Take your leave now, Alexis. The lab perimeters must be ready for our recruits.”
“At once.” Alexis Luthor left the chambers of the world’s currently greatest sapient.
The Ultra-Humanite let out a breath he had been holding and lumbered over to his resting place. The main problem had been that so many of the Kryptonian’s old foes were old, dead, or missing, and those that fought him as a JSAer were usually distracted by the blasted team, and the Humanite was guilty of this sin himself. But there would be time for the teams — the whelps and the veterans — once the main threat was dealt with and their power base was established.
Speaking of establishing power, I must see how our new key to the future of the world is doing. With that thought, the Ultra-Humanite opened the way to his most secret lab. Inside, servos hummed and lights flashed, while several delicate tools were weaving golden metal around a feminine frame next to a tank where a serene albino female ape resided in stasis, glowing softly. The eyes on the golden woman-shaped machine gleamed to life.
“It comes close to my time, Humanite.”
“I know, Mekanique. I know.”
Odysseus swaggered drunkenly up the front steps of the JSA Brownstone. He tried the handle of one of the front doors, but it was locked. No matter for one such as him. He shot his palms forward, giving the doors a small push. The lock shattered, and the twin oak doors fell from their hinges.
“I’m here for my wife!” he bellowed.
Before him stood the gathered forces of the Justice Society of America. Even Superman, supposedly retired, was there, as were the super-powered whelps they had taken in. “Come, woman,” he ordered. “It is time to return home. To my side — now.”
“No,” Wonder Woman said. “You are not my husband.”
“Have you taken leave of your senses, woman?” Odysseus said indignantly. “Your husband stands before you! And he demands that you return to his home and to his bed!”
“The lady doesn’t want to!” Hourman said.
“Careful, Tyler,” Odysseus warned. “Be this your hour of power or not, you will still fall before the might of Odysseus’ sword.”
“That sounds like a threat!” said Johnny Thunder, recently returned from an cancelled trip to Badhnisia. (*) “C’mon, guys! Let’s show this long-hair that we don’t take that sort of thing lying down!”
[(*) Editor’s note: See Secret Origins: The Secret Origin of Kiku, Epilogue: A No-Show.]
“That won’t be necessary,” Superman said, stepping forward. “We’re all adults here, and we can discuss this rationally. Go home, Steve. You and Diana can discuss this later. For the time being, Diana’s staying here.”
Suddenly, it became clear to Odysseus, and he began to see these men for who they truly were. These weren’t heroes, as he had been led to believe. They were the suitors who had believed him dead and sought to plunder his estate and woo his wife — the same suitors who razed his fields of their bounty of wheat, drank his wine, slaughtered his prize goats and cows, and nearly deprived his son Telemachus of his birthright. Well, he slew them once, and he would slay them again — a million times over, if he had to.
Odysseus charged forward, bellowing with rage as his fist connected with Superman’s jaw. “Faithless harlot! You would make easier the job of those who would seek to take what is mine?”
Superman’s eyes rolled back in his head, he teetered on his heels for a few seconds, and then he fell flat on his back, much to the amazement of everyone in the room.
“Holy–!” Wildcat gasped. “He laid out Superman! I ain’t seen nobody do that since Captain Marvel!”
“Yes!” Odysseus challenged. “I truly am a marvel! All who oppose me shall soon discover they’ve risen to far too great a challenge, as you did when you sought to steal my Penelope from me.”
“Who’s this Penelope he’s going on about?” Wildcat asked Doctor Mid-Nite.
“His wife when he was the king of Ithaca,” explained Mid-Nite. “He’s become unhinged and thinks he’s back living in those times.”
“Oh, great! We’ve got another super-powered nutcase to worry about. Well, nothing to do but keep him distracted so the big guns can take him out.”
“Ted, wait!” Doctor Mid-Nite called out. “Aw, hell. He’s been spending entirely too much time with the Atom.”
Wildcat charged forward, delivering a flying side-kick to Odysseus’ head. “Jeez!” he yelled. “It’s like kicking a brick wall!”
“Idiot!” Odysseus cried, grabbing him by the neck. “I have slain real jungle cats with my bare hands! How did you hope to beat me?”
Hourman ran forward forward, trying to rescue his comrade, and received a backhanded slap for his troubles, which knocked him unconcious.
“Let him go!” Wonder Woman shouted.
“You would defend these swine?” Odysseus shouted back in outrage. “Very well, woman. Agree to come home now, or I will snap his neck.”
“OK,” she said in resignation. “You win. Just let him go.”
“Diana, no,” Doctor Mid-Nite said.
“I have no choice,” she said. “Look in his eyes. He’ll murder him.”
“When a man slays one who would come between him and his wife, it is not murder,” Odysseus said. “It is justice.”
He lifted Wildcat up to look into his eyes. “Never forget to whom you owe your life. If not for my mercy, you would surely die today.” With a toss, he sent him flying into Doctor Mid-Nite.
“Now, woman, come,” he ordered, holding out his hand.
“Not so fast,” the Atom said, charging forward to deliver an atomic-powered punch, which sent the transformed Steve Trevor flying through a wall.
“Are all of you fools suicidal?” Odysseus said, crawling out of the mass of splintered wood and sheet-rock.
“Nah,” a boy’s voice said from the side. “We just don’t appreciate you hitting my dad.”
Before Odysseus could turn to see who had spoken to him, a fist connected with the side of his head that left him seeing stars. He reached out blindly, trying to grab whoever dealt such a punishing blow. But the person in his grip was much smaller and softer than he had expected. “You dealt that blow?” he said to the small redhead. “But I cannot strike a girl!”
“Too bad,” Coral responded. “Because I sure don’t mind hitting boys!” She reared back and punched him square in the nose, forcing him to lose his grip.
A Berzerker’s rage came into his eyes, and she began to back up in fear. Then he was distracted by a tapping on his shoulder. “That punch you were talking about? It came from me. Here’s another.” Yet another punch landed on his head, and Odysseus saw more stars. He could barely make out the blue-clad chest of a boy with an S insignia like that of the man he had rendered unconscious. “You caught my father off-guard,” said Superboy, anger in his voice. “You won’t be so lucky with me.”
“Good job, kid!” the Atom said. “Now let’s double-team him!” The two of them delivered a simultaneous punch that sent him flying out the door.
Odysseus struck the street outside in a shower of pavement. He rose up out of the crater left from his impact with rage burning in his eyes. “Now you all die,” he growled.
“You look upset,” a youthful voice said. “How about a hug?”
Odysseus’ eyes widened with shock as a brown-and-black-clad boy threw his arms around him. He was even more shocked when he found himself enveloped in a massive explosion.
As the explosion faded, Damage was equally shocked to discover Odysseus unscathed and amused. “How nice,” Odysseus said. “In return for your hug, I shall give you a love tap.” He tapped Damage lightly on the head. With his super-strength, it was enough to knock the boy unconscious.
“Who else?!” he called out to the JSA Brownstone. “Who else dares challenge the might of Odysseus?”
Odysseus turned and was startled to see his daughter Fury standing behind him.
“Daughter?” Odysseus said with outrage. “You, too, would betray me?”
“This can’t go on, Father,” she said.
“I quite agree! If you feel thusly, then enjoin upon your mother to venture forth from the lair of our enemies! She would dare accept the hospitality of these false suitors! I am not yet dead in my grave, and they would steal from me and rob your brother Telemachus of his birthright!”
“Telemachus is dead!” Fury cried out in aggravation.
“They have slain him?” Odysseus said, horrified. “There’s no end to their perfidy!”
“No!” she cried, stepping forward and taking his hands. “He’s been dead for centuries. Can’t you see? You’re confused!”
“I’ve never been more sane!” he shouted. She could feel his grip on her hands tightening. The look in his eyes was one she did not recognize. Though a fighter, her father had always been one of the most gentle men she had ever known with her.
She could feel the knuckles of her hands rubbing against one another. His strength was forcing her to her knees. It was the first time in her memory he had ever been stronger than her. The only time as a child she had flaunted her superior strength when he tried to reprimand her, the hurt in his eyes had left her so ashamed that she had sworn she would never do so again. Afterward, she always wished that he would be stronger than her, too, like other fathers were with their children. Now that moment was here, but it was horrifying.
“Stop…” she gasped, squinting through tears.
“You will obey me, child!”
“Daddy!” Lyta cried out. “You’re hurting me!”
The rage suddenly vanished from his face and was replaced with a look of horror. “Ohh… my little angel…” He dropped to his knees and took her in his arms. “My little angel… I’m so sorry.”
Lyta Trevor threw her arms around her father’s neck and sobbed into his shoulder. Inside the brownstone, where the heroes were staggering to their feet, Wonder Woman also wept. Lyta had her father back. And Diana had her husband.