Wonder Woman: It’s a Wonderful Life, Chapter 4: My Fair Pharaoh

by Libbylawrence

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Wonder Woman had placed a tiny mental radio where the synthetic mind of Sheena, her artificial double, was located. This allowed her to remain physically at home while she still saw, heard, and reacted with considerable power to all her twin saw or experienced.

She used those skills, especially her piloting ones, as her invisible plane was attacked high over the Nile Valley. “By Aphrodite’s Girdle!” she cried as a swarm of small pyramid-shaped drones swooped down to blast at the plane from all sides.

The woman’s amazing agility and piloting skills allowed her to steer a course through the deadly barrage while avoiding most hits. The amazonium that my plane is composed of can resist almost any type of attack, but Aknaten’s lost science could throw me for a loop, if I’m not careful, she thought. That brilliant, if mad pharaoh is one of my most dangerous foes!

She knew that as her plane responded to her mental commands, it made this a dance of mental acuity as much as a regular piloting task. Fortunately, she was as gifted mentally as she was well-endowed physically. She spun around in a dizzying move that would have wrenched most planes apart, yet left her own astonishing craft unharmed. By threading a needlelike flight path through the deadly rays, she managed to position them so that they shattered one another.

The sandals of Hermes could hardly equal the speed my plane displayed, but I’d better put a fast finish to this now! she thought as she ordered the plane to hover. Dropping down the rope ladder, she swung down from it to stand defiantly before an ornate structure.

“A pyramid? How original,” she mocked as she walked toward the looming structure.

She was soon met by ten howling, slavering jackals. “His pets are as keen as ever. They think I’m some shapely chew toy!” she laughed, and raced forward to meet the charging pack head on.

Wonder Woman jumped over their heads and whipped out her magic lasso. She spun it around rapidly, sending a regular whirlwind of swirling sand to blind and sweep back the animals. “This is better than actually harming them,” she said. “They have done nothing but fall under the sway of a lethal master.”

“As has your beloved Trevor!” laughed Aknaten.

Diana Trevor saw the Steve Trevor of Earth-One dressed as a warrior of the lost dynasty, while around him stood similarly costumed thugs. Their regal enslaver sat on a throne as Wonder Woman looked up at him and said, “Prepare to go back to your tomb for another century or so!”

Turning to her husband’s counterpart, she said, “Steve, fight him! You know he’s evil!” But Steve merely stood in blond impassiveness.

“Thou canst no more reach his ebon-nighted mind than you couldst wrest my throne from me!” said Aknaten. “I rule anew, and your mate is but the first to realize how strongly commands a son of Ra!

Diana frowned. “You seek to kill all life and lord over a wasteland. That is hardly a mark of true nobility,” she said. “Only by protecting and teaching one’s subjects can one be worthy of a royal title.”

Aknaten laughed bitterly. “This from a princess of a race whose power was wasted in isolation, while my reign lasted for thousands of years!

True power is in restraint, not in cruel and purposeless displays of ego and malice!” countered Diana.

“Oh, thou comely and fullsome child, know ye not that all I do has a divine purpose?” said Aknaten. “Such as feeding you to my pet!” At that, he pushed a button that caused the earth to open beneath the amazing Amazon.

Diana dropped down into a pit, where she landed agilely on her high-heeled boots, then looked up to find herself facing a hulking, inhuman brute. It was a sandy-skinned giant with eyes that did not reflect light nor even reacted to sand or other impediments. He sniffed and turned toward her with a menacing growl.

“He seems blind, yet that reaction leads me to assume he can track me!” she said as she moved out of his way.

“A product of the genetics work of my reign!” called down Aknaten. “Your modern science has yet to discover secrets lost from my time!

Diana danced aside and kicked the brute’s arm away. “He has mass, but not the intellect to use his power!” she said. That links him with many a bully and dictator I’ve beaten, she thought.

Having observed him in action, Wonder Woman charged forward and allowed herself to be swept up in a crushing embrace. She gasped at first, and then as she found her leverage, she swung both legs up, and with them placed flat against her foe’s chest, she suddenly thrust out and sent him tumbling down. After delivering a swift blow, she reeled back as she was struck by his long arms.

He could match me muscle for muscle in the power department, she thought. I’m glad he lacks the mind to plot a real battle plan!

She rolled beneath his spread legs and twisted out to spin him down again. A kick to the face left him stunned long enough for her to catch him in her magic lasso and spin him up and around until he erupted from the pit to crash directly into Aknaten’s troops.

“Well done, my leggy beauty!” said a clapping Aknaten. “Yet I fear you also have fallen victim to a common error. You relied upon brute strength, while one with an elevated mind played with you!” he said as she leaped up to stand before him.

“Come, now!” she said. “I have beaten your weapons, your men, your poor monster. What more need I do to show you that you’ve lost again?”

Aknaten smiled. “I sent Trevor and my other pawns to retrieve certain possessions of my own from the world’s relic collections. When assembled, these items allowed me to construct a formula you may recall…”

Wonder Woman looked at the regal madman. “Your aeropyramic gas! Such was the name Steve gave to the poison you favored!” she said, frowning.

“Indeed!” he said. “While you thought the formula had been forever lost after our last battle, you were sadly and naively mistaken. I secreted the potion in many of my treasures. Art and function, as they say!” He laughed maniacally. “This little battle and Trevor’s enslavement all served naught but to delay you while I launch my projectile into orbit and rain death down upon this world!”

Wonder Woman whirled and raced toward the one structure that had to house the rocket-like device. An ornate obelisk loomed high above them all. The scenes on its sides showed the glories of Aknaten’s long dynasty. Yet, true to his boast, the artwork merely concealed the super-science that could well end all life on Earth with his terrible, atmosphere-altering poison.

Diana ran like a graceful huntress, and never had even her mythical namesake shown such speed and beauty in relentless motion. She jumped as the obelisk blasted off with terrible yet soundless fury. She clawed her way to a precarious handgrip on the soaring missile and fought as winds slammed into her. “Hera give me strength!” she muttered and desperately released one hand to grab for her golden lasso.

Even as the superb athlete fought her way skyward, she commanded her powerful plane to zoom near, and she looped one end of the magic lasso to the plane while hurling the other around the giant rocket. “Thank Hera for the elasticity of the lasso!” she said as she jumped for the plane and anchored her athletic form.

She ordered the vehicle to force the missile away from its intended orbit and use the gravitational pull of the sun and Diana’s own might to attract the deadly projectile into a burning destruction in the star.

Wonder Woman dropped back from the plane to bring an end to Aknaten’s newest scheme and free poor Steve Trevor of Earth-One from his mental enslavement.

“You vex me!” cried Aknaten. “I little thought you could stop me. I must give you credit. This battle is yours.”

All battles shall ever be won by those who are guided by love!” said Diana.

Aknaten sneered. “Trite. Could a princess of a race as long-lived as yours possibly avoid clichés?

She grabbed him and said, “Sorry — next time I’ll hire a bard.”

Ah, but you forget Trevor!” said Aknaten. “Slay her, my pawn!”

Steve Trevor moved forward and lifted a long scepter.

“Steve, don’t!” she cried.

But Steve instead fired directly at Aknaten’s shocked and pained expression. “You resisted me? But how?” gasped the pharaoh as he fell to the sand.

“I was never truly under your spell, you foolish usurper!” sneered Steve in a regal tone. “I serve the one you deposed eons ago by base treachery, when you bore a different name and were but a high priest with delusions of better things! Still, you misled our people and turned them against us, claiming that we had given you too much knowledge, causing the human mind to stagnate! Then you tricked me and my bride into depleting our cosmic energy, then had the people shut us away in a tomb during a time we were drained of our powers! (*) Oh, I know it all, foolish one… foolish Anankh. I know how you then assumed a regal name — Aknaten — and used the very science we brought here, which you claimed was dangerous for humanity, and used it to rule Egypt yourself for an age!

[(*) Editor’s note: See “This War Has Been Cancelled,” Wonder Woman #231 (May, 1977).]

“It was inevitable when I arrived in this realm that my lost queen would sense it,” continued Steve. “She instructed me to encounter you as if by chance during one of your robberies — to be enslaved and thus draw near enough to pay you back after eons for your betrayal! You lose, little man! We merely allowed you to gather our science together that we may better dominate this strife-filled world!”

“Great Hera, no!” cried Wonder Woman as she was enclosed in a gleaming pyramid.

“No, not great Hera — rather, immortal Osira!” cooed a sultry woman who appeared and kissed the enslaved Steve Trevor as they laughed at Diana and the fallen Aknaten.

Osira was a beautiful woman dressed in golden bracelets and sandals. Her outfit was skimpy, almost filmy, yet fitting for an alien who had once ruled Egypt in the forgotten past. Her mate Hefnakhti had resembled Steve Trevor, and she had never quite shaken the notion that it would be through him that he could live anew. Even though she was powerful enough to enslave the Justice Society of America back in 1943, she had been beaten by Wonder Woman, who had convinced her to shed her mortal coil and join Hefnakhti in the afterlife. (*) Yet she was obviously back in her physical form and more powerful than ever.

[(*) Editor’s note: See “A Duel of Gods,” Wonder Woman #232 (June, 1977).]

Diana, in the android body of Sheena, slammed her fists helplessly against the glowing pyramid that imprisoned her. She recalled such force-fields from her past encounter with the space princess.

“Wonder Woman, I am glad you are witness to my reunion with my beloved!” said Osira as she approached the pyramid prison and caressed the clear side near Diana’s face. “I also allow you life enough to witness my successful efforts to bring peace to this world!”

“I tried to show you once before that mankind must make its own decisions regarding peace or war,” said Diana. “If you make such a choice for them, it robs them of the value and virtue of self-government!”

Osira laughed and said, “I am a queen. I know what is best for all my subjects, be it on this world or throughout space itself. The Steve Trevor who now fulfills me came from one such alternate Earth, did he not? He is more receptive to my magic than his predecessor!”

Diana frowned. Perhaps this Steve originated on Earth-S, as the other Diana told me during the Crisis. (*) Her first Steve died twice before! Earth-S is a realm with strong magic, so it’s no wonder this Steve who left that world for Earth-One is so much under her spell!

[(*) Editor’s note: See Mary Marvel: Times Past, 1980: Prelude to Odyssey.]

“We shall bring peace by a simple method,” said Osira. “There can be no war if all efforts are needed merely for survival. Thus we shall destroy all of the world’s weapons and natural resources. From such hardship shall come progress!” Steve smiled as she kissed him.

Diana removed her tiara and hurled it at the pyramid, but with no effect. It merely bounced back to her hand. The plane may help, she mused.

She summoned the invisible plane from above and directed it to crash into the pyramid. Shattering the energy field, it remained undamaged. Wonder Woman raced forward to challenge the sultry ruler. “Osira, give me right of combat!” she demanded. “If I win, you leave!”

Osira smiled. “Granted… Yet, on second thought, you know that I feel it would demean one such as I to soil myself in contact with you. Let me send forth a champion of my own!” She waved one elegant hand, and a woman stepped out of the glowing pyramid behind Osira.

She had long black hair, but it was wildly disheveled. The shiny locks hung down across her face and also fell in a wild mass to the side. Her eyes of blue were devoid of reason or intellect. An animalistic growl came from her throat. Her face and hands were dirty. She wore a ragged, torn costume of faded red, gold, and blue. An eagle pattern could be seen faintly beneath grime and soiled stains. Her shorts were torn and resembled a jagged bikini more than a true garment. She was barefooted, and her movement, though capable of grace, seemed more like that of a snarling, crouching beast.

Diana gasped as she saw her exact twin. “Athena’s Helm! That’s the Wonder Woman of some other Earth!”

The savage Diana charged her shocked counterpart.

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