On the other-dimensional world of Venus, the beautiful, gossamer-winged Queen Desira heard the news about why Aphrodite had become a threat to Earth and now behaved more like Mars than a love goddess. She spoke via the magnetic hearing Wonder Woman’s earrings bestowed upon her.
“My child, I rejoice that the goddess is not in truth altered, but rather suffers under this foul spell,” she said. “That allows my people time to resist her demands of war. But how shall even a Wonder Woman stop a frenzied goddess?”
Diana replied quickly, “I have a plan based upon what I personally have experienced of the effects of this Stream of Ruthlessness, or Lethe water. The waters are addictive, and Aphrodite’s drink of the divine Lethe River water must be doubly so. She will have to drink again of the waters, and that means we know where to find her. We need to be ready to confront her there and prevent her from drinking of the waters. That will allow time for the effects to wear off.”
Desira frowned. “So you must beat her to Lethe River. Where is this magical stream?”
Diana replied, “In Hades’ domain — the other side, the Underworld.”
Queen Hippolyta whispered to Mala, “My daughter means to brave the very Underworld itself. She may bring the anger of other Olympians down upon her in her quest to end the madness of another.”
Mala, the demure blonde warden of Transformation Island, knew the dangers of dealing with criminals, yet she shuddered at the thought of her best friend dealing with an entire kingdom full of corrupt figures from countless eons.
Lyta Trevor sat with Helena Kosmatos. “You must not blame yourself for the actions you committed while under the spell of the Furies. It’s like someone else did the abduction, not Helena.” She held the woman’s hand and smiled. “I forgive you, and mother and daddy do as well. Please forgive yourself. You were a heroine in the 1940s and ’50s. You’ve done much good in your life.”
Helena gazed at the second woman to carry the name of Fury and smiled. “I thank you. The blood madness forced me to seek sanctuary here, because as a member of Team Justice, I found that the act of battle could produce the frenzy of the Furies. I hate that I brought their evil to this peaceful place.”
“Mother shall end the danger,” assured Lyta. “Trust her.”
“And what of you?” she asked. “You’ve lost those extra powers granted briefly by Desira, but you still wear the Wonder Girl costume.”
“It suits me during my pregnancy, for now,” said the determined blonde girl. “I need to figure out what role I’ll play in my own future — heroine, college student, mother, possibly wife. Plus, for now, I intend to help Mother settle this case.”
Steve Trevor was eager to finish this war against the beautiful goddess, and he wanted time with his son. He held young Troy and gently spoke to the bright infant. “Who’s going to be a famous pilot?” he cooed.
Diana entered and smiled at this scene of warmth. The platform hovered beneath her men and kept them from touching the isle. “Steve, it’s time. Paula has the transporter ready. I know you’ll insist on coming.”
Steve agreed with the woman he had loved for over forty years. “Take me to the river.”
Later, Princess Diana and Steve Trevor stood before a gaping crater that led down to the fabled Underworld of Hades. She had been there before and now faced the challenge calmly. He was more than a little anxious to see his wife safely through what terrors awaited them. Thus they lowered themselves down the sheer slope to a gateway of glowing metal.
“Nobody’s home. Guess we’d better come back later,” he joked nervously as she gripped the bars and tore them asunder.
“This is no time to be a gracious guest,” she said smiling as they marched on toward a hulking, three-headed dog.
“Cerberus!” she gasped. “He guards the entry path, but we cannot be delayed by his fierce manner.”
She looped her lasso around the beast’s snarling left head and pulled him aside as Steve Trevor raced by. She then released the rope and jumped over the creature’s snapping jaws with the agile grace of her namesake.
“Look, Angel — the river!” yelled Steve as he pointed to a steaming waterway.
“No, Steve, that’s not the correct one,” she explained. “You see before you the river Styx. We bypassed it by taking the shortcut. There in legend the ancient boatman brought the dead across its sacred depths in his boat.”
“So which river is right,” he asked, “the one to the far right?”
“No, that is Acheron, the river of fire,” she continued. “We need to venture deeper ahead to find the waters of Lethe.”
She raced forward, and he followed. It was a novel experience for him to be able to keep pace with her. For decades, she’d always had to carry him if he was to stay with her when she chose to run at top speed. Perhaps there were advantages to his altered condition, even with the occasional bout of identity crisis.
Now, as they reached the shores, she shivered even so near to the blazing Acheron behind them.
“That’s the one — I feel it,” Diana declared. “It flows or stirs like the Stream of Ruthlessness. This is the source of that powerful magic.”
“Indeed. Too bad you shan’t live long enough to taste its sweet intoxication again,” vowed the lethal Aphrodite as she appeared before them clad in her normal filmy tunic, but wearing a look of pure malice.
“Angel, I’ll hold her off!” cried Steve as he flung himself at the blonde.
“Mortal, you may carry the aura of a hero about you, as others do carry a tunic or cloak, but I shall never let one such as you soil my form!” she said.
He grabbed for her, only to find himself clutching mist as she teleported to the rear. She shoved him forward, and he plunged helplessly toward the waters of Lethe as her laughter rang out in the Stygian gloom.
“Hera, no!” cried Diana as she struggled with a weighty object that had been folded over her supple shoulders.
Then the gleaming lasso caught Trevor and jerked him to shore in seconds. Diana sighed with relief.
Meanwhile, Lyta Trevor danced a deadly ballet of battle as she darted between gleaming figures who surrounded her. She rolled under clutching arms and kicked her way through the golden automatons, which was made all the more difficult by the fact that she was nine months pregnant. “You golden girls are really getting on my last nerves!” said the pretty blonde as she shoved past another metal woman. “Mother warned me that I’d be fighting these artificial Barbie dolls, but I thought there’d be several of them, not dozens.” She sighed.
“Allow me to help you,” cried Helena Kosmatos as she landed beside the girl. The original Fury slammed her fists into the automatons and cried, “Go, Lyta! I’ll deal with them!”
Lyta grinned and gave a thumbs-up sign as she raced into the Temple of Hephaestus. “Hephaestus — hear the cries of the grandchild of Queen Hippolyta!” she called in the formal diction of the Amazons. “I beg you — aid me in this time of strife. Your past wife Aphrodite threatens the world entire!”
She knew Hephaestus to be the smith of the gods. He was the cunning craftsman who devised all the wonderful items they used day to day and took for granted. He had been the betrayed husband of Aphrodite, and Lyta prayed he retained some enmity for the Flower of Cyntheria.
Lyta frowned, as silence was all that greeted her efforts. “Look, she is under the spell of Lethe water!” she urged. “Please help us to cure her, if you still love her. Help us stop her, if you want to get even with her. Either way, you win!”
Finally, the hulking blacksmith of Olympus appeared. He was homely, yet carried a mighty upper torso on bent and damaged legs supported by golden braces.
“You are a fair nymph, as fair as any I’ve seen in eons,” said the god of the forge. “I’ll help you cure my fickle lover. I wish no evil toward her or her subjects… not after so long a time.”
Lyta smiled winningly. “I hoped you’d see it my way.”
Back at the River Lethe, Wonder Woman saved Steve Trevor from the cruel embrace of the water even as Aphrodite bent to drink from it.
Diana hurled her lasso around the goddess and said, “Let the truth set you free!”
Aphrodite was held firm, but she struggled fiercely. “This lasso came from my own girdle bequeathed to your mother. Its magic cannot affect me, but it may prove an annoyance!” she roared as her blonde curls tumbled wildly.
Steve pushed her flat and said, “Where’s Lyta? Time is running out — she’s unweaving the rope!”
Indeed, as Diana kicked her goddess back down, the rope’s fiber began to unwind at the command of the woman who first bestowed it upon Hippolyta as a girdle.
“I shall teach you both the meaning of betrayal!” she hissed as she reached out for the addictive waters.
“Lady, you’ll thank us for this one day,” groaned Steve as she broke free of his arms.
“Now I drink!” cried Aphrodite as she swallowed the waters anew.
Even as Steve shouted, “No!” Lyta, Helena, and Hephaestus appeared via the Olympian’s chariot.
“This shall hold her!” cried Lyta as she hurled a net to Diana.
Diana caught the gleaming web of magical metal and breathed the words, “Guide my arm, Athena.” She tossed the magical net at Aphrodite, who was too busy gulping the addictive waters of Lethe to notice before the magical net bound her head to toe and wrapped itself around her of its own will.
“What? Not again!” she cried.
Hephaestus nodded grimly. “Aye! ‘Tis the same magical net with which I once snared you and your lover Ares. It holds you tightly, even after eons.” He pulled the struggling goddess away from the waters. “I did not wish this,” he said. “In days, you shall return to your senses and thank us all for stopping you from a madness not of your choosing.”
Diana hugged Lyta as Steve gathered around them. “Excellent work, daughter,” said Diana.
“Helena helped me,” said Lyta. “I owe it to her, and the net was perfect for this job, just as you suggested when you sent me to fetch its maker.”
Steve hugged her. “Great job, little angel!”
“I am glad I redeemed myself in part,” said Helena. “As a classicist, I wish to remain here… with Hephaestus. He is lonely and kind and can teach me so much. It’s a scholar’s dream, and perhaps he can craft some cure for my own Fury-inspired attacks.”
Diana approached the sad blonde. “Be at peace, sister.”
They thanked the burly blacksmith, who tossed Aphrodite into his chariot and declared, “She shall be a prisoner for her own good, ere the waters run dry from her system and she craves more. This time I shall see that she does not partake. That will bring her back to her normal kind and loving ways.”
Wonder Woman, Steve, and Lyta departed eagerly.
“Well, you saved the world again,” said Steve.
Diana smiled. “I am only happy that our son is safe.”
Steve grinned and sighed. “Yeah, I have just enough time for a couple days with little Steve, and then I need to get back to Commander Steel.”
As they walked away from the Underworld, Diana dropped the package that had been upon her back. “Moley herb — enough to keep Circe from ever getting too close to the Lethe River again should she ever escape from her own isle prison,” explained Diana.
“I only hope poor Helena finds peace,” said Lyta.
Steve nodded. “Yeah. Poor woman. Maybe she will at that.”
Days later, in the Temple of Aphrodite on Paradise Island, a rebuilding process was underway when the gleaming goddess herself, cured of her madness, appeared before a startled group.
Queen Hippolyta stood before the goddess, holding her baby grandson. “I beg you to forgive us our conflict,” she pleaded.
Aphrodite smiled winningly. “‘Tis I who owe all my followers blessings and recovery from my madness. I value you all more than ever, for you have proven that Amazons can show love to even the goddess of love herself. As for this little one, he shall do great things and be cherished by all the Olympians, but most especially by the goddess of love and beauty. ‘Tis my unchanging decree that this male alone may safely and freely walk on Paradise Island without harming the magic thereof.” She touched the sleeping infant gently and smiled warmly.
The sun rose, and a new day dawned on Paradise Island.