Before Wonder Woman could truly pin her fallen foe, the arena was filled with giant beings of various natures and appearances. She recognized one woman who stood before the group of intruders. “Iris, the goddess of strife!” she gasped.
Iris cackled madly. “‘Tis so. I grew tired of being an outcast here among pretty flowers like Aphrodite of the ivory thigh and Athena of the flashing eyes. Thus I brooded alone until my mind was touched by those who shared my disfavor. They lent me power from their place of imprisonment until I could manipulate the others, even Zeus himself, into giving in to their basic natures. They always were contentious and adversarial to one another, and I nudged them into staging this combat. While they gathered here, I freed my allies. Now we have conquered all the Olympians while they sat gazing at the spectacle of your game!”
Wonder Woman saw how still and inert the Olympians had become. Zeus, Hera, Mars, Hermes, and all the rest registered no emotion. “By Aphrodite’s golden girdle!” she gasped. “You’ve freed the Titans!”
Zha-Vam rose and stared wide-eyed at the colorful group of startling figures. “The Titans are freed, and doom has fallen upon us all!” he gasped.
“Never declare hope is lost!” said Wonder Woman. “Iris, you betrayed your own people by freeing the Titans. They were imprisoned eons ago by Zeus himself.”
“I act upon spite, as is my nature,” said Iris. “If they suffer for their neglect of me, then I little care by what means their pain arises!”
A bald Titan in black said, “I, Coeus, shall keep our unfaithful children the Olympians locked within their stupor, for the very gifts of thought and memory come from me and my sister!”
“Perhaps this will persuade you otherwise!” said Wonder Woman, moving with the speed and agility that had long been her birthright as she looped her golden lasso over the pale, gaunt Coeus. “I command you to free Zeus and the others!” she said.
Coeus frowned and then laughed as he did the unthinkable. He snapped the golden lasso in half and then returned it to its glittering wholeness after stepping out of it. “It is a girdle of truth, is it not?” he said. “And does not all thought govern what we deem to be true?”
Hyperion, a red-maned hulk, said, “I shall char this wench to ashes!”
Zha-Vam jumped between Wonder Woman and the fiery Titan and said, “You shall not harm her while I still live!”
Thia tossed back her long red curls and said, “Then allow me to end your cursed life now!” Fire blazed around them, but Diana smothered it with her reclaimed spinning lasso.
“Winds are mine to control, little pretty!” said the fat Titan called Crius. A hurricane-like blast of air knocked Wonder Woman backward as she relentlessly struggled forward.
“Her spirit impresses me!” declared the oldest Titan. His name was Cronus, and he had ruled these twelve as Zeus ruled the Olympians. “I say thee nay! We shall not kill them. We shall merely give them the same gift we have been given or have claimed for ourselves by sheer power. Namely, we shall allow them to live life anew.”
Energy bathed over the pair of heroes, and they blinked through the golden field of energy to see a green field.
“By Z–!” began Zha-Vam. He then muttered, “Strange… I know not what I was going to say. Some name I was going to invoke escapes me.”
Diana ran one hand through her hair and frowned. “What odd raiment I wear. This golden bird upon my chest signifies what?”
The magically enchanted pair had no memory of their names or their pasts. They wandered aimlessly through the flowers and sunshine until night began to fall.
Zha-Vam took her hand. “We truly be the only ones within this land!”
“It is lovely here,” said Diana. “The stars themselves shine with a luster I can only marvel at. Yet I know nothing of their names or even my own name.”
“Nor do I know my name or purpose,” said Zha-Vam. “Yet in your company I find hope that all will right itself. I feel drawn to you. We be soul mates in some manner.”
Wonder Woman nodded. “I feel the same attraction, yet I also feel as if I am incomplete in some manner.” She turned her head slightly as he leaned over to kiss her. His lips brushed her cheek, and she leaned closer to him while fighting to recall just who or what memory eluded her.
“Rest in my arms, my angel!” said Zha-Vam.
“Angel… something about that name stirs me,” she whispered.
Later, yet exactly how much later was difficult to determine, since this realm seemed oddly timeless except for the coming of day and night, Diana suddenly shivered as a memory of a face reached her clouded mind. “Steve! By the gods, Steve! I recall all now!” she said, noticing that her lasso had looped over one arm as she had dozed, and she wondered if some murmured command in her sleep had awakened the truth.
She quickly put one end of the lasso around Zha-Vam’s hand and said, “Remember all by the power of Aphrodite!”
Zha-Vam gasped as he also regained his memory. “By Zeus!” he cried. “Had you not possessed yon golden lasso, we might have remained as identity-robbed innocents for all time!”
“True,” said Wonder Woman. “Now we have much to do and many things to make right. I suggest we try to find our way out of this realm.”
“While the Titans banished us and gave us amnesia, they did not cut off our Olympian-born powers,” said Zha-Vam. “Thus I may draw upon the power of Veritas to guide us truly to freedom.” And he pressed a button on his belt marked with the letter V.
Wonder Woman followed the large man, and she admired Zha-Vam’s courage and skill. She also felt qualms of guilt about the kiss she had shared with him. Steve would be so hurt by that act, she thought. My memory was gone, but I still feel as if I betrayed his good, gentle nature.
They emerged suddenly from heavy fields of flowers and clover and saw the columns of Mount Olympus. “We are at the foot of the home of the Olympians,” said Zha-Vam. “Some dimensional portal has opened before us.”
“The challenge of freeing the Olympians and imprisoning the Titans again will be far greater than the mere wrestling match we originally agreed to!” said Wonder Woman. The amazing Amazon conferred hastily with Zha-Vam, and then they began to climb the fabled mountain.
“Princess, our foes are mighty, yet I feel exhilaration at battling them by your side!” said Zha-Vam.
“You remind me of my husband, Steve,” said Wonder Woman. “He has your enthusiasm.”
Zha-Vam nodded slowly. “This Steve be a man more valued in the eyes of others to have been smiled upon so by fortune herself!”
Diana smiled and replied, “I’ve always felt that I was lucky to have him.” She had never agreed with his involvement with the Suicide Squad and had vowed several times to try to end his ties to the government team and its manipulating leader, Commander Steel. But Steve had always told her that he was needed as a moderating force to keep those under his watch safe, and that she needed to trust his judgment. Reluctantly, she had agreed, and over the past several months she had seen that situation change. Now that he was no longer Odysseus, General Steve Trevor had taken on a quite different role with Steel’s organization as a government liaison. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See The Suicide Squad: Path of the Immortal.]
Wonder Woman now noticed the odd stillness and observed that all of Olympus was empty. “They must still be trapped in the arena,” she said. “I pray we may free them and restore the proper order.”
“As do I,” said Zha-Vam. “Although I would risk much to remain alone with you!”
Wonder Woman ignored his romantic comments. She was sorry if his attraction to her had grown, but she loved only Steve Trevor, and in spite of the kiss she had shared with Zha-Vam, she would never change the way she felt about her husband or her children.
At once they were surrounded by the Titans. The twelve immortals loomed around them, and their powers were almost palpable. They radiated confidence, and Diana wondered deep inside if she had even the slightest chance to win over such deadly enemies and their ancient malice.
Cronus spoke for his siblings. “Diana and Zha-Vam, you surprise me. You cast aside a paradise of our making in order to defy us! You would risk your very existence to oppose us?”
Iapetus, the earth Titan, rumbled in amusement. “Truly, these spawn of our children are full of depths unknown! I would see more amusement from their kind.”
“I would rather burn them all to illuminate our glory!” said Hyperion.
“Yet it is ever my right alone to command,” said Cronus, “and I say thee nay!”
“Noble Cronus, I appeal to your sense of justice,” said Wonder Woman. “Good Coeus, heed the words of truth. You were wronged by Zeus, but must the cycle of injustice continue its deadly spinning like Ixion’s wheel? Free your heirs and rule here jointly. The world has much changed since your days of power. You said our courage had pleased you. I tell you that there are teeming millions of mortals on Earth with equal passion and merit. Do not injure them by this crusade of spite. You are larger in form than Iris and the others. Be larger in spirit as well!”
Zha-Vam smiled. “Well spoken, Princess!”
Cronus nodded. “Indeed. You have passion, and you move me, but only so far. I offer you a challenge, daughter of the Olympians. We shall awaken our errant children if you perform six labors of our choosing.”
“Agreed!” said Zha-Vam. “I shall accompany her!”
Diana nodded eagerly. “Thank you, Cronus! I accept your challenge!”
Cronus smiled. “I suspected you would. Still, the time of the labors will be determined by me. Thus, for now I return you to your Earth and leave Zeus and his ilk to slumber onward.”
“When we are ready to test you, you shall be summoned!” declared Rhea.
Before Wonder Woman could speak, she found herself back in Georgetown. Zha-Vam gasped as he scanned the surroundings. “Diana, what madness is this?” he cried. “Are we to wait as playthings for the petty spite of the Titans?”
Wonder Woman saw Etta Darnell rush downstairs with little Troy in her arms and said, “What choice do we have? I believe Cronus will free them if I complete the six labors, and complete them I shall!”