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Wonder Woman: Bloodied Hands (Volume 2, Issue 2)

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posted by alias BluJay. on Monday 22nd of February 2021 08:32:19 PM

“You have been burdened by a great responsibility. I feel your guilt, Diana. As long as that guilt persists, you will never be able to truly use this gift. But when the guilt vanishes, the gift does as well. I send this message to you now to try and relieve your pain and assuage your conscience. I do not blame you for what happened. As long as the sea is alive, I am as well. I may be weak, but one day I will walk again. You can never kill a god.” Then Diana was shooting through the air, arms pinwheeling, before she landed with a grunt on the ground. She groaned and struggled upwards, her head screaming and her body sore. Steve followed suit, rolling to his feet thanks to years of military experience. He stared around them incredulously, sword still in hand. They had emerged from a large fountain flanked by marble pelicans in the middle of a park. Dozens of skyscrapers surrounded it. “Your highness. Your highness, we’re...” Steve turned to Diana before snapping back to reality. “You’re hurt.” “I’m fine,” Diana groaned, but she knew she wasn’t. Her stomach churned and her head rang like a bell. She looked around her for the first time and her eyes widened as she took everything in. A small throng of people had gathered, staring back at the two of them. “Hi!” Steve said genially. There was a brief silence. One person waved. He counted at least three cell phones. “Can you tell us where we are?” he asked. “Tokyo,” came a hesitant response from the crowd. Steve nodded gratefully and turned to Diana, who was still gripping her head. It felt as if she was being stabbed through her temples. She gasped and Steve helped her to her feet. The throng grew closer, curious. He brandished the sword halfheartedly. “Excuse me,” he said, and he was excused. The crowd quickly backed away and Steve carefully helped Diana into some nearby bushes. The throng of people around them slowly dispersed. “You’re heavier than you look, Princess. Uh, no offense.” Diana managed a clammy smile. “It’s all muscle,” she breathed, before clutching her head with a pained “ah”. Steve tore off the remains of his ruined flight suit, leaving him in his soaked tee and boxer shorts. He patted the pockets of his torn-up garb, finding his dripping wallet. He extricated a card with a face. “This isn’t ideal. I’m going to grab a change of clothes for both of us, since you can’t walk around in your costume, then we need to get you to a hospital. Stay right here, OK?” Diana managed a feeble nod and a thin smile before she was racked by another wave of pain. She gasped in agony and twitched. Steve stared, concerned. “Should we do the hospital first?” “No. I - agh- I don’t think a hospital can solve any of this. The passage through the sea has exacted a toll. It will take time, but I should be fine. Go, Steven. Get pants.” Steve looked down, blushed, and nodded. He poked his head out, made sure the coast was clear, and emerged from the shrubbery. Diana exhaled painfully and turned her thoughts to what was somehow more of a sore subject. The message she had received couldn’t have been from Poseidon, and had sounded like him, not just in terms of voice, but down to the words. It’s exactly what he would have said, yet there was still doubt deep in Diana’s heart. But she knew one thing from the message was true - since she had killed Poseidon and Hephaestus, she had been imbued with parts of their powers, or rather, given their responsibilities over fire and sea. Over the months since her killing of Poseidon and Hephaestus, as the world worsened, as jungles fell to flame and sea levels sank, Diana had felt herself weaken as well. Harnessing the power of the ocean had been near-impossible. She had to feel every drop of water in the sea and keep it in place before she could deform it to her will to open the portal. It had taken almost everything she had. Her head throbbed painfully, but the agony had lessened. With a grunt, Diana rolled onto her front, propping herself up with her elbows, and took a shaky breath. Suddenly, dozens of hands seized her from every direction and yanked her out of the shrub. She was hurled violently into the air. She quickly came to a halt, hovering in the air thanks to the sandals of Hermes, teeth gritted. Had the mob of onlookers, driven by fear, attacked her? She almost instantly identified her assailant and dryly noted that he was hard to miss. This was evidenced by the innocent park goers, who immediately started screaming and running away from him. Good. She could take him down with minimal damage, if needed. “MURDERER!” he bellowed, and Diana’s blood ran cold. He was vaguely humanoid but only slightly so. His spine looked as if it was about to burst from his skin and sections of his skull had grown through his skin, resembling horns or antennae. His body was perverted and elongated, but the true horror came with his limbs. He had too many. Some were grossly long and others pathetic stubs, but they were all grotesquely muscled. At least the amount of legs and arms he had seemed to be similar, Diana thought, horrified. He almost resembled an insect. His skin was pallid and almost green in the city lights. He looked unwell, but Diana figured she didn’t look much better. Still...was he a creation of Hephaestus? Or a mutated Atlantean angry about Poseidon’s death? Diana raised her hands calmly as she flew downwards slowly, facing the misshapen individual. “I mean you no harm,” she said. “Whose death are you referring to?” The enraged...creature snarled and waved a couple of his hands. “You have unchained Battle. You have untethered war itself. You have killed the Lord of Blood and your blood must be spilled to return him!” He made one fist, showcasing surprising restraint, and Diana sighed. The pieces fell into place. “You think I killed Ares.” “You are not fit to speak his name, harlot. You have ended my master and you shall perish for your crime,” he spat, eyes tearful and furious. “Ares is what transformed you into this?” “He made me whole. I am forever in his service.” “Listen to me now. Please. On the Gods, I did not kill Ares. I found and killed his real murderer.” “LIES!” the acolyte screamed, scuttling closer. Diana really didn’t want to fight in her current state, so she backed up slightly, raising her hands higher. A bead of sweat fell down her face. Her head screamed in pain and she winced. “I am not your enemy. Who fed you these lies?” “I...these are not lies. They told me you would be here tonight, and you were. They must be telling the truth.” Diana was taken aback. Who could have known that she and Steve would be coming here? Even she had no idea where she would be taken by the waters. “You’re being manipulated. I don’t know by who, but they wish me dead and they’re using you to do it.” “You claim that I’m weak-minded?” “No, that’s not what I’m saying,” Diana said frustratedly, but the deformed warrior interrupted her. “My Lord Ares entrusted me to stoke the fires of vengeance in the hearts of men and sent me to do my work in the East. I have cultivated the criminal organizations in this region and united them to continue his good work. Could a weakling do that? You will fall in the name of the Crimson Centipede. For Ares!” Diana realized she had greatly misjudged her opponent. While he was a victim of Ares, he was completely devoted to his cause and had undoubtedly caused thousands of deaths. She unfurled her golden lasso of truth and shakily took a battle stance. The Crimson Centipede charged forward with alarming speed, shouting, and she shot backwards while simultaneously flinging the golden rope forwards. It swung and wrapped around his torso, but his numerous hands clawed at it and yanked backwards with shocking strength. Diana sailed forward before planting her heels in the park’s grass, pulling back against the grotesque creature in an ungodly tug-of-war. Her furious enemy charged forward again, reaching out with a dozen hands while a couple others picked up the slack of the lasso and started coiling it. The remaining fingers closed into fists as Diana’s lasso was suddenly rendered useless. She inhaled quickly and deeply a few times and charged forward to meet him with a furious yell, the air around her shimmering with godly power. === Steve tugged on the jeans frantically, trying to pull on both legs at once while keeping his cutlass and shopping bag balanced against a trash can with his foot. “Come on, come on, come on…” A familiar-sounding voice caused him to look up. The panicked yell grew nearer and nearer and he spotted something red, blue, and gold crash into the side of a building down the block. “That can’t be good,” he muttered, and buttoned his jeans, grabbing the bag and cutlass and sprinting back to the park. As he watched, Diana caught some of the rubble caused by her crash, before shooting back to the park and flinging it at her opponent, who had...too many limbs. Steve stared, momentarily bewildered, before stashing the bag in a tree and running up to help out. Seemingly out of nowhere, two suited Japanese men emerged from the mist, their own swords pulled. They were straight but deadly looking blades - ancient Katanas. Steve slowed his sprint to a light jog. He wished he had his gun. He looked at Diana’s bug-like opponent and back to the pair. “You guys with him?” They nodded. Unsure of sword fighting protocol, he extended his hand. “Hi. I’m Steve.” The two men looked at each other. The one on the left nodded genially and said “Maseo”. The other said “Takeo” a little more hesitantly. “We are brothers,” Maseo explained affably. Steve smiled awkwardly in response as the only sounds to be heard were grunts and thuds from Diana’s enormous battle. “So, uh, shall we?” he asked. Maseo and Takeo suddenly took fighting stances with quick shouts. Steve raised his own cutlass and shouted unintelligibly back at them. His blade arced forward. === Diana blocked another flurry of rapid-fire punches from the Crimson Centipede and slammed her wrists together to generate some distance. The shockwave didn’t deter her opponent, who drove his limbs into the dirt, keeping him in place and not helping his insectile appearance. She seized the opportunity and twisted through the air, blasting a kick into the side of his head. Still in the air, and in the next split second, Diana attempted another blindingly quick kick, but one of his hands managed to catch her shin bracer by reflex and swung her into the ground. Diana blindly grabbed at his hands, managing to grab her lasso, and used it to pull herself in towards him, kneeing him in the gut. He tumbled backwards with a “guh” but used his hands and legs to spring himself upwards again, headbutting Diana in the face. “Great Hera,” she gasped, wiping a line of blood from her jaw. Typically this fight would be over in seconds, but Diana was in dodgy shape and getting worse. === Steve wasn’t faring much better, as he frantically parried the whirlwind attack from the two brothers. Maseo slashed straight downwards and Takeo swung horizontally in rapid succession. Steve barely managed to deflect Maseo’s attack and winced as the tip of Takeo’s blade traced his rib and sliced open his shirt. He was forced backwards by the punishing assault, blade ringing. Finally, as Takeo overcompensated with a wild chop, Steve stepped in under the sword and dropped him with a heavy jab to the nose. He immediately turned and ducked preemptively. This proved wise as Maseo’s blade whistled over his head, and Steve brought his cutlass’ rounded hilt up into the brother’s jaw. Maseo tumbled over onto his rear, dazed, and Steve whacked both of their katanas loose from their grasps with one massive swing. “Have a good one,” he said, astonished at his luck, and charged forward at the bug-man that Diana was currently riding like a stallion, her lasso around a few of his ankles. The villain grabbed Diana by her hair with a half dozen of his hands, causing a pained yell, and swung her into the ground, stomping on her with several dozen feet. Steve swung his cutlass and it bit deep into her assailant’s side. The deformed acolyte gasped and turned to Steve. Steve had never wondered what twenty simultaneous haymakers to the head would feel like prior to this encounter. As he lay on the grass, bleeding from his ears and nose, he thought that it might perhaps have been similar to being slammed with a pair of cymbals. Several dozen times. He wanted to get up, but his body simply would not obey him. His brain needed a second to recoordinate. His bladed attack, however, had proven key to helping Diana. As the Crimson Centipede tugged at the cutlass lodged between his ribs, Diana got to one knee, balling her fists, and blew her hair out of her face. The dirt around her began to tremble and the wings on her heels fluttered anticipatorily. With a mighty yell, she shot forward as if fired from a cannon, thrusting her fist straight towards her limb-abundant enemy. The punch lifted him, despite his immense weight, straight off the ground and into a wide tree some twenty feet behind him. Diana landed again gingerly and tumbled onto her side, rolling next to Steve. Dimly, he stared at the Crimson Centipede, before turning to Diana, laughing softly. “Did that many arms does he have?” “A few too many,” she chuckled, before wincing, sore. She reached her arm out and Steve took it, and together, they got up. The Crimson Centipede had just finished tugging the blade out of his side and was trying to climb out of the miniature crater he was residing in when Diana fluttered over to him, Steve holding on for dear life. He jumped off and retrieved his sword. “Listen to me now and listen well. I did not kill Ares. I have killed his killer Hephaestus and…” Diana couldn’t say what she was planning to say. Instead, she concluded: “I shall not kill you too. But do not attempt a second attack.” She stared deep at her fallen opponent, who finally nodded sullenly. She turned to Steve and gave him a look that he instantly understood. They took a few steps until they were out of the Crimson Centipede’s sight before Diana’s legs failed her and Steve caught her with a grunt. “Easy, princess. I’ve got you.” “US...embassy,” she gasped faintly. Her vision faded in and out as pain throbbed behind her eyes. With a final spurt of strength, she opened her mouth to say more, but the continuous damage finally took its toll, and she tipped forward with a groan, unconscious before she hit the floor. === Diana woke suddenly, sitting up straight and tearing her blankets away. Steve started and rose as she looked around wildly. “Easy, princess. We’re at the embassy, like you asked.” Diana’s panic faded and she took a shaky breath. “Steven.” “Yes?” “Call me Diana.” “Yes ma’am. Uh, call me Steve. You’ve been out for a day or so.” Diana nodded absently and put her hand on his shoulder, taking in the room. It was obviously someone’s office. She had just vacated the owner’s desk, where a soaked pillow and blankets were. She noted that she was still wearing her armor. “Uh, yeah, your change of clothes is in that bag,” Steve said, pointing to his shopping bag. “There’s some aspirin in there too, I think. I don’t read Japanese and I don’t know if it’ll help, but...better than nothing?” Diana shook her head. “I feel...better. Much better. But I won’t be up to my regular strength for a while.” The office door swung open and a man marched in authoritatively, snapping to attention. “Well, finally, some respect-” Steve started, but the man spoke over him. Steve wasn’t gruntled but listened. “Glad to see you’re awake, Agent Prince. I’m Paul Chang. I was over in Tibet following up on a lead when I heard about your tussle in the park. I came as quickly as I could.” “Are you with ARGUS?” “Yes ma’am. I lead the Occult Defense Division.” “The ODDfellows.” “You’ve heard of us. I’m honored.” “My coworkers spoke highly of your team when I was still with the agency. Not a lot of people believed in your work. As you can probably tell,” Diana said, motioning to her armor, “I did.” “Well, your capture of Dr. Minerva helped us gain a lot more funding, once people realized that we weren’t just making up the existence of the supernatural. So if there’s anything I can help you with now, just say the word.” Diana turned to Steve as she pressed her center of her tiara, willing it into its civilian disguise of a headband. She winced as a twinge of pain shot through her head and she took it off. “Where did you take off from?” “Hanscom.” Diana turned back to Paul. “Can you get us a flight there as fast as possible?” “I’m on it,” Paul said, already leaving. “Pleasure.” Steve looked at Diana. “What was that in the park?” “A minion of Ares. The God of War.” “Of the Greek gods.” She nodded, ignoring the new throb that jolted through her head. She had a lot of explaining to do. note: yeah, sorry about the editing lol i don't have enough time or actual lego on hand to do a proper background and i have no interest in wrangling mecabricks

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