The Twelve Labours of Wonder Woman 2  

By Ksennnin

Disclaimer: I do not own DC Comics, Wonder Woman, or any other Wonder Woman characters. I make no money from publishing this story.

Diana stood ready.

The massive, heavily-reinforced door sealed a cavernous opening at the
barren, rocky mountain face. Doom's Doorway led not just into the
darkness under the Earth, but also into the realms of ancient mortal
fears and primal imagination.

It led into Tartarus.

Righteous outrage, grim frustration and deep concern fought for
predominance in the gathered Amazon Nation, formally assembled to
honor their Princess and Champion. But nowhere was the struggle as
painful as in the soul of Queen Hyppolita, as she saw her only
daughter, the only daughter of all Themyscira, stoically preparing to
enter the almost-certain death of the fearsome gateway.

"You don't have to do this." Hyppolita's voice was hoarse, and her
eyes red, underscored by the darkness of vigil.

Diana tossed her hair to a side, and swung the bundle of supplies over
a shoulder, next to the battle-axe on her back. "Yes. I do, mother.
I do. And I will."

"Diana..."

"Wish me strength, Mother. And wisdom."

"All those you already have in plenty."

Diana smiled with gratitude, and walked into darkness.


"It has begun." Athena's voice was serene, but with an underlaying
edge of anger, the anger of rational thought against foolishness.

The Mists of Gaea rose from the glowing brazier; shifting vapors
framed the image of the Amazon Princess as she ventured through the
damp depths of the Earth. Her sable-black hair blended with the
encroaching darkness; her face and armored figure were faintly lighted
only by the glow of the magic lasso.

"Can't make out shit," Zeus grumbled. "Couldn't she light a torch or
something?"

"And risk depleting a possibly limited supply of air? The Amazon knows better."

"Well, I want to see what happens, Me-damn it."

"You just want to check her out as she walks," Hera spat. "Don't bullshit us."

Zeus played deaf, the usual tactic to deal with an annoying partner,
and squinted at the gloomy image. There should be a way to
fast-forward to the good bits.


Diana held the lasso loosely in her extended right hand, its golden
luminescence barely making out the path before her. Climbing over a
craggy mound, she steadied her advance on the tunnel's side, and her
touch found long, deep gouges in the coarse rock wall, raked by claws
unlike any born of natural earth.

She wondered what kind of creature had left such marks. Many were the
nameless horrors imprisoned beyond Doom's Doorway; preventing their
escape had been the penance and bane of the Amazons for centuries, a
penance late-born Diana had not shared, shielded by her mother, by the
privilege of royal authority, a privilege that had been a burden for
the young Diana, and reason for many a conflict between mother and
daughter. Perhaps now, by willingly walking into the storeroom of
horrors that connected to the netherworlds of Tartarus itself, was
Diana finally paying her dues.

Yet no matter what further dangers Diana faced, she carried now an
added burden. Her quest sought to placate the anger of Zeus, the Lord
of Olympus himself, an anger that she had brought down on her sisters.
No matter what feats she may accomplish, she was responsible for
endangering her people at all. Who knew what fearsome revenge could
the Olympian rain upon Themyscira in his wrath? All because of her.
Because of her denial. Because she had turned down the Olympian's
favors.

The softly echoing sounds of her footsteps were lost as she stepped
into a larger space, its extent lost in ink-like blackness. There
were a series of rough, chalk-white slabs spiraling down into the
dark, and she carefully followed the path, descending, while guilt and
anger fought inside her.

She had done what felt correct. She had followed her heart, and been
honest to herself. Feeling no desire, no interest in accepting the
god's offer, she had declined. But such choice had brought danger
upon Themyscira. Had she the right to take such a stance? She wanted
to think so. She wanted to believe that the fight for what was right
started in the most basic choices of one's self. That the rights of
the many were built upon the rights of the one.

But while she sought solace in ethical principles, doubts lingered.
What she had denied Zeus, she had already given willingly, and under
far more distasteful circumstances, to none other than Darkseid, the
cruel Lord of Apokolips. How could she justify spurning the advances
of the highest of her gods, the patrons of her people, after having
agreed to carnal congress with a monstrous despot who had threatened
both Earth and Olympus? Could she still consider herself virtuous?

Perhaps it was the paternal role of Zeus amongst the Olympians,
something she had taken for granted since childhood, which made her
considering him sexually discomforting, even intrinsically wrong,
asides the simple lack of the simple physical attraction which she had
felt for Superman and Darkseid alike.

Or maybe she had just chaffed at the Olympian's imposable attitude,
at his evident disregard for her volition. Even Darkseid had
respected her right to choose.

But did any of these justify endangering the lives of her people?

It was now her responsibility to save what she had imperiled. She
could not afford to fail.

Suddenly, the blackness about the Amazon Princess came alive, reshaped
into a thousand limbs, all reaching for her, grasping feverishly with
twitching fingers, hungry for flesh, hungry for life.


Zeus smiled. The good bits, at last.


She was smothered by a myriad hands, grasping, clenching, kneading,
seeking to bind her, ravage her. Her strikes cleaved and parted the
mass of limbs, yet it reformed around the gap without pause. It was like seeking to fight the sea.

She grimaced, fighting for breath, squeezed and groped by countless
grips, and knew that she had to change tactics.

With a cry of defiance, Diana brought her war-axe down against the
bony slab on which she stood, one of the many making up the eerie
stairway. Ax and step shattered as did all of the floating stairway.
With a scream of agony echoing through impossible dimensions, the
Amazon's attacker fell into the void, the shifting multiple limbs
carried down inexorably along its shattered backbone.


Diana floated in the dark, slowing her breathing, trying to discern
orientation in the field of absolute blackness, past the limited glow
of the lasso. After a moment of fleeting panic, she stopped trying to
see. Only then did she feel the pull, the minute tug of the amulet's
fragment. She took it from her belt, and confirmed her suspicion.
The amulet sought to be whole. Its fragments called to each other, if
only she would listen.

With little other choice available, she flew, trusting the subtle
summons. An indeterminate stretch of time later, she lighted upon a
rocky shelf faintly outlined by a distant reddish glow. The weak
light came from a shaft high above in the cavern's roof, dancing and
flickering like distant fire, that began to define the surrounding
landscape of twisting and overlapping rocky formations, resembling the
dense, craggy roots of a monstrous tree.

"Ah, so you are the one who slew Cottus." The deep, musical voice
surprised her. "Well done. Disgusting creatures, those
Hecantoncheires, like most cthonics. Can only improve the
neighborhood."

His dialect was strange but understandable, with a musical rhythm,
his voice like soft leather and rumbling water. She followed the
resonant words, leaping to a wide basalt platform. Two other great
rock plates rested at inclined angles, creating a shadowed alcove over
her interlocutor.

"I am Diana of Themyscira," she stated. "Please show yourself."

"You are showing yourself a bit too much, Diana of Themyscira."

She noticed her golden-plated bustier had been tugged partially down
during the previous attack, exposing more of her tightly packed
breasts than normal, so she pulled it back into place with mild
annoyance. "Thank you. Please excuse if-"

"You misunderstand. There was absolutely no complain on that regard.
But the glowing line in your hand may be too gaudy a price to bandy
about in a place like this."

A screech suddenly sounded in the distance, and many more followed.

"Oh, well. I did try to warn you."


There was a multitude of them, black furry bodies masking their
numbers in the gloom of the cavernous space as they came at her, all
grasping hands and cacophonous yells. Their sizes ranged from that of
a normal man to roughly its half, their faces were canine featured and
their ears pointed. The collective stench was almost overpowering.

Diana flew up, to avoid the assault of the swarming goblin-like
creatures. But flight was no escape, as they had crawled,
insect-like, onto the ceiling of the cavern, and dropped in thick
numbers at her from above, so she was dragged down by the sheer mass
of bodies. It was like being in the grasp of Cottus again, but
without a single consciousness to oppose. Many groped and scratched
at her limbs and clothes, but their main target seemed the glowing
lasso. She seized two of the creatures and spun them about her as
clubs, throwing away her attackers by the dozens, but more and more
came, and she feared unleashing her full strength, which could easily
kill the individuals closest to her. How could she fight such numbers
without committing wholesale slaughter?

Suddenly, a thunderous blast of sound filled the enclosed space, a
fearsome trumpet-like roar that made Diana wince and cover her ears.
She sensed a large creature fly about her, huge wings displacing air
noticeably, scattering Diana's attackers with its presence and
overpowering voice.

As quickly as they had appeared, the repellent creatures vanished, and
Diana landed back before the rocky alcove, in time to see the outline
of the imposing winged creature settle again in its refuge.

"Thank you," she said, wincing. Her ears ached with each echo. "Were
they... Kallikantzaroi?"

"Yes," the powerful voice replied in a low grumble. "They saw in
futility at the roots of the World Tree, here in the darkness
underground. But they are always greedy for gifts of beauty and joy.
Both you and your lasso qualified. Yet they also fear my wrath, as
well they should."

She nodded, curiosity filling her. The musical accent seemed middle
eastern in origin. "May I come closer?"

"You may, comely lass. You are looking for something, and I can give
it to you."

Diana walked forward. "You know where I can find the amulet fragment?"

In the reddish glow she could see the man-like face nod, framed in a
thick mane of flowing hair that also enveloped the wide, powerful
shoulders of a lion-like upper body, shadowed by the folded wings on
its back.

Could it be a sphynx? Its accent did not seem Egyptian, but her ears
were still ringing from the powerful roar. "May you give it to me?"

"Only if you reply properly to my own inquiry."

Diana nodded. Sphynxs were notorious for asking riddles, and proved
deadly towards those who failed to solve them. This had to be the
guardian Zeus had referenced.

"Ask me, then, if you would."

The creature nodded again, a low growl in his throat resembling the
beginning of laughter, if rock slides could laugh. Then it spoke:

"What is the charm
That can vanquish sleep
That brings no harm
Yet may make hearts weep?

What is the gift
That may seal a soul's vow
That may heaviness lift
And in committed heat grow?

Reply be told
With skill and poise
With act bold
But not of voice."

Diana frowned. The riddle was far too simple. Too obvious. Was
there misdirection involved?

No voice. Was that was the only catch, to reply without speaking?
Diana balked for an instant at what it implied.

The creature had been helpful. Its manners were polite, and its voice
gentle and soothing. Too soothing.

Cautiously, Diana strode forward, until she stood at arm's length
before the creature. The mane-framed head rose from the thick arms
folded in crouching position, and her face was level with it. Golden
eyes under bushy red brows regarded her with what appeared like amused
curiosity. Uneasy, but bound by her stated agreement to play the
riddle, Diana leaned forward and her lips approached the creature's
cheek. A deep rumble echoed in its mighty throat, like contemptuous
laughter, and she hesitated. Not daring to risk her answer be deemed
incorrect on a technicality, she winced, and touched her lips instead
to the creature's mouth, for a light, quick kiss.

She quickly drew back, and the golden eyes followed her with a
piercing stare. "You think such a half-hearted reply will earn you
the prize? I question your commitment."

Diana frowned again, tensing at the demand. "You are taking advantage."

It chuckled with deep resonances. "Of course."

Diana breathed in deeply, and lunged forward, grabbing the thick mane
of red hair with both hands and pulling the head towards her, towards
her open mouth. He wanted a strong answer, she would give it. Her
lips mashed against his, urgently, impatiently, and when his long
tongue darted forward, she met it with her own. She tightened her
grip on the thick, silken hair as their tongues wrestled, and a
powerful iron-like taste filled her mouth. Sharp-clawed fingers
lightly brushed against her right leg, sliding along the back of her
thigh. When the oversized hand daringly encompassed her left buttock,
she bit roughly on the creature's lower lip and pushed herself away.

"THAT is another question altogether," she said. "And its answer is 'no'."

The golden stare met hers. "Your lips and tongue seemed to be making
other inquiries and demands."

"I just gave the riddle's answer. Was I not clear and loud enough?"

"You are a fierce kisser, amazon. Are you just as energetic in-?"

"You will hardly find out."

The creature extended its right hand, and a small piece of broken
ceramic glowed in its palm. "You solved the riddle. The prize is
yours to take." Casually, it threw the amulet piece off to a side,
and Diana's eyes automatically followed it. "And so is mine."

She had been on guard, prepared for violence, yet he was almost too
fast. Launched by powerful hindlegs, the creature pounced in a fluid
motion, oversized hands seizing hers. But instead of struggling she
let him drive her back, rolling backwards with the momentum, and
reversed the grips as she thrust her feet forwards and up. Thrown in
a tight arch, the sphynxfs body dislodged the massive rocks that
formed the alcove, and they crashed around them as the creature was
slammed to the rocky surface behind. She completed the backward roll
to straddle her attacker, still controlling one of his arms and about
to punch his face.

Suddenly pain flared in her back, and she instantly rolled forward and
away. Jumping to her feet she scanned the gloomy environs for a
possible second enemy who may have attacked from a distance. Arrow?
Dart? Whatever had struck her left a sharp burning in its wake, but
she was not bleeding. She had not been run through, nor punctured
deep enough to harm internal organs. But how had she failed to
sense-?

Laughter resonated all around like a blaring trumpet, and she saw the
unfolding of the vast, feathers-less wings made of red leathery skin,
above which an appendage of hard-shelled segments coiled tall and

ominous, its bulbous end hooking into a sharp, vicious point.

Scorpion tail. Dragon-like wings. It was not a sphynx.

The accent. Persian, she realized at last, and recalled the strange
sensation of multiple rows of teeth inside its mouth as she kissed it.

"Manticore," she muttered, cursing herself for a fool, just before
her limbs grew completely limp and she collapsed to the ground.

Laughter surrounded her.


She could not move.

She was awake, and fully aware of the manticore looming over her, of
his cruel eyes and mocking smile, of his breath on her face. But she
could not move. She lay face up on the rocky shelf, paralyzed by the
manticore's venomous sting, helpless like a puppet with cut strings.
Her chest rose and fell with her breathing, but her body was a machine
running on automatic functions, deaf to the orders of her desperate
consciousness, a living, yet detached shell housing her, an impassive,
indifferent prison for herself.

"The trinket is right there for you to take, amazon. If you could, of course."

Unmoving, her eyes stared up, met by the manticore's golden stare.

"You are beautiful indeed." His eyes moved down to her bosom. "Far
more than what I was told."

His claws tore through her bustier, rending the metal-reinforced
fabric with ease, and the freed breasts spread gently to each side of
her torso.

"Teats worthy of a goddess. I wonder if all amazons of your tribe are
as generously endowed."

It drew back slightly, and the scorpion tail arched forward, its
stinger reaching the valley between her breasts. Slowly it drifted
down, over her midsection, past her loins, and along the bared length
of a leg, brushing the expanse of soft skin, and stopping at the top
of the red and white boot. It then moved to the same place at the
other leg and slid up, retracing its path until reaching the union of
thighs and body. The sharp tip scratched the star-patterned fabric
over her mound, before pressing in and puncturing the cloth, grazing
the softness underneath. It then drew upwards, tearing through cloth
and metal as it ran from her mound up to her torn bustier. It then
flicked the split remains of her attire to each slide, and then moved
down again, retracing its passage over her now fully exposed body,
gently grazing the silken skin with its sharp tip as it moved from the
swell of her breasts, over the tautness of her abdomen, amidst the
soft dark curls on her mound, and curving over it to brush on her
perineum, the tender divide between vulva and anus.

"No, such perfect body must be one of a kind."

The stinger moved back to her chest, tracing around one breast a
curved path that spiraled into smaller radius, slowly moving in a
decreasing concentric fashion, until it settled into a repeated motion
around the raised aureole crowned by its rosy nipple.

"Will almost be a shame to devour such luscious flesh."

The mouth spread in an impossible wide grin, wicked rows of teeth
gleaming in the reddish glow coming from above.

"Almost."

The stinger then moved to her other breast, repeating its motions,
culminating in the slow circumvolutions of her aureole.

"But I will enjoy tasting it every way, thoroughly."

He pounced down, opening his mouth, and the triple row of teeth seized
her delicate flesh, nibbling on the slightly hardened nipple and the
soft tissue around it. Meanwhile, the stinger moved to brush in long
strokes over her legs, against the inside of her thighs.

Diana felt everything, every motion of the ominous stinger on her
body, the scratching of its sharp point, on her skin, the rough biting
and tugging on her nipples and breasts by the triple rows of teeth.
She had not been deprived of sensation, just of conscious motion, of
the ability to react as she should, to defend herself.

Making it worse, detached from judgment, from volition, her body
reacted on its own, instinctively, to the touching, the biting, the
licking. She felt her nipples grow and harden, she felt her skin grow
goosebumps when the stinger ran along her inner thigh and scraped
lightly along the instep her

She tried to scream in anger and frustration but her mouth was not
hers to command.

The clenched teeth pulled roughly on a nipple, tugging the breast up,
and then released it, making her whole bosom bounce and jostle.

The manticore chuckled at the hardness of her saliva-covered nipples.
"You are enjoying it, I see."

Diana's curses could not reach her lips.

"You will enjoy this even more." Moving down, the creature grabbed
her legs, and spread them before his face. "Humans called me The
Man-Eater, but I prefer to eat women. Tasty women like you."

The wide, leering mouth dove hungrily at her exposed crotch.


She hated it. Hated her helplessness, her impotence. Hated the
abusive manhandling of her body by such a despicable beast. Hated
every lick and bite, every probe and tug. Hated every sensations
drawn from her unknowing flesh. Hated the growing responses of her
body, reacting beyond her control to plain physical stimuli. Hated
the growing instinctive animal pleasure that arose from the continuous, unwanted caresses.

Pain would have been better. She could have dealt with pain. But
pleasure at the hands and mouth of this awful monster was worse than
torture.

How could this horrible beast inflame her so much?

And he was far from finished.


"Your taste is unique. So sweet, and tangy, and rich. I could lap
your juices endlessly."

She head a tongue noisily slap against bared fangs and palate.

"But there is so much more to enjoy. So much."

A thick clawed finger pressed against her sex, forcing its entry past
her sodden folds, but just barely. "So tight! How can you be so
tight? You are drenched wet already!" The finger pushed forward more
forcefully, but barely gained a fraction of an inch. "You cannot be
resisting. You will be paralyzed for hours. Can you be so tight
always?"

The manticore drew back and grabbed one breast with his oversized
hand, squeezing and kneading the firm, yet yielding flesh. "Perhaps
your body needs more... convincing."

She felt his stinger brush past her pubic hair, and the sharp tip
inched between the moist labia, parting the folds gently, yet
insistently, again and again, until it brushed
against the growing presence of the tender nub nestled within. The
stinger began to move about the swelling clitoris, gazing its
sensitive bulge repeatedly, drawing it forth from its hooded abode.


She had to fight it. Put her mind elsewhere. Ignore the rising
excitement, the escalating sense of need, just as she ignored the
progressive humiliation, the growing dread of being used against her
will by this hateful thing and the maddening frustration of being
unable to stop it. She had to find a way to escape. Escape her
ordeal. Escape the threat of rape and murder. Escape the betrayal of
her own body.


The sharp point began to nudge the swollen bud with quick pokes and
flicks, until the spread thighs trembled noticeably with tension, and
wetness pooled abundantly between them. Only then did the stinger
press lower, sliding over the parted labia, grazing the sensitive
perineum, and touching softly the puckered anus, before moving back
to her vaginal entrance. Firmly, the sharp, pointed tip slid past her
gate, and entered the amazon princess, slowly moving deeper and
deeper, until the curved spike was all inside and the head-sized
globular bulge from which it grew pressed tight against her mound.


There was pain as it entered her, the sharp point scraping the overly
sensitive inner flesh. She tried to embrace the pain, use it against
the rising feelings of feverish need, but it just made her more aware
of the intensity of her body's excitement, made her more aware of the
undeniable pleasure.


"Maybe I should sting you right in there, see if that... relaxes you
further." The stinger withdrew partly out, menacingly, before slowly
sliding back in, the soft inner flesh parting reluctantly before its
advance. It entered her again all the way in, and the base segment
pressed forcefully against her vulva, budging and shifting, the hard
chitinous shell covered with small blips and ridges rubbing against
her labia and the now-protruding clitoris.


It almost happened. The rising tension in her body suddenly raced
towards a bursting point, the pleasure becoming impossible to ignore,
impossible to escape, failing to crest that edge of no return by just
the merest margin.

Her teeth bit her lower lip to hold back a gasp, and the fingers of
her right hand clawed against the rocky ground.


"You almost came. I could tell." The manticore laughed its loud,
trumpeting blare. "You are probably desperate for it now."

The stinger pulled out, its curved spike shiny with dripping juices,
and the manticore moved between her legs, spreading them wide apart to
accommodate the massiveness of its body. Her hips were pulled off the
ground, and a large, hot mass pressed against her sex.

"It would be too cruel of me to tease you further."


She could not escape. She could not get away from what was happening.
She should not.

She was an amazon.

She was not trained to run away from danger, from hardship. She was
trained to face it. To endure and prevail. To match her opponent's
strengths and use them against him.


She had just turned twelve, a thin reed of a girl, tall for her age,
yet willowy and delicate, so frail in appearance compared to the fit,
athletic women all around her, compared to her mother, so beautiful
and impressive. She had only adults to measure herself against. She
was the only one so small and weak and undeveloped in the island. She
was the only child in paradise. Yet the promise of the future
strength to come was already in her bright blue eyes.

It had been a scary, solemn ceremony. She had prepared for it, but
could not avoid feeling nervous when it came.

There were no lengthy speeches. She was asked her name, before her
assembled sisters and mother, and asked to state her willingness to
assume her role, to take her responsibility. As one of them.

As an amazon.

It was her rite of passage. It was her time.

She replied without losing nerve. Her voice did not break as she had feared.

Her mother smiled at her.

"These are the symbols of who we are, of what we are. They were our
shame, but are now part of our strength. We use them for protection,
and as reminders. They were forced upon us by our enemies, but we
overcame, and triumphed. Now they remind us of what we lived and
endured, and what we have to protect. No matter what power is used
against us, we will not be defeated. We will adapt and prevail. We
will turn the tools of our enemies against them, turn them into our
strengths. That is the Amazon Way."

Bright and newly forged, the gleaming bracelets were clasped to her
wrists. They fit loosely, but she would grow into them.

As an amazon.


It hurt, but she welcomed the pain, relished it. And she knew that it
was not enough.

She had to accept both the pain and the pleasure that followed. She
had to embrace the waves of sensation emerging from her loins and
running through her body, focusing on how they made her muscles tense
and tremble, on how they made her body move instinctively in response.
How they made her body move.


"DAMN! YOU ARE BETTER THAN ANYTHING I'VE EVER HAD! YOU ARE BETTER
THAN A GODDESS!"


Pain and pleasure raced like molten lava through her body, and she
took it all in, letting the power of her anger and disgust lift her
awareness even higher, welcoming how the intense sensorial assault
shocked her senses, how it awakened her most primal physical
reactions, as her mind sought to focus on the source, the relentless
piercing at her core where it all erupted from.


The manticore's growls and grunts rose noisily, wings flapping with
wild abandon as the leonine hindquarters drove powerfully forward,
again and again.


Her muscles clenched and relaxed in reflexive echo to each thrust,
matching the rhythm of the creature's motions, building to the
imminent release.


Huge reptilian wings spread wide, and the manticore thrust harder and
deeper than ever. The whole powerful leonine body and the long
scorpion tail tensed, and the mighty voice trumpeted with a wild,
thunderous roar.


The sudden last brutal thrust and consequent explosion of heat deep
inside finally made the accumulated tension explode, and Diana's mind
embraced her body's orgasm, welcoming how her muscles tensed and
seized in climax, consciously spurring them to revel in their orgasmic
contractions, to clench and tighten with all her might, there, at the
very core of her.


The manticore's roar of delight turned to shock and pain.

The scorpion tail flailed violently and the wings flapped with sudden
desperation, taking the creature to the air, yet it remained trapped,
seized at the most vulnerable point by a vice-like grip that grew
tighter and tighter with each mighty contraction, making the whole
universe contract to a single point of agony.

The manticore careened wildly through the enclosed airspace of the
cavern, impacting against rocky walls again and again before falling
back to crash face-up on the original ledge from where it started.
Still not dislodged by the brutal impacts, Diana remained on top of
him, loins against loins, legs wrapped tightly around the leonine
lower body, her muscles still tensing rhythmically with the continued
throes of her orgasm. Her fists were clenched, holding to the
manticore's mane, and her eyes were focused, staring defiantly at her
enemy's desperate face.

With a scream of anguish and fury, the scorpion tail coiled and struck
with vicious power, releasing all its deadly venom in a single stroke.

This time Diana had been ready, and using every iota of her willpower,
and every bit of the barely regained control over her body, she let
both hands go limp and twisted her upper body aside.

The manticore screeched in agony, brutally pierced by its own stinger,
the sharp barb embedded deeply in its chest, blood and fiery venom
flowing from the wound. It bellowed and shook and thrashed wildly,
until slowly, voice and body alike weakened more and more, until it
grew still at last.

The manticore had lain motionless for a while before Diana finally
rose from its body, her own tremors faded as well. With still shaky
arms and legs, she forced herself to get up, lifting her hips away
from the dead creature's loins, wincing as the still warm phallus
flopped down, still monstrously large and rigid, despite the obvious
signs of the crushing force that had acted upon it.

Still unsteady on her feet, Diana glanced for a moment at the
manticore's unseeing golden eyes. While her anger remained unabated,
a part of her also mourned the death of any living being, no matter
how justified. Yet the creature had brought its own death upon
itself, in every sense.

She stood still, and for a moment she thought tears would come to her,
tears of anger and shame and frustration, at what she had experienced,
at the horrible wrong that she had endured. But she did not cry.

She had no reason to feel shame or guilt. She had suffered a
terrible, unwanted abuse, but she had endured, and triumphed. She had
prevailed.

She turned, and looked for the amulet piece among the scattered
debris. Soon she held it in her hand, a glowing piece of ceramic,
broken and small. How high its cost had been.

Now she knew what her mother and the other amazons had experienced at
the hands of Herakles and his men, those centuries past. She had
known before, abstractly, but had not really understood. Not truly,
not viscerally, not in her innermost self. Now she did. Now she
really knew.

She knew, and understood.

She had learned, and grown stronger from it.

As an amazon.

(EPILOGUE)

Hera glowered as Zeus clumsily sought to again sit upright on the
couch from which he had almost fallen, to the surprise of many of the
assembled Olympians.

"You were there, weren't you, you dirty lecher?"

"I-I just grew dizzy! Had too much to drink! That is what being
married to you drives me to!"

"You were riding the creature's mind. You hid there, as a pathetic
stowaway! Just to have a chance at the amazon! How dare you-?"

"Nonsense!"

"Ha! And you got shocked shitless by the thing's death! Serves you
right! A pity you got out-!"

"Please," Athena cut in. "Let us not lose sight of Diana's
accomplishment. What matters is that she faced a most dangerous
threat and won."

"At what cost? What we drove her to..." Artemis, goddess of the
hunt, shook her head with disappointment. "Is that what we would wish
upon our most valued daughter?"

Hera refused to be mollified. "That is why you wanted to choose the
first trial! YOU DAMN PERVERT!"

"I HAD TOO MUCH TO DRINK!"

Ares shrugged. "She had to be tested. We agreed."

"Tested?" Artemis stood up, fists clenched in anger. "By forcing her
to experience rape? To lose what remained of her innocence? Is that
how we repay her trust in us?"

Aphrodite reclined on her couch, smiling. "Well, she was not that
innocent. Didn't the dark god of Apokolips-?"

Zeus snorted from a corner. "Speak not of that upstart foreigner-!"

Athena placed a hand on Artemis' shoulder. "Perhaps there are things
that she, more than any, should learn."

"Learn what? That rape sucks? That her gods suck? Big fucking
surprise. Spare me your rationalizations."

Aphrodite stretched sensuously. "Maybe it wasn't that bad."

All goddessess turned towards her.

She shrugged. "At least it was a good lay. It's almost a shame that-"

"What?" Artemis stared horrified.

"At least the manticore gave her a real good orgasm."

"WHAT?" Artemis strode forward, incensed. "You think that makes it alright-?"

"She would not have been able to overcome the paralysis otherwise.
That let her win. Is that mistaken, Athena?"

Athena replied icily: "Diana did what she had to do, trapped in... a
lamentable situation."

Artemis stamped her booted foot down. "One to which we drove her! We
set her up!"

"Would you rather she had been eaten alive without that chance to get free?"

"You are right in that regard, Sister." Ares smiled smugly. "The
amazon won, by killing her rapist."

Aphrodite shook her head, turning towards Ares with a matching smile.
"The manticore killed itself."

"It died. Death gave her victory."

"That was incidental. She won by embracing sex, instead of denying it."

"She did not chose to go that road willingly."

"She chose to let herself enjoy the sex."

Artemis shook her head in disbelief. "You think she enjoyed it?
Enjoyed being raped by a murderous beast?"

"She came, didn't she?"

"She was paralyzed and unable to control her body's reactions-!"

"Happens to me all the time when it's really good. Not that anyone
here would know about that."

Ares tapped the tips of each hand's fingers together. "Careful, Sister."

"Perhaps it was... distasteful-"

Artemis snorted. "Distasteful? DISTASTEFUL?"

"Diana learned the power that sex can give a woman. That was a
good... learning experience."

"Learning experience?" Artemis pursed her lips. "Is that how you
dismiss such an offense to our most faithful-?"

"Of course, what do you know about embracing sex, you... Maiden of
the Hunt?" The last words were spelled with obvious disdain.

Artemis reddened. "There is sex, and there is rape. I though Love
would know the difference. But I may overestimate you, slut-goddess."

Athena raised a hand. "Please, Sisters. No name calling."

"What other name suits her better?"

"You forget yourselves. You forget about Diana. We must focus on her now."

The goddesses grew silent at the hard edge in Athena's voice. They
knew not to argue with Pallas Athena. She was not just the goddess of
reason, she was also the clear-eyed counterpart to Ares, goddess of
strategic conflict, of war as science. And Athena's clear grey eyes
stared at her brother and sister with just a hint of a frown.

The Twelve Labours of Wonder Woman part 2