The Curse of Bast
Getting to fly on an invisible airplane was only one of the benefits of being Wonder Woman's special friend, the Black Canary thought happily as they soared through the sky.
"We're almost back to Man's World," Wonder Woman announced. Black Canary leaned forward to see the familiar skyscrapers ahead.
"I miss Paradise Island already," she said. "It was so much fun to be around all those strong, beautiful women!"
Diana smiled. "The young Amazon girls were honored that a Man's World heroine came to see them pass their tests to win their bracelets."
"But they owed it all to you!" Dinah protested. "It was wonderful how you showed them you could break heavy chains and ropes, and lift huge boulders. You inspired them all!"
"They did it themselves. I only showed them that they could!"
Dinah mused for a few minutes. "I wonder if girls here in 'Man's World' could receive Amazon training. Certainly every girl should know how to break out of ropes when she's tied up, and how to lasso other people, and things like that."
"A girl certainly has to watch herself in Man's World," Diana agreed, landing her plane and taxiing it into her hideout.
Inside, the women kissed a few times, but the hideout wasn't a very comfortable place. Kissing was another advantage of being Wonder Woman's special friend. At first Black Canary had been surprised at the idea of kissing another woman, but Wonder Woman had explained that there were no men on Paradise Island and the Amazons were immortal, so what was an Amazon girl to do? It made perfect sense when you put it like that, and Dinah found out that kissing other girls was a lot more fun than kissing men, even if she was a Man's World girl who had men to kiss if she wanted to.
"Come to my flower shop with me," Dinah invited.
"All right! And when we get there, I have some good news for you," Diana answered.
Both superheroines changed into their secret identity clothes before they left the hideout. They kept talking about their visit to Paradise Island on the way to the flower shop. Dinah felt puzzled, but couldn't quite put her finger on what she was puzzled about. She kept thinking about the tests, the bracelets, and the young Amazon girls until she realized what it was. "Diana, I just thought of something! How did-"
"Great Hera! What's this?" Diana interrupted, pointing.
Five mysterious cloaked figures were emerging from Dinah's flower shop, carrying a large bundle. As the girls neared them, they saw that the bundle was actually Larry Lance, private detective, bound and gagged.
"Where are you going with Larry?" Dinah demanded.
"Stay back!" one of the cloaked figures ordered in ringing tones. As she did, her hood slipped back a little and the serpent diadem around her forehead could be seen. "Or risk the wrath of Bast!"
"Larry Lance defiled our temple by stealing the sacred statue!" one of the others declared. "We shall have vengeance!"
With that the cloaked figures stuffed Larry into the back of a truck and climbed in themselves. The truck sped away.
"Merciful Minerva! We've got to stop them!" Diana cried. "I saw the name on the side of that truck – they painted over it, but it was still visible to Amazon eyesight. They're going to the Coastal Catnip Co!"
"Quick, let's change our clothes!" Both girls rushed into the back room of the florist shop and donned their crime-fighting costumes. "Before I left, Larry was investigating the theft of an ancient statue of Bast from the museum! He was going to take it away from the thieves and return it to its rightful owners. It seems the people who stole it want it back!"
"We'll save him!" Wonder Woman declared, pulling on her long red boots.
In a matter of seconds, both girls were transformed: Diana was wearing her patriotic leotard and high heeled boots, and Dinah was wearing fishnet stockings, a snug black leotard, and high heeled boots. Moments later they were racing to the Coastal Catnip Company.
The girls sneaked in through a window and crept along the dark corridors, following the strange noises they heard. Peeking through the door, they gazed in amazement at the bizarre ritual being conducted inside.
Inside was a replica of the Sphinx, and a 20-foot high pyramid. In front of these was a throne upon which a woman sat. She was wearing the narrow white dress popular in ancient Egypt, with a great deal of gold jewelry and a golden helmet bearing the visage of the Egyptian cat-goddess Bast. On either side of her throne were chained, kneeling girls dressed in the style of the slavegirls of ancient Egypt. Gathered before the throne were dozens of worshippers dressed in the garb of ancient Egypt, chanting in an foreign language.
"That's ancient Egyptian!" Wonder Woman whispered.
"You know Egyptian?" Black Canary whispered back.
"Of course! Amazons study all languages, past and present."
"What are they saying?" Black Canary asked.
"It's a paean to the goddess Bast. These people must be Bastards!" Wonder Woman said. "I've read about them, but I thought their cult had died out years ago!"
"We've got to find Larry!" the Black Canary whispered. "You circle around to the other side and I'll–"
But that was as far as she got before both girls were struck on the back of the head, a vulnerable spot even for an Amazon. The Bastards who had sneaked up on them dragged the unconscious heroines into the room of the main temple.
"Infidels!" the high priestess shrieked as the girls came to. "We shall include them in our sacrifice to Bast!"
The Black Canary quickly took stock of the situation. They were both wrapped tightly in mummy bandages from the shoulders down. The Bastards were gathered around them, chanting in Egyptian. Larry was still nowhere in sight.
"We'd better play along until we find out where they're keeping Larry!" Wonder Woman whispered.
Just then, two men in Egyptian clothing came in carrying a litter. On the litter was Larry, also swaddled in mummy bandages, with a golden cobra diadem on his head.
The Black Canary couldn't move except for her head and neck, but that was enough. She lowered her chin to press against her locket. It sprang open and a razor popped out. With careful wriggling, she was able to make it cut the top few loops of her wrappings. With her upper arms free, she was able to squirm until her hands were free too. She quickly fumbled to untie herself.
Meanwhile, Wonder Woman broke her wrappings and swiftly lassoed the high priestess. "Order your followers to release Larry!" she instructed.
The high priestess shuddered. "No! But – something compels me! Let the infidel who stole our idol go!"
The Bastards reluctantly obeyed. The Black Canary untied him while Wonder Woman ordered, "Now, remove your helmet so we can see your face!"
"Never! But I'm compelled to obey!" She took off the head of Bast and was revealed as a pretty young redhead. The Bastards gasped.
"We know her! She was the chambermaid in my aunt's mansion!" one of them exclaimed.
"Good heavens!" another said, with crisp refined diction. "Don't tell me our cult is being led by a chambermaid! It couldn't be!"
The high priestess glared around them. "It certainly could! You see this jewelry?" She gestured grandly. "It's all real gold! I could never have afforded it, once upon a time. Oh, the vile posturing people who employed my poor mother could, but never I!" She tossed her head defiantly. "But I showed them! The last thing they ever expected was that a poor little chambermaid could ever become the High Priestess of Bast!"
"That's very sad," Wonder Woman agreed, not sounding terribly sympathetic, "but couldn't you earnmoney?"
"Why should I, when such boorish people make conning them out of theirs so easy! How I laughed when the Bastards who ordered me and my mother about jumped to fulfill my whims when I was High Priestess!"
"We've been had!" another of the worshippers cried indignantly. "She told us she was really from Egypt!"
The Black Canary shook her head. "Society people get too easily bored. Try the excitement of doing something useful with your lives! And when you Bastards want to give money away, remember the charities!"
"Now that you know your cult is bogus, you return those artifacts to the museums! I'm going to take your high priestess to Reformation Island," Wonder Woman announced.
"I'll never reform!" the former chambermaid snarled.
"You'll change your mind," the Black Canary informed her. "One thing Wonder Woman has taught me is that the only true happiness is in submission to loving authority!"
"You'll be kept in chains until you learn to control your impulses," Wonder Woman assured her. "And even after that, if you like!"
The high priestess blinked.
"And the regimen of wholesome prison food and plenty of rest in a cage – gilded, of course – will have you feeling better in no time!" the Amazon princess went on.
"Well…" the former chambermaid said cautiously, "I suppose it's better than going to prison here…."
The two slavegirls, who had not left their posts on either side of the high priestess's throne, had been listening intently to Wonder Woman's words. Now they stood and ran to their mistress.
"We won't leave our mistress!" they both insisted, clinging to the redhead's arms. "If you take her, you'll have to take us with her! We were accomplices in her crimes, after all!"
"You show admirable loyalty to your mistress," Wonder Woman said. "Very well, I'll take you! Reformation Island is starting to get a bit crowded, though," she added. "I wonder why. It seems that no one ever wants to leave!"
"Are you all right, Larry?" the Black Canary asked him as he took off the cobra diadem and straightened his rumpled suit.
"Of course I am! You girls didn't have a thing to worry about – I showed up just in time to rescue you!"
"Of course. See that the Bast statue gets back to the museum, Larry!" Black Canary instructed before turning away.
"Boy, wait'll I tell Dinah that this time I rescued Wonder Woman as well as the Black Canary!" he said.
"I'm sure she'll be very impressed," Black Canary retorted as she and Wonder Woman escorted their prisoners to the invisible plane.
It wasn't until the former chambermaid and her two slavegirls had been delivered into Mala's care on Reformation Island that Dinah and Diana had a moment alone together, watching the three girls being led into their cozy new prison. Diana looked at her girl friend and smiled almost shyly. "I never got a chance to tell you my news."
"And I never got a chance to ask you my question, but you go first."
Diana ducked her head bashfully and took Dinah's hand. "I'm going to have a baby."
Dinah's eyes widened. "Who's the father?"
Diana stared at her girlfriend, hurt. "You are, of course! You didn't think there was anyone else, did you?"
"But…" Dinah began. "But I'm a woman!"
"So what?" Diana asked, bewildered.
"So… wait a minute! That was my question: I was wondering where all those young Amazon girls came from. Except for you, no Amazon has seen a man for thousands of years, so who's the father of those girls?"
"Other Amazons, of course. I don't understand your question." Wonder Woman was beginning to look a bit impatient.
"I don't think Man's World girls can have babies without a man," Dinah explained.
Diana shook her head. "Girls should never let themselves be that dependent on men!" she reproved.
"Oh, you're completely right," Dinah agreed. "Now, why don't we take the plane over to Paradise Island? I think I'd better speak to your mother."