CHAPTER 1 "Remember! We don't act until we know what we're up against!" Wonder Woman brushed her long, dark, windblown hair from her eyes and grimaced, glancing over toward the dome of the National Gallery of Art, where Green Lantern and Hawkgirl perched, surveying the Washington, D.C., skyline. GL is giving orders as usual, Wonder Woman thought, acting like the rest of us are rank amateurs. Their silhouettes were clear against the night sky, and she saw Hawkgirl ruffle her wing feathers in a half-insulted, half-amused gesture. "To do otherwise might make matters worse, Green Lantern. You don't need to teach me my business." Through the communication device worn in her ear, Wonder Woman could tell that Hawkgirl's voice was chiding. Hawkgirl had been a top cop on her homeworld, Thanagar. She knew what she was doing. Wonder Woman could also hear the murmuring voices of Superman, Batman, and Martian Manhunter. They were at the end of the long park known as the Mall, standing atop the Capitol Building, discussing the Justice League's options. Batman had picked up vague rumors of a planned attack on Washington, which he had traced back to a member of Intergang, one of the human thugs allied with the other-dimensional ruler of the New Gods, Darkseid. Batman wasn't sure--none of them were sure--what was going to happen next. Or if anything would happen. But the members of the Justice League planned to counter any threat to the safety and security of the United States and its citizens. From atop the roof of the cylindrical Hirshhorn Museum, Wonder Woman scanned the heavens. The Flash crouched beside her, polishing off his first sizzling slice of ham, sausage, and pepperoni pizza, then reaching into the box for a second slice. The red-suited superspeedster, who expended enormous amounts of energy when he ran, had to refuel constantly. He bit into the gooey mound and yelped. "Hot! Hot! Yikes!" Then he glanced up at Wonder Woman. "Want some?" "Hush!" Wonder Woman hissed. "I thought I saw something." "Don't get your tiara in a twist, your royal highness!" Flash mumbled sarcastically, his mouth full. "With all humility, Princess Diana, you don't know what you're missing!" I sounded like my mother in one of her stressed-out moods, Wonder Woman thought. What's wrong with me? She stared intently into the night sky. Her people believed the stars held answers. She could use some now. What am I doing here? she asked herself. Exiled forever from the Amazons and Themyscira, our secret island home? She told herself it was her own choice to live here in what the Amazons called Man's World. She truly believed that the larger Earth needed her special abilities. And yet, away from the miraculous island of immortal warrior women and their queen, her mother . . . without a place among her people, who was she? As a child on Themyscira, Diana had once tried to hold water in the cupped palms of her hands. But no matter how tightly she pressed her fingers together, the water trickled away. She was grown now, but she was clutching just as tightly to her Amazon identity, she thought. And, like the water, she felt it slipping through her fingers. Out of the corner of her eye, Wonder Woman spotted a wavering shimmer in the starlight. "There it is again! What is it?" She flew a few feet into the air, straining to get a closer look. Flash grabbed the golden lasso that hung from a loop at her waist. "Wonder Woman! Wait!" he said. She turned in midair and hissed. "Let go! There's something there!" "Maybe to your goddess-like eyes, Princess, but I can't see--" "Obviously," she whispered. "You see as humans see. But Darkseid is one of the New Gods and has the tricks of a god. ASimonson, Louise is the author of 'Gauntlet' with ISBN 9780553487732 and ISBN 0553487736.