Prologue: Send Forth
Taking a breath and almost gagging, 10 year old Ari swallowed nervously. The air was stale up here and the room filled with dust. Tip toeing across the old wooden floors of her grandmother's attic, Arizona did her best to stay as quiet as possible. She had overheard her grandmother and mother arguing about some keep sake one day, one that had proof of their connection to the fabled Amazon's of Themyscira.
Mother argued that no such place or people had ever existed and it was nothing but a waste of everyone's time. Ari's grandmother had argued that as a child she had somehow ended up on the beautiful island but was sent back to 'man's world'. All that she had left was an old box and a necklace that her spiritual mother had given her as proof.
Arizona Philippus Mitchell was a Lieutenant General with the U.S. Air Force and the only woman with that rank. She was a force to be reckoned with. Not only was she the only woman with a high ranking position, she was also one hell of a pilot. She had the respect of those that served under her as well as higher up. She was also every inch an adventure with stories as wild as her escapades.
"Mother this is just utter non-sense! Do you understand the absurdity of what you're saying?"
Ari heard her mother's muffled voice coming from somewhere in the big house. Ari's mother, Rachel, was a history professor and was the jaded daughter of the elder Mitchell. When Rachel was a child she had been naïve enough to believe her mother's stories of an island where the only inhabitants were all woman. A place where there was no such thing as injustice, discrimination or hate.
Rachel learned quickly that no such place existed. And when Ari's father walked out on the 3 year old and her mother, it only cemented what Rachel no longer believed in.
"It is not absurd. I don't know what happened to you to make you stop believing-"
"It's called life mom! I had a 3 year old to look after and I couldn't just hop on a plane and go to God-knows-Where to find out if your stories were true or not! Besides, there is no place in history that gives any credence to what you're claiming!"
"Rachel! Your daughter, my granddaughter has every right to know about her linage-"
"LINEAGE! Oh for god sakes mom! We have no relation to these…people-"
"Damn it Rachel! She's my granddaughter. My only granddaughter. Let me give this to her. At least let her decide," Arizona pleaded with her daughter.
"No mom. That's it. No more stories." Then it was quiet. Ari continued on, determined to find that elusive box. She had looked all over and the only spot left was on top of a thick beam. There was a funny looking tin box, bound in tattered leather.
Ari carefully walked towards it and grimaced as the floor beneath her feet squeaked. She paused, held her breath making sure no one would come after her then resumed her journey. As she reached the spot, she pulled back a small step stool and climbed up. She stepped on tip toe to reach it, her fingers brushing the old leather.
After a moment of struggle, Ari grasped the small box and pulled it down. She took several steps off the ladder when she heard a voice behind her.
"You're not supposed to be up here."
Gasping and almost falling the rest of the way down, the older woman reached out quickly and caught the girl before she hurt herself. Ari turned around sharply and sighed in relief.
"Grandma!" Ari said in surprise. She clutched the item tightly to herself. Arizona studied her granddaughter for a moment. Her eyes landed on the small box Ari was holding.
"You're not supposed to be up here…looking at that," she said quietly. Arizona continued to study her granddaughter, a mischievous glint in her eye. Ari looked up with expectant eyes.
"I just wanted to know."
Arizona was quiet as she debated whether or not to indulge her. Slowly, Arizona nodded.
"Well, you're old enough, I suppose. You should know the story," Arizona said as she motioned for her granddaughter to have a seat. Ari pulled the step ladder to her and sat while her grandmother pulled out an old stool.
Ari waited patiently. She had heard the stories before but never like this. Arizona glanced at Ari and smiled gently, "OK. Here we go." Arizona smiled as she watched her granddaughter's eyes grow wide.
"It happened on a day, very much like today. On an island beyond all imagining. An island that had been fought over for centuries by tyrants, emperors, and warlords. And then suddenly," the elder woman snapped her fingers, "it vanished. It didn't reappear for more than a thousand years…"
7 year old Arizona proudly stood next to her father, her hands on the wheel with her father guiding it. Her mother sat close to the hatch, smiling as she watched both father and daughter sail.
The young girl hadn't a care in the world. It was her birthday after all. They were to sail to Greece for Arizona's birthday present. As they neared the port, it suddenly grew dark. The winds violently begun to pick up.
"Sweetheart, I think it's time to let your father take control now," her mother said over the wind. Arizona frantically looked at over at her father.
"Papa, I don't want to leave you!" Her father quickly glanced at his little angel and smiled reassuringly.
"It's alright, little one. I will be fine. Go! Hurry, and stay with your mama!" He grasped his daughter's hand as she slowly made her way to her mother. Once in her mother's arms, Mr. Mitchell let go of his daughter and held on tight to the wheel.
"DADDY!" A gust of wind stole the little girl's plea into the air and her father never heard her. She saw him struggle with the wheel as it continued to swivel uncontrollably. Her mother dragged her down into the hatch and struggled to shut it.
"Honey, please get your life jacket on!"
Arizona scrambled to her feet and quickly slipped her jacket on. The boat tilted to one side and the little girl screamed in fear. Her mother stumbled over to her and held on tight. Plates, glasses and everything else toppled over as the boat rocked from side to side.
"It's alright darling. Everything will be fine!" The boat swayed from side to side for a few frightening moments. Arizona held on tightly to her mother. They heard the door to the chute rip open and both mother and daughter screamed. A gust of wind tore through the small room, throwing things this way and that.
"Stay here my darling," Ms. Mitchell said. She made her way to the steps of the chute and reached high to fight with the door. All of a sudden, the little boat jerked forward and threw Ms. Mitchell off balance. The older woman fell to the floor and hit her head.
Arizona screamed and ran to her mother. The little girl shook her mother. "Mama! Mama, please wake up!" But the woman did not move.
Arizona panicked and ran to the opening and climbed out. She had to grab on to ropes and railings so not to be thrown off the boat. She tried calling out to her father but he could not hear. He was still struggling with the wheel.
Waves crashed against the small boat, rocking it violently. Water crashed on to the boat and knocked over Arizona. She screamed as she grabbed a rope dangling from the sail. Her father looked up and found his little girl being flung this way and that.
"ARIZONA!" He forgot about the wheel and ran for his daughter. He quickly grabbed her and hugged her to him. As he looked up, his eye widened in horror as the sail had swung around and was now flying towards them.
"HANG ON!" He yelled and held on tightly to his daughter. He positioned himself so the sail hit him in the back knocking both father and child into the violent waters. Arizona screamed and chocked on the sea water. Her arms were flailing around her as the waves pushed her under.
Arizona felt her father's arms being torn away from her. She frantically reached out but she was pulled under once more. She tried kicking her legs the way her father taught her but it was no use. She was being pulled and pushed father into the deep black see. She couldn't hold her breath much longer.
Arizona felt her lungs being filled with water. Her eyes became heavy and her body light in the water. The last thing she remembered was darkness.
When she awoke she was being carried out of the water. Arizona blinked, her eyes refocusing themselves. The storm had passed and the sun was as bright as ever. She looked up at the person that held her gently. The woman looked down just then and blinked in surprise. She smiled softly. Arizona tilted her head to the side and studied the woman.
"You are safe now, child. Do not fear," the beautiful woman said softly. The woman placed the child along the beach, against a rock. The woman brushed the hair away from Arizona's eyes and continued to smile gently.
"Goddess Thetis!" Both the woman and Arizona turned at the sound. They saw a woman with platinum white hair running towards them beside her another woman with dark skin. Thetis stood as the two women approached.
"Goddess." The woman with the white hair bowed as did the darker skinned woman. Thetis smiled as she motioned for them.
"There was a ferocious storm not far from here. The boat the child was on overturned," Thetis said. She lowered her voice as she continued. "I was unable to save the child's parents," the goddess said sadly.
Epione covered her mouth to capture the gasp that threatened to come out. Philippus looked sadly at the little girl.
"Thank you Thetis. We well care for the girl," Philippus said as she slowly approached the child. She slowly knelt down and lifted the child's face with a gentle finger. Arizona blinked back tears and sniffed. Philippus felt her heart break at the sight of this child's tears. It had been years since the last time a child had been found on Paradise.
Philippus smiled softly and gently wiped away the tear stains on the girl's cheeks. Ever so slowly, so not to frighten the girl any further, Philippus slipped an arm under the child's knees and the other supported her back and lifted the little girl.
In response, Arizona rested her head against Philippus' shoulder and closed her eyes.
"Epione, please escort us to the infirmary," the General said softly. The chief physician nodded then quickly bowed once more towards Thetis and followed Philippus up the beach.
Thetis watched them go for a moment then turned towards the sea. She slowly disappeared into the water.
"Lay her down here," Epione said. Philippus lay the girl down onto the bed and was about to turn away when Arizona quickly reached out and grabbed her hand. Philippus smiled softly to the little girl.
"You are safe now. No need to fear," she said gently. Philippus wrapped her arm around the girls shoulder as Epione looked the girl over. Arizona sat up and leaned against Philippus' warm embrace. The older woman bent slightly and placed a loving kiss on the top of her head.
"Philippus, have you not found a suitable Guardian?" Hippolyta asked gently. It had been almost 4 and a half months since the little girl had been rescued. It had taken longer to get the little girl to open up to anyone with the exception of Philippus.
Arizona was stuck to her like glue, never leaving her side. Wanting to learn about everything and anything. Over time and with a little help from Philippus, Arizona slowly opened up. Soon she was laughing and running around the island, always the source of entertainment for the other women.
Even Artemis had taken to the girl. The redhead had begun to train Arizona in the ways of an Amazon, taking her out for the hunt some days. They would always return with a beautiful animal that Arizona had helped catch. Philippus felt a pride that had been long forgotten.
Sighing, Philippus shook her head.
"No I have not. There doesn't seem to be one," she said. Hippolyta studied her friend.
"She is fond of you," Hippolyta stated softly. She was quite fond of the little girl herself. But she noticed that Philippus was growing more attached to the girl with each passing second.
Philippus was quiet.
"I've prayed to the Gods…I beg them…,"Philippus said softly. Inhaling sharply, Hippolyta never knew her friend had felt that way. She reached out to rest a loving hand on Philippus shoulder.
"We cannot keep her," Hippolyta whispers sadly. Philippus sighed miserably as she nodded.
"I know. But she will have no one when she returns…I…we all love her. We will take care of her," Philippus said as she stared out at where Artemis was showing the little girl how to hold a bow correctly. Philippus almost cried when she heard Arizona laughing at something that Artemis had said.
Hippolyta just watched her dearest friend and felt an ache in her heart. She knew as did Philippus that this would be the last time they would hear such a beautiful sound.
"Philippus! Philippus!" Arizona pumped her legs as fast as she could. The older woman was farther along the beach with the Queen.
She skidded to a halt in the sand when she was a few feet away. She was out of breath but was just too excited to wait until Philippus came back.
Upon hearing her name, Philippus turned as did Hippolyta and both women laughed at the sight. Philippus fell to one knee and held her arms out. The little girl launched herself into waiting arms. Philippus caught her easily and twirled the girl around, laughing at the delightful squeal she heard.
Hippolyta laughed as she clasped her hands together. This was a side of Philippus she had never seen. Philippus gently placed the girl on her feet, both slightly out of breath. She reached out and lovingly fixed Arizona's hair.
"Yes little one? What is all the excitement?"
Arizona smiled so bright that even the sun paled in comparison. The young girl stood tall as she declared, "Artemis says that when I grow up, I'm gonna be a great warrior!"
Hippolyta could see Philippus' breath catch at that.
Philippus could feel her heart begin to shatter. She plastered a big smile as she spoke.
"Is that so? Well then, you must show me. Prove to me that you have what it takes!" She stood back and smiled at the little girl.
Arizona concentrated, just the way Artemis had taught her. She did several kicks and punches, her face determined. Hippolyta stood next to Philippus and beamed with pride.
"Indeed you will become the finest warrior this island has ever seen!" She smiled brightly and swooped down to give the little girl a hug.
Arizona laughed at being squished by the queen. She noticed Philippus' expression and cautiously reached out. At the gentle touch, Philippus shook herself out of her misery and smiled.
"Yes. You will be a fine warrior someday." Philippus placed a gentle kiss on the girl's forehead. Philippus then look out over the horizon.
"It's getting dark, little one…"
Arizona scrunched her nose and shook her head.
"But I'm not even sleepy yet," she said while pouting. Hippolyta covered her smile with a well-placed hand as Philippus looked down at the child with a twinkle in her eyes. She placed her hands on her hips as she spoke.
"A warrior needs their rest."
"But I'm not a warrior yet. I'm too small," Arizona countered with a cheeky smile. Hippolyta threw her head back and laughed. Philippus felt her grin brake into a huge smile.
"Is that so? Well then, in that case, every little girl still needs her rest," Philippus said as she tried another tactic. Arizona rested her hands on her small hips and cocked her head to the side. She gave Philippus an 'I don't believe you' look.
"Really?" Arizona asked suspiciously. Philippus couldn't help it – she laughed along with Hippolyta and scooped up the little girl in her arms.
"Yes really. We will continue with your lessons tomorrow. Come, it is time to get you to bed."
She was about to turn and head back to the palace when she stopped. She looked over at Hippolyta and held out a hand. Smiling brightly, the Queen slipped her hand in with Philippus and intertwined their fingers.
They silently walked back to the palace.
"Why do I have to go?" Arizona asked softly. Her eyes were filled with tears as she glanced at the woman who had become a second mother to her.
Philippus wasn't strong enough to look the child in the eyes as she tried to explain. Her heart ached. It was difficult to breath.
"I promise. I'll be really good. I won't get into trouble anymore! Please! I promise!" Arizona begged. She still didn't understand why she had to leave the island. It was all so confusing.
And still Philippus was unable to look her adopted daughter in the eyes. Not until Arizona gently cupped Philippus' face in her tiny hands and turned it. Philippus had no other choice but to look into sad eyes.
Arizona sucked on her lower lip to keep from crying harder. She blinked back fresh tears that threatened to fall. Although she did not understand, Arizona nodded slowly.
'This little child is far stronger than any Amazon I had ever met' Philippus thought to herself. She wrapped her arms around Arizona and lifted her up. They held tightly onto each other as Philippus made her way through the palace.
Outside, Hippolyta waited for the pair to emerge. The night before she had begged the gods to let the girl stay but in the end, they had ignored even her requests. She looked out onto the sea and wondered why Arizona could not stay. She was loved by all.
Hippolyta heard footsteps and turned on her heel to see both woman and child. Hippolyta had to take in a breath at the sight. As they neared, Hippolyta held her arms out and the little girl slid easily into her arms. They hugged each other tightly.
After a moment, Hippolyta pulled slightly away to look at the girl and smiled softly.
"Thank you," the girl said quietly.
"Whatever for child?" Hippolyta asked confused. Arizona bit her lip shyly.
"For letting me stay," Arizona said simply. Hippolyta blinked back the tears that clouded her vision. She kissed her forehead then handed her back to Philippus.
All three headed for the beach where Arizona was found. Along the way, various Amazons stopped them to give either a farewell hug to the child or some sort of token of remembrance. As they neared the place, Arizona tightened her hold around Philippus' neck. Philippus, instinctively, did the same.
Thetis stood by the beach. She watched as the three made their way to her. Her heart grew heavy with each step Philippus took. All of a sudden Philippus stopped in her tracks and placed the girl down.
Philippus got down on one knee.
"I have something for you." She reached around her neck and took off the necklace she wore and placed it over the girl's head. She gently gripped the girl's forearms.
"Remember, I am with you always," Philippus whispered fiercely. "Wear this so when we meet again, I will know it is really you." Arizona nodded solemnly and fingered the beautiful stone. Philippus then gathered the girl in her arms and hugged her tightly. Arizona wrapped her small arms around Philippus' neck and squeezed just as tight.
"I love you…mother," Arizona whispered in her ear. Philippus shut her eyes tight. She stood, with the little girl still in her arms and continued on down the beach.
Hippolyta and Philippus both slowed their strides. Philippus took this moment to hum softly in Arizona's ear.
"Hush, dear one. Your mother is near,
Hush, little one, you must never show fear..."
It was an old Amazon lullaby. Philippus rubbed Arizona's back as she sang. She felt the little girl slowly drift of to sleep, her breathing heavy. Both women stopped in front of Thetis.
Philippus took one final look at the little girl. Arizona had, at least for that moment in time, become the closest thing to a daughter Philippus had ever known. She placed the gentlest of all kisses on the girl's forehead then handed her over to Thetis.
Philippus stood back, her fists clenched. She had to bite her tongue to keep from crying out as she watched the goddess turn and walk away with her child. Hippolyta stood silently next to her, her tears falling from her face.
Philippus watched as Thetis slowly disappeared into the water, cradling the sleeping child. She continued to stare out at the waters even after Thetis had vanished completely. And still Hippolyta stood next to her.
Philippus couldn't move, her feet like stone in the sand. Her heart too heavy to continue beating. Her arms limp without the child with in them. The island was to big now, too lonely. She would never be the same again.
Lowering her head, Philippus finally allowed herself to cry.
"That was you grandma?" Eyes wide the younger girl sat her back straight as a tree. The elder Arizona laughed and nodded.
"Yes, yes it was."
The little girl smiled deliriously. Arizona smiled gently.
"If you listen carefully, you can still hear them," Arizona whispered. Ari's eyes widened.
Arizona lifted the small stone that was hanging from her necklace.
"They speak to us through this."
"You mean laughing at us."
Both Arizona and her granddaughter spun around at the voice. Rachel had been standing by the door with her arms crossed.
"I thought I told you no more stories mom," she said as she made her way inside.
Sighing, Arizona turned back to her granddaughter and smiled sadly.
"Let's go. Say goodbye to your grandmother," Rachel said as she turned on her heel.
Ari felt disappointed and moved to get up from her seat. Her grandmother frowned as she turned to leave the attic.
"Grandma?" Arizona turned around and waited patiently.
"Are we like…Amazon knights?" Ari asked innocently. Arizona blinked then laughed out loud.
"Do you wanna be?" Seeing the little girl nod, Arizona smiled brightly. "All right. Um…kneel." Arizona quickly looked around for something to 'knight' her granddaughter with. Picking up a small broomstick handle she turned to face her now kneeling granddaughter.
Clearing her throat, Arizona smiled gently.
"Arizona Philippus Mitchell, you take upon yourself the duty of the Amazons of Themyscira and the family Mitchell? Do you so swear?"
With eyes bright and wide, Ari smiled.
"I so swear." Laughing, the elder woman motioned for her granddaughter to stand.
"Here. Wear this always. Never take this off," Arizona said as she took off her necklace and then placed it around Ari's neck. Shocked, the little girl stood dazed.
Smiling, Arizona placed a kiss on her granddaughter's forehead then cupped her face.
"Wear this with pride. And maybe one day, you'll be able to finish what I couldn't."
"Thank you grandma."
Just then, they both heard Rachel calling out for Ari. Sighing, they both made their way through the attic and through the halls of the large house.
Watching her daughter and granddaughter drive away, Arizona inhaled deeply. She closed the door and made her way to her office.
There she sat in the darkened room. On her desk was the small tin box. She sat and stared at it for a long moment. She was getting old. She needed to find them again.
Quickly grabbing a sheet of paper, Arizona started to write. When she finished, she got up, stuffed the tin box and letter in a bubbled envelop, scribbled an address and name on the front. Leaving the package on her desk, she left her office and went upstairs to her room.
Opening the closet door she reached in and grabbed her old pilot's jacket. She fingered the patches that were on it. Before she could change her mind she slipped it on.
She reached farther into her closet and grabbed her duffle bag. It had all the things she would need to fly tonight.
Hurrying down the stairs, she made her way to the foyer, grabbing her keys as she went. She took one last look then turned on her heel and shut the front door behind her.
2 weeks later
The persistent knock continued as Rachel made her way down the stairs. She grabbed the door knob and yanked it open. Whatever she was about to say died on her lips.
"Are you Rachel Mitchell?"
Rachel nodded slowly.
The young man removed his hat as he cleared his throat. Standing next to him was a face Rachel recognized. Lieutenant General Black removed his own hat and looked at Rachel with sad eyes.
Then Rachel understood.
"Uh…Rachel…we found your mother's plane-"
Rachel shook her head violently.
"You must be mistaken. My mother doesn't fly anymore. She promised…"
Taking a step inside, the Lieutenant placed a gentle hand on her shoulder.
"We found it a few miles off the coast of Greece. We found her jacket floating in the water…"
Rachel covered her face with her hands and cried out.
"Oh God…what do I tell my daughter? She adored my mother…," Rachel asked, tears soaking her cheeks.
The Lieutenant General threw his arms around Rachel as he spoke gently.
"She died a hero…"