The heart still pulsed in her hands while she lifted it to show it to the moon.
The silver light of the bright orb made the red blood grey and shining, while Barbara Minerva brought it closer to her lips.
The woman felt the metallic taste of fresh blood in her mouth, and her lips closed around the red organ, her teeth penetrating the soft skin around it, feeling the muscles stretch and break under the pressure of her canines. The blood floated her mouth, and the terrible taste of that inhuman meal hit her soul much more than her taste buds.
The power of the human blood contained inside the heart entered her body while she consumed more and more of it, pushed by necessity more than by true appreciation for the cannibal dish.
The moon smiled at her and enveloped her in the light, watching her slowly consume the heart with her eyes closed and her face now dirty and full of blood stains.
When she had eaten the last bite of flesh, she threw her head back, now facing the moon with wet eyes and then she screamed from the deepest shelter into her lungs.
The scream echoed in the night, waking up every single animal in the African savannah and haunting the dreams of the poor men who were sleeping in the cold night.
Her body was seized by sudden convulsions and she screamed again, but this time because of the pain. She fell on the ground, with her fingers trying to find a grip among the blades of yellow grass, until they reached a metallic object which had suddenly appeared besides her.
She took it between her hands and observed it. It was a long dagger, of the same, identical color of the bright full moon.
“Cheetah” she sighed in the end. “Goddess of haunt… give me the strength… accept this sacrifice…”.
She pushed the dagger into her chest, piercing her own heart.
She spat blood on the ground, painting it red, and the little strength still in her body abandoned her as she collapsed on the ground.
Some days before, Egypt
“Barbara, you can’t keep ignoring what she said” exclaimed Steve Trevor. “She’s the fucking goddess of war!”.
“And she’s destroying Africa!” she replied loudly.
“But she’s Wonder Woman, you can’t stop her!”.
The two were sitting into a tent in the middle of the desert, near an archeological site they had been studying for months now.
Barbara Minerva was one of the best archeologists in the world, but no one knew that except for her, and her lovely boyfriend Steve Trevor. They both worked for A.R.G.U.S. as field researchers, one of those organizations everyone talked about but that no one truly knew.
They had been studying ancient African artifacts for months, until the Great War had begun.
It started with heavy rain in Egypt, then the earthquakes began in South Africa, and in the end fire was raining from the sky in all of Africa.
The Greek deities had arrived in that place striking it like lighting. Not all of them took part in the destruction of the ancient continent, but most of them enjoyed the war.
Because it was war, and nothing more. And the Goddess of War was the one who started it all.
Wonder Woman had come with her Amazons in Africa seeking for conquest. Since her and her pantheon couldn’t control Europe, America or Asia anymore – too many superhumans, and too much technology to fight their divinity – they had decided to turn Africa into their playground.
And no one, nor superheroes or supervillains, decided to help the people of Africa, while Barbara and Steve had to remain there, trapped into the battlefield of the much more powerful goddess.
They had witnessed anything. Children being gutted, women being raped, men being skinned and their skins turned into
“There’s people dying, Steve!” she exclaimed. “And we can defeat her once and for all! We found a way!”.
“And we also found out the price for it!” he replied. “A price I’m not ready to pay!”.
“But I am!” she screamed. “I’m ready to give up my soul, Steve, if that means not seeing anymore kids being killed by that monster you call Goddess!”.
He didn’t respond. He just shook his head and sighed.
“You’re going to die for this, Barbara” he said. “Or you’re going to poison your soul. Either way, you’re going to lose me”.
“You said you loved me, Steve” she replied. “Is love good only when everything is fine and easy?”
“Don’t you dare say that I’m a coward, Barbara!” he shouted. “I loved you, but since we’ve been here you… I don’t even know if I can look you in the eyes anymore… what you want to do…”.
“We’re trapped here! This is hell! Someone has to help these people!” she exclaimed. “One sacrifice is all they want from us!”.
“They? Others like Wonder Woman” he explained. “Others like the woman who has murdered half of these continent”.
“They’re not like her” she replied shaking her head. “They’re not like her pantheon”.
“And how do you know this, Barbara?”.
“Because they told me. They told me they love us” she answered with a smile. “And I believe them”.
Steve shook his head. “You’re crazy, Barbara, you’re completely crazy”.
The lights of the sun woke her up.
She opened her eyes and suddenly she felt overwhelmed by her senses.
Sight. Smell. Touch. Hearing. Taste.
Oh, damn. The taste! Her mouth was filled with blood, and it was delicious.
She could feel any single particle of that thing and she wanted more, more, more.
She got on her feet and she looked at her hands with stupor mixed with excitement.
Her hands were covered with fur, spotted fur, and she could feel the retractile claws beneath her skin screaming to get out of their shelter.
She screamed with joy.
It worked. It worked! The gods had told her the truth… she wasn’t crazy.
She had a tail, and longer feet and she was much taller than before. She touched her hair, realizing it wasn’t black anymore, but red, red like blood.
And damn, she wanted more blood. But first she needed water. She could smell the water from miles away as if it was near her.
She started running. At first she didn’t realize she was running that fast. She felt her own speed, but she could have never imagined she was truly running that fast.
In mere moments she ran through half of the savannah she was in. She scared gazelles, she jumped entire trees in one single movement, and for the first time in her whole life, Barbara Gordon felt alive, completely alive.
She finally reached a small river and, thirsty as she had never been before, she jumped into it to drink the water.
The remaining blood on her face and in her mouth was washed away, and suddenly she realized everything watching it flow away.
Not only she realized what she had become by watching her new, feral face in the water, but she realized what she had done to become it.
“Steve…” she mumbled with a broken voice. A voice which sounded like the one of a growling cat. “No…”
Suddenly she felt pain. It was so fast and so sudden that she almost screamed of fear.
It took some moments for her to realize what that pain was.
The punches to her face threw her away from the river, making her bang her head on the ground with the speed of a bullet.
Someone pulled her hair and threw her away again, and in a vortex of punches and kicks, she screamed in pain until the attack stopped, then she rose her head.
“Mmm… She was right, there’s a new goddess in town”.
A woman so similar to the one she hated so much, Wonder Woman, was in front of her, with her feet planted on the ground and her hands around her hips.
She looked so similar to the Goddess of War that Barbara felt the same primordial fear she felt anytime she saw her, but she was different, younger, and her costume looked like if it was made of stars.
“Who are you...?” she mumbled in her direction, and she smiled.
“Donna Troy, Princess of Themyscira” she answered with pride. “And who are you?”.
She felt a primordial anger starting to rise across her body hearing the word Themyscira, and in a fraction of seconds her body acted on his own, driven by the feral forces she had summoned just the night before.
Her claws popped out of her fingertips, and she jumped towards her assaulter with her mouth opened to show her sharp teeth.
“I’m Cheetah!” she shouted. “The Goddess of Hunt!”.
… To be Continued