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"Secrets in the Sand": With Queen Anahid dead, Nehebka becomes de facto leader of the Bana-Mighdall Amazons, maintaining an uneasy truce with Wonder Woman per the Queen's last words. When Wonder Woman insists on contacting her friends in the United States, Nehebka sends an Amazon named Faruk


Quote1 Hear me, O Gods of Olympus! Twice have we laid our trust before man, and twice have we anguished for it. We know now that only through man's conquest can there be Amazon survival -- and though both our Queens be dead, we will survive! Quote2
-- Phthia



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Synopsis for "Secrets in the Sand"

With Queen Anahid dead, Nehebka becomes de facto leader of the Bana-Mighdall Amazons, maintaining an uneasy truce with Wonder Woman per the Queen's last words. When Wonder Woman insists on contacting her friends in the United States, Nehebka sends an Amazon named Faruka to a small desert outpost whose keeper had been killed in the earlier rampage; there, Faruka telephones Julia, to less-than-ideal results.

Afterward, all of the Amazons return to Bana-Mighdall, with the Cheetah - grudgingly spared at Wonder Woman's request - the sole prisoner of war. With the full moon past, the once-demigod has reverted to an ordinary woman in cheetah-skin and makeup, but her mind has only deteriorated; as she rants and rages inside a padded cell, Wonder Woman watches ruefully, ashamed at her own loss of self-control during their fight. When the Cheetah's rages become visibly suicidal, Wonder Woman rushes to calm them, much to the disdain of her "hosts".

(Meanwhile, the carnage at Syene Kesh is discovered by the Egyptian authorities as well as Dr. Osman Suakin, an old colleague of Julia's. When the authorities present him with the photograph Faruka had dropped at the outpost, Dr. Suakin contacts Julia, who immediately leaves for Egypt.)

Once the Cheetah has been sedated, Faruka brings Wonder Woman to the workshop of the late Kadesha Banu. There, Wonder Woman finds Nehebka as well as the recovered Girdle of Gaea - the one originally bestowed her mother and lost to Heracles millenniums ago. As Wonder Woman approaches, her Lasso of Truth begins to glow with an arcane fire that soon spreads to the girdle, only fading when Faruka (vainly) tries to attack. Perturbed, Nehebka orders the girdle returned to its temple, and calls Wonder Woman's attention to other matters.

As Kadesha Banu's killer, Nehebka explains, Wonder Woman should be condemned - but just now, a secret archive of foreign newspapers and magazines had been found inside the workshop. Since possessing outside writings without the Queen's permission is a capital crime in Bana-Mighdall, Kadesha Banu's death was a rightful one, and enacting that death has entitled Wonder Woman to a reward. Though she protests such barbaric logic, Wonder Woman reluctantly accepts Nehebka's choice of reward: a chronicle of Bana-Mighdall's origins.

The seeds of Bana-Mighdall were sown in ancient Athens, with the murder of Antiope. In life, Antiope had not only retrieved Hippolyte's girdle but married Athens' king Theseus, whose vows of repentance and love had just begun to win friendship and alliance from Antiope's fellow Amazons; now, many of those Amazons accused him of the murder, none more loudly than Antiope's foster-daughter Phthia (who was born to an especially misandrist society). Theseus' eldest son Menalippus worsened these hostilities, spitefully insisting Phthia was the murderer.

Although he never fully believed Phthia guilty, Theseus eventually allowed Menalippus to brutally "interrogate" her for the truth; when this yielded nothing, Theseus instead condemned his once-lover Ariadne, whose execution he hoped would be acceptable to Athenians and Amazons alike. However, Phthia refused to change her original accusations, and so Theseus kept her imprisoned while declaring her another of Ariadne's victims. Such a blatant lie enraged the Amazons, who promptly stormed Athens, rescued Phthia, and swore to never again trust men.

Thus did Phthia become leader of a new, ruthless Amazon nation, wielding Hippolyte's girdle (recovered from Antiope's tomb) as its battle standard. At her command, the Amazons entered the Trojan War, vengefully slaying Menalippus' son Eteocles; and after her death, the Amazons grew more ruthless still, pursuing wars around the world as mercenaries. One specific faction, entrusted with preserving the girdle, eventually settled in Egypt and founded Bana-Mighdall - a city devoted to every facet of war, especially weapons-making.

When Wonder Woman proves unsympathetic to this chronicle - even affirming Ariadne's guilt - Faruka storms away in outrage. For her part, Nehebka callously admits the modern Bana-Mighdall, enriched by the industrial revolution, wars for war's sake rather than survival or vengeance. Before Wonder Woman can respond, the whole city begins to tremble; to the shock of both women, the magical sandstorm shielding Bana-Mighdall is now attacking it, commandeered by none other than an enraged Hermes.



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