The new Taliban-dominated government of Afghanistan was outraged, and pledged to destroy the refuge, and also to prevent women from reaching it, setting up checkpoints on roads into the area.
An attempt by the Taliban and Afghan Army to attack the site had revealed something that had been forgotten by both. It was one thing to fight a guerilla war against the United States. It was quite another to attack a heavily-defended US base in a location chosen by the US military, and the Afghan forces suffered huge casualties.
Themyscira not only provided a refuge for any woman (and her children) who could reach it, but it also started training and equipping Afghan women who wanted to fight back. Female US Army and Marine drill instructors started training women first in unarmed combat, than in broader military skills. This was part of the president’s secret second stage.
The first attack happened two months after the refuge opened, another “tribunal” where a young female teacher was to be beaten in public by Taliban for secretly teaching girls in a village how to read. Just as the first Taliban raised his cane, a bullet passed through his skull. The other eight men fell in seconds. The crowd gathered to watch dispersed in screaming chaos, as did the young teacher. Minutes later, on mobile phones throughout the country, a clip of the attack appeared, accompanied by a statement to those who would brutalise women in Afghanistan that the women of the country now had a means to fight back.
That there would be consequences.
It also offered refuge in Themyscira and ended with a stylised version of the “WW” logo used by the character Wonder Woman.
Within days the logo started appearing on walls throughout the country.
A week later another clip appeared, this time of a Taliban patrol being ambushed by a patrol of well-trained and equipped Afghan women. Those Taliban who survived were filmed, stripped naked, having their beards shaved and having the WW logo permanently inked to their foreheads as some of them sobbed in humiliation. The Afghan government had desperately tried to keep the ambush secret, even jailing the men.
Iran and Saudi Arabia both condemned the United States for backing Themyscira, which did the president no harm in the polls.
An Israeli offer to send female troops to help train more Afghan women was politely turned down, although female Kurdish Peshmerga were welcomed.
Now with functioning operative and assault teams made up of Afghan women (secretly assisted by US, British and French special forces) the site focussed on, as well as carrying out attacks on the Taliban but also getting women and their children who wished to flee to Themyscira. Secret operatives set up rendezvous points for either helicopters or escorted convoys. The Kabul government attempted to intercept some but again found that when it came to conventional warfare they were coming off a very distant second to American drone firepower. Taliban checkpoints became easy targets.
The Kabul government was in chaos, trying to deal with the situation. A number of village elders who had attempted to round up the women of villages in pens to stop them fleeing had suddenly discovered that their actions had drawn the attention of Themyscira forces, who either savagely beat them or simply executed them, always leaving the logo spray painted and the incident uploaded.
The Taliban leadership genuinely did not know what to do, so used to being the source of fear and now having to deal with their own supporters in the country complaining of living in terror from the “She-Wolves”. The Kabul vice-president, an elderly Taliban leader, had suggested that all the women in the country be rounded up. He even went so far as to suggest publicly that it would be better for the government to kill all the women of Afghanistan than have them turn into “western whores”.
The country was spared any more of his opinions when he was found naked hanging from a balcony in his home, his throat slit and his beard shaved. The ubiquitous WW was on his chest.
The Taliban responded in the only way they knew: they started executing women in villages to try to deter the rising support. But even that proved challenging: the numbers trained by Themyscira was such that more and more villages had women in direct contact and at times armed and who fought back. Many died in the fighting. But they took Taliban with them, and forced the Kabul government to send larger and larger groups of troops to villages, given the possibility of armed resistance, and these convoys were spotted by NSA surveillance and many were quickly hit by armed drones. Clips on mobile phones of Taliban convoys being slaughtered did much for morale among anti-Taliban elements.
The tipping point came when the government started to find men siding with the women. Their wives, sisters, daughters, now being slaughtered by the government. The She-Wolves (they took ownership of the slur themselves) started vouching for men willing to fight along them, and when the Kabul government started finding near-whole towns and villages in open revolt (and armed with US weapons) their own sense of self-preservation kicked in, and they opened discreet channels to the United States.
The document popularly known as the Themyscira Treaty was signed by a number of major powers including the Afghan government and the United States. In the treaty, Themyscira forces agreed to cease operations against Afghan/Taliban forces in return for creation of a self-governing autonomous zone around the Themyscira base. This zone would be supervised by a US/EU commission and a body directly elected only by women who lived in the zone, and funded by huge amounts of celebrity support and EU aid. Men were permitted to live in the area if they were sponsored by a Themyscira female resident, and whilst they would have equal legal rights would not have the right to vote. Finally, and this was the point that the Kabul government fought most against: every woman in Afghanistan and her children would have a legal right to travel freely to the zone. If women and their families were prevented in any way from travelling, Themyscira had the right to resume hostilities.
Before he conceded the point, the Afghan president complained to his US counterpart that such a concession could mean that millions of Afghan women could flee government-controlled territory.
The US president, immaculately dressed in a well-cut blue suit and with his dazzling white smile leaned towards the other man.
“Have you ever considered, you know, treating them better?”