Chapter One

Crossed Paths

In the dead of night, a lone man was making his way through the streets, devoid of any light even from the street lamps that had been dotted around the road at semi random intervals.

The legendary mercenary stalked through the back alley with unnerving stealth. His target was inside, but a rival group that went by the company name 'The Hunters of Artemis' had also located the target and had been offered an even bigger sum of money than he had, for the exact same mission.

It seemed that someone wanted the two of them to find each other. If he did his job properly, not only would he get a massive pay check, but he'd also piss off that self-righteous misandrist Artemis.

Win win.

For a long time Perseus had looked up to Artemis and wanted to work for her but she had a personal vendetta against men and wouldn't even employ them for back room admin.

It was sexist, but there was nothing anybody could do about it, The Hunters of Artemis were an elite mercenary group that had been black listed in eight different countries because of violence in ensuring the completion of a job.

Percy had only been black listed from five countries, not that he saw it as a competition or anything like that...

Perseus counted six apparent entry points, two doors, four windows. This was a cake walk of a job, or so he thought until he saw a flash of silver in his vision towards the end of the alleyway.

He cursed under his breath before donning his custom carbine rifle. It was always a feeling of true freedom to be able to carry a gun wherever he pleased.

Perseus wasn't oblivious to why he always got in trouble with local authorities, the man was a walking arsenal half of the time.

He couldn't waste any more time. Another minute and Artemis and her hunters would get the target before Perseus could. He kicked down the door and began his raid.

Ten minutes later and all hostiles in the building had been killed, all with clean shots. He burst through another door in the structure and it was only then that Perseus noticed that he seemed to have found a back route into an abandoned warehouse.

Why had the deal been here? It was derelict of course, but it was impossible to escape two different mercenary groups such as the ones that were expected to raid the targets.

Just as he got to the table that had the open briefcase he felt cold steel against his throat.

"It's been a while hasn't it Perseus?" he heard a familiar voice that belonged to the only being that could rival him in most senses of the word; Artemis.

The one woman he admitted was better than him specifically in their line of work. She stood behind him, another knife firm against his back if he made any sudden movements.

Had she come alone? He wasn't sure that she could take him down in one on one combat in this proximity if it came down to it.

Nonetheless he tilted his head slightly, the blade moved as his neck did, until he could see the edge of her auburn hair that had been braided into a combat effective pony tail that landed halfway down her back.

Her silver urban camouflage was a nice touch, it only served to enhance her strong platinum eyes that Perseus could see glinting in the edge of his vision.

"Artemis." he grunted dryly. If this went south, which it already had, then he'd leave empty handed again. She'd never kill Perseus flat out, he was too much of a good challenge for her.

Something that she would never tell him, that she actually saw them as equals, but he was a lone wolf, by choice no less. Artemis had an entire mercenary faction.

"So Perseus, are we going to do this the easy way or the hard way?" she asked seductively, whispering so close to his ear that he could the hot breath caress the side of his face.

She was a huge man hater but for what it was worth, she loved to tease her prey when they were stuck in her fingers, but that statement was only loose at best when talking about Perseus Jackson.

She could have had him tied up to the neck in rope and he would still find some way to survive. He truly did amaze her but that was her little secret that no one, not even Artemis' second in command, Thalia Grace, Perseus' cousin no less, knew about.

"Well." he said casually before thrusting his arm up and under the knife at his throat before turning and sweeping his knee high into her other hand, knocking the second knife clear of his body before slamming Artemis into the side of the wall, holding her arms behind her back, both of his hands clasped firmly above her own.

To anyone else these two would have looked like lovers but they had a long history of fighting each other on cross missions.

"That depends on whether or not the hard way is us fucking until we're both completely exhausted." Perseus retorted, an amused glint in his eye. Both of them were breathing heavily from the struggle but it had yet only just begun.

Artemis winked at him before bringing her knee up high and straight into the side of Perseus' thighs. He was pushed back slightly but it was just enough for Artemis to jump and roll free on his range.

"Why is it always you that brings out so much tension?" she muttered under her breath before closing in with a knife. Had she not seen it with her own eyes, she would never have believed that anyone would ever have been capable of doing it, but as she brought her knife down to try and leave a surface cut on his face, there was a blur of black as his arms came up and his fists clamped down either side of her combat knife.

She couldn't budge it up or down once he'd encased it in a vault of pressure using only his bare hands.

"Perhaps it's because you're actually drawn to me? Maybe that's why you're always coming in and ruining my missions." he hissed with a smirk on show before twisting his hands around her wrist and disarming her of the knife. Artemis was still far too skilled to be considered lightly, even without any weapons.

He had only a pistol concealed behind his back, but he wasn't about to pull that out, especially not then, right after Artemis had pulled her fists up to engage him hand to hand.

She was too smart to have gone into a fist fight with him of all people without a backup firearm as well, so he knew to be careful with this upcoming fight yet at the same time he knew that he couldn't pass up on this, he seldom got to fight anyone as interesting as she was despite her layers upon layers of protection against anyone getting close to her, not that he'd really tried.

Perseus was the first one to move in this time, swinging with his right that Artemis had speedily ducked under before hooking her own arms across his outstretched one.

She twisted her body and tried to throw Perseus using an extremely difficult grapple considering the size difference between the two of them.

Right before it was too late for him to recover, Perseus twisted his own body which resulted in his feet slamming back down to the ground.

The lone wolf spun Artemis around, holding both of her wrists behind her head and her body tight against his own. Honestly, he wasn't really sure where he could go from there.

"Is that a gun in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?" she asked coyly, breaking one of her wrists free of his grasp. Before he could restrain her hand, she immediately grabbed his crotch and let out a surprised gasp.

"So I know you weren't expecting me to-" Percy began. Artemis used that as her chance to break free. She jumped and kicked out her feet against his chest before hitting the ground and rolling forward. Percy quickly pulled the gun out from the back of his waist.

"Answer. But it actually was a gun." she instantly brought up her pistol and took aim at the mercenary in front of her, unfortunately there was a reason that he was one of the best in the business.

He too had drawn his weapon with lightning speed. His gun was far more heavily customized than Artemis' was.

"But I wasn't hiding it in my crotch, not that it was going to stop you from finding something you liked." he remarked under his breath.

Judging from her serious scowl, she heard him, either that or she'd had enough of the endless sexual tension between them and really was about to end their fight with a bullet.

Perseus looked at her incredulously, "Are you really about to waste me for a sum of money that I know you would happily have sent one of your trainees to collect? No, I don't think so. What is the real reason you came, Artemis?" Perseus asked her as he casually holstered his weapon.

Despite the obvious danger he was in from just being shot he had an air of confidence that Artemis couldn't deny she was attracted to.

"Are you finally seeking to get over your man hating ways? If so then I doubt you're going after the right guy. I'd just screw you then leave for my next mission, but hey at least I'm honest about it. Now if you're planning on killing me, get over with it, otherwise stop fucking around with all of my missions. I've got bills to pay." Perseus snapped at his rival, staring straight into her silver eyes, openly challenging her to pull that trigger and end his life.

She cursed under her breath, the only indication Perseus needed to know that he had achieved a split second window of time to do something about her.

Perseus jumped high and reverse kicked the gun clean out of her hands before spinning around and sending his heel into her ribs. She would have been flung clean over the table if he hadn't hooked his hand around her waist and prevented her from tumbling across the ground.

"Next time, sexy." Perseus winked before grabbing the briefcase and bolting away from the angry mercenary he'd left in his wake.

The legendary lone wolf let off two bullets that shattered the window closest to them before he barreled through it.

Artemis' mind hadn't immediately registered what had happened but once it had she gave chase, using her superior speed to quickly zone in on him.

She tracked him right back to where she'd parked her motorcycle. She'd left it right next to one that she knew was his own. One was a bright silver that reflected light off of everything it came into contact with, the other bike which was what Perseus was currently starting up with incredible efficiency was midnight black. Artemis had caught up quickly and mounted her own bike.

"We're splitting the pay. Sixty forty as I took care of the snipers on the rooftops. They were waiting for you, you know. You've become quite the little target." Artemis commented lightly as she mounted her bike next to Perseus.

"I'll tell you what. I'll split it fifty fifty if you beat me, if I beat you we go seventy thirty my way." Percy winked at her before gunning the engine of his obsidian black super-bike.

"Come on Blackjack, let's show this front line feminist how it's done." he said, just loud enough for Artemis to hear. He could almost feel her glare as he rocketed down the empty midnight roads.