Disclaimer: I do not own Young Justice


Dedicated to these Tumblr people/blogs:
Midnightroulette for her amazing Roy/Artemis fics
Fyeahroyandartemis for being the HQ for all things Roy/Artemis
Notyoursidekick and blondearcher for bringing the couple to life through their fantastic role-playing

Chapter I

It's cold.

Artemis shifts herself and in her dreaming haze, she feels a source of continuous warmth to her left. Instinctually, she curls herself towards it and burrows her face into the radiating heat. She's about to drift back into her cave of sleep when she realizes she recognizes the scent enveloping her nose, and with it comes waves of annoyance, and just a tinge of adrenaline that sends her heart jumping. Her eyes snap open, and her waking world is filled with Roy's face—so close she could feel puffs of his breath brushing her eyelashes.

She gives a gasp of surprise and scrambles away, only to feel a sharp stab in her elbow. She frantically looks for the source of pain and discovers she backed herself into a boulder. Confused, she finally lifts her eyes, and realizes with nauseating disorientation she's in some sort of forest. There is a smooth wall of rock in front of her, and her back is at the base of a rocky hill with a yawning cave halfway to the top. All around this small clearing is a border of thick trees reaching towards the gradually darkening sky.

At her foot, Roy begins to stir, and soon he's also sitting and regarding the surroundings with a slack-jawed expression of bewilderment. He turns to Artemis, and without a word, both reach for their radio devices in their ears…only to feel empty air.

Artemis has no recollection of coming to this place. In fact, as she shuts her eyes and strains her mind, she can't even conjure any immediate memories leading to her strange awakening. She could read the frown on Roy's face and understands his thoughts just translated to the same conclusion. The only comforting notion was they were both in full combat gear, with warm jackets, full sheaths of arrows, and their accompanying bows.

"Were we on a mission?" Artemis finally speaks, breaking the deafening silence.

Roy squints—although it's hard to decipher through his domino mask—and answers, "I don't remember anything."

Artemis could hear the shortness in his answer. She's about to retaliate with an exasperated comment of her own when they both freeze. There's a frenzied crash in the forest, and suddenly Robin crashes through, his expression frantic.

"Run!" he screams at them, before a feral roar from the trees drowns his command out.

Roy and Artemis fly to their feet and tear after him, both simultaneously grabbing an arrow and notching it to their bows.

"What are we running from?" Artemis yells, ducking as branches swing into view.

"No time to explain!" Robin responds. He points at a tree with a trunk as wide as a car and leaps onto the first branch. "Climb!"

As if on cue, there's another deafening roar behind him, and Artemis scrunches her nose as the air is filled with the repulsive smell of rotting flesh. She shoves her arrow back into her sheath and folds her compound bow before propelling herself at the nearest branch. She hears Roy do the same next to her and they both follow Robin, the fear of their unknown pursuer slicing through their veins.

They're halfway up the tree when there is a burst of activity below and suddenly something slams into the trunk. The tree groans, but not even a leaf moves out of place.

"Don't look down!" Robin shouts from above Artemis and Roy. "Just keep climbing!"

But it's too late. Artemis's fingers nearly uncurl from her branch in terror, and beside her, she hears Roy sharply inhale and she knows he's seeing what she's seeing.

It was a creature—there was no other word for it—the size of a horse, and could only be described as a gruesome cross between a lizard and a wolf. It had bristling glossy black fur, a large scaly tail, and long claws that glinted in the evening light. It was standing on its hind legs like a human, and it opened its mouth to reveal multiple rows of jagged red teeth, dripping with thick saliva. However, the most terrifying were its eyes—large black skull-like hallows with a single red glowing dot in the center, yawning and threatening to drag your screaming soul into the depths of hell.

The creature snarls, and the smell of fetid carcasses rushes past them. It rams itself once again against the tree, but the sturdy trunk refuses to bend.

"Keep climbing!"

Robin's voice jolts Artemis and Roy away from their terrified state, and they continue up the tree. They only stop when the branches become too thin to support their collective weight. The creature has stopped throwing itself against the tree, and backs away to focus its dark eyes on the tree. It suddenly throws back its head and howls, a grating noise that contains all the notes of a deep wolf's bay and the screeching of an owl. Artemis feels her hair stand on end when its call is answered by a similar chorus peppered throughout the forest.

Eventually the creature leaves. Artemis isn't sure if her frightened imagination is playing tricks on her, but just before the creature retreats back into the shadows, it locks its eyes on her and curls its lips upwards in a grin. She shudders and turns away to face Robin and Roy.

"S-so what the hell was that?" she whispers, not even attempting to hide the shakiness in her voice.

Robin shakes his head and answers, "No idea. But it's smart…it knew how to evade my birdarangs-"

"Okay, better question," Roy interrupts, "where are we? Where's the rest of the Team?"

Robin brings up a holographic map projected from his gauntlet, and it shows three blinking red dots next to each other—their positions. But everything else is blank—no landmarks, not even a grid. He touches the screen and zooms away, only to reveal a larger expanse of nothingness.

"I don't know."