Author's Note: Thank you so much to everyone who reviewed. You all are amazing!
Summer Frost 13: This is indeed the third book in the trilogy. However, it underwent the 5 year time-skip as the show, so I cam weave some episodes into the writing
LuvStruckWriter: Ahahaa, you may never know which side she's on o.0
Nightlight753: It's ALWAYS time for Holy Musical, B man jokes! Always! Alfred is so much fun to write. He's just an awesome character. And good! If you're confused as to which side Artemis is on, then I'm doing my job!
N0601859: You're too kind, really. Thank you so much
Yuka Muntou: Here! Have another chapter!
Dark Goddess Of Shadows: I'm sorry! Nightwing and Artemis are strictly friends in my universe! If you haven't, go back and read the two other stories leading up to this one!
I love you Roza: She and Dick are bros :D I loveth them. And GOOD! Confusion is good!
Thank you also to all the kind anons, for your awesome comments! I only wish I could thank you personally!
Artemis looked around, trying not to feel moderately impressed at the type of technology that now littered the inside of the Cave.
"Looks good in here. You got that new kid – Tim Drake, is it? – You get him to upgrade for you?"
"You know about Tim?"
"I told you to get a new identity," Artemis said, moving to the enormous computer monitor. "So you turned into Nightwing and Batman got a new protege. Two, actually. Barbara Gordon is Batgirl, am I right? Commissioner Gordon's daughter. I told you that I kept tabs."
"That's really creepy."
"No creepier than the fact that Miss M's 'little brother' can change his shape because of that blood transfusion she gave him when he was eight." Artemis cracked her knuckles, hoping that what she was about to try would work. There was really no counting on it, though. She splayed her fingers across the holographic keyboard and closed her eyes, grinning triumphantly when an electric jolt sliced through the system, bypassing all of the security protocols and allowing her access to the tracking info that she wanted.
"The hell? How did you do that?"
"Tigress. She can control electricity; I can't."
"I thought that you were just pretending to be her."
"No." Artemis said, still focused on her task. "She's in there, keeping that part of me dormant until I need it. But if we both agree that I need the power, she helps out."
"But – "
"Kid, don't even bother trying to work it out. It took me five years and I'm the one living with her. She says 'hi,' by the way."
"There is so much not right about everything you just said." Dick muttered to himself. "And I'm not a kid anymore. I'm eighteen, Artemis."
"And I'm twenty-one. What's your point? " Artemis said with a smile. "Anyway, thanks. I got what I wanted."
"There's no way," Dick objected, "that you bypassed and tracked what you needed so fast. And are you seriously not going to tell me what it is?"
"No. You've got to trust me on this one. Don't give me that look. Expect a present in a few days." Artemis smiled at her own wit, quickly backing into the Zeta beam while Dick tried to figure out how she'd hacked the system. Tigress's method of hacking was self-destructive: she got what she wanted and then the whole system would melt down around the information, effectively destroying it. It was a nice system. Worked for the pair of them; when Tigress was willing to help, that is. And it wasn't very often.
"El Paso," Artemis murmured to the Zeta, vanishing in a flash of light before Dick had a chance to turn around. She stepped out of an abandoned-looking shack onto the street, quickly evaluating the neighborhood. It wasn't the worst place she'd been in her life – that might be Ukrainian prison, or quality time with Sportsmaster – but it was a far cry from the High Side of Gotham.
She slipped through the long shadows, silently making her way through the streets until she got to the address. It was a home. Nondescript, pretty average-looking for this side of town, but well-maintained, despite its size. Artemis could relate. No matter how much they struggled for money, her mother always insisted that the apartment look presentable. Meaning minimal to no explosions allowed indoors. Artemis smiled at the memories, then refocused. Whatever Kord had been working on, it had landed here.
Artemis's head snapped towards a sudden scream coming from the second floor. And now Kord's little project had been discovered. Awesome. Leaping into action, Artemis scaled the brick wall with ease, busting through the window without flinching, though now her hands were bleeding. She wiped the blood off on her black pants, surveying the room. It was empty. But the door was open. Artemis gave chase, following the panicked sounds into the hallway and down the stairs.
"Stop running!" Artemis ordered, blocking the door to the kitchen. A kid – maybe fifteen, sixteen – whirled, staring at her with wide, dark eyes. Something was attached to his back, something blue and gleaming. Artemis swore violently. Kord's tech. She knew that it was some kind of artificial intelligence, but there was nothing on file that said it needed a host.
"Who are you?" the kid asked, his voice shaking with fear. "What do you want?" He winced in pain, his words cut off, but Artemis knew that the next question was "what is this thing?"
"I'm sorry," Artemis said softly. The boy just looked at her, his dark eyes growing even wider. Artemis could see that the technology was trying to merge with him – it was attaching itself to his spinal cord. It was going to fuse its consciousness with his. Artemis wanted to punch a wall. Whoever invented real AI's she hoped burned in hell. Didn't they ever watch Terminator? Giving computers their own consciousnesses never ended well. Ever!
"What did you do to me?" he demanded.
"What's your name?" Artemis countered softly.
"Jaime," he replied, his voice still quivering. "Jaime Reyes. Is this...is it going to kill me?" Artemis didn't answer, just moved closer to the boy, ignoring him when he flinched away from her.
"Jaime, my name is Artemis," she said, her voice quiet, trying not to spook him. She crouched down next to him, her long blonde hair almost touching the ground. She'd considered cutting it again, but in the end, kept it long. She owed herself that, at least. "I'm not going to hurt you."
"What are you – " the boy's voice broke off suddenly as Artemis plunged a syringe into his neck. He went limp instantly, his eyes fluttering closed.
"Sorry, kid," Artemis said, slinging the boy over her shoulder. "You're going on a trip."
"Okay," Artemis said, sashaying into the Light HQ. "There's good news and bad news." Her old sensei turned, his eyebrows raised.
"Good news: I killed Kord. Bad news: he gave whatever technology he was working on to the League before I got there. I tracked it and it's in the Hall."
"No matter," Ra's said after a pause. "The Justice League will never figure out its capabilities."
"Whatever, then," Artemis said, waving an airy hand and going off to the training room when Ra's called her back.
"Your tracking information shows that you were at Wayne Manor today."
"And...?" Artemis said when he trailed off, raising an eyebrow.
"And what were you doing there?"
"Visiting an old friend. If I'm going to live here from now on, people are going to see me. I wouldn't want to burn bridges. Besides," she said, smirking, "that billionaire brat's filthy rich and he has connections. I might be able to use that one day." Artemis knew that they'd ask. She'd rigged the tacking beacon to say that she'd been at the Manor all day, as opposed to the beacon blipping off the map when she went into the Cave. All non-League-sanctioned tracking signals were jammed on Mount Justice.
Eh, what the Light didn't know wouldn't hurt them.
"That...was very clever, Tigress."
"I know," she replied haughtily. "I still don't know why you're bothering with a tracer. I tell you where I go anyway. Plus, I've never done anything but what you've asked."
"It is a precaution we must take, given your...past history." Artemis's face darkened at the mention.
"I thought we weren't discussing who I used to be anymore?"
"My apologies." Artemis sniffed irritably and turned to go. "And, Tigress, I wouldn't stay long. Queen Bee is coming for a meeting and was most unpleasantly surprised when we told her of your return."
"Yes, well, wouldn't want to anger the Queen Bitch," Artemis said lazily. "Because you know how much I care about her opinion of me." Ra's gave her a look and Artemis rolled her eyes. "Fine, fine, I'm leaving. Tell Savage to call me if he needs me. And you know the rule."
"Indeed," Ra's said, nodding. The rule was that Artemis's apartment was off-limits. No Lighters allowed. She claimed it was for "meditation" and by some act of God, they'd bought it. Regardless, Artemis didn't trust them. She'd overhauled the place with security: no trackers worked, no satellites could find it. She'd modified the usual alarm system to warn her if someone even loitered outside her door for too long. Not to mention that the whole place was rigged with explosives powerful enough to rip through steel if anyone without the passcode tried to enter through any entrance. Paranoid? Absolutely. But she wanted her privacy.
Especially since she now had a guest.
Artemis ducked as a china plate sailed though the air and smashed against the wall.
And now said guest was awake.
"¿Dónde estoy, puta?" Jaime swore in Spanish, his arm raised to throw another dish. Artemis looked at him coolly, and then there was a dagger pinning his arm to the wall. Jaime blinked. He hadn't even seen her wind up, she'd moved to fast.
"Do you really think it's wise to call the girl who saved your life a bitch? Or throw her stuff? Hm?" Artemis said, leaning close to the boy. Jaime backed away as far as he could go.
"Where am I?" he repeated, this time in English.
"My place," Artemis said, casually moving away and picking up the broken plate pieces. "That thing on your back was killing you. I slowed it down." She threw the smashed china into the trash, picking up a holographic projector from the counter and showing it to him. "See? These are the scans from the Scarab."
"The giant blue thing on your back." Artemis said. "It's...it has a mind of its own and now, it's attached to you." She saw panic flash in the boy's eyes and held up a hand. "Hey, don't freak out on me, kid. I'm not sure what it is exactly, but I'm going to help you."
"You're the one who did this to me!"
"No, I'm not." Artemis said. "I'm the one who saved your life. The Scarab was binding itself to your spinal cord. It was killing you, but I managed to hack it. Attach it safely, without you...dying. And I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, that you got stuck in the middle of this, but there's nothing you can do about it now." Artemis took the knife from his sleeve, twirling it absently. "But I'll tell you something. If this works like I think it might, you'll be a hero."
"Is that what you are?" Artemis looked at him, a grin splitting her face.
"No. Not even close. But I used to be. Think about it, kid. Think about all of the people you could save. Not to mention," she added, "that you'll have a family. Heroes, just like you. They'll protect you and you them. You'll be a part of something." Jaime looked at her, indecision flickering in his eyes. Artemis knew what he wanted. He wanted proof. "Come on," she said, "let me show you something." She walked out of the kitchen area, down the hall, not bothering to see if he was following her. He was. Of course. Everyone wanted to be a hero.
"Look," Artemis said, pointing to the photographs that lined the walls. Her and Robin, Wally, Red, all of them. Some newspaper clippings, praising Green Arrow's crime-fighting niece. She picked up one frame, pointing to the photo within. "Before them, I didn't have much of a family. My dad skipped out, my mom was in a wheelchair and my sister...she died." She pointed to each hero in turn. "They were my family. I depended on them. And, guess what? They're still around. They still need young heroes. There had to be a reason that the Scarab picked you, Jaime. You were meant to be a hero." It didn't matter that the last bit was a lie. Artemis had no idea if the AI had chosen the boy on purpose, or if it had been completely random. But she'd said the right thing. She could see hope on Jaime's face. Determination. Good qualities. She could work with that. Finally, he nodded.
"I'll do it."
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