Artemis stared at the clones, watching each one. They were each different. There was one doing push-ups in the corner. Another was reading a book it had got from God knows where and then there was Apollo. He just sat aside from all the clones, watching them. He looked like he'd rather be running free somewhere rather than trapped in the room with a whole army of Artemis's. Artemis smiled. Apollo looked up at that second. The minute he spotted her, he darted through the clones and was staring at Artemis through the glass that separated them. Artemis smiled, placing her hands on the glass. Slowly, Apollo's hands came to be lined up with hers. Artemis leaned against her side of the glass, in a sort of mock hug. She felt the glass rattle as Apollo conked his head on it in order to mock hug her as well. Artemis closed her eyes, tears escaping.
"I'm so sorry," she whispered.
She and Apollo stayed like that for a few minutes.
"Artemis, you're needed."
Artemis jumped. Lumiere was standing by the elevator.
"Coming," Artemis called.
She backed away from the glass, leaving her hand on the glass for just a second.
"Artemis, let's go," Lumiere said with more urgency.
Artemis tore herself away from the glass and ran to the elevator.
Eclipse, TweedleDee and Lumiere all uncovered their ears.
"Yes, the clones and Apollo will self destruct sometime today," TweedleDee said.
"So, that's why they're in that room?" she asked.
"That's half of it," Lumiere said.
"And the other half?" Artemis inquired.
"Their bodies contain carbon monoxide. Once they die, it will be released from their bodies and that much could wipe out the entire planet," Eclipse said.
"So, you just wait for them to die and then you'll lock that room away? Make it seem like they never existed?"
"That about sums it up."
Artemis gritted her teeth.
"And what about me?" she asked.
"What about you?" Kale asked.
Artemis turned to see him and Armblast entering the room. Kale was riding on Armblast's shoulder. Artemis turned back to Eclipse.
"If they're bodies are laced with carbon monoxide, that means mine has to be too. I'm exactly like them. Doesn't that mean I die today too?" she asked.
No one said a word. Artemis turned to Armblast.
"Doesn't it?" she asked.
Armblast hugged her.
"I won't let that happen," he whispered.
"The way I see it, you don't have a choice."
"Artemis, I don't think you see the seriousness of your little question."
Artemis turned around, lifting her arms to the side.
"Then scan me. See if I'm a walking ball of poisonous gas."
"Kale is after he eats three burritos," Armblast muttered.
"Fine. We'll test you," she said.
"Don't," Armblast said.
Artemis turned to him.
"You don't understand the connection I have with them. They aren't just clones to me. They're my brother and my sisters," she said.
Armblast looked away.
"Fine," he said.
Armblast stared at Apollo through the glass.
"Where is my sister?" Apollo asked.
"She's being tested," he said.
Armblast sighed again. The boy was just as curious as his sister.
"Apollo, Alv programmed you with a self destruct and she filled your body with carbon monoxide. Artemis is being examined," Armblast answered.
"No, she's fine. Mother didn't have a chance to program Artemis the way she programmed us," he said.
Armblast closed his eyes.
"I figured as much. But...according to my watch, you're time is up in about five minutes," he said, his voice shaking.
When he looked at Apollo, all he could see was Artemis's green eyes. Armblast opened his eyes. "I'm sorry."
"Don't be. I knew my expiration date."
Armblast watch those green eyes fill with guilt.
"You're not telling me something," Armblast accused.
Apollo met his eyes.
"Over the GU building. The ship is still connected to me. If I die, the ship will crash," he said. Armblast glanced at his watch.
"That was in the file. Yours' of course. And Ah-ou and Uhn-ou were already dispatched to handle it. It's fine," Armblast assured him.
Apollo smiled, touching the glass.
"You don't want sister to see us die. That's why you let her have her way. Thank you for saving my sister," he said.
Armblast reached out, slowly touching the glass.
"I didn't do it for you," he said.
Armblast jumped a bit when the metal door lowered over the main door. He turned a bit. Eclair was walking towards him.
"I guess it's time," he said.
Eclair stopped beside him, crossing her arms.
"Just precautions to make sure the carbon monoxide doesn't leak out," she said.
"I can't help but feel that Alv won," she said.
Armblast looked at her.
"I was just thinking that too," he said.
He glanced at his watch.
"3...2...1," he whispered to himself.
There was a scream as the first batch of clones each collapsed, falling to the floor almost in unison. Eclair squeezed her eyes shut.
"You don't have to be down here," Armblast said.
"You're here because this could have been Artemis. You want to remember this so you never take her for granted. I...I love her too. I'm not in love with her though. I can't stand to lose her and this...it'll make me do my best to always make sure she stays with us," Eclair said.
She gulped, squeezing her eyes closed tighter. More screams followed the others, surrounding them both. Armblast sighed deeply, also closing his eyes. He had every intention to leave them closed but something made him open them again. He locked eyes with Apollo, holding his gaze. In that second, some of Artemis's features overtook his. Her long hair, her pure black clothes. Armblast felt something snap in him and he reached out, touching the glass. Apollo lined up their hands, still smiling. And then, he collapsed.
Armblast and Eclair were silent as they headed for the clinic.
"When Apollo went, all I could see was Artemis," Eclair said.
Armblast looked at her. So, it hadn't been just him? Even Eclair had felt compelled to open her eyes and look. Eclair was the first to step into the clinic. She was by Artemis's bedside in an instant, sitting right beside her. Artemis opened her eyes slowly, the effects of the drug used to knock her out still in place. She looked at Armblast, her eyes blurry.
"I missed it, didn't I?" she asked.
"Apollo?" she asked.
"He went peacefully," Eclair said.
Artemis took a deep breath, closing her eyes. Armblast watched tears stream down her face.
"He was my brother," she croaked.
Armblast reached out, brushing her tears away.
"Yes. And he still is. Eclipse brought the ship back. Apollo is still with you," he said.
Artemis smiled at his, placing her hand on his.
"Can I go home now?" she asked.
"Soon," he promised.
(Time Skip(du du duuun) 7 days later):
Eclipse smiled up at the auditor as he entered her office.
"Ah, I take it your new partner is at home in bed?" she guessed.
Armblast set a file of papers on her desk.
"No. She's down at the loading dock with her brother," he said.
Eclipse smiled, opening the file.
"So, she's up to date on her shots, she took a three day course on the politics and ..."
Eclipse stopped, looking at Armblast.
"You felt the need to include her clothing bill in this?" she asked.
"Just in case you wanna pass a little something, something along," he said.
"I'll see what I can do. Now, abut her living arrangement..."
Artemis burst through the door, leaping past Armblast and over Eclipse's desk. She wrapped her arms around Eclipse's neck, hugging her tightly.
"THANK YOU!" she cried.
Eclipse looked over Artemis's head at Armblast. He shrugged.
"Hey, she's also a bed hog," he said.
Artemis leapt up, running to Armblast. She grabbed his arm.
"Come on, I wanna take Apollo for a test run," she said.
Armblast allowed her to pull him out of the room, thinking it better to escape while he could. Eclipse sighed, fixing her desk.
"I wish them only the best," she said. Kale leapt onto the desk, settling on the corner comfortably. "As do I," he agreed.
(Another time skip of evil! That night:)
Armblast smiled as Artemis leapt onto the bed, bouncing at bit before Armblast caught her around the waist, hugging her tightly. She laughed when he kissed her.
"My kisses are funny now?" he asked teasingly.
Artemis settled against his chest, relaxing even more when he covered them both with the bed sheet.
"No, they're not funny," she said.
"Oh, then what?" Armblast inquired.
"I'm just glad to be home," she said.
Armblast hugged her tighter. He heard her breathing slow and could tell she was on the brink of leaving him behind as she fell into the world of sweet dreams. He smiled.
"I'm glad you are too. I love you, Artemis," he whispered.