Oh, Andraste...why does it feel like Fenris is shoving his hand through my skull?
That was Artemis's first thought when she regained consciousness. She struggled to think through the throbbing in her head. Her mouth was dry, and breathing felt...strange. Like the air wasn't...right, somehow. She knew for a fact that she hadn't gone to the Hanged Man, so she wasn't experiencing a hangover... Then, it all came rushing back to her. Meredith, Orsino, Anders...the Chantry... Her crystal blue eyes snapped open, and she attempted to sit up...only to find that she couldn't. Frowning, she glanced down. She gasped when she discovered that she was literally strapped to a chair, her armor stripped off, so she was dressed her thin brown undershirt and pants. Restraints were in place around her wrists, ankles, and abdomen. The chair was placed in a large, starch white room, with various box-shaped objects and other strange things with blinking lights cluttered around it. What the hell is going on here?! "Hello?" she called. "Can anyone hear me? I'm kinda...stuck!" She winced. Her own loud voice was causing the pain in her head to increase. This is not okay.
"Ah, you're finally awake."
Hawke's eyes flickered over to the door on the far side of the room. A man emerged from the doorway, gently shutting the door behind him. He was an older man, probably in his late 40s or early 50s, and he had dark hair that was starting to gray, a pale complexion, and piercing green eyes. He wore some kind of...white overcoat, with gloves and white pants as well. He didn't look like a Free Marcher at all...he didn't even look Fereldan. Could he be an Orlesian?
"What is your name, darling?" he inquired, speaking in the same accent she possessed. He started to slowly pace in front of her, hands clasped behind his back.
Artemis gave him a cheeky grin. "If all you want to do is get to know me, there are much easier ways to do so." She wiggled a bit. "For starters, you could undo these restraints...you had me thinking I was here to be tortured or something equally horrific."
The man didn't even smile. "I apologize, but the restraints must remain until we know more about you. Now please, tell me your name."
"But I'd rather know your name," she said innocently, tilting her head up at him.
"Please don't try my patience, dear. It would be easier on both of us if you just answered my question."
Artemis sighed. "Oh, alright, spoilsport. My name is Artemis Hawke. Noble, wealthy, Champion of Kirkwall...any of this ringing a bell?"
The man frowned. "No...should it?"
"Well, yes, if you keep up with the gossip." Artemis half-smiled. "The former Lowtowner who made a fortune from venturing through the Deep Roads? The one who killed the Arishok, and stopped the Qunari from taking over Kirkwall? Yeah, that was me."
"I'm afraid I have no clue what you're talking about," the man said, raising a confused eyebrow.
Artemis puffed out her cheeks. This guy obviously didn't get out much. "Ser, I can't make it any clearer. I would like to know the name of my captor now, if that's perfectly alright with you."
"You may call me Dr. Richards," he replied, ceasing his pacing to stand in front of her.
"Oh. Well, I would say, 'It's a pleasure', but given the circumstances..." Artemis gestured to her position with her chin. "By the way, could you explain this situation to me? I am utterly confused as to how I even got here in the first place..." She stared up at him, raising an expectant eyebrow.
"I'm sure." Dr. Richards tilted his head slightly, looking down at her with that same, unwaveringly calm expression. "I have reason to believe that you come from an undiscovered galactic system...well, undiscovered by outside species, anyway. Recently, an unmapped mass relay appeared near the edge of the Artemis Tau cluster..."
"Wait, wait." Artemis interrupted him. "What the hell are you talking about?" She looked up at him like he was crazy. Galactic system? Mass relay? Artemis Tau cluster? What kind of language was he speaking?!
"Ah, of course. I forgot that you are unfamiliar with these terms." Richards smirked ever-so-slightly. "Your world is not the only one that exists. The galaxy is filled with hundreds of them, and each one has its own unique form of life. The mass relays are the means to travel to each system. The human race has recently joined with the Council, which is a group of leaders, each from one of the major races, that decides the laws and such in Council space." Richards raised an eyebrow at her. "Do you understand?"
"Uh..." Artemis narrowed her eyes. All this information was sending her head spinning. "Yes?"
"Good." Richards folded his arms across his chest. "Now, tell me about where you come from."
Artemis stared up at him suspiciously. "Why?"
"I'm a scientist," Richards replied. "I have a natural curiosity when it comes to undiscovered things." His face remained blank, but there was a gleam in his eye that she didn't like. It was as though the knowledge of her world would make him a king or something... That clicked. He must want to conquer Thedas! That was the only explanation she could think of. Artemis clenched her fists. She was a lot of things, but she was not a traitor.
"I'm not telling you a single thing," she huffed, sticking her nose in the air like she'd seen so many noble women do.
"If you tell me, you'll be well-compensated," Richards suggested, leaning forward slightly.
Artemis snorted. "You'll have to do better than that. Do you really think money or treasures are worth betraying my entire world?"
"Please don't make this difficult, Ms. Hawke." Richards narrowed his eyes. "This knowledge is very important to Cerberus development."
Cerberus? What the hell is that? Ah, who cares. I knew he was working for someone! "And what happens if I refuse to tell you?" she challenged.
"I will use force if necessary," he replied nonchalantly. He seemed unaffected by such an idea...that made Artemis wonder how many people he's tortured in the past.
"Do it," Artemis said with a smirk. "I dare you."
The scientist sighed with disappointment. "I was hoping to avoid this..." He reached into one of the pockets on his coat, pulling out some kind of metal stick.
Artemis gave him an "are-you-kidding-me" look. "What are you going to do, poke me to death?" she scoffed.
The expression on Richards' face changed for the first time since Artemis saw him, morphing from blank to a dark smirk. He pressed a little button on the stick, and suddenly, a crackling sound filled the air. Electricity flickered between the two little rods that were in place on top of the stick. "Just one 'poke' from this taser is enough to fry most of your body's systems. I would cooperate if I were you." Artemis simply smiled. "Very well..." Richards stepped closer to the chair she was strapped to, holding the rod towards her.
She sighed. "Wow, you really aren't very smart, are you?" He simply scowled at her, obviously not understanding what she was getting at. She took a deep breath. "I was hoping I wouldn't have to play this card, but..." She stared him dead in the eye. "I'm a mage."
Richards blinked, staying silent for a moment, before chuckling. "Magic? I'm a scientist, Ms. Hawke. I don't believe in such things."
Do they not have magic here? Artemis wondered. Well, that means there won't be Templars to worry about. "Alright, don't believe me." She shrugged. "I still refuse to tell you anything, though."
"You'll regret that." He continued to reach out, slowly, and when he got close enough, Artemis shot a quick bolt of lightning up his arm, making him screech and drop the taser. "You little bitch!" he yelled, giving her a wide-eyed glare.
"I did try to warn you," Artemis said sweetly, fluttering her eyelashes at him. Then, her hands burst into flames, burning the fabric straps that bound her wrists to the chair. After that, she undid the straps around her torso and ankles, standing up and stretching her stiff muscles. "Ah, much better!" She smiled at Richards. "Now, if you'll kindly tell me where you stashed my armor and weapon, I'll be on my way."
"So you can wreak havoc on this station? I think not," he spat, taking a step back as she took a step towards him.
Artemis blinked. "Please don't make this difficult, Mr. Richards," she mocked. "If you don't stand in my way, then no one will be harmed. All I want is to find my armor and staff, then head back to my world."
"Not possible." Artemis narrowed her eyes as he continued. "The relay that brought you here has returned into dormancy. For some reason, it won't respond when someone tries to pass through it."
"Balls," she muttered. "Does that mean I broke it...? Oh well. I still need to get out of here. And I'll need your cooperation." She advanced towards him, backing him into a wall. "Unless I need to...convince you?" She smiled sweetly, her hand bursting into flames once again.
"Alright!" he cried. "I'll cooperate! Just...for God's sake, put those flames away!" Artemis's smile widened, and the fire surrounding hand died down, but didn't go out completely. "Your armor and...staff...are in the storage room."
"And where's the nearest exit?"
"If you try to leave this station as you are, you'll die." The scientist rolled his eyes, as though it were obvious. "There is no air in space. If you just step off the station, you'll only float endlessly until your head explodes."
Ew. Artemis shuddered. "Then how do I get out of here?"
"There's a ship docked at the station right now, dropping off cargo. It will be leaving for the Citadel shortly."
She didn't bother asking what the Citadel was. "Thank you, Dr. Richards. Now, I'm afraid there's one more thing I need you to do for me..."
Richards grimaced. "You want me to help you off the station." It wasn't a question.
"Precisely!" The flames around her hand went out as she felt her mana begin to deplete. "And I'll have to ask that you refrain from letting any of your colleagues in on my little plan."
"Son of a bitch," he muttered to himself, walking over and pressing the green panel on the door to open it. "Right this way, Miss Hawke," he said with sarcastic politeness, sweeping his hand to the side in an "after you" gesture.
"And they say chivalry is dead." Artemis smirked at him as she walked by. For some reason, this idiotic old man made her feel like being a violent bitch. Which she wasn't, normally. She was feeling very confident in her plan...so much so, that she didn't even notice Richards quickly kneel down and scoop up his taser...
"The storage room is just down this hall..." He spoke slowly, with a devious undertone...in retrospect, that should have been the first thing to tip her off. However, Hawke didn't realize that something was up until she heard a now-familiar crackling sound. She whirled around, eyes widening as she caught him behind her, arm raised, taser in hand, poised to stab her in the back with it. She didn't think she would have enough reaction time to counteract his sneak-attack, when suddenly, a hand popped up from behind him and chopped him in the neck. It hit a pressure point, and the older man crumpled to the floor, unconscious.
Artemis stared at the younger man that now stood before her, blinking rapidly. He was a bit shorter than Richards was, with shaggy, jet-black hair and warm brown eyes. He wore a long white coat as well, but this man's face actually held emotion.
"You have no idea how long I've wanted to do that," he said, taking a deep breath. He looked as though he had just got done running.
She tilted her head. "Thank you for that, by the way...but who are you?"
He held his hand out to her. "Antonio Benevidez...but everybody just calls me Tony."
She shook his hand slowly. "Artemis Hawke...but everybody just calls me Hawke." Her brow furrowed in confusion. "Not that I'm complaining, but...why did you help me?"
"I was watching Dr. Richards's interrogation of you up in the security room." Tony frowned. "I can tell that he plans to use your world to benefit himself somehow. I've seen Cerberus do some questionable things before...but I couldn't just sit by and let him do something like that."
"Much appreciated." Artemis smiled sheepishly. "But, he was kinda my guide out of this place."
"Oh, I can help you. I know this place just as well as he does." Tony gave her a warm smile. She wasn't sure if she could trust him...but he was her only way off this station.
"Alright, then. Lead the way." He nodded, then proceeded to walk down the hall at a brisk, yet discreet pace.
"You'll have to sneak onto the ship," Tony said. "If I know Cerberus-and I'm quite sure I do-they'd kill you if they found out they couldn't control you. I'm the only one who was watching your interrogation, but it's only a matter of time before someone finds Richards and pieces everything together, or he wakes up and goes on a rampage." As he said that, he picked up his pace, walking faster until he reached a door a few minutes later. "Here's the storage room. Let's grab your gear and blow this popsicle stand."
Artemis have him a strange look before sauntering I to the storage room. What in Andraste's name is a popsicle stand? She shook her head, focusing her attention on the task ahead of her. "If I were Champion's Armor and a mage's staff, where would I be...?" she hummed to herself. She rounded a corner of stacked boxes, gasping excitedly when she found what she was looking for. "Found it!" she called to Tony. He responded by shushing her. "Oh, sorry," she said sheepishly. "I'm gonna change now, so you stand guard, and I'll come out when I'm ready." He didn't reply, so she took that as a yes and started slipping into the metal plates and fur and gauntlets and such. When she was all finished, she flexed her joints, smiling with satisfaction and gripping her staff tightly. "Alright, Tony, let's...uh, blow this popsicle stand."
Tony grinned at her use of his words. "Okay, good..." He blinked when she walked in front of him. "...Wow. That armor looks amazing on you!"
Artemis felt her cheeks get warmer. "I get that a lot," she said, smiling widely to show that she was only joking.
Tony laughed. "I'm sure." He shook his head. "Okay, now let's get you to-"
"Red alert! The specimen from the unknown relay has escaped! All units, look for Artemis Hawke! Don't let her board the Latvia!"
"Shit!" Tony's eyes widened. "No time to play around now!" He grabbed her by the wrist and pulled her out of the storage room, running down the hall with her in tow.
"What was that?" Artemis looked around wildly as she was being dragged. "Where did his voice come from?"
"There's no time to explain, I have to get you on that ship!" Tony's face was dead-serious now. Hawke's mouth formed a hard line. The next few moments would determine her fate, and the fate of Thedas...she could play around and be curious later.
Tony and Artemis ran through the halls for a few minutes, twisting and turning around corners, until they came upon a set of double doors, guarded by two men with strange objects in their hands. "Damn it," Tony hissed. "I didn't anticipate this..."
"Stand back, Tony." Artemis smirked, pushing him back and stepping forward. "Let me show you how a Champion from Thedas handles things." Bending her knees, she drew back her right hand and gathered some mana, before thrusting it forward, the mana shooting out in the form of a Stone Fist. It slammed into the first guard, instantly snapping his spine from the impact, and she shot a spike of ice at the second before he could react, stabbing him through the neck and making him fall to the ground, drowning in his own blood.
"Oh my God," Tony breathed, eyes wide in a mixture of awe and horror. I'll bet he's never seen anybody die before, Artemis mused. Well, he was bound to see it sooner or later. Poor sod. Then, he blinked rapidly, snapping out of it and running up to the doors. He looked a little green when he stepped past the bodies of the guards, but was otherwise undeterred, and hurried her into the room.
Inside, there were stacks of boxes, much like in the storage room, except they were much bigger. Most of them were sealed, but some of them were lying open. Tony led her over to the biggest empty one he could find...and gestured for her to get inside.
"You're kidding," Artemis deadpanned.
He shook his head. "It's the only way to sneak you into the ship. I'm sorry, but at least you won't be too cramped."
"What about you?" Hawke wondered.
He have her a sad smile. "I won't be able to come with you...it's regretful, but I can't sneak myself on the ship as well."
"But they'll kill you!" Artemis exclaimed, eyes widening.
Tony shrugged. "I'm not afraid of death." He smiled again. "Besides, I'd rather die doing something honorable than live the rest of my life making others miserable." He gently pushed her into the box, lifting the lid to close it.
"Tony?" He stopped for a moment when Artemis looked up at him with sad eyes, on the verge of tears. "Thank you. For saving me, for...everything. I'll never forget you."
Tony looked back at her with the happiest expression she's ever seen on him. "You're welcome, Artemis. Try to stay out of trouble on the Citadel, okay? You'll do just fine." She nodded, and he closed the lid, grabbing a nearby tool and bolting it shut.
Moments later, she heard his footsteps moving frantically away, and another man approached her box, lifting it into the air. "Damn, this box is heavy! What'd those scientists put in this thing?!" he huffed, making her eye twitch. Is he saying I'm fat?
Then, her demeanor became serious once more, and she tightened her grip on her staff, thankful for the amount of space the box provided. What was to become of her now? Once she reached this "Citadel" place, where would she go from there? She didn't know how this crazy place worked...there was so much she didn't understand.
How would she survive?