Artemis Crock, dressed in regular civilian clothes, sat crouched on a rooftop watching the Resona Bank building.
She wore a pair of glassed fitted with binocular lenses on her face and used it to observe the group of men wearing ski masks hurriedly loaded bags of money into the back of a van. It seemed that Batman's information had turned out to be accurate as it usually was. Strangely though, she had been ordered not to interfere with their activities. Batman had been abundantly clear when he told her to observe.
She found it odd that the Batman would ask her to stand idly by when a crime was in progress but she guessed that he had a reason for it. That reason came in form of a steel throwing axe that hurtled from the shadows of the deserted street and dug into the side of the van, halting the activities of the robbers. A quick jerk on the cord attached to the handle sent the axe flying back into the hands of... a teenager?
Artemis was understandably surprised, as were the bank robbers who had stopped to stare down at the kid. A scream of terror and pain broke them out of their stupor. The man who had been loading the truck held his wrist staring at the bleeding stump. The missing appendage lying at his feet.
The disguised blond archer placed a hand over her mouth to suppress a gasp that threatened to escape, so as not to give away her position. She watched the associates of the screaming robber yell what could only be profanities at the teenager.
They were speaking in Japanese language which Artemis did not understand, but the teen seemed to.
The teenager stared coldly at the robbers from behind their mask, not even slightly bothered by the threars of the much larger men. They skillfully fingered the axe they held in their hand and slowly coiled the cord back around the axe handle as they prepped it for another attack. The casual manner with which he did so gave everyone pause. Whoever this was, they didn't seem to acknowledge just how extreme their actions are, like they didn't have any sense of morality at all.
Artemis felt a pit forming in her stomach as she suddenly realized the true danger of her mission. She thought back to this morning when Batman had first briefed her about the mission.
"There had been a slow but fairly consistent increase in the crime rate In Asia over the past couple of years." Batman's gruff voice said before his eyes narrowed behind his cowl. "In the past few months however the crime rate in the entire continent has taken a deep dive."
"So the bad guys finally realize that crime doesn't pay." Artemis said, unable to keep the snark out of her voice and crossing her arms. "I don't see the problem with that."
Batman's eyes narrowed further making her feel slightly uncomfortable. "The problem is that whoever or whatever is stopping these criminals is using methods that are barbaric and gruesome." Batman said gesturing to the multiple screens that popped up.
The screens showed headlines and articles about several thwarted crimes but with the perpetrators having lost limb, eyes, arms or been whipped to near death. Artemis looked visibly disturbed by the images and turned away in disgust.
"The league does not condone the use of extreme measures like these even against criminals. As such we have tried to track and possibly apprehend this individual but they have proven themselves elusive to even the best among us. We've tried to identify him but there have been no sightings. His M.O doesn't match up with any of the heroes or villains currently stationed in Japan, this leads us to conclude that this is a new player, one who seems to be capable of protecting an entire continent on his own and whom we have no information about."
Artemis could see how much not knowing something bothered him by the fact that his eyes had narrowed to nearly impossible levels.
"I have come to learn that a heist is planned to go down in Setagaya this evening. Since this individual seems to operate in Japan rather frequently, it's fairly certain that he'll show up to stop it. If he does, do not engage, that is not your job. You are simply to trail him to his base and then inform me. I repeat. Do. Not. Engage. Your costume is not required for this mission. You will be dressed in casual wear. You have an hour to get ready."
"Wait, just me! What about the rest of the team?" She yelled surprised. It was the first that that Batman had ever sent any of them on a solo mission.
"Superboy and Miss Martian will be sent out to Belle Reve on an infiltration mission, Aqualad will be going with them to pull them out if things get too serious. Kid Flash and Flash are currently away on another mission and Robin is busy patrolling Gotham while I'm away. You are the only one available."
"Great." She huffed.
"This mission is of the utmost importance, if you are not feeling up to the task, I can have someone else go instead." Batman said with a frown causing Artemis to look away.
"I can do it." She muttered with her arms folded, refusing to meet Batman's eye.
"Good. Take this, at the slightest sign of trouble press that button." he instructed, handing her a small device.
Artemis wondered how she had managed to stay put for so long. When she had seen that man lose his hand she had nearly screamed, despite herself. She had never seen such brutality before, and she had had real life assassins for parents.
She suddenly realized why Batman had deemed this mission of utmost importance. Whoever that kid was down there, they could not be allowed to go unchecked. Her mission needed to succeed at all costs, even if it meant that she would be forced to sit by and watch these men get butchered. The thought left a vile taste in her mouth.
As soon as the masked teen finished winding the cord round his axe, he casually walked towards the remaining robbers, ignoring the screams of the 'disarmed' robber. Said robbers stepped back in fright seeming to want nothing more but to run away. One of them regained his gall and started screaming angrily at the teen.
When said teen would not give a response he reached into his pocket to pull out his gun. A'whish'sound was heard, which was followed by choked gurgling as said robber clutched at his neck. The axe having sailed past his head and slit his throat.
A yank on the cord sent the axe flying back toward the teen who caught it and promptly sent it flying forward again. Artemis was briefly reminded of how her father, Sportsmaster used his metal ball and chain. With each swing the axe cleaved through the arm of a robber, then there were shrieks and then blood. After the fifth swing there was so much blood that it seemed to blanket the tarred road.
The blond girl clenched her teeth tightly together, a man had already been killed, how long would these other men last. She wanted to turn away, wanted to run at him, she wanted to do anything but sit here and watch this happen. Her hand reached for the bag she carried with her, she drew her crossbow from the bag and clutched it tightly, still indecisive about what to do.
When the rest of the robbers drew their guns and started firing, Artemis' decision was made for her. She noticed the way the teens body language changed. How his eyes suddenly narrowed in concentration. How his body suddenly coiled up and how he tightened his grip on his weapon. From her time training with her father and mother, she could tell that the teen was preparing to kill them.
That was something she would not let happen.
The masked teen ducked and weaved through, around, and under the bullets that were fires at him with superhuman agility, and grace.
Soon enough the gunshots ceased replace by the telltale clicks that indicated the lack of ammunition. Before anyone could even attempt to reload, the teen had crossed the distance and smashed the butt of his axe into the nose of a robber. He swung his axe downwards as if to take off the man's head, but had to jump back when a bolt was fired at him from above. He turned to stare at the person who shot at him and came face to face with the beautiful blond female archer.
The teen said nothing, though Artemis saw his one visible eye stare curiously at her from under his mask. He seemed to be appraising her from head to toe, scanning her very being. She didn't know whether to be flattered or creeper out.
"Who are you?" The teen asked. The voice he had was not one Artemis had expected. It sounded soft, smooth and seductive but had no emotions behind it.
"The name's Artemis." She replied though there was a slight edge to her voice that the teen didn't miss, especially since she was glaring at him.
"You seem angry. Are you a friend or an accomplice to these thieves?" The teen asked calmly.
"Like hell! I hate people like them, but I don't have much of a fondness for murderers like you either!" She replied with a furious glare, keeping her crossbow trained on him.
"I am not a murderer." The teen frowned. "I do not kill. I only punish those who do bad deeds. He is still breathing, isn't he?" They finished calmly, their voice never changing in intensity.
At that Artemis glanced around at the pools of blood, the severed hands and the robber who had gotten his throat slit. She cautiously stepped backwards and crouched down to check his pulse, never taking her eyes off the masked teen. When she felt a pulse coming from the downed man, she checked and found that the cut hadn't been too deep and that the man would likely survive if he got help soon.
"Okay, so maybe you're not a killer, but hacking off people's hands and legs for committing crimes still qualifies you as a psychopath, which isn't all that different. Your methods are too barbaric, the Justice League does not approve of the way you do things, and they tasked me with tracking you down so they can speak with you." Artemis said discreetly pressing a device and sending out an alert to Batman.
"I'm not interested in speaking with your Justice League. My methods have effectively reduces the crime rate in the entire Asian continent, and so they suit me just fine." The teen said, flat out denying the request.
Artemis frowned at the masked teen. "If you don't come with me peacefully, the League will hunt you down and they will do everything in their power to lock you up."
"Let them try." The teen responded immediately, without even a moment's pause. Artemis' frown deepened and she pulled back on the trigger of her crossbow aiming to knock out the unnervingly calm teen with a tranquilizer bolt. The sound of a revving engine and a bright pair of headlights that shone behind her put a halt to that plan, as she was almost run over by the van the robbers had been loading earlier money into.
She wasn't quick enough to process the situation and could only stand there and watch the approaching vehicle. Apparently the distraction she had unintentionally caused had allowed the remaining robbers sneak into their van with the exception of the one who had his throat cut. Luckily for her, the teen pushed her out of the way of the van before she could be turned into roadkill.
Unfortunately, the half dead robber whose accomplices had all but forsaken was unable to move and had his head as well as most of his body crushed by the van.
Artemis gasped in horror at the sight while the teen just shook his head.
"Do you still think that those people don't deserve what I do to them?" The teen asked. He didn't wait for an answer before throwing metal spikes on the road that flattened the tires and sent the van veering off into the support beam of a nearby construction site, crashing the concrete structure down on the vehicle.
It was at this point that Batman arrived swinging from a rooftop and landing in front of Artemis. His eyes widened when he saw the blood, the dead body as well as the crushed van. His eyes threatened to burn a hole through the mask of the teen standing before him.
"Did you do this?" Batman asked with a threatening edge in his voice.
The masked teen stared at Batman for less than half a second, quickly determining that the man was going to react badly no matter what his answer was. He instead chose to focus his attention on Artemis who was shaken from both her near death experience, as well as witnessing the deaths of all those people.
"Are you all right?" The teen directed the question to Artemis who responded with a slow nod. On seeing that, the teen turned to walk away, ignoring Batman. He stopped however and caught a batarang that had been thrown at him from behind.
The masked teen turned around to meet Batman's angry scowl.
"I asked you a question." Batman said.
"I assume that you are a member of this Justice League that she mentioned. You must be the one they call Batman. Like I told Artemis earlier, I have no interests in talking to you." The masked teen said and started to leave again.
He quickly twirled around just in time to block a fist aimed for his head courtesy of Batman. Sighing, he responded with a punch of his own which Batman blocked. Both narrowed their eyes but Batman seemed to be showing more emotion than the teen.
"I would advise you to cease attacking me at once, before I am forced to harm you." The teen said.
Batman didn't speak instead choosing to throw more blows at the teen who ducked and blocked most of them. The dark knight kept a vigilant eye on his opponent looking for any weaknesses to exploit. He found one when the teen's hands fell too far down leaving his chin completely open to attack. Batman successfully landed the uppercut and was about to continue with his offensive when he felt a mind-numbing pain erupt from his gloved hand.
He pulled his fist back, clutching it as though he had just attempted to punch through solid steel. The teen however didn't even seem phased by the attack.
He simply stared before kicking the dark knight in the stomach and head in quick succession, knocking him out. The teen then reached into his clothes and pulled out a small tracker that the black clad hero had managed to slip on him.
"Carry him and go before they get here." He said calmly to Artemis just as the sound of sirens drew closer to their location.
The blond girl was stupefied for a second but she quickly regained her senses and did as she asked. After all, it would be very hard to explain the situation to the police, so it was best that they vanished. She struggled to lift the unconscious Batman but the man proved to heavy for her. Suddenly she felt the weight shift and saw the teen lifting Batman on his shoulders.
He placed a hand on her shoulders and in a flash of light, they were on a roof miles away from the bank, and the police. Artemis immediately felt the urge to throw up. She crouched over dry heaving for a while until she finally adjusted.
"Ugh, T ... Thanks for the ..." She started to say only to find that the teen was long gone. "... assist." She finished to herself looking around for him.
She glanced to the side at Batman who hadn't and then let out a sigh. Just what had she gotten herself into.