Disclaimer: I do not own Young Justice or any of it's characters.
I got this idea from a badass pair of Steampunk-esque boots I saw on Tumblr that just SCREAMED Artemis to me! I tried to draw a picture of her in them, but instead of just looking normal or Steampunk, she looked more like she belonged in some outerspace setting (lol, Treasure Planet anyone?) and then THIS happened.
Anyway, I'm bad about never finishing multi-chaptered fics, but we'll see how this one goes.
Captain Artemis Crock smirks to herself in satisfaction as she stands in the admiral's quarters of her most recently conquered vessel; well, it might as well already be conquered, though she can still hear a few tranqs going off and the rumble of small explosions. Tendrils of smoke begin to billow in through one of the ventilation shafts as she plops down in a cushiony chair behind the admiral's desk.
She glances down, wrinkles her nose in disgust at the wrappers upon wrappers of candy bars and potato chips and foreign alien cuisines that rest atop a map of the vast reaches of the solar system. She swipes them off onto the floor with one sweep of her forearm just as there's a knock at the automated door.
"Come in," she calls, placing her weapon on the newly cleared space in front of her. The door opens of it's own accord to admit the dark form of her handsome first mate Kaldur'ahm, behind whom she catches the briefest flash of red hair and a scuffle outside before the space is closed again.
"Captain," Kaldur'ahm says in his steady, even voice, making the customary signal of salute, a forearm crossed above his brow with hand fisted. Artemis makes a gesture at him and he lowers his arm before crossing both behind his back. His gills flutter uselessly as he takes a calm breath and walks closer to his captain's presence. "We have at last found the admiral; he attempted one final stand in the barracks."
"Good. Bring him in."
"Miss Crock..." the Atlantean murmurs uncertainly, his eyes still firmly locked with hers in respect. She blenches at being addressed in such a way; she hates the formalness of it, as if he's one of the feckless lackey's they've begrudingly recruited over the years.
Kaldur is not just her first mate, he is her friend, and a loyal one at that. She knows how very polite and pointed he can be, but sometimes it gets old having to remind him that he's more just than another face aboard the Huntress.
In fact, had he taken up the role of captain long ago, Artemis would be his first mate...
"Kaldur, not again. I'm Artemis to you. Not Miss Crock," she states in abhorrence, the title rolling from her tongue like poison.
His lip twitches up at the corner.
"Artemis," he corrects with humor, then trudges on with a look of trepidation. "I must warn you, he is... difficult."
Artemis gives a snorting laugh, leaning back in the leather chair as she brings her black and gray boots onto the surface of the star maps. The action jars a picture of an alien girl from between the stacks of parchment, and she rolls her eyes, picking it up and scanning it.
"Please, Kal. This is... what? The hundredth fleet we've taken? I think I can handle this guy."
He bows his head low and returns the way he entered, but stands to the side as he presses a button on the door's control panel. It slides open to reveal that the previous scuffle has ended; the shockingly red-haired Wallace West is shoved in solemnly, his face a mask of strangely eased defiance as his nose bleeds profusely into his mouth.
Blood red goggles are perched above his emerald eyes; one of the glass pieces is shattered. Judging from Conner's bloodied knuckles, it was his doing.
Said silent muscle kicks the man to his knees with a scowl and looks to Artemis for further orders.
She ignores him in favor of a more pressing question.
"Where's Zee?" Artemis demands, perplexed by her advisor and best friend's lack of appearance; Zatanna is always present during interrogation of a captured ship's leader.
Conner looks to Kaldur'ahm and shrugs before answering in his clear, ever-angered voice.
Captain Crock raises her eyebrows, prompting the super boy to elaborate. He points down at the still silent red-head.
"Dick. He's a mechanic and technicians expert for this fleet. Thermo-darts to the shoulder, Zatanna took a liking to him and decided to patch him up," Conner grunts, crossing his arms.
He'd always been a silent one; never liked mincing words much, and for him, that sentence had been the equivalent of the first chapter of a novel. Then again, what more did Artemis expect from a clone boy she'd found during one of her fleet seizures?
She feels a bit of agitation at this bit of treachery and decides she wants to be alone to deal with this would-be admiral and his bloody nose alone for once. She dismisses everyone in the room, including the reluctant-to-leave and ever-faithful Kaldur, whom she orders to stand guard outside the door.
"And you," she adds to Conner, pointing. "Go keep an eye on Zatanna and this... Dick guy."
The door shuts at last and Artemis stands from her chair, walking over to the captive with her hands behind her back. Her long blonde hair swishes out and slaps against his face as she does so, earning a grunt of discomfort from him.
"So. Wallace West. Some big shot prodigy scientist working with the Alliance. I've heard a bit about you," she begins, coming to a stop behind his hunkered back. She had recognized him the moment he'd staggered in; that haphazard head of hair and cheeky face had been plastered on the plasma screens more than once and wasn't easily forgotten. But what she can't figure out is what the hell a labrat scientist is doing leading a group of Insterstellar Justice Alliace ships and posing as an admiral to boot.
To her surprise, his shoulders shake with what can only be a brief stint of laughter.
"It's Wally. You've heard of me? Guess I'm more popular with the ladies than I thought."
His voice is, well... frankly annoying, and when she walks back around to his front and commands him look up at her, she sees his freckle spattered cheeks up close and must relent to think that they would admittedly be adorable on anyone but himself.
"Popular with the journalists, more like," Artemis corrects, rolling her eyes. Then she feels her nostrils flaring when she realizes his eyes have wandered to the hips beneath her black stretch pants, then on up to the ample bosom pressed out from her underbust harness. The gesture is enough to piss her off in and of itself, but the thing that sets her off is the fact that he looks so terribly bored with what he sees.
She reaches down with impossible speed and grasps the bottom of is face in her hand, eyes boring into his own.
"My eyes are up here, Wallace."
Wally snorts with amusement through his pinched cheeks.
"That they are. Don't flatter yourself, I hardly find your figure aesthetically pleasing. Now M'gann, there's an alien babe I could stare at all day," he sighs dreamily, eyes going unfocused. Artemis immediately knows that M'gann must be the alien girl in the picture she found.
She releases his face and paces for a moment, the cogs in her brain working. This is such a typical situation, a male with a soft spot for some alien dame that usually has absolutely no mutual interest in him whatsoever... she decides it's a safe bet that her captive's love is as comically (or depressingly) unrequited as the usual suspects, and files it away for future use should he become uncooperative.
"I haven't introduced myself," she realizes, and crosses her legs while leaning back onto the desk, smiling. "Captain Artemis Crock of the Gotham Fleet."
Wally scoffs and mumbles.
"Space pirates... don't you people have anything better to do? Seriously, take a vacation, go to some remote alien planet and get laid!" he cries jovially, a stupid grin on his face. Then he sobers quickly and looks her body over once more. "Well, no, I take that back. Nobody in their right mind, not even an alien, would sleep with you."
Captain Crock throws her head back with high humor, then brings it down nary an inch away from the captive's, so close that she's sure her breath is tickling his nose.
"Oh, you think so?" she asks quietly.
Their eyes lock and she can see his Adam's apple bob when he swallows, and for just the briefest of moments there's a static charge in the air around them until she moves away, satisfied with her intimidation tactics.
Learned from the best, Artemis thinks bitterly, turning completely away from Wally to gaze down at the star maps. There are several big red circles on the parchment. She points at them curiously as she addresses him.
"So, Admiral West... where were your fleets headed? Perhaps an alien planet for a vacation and various failed attempts at getting the locals to perform you sexual favors?"
"That's what I thought."
Captain Crock shoulders off her brown jacket and drops it on the desk, opting to pick up her automatic crossbow and tweak its strings as she faces Wally once again. He eyes the strange weapon, the way she caresses the deadly sharp arrow head on the knocked shaft.
"What's that?" he asks in bewilderment.
"An old weapon. One I'm sure you've never heard of. But that's the whole idea: no one knows what to expect from a weapon like this."
"Please," Wallace snaps, and to her surprise, he maneuvers himself to his feet despite the bonds keeping his hands tied tightly behind his back. "I'm a scientist; Dick and I could make weapons the likes of which this galaxy has never seen! What're you going to do, pin cushion me? We have more suitable threats here, ones that could effectively wipe you from existence, Captain."
To her credit, Artemis doesn't back down or change the nature of her unimpressed expression throughout West's entire little death threat. Instead her heart rate quickens at the challenge(she's been hardwired for challenge), and she calmly brings her loaded crossbow up to a spot between his eyes, finger twitching falsely on the trigger.
"Would you like a demonstration on how this obsolete old thing works?" she asks softly, simply. Neither of them moves, and she can feel her digit tensing ever tighter on the trigger until at last she gives a great sigh of feigned boredom and pulls it away.
Both she and Wally are opening their mouths to say something heatedly when the door opens violently and Conner shoulders his way in, fists clasped around the shirt of a homely looking alien in a cloak, who appears to be struggling in vain. With a grunt, the clone gets a firm choke hold around the thing's slender white neck and marches him forward towards Captain Crock.
Artemis looks livid.
"Conner, I told you to watch Zee, what're you—"
"Right here, Artemis."
All eyes in the cabin turn to the newcomer, a young lady with deep brown locks. She's accompanied by a slightly taller guy with unkempt black hair and a dark pair of shades concealing his eyes. Even with his battered skin and bandaged upper arm he has an apropos smile plastered to his face as he takes in everything around him, like a kid perusing a candy store. Obviously his eyes alight on Wallace, because he waves cheerily and makes a biting comment.
"Hey there, Admiral Wall-man! Who's your new lady friend? I hope this one came to your office voluntarily!"
The jibe is ignored.
"Zatanna, what were you—?"
"Conner, relinquish your hold!"
Kaldur'ahm's harsh words rip through the air and interrupt Artemis' inquiry, startling everyone in the room. Heads whip in the direction of the silent super boy, whose grip has become so strong that the alien's normally pale white skin has turned an unhealthy shade of magenta. Conner gives the command a moment's thought, then releases the hapless creature, which slides onto the wooded flooring as it takes shuddering gulps of fresh air.
The room is silent save for the gasps, and no one notices Wallace West slip mysteriously from his metal bonds and zip over to his comfy desk chair in the blink of an eye. There, he picks up the picture of M'gann that Captain Crock had impatiently tossed back on the mahogany earlier, and after removing a slight dog ear from the corner, deposits it in a pocket on his vest.
"Who is this?" Artemis demands, gesturing at the alien. "Did you find the Venom?"
Wally sits up straight, his back going rigid at the mention of that hated substance, that vile liquid that turns the most passive of men into vicious, mutated monsters. Venom on one of his ships? Impossible!
"Venom? What venom?" he asks loudly, slamming his hands down. Captain Crock is far less intrigued by his concerns and more disturbed by the fact that his hands are free.
"How did you get loose!" she splutters, indignant.
"Never mind that!" he says testily, waving her off. The others only look on in passive, wide-eyed disbelief when their captain doesn't retaliate in any way to the rude interruption. "What's this load about Cobra Venom being on my ship? This isn't a drug dealing operation; it's a major transport of goods to a developing colony!"
Conner suddenly guffaws, a deep sound that reverberates through the cramped room and sends shivers down the spines of those who aren't used to it. Just when Wally looks like he's about to explode with questions and impatience, the superboy reaches into his pants pocket and pulls out a tiny vial of deep blue liquid, which he holds up to the light for all to see.
"No Cobra venom, huh? Did you ever bother looking in the crates of what you were shipping?"
Conner's question leaves the room quiet once more, all eyes now on the frozen form of Wally West, who seems to have a lump stuck in his throat. Dick is looking just as grim by Zatanna's side, his lips set into a thin line of tension as he watches his friend through some internal struggle.
"Yes, we did!" Wally blurts out suddenly, pointing to his young friend. "We did open one of the crates; I remember Dick and Megan cracking one of the big ones open, the ones with the Alliance symbol on them! There is no Cobra venom on this ship!"
"You're a bigger fool than you look" the superboy scoffs, and Artemis is a little shocked by how entertainingly vocal he's been this night. She clears her throat to stop any come backs from the scientist, who shoots her a murderous look.
"That's enough, Conner. Go find this... Megan and bring one of the large Alliance shipments with you. Dismissed." Artemis tells him firmly, striding across the room and pressing the button for the cabin's automated door. For the second time he grumbles and exists the room in high bad temper, off to find his objectives.
Kaldur'ahm shuffles forward in the quiet aftermath and gestures down at the alien, who by now has managed all of his color, or lack thereof, back.
"Excuse my interruption, Captain, but ought we not interrogate this creature for answers?"
Nothing would ever get done without Kaldur's always wise and sensible council.
She nods, turns her attention back to the white alien, the one whom, despite the fact that he'd nearly just been strangled to death by a cloned Kryptonian with a bad attitude, is grinning like the freaking Cheshire cat from the old story Artemis is so partial to. Her eyebrows shoot up dangerously close to her hairline; what was with the captives on this ship thinking their imminent doom was so hilarious?
"Name!" Captain Crock barks, losing her patience.
"Name?" he repeats, still grinning. She is disturbed by how human he looks, by the protuberant eyes ravishing her skin from beneath the hood of the ratty brown cloak. He has a bizarrely dry and halting voice that would've made his speech nearly unintelligible to all but the most experienced in Alliance affairs, but luckily the space pirating business has given Artemis the same learning curve as the Alliance's puppets. "I have no name, at least not one that a human could comprehend. But you may call me Psimon."
"How 'bout we just call you 'Chuckles,' then. You seem to think your situation is funny," Wally says darkly from his desk. He no longer looks the part of a captive buffoon, but rather quite a steely-looking young man who had only just realized the gravity of his current predicament. His ship was taken, there were illegal drugs aboard the fleet and he'd been whipped in the face by some woman's hair while he kneeled in the floor, bound and bleeding from the nose.
Not exactly dignifying.
Still, impressed as she is with his sudden change of face, Artemis can't help but scoff and motion from him to the alien.
"Pot, meet kettle!"
"Hey! I'm not the one who—"
"Ahem," comes Kaldur's subdued interruption as he attempts to steer the two back to the task at hand. "I believe it prudent we finish this up before Conner returns."
"Of course, Kal."
Wally stands, bringing his flattened palms down on the desk as he addresses the alien he's christened Chuckles.
"How did you get the Venom on my ship? How did you open all those crates and replace the contents with Venom without anyone noticing?" he demands, on high authority now. Artemis smirks to herself.
For a moment, all is silent.
Then Psimon bursts out laughing, a high, harsh sound that makes them all cringe and take involuntary steps backward. He throws his ugly head back, the hood of his cloak dropping around his shoulders to reveal more milky skin. And when he finally stops and lifts his head up, Artemis thinks she might be sick.
She hasn't been in the space pirate business for very long, but it's been long enough for her to lay eyes on some of the most grotesque, strange looking aliens (and humans) she has ever seen. But all those creatures pale in comparison to this guy; he appears to have stepped right out of an ancient, dusty horror novel.
His brain is exposed, a hulking mess of grey matter and blood and veins that can be seen clearly through the folds of his lobes. It's a repugnant sight, enough to fuel a few good night terrors for the space pirate captain and her companions.
"What—" Artemis begins, drawing her crossbow out in fear. She's stopped by his amused voice.
"You have not found any Venom in the crates because I do not want you to find it! And when next you waken, there won't even be any cargo here... at least as far as you can remember!"
Psimon raises his fingers to his temples.
"Do something!" Wally yells as he tries to scramble up from his position behind the desk and Artemis' finger tightens on the trigger of her bow and Kaldur'ahm reaches for the weapons on his back and Zatanna is starting on an incantation and Robin is pulling something sharp and glinting from the pouch on his belt.
But their efforts are in vain.
Artemis collapses into an unconscious heap as a single word echoes forcefully around the cabin and through the crevices of her mind.