A/N: So… my other fanfiction was going nowhere because this idea kept popping up instead. Hopefully though now that it's finished, I can get back to writing it. The idea was going around in my head, but the pieces didn't come together until I read the Clayface background from the YJ comics, and I thought about the Demon Head's blood effects. This includes Season 2, so if you haven't seen it yet, there are some spoilers. Apologizes for the crappy grammar in parts, not quite sure a better way to put some of it. And Deathstorke is in just because I could. Mercenary... you know easy to understand.
The Master of Shadows
He called to her, like a moth to a flame.
Escape was never an option,
And so, she fell from the light.
Where the shadows lurked,
Claiming her as their own.
- Writtn in the Book of Shadows by David Halter the current Archiver
21 years ago
A very sick baby girl was born. She had blue eyes, and in a few weeks was undoubtedly have traces of blonde hair, if it even lived that long. Her mother held her, and although tired from the birthing process her newborn's quick shallow breaths made her wide awake with worry. The baby's father came in with a very grave look on his face. The news wasn't good, in fact it was worse than the mother could have imagined. Their other daughter who had heard the whole conversation came in, took one look at her new sister, turned to her dad and said two words, the only time she'd ask him to do anything.
The father went to his master and struck a deal, the price was heavy as they would find out later but for now he held his baby girl, alive.
Before Young Justice
Ever since Artemis could remember, she was always longing for something. Needing something; it called to her in the criminal ridden streets of Gotham and from over the darkened rooftops. The changing of the seasons from the cold biting wind of winter to the smoldering heat of summer couldn't calm the feeling. At times it made her blood feel like it was on fire, something was beckoning her and she wanted to answer its call. The pain grew worse as she got older. She didn't complain about it at first except to her sister because anything small that was mentioned in her dad's presence was dealt with quickly and severely.
Sometimes, she blacked out from the pain and she would wake up somewhere else a few hours later, disoriented but fine. But at age eight it had caused her to black out in the middle on the street, the last thing she could remember was her sister calling her name.
Artemis woke up three days later, in a hospital bed. Apparently after she collapsed in the street, she had gotten up, walked calmly off toward a dark alleyway and vanished. From what she was told, it was her dad who found her in an old abandoned warehouse, miraculously unharmed. She didn't believe that because she had reoccurring dreams that frightened and fascinated her, a few brief flashes of men dying and blood. Which for the first time in her life made her feel at peace, she knew that it was what she had been searching for, grasping for, blindly. And she felt relief for a short period of time, only to have the longing return this time accompanied by voices that urged her to hurt and to kill. And nearly drive her mad.
For weeks she could barely eat or drink, anything she got down came right back up. She had to go somewhere; she had to get there, wherever there was. Her dad in response tied her down to the bed and disappeared with instructions not to release her. He was gone for several days and returned with some mysterious pills, he claimed to relive her stress. At first she didn't want to take it, she didn't trust her dad. But her dad forced her to take them and her mother insisted upon it. It was rare for them to agree on anything at all anymore. And even to the eight year old Artemis, it meant that this was serious. But she didn't take them until Jade asked her to. And although she asked no one what was wrong with her no one would tell her anything. The medicine helped, while didn't completely stop it, at least made it bearable so she didn't feel like she was burning from the inside. It made her head clear enough to function. The very next day, she was started on an intense training regiment set by her dad, it too hindered the voices and the pain. There were still whispers and the occasional burn of her blood but it was mild. Just when it was starting to look up, her mother went to prison and Jade… Jade left. Leaving her alone with their dad.
During Young Justice
It was supposed to be a simple recon mission but they had been given little choice when their target, Deathstroke, appeared in their mist and took out two of their team in one fluid move. He could have pressed his advantage because he had taken them by surprise but instead he got into a stance that screamed come and get me. Kid Flash was the next to fall stupidly trying to get Robin and Aqualad away from Slade instead of waiting for a distraction. Artemis looked to Miss Martian and nodded, Superboy and her would provide cover while Miss Martian retrieved their fallen teammates. Just as Miss Martian took to the air, Slade appeared behind her and hit her with his staff causing her to fall to the ground. Artemis tried to tell Superboy to wait until they could come up with a plan, but her words fell on deaf ears as he charged blindly at Deathstroke. The latter pulled out green Kryptonite that caused Superboy to crumple where he stood. Artemis was about to release her arrow to knock the stone away from Superboy when she collapsed, doubled over with pain.
Her head felt like it was on fire, her heart felt like it was pumping acid through her body. Why was this happening? She had taken her medication. She realized that Deathstroke was now standing over her. Artemis managed to gather enough sense to understand that now she was on her own. Despite the pain, she stood and faced their attacker readying a fighting stance. These were her friends, she'd be damned if she went down without a fight.
No that was wrong; Artemis shook her head to clear the thought but it only made herself more dizzy. She spotted her bow laying nearby broken in half. What was Deathstroke doing? Was he just going to standing there all night? She formed a fist and took a step forward, only to be met with the hard concrete of the building hitting the front of her head. No, it wasn't over yet, she could get up. She looked up at the man who had done this; he was preparing to finish the job. He swung and she wasn't there.
Make him pay.
Yes, he'd pay for what he did. She went at him, and struck. He dodged but wasn't fast enough, she felt her hand tear through his flesh. Blood, she thought stared at it fascinated, a smile made its way across her face. She wanted more. She turned to find him again, and then… nothing. Quite literally, she remembered nothing about the fight after that. But she must have won, right? Because when she came to, she was in the med bay and they were all back in Happy Harbor. Even so, she doubled her medication the next day.
Three months working undercover with Kaldur had taken its toll on Artemis. Her sleeping habits had become irregular. There were minor muscle spasms that had become a nuisance and her body felt like it was slowly breaking down. In addition, she had cut back on her medication opting to risk mild pain than full acidic blood torture. But it had run out yesterday, and she couldn't get more, or rather, she couldn't find more. It had always found its way to her hands no matter where she was, MountJustice, home, or on the road with Jade, the few moments they would forget that she was Cheshire and she was a hero. So she was concerned because she wasn't sure that she could continue to work, to help Kaldur, and save the world like heroes do. She gritted her teeth, she was older, and she could handle more than she could when she was eight or even sixteen. She had been starving it off the worst of it with daily workout sessions. She punched the bag in the workout room one more time for good measure before getting in proper gear. They were hosting for The Light members for a strategy meeting. Black Mantis had requested that his son and his second in command be there to greet the guests with him.
Then the guests began to arrive. Lex Luthor and Queen Bee arrived by sub, and the Brain followed in shortly after. Klarion popped in through a portal along with his cat. Savage arrived moments later striding in like a giant. They greeted each other with respect as they waited for the last member to arrive. When Ra's al Ghul walked into the sub from his craft, Artemis fought the urge to kneel. The pain increased as though punishing her until she fell to her knees gritting her teeth. Kaldur was suddenly in front of her out of focus.
"Tigress! Tigress! Are you ok?"
"Fine," she muttered getting back to her feet.
"We'll talk later," he ordered her as he got back in line to greet the guests. Artemis nodded her agreement as her eyes followed Ra's al Ghul.
She watched Ra's al Ghul turned and scanned the room, he began to walk towards her. Artemis could practically see the amusement in his eyes and her blood stirred. She wanted to serve him, she wanted to… no that was wrong. She glared, holding his gaze and challenging him. But she could feel herself losing. Like a caged animal she launched herself at him, pain flared through her body punishing her but she ignored it. He caught her effortlessly by the throat and pinned her against the ground.
"Hello little Shadow." The best Artemis could do was tense, her body refused to struggle. "I am the Master of all Shadows," he let go of her standing expectantly. She forced herself up, barely able to stand. "Recognize me!" He demanded. Artemis forced herself to stay standing. "Recognize me!"
Artemis felt her body kneel and listened to a voice she could scarcely believe was hers say, "Master."
Above her Ra' al Ghul smiled triumphantly, he knew exactly who and what she was. And all those years of waiting had yielded the perfect weapon. "Kill the traitor," he said as though he was commenting on the time of day. And Artemis, had no choice but to obey.