Artemis stands there, crouching in a battle stance as she glares at her opponent from behind the orange and black striped mask that feels oh-so-wrong on her face. She curls her lip, maintaining her cruel assassin image as she reveals a sharp canine tooth and pulls out her crossbow. This fight is going to be difficult, she knows it. In a fight to the potential death, she thinks it’s okay to for her to fall back on her most familiar weapon.
“Don’t touch him,” she snarls, positioning herself so she stands in front of Kaldur’s prone form, protecting him from her opponent. From Jade. Her sister (who she hasn’t seen in so long), she’s sure, is sneering behind her Cheshire cat mask as she pulls out her sais. Excellent. Now they’re fighting each other with their best weapons. Two highly-skilled fighters, both trained and raised by the same man, about to battle against each other. No matter what happens, Artemis can’t see this turning out well for her or for Jade.
“That fish killed my baby sister,” Jade snarls, hissing like her namesake. Artemis tries not to show how nervous she is, but her sister is trying to kill Kaldur to avenge her, and she knows for a fact that Jade will not hold back. Not when it comes to family like her or her mother. Jade wants revenge like a dehydrated man in the desert wants water, like a starving man yearns for food, like the drowning gasp for air…and Artemis isn’t about to let her get it. She knows she’s the only one standing between Jade and Kaldur, between their mission’s success and its ultimate downfall. It’s a dangerous position to be in, but it’s a necessary one. She only hopes she doesn’t have to pay for it with her life.
Without any further warning, both cats leap at each other. Artemis ducks low, swinging out a leg in an attempt to trip Jade. As she expects, Jade is too good for that and flips over Artemis’ back, slashing at her with a sai. Artemis hasn’t gotten rusty, though; she dodges and parries with a razor-sharp arrow (no trick arrows for Tigress; trick arrows aren’t the weapon of an assassin) in Cheshire’s direction.
Jade blocks, the arrow ricocheting off the dark metal of her sais and bouncing to the side, forgotten in the skirmish. She darts forward, feigning right. Artemis just barely manages to raise her arms in defense, but Jade switches quickly and attacks from the left. She grabs Artemis’ black-but-not-black hair, yanking it as her sister holds back a wince and pulling off the stupid mask, then kicks Tigress’ feet out from underneath her. Cheshire, comes down hard, pinning Artemis’ arms down with her legs as she draws her sai close to Tigress’ neck, just above where the protective high collar ends. It’s not quite the jugular, but it’ll have to do if she needs it to.
Artemis struggles, mimicking the move Nightwing used on her not long ago as she comes to wrap her legs around her sister’s neck. It doesn’t quite work the way she plans it to (she’s never executed the move before, only had it performed on her once), and her foot gets tangled in Cheshire’s wild man of hair. Rolling with the action, she pins her sister down. Her foot is still caught in Jade’s hair, though, making her position not as effective as Cheshire’s had been, and thus much easier for Jade to escape. When she reaches down to her belt to retrieve something to knock Jade unconscious with, the assassin takes advantage of her momentary distraction and leaps forward, pushing Artemis down onto her back. Not taking any chances this time, Jade manages to flip Artemis over onto her stomach. It’s much more difficult for her to escape that way.
“You’re only standing in my way, pussy cat,” she hisses into Artemis’ ear, drawing her sai close. In one swift move, she slices open Artemis’ throat. Artemis gasps, blood bubbling out of her lips as it pools on the ground underneath her. “She was my little sister,” Jade says with one part hate and one part anguish, “and your evil boyfriend took her away from me. I will get my revenge.” Without blinking twice, she yanks off Kaldur’s Black Manta helmet and stabs him between the eyes, leaving the sai there.
“J-jade…please,” Artemis gasps, but her voice is gone and her words come out as nothing more than a distorted wheeze. Jade snorts triumphantly, and comes back over to kneel beside her prey. Mindless of the blood on her uniform, she uses her other sai to chop of the pretty necklace around Tigress’ neck.
“Hmph. Souvenir,” she says, tucking it in her pocket. She looks back down to make sure the girl is dead, and reels back in horror. Staring up at her is not the dead face of the pale girl with dark hair that she’d fought, but the dead face of her sister with tan skin and sun-bleached hair.
“Artemis,” her voice comes out at a horrified whisper. “No. No no no no no…NO!” She turns Artemis fully over on her back, checking for a pulse. When she finds one, she begins to shake the body’s shoulders. “Wake up Artemis, wake up! I’m sorry,” she sobs, “I didn’t mean it, I’m sorry!” Jade buries her face in Artemis’ chest, not caring that she now has her sister’s blood smeared all over her front. She lost her mask at some point in the battle; she can see it out of the corner of her eye sitting not far from Artemis' forgotten arrow.
“Oh god,” she whimpers, trying to wipe away her tears but only succeeding in smearing the blood on her face even more, “what have I done?” It has to be an illusion. It has to be. But if it is, why isn't it going away?
Jade lets out a wail, ugly tears streaming down her face and cutting tracks through the blood. Through the soundproof walls and doors, no one hears her pain.
She mourns alone.