38) Behind the Mysterious Clock

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A thin woman in red handed Lawrence Crock a small briefcase. "That wasn't too hard, now was it?" She taunted through her French accent.

The man shot her a warning glare. "She's still learning. That's the only reason I agreed to this in the first place." That was only partially true, he had mostly wanted the item currently in his grasp.

Artemis stood beside her father uneasily. Now that her dad had exchanged the information for whatever was in the briefcase, would she have to stop attending Dick and Barbara's school? Could she at least say goodbye?

Then there was the question of why this lady even needed any information on Dick.

"Yes, I'm sure she'll make a lovely addition to the light one day," The woman said dully. "You'll be given instructions on the final part of the plan. Afterwards, you will not be needed."

"Just tell Brain to hurry it up. I've got out of town business, and I'd rather not wait any longer than I need to," Artemis's father spat impatiently with crossed arms.

The woman smirked cunningly. The sight made the fifth grader's stomach clench. A smile like that could not lead to anything good.

"Well, I suppose that's my cue to leave, no?" With that she began walking away.

Artemis clenched her hand and spoke up before the woman could get too far. "Hey, lady! What are you and Brain going to do to Dick?!"

The woman turned her head to the side, her short hair whipping her face, and her eye watching the young girl with amusement. Sportsmaster narrowed his eyes at his daughter but remained silent.

"Little girl, my name, first of all, is Madame Rouge. Secondly, I'd advise you not to get too attached to your.. friend... That is all I will tell you," the woman replied smoothly. She smirked before turning her head back and walking away again, the only noise heard was her heels against the hard floor.

"I'm not a little girl," Artemis whispered to herself sharply.

Lawrence eyed Artemis, noticing her wary expression as she stared at the floor, lost in thought. "Leave the talking only to me next time," he ordered. "And she's right. Whatever happens to the kid should be none of your concern. Stay focused on the objective and move on when the mission's done. Understood?"

Artemis bit her lip. "Do you know what'll happen to him?"

The man removed his eyes from her and looked forward at the door Madame Rouge had left from. "Yeah, sort of. There's some information Brain refuses to share, and to be frank, I don't care. Again, don't worry about him. The more attached you get, the worse it'll be for you. You'll stay at that school for a bit longer, but when the last part of the plan is needs to be executed I expect you to behave. Understood?"

Artemis wanted to yell and fight back. She could just ditch the plan- ditch him. He didn't care about her that much anyways. She could just run away.

But he would care. Not because he loved her, but because her unauthorized absence would make him look bad. He'd find her, and he'd take her back. Where would she go anyways?

That's when the all too familiar thought entered her mind. Kill or be killed.

"Whatever," is all Artemis said. She walked away and went to practice her archery.

- - - - - - - - -

Artemis expected to leave school by the week after that day, maybe two weeks at most. Instead, a month and a half later, she was still there. For the mission, technically, but it didn't feel that way since she didn't need to extract anymore information from Dick. That made things much more enjoyable.

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