She boards the ship alongside Kaldur and very carefully does not think about the tons of water closing in over her head.
She’d learned a thing or two about Kaldur in their time on the Team. He was exotic, sure, and he’d always been about as stoic as they came—so if you really wanted to know what he was thinking, you had to watch his hands.
“Father,” Kaldur says; Artemis stands two steps behind his right shoulder (this is a very deliberate choice).
“My son,” Black Manta acknowledges. It’s difficult to tell through the helmet, but it feels as though she’s being sized up. Casually, she traces the hilt of (one of) the daggers strapped to her thigh. “And who is your companion?”
“This is Tigress. I have chosen her to be my right hand commander as I move forward.”
There is a beat of silence; Manta Senior is definitely staring at her now. Kaldur’s fingers twitch at his side. “Indeed. And what makes you think she is worthy of such a position? I’ve never heard of any Tigress.”
“Then I’m doing my job right,” she says, looking directly at Black Manta, even as he finally removes his helmet. Artemis maintains eye contact until she feels she’s made her point, then drops her gaze to his chin. “Sir.”
(She might be imagining it, but she could swear the ghost of a smile flickers across his lips.)
“Is that so. Tell me, mysterious Tigress, what other names do you go by?”
“I have no other names, sir.”
“Are you mocking me?” The crease of his frown promises suffering.
“No, sir.” She keeps her eyes trained carefully still. “I mean that the person I was before no longer exists. I am only Tigress.”
“Interesting.” He turns back to Kaldur. (Artemis carefully regulates her breathing.) “That still does not explain where you found her, or why you brought her onto my ship.”
“If you would like a demonstration of her skills, I am sure she would be happy to provide one.”
Matna stares at his son searchingly, but Kaldur’s face gives away nothing. (Meanwhile, his fingers tap an faint, unsteady beat.) Eventually, he says, “Yes, I believe a demonstration is in order.” Kaldur reaches for his water-bearers, but Manta waves him off. “No, son, I will be the one putting her to the test.” She has just enough time to see Kaldur’s eyes widen before she has to duck and roll.
Artemis gets enough room to allow for a momentary breath, and then, for the first time in years, holds absolutely nothing back.
(It’s easier than she cares to think about, shedding those restrictions that she had placed upon herself when she decided what kind of person she wanted to be. What her father taught her: aim to kill.)