Chapter 1: The Mission
He had survived five years on an island, seen things that weren't supposed to exist and learned how to get rid of those things to protect the people in the city he grew up in. He survived and was taught to keep surviving and never give up until his mission was complete.
He had been presumed to be dead by everyone in his inner circle; his family and friends had held a funeral for him. When he returned, they had all been ecstatic, because their 'Ollie' was back home, where he belonged. What they didn't know about him though, was that he returned with a mission, given to him by his father who was proven to have known far more about what prowled the city at night than anyone else. What his family and friends didn't know, was that not only had he survived the island of Lian Yu, but he had returned as a protector of the innocent, who either did not know or who didn't know how to defend themselves.
They were called People of Darkness, because that was exactly what they were. They roamed the streets at night, attacking innocent woman who took a walk through the park at a late hour, killing and murdering those who crossed their path and didn't know that it was better to just run.
His first master, Yao Fei, had taught him the basics of hunting them. It took him a few months to even manage to capture a bird on the island for an early dinner, but soon, with the help of Yao Fei's other friend, Slade Wilson, he learned enough martial art skills to be able to defend himself. Then, Yao Fei was murdered, in cold blood, in front of him; an execution in front of not only him, but also Slade and Yao Fei's daughter, Shado.
Shado was beautiful and always tried to see the light in any situation. She had been captured as leverage for the imprisonment of Yao Fei, but they had saved her. The young woman became his mentor after her father's death and she was also the one who taught him how to use his weapon of choice; the bow.
But all that was in the past now, because he was back. He was back and he had a mission. He was the only one that could bring down the People of Darkness, which had become an underground organization during his absence. Their hold on the city had become stronger and it angered him that the authorities had let things get so far. Starling City's regime knew the truth about the People of Darkness, as did a selected few in the police force, who took care of cases that involved them, but they were all corrupt and had allowed the disease to fester and threaten the people of the city.
For two years, Oliver Queen fought the People of Darkness in Starling City as the man who was publicly known as a simple vigilante with a bow and some arrows. He had become known as 'The Hood' because of the media and at first, everyone seemed to think he was just a man who had too much free time. No civilian saw the pattern of his kills. No one knew that the officers and the coroners who knew the truth covered up the fact that the bodies he dropped had shriveled skin and a set of fangs instead of normal teeth.
After two years, Oliver wasn't alone anymore.
John Diggle, who had been hired by Oliver's mother after Oliver's return from the dead was no longer just his bodyguard. The two of them had had a shaky beginning, with Oliver avoiding the older man as much as possible until he did a full background check on him. It wasn't until Diggle was shot and poisoned that Oliver made the decision to reveal his alter ego and tell the truth. John had been reluctant to join at first, convinced that Oliver was crazy and suffering from PTSD after his time isolated on an island, but when Oliver presented him with the details of Andrew Diggle's murder, the evidence was too strong for Diggle to ignore. John kept Oliver grounded during the two years they worked together, taking down the People of Darkness one by one, all the while working to figure out what their ultimate goal was with infecting the city.
It was a day in June that Oliver got an anonymous text message. He had been in the middle of an important board meeting at his father's company, when his phone had chimed, interrupting the head of the finance department in the middle of a presentation.
"I'm sorry," Oliver said, reaching for his phone that he had been sure he had put on silent. He looked at the screen and was presented by a mix of random numbers and letters. Frowning, he once again put the phone on silent before returning it to his pocket. "Please, continue," he nodded at the man presenting this month's profits.
Riiing, riiing, riiing.
Oliver quickly took out his phone again, apologizing once more. "I swear I put it on silent," he told his mother, who gave him a scrutinizing look. He looked at the called-ID, but was once again presented with the jumble of letters and numbers. Turning the phone off completely, he glanced at Diggle out of the corner of his eye. The older man's poker face was in place, but in his eyes, Oliver could see that he too understood that something was up.
He couldn't pay any attention whatsoever to the rest of the presentation. Every fiber of his being was telling him that he needed to get out of the office and put on his hood for some reason. But the meeting was important, according to his mother, and he couldn't just waltz out of there like he didn't give a damn about his father's legacy.
As soon as the ten minute break started, Oliver hurried out of the room, Diggle in a tow.
"What's wrong?" Diggle asked, his voice low to make sure that no one overheard them.
"I don't know," Oliver whispered back as he turned on his phone again. "I got a text message first from an unknown number and then the person started calling me." Oliver watched as the screen lit up and blinked with a notification of 23 new text messages and nine missed phone calls.
He opened the messages, which all said the same three words:
'Find Felicity Smoak.'
"Who the hell is Felicity Smoak?" Diggle asked, a frown settling on his face.
"No idea," Oliver muttered, "but maybe it's better if we ditch the meeting and investigate. I mean, the same message over twenty times from the same number? That can't be a coincidence."
"Yeah, might be a good idea to go to the Foundry and put up a search," Diggle agreed.
"I'll just tell my mom that something came up-"
"What are you talking about, Oliver?" Moira Queen interrupted as she and her husband Walter Steele walked up to the pair who had been whispering. "You can't just leave in the middle of a board meeting."
"Mom," Oliver sighed. "Something important has come up and I really can't stay."
Moira crossed her arms over her chest, "Really? And what may I ask is more important than this meeting?"
Oliver just looked at his mother, wondering why he- as an adult- had to tell her where he was going and why. Of course, his mother had been insisting for him to take the lead at Queen Consolidated since his return from the island, but he had refused her wish time and again. His real reason for not wanting to become CEO had to do with his secret night life, but publicly, he had only stated that he wasn't ready for that kind of responsibility. After being home for two years, he had finally agreed to come along and at least shadow Walter, who was the acting CEO, and to learn the ropes. He made no promise whatsoever that he would take over one day, and quite frankly, his younger sister Thea had more of a natural talent when it came to businesses.
"Mom," Oliver began, but couldn't continue.
"You're staying here," Moira informed him curtly.
"Oh, Moira. Let the young man go," Walter said as he approached them. "The meeting will be over sooner than planned anyway."
"Which means he can leave after the meeting is over," Moira insisted.
"Oliver doesn't have to hear what progress the Applied Sciences Division has been making this month," Walter told his wife. "Besides, it will all be written down in a report that he'll be able to read tomorrow. If Oliver has somewhere important to be, then he can go."
Oliver gave Walter an appreciative look. Things between the two of them had been rocky at first since his return. He had never expected his mother to marry his father's best friend, and it had taken Oliver half a year to actually warm up to the man. Sometimes, Oliver wondered whether Walter knew more about him than he let on, but the two of them seemed to also have a non-spoken agreement not to ask too many questions.
"Thank you, Walter," Oliver said with a curt nod. "Mother, I'll see you at home," he said, kissing her cheek before excusing himself. Diggle followed him closely as they headed for the elevator.
"You know," Diggle began, "one of these days you're going to have to learn to come up with better excuses."
"I know," Oliver bit out. "But I can't just say I have a dentist appointment whenever I need to head out in the middle of the day."
"Right," Diggle chuckled. "People would probably begin to question the amount of cavities you got while you were on that island... By the way, you never did say how you manages to keep your teeth so clean," Diggle mused.
Oliver's lips twitched up into a half smirk. "I'll tell you some day," he said. "But today, we have something much more important to do."
"Ah, yes," Diggle nodded. "The mysterious Ms. Smoak. You said the number was a mix of scrambled up letters and numbers?"
"Yes," Oliver said. They walked toward the car that was parked in the underground garage. "We need to find out who sent the message, how they got my number and most importantly: who the hell Felicity Smoak is."
"Felicity Smoak," Diggle said, pointing at the big screen in the Foundry. "Originally from Las Vegas. Went missing a couple of years back. It seems like all personal data about her has been erased, which is weird."
"But there is a picture," Oliver mused, looking at the picture of the girl with dirty blonde locks. If he was being honest, she didn't look much younger than him and she certainly wasn't unattractive.
"Wait, something else popped up," Diggle said, clicking up some images. "Seems like she lived with her mother in Las Vegas before getting into MIT and graduating at an early age. No father and no information on him either."
"So she's like a genius?" Oliver quipped, eyebrow raised.
"I suppose," Diggle nodded. "Although, it doesn't say anything else about her. As I said, all records of her after MIT have been erased."
"Do you think she did it to herself?" It would make the most sense. If the girl was a computer wiz, it wouldn't be that hard for her to remove all traces of herself on the Internet and get herself a new identity.
At Oliver's question, Diggle looked up from the monitor and bowed his head in a curt nod, "Most likely."
A sigh escaped Oliver's lips as he put his hands on the desk, closing his eyes. Why would someone want him to find this girl? The even bigger question was how someone had known that he would have the resources to actually do it? It felt as if something was itching inside of him. He needed to know how much the anonymous person who had texted and called him this morning actually knew about him and his secret identity. The fact that someone other than Diggle knew his secret identity made him uneasy and he loathed feeling uneasy.
"Oliver?" Diggle's voice brought him back from his thoughts and forced him to open his eyes. He looked up at the ceiling, where the lights of the Foundry had begun flickering. "Are we having problems with the power?" Diggle asked.
Oliver pushed away from the table and looked up, frowning at the ever flickering lights. "We shouldn't be," he told his friend. "We got that extra generator installed last week, which means we should have power all year around, no matter if the city is experiencing any power issues."
"Then why the hell do they keep flickering like we're in a horror movie?" Diggle asked, just as the lights went out.
Oliver forced himself to not spring into immediate action and keep calm. He heard Diggle click off the safety on his gun, and Oliver slowly moved toward the desk where he knew his bow was laying. As his eyes slowly tried to adjust to the darkness that now surrounded them, he heard Diggle move from his place by the computers.
Suddenly, the biggest monitor came to life, lighting up their surroundings. Oliver blinked a few times, his eyes hurting from the brightness. He covered his eyes as he moved back, reaching for his bow at the same time as Diggle came to stand by his side, gun aimed at the monitor for some reason.
"It's called dramatic effect, Mr. Diggle."
The words that were written across the monitor made something inside of Oliver burn. They had been compromised- Or at least Diggle had. Whoever it was that had written the words as a reply to Diggle's earlier comment, hadn't yet mentioned Oliver, so perhaps his secret was safe at least.
The words on the monitor backspaced, erasing themselves as new words appeared.
"Good evening, Mr. Queen, or do you prefer being called The Hood?"
Yeah, they had definitively been compromised.
"Why don't you speak up, now that you know that I can hear you?"
For some reason, Oliver couldn't help but read the text in a teasing tone. It was clear that he was being mocked.
"Who are you?" Oliver spoke, looking around the lair for anything that might look like a bug.
"Not important," the person on the other end wrote. "And there's no point in looking for a bug, because there isn't one."
"Then how the hell can you, whoever you are, hear us?" Diggle asked angrily.
"Not important," was written again. "What is important however, is that you find Felicity Smoak."
Oliver's gut tightened as he read the name that had been sent to him over twenty times that morning. "Are you the person who texted me this morning?" he practically growled.
"No need to get upset, Mr. Queen," the person wrote. "But yes."
Oliver paused, looking over at Diggle, who slowly lowered his gun from the monitor. It was clear that there was a threat in the lair, despite there technically not being a threat inside the lair. There was no point in having a gun pointed at a piece of equipment.
"Now, on the topic of Felicity Smoak-"
"Who is she?" Oliver asked out loud, his eyes narrowing at the monitor.
The typing stopped briefly and the cursor blinked for what seemed like ages, until the letters started appearing again.
"Felicity Smoak is a rogue hybrid. She left her master approximately three months ago and has managed to stay under the radar ever since. Find her."
That familiar anger boiled inside of Oliver. Who the hell did this person think he or she was?
"I don't take orders from anyone!" he bellowed, his angry voice echoing through the Foundry. He felt Diggle shift from behind him, taking a step toward him as if showing him that he had his back, whatever his choice of action was.
"It's important that you find her," the stubborn person wrote as a reply. "Just find her."
The three last words blinked a couple of times before the monitor turned off again, letting darkness fall over them once more. Oliver tried to draw in calming breaths through his nose, but every nerve on his body felt as if it was on fire. Someone out there knew his secret identity. Someone out there had easily hacked into their lair mainframe, which was supposed to be secure.
Oliver thought about what options he had now. He could either sit down by the computer with Diggle and try to trace back the signal that had broken through their firewalls, or he could set out in the night to look for the girl- who he now knew was one of them, the People of Darkness.
Felicity Smoak, the apparently newly turned hybrid, was now officially his new mission.
Oliver walked over to the case where his leather suit and hood hung as he began pulling out the clothes.
"Where are you going?" Diggle asked.
Oliver looked up at him as he picked up his container of green camouflage grease. "Isn't it obvious?" he retorted as he stood in front of the mirror and quickly applied the make-shift mask around his eyes.
"You can't seriously be going after this girl, can you?" Diggle hissed, taking a few steps closer to him.
"Hybrid, Diggle," Oliver corrected. "The girl is a hybrid, which means she is one of them, which means I have to eliminate her."
"But you know nothing about this girl except for what some mystery person who hacked our system told you," Diggle pointed out. "There's no way knowing if any of that is true!"
"I can't take that chance, Dig," Oliver said, pulling on his hood. "If Felicity Smoak turns out to be a human, I'll leave her alone, but if what anything that person told us is true, she won't be getting away from me. It doesn't matter who hacked our mainframe; if she is a hybrid, I will take her off the streets as soon as I find her."
Diggle sighed deeply, but Oliver could tell that he was giving up. There was no getting through to Oliver once his mind was set on a new target.
"I know the name of one of the Dark Ones, Dig," Oliver declared. "I won't be missing the opportunity to find her and take her out."
"Despite not knowing all the facts," Diggle surmised.
Oliver replied with a curt nod, pulling his hood over his head.
"Felicity Smoak," Oliver whispered as he grabbed his bow tightly, his brain already memorizing the name for him. With one last glance at Diggle, who sent him a wary look, he bolted up the stairs of the Foundry and set out in the night.