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Superhero Training

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Star City: Now


He knew his Pretty Bird, knew her every move. From the slight tilt of her head – questioning, to the arched eyebrow – annoyance, and especially the tease of a smile at the corners of her lips – payback. He’d learned to read her; could write books on her every movement, no matter how delicate or subtle, and he knew even before she shot him a side-eyed glance what she was going to do next.

Grinning, Green Arrow back peddled from his place beside her. His lady didn’t like to be ignored or demeaned, and this very stupid man had just done both in the same breath. Oh, boy, what she was going to do next. He almost felt sorry for the guy. Almost.

“Letting your girlfriend do your dirty work, Arrow?” The very, very stupid man called after him.

That was presumably the leader of the group of bozos who’d interrupted their otherwise blissfully lazy Sunday afternoon plan of lounging on the couch and watching old movies when he decided to rob the Star City Founders Bank.

“Hey, you insulted her – you get to deal with her. I’m just here to take her home when she’s through destroying your manhood.”

“Get him!” Bozo leader gestured toward the retreating Green Arrow, and two of his henchmen quickly broke ranks to obey.

“Oh, my. Five of you to handle little ole me?” Black Canary taunted Bozo leader and the four henchmen who’d stayed with him.

GA turned and ran across the street, stepping up on the trunk of a parked car before leaping to grab one of the decorative street lamps that had been installed during Star City’s last Founder’s Week celebration. “Just like the monkey bars in grade school!” Using his momentum, he swung himself around to stand atop the crossbar and looked back to where his Pretty Bird stood with her hands on her hips.

He chuckled, she was about to teach this guy a lesson in respect. There it was, the slight flounce of blonde locks across her shoulders as she let her body loosen – focus, pink lips parting slightly – aim,  breasts rising as she drew in a breath – load. The street lamp trembled under the archer’s feet and he wobbled precariously for a moment. Distracted by the lift of her breasts – he was only human after all – he’d forgotten the pair of henchmen who’d followed him.

Said henchmen, garbed in metal armor of some kind, were too heavy to climb onto the car or the street lamp. They settled for bashing at it with their gauntleted fists, causing it to sway and shake under his feet.

“Hey! That’s city property you’re destroying! You’re gonna get a bill for that!” He hadn’t really figured the street lamp would stop them, and had already pulled an arrow from his quiver prior to being understandably distracted. He fired it at the flagpole jutting out from the building behind him.

A rope trailed from the shaft, the end attached to the grip of his bow. After the rope had looped around and secured itself to the flagpole, GA touched the control on the bow and let the line reel him in. “Up, up, and away! Damn, I think I owe the big guy a nickel. I’m putting that on your bill, bozos!!”

As he shot upward, he heard the distinctive sound of his lady giving a lesson in manners to Bozo leader and the four henchmen who’d stayed with him. Chuckling, he pulled himself up onto the flagpole. Canary really hadn’t liked that ‘she looks like a little girl’ comment at all. No sir. And what little girl looked like she did? That guy really needed to get out more.

With more loyalty than he would have given them credit for – considering their ugly, cut-rate matching outfits – the henchmen were still on the job, lifting the broken lamp post to throw at him. “Holy – do you guys get bonuses or something?”

Reaching back over his shoulder, he slid his fingertips over the shafts, reading the raised dots that identified them until he found the one he was after. The old reliable net arrow. Battle proven time and again, plus easier to reload after use than some of his other options. He was no longer a rich man and had to count his pennies. Arrows didn’t grow on trees, after all.

The net popped open over the henchmen and the pole they’d just started to throw at him. It clonked onto their heads as it dragged them down to the pavement, the net result sending them to la-la-land. Net result! I crack myself up sometimes .

Canary was strolling casually toward him as he landed on the pavement next to the netted henchmen, a smile on her face. “Hello, milady, did you take care of your guys?”

“What do you think?” She smiled and buffed her fingernails on her jacket.

“I think they’ll take women more seriously from now on.” He grinned at her.

The SCPD officers that had been crouched behind their cars during the confrontation were already handcuffing the unconscious Bozo leader and his henchmen. A paddy wagon pulled up, not your average paddy wagon, of course, but one designed for wannabe super villains. Star City didn’t have as many as Gotham or Metropolis, but they had their share and budgeted for it.

“That was really something, GA!” One of the officers who’d been watching gave him a thumbs up. “That jump and then up to the flag pole – that was really something!”

“Thank you, I aim to please.” He waited, but apparently the pun went over the man’s head despite the groan from Canary.

“So do you guys go to super hero training or what? I mean, you can’t just do that kind of thing without practicing, right?”

He held a hand up modestly. “Mostly just good clean living.”

Another officer walked up with the netting and handed it to him. “Yeah, right. I couldn’t make a jump like that unless something very big and very angry was on my butt.”

“That would….” An old memory popped into GA’s mind.

Starfish Island: then


“Shit! Shit! Shit!” Ollie screamed as he ran through the jungle, leaping over fallen tree limbs and other obstacles in his way. Behind him was a very big, very angry, and very murderous mamma pig.

A few minutes earlier he’d been butchering a trio of small pigs he’d found while checking his rabbit traps, congratulating himself on his luck and planning a pork chop dinner to break up the monotony of a mostly seafood and rabbit diet, when he’d heard a loud squeal.

Pausing, he’d peered around, trying to find the source of the sound through the dense foliage. He’d heard grunts and squealing a few times before, but hadn’t gotten close to any of the wild pigs until today. This one sounded… big. There was crashing and more squeals as something made its way toward him. Ollie eyed the pigs again. They didn’t look big enough to make that much noise. Unless…. “Uh, oh.”

A large brown sow had burst out of the foliage across from him, and Ollie had flung barely flung himself to one side to keep from being gored. The pig’s momentum carried her past him, and she wheeled around and charged at him again.

“I didn’t know, mama pig! I swear I didn’t know!” He dodged her, this time she was close enough he felt her rough hide brush his skin. Discretion being the better part of valor, he took off at a dead run. Don’t think dead, Ollie!

Mama pig was unimpressed by his confession. Squealing and gouging the jungle floor with her hooves, she gained ground on him with every stride.

“Shit! Shit! Shit!” He screamed again. He had not survived being thrown in the ocean and washing up on a god forsaken island in the middle of freaking nowhere just to be killed by a ham dinner on hooves. This was just not happening. Tripping over something hidden by the dense foliage, Ollie realized he couldn’t outrun the pig, she was too fast and better suited to the terrain than he was. Plus, she was really, really angry about her babies being carved into pieces.

Use your head for something besides a hat rack, Ollie! Think! You’re smarter than a pig! Ducking under a clump of foliage, his shoulder slammed into a tree, nearly knocking him off his feet. He reeled around trying to keep his balance, grabbing at the lower branches for support.

The delay had cost him. With the tree at his back, there was nowhere to go and the pig was close enough for him to see “Die, human, die” in her eyes. His hands tightened on the tree branch. Finally a light bulb went off in his brain. Nowhere to go – but up. Pulling himself up, Ollie scrambled up the tree as if his life depended on it. Which it did.

He’d barely gotten his feet off the ground before the sow slammed into the tree hard enough to make it sway. Wrapping both arms around the trunk, he hung on while she head butted the tree repeatedly. On the one hand he admired how hard her head was not to have knocked herself out. On the other hand, he wasn't sure how much the tree could take before it went over.

It wasn’t that big of a tree and she was a really pissed off pig. The tree shook again, and he dug his fingers into the trunk, wincing as pieces of bark slid under his fingernails. It hurt but not as much as falling would. It’s not the fall, it’s the pig that’ll kill you, Ollie.

The sow gave up ramming the tree, either her head hurt or she’d figured out it wasn’t going to get the baby pig murderer where she wanted him. Ollie relaxed his hold on the trunk and breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe he could wait her out. She’d get bored, or worry about her babies, or just wander off.

Pulling himself up a place where two limbs were growing from the trunk, he settled into the hollow they formed as comfortably – and carefully – as he could. What he wouldn’t give for a pair of pants. All he had to do now was wait for her to leave.

His fingertips stung and he spent a few minutes getting bark out from under his nails. Occasionally, he’d glance down to see mama pig circling the tree. “Oh, well, Ollie, it’s not like you’ve got a party to get to.”  A particularly large splinter of bark had slid under the skin of his left thumb too far for him to pull out with his fingernails. He reached for his knife, the tip would help him lift it up enough to pull out.

When his hand brushed the empty sheath on his hip, Ollie panicked, twisting and nearly losing his seat to pull it around until he could see that the knife was gone. “Oh, no, no no…” It’d been in his hand when the sow had attacked him. He must’ve dropped it then or in his freaked out run for safety.

“No, no, no, no…” He slumped back, smacking the back of his head against the truck with each word. The knife was the single most important piece of equipment he had. Without it, he had no way to carve new arrows, cut up rabbits or fish, make new rabbit traps, or any of the multitude of things he needed to do daily to survive. “You idiot! You stupid fucking idiot!”

Beneath him, mama pig squealed in rage and head butted the tree again. Ollie grabbed the limbs and hung on, wincing as the splinter in his thumb ripped the skin further. Be quiet, you moron or she’ll never go away . When the sow finally returned to circling the tree, he worked at the splinter with his teeth and scanned the dense foliage trying to find his path and backtrack to where he’d been using the knife to butcher the pigs. Piglets. Which he absolutely did not feel guilty about now that knew they were just babies. Honestly.

There wasn’t any sign of which way he’d come from, the jungle foliage had sprung back into place like it’d never been trampled. It didn’t help that he wasn’t even sure which direction he’d come from. Running into the tree had turned him around and disoriented him completely. He’d have to get down on the ground to be able to see the signs better. You should have paid more attention in Boy Scouts, Ollie.

If he ever got – when , not if – when he got home, he was writing a huge check to the Boy Scouts. If not for the little bit of information he’d managed to learn and retain from his time as a Scout, he’d probably be dead by now. Who knew those stupid survival lessons would actually come in handy one day? Not him. If he had, he’d have paid a lot more attention.

The archery lessons his buddies had made fun of had turned out to be the single most important thing he’d ever done in his entire life. He’d quit in high school, of course, what would the businessman he was supposed to become ever need with archery lessons? There were no ads saying: just in case the discerning man gets stranded on a desert island, he should take up archery.

Speaking of which… his bow and quiver was still slung across his back, thank god. Reaching back, Ollie was relieved to feel the fletching of several arrows. The damn things were hard to make, he couldn’t afford to lose any of them. Especially now that he’d lost his knife.

Looking down, he saw the sow was sitting at the bottom of the tree. She was staring at it as if he was going to materialize in front of her or maybe a staircase would magically open up. Why wasn’t she going back to her piglets? Great, Ollie, you’ve found the one bad mother pig on the island.

“Enough of this.” There were mangoes hanging from the branches of his tree. At least he thought they were mangoes, he hadn’t paid that much attention in botany class. Not with Suzie sitting across from him with her beautiful long legs crossed just so at her beautiful ankles. Reaching up, he grabbed one of the fat fruits and jerked it loose from the branch.

He lobbed it several feet away where it landed with a thump. Mama pig spun around and stared in that direction but didn’t move away from the tree. That’s ok, I have plenty of these. Pulling another one off the branch, he tossed it in the same direction as the first one. The pig didn’t move. What the hell? It’s a noise! Go see what it is!

Maybe he need to make more noise to get her interested. Choosing several of the largest mangoes he could reach, Ollie threw them one after the other as quickly as he could. They thudded into the brush several feet away, sounding like something was moving out there. Confident that would draw her away, he got ready to climb down and run toward the beach. Or at least in the opposite direction of the sow. Once he was able to move without being in danger of being gored to death, he’d get his bearings.

Instead of investigating the sounds in the brush, the sow seemed to be even more convinced that she had the pig killer up this particular tree and she wasn’t going anywhere. Are you fucking kidding me? I’m not sitting up here all day.

No way was he going to be in the jungle when night fell. There were more dangerous things on the island than an angry pig. He’d heard the screams of some kind of cat. Panther? Tiger? He wasn’t sure, but whatever type of cats that lived on this island occasionally left partly eaten carcasses for him to stumble over. He appreciated the skins, but didn’t want to say thank you in person.

“You’re making me do this. I want you to understand that. I tried to do it the easy way.” Pulling an arrow out of his quiver, Ollie nocked and drew. “I’m not going to feel guilty about it.” Releasing the bowstring on an exhaled breath, he knew before it hit her than it was exactly where he’d aimed. A grin curled his lips, he’d finally found the one thing he was good at.

The pig squealed when the stone arrowhead slammed into her chest. She twisted and turned trying to get at whatever was causing the pain. When she stumbled, the shaft hit the ground and snapped, the sound making her even angrier, and she pawed at it until it was splinters.

Ollie felt bad that she hadn’t dropped over dead; he hadn’t intended for her to suffer. Drawing another arrow, he sent it after the first one hoping to hit her heart this time. He wasn’t completely sure where her heart would be. He hadn’t paid that much attention in zoology class. Not with Kayla letting him put his hand on her knee, and sometimes her thigh, under the big lab table they shared. And one wonderful day under her skirt when they were sitting in the dark watching a film. I have got to get off his island and find a woman before I lose my mind.

This time the squealing was twice as loud and the sow sank back on her haunches, shaking her head and biting at the shaft jutting out from her chest. Just as he thought she would lay down and die, the pig heaved herself back to her feet. With an enraged squeal she charged the tree again.

“Oh, no!” He slipped and nearly fell as the tree shook from the force of the blow. “This is not how this is supposed to work!” He had to get out of this tree before she knocked him out of it. He couldn’t go down, not unless he wanted to be pig chow, and he sure couldn’t go up, he’d climbed as high as he safely could. Any higher and the branches would be too small to support him. Unless he suddenly sprouted wings and learned to fly -- down was the only option he had.

“Damn it.” He had a limited number of arrows, and two of them were fishing net arrows with blunt heads that wouldn’t pierce her thick hide. The arrowhead on the fishing line arrow was sharp enough, though he’d have to take the rope off of it. He wasn’t stupid enough to shoot her with it and try to hang on. Too bad I can’t use it to climb into another tree.

Ollie froze at the thought, nearly losing his grip as the tree shook again. “Why can’t I?” He did have a rope attached to an arrow. To be able to swing over to another tree, he’d just need to put the arrow into a spot above where he was sitting, otherwise, he’d end up on the ground suffering the wrath of mama pig.

Looking around, he settled on a tree that was bigger than the one he was in and close enough that his rope would reach. He sat quietly for a few minutes, waiting for the sow to settle down and stop shaking his tree. The shot was easy enough, but he needed to convince himself he could actually swing across without falling.

The sow settled for pacing around the base of the tree once more. Ollie eased himself up to his feet and drew a shaky breath before sliding the slip knot at the end of the rope around his wrist and setting the arrow in place. Once he drew back on the bowstring, the tension left his body and his fingers opened naturally to release the arrow. It thudded into the trunk of the other tree exactly where he’d wanted it and he smiled. If he could do this all day, he’d be a happy man.

“See you later, Petunia.” Ollie gave her a mock salute and gave the rope experimental tug. “I’m out of –  “ The arrow pulled loose and fell to the ground. “ – here. Motherfucker.” Well, Ollie, you should have known it wasn’t going to be that easy. He pulled the arrow back and prepared to try again. Even Tarzan needed a few practice swings.

The second and third tries yielded the same results; the arrow pulled free with a tug or two. There was no way it would hold his weight. He might as well just jump down and give her a kiss if he tried it.

“Think, moron. Time to put the supposed smarts you have to work.” Settling back into the hollow of the tree, carefully because he didn’t want splinters in his ass or anywhere else, Ollie took inventory of his quiver again. Two fishnet arrows, two fishline arrows,and four regular arrows. What he needed was an arrow that would loop around a branch and tie itself into a knot. While you’re at it, why don’t you wish for an arrow that’ll call home for help?

He could get a rope to a branch, but he needed someone over there to tie it off. Playing with the rope wrapped around his wrist, he loosened the slipknot and pulled it tight repeatedly, trying to figure out how he could be in two places at once. I’ve got two ropes, there has to be a way to make this work.

Tugging the loop again, he winced as it rubbed against a scrape on the inside of his wrist. “Ouch, damn it –  “ Loosening it, he looked at the scrape. It wasn’t too bad, he’d had worse, the loop was just catching the edge of it. Ollie stared at the loop. A slipknot. If he could figure out how to make a slipknot around a branch, the arrow wouldn’t have to hold his weight.

“By George, I think I got it.” Ollie tied the ends of the two fishline ropes together, then tied a loop in one of them several inches from where it was tied to the arrow, knotting it securely. And there’s another zero or two on that check to the Boy Scouts.

Getting carefully to his feet again, he fired the first arrow so that it sailed over a fat limb on the other tree and dangled over it, the loop hanging just below. Now all he had to do was put the second arrow through the loop, snag it and pull it back to him, and he’d have it wrapped around the limb. Easy peasy!

It took ten tries.

He finally managed a crude slipknot around the limb and a few tugs convinced him the limb and the ropes would take his weight. Taking a deep breath, he launched himself out of the tree. Just like Tarzan! Ollie slammed into the other tree nearly knocking himself out and barely hanging on to keep from falling to the ground. Scrabbling desperately, he managed to get onto the limb and wrap his arms and legs around it. Or George of the Jungle.

Mama pig seemed to realize something was up. she looked at the tree he’d moved to and then back to the one he’d been in. Ollie knew pigs had bad eyesight. He was wearing green in a whole jungle of green and she probably couldn’t actually see him. Tugging a mango from the limb just above him, he threw it back at the other tree.

She was still debating which tree to guard, looking from one to the other. He pegged her in the head with the next mango and that convinced her he must still be in the tree she’d chased him up. Squealing, she slammed her head into it again. The tree listed to one side slightly and he realized he’d abandoned it just in time. A few more hits and she’d have it falling over.

Pardon me, I must be going. The knot making and tree swinging feat was a little easier this time. Only six times to make the knot and he actually landed on the limb he was aiming for instead of kissing the tree trunk next to it. It wasn’t the best landing, he nearly fell off the other side, but he was the only competitor so Ollie figured even the Russian judge would give him a ten.

The next one was even easier, and the one after that was a piece of cake. He put the arrow through the loop on the first try and landed on the limb with barely a wobble. The sow was still guarding the tree he’d climbed to get away from her, pacing around it and occasionally slamming her head and shoulders into it unaware that he’d moved a good distance away. One more should be far enough. Easy peasy!

Overconfident with his success, Ollie didn’t quite nail the landing and fell off the limb to the ground. Luckily not too far and luckily without breaking his neck. Not so luckily, mama heard his crash landing and realized he wasn’t in the tree she’d been pacing around. Giving an angry squeal that probably translated to “You can’t get away that easily, piglet killer!” she charged in his direction.

He had a bigger lead this time and ran like a mad man, hurdling bushes and obstacles in his way, until he realized the jungle was thinning and he was about to hit the beach. If I can get to the water, I’m safe! Risking a glance over his shoulder, Ollie realized the sow had gained more ground than he’d thought. She’d catch him in the sand before he made it to the water. With no trees to climb, she’d rip him to pieces.

He needed a bazooka and all he had were two fishnet arrows and four regular arrows. As much as he hated to do it, he was going to have to kill her if he couldn’t stop her. Sliding to a stop, he turned, pulled an arrow from his quiver, took careful aim, and fired. The fishnet arrow hit her in the face, the net wrapping around her front legs and making her stumble. It also made her even more furious.

She was tossing the net aside as Ollie fired the other fishnet arrow so it opened over her. The net billowed and settled over the sow’s body, tangling her into it and she crashed to the ground hard enough to cut off her enraged squealing for a moment.

Lowering the bow, he gave a sigh of relief. Maybe he wouldn’t have to kill her after all. He’d love a good supply of pork, but there was no way he could eat that much without it going bad, and he wasn’t going to kill for no reason. Then he realized she was shredding the net.

Ollie nocked an arrow that held a stone arrowhead he’d made and spent hours sharpening to a deadly point. He held at full draw until he was absolutely sure he had the perfect shot. The arrow hit her squarely in the eye and slammed into her brain. She dropped and was dead in less than a second. “Sorry, mama, I really am.”

Star City: Now


He’d killed her to save his own life, there hadn’t been a choice and  it had soothed his conscience he had managed to use most of the meat by brining it in saltwater and rigging up racks to dry it in the sun. The Boy Scouts had gotten one hell of a check when he’d gotten home a few months later.

GA nodded at the officer waiting expectantly for an answer. “Yep, there is some superhero training to be done, it’s pretty brutal, let me tell ya. Not for the faint of heart.”

Canary had a questioning look on her face. His lady knew him as well as he knew her and she’d undoubtedly noticed he’d zoned out for a few moments. Folding the net up, he smiled at her. “How do you feel about pork chops for dinner?”

She shrugged. “You’re the one cooking.”

“Did I ever tell you about the time I was cornered in a tree by a pack of wild boars?” She shook her head. ”No?” Slipping an arm around her waist, he pulled her against his side as they walked away. “Well, Pretty Bird, right away I knew exactly what I had to do…”