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Starting Something

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May 16, 2011:

“So that’s it,” Oliver says, standing mostly on one leg in the forest of Lian Yu, with Amanda Waller by his side, “you’re just gonna bag and tag everything and pretend like nothing ever happened?” Pain courses up his other leg, but pain is an old friend. Oliver ignores it.

“You’ve seen what that idol can do,” Amanda replies calmly, like Oliver hasn’t just gone through hell for her, hasn’t just killed for her yet again, “how large the world truly is.” One of the two helicopters in front of them takes off, rotors pushing waves of sound against Oliver’s eardrums and sending the leaves on the ground swirling. “Speaking of…”

Two ARGUS agents step forward and place an old and worn trunk at Oliver’s feet, setting it gently against the hard dirt. He recognizes it instantly and scoffs. She never gives up, does she?

“What am I going to do with this?” he asks despite knowing perfectly well what Amanda is trying to get from him. He goes to his knees, opening it.

“Our business here is concluded, Mr. Queen, unless it’s not.”

His green hood - Yao Fei’s hood, Shado’s hood - is still inside the trunk, his bow and arrows, his father’s List.

“As I said, justice requires killing. Maybe a man of your talents could be useful in hotspots across the globe.”

Oliver picks up the small notebook in front of him and shakes his head in dismay. He’s too talented now for Amanda to keep her leash on him, too good of an agent, but that doesn’t mean he’s outlived his usefulness.

“Of you could just… go back to playing vigilante.” She doesn’t sound impressed with the idea, tone dry and scornful.

“Neither,” Oliver tells her after a moment, setting down the List again. “I have a promise to keep.”

Another stooge steps forward, handing Amanda a tablet, and she shows the screen to Oliver as he stands.

“It’s a big world out there,” she repeats, “bigger than you can dream of.” There’s a video already on the screen. She plays it for him.

The footage is sharp, crystal clear and high-definition. A man stands in front of a police car, dressed in blue with a flowing red cape behind him. In front of him are two men, armed with automatic weapons, behind are the actual police, taking cover behind their vehicles. The man doesn’t seem bothered by the danger, standing bold and tall, and the camera is angled in just the right was so as to catch the confidence on his face. He’s talking to them, that much is obvious, but however nice the picture is the video is clearly lacking audio.

As Oliver watches the two armed men let loose their weapons, aiming everything at the stranger in blue. He doesn’t flinch, and for good reason - the bullets ricochet off him without leaving a mark and he doesn’t waver in the slightest. His clothing does not tear, his skin does not even so much as bruise from the force. He just stands there, catching all the bullets with his body, blocking the police behind him, and when a pause comes in the onslaught he moves faster than Oliver can see.

In the blink of an eye the man stands directly in front of the criminals, the guns crushed and bent at his feet. It doesn’t appear to have taken any effort at all.

The police swarm the three of them after a moment, guns out, seemingly unsure of who to direct them at, but the caped man isn’t bothered by that either. He says something, and then his feet somehow lift from the ground and he speeds out of the camera’s field of view, taking off into the air in an impossible feat of human flight.

Or maybe not human at all.

“He surfaced a week ago,” Amanda says, handing the tablet to one of her cronies as the video ends. “Saved a plane that almost went down over Metropolis. We have no idea of what he is, or what he’s capable of.”

For the first time, and almost certainly unintentionally, Oliver catches a hint of fear in Amanda’s expression that’s gone almost as quickly as it had come. This being really scares her, he realizes, and he knows why. The head of ARGUS is all about remaining in control and a new variable, especially one as powerful and as unknown as this one, shakes the steadfast grip she has on the world around her. For the briefest of moments, Oliver actually contemplates what life would be like for him if he continued to help ARGUS with their missions.

He shakes his head. “He’s your problem now. But I could use a ride to Russia.”