Chapter 1: White Flash
Thea and Moira were sitting in the living room, looking through clothes on the girl’s tablet.
“Can we see it in white?”
Thea nodded and quickly changed the color. Moira smiled at her.
“There. That’s the right one.”
Just as Thea was going to put it in the shopping cart, a blinding light appeared and enveloped them. Seconds later, they were both gone.
Diggle was sitting on his couch, jumping around the channels and not really finding anything interesting. He had spent the entire evening in the Foundry and was exhausted. Oliver had been in a bad mood and, since Felicity hadn’t managed to find someone for him to hit, Diggle had dragged him over to the training mats and fought with him, until Oliver was calm enough to sleep. Felicity had driven him home since he was way too exhausted to concentrate on the road. Suddenly, a white flash appeared and Diggle was pulled away into nothing.
Felicity was sitting in her flat, the computer on her desk showing the Foundry, where Oliver was sleeping on the nest. After the argument he had with his mother, he had stayed at the Foundry, sleeping on the floor for the first few days. After that, Diggle and Felicity had built a sort of nest for him in one of the corners, consisting of training mats. Felicity had also brought him all the blankets she could find in her flat as well as a few pillows that she wasn’t using anymore. When he saw that, Oliver clearly didn’t know what to say, so he simply pulled Felicity into a hug and smiled at Diggle. The girl was happy that Oliver was getting more at ease with them than ever before. And, even though she knew that the Foundry was most probably the safest place in the world for Oliver, she still had the cameras view the basement on her personal computer, just in case something happened. She was just falling asleep, when a bright light picked her up gently and she was gone soon after.
Roy was on his way to the Foundry. He had tried contacting Oliver for half a day, without any success. The same went for Diggle’s phone. When he managed to get a hold of Felicity, she told him that Oliver was in a bad mood and him and Diggle were fighting with way more violence than was needed. He still had to run errands for Thea and the club, but headed back to the basement as soon as he was done. If Oliver needed to fight, it was better if he fought Roy than Diggle. At least Roy wouldn’t get seriously hurt. And Oliver wouldn’t have to hold back. He was just entering the club, when bright light hit him in the chest and knocked him to the ground. Seconds later, he was gone.
Sara, Laurel and Lance were all sitting in Laurel’s apartment, looking through old pictures of the girls. From time to time, someone would make a comment on a hairstyle or choice of clothes and they would all burst out laughing. The white light approached them from behind and grabbed all three of them at the same time, pulling them backwards, until they disappeared.
Malcolm was sitting in a safe house, his bow held tightly in his hand. He admitted that he was being paranoid, but there was a good reason. If Ra’s found him, he would be dead. Really dead this time. The white light burst in through his front door and knocked the bow out of his hand before he could even comprehend what was happening. It moved quickly around him, before picking him up and disappearing.
Slade was pacing around his office, trying to figure out what his next step should be. He had found out that Oliver knew about Thea Queen being Malcolm Merlyn’s daughter and had practically moved to his basement after that. Now his family was left without anyone guarding them. It was the perfect opportunity. He looked up when he heard a sound in the hallway, but didn’t get to do anything, before a white light knocked his doors down and threw him into a wall. He collected himself quickly and reached for a gun, when the light slammed into him again and quickly carried him away, while he was still dazed.
They all arrived at approximately the same time in a big room with couches and a big tv screen. Immediately after realizing that something was wrong, Diggle moved closer to Felicity, while Roy pulled Thea behind him.
“How is he alive?!”
Thea’s outburst pulled everyone’s attention to where Malcolm was standing. Before he could answer, three people went inside the room, closing the door behind them. One of the females was young, around 22 years old. She had long white hair and an eye-patch over one eye. She was wearing jeans and a black shirt with a red belt and red boots to it. To her back, she had strapped a long sword. Her one good eye was light grey and her expression was both irritated and kind at the same time. Many people in the room wondered how the girl managed to pull that off so easily. Next to her, standing with his back straight, was a young man, possibly younger than her. He was slightly taller than her, his black hair falling down to his shoulders in a controlled mess. He was dressed in all black, with one escrima stick strapped to each thigh. But what really drew their attention was his face. It stayed almost expressionless, while his blue eyes showed so many emotions, that no one really knew what the boy was really feeling. Even Merlyn found it hard to figure it out. Slade got a sudden thought that he recognized them from somewhere, but couldn't really place their faces anywhere. The third person made everyone except for Slade gasp in shock. It was Thea. A much older Thea. She was dressed in black pants and a red jacket, a quiver on her back and a bow in her hand. Her hair was cut short to her ears and she wore a look of worry.
“Hello, everyone. Before we go any further, you all need to know a few things. Slade, Malcolm. In case either of you try anything, we will not hesitate to put you down. I might have taken a vow to never kill, but there are those here who haven’t.”
She made a small head movement towards the other two and both Slade and Malcolm nodded slowly. They could see it in the girl’s eye. The readiness to kill. And the boy was such an enigma, that they wouldn’t put it past him to be some kind of murderer.
“A few things that you all need to know before we start. Malcolm Merlyn is the Dark Archer, in case there was someone here who didn’t know. He was part of the League of Assassins, but his Undertaking put him on Ra’s wrong side.”
Sara’s eyes widened, but she didn’t say anything when the girl continued.
“Slade Wilson, also known as Deathstroke, is a mercenary. He was on the island with Oliver and the only reason he is here, is because that’s what Oliver would have wanted. My idiot brother never gave up trying to save him.”
Slade snorted at that, but stayed where he was when the boy’s confusing eyes moved over to him and, for a few seconds, pure hate shone clear in them. Then he turned away, the mix of emotions coming back. The white haired girl glanced up at him, before looking back towards the group again. And the woman continued.
“My name is Mia Harper, although back in your time I was known as Thea Queen. Now one more thing. You were brought here, to watch what happened to Oliver during the five years he was gone. Some of you, like Slade and Sara, know a few things. Others, like Malcolm, know about things he was involved with, but don’t know that he was there. I need you all to watch these with an open and clear mind, which brings us to our next point.”
She pulled out two pills.
“This is the cure for the Mirakuru. Slade, Roy. I need you to take it, in order to be sure that your judgement isn’t clouded with the drug. I’m giving you a chance to do this willingly, otherwise I will be forced to inject you with the cure against your will. And don’t look at me like that, Wilson. There are people here who are much stronger than you. A kryptonian for example. Although I’m sure Rose and Dick are more than capable of taking you on.”
Roy tilted his head.
“The Mirakuru doesn’t do anything anymore. I have control.”
Mia shook head head.
“You might have now. But there was a time when it warped your mind so much, that you tried to murder Thea.”
Roy’s eyes widened and he nodded quickly.
“Alright. Fine. Let’s do this.”
He walked over to her, took one of the pills and quickly swallowed it. Seconds later, he passed out, Diggle catching him right before he hit the floor. Mia smirked.
“Should have told him about that.”
Diggle glared at her, before lifting the young man and putting him on one of the couches. Quickly, Thea walked over to him and sat down on the edge of it, gently stroking his hair. Seeing that without Roy there, Moira was alone and unprotected, Diggle maneuvered himself and Felicity closer to the woman. She smiled at him gratefully. Meanwhile, Mia turned to Slade. The mercenary glared at her.
She was opening her mouth, when Rose spoke up for the first time.
“If I were you, I would do it.”
And, after a few seconds of silence, she added calmly:
There was pure shock on his face. And then sudden understanding.
“Yes. My mother was Lilian Worth. This is my brother, Richard.”
Slade looked at the boy, his eyes still holding way too many emotions at once. It looked almost as if he was trapped in his own mind, unable to get out. Rose spoke up again, her voice still calm.
“His mother was Mary Loyd. She married John Grayson after you left her.”
Slade’s eye widened.
“He’s my son?”
“Yeah. He’s the youngest. Joseph and Grant are your and Adeline’s children. But they don’t want to have anything to do with either you or us. So it’s just me and Dick. Now take the cure. If you decide that your point of view hasn’t changed once this is all over, I will personally inject Mirakuru back into you.”
He looked between the two, before nodding. He took the pill from Mia’s hand, sat down on a couch and swallowed the cure. Three seconds later, he had passed out. At the same time, Roy opened his eyes and groaned.
“I feel like I have a hangover.”
He looked around at the stunned faces and frowned.
“What did I miss?”
Chapter 2: Let's Begin
Thea helped him sit up and looked at him with worry, but he just smiled at her. His eyes widened slightly when he noticed a passed out Slade, but his questions were stopped by Mia.
“A few more things. Just to make sure that we’re all on the same page here. Thea. This will be a terrible shock to you. I know it was to me. But it’s better that you find out now, than later.”
“You have no right to do it!”
Everyone turned to Moira.
“I have every right, mother. The reason why I turned out the way I did, is because I found out the way I did. Because lies and deception were all around me and I wanted to be with the only person who didn’t lie to me. And, at that time, that person was my father. So I went away with him and let him train and abuse me and turn me into something I was not. For so many years after that, I regretted it. A year ago, I finally made a truce with him, only to have him ripped away from me.”
Thea was looking at her with shock, while Malcolm and Moira were watching the exchange with slight worry.
“No. My father is dead. He died on the Gambit.”
Mia shook her head.
“Your father wasn’t Robert Queen, Thea. Your father is Malcolm Merlyn.”
Thea’s eyes widened, before she turned towards Moira with fury in her eyes.
“You told me the affair was nothing! You said that it was a one time thing! A moment of weakness!”
Tears appeared in her eyes and she curled in on herself, Roy quickly pulling her into a hug. Making a quick decision, Felicity walked over to them and sat down on the girl’s other side.
Thea looked up at her, her face already wet from crying.
“I don’t know what you’re going through right now, but I know one thing for sure. Oliver loves you.”
Diggle was shocked that the blonde could say that without starting to nervously talk around it. But then he understood. Felicity saw Thea as family, most probably because Oliver was family. Thea was important to Oliver, which meant that she was important to Felicity too. He smiled softly at them.
“Did… Does Ollie know?”
Felicity hesitated, so Diggle stepped in.
“Yes. He knows. He found out during your mother's campaign speech. He said that he wanted to keep up appearances for your sake. Other than that, he cut all ties with your mother. He’s been staying in the Foundry for some time now.”
Thea, Laurel, Lance and Moira frowned, while Roy and Sara tensed up. Diggle seemed to catch himself, because he tried to explain.
“I mean… He’s been…”
“That’s another thing you all need to know, although many of you already know it.”
Everyone turned to Mia.
“Oliver is the Arrow.”
Silence stretched across the room until Slade suddenly groaned and sat up straighter. He looked around with a confused eye, before he remembered where he was and stood up. He glanced over to the two siblings, but then looked to Mia.
Sara stepped forward, ignoring the way her father tried to keep her next to him.
Mia smiled at her and nodded. Seeing that, Sara turned to Slade.
“There is something you need to know, because I doubt Ivo gave you the real version of what happened. That day, when Shado died…”
Hearing that name, Slade suddenly felt a stab of anger and started moving towards Sara, only to grunt in pain when a charged escrima stick slammed into his stomach. A powerful kick sent him flying backwards into a wall. When he stood up again, he saw Rose holding both Dick’s hands in her own, making sure that his eyes stayed on her. Slade was shocked. Even with all his training, he hadn’t noticed the boy moving until it was too late. On the other side of the room, Malcolm was just as shocked. He looked carefully at the boy, but couldn’t get any real impression of him, because of the many conflicting emotions in his eyes. Sara seemed to take it all in stride, because she addressed Slade again, her voice still calm.
“That day, when she died, Ivo put me and her on our knees. He told Oliver to choose between us. Oliver refused, so Ivo started counting down. When he got to zero, the gun was pointed at me. Oliver threw himself in front of it, thinking that Ivo would pull the trigger, kill him and let us go. But Ivo turned the gun to the side and killed Shado instead. Oliver didn’t want her to get hurt. He would have gladly died if it meant she would be alive. You know that.”
Slade was staring at her without a word, so she continued.
“I know that you cared about him. I saw it on your face. When you were angry and hurt him. Once you realized what you were doing, you looked terrified. You didn’t want to hurt him. He was your friend. Your brother. And you should have seen him when we thought you died. I think he was more hurt than Shado.”
Slade lifted his hand and she stopped.
“He jumped in front of the gun?”
Sara nodded. After a moment of silence, Slade sighed.
“I’ll see what you have to show us.”
“As you’ve all most probably realized, you’re in the future. A future that I’m trying to prevent. Once you’ve seen what we want to show you, we’ll take you back to your time and drop you off at the exact same place and second that you were taken from.”
“Hopefully less violently.”
Mia turned to Rose, who smiled widely.
“That was my fault. I told Impulse who he had to be careful with and who he could knock around a bit.”
Felicity looked up from where Thea had snuggled into her side.
“Yes. But we can’t tell you anything more about him than that name. He’s related to someone you know in your time, and we don’t want to mess anything up there. Now sit down and get comfortable. We’ll take it year by year. The first year is a bit over an hour and a half. We’ll take a pause after that to eat and sleep. I apologize for pulling you in so late, but we had to make sure it happened when none of you were around Oliver. With the way things are in your life now, he would go crazy if one of you suddenly disappeared in front of him. We have rooms ready for everyone. Well, there aren’t that many guest rooms in this part so some of you will have to share. I would propose, Laurel with Sara. Thea and Felicity. Roy and Diggle. Slade, Mr Lance, Dad and Mom get their own rooms. Dick and Rose will be on guard for a few hours, and then I will take over. I would advise you to not try running away. You’re in the Watchtower and, outside of it, nothing awaits you but death. I will be up in a control room, making sure that the memories play in the right order. Rose and Dick will stay here. For your safety. Any questions?”
“Yeah. You said that your name is Mia Harper. Does that mean that…”
“Yeah. You and Thea got married.”
Thea was in too much shock to say anything, so Felicity worded the question that they had both been thinking about.
“Mia? Where is Oliver?”
The woman froze, an odd look appearing on her face. Seeing that, Rose quickly stepped in.
“Oliver Queen is dead. I’m sorry.”
Thea’s eyes filled with tears again and Felicity pulled her closer to herself.
“That’s what you’re trying to avoid? His death?”
Mia, who had collected herself by now, nodded.
“Yes. None of us understood Oliver, and that left him alone. In the end, none of us could help him and, after some of us betrayed him, he turned to the wrong person for help. It resulted in many deaths, including his own. But that’s what we’re trying to avoid. Now get seated. Rose.”
The two females exchanged looks, before Rose smiled and nodded. Mia looked at her parents one more time, before walking out of the room. Since Thea was still curled up between Felicity and Roy, Diggle looked around for an empty space. The Lance sisters had taken a couch for themselves but, seeing his look, Sara patted the space next to her and he sat down there. Moira and Quentin had taken another couch, while Malcolm and Slade had taken armchairs. Seeing everyone seated, Rose grabbed Dick’s hand and pulled him over to a couch in the back, the boy following her automatically. His movements were almost tired but, after having seen his display of strength against Slade, no one was really fooled by that. As soon as the siblings were seated, Mia’s voice came through the speakers.
“Let’s begin, shall we.”
Chapter 3: My Name Is Oliver Queen
A man was running through a thick forest, before suddenly leaping up and grabbing a branch. He used it to swing himself forward, before running out onto some rocks. He climbed them to the top, his feet bare. The camera panned for a moment, letting them see a part of the man’s face.
“Is that Oliver?”
Everyone seemed just as surprised, until Slade suddenly nodded.
“It has to be. That’s Yao Fei and Shado’s hood. Only Oliver could have it.”
“But his hair…”
Oliver looked out to the sea and saw a fishing boat not far from the shore. He flew up from where he was and started running across the rocks, jumping with almost unnatural agility.
Diggle smiled. He had seen Oliver pull stunts like that on rooftops so it wasn’t that unusual for him. Meanwhile, Slade was frowning. Even if the kid somehow survived all those years alone on the island, where did his clothes come from? Because those were not the same clothes that he remembered from their last encounter. Moira had tears in her eyes. Her beautiful boy had lived in a place like that, and she hadn’t even known.
Oliver ran up to where a bundle of green fabric was and stuck down his knife next to it. Then he opened it, pulled out an arrow and hit it against the stone, making it light up. He stood up, pulling the string back on the bow and let the lit arrow fly towards the beach, where a big pile of wood was. It exploded, sending fire high up in the air.
Malcolm nodded appreciatively. He still remembered Oliver winning over him and, even though he still thought he was a better archer, he couldn’t say that Oliver didn’t have a good form. Thea was watching the screen with big eyes. If she had known that her brother was interested in archery, they could have had something to connect over after he came back home. With a smile, she decided to take it up with him, as soon as they were back.
On the boat, the two fishermen noticed the fire and started pointing at it. Suddenly, Oliver’s voice could be heard.
“The name of the island they found me on is Lian Yu. It’s mandarin, for Purgatory.”
The camera panned to where the fishermen were walking past a black and orange mask with an arrow through it.
Slade smirked at that.
A few people glanced over to him, but no one said anything.
“I’ve been stranded here for five years.”
The fishermen came to a stop when Oliver started walking towards them.
“I’ve dreamt of my rescue every cold, black night since then.”
Seeing their hesitation, Oliver fell to his knees.
“For five years I’ve had only one thought. One goal.”
Oliver pulled off his hood, revealing his long hair and beard.
Despite the serious situation, Thea couldn’t help herself and giggled, Felicity and Sara following suit soon after. Roy rolled his eyes at them, but there was a small smirk on his face.
“Survive. Survive and one day return home.”
The scene changed to Oliver sitting on the boat, wrapped in a blanket. One of the fishermen came up to him with a cup of something, Oliver accepting it gratefully.
“The island held many dangers.”
“Understatement of the year.”
Sara nodded in agreement.
“To live, I had to make myself more than what I was. To forge myself into a weapon. I am returning, not the boy who was shipwrecked, but the man who will bring justice to those who have poisoned my city.”
Oliver looked up with a dangerous stare.
“My name is Oliver Queen.”
The text ‘ARROW’ appeared, before the scene changed into a yacht fighting against the storm.
Laurel, Sara, Lance, Moira and Thea all paled.
“They won’t show it, will they?”
Sara put her arm around Laurel’s shoulders.
“I don’t know.”
The words ‘5 YEARS EARLIER’ flashed across the screen. Robert Queen’s face appeared, worry clear on it. A man walked in, struggling to close the door.
“Storm’s a category 2. Captain’s recommending we head back.”
“Alright. Inform the crew.”
They started walking down the hallway as Oliver appeared on the other end.
“Are we in trouble?”
“One of us is.”
Both Thea and Moira had tears in their eyes. They both missed Robert. Slade was watching the young Oliver with amusement. It had been a while since he saw him like that. Meanwhile, the Lances were quiet. They had a terrible feeling about what was going to happen.
Oliver smiled and turned around when he heard a female voice behind him.
Sara appeared in the doorway, quickly closing her kimono over her underwear when she noticed Robert.
“Where do you keep the bottle opener on this thing?”
“I’ll be there in a minute, Sara.”
She smiled at him and went back inside the room. Oliver turned to Robert who sighed.
“You know, son. That is not going to finish well.”
“He was talking from own experience, right?”
Moira nodded, but didn’t say anything.
“For either of them, or for you.”
Oliver just smiled. The scene changed into the room where Oliver was drinking wine, while Sara was on the bed.
“It’s getting closer.”
“It’s not very scientific.”
“What would you know about science, mr Ivy League dropout?”
He sat down next to her.
“I happen to know a lot about science. I know about fermentation. I know biology.”
“Laurel’s gonna kill me.”
Laurel looked over to Sara, before suddenly putting her arm around her waist.
“Never joke about that. I love you.”
Sara smiled at her.
“She’s so gonna kill me.”
She put away her glass.
“Your sister will never know. Come here.”
He tackled her into a lying position and she laughed.
Laurel sighed. Yeah, she had made her peace with what Sara and Oliver had done. But that didn’t make it easier. Sara glanced over to their father, but he seemed to be holding it together pretty well.
Thunder struck down blacking out the lights for a moment and Sara looked up with worry.
“Okey that one was really close.”
She looked up at Oliver.
“We’re gonna be fine.”
He leaned down and kissed her, when suddenly the entire boat tipped, sending them flying into the wall.
Oliver raised himself up a bit only to see Sara being pulled out of the room and into the water. He tried reaching her, but it was too late.
Even though he knew that his daughter had made it out alive, Lance still felt himself shaking. Hesitantly, Moira put a hand on his shoulder and squeezed it gently, before pulling her hand back. He glanced over to her, but didn’t comment on it.
Oliver was struggling to stay afloat in the stormy water.
A lifeboat appeared with Robert and another man in it.
Oliver swam over to the boat and the two men helped him get inside.
“No. No! Dad, she’s out there!”
Oliver tried to get into the water again, but Robert held him back.
“She’s not there!”
The camera panned to show the Gambit sink fully.
Slade lowered his head with a grunt. Everyone turned to him and Mia paused the memory.
“If I had known.”
Rose tilted her head.
“What are you talking about?”
Slade glanced at her, before focusing on the screen again.
“He was scared of water. Wouldn’t get into it if it was higher than to the knees. It irritated me, because it was a weakness and back then, we weren’t allowed weaknesses. So, one day, I tricked him out onto a ledge and pushed him in. He had to swim if he wanted to survive. He was pissed at me after that, but he said that he understood. If I had known that it was that bad on that boat, I would have approached it differently.”
Rose smiled, hearing her father so sane again.
The man set up a small light in the boat, while Robert and Oliver sat next to each other. Robert opened a small flask and gave it to Oliver.
“Here son! Drink!”
The man glared at them.
“What the hell are you doing?! That’s all we’ve got!”
Lance rolled his eyes.
“That man clearly doesn’t have children.”
“If anybody’s making it out of here it’s gonna be him!”
Then Robert turned back to Oliver.
“I’m so sorry! I thought I had more time! I’m not the man you think I am! I didn’t build our city! I failed it!”
Everyone turned to Felicity.
“So that’s where he got that phrase.”
“And I wasn’t the only one.”
Thea looked over to her mother.
“Wait a second. Is dad talking about the Quake?”
Chapter 4: Languages
Moira hesitated, so Malcolm answered for her.
“Yes. Robert knew about the Undertaking, but he decided to pull out of it. That’s why his yacht was sabotaged.”
Lance flew up from his seat.
“You almost killed my little girl!”
He made a move to attack Merlyn but, once again, Dick had moved soundlessly across the room and put himself between the two men. He had one escrima stick pulled out, electricity sparking at the tip of it. Seeing that, Lance sat down again, and the boy nodded, before walking back to his seat next to Rose. Both Slade and Malcolm stared at him. Even this time, neither of them had noticed him moving.
“Let’s keep watching.”
Everyone nodded at Rose’s words.
It was now day and the boat was still drifting. Robert, who was holding his arm around Oliver, leaned closer to him and whispered:
“There’s not enough for all of us.”
Oliver, clearly exhausted, whispered back:
“Save your strength.”
“You can survive this. Make it home. Make it better. Right my wrongs. But you gotta live through this first. You hear me Ollie? You hear me son?”
He shook him slightly, to make sure that Oliver wasn’t asleep.
“Just rest, dad.”
And he fell asleep again.
Both Moira and Thea had tears in their eyes from seeing the scene. Felicity was getting teary herself, but stayed strong for Thea, who had once again curled herself into a small ball and pushed into the woman’s side.
Robert kissed the top of Oliver’s head, before sitting up straight and putting his son against the side of the boat. Then he suddenly pulled out a gun and shot the other man, causing him to fall into the water. Oliver jumped at that.
In the room, everyone but Slade, Malcolm and the Wilson siblings jumped at that. Malcolm shook his head. He had been sure that Robert had died on the Gambit. Now he realized what his old friend was going to do.
Oliver quickly moved as far from Robert as possible, fear clear on his face.
Robert looked at him with sorrow on his face.
Then he put the gun to his own head and pulled the trigger.
Thankfully the screen became black at that moment. Moira and Thea were crying. Felicity did her best to calm the girl down, while Sara had moved over to Moira and pulled her into a hug. After getting over her initial shock, the woman hugged her back briefly. After a few seconds, Sara stood up again and walked back to her seat between Laurel and Diggle.
“Thea? Can we continue?”
The girl nodded with a sniff and Felicity hugged her closer.
Oliver was still drifting at sea and it was clear that he was exhausted. He looked over the side of the boat.
“I almost died. I… I thought that I had, because I spent so many days on that liferaft.”
The island could be seen from where Oliver was in the boat.
“Before I saw the island.”
The scene changed to Oliver walking through the water.
“When I reached it, I knew. I knew that I was gonna have to live. For both of us.”
Once again the scene changed to Oliver waking up. Birds could be heard.
“Hey! Hey! Get away!”
The camera panned to the beach, where the liferaft was being assaulted by birds. Oliver ran down to it, looking down to where Robert’s body was covered with an orange fabric.
He grabbed his father’s hand, before suddenly stumbling a few steps away and throwing up.
“It’s not an uncommon reaction.”
Slade nodded in agreement.
“During training for ASIS, one of the steps is to spend a day with a corpse in the same room. I’ve seen more experienced people than him faint after a few seconds.”
Diggle looked at him with shock.
“You are ASIS?”
Slade looked him up and down, before answering.
Oliver noticed that birds were flocking again, so he pulled himself together and quickly moved back to the boat.
“Hey! Get away from him!”
He coughed a few times, before taking a few deep breaths to calm himself down. Then he pulled Robert’s body out of the boat and lifted it onto his shoulders. Staggering, he made it to the top of the rocks and gently put the body down. He was laying the body more straight, when he noticed a book in Robert’s pocket. He pulled it out and flipped through the pages, but they were empty.
Malcolm and Moira exchanged looks. So that was how Oliver had gotten the book.
Oliver was carrying stones, building a grave around Robert’s body. He stood up, looking down at his work, when an arrow suddenly pierced his shoulder and Oliver screamed.
Thea whimpered, while Felicity’s hand curled into a fist. She had seen Oliver hurt many times, but this was somehow worse. Maybe because she wasn’t there to help him get better. Meanwhile, Slade smiled.
“He’s safe now.”
Everyone turned to him in shock. Moira leaned a bit closer to him, exclaiming loudly:
“How is he safe?! He was just shot!”
Slade rolled his eyes, but it was Sara who answered.
“He ran into Shado.”
She turned to the mercenary.
He shook his head.
“No. We didn’t find out about Shado until much later. That was Yao Fei.”
Oliver fell to the ground, screaming in pain. He managed to turn his head to where a figure in a green hood was putting another arrow on the string.
That was all he managed to say before he passed out. When he woke up, he was in a cave. Sitting up, he noticed that the arrow was still in his shoulder. Turning to the opening, he saw Yao Fei walking inside, bow still in his hand.
“Who are you?”
The man pulled his hood off and walked a bit closer to him, making sure to keep his movements slow.
“Why did you shoot me?”
“To protect you.”
Sara sighed in relief.
“Thank heavens for subtitles.”
Everyone, except for Malcolm, nodded. Rose frowned at him, before speaking up.
“Why don’t we go around the room and all say what languages we speak. I can start. I speak mandarin, english and spanish.”
Felicity quickly grabbed onto the idea, realizing that it might calm Thea down to concentrate on something other than her brother getting hurt.
“I speak english, spanish and python.”
Roy looked at her as if she had grown a second head.
“Python? You talk with snakes?”
Felicity shook her head, Thea giggling against her side.
“No. It’s a programming language. Although it would be totally cool to speak to snakes. I would be like a female Harry Potter. I could make them scare the crap out of people when they… Three, two, one. Okay, I’m done.”
Thea smiled up at her.
“I speak english and a bit french.”
“English. Didn’t have any fancy schools in the Glades.”
Next was Diggle.
“English and a bit arabic.”
Sara smiled at him.
“Fluent english and arabic. Some spanish from school.”
Laurel looked at her for a moment, before shaking her head.
“English and spanish.”
Moira was next.
“English and french.”
“English, spanish and basic french.”
Everyone looked at Lance so he just shrugged.
“We had a guy in the SCPD who tried to teach us french.”
Malcolm tilted his head.
“English, arabic, mandarin and basic russian.”
Slade looked him up and down, the same assessing look he had given Diggle before. But, this time, the assessment didn’t seem to be good enough, because he frowned, before saying anything.
“English, Maori, russian, spanish, french, german. Basic mandarin.”
His eyes strayed to Dick, who seemed to have tuned the conversation out and was staring at the screen, waiting for the memory to continue. Thea looked over to them too and frowned.
“And him? Does he…?”
She was unsure how to finish that sentence, so she let it hang in the air like that. Rose smiled and grabbed Dick’s hand. That seemed to bring him back to the here and now, because he looked over to her and nodded slightly when he saw her smile. She turned back to the others and they noticed how his eyes moved across her face, before fixing themselves on the screen again.
“I think it would be easier to say the languages he doesn’t know. Dick has a head for languages. Usually takes him around a week to start picking up simple phrases. A month and he is almost fluent. We travelled around a bit, after we met each other, and he picked up quite a few. He’s fluent in english, russian, romani, spanish, french, german, mandarin and, for some odd reason that I still don’t get, swedish and danish. But there are around 20 other languages that he can communicate in.”
There was real pride in her voice, and Slade almost smiled. There was still something wrong. What had happened to the boy to make him mute? And so emotionless and lethal. Rose smiled again.
“So, between all of us, there should be no problems with translation.”
Slade noticed that she was still holding Dick’s hand and that she was tapping it. After a few seconds, he tapped her back and the mercenary realized that they were using Morse code. But he decided to ignore the silent conversation when the memory continued.
The man picked up a small bowl and some herbs. He stretched them over to Oliver, who just looked at him.
Oliver grabbed a few herbs, put them in his mouth and quickly drank them down, wincing at the taste.
“That’s those herbs that he uses to cure… Well, pretty much everything.”
“There is a lake of sorts on the island. They grow close to it. Can cure pretty much everything.”
As soon as Oliver was done, Yao Fei grabbed the arrow and pulled it out, Oliver screaming in pain. The scene changed to Oliver sleeping on the ground in the cave. He suddenly woke up and looked around, slightly confused. Noticing that Yao Fei was asleep, he stood up quietly and ran out of the cave.
Chapter 5: Shengcún
Oliver was running through the forest, looking behind him from time to time. He fell over a few times, before suddenly getting caught in a net that pulled him off the ground.
Thea, Felicity and Laurel gasped at the sudden movement. Laurel, who had been pretty quiet up till now, turned to Slade.
“Did Yao Fei really set out traps for Oliver?”
Slade shook his head.
“No. That wasn’t Yao Fei. That was Fyers.”
Even Malcolm felt slightly uneasy at the hate that appeared in Slade’s voice.
“Who is Fyers?”
He refused to elaborate, so they continued watching.
Yao Fei was now standing next to the net that Oliver seemed to have fallen asleep in. He put a blade close to it and Oliver jerked awake, trying to move away from it. He stopped struggling when he noticed who it was.
“Fool. This place is too dangerous for any one man to be alone.”
He took a few steps away and cut the rope that held the net up, causing Oliver to fall to the ground.
“They’ll kill you!”
Oliver looked at him from the ground, slowly untangling himself from the net, when he heard a branch snap not far from him. He quickly rolled to his feet and ran after Yao Fei. The scene changed to a few soldiers checking the net, before walking away.
Diggle leaned forward.
“Who were they?”
That was all the answer he got, before the next memory appeared.
Oliver was holding his wallet in his hands. Slowly, he pulled out a picture of Laurel and looked at it.
“It’s that picture.”
Everyone looked at her.
“I gave it to him right before he got onto the Gambit. I didn’t think he still had it.”
Yao Fei walked inside, carrying a cage with a bird. Oliver looked up at him, curling in on himself when the man approached. Yao Fei put the cage gently on the ground next to the boy and took a step back.
“What? Where are the translations?”
They all looked to Rose, but she just smiled.
“I’m sure that, if there are no subtitles, it will all be explained.”
On the other side, Slade nodded. So that was where Oliver’s obsession with that word had started. It was a good word, when they were on the island.
Yao Fei walked away and Oliver looked after him frowning.
“What am I supposed to do with thar?”
“Does that mean bird?”
Yao Fei’s voice got more angry and Oliver raised his own voice in response.
“I don’t speak chinese!”
The man glared at him, before pulling a knife out and walking away. Oliver looked down at the picture again.
“I’m sorry Laurel. I’m so sorry.”
Slade leaned back with raised eyebrows.
“I’ve never actually heard Yao Fei mad before.”
Lance looked at him with questioning eyes.
“What does he want with that bird? And why is he treating Oliver like that?”
Merlyn smiled softly.
“He wants him to kill the bird.”
Slade glared at him, before nodding.
“Yes. If he wants to survive, he needs to be able to kill for food. Yao Fei must’ve realized that he wouldn’t be able to be around for very long, so he decided to start training him immediately. Saved me some trouble. At least he wasn’t squeamish around dead animals and could go get them from our traps.”
Moira looked at him with big eyes.
“Oliver lived with you?”
“Lived with me. You make it sound like we had a house with butlers and a pool. We stayed together, because there is safety in numbers. And I admit that he started growing on me after some time.”
Yao Fei was cooking a piece of meat, while Oliver was sitting in the corner, still holding the picture.
“What is that?”
Yao Fei glanced at him, but didn’t answer.
“I’m so hungry.”
Oliver stood up.
“It smells really good.”
He stretched his hand out to the food, when Yao Fei suddenly grabbed it and threw him to the side. Oliver landed with a shout. He picked himself up quickly.
“Fine. Don’t share.”
He panted and Yao Fei finally looked at him.
Oliver looked at him and he pointed to the bird. Then he made a movement with his hands that imitated breaking someone’s neck. Oliver looked at him with shock.
Oliver looked over to the bird.
“I’m not gonna kill the bird.”
Yao Fei smiled and repeated:
Slade shook his head slightly. Yeah. Definitely where the obsession came from.
The scene changed again. Oliver was looking at the bird, while Yao Fei was preparing a trap.
He looked up at the boy, but didn’t answer.
“I’m starving. I never killed anything before.”
Still no answer came, Yao Fei just continuing what he had been doing. Very slowly, Oliver reached into the cage and pulled out the bird. He held it in both hands and just looked at it for a moment.
He looked up to not see the animal anymore and, with one move, broke its neck. On the other side of the cave, Yao Fei was watching him. Oliver brough one hand up and looked at it.
Slade suddenly got a flashback to another one of Oliver’s kills that had him reacting in a similar way. He glanced at Thea and Felicity, who both looked slightly sick, and hoped, for their sake, that it wasn’t shown.
Oliver was now sitting in the cave, eating the bird. Yao Fei walked slowly over to him and sat down on the ground. He smiled softly.
“Bird. I know.”
“Shengcún not mean bird.”
Oliver looked up at him in shock.
Roy jumped slightly.
“He speaks english?! And he hasn’t said anything earlier?!”
Thea smacked his arm slightly for his loud outburst, before leaning against Felicity again. She had decided that she liked the woman, and hoped that Oliver would be careful enough to not drive her away.
“Shengcún mean survive.”
“You speak english?”
Oliver looked almost close to tears.
“You want survive this place, bird not last thing you kill.”
He reached into his pocket and pulled out Laurel’s picture.
“And forget her. You look at that all day. You not survive this place.”
Oliver was looking at him with a serious expression, but didn’t say anything. The scene changed to a rabbit sitting in the forest. Suddenly, he got hit by an arrow.
A few people looked slightly sick at that, but no one said anything.
Yao Fei stood up from where he had been crouching.
“Alri… Come on. Hey. I got an idea. Why don’t you let me shoot that thing, and you can go pick up the… bloody, dead, disgusting animal.”
Slade burst out laughing and leaned closer to the screen.
“This should be good.”
He glanced back at Moira.
“Because he was useless when I got him.”
And he turned back to the screen, ignoring the shocked expression on her face. It didn’t sit right with her, the way the man had worded it. Almost as if Oliver was a child passed around between adults who didn’t want him. Or a weapon, that couldn't fire. Malcolm was curious too. He knew that the Oliver who arrived in Starling could shoot perfectly. Now he got to see the beginnings.
Without a word, Yao Fei stretched the bow over to Oliver.
“Try. Breathe. Everything breathe. Breathe, aim, fire.”
He demonstrated the movement without an arrow, and then gave the bow and an arrow over to Oliver.
“Aim, that tree.”
He pointed to a big tree, straight ahead of them. Oliver drew the string back, his hand shaking slightly.
He let the arrow go and it flew to the right of the tree. Yao Fei laughed and said a few words in mandarin.
“What does that mean?”
Yao Fei took the bow back.
“You will die badly.”
Then he pointed out towards the trees.
Oliver looked like he was going to protest, but one hard look from Yao Fei silenced him. He sighed and started walking into the forest. Just as he was nearing the rabbit, two soldiers suddenly appeared, one of them putting a hand over Oliver’s mouth.
Thea and Felicity clung onto each other, pretty much forgetting that Roy was on their couch too. Laurel had grabbed Sara’s arm, and held it in a strong grip. Slade frowned. He knew that Oliver had been captured by Fyers and tortured by Wintergreen. He had no idea it had happened so early on in his stay. He really hoped that Yao Fei had already cleared out the cave, because there was no way Oliver wouldn’t tell them where to find him.
The soldiers dragged Oliver to a hole in the ground and threw him in there, closing a cage door over him. His hands had been handcuffed and he grabbed onto the bars.
“Wait. Wait. You cannot leave me here. Don’t do this to me! Please!”
One of the soldiers hit his hand with the gun and Oliver let go, falling to the bottom of the hole with a scream.
“Please! I didn’t do anything!”
Chapter 6: Torture
The memory paused and everyone turned to Slade. The mercenary frowned.
“Will he be okey?”
At Laurel’s quiet question, he snorted.
“No. He will not.”
Wanting to avoid any confrontation, Mia started the next memory.
Oliver was being led through a camp, his hands still handcuffed. He was led into a tent, where the soldier pushed him so that he fell against a pole, hitting his injured shoulder.
A man with almost white hair pointed at the chair across from him.
“You’re making me feel rude.”
Slade growled at that, but calmed down when he noticed that Dick’s eyes focused on him for a moment, before moving back to the screen.
Oliver sighed and sat down heavily.
“I do apologize for my men’s treatment of you.”
He opened a can of water and started pouring it into a glass.
“They’re… They’re trained to view any stranger as hostile. I’m Edward Fyers, by the way. And you are?”
Oliver seemed to think about it for a moment, before answering.
“I’m Oliver Queen. I was shipwrecked here. I don’t know for how long. My family has money. Lots of money. You would be really well compensated for my rescue.”
“But what about Yao Fei?”
Slade looked over at her with a thoughtful expression, but it was Diggle who answered.
“I think he’s trying to lead the conversation where he wants it to be. Oliver isn’t stupid. He must know something about them from Yao Fei. By playing a shipwrecked billionaire, he could fool them.”
Slade actually smiled at the man.
“Your thinking is correct. And, had it been anyone else, it could have worked. But Fyers would never buy a story like that.”
“Well, I look forward to that. But for the moment let’s just talk.”
Oliver shook his head slightly.
“See? He’s trying to make it look like he doesn’t know anything about what is going on there.”
“Yeah. There is only one problem.”
Everyone turned to Slade.
“Kid was a terrible liar in the beginning.”
“Well, for instance.”
Fyers reached behind him and lifted a photo. He put it in front of Oliver. It was a photo of Yao Fei in a military uniform.
“This gentleman. Do you know him?”
Oliver had a quick flashback to when he last saw Yao Fei.
“No. Who… Who’s he?”
“You’re a poor liar.”
Slade nodded in agreement. Although he was surprised that Oliver hadn’t ratted Yao Fei out. They couldn’t have known each other for more than a few days, during which Yao Fei shot him, starved him, forced him to kill, and had him run after dead animals.
Fyers leaned back in the chair and crossed his arms.
“I’ve been polite. I’ll offer you one more chance, before my manners leave me.”
Oliver leaned forward quickly.
“Hey! Hey. I… I don’t know this guy. I… I thought I was on this island all by myself.”
“Do you know what this island is named?”
Oliver shook his head.
“We’re on Lian Yu. Mandarin for Purgatory.”
He stood up.
“But I can make it feel like hell.”
Oliver sighed, but didn’t say anything. Fyers grabbed the glass and started walking away.
“I don’t know why you’re protecting him. You’re young. Foolish. Perhaps you don’t know either. Think on that when you’re begging for death.”
Once again, a few people gasped with horror. Slade looked around the room. Malcolm was wearing an expression mixed of shock and slight admiration. Moira, Laurel, Sara, Felicity, Thea and Roy were visibly terrified. Lance and Diggle were shaken up as well, but were hiding it much better. Rose had a slightly worried look on her face. But when he got to Dick, he was taken aback. The mixed emotions had disappeared from his eyes and were replaced by two things. Curiosity and interest. He looked back at the screen. They were about to witness torture. Everyone with half a brain knew that. Why was the boy finally showing an expression in the face of that? And not fear or disgust, but curiosity. What had happened to him?
Oliver looked defeated, but still didn’t turn around to tell Fyers anything. The man exited the tent.
“He’s yours now.”
That made Oliver turn around and look with fear as a man with a black and yellow mask walked inside.
Slade put his hand up in the air and the memory stopped, showing Oliver tied to a pole, with his hands over his head. The mercenary turned to the others and looked around.
“What you’re going to see is going to be bad. Anyone who doesn’t want to see it, should turn away now.”
No one turned away, but Thea once again curled into Felicity’s side, the woman providing comfort for her.
“Alright. As you wish.”
He nodded his head and turned back to the screen, making sure to keep his eye on Dick as well. Something about the boy’s reactions didn’t add up to him.
“Where can I find the man in this picture?”
Fyers held up the picture of Yao Fei once again. When Oliver didn’t answer, he nodded at the man in the mask. He put his hand on Oliver’s chest, while the other hand pushed a knife into his side. Oliver screamed in agony.
Thea sobbed loudly and turned her head so that it was hidden against Felicity’s shoulder. Roy and Felicity looked extremely pale, while Laurel had closed her eyes and put her hands over her ears. Moira was crying, clutching onto Lance’s arm, the man not really knowing what to do. Seeing that, Malcolm rolled his eyes, but stayed where he was. Diggle and Sara were holding it together quite well, and Slade admitted that he should have expected that. Sara had been with Ivo for a year, and Diggle was clearly a soldier. Rose looked slightly sick. But Dick. Slade’s eye widened slightly when he noticed that the boy had leaned forward a bit and the corner of his lips was twitching, almost as if he was trying to stop himself from smiling. He didn’t have time to reflect too much on that because the memory just continued, Mia most probably wanting to get through it as fast as possible.
The man in the mask was cutting across his chest now, his head tilted almost in curiosity. The scene shifted to Oliver hanging by his hands, his head bowed down.
“It’s alright to look now.”
Mia’s voice came through the speakers and Slade saw everyone look up again. Dick had the emotionless look back on his face, his eyes shifting emotions all the time. He shook his head. Once he got a chance, he would have to talk with Rose about her brother.
“Amazing. You have resolve I didn’t credit you for.”
Slade felt shock. Oliver hadn’t told them anything? Even after Billy’s torture? Maybe he had been a bit too harsh on the boy.
“Or perhaps, he truly doesn’t know anything. Yes. You should put him out of his misery.”
He was heading out of the tent, when a guard came flying in and they both fell to the ground. The man in the mask turned around, in time to see Yao Fei shoot an arrow that severed the bonds that were holding Oliver to the pole. Then he fired another arrow, this time straight at the mask. But the man caught it and broke it in two, pulling his sword out seconds later. A fierce fight ensued, in which Yao Fei managed to block every punch and land a few of his own. He knocked the masked man out, before helping Oliver stand up and quickly fleeing with him through an opening in the tent.
Thea, Laurel and Felicity started applauding, while Diggle, Slade and Malcolm nodded in appreciation. Yao Fei was an excellent fighter. There was no question about that. Slade happened to glance at his son and saw that his expression was still the same. So that meant that it wasn’t fighting or even the sounds of pain that were let out during the fight that made him react. It was pure, raw torture. He saw Rose glaring at him, and looked back to the screen where another memory had started.
Yao Fei had led Oliver into the cave and helped him lay down.
“I tell you. Island dangerous. But you not tell them where to find me. You stronger than I thought.”
He gave him a small pouch with herbs.
“Take it. I lead them off. You stay.”
Oliver took the herbs and Yao Fei started walking away from him.
“Remember. Everything breathe. You breathe, you survive here longer.”
Oliver was struggling to stand up.
“I’m coming with you.”
Before he could take two steps, a big rock fell right in front of the opening. He looked at it with wide eyes. He was trapped.
Chapter 7: Alone Again
Diggle looked at the screen with confusion.
“He just left him there?”
Slade really didn’t feel like talking and, since no one else had the answer, Mia just continued playing the memories.
Oliver way lying down next to the small fire, ripping sides out from his father’s book and throwing them into the flames to keep them alive. Suddenly, a hand landed on his shoulder and he jumped, turning around. The face of Robert Queen appeared on the screen.
In the room Thea echoed his words.
Moira leaned forward a bit.
“Robert? But how it that possible?”
“He’s hallucinating. Or dreaming. He must be starved, maybe even dehydrated. I’m guessing that those herbs are the only thing keeping his from getting an infection as well.”
Oliver scrambled to his feet, putting distance between himself and his father.
“I asked you. I begged you to survive. But if you don’t think you can.”
He reached behind him and pulled out a gun.
“There’s still one bullet left.”
Oliver grabbed the gun, but Robert didn’t let go of it.
“But, Oliver. My death is made meaningless by yours.”
He let go of the gun and Oliver shifted it over to his right hand.
“I’m starving. I’m gonna die anyway. And I just want it to be quick. I want it to be quick like yours was.”
“You can survive this.”
Oliver shook his head.
“No, I can’t. I’m not as strong as you think I am. And I’m sorry.”
He put the gun to his temple and pulled the trigger.
Only knowing that this was either a dream or hallucination kept them all from freaking out.
The gun clicked, showing that it was empty. Oliver threw it away in anger.
“Of course it doesn’t work. I’m hallucinating. Or I’m dreaming.”
“But if you weren’t. You betrayed me Oliver. I died so that you could live, and you threw that gift away.You made that sacrifice empty.”
Oliver looked up at him again.
“I’m not you. I’m not as… I’m not strong like you. I never was.”
“I told you I’m not the man you think I am. The things I’ve done. What I was about to do.”
He started walking away from him and Oliver followed.
“Dad. Dad! What does that mean? Please. I don’t know what it means.”
“I told you. I begged you. Right my wrongs!”
Moira flinched slightly. Robert very rarely raised his voice, and never when he talked to their children. The one time he did, Oliver had started crying and Thea had been terrified. But this Oliver seemed different. No. Not seemed. This was a different Oliver than the one she remembered.
“This is your responsibility now.”
Olivers voice sounded dejected.
“How do I do this?”
He smiled suddenly.
“I can’t even get off this island.”
Robert grabbed his shoulders.
“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you the truth about me. But I hope, I hope that you know, that I love you.”
Oliver nodded, before suddenly waking up. He gasped and looked around the cave, before pulling another page out of the book and almost putting it in the fire. What stopped him was the text that appeared on the page as soon as he got it close to the flames. Quickly, he opened the book and put it close to the flames, looking on as a list of names appeared.
He closed the book and looked into the flames.
“I promise, dad. I promise.”
Moira glared over at Malcolm, but he was carefully avoiding looking in her direction.
The scene changed again. Oliver was sitting against the side of the cave, when the opening started to get cleared out. He opened his eyes slowly, and saw a figure come in. Yao Fei stopped inside the cave.
“You not dead. Good.”
There was a slight smile on his face. He put a small canister of water and a dead rabbit on the ground. Oliver leaned away from the wall.
“Where the hell have you been? I ran out of food and water days ago.”
Yao Fei left again and Oliver tried to stand up to follow him.
“Hey. Hey! Where are you going?!”
Not being able to stand up, he quickly moved to open the canister with water, when Yao Fei came back inside and threw a person at the ground. Oliver’s eyes widened when he saw that it was Fyers.
Oliver punched him, his starvation and weakness causing him to fall down as well.
Slade grinned. The kid had always had fight in him, even when he refused to fight.
Oliver moved back to Fyers, but Yao Fei grabbed his shoulder and threw him backwards.
Oliver sat up and pointed at Fyers.
“He’s the one who tied me up and had me tortured. All because he was looking for you. He would have killed me if you didn’t show up!”
Fyers was watching the exchange with shock.
“Why does he seem shocked?”
This time, Slade decided to answer.
“One, because Oliver is still alive. Two, because he didn’t expect Oliver and Yao Fei to be so close. Three, he clearly didn’t expect such violent reaction from Oliver.”
Yao Fei pulled out his knife and stretched it out towards Oliver.
“Then you kill him?”
Oliver looked up at the knife and seemed to calm down slightly.
“Or he can take you home.”
Oliver looked up in disbelief. Yao Fei crouched down and pointed the knife at Fyers.
“He has a plane. A way for you off this island.”
Oliver looked both hopeful and terrified.
“This can’t be it, right?”
Everyone turned to Roy.
“I mean, he still hasn’t met Wilson. Or Shado. Sara still hasn’t made an appearance. This can’t be the end.”
“It’s not. Fyers is too smart for that.”
Yao Fei was leading them through the forest, while Fyers and Oliver walked further behind him. Fyers started to talk suddenly.
“You’re a good man. I can see it. Well, beneath the privileged upbringing, and the wealthy veneer. I saw it when my man tortured you. You wouldn’t give up your friend. Not even a friend, really. Someone you just met.”
Oliver clutched the knife Yao Fei had given him. Fyers was clearly not bothered by that.
“What do you know about him? Nothing, I suspect. Do you even know that this island really is? It’s a prison. I mean this literally. Until eight years ago, the chinese military operated this island as a penitentiary. The criminals deemed so dangerous they couldn’t be safely incarcerated on main land. When the military shut the program down, my unit came in and disposed of all the inmates. With the exception of two. Your friend was one of them.”
Oliver grabbed his arm and stopped him.
“Who was the other?”
“You met him. He presided over your interrogation.”
“He tortured me.”
“You had information I needed. What would you do in my position? What would you do to capture the man who slaughtered dozens of people?”
Oliver looked over to where Yao Fei had stopped and was watching them.
Slade tilted his head.
“He’s testing him.”
Diggle nodded in agreement.
“He’s trying to see how much Oliver trusts Yao Fei.”
Oliver seemed to consider that, before grabbing Fyers’ arm and pushing him forward again.
Multiple people sighed out in relief. Slade smirked. The kid was smart. He must’ve had an instinct to stay with Yao Fei and trust him.
They continued through the forest until Yao Fei pulled a radio out and stopped them.
“Call your people. Tell them to bring the plane.”
“There is no need Yao Fei. My people will be here shortly.”
He turned to the shocked archer.
“Do you not think it convenient, that you captured me so easily?”
Yao Fei started looking around. Suddenly, the man in the mask walked out from behind a tree.
Yao Fei pulled on his hood, as Oliver turned around and sprinted into the woods. A fight broke out, where Yao Fei was once again winning, until the other soldiers got involved as well. Oliver, who had been running away from the fight as fast as he could, stopped just in time to see the man in the mask knock the archer out and the soldiers picking him up.
“And he’s alone again.”
“I don’t understand.”
Everyone turned to him.
“It’s still too early for him to meet me. But, from what I understood, they had Yao Fei all the time until we rescued him. So what was he doing all that time, and how did he even survive on his own?”
Roy pointed at the screen.
“I’m sure we’ll find out soon.”
Chapter 8: He Must Have A Plan
Oliver had stuck the knife into the ground and was trying to get a fire going.
“That’s not going to end well.”
A small flame appeared.
“I’ll be damned.”
He tried to warm his hands by the flame, when he heard leaves rustling not far from him. A look of fear appeared on his face, and he quickly threw earth on the flame, killing it. He grabbed the knife and took off into the forest again. A soldier walked up to where he had been, looked down at the smoking remains of the fire and lifted his walkie talkie.
“I have contact. Two clicks south west.”
Almost everyone was at the edge of their seats, worried about Oliver.
The young man was not far from there. He was hiding behind a tree, the knife clutched in his shaking head. Suddenly, his fear turned into determination.
“Don’t do it, kid.”
But he ignored Laurel’s question, staring at the screen with both worry and a bit of pride.
Oliver came out from behind the tree and tried to attack the soldier, who easily turned them around and pinned Oliver to a tree. He knocked the knife out of his hand and they struggled with each other for a moment, before they went tumbling down the hill. The man landed first, his back cracking loudly against the stone when Oliver landed on him. The young man continued rolling until he ended up in the water. He pulled himself out, gasping, and clung onto a stone, as he watched the soldier's body with horror.
Slade grinned widely and leaned back.
“So he wasn’t kidding.”
The mercenary pointed at the screen.
“He told me that he had gotten the uniform from a soldier he killed by accident. I didn’t believe him. I was certain that Yao Fei must’ve gotten it for him, and that he was just trying to make himself a bit tougher than he really was.”
The scene changed to where Oliver, dressed in the soldier’s uniform, was hiding the man’s body in a pile of branches and leaves, before standing up with a grunt. In one of the pockets he found a bunch of keys, which he put back in, and in the other he found a map. He opened it and tried to orient himself on it.
“He wasn’t that terrible at reading maps.”
Moira smiled sadly.
“Robert liked to travel a lot. His desk was always full of maps that he would look at with Oliver.”
He seemed to find what he had been looking for because he put the map back in his pocket, grabbed the man’s weapon and started walking through the forest again. He got to a place where he heard voices and quickly pulled the balaclava over his face, before walking to where soldiers were getting their food.
Slade’s voice was disbelieving. Diggle frowned.
“Didn’t what? What is he doing?”
The mercenary shook his head.
“He went back for Yao Fei. He walked right into Fyers' camp. How the hell did he even survive it?”
Oliver walked over to the kitchen and a man talking mandarin approached him. Oliver looked at him with clear confusion.
“Different day, same slop.”
And, when Oliver didn’t answer, he added:
The man laughed.
“Don’t worry. Took me a year to find my way around the island.”
He started to walk away, so Oliver called after him.
“Well, hey, hey hey! I’m supposed to be transporting a prisoner. Chinese guy, wears a green hood.”
The man looked up at him.
“Sounds like the guy they took to the east camp. I’m heading over that way. Come on. You can hitch a ride. Let’s go! Come on!”
Oliver looked down at the food, before putting it down and following the man. They walked over to the car and got in.
“What the hell?!”
Slade jumped to his feet, his eye narrowing. He saw Dick tense up and glared at him while sitting down.
“Oh, give it a rest. I’m not going to attack them.”
Hate appeared in the boy’s eyes once more, but he calmed down when Rose grabbed his hand and started tapping it. Diggle looked at Slade with a questioning gaze.
“That soldier. The one who gave Oliver a lift. That’s Yao Fei. I recognize him.”
Everyone stared at the screen with various levels of shock.
Sara tilted his head.
“You think they have Shado? So early?”
“I don’t know. They could have. That would certainly make him obey.”
Felicity nodded towards the screen.
“Let’s keep watching.”
“Hold up! Hold up!”
Everyone tensed up when they heard Fyers voice, Thea grabbing Felicity’s hand in her own. Felicity squeezed back.
Fyers came limping into the road delegating soldiers away.
“Unit one, two!”
Yao Fei stepped out of the car and Fyers got into the back. As they drove away, it was clear that Oliver didn’t know what to do.
“Were you stationed by the perimeter?”
“And your report?”
Oliver hesitated for just a split second.
“Everything’s good, sir. No trouble.”
“How long have you been stationed here?”
“Just arrived, sir.”
“Yes, you do seem rather green.”
Roy shook his head.
“I can’t believe he’s buying that.”
Slade was still frowning at the screen.
“If Yao Fei doesn’t say anything, he might actually have a chance of getting away with this.”
“Thought I didn’t recall a submarine bringing in new recruits lately.”
Panic flashed in Oliver’s eyes before he answered.
“Submarine? I thought everyone came to the island on a plane.”
“Indeed they do.”
Oliver closed his eyes in relief.
“He did it.”
Slade was still frowning.
“There is still something here that doesn’t add up.”
Oliver, Fyers and a few other soldiers were walking outside a row of cages.
“See this is where we detain prisoners prone to running off, before I’m finished with them.”
Just as Oliver was turning to him, he brought the cane up and hit Oliver in the face. The blow was so hard, that the young man fell to the ground. Immediately, soldiers surrounded him. Fyers leaned down and pulled his balaclava off his face, revealing that the hit had made Oliver’s lip bleed.
“Prisoners like you, mr Queen.”
“He ratted him out?”
Slade nodded slowly.
“If they have Shado, he would.”
“Shado was Yao Fei’s daughter, right?”
The mercenary looked over to Lance.
“Yeah. They kidnapped her to make sure that he worked for them.”
He glanced back to the screen. Oliver hadn’t told him about this. How the hell did he get himself out of that? Almost as if she wanted to answer his thoughts, Mia started the next memory.
Oliver was sitting in a cage, handcuffed to one of the bars. Fyers stood outside of it.
“Do you know why my men wear balaclavas, mr Queen?”
Oliver just pulled angrily at the handcuffs.
“Because it masks everything but the eyes.”
Oliver glared up at him.
“And in a man’s eyes, one can always find the truth. You risked everything to save your friend. Someone I warned you about. And yet you trusted him. But that trust was misplaced.”
He took a step back and the soldier standing next to him pulled his balaclava off. Oliver’s eyes widened when he realized that it was Yao Fei. The scene changed again. Yao Fei was standing in front of Oliver’s cage. The young man was sitting in a corner, glaring at him.
“You’re working for them now?”
“He sounds so…”
Thea couldn’t find the right word. Diggle nodded.
“He’s given up. The only person he trusted on the island betrayed him. He thinks he’s going to die.”
Moira felt tears appear in her eyes, but forced herself to stay calm. Oliver came home. He survived.
“Why are you doing this to me? I thought we were friends. Or, something. Why did you bother keeping me safe, if you were just going to hand me over to them? Just get me out of here.”
Yao Fei put a cup on the door and started walking away. Oliver got to his feet and ran over to the door.
“Hey! Don’t leave me here! I came back for you! You hear me?! I came back for you!”
Not getting any reaction out of the man, he knocked the cup over and sat back in the corner again.
“He did come back for him. I really hope Yao Fei has a good plan.”
“He must have. Oliver came to me because Yao Fei told him to. He must have a plan.”
Chapter 9: A Shadow
Yao Fei was leading Oliver through the camp.
“Alright. I’m out of the cage now. What’s going on?”
Yao Fei just pushed him forward again.
“Are we getting out of here? Where are you taking me?”
Yao Fei led him to a circle of men. They were standing around two people fighting. One of them was the man in the mask. The other seemed to be a prisoner. Oliver watched with terror as the man in the mask beat the prisoner to the ground.
“Who is that guy?”
Slade made a disgusted sound.
“Billy Wintergreen. He was my partner in ASIS. When he got put before the choice of torturing or getting tortured, he chose the first.”
Wintergreen looked up at Fyers, who nodded. With one swift move, he threw the soldier into the air, pulled out a sword and cut off his head. Fyers walked into the ring.
“While I admit that bout was particularly one sided, would anyone else like to give it a try?”
Yao Fei pushed Oliver into the ring, and the young man looked up with fear as Wintergreen came closer to him.
“What is he doing?! He’ll kill him!”
“He can’t, remember. Oliver survived the island.”
“But he’ll hurt him!”
“He’s been hurt before.”
Rose’s voice cut through Thea and Roy’s arguing.
“Just keep watching.”
“The point, of theses little gladiatorial distractions, is to strengthen unit cohesion. To that end, I think our newest recruit ought to be afforded the opportunity to try his hand.”
Oliver looked over to Yao Fei with wide eyes. The man took off his weapon and stepped into the ring. Oliver was knocked around a few times, before Yao Fei put him in a chokehold.
Suddenly, Diggle started laughing. Everyone turned to him and looked at him like he was crazy.
“So that’s where he learned that!”
“That trick. I saw him do it once and wondered where he had learned it.”
“I noticed pretty early on, that Oliver learns things through having them done to him. He used to surprise me sometimes, by using techniques that I had used on him before. Managed to get in a few good hits that way.”
He held him this way until Oliver seemingly died and then dropped him to the ground. The scene changed. Oliver was lying on a cliff, a soldier getting ready to throw him down a waterfall. Just as he was about to do it, Yao Fei spoke up.
“Wait! I’ll do it.”
Fyers nodded and Yao Fei walked over to Oliver. He rolled him off the cliff and into the water. Oliver floated there for a moment, before coming up, gasping for air. He quickly got out of the water and checked the pocket to see if his notebook was still there. Noticing something else, he pulled out a map. He got a flashback to Yao Fei pressing down onto his neck, and placing the map in his pocket, before rolling him off that cliff. He looked up to the top of the map, where someone had made a red x and written something.
He stood up and started walking into the forest.
Everyone who had been worried, relaxed. Slade grinned.
“That’s where I come in. Yao Fei sent him to where he knew I was hiding. He saw potential in him and knew that I could finish the training that he had started.”
Oliver approached a plane wreck in the middle of a clearing.
“Is that where you lived?”
Slade nodded at Thea’s question.
“It wasn’t much, but it was home.”
He entered the plane slowly, not trying to hide his footsteps at all. Suddenly, Slade dropped down from the ceiling and grabbed his arm, putting a sword to his throat.
“Twitch and I’ll open your throat. How many more are with you?”
Oliver sounded really scared. Slade grabbed him harder.
“You have ten seconds to tell me something I believe before I cut out your voice box.”
“W… Wait. Yao Fei sent me here and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t so you could kill me.”
Slade pushed him away, still keeping his sword pointed at him.
Oliver tried to ignore the sword as he answered.
“Yao Fei. He gave me directions to your…”
He glanced around.
Thea giggled at that.
The scene changed. Slade was holding the map that Oliver had gotten from Yao Fei and pointing at the red x.
“It’s chinese. It means…”
Slade looked up at him with almost amusement.
“What do you think he meant? Besides not getting killed.”
Slade looked at him, before starting to walk around.
“There’s an airfield, ten clicks from here. It’s key off this island. Yao Fei and I have been observing it for months. Familiarizing ourselves with their operations. We were supposed to get off this island together. But then Yao Fei was compromised. We were separated.”
He opened a crate, pulled out two swords and threw one of them at Oliver. The boy caught it and looked up.
“What’s this for?”
“I think Yao Fei sent you because he knows I cannot take the airstrip alone.”
“Sounds like Yao Fei.”
“He is a softer judge of character than I am.”
Oliver looked at him with worry.
“If you’re going to have my back, I need to know you can cover it.”
And then he attacked.
“What are you doing?!”
Slade turned to Laurel.
“I’ve done much worse to him, during our stay in that plane. And even worse later. Try to refrain from screaming every time it happens.”
Diggle looked at him with a thoughtful expression, but didn’t say anything.
Oliver stopped the first attack, ducked under the second and stopped the third. With one quick move, Slade pushed his blade away and put his own sword against Oliver’s neck. To his credit, the young man didn’t even flinch.
“What are you doing? Fight back.”
Oliver tried, but it ended in him dropping his weapon after Slade hit him in the stomach.
“Keep your blade up. Always stay behind your sword.”
Oliver picked it up quickly and attacked again, only to get thrown into the crates. Slade looked down at him.
“You have no skill. No strength. No training. To say you fight like a girl would be a compliment.”
Oliver stepped closer to him.
“I told you. I’m not a soldier. I was shipwrecked here. I killed the guy who was wearing this uniform by accident.”
“Where was Yao Fei?”
“He told me to run. And I did.”
Slade got a disgusted expression on his face, before knocking Oliver out with the handle of his sword.
A few people glared at Slade, but he ignored them.
Oliver woke up tied to a chair. Slade, who had been drinking, turned around when he noticed that his captive had awoken.
“Sorry. It’s nothing personal. The airstrip is a heavily fortified position. I’ve been there. And I can not take it on my own.”
He drew one of his swords and moved to put it against Oliver’s throat, but stopped himself when Oliver spoke up.
“So what?! You’re just gonna kill me?!”
Quickly, he put the blade to his neck.
“Like I said. It’s nothing personal.”
Behind his back, Oliver started to struggle to get his hands free.
“But if you’re alive they will find you, and if they find you they will torture you until you give up my location. And I cannot allow for that to happen.”
He pulled the blade away and Oliver quickly stood up.
“Hey! No, wait! Please don’t do this, alright. I’m not gonna say anything to them.”
Slade simply threw him back onto the chair.
“Don’t make it more difficult upon yourself. I can do this in a way that you will not feel at all.”
Right then, Oliver managed to dislocate his thumb and shouted in pain and he leaned forward. Slade looked down at him with slight surprise. Slowly, Oliver stood up and punched Slade in the face. The man grabbed him by his shoulder, laughing. He took hold of Oliver’s hand and shook it.
“Well, Oliver Queen, there might be a fighter inside of you after all.”
Everyone was completely silent for a moment, before Felicity untangled herself from Thea, stood up and marched over to Slade. Just as she reached him, a hand landed on her shoulder. She glanced back to where Dick was standing, both Slade and Malcolm frowning. They had seen him move this time. And it was not like anything they had seen before. Malcolm doubted anyone from the League would be able to move that way, let alone a young boy. A theory formed in his mind, but he threw it away quickly. It was impossible. To Slade, he looked like a shadow, soundless and quick. He met Felicity’s eyes, and shook his head. She smiled at him and patted his hand.
“I was just going to shout at him.”
He shook his head again. Slowly, he pulled one of his escrima sticks out and stretched it out to her. Felicity looked at him with big eyes.
“What do you want me to do with that?”
Instead of answering, he moved with lightning speed and hit Slade across the face with it. The man fell to the side, while Felicity jumped away with a quiet scream. Diggle and Roy were next to her seconds later, getting ready to attack, when Malcolm suddenly stood up, pointed at the couch closest to them and spoke calmly in arabic.
“Stop. Put your weapons down and go sit over there. I won’t tell you twice.”
Dick’s head snapped over to him and both Malcolm and Slade saw his eyes clearing from all emotions. He put the stick back in it’s holster and turned fully to Malcolm. But, what happened next, shocked even Rose. He spoke. Talking in fluent arabic, he started explaining so quickly that even Sara had some trouble catching everything.
“He’s a traitor and has to be treated as such. He has to bear the consequences of his actions. He almost got Rose killed.”
Malcolm shook his head. So his theory wasn't that impossible.
“No. Not him. He is from another time. Your sister must have explained it to you.”
He tilted his head slightly.
“She is not my sister. I don’t have family. Dick Grayson, Richard Wilson, Robin, Nightwing. They are all dead.”
He had slowed down a bit, enough for Sara to be able to get involved in the conversation.
“Then who are you?”
He glanced over at her.
“I’m a shadow. HIS shadow.”
Right then, Mia ran into the room.
“Dick. Don’t tell them anything. Come with me.”
And then she switched over to english.
“Arsenal is up there. He’ll control the screen. I’ll take care of Dick.”
Rose stood up to argue, but one sharp look from the older woman made her sit down again. Dick glanced over to her, before marching out of the room, Mia following close behind.
Chapter 10: What Happened
As soon as the door closed behind them, Rose turned to Malcolm.
“How the hell did you do that? I’ve been trying for almost a year, and he hasn’t said a word to me.”
Malcolm looked at her calmly.
“I recognized the signs he was displaying as results of League torture. It took me so long to connect it, because I have never known of anyone from outside the League to be treated to that kind of torture. And certainly not anyone that young. Miss Lance will not have heard about it. Nyssa would’ve made sure to keep her as far away as possible from that.”
Rose had paled considerably.
“What kind of torture?”
Malcolm looked around the room, hesitating slightly when his eyes landed on Thea and Felicity. The youngest Queen looked back at him with a hard stare.
“Tell us. Dick is a friend.”
Some people glanced at her in surprise, but her eyes were still on her father. Very slowly, he nodded.
“Alright. The torture is meant for old members, who betrayed the League, but were still deemed useful. It was specifically invented to break a person. Soul, mind and body. For the first week, they would get whipped every day until they screamed themselves hoarse. They were provided with only enough water to not die of dehydration. If they refused to scream, the whipping would drag out into several weeks. Everything stopped first when they couldn’t stand anyone even breathing on them without screaming in pain. That was to ensure their body was broken. Then they were given a week to heal and recover. By the time they were fetched again, the reminder of the torture usually kept them on their best behavior. Then they would be put through a month of another kind of torture. This one, to break their mind. They would be put in a cell without windows, with no way of knowing what time it was. The guards would come down at different times every day, to make sure they were kept in the dark. At the same time, they were trained to obey. Every act of disobedience and they would be dipped into ice cold water. Attempts of fighting would earn them the coals. Every word spoken in languages other than arabic, would get them a whipping. After the initial whipping, the prisoners learned very quickly to associate other languages with pain. You said yourself, miss Wilson, that your brother has a head for languages. Arabic is a very hard language to learn, especially if his torturers were the only teachers he had. It must’ve taken him some time to pick up on the words and, by the time he did, he knew better than to try to speak in any other language that he knew. After the month, their mind was usually broken, not being able to think about anything other than serving the League. The last part, was breaking their soul. They would be assigned to a high ranking member, and would be trained to become their shadow. They would have to follow him or her around. Depending on their new leader, they would either be allowed to talk, or be forced into silence. If anyone tried to hurt their leader, they were to capture and imprison them. If their leader told them to kill, they would have to do it. Every misstep would be severely punished. They were usually forbidden from showing any emotions. Most of them tried to keep their expressions blank. Your brother, as it seems, chose to show all his emotions at once, rarely settling on one. He hasn’t been completely broken, which makes me think that maybe the person who had him wanted him to have some of himself left. It seems to me, that your brother understands that he’s not there anymore, but can’t snap out of the way of being that has been beaten into him.”
He paused for a moment, giving the words time to sink in. Felicity, Thea, Laurel and Moira were white as a sheet. Roy looked terrified, but managed to keep it together. Diggle was shocked but, having seen several tortured people in Afghanistan, felt mostly sadness for the boy. Lance looked slightly sick, but tried to hide it. Even Sara, who had seen terrible things, looked disturbed. Slade, on the other hand, looked murderous. His child had been hurt, and he was going to kill the ones who were responsible. Rose’s hands had tightened into fists and her eye was filled with tears. After a minute, Malcolm spoke up again.
“I have a few questions of my own.”
Slowly, Rose nodded, collecting herself and pushing the anger and sorrow away.
“We were brought here to watch Oliver’s past. To change the future. I understand why Mia was here. She is his sister. But why are you and Richard here? You seemed to be angry with Wilson at the beginning, so it can’t be about him. What connection do you two have to Oliver Queen? What happened to him? And, how did your brother end up with the League of Assassins?”
Rose seemed to hesitate for almost an entire minute, before she started talking.
“Dick was 16 when he found out that he is Deathstroke’s son. He had a bad falling out with his mentor and left to try to find out if he has more family. At that time, I was 18 and had a very bad fight with dad. I ran away from him and, through a mutual acquaintance, I found out about Dick. I met up with him and we bonded very quickly. But we had a very big problem. Dick was still underage and his mentor had the right to get him back home. Dick remembered dad telling him about Oliver Queen during one of their previous fights. So we went there. That was the time people had started to turn away from Oliver. Diggle left him. His mother was dead. Thea turned away from him. Roy didn’t actually turn away from him and, when he needed help he would help him, but that was it. Outside of that, he didn’t talk to him. Captain Lance died and Laurel blamed the Arrow for that. After his death, Sara became more reckless, until she got killed one day. He only had Felicity and Barry left. We arrived in Starling, asked him for help and he jumped at the chance to have more people close to him. He fought Batman for custody over Dick and won. We moved in with him and helped him for a few months. Then we decided to travel around a bit and he was alright with it as long as we kept in contact and came back to Starling from time to time. A year and a half ago we got the news that Felicity had left Oliver and he was going to ask Ra’s al Ghoul for help. We decided to get back immediately. Dick got through the airport security, but they stopped me. We decided that he would go and try to talk to Oliver and I would meet up with them later on. It took me three days to be allowed to fly out of Japan. When I arrived in Starling, Oliver and Dick were gone. I knew that if Oliver had left to go talk to Ra’s, Dick would follow him. It took me time to finally get people together to have some backup. It was hard. Oliver wasn’t the most liked person among heroes and vigilantes in the neighboring cities. It took me five months to get enough people together to storm Nanda Parbat. But, even with them, we were losing. Barry died that day. We managed to get to Ra’s and that was when we found out… Oliver Queen was dead. And my brother wasn’t himself anymore. During the fighting, I managed to get Dick out of there. We all fell back and escaped. Dick has been like this since then.”
Felicity and Diggle were looking at her with disbelief. Neither of them understood why they would leave Oliver. He was their family. Thea was shocked that she had turned away from her own brother. Roy was feeling slightly better than the rest of them since he had clearly stuck around for Oliver. Lance was mostly hung up on the fact that Rose had called him a captain. Laurel was shaking her head. She could see this happen. She had already gone down that road before when Tommy died. Sara had a frown on her face. She understood that this was possible. If her father died, she could easily see herself spirilling. Moira was sad. She had died and left her children. She had abandoned them. Malcolm was shocked. Oliver had gone to Ra’s? Why would he do something so stupid? Why would he go to an assassin of all the people? Slade was more hung up on the fact that he had been fighting with his daughter enough to make her run away. His son had been tortured and he hadn’t done anything to help him. They were all pulled away from their thoughts by a voice coming from the doorway.
“What the fuck is going on here?”
Everyone turned to where a young man, around 19 years old was standing. He had black hair with a white strip in the front and his eyes were sea green. He was wearing black leather pants, a black t-shirt and a brown leather jacket. He had one gun strapped to each thigh and something in his stance told Slade and Malcolm that this man was a predator. Especially since he was built like a tank. He walked fully into the room and closed the door behind him.
“She really did it, didn’t she?”
Rose nodded, tensing up slightly. The man grinned at the others.
“Jason Todd. They call me Red Hood. Anti-hero, although I’m sure Batman would say either that I’m lost or that I’m a villain. It changes from time to time.”
He turned back to Rose.
“Why did I just see Mia and Dick out there without you hovering over him?”
“I’m not hovering over him.”
Jason rolled his eyes.
“What do you want, Todd? And who told you about all this?”
She looked completely shocked.
“KF? KF talked to YOU?”
“He cares about Dick. You and Mia bringing them here, puts the Watchtower in danger. Especially since the League are all busy with whatever is happening down there. We both know what’s going to happen sooner or later, and I’m not going to let anything happen to my brother.”
A few people frowned, so he explained:
“Dick and I were both adopted by Batman. I might not want to be connected to the Bat in any way, but Dick is still my brother. And I don’t care who I have to shoot to keep him safe.”
Rose sighed heavily.
“Listen, Todd. We finally got Dick to speak. Admittedly only in arabic, but still. Mia took him away to talk to him. Why don’t you stay here with us. It might be good to have someone else to keep an eye on everyone.”
Jason grinned again.
“Sure. Merlyn, Wilson. Either of you try anything, I won’t hesitate to shoot you.”
He sat down in an armchair and let his hand rest lightly on one of his guns. Rose rolled her eyes at that.
“Arsenal. Play the next one.”
Chapter 11: Escape
Oliver was sitting near the fire, his left arm in a sling. Slade walked past him and sat down too.
“You know this does not change anything, between you and I. It takes two men to take the airfield. If you compromise my getting of this island, I will kill you.”
A few people glared at Slade, while Jason smirked.
“If it wasn’t for you being such an asshole and hurting my brother so many times, I have a feeling you and I would be very good friends.”
Slade looked at him with a questioning face.
“We both don’t hesitate to pull the trigger if we have to.”
“You’ve had your second chance.”
“You need me just as much as I need you.”
Slade laughed quietly.
“So what’s our next step?”
“Turning you into something that won’t get us both killed.”
“And you did a damn good job.”
Slade glanced over at him so he explained.
“Tried to deal drugs with some of the crime lords in Starling. Oliver almost killed me. Drugs have always been a touchy subject with him. And let me say, after the Lazarus Pit, I’ve had trouble finding someone who could beat me in a fair fight.”
Malcolm and Sara gasped.
“You were resurrected in the Pit?”
He waved his hand dismissively.
“That’s a story for another time. Let’s keep watching. You’re here to learn about Oliver, not me.”
Slade pointed to the side.
“Choose a weapon.”
“We’re starting now?”
Slade glared at him, so he looked down, before standing and walking over to one of the crates. He opened it and looked at the weapons, before something caught his eye. Very slowly, he grabbed that thing and turned it around, revealing it to be the black and orange mask.
Thea flew up to her feet.
“You said it was some Wintergreen who tortured Ollie!”
“It was. Keep watching.”
Felicity grabbed her hand and pulled her down onto the couch again.
Behind him, Slade smiled.
“Admittedly not the smartest thing to say.”
Jason rolled his eyes at the mercenary, but didn’t comment.
Oliver turned to Slade.
“You’re the lunatic who tortured me.”
He stepped closer to Slade who was now standing up.
“No. That was another guy.”
Roy looked at Slade with disbelief. The mercenary shrugged. He himself was now hearing how weak that sounded.
Oliver was staring at him with both anger and slight fear in his eyes.
“This mask. It’s my operational equivalent to a balaclava.”
Diggle shook his head.
“No disrespect to ASIS, but who decided that a half-black, half-orange mask was a good idea?”
Slade shrugged again. He had been asking himself that many times when he first joined.
“My partner and I wore them to keep our identities classified during our missions.”
“You’re lying. Fyers told me that this nutcase is a prisoner on the island!”
Oliver’s voice was rising.
“And Fyers is such a trustworthy individual?”
Slade was keeping his calm.
“You’re really good at that, mr Wilson.”
Slade turned to Lance.
“Keeping calm. If it had been me, I would have snapped at him long ago.”
The mercenary shook his head.
“It’s hard to explain. I didn’t know if I really believed him that Billy had tortured him. But I knew that he must’ve talked to Fyers. And I also knew that he wasn’t a soldier like me or Yao Fei. However harsh I might have been to him during our trainings, I tried to explain things to him calmly when we were in the plane. I sometimes had to remind myself of how young he was.”
His voice got softer.
“He lied to you. My partner and I came here to free Yao Fei and get him off this island. We’re ASIS. Australian Intelligence.”
Something in Oliver’s face relaxed, showing Slade that he believed him.
“Now. You’re going to find yourself a weapon. Have you considered a sword? I like swords.”
He smiled at him.
“And here we have a perfect example of a nutjob who likes to get stabby.”
Slade glared at Jason.
“You know I could beat you, right?”
The young man shook his head with a grin.
“We’ve fought seven times. I won five of them, one of which was when you were still high on Mirakuru, one time we injured each other so much that we decided to both get away from there in order to survive, and one time Justice League decided to interrupt us, so we teamed up to get away from them. So no. You can’t beat me. Now keep watching.”
Slade noticed that his hand tightened slightly on the gun and turned back to the screen. Meanwhile, Malcolm and Sara looked at each other with slight worry. They both knew what happened to people who were resurrected in the pit. They were never the same. Rose was keeping her eye on Jason, a confused look in it. The young man glared at her with clear threat on his face, and she looked away.
The scene changed to Slade and Oliver training in front of the plane. Oliver attacked and Slade had him on the ground with just a few moves, putting his knife to the boy’s neck.
Diggle leaned forward. He recognized the moves Slade was making, from when Oliver and him trained in the Foundry.
Oliver now had the knife and was attacking Slade. Once again, Slade had him on the ground with just a few moves.
Thea actually giggled at that. She didn’t like seeing her brother hurt, but seeing him get taken down so easily in training was pretty hilarious.
They were training with bamboo sticks and it looked as if Oliver was actually doing a good job.
“He did pick that up pretty quickly. Quicker than anything else I tried to teach him.”
Diggle nodded at that.
“Oliver and I used to train with Escrima Sticks. I would always end up with new bruises after that.”
Oliver was keeping up with Slade, until the older man suddenly left the rhythm they had and hit him across the face, sending Oliver falling to the ground.
Diggle winced in sympathy. He remembered all the times he had been hit like that by Oliver. It wasn’t fun.
Oliver left his sticks on the ground as he stood up. Slade paced a bit back and forth.
“How did you survive here for six months? I know girl scouts who have more fight in them.”
“Fighting girl scouts now, Slade, huh?”
Moving quickly, Slade smacked his hand with one of the sticks.
“Ow! What the hell?!”
“Listen, kid. We have ten days until the supply plane lands. Ten days to turn you into at least half a soldier. So start taking it seriously.”
“Harsh, but true.”
Oliver tried attacking with one stick, only for Slade to disarm him and beat him to the ground. He stood up, grunting in pain.
“What is the point of this?! These soldiers don’t carry bamboo, they have guns! So what am I supposed to do if one of them jams a gun in my face, huh?! Threaten him with my stick?!”
“He has a point.”
Slade dropped his sticks to the ground and pulled his gun out. Quickly, he turned it so that the handle was towards Oliver and stretched it out to him.
“Jam this in my face.”
Oliver hesitated, so he glared at him.
The young man grabbed the gun and lifted it. Almost immediately, Slade deflected the weapon to the side. Then he turned around and hit Oliver in the kidneys, before flipping him over his shoulder and onto the ground. As soon as the boy landed, Slade pointed the gun at him.
Jason smiled at Thea.
“Oliver tried that move on me. Failed miserably, since I have another gun and shot him from the ground but, as I said, he was a good fighter.”
Thea smiled back at him, thankful to hear something good about her brother.
Oliver raised his hands in defeat.
“I give up! I give up.”
Slade grabbed his jacket and yanked him to his feet. His voice sounded angry when he spoke, the gun pointed at Oliver’s face.
“There is no giving up to these guys! No crying or buying your way out of it! You have two choices. Escape or die. So choose!”
Without hesitation, Oliver answered:
Slade shifted his grip on the gun but didn’t lower it.
“Then let me show you, how not to die.”
He pushed Oliver away and put the gun back in the holster. Then he picked up the sticks and threw one of them over to the boy. Without hesitation, Oliver attacked.
Moira looked at Slade with hesitation.
He turned to her and she almost shivered. This man was dangerous. Even she could see it.
“If… If he hadn’t said escape, would you have…?”
She couldn’t bring herself to say it. Slade nodded.
“Back then, I think I would have. Not with a handgun. Too much risk of it going wrong and being painful. I would have made sure that it was quick and painless.”
Jason snorted from his place and Rose rolled her eyes.
“Shut up, Todd. Not everyone can shoot like you.”
Everyone looked at them with curiosity, and Rose sighed.
“Does anyone have coins?”
“I have a few.”
Felicity pulled out a few of her own.
“Good. Throw them as high in the air as you can. Make sure you two don’t throw towards the same spot. ”
While Laurel got them out, Diggle, Slade and Malcolm were watching the young man carefully. He didn’t seem to be that interested in what was happening and, even though his hand haven’t left the gun, he made no move to pull it out. Laurel and Felicity looked at each other and, after they both nodded, threw up five coins each. With one easy move Jason stood up, pulled out both his guns and fired in two different directions. They heard the clanking of the coins falling to the ground and Sara quickly stood up to retrieve them. They heard a small gasp, and then she dumped them on the coffee table that was standing in the middle of the room. Everyone looked at the young man in shock when they saw that all the coins had holes in them. He grinned and turned to Slade and Malcolm.
“So don’t try anything. I’ve learned where to shoot to cause maximum pain while causing minimum damage. I can make you suffer horribly before I kill you.”
Rose glanced over to him with a frown, before saying:
“Let’s just keep watching.”
Chapter 12: Mine
Oliver and Slade were standing over some maps and pictures.
“It’s the name of the island, I know.”
Slade turned to him.
“It’s mandarin for Purgatory.”
“It is. Wonderful.”
Oliver didn’t let the man’s tone get to him.
“Is that the airstrip?”
“ASIS took satellite images of the whole island. This is Fyers’ main camp.”
He pointed at one of the pictures.
“Where I was held for almost a year.”
Oliver looked up at him.
“Do you think that’s where Yao Fei is now? Cause we could get a message to him. Tell him we found a way off the island.”
Slade shook his head slightly. Laurel glanced over at him.
“Oliver really cared about Yao Fei.”
The mercenary turned to her.
“He was loyal. With time, I realized that a loyalty like his was hard to come by. Especially on that island. Deep down, I always knew he wouldn’t betray me.”
“Forget about him.”
Oliver blinked in shock.
“This is the airstrip. And these infrared images show that there are at least ten soldiers guarding the perimeter at any given time.”
“Too many of them for you?”
Slade smiled at him.
“No. My problem is the guy here. In the tower.”
He picked up another picture.
“It’s a PATC. Portable Air Traffic Control Tower. The US government set up these for disaster zones. Like Thailand after the tsunami.”
Oliver looked from the picture to Slade.
“So what’s the problem?”
“The glass is bulletproof. I can’t take out the tower guard with my sniper rifle.”
Everyone was slightly surprised, but it was Lance who voiced it.
“You are awfully calm with him. Again.”
“Kid answered much better to calmness than shouting. And he was much more willing to help if I let him in on the plans. Mutual respect kinda thing.”
“And if he suspects anything is wrong, he’ll radio Fyers and we’re canceled. It will be up to you to take him out. Up close and personal. Are you ready for that?”
Oliver looked extremely hesitant, before he looked over to Slade.
“Do you think I’m ready?”
He sounded almost as if he had given up, and would take any nice word he could get. Slade looked at him, something softening in his expression.
“What I think is there is only one supply plane every three months. We leave tomorrow, or we die soon afterwards. I bid leaving.”
Oliver nodded slightly.
“So get some sleep. We leave at 0600.”
Oliver went over to a bed made of crates and a blanket and sat down on it. He pulled out Laurel’s photo and looked at it.
He looked over to Slade.
“You’ll be back with your girlfriend soon enough.”
There was something reassuring in his voice and it made Oliver lay down and fall asleep.
Diggle nodded with appreciation.
“As someone who’s been trying to handle Oliver for some time now, you’re doing extremely well. Especially since you haven’t known him that long. He looked up to you.”
Slade closed his eye for a moment.
“That he did.”
Then he opened it just as another memory was starting.
Oliver woke up in a bed and turned around to face Laurel.
Before anyone could answer, a text appeared on the screen. OLIVER’S DREAM.
He smiled back briefly.
“Please don’t hate me.”
“Why would I hate you?”
“For cheating on you with Sara.”
Laurel’s smile disappeared.
“Did it hurt, Ollie?”
“Did what hurt?”
“When they killed you.”
A bullet wound appeared on Oliver’s forehead.
Laurel and Felicity gasped, while Thea buried her face in the woman’s shoulder again.
“He thought that I would hate him so much?”
Diggle looked at her with an unreadable expression.
“To be fair, you weren’t exactly happy to see him, miss Lance.”
She had nothing to say about that.
Oliver jerked awake with Slade’s hand on his arm.
“Rise and shine.”
He looked around in confusion and Slade smiled down at him before walking away. As soon as Oliver was up, the older man threw two bags at him and slung a rifle over his shoulder. Then he picked up the mask and looked at it, before dropping it back into the crate and closing the lid.
“Come on! We’re moving out.”
He left the plane and Oliver followed after one last look around. They left the clearing side by side.
Felicity was frowning.
“Why didn’t you take the mask with you, mr Wilson?”
“Because, whether he would admit it or not, the kid was scared of it. At least back then. Later, he changed. But back then he was still just a kid who ended up in the wrong place at the worst time possible. I needed him to concentrate on the mission, not the fact that he would see his torturer every time he looked at the mask.”
Jason huffed out a laugh.
“So kind and considerate of you.”
The two men glared at each other, before Rose stepped in again.
“Hey! If you can’t behave, leave.”
Jason turned to her with a grin.
“You’re the one who suggested I stay, sweetheart.”
She gave him a disgusted look, before turning back to the screen.
“Let’s just watch. Before I stab that zombie.”
Jason’s grin widened, but he didn’t comment any further.
Oliver and Slade were moving through the forest, the younger of the two clearly struggling to keep up with the other’s tempo. Suddenly, Slade stopped and put his hand up, Oliver coming to a stop behind him. He looked around for a few seconds, before relaxing.
“Could we… uh. Could we rest for a second?”
Oliver sounded out of breath.
Diggle, who had never even seen Oliver before the island, frowned.
“How is he already out of breath?”
Thea winced slightly.
“Before he disappeared, Ollie was terrible at any kind of sports.”
“You can rest on the plane.”
“Yeah, well. Really looking forward to that inflight movie.”
He took a step forward and froze when he heard a sound. CLICK.
Diggle, Malcolm, Sara, Lance and Felicity froze. Slade was calm, only because he knew how it ended. Rose was keeping a very close eye on Jason. His hand had tightened around one of the guns but he seemed to be keeping fairly calm. Laurel, Thea and Moira were frowning.
They gasped at Slade’s voice. The memory started again and Rose saw how Jason forced himself to let go of the gun.
Slade stopped and turned around, while Oliver looked down. There was a look of fear on his face.
His voice was shaking slightly. Slade quickly put the rifle on the ground.
“Is it a mine?”
Slade put one hand up and glanced at Oliver to make sure that he stayed still, before laying down on the ground. He moved some of the dirt away to reveal a mine.
“The soldiers mined the island?”
Oliver was clearly scared, but stayed where he was. Slade looked up at him.
“No, it’s probably Japaneese. Left over from World War 2. Still active. Impressive.”
Sara rolled her eyes.
“I don’t think you admiring the bomb is helping Oliver calm down.”
Slade smirked slightly, but didn’t turn away from the screen.
“Can you disarm it?”
Slade stood up.
“Without disarming you?”
“Again! Not the right thing to say!”
This time, both Slade and Jason smirked, a fact that somehow disturbed the mercenary.
Oliver looked at him with fear. Suddenly, they heard voices approaching. Slade looked behind Oliver.
Oliver glanced back too.
“They’re gonna see us.”
Slade quickly grabbed the bags Oliver was carrying.
“They’re gonna see you.”
But the man just took off into the forest.
Everyone, except for Rose, Malcolm and Jason glared at him. Slade shook his head.
Oliver quickly pulled his balaclava out and put it on just as the three soldiers came up to him.
“What are you doing so far from camp?”
“I got separated from my unit.”
“He’s getting better at this.”
“Come with us.”
Oliver pointed down at the mine.
“I can’t. Kinda having a bad day, you know.”
The soldier walked around him and, just as he was behind Oliver, a shout was heard. Slade came charging out of the forest, his sword drawn. Quickly, Oliver ducked, making sure to keep his foot on the mine. With a few moves, Slade killed all three men.
“You think that’s good? Wait til you see him on Mirakuru.”
Slade glared at him when the drug was mentioned. Without it in his system, he had gotten a completely different look at what had happened and realized that there was no way Oliver would ever willingly get Shado hurt.
Oliver looked up and pulled the balaclava up. Slade fell to his knees next to him and grabbed one of the dead bodies.
Oliver froze and Slade quickly rolled the dead body on top of the mine, pushing Oliver backwards at the same time. They looked at each other in relief.
Felicity looked at Slade.
“Were you going to leave him and then changed your mind, or were you planning on coming back?”
“I knew that I couldn’t disarm the bomb. All I could do was find some way to keep weight on it, and not blow the kid up. Those soldiers were the perfect opportunity. If they hadn’t showed up, I would have figured something out. At that point, I needed him. I wasn’t going to let him get blown up.”
Malcolm who, opposite to all the others who were looking at Slade, had been keeping his eyes on Jason, frowned slightly.
“You’re not a fan of bombs, I presume?”
He glanced down to the way Jason was clutching the handle of his gun. Very slowly, the young man let go of it and looked up at Malcolm, a cold look in his eyes.
“Contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t the crowbar that killed me. Hurt like hell, but didn’t kill. He made sure of that.”
Malcolm looked at him sharply but before he or anyone else could comment on that, the door opened and Dick walked back inside. He stopped when he saw Jason, and the younger man grinned at him, the coldness disappearing from his eyes.
“Dickie. It’s been a while.”
Both Dick and Rose tilted their heads.
“You know arabic?”
He nodded and the corner of Dick’s lips twitched.
“Yeah. Last time I ran into B, he was in a fight with Ra’s. They kept arguing with each other and I couldn’t understand a shit. So I learned arabic. It’s great when I want to mess with B. Always gets him mad.”
Dick looked around the room, before his eyes stopped at Jason again.
“What are you doing here?”
“Making sure you don’t get killed.”
Dick nodded slightly, before walking over to Rose and sitting down. His eyes were still shifting emotions, but there seemed to be more attentiveness in them. Felicity leaned closer to Thea and whispered:
“I’m getting really annoyed by not understanding them.”
The girl nodded back. Meanwhile, Slade felt very disturbed. The only time Dick had almost smiled, was during the torture scene. Now he almost smiled at Jason. Who was this man and how dangerous was he? He didn’t get to think about that for long, because the next memory started.
Chapter 13: Everyone Is In This Life For Themselves
It was night. Oliver was rubbing two sticks together, trying to get a fire going.
Lance made a surprised sound.
“That’s why you didn’t believe he could do it before.”
Slade was cleaning his rifle and watching him.
“Obviously you were never a boy scout.”
Oliver looked up and annoyance was heard in his voice when he answered.
“Yeah? What tipped you off?”
“You better hurry. The wolves come out at night.”
“There are wolves there?!”
“Not a single one.”
Oliver stopped what he was doing and looked up.
“There are wolves here?”
Slade kept watching him with a slightly amused smile.
“Right. Of course there are, because what would the worst place on earth be without wolves?”
“Well, the only thing that will keep them out, is fire.”
Diggle shook his head.
“You had way too much fun with that.”
Slade grinned again.
“What can I say. He started growing on me. Reminded me of my son in a way.”
Rose and Dick turned to him, a glare on the girl’s face and hate in the boy’s eyes.
Slade frowned at her.
“Joe. I didn’t know about Grant or Dick at that time. Or you for that matter.”
She scoffed and turned back to the screen, the good mood slightly dampening. Slade and Dick kept looking at each other, before Jason suddenly snapped his fingers. Dick’s entire body tensed up for a second, before he relaxed, sending his brother a look that told everyone he was not amused.
“Don’t kill him. I want to do it myself once he flips.”
Dick glanced over to Malcolm, before answering.
“He’s not from our time. He doesn’t know.”
Malcolm smiled at him, before turning to the screen just as the memory started again.
Oliver started rubbing the sticks again.
“You know, you’re welcome to help!”
Slade’s smile widened as he pulled out a lighter and started the fire. Oliver glared up at him.
Almost everyone laughed at that. Diggle shook his head again.
“As I said. You had way too much fun with that.”
“I’ve been working on this for two hours.”
“I know. I was watching. Thank you, for the entertainment.”
Once again, laughs were heard across the room.
The scene changed to later that night. Oliver was sitting by the fire, looking at Laurel’s picture.
“You’ll wear that thing out just by looking at it.”
Slade came over to the fire and sat down across from him, staring into the flames.
“Don’t worry. She’ll be waiting with flowers when you get back.”
“I doubt it. Remember when I told you I was shipwrecked here?”
Slade looked up at him.
“Her sister was with me when the boat went down.”
“That’s funny. I never took you for being the bad boy. You seem to lack the spine.”
“That’s why I’ve gotta get home. To make this right.”
Moira tilted her head.
“I don’t remember him ever being so honest with anyone back at home. Not before the island and not after the island.”
Diggle and Felicity exchanged a look, but no one noticed it since they were all concentrated on Slade.
“The thing with Oliver, at least back then, was his loyalty and willingness to bond to people. He did some crazy things to save Yao Fei. He let me pretty much abuse and humiliate him almost daily. He…”
He stopped himself, remembering the bloody mess that was the man who hit Shado.
“He went crazy when someone hurt Shado. Oliver got close to people way too easily. If Fyers had been a little bit smarter, he would have used that against him. Put someone there who Oliver would feel some connection with and the kid would have bought it. Instead, he tortured him, and pushed away from them and towards me and Yao Fei. And, you also have to remember that he had seen his own father and Sara die. He thought that he was alone. He grabbed the opportunity at having someone close to him, even if it meant having to stand me and my trainings. He needed a mentor, a friend, a father. I think he saw that in me. Yao Fei was still his friend, the person who saved him, but there were too many secrets between them. I tried to be as honest with him as possible, even when I knew that it would hurt.”
“He was still like that when he came back. He tried to push people away, sure. But once he let someone in, he held onto them, almost desperately. When he pulled in me and Felicity we found out quickly just how much he trusted us. I mean, he trusted Felicity enough to let himself pass out in her car after he got shot by his mother. He felt comfortable with walking around without a shirt, not trying to hide his scars and…”
He was cut off by a gasp. Everyone turned to Moira, who was holding her hand over her mouth. Slowly, she lowered it, a look of terror on her face.
“I… I shot him. He lowered his bow and I shot him.”
Lance patted her on her arm awkwardly. Sara looked over to Diggle and he mouthed ‘later’ to which she nodded. Wanting to pull everyone’s attention away from her mother, Mia started the memory again.
“Do you think you can sleep with your girlfriend’s sister, and still make it right? You’re dumber than I thought.”
Oliver put the photo away.
“And believe me when I tell you, that is saying something.”
Thea looked at Slade with a thoughtful expression.
“You know, mr Wilson. It will sound crazy, but I kinda wish that me and Ollie had you as a father figure when we were younger. We could have benefitted from some of your words.”
Malcolm looked slightly hurt at that. Slade was going to answer, when Rose snorted.
“No you don’t. You don’t know him. That him?”
She pointed at the screen.
“That’s the best he ever was. After that, it just went downhill.”
Dick tilted his head.
“My mother loved him.”
Rose looked at him with a questioning look, but he had already turned back to the screen. Malcolm waited until the memory started again, before leaning closer to the mercenary and whispering.
“He said that his mother loved you.”
He didn’t know why he did it, but he felt some kind of connection to the boy. Slade looked at him with shock, before turning away, concentrating on the screen again.
“Well, you don’t really strike me as the kind of guy who accepts apologies, so.”
Slade leaned closer to him.
“Everyone is in this life for themselves.”
“Learned that in Australian spy school?”
Thea shook her head.
“Ollie, don’t piss him off.”
Slade smiled softly.
“It would take more than that to piss me off.”
“No. I learnt that here. Do you remember that I told you I had a partner?”
Oliver put his arms around his knees and nodded. He looked calmer now.
“Do you remember the guy who tortured you?”
Oliver got a flashback to the torture.
Almost everyone winced. Thea shook her head.
“Could they stop showing that?”
Slade glanced over to her.
“If my suspicions are right, miss Queen, you’ll see much worse later on.”
Oliver’s eyes widened slightly.
“That freakshow was your partner?”
“His name is Billy Wintergreen.”
Oliver rolled his eyes.
“Our mission was to exfiltrate Yao Fei and to find out why Fyers and his men were so interested in him. But our bird was shot out of the sky before we even saw the airstrip.”
Oliver closed his eyes for a few seconds.
“That’s where I found you.”
“When Fyers took us prisoner, he asked us if we would join him and his men. Billy accepted Fyers’ invitation. And I declined.”
“You are an honorable man, mr Wilson.”
Slade glanced over to Laurel, his mind flashing back to when he tortured Oliver.
“I was. Once.”
Rose looked at him with surprise, but didn’t comment.
“He was the godfather to my son. Joe.”
He stood up.
“And yet, he turned his back on me, without even thinking twice about it. Everybody is in this life for themselves.”
He walked away, leaving Oliver to stare into the flames.
Slade turned to Rose.
“Is Joe alright? In the future?”
She glanced up to Dick with hesitation, but it was Jason who answered.
“Joe is in prison. He went bad on us, really bad. A few people tried to stop him, before they asked me for help. Put a few bullets in him to get him down. He’s tried to get better, but he always ends up on the wrong side. And that’s coming from me.”
Slade lowered his head, feeling slight sadness. Joe’s downfall was his fault. He had to make it right, once he got back. Almost as if he was hearing his thoughts, Jason shook his head.
“Don’t try going after him in your time. He’s beyond saving.”
Then he turned to the screen, making a hand motion to show Mia that she could play the next one.
Chapter 14: Challenge Code
Oliver and Slade were sneaking through the forest, before they crouched down behind some crates. Slade pointed to the tower.
“If you let him radio camp, we’re done.”
He pulled out one of his swords and gave it to Oliver.
“What about the others?”
“You worry about your one. I’ll worry about my ten.”
Oliver nodded and ran away. He stopped behind a car and pulled his balaclava down. From a hiding spot, Slade started taking down soldiers, Oliver moving closer and closer to the tower. Suddenly, Oliver ran straight into one of the soldiers. Before either of them reacted, Slade shot him down. Oliver just blinked, before continuing his journey. He crouched down behind some crates, waiting as a soldier was coming down the stairs from the tower. Slade took him and another soldier out and Oliver started moving again. Suddenly, Slade’s gun ran out of bullets.
He put it away and pulled his sword out. Meanwhile, Oliver was running up the stairs. He glanced in through the window and then ducked down again. Five soldiers were walking in a group, when Slade suddenly came out behind them. With a few quick movements, he killed them all before running away again.
Malcolm nodded in appreciation.
“Let it never be said that a sword is a bad weapon.”
The soldier was sitting at the desk, headphones on. Oliver opened the door quietly and snuck in, the sword held behind his back. He was a few steps away from the soldier, when he was noticed. The man stood up quickly and Oliver attacked. He was disarmed quickly and punched in the face. The soldier drew a gun and pointed it at him. Oliver went to grab it, but was punched away again.
Slade rolled his eyes.
“As I said, he was pretty much useless. Didn’t lack fight, but was terrible at it.”
Oliver turned around, the man looking at him unimpressed. He reached for the phone, when a sword was suddenly stuck through his chest. Slade let him drop to the ground and Oliver quickly pulled the balaclava off.
“One job to do, and you manage to screw up even that.”
But there was no real anger in his voice. He was, in fact, smiling. He put the phone back in place.
“I’m gonna go make sure everything is clear. Stay here, keep the door locked, do not let anyone in except for me. You got that?”
Slade picked up the gun and gave it to Oliver.
“Here. Keep this. And try not to shoot yourself by mistake.”
As soon as Slade left, Oliver put the gun away on the table. Slowly he walked over to the phone, lifted it, punched in a few numbers and waited.
He put his hand over his mouth in shock. The scene changed to Laurel walking through a school corridor.
“That was him?”
And, seeing everyone’s confused looks, she added:
“He didn’t say anything.”
Oliver was still standing with his hand over his mouth. Laurel pulled the phone away from her ear and looked at it. Then she put it up again.
“Is anybody there?”
Oliver lowered his hand, clearly not knowing what to say, when the phone cord was suddenly ripped off. He turned around in fear, only to see Slade glaring at him.
“Have you lost your mind? They might be monitoring the calls.”
Oliver sighed only to tense up when a voice was heard through the radio.
“Island tower, this is SkyHawk 801Foxtrot. We are 700 kilometers southeast of your position. Eta three hours, 22 minutes, over.”
Slade grabbed the microphone and spoke into it.
“Island tower. SkyHawk 801Foxtrot. Acknowledged.”
No answer came.
“SkyHawk 801Foxtrot. Acknowledged.”
“Of all creatures that breathe and move upon the earth.”
In the room, a few people were frowning as well.
“They were checking if we were who we said we were. Just watch.”
“What is it?”
Oliver had worry on his face.
“It’s a challenge code. It’s how they verify our identity.”
He looked around before talking into the microphone again.
“SkyHawk 801Foxtrot. Please repeat.”
“Of all creatures that breathe and move upon the earth.”
Sudden realization appeared on Oliver’s face.
“Wait. I know this. I know this. They picked the one book that I read in college.”
Moira shook her head.
“This should make me disappointed, but I’m actually proud that he read at least one. And remembered something from it.”
Slade looked at him like he was crazy.
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“It’s a quote. From the Odyssey.”
He started thinking harder.
“Uh. Of all creatures that breathe and move upon the earth, nothing… nothing is born that is weaker than man.”
Jason shook his head.
Everyone turned to him, Slade with surprise on his face.
“Bred. Nothing is bred, not born.”
And, seeing their looks, he added:
“What? Just because I put bullets in people, doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a book.”
Slade was staring at Oliver with wide eyes.
“Are you sure about this, because if you’re wrong this plane will turn around.”
“Yes. Yes. I’m positive. Nothing is born that is weaker than man. Say it.”
Slade brought the microphone up when Oliver suddenly grabbed his arm.
“Wait! Wait, wait, wait. Sorry, sorry, sorry. Bred. Not born. Bred. Nothing is bred that is weaker than man. That’s it.”
Slade, keeping his eyes on Oliver, spoke into the microphone.
“Nothing is bred that is weaker than man.”
“Roger that. Be there in a few hours. Out.”
Both men sighed out in relief, Oliver even laughing quietly.
“Yeah. It’s well… It’s a story about a guy who is trying to get home.”
“Well, after a few days at Landstuhl Air Base, you’ll be on your way home.”
Oliver looked at him with worry.
“Wait. You’re sounding like you’re not coming with me.”
Slade looked back at him.
“I’ll be coming with you. After I radio in an air strike on this location. I’m going to send Fyers and all his men straight back to hell.”
Oliver’s eyes widened.
Thea looked at Slade with worry.
“What about Yao Fei?”
The mercenary didn’t answer.
Oliver’s voice sounded oddly strong. Slade stopped and looked back at him.
“You can’t blow up the island. Yao Fei is still out there.”
Slade walked back to Oliver who took a small step back.
“He is not my concern.”
“Really? He’s the only reason you came here. Rescuing him was your mission!”
He poked Slade on his chest, his voice getting more and more angry.
“Well, the mission has changed. Edward Fyers is a mercenary. And he is not on this island by mistake. He has plans for Lian Yu. They involve Yao Fei. Whatever they are, they must end.”
He got into Oliver’s face, his voice angry, but Oliver didn’t even flinch. He just shook his head slightly.
“Yao Fei saved my life.”
“That is your debt to repay. Not mine.”
Without another word, Oliver walked past him only to stop when Slade grabbed his arm.
“Where are you going?!”
He pulled his arm from the grip, but stopped and turned back to Slade.
“All my life, all that I ever thought about is myself. I took my family for granted. I betrayed people that I loved. And I’m not going to be that person anymore. I can’t leave Yao Fei here to die. I won’t.”
Moira and Thea had tears in their eyes. Diggle was smiling softly. This was when Oliver started changing into who he was today. Slade shook his head.
“As I said, he was extremely loyal to the people close to him. Ready to do anything for them, consequences be damned.”
Slade seemed to consider that for a moment, before he spoke up.
“The plane leaves in three hours. If you and your friend aren’t on it, I am going to leave without you.”
Thea turned to Slade.
“Would you have done it?”
He didn’t answer.
Oliver nodded and walked over to the door only to stop and turn around.
“If I don’t make it back in time, and you get out of here, I want you to call my family. Call my family.”
An odd look crossed Slade’s face, before he nodded.
Without another word, Oliver left and took off running into the woods.
Suddenly, Felicity stood up and turned to Rose.
“I’m so sorry to interrupt, but do you have a bathroom somewhere here?”
The girl shot up immediately.
“Of course. I’m so sorry for not asking earlier. Come with me.”
She walked over to the door and Felicity, Laurel, Sara and Roy quickly followed her.
“The corridor outside here is closed off from the rest of this floor so you can walk around if you want to stretch your legs a bit.”
And she left with her little group. Diggle stood up and stretched slightly. Seeing who she would be left with, Moira quickly followed his lead. They left the room in silence, both going to different parts of the corridor. As soon as they were gone, Malcolm looked around the room. Noticing that everyone else who spoke arabic had left, he addressed Jason.
“You were the second Robin, right? The one who died in the explosion.”
The man frowned, before nodding.
“How do you know?”
“You mentioned a crowbar, an explosion, Batman and dying. Not hard to put together.”
Then he turned to Dick.
“And you were the first one. You said that Robin was dead too, when you mentioned your name.”
He nodded slowly.
“Can I ask you something?”
“Whose shadow were you? In the League.”
This time, he shook his head.
“Mia forbid me from saying his name. She said it would be best if you didn’t find out until you absolutely had to. He’s… He’s a dangerous man. Very dangerous.”
“So am I, Rose, Batman and a lot other people around here.”
Dick shook his head.
“Not like that.”
Right then, Sara came back and the conversation ended. One by one, they all came back. Rose was the last one in and she nodded to where one of the cameras were.
“You can play the next one, Mia.”
Chapter 15: Going Back
Oliver was running through the woods, until he reached the camp. He hid behind cars as he made his way through the camp, avoiding the soldiers. He noticed Yao Fei walking into one of the tents and quickly ran to the back of it. He got inside, Yao Fei standing up in shock.
“How did you…?”
Oliver didn’t let him finish.
“Let’s go. We’re getting away.”
“Stupid. You shouldn’t have come back here.”
Oliver shook his head.
“I found Slade Wilson. He has a way of the island. We have to go. Now.”
Confusion appeared on Oliver’s face.
“What? What do you mean by no? This is our chance. What reason could you possibly have for staying here?”
“Not what. Who.”
Oliver frowned. Right then, the tent opened and Fyers stepped inside. Moving quickly, Yao Fei punched Oliver.
“I know that he’s only doing it because they have Shado, but I seriously want to punch HIM.”
Diggle and Sara nodded in agreement.
“Now, Mr. Queen. I think it’s past time you left this island. Permanently.”
Wintergreen walked up to them just before Oliver passed out.
Roy glanced over to Slade.
“You go back for him, right?”
The scene now showed the tower.
“Island tower, this is SkyHawk 801Foxtrot. We are at 5000 feet and holding.”
Slade raised the microphone.
“SkyHawk 801Foxtrot, this is Island tower. You are clear to land.”
Slade looked down at his watch, before a determined look appeared on his face.
“You’re going back for him.”
This time, Slade didn’t even answer.
Oliver was brought to the middle of a ring of soldiers. Both Yao Fei and Fyers were there. His hands were tied behind his back, but it didn’t look like he had been tortured this time.
“Simply to satisfy my own curiosity. Why aren’t you already dead? I saw Yao Fei choke you to death.”
“I guess he’s not as strong as he looks.”
Some of the soldiers laughed at that. Fyers glanced at them, before turning back to Oliver.
“Still you return for him. So you’re either a fool, or is it possible you now think yourself a hero?”
“I’m not a hero.”
“And that stuck with him for a very long time. It took a stupid mask from Barry and the kid’s obvious admiration to finally convince him otherwise. At least slightly.”
“No, of course not. It’s not possible to be a hero, when there is nobody worthy of saving.”
Oliver glanced over to Yao Fei.
“Is this what you want? You want me to fight him again?!”
“Oh no, Mr. Queen. I’m sorry. You’re mistaken. This is not a match. It’s an execution.”
Yao Fei spoke up quietly.
Slight fear appeared in Oliver’s eyes when he noticed that Wintergreen had walked up behind him, but he quickly pushed it down.
Roy looked over to Slade.
“Um… Now would be the perfect time to show up.”
A grunt was all the answer he got. Thea showed him that he had to stay quiet and he smiled at her, before they both looked back to the screen.
“It’s Wintergreen, right? Bill Wintergreen?”
A punch almost threw him to the ground. He stood up again.
“I know all about you. I know you worked for the Australian Government. That you used to fight for your country. You used to stand for something!”
A few more hits made him fall down to his knees.
Slade was shaking his head.
“Don’t try to be brave, kid. Don’t taunt him.”
Jason frowned at him.
“You would have.”
“Yeah. But I can fight.”
Wintergreen drew his sword and cut through the rope holding Oliver, making him fall to his hands and knees. Just as Oliver was getting up again, he kicked him in the stomach and hit his head with the handle of the sword. Then he grabbed him by his throat. Oliver looked up at him, no hint of fear present.
“Whatever he’s paying you, I’ll triple it.”
Just then, an explosion went off behind them, causing Wintergreen to let go of him.
While the others were silently cheering, Jason’s hand closed around the gun handle again, and his entire body tensed up. Felicity was the first one to notice it, and she quickly shushed the others. Then, after a slight hesitation, she stood up and walked over to him. He didn’t seem to even react to that. Very slowly, she sat down on the armrest of his armchair and put a hand on his shoulder, gently massaging it. He flinched violently, before looking up at her. Before he had any chance to ask, she explained.
“When Oliver gets a flashback, or is getting too lost in his thoughts, it helps him to have someone close to him, reminding him of the here and now.”
He frowned at her.
“I could hurt you.”
“I know. But you won’t. I trust you.”
His eyes widened, but she just ignored it, massaging his shoulder until he relaxed a bit. Then she looked at the screen and nodded.
“Play it, Mia.”
Everywhere in the room, everyone was tense. Dick and Rose were ready to pull their weapons out. Slade, Malcolm, Lance, Roy and Sara were glancing around, seeing if they could find something that could work as a weapon. Only Diggle was calm. He had seen Felicity deal with Oliver after a flashback. He knew she could handle it.
A few more explosions went off and Fyers pulled out his radio, screaming into it.
“How many of them are there?!”
He quickly ran away with Yao Fei, the other soldiers running and hiding as well, only to get blown up by the explosions. Oliver quickly ducked down behind one of the cars.
Jason leaned to the side, his shoulder resting against Felicity’s side. She put her arm around his shoulders, her eyes not leaving the screen. Everyone else was too drawn into what was happening to even notice it, since Jason was sitting in the armchair at the very back.
Slade walked out from behind a car.
He drew his sword as he moved closer to Wintergreen.
“Come back to die?”
Slade charged at him and they started fighting, Slade holding his own against the masked man. Oliver was still crouched down behind the car, watching the fight. The two men drew away from each other after Slade managed to get a hit in.
“Was it so easy to betray me, Billy?”
This time Wintergreen attacked first and, after a few blows, managed to kick Slade down to the ground. Oliver’s expression turned to worry as he saw his friend fall down.
Jason moved away from Felicity and gave her a small smile, his hand relaxing on the gun. With a small nod, she squeezed his shoulder and then went back to her seat next to Thea.
Slade used the low ground as an advantage and managed to punch Wintergreen a few times, before grabbing his head, and leaning close to his ear.
“You know, Billy.”
He pulled out Wintergreen’s own sword and put it to his face.
“You always had a good kick.”
And he stabbed the sword in his eye, letting the body fall to the ground.
Moira, Laurel and Thea made slight gagging noises.
Oliver stood up and Slade turned to him. Which turned out to be a mistake. Fyers, who had been watching the scene from behind one of the cars, shot him in the arm, and the man fell to the ground. Oliver rushed over to him and picked up a gun that was lying on the ground. He fired it towards Fyers, as he pulled Slade up and started leading him away. None of his shots hit their target, but they gave them enough cover to get away. Oliver was leading Slade, when a soldier saw them and pulled out his gun. With a few quick moves, Oliver used the move Slade had showed him and managed to get the man on the ground, getting his gun at the same time.
“He did it.”
Thea’s voice was full of wonder.
“He was slow about it, but he did learn.”
Slade looked at him with a mix of surprise and pride. Oliver held the soldier at gunpoint, but clearly couldn’t bring himself to pull the trigger. Instead, he hit him with the gun and knocked him out. Just then, a plane flew low over them. Both men looked up at it.
“There goes our ride.”
“It didn’t land?”
Slade shook his head.
“No. They saw the explosions and left.”
Moira hesitated, before turning to the mercenary.
“I don’t know what happens next, but thank you for saving my son.”
Slade frowned at her, remembering all the torture he put Oliver through, and then nodded. Most probably guessing what he was thinking about, Mia played the next one.