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Bloody Secrets

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Felicity's P.O.V.

 

Felicity scowled as yet another search came up empty.

 

At least she'd thought to mute all but the most imperative of alerts already. The blaring sound that typically harassed her into looking at whatever the program had found wasn't necessary when she was sitting in front of the computer and actively working the problem. It was only an added aggravation with each failure. Though there were some things that bore that alarming sound.

 

She really should be asleep right now. She was immortal, but shadows would still start to form under her eyes if she went too long without a good night's rest every once and a while. It just took a lot longer for her than most. It wasn't in her, though, to give up before every option had been exhausted. Not when she knew how much this meant to her friend. Even though that same friend would be sure to notice if dark circles did start to appear under her eyes, though her glasses and eye-shadow should hide them for a time.

 

Not that she was still trying to find Deadshot, per say, anymore than she was monitoring the activities at Merlyn Global Group directly from her home. She wasn't.

 

The programs running twenty-four-seven at the Foundry could handle all of that, and she'd set them up to notify her of anything they did find, just like all her other 'vigilante programs.' She'd receive the same update Oliver and Digg would, and whoever was at the Foundry would be able to easily access it there. Neither one of the men were incompetent enough with computers to worry about in that regard: after all, the laptop the archer had brought her had been destroyed by bullets not a latte like he'd said. The same programs kept track of the S.C.P.D's investigations, so she didn't have to.

 

All together it wasn't quite as comprehensive and sophisticated as the whole slew of systems she had trying to keep track of Immortals and Watchers alike, all around the world, but it didn't need to be. Many of the new programs she'd designed for the Starling City vigilante's mission were certainly based on programs she'd already created, and in some cases—like when Floyd Lawton was getting away—she still borrowed from her 'Immortals network,' as Methos had dubbed it. But all of that wasn't what was needed in her home here, wasn't what her team needed or what Oliver needed. Anything outside of Starling wasn't really necessary, so her programs here only needed to monitor the one city.

 

Except for the ones hunting for Floyd Lawton, of course. Unsuccessfully, still.

 

What she was researching in her spare time, now, was the murder of Diggle's brother, Andy.

 

Andrew Diggle Senior had been shot by the sniper Floyd Lawton two years ago. He'd served in the military, like his brother, before becoming a bodyguard here in Starling City, which was where he died. Felicity had known all of that the first night she'd run a very general search on him. What didn't make sense to her even then was how little information she'd found.

 

The relatively sparse information on his death was one thing. It was immediately ruled a homicide, which made sense since a sniper's gunshot couldn't really be anything else. Thanks to ARGUS, it was only a few weeks later that the S.C.P.D was able to identify the killer. Courtesy of the curare laced bullets Deadshot was known for almost as much as his accuracy. It seemed Floyd Lawton's second career had only started just then, his infamous international reputation starting with that murder. That homicide that the police, Interpol and ARGUS all noted was probably 'Deadshot's only miss to date,' because an assassin of his caliber wouldn't be hired to kill a mere bodyguard. Therefore the actual target was 'probably the man he was protecting.'

 

That assumption was wrong.

 

Felicity knew that even before she'd finished reading those short reports. But it also meant that the case wasn't being actively investigated by anyone. Yes, Andrew Diggle Senior was dead, and murdered, but he was just one of many victims. His homicide wasn't closed, because the killer was never caught, but his was just the first name on the list of kills known to be the responsibility of a professional assassin. And unlike a great number of the other names on that same list, Andy Diggle wasn't a priority for anyone outside of the small family that lost him. His brother, widow and son. If not for the fact that he was Deadshot's first kill, his name wouldn't even be noted by half the global organizations that kept track of the murders made by one of the world's best assassins.

 

Or one of world's 'best' known assassins, anyway.

 

Deadshot was much more showy than anyone in the League of Assassins tended to be, unless expressly ordered. His murders were meant to be seen and recognized. Three bullets in the chest, laced with curare to make sure the target shouldn't survive.

 

Malcolm Merlyn did, because he was wearing a bulletproof vest and Oliver knew they needed to counter the curare right away. None of Deadshot previous targets had been so lucky.

 

Deadshot didn't miss. Even if he did fire only once that first time. And if that first shot had been a miss, he would've fired more bullets until one found the man he had been hired to kill.

 

So Andy Diggle was a target. The target. Not a miss like far too many had assumed. Like even his brother still assumed.

 

It'd be one thing if he was hit by a stray bullet and his client was killed, or at least hit, too. But only the one shot was fired. Not the tree that Deadshot usually killed with, true, but the only curare laced bullet fired that day was meant for Andy Diggle.

 

Felicity had read the coroner's report, and while something about it hadn't rung quite true to her—she couldn't put her finger on what yet but she knew something was off—the analysis of the corpse was straightforward enough. It wasn't the curare that'd killed him, he'd been shot dead by the one bullet fired from the sniper's gun that day.

 

The first bullet of that notable signature to appear, yes. Attributed to being different from all the others that'd received a trio of shots to the chest because it was his first hit. Dead shot, square in the chest: thus the name, and the signature that anyone who paid attention to such things should recognize thereafter.

 

Why though, was Digg's brother the target that night?

 

And why were so many professional investigators willing to just let it go with an obviously false conclusion. While he hadn't worked in law enforcement, Andy Diggle had been a former soldier. That was something many policemen would draw kinship to if they didn't have a significant reason not to.

 

Never mind the fact that it was just as hard to research Digg's brother as it was to find the man that'd killed him. He'd been a ghost in the technological sense even before he'd died.

 

Yes, he'd served in the military.

 

Yes, he'd become a bodyguard here in Starling City while his brother was returning to the Middle East for his third tour there post-divorce.

 

But other than his marriage, the birth of his son and a few guard jobs here and there, Andy Diggle might as well have not existed.

 

The gaps in between the few brief protection details he took on had been significant, some of them covering years. And though the years sometimes seemed to fly by, in the computer age there should be many more records for her to find of him.

 

Unless he’d been erased, and by someone who knew what they were doing at that. Someone who knew how to make sure the information wasn't there to be found anymore. Like she did when an Immortal screwed up enough under one of their aliases to necessitate that lifetime being completely wiped away. Usually she helped in the forging of new identities in this age more than the destruction of them, but sometimes the screw ups really were that bad. There were a few independent hackers other than herself who were capable of that, when they were inspired, but the ones that typically did it usually worked for whoever needed it done.

 

Government agencies and espionage were the two biggest groups that fit that category, but some criminal organization could, too. Including assassins.

 

Whichever one it might be, if someone was scrubbing his identity down to near non-existence before he was killed though, Andy Diggle wasn’t a mere definitely a bodyguard. What was he then? Why was he practically invisible between his military service and the start of his second career? Why had it gotten him killed?

 

No matter what avenue Felicity had tried thus far, however, the answers had continued to elude her. No matter what web she tried. Deep, dark, dark and deep—it didn’t matter. Even she couldn’t find it if it wasn’t there to be found.

 

Leaving her with only the options of last resort.

 

The ones she didn’t like to take.

 

It was a relief, at least, to now be sure that Deadshot wasn't one of Mazin's men. That the League of Assassins hadn't been here, assassinating in Starling City, while she called it home. That her deadliest student hadn't broken his word in that regard, too. So at least she only had to demand answers for the presence of Malcolm Merlyn. A call she still hadn't made.

 

Because she couldn't be sure that there wasn't more going on than she knew. While a few reasons Malcolm Merlyn might be here with Ra's al Ghul's blessing came to mind all too easily, some of the reasons she didn't like.

 

One of those un-liked reasons, however, would be a good thing if it meant her former student was still her friend. It would be just like the deadly man that'd asked her to teach him her wisdom, and eventually become just as over protective as every other man she knew. But Malcolm Merlyn had been here years before her, so his placement couldn't have much to do with her.

 

What's more, the 'Dark Archer's' own actions wouldn't bear that reason out. It wouldn't make sense for a League member placed in her home to protect her to draw attention to themselves. Calling the vigilante out like he did a few months ago had been done very publically, even if his face and form were never seen by anyone other than the hostages and the vigilante.

 

That sort of theatricality wasn't a weapon the League didn't know how to wield, of course, she'd taught Mazin the value of drama herself. It was a lesson he'd learned well.

 

But the Starling City vigilante had been no threat to her. He'd been targeting criminals and corrupt businessmen. Not I.T girls.

 

As far as she knew, the only woman Oliver had ever even fought was the Triad hit-woman Chien Na-Wei, and he'd practically run away from their last fight at Merlyn Global. Then again, there was more than a problem or two inherent there if the Chinese woman was anything like her teacher. Who, thus far, hadn't raised the League's ire by breaking any of their unofficial rules.

 

Still, the exposure back before Christmas didn't make sense if Tommy's father was here on a mission. And if Malcolm Merlyn somehow wasn't the darkly armored archer that Oliver had fought—seeing as it was a description that fit most of the League—then he should have reported it. Either way, Felicitas should have heard from Mazin by now.

 

Unless he'd gone dark. A description they'd borrowed from Star Wars, which didn't make the idea of Dark Quickenings any less terrifying for her. The duels of The Game were bad enough on their own, but the idea that the madness and outright evil of someone could come with their Quickening and corrupt you sometimes made death sound like a better alternative... Better than becoming what you fought to destroy. Better than turning on your friends.

 

Or a friend turning on you...

 

That, however, was something Felicitas couldn't ask about from afar. It was a question that had to be asked and answered in person. With the Buzz of their Quickenings telling the truth even if tongues did not. If it'd happened it couldn't easily be undone, even if Methos had managed to save the Highlander from it once. Either way, she wouldn't know if it'd happened until the next time their eyes met.

 

Should she call for a different explanation entirely though? Because there was something she was missing here, something she couldn’t find on her own, because whatever organization Andy Diggle had gotten involved in clearly didn’t make use of such ‘open’ markets—of even the less open ones—on the worldwide web.

 

Like the League of Assassins.

 

The death of Digg’s brother shouldn’t have been their doing, because Mazin had been well aware of where she called home for all but a few short parts of his lifetime. She’d been in Starling City for several years now, including when Andy Diggle was killed. So by the rules Ra’s al Ghul personally determined for his League, this city was off limits in that time frame. At least without first receiving her permission.

 

The League was willing to kill Immortals, of course. Usually headhunters who became too bold or too careless. But not Immortals their leader called friends, let alone family.

 

Then again, Mazin had made exceptions for Felicitas in the past. Sending assassins when a headhunter with more skill than her student was comfortable with got too close to her. He was as protective as just about every other man in her life, even though he’d never really managed to best her before. He’d always asked first though, unwilling to offend her and risk invoking her own teacher’s wrath.

 

Once upon a time Methos had very pointedly told Mazin to keep ‘his game’ away from Felicitas unless it involved intervening if someone broke the unofficial—but by now kind of official—rules of the The Game. Mazin hadn’t ever forgotten any warning the man the world had called Death had given him. Though he was happy to call Felicitas his sister and friend, the other Immortal she called brother had never made any attempt to not intimidate him, so there was still a sense of self-preservation in his respect for Methos.

 

Any actual breaches in the damn Game hadn’t happened in centuries, until the incidents the younger Highlander had reacted to. As the headhunters involved were all targeting Duncan MacLeod himself, the League had simply watched him handle them. Mazin’s warriors had been exceedingly thorough, however, since the League’s inception, with making sure no one’s head got too big in The Game. Even if unofficially governing The Game was only one of the reasons that Ra’s al Ghul claimed to have created his League of Assassins. Beneath both maintaining his authority over the League and, supposedly, trying to end The Game once and for all... something so many of them had been trying to do for millennia without success.

 

Granted, if Mazin was trying to be sneaky about it he might've thought sending a sniper would throw her off. Make her think he was an assassin who wasn't affiliated with the League. Deadshot didn’t wield swords, likely didn’t even understand why so many high-caliber assassins still did. So allowing him to kill anywhere near her even if the target wasn’t another Immortal or Pre-Immortal might not be a violation of that rule in some regards… but Felicitas had never known the League to put out hits on anyone. They were almost all of them assassins, if Ra’s al Ghul wanted someone dead, for profit or any other reason; he sent one of his own warriors. Or, occasionally, he went himself.

 

But who else in that sort of sphere could’ve hired Deadshot? And more importantly, as it could lead to the first answer: why?

 

She wasn't going to find anything more this way. If it was on the web, she would've found some trace of it by now. She'd been searching for over a week already, and it'd been days since she'd found anything new. She could continue to leave her search algorithms running, of course, could wait to hear back from any of the message boards the cyber division of many law enforcement agencies would never find unless a highly skilled hacker showed them where to look.

 

But... it felt wrong to just wait. Especially when that waiting could lead to nothing still. Especially when there was another option.

 

In this day and age, waiting seemed to be a thing of the past. Everything happened so fast, it seemed to be a necessary part of adaption to move fast, too. And this was life or death. One that'd already happened, but maybe more if her fears were reality.

 

Felicity sighed, finally opening the top drawer of her desk and pulling the cell phone she never used out of the charger it was always connected to. After going through each setting that would keep someone else from being able to open this phone; two ridiculously long passwords, her fingerprints from her right thumb and left index finger, and finally an optical scan of her right eye, the security protocol deactivated, at least momentarily. She'd wondered more than once, though she'd never actually needed to use this phone for the reason it was provided, how she was supposed to do so quickly with so many road blocks in the way. But then she'd never actually needed it, and didn't personally need it now.

 

She opened the list of contacts, all nameless, and scrolled past all the people who couldn't hope to help her with this, deliberately skipping over Methos because while he might be able to help he wouldn't want her to keep looking into something like this at all. When she reached the last number, she didn't let herself hesitate before she pressed the 'call' button and then brought the device up to her ear.

 

It rang only once before it was answered without a greeting.

 

Felicity didn't hesitate, she simply started speaking in Latin as she was expected to, "I need information. Now."

 

Each word was carefully chosen even though she was sure every communication device Methos had provided for her over the years—probably by way of the organization she was currently calling—was as secure as it could be. There was no reason to waste words here, and while her student might've merely been following her teacher's lead, Methos wouldn't have insisted on strict guidelines for the communication methods without a good reason. Even if that reason was mostly healthy paranoia.

 

"Apologies, most honored one," the 'operator' answered immediately, his Latin a little rougher than her own as he likely hadn't ever had to speak it regularly, but even through the electronic disguising of his voice the respect was clear. At least that still hadn't changed. "The great one is not available at this time. Are you in danger?"

 

"No," Felicity hesitated a moment, then repeated; "I need information."

 

"How may this one be of assistance?" the reply was again immediate, as expected.

 

She hesitated only a moment more, then decided to go with the safest option. The only question she knew she could ask, even if it might confuse her student whether he was still himself or not. "There was an incident near my home. In April of 2010. I need to know why it happened."

 

"This one does not—"

 

"I know you couldn't tell me by phone even if you knew the answer," Felicity cut him off. "Send someone."

 

"Understood, most honored one."

 

"Thank you," she replied, before hanging up.

 

Felicity had considered trying to say something along the lines of 'don't tell anyone else' to see if that might keep Mazin from contacting Methos about it, but that was actually more likely to have the opposite effect.

 

Better known as the Demon’s Head these days or not, if he was still himself, her most dangerous student took after her own mentor in the most exasperating of ways. That the pair could find common ground wasn’t a bad thing of course—but why did that commonality have to be protecting her when she didn’t need protecting?

 

So Felicity set the phone back in its permanent charging place, closed said drawer without watching to see if the encryption protocols came into effect because she didn't need to.

 

Then, at last, she could go to bed for at least a few short hours until the sun rose on a new day.