Green Arrow #1
The Island, Part One – The Golden Boy
By Mike Bernaschina
Three Years From Now, 2011
The forest floor was rough against the bottom of Oliver Queen's feet, but he didn't care. He had to keep running, or he'd be caught. Somewhere inside, he hoped his worn, sleeveless green hoodie hid him among the foliage.
The rest of the world was drowned out. All he could hear was his own panting and the sound of his bare feet smacking the forest floor as he kept moving. Oliver took a second long glance behind him to see if he was still being pursued. He caught a glimpse of a dark blur moving among the bushes and trees. Oliver picked up his speed and dove behind the nearest tree. He took a second to gather himself and steady his breathing.
Oliver moved slowly, looking around the side of the tree to see if whatever it was that was following him was in sight, but it was gone. He reached into the pocket of his torn hoodie and took out a fishing knife. Oliver exhaled softly, gripped the knife firmly in his hand and slowly stepped out from behind the tree.
He held up the knife and started to walk, taking caution with each step. He looked around, scanning the trees and bushes for whoever had been chasing him, but there was no one in sight. Oliver exhaled and the hand he held the knife in fell to his side. He started to move on when a noise behind him caught his attention.
Oliver whirled around and his eyes went wide. The noise was the sound of a bowstring being pulled back. Just a few meters away, standing atop a small boulder was a black clad, hooded man. In his hand was a bow, and an arrow trained on Oliver.
Oliver turned and ran, but the archer stood calmly where he was. He let Oliver get a few more steps away before letting the string go, sending the arrow toward his target.
"This is bad," Oliver thought to himself, as he picked up his pace. "No way to tell when he's going to shoot, I have to assume–"
"Agh!" Oliver cried out and tumbled to the ground as a fiery pain glanced the side of his left leg.
Oliver clutched the side of his leg and crawled quickly behind a nearby boulder. Oliver sighed in pain as he sat himself up against it. He looked down at his leg and removed his hand from the wound. The palm of his hand was crimson with the blood that dampened the side of his pant leg.
"Dammit," he thought. "No time to bandage it."
Oliver stood up, gritting his teeth as he forced himself through the pain.
"Ignore it," he thought to himself.
Oliver took a deep breath and peeked over the top of the boulder. The archer was just a few meters away. His bow was raised, and he had another arrow nocked. He moved around slowly, scanning the surrounding forest for the man he was hunting.
As the archer inched closer, Oliver got a better look at him. He wore black, strapped gloves and boots. He had on a dark brown jacket, and underneath, Oliver could make out a black tunic. Under the black hood were a pair of dark, steely eyes surrounded by black paint, and the lower half of his face was concealed in a black and gold mask.
Oliver gripped the fishing knife in his hand and slowly began to step out from behind the boulder just as the archer began to turn his back.
"Got 'em now."
He wasn't a foot closer to the archer when he stepped on a small fallen branch. A sudden crack broke the silence of the forest.
The archer whirled around and fired an arrow directly at Oliver, sending the knife flying out of his hand before he could even react. Not knowing what else to do, Oliver ran at his attacker. He threw a punch at the archer's face, which he easily avoided. Oliver tried again, but the archer dodged it. Oliver began to attack again, but he was faster. He jabbed Oliver in the face with his bow, dazing him, before kicking his leg out from under him. Losing his balance, Oliver started to fall, but the archer caught him by the throat and lifted him into the air.
"Wasn't expecting this guy to be so strong…"
Oliver gasped for breath as the archer's hand closed around his throat. He was face to face with the archer now. He began to punch at his arm, but his grip didn't loosen. It only tightened.
The archer gave one last squeeze before hurling Oliver away. He landed with a hard smack on the forest floor, a few yards away. He wanted to cry out in pain, but all he could do was gasp and cough as the air came back to him. Coughing, he managed to rise to his hands and knees. Caught in a daze of pain and dizziness, Oliver didn't see the archer approach him.
The archer stood over Oliver for a moment before delivering a hard kick to his abdomen, rolling him over.
He groaned in pain as he recovered, propping himself up with his arm. He heard a familiar sound and his eyes darted to the archer. It was the sound of a bowstring being pulled back. Oliver watched helplessly as the hooded man took aim.
Oliver looked into the cold gaze of the archer and knew what was about to happen. There was nothing he could do.
The archer released the bowstring and fired.
The Star Tower, Star City
Three Years Earlier, 2009
A limousine pulled up along the curb in front of the tower, where an army of paparazzi were waiting. The door opened and young billionaire, Oliver Queen stepped out. Cameras began to flash and the reporters swarmed him. He pushed through them, though that didn't stop the onslaught of questions. It never did. They came in full force, questions about the state of his late father's company, Queen Industries, or what he thought about the rise of potential competitor, Stellmoor International. Though, often times, they asked about whatever public stunt he had pulled. One reporter was more persistent than the others.
"Mr. Queen, Mr. Queen!" He shouted. "Evan Gibson of the Star City Sentinel, you've gone skydiving into Papps Stadium, drag raced in the most recent charity race. What is it you've got planned for tonight?"
Oliver stopped and smiled. "You'll just have to wait and see," he said before entering the building. As he approached the elevator, his phone began to buzz. The lock screen read "Tommy King calling…" Oliver swiped the bottom of the screen and picked up.
"Tommy!" Oliver said. "Not going to try and to talk me out of this, are you?"
"I think we both know I couldn't if I tried," Tommy laughed. He was across the city, in the area known as the Glades, with one hand buried in the pocket of his black hoodie as he made his way down the street. "But you are aware that BASE jumping has an injury and death rate 8 times higher than jumping from an airplane, right?"
"Of course," Oliver laughed as the elevator door opened and he stepped out onto the roof. "That's part of the fun. I mean, how else are we bored billionaires supposed to get our kicks?"
"I wouldn't know," Tommy said, peering around at his surroundings.
"Hey, I've got to go." Oliver said. "I'm about to make the big jump."
Tommy laughed. "See you on the news," he said.
Oliver breathed out a small laugh and hung up, stuffing the phone in his pocket. A man was waiting up there for him. He wore a jacket with "Star City BASE Jumping Co." emblazoned on the back.
"Here you are, Mr. Queen," he said, handing Oliver his harness and chute. "First, you're going to -"
"This isn't my first jump," Oliver said.
Oliver Queen put on the harness. He fastened the straps and checked the rest of his harness, before doing the same with his helmet and the visor that extended down over his face, making sure everything was secure. Oliver looked down at the green arrowhead he wore around his neck. He gripped it tightly and tucked it under his shirt.
Suddenly, his phone began to buzz in his pocket. He reached in and pulled it out. The lock screen read "Adrien Rivers calling…" Oliver looked at it for a second before pressing the red "Ignore" button. The display turned back to the regular lock screen display, only now it read "Adrien Rivers – Missed Call (2)." Oliver looked at it for a second before shoving back into his pocket.
Just a few feet beside him, the man with the "Star City BASE Jumping Co." jacket next to him spoke.
"Is everything secure?"
"Yep, I'm all good!" Oliver said back, looking out over the edge of the building.
"Alright!" the man said back. "When you approach the edge -"
Oliver didn't listen. He simply looked at the man, smirked, saluted and jumped off before he could even finish his sentence.
Oliver looked around as the wind rushed past him. He could see the entire city around him. The lights, the skycrapers, everything. Directly below him was a large complex, with the skylight open, awaiting his entrance. Oliver paused as a roar crept its way into his ears.
"Damn, I can hear them from all the way up here," Oliver thought to himself and smiled. "BASE jump off the highest building in the city into a building where you're hosting the biggest party of your life? Another one off the bucket list."
Below him, the building began to catch up, so he grabbed at his harness and yanked on the cord. There was a hard tug as the parachute deployed, slowing his descent as he entered through the skylight and onto a platform in the middle of the large hall. Everything was dark for a moment before it jolted to life. The room lit up a mass of neon colors, revealing a mob of cheering partygoers.
"Damn," Oliver thought to himself as his senses were overwhelmed by the booming techno music and the roar of the crowd that had flooded the hall.
"I'm Oliver Queen, the golden boy of Star City. And tonight, I love my life."
The Glades, Star City
Tommy King walked along the sidewalk, his hands buried in the pockets of his black hoodie. He took it all in as he walked, the glow of the street lamps that hung overhead, and the familiar night air that took up every breath. He had started to get into his usual mood for those nighttime walks, but it was quickly cut off by the sudden sound of a woman screaming.
Tommy heard it immediately. It was quickly followed by a "Leave me alone!" Tommy began to sprint forward until he came upon the alley where the screams had come from. He threw back his hood and walked slowly into the alley.
Just a few meters away was a man, nothing more than a common thug. Between him and the alley wall was a young girl he'd cornered. One hand gripped her arm, the other held a knife.
"C'mon, I just wanna talk," he said.
"Please, just leave me alone…"
The man sighed. "What a shame, you had such a pretty face," he said, inching the knife closer and closer to the girl's face.
The man stopped and looked over at the would-be hero.
"And who the hell are you?" The man said, taking the knife away from the girl's face and pointing it at Tommy.
"She told you to leave her alone."
The man just laughed. Tommy got closer and the man broke away from the girl, turning the knife on Tommy. He thrust it forward, but Tommy was quicker, maneuvering around the man. The man threw a punch, hitting Tommy in the face. He staggered backward and pressed his hand against his mouth. When he pulled it away, there was a patch of blood on it. The man wasted no time attacking again, but this time, Tommy was ready. He quickly evaded before landing a punch of his own. The thug staggered backward from the impact to his jaw. Taking no chances, Tommy threw one, final punch, laying the man out on the pavement.
He quickly started to get up but hesitated. Tommy started to move closer, and the man took off. Tommy turned around. The woman was still there, a wide-eyed look on her face.
"What can I say? I grew up in the Glades. I know a thing or two about throwing a punch. Are you going to be alright?"
"Yeah, my apartment is only a couple blocks away. I should be fine," she said, clutching her purse.
"Get home safely."
"Thank you," she said before hurrying off.
Tommy lingered for a second before sticking his hands back into his pockets and walking off.
Queen Industries, Star City
Adrien Rivers paced back and forth across the space around her desk, with her phone pressed against her ear.
"Come on, Oliver." She said. "Pick up."
For the third time that night, it went to voicemail. After the beep, she spoke.
"Oliver, it's Adrien…again. I've been calling to remind you about your meeting with Walter tonight at the office. It was scheduled for a half hour ago."
Not knowing what else to say, she sighed and hung up.
Walter Steele was usually a very calm and collected man. Ask any of the employees at Queen Industries and they'd tell you they never heard him raise his voice once. But now, he began to wonder if that could change as he stood by the window, looking out at the view of the city his office provided. He glanced down at his watch and sighed.
The glass double doors to his office opened and a young, brown haired woman entered the office, with her cell phone in hand.
"Ah, Ms. Rivers," Walter greeted her. "Have you heard back from him?"
"No, I haven't," she responded. "It seems Oliver Queen has disappeared…again."
Walter sighed and rubbed his eyes.
"Try one more time."
"Right away, Mr. Steele," she said, punching a number into her phone and leaving the office.
Walter sighed and looked beside him to his desk. There was one item that caught his eye. It was a picture frame, and inside was an old photo of him and two other people. A husband and wife, Robert and Moira Queen. Walter looked at it and sighed and turned his attention back to window and the view of the city it provided.
"Where are you, Oliver?" He muttered to himself.
The Queen Mansion, Just Outside Star City
The gravel of the driveway crunched under the tires of the limousine as it pulled up in front of the Queen mansion. Oliver Queen and his guests spilled out. Some high, some drunk, and some a little bit of both. After a couple seconds of fumbling with the knob, Oliver opened the doors to the mansion. The partygoers poured in, and after a few minutes, music and strobe lights flooded the rooms and halls.
Oliver stood by the drink bar with a girl. He had come in with her, talking about everything and nothing.
"So you, like, have this entire place to yourself?" the girl asked, sipping her drink.
"Oh yeah, it can get a little lonely. But on nights like these, it's not so bad," Oliver told her. "I lie," he thought to himself.
She giggled a little. "I can imagine."
Oliver smirked. "Like you said, I've got the whole place to myself. You want to check it out?"
The girl bit her lip and smiled. "Sure."
A few minutes later, the door to Oliver's room upstairs flew open. He and the girl shuffled in, half kissing, half stumbling as they made their way over to the bed.
15 years ago
Oliver Queen laid sprawled out on his bed, his head propped up on his pillows facing the television that sat atop his dresser directly across the room. His finger pressed the button on the remote, switching impatiently from channel to channel before settling on a rerun of The Grey Ghost. He began to tune in when his mother called up to him from downstairs.
"Oliver! There's something for you downstairs!"
"Okay, I'll be right there!" he called back as he leapt off his bed and out of his room.
Oliver hurried down the halls to the stairs leading down into the foyer. He entered the foyer and next to his mother was someone he didn't think he'd see again so soon, his father.
"Look who's home!" Moira exclaimed.
"Dad!" Oliver exclaimed and ran toward his father, throwing his arms around him.
"Hey, Ollie!" he said.
"I thought you weren't going to be back from your trip for another week?"
"I was, but I started to miss my family and thought I'd come back," Robert said, glancing up at Moira who smiled back at him. Robert turned back to Oliver.
"Plus, I remembered your request and made sure to pick something up for you."
Oliver took notice of the small box his father held in his hand.
"Here you go, Ollie," Robert handed the box to Oliver.
Oliver grabbed it and quickly set it down on the table that sat it in the center of the room. He took off the top and dug through the tissue paper on the inside until with his small fingers, he came to his gift: an emerald green arrowhead. Oliver held it up in front of his face and examined it. He ran his finger along the edge and admired the arrowhead's green hue.
"This is cool!" Oliver exclaimed. "Thanks, dad."
"You're welcome, Ollie."
"Where'd you get it?"
Something changed about his father's expression when he asked that. A troubled look fell over him before he perked back up.
"Oh, I'll tell you later. There's quite the story behind that," he said. "Hey, what do you say we head out back and catching up on our shooting?"
"Yeah!" Oliver grinned.
In no time, the two of them were outside behind the mansion. Set up in the expansive backyard were two targets. Both of the targets were riddled with holes, one concentrated around the center, the other's holes were more scattered.
Robert and Oliver stood a few meters opposite the targets, bows in hand, quivers on their backs. Robert nocked an arrow and took. Oliver watched his father in awe. The way he gripped the arrow, drew it back, followed by the intake of breath and finally, the release. The arrow blew through the air and hit its mark, right in the center of the target. It never ceased to amaze Oliver every time.
"Still got it," Robert smiled.
Determined to compete, Oliver quickly grabbed an arrow from his quiver and nocked it.
"Remember to breath," Robert told him. "Breath, aim and release."
Oliver followed his instructions, just as he did every time. He inhaled and exhaled, aimed, pulled the string back and fired. The arrow flew, planting itself just a few inches shy of the center. Oliver sighed. Robert smiled and crouched down to his son's height.
"Nice shot, Ollie." Robert told his son.
"What do you mean? I missed."
"For someone who hasn't been shooting very long, that was a very impressive shot. Probably your best one yet."
"I still didn't get a bullseye though…"
"You may not have, but you've made real progress," Robert said. "I've seen some good archers, but I've never seen anyone shoot that well just a couple months after starting out. I think you've got a real gift there, Ollie."
Oliver's frown shifted into a slight smile.
"Take another shot," Robert said, trying to encourage his son.
Oliver nocked a second arrow and breathed before taking aim again. He released the string and the arrow was planted in the target. It wasn't a perfect bullseye, but it was a couple inches closer than the previous shot.
"There you go," Robert said. "I told you."
"Thanks, dad." Oliver said.
Robert smiled. "You're welcome, Ollie. Just remember, even if you miss, it's not the end. You can still take another shot, and no matter how many shots you have to take, you'll hit your mark. But you can't give up."
Oliver's eyes opened. He took a second to look around and was met with the familiar television, curtains and walls of his room in the Queen mansion. He looked to his left, at the nightstand beside the bed. The clock read 12:30 PM. He sighed and turned to his right, and was met with a young woman lying next to him, still asleep. He was confused for a second before it all came back to him, all in brief flashes. Alcohol, kissing, clothing coming off. Enough to tell the story.
"Oh, right." Oliver thought to himself. "What'd she say her name was? Sandra or…something."
Oliver started to get up when he noticed his splitting headache.
"Still hung over. And it doesn't help that my ears are still ringing."
Despite this, Oliver got out of bed and walked across the room. He stopped in front of the mirror. Everything was the same. The hair, the bags under his eyes, the face, the body. What always caught his eye was what was around his neck: the arrowhead necklace. He'd worn it every day, but he'd still stare at it the way he did the day his father brought it home.
Suddenly, his train of thought was broken when the doorbell rang. Oliver cursed under his breath and grabbed his shirt from off the floor. He rushed out of his room, trying to put the shirt on at the same time.
Outside the mansion, Adrien Rivers stood by the front door, waiting. Behind her, a limousine sat in the circular driveway. Adrien looked down at her phone and sighed. She turned around and glanced at the driver, giving him a weak smile and a hand motion that signified "five more minutes." The driver simply nodded.
Adrien turned her attention back toward the still unanswered door.
"Losing patience, Oliver…" she muttered to herself.
Just then, the door opened, revealing a sloppily-dressed Oliver Queen.
"Adrien," Oliver said. "What brings you by?"
"You had a 12:15 meeting with Walter. It's now 12:30. You're now 15 minutes late…"
"Ahh, right. That meeting with Walter…" Oliver said. "Is there any way we can reschedule?"
"Oliver, that's what you've said to the last three meetings. Walter is growing impatient, and I think we both know that that's saying something."
"Right, right." Oliver nodded. "Okay, just give me 15 minutes and I'll be ready."
"Oh, yeah…" Oliver thought to himself.
Oliver turned around. Adrien peered around him. Coming off the steps and entering into the foyer, with a sheet wrapped around herself, was Sandra. Oliver turned back toward Adrien and shrugged. She awkwardly cleared her throat.
"Better make that 20 minutes, Adrien." Oliver said.
"Of course," Adrien said. "I'll let Walter know."
Oliver shifted uncomfortably in his seat in the back of limousine as he looked out the window at the passing streets of Star City. He tugged at the collar of dress shirt.
"You know," Oliver said. "I always hated dressing like this."
"I know, but you are Oliver Queen."
"Yeah, yeah. Son of the great Robert Queen, as everyone's told me."
"Actually," Adrien said, "That's what Walter is hoping to speak to you about.
Oliver gave her a look that was a mix between confusion and concern.
Queen Tower stood proudly as one of the tallest buildings in the heart of Star City. The limousine parallel parked in front of the large, golden "Q" in front of the building and Oliver and Adrien stepped out. Adrien walked up the steps to building, but Oliver stopped for a moment, looking up at the stature of the building before following Adrien inside. The two of them took the elevator up to 12th floor, where Walter's office was. They stepped out of the elevator and proceeded down the corridor.
"Don't worry, I doubt he'll be too unhappy," Adrien teased.
"You're not funny, Adrien." Oliver shot back as they approached the glass doors to Walter's office.
Oliver hesitated for second before taking a deep breath and entering the office. Walter was at his desk, but stood up from his chair and stepped out from behind the desk as soon as he heard the door open.
"I have returned with the ever-elusive Oliver Queen," Adrien said with a smile.
"It's good to see you again, Oliver." Walter said, in his usual, stoic, British demeanor. He extended his hand, which Oliver shook.
"It's good to see you too, Walter." Oliver said. "Sorry I'm late. I, uh…overslept."
"Late?" Walter look puzzled. "I scheduled the meeting for 12:45, you're right on time."
Oliver shot Adrien a look.
"As the executive assistant, and given your track record, I decided to push all meetings back by a half hour in anticipation of your tardiness," Adrien smiled.
"Right," Oliver grumbled.
"Thank you, Adrien." Walter said. Adrien nodded and proceeded to step out of the office.
"What did you want to discuss with me, Walter?"
Walter walked over to his desk, inviting Oliver to sit. Walter took his seat behind the desk and Oliver took his in front. Walter lifted the newest edition of the Star City Sentinel from in front of him, the front page of which read, "Billionaire Oliver Queen Rents Out Papps Stadium For Wildest Party Yet."
"What I wanted to discuss with you was this," Walter said, holding the newspaper up.
"Yeah, that was one hell of a party." Oliver laughed.
"Oliver, this is no joke," Walter said, putting the paper down. "You are the son of Robert Queen and whether you like it or not, you are what the public associates with Queen Industries and you can't be bringing this kind of attention to the company."
"Walter, I never asked for any of this. I never asked to be my father's son and I never asked to be his legacy."
"I know you didn't, Oliver." Walter said. "Your father was one my oldest friends. He loved this city more than anyone else I knew and it showed. He did a lot for this city. Your mother too. When they passed, I thought I owed it to this city to continue their work."
"What does this have to do with me?"
"Your father left me in charge of Queen Industries until you were ready to, one day, take it over. You're 25 years old now, Oliver. That day is fast approaching."
"I think we all know that I am not half the man that my father was, and to be honest, I don't want to be. You're doing a fine job running the company, Walter."
"This company is your birthright, Oliver. I remember when you were a boy, your father would bring you here all the time. You'd stand right there and stare out the window and talk about you couldn't wait until you were at the helm and that view was yours."
Oliver was silent.
"I know things have been rough for you in the years since they passed, but the way you've been handling it has not been the healthiest. I worry for you. As does the board, Adrien – even Tommy has called in before. I realize you have heard this before, but you are Robert Queen's son and you are all that is left of the Queen family name that is why I think it's time you took a leadership position in the company."
Oliver got up from his seat. "I'm sorry," he said. "But I won't. I don't care how I once felt about it, or what my 'birthright' is. I am not my father. I never have been and I never will be."
Oliver turned and walked over to the door to the office. He opened it, but before leaving, turned around to Walter to say one last thing.
"I'm sorry, Walter," was all he said before walking out.
To be continued…