Well this is it; the final chapter of The Choices That We Make. Hopefully you enjoy it. Thank you all for reading.
Oliver and Sara were running through the halls. They were following the sounds of shouting and screaming, and Oliver looked rather pale as he identified the sounds as Shado and Slade; both he and Sara knew why.
Shado appeared as they turned a corner; interestingly enough she was dragging the unconscious form of Anthony Ivo with her. Oliver saw the bow with her, and he noticed how a great many arrows were missing from the quiver. Then he saw the blood.
Shado cried out for her student, not for help, but a plea of caution. She was warning them.
There was an inhumane roar, the roar of a savage animal, and Slade Wilson appeared wielding his swords, face obscured behind his mask. Sara saw his eyes, despite the distance and darkness, and saw that they were dark and full of rage, burning with an uncontrollable fury.
Sara barely had time to register the blur of green as Oliver barreled past her, slamming into Slade with the force of a rampaging bull. The masked man dropped his swords as Oliver slammed Slade into a wall, embedding Slade's body several inches within the metal as he strained to remove Slade's hands that were wrapped around his throat. "S-Slade," he gurgled out, Slade's hands still tightening. "S-Stop!"
"Get out of the way, kid!" Slade snarled out, eyes full of inhumane fury. It was the same crazed look in his eyes that had resembled Oliver's when he had lost control. Sara felt the same dread she had felt when she had seen Oliver out of control, a tight band of terror wrapping itself around her heart.
Slade had lost control.
"I won't let you hurt her!" Oliver snarled, pressing his shoulder against Slade's chest to pin him to the wall, one hand struggling to remove Slade's hands from his throat. "I won't let you hurt Shado, you idiot!"
Slade blinked suddenly, the crazed look disappearing for the briefest of moments as he whispered "Shado?" But then the eyes darkened again, full of hate and animalistic fury.
Oliver was suddenly flung backward when Slade managed to raise his knee high enough to kick him, sending the archer sprawling onto the ground. Slade leapt at him, pinning Oliver's arms with his knees as he punched Oliver hard in the face, breaking his nose with a single blow. Then he hit Oliver again, and again, and again.
Sara winced at each blow. She could hear the sound of bone breaking and of the bone repairing itself instantly, before being broken and repaired again and again. It truly was a truly terrible sound that made bile rise in the back of her throat as she watched on, helpless. Shado made a chocking sound besides her, a pitiful attempt of holding back her emotions as she watched the two most important people in her life try and kill the other.
Oliver's face was covered in blood, and he struggled weakly against Slade to no avail or respite from the attacks. To Sara, he looked to be unconscious from the harsh blows of Slade's fists, but it was hard for her to tell with all the blood. There was another blow to the head, a terrible cracking sound, and Oliver's head fell back, eyes closed as he was beaten into unconsciousness, blood and spittle dribbling from his mouth into a puddle besides him that had a few broken teeth in it.
And then Slade turned his head to his right –at them.
Sara swore she felt her heart stop. Those eyes haunted her as much as the blood staining his fists.
Slade stalked forward, his gait reminiscent of a jungle cat –a predator in all sense and form- towards them –towards Ivo. Sara wanted to scream, to run, to hide, to disappear –anything to get away from the monster that was in Slade's body. Shado didn't move a muscle, didn't even so much as twitch, as Slade got closer and closer.
Bang bang bang bang.
Suddenly there were gunshots, and Slade jerked backwards as bullets slammed into his chest. Sara felt something grab her arm and yank her backwards, behind a man's back that was soaked in grime and blood. The bushy beard and wild eyes revealed that it was Anatoli, who was clutching a pistol in his hands.
"A-Anatoli?" Sara asked, amazed that the Russian had survived the attack on the freighter.
The Bratva leader wasn't looking at her; he was too busy staring down Slade who was clutching his chest as though he had been socked in the gut rather than shot point blank. Sara heard, rather than saw, the bullets that had been lodged within his chest fall to the floor. In just ten seconds, Slade went from having a chest full of lead to a perfectly fine chest and a ruined T-shirt.
Anatoli said something in Russian that Sara assumed was a curse. The man looked horrified, and why wouldn't he? The man must have seen dozens of men shot in the chest, but he had never seen the bullets fall out, the wounds heal, and for the man to be alive at the end.
The Mirakuru enhanced man seemed to swell, his shoulders shaking in unmistakable rage. Slade was gone, he had been gone for a long time. Sara heard the sound of a bowstring stretch taut, and quick look behind her revealed that Shado was aiming an arrow directly at Slade's heart.
For a terrible moment, Sara was certain that Shado was going to attack him with the intent to kill, that she was going to shoot Slade in the heart.
But Shado didn't let the bowstring go. Instead she stood there, frozen, and just stared at Slade with the bow in her hands and the arrow aimed at his heart. Hesitance and fear were burning in Shado's brown eyes- her hesitance to attack her friend and fear for him. "Slade…." Shado murmured sorrowfully. Sara noticed that the blood that was splattered on Shado's shirt was not her own, as she saw no scratches or wounds, but saw a still bleeding cut on Ivo's arm. Even when out of control, Slade had not harmed her.
The man began to stalk towards them again, Anatoli pressed the trigger but all the came from the gun was the sound of clicking due to an empty cartridge. Sara thought that she was going to die right there in the freighter that had saved her. That look in Slade's eyes was the exact same dark madness she had seen in Oliver's, but Sara herself couldn't bring Slade out of his rage. She doubted anyone but Shado or Oliver could, and Oliver was still unconscious and Shado looked too hesitant to approach the monster that had taken over Slade's body.
Oliver's unconscious formed twitched violently. Another second later Sara saw him open his eyes. Slade stopped his advancement as he heard the other Mirakuru-enhanced man stood on shaky feet.
"I… told you…" Oliver wheezed out, face covered in his own blood. "I won't… let you… hurt them…" At that last word he raced forward, moving so fast he seemed like a flash to Sara, and tackled Slade to the ground.
The two began to brawl again. It was a truly savage thing to witness, even worse than the throw down at the missile launcher. Before had been fueled by simple rage, but now these two had begun to get used to their superior strength and was using it to each other's advantage, but Slade's anger seemed to make the Australian even stronger, and Oliver looked ready to be defeated by his mentor.
Is this it? Sara wondered as she watched the two men fight, entranced by their inhuman fluidly and monstrous strength. Is this the end? After going through so much: Ivo and his mercenaries and everything in between, is this the end of it all?
Sara heard the bow drop to the ground, and saw Shado rush forward. Sara reached out to grab her and yank her back to safety, but her fingers grasped only air. "SHADO!" Sara screamed out as Shado raced towards the brawling men, towards certain death.
The young Asian archer didn't even so much as glance backwards to Sara and Anatoli, she only stared straight ahead at Oliver and Slade. The two were standing still, holding one another in an attempt to overpower the other. She touched Slade's shoulder with a gentle touch.
Slade swung around instinctively, mouth all but frothing as he raised his fist to whoever had dared interrupt him.
His fist paused a mere inch from Shado's mournful face.
"Slade." Shado said hoarsely, tone whisper-faint.
The fist trembled as though Slade was fighting the urge to bash her head in with his inhumane strength. His teeth gritted together, face a gory crimson and his eyes looked strained, but he didn't attack.
Oliver paused in his own attack, eyes flickering between Slade and Shado uncertainly.
Shado slowly raised her hands; Slade tensed at the movement like a wild animal, but she didn't pause at the unsettling sign. Instead she slowly placed her own hands against Slade's bloodied fist, slender fingers wrapping themselves around the trembling fist. She said nothing. She just stared up at him with those ageless brown eyes that bespoke of a kind wisdom that only Shado could posses.
"Slade, please." That was all Shado said. Her hands were clutching his tightly.
It was all Shado had to say. Her words seemed to resonate within the torturous mind of Slade that had been enveloped in a mindless maelstrom of rage and hatred.
"S-Shado…" Slade murmured out, his voice strangled and choking as though it was agony to even speak.
Slade Wilson's entire body seemed to shake and shudder, perspiration clinging to his temple as his pupils dilated rapidly. Slade was trying to fight off the serum that had hooked itself onto him like a hungry parasite. He was struggling with all his might.
Slade was trying to fight back the Mirakuru.
Shado's face twisted into a face of pure agony as she saw the pain in Slade, her brown eyes began to water ever so slightly as she clasped his hands with her own. "Slade, don't do this. This isn't you." Doe like eyes stared up into the tortured eyes of Slade, pleading with him to return to his senses. "This isn't the man that I love."
Slade's entire form seemed to deflate at those words; the redness of his face receded and the bulging veins disappeared. Sara blinked at the sudden transformation brought by Shado's words; one second Slade had seemed inhumanely immortal, a demigod of awesome power, but, now he looked frail and weak and very much human.
"I-I'm…" Slade seemed to choke on his words as he collapsed onto his knees, trembling. Shado knelt besides him, holding his sorrowful face in the palms of her hands, her fingers tracing his cheeks comfortingly. "I'm sorry." He turned his head in the direction of Oliver, who was still breathing heavily. "I'm so sorry."
Oliver's face was stricken as he came up to the kneeling, defeated man. Suddenly he wrapped his arms around Slade, pulling Shado in as well. Oliver whispered something that Sara couldn't hear, but some of the tension in Slade's shoulders seemed to disappear. The way all three clung to one another took Sara aback a bit, as it always did to see such dedication and love shared between all three. She hated having to be the one to break up such a emotional moment between them, but their mission had yet to be finished.
"We should probably move," Sara said, noting the various craters in the walls that seemed to have warped the entire hallway into a malformed hallway. "We're not done yet."
Shado turned her attention to Slade, kissing his cheek softly, "Slade, please, save your anger until it is necessary. We must let Ivo live, if only so he can face justice. If that justice is death, than I shall not refuse you the right, but it cannot be for vengeance for what he has done, only as atonement."
Slade nodded his head wearily, agreeing with her, before standing on shaky knees. Oliver and Shado rose as well, Oliver coming to stand by Sara's side, a hand placed comfortingly on Sara's shoulder. Oliver grabbed the end of his shirt and rubbed it on his face, cleaning up the blood. Slade grabbed one of Ivo's legs, no doubt to drag him across the floor like a sack of meat, and all knew that he wasn't going to be gentle, but no one seemed to really care.
Everyone turned towards the sound and all of them came face to face with an extremely confused Anatoli, who was still aiming a gun at Slade. But then he saw Oliver and lowered it in shock.
"O-Oliver?" He whispered, voice hoarse with shock and confusion. "How are you still alive?"
"Anatoli," Oliver greeted the Russian weakly; Anatoli winced at the sound, as though Oliver's voice had shocked him.
"Ivo killed you." Came the man's flat statement, but with a hint of wonder.
Oliver smiled sadly, almost mournful, "He wasn't the first one to try."
Anatoli looked behind him and saw the limp form of Ivo being dragged one-handed by a scowling Slade. "Is he…?" He trailed off, raising his dark brows questioningly. He looked thoroughly disappointed as he looked at the limp form being dragged through the hallways like a sack.
"Oh, he's alive all right." Slade said with a dark smirk that sent shivers down Anatoli's spine like ice water.
Anatoli's disappointment faded away instantly, an equally dark smirk gracing his face. "Good." He said vindictively, slowly pulling out a rusty knife from his pocket. "Very good." He looked at Ivo almost hungrily.
"How are you still alive? All the other prisoners died in the attack." Shado asked him curiously. She had been walking alongside Slade as he dragged Ivo's unconscious form and had aimed an arrow at Anatoli until Oliver had spoken to him without any signs of aggression.
Anatoli shrugged, "Girl tell me to go, I go." he nodded his head at Sara. "I keep cover and don't leave till fighting and gunfire over. I don't want to die, I prefer life."
Sara smiled at the Bratva leader, she had always liked him and his roguish charm. "It's good to see you again, Anatoli. I'm glad you weren't killed when we took over the Amazo." She truly meant it as well. Out of all the prisoners on the Amazo, the only one Sara would have wanted to live, aside from Peter and Thomas Flynn, would have been Anatoli. He might be a criminal, but he was a good man at heart.
"I seem to be the only one," Anatoli looked mournful at that, thinking of his friends and fellow prisoners who had been killed. "Hendrick, what happened to him?"
Oliver's heart seemed to shudder as the anger erupted from his chest like a beast ripping apart a cage, he forced it down as he gritted out: "Dead."
Anatoli smiled a little at that, the mournful look in his eyes fading. "Good. Hendrick was not good man, and he was terrible at gambling. Terrible cheater."
"No, he wasn't a good man." Oliver said gruffly, trying to ignore the flash of rage as he glanced at Sara, staring at the thick bruises forming around her delicate neck. The blotchy purple bruises clashed against the paleness of her skin, and Oliver could practically feel his form shudder with silent rage. He tried to contain it, he truly did, but Sara had nearly died by that man and Oliver had almost lost her. He couldn't go through that again. Losing someone he loved would break him even further. He would shatter like glass if he lost Sara, or Shado or Slade, and he knew that the Mirakuru would take advantage of that.
He didn't want to lose control again.
It scared him.
It terrified him.
To see his body move without his guidance, to feel nothing in his heart but burning hatred and an unsuitable bloodlust, how his hands ripped apart man with no hesitation, how he killed and killed and killed without remorse. It wasn't him. That thing that the Miracle had turned him into during the initial assault wasn't himself, but yet it was him. And that scared him.
"We should get this over with," Slade grumbled as he dragged Ivo by the legs into another room that wasn't destroyed by their fight. "Once and for all."
None of the others seemed to disagree with the Australian spy.
"Wake him up," Oliver said, looking over at the unconscious Ivo. A wave of hatred and fury over washed all senses when he saw the doctor lying on the floor, alive and breathing. The Mirakuru within him screamed and shrieked for vengeance, and his heart wanted the same. He ignored both.
Slade kicked Ivo in the side roughly. Ivo awoke with a grunt of pain; the man blinked wearily and tried to stand, but stopped when he caught sight of Oliver standing in front of him.
"Y-You… You're alive?" Ivo sputtered out, eyes wide as though he was looking at Oliver's ghost.
Oliver smiled wryly at that. Ivo hadn't known that he had dropped a vial of Mirakuru and that it had healed him and helped bring him back to life. Ivo's precious serum had healed the man he had killed. His dream had brought back an enemy more powerful than ether. The irony of it all made it somewhat humorous.
"Hello, Ivo." Oliver said amiably, slowly pulling out a knife from his pocket. Shado aimed an arrow at Ivo's chest while Slade cracked his knuckles menacingly, Sara stood still and held onto the pistol that Slade had given her earlier.
Ivo was still staring at Oliver with wide eyes; he looked positively terrified. "Impossible. You died. I shot you." He said the last part with wonder, as though Oliver had become a piece to a puzzle he had been trying to solve. Ivo's brows rose before his eyes closed in realization, "The Mirakuru." He concluded with a chuckle that raised the hairs on the back of Oliver's neck. "Of course. It brought your friend back, why not you?... the possibilities…" he trailed off, pondering the blessings –curses- that the Mirakuru could bring. He looked almost gleeful as he stared up at Oliver and Slade, examining them as though they were rats to experiment on.
"You're going to pay for everything you've done to us, you fuckin' monster." Slade growled deeply, fingers clenched around his machete as he lowered the blade to rest against Ivo's throat, the tip of the blade poking into the pale skin and a small droplet of crimson blood pooled out and began to trickle down Ivo's sweaty neck.
The insane glee that had twinkled in Ivo's eyes dimmed as he realized the severity of the situation. Ivo wasn't in control anymore; he was defenseless against these people he had tried so hard to kill. And he seemed to realize that too.
"Please," Ivo pleaded, his eyes gaunt and haunted as he stared at the ones he had tortured and hurt so cruelly, "I can help you." He looked at Slade and Oliver with some small bit of desperate knowledge in his eyes.
Anatoli sneered at him, "They say that living well is best revenge," he chuckled darkly, holding a rusty knife he had found for all to see. "I prefer torture."
Sara looked conflicted at that; she may hate Ivo for what he had done to her friends and the prisoners, but the look in Anatoli's eyes that screamed for blood unnerved her too much. She wasn't a killer, she had never taken a life nor ever had she ever hurt anyone directly, but now she was amongst killers and she had no say in the affairs they planned for Anthony Ivo.
"Wait," Ivo demanded, his hands raised above his head in surrender. "You need me," he turned his attention to Slade and Oliver. "You have the Mirakuru in you. I can tell you how it works, I've spent my entire life studying it." Ivo began to sneer smugly, seeing the importance his knowledge would be needed to help understand what exactly was happening to the two men before him.
Shado placed a placating hand on Anatoli's arm; the Russian prisoner and former Bratva leader slowly lowered his measly weapon. The man looked bitter as he did so, but despite never meeting Shado, he knew that it was wise to listen to her. Oliver seemed to hold her opinion in value so he would do the same, even if all he wanted to do was cut out one of Ivo's eyes. He owed it to Oliver and Sara, who had freed him from his cage and prison.
"It was you," Slade stated gruffly, slowly stalking towards the doctor like a predator. "You shot my brother." Slade's eyes darkened, "You made him chose between Shado and Sara, knowing that one of them would die. You tried to destroy my family."
Ivo's eyes widened at that statement, the smug sneer wiping off of his face in an instant. "N-No! I-I…" His pleading was cut off by the dark glare sent his way by Slade.
"You wanted to destroy us." Slade cut him off, "You nearly did. But you underestimated us, and underestimated how far we would go for one another. Two of us came back from the dead, brought back screaming as blood pooled from our eyes and fire burned our veins with a toxic serum that alerted us for good. You shouldn't have underestimated us, Ivo. Maybe you would have managed to save your own skin if you hadn't." Slade turned to Sara, "Give me your gun."
Sara blinked at that, "Slade, what?"
"I said, give me your gun." Slade's tone left no room for argument.
The youngest Lance slowly unbuckled the pistol Slade had given her when they had landed from its holster. She wordlessly gave it to him.
Slade, what do you plan to do? Shado thought to herself as she looked at the Australian with concern. The darkness in his tone was not reassuring, nor was the burning need for vengeance in his eyes. Slade… don't let it control you.
Slade looked at his pistol, turning it around in his hands and with deft, experienced hands, before he removed the clip from the pistol as well as the lone bullet in the chamber. He handed the empty pistol to Ivo, who took it with shaky hands.
"Show me how you shot Oliver," Slade Wilson said in a tone so soft it was but a mere whisper. Ivo stared at him, reminiscent of a deer in the headlights. When Ivo made no move to aim the unloaded pistol, Slade's face darkened to a gory vermilion with the veins around his temple popping out. "SHOW ME!" Slade Wilson screamed, specks of spittle flying from his mouth.
Hesitantly Ivo raised the pistol to chest level, the secondary firearm shaky ever so slightly as Anthony aimed the gun at Oliver yet again for the second time. Oliver's eyes burned into Ivo's, searing cerulean staring into watery grey. As he stared at the empty pistol, Oliver couldn't help but remember the last time Ivo had aimed a gun at him.
Oliver's chest began to burn suddenly; the phantom pain of a bullet in his chest became almost unbearable as he stared into the nozzle of the gun aimed at his head.
Slade slowly walked around Ivo, his dark eyes taking in every detail as though trying to remember everything of the event that Slade hadn't seen. It was as though he wanted to be there for the second time, as he wasn't there to save his brother until it was too late. "Is that how you did it? Is that how you pointed the gun at them?"
Ivo swallowed back bile, sweat clinging to his brow as blood dripped from the cut on his cheek. Ivo looked terrified, just as terrified as Oliver and the others had been during that fateful nightmare that had taken place back on Lian Yu.
"Y-Yes." Ivo answered softly, swallowing thickly as the the pistol wavered.
When Anthony answered his question, Slade's face contorted into pure rage, eyes blazing in madness, and a heart beating for vengeance upon the man who had shot and killed his brother and tried to destroy his family. Before anyone could so much as blink, Slade had grabbed his machete, stepped around the shaking doctor, and in one swipe, severed the man's arm that held the gun pointed at Oliver.
Ivo's screams of pain and horror echoed off the metal hallways, reminiscent of the screams of the prisoners he had experimented on. The man fell onto his knees, his lone remaining hand clenching his bleeding stump as he continued to scream.
"Slade!" Shado said in shock, eyes wide as she looked at the bleeding stump in horror. Sara looked ready to dry heave as she saw the blood erupt from the bloody stump whilst Oliver remained silent, though out of all of them he was the only one to not be alarmed at the sudden change of events, aside from a certain Russian Bratva leader.
Anatoli groaned, though it wasn't heard due to Ivo's cries of pain, "You could have let me do that, my angry friend." He grumbled, though that didn't stop the sadistic smile from forming as he saw the monster that had killed his friends for body parts and his sick, twisted experiments rolling on the ground in agony.
"Anatoli!" Sara shushed him, making him grumble in Russian.
Slade didn't appear disturbed by the growing pool of blood forming at Ivo's feet; instead he leaned forward and gently wiped the blood off of his favored machete on Ivo's stark white doctor coat. "If you don't want to lose the other one, I suggest you stop screaming," he whispered hoarsely with no remorse or pity whatsoever.
"Slade that is not how we do things. That is not justice," Shado rounded on him angrily, her brown eyes lit with fury as she looked at her comrade.
"He wanted to kill you, Shado!" Slade yelled at her angrily, his knuckles wrapped around his machete tightly. "He shot Oliver point blank in the chest, if the kid had chosen differently Ivo could have shot you in the head like Fryers did to your father!" By then the Australian had come face to face with the Chinese woman, who, despite her smaller size, continued to glare into Slade's vengeful eyes. "There is no justice here, only vengeance!" He roared at her, spittle flying from his mouth.
"I know that, Slade. I know that had things gone differently, I would most likely be resting besides my father," At this Shado averted her gaze from Slade, who suddenly looked mournful as he realized what he had said to her. "But I know that despite what you see the world as, there is still light. Justice must be served, if we didn't, we would be no better than him," she looked at the crying form of Ivo with distaste.
Slade seemed to deflate at her words, the anger that had burned within him having sputtered out as he saw Shado's point. Guilt suddenly engulfed him, not because he hacked off Ivo's arm obviously, but because he had hurt Shado, which he had sworn to never do.
"Does it matter?" The sudden question from Oliver made everyone look at him. Oliver refused to look at them, opting to instead look at the bleeding form of the man who had killed him with a small frown. Just looking at him made his chest throb where Ivo's bullet had pierced him, killing him in the process. "He doesn't deserve justice, Shado."
"Oliver," Shado looked uneasy as she saw the darkness threatening to consume her protégée appear yet again. That darkness didn't belong on her student nor on Slade, but not even she could predict when the Mirakuru would rear it's head, and whenever it did… things went south at the speed of a speeding bullet. Both of their rampages and Slade cutting off Ivo's arm were perfect examples.
Oliver glanced at his mentor and fellow archer, "He doesn't deserve justice, and even if he does, what are going to do with him? Lock him in a cage for the rest of his life?"
"He did it to us, maybe give him a taste of his own medicine," Anatoli offered, looking rather hopeful. "Maybe hack a few bits and pieces off him too."
"We could flip a coin," Slade suddenly offered. "Heads, he lives. Tails, he dies." A gleam appeared in his eyes, "Leave it to chance."
"Who the hell decides a person's life by flipping a coin?" Sara demanded to know.
Slade shrugged at that, "There are some pretty fucked up two-faced people in the world, I wouldn't be surprised."
"C-Cu… Cur…. C-Cu…" Ivo rasped out heavily, his face contorted in agony as he clung to the bleeding stump where his arm had been; the look of pure and utter fear in his eyes made Oliver and Slade unknowingly smile, the Mirakuru within them enjoying the twist of events where now Ivo was the one begging for mercy whilst they held his life in their hands, as the last time Ivo had killed both of them and, to the injected men, it was time to return the favor.
"Be quiet!" Slade barked at him.
"No, let him speak." Shado interjected.
By then Ivo had slowly gotten on his knees. Even though he was going through pure agony he managed to say one thing, "There's a… a…. cure…" He rasped out.
The four of them stared at Anthony in shock, none of them believing their ears. "What did you say?" Slade demanded as he stalked up to Ivo and placed the tip of his machete against Ivo's Adam's apple, slowly cutting into his flesh.
"There's a cure for the Mirakuru," Ivo admitted. "I spent my entire life…." He kneeled over in pain, "Looking for it… and while I did so… I created a cure."
"He's lying!" Slade spat out, machete pressed against Ivo's neck dangerously. "He's just saying things to save his own skin. We should kill him. Now." Slade's eyes seemed to darken, his pupils dilating. The Mirakuru was emerging again with a vengeance.
Shado saw this and took action immediately. She wrapped her arms around Slade, whispering in his ear softly, trying to calm him. Oliver didn't hear what she was saying, but her words seemed to work as Slade's pupils slowly returned to normal, but the grimace remained. Slade lowered the machete away from Ivo's neck, but he held the handle tightly with white knuckles.
"I was never able to replicate the Mirakuru serum from the original Japanese World War Two research I discovered. After conducting multiple experiments on the prisoners that I acquired these past few years-" Anatoli swore violently, face a brutish purple as Ivo said this, Sara looked away with shame. "-I was able to synthesize a solution that counteracts, reverses, the physiological effects that the Mirakuru produces: from more than human, back to human."
"Do you have it with you now?" Oliver demanded as he walked to Slade's side and looked down on the man. This was the man had killed them, but now it seemed that he could be the man that could cure them. It sounded almost too good to be true that Oliver could hardly believe it.
Ivo nodded frantically, still clutching his bleeding stump. "Yes… I'll tell you where it is… if you do me a favor…" He gasped out, his face already growing paler.
"And what favor is that?" Slade demanded, anger laced within his gruff tone, though everyone knew that he was thinking about the cure and the potential it had to fix everything, to cure himself and Oliver from the burden of the Miracle.
"Please, give me a quick death," Ivo pleaded softly, his once bright grey eyes now dulling from the pain. The others knew why he asked for this instead of them helping him as with such a grievous wound in their current area it was impossible for them to save him from infection. Ivo's medical supplies were more about taking pieces off of the body than keeping it together ironically enough.
"You don't deserve it," Oliver and Slade growled out as one in harmony. How could this piece of scum think they would grant him such an offer, a quick way out when he deserved the most painful of deaths?
"We could still do torture," Anatoli offered, holding up his rusty knife hopefully. "He may have lost arm, but he still has three other limbs… and face," he added on in thought.
Ivo ignored the Russian, only looking at Oliver. "I know," he said softly, eyes watery and dull from pain. "And I'm still asking." He turned his attention to Sara, which made Oliver want to punch him for daring to look at the woman he had saved and then later threatened to kill.
Some type of silent conversation seemed to happen between Anthony and Sara, an unspoken argument between two souls, before, finally, a wary agreement. The youngest Lance daughter seemed conflicted as she looked at her former employer and one time savior, but she slowly nodded her head, which made Ivo visibly relax in relief.
"Thank you," he whispered to her. "It's in my office safe… You know where it is, Sara."
Sara nodded her head, remembering where Ivo had hidden his safe in his quarters. The man had been paranoid about his research for the Mirakuru and had hidden everything about the Japanese serum in there, if there was such a cure than Sara had no doubt where it would be.
Slade grabbed something from his pocket, Oliver blinked as he saw the .44 Magnum in Slade's hands. His chest throbbed painfully in memory as he looked at the familiar secondary firearm. It was Ivo's magnum, the gun that had killed him.
Slade handed the gun to Sara, never once looking at her, instead opting to stare at Ivo with soulless brown eyes; it was as though Slade wasn't even aware of reality, but rather far away in the dark recesses of his mind. Sara took the gun silently, her small hands trembling as she felt the cold weight in her hand.
Sara lifted the gun, aiming it at Ivo, with her finger on the trigger.
The gun shook.
Ivo watched her with bemused resignation, waiting for Sara to pull the trigger and end it all.
Sara didn't pull the trigger, however. She stood before the others, the gun in her hand and the muzzle of the magnum aimed at Ivo, but her hesitation seemed to numb her, the finger wrapped around the trigger frozen.
"I saved your life once, Sara." Ivo mused, smiling stiffly as he looked up at the woman holding the gun, still frozen in place. "It feels like a long time ago now. Time to return the favor."
Sara tried to swallow the bile that had crept up her throat, but it was a fruitless effort, it was as though a rock was lodged in her throat, unyielding and impossible to move. She couldn't breathe, she couldn't breathe, she couldn't breathe. She wasn't a killer, but yet here she held a gun with the intent to end a man's life. She couldn't do it. She couldn't breathe. She couldn't do anything. She was frozen and numb to the world and the terrible horrors that dwelled within it.
She honestly tried to pull the trigger- to end it all. But all she could think as she stared into the pained eyes of Ivo was that this was a human being. Granted a twisted human being, but a human being nonetheless. What would her father think if he saw his daughter now? Quentin Lance had always told his daughters that killing was never the answer, but rather the choices of a coward. Killing solved nothing, Quentin would say, killing isn't justice, it is just vengeance. Vengeance is the actions taken by someone too afraid and too angry to act rationally, and in the end it will consume you, it will destroy you.
Would her father hate her if he knew what she was about to do? Would he call her a murderer? A killer?
Sara clenched her eyes shut as she wondered what her father would say, even as her entire being screamed at her to throw away the horrible weapon in her hand, to throw away the gun and the expectations of Shado, Slade and Oliver. They were the killers, not her. They should be the ones to do it. Not her. She wasn't like them; she couldn't kill. She had never killed before. She never wanted to kill. She couldn't kill. It was against everything she knew, everything her father had told her and Laurel. She couldn't kill. It wasn't her. She couldn't kill.
Her finger grew lax against the trigger, and Sara felt a brief moment of clarity: that she couldn't kill. Slade seemed to come to the same realization as well.
Slade snarled impatiently, a spark of life reappearing in his eyes that didn't resemble the normal Slade, but rather the Mirakuru Slade. He strode forward with an animalistic prowl, reminiscent of a graceful predator, inhumane and precise, and ripped the magnum out of Sara's frozen hands.
No one stopped Slade as he examined the pistol. Sara seemed to deflate, though whether from relief or shame, Oliver could not tell.
Ivo hissed in pain as he saw Slade took the gun from Sara, perhaps taking away his chance for a quick death. Oliver found himself uncaring of Ivo's predicament, enjoying the harsh breathing that bespoke of the pain Ivo was feeling in his body at the moment.
Slade looked at Oliver, something seemed to come between the two in a silent conversation spoken only in a glance. They seemed to reach an understanding, just like how Sara and Ivo had come to one, but this time it would be enforced.
Slade offered the gun to him wordlessly, and for a moment all Oliver was aware of was the rage that threatened to bubble within him; the rage of the Mirakuru practically howling for vengeance on the broken man kneeling before them. It was rather ironic in Oliver's opinion that the tables had been completely turned. Ivo now kneeled before them, weak and helpless like Oliver had kneeled a mere couple of weeks ago. Oliver had never felt the need to kill another human being burn so strongly within him, not even his hatred for Edward Fryers could compare to the hatred and contempt he held for Anthony Ivo.
He wanted to grab the gun that had killed him and put a bullet between Ivo's eyes, he wanted to make him suffer for the pain Ivo had brought upon their family. He had never wanted to kill so much in his entire life. He wanted to see those eyes gleaming with madness fade away into dull, glassy eyes that bespoke of death. The Oliver of before would have hesitated, like he hesitated with the guard in Fryer's watchtower and again when they fled from the camp after Slade killed Billy Wintergreen, but that Oliver had died too long ago. Purgatory had ripped him apart physically, emotionally, and spiritually and had left nothing left for the husk that he now was.
This man was the man who had threatened his family, and had even succeeded as well. Ivo had killed his brother: Slade. Ivo had threatened to kill someone who he now viewed as a sister: Shado. Ivo had threatened to kill someone who Oliver was beginning to realize he might hold feelings for: Sara. This man had tried to destroy his family, and might have succeeded had things gone differently than as they did at that clearing on that fateful night.
Oliver took the magnum from Slade's hand gratefully, inspecting the weapon that had killed him with morbid interest. He slowly held it up until it was pointed straight at Ivo's forehead, "Sara, look away," Oliver said softly, knowing that out of them all Sara was the most innocent and had never killed a human being before. He didn't want her to witness this. He didn't want Sara to become like him. He was too far gone, his loss of control over the Mirakuru had showed him that, but that didn't mean Sara Lance had to become a killer as well.
But Sara didn't look away.
Ivo closed his eyes, patiently waiting for death. He didn't look scared, he looked accepting, nothing like Oliver himself when he gave up his life for Sara and Shado, but there was nothing great or honorable about this death, just the act of cutting away at a cancer that had been slowly trying to kill them all.
"Goodbye, Anthony Ivo," Oliver stated ironically, as when Ivo had been about to shoot him Ivo had said the same to Oliver. The karma was just morbidly hilarious in his opinion, or maybe it was the Mirakuru's opinion, it seemed almost sentient, his father's ghost had been proof of that.
The shot rang throughout the Amazo, the sudden and sharp sound echoing throughout the hallways that were littered with dead henchmen and prisoners alike. Ivo's body slumped against the wall, a single bullet having been shot right between his eyes. If not for the blood slowly trickling down his forehead, he would appear as though he was sleeping, if a man as mad as Ivo could even dream without being haunted by the nightmares he had created in reality. Oliver lowered the pistol, glanced at it with disgust, and threw it to the side, where it skittered across the floor and slid into a body of an anonymous goon, discarded and already forgotten.
"It's over…" Shado said softly, staring at Ivo's cooling body with no hidden relief. "It's finally over."
With Ivo finally dead, they could live in peace. They no longer had to fear missiles falling from the sky, bombs rigged in their home, or madmen with guns and impossible choices. They had done it. They had taken the Amazo with all of their family members alive and intact. With Ivo and his men dead, there was nobody to stop them anymore. They could finally return to their lives before Lian Yu. They could finally go home.
"No… It's not over," Oliver said as he turned around to face the four he viewed as his friends, his anchors, his family. "Not yet."
"The cure," Sara said, which made the Queen heir nod his head slowly, almost hesitantly, as though the mere action of nodding one's head was almost impossible to do. Seeing how much control the Mirakuru had on Ollie, Sara could easily tell that the virus, whether it was sentient or not, didn't like the idea of a cure.
"We can cure you two," Shado said softly, gazing at Slade with wondering eyes. "You don't have to fight for control anymore… You can be free."
"Free…" Slade repeated with wonder, sounding dazed. His eyes seemed to glaze over as he pondered that beautiful thought, the idea of a life without the enticing voices of the Mirakuru whispering in their ears and within their ears was something both Oliver and Slade yearned for. They had learned in the past few hours just how dangerous the Mirakuru was to them, and just how much power it held over them.
They had both lost control of themselves, surrendering themselves to the demons that dwelled without their hearts. They had lost sight of who they were. They had become nothing more than puppets controlled by a monster.
Neither of them wanted to experience that hopeless feeling of losing control ever again.
If Ivo had been telling the truth…. They could be free from the curse of the longer would the voices whisper in their ears, enticing them to do horrid acts. No longer would the voices be able to impose its will upon them.
Oliver felt a flicker of hope build within him, lifting his spirits ever so slightly from where they had been pinned by the large boulder of reality that kept them down. Oliver wanted to smile, he wanted to laugh with glee and he wanted to do nothing but embrace that beautiful feeling of freedom and control. He wanted to fling aside all dark thoughts that dwelled within him and embrace everything full of light and cheer.
Ivo was dead. It was all over. Oliver waited to feel that hole in his heart and soul that had been created when Ivo had killed him to fill. Surely Ivo's death had solved that missing piece of him that death had snatched from him, that missing piece that the Mirakuru had suppressed when he had returned to life. So why wasn't it filling up? Why wasn't the wound healing itself?
Oliver had thought that Ivo's death would have solved everything. It should have solved everything.
Oliver stared at Ivo's body, just staring at the cooling body that had once housed a truly twisted soul. He had thought that killing Ivo would bring peace within his heart and mind. That it would shush the terrible whispers, quell the burning anger and terror within his heart. He had thought that Ivo's death would bring him clarity. He thought that the terrible anger that burned within him, slowly drowning him, would ebb away into nothing. He had thought that he would feel something.
Instead, he felt nothing. No satisfaction at seeing this disgusting human being dead at his feet. No fulfillment for fulfilling his vow of vengeance against Ivo for all he had done.
Oliver felt nothing because he knew that, even with Ivo dead, Anthony Ivo had still won in the end.
Ivo had gone out on his own terms with a quick death that he wasn't worthy of. Even at their complete mercy, Ivo had managed to wrestle control over them, imposing his will upon them just as he had when he had pointed the gun at Sara and Shado that terrible night. Ivo hadn't deserved a bullet to the head; he had deserved worse, much worse. Even Ivo himself had agreed upon that, and yet here he was with a bullet in his skull.
Oliver didn't feel anything that resembled happiness or fulfillment.
Instead Oliver felt like Ivo had played them once again.
Oliver felt cheated.
Oliver felt as though he had lost and Ivo had won.
It was frustrating.
It was infuriating.
"Ollie?" A hand, soft and warm to the touch, took hold of his own. Sara was gazing up at him worriedly, a lone hand rose and rested against his whiskered cheeks with a surprising tenderness. "Are you okay?"
"Y-Yeah," Oliver lied, his mouth dry. "I'm fine."
Sara didn't look convinced, but she dropped her hand and took a step back. She turned around to look at Ivo's body, slumped over with blood draining from the hole in his forehead; the man looked as though he was simply sleeping, as though he was in peace. Sara stared at the corpse with unblinking eyes and an expressionless face; Oliver wished he could know what she was thinking at that moment. He placed a hand on her shoulder, grasping it with deliberate tenderness, and brought her closer to him; Sara leaned against him as she tore her eyes from Ivo's bleeding form to stare up at Oliver; her eyes were conflicted and heavy with unknown emotion.
She's the most human of us, Oliver realized as he wrapped his arm around her comfortingly. Slade and I aren't human anymore… I don't even know what we are anymore. The fear was building within him, beating against his chest like a battering ram; he was terrified of the serum that ran through his veins, and the whispers in his head that never seemed silent. He could hear them now, even with the Mirakuru pushed into the dark recesses of his mind; he could hear the voices, some sounding exactly like his father's voice, whispering tempting promises. Would those whispers ever grow silent? Or was he cursed to hear the madness of the Mirakuru for the rest of his life?
"We should find this cure," Shado's voice brought Oliver out of his depressive thoughts. Oliver's mentor looked around the hallway of the freighter with narrowed eyes, "I don't suppose any of you know how to sail a freighter?" The other three looked at her blankly, and the dark-haired archer sighed in defeat.
Anatoli cleared his throat, and raised a calloused hand. "I can sail the freighter. I served in the navy; it should be no problem."
Shado looked at him, while Slade raised a brow. "You can sail us to Shanghai?" Shado asked him earnestly, a small spark of life flaring in her eyes.
The Russian nodded his head, idly scratching his scraggly beard thoughtfully. "Da, is easy." He said finally, "I shall go now," he held out his hand towards the Queen heir who clasped it gratefully, before offering his hand to Slade, who shook it suspiciously, then to Sara, and lastly Shado. "You four freed me from my prison and my hell." He bowed his head to them respectfully, "You saved my life. Sailing you home is the least I can offer to you all. The Bratva will not forget this; from this day forward consider yourselves dear allies and companions to the Brotherhood."
Oliver felt a lump in his throat; something about Anatoli's words struck something within him deeply. He wondered if it was possible to trust someone outside of the three other castaways besides him; Oliver decided if that was the case than Anatoli Knyazev might just be one of the few exceptions.
The mafia leader began to walk down the corridor towards the stairwell that lead to the upper deck, Oliver called out to him and jogged over to him. "I want to know one thing," he said to the Russian, "Why did you help me when I was fighting Slade? You saw us, you saw what we could do." He didn't have to elaborate much for Anatoli to understand.
"You mean how you two were throwing one another against metal walls, and breaking said metal walls with your fists?" Anatoli ventured.
Oliver nodded sheepishly.
Anatoli looked at Oliver Queen with starling intensity before clasping the man's shoulder tightly. "Ivo told the entire ship, crew and prisoners alike, of what happened in that clearing. Ivo was impressed with you, Oliver. He might have hated you, but he respected you the same. Normally if Anthony Ivo respects someone, I would want to kill them, but, just this once, I agree with him. You gave your life for those two women," he nodded his head in the direction of Shado and Sara. "Even when you could have taken the easy way and save yourself, you did not. You died so that they could live. The Bratva is a family, and we would all die for one another, for we believe that strength of will is stronger than even physical strength. I respect you more than you can know."
Oliver felt a lump rise in his throat; somehow Anatoli's passionate words were reassuring to the young billionaire; it felt as though Anatoli had lifted a monstrous burden off of Oliver's shoulders.
"Peter once told me something," Anatoli said thoughtfully, remembering his fellow prisoner who had succumbed to both the radiation poisoning and a bullet meant for Anatoli during the assault of the Amazo. "Ivo had experimented on him, poisoning him with radiation. He wanted to know if the Mirakuru could cure cancer. Peter was his unwilling participator. Peter told me of what Ivo had said to him as he slowly killed him through the radiation testing, Ivo said that 'the essence of heroism is to die so that others can live'." He looked away, lost in thought. "Peter told that to me as you took the Amazo, right as he took a bullet in the shoulder when he threw himself in front of me. Ivo might have been the one to first say it, but whenever I think of those words, I don't see them as excuses Ivo had given to torture his fellow man, but rather the last words of a brave man who had given his life for me without hesitation."
"And as to why I will not betray you?" Anatoli smiled wryly at that, "I've seen your strength and durability, Oliver. I believe going against that would be suicide. I prefer life."
Oliver couldn't help but laugh at that, he liked Anatoli and his dry wit; it was rather refreshing, even if some would call it morbid and dark.
Oliver shook the Russian's hand once more, "Godspeed, Anatoli."
"Prochnost, Oliver." Anatoli clasped his hand tightly.
"What does that mean?"
"In Russian? Strength."
"No way…" Sara whispered in shock, staring at the contents of the safe. She slowly took out the cure made of deep bluish liquid. Ivo had said it had been in the safe but the doctor hadn't mentioned there was only one vial: which meant only one of them could be cured.
One could be cured of the curse of the Mirakuru, but the other would be forever damned by it.
Oliver's fists clenched tightly, "Damn it…" He whispered, voice hoarse and shaky as he looked at the lone vial that could be his cure or his damnation. "Damn it all to hell…" Fury overcame him, flooding his veins and tingeing his vision a violent crimson. He felt the familiar claws of the Mirakuru try and hook itself onto him, clinging to his rage like a parasite.
He punched a metal wall, making it twist and implode under his super strength, leaving nothing but a twisted crater. "Why is it that every time something can go in our favor, it just fucks up things even more!?" He yelled out, his vision swarming in crimson as fury overtook him.
Shado shook her head, silently agreeing with Oliver. "Is there any chance we can split the cure fifty-fifty and give it to both of them, would that work?" She asked the Lance daughter who was the only one who actually knew anything about advanced medicine.
Sara shook her head at that, her lip bit in thought, "No, the Miracle is like a virus, a really, really powerful virus. We would need a full dosage for each of them if we want it to work… if it works," she added on as an afterthought. "Splitting wouldn't do anything, they need all that they can get if they want to compete with that serum."
"So then who gets to be cured and who gets to be left with the psychotic voices of a loved one in his head telling him to murder everything that has a pulse?" Slade demanded, rage burning in his eyes.
Sara glanced over at Shado, pleading with her to tell her what to do. She glanced back at Slade, "I-I don't know."
"ARGH!" Slade punched his own side of the wall, creating a crater by Oliver's. "GOD DAMNIT!"
Shado placed her arms around him, trying to console him. Slade breathed heavily, face red from fury but his eyes only showed a weariness in them. Slade clung to Shado, arms wrapped around her lithe frame as tightly as possible, as though she were his anchor to reality.
"It's not fair," he whispered to her, voice trembling and broken from despair.
"I know, Slade," Shado whispered back, just as distressed as her friend.
"What do we do?" Sara asked them, looking between Oliver and Slade with wide, worried eyes. "There's only one vial," Sara said bitterly, accepting the harsh reality. "Only one can be cured. But who?"
They all remained silent. Neither had an answer. Who would be given the only cure to the madness that dwelled within them? Who would find salvation and who would find damnation?
Oliver opened his mouth to speak, but he couldn't form any words. He gave up and hung his head in resignation, feeling the weight of the world crash upon his shoulders, dragging him downwards and drowning him with harsh reality that there was no such thing as a happy ending for any of them.
"…. It should be the kid," Slade whispered, his voice gruff. "The kid gets the cure."
The others stared at him in shock at his declaration, and none of them were as surprised as Oliver Queen. The young archer stared at his mentor with wide eyes, looking both befuddled and boggled.
Slade… Shado thought softly, looking at the man she had come to love, a man who at one point in his life only looked out for himself. Lian Yu might have changed him to make him see that it was survival of the fittest and that one should only look out for himself, but she and Oliver had changed him too.
The Queen heir shook his head, "No. It should be Slade." He asserted with crossed arms, glaring at Slade as though daring for the Australian to argue. "It will be Slade."
"You need it more, kid," Slade snapped at him as he crossed his own arms. The two brothers glared at one another, eyes fierce as they stared and glowered, trying to make the other brother see sense. "You went berserk."
"You did too," Oliver rebuffed without a moment of hesitation.
Slade's face seemed to quiver at that reminder, but it was gone soon enough. "But I'm me. I've always been the killer, the one with blood on his hands. But you… you've killed, yes, but you've never gone out of control like I have. You never signed up for this, I did. I came to Lian Yu already a killer, you came as an innocent idiot. Your heart is stronger than mine, purer too. I killed my first man and don't even lose a blink of sleep, but when you killed your first man you had nightmares for months. You're a better man than me, Oliver Queen. But if that Mirakuru stays in you, you'll lose everything good in you. Something that I never had. I was made to kill. You weren't. You were forged by Lian Yu to kill, but that doesn't mean you have to become me. I won't let you." Slade said emotionally.
"Slade…" Oliver whispered hoarsely, unable to comprehend –to accept- what Slade had just said. "Don't do this, please." But Oliver knew that the choice had been made; Slade would not give in no matter how hard he tried. He honestly wanted to hold the older man down and give him the cure, but he knew that wouldn't work.
But it just wasn't fair!
After everything they've done, after everything they've had gone through, it had led up to this disappointing moment where only one of them could be saved. Slade deserved the cure just as much as Oliver did, but had accepted the fact that the young archer would be the one to be given the cure.
"Slade…. Thank you…." Tears began to pool in his eyes, but Oliver did not wipe them away.
Sara slowly approached him, the cure in her hand.
"Are you ready?" Sara asked him, looking up at him.
Oliver tried to smile to show that he wasn't nervous, but he felt as though he couldn't even move. He was trembling a little, though maybe it was because of the Mirakuru wrestling with his will, it wanted to knock away the cure in Sara's hand. It was fighting, but Oliver fought back.
He wouldn't let the Mirakuru control him anymore. Finally, Oliver would be free from the Miracle and the curses it brought. He would no longer have to hear those voices that whispered in his ears with sweet, tantalizing offers that made him wonder of the possibilities.
He held out his arm, pulling back the sweaty bloodstained sleeve to reveal his skin. "Do it." Sara came up to him, the needle in her hand. She aimed it downwards, ready to inject him.
"We should-….." Oliver paused suddenly, jerking his arm away from the awaiting needle, whilst Slade's eyes narrowed. The two men looked at one another, obviously befuddled about something. They could hear a sound outside of the freighter, a whistling sound that seemed to be getting closer. Oliver didn't know what it was.
Slade figured it out first, his ASIS training kicking in when he recognized the sound for what it truly was. "Get down!" he screamed, lunging towards Shado.
Explosions rang throughout the Amazo, fire erupting, and metal torn apart almost instantaneously.
Oliver saw Slade grab Shado, wrapping his arms around her smaller form as though to act as a shield.
Sara was flung backwards, the syringe in her hand knocked away by the force of the explosion. Oliver watched, almost in slow motion, as the syringe with his salvation fell before him, but his eyes were drawn to Sara. He did the only thing that was on his mind, and grabbed Sara, letting the vial fall, and wrapped his arms around her to shield her.
He saw out of the corner of his eye that the syringe that held the cure to Mirakuru hit the floor. The vial burst open, the cure seeping out of it and into the cracks of the flooring.
The cure was gone.
His salvation destroyed.
He clung to Sara as he felt tremors shake the Amazo, rocking the freighter violently. He faintly felt something warm against him, flickering around him, searing his flesh. Fire.
The Amazo burst apart, breaking off into several pieces as explosions rang throughout the freighter. Sara clung to him as Oliver clung to her. Oliver was faintly aware that a part of his back was on fire. It didn't hurt him, but if the fire reached Sara…
There was another explosion.
A hole in the wall suddenly appeared, ripped through the metal plating. Immediately it was as though a floodgate had opened. The ocean burst into the room with the extreme force, pushing the four backwards with its terrible power.
The seawater rushed in, filling the room quickly. "Oliver!" Slade screamed as both he and Shado were swept under the water by the current, their forms disappearing in the seawater.
"Slade! Shado-" Oliver's scream was cut off as he was suddenly pulled under by the current, it was as though something had hooked onto his foot and was pulling him with the force of a god. As he was pulled towards the hole and the open ocean, his head hit against the metal wall, dazing him as he was carried. He faintly felt Sara struggling against his grip, trying to swim. His head ached and crimson flashed through his vision, stunning him. He faintly realized that he had let go of Sara, but he couldn't see where she was.
Oliver sank like a stone, stunned and dazed. Air bubbles were erupting from his mouth, and his lungs were burning. The Mirakuru was screaming in his ear, but it only further served to distract him. He stared upwards as he sank to the ocean floor, pinned down by ocean's massive weight. He could faintly see the Amazo sinking, broken apart like a destroyed toy. He couldn't see Shado. He couldn't see Slade. He couldn't see Sara.
He saw nothing but water and sand and air bubbles and darkness. He heard nothing but the rapid beating of his heart, thrumming painfully fast as though trying to burst out of his chest. He heard the Miracle shrieking within him, panicking and fearful.
Was this how he was going to die?
Oliver would have laughed if he had any air left within him. He was going to drown in the North China Sea, just as how he should have two years ago. The irony wasn't lost on him, if anything he found it morbidly amusing.
Well… it's one way to be cured, Oliver thought to himself as the darkness converged upon him. He faintly saw something on the ocean's surface, something that looked suspiciously like a boat. But it couldn't be. The Amazo had sunk; he could see its broken skeleton sinking alongside him.
Oliver felt the cold seep into his bones, washing away all his strength and will to fight. He was so tired.
Shado… Slade… Sara… Oliver thought to himself as the darkness overcame him, submerging his vision with eternal darkness. He felt himself floating, light and free.
Oliver fell unconscious at the bottom of the ocean floor.
Oliver could faintly hear distant sounds, muffled voices that seemed incomprehensible to Oliver's numb mind but were still apparent: the sound of water dripping slowly, the fast beating of his heart thundering in his head. He couldn't see, his eyelids were too heavy to open. He resigned himself to resting, believing that he was safe, that the freighter had been nothing more than a bad dream, that the missiles hadn't fallen and that he had not drowned in the ocean. And he believed it too.
But then he heard something that did not make sense.
A mixture of sounds that did not belong on Lian Yu: the sound of roaring cars, blaring music erupting from cheap stereos, a hundred conversations melded into a single dull murmur, the annoying sparking of a flickering light. It was the sound of life and civilization, which was certainly not Lian Yu.
Oliver leapt from the bed and grabbed the closest thing nearest as a weapon. The weapon of his choice happened to be a simple lamp. He accidently ripped the wire with his strength and sparks erupted from the outlet, but he paid it no mind. He shifted his fingers around the ceramic lightning fixture and looked around.
He was in a small room that looked like it belonged to a somewhat seedy apartment complex, a quick glance upwards showed electric lights and a spinning fan. The décor looked rather Asian in design, and Oliver spotted several books in Mandarin that he couldn't understand what they said. He was somewhere with electricity; Lian Yu didn't have that.
"Where the hell am I?" Oliver wondered as he stumbled through the room, still clutching onto the lamp. His head was ringing and throbbing as though he had drank several bottles of Vodka over the course of several minutes, and his throat felt as though sandpaper had been rubbed against it. The Mirakuru was silent, but Oliver could feel it at the edge of his subconscious, lurking like an unwanted shadow.
All Oliver could think of was Slade, Shado and Sara. They were all he thought about, though his current whereabouts was a bit of a curiosity to him.
The door opened, and Oliver held his weapon high above him, ready to smack the intruder with the lamp. He paused his advance, however, when he saw who had entered the room. It wasn't the clichéd mercenary armed to the teeth, it wasn't a madman like Ivo or a monster like Fryers. Instead it was a woman dressed in a sharp-looking suit and smiling a faintly smug smirk. He lowered the lamp ever so slightly.
The woman was unfamiliar to him. She had dark skin and her short hair done up in a simple, yet somehow elegant, bun. She wore dark red heels and an expensive suit. Everything about her stated punctual and refined, and Oliver was rather inclined to hit her with his lamp. That was, of course, until she spoke.
"Good morning, Mr. Queen."
The usage of his surname, and the simple fact that there were no guns aimed at him, made Oliver's tense form relax somewhat slightly, but only slightly. He had gone through too much to lower his guard now.
"Are you going to hit me with the lamp?" The woman asked with a raised brow.
"I'm debating it," Oliver replied truthfully, his voice hoarse from his near drowning. "It's not the best weapon, but I'm rather good at killing people in unorthodox ways."
"You're a rather interesting man, Oliver Queen." The unknown woman said this slowly, and Oliver wondered just what she meant. "We found you floating in the ocean, somehow alive despite the predator strikes we had used to destroy the Amazo."
It hadn't been random explosions that had separated Oliver from the rest, but predator strikes.
Just my luck, Oliver thought bitterly to himself. He stared at her, wondering if she was friend or foe; he was betting on the latter. "My friends?" His voice wavered, betraying the fear that had begun to build within him. Had they survived the predator strikes and the ocean currents? "They were with me, but the ocean…." He closed his eyes shut, clenching his fists tightly to his sides.
If they were dead, if he had lost his friends, his family, he would ensure that their deaths were not meaningless. He would kill this woman before him, the woman who had let those predator strikes go. The Mirakuru encouraged this, but Oliver didn't mind it for once. If Shado, Slade and Sara had died when their future had been so bright, when escape had been held in their hands, it wouldn't matter to Oliver if the Mirakuru took over again. Who would be left for him to care about? The phantom memories of his sister and mother, who lived on the other side of the world, wouldn't help him against the Miracle that had cursed him.
"They're alive, Mr. Queen."
Oliver's eyes snapped open, relief rushing through him. "Where are they?" He demanded, narrowing his eyes at the women who had quite literally bombed him and his friends. "Where's Sara, Slade and Shado?" He was trembling near the end, his fingers twitching.
The women looked at his hands with interest, she seemed to remain calm but Oliver could see the ever so slight tensioning in her shoulders, and how one of her hands casually moved behind her back to where a gun was no doubt holstered there. "There is no need for violence, Mr. Queen. I merely wish to talk."
"I don't want to talk. I want my friends."
The woman's eyes narrowed dangerously, and for a moment Oliver realized that this woman was someone who was not to be trifled with. "Follow me," she turned and left out of the doorway, leaving Oliver alone in the downtrodden room. For a moment Oliver debated on just taking a chance to run for it, but then he reminded himself that his friends might need him, and the woman knew where they were.
"Son of a bitch…" Oliver muttered as he left the room, "I'm already regretting this."
He opened the door that served as the exit in the other room, and was immediately blinded by the sunlight, causing him to raise his arm to cover his eyes. He immediately noticed the neon signs written in a language he recognized as Chinese, and saw the woman in the red heels standing before a car with two men at her side, both of them armed.
The woman regarded him for a moment, before slipping inside the car in the front seat. She looked at him through the open window, and simply said:
"Welcome to Hong Kong, Oliver Queen."
Oliver got into the car.
Wow. It's finished. I've just finished my first story ever on this site, and I'm rather proud of how it all played out. It took a year plus a couple months to finish, but here it is. Thank you so much for reading this story and for sticking with it this past year. I really hope you enjoyed it. Thank you.
And now onto some exciting news. You know why this chapter took so long to finish, aside from its massive length? I've been working on its sequel, a present day story that takes place in season 1 and onward, and the first chapter has been posted already by the time you read this. So if you are interested to see how this continues on in Starling City, where Oliver becomes the Hood but no longer alone in his crusade, than just head on over to my profile and click on the story.