Disclaimer: Arrow is owned by The CW, Berlanti Productions, and Warner Bros. Television. The characters of the Green Arrow and the Justice League is owned by DC Comics. I own nothing; I'm just playing in their universe.
Chapter 52: The Secret Origins of Mia Dearden Part III
August 15th, 2021
Roy Harper, also known as Arsenal, casually fingered the green fabric in his hands as he waited for the lift to arrive on the detention level. He thought back to all the times he saw his mentor, his brother, wearing that hood- from the moment he saved his life on that train all those years ago, right up to the moment he saw Oliver hand it to a distraught Thea. He sighed as the lift slowed and shoved the hood into his jacket pocket; he sighed again when the door opened to reveal one of his oldest friends.
"Roy." Dick Grayson said in greeting as he leaned against the wall.
"Richard." Roy replied, walking past him down the hall. Dick moved off the wall and fell into step next to him.
"So, I heard the most interesting rumor."
Roy glanced at Dick as the pair walked down the halls of the space station towards the detention level. "You know what they say about believing rumors." He said.
"Which is why I'm bringing it up to you." Dick replied. "You're really going to do it? Put her on the Titans?"
"Roy," Dick reached out and grasped Roy's arm, stopping him. "You know how this looks, right?"
"I don't care how it looks." Roy shot back.
Dick sighed. "I'm on your side, man. But sell me on this. Tell me why we should put the woman who murdered an entire family onto our team!"
Roy bristled. "It's worked out pretty well for Rose; I don't see why it couldn't work for Thea."
"They're two entirely different situations, Roy."
"How do you figure? Both were turned into killers by their fathers." Roy shot back.
Dick shook his head. "Rose was kidnapped by her father, drugged and brainwashed into becoming a killer. Thea voluntarily left with her father and allowed herself to be trained to become a killer."
"They're more alike than you think, Dick." Roy said. "You didn't' know her back then. Her brother comes back, but is distant and constantly lies to her. She had just found out that her mother lied to her about who her father was, and just before they could reconcile, her mother is murdered in front of her by a man Oliver lied about knowing. Then she finds out I've been lying to her for months. And so she turned to the one person who had actually been truthful to her- Malcolm." Roy sighed, shaking his head. "You say that Slade drugged and brainwashed Rose? Yes, he did." Roy conceded. "But Malcolm played upon the traumatized mind of a young girl who just wanted the truth, and used the truth to twist her into a monster that even Mirakuru couldn't create. She is a victim, Dick. She deserves a chance at redemption every bit as much as Rose does."
"Okay." Dick said. "But what about the fact that Thea- as Malika Sihème, fought the Titans over a dozen times? And what about the fact that she murdered- in cold blood- not only her brother, but his wife and unborn child?"
"Rose fought the Titans, too." Roy pointed out. "And while we still need to look into Felicity's death, you saw the tape on Oliver's, Dick. Malcolm used a command phrase. The League drills those commands into their initiates until they obey them without a second thought. Thea was just the weapon- Malcolm is the one who fired the arrow."
Dick looked at Roy for several seconds, and then nodded. "Okay. I'll back your play." He said. "But you know there will be several people who won't."
"I know; I already got one resignation." Roy said.
The two heroes looked down the hall to see Tim Drake storming towards them. Roy sighed. "And I'm betting here's another." He muttered to Dick before smiling at the approaching man. "Drake!"
"Is it true? Are you putting that psychotic bitch on my team?" Tim demanded.
"You'll have to narrow it down. There're so many now…"
"Merlyn!" Tim spat. "You're really doing it? Putting her on the Titans?"
"Why yes I am." Roy said, moving past Tim to head to the cell block. "On my way to do that now. Care to join me and welcome the newest member of the Titans' family?"
"Why are you doing this?" Tim asked.
"Because the Titans are about more than just being a finishing school for sidekicks." Roy replied. "It's also about being a family, and about helping those who fell back up again. It's about redemption."
"Really? I thought it was just about getting a piece of an ex-girlfriends ass." Tim said snidely, causing Roy to freeze. Dick let out a low moan and shook his head. "It'll be a cold day in hell before I put her on my team." Tim spat.
Roy turned back to Tim and gave him a polite smile. "In that case, I thank you for your service and wish you the best in your future endeavors."
Tim blinked. "What?" he asked dumbly.
"You're not as irreplaceable as you seem to think you are, Timmy." Roy said sarcastically. "There are plenty of other young heroes out there looking to learn leadership skills. And since you can't pull your head out of Dinah's crotch long enough to see the big picture, you're out."
Tim scoffed. "You think it'll just be me who leaves over this?" he demanded. "You won't have a team left."
"Oh, I know it won't be just you. Hell, you weren't even the first." Roy revealed. "Diggle tendered his resignation this morning; he's going to work for A.R.G.U.S. full time. Vic's moving up to the Justice League. Even Raven is taking some time for herself. And I doubt that Connor will stick around, especially since the last time Thea tangled with your team- and beat them, if I remember correctly- he took a hit from a Kryptonite Cannon. But, you know, every so often a good team needs to go through a rebuilding phase. And they usually come out stronger for it. So, I'm going to go start rebuilding. You, on the other hand, can take your little balls and go home." With that Roy spun and walked briskly towards the cell block, leaving a dumbfounded Tim behind.
Dick shook his head at the younger man in disappointment. "I thought you were supposed to be the smart one in the family?" he asked sarcastically.
Roy entered the cell blocks' observation room to find Stephanie Brown staring at the monitors. At the present, the only cell occupied in the block was cell number 5- Thea's cell.
"How's the prisoner?" he asked.
"Well, she's been staring at her hands for the past four hours." Stephanie replied. "Other than that…" she sighed. "You know, I keep staring at her, trying to see the monster that the others have made her out to be. And I just don't see it."
"What do you see?" Roy asked.
"A broken woman."
Roy smiled wanly. "You're not wrong."
"Are you going to try and put her back together?" Stephanie asked.
Roy nodded. "I am."
Stephanie gave him a tired smiled. "Well, Jason is mostly sane these days. And Rose is… tolerable." Then she frowned at the archer. "But is she pulls out another Kryptonite Cannon, I'm kicking her ass."
Roy chuckled. "Noted."
He left the observation room and walked into the cell block proper, moving quickly down the row until he stood in front of Thea's cell. He stood there for a moment in silence, considering the broken woman who sat there, staring at her hands. Finally, he spoke. "Hello, Thea."
Thea didn't look up. "Are you here to kill me?"
"No." Roy said, placing his hand on the scanner next to the cell. "Gideon, open up cell five." The electric barrier fizzled off, and Roy stepped inside the cell, dropping down onto the cot opposite from Thea. "It's been a while." He began.
Thea scoffed quietly. "Since we last saw each other, or since I was trying to kill you?" she asked.
Thea chuckled mirthlessly. "Why aren't you going to kill me, Roy?" she asked after a moment.
"Wrong League." He replied.
"After everything I've done, the lives I've taken…." Thea shook her head. "I should take a long walk out a short airlock."
"You think that's what your brother would have wanted?" Roy asked.
"What does it matter? I killed him."
"No, Malcolm killed him."
"I shot him with an arrow-" Thea began to argue, but Roy cut her off.
"Malcolm ordered you to fire. And those commands you were trained to obey." Roy said. "You were the bow. Malcolm took the shot."
"Does that absolve me of my guilt?" Thea demanded, finally looking at her ex-boyfriend. "Does that wash away all the blood on my hands? Because I can still see it! Every time I close my eyes, I see his body at my feet! Or Felicity's!" she leaned forward. "You can blame Malcolm all you want, but at the end of the day I made the decision to leave with him. I made the decision to let him train me! I made the decision to join the League of Assassins!"
"And what would have happened to you if you hadn't joined, Thea? They would have killed you! That's not a choice, that's a lack of options!" Roy shot back. He sighed, rubbing his hand over his face. "We can play the blame game all day long. It's your fault for leaving with Malcolm. It's your mothers fault for not telling you about Malcolm in the first place. It's my fault for lying to you. But at the end of the day, none of it matters anymore. What's done is done."
Thea sighed wearily and sat back against the wall. "So what happens now? I spend the rest of my life here? Or did Tim develop a sense of humor and demand I be sent to Arkham?"
Roy scoffed. "You know that will never happen."
"What, me go to Arkham?"
Roy shook his head. "No, Tim developing a sense of humor." That got a chuckle out of the former assassin. "No, Thea. I've devised a different sentence for you. One that adhered more to Oliver's last wish for you." Seeing that he got her undivided attention, he continued. "You're being placed on the Titans."
Thea snorted. "I bet Tim loves that." She said sarcastically.
"Tim quit. So did Dig." Roy revealed. "I'm guessing we'll have a few more people leave, but it was time to build a new team, anyways. You will be confined to the tower at all times except for missions. You will be monitored by nanites at all times. It will be up to you to build trust with the team, and if you behave and follow all the rules we will set for you- and there will be a LOT of rules- you will earn parole in 7-10 years. You will also be receiving a full debriefing on this station prior to being injected with the nanites. That debrief will consist of your memories of the last ten years being recorded and a panel including myself reviewing them."
"You can do that?" Thea asked in surprise.
"Baby, we're the Justice League. We can do anything." He replied with a cocky smile.
Thea snorted in amusement. "You still haven't given up on me, have you?" she asked quietly.
Roy smiled. "Never." He said, and then stood. Thea chuckled, and then rose to her feet as well. Roy hesitated, but Thea obediently held out her hands to be cuffed. Roy did so with an apologetic look on his face. "Just 'till we're done with the debrief and get the nanites in you." He promised. He paused again, and then withdrew the green hood from his pocket. "Oliver believed you could be saved, Thea. He believed you could be a good person. I believe that, too." He held out the hood to her.
Thea looked at the hood for a few moments, the shook her head. "I'm not worthy of that hood, Roy. I don't know if I'll ever be."
Roy smiled faintly, and then put the hood back into his pocket. "I believe you will be, Thea. But until that day, I'll just hold on to it. Though I guess we'll have to see about getting you a new uniform now. You're LOA gear just won't cut it. And Malika Sihème is a horrible name."
"So who am I, Roy?" Thea asked. "For ten years, all I've known is Malika Sihème. But she died with Malcolm. Thea Merlyn died as well. And I haven't been Thea Queen in a long, long time."
Roy considered her for a moment. "Well, who do you want to be?" he asked.
She considered for a minute. "Mia." She finally said. "Mia Dearden."
Laurel handed her father a cup of tea, then took a seat across from him. They were in her quarters, sitting at the small table and staring out the window at Earth- a view they wouldn't see again for over a decade, if ever.
"Laurel, I already promised to give up drinking." Quentin complained, sniffing the tea. "But do you have to torture me with this stuff?"
"Shut up and drink your tea, dad." Laurel said with a smirk as she sipped her own cup. "It's good for you."
Quentin grimaced as he forced the liquid down. "Good for me, not so good for my taste buds."
"You meant what you said? You'll start going to meetings?" Laurel persisted.
"I'll go to two meetings if you never serve me this crap again."
The door chimed, and the pair looked over as it opened to reveal Sara. She smiled at seeing her dad trying to choke down tea. "Mind if I join you?" she asked.
"Depends. What you got there?" Quentin asked, noticing her carrying something. Sara smiled and lifted a six pack of Coca-Cola in bottles. "Hell, yes." Quentin said, putting his tea down and reaching for a soda.
"Suck up." Laurel said, hiding her smile behind her cup. Sara laughed and handed her father a soda.
"Shut up and let me enjoy this." Sara said, taking a seat. "I haven't had a quiet family night in a long time."
"Dinah doesn't go for Sunday dinners?" Laurel asked.
Sara chuckled. "Don't know if you noticed, Laurel. But you turned into kind of a bitch." Laurel snorted.
"Knock it off, you two." Quentin said with a grin.
"Yes, dad." They replied
Thea had tried to go to sleep, but her mind was running at a mile a minute. Thoughts of her future- the future she wanted, the future she saw- kept flashing before her eyes. There was a part of her- a small part, that was thankfully getting smaller- that wanted to re-break her mirror and finish what she had started a few days ago. But how could she do that to her mother? Or to Oliver- how would he react when he finally came home to find out his baby sister killed herself? So instead she put those thoughts aside, locked away in the back of her mind as she thought of what to do.
A chime sounded, and Thea sighed. She figured it was Felicity, trying to get her to open up again. But when she opened the door, she was surprised to find not Felicity, but a blonde haired man with mocha-colored skin.
"Uh, can I help you?" she asked uncertainly. She sensed something familiar about him, but couldn't put her finger on it.
The man smiled. "Hi. My name is Connor Hawke. Oliver Queen was my dad."
Thea blinked. "You… you're the kid…"
"Yup." He said. "May I come in?"
Thea hastily moved aside and Connor stepped into the room. "I wanted to talk to you before you left." He started. "I also wanted to see what you looked like young. I have to say, you've aged remarkably well."
"Well, there's a positive." Thea said sarcastically. She eyed her nephew. "So, you're a superhero too? Are we a whole family of capes?"
"Pretty much." Connor said with a chuckle. "I guess we found our calling in life." He led her to her bed and sat down beside her on the edge. "Look, I know you've seen more than everyone else," he began, ignoring her sigh, "and I know what you have seen has disturbed you. You wouldn't be human if it hadn't. But when you go back, I don't want that to define the rest of your life. Remember that this is only one possible future, and that by viewing these memories, this will all be different. I will be different, Oliver will be different- and you will be different."
Thea chuckled darkly. "I can't believe that you are the one comforting me." She confessed. "I killed your father, for Christ's sake."
"No, MIA killed my father. And guess what? I've forgiven her for it." At her shocked look, he nodded. "I have. I've forgiven her, and we have a strong relationship today because of that. But here's the thing- and it's something you have to understand. You are NOT HER. You are not Mia Dearden, you are Thea Queen. And you will go home tomorrow and make a future where Mia Dearden doesn't exist, You will grow to be the woman that Mia should have been."
"What if I'm not strong enough?" Thea asked softly.
"Thea, you are the strongest person I know, no matter how old you are." Connor told her sincerely. "You will go back and do big things. I believe in you, Thea." He smiled. "We all do."
Malcolm stood silently in the darkened room, looking down on the Earth as it slowly spun in space. But he wasn't admiring the view; instead he was thinking about the last twenty years of his life, about the cause he had dedicated it to-
About all the time he wasted. And the harm that he caused.
Deep in thought though he was, he still had excellent situational awareness. "Couldn't sleep, Moira?" he turned to see the Queen matriarch standing at the doorway.
"I didn't mean to disturb you." She began.
Malcolm chuckled. "You didn't."
Moira nodded and moved into the room, coming to stand next to him as she gazed out the window. "This truly is a magnificent view." She remarked.
"One of many gifts we've been given in this endeavor." He remarked. They stood in silence for several minutes. Finally, Malcolm turned to Moira. "I cannot begin to apologize—"
"No, you can't." Moira said stiffly. She turned to face him with narrowed eyes. "Robert was your friend- your BEST friend, you've said, and you didn't hesitate to have him killed for this lunacy. And then you bring me in, hanging the threat of death over my daughter. I have lived in fear for the past five years, Malcolm. And no apologies or platitudes will make up for that."
"I know." Malcolm said quickly. "And I know it doesn't mean anything to you, but killing Robert was the hardest decision I ever had to make. And now, to know it was unnecessary… to understand, finally, that he was trying to save me from myself… I will have to live with that guilt for the rest of my life. But I promise you, Moira. I will do whatever it takes to see that Oliver is successful in his mission. That he becomes the man he's destined to become. I will help him save our city."
Moira nodded, and then turned her attention back to the Earth below. "I am sorry they couldn't save Rebecca." She said at length.
"Perhaps that's my penance." Malcolm replied.
They stared at the Earth, both lost in thought.
The three Lances chatted amicably, all three knowing it may very well be the last time all three of them were in the same room. "Sara, I have to ask," Laurel began hesitantly. "What happened to you after the freighter? How did you survive? How—"
"How did I end up with the League?" Sara finished knowingly. "Yeah, I thought you'd be curious. You wouldn't be you if you weren't." Sara leaned over and placed her hand on the screen of the small computer on the table. "Gideon, pull the file on Sara Lance. Chapter marker LY-52."
FIVE YEARS AGO
Sara broke the surface of the water, gasping for air. Frantically she looked around, first seeing the 'Amazo' as is started sinking deeper into the bay, and it's back broken. She spun and finally caught site of the shore of Lian Yu, and desperately started swimming towards the beach. After two minutes of swimming that left her muscles aching and her lungs burning, she finally managed to stagger onto the shore.
"I spent a year on that island trying to survive, but I wasn't alone." Sara continued. "A couple of the 'Amazo's crew made it to shore as well, and they found me immediately." She shuddered. "I don't know how long they held me captive; the days started to blur. And the things they did…" her eyes had a haunted look in them, and without saying it both Laurel and Quentin knew what had happened. Sara shook her head. "I was able to slip away one night. I managed to make my way back to the plane, and I grabbed up all the supplies I could find before moving to the cave that Oliver had told me about. That was the cave that Yao Fei hid in. For the next several weeks I concentrated on surviving. I steered clear of the pirates as much as I could, but then one day we all kind of stumbled onto one another. I managed to kill one, then I took off running back to the beach.
FIVE YEARS AGO
Sara ran like the devil was behind her- and in a real way, he was. She ran through the forest, dodging around trees and rocks, turning back, then making sharp turns to make her trail as hard to follow as possible. Finally she broke though the foliage and onto the beach, where she collapsed in exhaustion. She spent several minutes laying there, but she knew that danger was still close by. So she stood back up, eagerly pulling more air into her lungs- but then the air was forcefully expelled as she was driven back down to the ground by the charging pirate. Sara felt a searing pain as the knife the crazed man held slipped into her side, and then her world turned black as she hit the ground hard. On instinct she started to roll, desperately trying to get the man off of her. She managed to break his grip on the knife, and in desperation she grabbed the handle, ripped it out of her side, and slammed it into his throat. He gurgled in shocked pain, staggering back away from her. Sara glanced around and saw a discarded AK-47 and quickly scrambled for it. She grabbed the grip and turned back to the pirate, who had yanked the knife out of his throat. One hand held the gushing wound closed, while the other brought up the knife to drive down a killing stroke.
"You…. bitch!" he gurgled, staggering forward as Sara brought the gun to bear…
Then suddenly there was an arrow in the man's hand, forcing him to drop the knife. Before he could even whimper in pain, two more arrows impaled him from behind, killing him. Sara looked at the arrows in shock, noticing their red fletching's on black shafts, then past them at the woman who had fired them. She was clothed in black, with red markings on her shoulders and a veil covering the lower half of her face under her black hood. Sara raised the gun at the woman as she came closer.
"I'll shoot you!" she warned weakly. "I mean it! Stay away!" she coughed, feeling the blood seeping out of her side as the woman came closer.
"I have no doubt that you would, not that it would make a difference." The woman said, continuing to come closer.
Sara steeled her nerves, lifted the barrel, and pulled the trigger.
The gun clicked.
Sara looked at it in disbelief as the other woman chuckled. "That gun has been lying on the beach for weeks. Even if it were still loaded, the amount of sand in the breach would clog the gun up, rendering it useless." She explained.
Sara sighed in defeat. "Oh, for fuck's sake…" she tossed the gun away. "Fine, whatever. Just kill me already."
The woman stopped and knelt beside Sara. "I have no desire to kill you, young one."
Sara blinked, trying to clear the haze from her vision. Even with the veil, Sara could make out some of the details of her face. "You look barely older than me."
The woman chuckled. "I'm older than I look." Her face hardened. "I am here for a man named Anthony Ivo. Tell me where he is, and I will ease your suffering."
Sara dropped her head to the sand; she didn't have the energy to hold it up anymore. "I don't deserve to have it eased." She said bitterly. "Anyways it doesn't matter. Anthony is dead, and his work is destroyed. If you're looking for the Mirakuru, don't bother. It's gone, too. Burned…." Sara chuckled, which turned into a cough. "I'll be burning soon, too…."
The woman looked at her curiously. "What is your name?" she asked finally.
Sara looked at her, noticing how pretty her eyes were. "Sara." She said weakly. "Sara Lance." Suddenly she surged up, grasping the woman's jacket. "I'm from Starling City, in America. Please, if you can, please find my family. Please tell them I'm sorry…" her energy spent, Sara sank back down onto the sand. "Tell them I loved them…"
The woman considered Sara for a moment. "I don't think your story is over yet, Miss Lance." She said. "I see strength in you, and determination. I see in you the will to survive." She withdrew a small dart and held it up for Sara to see. "This is a tranquilizer. It will slow your body's functions long enough for me to get you to treatment. Once you are stronger, we will talk more."
"About what?" Sara asked.
"About how much you desire to survive."
Sara's eyes narrowed. "Who are you?"
The woman removed her veil and pulled down her hood, fully revealing her face to Sara. "I am Nyssa, daughter of Ra's al Ghul, Heir to the Demon."
Sara's lips quirked. "Bit of a mouth full."
Nyssa gently inserted the needle into Sara's neck. The blonde winced, but was soon unconscious. "We will talk more." she promised again.
"Mistress!" Nyssa looked up to see Al Ow-al moving towards her. "Aircraft approach!"
"Who?" she called back.
"Military. Possibly A.R.G.U.S." he replied.
Nyssa nodded. "Pull our men back to the boat. We will remain until we have an opportunity to slip away undetected. Then we shall return to Nanda Parbat."
"What of our mission here?" he asked.
"Ivo is dead, the Mirakuru destroyed. And we have no quarrel with the other force on this island." Nyssa revealed. "Our mission was completed for us. This girl will know more; she comes with us."
Al Ow-al nodded. "As you say."
Nyssa lifted Sara up bridal style and moved back towards her boat. "You're story has just begun, Sara Lance."
"Nyssa patched me up." Sara continued. "She brought me back to Nanda Parbat, gave me the opportunity to join the League."
"It wasn't an opportunity; it was a lack of options." Lance grumbled.
"Maybe." Sara conceded. "And there were times I hated it. Heck, you saw me leave. But the League, and Nyssa, helped make me the person I am today. And I'll forever be grateful for it."
"You miss her." Laurel realized.
Sara smiled sadly. "Every day." She sighed. "Look, I know when you get back the first thing you'll want to do is find me, but you can't."
"You already told us." Laurel reminded her. "And I already promised not to go looking."
Sara chuckled. "Just making sure you remembered. But there is one thing- Mom. She is still looking for me, and that puts her in danger from the League." She reached into her pocket and pulled out what appeared to be a flash drive. "I recorded a message for her. I want her to have some peace at least, even if she can't have me." She held out the drive, and Laurel took it.
"We'll give it to her, I promise." Laurel told her sister, then pulled her in for a hug. A moment later, Quentin joined the pair, and they stayed that way for some time, enjoying the silence.
While Roy had monitor duty, Mia stayed in their quarters with Lian. She smiled as the young girl colored and hummed softly to herself. The door chimed, and she called out "Enter!" The door opened and, to her surprise, Thea stood there.
Lian gave Thea a toothy smile. "Hi! Do you want to color with me?"
Thea smiled. "Maybe in a minute." She said. "First I got to talk to your mom, okay?"
Mia gestured with her head, and the two women moved into the bedroom area. "What's on your mind? Besides the obvious?" she asked.
"Well, Connor paid me a visit." Thea said. "And he basically told me to pull my head from my ass, though he was incredibly polite about it."
Mia laughed. "Yeah. Thank god he took after his mother. And thank the monks he stayed with for a time."
Thea blinked. "Monks?"
Mia nodded. "Connor stayed in an Ashram for a time. It really brought out his inner Zen. But that's not why you wanted to talk to me, I think."
"It wasn't I was thinking about her, actually." Thea said, looking at Lian. "If we change the future, she may not exist anymore. And I was thinking… if you wanted, we could… take her back with us. I mean, I'm in no way ready to be a mom, and I have so much going on in my head, but…."
Mia smiled softly at her younger self. "Thea." She said, cutting her off gently. "No one really knows how this will work on this end." She admitted. "Some say that, as soon as we send you back, all of this will cease to exist and be replaced by another reality. Others theorize that, when we send you back, that will create an alternate timeline, but this timeline will continue on. And if that's what happens, and I send my daughter back with you," she shook her head. "I wouldn't be able to live with myself. And, as you have seen what I've done, that's saying something."
"And if this all goes away?" Thea asked. "Are you willing to sacrifice her? The one good thing in your life?"
Mia sighed tiredly. "I've made a lot of mistakes, Thea. I've done a lot of bad things. I've fought on both sides of a war, and made decisions that both saved and ended lives. If there is one thing I've learned, and one thing I hope you understand- there is no victory without sacrifice." She looked fondly at her daughter. "I hope things are better when you get back, Thea. And I hope she comes into your life sooner. Just," she added with a smile, "not too soon. But for now, why don't we go help her color?" she suggested, taking Thea's hand and leading her back towards her- their- daughter.
The day of departure dawned early for the viewing group. Everyone woke up to find the clothes they had arrived in freshly cleaned and sitting folded on their dressers. Everyone dressed slowly, each trying to take as much time as possible to continue processing everything they had seen. In her quarters Thea finished dressing, and then looked at herself in the mirror. She stared at herself for a full minute, trying to find the girl who had arrived at the station just a few weeks ago.
"Who are you?" she whispered to her reflection. It didn't reply.
Twenty minutes later, they were all back in the transporter room. Mia, Sara, Zatanna, J'onn and Roy were there to see everyone off. As those from the past stood before those from the future, Mia walked right up to Malcolm. "Tell me you learned from this, Dad." She said calmly. "Tell me that you won't make those same mistakes again. Tell me you're a changed man."
Malcolm looked his daughter directly in her eyes- eyes that were so similar to his own. "I swear to you, I will do everything in my power to help your brother save our city. I will atone for my sins, I swear on my life."
"Good. Now swear on mine." Mia said coldly.
Malcolm nodded. "Very well. I swear on my life, and the lives of my children."
Mia stared at him for several long moments, and then looked back at J'onn, who nodded. She looked back to Malcolm. "Okay, I'll hold you to that. Just remember- you step out of line, Mom will place a call to Nanda Parbat." She paused in thought. "Or the Triad."
Malcolm smirked. "I have no doubt."
Mia turned back to the Martian Manhunter. "J'onn, Zee, I don't think we'll need you—"
Mia turned in surprise to face her younger self. "Can she just wipe certain memories? Specific ones, not everything?" Thea asked.
Mia's eyes narrowed. "Is there something you'd like to forget?"
Thea nodded. "Yeah." She said, pointing to Roy. "Him."
Roy started in surprise. "I'll try not to take offense to that." He said glibly.
"Why—" Mia started. She was so sure Thea would want to forget her killing Oliver; this however was a complete surprise.
"Because when I meet him again- and I'm fairly certain I will- I want it to be for the first time." Thea replied. "I don't want to feel like I'm forcing things to happen the same way again; I want it to happen naturally." She looked steadily at her elder self. "I don't want any relationship we have to be built on lies and half-truths."
Zatanna smiled. "I can do that." She said. "Probably the only time I'll like removing memories. But I should warn you- the amount of memories I'll be removing or modifying, you'll notice. You'll know something is missing."
"And for it to work, we can't tell you what." Felicity said, and then snapped her fingers. "I got it. Roy, leave." She said, pulling out her phone.
Roy chuckled. "I'll head up to control to oversee the transport." He said. With that, he turned and left.
Once the doors were closed, Felicity unlocked her phone and hi the camera app. Selecting video, she turned the lens onto herself and began recording. "Uh… hi! This is Felicity Smoak, stardate…." She looked over to Mia. "What's the stardate?" she asked.
Mia chuckled. "No idea. But the date is July 27, 2039."
"Oh." Felicity said. "That's kind of disappointing. Anyway, I'm here with Laurel and Quentin Lance," she began panning the phone over the entire group, "Tommy and Malcolm Merlyn, John Diggle, J'onn J'onnz, Zatanna Zatara, Mia Dearden, Sara Lance—"
"What's crackin', little bitches?" Sara joked. Mia groaned.
"And Moira and Thea Queen." She continued. "Thea has just requested that certain memories be redacted, so as to not ruin the experience. Though there are a few more memories I think she should have removed." Felicity added under her breath. She aimed the phone at Thea.
"Oh!" she said, catching on. "Uh, I, Thea Queen, being of sound mind—"
"Debatable." Mia quipped. Thea flipped her off.
"— hereby give Zatanna Zatara permission to wipe a few memories from my mind. And if she'd add 12th grade calculus, that'd be great."
"Absolutely not." Moira said sternly.
"Sorry, kid." Zatanna said with a smile as Felicity turned off her phone. The magician led her over to the corner of the room.
A short time later, a slightly dazed Thea rejoined the group. "You okay?" Mia asked.
"I feel like I have a four alarm hangover." Thea groaned.
"Oh, and here I had forgotten all about your copious use of alcohol and drugs." Moira said. "Thank you for reminding me that I have to ground you."
"You could always invite over the Bowens. Though I think that moves past punishment and into torture." Thea snarked.
"Sure you don't want a little more taken off the top?" Mia offered.
Thea looked back at her with steely eyes. "Some things I need to remember."
Mia nodded. "Okay. Then let's get started." Mia walked over to Diggle. "John, there are some things I wasn't allowed to talk to you about- including the death of your brother. There are too many fixed points in time associated with it." She handed him a USB drive. "But there is the pertinent information on H.I.V.E. Make good use of it."
Diggle smiled in gratitude. "I will." He promised. Mia gestured and he made his way onto the transport dais. "Guess I'll see you all on the other side." He said.
"We'll be in contact soon." Moira promised. A steady hum built up, then there was a flash of light- and Diggle was gone.
"Felicity." Mia said. The hacker paused briefly to hug Thea, then moved to Mia and hugged her as well. "I don't blame you." She whispered. When she pulled back, Mia's eyes were noticeably wetter.
Felicity bounded up onto the transport dais. "Beam me down, Scotty!" she called out glibly. "Sorry, I had to do it at least once." She said over the laughter. A moment and a flash of light later, and she was gone.
"Tommy." Mia said. Her brother came up to her.
"Uh, do I have to sit down or something? I mean, I was in my car, and I arrived sitting…"
"Mia waved him off. "Oh, no. I just did that to mess with you." She revealed, causing more laughter.
"Brat." Tommy said good-naturedly. He gave her a hug.
"I'm so glad I got to see you again." She said.
"I'm glad I got to meet you." He replied. A moment later, he was gone.
"Dad, Laurel." Sara said. She hugged them both.
"I don't want to let you go!" her dad cried softly.
"Even if we never see one another again, just know that I love you all very much." She told him. "You are always in my thoughts." She turned to Laurel. "Remember your promise." She reminded again.
"Yeah, yeah." Laurel said, pulling her in for one more hug. After a few more moments, the pair headed up to the transporter. Another flash of light, and they were gone.
By now, Mia was openly crying. "Mom." She said brokenly, and the elder woman hugged her fiercely. "I never got the chance to tell you how much I loved you." She sobbed.
"Oh, my beautiful girl," Moira said, pulling back and wiping away Mia's tears. "I always knew." She kissed her on the forehead, and then moved up to the dais.
Mia looked to her younger self. "Be better than me." She said simply.
"I will be." Thea replied. She then joined her mother on the transporter pad. Mia nodded to the pair, and then in a flash, they were gone.
Mia looked at her father. "You better prove me right, old man." She said, sniffling. "Be the man I know you can be. Be the father she deserves."
"I give you my word I will try." Malcolm said. "I will try to my final breath." The two hugged.
Malcolm pulled away and walked resolutely up to the transporter pad as Mia hit a switch on a small black box on her belt. "Roy," she called out, "Send him home."
Hold onto your butt, Merlyn. Roy said jovially. A hum, a flash, and he was gone.
Mia sighed, then stepped away from the pad and moved to the large window that overlooked the Earth. There she stood and prayed for a better tomorrow.
In his small apartment, John Diggle appeared in a flash. A moment of dizziness and nausea passed through him, but he quickly regained his bearings. Looking around he found his clock, and noted in amazement that it was only five minutes before he had to leave for another day of guarding another trust fund brat- just as it had been when he was taken. He looked down at the USB drive in his hand, and then reached for his phone. He wouldn't be needing that job anymore.
In her small office in Queen Consolidated's IT department, Felicity appeared in a flash. A second later, her earpiece beeped with an incoming call. "Hello?" she said after tapping the device. "Oh, sorry Marv. We got disconnected. Just pull the hard drive." She hung up, and then sank down into her chair, lost in thought.
On Adams Street, Tommy appeared in his Lamborghini Diablo. He sat there for a moment. Still trying to process, when a small blast of lights and a siren jolted him back to the present. He noticed the cop, and then noticed the green light he was sitting at. Waving an apology at the officer, Tommy shifted into gear.
Quentin and Laurel appeared back in her apartment. Any argument they were having before was gone, though, and the two sat own on her couch, both lost in thought.
Moira and Thea appeared back in the sitting room of Queen Manor. The first thing they noticed was that it seemed to be a little later than when they were taken. The second thing they noticed was that they weren't alone.
"Moira?" Walter said in a shocked voice.
"Walter." Moira said a tired smile on her face. "I'm glad you're here."
"There's quite a few things we need to discuss." She said, and then indicated Thea. "All of us. And I suppose there is no time like the present."
Malcolm appeared back in his office and stood motionless for a few moments, trying to reacclimatize to being back in his office, in his domain. Absently he noted the annoyed voices coming over the phone, so he reached over and hung up. He moved over to the large windows and stared out over Starling City- HIS city, and wondered.
"Mr. Merlyn?" Doris Cartwright, his longtime assistant called out as she came into the office. "Is something wrong? The Beijing subsidiary just called me, and they were irate—"
"Cancel my meetings for the rest of the day- no, week." He said, cutting her off. "Cancel everything. Something important has come up that I need to tend to personally."
"What's so important?" Doris wondered.
"The future." He replied, and then turned his attention back to the city before him. He had work to do.
About two years ago I was a burned out fanfiction author who had just gotten into Arrow. I started reading a little story on Fanfiction . Net called 'A Selective Gathering' by Revenant-Commander, and suddenly my imagination took off once more, and my desire to write came roaring back. And so now here we are- a year and half, 52+ chapters, and over 1000 reviews later as we come to the end of Past is Prologue. I want to thank everyone who has read this story, everyone who has reviewed, and all of the people who have inspired and helped me write this monster. This has been the most enjoyable writing experience I've ever had. There have been so many people who have reviewed, and so many who I've had long, detailed conversations with, and I know I'm going to forget a bunch, but let me take a monent to thank CG, TTrunks, LycoX, Dante 101, changingdestiny40, Philipe363, JT 45, Allen Pitt, alayneni, David Knight, KylieCullenSummers, TheLadyMuse, gammaxmen80, Jordannzy, Aret67, Sean Malloy-1, Superstar Kid, cmtaylor531, LexyCPD, LadyDeb1970, Timeless, and of course Revenant-Commander.
Now, you may be asking "Naitch, what's next?" Well, if you're asking that, you haven't been reading my author's notes for the past 6 months. First up will be what I've been calling the 'Bridge Stories'. These stories will bridge between this story and its sequel. Originally I only had 2 planned, but as I started writing I decided to give each viewers view-point upon returning before laying out their plan for when Oliver comes back. So first up will be 'My Name Is...- A Prequel to A Future Imperfect', a collection of ficlets from (almost) each member of the viewing party. Second will be 'Sin- A Prequel to A Future Imperfect', and will introduce the character of Sin into my universe and bring her into the fold. And then there will be:
A Future Imperfect: Sequel to Past is Prologue- They know the future, now they just have to change it. As Oliver returns from his five year exile, his new allies- many of which he doesn't know exist- maneuver themselves into his life to help him become the hero he is destined to be. But old enemies are surfacing, determined to destroy The Arrow- and all who would help him. A wholly original story featuring characters from the DC universe.
Well, that's the good news. The bad news is that, once again, I have no intention of posting until I have a healthy amount of chapters in the can- and I have none. I have only begun final plotting of the story to maintain a cohesion that this story lacked, so you're looking at 6 months or more, to be honest.
And actually, I have a timeframe in mind now:
The Bridge stories will be posted during the mid-season hiatus, and the sequel will be posted at the end of Season 4.
Until then, we'll meet again… some sunny day….