The next morning, Roy avoided Oliver. It wasn't hard. The house was big enough that he could keep from seeing his mentor for days. Roy's head was in the fridge when movement caught his eye. He cursed himself for letting someone sneak up on him. He glared at the intruder, who in turn smiled back at him.
"So, your plan was to ambush me in the kitchen for another therapy session?" Roy retorted. He debated leaving the food behind and escaping to his bedroom, but he figured Dinah would just follow him. He didn't want to look like he was retreating either.
"I hope that's not what you think I'm doing," Dinah said, a trace of hurt in her voice. Roy felt guilty. Dinah had been nothing but kind to him in all the time he had known her.
"What are you doing?" Roy didn't make eye contact as he piled food on his plate and went to the kitchen.
Dinah waited until he sat before speaking. "I do want to help, if you'll let me."
Roy ate in silence and Dinah let him. She showed no sign of impatience. Roy bet that she would wait until the world ended if that's how long it took him to open up. Not for the first time, respect and affection for this woman filled Roy. Oliver hit the jackpot when Dinah came into his life. He hoped that the old man realized how lucky he was.
"A memory of Cadmus surfaced," Roy said before he had fully decided if he was going to share that information.
Dinah looked intrigued. "What was it about?"
Roy looked at his plate as he recounted the memory aloud. "So, I wondered I should expect more memories," he concluded.
Dinah considered it before speaking. "If we look at this as a case of repressed memories, then it is possible, but it's not guaranteed," she said carefully.
"Would there be any way to force the memories to the surface?" Roy asked.
"Some people have had luck with hypnosis," Dinah said."Would you be willing to try that?"
Roy felt ill at ease for having someone else watching him when he was vulnerable, but he reminded himself why he was doing this. A memory might reveal a clue on Speedy's whereabouts, allowing him to rescue the young hero and take down Cadmus. Besides, this was Dinah. He had known her for years and he trusted her more than he trusted most people nowadays. "Okay, let's do it." He pushed his plate away. "What do I do?"
"Relax, and trust me," she said. She moved her chair so she was facing him more squarely. "Close your eyes. Breathe." Dinah saw that Roy's leg began to bounce nervously and she placed her hand firmly on his knee. "You're safe. Nothing is going to hurt you here," she reassured and then removed her hand.
Roy let out a huff of annoyance, more at himself than anything. He forced himself to concentrate.
"Think back to the other memories. Replay them in your head, but try to actually be there, living it."
The young man envisioned the scene, hearing the scientists talk, feeling the smooth glass on his hands. "Got it," he said quietly.
"Good. Now think of the information you want. Don't push, just guide."
Roy felt himself float towards other memories. Suddenly, he was hit at once with too many of them- images and sounds and sensations all washing over him at once, pulling him down, drowning him in a cacophony that he couldn't escape...
"Roy? Roy, open your eyes. Roy!" The young man's eyes opened to see Dinah's concerned face peering worriedly at him. His chest hurt and he inhaled sharply. At some point, he must have stopped breathing. He placed a hand on his chest, feeling his rapid pulse, and tried to remind his heart and lungs to return to normal.
After a few minutes, the young man realized that Dinah's hand was on his shoulder. "I'm okay," he said, even though he wasn't sure if he really was okay.
Dinah waited another few seconds before asking, "What happened?"
"Too many memories at once. I got overwhelmed." Roy was impressed with how calmly he said that. His heart was still beating too fast for his liking. He stood. "I think I'm going to lie down for awhile, get my thoughts back in order."
"That's a good idea," Dinah said. She stood also, as if to escort him to his room.
"I've got it," he said, flashing her a reassuring smile.
"Okay, but you know I'll be close by if you need me," she said.
"Thanks," Roy said sincerely, then gave her a hug. "For everything." He went upstairs and collapsed on his bed. Thoughts swirled around in his head. He let them. Sometime later, either minutes or hours, a single thought pushed past all the others. The current location of Cadmus, of Speedy. He would leave now, before Dinah or Oliver came to check on him. This was something he needed to do on his own.
He was going to Chicago.
Red Arrow suited up and packed light- an overnight bag with the essentials, and his bow and arrows. Thank goodness for zeta tubes. It would have been interesting getting his weapon through airport security. He left his cell phone and comm at Oliver's place. He didn't want the other heroes following him. Roy did leave a note saying that he would contact them when he found Speedy. He slipped out of the mansion without anyone, superhero or civilian, seeing him.
When he reached Chicago, he was forced to wander the streets, waiting for something to feel familiar. It was not a quick process. At one point he stopped to get something to eat from a twenty-four hour cafe. The clock read just after midnight. The food gave him energy to continue looking for another couple of hours. Just when he decided he would give it twenty more minutes before returning to Star City to regroup, Roy felt déjà vu. He didn't know if he had ever been to the Cadmus building in Chicago, but he trusted his instincts. The organization had programmed him with memories and orders. What was to stop them from putting a kind of homing beacon in him, so he would return to their clutches?
But Roy was not going to allow himself to be a prisoner again. He took out the security cameras with trick arrows that released foam. He picked the lock and entered, happy to find that no alarm sounded. That didn't mean there wasn't a silent alarm though, so he stayed alert.
He found the stairs and went down two flights before running into guards in the stairwell. He dispatched both of them easily before they could radio for backup. Red Arrow smiled to himself as he opened the door to the hallway. He was really going to do this. He didn't need Green Arrow or anyone to back him up.
The scene on the other side of the door made his smile disappear. There were ten scientists and twice as many guards in the hallway. One of the guards looked up to see him and sent up a cry of "After him!"
Roy retreated to the stairwell, quickly climbing the stairs to claim the higher ground. The door swung open and several guards came through. When he had gained enough distance, he released another arrow that sealed the doorway with a thick webbing. It would prevent any reinforcements from coming through that way, but it wouldn't stop the guards who had already come through.
Then the door on the next floor opened and several guards came through that way. Shooting arrows wouldn't work in these close quarters, so he used his bow to block as the other men swung their stun batons at him. He ducked when he heard gunfire. Red Arrow cursed their stupidity at firing in an enclosed space. They were just as likely to hit each other as they were to hit him. He removed another arrow from his quiver and twisted the tip, releasing the gas stored inside. The smoke surrounded him and he ducked past the guards and into the next hallway.
He wasn't lucky enough to find an empty area. Dr. Reinhard, the man who had been in charge of his "programming" in the first place, was standing in front of him. "Take him down," the man said. Something hard and metallic hit him on the back of his head. He fell to his knees. Another blow sent him all the way to the ground, unconscious.
Roy woke to find himself strapped to a dentist's chair. There were straps around his wrists, ankles, chest, and knees. Pulling on the straps, he found that his bonds were secure. He wasn't getting out of them on his own. His uniform was gone, blue hospital scrubs taking their place, and he was barefoot. His mask was gone. Roy reminded himself that Cadmus already knew his identity, so this shouldn't matter. It didn't stop him from feeling exposed and vulnerable though. He looked up to see a blank projector screen in front of him. He turned his head to look around and found Dr. Reinhard beside him.
"The clone's awake, I see," the man said, his eyes scanning Roy as if he were a piece of machinery in for a tune-up. "I did some brain scans while you were unconscious. It looks like all the old protocols have been wiped."
Red Arrow made a mental note to thank M'gann again. "Shoulda gone with the lifetime warrantee," he quipped. "Good mind control doesn't even seem to last three years anymore."
The doctor looked annoyed with Roy's jokes. "The body is still in good condition. That will save time since I won't need to regrow a new specimen. The mind can be altered easily enough."
A chill went down Roy's spine. "You won't do that. I won't allow you. I'll never be controlled by you or anyone again."
"You speak as if you have a choice," Dr. Reinhard smirked. "I created your mind. I installed the programming. I even grew your body from a few cells. None of this," he said, gesturing to Roy's body, "is yours."
"It's not yours," he retorted angrily.
Dr. Reinhard ignored him. He touched a spot on Roy's forehead. "If I drill right here, I would have access to the prefrontal cortex. That will allow me to make the necessary alterations to the memory."
"To my memory!" Anger battled with fear. Roy was terrified of this man cutting into his brain, but fear made him feel weak. Instead he focused on how this man kept saying "the brain, the memory" instead of acknowledging that those things belonged to Roy, triggering the anger that gave him strength.
"Unfortunately, other plans have been made. Dr. Simon Jones has been called in to consult." Dr. Reinhard looked disappointed, like a long-coveted toy had been promised to him, only to be taken away before he could play with it.
The change in plans did little to ease Red Arrow's fears. "Psimon?" he whispered. He didn't want the telepath digging around in his brain psychically any more than he wanted Dr. Reinhard to do it with a drill and a scalpel.
"But he won't be here for a few days. That should give me some time to use some old-fashioned methods." The doctor turned and picked up a syringe from a tray. Roy pulled on his restraints again, but there was no give. The doctor held Roy's head still as he guided the needle into the young man's neck. "This is just something to loosen you up. Make you more open to ideas."
"No," Roy grunted as the metal pierced his skin. "I won't listen. You can't control me."
"You're forgetting that I've been controlling you your whole life," Dr. Reinhard reminded him. "Ever since I created you."
"What do you even want me for?" Red Arrow asked. He could feel the drug taking effect. He couldn't remember why it was so important for him to argue with this man. But he never needed a reason to be obstinate before.
"Never hurts to have a killer in your control." The doctor put an inhibitor collar around Roy's neck. Even though Roy didn't have any meta abilities to be suppressed, he knew that the collar could still be used to electrocute him.
"I'm not a killer," Red Arrow protested weakly.
"You will be." The doctor turned the hero's head to face the screen. "The first thing I need to do is cut ties with people you were close to, people who would try to reverse my... modifications."
A picture of Green Arrow appeared on the screen. Dr. Reinhard pressed a button on the remote and Roy cried out in pain. "He is your enemy," the doctor said.
Roy shook his head, and then another picture appeared, this time of Black Canary. "She is your enemy," the doctor said, electrocuting him again.
"No," Roy said, shaking his head.
The elder man ignored him and continued with his slideshow- Artemis, Robin, Kid Flash, Aqualad. Each picture was accompanied by a painful shock and a warning that they were the enemy. His friends. His family. Roy felt guilty for letting them down. Not just the betrayal that Cadmus had programmed into his brain, but the rudeness, the anger, the distance he put between himself and the people who cared about him. If he had let Oliver come with him, Roy wouldn't be a captive right now. When the end of the pictures was reached, it started over, and then again after that. Red Arrow lost track of how many times the slideshow was repeated after the fifth time. After that, all he could concentrate on was the pain.
A few more times through, and the doctor offered him a reprieve. "I can make the pain stop, if you show me you are making progress." He waited for a response.
Roy licked his dry lips and swallowed painfully. "What... do you mean?" he asked hoarsely.
"Let's go through the pictures again, but this time you do the commentary."
The doctor wanted him to label his loved ones as enemies? Roy was too tired to offer a scathing rebuttal, so he just shook his head.
"Maybe you need another dose." The elder man picked up another syringe and injected it into Roy's neck. The teen moaned softly.
"He will come for me," he whispered.
"Who? Green Arrow?" Doctor Reinhard scoffed. "You know, that's what the original said. Over and over again. 'Green Arrow will come for me. You'll see.' " he mimicked. "But guess what? He didn't come. He left his sidekick with us for three and a half years."
"He didn't know," Roy protested. Okay, when did he start standing up for Oliver? His thoughts floated away when he reached for them. His mind was swimming. Roy's head lolled to the side.
"No, none of that. I need you to concentrate." The doctor moved his head so he was facing forward again. "I'm going to show the pictures again, and this time I want you to say, 'You are my enemy' or I will electrocute you again."
Green Arrow's picture appeared on the screen. 'Ollie, please help me,' Roy begged silently. The doctor waited a few seconds, but followed through with his promise when Roy refused to comply.
"Say it," Dr. Reinhard commanded. He hadn't changed the picture yet. "Say he is your enemy."
'Just words,' the teen thought. 'Doesn't mean anything, but it will make the pain stop.' He swallowed. "You are my enemy," he rasped.
"Good," the older man said. The picture changed. "Again."
Roy dutifully repeated the line. He closed his eyes on Artemis's picture, guilt returning for accusing her of being the traitor. The doctor noticed and shocked him again. He waited until the young man's scream ended before he chastised, "Eyes open."
Roy had to endure two more times through the slideshow before the man stopped. He couldn't even understand what he was saying by the end, his voice was so hoarse. The doctor moved out of Roy's sight, but he was too tired to care where the other man went. His captor returned a moment later with a glass of water. "Good work," he complimented, moving the glass close enough for Roy to drink from the straw. Red Arrow wanted to spit in the other man's face, but thirst overruled his defiance. The man pulled the water away before Roy could drink his fill. Roy barely managed to keep himself from begging for more.
"That's enough for now," Reinhard said. He gestured to someone Roy couldn't see. "I want you to strap him to a gurney and give him an anesthetic."
The assistant stepped forward, wheeling a gurney. He removed the restraints. Red Arrow tried to tell himself that his was a perfect opportunity for escape, but he couldn't seem to get his limbs to move. The two men picked him up and laid him on the metal surface. He was quickly restrained again. The assistant wheeled him to a wall and prepared the IV. "N-nn..." Roy tried, but he couldn't even form the word 'no'. The other man ignored him and inserted the needle in his arm. There was no point in fighting. Roy escaped into oblivion.
"How long has he been gone?" Oliver asked, staring into the empty room.
"I saw him two hours ago. I don't know if he left immediately after that or not." Dinah's lips were pressed together in worry.
"Maybe he's lurking around the house," Oliver said hopefully.
Dinah shook her head. "I tried hypnosis on him and he was able to recover memories. Roy said that they overwhelmed him, but I think he was able to get a lead to Speedy's location. He's been obsessed with finding him since he found out the truth. It makes sense that he would leave suddenly if he has a lead on Speedy."
"Why wouldn't he tell us?" Oliver ran his hand through his hair in frustration. "We could help."
"He believes he has to do this on his own. As penance."
"He has nothing to make up for!"
Dinah put her hand on Ollie's shoulder. "I know that, and you do. He's not there yet."
"I'll call him," Oliver decided. He pulled his phone out and hit 3 on speed dial. An answering ring revealed that Roy's cell was on the nightstand. "Maybe he just went out to clear his head," Oliver said, not wanting to believe that Roy would go up against Cadmus without backup.
"Check the closet," Dinah said. "His uniform's gone, and so are his bow and arrows."
"I'm not letting him do this alone," Oliver said. "We're going to Gotham. Maybe Batman has a lead."
"Shhh, it's okay," a female voice whispered. Roy felt a gentle hand on his forehead. The hand pushed back his hair, and then moved to his cheek. "It's going to be okay."
Roy felt a wave of affection for the woman. 'Mom?' he thought when he opened his eyes. His vision was blurry. All he could tell was that the woman had blonde hair. He didn't remember much of his mother, but he did have one picture of her- and his mother was a brunette. Wait, not his mother, Roy's mother. He didn't have a mom, just duplicated DNA. He turned his head away, but the woman's hand was still there. "Look at me," the woman said softly. "You're going to get through this."
"Who are you?" he asked.
"Time to wake up," a male voice said, interrupting his dream. Roy pried his eyes open. A chain stretched from the ceiling to the manacles that suspended his wrists above his head. His toes barely grazed the floor. "It's time for more of your conditioning." Dr. Reinhard moved into view before the man put a blindfold on his prisoner. Roy instinctively jerked backward when he felt something else settle over his ears. But there wasn't anywhere he could go, so he couldn't stop the doctor. When he got his heart rate under control, Roy tried to focus on what that object was. It became apparent a few seconds later when loud death metal music exploded in his ears. The teen flinched again, closing his eyes even though it didn't accomplish anything. He tried to use his upper arms to push the headphones off, but he felt the doctor fasten straps behind his head and under his chin to keep the device in place.
There was no escaping the cacophonous sound that filled his head. Roy tried to pull back into a safe place in his mind, but the sound followed him. He thought wryly how, at a lower volume, this would be the type of music he would play to annoy Oliver. Wait, was that him, or other Roy? The noise was making it hard to concentrate.
Suddenly, it stopped. "You will obey," said a voice in a normal tone, and then the "music" continued, just as loud as before. After some time had passed, the same voice returned with the same message. Roy counted seconds, but there was no pattern to when the voice would cut into the death metal.
Finally, the sound stopped and the headphones were pulled from his ears. The sudden silence hurt almost as much as the noise. "Did you learn your lesson?" came Dr. Reinhard's voice from in front of him.
Roy glared at the other man, but the blindfold ruined the effect. "Maybe you really liked that song?" the doctor threatened. "Or you could just say it."
"I will obey," Roy said, hating himself for giving in.
"Good. Now let's move on to the next step."
"What do you mean, you don't know where he is?" Green Arrow said angrily. "He's been missing for hours, and you don't know where he is?"
"I said I didn't know exactly where he is," Batman corrected. "I went through the financials and back-traced it through-"
Green Arrow held up a hand, cutting off the other hero. Fear for his sidekick overrode any hesitation on getting on the Bat's bad side. "Cut the technobabble. Tell me what you know."
"My findings led me to Chicago."
"Where in Chicago? It's a big city."
"I narrowed down the location from the entire planet to one city," Batman said coldly. "Superman and J'onn have already volunteered to come. I will also help you search."
Oliver took a deep breath and ran his fingers through his hair. "You're right. I'm sorry. And thanks, for helping."
Batman gave him a small nod in acknowledgement. Then he surprised the other hero by putting his hand on Arrow's shoulder. "I understand. If it were Robin..."
Green Arrow gave him a grim smile. "Let's get him back."