“Can you believe this? Me?! Owner of Monarch Chemical?”
Ollie Queen paced back and forth in his apartment. Sitting on the couch with an amused look on her face sat Dinah Lance. For the last ten minutes, she had been silent, letting her now-and-again lover rant.
“Unbelievable! All of a sudden, I’m the guy I’ve been attacking in my columns!” He sank down onto a straight-backed kitchen chair, turned around so he could lean his long, lean, muscular frame over the high back of the chair as he sat.
“Think of it as an opportunity, Ollie. This way, you can work from the inside, shut down the dumping and Monarch, and maybe get some ideas on how to influence other polluters to stop.”
The tall, blonde man cocked his head to one side as he considered her words. “You do have a point, there, pretty bird. And if Ollie Queen can’t fix it from the inside…” Ollie glanced at the quiver and bow hanging in an open closet. “…maybe Green Arrow can!”
His progress through the corridors of Monarch Chemical did not go unnoticed. It wasn’t a matter of his being unaccustomed to the executive offices. After all, he spent a good part of his life as the head of his family’s cluster of businesses. His natural curiosity about how things work led him into the labs and production facilities, where his charcoal-gray suit contrasted sharply with the white lab coats and dull orange coveralls of the lesser employees. His easygoing charm prompted workers to open up, explain their jobs, and offer complaints or suggestions, in the hope that this might finally be the person who would make a difference for them.
In the boardroom, the charm was dropped, replaced by steely resolve.
“First of all, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for the kind welcome. You have all gone out of your way to make me feel at home here today, and I appreciate that. Especially since I am sure that some, if not all, of you hate my guts. No doubt you think I feel the same way about you.”
Oliver Queen stepped away from the podium at the head of the long conference table and stood for a moment, gazing out of the window overlooking the Carlton River. When he turned back to face the twelve members of the managing committee, there was a fire in his eyes.
“You’re wrong! To hate you, I would have to know which of you are responsible for the mess in that river. I’ll save my hatred until I know for sure who is responsible for it. And rest assured, dear members of the board: I will find out.”
On his third day as president of Monarch Chemical, Oliver Queen was reviewing a set of transaction journals for the shipping department when there was a knock at his office door. Recalling that his secretary had left a few moments earlier for lunch, he raised his voice to answer.
“Thank you, Mr. Queen. I hope I’m not interrupting you.”
“Not at all. Come in, have a seat.” Ollie tucked a slip of paper in the ledger to mark his place as he closed it. He looked up and saw a middle-aged African-American man wearing the ubiquitous white coat of the laboratory. Ollie waved him to a seat near the window and walked over to join him there. “What can I do for you, ummm…?”
“Peter. Peter St. John. It’s a pleasure to meet you again.”
“Again? We’ve met before?” Ollie’s muscles tensed slightly under the tailored suit. Thanks to his career as Green Arrow, he associated the words meet again with reunions with old foes.
“Back at Queen Industries. I was part of the on-site quality inspection team for the Marine Corps when you were doing defense work. We met a few times at review meetings. I was involved for a while on the flying grappler project before it was shut down.”
“The flying grappler. Wow, I haven’t heard about that one in years. Never finished it, did we?” Ollie leaned back in his chair, lost in memories of his millionaire days.
“Officially, no. Since the specs on it weren’t classified, I pursued it on my own. As a hobby, I like to come up with gadgets like that, you know?” Peter’s smile was a knowing one, as he reached into his briefcase. “When I heard you were taking over here, I made up a couple of them, in case you were interested.”
He handed Ollie a half-dozen gleaming chrome shafts, each with three fletching feathers at one end. On close inspection, Ollie could see that, running down the length of each shaft were strands of very fine chain, with almost-microscopic barbs in it. The tip of each shaft was a plunger.
“If memory serves me, pressing the tip of one of these should cause the chains to whip out and forward, grasping anything around it.”
“Correct, sir. And the promethium barbs will grip just about anything. One could fire that at a solid-steel panel, and it would be anchored to it.”
Ollie laid the shafts on the table. “Interesting, Peter, but I don’t know that Monarch has much use for them.”
“Of course Monarch Chemical wouldn’t be interested in a grappling-arrow for flat surfaces, but you might. I noticed your briefcase, sir. A little larger than most folks carry. But about right for the three-panel folding quiver that QueenSports developed a few years back, and the spring-steel collapsing bow they were working on.”
A cold shiver ran down Ollie’s spine as the import of Peter St. John’s words sunk in. “Probably no use in denying the conclusion you’ve reached, is there?”
Peter smiled. “No, sir. See, I was trained for Recon work in the Marines. Details like that stand out like a neon sign for me. I was saddened when you lost your fortune, but I notice it didn’t slow down your other work. I’m glad for the little bit I might have done to help you out back then, and for being able to give you these.” He indicated the grappling arrows on the table. “I had always hoped to meet up with you again someday. If there’s any way I can help you here, just let me know.”
Ollie stood and offered his hand to the older man. “Peter, thank you. I’ll remember that.”
After his new-found confidant left, Ollie returned to the ledger he had been studying.
“Looks like an awful lot of shipments from Methuselah Enterprises, down in Florida. Claims to be packing materials, but that could be most anything. Sounds like a good cover to me.” He closed the book, leaned back in his leather chair, and smiled.
To Be Continued