For all their similarities, they - the Amber Archer and the Batman from the future - had different means of dealing with an all too similar situation as it had been presented to them at different points in time, their dichotomy as clear as it could be as the memories of such traumatic events, given the chance for their joint conduit to sit and meditate and settle his thoughts on, filtered through. Through no easy practice of stripping away everything else that had found vacancy to take up space in his mind to focus on what was nearly interchangeable from one party to the other, he attempted to sew the instances together in a comprehensible pattern, forging ley lines between the peaks of separate memories in an effort to better understand just how something like this could happen - something as strange as recollecting memories of another without, for lack of a better word, being the other.
Except he had been both, time ceasing to be of no important measure from one lifetime to another and dimension perhaps just as unimportant when they all branched from a singlemost moment in history: The day Connor Hawke awoke in the body of Connor Hwang, embarking on an uncertain quest through super powered Boston, Massachusetts through occurrences unknown in anything more than the pages of comic books and films made for the big screen. It was an unknown point of reference to Connor Hwang of San Francisco as he sat in the middle of his living room floor, legs crossed beneath him in an attempt to find a comfort centerpoint that would allow the bulk of thought to melt away, so he had gone for the newest; the most familiar; that which seemed to align with current events he could recall in full and not those that lingered on the fridges of temporal recognition, cast in a shadow like a heavy fog one wasn’t yet to traverse through.
So he focused on what he could see, on what he could pilfer through, finding those comparative points of reference that served no purpose other than realigning his own mind. There was no need to rescue anyone from Battleworld nor was there any call for help from the dimension of the spineless slug species Mojo had been born of, their operations brought to an end and their broadcasts ceased, leaving what were ruins and lost relics in his mind to explore while life continued on from one problem to the next - problems that seemed worlds away as his mind finally drew its own landscape to traverse, an empty arena setting a conjoined stage with readied players, reflections of what had been and what was, on opposing sides.
Connor Hawke’s rebellion had been a quiet one, carefully crafted and manufactured in private under the guise of meditative efforts. Ever-the zen Buddhist he had been raised to be following his departure to the ashram, there had been a methodism to every long gaze to the sky or rejection of the gruel that had served as food - a greyish, if not greying, pile of what could have resembled oatmeal if someone was imaginative enough in such treacherous surroundings to pretend it such. Each one had a purpose, a notch in what conditioning could be gained from testing the electric properties of a heavy-laid collar around his neck, all too similar to that which had been utilized a second time by Roulette and the Terror Titans to make sure they could not escape; but in a world of impossibilities come to life, impossibility ceased to be, and improbability had been nothing to succumb to.
Nor had it been in the sequel, suspected improvements made to technologies that were meant to keep even the strongest of them down while ensuring the promise of entertainment to those who found some sick satisfaction out of pitting the super heroes and villains of San Francisco against each other. A tale as old as time for villains everywhere: Find a way to pit the heroes against each other, let them take each other out and get a thrill out of it, and make sure they knew retaliation would be swift and reward would not be given to those who stepped out of line despite it all; but the events of Battleworld seemed to punctuate with the start of a joke that Connor, even as he watched Terry pace and fret and complain in his own Gothamite way as if trapped in that cell once more, couldn’t seem to finish.
What happens when you trap five bats in a room?
The punchline had been found in an equally quiet effort; in conniving trickery and technological prowess that had shorted the very devices meant to stop them to allow someone to escape, a ray of hope in such a foreboding place as Battleworld had been once the stakes became clear; and the stakes only grew as injuries became graver and subsequent attempts to escape had resulted in failure.
And he had been in Donna’s shoes once, running as quickly as once could manage under the circumstances while others were taken down by those meant to keep them trapped with hopes that one could do some good if they escaped; but where freedom had been found in her venture from Battleworld, Connor Hawke had no such success. He could easily recall the phantom feeling to overtake him from one memory of broken bones to the next, the shock of the collar in Mojodome losing no more power than the sedation drugs had in Battleworld to quell the uprising met by war wolves who, now, held a new sort of familiarity to Connor in the presence of such memories than he had experienced in Battleworld with Terry, and those minions of the powers that be, many nameless faces while others had been more thoroughly defined.
But failure definitely didn’t mean stop. Failure didn’t mean lay down and die. Failure meant get up and try again and again because there was plenty at stake, friends and family that were back home and left to watch what was being broadcast unwillingly through their devices, loved ones that were being fed such demoralizing content through whatever available media streams there had been; there was the boy who had become the sun in your sky, stuck on a plane with uncertainty of where you had gone, where you had disappeared to, what you were doing when there had been no means to try and help you, and there was the girl who had become all the stars in your sky, equal uncertainty of what had been left behind in her daring escape; but if Connor was going down in any lifetime, at least he knew it would have been with a bang.
That had been something from the Terry McGinnis school of thought, far more thirsty for a fight if only to show their captors just what they could do when, even with everything was stripped away, they were given the opportunity, and far more punkish and brutal than his meditative counterpart who had held a skilled battle against the very person Connor had all but murdered on public television by ripping his head off in an attempt to get his healing factor to kick back in, lying there in the same quiet rebellion he could see in Connor Hawke. Each move had a purpose, each attempt to throw a punch and each kick a reason, and his hands instinctively clenched around the ghostly frame of Wonder Woman’s collar to attempt to break it off as he had his own - an improbably, but not impossible success.
This time, improbability had meant staying down, but much like a power negation collar that had stopped the regenerative healing found in the arena made sure Connor Hawke had stayed down, there had been no choice in his inevitable failure.
But it wasn’t the course of action in such familiar situations where Connor found the most difference rather the aftermath - what came after they had found their footing in the city once more and how they treated those around them, recognizing where fear and paranoia, panic and worry, had pushed people away that Connor knew that, on the side of his life so readily resembling peace and calm on the outside, he had wanted within, and in a far more reflective state, where such emotional complications in problematic thought could do it now. Such was a rhythm of being that didn’t suit either well from one lifetime to another, Connor taking a deep breath as he closed his eyes to fade away such a visual representation of mental pieces, deconstructed only to be put together again with a new pace - a new tempo.
If only we knew then what we knew now, Terry commented when Connor was back in the present, opening up his eyes to the apartment around him and the dog, Peanut, who had settled peacefully enough on the couch at some point during his internal venture - everything in its place and a place for everything, no signs of something foul afoot.
“It might have helped then,” Connor commented, letting his eyes settle down on his hands in meditative afterglow that wasn’t so readily refreshing despite the weight he felt it had ultimately taken off of his shoulders, “but I think it’ll do more good going forward.”