The Reclamation Project
TITLE: Hawkman: The Journey Home
AUTHOR: Alan Kistler
Katar Hol was lost. Somehow, everything had been taken from him. He had no wings, no weapons. And as he put his hands over his mask-less face, he realized that his features were no longer avian as they'd become during Zero Hour. They had reverted to their natural Thanagarian look, a more human appearance. What had happened? He thought he'd journeyed into the Hawk-God's dimension but but this wasn't right. Where was he? There was no sense of time passing. No sense of place. He was standing in the middle of some kind of white void.
He had to remember. He had to remember who he was. Images and memories began flooding back. He'd been a drug addict on his homeworld, later leaving his planet to embrace the democratic idealism of Earth's United States of America No, wait. That wasn't true. He'd been a police officer on Thanagar with his wife Shayera. They came to Earth to learn about other law enforcement methods and they'd assumed the fake identities of Carter and Sheira Hall and No, no, that wasn't right either. That wasn't right. And who was Fel Andar? Why did that name echo in his mind? A memory came, Andar had become the second Hawkman and had revealed his true colors during the Alliance Invasion and no, no that couldn't be right! One of the reasons the Thanagarians had aided in the invasion was to hunt him down, Katar Hol, the traitor who had joined the Justice League. But, he didn't join the League until after Zero Hour, so why ? None of it made sense! So many conflicting memories clogging up his mind! Why? Why couldn't he remember it correctly? All of these memories were wrong! What was the truth?
"Katar," a voice whispered. Katar turned around, trying to get a fix on the voice. Where was it coming from? Why was it so hauntingly familiar?
"Katar," the voice whispered again, "be strong."
"Who's there?" Katar shouted. "Where am I? Why are my memories so chaotic?"
"Because that was my intention," a new voice answered. A figure emerged then, draped in a hooded cloak which hid his form. But Katar recognized him, vaguely. Who was this?
"Don't be worried if you can't clearly remember me," the being responded. "I ensured that as well. I must say, I never expected you to learn the truth this way."
"What truth? What are you talking about? Did you do this to me?"
"Yes, Katar Hol, I did. Over and over again for what would be several hundred years, if you counted it linearly."
"Because if I didn't, you would have killed me."
"What?" Katar asked in confusion. "What are you talking about?"
"You still have no idea who I am, do you?" the being asked with a cool sneer. "Well, you'll have to know if this is going to make any sense. I am The Time Trapper. I am a master of time, specifically a master of your own timestream. And so I have seen what battles were and what battles may be. In one such future, Earth's heroes faced a terrible danger and you, the second Hawkman, spearheaded the victory that saved everyone. It was a victory which would cause a chain of events leading ultimately to my DEATH, centuries later!"
"Yes, for REAL this time. No way around it, no nick of time resurrection. This would be IT! I couldn't allow even the possibility of such a future timeline. So, I needed to prevent this, but in such a matter, I could not directly act in your timeline. It's too complicated, too much attention from others would be attracted, the Linear Men, Rip Hunter, the Phantom Stranger and such. And even if I changed the past. that wouldn't necessarily accomplish anything. Many pasts can lead to the same future. Therefore, I hit upon a new plan instead."
"What?" Katar asked desperately. "What did you do to me?"
"I confused your past. Repeatedly. I snatched a portion of your past and twisted it, manipulating others in the process. Then, I reached into another part of your history and twisted it, warped it. I even re-wrote your entire past over. Twice now. You've just finished your third version of the same years. The chaos energy released by the constant reconstruction of your timeline has therefore caused you to become an anomaly in the timestream. It's caused so much havoc that not only have I prevented that future but I have covered my tracks so that other time lords can not trace my agenda."
"You mean, you didn't just affect my memories you actually changed my past?" Katar was stunned. Was this man so powerful he could actually do that?
"Over and over again," the Time Trapper answered gleefully, "to the point where it became full of contradictions. Yet, no one was the wiser for it. Since it was part of the timeline now, everyone's mind was set to adjust itself and ignore the inconcistencies. No one realized the odd contradiction provided by the connections of Fel Andar and the Shining Knight. Or was it the Silent Knight? I could never remember which to use when I was working on the next revision. And to add to the chaos, I even ensured that you were fused with other Hawkmen from alternate timelines during Zero Hour. A few cosmetic changes to your form and suddenly you were convinced that you'd become a Hawk Avatar of some sort."
"Wait a moment," Katar protested. "You were trying to help us during Zero Hour. You took the Legion of Super-Heroes and "
"Oh, give me some credit, Katar," the Trapper sneered. "Don't tell me you bought that. Me, the Time Trapper, rumored to be an embodiment of entropy itself, and you actually bought it when my lackey claimed that I was a future version of that juvenile idiot Rokk Krin?"
"Lackey? I don't understand. I saw you-"
"You saw what I wanted you to see, what I wanted EVERYONE to see. I have literally an infinite number of drones who serve my wishes, sometimes playing my role so that I needn't risk a direct confrontation myself. That lackey was merely my tool to use so that I could alter the Legion's past and see if I could more properly defeat the new version of them that would be created after Zero Hour. Don't you see? It was all part of the plan!"
"Then, what happened afterwards all the Nth metal being lost to us. Shayera's wings no longer functioning. It was all a lie."
"Did you really believe that Nth Metal could only be powered by having the Hawk-God in another dimension? How pathetic are you?! There was no Hawk-God! It was always me using a different guise, with my lackeys using different disguises so as to convince you that there were actually other animal avatars. There aren't! There never have been! There were never Hawk Champions over the centuries, each of whom was killed by Vandal Savage. That was a lie, only your latest version of events which I made up MYSELF!"
"But, Vandal Savage said he remembered "
"He remembered what I WILLED him to remember. Do you think a master of time is unable to temporarily warp a person's memories? It's been my doing all along." The Time Trapper laughed as if he were drunk on his own bragging. "Don't you see? I've literally been running your life. I've altered little bits and pieces a hundred times over and I've re-written your entire history from scratch twice now. I always choose an interesting point of history to step in and pluck you out so that I can re-write the same portion of history over again. And now I think that time has come. You see, you're in Limbo."
"That's right. You were under the belief that you were joining the Hawk-God in his dimensional exile, but you actually entered Limbo, the realm between time and space, life and death. And now, the time for the next revision has come."
"You I remember you now," Katar muttered to himself. "I remember we've had this conversation before. Each time just when you're about to retroactively change my history, I always have just a second of truth. And then I'm gone again, lost in your mad schemes."
"Correct," the Time Trapper answered gleefully. "And now that second is up. Good-bye again, Katar. I can't wait to see what your new history will be!"
"No," the Trapper whispered. "No! It's Impossible! NOT HIM!"
There was a shimmer of light and suddenly two glowing eyes appeared in mid-air. They were cold and angry. Katar watched in shock, not understanding. The Trapper only whispered one word.
There was a crackle of energy as the Spectre materialized before them. He was huge, towering above Katar like a skyscraper.
"TIME TRAPPER! You have tampered with reality long enough! You
have overplayed your hand and have finally gained my attention. It has
been decreed that all of your tampering will be erased and this man's
original history restored!"
"That is correct," another voice called. Katar turned and saw the Phantom Stranger appear. "But, with a little help from me, we are about to rectify that situation."
The Spectre coldly turned to stare at Katar. "Prepare yourself, Katar Hol."
"Wha prepare for what?" Katar asked in fear.
"For the wrath of God," Phantom Stranger answered.
There was a surge of energy erupting through the void. The Phantom Stranger's body glowed and he directed his hands towards Katar. A blast of fire erupted around Katar's body and he cried out as the Spectre suddenly vanished. And then he realized, the pain was not coming from the flames. They were coming from inside him. This was not true fire. Something was happening. A presence joined with his and he felt a surge of energy and a surge of anger.
"You see your enemy, Katar Hol," a voice spoke from within his head. "The Phantom Stranger is using all his power to prevent the Trapper from escaping. Use our combined strength, Katar. Defeat him now!"
Katar looked to the Time Trapper, his eye blazing like a blast furnace. He opened his mouth to say one simple thing.
"You're going to die."
Platinum wings outstretched from Katar's back and he flew towards the Trapper in a mad frenzy. The Trapper attempted to free himself from the tackle by using his time powers, but to his horror they were having no affect.
"Time doesn't affect spirits, Trapper!" Katar shouted. "That's why the Spectre joined with me. He knew this was my fight, not his! And You're Going DOWN!"
A mace materialized in his hand and Katar slammed it against the Trapper's face. The Trapper screamed in pain. A Thanagarian energy blaster appeared in Katar's other hand but he threw it away in disgust.
"Not my style," Katar remarked. He then looked at the Trapper. "Yes, you see I remember now, Trapper. I remember my original, true history. When I left Thanagar it was in more ways than one. I left their culture, their ways and their weapons. I decided only to use the weapons of my mentor, the man who proved himself a true hero during a time when his entire world was at war with itself. I remember now. Energy weapons aren't for me."
In response to his words, a blade now appeared in Katar's other hand. He smiled grimly and rushed towards the Trapper. Before the villain could move, the blade found its way through his stomach.
"I remember now," Katar repeated in a whisper as the Trapper slumped to the "ground" of the void. After a moment, his form began to glow and then shift. Katar gasped. He was devolving! After a few moments, he was a simian and then, a moment more, and he was dust. There was another crackle of energy and suddenly Katar was standing in his natural form again, with the Spectre beside him.
"Is he dead?" Katar asked.
"No," the Spectre answered. "This was merely another one of his lackeys, a vessel through which he spoke to you. He is a crafty foe, always planning at least a dozen different escapes from the same situation. You will have to be on your guard, Katar Hol."
"So now what?"
"Now," the Phantom Stranger remarked, "we begin returning you home. But we need your help to restore your original history. Can you tell us what you remember, before the Trapper stepped in and began to confuse things?"
"Yes," Katar answered. "There was a prince named Khufu. He was murdered. Years later, he was apparently reincarnated in Carter Hall, an archeologist. Carter discovered a strange ore in a tomb and he also found a man looking for that ore. My father Paran. He told Carter that this ore was Nth Metal or 'Ninth Metal' as Terrans are able to more easily pronounce it. It was used by Thangarians for their floating cities and flying vehicles. But Paran and Carter both discovered a way to use the right electrical charge so that Nth Metal could be used more portably. And then, after being haunted by dreams of Khufu's murder, Carter used their portable Nth Metal science to become the original Hawkman."
The Spectre and Phantom Stranger joined hands and begin to glow with a strange flow of energy. Katar realized they were re-ordering the timeline as he was speaking.
"Continue," the Phantom Stranger asked.
"Well, Carter later enlisted his love Sheira to be Hawkgirl. They later joined the JSA and my father would occasionally help them. He also fell in love with a Native American shaman. It was this union that produced me. When I was born, World War II had just ended and Paran took me back to Thanagar. I don't know what happened to my mother, I expect she's dead by now.
"I grew up on Thanagar, aging at the slightly slower rate of Thanagarians but maturing at the rate of humans. My father had become hailed as an explorer and scientist. He now used that influence to found the 'wing-men' a new police force inspired by his memory of Carter. Growing up, he would tell me stories of Carter and the JSA. I was fascinated. Hawkman became my hero. When I was still a young man, the Man-hawks arrived. They waged war against our rather peaceful society. The wing-men were given greater legal powers in order to respond to the threat and for a while it worked. But over the years, Thanagar became an empire, a totalitarian government. I was disgusted working as a wing-men. I went by the old ways, but so many of my peers embraced their new militaristic views. The only one who agreed with me was Shayera Thal, my partner. We eventually fell in love."
"My father died of old age. After he was gone, I felt there was little holding me to my former home. I became restless. Shayera and I decided to leave. We were able to get permission to go to my mother's home planet, saying that we would study Earth policing techniques. I used the absorbascom to download the English language and vernaculars into my head. When we arrived, I immediately destroyed the homing beacon on our ship and ended all communication with Thanagar. I left false signals to indicate we had crashed and died, saying that the atmosphere of the planet was too hostile for our race to survive there. Shayera and I locked our wing-men uniforms away and then left to seek out Carter Hall. I found out that he had returned to active duty as Hawkman and had joined the Justice League of America. He'd been working with them for several months now. He was pleasantly surprised to meet me, the son of his old friend. He and his wife took us in, taught us about Earth, her cultures and her heroes. He even helped me set up a false identity."
"He contacted an old acquaintance, Police Commissioner Emmet in Midway City. Emmet set up housing for us and a job for me as a museum curator. When he asked me to choose a new human name, there was only one I could choose: Carter Hall, Jr. Although, most people who never met my mentor simply referred to me as plain Carter Hall."
"She didn't change her first name. She was too proud of it. She was now Shayera Hall, my wife. If anyone asked about the name, she just told them her parents were hippies."
"You joined the JLA?"
"Not until a few months after I'd been on Earth. Carter decided that maybe it was time to relax a bit more and join his JSA comrades in their semi-active status. He asked me to take on the mantle of the second Hawkman. It was an honor I couldn't shirk. I took on his costume and used my old wing-man harness. Shayera did the same. I remember my first case with the League, we fought a poor creature named Thorak and all ended up being temporarily transformed into giants. I stayed with the team for some time. Thanagar later discovered our treachery and made a few attempts to punish us. Then, after the Alliance Invasion, I I "
"It was at that point that the Time Trapper stepped in," the Phantom Stranger. "He retroactively altered your past and everyone's memories of you. And in the ensuing years you continued living with a false identity."
"What will happen now that you're restoring things?"
"Those close to you will have vague memories of the false timeline that occurred between the events of the Invasion and the present day. But once we return you, they will realize that they're minds and yours were tampered with and they will remember everything as it happened before. Even Shayera, who left you when she thought she could no longer use her wings, will return soon to you, now that her true memories will resurface."
"That future battle, the Trapper spoke of," Katar suggested.
"Will it still happen now? With the timeline restored, will what
was supposed to occur happen after all? Will I still ensure a victory
that will lead to his death?"
"So what happens now?"
There was a flash of light and Katar was blinded for an instant. And
then, he saw a figure standing before him. It looked like an angelic warrior,
ready for battle. Grand, inspirational. And then, Katar saw the angel's
face and recognized who it was, recognized the first voice he had heard
when he'd first arrived in this dimension that existed between life and
Another strobe of light and suddenly Katar found himself standing on
the museum rooftop of Midway City. His weapons were ready at his side.
The wing-harness was strapped to his back. His winged helmet was over
his face and he was garbed in his true, original costume. He smiled broadly
as he heard his mentor's voice once more.
Hawkman laughed as he outstretched his wings and soared through the sky. It was so good to be back.
DEFINITELY NOT THE END!
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This story is © 1999 by Alan Kistler.
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