Author's Note:
This chapter has been edited as of 5/8/2017. Plot holes have been removed, words have been replaced, and the chapter in general has been improved.

If you couldn't already tell, I do not own this story, and make no profit from it.

Harry was exhausted.

His job as an Unspeakable was somewhat sedentary most of the time, but it had its moments. He was certain this was one. On his lunch break, of all places and times, he'd just made an astounding breakthrough about the artifact known as the 'Veil of Death,' deep in the Department of Mysteries. He'd been fascinated by this device for a while; his interest had led him to numerous advancements in warding techniques and runes during his pursuit of knowledge. He'd been lauded extensively by the Head Unspeakable for these smaller insights, but his latest discovery was one he would not be sharing.

All the Unspeakables in the department knew that the Veil was a portal. However, unlike many of his colleagues, Harry was certain that the other end of the portal led somewhere safe. Exactly where, he couldn't decipher, but the runes engraved on the base of the artifact left no room for misinterpretation. The portal's destination was safe, but it was a long way away. At least, that was what Harry interpreted from that particular arrangement of the rune of personal protection and the rune of distance. The implications were staggering. Harry's wanderlust tingled.

….

Harry had grown used to living by the seat of his pants, always on the alert, always in suspense, living with a healthy dose of paranoia even after the end of the war. It had taken a heavy toll on him, and he had lost his sense of purpose. That was how he had met his current love interest. The Greengrass fortunes had declined sharply under the management of Phineas Greengrass, and Daphne Greengrass, his heiress, had been left nearly destitute. Both Harry and Daphne had met at a muggle bar in Wales while trying to drown their sorrows, and Harry had offered to get her a hotel room after learning that she didn't have anywhere to stay. An hour later, a very confused Harry had Daphne bawling into his shoulder. They became fast friends, and remained so, even when Harry decided to leave Magical Britain behind. Harry and Daphne kept up a constant correspondence for many months afterwards. Eventually, the two slowly became more than friends, and acted on their feelings towards each other.

At the time, it was the happiest portion of Harry's life.

Both Daphne and Harry then reevaluated their lives, and the status of the magical world. They found it lacking, and resolved to make a concerted effort to improve the plight of all sentient magical creatures throughout the world. In preparation, Daphne began investing Harry's fortune, with a good eye for incredible returns.

Harry, on the other hand, spent a few years as a vigilante when he realized the extent of the state of disrepair that the wizarding world had fallen into. This shattered the sense of boredom and depression that he had been falling into, and satisfied his constant need for action and excitement.

There was much that needed improvement, in every part of Magical Britain. Numerous packs of werewolves roamed freely, vampires fed nightly, and the Ministry of Magic was disinclined to do anything about it, as long as the bribes kept flowing in.

Harry helped everyone, the world over. Magical governments wanted dark lords dead; Muggle governments wanted forces of chaos suppressed. The requests varied immeasurably, but the execution was generally the same.

Harry kept tabs on Magical Britain, and became disquieted when many purebloods were able to buy their way out of prison. Apparently money still trumped common sense, as corrupt judges refused to convict wealthy Death Eaters, despite eyewitness accounts and ironclad evidence. Harry had robbed most of the surviving Death Eaters blind, after the Imperius plea was used to successfully evade massive penalties. He had cowed the populations of vampires and werewolves into submission, and created safe havens for them, far away from the Ministry's misguided prejudice. However, Harry's crusade was not limited to the outcasts of society. In his efforts to improve the status of the magical world, he had quickly realized that he needed to learn all he could about magic.

His studies had only truly picked up speed after Harry's rediscovery of Occlumency gave him a nearly photographic memory. As his hyphenated titles grew in number, Harry drew interest from international organizations the world over, eager to teach him and his love interest in exchange for a piece of their fame.

Taking advantage of this, Harry traveled the world, learning the cultures and magics of distant lands. Somewhat selfishly, Harry's first stop was the Nimbus Broom Company, ('Makers of Fine Brooms Since 1333') to learn how to make the brooms that he flew. Later, Harry studied Egyptian wards from cursebreakers in the Valley of Kings, where ancient Egyptian pharaohs were buried, hidden, and lost amidst the churning sands of time. Harry was taught Parselmagic by Indian snake charmers and healers, used for both healing and devastation. He pillaged tattered, moldy tomes of ancient runes from Norse temples, long ago ravaged by wind and rain, and studied magical travel, including apparation and broomless flight. Harry was taught the Animagus transformation by the Native American tribes of the North Americas, after he killed a legendary creature that had driven many tribes nearly to extinction. He discovered blood magic from the remnants of the Aztec and Mayan peoples, used in rituals to increase power and to control dangerous magics including fiendfyre. Harry's studies continued with Voodoo, used to enchant objects to the greatest effect, Battle magic and some Dark magic from Russia, Germany and the remains of the magical Soviet Union, including Gellert Grindelwald's own version of fiendfyre: Hellfire. But Harry would always return to his heavily protected cottage off the coast of Scotland, on the hidden isle of Avalon.

…...

Harry reluctantly wandered homewards from his extended vacation, after a letter from Hermione requested that he attend as the keynote speaker for the tenth anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts and subsequent death of Voldemort. He attended, spoke, and realized that he had been away for nine long years. While Harry's friends had gotten married, began having kids, and grown into early middle age, Harry remained unchanged. Sure, he had grown muscle, filled out his no-longer scrawny frame, and gained a little bit of height, but he still had to answer questions on his age for nearly the entire memorial service. Afterwards, he spoke to Hermione, and she tearfully pulled from her pocket a worn picture taken of the Golden Trio almost immediately after the end of the war. While Hermione and Ron had clearly aged since the picture was taken, Harry's picture could almost have been his mirror image.

Harry, Ron, and Hermione got together later that night, and Harry confessed everything. He told them how he was likely one of the wealthiest men on the face of the planet, with the Potter, Peverell, and Black fortunes, combined with stolen Death Eater gold, Daphne's skill in investments, and vast sums of money from his exploits in cursebreaking in the Valley of Kings.

Harry related to them how he had spent the last nine years of his life traveling, learning, and throwing himself into the fray in an attempt to allay his guilt by making the world a better place.

Hermione was excited at the revelation that Harry's blood was simultaneously the most poisonous substance in existence, and one of the best restoratives in the world at the same time.

She had marveled over his immune system- the shard of basilisk tooth embedded in his forearm had contained a basilisk venom-gland, and Fawkes' phoenix tears had soaked into his bone marrow. To her vast surprise, Harry's body produced both the venom and the tears in equal quantities, giving him a near unheard of recovery time, and near-immunity to any disease she'd cared to name.

Research in the depths of an ancient vampire's crypt led to Harry's use of blood rituals to increase reflexes and situational awareness, fix his eyesight, and make his bones almost unbreakable.

Ron had scoffed when Harry told the pair the tale of how a passing interest in alchemy had turned into a written correspondence with Nicholas Flamel, the 'immortal alchemist,' leading to the creation of another sorcerer's stone, and the creation and use of Re'em blood elixir. That magical cocktail permanently gave Harry moderately increased strength, endurance, hearing, and balance, with the downside of a new immunity to alcohols.

"You can't get drunk? That's a horrible trade, Harry-" Ron had managed before a poke from Hermione drained the blood from his face. "I mean, That's great! That sounds like a wonderful result." Ron had stated, hand moving to protect a flask at his belt.

The golden trio laughed all night, falling back into their old camaraderie.

After some time spent bantering and discussing the past, Harry continued his story.

Eventually, late into the night, Harry broke down and told Ron and Hermione about the Deathly Hallows. They affected his magic in ways he still didn't understand, giving the trio questions to ponder late into the night.

Harry didn't have to use a wand anymore, as he could cast with the power of the Elder Wand through his hands. Despite his best efforts placed into getting rid of the Hallows, he still woke with them waiting for him on his bedside table, or in his suitcase, or even on his person. In times of need, the Elder Wand gave advice, and whispered incantations into his ear.

Harry told Ron and Hermione, as the sun came up, of the second, third, and fourth times that he had died, and how his consciousness had descending into a buzzing numbness, only for him to feel a tugging sensation, and suddenly wake as if from a nightmare, but with new scars.

Harry told them how he was the Master of Death.

Ron responded with "Wicked!"

Hermione recommended therapy.

Hermione had eventually told Harry about a position in the Department of Mysteries, and Harry, after deliberating for a while, took the opportunity with both hands. He worked with whatever items piqued his interest: time-turners, prophecies, ancient artifacts, and things that evidently only he could understand. But nothing interested him more than the Veil of Death. He could hear whispering voices behind it, and while nobody else believed it, Harry was convinced that it was a portal to somewhere else. Just where, well. Harry had no idea.

All he knew of the Veil's destination, according to the runes etched on the base of the artifact, was that the portal dropped the user into a (generally) safe area, a vast distance from the portal itself.

And Harry was bored.

Painfully and excruciatingly bored out of his wits.

Over the course of months of study, Harry had concluded that he wouldn't be able to figure out anything more about the Veil without doing something drastic. His wanderlust tingled.

A few months later, Harry stood in front of the Veil of Death, with a suitcase and a wand in hand, a silvery cloak across his shoulders, and a ring with a pebble instead of a gemstone in the center. He had said his goodbyes already, and had prepared as if he would be walking into Armageddon.

He had spoken with Daphne about the journey, and she knew full well that he may never come back. Her only real consolation was that Harry had given her a device that would let him record one message, and would deliver itself to Daphne as soon as Harry passed through the veil. Harry had promised to send it as soon as he could.

She had given him her blessing, on his expedition, and had jokingly allowed him to woo other women if he could not return to her. On her advice, he had taken a greenhouse under a stasis charm with almost every conceivable magical plant in his suitcase, along with around 150 tons of gold, courtesy of his sorcerer's stone. On Hermione's advice, he had multiple libraries hidden in an expanded trunk, inside his expanded briefcase. Harry, after some deliberation, brought a single time-turner, 'borrowed' from the Department of Mysteries mere minutes ago. In fact, he was just about to step through, when a phoenix landed on his shoulder.

"Hello, Fawkes." Harry spoke, surprised. He was answered by a trilling, melodic voice singing,

"I'm coming with you. It is time to go on to the next great adventure. Though we must part ways once we pass through the veil, I will always be able to help you, or any other being who is pure of heart in a moment of dire need."

Shaking his head, Harry chuckled, and stated, half to himself,

'Into the great unknown, again, Fawkes? First into the Chamber of Secrets, then into the Hall of Prophecy, and now through the Veil of Death. Let's hope there aren't any basilisks or Death Eaters that need killing on the other side of this."

And with that final comment, and a muttered, "Farewell," Harry walked ponderously through the Veil.

Magical travel has never been comfortable. Even the pioneers of magical travel, the vikings, never managed to make their ride easy. Their boats, engraved with countless runes to decrease the friction of the boat against the water, or to bring magical wind to the sails, let them wreak havoc on cities and coasts far from friendly ports. But they never managed to remove a jarring, chaotic shaking feeling, and overuse of those early versions of apparation caused vast storms that could sink even those swift masterpieces of aquatic engineering.

Harry knew immediately that the Veil was similar to the methods of transportation used by the Norse. Unfortunately, this burst of inspiration was caused not from some sudden realization based off of rune or charm work, but from the sheer discomfort caused by the ride. While Harry had experienced his share of rough apparations, including one especially memorable instance where he side-along apparated no less than six people, This ride, this twisting, turning, blue-black funnel of energy, felt as if Harry was being squeezed through a cheese grater.

After an unknowable amount of time, Harry landed on solid ground. The first thing he sensed was the magic. Harry was standing exactly on top of an incredibly powerful ley line.

That was a relieving piece of knowledge. Harry immediately knew that he had not been thrown into some strange dimension devoid of magic. Testing his power, he conjured a ball of energy in his hand.

Satisfied, Harry looked up, and saw around him an alien city. Strange buildings towered into the sky, and oddly-shaped flying vehicles frantically buzzed by. A nearby garden contained plants that he couldn't seem to recognise. Moving as if on autopilot, Harry took samples of some of the nearby flora. His throat burned from the air, and the sun seemed too bright, and a little more red than normal. Harry looked towards the horizon, and his chin dropped in shock. A massive orb, a planet of some sort, was clearly visible taking up a significant amount of the sky. It seemed to be a massive brown dwarf star. Slightly luminous, it was clear that some fusion still took place in its depths. Harry twitched, and turned around, as a deep, bass buzzing-humming call resounded through the sky, seeming to taunt and menace.

The sound of rapid gunfire rang out. Some sort of weapon was firing into the clouds with a staccato pht-pht-pht. After a few seconds, more gunfire joined the first weapon battery.

Harry heard screams, then watched a massive ray of red light and heat hit a skyscraper nearby, cutting and burning its supports. Harry stared, as the screams multiplied in number, and the skyscraper collapsed slowly, with the screech of rending metal echoing against other buildings.

Harry's eyes widened. He wasn't certain what he was seeing.

Before him, a few hundred meters into the air, flew a two kilometer-long squid-shaped ship. As he turned, he heard the cry again, a ear-shattering bass thrum that rattled his bones. He looked at the ship, and it seemed to look at him. Then, all of a sudden, Harry felt a presence sweep across his mind, vast and pitiless. Harry stumbled, as a massive mental attack raced towards his mindscape.

Harry raised his Occlumency shields immediately, and felt sledge-hammer blow after sledge-hammer blow crash against his mental shields. However, as a master in the mind arts, Harry had dealt with mental attacks before. He knew how to shield against them. Marshalling his magic, Harry's mind whirled as he hid it away, safe from further legilimency assaults.

Harry looked at the strange ship. It seemed to have a mind of it's own. If something had a mind, it should have a soul, Harry mused. But just where was its soul?

Hm. If it had a mind, but not a soul, was it still susceptible to Legilimency? He considered. Almost on reflex, Harry brought his past experiences with breaking and entering the minds of others to the forefront of his mind as he focused himself, and desperately yelled a single word, suffused with power.

"Legilimens!" He cried, and the world seemed to shift. Time slowed, and Harry's surroundings were suddenly replaced with the the mindscape of the squid-like ship. Its mental shields thrummed into existence, a thick black field that spurred a psychic war, back and forth, winning one second, then losing the next.

Finally, with a monumental effort, Harry battered down the being's mental shields, and shattered them. They fell away, sparking with malice. Desperately trying to reconnect the sundered fragments of its shield, the Reaper left itself vulnerable. Harry passed through the remains of the being's undefended mindscape, eyes searching, until he found himself by the manifestation of the being's memories.

Bracing himself, Harry grimaced and closed his eyes in horror as he began the process of assimilating the being's memory. He saw how this ship, and all others like it, had always been referred to as some translation of the word 'Reaper', for that was what they did. They took organic races and harvested them, and turned them into more Reapers.

Harry's thoughts became disjointed. He had realized what this thing was, conceptually. But as he saw the figures, and tried to comprehend the whole mess, he realized something startling.

These things, these 'Reapers' had some rudimentary form of magic. Likely some sort of Rune cluster, which could cause… Indoctrination. That was the best name for it. The slow subversion of free will. Harry looked around for the runes and the rune cluster, and found the runic alphabet that the runes were constructed from in the thoughts of the Reaper. A massive number of symbols, meanings, rune clusters. The complete magical alphabet of an ancient race.

Harry smiled gleefully, and ripped the knowledge from the mind of the Reaper. He was not gentle. With this information, came designs, technology, plans, and memories of atrocities. Harry knew there were more than one million Reapers. But for the moment, he only focused on destroying this one.

He brought his arm up, and slowly exited the being's mind, painfully crippling it, and reducing it to it's most basic functions. Gasping, Harry gathered his anger, his rage at the horrors this monstrous creature and its kind had perpetrated, and looked for energy. He felt the plants around him, and the Ley line under his feet. He felt the clouds above him rolling in, and the raw power of the thunderstorm about to begin. That was more than enough power.

Harry summoned a small stone, and hit it with a powerful 'Unbreakable' charm, and an 'Impervious' charm. He then siphoned power from the ley line below him, tearing energy from the planet, and channelled it into his fingertips.

Releasing an incredible amount of power, Harry yelled an incantation. Strong winds whipped around him, and the atmosphere rumbled, lightning blasting through the clouds overhead. Many bolts of energy whipped down and wrapped themselves around him, freely giving him their power. Lightning blasted around him, crackling around his hand.

"Depulso!" Harry cried, casting the banishing charm with all of his might.

Fueled by the power of the Elder Wand, the righteous fury of the Master of Death, the central ley line of a planet, and a wonderfully destructive thunderstorm, a stream of blue energy traveled out of the tip of Harry's index finger.

It hit the hovering pebble, and disappeared. The pebble, charmed to be unbreakable, shot off so quickly that a vast shockwave of superheated air followed its wake, propelling an incredible glowing spray of thousand-degree air skywards.

With some animalistic instinct, the crippled Reaper tried to run. It turned, so quickly that centrifugal force tore swathes of armor off of the body of the ship. But as soon as the spell hit the stone, there was a deafening 'BOOM!' as the stone was launched, traveling at such a speed that there could be no chance of dodging it.

The single pebble, charmed to be unbreakable and frictionless, hit the Reaper almost dead center, blasting through its kinetic barriers, through its armor, and upwards into the outer atmosphere, towards the vast expanse of space.

Harry shook his head slowly, as blackness crept up in the edges of his vision. That wasn't the result he'd expected. Not at all. It felt… as if an unknowable being had diverted his thoughts, for a moment. As if some eldritch chill had crept into his bones, and exacted some mysterious price.

"SLEEP, MY CHAMPION. ALL WILL BE WELL WHEN YOU WAKE." a voice said, in an octave of whispers, cobwebs, and cold.

The wizard felt a bone-deep weariness, a weight on his eyelids, a call to surrender to his rattled mind and sleep. He needed to absorb the millions of years of knowledge that he had taken from the Reaper, as well. He'd never heard of something like that being done before. If it had… Surely it had shattered minds.

With his last shred of effort, Harry cast a sticking charm on his briefcase, and modified his mindscape. The Reaper's stolen memories would reside in a cage of refined will, bound by mental fortitude and power. Harry made sure that his sleep would not be plagued by visions from the ancient abomination. Then he collapsed into unconsciousness, falling slowly to the ground.

A massive shockwave expanded outwards from the point of impact, knocking buildings into each other. Supports fractured, and metal groaned. Buildings fell, and the alien city collapsed in upon itself. Fires burned, and aircraft crashed. But after the massive shockwave caused by his spell, there was silence. Other than the occasional crash of slowly settling rubble, there was nothing. Hours later, an eerie silence pervaded the area. More Reapers flew over the area, hovering briefly, then flew off, leaving a desolate, dust-covered landscape.

Only later would Harry discover that he, in his well-meaning anger, had done more damage to the city than the Reapers had.

Time Passes

Not far beneath the rubble, in a ruined city on the moon Lethe, in orbit of the gas giant Mnemosyne, a body lay still. For months, then years, then millennia. Epochs passed. Millions upon millions of years blurred into history, unnoticed by hundreds of races, each annihilated by the same inexorable destructive force of the Reapers.

And then the Prothean empire rose to the height of its power. The largest military force the galaxy had ever seen- resplendent, radiant, and secure in their own superiority.

The Reapers ground them to dust, like they had so many other races, through the ages. But the protheans left behind secrets, and secret weapons. They killed more Reapers than had been destroyed in every cycle before them combined. Scientific installations across the galaxy worked on means and methods to destroy the terrifying invaders. In rare cases, their weapons came online before the researchers succumbed to the Reaper onslaught.

But the greatest of their weapons remained. Their creations -formed from primitive species, enhanced and uplifted into sentience- remained.

Turian.
Asari.

Drell.

And above all, their most worthy creation, the crowning jewel of the last and greatest prothean lab- aboard the dreadnought they called the Eden- produced one final creation.

Humans.

But all was not well. The Protheans had never known that there was a 'Vanguard' of the Reapers. A lone Reaper for each cycle, set to guide civilizations to their destruction. They could not hope to counteract such a plot. But they planned for the future, going so far as to break the sole commandment passed down from each Prothean's forefathers. So with a whirr, and a synthetic hum, an AI was created to oversee the running of the great ship Eden.

Phonetically, its name was Abraham.

The creation of synthetic intelligence was a common plan by the end of the Reaper war. It was dangerous, and what best to oppose a force like the Reapers than an AI? An immortal being, capable of transferring its mind from platform to platform, and creating and controlling a near-infinite fleet with perfect reaction times.

But as always, there were complications.

Abraham's shackles were never removed. A losing battle against the Reaper Vanguard led to the destruction of the Eden, and a few clusters of fission weapons left on a trajectory or earth impacted in the Adriatic Sea, causing periods of rain and flooding across Europe and the middle east. Nazara later seeded the world with bio-engineered weapons, designed to wipe humanity from existence. But the Reaper underestimated human resilience. Hardy folks weathered the Black Plague as best they could, and then went back to life as normal. Influenza was much the same. Much more virile, and much more deadly, the disease passed through the population like a scythe through chaff. But still humans held on.

Even at the dawn of human existence, far before the last of the Protheans tinkered with the minds and genetics of mitochondrial adam and eve, we evolved to counter vicious diseases, and our immune systems developed with gusto.

Even far into humanity's information era, the spread of Ebola was limited and contained within months. Nazara, for some unknowable reason- Arrogance, perhaps? Frustration?- left for batarian space before seeing the fruits of its work.

Around that time, the Leviathan of Dis was discovered, and the Batarian Hegemony's descent into corruption, immorality, and slavery worsened drastically.

There were other AI, as well. Athame, for the asari. Also known as Vendetta, the AI took an asari form, as it preached peace, advancement, and power. It retreated into a fail-safe mode when distant sensors detected the arrival of Nazara, the Reaper vanguard.

On Palaven, 'the Spirits' were the fractured, rampant remains of an AI more ambitious than any other. Nazara placed an indoctrination monolith at the very heart of Temple Palaven- directly above where the Spirits' databanks had lay.

A triumvirate of brain-uploads sufficed for the drell; Amonkira, Kalahira, and Arashu taught that the mind and the soul were separate from the body- perhaps hoping for others to join them in an uploaded state, when able.

They were suppressed, discredited, and deleted by indoctrinated followers of Nazara long before the population crash that claimed nine of the remaining eleven billion Drell on Rakhana, their homeworld.

...

Then the year 2147 rolled around.

"ARISE, MY MASTER." a voice thrummed through Harry's existence.

The wizard's eyes shot open. He panicked, or tried to. Coming fully awake, he realized that he was buried, and began the process of calming his nerves. He wasn't far underground, if the pressure on his chest was anything to estimate by, he mused. So this was bad, but not terrifyingly so.

While he did have a full-body bubble-head charm around him, Harry was still very uncomfortable with the thought of dying trapped underground. He may not be able to die, but he didn't want to test what would happen if he kept resurrecting, just to die again, and again, and again from environmental conditions.

So, with straining effort, Harry guided himself blindly through the process of apparation. Feeling like he was being squeezed through a tube just slightly too small for his body, Harry apparated one mile straight up, and suddenly, he was skydiving without a parachute.

Harry materialized in the middle of a thin dusty atmosphere, falling quickly towards the drab rocky ground. As he fell, Harry slowly oriented himself. He was in freefall. For any other wizard, this may have been an issue, but Harry had at least five flight-capable devices on his person. Surprisingly, only three were illegal, according to the British Ministry of Magic. Harry had also learned how to fly without a broom the same way Voldemort had: by raiding a Norse or British library of druidic magic, and practicing. Lots and lots of practicing. It took Harry a long time to learn, but he had always loved flying. And while a simple 'Aresto Momentum,' would have worked, it would have had to be properly timed, or Harry would wind up as a red stain on the ground.

So Harry flew. His terminal velocity freefall slowed, as he reached the ground, landing lightly on the balls of his feet. But the world he landed on was not the world he had collapsed on. It couldn't be! It was a mere ball of rock, with no cities, no sunset, no atmosphere thick enough to support life, no strong ley lines- Harry stopped. Here was the ley line, or what remained of it. As he examined the ley line, it passed some information, a feeling, to him. Gently, sadly, with despair, Harry realized the truth of his situation.

This world was dead. With the death of its people, the magic of this planet had withered away. The Reapers had destroyed this civilization, this culture. Never again would this planet support life. But how long had he slept? How long was he unconscious? Harry wondered. The ground was dust and rock. He would never have known there was once a thriving civilization here if he hadn't seen it with his own eyes.
Harry looked into the sky. The brown dwarf star was still covering a significant portion of the horizon. However, it was noticeably darker. It had lost some of its luminosity during Harry's coma. Harry sighed. It was still beautiful. Having very little atmosphere made for a wonderful view of the stars. With no clouds and very few particles to obscure his sight, Harry was content.

Harry walked. He traveled from ridge to ridge, mountain to mountain. The climate was inhospitably cold, without enough oxygen for him to breathe, if not for his modified bubblehead and warming charms.

As he walked, Harry considered his situation. Channelling such an immense amount of power had taken its toll, and had definitely drained the ley line by a significant amount. As Harry looked through his mindscape, he realized that it had also damaged his magical core. There had been no permanent damage, but it would have taken time to repair. A long time. That, combined with the need to absorb millions of years of Reaper memories must have left him sleeping for…

Harry frowned, then rechecked his estimate. Yes, that estimate was right. Harry paled. He had been sleeping for nearly thirty-seven million years.

"What could have happened in thirty-seven million years?" Harry said aloud, disbelieving.

A more panicked thought jolted through his head, 'Did humanity even exist in this strange new world? Had they been killed by the Reapers?' Then Harry was distracted from his panicked frame of mind by a whistling noise that was slowly gaining in volume. He stopped, and looked up.

Silhouetted against the night stars was a glowing blue streak. Harry frowned, and looked closer. The streak...was getting larger? Harry sat, and watched the streak grow larger and larger, until he realized that it was some sort of craft! It dropped rapidly, until it activated a set of thrusters, and landed not far from where Harry stood. His eyes widened when he used his mage sight on the vehicle. It seemed to have some source of magic aboard!

He could see a glowing sphere in the center of the ship, pulsating slightly, and two smaller spheres dimly flickering near a slowly lowering ramp. Then Harry noticed some sort of strange erratically pulsing arrangement of the energy spheres in a vaguely humanoid shape. Harry looked again, interested. What could that mean? Was there a being that emitted this strange form of energy?

As the craft lowered the ramp, a grey alien wearing a breathing apparatus that obscured his face grabbed what appeared to be a blue woman (Harry rubbed his eyes and looked again) and threw her off the ramp. She? It? Seemed to start choking, desperately trying to get enough oxygen to survive in the thin atmosphere. She stood, and then tried to run, weaving as if she were drunk. She stumbled, and fell heavily, still choking on the thin atmosphere. The grey alien then pulled a sidearm, and held it by his thigh, his message clear. If the blue woman tried anything, the grey alien would shoot her.

Harry scowled, and raised his hand, the words of a spell on his lips. It was then that Harry noticed the glowing lines that ran through her body. In his mage sight, the blue woman glowed faintly. He would have to do some research. This woman was likely the source of the strange humanoid arrangement of energy. It seemed that she had many small glowing spheres interspersed throughout her body, connected by glowing lines that traced the major veins in her nervous system.

Harry puzzled over this, brow furrowed. He looked for the other spheres that he had previously seen aboard the vessel, and saw… They looked like robots. Harry was confused. If both machines and people could have these glowing things inside them, then what were they? Were they artificial? Some sort of a decoration? Harry immediately dismissed that idea. The largest sphere that he had seen seemed to be placed at the center of the ship. Harry was certain that it was important. Perhaps it powered the ship? Harry frowned. He did not know anything about this situation, and that put him on edge.

Harry decided to test something. He reached out , and Stupefy-ed the two robots. He then conjured a golem behind the grey-skinned being, and used it to incapacitate the creature. He then walked over, cast an 'Incarcerous!' swiftly followed by an 'Enervate!'. The grey-skinned creature woke, struggling weakly. Harry scanned its thoughts, using his passive legilimency to it's full effect.

Apparently, the glowing spheres that Harry had detected were a material called Element Zero, and these robots were early prototypes of something called an YMIR mech. The largest sphere that Harry detected was something called an eezo reactor, a complicated device that used something called the 'Mass Effect'.

Unleashing his not insignificant skill in occlumency, Harry swept through the creature's brain, searching. Finally, after a long time in the foreign being's mind, Harry found what he was looking for in the somatic and language hubs of the creature's alien mindscape. He quickly assimilated all the languages the being knew, (A surprisingly large number) and any star maps of the local stellar cluster into his mindscape. Harry knew full well that he would have a terrible headache for the next few hours.

After some more searching through the being's mind, Harry discovered some more useful information. The blue woman was a member of a monogendered alien species called the Asari. They were…remarkably similar to humans, Harry noted.

The grey alien was called a batarian. They had four eyes, and ran their cities and civilizations off of slavery. Harry's eyes narrowed. He did not like the sound of that at all. This interaction took on a whole new meaning. The batarian was trying to get rid of a slave, or to punish a prisoner, Harry theorized. Neither option was one he would accept. Slavery was one of the few things that truly angered him, and he would do his best to abolish it here, as he had back on Earth.

Harry grasped a breathing device from the inside of the ship and brought it to the fallen asari, carefully placing it on her face. She coughed, and took a few deep, gasping breaths. She visibly relaxed, though not by much.

Harry saw that the asari seemed to be injured more heavily than he had previously thought. He wasn't quite sure whether healing spells for humans would work for aliens, but he didn't really have much time to work with. He levitated the batarian, and carefully lifted the weakly struggling asari over his shoulder and brought her into the craft.

Once inside, Harry cast an overpowered "Episkey!" on the asari, which seemed to fix her wounds. What appeared to be radiation damage and some bruising around the eyes due to possible vacuum exposure (Which, surprisingly, Harry was familiar with, having been hired before to take care of a muggle-born dark lord who sequestered himself in a space station.), a broken arm, multiple bullet wounds to the chest and right arm, and a length of metal stuck through her thigh were all repaired, as the broken arm straightened out with a loud crack, a few small sand-grain sized bullets levitated out of the chest and arm wounds, and damaged skin knit back together. With a wet *Shlick* noise, the jagged hunk of metal slid out of the asari's leg, muscles regenerating behind it. The asari's skin and bone knit back together quickly, with a few loud pops and clicks. The asari released a sigh of relief, and she stilled. Her breathing stabilized at a steady pace.

Frowning, Harry walked over to the captive batarian, and with a whispered legilimens, regained access to the alien's mind. Looking through the rest of the cache of information, Harry discovered a device called an omni-tool, as well as information on the batarian's employers, their purpose, and the layout of the ship.

This was especially useful, considering that this specific batarian, the captain of this ship, was given a frigate-weight ship by the Batarian Hegemony for special assignments, including piracy, political assassination, and completely deniable slavery, due to the poor state of the batarian economy, and its need for cheap or free labor.

Harry furrowed his brow. This batarian was a prime example of the word 'scum'. Quickly stealing the being's omni-tool, he navigated to the 'factory reset' setting, before he reconsidered. With a devious smile, Harry typed in the batarian's passwords, stealing everything he owned.

Browsing through the omni-tool, Harry found and took the passwords for the ship's consoles, the mech controls, all door overrides, etc. He then kicked the batarian captain out of the airlock. With a thump, the slaver fell into the dirt.

Harry looked out of the cargo bay, onto the planet's desolate surface. After looking through the Batarian's omni-tool, Harry now knew that the planet he was standing on was actually a moon by the name of Lethe, orbiting the brown dwarf star, Mnemosyne.

Harry sat down in the cargo bay with his patient, trying to assimilate the language data that he had gotten from the batarian's mind. His new pounding headache was not helping matters.

Harry had already surmised that anything with an 'eezo core' could be slightly affected by magic. So, looking around for the largest eezo core that he had detected, Harry stood up and walked through the door from the cargo bay into engineering.

He began to hear some voices, and almost kicked himself when he realized that there must be more crew taking care of the ship than the one batarian outside. Harry quickly pulled on Death's Cloak, silencio-ed his shoes, cast a quick 'Homonium Revelio', and proceeded to stun and examine the minds of each and every batarian on the ship. Every single one was a slaver.

On Earth, every one of these aliens would have received a life sentence in a very high security prison for human trafficking. So Harry decided to dispense his own brand of justice.

Carefully, he erased every single memory not pertinent to the maintenance of a ship from the batarian crew, tossed the ground crew out the airlock, and then laid some subtle, and some not-so-subtle compulsion charms to make the rest of the crew obey him.

It seemed only fitting that a batarian crew of slavers should serve their sentence as slaves, even unknowingly. And, this way, Harry had a crew. It was convenient, but it did make Harry slightly uneasy. Seeking to relieve himself of his misgivings, Harry transfigured numerous full-face helmets, to prevent identification of the criminals, and to prevent himself from constant reminders that his ship was being crewed by former slavers.

After taking care of the slavers, Harry brought the healed, now sleeping asari to the Medical Bay, and placed some alert wards around her to alert him when she woke up. He had no idea who she was, or why she was so badly injured.

Using legilimency on an unconscious person was highly ineffective, so Harry resigned himself to waiting for the assari to wake. He could justify mental invasion for those beings who profited off of the pain of others, but not innocents, like his patient. She had been the one whose life had been at risk, and Harry had always taken issue with the strong picking on the weak.

The surrounding machines in the medical bay all displayed readings that suggested the patient was stable, only sleeping, so Harry relaxed. Slowly, his thoughts began to turn to the asari's injuries. How had she gotten those? She had not been wearing an airtight suit, meaning she couldn't have been on an EVA gone wrong.

However, she had been exposed to the void, but there was no easy explanation for vacuum exposure, explosive damage, a jagged metal spike stuck in her leg, what had appeared to be massive bruising, concussion, multiple bullet wounds, and a broken arm. Harry was intrigued. He would have to get her story when she woke.

He had been to the first cargo bay, and knew that there were no slaves there. However, he received a nasty surprise when he walked into the second cargo bay, on the other side of the ship. There were around forty slaves chained to anything that could support a set of manacles: walls, furniture, and light fixtures. As he entered, many of the slaves shank back: based off of the batarian's memories, Harry knew that humanity was unheard-of, here. His presence was scaring the slaves.

They had been abducted, and seemingly brought to some new alien, a member of a species they had never before seen. Terrified whispers and tears soon spread through the room. Harry quickly cast a light sleeping spell, that would get stronger over time. Eventually, even the most worried and distraught among the prisoners fell asleep, with a yawn.

Harry carefully crept into their midst, and began the process of breaking their chains and healing their wounds. He then levitated them out of the cargo bay, and gave them rooms, healing, food, and water. They would wake over the course of the next few hours, to find themselves in comfortable rooms with food and facilities. They would then be dropped off at the nearest friendly port, which was something called the Citadel.

That could be a problem, as, unfortunately, this vessel was easily recognizable. It had been used in a highly publicised slave raid on a salarian planet, during which the ship had been caught on video, according to the captain's memories. Thankfully, the colonists never picked up the ship's FTL signature, or this ship would be registered as a pirate vessel, and subject to search and seizure by any council fleet.

Even the Batarian Hegemony had not recorded the ship's signature, so that they could have an ironclad alibi. Harry knew that he would have to change a lot of the ship to render it unrecognizable to anyone. This led Harry to begin a time-consuming process of changing the ship's layout. He used lots of transfiguration to completely remodel the ship, changing its inner layout to match his needs. Miniscule captain's quarters, paired with Harry's personal enlarged wizard's tent, small crew quarters, massive weapon bays, an open space along the spine of the ship for a mass driver, a small armory, a large cargo bay with undetectable expansion charms, and hidden torpedo bays for added firepower.

Afterwards, in a fit of fancy, Harry paneled the walls with transfigured oak and gold leaf, as the dense metal walls could be transfigured into more of a less dense material. Laying down in his wizarding tent, exhausted, Harry picked up his new (stolen) omni-tool, and after some mucking around on the extranet, managed to changed the registration, name, and owner of his new spaceship.

An hour later, it was registered under the name 'Nyx.' As the Greek goddess of the night, and one of the first few beings to exist in the greek pantheon, Harry thought it was fitting. It was also privately owned by Mortis Solutions, a newly registered (and Harry-owned) mercenary group and trade interest. It was the same name that Harry had used to bill his services to the major governments of Earth.

Later, Harry went on a walk outside the ship. He repainted the outside of the ship to bear the name 'Nyx', and transfigured the exterior of the ship in order for it to be impossible to recognize as it's former silhouette. He wound up transfiguring it to have smoother edges, to reduce the blocky profile that the ship presented. After modifying the silhouette of the ship, and increasing the bulkhead and armor thickness, Harry added some weak disillusionment spells to obscure the ship's edges and make it stand out less in the emptiness of space.

Once he completed his remodeling, Harry set a course for the Citadel. He was relieved that his near-supernatural aptitude for flight extended beyond merely brooms, and into the territory of spacecraft.

While in transit, Harry spent the remainder of his time trying to calculate arithmancy equations for a magic-powered FTL drive. He already had plans to create and install a magic-powered sublight drive, which he called the Apparation Drive. As it would be magic-powered, rather than using heat-emitting thrusters, it would be extremely useful for stealth. It would be undetectable, at least to conventional scanners.

Harry had already used protection runes on the hull plating, and some speed runes for the engines, a few power runes for the Eezo core, and a few feather-light spells on the inside of the bulkheads. In addition, some of the designs from the stolen cache of Reaper knowledge were coming in handy. Harry had plans to add a main cannon to the Nyx.

With a kilometer-long Magneto-hydrodynamic mass driver hidden in a 150-meter ship, The Nyx would be able to vastly outcompete any Council ship, even dreadnaught-class vessels. Unfortunately, almost all these enhancements were impossible until Harry could get his hands on some materials. He could permanently transfigure the material to fit his needs, but permanently conjuring so much metal was far beyond him.

Unfortunately, engorgement and space-expansion charms would cripple the eezo core, as a larger eezo reactor would require exponentially larger capacitors and cooling banks. And while cooling runes could take care of most heat issues, more powerful capacitors required advanced batteries that were more in place on a cruiser or a smaller dreadnaught.

During the journey to the Citadel, Harry put his enchantment skills to good work, and hammered out an artifact that conjured eezo for just long enough for it to be used by the core, and then dispel back to the nonexistence it had been conjured from. The duration was somewhat random, so perfect stealth was unattainable, but it still allowed the vehicle to run indefinitely. In addition, while most detection systems ran partly off of thermal detection, the lion's share of shipboard scanning systems detected eezo field emanations.

A larger eezo core could lead to some additions to the ship that would ordinarily be impossible. That might include a full orbital bombardment module, or GUARDIAN lasers with enough power to function as weak directed energy anti-ship weapons, rather than mere point defense anti-fighter guns.

Harry had used a massive undetectable expansion charm on the central deck, adding a research level, and another on the cargo bay, to create a massive space for cargo, and berths for both a gunship and a shuttle, neither of which Harry currently had. Truly, most of Harry's planned enhancements were not currently possible due to lack of resources, but the plans were made, designs readied, and hardpoints modified.

Halfway to the Citadel, Harry's alarm wards in the medical bay went off. He rushed to the medical bay, dropping his calculations with a thump. When he walked through the door, he saw the asari sitting up on the bed, facing away from him. He conjured a chair, and sat down with a muffled thump.

The asari's head whipped around to face him so quickly that Harry could swear that he had felt a rush of air. Harry spoke, carefully, and with humor.

"I just treated all your injuries. If at all possible, I'd rather not have to treat you for whiplash."

The asari goggled. Then blinked, then blinked again, and cautiously questioned,

"What are you?"

To which Harry responded,

"I'm Harry Potter. I-" before being interrupted by the asari, who imperiously amended her earlier statement,

" Not WHO are you. WHAT are you?"

Harry furrowed his brow. She was asking about his species. That was further confirmation that humanity did not exist here, or this asari didn't know about it if it did. Even a few searches of the extranet had revealed nothing.

"I- well, I'm a human, I suppose. " Harry eventually said in answer.

"And how did I get here?" The asari responded, curious.

" Well, I … found… you, in the middle of getting yourself kicked off of a batarian ship and killed by slavers. You were heavily injured,"Harry explained, listing her injuries.

"How long has it been, since you found me?" The asari asked, to which Harry replied,

"Almost half a week. Your injuries were… severe."

He watched the asari work her jaw, trying to find the words for a question. Suddenly, she asked,

"Why are you doing this? Why help me?"

Harry floundered.

"What do you mean,' why are you doing this?' it's the right thing to do!" He said, indignantly.

To which the asari replied grimly,

"You're an optimistic one, then. Where are we headed?" Harry replied,

" This ship is currently dropping off newly freed slaves at the Citadel. Why? Did you have a specific destination in mind?"

The asari mumbled something, which even Harry's sensitive hearing missed.

"Come again? I didn't quite catch that."

The asari spoke, just barely loud enough for him to hear, saying

" Take me to Omega, please."

"Why Omega?" Harry asked, somewhat shocked. He had seen some things written about Omega, and they didn't paint a pretty picture. Omega was a lawless, desolate place.

"Why do you want to go there?" Harry asked again, genuinely curious.

Replied the asari, "Well, I suppose I've got to find safety again, and my current alias has to disappear. Omega seems to be the best place to do that."

This piqued Harry's interest.

"What do you mean, your current alias needs to disappear?" He asked the asari, who replied,

"I'm supposed to have died. I should have died. Now, I'm not dead, and I get to disappear forever, or start all over again with a new name and occupation. Why are you interested?"

Harry nodded. He had considered doing something similar after his third death, when ascending Dark Lords were forced to gang up, and create a temporary truce in order to kill Harry.

"Once we hit the Citadel, I'll set a course to Omega."

Looking out the door to the observation deck, the asari eventually mumbled a "Thanks."

Harry stood, about to leave, when he asked,

" I'm sorry, but I don't believe I caught your name. I'm Harry. Who are you?"

To which the asari replied absently, "I'm Aria. My alias was Aleena. I was a highly successful mercenary. I'll have to retire that alias now."

Harry knew that he wouldn't get anything else out of her, so he settled with a sincere "Thanks. if you ever need more help, I'll try to assist however I can."

The asari just mumbled something that sounded like, "You poor naive bastard," and laid back down on the infirmary bed.

Harry's jaw had dropped as he emerged from the Widow relay. The Reaper whose memories Harry had stolen had vague, unclear memories of the Citadel. Harry definitely preferred this to to the stolen memories.

After requesting a berth and a place to drop off the liberated slaves in flawed but improving asari, Citadel traffic control quickly directed Harry to C-sec dock S-2.

When he landed, Harry saw a firefight going on between some C-Sec officers and a squadron of asari and salarian mercenaries. According to the chatter on the C-Sec radio channels, a mercenary group had gotten wind of the slave liberation and decided to steal the former slaves for their own profit.

Harry scowled. Setting the ship to hover where it was, around fifty feet off of the ground, Harry grabbed the biggest shotgun he could find, and jumped out the airlock. Carefully, he flew behind the group of mercs. Still unaware of him, the mercenaries kept firing at the C-SEC officers, hitting one in the side of the head.

Only then did Harry recognize the shotgun that he had picked up: according to the batarian's memories, it was a Krogan ultra-heavy shotgun. And while normally, the recoil of the gun would have shattered a human's shoulder bones, Harry had the advantage of Re'em Blood Elixir. Thanks to that, Harry would be fine; better than fine, actually. He took a look at the shotgun, then at the mercenaries, and smiled. Harry walked up behind the asari who seemed to be giving the orders, put the massive shotgun to the back of her head, and pulled the trigger.

Brains and blue blood exploded in a fountain of gore across most of the mercenary team. All of them instantly turned around. Two of them retched. One fainted. Two more dropped their guns in surrender.

The other five, however, raised their guns, firing wildly. Seconds later, two of the mercenaries were painted across the wall by the immense power of the Krogan weapon, one merc's forehead had been caved in with a blow from the butt of the shotgun, and one of the final two was kicked out of the docking bay and into the vacuum of space without an airtight suit. The last trembling mercenary was disarmed and knocked out. The fight was over barely a minute after Harry had joined the fray.

Harry waved to Aria, who was peering out of his ship's airlock with a look of surprise. Then he jogged over to the three C-Sec officers, and assisted in stabilizing the officer who had been shot with a powerful "Episkey!" . Then he pulled out a piece of paper with a strong confundus charm to look like the license for the shotgun to show to the nervous C-Sec group. With the incident now on more familiar topics for the officers, (namely paperwork) they took charge quickly.

Harry arranged for the liberated slaves to be rehabilitated, and treated by the best psychiatrists in C-Sec employment, then used a notice-me-not spell to sort out the whole 'previously unknown non-council race' business. After a massive list of questions, Harry was free to go. Before he could leave, the turian he had saved rushed up to him, a frustrated medic following him.

" Excuse me? Uh, mister- ah, Harry? I'm Sentinus Vakarian. I'd like to thank you for saving my life. The doctors have no clue how you did it, but- listen, next time you come to the Citadel, I'd like to buy you a drink and swap stories. I've never seen any alien like you, so I'm sure you'll have some tales to tell."

Harry was pleasantly surprised. Not many beings could walk through a notice-me-not spell like the one he had placed upon himself for the duration of his trip to the Citadel.

"I'm in a bit of a hurry right now, but I'll call you up if I'm ever in the area again. It was nice meeting you, Sentinus. I hope to see you again soon."

And with that, Harry flew up fifty feet from the landing platform into the airlock of his ship, walked past a stunned Aria just inside the airlock, landed, and unloaded the liberated slaves. He then looked at a few star maps, and charted a course to Omega.

While en route, Harry ran some tests on a hunk of Element Zero using an arithmancy analysis spell that would take apart every single aspect of an item, and put it into writing and formulae. The mentions of biotics had interested him, and Harry was positive that eezo was some strange form of magic. And Harry knew that all magic could be manipulated. In fact, Harry was convinced that biotics were a result of some form of magical resonance, which meant that he could replicate it. It seemed likely that some sort of ritual would do the trick best, with hunks of Eezo around the edges, and the target in the center. He lapsed into deep thought.

By the time Harry's omni-tool alarm went off, signaling that the ship was approaching Omega, Harry had made some serious progress. He felt almost ready to try the ritual himself. From some of the descriptions of biotic powers that Harry had found on the extranet, Harry theorized that much of the effect of biotics were caused by exerting willpower, and enhanced with practice. Lots, and lots, of practice. Even discounting his Occlumency, Harry was a very strong-willed (Stubborn) person, so he theorized that he'd be able to control biotics fairly easily. Obviously, he was certain that wouldn't be the case; His intimate relationship with Murphy's Law made that a certainty.

After cleaning up, disposing of test subjects, and pulling his head out of an arithmancy reference book, Harry went to his quarters. He had a message to send.

He activated his communications beacon, placing some of the Reaper's most important memories within, along with a message to Daphne. Included were some of the more terrible effects of the tech, like how Reaper indoctrination functions: Runes powered off of mass sacrifice. The message also included some basic FTL tech, ship-to ship weaponry tech, encryption, and Astrogation data, relay locations, homeworld locations, and other useful information. In addition, Harry sent a brief video message, as he had needed to to send something about his well being and his suspicions to his love interest.

"Hey Daphne.

If you couldn't already tell, it's me, Harry. This was a bad idea. I think I'm in an alternate reality. At the very least, because there is no humanity here. At least, I can't find any evidence of us. I did leave you the Sorcerer's stone. I expect you to use it, too. If there is any possibility at all, I want to see you again.

Now to the facts. There is an extinction event coming up in a few decades that I need to stop. You know how it is with me. Always taking the hopeless cases because I can't control my saving-people-thing. It's even worse this time. I don't really know how I can stop this. Magic can only do so much, you know? I included some memories; they encompass most of what I've learned here. It's- well, it's not pretty.

The first memory shows how I slept, or was unconscious, for the better part of thirty-six million years. Then, the second shows that wherever I am, there is a race of evil robot overlords, bent on destruction on a galactic scale. I also included some data that you'll need to assimilate. It's the only way to safely learn it.

It's a large collection of new Runes, and a large amount of data on Faster-than Light travel, defense, weaponry, encryption, and biotics. Yeah, I didn't know what that last one was at first, but you'll figure it out. I think I've got a rune cluster-slash-ritual that can make somebody a biotic. I'm on the small lab-rat analogue testing stage, and it seems to be working well, as I managed to create a small varren with biotics strong enough to crush a bus. Also, I didn't include a lot of the more powerful weaponry. I sent some slightly outdated designs. I really don't want to see humans fighting humans with WMDs again. Let us discover the truly scary weaponry on our own, right?

Unfortunately, I need to send this message now. The connection through the veil is fraying. In another month, even, I don't know whether this communication method would still work.

If this is another universe, as I suspect, you may be safe. If it's not, then you should have roughly one hundred and eighty years before the death robots come for you. At the very least, all that data will allow you to modify markets, and hold a monopoly on FTL tech, weapons tech, and so much more. You can finally become the richest woman in the world, like you always wanted.

Also, well, it's sort of cliche, but if I don't show up in a few centuries, I want you to move on. I do hope we'll meet again, in this reality or the next, but I don't think we'll be seeing much of each other for a long time.

Even so, I'm gone. I'm either so far into the future that Humanity has died out or evolved into something else, or I'm so far into the past that humanity hasn't evolved from rodents yet. Or perhaps, by some divine coincidence, I'm merely in a part of the galaxy where humanity simply hasn't been discovered yet. God, I hope that's it. No matter what, I'll miss you.

I'm sorry."

Harry stared at the communicator for an indeterminate amount of time, head bowed, until finally, he let out a sigh, shut it off, sent the message, and walked away.