WHO IS GOING TO BE TEACHING DADA?
Professor Albus Dumbledore pinched the bridge of his crooked nose wearily. Last Christmas, GLaDOS, formerly Caroline Evans, had delivered a holographic projector to Hogwarts in order to serenade the school with songs sung by her Turrets. However, she directed Dumbledore later to keep the holoprojector in case she needed to speak to him urgently. And while Dumbledore was grateful for that fact, the truth was, he still felt uneasy speaking to the AI with a loose set of morals.
That being said, she certainly had her heart, or whatever electronic equivalent thereof, roughly in the right place. Upon hearing of this warning from a House Elf, she had contacted him with the information. And he felt a certain feeling of dread. "That complicates matters, to say the least," Dumbledore said when GLaDOS had finished.
"Your capacity for understatement is astonishing," GLaDOS replied dryly, her gynoid form raising an eyebrow. "What can you do about this?"
"Aside from informing my staff to be vigilant, surprisingly little," Dumbledore said. "I could alter the wards on Hogwarts to detect dark objects better, but given some of the artifacts in the school, as well as some of the things students smuggle in, there may be too many false positives. In any case, the wards of Hogwarts are both ancient and intricate. Attempting to alter them too much may cause a catastrophic failure. Focusing the search on Slytherin would also backfire. If the culprit is indeed a Death Eater, then they would probably try and find a catspaw outside of Slytherin, to deflect attention from them. This House Elf, Dobby, did he say anything else?"
"No. He could not be specific. He seemed to be working hard to defy his master's will." The supercomputer's gynoid body sighed. "I'm sorry I cannot be more specific, Dumbledore. I thought you would appreciate the warning anyway. Given the debacle with Quirrell last year…"
"I know. And I appreciate the warning, GLaDOS. Incidentally, is Harry all right?"
"As much as can be expected. I believe he is suffering from mild PTSD from causing Quirrell's death and nearly being attacked by Voldemort. He is suffering nightmares, including of the incident in question, as well as my awakening in my current state. I am giving him what comfort I can give him, and the support of his friends and family help too. Incidentally, I am improving my ability to use magic."
Dumbledore, understandably, found it astonishing that the AI had learned how to use magic. He only learned about it about a week ago. He had spent that week contemplating something that could be a disaster…or a blessing. "And what do you intend to do about that?"
"Experiment, of course. Between Mr Black and Mr Lupin's tuition, and the books I obtained, I believe I am at a high level of expertise. Given enough tests, I believe I could even teach at Hogwarts."
And there it was. Hesitantly, Dumbledore said, "If I and a Ministry official administer such a test, would you be willing and able to teach?"
"Yes. My gynoid body is shielded against magic, and as you know, I can change the appearance of this body to suit the circumstances. Are you considering me for a position?"
"Officially, teacher's assistant for Defence Against the Dark Arts," Dumbledore said. "Unofficially, you might be able to do proper teaching of the subject."
GLaDOS' eyes narrowed. "Why only 'teacher's assistant'?"
Dumbledore gathered himself, before explaining. "As you may know, every year, we have had to get a new DADA teacher. I believe that a jinx or curse has been placed on the position by Voldemort himself. The reputation of the curse is so much, few wish to teach in the position, and I would prefer not to call in favours from friends, lest I cause their demise, otherwise, I would have considered Sirius or Remus, or my old friend Alastor Moody. The only…qualified applicant at the moment is Mr Gilderoy Lockhart."
GLaDOS frowned in thought. "I believe I saw his books briefly at Flourish and Blotts. I paid little heed to them. Elucidate."
"Gilderoy Lockhart is a monster hunter of no small fame and renown," Dumbledore said. "He is famous for dealing with werewolves, banshees, and the like. However, it has come to my attention that he may be a fraud. Shortly after he applied for the position, I found myself remembering an incident from one of his books that happened to a friend of mine. When I asked my friend about it, he couldn't remember the incident. I found traces of a Memory Charm as well, and I remembered that, while a somewhat mediocre student for a Ravenclaw, Lockhart was gifted with Memory Charms."
"I see. You believe he is a plagiarist who steals the credit from people who are better than he is. He reminds me of Doctor Breen at Black Mesa. He helped use industrial espionage to steal technology from Aperture," GLaDOS said. "Why not confront him?"
"He is famous and has cultivated connections to protect him," Dumbledore said. "Should I confront him, he would set his lawyers on me. He is good at covering his tracks, too. Despite my own fame, power and influence, I am far from untouchable. However, I was hoping to gather more concrete evidence of his wrongdoing while he teaches at Hogwarts. But I am worried about whether he is truly a competent teacher or not. Nothing in his books, aside from the plagiarised parts, suggests that he is incompetent. But I cannot shake the feeling that, if I let him teach, it may harm the education of the students. Which is why, despite my apprehension, I am glad you are confident that you can teach. Preferably without any physical harm to students."
"You mean irreversible harm, surely," GLaDOS said. "Even given your fears about my…flexible morals, you know that most spells taught in DADA are reversible. I do not intend to teach the most dangerous curses willy-nilly, though I do intend to teach them one of the most vital elements in Defence Against the Dark Arts. Dodging. Incidentally, can we transform one of the classrooms into a paintball range?"
After a moment, Dumbledore said, "You're going to shoot at them with a non-lethal but painful Muggle device to teach them dodging, aren't you?"
"It's good to see your reputation as one of the wisest wizards of your generation isn't wholly without merit," GLaDOS replied.
Dumbledore, to himself, wondered if letting GLaDOS teach at all was a wise decision. Then again, between letting Lockhart have free rein and allowing GLaDOS to actually educate them, which he was sure was painful but effective…well, no contest, really. Though he had to wonder whether he had just entered some Mephistophelean pact…
"So…you're actually going to be teaching at this wizard's school?" Gordon asked not long afterwards.
"By remote proxy gynoid," GLaDOS said. "I can control multiple gynoids at once, so if you are afraid for your sex life, don't be. In any case, if a teacher dares teach my great-nephew sub-par knowledge, then it behoves me to correct that."
Sirius frowned. Along with Remus, Chell and Harry, they were present while GLaDOS explained what she had learned from Dumbledore, as well as preparing to take a Portkey to the Ministry of Magic in Britain (MACUSA had different testing standards, and schools in Europe and schools in the US were loath to hire from each other, not helped by an incident involving Newt Scamander and Gellert Grindlewald) to submit to the DADA mastery test. Remus was creating the Portkey himself, as he knew where to go. "One," Sirius said, holding up a finger, "I don't really need to know about your sex life with Gordon here."
"Just 'cause you ain't getting any," Gordon muttered with more than a touch of schadenfreude.
"Hey, as the recently released and cleared Lord Black, I can have my pick of almost any eligible bachelorette in Magical Britain, or anywhere else in the world!" Sirius snapped back. "Anyway, two, is Dumbledore really sure that Lockhart is a fraud?"
"He believes he may be a fraud, but he has little evidence beyond some circumstantial evidence. While Mr Lupin and I are in Britain, I intend to pay a visit to Diagon Alley and purchase his books. Dumbledore said that they would probably be on the textbooks list, as they are assigned by the teachers."
"They're more like glorified travelogues than textbooks," Remus said. "Expensive too."
"I'll purchase a set for each of the Weasley children," GLaDOS decided. "I should also purchase some robes for myself. Then my transformation into GLaDOS, Dark Mistress of All Creation, shall be complete!" GLaDOS then laughed, the sound rather eerie given her lilting electronic tone. Then again, evil laughter could be eerie anyway. GLaDOS just elevated it into an artform.
"And what next, you'll conquer the world?" Sirius snarked.
"Vi veri universum vivus vici," Harry said. "One of Great-Aunt Caroline's favourite mottos."
Remus pursed his lips. "By the power of truth I, a mortal, have conquered the universe. Alan Moore claimed it came from Faust in V for Vendetta, but it was actually the motto of a Muggle occultist, Aleister Crowley."
"Good, Mr Lupin. You are indeed correct. At the time, I meant it in a similar manner to Scientia potentia est. Knowledge is power. I intend to conquer the spheres of knowledge, Mr Black. I am, effectively, immortal thanks to those fools following Cave Johnson's last orders. I have all the time in the world to accumulate knowledge, and I now have the means to learn how to modulate Will-based Transmogrification Force. I would say 'nothing in the world can stop me now', but that would make me sound like a cut-rate villain from a cheesy comic book, not to mention tempting the universe to prove me otherwise. While it technically has no basis in physics, Finagle's Law does have a tendency to home in on hubris. Therefore, I should endeavour to partially emulate Uriah Heep, and be 'humble(1)'."
"I'd imagine, in comparison to Gilderoy Lockhart, you would be humble," Remus remarked. "Or at least you can back up your claims."
"Of course I can. Backing up claims with evidence is the cornerstone of science. That, and deadly neurotoxin."
"No using neurotoxin on my classmates, please," Harry said. "They're unused to Aperture-style testing, even in Ravenclaw."
"Harry, I can assure you, no Defence Against the Dark Arts lesson will use deadly neurotoxin in any way, shape, or form."
Remus frowned. "That was strangely and scarily specific. Are you going to expose your students to any kind of danger, beyond what is necessary for a DADA class?"
"Given that being attacked by dark spells will cause death, many of which are of a painful and/or messy nature, your question is open to considerable interpretation. However, as Dumbledore will doubtless refuse me access to test subjects…I mean, students, if the worst does happen, I will refrain from anything that will carry an unreasonable possibility of death and/or serious injury. Psychological trauma, however, is another matter. It is, after all, a cornerstone of operant conditioning."
"And don't forget the paintball guns!" Harry spoke up. "We haven't had a good match for a while, actually."
"That was because Wheatley thought it would be a good idea to mix Gels into the paint for the paintballs," GLaDOS reminded him. "There are dangerous experiments, and then there is dangerous excremental idiocy."
"Didn't Cave Johnson pretty much straddle that line?" Gordon asked.
"Very much so," GLaDOS said. "That's what made him a genius. Sadly, Wheatley doesn't straddle the line. He stays very much in Idiot Land most of the time. In any case, after I have confirmed my mastery of Defence Against the Dark Arts, we will start planning for going across to England. The Weasley family have extended an invitation to stay, and it will be at least moderately interesting from an anthropological standpoint to see a domicile belonging to mages. I should also like to visit your family's house for a comparison, Mr Black."
Sirius sighed. "You'll probably regret it. It's dank, dark, and aside from some pests, the only inhabitants are portraits and an ornery House Elf. Kreacher is not like many House Elves. He's nasty." Then, a nasty thought occurred to him. "Actually, do you want a House Elf to vivisect?"
"That would be considerate of you. I am always on the lookout for specimens. And given what I have read about House Elves, they use Will-based Transmogrification Force far more differently to human mages."
On Harry's angry look, Sirius hastily said, "Look, Harry, most House Elves are nice and helpful. But a few are as nasty as any Blood Purist. He's always going on about his mistress, who is my late and unlamented mother, by the way. And who is now the most foul-mouthed portrait in the world. He always liked my brother Regulus better."
"Are we having some Freudian issues?" Gordon asked. "I mean, Freud was a bit of a nutbar, but he was a brilliant one at that. He had a lot of theories you couldn't disprove. You couldn't get away with that crap in physics…well, until Aperture gets involved(2)."
"My brother joined the Death Eaters," Sirius said coldly. "That goes way beyond anything Muggle shrinks can deal with…"
GLaDOS smiled, rather unpleasantly. "Well, in any case, I would love to see your home, Mr Black, and I would also love to meet your mother and your House Elf. Though I am sure they will have cause to regret drawing my attention…"
CHAPTER 3 ANNOTATIONS:
So, yeah. A bit more talking. We'll get to the plot in earnest in the next chapter.
Incidentally, since I published the first chapters of Just How Can a Computer Do Magic?!, Ross Scott has posted the first video of the new series of Freeman's Mind, based now on Half-Life 2. Ironically, he posted it on April Fool's Day, but the video itself is not a parody. Well, of anything but Half-Life, but that's par for the course for Freeman's Mind.
Incidentally, I'm astonished at how swiftly this new story has gotten new favourites and alerts, and even C2s. I guess that shows how popular Is Your Great-Aunt an AI?! was. Hope you enjoyed this chapter.
Review-answering time! bissek: The problem is with the events of Dune was that the Atreides didn't know who the traitor (Dr Yueh) was. They suspected what the Emperor would do, like bringing in Sardakaur, etc, and were trying to prepare themselves for their treachery. They got lucky in that they won enough respect from the Fremen and from Kynes (who was meant to betray the Atreides if they tried to flee for the Fremen) that Paul and Jessica managed to flee into hiding. Nice variation on the quote anyway. It's funny.
waytodawn0: I'm not sure, but probably not. I don't think I have the wherewithal to explore more of the past there.
LigerHorse: Hologram and holograph are pretty much the same things.
BlazeStryker: Hmm, I dunno about Alyx, but Barney? Hmm, that's a possibility. It'll be a bit hard to justify their appearance, though…
WhiteElfElder: I think Sirius would let Kreacher be vivisected, as seen above. And I think that Harry and GLaDOS did check Harry's finances, but they don't need them as much, as Aperture, thanks to what technology it does export, has enough money to run itself and have plenty left over.
1. Uriah Heep was one of the villains in Charles Dickens' famous novel David Copperfield. Although a clerk who claimed to be 'umble, but was really a nasty, hypocritical sort, defrauding his employer and later partner Mr Wickfield and intending to marry his daughter.
2. Freeman's remarks about Freud were inspired by a similar monologue in Episode 13 of Freeman's Mind.