Voyager Cluster, Ganges System, Akuze, Outskirts of Unnamed Capitol Settlement- 08.19.2177
An injured, broken, and tired man is sitting on a massive tire at the edge of a settlement.
Not altogether unusual.
It's a big universe after all, and between Batarian slavers, murderous sentient computers, and Asari-Hanar pornography, there are a lot of things that could injure and break a man.
This sight was at least a little strange though, after all not many of the men in those scenarios would have some kind of organic acid dripping from them, and if they did, they certainly wouldn't appear as calm about it as this man did.
Beyond the man, and the acid, there were other things about the scenario that made it unique.
For one, the settlement behind him was entirely abandoned. From pre-fabricated, roof to hastily dug and ceramacrete covered basement, every home and office was empty of any kind of human life-form. Stranger still, there wasn't even solid evidence that humans had ever been there in the first place.
Sure it looked like any of a hundred other small colony sites, massive pre-fab buildings making up the bulk of the town, with small and somewhat crude ceramacrete structures built up around them. It was missing all the classic signs of actual habitation, though. No lost teddy bears, porn hidden underneath bunks, or discarded ration wrappers, it wasn't like everyone just picked up and left one day, but rather that no one had ever been there at all.
Of course that wasn't all.
For one thing, more local to the man, fires still burned in the broken remains of not one, but two different tanks.
The man visibly suppressed a sigh.
For all of the M29 Grizzly's vaunted history throughout each of Humanity's glorious military actions in the greater galactic community, and for all of the work he had put into making the damn things run better than piles of sub-corporate grade crap, they sure had gone down quickly.
He wasn't even sure what was still burning at this point. It wasn't like the damn things ran on petrol, so who the fuck knows.
A small command tent still mostly stood 500 meters out from where the man sat. The kevlar-composite that made up the walls was shredded to high heaven, but somehow it still held enough structure to still loosely look like a tent. The other rapid deployment building, the man's now former barracks, was less fortunate. In point of fact, it was now a puddle of dissolved fibers and bodies.
Oh right, the bodies.
The man had evidently done a bit of cleanup. You could still smell the coppery tang of blood in the stagnant air, and if you looked closely there were still drying pools of red-brown in the yellow clay of the field the settlement was built on.
Thirty seven body bags lay in neat rows before the man, a testament to not only how many had died, but also to the ten men and two women who weren't getting shipped home at all.
The backdrop for the whole depressing sight is a massive body, like some kind of demonically possessed snake, nearly three and a half meters tall and so long that even an idiot could tell that the twenty meters of it still above ground was only the tip of the beast.
A countenance like an alien nightmare stared down the man, like a snake wearing a voodoo mask four meters across, covered by chitin scarred by chunks of metal shot at .05% of the speed of light. But, just to give it that special 'what-the-fuck' touch, there were still exposed... sensory organs? It was unclear, the only thing the man could say with certainty is that they weren't exactly eyes, they started out blue, and when you sink a meter of sword into them, the creature bearing them dies.
Shit, his sword.
The man stood up, and gently shook the cramps out of his body. The acid which had been pooling in some of the crevices of his armor finally got its chance to heed the call of gravity, spilling off the small catches where it had collected, and immediately burning through the thick rubber composite of the tire he'd been sitting on.
The man ran a hand through his hair, just messing the black bird's nest on top of his head even more. He'd never given much thought to his appearance, but if anyone was watching and judging his scruffiness now, they could bugger right off.
Picking his way across the battlefield, the man crossed huge sections of disturbed ground where the massive worm thing had burrowed, like a great till had been set to the soil, churning the clay and leaving broken earth in it's wake. He passed blackened scars shot into the ground by the Grizzly's main guns, each shot a testament to poor turret rotation speed, and failure. The chitinous shell of the best was caked in the dark yellow clay of the ground, each plate of the thing's natural armor collecting the soil at it's edge.
With a grunt the man hoisted himself onto one of its massive scythe-like claws, each eight meters long if they were an centimeter. A part of him shuddered, it had cut through forty nine marines almost faster than they could react, each those claws proving much deadlier than than they had any right to be.
Climbing to the top of the body, he made his way to the head, with its disturbingly blue tongue-thing and somehow creepier sensory tentacles and panels. Locating his prize, the man wrenched his weapon from the great beast's face.
Rubies gleamed at the base of the hilt and from the edges of the crossguard, the hilt itself depicted an aged man bearing a scroll in one hand and a sword in the other. Etched into the blade was a name so old it had truly been lost to time, even the society that spawned the sword could no longer truly recognize it for what it was. But the man knew. Godric Gryffindor.
Piercing green eyes looked down onto the blade, marveling again at its construction. He had first used the blade at the age of twelve, then killing another monster, startlingly similar to the one beneath his feet.
With another grunt he dropped back to the ground, and made his way to the barely functioning comm system to make sure the distress beacon was still sending its call out to the Alliance Brass, and whoever else might be listening.
When he was sure the signal was still going out, the grumbling began, "...last god damn mission I let the send me on. 'Oh you saved Elysium, you broke the blitz, how can you say you're not qualified for this!'. As if my problem is qualifications! Take my commission and shove it so far up their asses they'll be coughing commendations for a month."
The man walked his way back to the tire he had been sitting on, only to find the acid from his armor had neatly severed the chunk he had been sitting on clear off of the rest. Still grumbling he kicked the thing over, exposing the axle that had once connected it to one of the Grizzlys.
"Never should have given that stupid Shepard bint my real gods damned named. 'Oh hi I'm Harry Potter.' Bloody idiot."
He fell silent for a time, staring back at the bodies set against a nice view of a ghost-town.
"You leave earth and defy the ICW for what? To get your nice farm on the first Post-Earth world all shot up by a bunch of over evolved bird-men. And you gave your stupid bloody name to them at Shanxi, of course they would still have it on file, fucking idiot, and of course she would bloody know it. Save one Merlin-be-damned colony from some stupid alien buggers and this is what you get."
The man shifted a bit on the tire but no matter how he moved, the severed chunk of axle still pressed uncomfortably into one of the butt plates on his armor. He kept shifting to find a comfortable spot, before giving it all up as a bad job. Standing with a scowl on his face, the man kicked the chuck of tire away and removed a pale wooden stick from what a custom chamber in his gauntlet. With a quick swish and jab, a puffy leather chair appeared, straight from a catalog of the La-Z-Boy Interplanetary Trade Concern.
The man sunk back into it with a groan of comfort this time, giving his butt a bit of a wiggle to burrow himself further into its cushioned glory.
"Harry old boy, you have to pick a better bloody colony. You buy a farm on Shanxi, the Turians hit it. You move to an apartment on Elysium, the Batarians knock down your door the next year. You join up for a year, and you get a pair of platoons killed. Bloody hell man."
The man raised an arm, and an orange gauntlet of light formed around it. Manipulating the holographic interface with his off hand, images of a dozen worlds floated in front of his eyes.
"Amaterasu, Bekenstein, Freedom's Progress, Cuervo is nice this time of year. Huh."
The man scrolled through a dozen more worlds and codex entries before one caught his eye, a nice pastoral world, well developed, protected, and quiet. In a word, perfect. All he needed to just disappear for a bit, buy a nice place out on the edge of the capitol, raise sheep maybe.
The man set a number of financial extranet requests to run as soon as he neared the next comm buoy. If he was lucky they would all get cached in the buoy before the alliance saw fit to implement his retirement and they'd get processed at the military priority channels. He might have a nice place already waiting for him by the time he got off this forsaken rock and debriefed.
With a brief look at the rows of bodies in front of him, his eyes hardened. He had lost a lot of people in his time. You don't live for one hundred and ninety seven years, and through innumerable uprisings, regime changes, and one outright inter-species war, without having a few companions get lost along the way. Forty nine more men and women weren't that big of an extra weight on his conscience.
This was why he hadn't wanted to sign up for service again. Sure, he did good work, he helped people, but he had a long and storied history of being the one man out of an investigative force of fifty to survive.
"Eden prime, here I come."
Exodus Cluster, Utopia System, Eden Prime, Outskirts of Constant, Potter Estate - 06.02.2183
Harry James Potter, only son of James Charlus Potter and Lily Marie Evans, Boy-who-Lived, Man-Who-Won, Last of the Potters, former auror, former Director of Magical Law enforcement, alleged Dark Lord, four time Gold Medal winning champion bobsledder, Master of Death, and current Chief Gardener of Eden Prime's Planetary Council Manor stood on the porch of his home, looking out at the grounds of the estate he had purchased.
From his porch he could usually see the barest edge of the capital's spaceport, which he had spent many relaxing nights admiring behind a silencing charm. The take-offs and drop-offs each had a tendency to rattle windows, which was how he had gotten the land so cheaply, but with a pinch of magic, damn was it beautiful.
Right now all he could see is the bastard offspring of an Asari dreadnought and an old-Earth cuttlefish stepping all over his goddamn land and leaving massive bloody footprints all over his goddamned roses.
It also seemed to be dropping massive waves of bipedal machines from hatches all around it's base. They didn't seem to have any problem jumping to the ground from sixty meters up, so he assumed they were bots. The giant flashlight shaped heads didn't hurt either.
"God damn it."
[A/N]: On the off-chance someone notices this and tries to raise it as an issue, I am ManMadeOfLasers, and I was the original writer of this story. It was first posted on December 14th, 2014, written mostly while drunk and on vacation, and last year when I re-read it I hated it so much that I felt compelled to burn it to the ground and start over. However, instead of re-writing it, it sat on my hard drive for about a year and gathered dust, until I heard from another old fan that liked it and wanted to see it again.
I got inspired, and decided to actually do it.
To that end, props to BrigadierGnrlMayhem and Shikaku Zetsume, whose messages both got me off my ass and re-working this so it could be re-posted.
I hope everyone enjoys it, I'm still in process, but I'll post what I've got done.