Harry had slept for a few hours before he heard someone stumble outside his motel room.
"Damn it Tonks. Can you at least watch where you're going?" A grizzled voice growled out quietly.
"You try having to deal with a shifting center of gravity Mad Eye and tell me how coordinated you would be." A female voice snapped back quietly.
Harry kept his eyes closed but adjusted his grip on the M6 in his lap. He heard the locks on his door open with a click and the door squeak slightly as it opened.
He waited until the pair of wizards were close to him. He moved when the female put her hand on his shoulder.
The female was pushed to the ground with his knee resting firmly on her sternum, not enough to hurt her, but enough to keep her still while he trained his M6 on the older, and much more dangerous male.
"Professor Moody. What a pleasant surprise. I gather that our illustrious headmaster has finally deigned to bring me back to the magical world?" He inquired, voice level and weapon never wavering.
Moody grunted before replying. "I was never your professor Potter. Good reflexes though. Glad to see that you are prepared as well. Most wizards wouldn't think to use muggle weapons." He said, his scarred face twisting in a mockery of a smile.
"To their detriment I am sure." Harry replied evenly. "Who's your friend?" He asked pointing at the woman on the ground.
"Junior Auror Nymphadora Tonks. She is part of the Order along with myself." Moody replied.
Harry nodded and stood up before helping the woman to her feet. "Sorry about that. Can't be too careful these days." He said.
"Not a problem. Also, call me Tonks. I hate my first name." The woman, Tonks, replied as she rubbed her chest.
Harry smirked as he holstered his sidearm. "If you'd like, I can help you out by applying some bruising salve." He said, causing the woman to sputter.
Moody eyed him cautiously. "What happened to you Potter? Nothing the Headmaster said made it seem like you would be one to flirt with a pretty bird." He said causing Tonks to gape.
Harry glanced around. "Are we going someplace secure?" He asked.
"We are." Moody growled.
"It can keep until then. But keep in mind: There is a danger in secrets. Both in seeking and in knowing." Harry said as he grabbed his bag. "Let me check out and we can leave."
Harry swayed slightly as the portkey the three had taken landed. He smirked at the marked improvement over when he went to the World Cup last summer.
"Read this quickly." Moody said, pushing a piece of parchment into his hand.
"The headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix is located at Number 12, Grimmauld Place." Harry read before the parchment was snatched from his hand and burned.
"Focus on what you read Harry." Tonks said as the group moved across the street from the park they had arrived in.
As he did as instructed, Harry saw numbers 11 and 13 move as number 12 seemed to appear out of nowhere.
The three quickly entered the house at Moody's urgings.
Looking around the foyer, Harry was not impressed by the dark and dusty nature of the house. He could feel the Dark nature of the magic in the house crawling over his skin, making his instincts scream 'Danger!', like an Elite with active camo was hiding around the corner.
He jumped slightly when Tonks tripped over a tack troll leg umbrella stand which caused a portrait of a rather deranged woman to wake up and start scream insults and vitriol at the house.
He smiled slightly when he saw Sirius rush downstairs to the painting and wrestle the curtains closed.
"Shut up you miserable old bat!" He shouted as he wrenched the curtains closed, muffling the woman's screams.
"Hello Harry. Sorry about that. My mother's portrait. Can't get the damn thing off the wall." He said as he came up to Harry and gave him a hug.
Harry returned the hug and smiled. "How about I give it a shot? Fresh eyes and all?" He inquired.
Sirius stepped back and gave an 'after you' motion with his hand. Harry smirked as he climbed up to the landing.
Harry pulled the curtains back and the volume of the screams increased.
"Oh shut the fucking hell up you psychotic bitch!" Harry shouted over the painting, shocking the subject into silence. Reaching behind him, he drew his combat knife from its sheath on his belt and quickly sliced the painting from its frame.
Rolling the canvas tightly, he descended the stairs whistling lightly as he spun the blade in his hand.
"I would recommend napalm in getting rid of that. Sticky and burns hot." He said as he handed the parchment to a stunned Sirius.
"Pup, I could kiss you. We have been trying to get that damn thing off for weeks!" He said.
Harry shrugged. "And no one even thought about cutting the picture out of the frame?" He asked with a raised eyebrow before a scream of fury cut off any reply.
Harry turned and saw a rather old and decrepit house elf standing on the landing beneath the now empty frame.
"Cursed half blood has defiled Mistress's portrait!" It screamed before leaping at Harry with a rusty kitchen knife.
Instantly, Harry's adrenaline kicked in and he was able to grab the elf by his throat and pluck the knife from his hand in one smooth motion.
Turning to Sirius, he asked: "Is this one yours?"
Sirius shook his head. "Came with the house. Little blighter belonged to my mother. Loved to torture me growing up until I ran away to your dad's home. His name is Kreacher." He explained.
Harry nodded. "So no real attachment to him and the only reason he hasn't been dismissed is because he knows things right?"
Harry looked to the struggling elf. "So Kreacher, any orders you were given that you were unable to complete?" He inquired.
At this the deranged elf broke down and told the story of his final order from Regulus Black, Sirius's younger brother. Sirius ordered Kreacher to bring them the locket.
When he reappeared with the item, Harry recoiled.
"We need to destroy that now." He barked out.
"What is it and how do we destroy it?" Sirius asked holding the locket at arm's length.
"Basilisk venom works wonders." Harry replied. "Dobby!" He called out after a moment of thought.
"Master Harry Potter bes calling Dobby?" The odd little elf inquired.
"Dobby, could you retrieve the fang from the basilisk that I killed in my second year? Be very careful when you do so, it will still be dangerous." Harry request of the elf.
Dobby nodded and disappeared before returning moments later with a bundle of cloth.
"Dobby bes getting a fang of the nasty snake from Professor Whiskers office." He said handing the bundle to Harry.
Harry chuckled at the little elf's tenacity. "Thank you Dobby." He said causing the elf to tear up and smile.
Harry turned to Kreacher. "This will destroy the locket." He said presenting the fang to the elf.
Sirius set the locket on the floor and Kreacher snatch the fang from the bundle and stabbed it into the face of the locket, the corrosive venom quickly eating away at the metal, causing a shrieking black mist to rise from the ruined locket before it dissipated.
"What on Earth was that?" Came the voice of Molly Weasley from the kitchen.
"If everyone can gather in the kitchen, I will explain what I can." Harry said as he stood.
"What's happening to Kreacher?" Remus asked.
Harry turned and saw the elf laying on the floor, shaking as the venom overtook his system.
Harry sighed as he drew his knife from its sheath and drove it into the dying elf's heart.
"HARRY!" Came the shocked exclamations.
"I did him a kindness. Dying from basilisk venom is painful. Better to make it quick and keep his suffering to a minimum." Harry replied as he pulled the knife out of Kreacher, sighing as he saw the blade melt before his eyes.
Setting the knife on the elf's chest, he turned to Sirius.
"I would burn the corpse. Use the hottest fire you can." He said as he walked into the kitchen.
After Kreacher's corpse was disposed of, the group found Harry nursing a butterbeer at the kitchen table, sitting at what would be the right hand of the head of the table. He gestured for the others to have a seat.
He glared at Dumbledore who sat in the seat at the head of the table.
"I do believe that is Sirius's seat Headmaster. I would recommend vacating it." Harry said, drawing startled gasps from those in the room.
"Harry, how can you say such a thing to the Headmaster?" Molly exclaimed.
"Because the boy is as arrogant as his father and just as disrespectful." Snape said, speaking for the first time.
Harry grunted. "I guess you enjoy visiting the sins of the father on an innocent child, eh Snape? Not a good quality for a spook." He said.
"Spook?" Remus asked, heading off Snape's reply.
Harry nodded and gestured absently towards Snape.
"The man is a spy. For both sides I'd wager. Dealt with too many damn spooks in my life to not be able to pick one out of a crowd." Harry replied. "What I have to say is not for his ears. If you want me to talk, he has to leave. Plausible deniability and all that. Don't have to lie about something you don't know about after all."
Snape glared at Harry before looking at Dumbledore. Dumbledore sighed and gestured for Snape to leave.
"Leave the house, not just the room!" Harry called out as the door shut. "Privacy wards if someone would be so kind."
Once the wards had been put up, Harry sighed.
"So, as far as what that locket was, it was how Riddle survived his body being destroyed. I won't go into details for the sake of operational security, but there are at least three others by my estimation. Gringotts has destroyed two of them, I have destroyed one, and Kreacher took care of the locket. Gringotts is going to do a thorough sweep of all the vaults of confirmed and suspected Death Eaters to check for more." Harry began.
"So you know what they are?" Dumbledore inquired.
Harry nodded. "Yes. Would have been nice to NOT have one stuck in my head for 14 years, but that is in the past."
"But Harry, you shouldn't have to worry about such things. You're just a child." Molly said worriedly.
"Maybe if the adults in this room had done their fucking jobs during the first war, I wouldn't have to worry about it. Instead, you used schoolyard spells to fight people coming at you with lethal force. You have to respond in kind to these threats." Harry said, his voice flat and without emotion.
"Harry…" Dumbledore began.
"Stow it Headmaster. If you had authorized the aurors to use deadly force back when this mess started, things wouldn't have gotten to this point." Harry said, glaring at the older wizard before turning to Molly. "As far as being a child, I have never been a child, in either life."
This declaration was met with silence.
"You are remembering a past life Mister Potter?" A tall black man inquired.
"Yes, I am Mister…." Harry replied.
"I am remembering a past life Mister Shacklebolt. One where I was an orphan and turned into a child soldier." Harry replied.
"How were you orphaned Harry?" Hermione asked.
Harry glanced at her before replying. "My parents were killed when our colony was attacked. I was able to get on one of the last transports off planet before the planet was glassed. That happened when I was an infant. I wound up in an orphanage until I was six. Then I was kidnapped and taken to a planet called Onyx. There I was conscripted into the Navy and trained to be a soldier. At fourteen I was given augmentations that made me faster and stronger than your average soldier. After I had recovered, the officer in charge of the program took me and used me as his personal grim reaper."
"What did you mean by your planet being glassed?" Remus asked.
Harry was about to reply when Morgana spoke up in his earpiece.
"Harry, place the terminal on the table. It has a holographic emitter that I can manifest my avatar on. I can assist in explaining." She said.
Harry unclipped the terminal from his belt and placed it on the table.
"I have a friend who can help me explain things about the Human-Covenant War." He said.
The top of the terminal opened up, splitting into four pieces as they folded at the corners. The crystals warmed and Morgana's avatar manifested.
"Greetings. I am Morgana, an ancilla created by magic to assist Harry in his mission." Morgana said as she looked around. "To explain the Human-Covenant War, we have to go back to over five years before Harry was born. The war started when the world known as Harvest was attacked on February 3, 2525 and ended on March 3, 2553 at the Battle of Installation 00. The total casualties on the human side numbered in the hundreds of billions." Morgana explained causing looks of horror on the faces of everyone, except one.
"I myself never saw the end of the war. In 2552 I was transferred to NOBLE Team who were stationed on Reach, our primary military world. Reach's defenses were second only to Earth's. Through circumstances that I am not aware of, the Covenant found Reach. Over the next couple of weeks, we fought the Covenant in multiple engagements. As we fought, we fell, one by one. First was Jorge, NOBLE 5 and the only Spartan-II on the team. He stayed behind on a Covenant Supercarrier to detonate a makeshift bomb we made from a Slipspace drive. The there was Kat, NOBLE 2. She was killed by a Jackal Sniper, one shot straight through her helmet. The next to fall was Carter, NOBLE 1. He crashed a Pelican dropship into a Scarab to defend Emile, NOBLE 4 and myself, NOBLE 6. Emile was killed as the shipyard where the UNSC Pillar of Autumn was berthed. I was able to man the Onager MAC gun and bought the Autumn a chance to escape. The next few hours saw me fight a seemingly endless horde of Grunts, Jackals, Brutes, Hunters, and Elites. I was finally killed by three Elites." Harry chimed in, with Morgana displaying holograms of the various Covenant species as he mentioned them.
"How were you able to fight them for so long?" Moody asked, quietly impressed at the young man's exploits.
"NOBLE Team was outfitted with the MJOLNIR Mark V Variant B Powered Assault Armor. Combined with the armor's strength enhancement, sensors, and energy shields, we were engines of destruction on the battlefield. We weren't invincible by a long shot, but if we were careful, we could do some serious damage to our enemy." Harry replied.
"Harry is understating things a bit on how much damage that he could do." Morgana said, smirking as she crossed her arms across her chest. "He is one of only two SPARTAN super soldiers that received the designation 'Hyper Lethal Vector'. When he was serving as Ackerson's personal attack dog, he made entire groups of Insurrectionist Militia disappear."
Harry rolled his eyes.
"Harry, you only mentioned five of the members of NOBLE Team. What happened to NOBLE 3?" Hermione inquired, her voice serious.
"NOBLE 3 was Jun, our sniper. He survived to the end of the war and was the head recruiter for the SPARTAN-IV program. This program pulled from the ranks of Special Operations and regular Army and Marine Corps troops rather than kidnapping children like they did with the SPARTAN-II and SPARTAN-III programs." Harry replied, looking at Hermione curiously.
"Harry, there are several things that I need to ask you." Dumbledore stated, speaking for the first time in a while.
"Yes, Headmaster?" Harry replied, looking at the man.
"When did you leave your relative's house?"
"At approximately 0145 hours this morning. From there I went to the Underground station and took the Tube to Charing Cross and went to Diagon Alley. From there, I went straight to Gringotts and spent the next several hours there going over my accounts and getting an audit started on them. I left that evening around 1830 hours. From there I went into mundane London, secured the motel room Tonks and Moody found me in and ordered dinner." Harry replied. "Why, did something happen?"
Dumbledore sighed. "At approximately 2 PM a Patronus charm was registered in Little Whinging at your relatives home. Your family was discovered and they were found to have suffered the Dementor's Kiss." He said.
Harry grimaced. "Let me guess, the Ministry, in all their infinite wisdom, has decided that I cast the charm and has expelled me?" He said, sarcasm leaking into his voice.
"Unfortunately, that is the case. However, I was able to use some of the little remaining influence that I have to change it to a hearing rather than out right expulsion. The hearing is to be held on this coming Monday at 10 AM." Dumbledore said.
"So in other words I need to get to the Ministry at 0700 because someone is trying to railroad me." Harry said. "I will be there and I will show them the documentation from Gringotts regarding my remembering my past life and that I was there for the most of the day after I left Privet Drive. Add to the fact that the Ministry emancipated me by forcing my fraudulent participation in the Triwizard Tournament, the Trace should have broken immediately. It also should have broken the moment that I took up the head ring for House Potter and took up my rightful place as Lord Potter." Harry said drawing gasps.
"No Headmaster. If you had not interfered with the execution of my parent's will and ensured that Sirius received a trial, I would have been prepared to assume my proper station in life and would have had a proper childhood. And even if Sirius was guilty of what he had been accused of, there were at least six others, not counting the Longbottoms and Marlene McKinnon, that would have been able to take care of me." Harry said, anger in his voice and magic crackling around him. "The only reason that you did not is that you only viewed me as a disposable weapon, otherwise I would have been properly trained and not set up as a lamb to the slaughter."
"Is this true Albus?" Sirius asked, a hint of the Black madness in his voice.
Dumbledore remained silent, an expression of anger on his face.
"Your silence is telling Headmaster." Harry said, a slight smirk on his lips. "If you truly wish for this war to end and quickly, you will need to lay all your cards on the table. Holding back intel will only cause lives to be wasted." He added, remembering a conversation at Camp Kurahee with SCPO Mendez.
"There are things that you are not ready for Harry." Dumbledore said firmly, trying to regain control of the conversation.
"Headmaster, I call bullshit on that." Harry replied flatly. "If it is because of some misguided belief that you want to preserve my childhood, then let me tell you this, I have never, in either life, been able to be a child. In this life I have been verbally and physically abused, treated like a slave and made to live in a storage cupboard under the stairs. Even at Hogwarts, the supposed 'safest place in Great Britain' have I been able to be a child. Every year it has been something that has put me in danger. That accursed blood red stone, Riddle possessing Quirrell, the basilisk and that abomination in the diary and the fraud Lockhart, the Dementors and Pettigrew, and the that damn tournament last year. I can guarantee that if I spoke to someone who graduated before I started Hogwarts, they will say that life was quiet and boring compared to what the last five years have been like." He said, now standing and collecting Morgana's case. "I have half a mind to contact the Prophet and give them a nice little tell all about my life. Address the rumors that I am a psychotic attention seeking liar." He added as he walked towards the door.
As he waited for the wards to be removed, he turned to loom at Dumbledore and imparted on last piece of advice.
"If you want to continue to be my ally, then you need to consider one thing Headmaster" He said, glowing emerald eyes meeting cool blue ones. " Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum."
With that he left the kitchen.
"What does that mean?" Tonks asked as she tried to puzzle out the unfamiliar Latin phrase.
"If you seek peace, prepare for war." Hermione said firmly. "I am going to go see him. Calm him down a bit." She said, leaving the kitchen as well, leaving the assembled group in a pensive mood.