Chapter One: The Guardian Project
Harry's eyes snapped open to the sound of rustling feathers against his window. Pulling himself out of his bed he spotted Loki, one of the austere looking black and gray owls that the Auror corps used to send orders out. Harry swept to the bay window of his London flat, and opened up the window to let the bird in.
"Hello Loki." Harry muttered as he removed the sealed scroll from the owl's talon and dropped a few owl treats in front of him. "Did you bring me a take-some-time-off letter?" The owl hooted in what was unmistakably a derisive manner.
"I thought not." Harry pressed his thumb into the seal and it broke open at his touch. He was unrolling the scroll as Loki flew off.
You have been chosen to participate in Project Guardian.
The enclosed Port Key will activate at exactly 9:15 a.m. Make sure you're on it.
Project Guardian, Harry had heard them talking about it in the Department of Magical Cooperation and the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. He had absolutely no idea what it was about though
Harry checked the back of the note, there was nothing on it. This was not unexpected however. Owl-orders were very rarely detailed, just in case they fell into wrong hands. He also knew that the Port Key that had been included would be charmed to not only activate at the required time, but would leave with him, and only him, or no one at all.
Speaking of which... Harry looked down at the small item which had fallen out of the scroll when he'd unrolled it. "Well, that's interesting." Harry muttered to himself as he bent down to pick it up. It was a miniature, fully animated model of a Hungarian Horntail, exactly like the one he'd gotten just before the first task in the Triwizard Tournament in his fourth year.
Over the four years that Harry had been an Auror, and the three since Shacklebolt had been elected to lead the division, Harry had gotten used to his superior's unusual sense of humor. Often when he sent a Port Key such as this one, he chose an item to give the Auror a small hint to his assignment. It was more of a joke, really. Normally Harry could figure them out after a little work, but this time he was absolutely stumped.
"Maybe he's sending me to Hungary?" Harry muttered to himself. Well, he thought with a shrug, I'll find out sooner or later. In the meantime, I'd better get ready to go. He glanced at his wall clock, he had just under three-quarters of an hour to get ready. That was fairly leisurely compared to some of the other times he'd gotten owled.
After he'd had a quick shower and some breakfast, Harry found himself dressed in his official Auror robes, with his mission case slung across his back, his wand in one hand and his secondary broom, a moderate Starfire Seventeen, in the other.
The mission case was the standard type that was assigned to all Aurors. It contained an assortment of useful potions, some for healing, some for coercion. A magical lock picking set, Harry's old invisibility cloak, and a few other dark detection devices.
At 9:14 Harry had the dragon figurine clutched in his palm. A minute ticked by and he felt that now-familiar hooking sensation just behind his naval. After a quick ride through a swirling vortex of color Harry found himself standing in an unfamiliar location, but surrounded by very familiar people.
"Harry," Kingsley Shacklebolt greeted him, taking his hand and pulling him forward. "You can put that wand away, you're not in any danger."
Harry nodded and stowed his wand in his pocket, shouldering his broomstick as he did. At this point he stopped to look at the other members of group who were surrounding him.
Directly in front of him were Shacklebolt and Mad-Eye Moody, who though he was mostly retired was still very involved with the Aurors, and if anybody thought ill of this arrangement, they certainly didn't make themselves known. Also present were Nymphadora Tonks, whose hair was a blindingly bright prink at the moment, Dawlish and Rories, Neville Longbottom and a black haired young Auror Harry knew had just recently passed his evaluation period, but who Harry had never actually met before.
"Good ter see yeh Potter," Moody grunted as his magical eye rotated around in it's socket, searching for danger. "Now that yer here we can get going." He turned and led the group towards a large stone building, his wooden leg clunking the whole way.
"Sorry, but where exactly is `here'" Harry asked Tonks as he fell in step next to her. He kept his gaze strictly ahead of him, and forced himself not to look at Tonks, who was rapidly changing the color of her hair so that it looked like some sort of lava lamp or kaleidoscope, it made him sick to watch her. He hated it when she did that. He hated it and she knew it.
"Harry, this is the not-so-lost city of Atlantis." Tonks said with a mischievous grin on her face.
Harry gaped. "No way! You mean this place, Atlantis, is real?"
"Oh definitely. Hasn't been used much, but now we've found ourselves a real use for the place."
"Tonks..." Kingsley's voice had a warning note in it. "That's enough."
"Sorry sir, I forgot Harry hasn't been cleared for that yet." The group fell silent as Harry passed under the ancient looking archway that led into the massive stone building. The building itself was made of some unknown type of stone that shone with a green brilliance in the light. All around the archway were carved intricate looking glyphs that Harry didn't recognize. He wondered idly if Hermione, who had taken Ancient Runes at Hogwarts, would know any of them.
The passed under the archway and into the cool stone of the building itself. It took a moment for Harry's eyes to adjust to the dimmer interior lighting. But when it did he was confronted by probably the last sight he'd thought he'd see.
Aurors. At least a hundred of them. Harry could see nearly uniform black robes on each and every one of them. But, that wasn't possible, there just weren't that many Aurors on active duty.
Suddenly Shacklebolt stopped and turned to the rest of them. "I almost forgot," He took out his wand and pointed it at the lot of them "Banderali Capitalo" Harry blinked and there on his left arm, just below the shoulder, was the British Union Jack, his country's flag.
Moody nodded. "Good now we're ready. Come on." The aged Auror turned and clunked away and the rest of the group followed him. They entered a large Amphitheater where the rest of the Aurors, who Harry now assumed were from other countries, were sitting. The British group took their seats as well, and after a few minutes the group became settled and a tan skinned Auror with dark hair and dark eyes approached the stage. After clearing his throat he began his speech.
"Bienvenidos a todos, Me llama-" He paused and smiled sheepishly. Taking out his wand, he pointed it at his own throat. "Traducias"
"Sorry about that." Harry figured he must have cast some sort of translation spell, because his words weren't matching his lips, sort of like a badly dubbed muggle movie. The Spanish Auror cleared his throat again and continued. "As I was saying, welcome everybody, my name is Rodrigo Zapoteca, head of the Guardian Project. You all are here because you've been found by your superiors to be the absolute best of your divisions. And so you've been chosen to become part of the Guardian Project.
In an effort to strengthen international cooperation in magical communities, and in the hopes of preventing another wizard like Voldemort from ever coming to power,-" Harry ducked lower into his seat to avoid notice, which Tonks laughed at him for, "- The various governments have agreed to form the Guardian Corps, an elite group of Aurors from around the world, whose purpose is to insure that what happened with Voldemort never happens again."
Two other Senior Aurors, one of whom was Kingsley Shacklebolt, brought forward a small wooden casket that looked vaguely familiar to Harry. He was sure he'd seen it somewhere before. But he wasn't entirely sure where.
The two Aurors opened up the casket and removed from it a rough hewn wooden goblet that was full to the brim with dancing blue and white flames.
"A few of you may recognize the Goblet of Fire, which we've borrowed for a specific purpose. Last night the heads of the Auror divisions placed the names of all their Guardian candidates into the Goblet. The Goblet has now evaluated all of your strengths and weaknesses and has sorted you into squadrons. And now, we'll reveal the squadrons the Goblet has chosen for you all." Rodrigo took out his wand and shot a stream of golden sparks out of it and into the Goblet. The flames in the Goblet grew higher and turned multiple colors, the flames seemed to pulse for a moment then it shot out a shower of sparks in many different colors.
Harry gasped as a large red spark headed straight for him. It alighted on his right arm and with a flash became another patch, this one in the shape of a stylized bird's head. A bird with bright red plumage. Below the bird was a small banner with `Redhawks' written on it, the name of his Squadron.
He looked over at Tonks and noticed she also had a Redhawk patch on her arm. "Hey Harry!" Tonks nudged him, "Looks like we're in the same squad."
Harry nodded. He looked around and saw that Neville had a black knight, Dawlish had a fierce looking tiger and Rories had a green dragon.
As for the young Auror who Harry didn't know, Harry was surprised to find that he was also a member of the Redhawk squad.
Harry was about to introduce himself when the crowd around him began to shift as everybody got out of their seats, and filed out of the room, Harry with them.
"Well, I suppose it'll be time to meet our team mates won't it?" Tonks muttered as the group dispersed.
"No. Tomorrow, ye'll meet yer new teams." Moody growled, clunking along with the rest of them. " As for now, well, I figured we`d do a bit of training." This statement was met by a few groans.
"Hey! None o' that now. Remember: CONSTANT VIGILANCE."
The next morning Harry woke up with a major crick in his neck and a stiffness in his shoulders. All thanks to Moody's training techniques. Still, at least he couldn't say that yesterday had been boring, not in the slightest. At any rate he woke up in the barracks of the Atlantean compound along with the other British Aurors, minus Tonks and Rories, who were in the women's barracks nearby.
Or at least, they had been five minutes ago, now they were bursting into the men's half, singing and being entirely too perky for that hour of the morning. "Morning boys!" They shouted. "It's rise and shine time!"
Bloody hell," Harry grumbled. "What do you think you're doing?"
"I believe," Said Tonks, her violet curls bouncing merrily, "It's what's commonly referred to as a wake up call."
Neville began to say something but was stopped mid-word by a huge yawn.
"I agree with Neville" Dawlish muttered, blinking the sleep out of his eyes.
"Uh uh uh." Rories tutted as Harry went to lay back down. "Now of that now, Kingsley sent us to get you lot out of bed."
"Oh ho, this is Kingsley's fault is it?" Dawlish muttered darkly. "I'll be sure to remember that."
"Either way, we've got to go to breakfast." The men, grumbling mutinously, got ready nevertheless and ten minutes later they were eating breakfast in a large cafeteria.
"So what do you reckon our new squad's going to be like Tonks?"
"I don't know" She answered around a bite of scrambled egg. "But it shouldn't be too bad considering there'll be three of us Brits"
"Yeah but what about that other guy? The kid who just entered the Division? I don't even know his name." Harry muttered, eyeing the black haired man who sat eating his breakfast without looking at anybody.
"His first name is something weird sounding, looked kind of unpronounceable to me."
"Ah well." Harry shrugged. "He'll have to introduce himself eventually won't he?" Suddenly a large gong sounded through the hall and every one fell completely silent. Every eye turned towards the door where a tall man with stern features and a severe frown entered and stood, straight and rigid to the side of the door frame. He took a silver whistle that was hanging around his neck, put it to his lips and blew one loud note that rang clearly from one end of the room to the next.
"ATTEN-HUT!" The man shouted and instantly each and every one of the Aurors, no matter what language they spoke, sprang to their feet and snapped to attention.
"Alright now!" The Sergeant barked, striding up and down the pathway between the two tables. "The moment you've all been waiting for. When I call your squadron, you will fall in line, march right through that door and meet your commanding officer, there you will receive further instructions. Do I make myself clear?"
A chorus of "Yes Sir!" in many different languages replied. The Sergeant looked slightly pleased at the response.
"Right then!" He continued. "RIDGEBACKS!" Rories immediately stepped away from the table and, along with about a dozen others, fell into line and walked determinedly out of the hall.
"BLACK KNIGHTS." Went next, including Neville Longbottom.
"HAMMERHEADS!" Was the next group to leave. They were followed by the Sabretooths and the Hellhounds, the Hatchets and the Supernovas. Then:
"REDHAWKS!" Harry and the other two remaining English Aurors immediately left their places and, after being joined by nine others, left the hall. They were greeted by a man with the build of a stone wall. He had slightly thinning auburn hair and a beard the same color, his eyes were as gray as steel and as cold as ice.
"Alright you lot." He grunted, taking a long drag of the cigar in his mouth. "My name is Alan Collins and I'm your supervisor. I don't know what kind of rules and discipline..." He paused to glare at one of the foreign Aurors. "Or lack thereof, you had to deal with in your own governments" He took another drag and blew the smoke out of his nose. "But here, and for as long as you're with the Guardians, you'll answer to me and obey my every order without question. Do I make myself clear?" The Redhawks gave him an affirmation.
"Alright then. Follow me." He led them down the corridor just as the next Squadron was coming out of the hallway. They also saw Mad-Eye coming to greet them.
"Boy, do I feel sorry for them." Tonks muttered to Harry out of the corner of her mouth. It took all Harry had not to snicker in reply. They traveled down the corridor until they reached a doorway that had the Redhawk insignia emblazoned across it's front.
"Cornish Pixie." Collins muttered and the door swung open. The aged Auror stepped back and waved the team inside. They entered a large room full of large recliner chairs. It also had a number of full bookshelves and a large fireplace with a roaring fire, (probably for Flooing) on the wall was what Harry recognized to be a full length Foe-Glass. There were a number of doors leading out of this room and Harry was suddenly reminded very much of the Gryffindor common room.
"All right there Harry?"
Harry blinked stupidly. "Ron?"
"That's right mate." The redheaded young man grinned wryly, leaning back in his chair. "The Ministry offered me a job in the project. How could I refuse?" Harry sank into the chair next to Ron as his team mates filed into the room to have a look around.
"Ginny should be back shortly." Ron said. Harry was about to ask what in the name of Merlin Ginny was doing in Guardian, when something else caught his attention. A young, willowy woman with sapphire blue eyes and silver hair that flowed off her shoulders like moonlight, next to her was a hunched over man with dark brooding features and a large hooked nose, who walked somewhat duck-footed.
"Fleur? Krum? What are you guys doing here?" He asked as his fellow Triwizard Champions entered the room.
"Ve are being Aurors." Krum muttered
"Oui." Fleur confirmed with a small smirk on her lips. "what did you zink we were doing?"
"Alright now that we're all here, with the exception of Miss Weasley, we can begin. As a member of the Guardians you will be required to maintain the utmost secrecy, no one can know of anything, and I mean anything, that we do here. You are not even allowed to mention project guardian. The is absolutely top level security, and I cannot stress that enough. Do I make myself absolutely clear?"
The others nodded.
"Good." Collins gestured around the room. "This is the Redhawks' headquarters. Personal quarters are through that door on the left, the training center is over to the right and the medical wing is through the third door there. You have the rest of the day to yourselves, I'll see you tomorrow at eight-hundred hours." And Collins disappeared through the door leading to his quarters.
"He's rather er, curt isn't he?" Ron muttered as he stared at the door that the copper haired Auror exited through.
"Ah, don't mind him." An American wizard with coal black hair and completely white eyes flopped into a nearby desk and put his feet up on the table. "He was my superior officer for awhile. He's not so bad once you get to know him." He offered a hand to Ron and Harry which they both shook. "My name's John, John Screibb. I'm an American, if you couldn't already tell by the shoulder patch or the cocky attitude." John grinned.
"My name's Harry Potter and this here is Ron Weasley."
"I'm not an Auror." Ron informed, a little too quickly.
"You're not? Then what are you doing here, if you don't mind me asking?"
"Actually I was kind of wondering that too, Ron." Harry turned towards his best friend, waiting for an explanation.
Ron shrugged modestly. "Oh well, I'm actually the squad's Research and Development specialist. The Ministry, the English Ministry that is, recruited me. They wanted to get my brothers Fred and George too, but well, they don't really respond well to authority, as you well know Harry. Plus they like running the joke shop better." Ron shrugged. "They did manage to convince Ginny, my sister, she's here as our team Medi-witch."
"Ah speaking of Medi-witches," John interrupted as a young witch with light brown hair and blue eyes walked over and dropped into his lap. "I'd like you to meet Kara, one of our field medics. Kara, this here is Harry and Ron."
"Nice to meet you." She gave the two of them a pleasant smile and shook their hands
"She's also my wife, so hands off the both of you."
"Oh shut up John." Kara muttered smacking him lightly on the arm.
Tonks flounced over and sat on the corner of the table that John had his feet on. "Well boys, what do you think of the new accommodations?"
"They're not bad. Kind of remind me of Gryffindor Tower back at Hogwarts." Harry replied.
"Yeah." Ron agreed. "Now that you mention it, I do see something of a resemblance."
"Ravenclaw common was a lot like this too." Tonks admitted.
"I didn't know you were a Ravenclaw, Tonks."
"Oh yeah. Eagles all the way." Tonks grinned and striped her hair bronze and blue.
Suddenly a tall Mexican Auror, rushed over to them. "I saw that!" He cried. "You're a metamorphmagus!"
"Yeah. I am, Nymphadora Tonks at your service. But I'll warn you, call me Nymphadora and I'll rearrange your face, for a change."
"Hey, that's fine with me. I am Javier Ramirez. Auror Extraordinaire!" He took hold of Tonks' hand and lightly kissed the back of it with a wink.
"Alright Don Juan, or whatever your name is, that`s enough of that." Tonks snapped, snatching her hand away.
"Whatever you say my beautiful chameleon." He turned towards Harry. "Ah, I know who you are, my friend. You are Harry Potter. Vanquisher of You-Know-Who." He studied Harry's face for a moment. "Didn't you use to have a scar on your forehead? Like this?" He blinked and a lightning bolt scar split his forehead, identical to the one Harry once had. Tonks looked dumbstruck, her mouth hanging open in shock.
"I did." Harry said with a grin at Tonks' face. "But it vanished as soon as Voldemort perished. Apparently, since it represented my link to him, once that link was gone so was the scar."
Tonks recovered herself. "You're a metamorphmagus too?" She shrilled, Javier chuckled.
"Of course I am." And with a smirk he walked away.
Harry let his eyes rove around the room, taking in the sights of his new team mates socializing with each other. There was a rugged looking Canadian Auror who was chugging a can off muggle beer, though where he got it was anyone's guess. In the corner He spotted a Chinese witch with long hair that was down to her knees talking animatedly with an Australian wizard, and sitting in the lotus position with his eyes shut and a peaceful expression on his face was a Japanese wizard.
"I've heard of him." Ron exclaimed after seeing where Harry was looking. "That's Ryu Quing-Long."
"Who?" Harry too, had heard the name before but he couldn't place where.
"Ryu Quing-Long." Ron repeated. "He's a legend, one of the best duelists in the world. He can use two wands at once, you know."
"So can I."
"Not like him mate, you use one then use the other, him, he can fire off two different spells at the exact same time."
"No way." Harry wondered if Ron was pulling his leg. "How does he say two incantations at once?"
"He doesn't." Ron explained. "Doesn't need to. In fact, from what they say, no one's ever heard him say a word at all."
Harry still wasn't sure what do make of that, so he made a non-committal grunt. And pulled himself to his feet. "I think I'll go check out my quarters. Be back in a minute."
He walked through the door leading to their rooms. He saw that each room had a name plate emblazoned on the front as well as which country the owner represented. Harry read them as he walked past
Ami Miazuki- China
Ryu Quing-Long- Japan
Michael Asher- Canada
Javier Ramirez- Mexico
Fleur Delacour- France
Jack Randall- Australia
Viktor Krum- Bulgaria
John and Kara Screibb- United States
Nymphadora Tonks- Britain
Harry paused as he read the name written on the next door. Then he blinked and re-read it. He couldn't quite believe what he was seeing, it just wasn't possible.
Procyon Black- Britain
"No way." Harry breathed.