VOLDEMORT'S LAST SPELL, by Louis IX
Disclaimer: Check first chapter for full disclaimer and other warnings. Author's Notes after the end.
posted June 30th, 2020
Inattentive wizards (and witches) being inattentive wizards (and witches), they were still doing magic openly despite living in megalopolises where thousands of security cameras were able to watch from every angle. Such as London.
Muggles already had almost-magic super heroes (and villains) with special training and/or powers. But they were easily identified, and each had a moniker and their special powers. Watching them interact (and fight) was like watching catch on the telly – with added property damage. Now, knowing that a whole subset of humanity had the same kind of power, allowing them to alter reality, teleporting where they wanted, killing with one spell, and erasing memories… that was frightening.
The Statute of Secrecy was made to protect muggles from wizards when a single wizard was able to vanquish whole armies. But, towards the end, it was more of the opposite, as the muggles now had handguns, vehicles, and nukes. With the number of incautious wizards now appearing on the internet, the Statute was almost completely unravelled.
And some muggles decided to take advantage of things in order to "acquire" these "valuable assets". Much like what happened to Harry several decades ago. Under the cover of riots, secret agents entered the homes of identified magic-users, and kidnapped them and their stuff. Since they didn't know what to take, they took everything. And in the midst of the urban jungle around them, they stayed unnoticed.
Noticing that some of his contact started to disappear, Harry tried to meet Strange… unsuccessfully. But the Sorcerer Supreme had assistant, and a guy names Wrong (or something like that) gave him a paper listing a few (thousands) locations. Apparently, the kidnappers had decided not to group their potential hostages.
Not only was it too large a number to do alone, but after testing the first ones, Harry determined that only powerful and determined could enter forcefully. So he enlisted a few capable friends… and a few enemies as well.
Because the best expendable firepower is one that you converted to your cause (provided he doesn't turn again). With proper mental conditioning, people were even all that happier to help. And wizards were specialists in mental conditioning. Wizards with a background in the muggle way of life, of course.
Harry took out his necklace of beads, and selected a dozen of them for the task. For each one, he cancelled the Transfiguration – with the spell he developed himself for that specific action, of course: it wouldn't do for any Joe or Jane Wizard to cast a Finite Incantatem on it to drown him in the sea of bodies it would create.
And then, before awakening them, he planted thoughts and memories to define the mission parameters. Here, it was: search for the missing wizards and witches, and deliver them safely to the nearest magical places (schools nearby, mainly). Only kill the opposition if there is no other mean to achieve the first objective. Destroy every surveillance network installations as well as computers, archives, and printouts. Return to him afterwards (to be either returned in enspelled isolation, or let free if they reject their evil ways).
Only then did he awaken them and let them go.
Some of these freedom fighters required additional steps, and Magneto was one of those because he had a helmet which needed removal to penetrate his thought processes. Touching the metal, Harry felt quite unclean, because the item seemed to radiate a strong sense of evil.
And after programming his current toy, Harry Vanished the helmet and created a nonmagical copy. Without evilness surrounding his mind, perhaps Magneto could be reformed?
It wasn't to be: the item was indestructible, and teleported back to his current owner a few days afterwards. Harry didn't remark that ability, much like he didn't see the artefact's other abilities: you need to kill the owner to become the new owner; and it draws its own strength from said owner (which is why it prefers strong individuals… and also why it crumbled to dust after Magneto lost all his power).
Sending hundreds of magical agents of chaos in the world, all with the same intent, was akin to sending a purge of sorts. In every meaningful building of every country, computers shorted, papers took fire, hard storage was transfigured into other papers to fuel the fire. And many people died. Because these computers weren't necessarily those constraining the kidnapped wizards and witches.
One was the supercomputer used by several airports to compute plane flights.
One was the high-speed "hive" managing the rail traffic in the country.
One stored game worlds, and millions of players wailed.
Seeing this, Harry tried to repair things, but it quickly escalated outside of his control. And as a grain of sand can destroy a whole factory, so can a whole civilization crumble to ashes because of one bad decision.
One of the destroyed computer network housed Wall Street's quotation database, as well as many other data. This one was "just" one computer among millions others, in a data centre protected against everything and anything the muggle engineers had imagined. But they hadn't envisioned the onslaught of super-villains.
Several online powerhouses skidded to a halt instantly, because they had all invested in that interconnectedness that left them vulnerable to isolation. International marketplaces stopped their exchanges. "Too big to fail" banks closed their doors – but not fast enough to prevent very real and very angry account owners from lynching their directors. And the world's economy crashed.
The armies of the world weren't ready for this, nor were they ready for any kind of combat situation, especially the mutant and magical freedom fighters: one of them interrupted a "sensibility training" offered to the Marines corps. And he and laughed silly when the men in high heels and pregnancy-simulating vests (but without weapons) fell like dominoes while trying to run towards the armoury (which was already in flames).
Others sabotaged computers managed the opening of nuclear silos. When panicking political leaders (the worst kind) went to their bunker and ordered the destruction of their own planet, the missiles reached the locked opening and exploded – thankfully, a nuclear reaction requires a certain set of circumstances, and an exploding missile isn't necessarily enough to make the cut.
After the failure of banks and transportation systems, people started to leave the big cities, reverting the trend started during the (First) Industrial Revolution, three centuries before. The big factories weren't even in countries where people would buy their products, anyway. And they, too, crumbled under their own weight.
The whole western civilization ceased to exist, only leaving burning megalopolises and struggling humans.
But all was not lost.
The horrendous death toll meant that those fleeing the big cities didn't all reach the small ones where they could rest and recover. Just enough to give those small towns the people they needed to be more than suburbs. Or "flyover country."
Without computerized means of transportation, and less and less petrol after the first flight from the cities, people went on foot most of the time, using bikes when they needed to reach the next town. The young'uns couldn't conceive the wonderful voyages of their elders when they were told of flying to the other side of the planet to do… what, again?
And keeping in mind the disaster that had been (and still were) the big cities of before, they voluntarily kept things simple. And simple meant happy for many people.
Even before the collapse, it was well known that people where largely more genuinely happy when living in small towns – notice I said "genuinely" because artificial pleasures don't count. Especially when those among whom they lived shared the same customs.
It's not to say that they lost progress, or even material wealth. But almost everything was grown locally, only importing what couldn't physically grow where you were.
The humans who lived through this crisis weren't unscarred, and they transmitted that wisdom to their kids.
And the first lesson was that Egoism Is Bad. Always wanting more for oneself, all the time, and heedlessly of the corresponding costs, had cost many other people their life, not to speak about other things.
The next was Love Thy Neighbour. There were no more countries. Just individual towns, which traded with their friendly neighbours, just like individuals traded with theirs. The banned any attitude resembling schoolyard mentality of before, such as rampaging bullies – who weren't always the largest ones, physically: those more protected by the teachers could also bully the others in other ways.
In order to enforce this, anyone could correct any would-be bully. And the lesson carried. The very few bullies who persisted into adulthood got the visit of their loving neighbours, who would leave him to repent afterwards… or not. It was his choice. Some were killed outright. Some got marks upon their bodies so that they had a single second chance. Some got exiled. But the "body" of the town got rid of its "infection" and everything returned to normalcy.
It was like the Middle Age again, but with two differences: there was no single person to head the towns, and none to head several. The people had learnt their lessons, and engraved them in each house not to forget them.
The second difference was the level of erudition. Books existed, and people knew how to read. Without televisions and entertainment centres, they read. And some applied bits of what they read into their life. In some towns, a waterwheel provided basic electricity, and filled batteries for others. Electricity was scarce, but people didn't need it as much. Of course, some of the towns disappeared after a while, because their only interest had been their in-between location: they were on the road towards somewhere else. Others moved towards a better location, with better access to water.
After having been scarred by humanity, the planet started to breathe again. Trees grew where humans had left, including in big cities: roots grew strong enough to split concrete and pavement, and trees outstepped their bounds, growing in size and wildness. After a while, the term "urban jungle" took a literal meaning. And the jungle was full of wild life.
When the mass exodus had begun, some had stayed, appropriating everything left behind and thinking themselves as "winners" because of this. With no care about repercussions, especially about how to sustain themselves on the long term, they took everything they wanted and burned the rest. After a while, those who still stayed had evolved alongside the trees around them. Regressing to a state where only immediate pleasures counted, they only grunted at each other and took all females for pleasure and not for reproduction. And they became extinct because of that.
And while vegetation slowly retook the megalopolises, the existing forests expanded as well, giving more space for the Elves. Who then, after some time, came back to the humans. Tentatively at first, then with more and more contacts when Veels (called Veela nowadays) started to appear again, the pointy-eared descendants of Har-Kan intermingled with humans again.
They taught the numerous ways to gain even more happiness while keeping their numbers manageable, while the humans regaled them with the inspired tales from their imagination and their remaining books – because Elves had a lovely voice but were low on creativity (their current fad was a song about the building of Stonehenge).
And bards and minstrels took the road again, taking the role of bearer of news as well as tavern distraction.
With erudition, imagination, and the support of the Elves, the wizards and witches came back as well.
After seeing their already small number seriously diminished by the crisis, they had retreated even further in their magically-hidden enclaves, hardening their wards and travelling only by Floo. When they had noticed that the megalopolises had finished burning, they had watched the humans for a while, still wary of going to them – because they had thought that the non-magicals wouldn't stop asking for this and that from their powers. Or rekindle witch hunts.
But re-educated humanity had pushed Egoism to the #1 spot among sins – true sins, of which people were shameful even when alone. And Universal Love to the #1 virtue – perhaps a bit too much, after the Elves' enlightenment. With witches and wizards, they could fill the few niches that were still glaringly empty, but they didn't demand it. Nor did they whine and whinge so that everyone would have the same things, especially those who wouldn't lift a finger to get those things. Hand-crafted products were better than nothing, and the magic-users' body language had made it evident that they would leave if pressed.
And magic users also made a powerful force to overcome if any upstart wanted to unite the towns again. The answer would be a resounding "No!" each time – as part and result of their new catechism, they all were fiercely independent.
All-in-all, it was a (relatively) peaceful utopia, and a good way for Harry to spend the millennia, jumping from town to town, singing songs and finding love for a while, before skipping town after a few dozen years. Because, you know, he's still immortal.
And when the sun would be too hot for the planet, he would help his fellows of all races to move to Mars (completely confusing the centaurs). And from there to other planets across the galaxy, before the sun exploded. Then the whole universe.
But that, as you'd say, is a completely different story.
Author's Notes: I'm not going to argue about this. As I told before, I let my muse drive and mostly enjoyed the scenery – except for some obviously grisly roadkills.
Why remove signs of the civilization? I don't know. I guess the inspiration came from a recently-reread novel from Barjavel (of which I own a copy, not the rights). Cookie if you guess which one (especially as the baseline is often the same in several of his works).
But, seriously, trying to find happiness in the concept of Smallville (without a helping super-hand) wouldn't be possible without some all-encompassing change of character for us humans. And I don't see anything able to do that today apart from a truly horrifying event shared by everyone. And even then, it wouldn't reduce our propensity of thinking of ourselves first and others last.
The "schoolyard mentality" I spoke about? It's very real, and very damaging, and all-encompassing. You see it at work, and between countries, and even in couples… bullies are everywhere. If Smallville was the way to happiness, some jealous people (who'd sneer at it while pretending to be happy sniffing coke from the top of the world) would find ways to market it. Or tax it. Or fine it. Or destroy it like a spoiled child if they can't do anything else with it. You know they would.
Egoism (implying greed, envy, and pride) is present everywhere. And since you can't always have what your neighbours have, you begin to resent them for that. All too often, it leads to hate (and then wrath). I'm not that hopeful for our future happiness, and the current calamities don't help.
I hadn't envisioned finishing this story like this, but oh well. What's done is done.
Now, if you think you can add to this story, or even better it, feel free. I only ask that you add a reference to the original, and tell me where you post it so that I can cheer you on. Or, if you don't feel so sure about writing, but you have ideas about alternate endings (rewinding as many chapters as you'd like), leave me a note and we'll work it out.
As such, for you readers, this story might be Complete for now, but stay wired for possible Omakes!