Disclaimer: I own nothing; Harry Potter and the elements of his universe all belong to J.K.Rowling. Firefly/Serenity and the elements of its universe all belong to Joss Whedon. I'm just borrowing the characters to play with for a while. This is for pleasure only, no profit is being made, and no copyright infringement is intended.
PROLOGUE – Two Years Ago (October 31st, 2518)
The CDM has long been the backbone of every major and minor decision making process. From the smallest three person office to the largest unified federation of planets allied together under a centralized governing institution. From traditional relationships of master and apprentice, from employer and employee, the introduction of a third element always came with the question of privacy in matters. Thus was born the most useful tool for making decisions while keeping other parties ignorant: the CDM, better known as the closed door meeting.
A massive communication was broadcast across the entire universe telling the story and truth about the planet Miranda and the horror of what happened there. How it was a government sponsored program and attempt to make life better by making people better. A gross mistake that led to over thirty million deaths as the people just lost all desire to continue existing. But in approximately a tenth of a percent, or thirty thousand of the inhabitants, they did not lose the desire to exist. Rather they gave into the madness that existence had become. They were no longer men and women, they were monsters. Legends and stories of boogeymen gave them the name Reavers. There were almost as many ghost stories about Reavers as there were stars in the sky. The stories said they cut themselves up for no reason. They said they would rape anything that moves, they would eat flesh, and make a suit of skin. As naturally as a man breathes, a Reaver rapes, murders, pillages, and destroys. They said if a Reaver is close enough to be seen, then it's already too late. Find a gun as fast as possible and swallow a bullet.
Most of the stories were second and third hand, passed around to scare people who'd truthfully never even ventured near the outer rim. The sad truth was an awful lot of the stories were completely accurate.
But it was for these reasons that in an unnamed building, in an unnamed government department, an unnamed number of unnamed Alliance leaders were forced to deal with the fallout in a closed door meeting. They had worked their way through the majority of the action points on today's agenda, but there was one matter they were still arguing divisively about.
"Our primary reason for retrieving River Tam is gone." The man punctuated his statement with a pound onto the wooden round table a dozen or so well-dressed men sat at. He stood up and explained his point of view. "The biggest secret she held has been exposed. They sent out that message all about what happened on Miranda. All of the civilized planets seem to understand it for what it was: a failed experiment. But," he accentuated, putting on a good show. "But every government detractor and browncoat has all the more reason to start up a rebellion. The outer rim already has factions contemplating secession from the Alliance."
An especially rotund man argued back. "She still has secrets! She knows more than she should." He was blustering and shaking his face angrily, as if personally offended.
"Her continued existence is an embarrassment to the Alliance." A lithe blonde gentlemen calmly pointed out.
The first man shrugged unconcerned. "So? What options do we even have left? Our most resourceful and successful operative failed." He paused and looked at all the other men in the room. He repeated louder a second time, "Failed. He was incapable of even functioning as an operative anymore. Of course, killing him did not help matters."
The rotund man shook his head vehemently. "Bah! He was practically a browncoat! He had them! You heard his brief, he told his men to stand down."
"I'm not denying that, I'm just reiterating, what options do we have?" The first man suggested, "Try sending out our next most successful operatives? Do we want to lose them too? Especially on a target that has lost much of its priority?"
"Yes! We send them all if we have to!" Another older gentlemen jumped into the fray.
"Settle down, Morty. Be reasonable. The question remains is, what further threat does she even pose?" The man to the left of the lithe blonde man questioned.
The oldest man there, with thick glasses asked, "Does anyone even think she would be a capable leader of any sort of uprising? Her training makes her a match for just about any operative in hand to hand combat."
The first man explained, "No. She's not together enough mentally to lead. She'll fight back and protect better than any normal human at times, but her head's not all there. I mean she was a reader before we ever got a hold of her."
"We can't just let her go!" The seemingly always irate rotund man ordered.
The first man smiled mischievously. "Grunner, do you remember Weatherby's story when we went drinking?"
The lithe blonde gentleman looked at the first man incredulously. "You can't be serious."
"Why not? Our top operative failed. I say we give it a shot." The first man argued with a smile.
"That was some fictional old wives tale!" The blonde argued back.
"What are you two talking about?" One of the more silent men asked.
"Annie?" The first man spoke into the speaker next to him. "Please get Antonio Weatherby up here as soon as possible." A buzz and crack informed him she had received the message and was working on it.
"A potential solution to our problem," the man explained to the others at the table. "And particularly one that costs us nothing to attempt. It won't even be our resources at risk."
The doors to the office opened for the first time in hours, and a nervous, young man with bright red hair walked in, keeping his head down. "You wanted to see me, sir?"
"Antonio! May I call you Antonio?" The first man asked.
"Of course, sir." The redhead obliged.
"Grunner and I were just recalling the intriguing tale from your family history."
The redhead looked around the room fearfully. "Err…my family history, sir?"
The lithe blonde gentlemen smiled and continued, "About the hero you can call on to save the world?"
"Oh that," The redhead was unable to contain an embarrassing blush. "Umm… I don't think you can take too much of that seriously."
The first man would have none of this. He smiled but firmly insisted, "Did your grandfather not pass this secret to you on his deathbed? Do you really believe he would have wasted his final words on a joke?"
The redhead flushed. "Well no, of course not. But at his age, and in his condition, you may not be able to take everything at face value."
"So you don't hold much faith in the possibility of truth in it?" the rotund man asked, for the first time sounding calm.
The redhead paused. "My… my grandfather definitely did." He seemed wistful in his remembrance. "And the fact that it meant so much to him means I'll be treating it as though I do have every faith in it. No matter how unlikely I find the idea of… a wizard hero."
The oldest man with the thick glasses asked respectfully, "Could someone please enlighten the rest of us on just what your grandfather believed and shared with his final words?"
"Antonio?" The first man asked.
The redhead took a moment and reluctantly explained, "My grandfather told me that our family has long been the keepers of a true wizard hero."
"Could you expound on that?" one of the older gentlemen asked with a raised eyebrow when it seemed details were not at the moment forthcoming.
The redhead nodded and began to recall the entirety of his grandfather's final hour. "According to what my grandfather told me, magic is real and there used to be people who were wizards and witches. He believed our family was one of the more notable ones. Apparently these wizards were a complete functioning society as recently as a century before the destruction of the Earth-That-Was. Now if you believe in all this mumbo-jumbo you have to go back four or five centuries. There was an extremely talented wizard who, while humble to a fault, was a hero in every sense of the word. He defeated five different fledgling Dark Lords and one full-fledged mean-arse bastard who many considered the most horrible Dark Lord ever. I remember clarifying this point with my grandfather as I asked him if he meant mean-ass but my grandfather insisted, 'No, it's mean-arse.' Anyways, so the story goes about this wizard keeping the peace, and living out something like 150 years. He loved his wife but they were never able to have children, and then she died when she was 141. He hung around for a decade or so, bored out of his mind. Apparently his legend had grown to the point that he didn't have much purpose left. So he supposedly put himself in a magical sleep, so that when his help could be used again, he'd be awoken and called on. He had no family left after his wife died, but apparently he was extremely close to one exceptionally large family. He entrusted himself and bound himself to that family line."
"And that would be the Weatherby line, one of the more notable... wizardry families?" The rotund man asked with a touch of disbelief.
"So the story goes." The redhead shrugged. "I mean I think it sounds ridiculous but…" he paused and looked away. He quietly mumbled. "I do wonder."
"What's that?" the blonde gentlemen overheard and asked curiously.
The redhead looked around and saw everyone watching him in various states of disbelief. "Well," it took him a few moments but he finally admitted, "There is some evidence leading me to believe it may be true."
"Really?" the first man asked with a grin.
The redhead lifted his right hand into the air and pointed to his middle finger. "This ring," he explained. "Not a bad ring, it suits me decently. But I never put this ring on. It appeared on this finger shortly after my grandfather passed. And I have never been able to take it off."
More than a couple men frowned to hear this news, but most were raising curious eyebrows.
The first man who had been smiling through most of this asked, "Tell me, Antonio. Would you be willing to help your government and find out the truth about your grandfather's final words?"
The redhead perked right up. "What? Why? Is there any danger?"
"No, nothing too serious or drastic." The first man assured him. "Just a unique situation where we could answer some of those questions you have about that ring, while at the same time potentially assisting the Alliance. We had a mission and lost our best operative. We are looking for alternatives to try before risking more operatives."
"Oh my word," the redhead gasped. "Lost our best operative? This does sound serious."
The blonde man reluctantly smiled and explained, "Mission success is not highly critical, so now is the right time for taking a chance on something… different."
The redhead nodded vigorously, "Of course, sirs. I'm with you one hundred percent. It's just…" He hesitated a moment and shrugged his shoulders. "I'm not sure how to activate it. And I don't particularly want to lose a finger either."
One of the older gentlemen was tapping his chin. "We should try having a reader scan it. If it is magical, they're the most likely ones sensitive enough to recognize it."
"Actually sir," the redhead jumped in and offered, "I think my grandfather said something about that. I think you have to be magical to activate it. And he, that is to say my grandfather, thought readers may be all that's left of wizards and witches."
"Hmm," the rotund man injected. "How convenient."
The first man smiled. "So? All parties agreed this is the best course of action for now?"
A few men were grumbling and shaking their heads, but a consensus called out, "Agreed."
"Antonio?" the first man addressed. "Why don't you come with Grunner and I and we'll get you set up while we call in a reader?"
The redhead just nodded meekly and followed after the two men.
"Relax Antonio," the first man said sweetly. "You're not in any trouble, and we're not doing anything we shouldn't. If there is any truth at all that you can call on this wizard hero, then it becomes necessary to find this out and test his worth, before we get into a situation that would really require some... super-human help."
"I know, sir," the redhead agreed. "It's just, my grandfather had an awful lot of respect for this legend, and I think for the man too. And part of me wonders if we're manipulating and using this mysterious arguably fictional man."
The blonde man looked over his shoulder and smiled at the redhead. "Oh come now. We're the government. It's a man's duty to serve his fellow man. If he's such a hero, he'll be happy to help."
"If you say so," The redhead mumbled quietly.
The redhead man, Antonio Weatherby, dutifully followed the orders given to him by the doctors and other assorted Alliance certified personnel. His hand was sticking through an encased reinforced clear plexiglass prison. He just smiled weakly and nodded, while an ethereal looking young girl glided into the room accompanied by two men whose eyes were hidden by dark sunglasses.
The blonde woman stared straight at Antonio, before tilting her head and staring at him sideways. She smiled a smile that warmed Antonio's heart. "Don't worry. He's very understanding." She walked into the enclosed area and softly stroked Antonio's arm. She was trying to relax him. Knowing she had succeeded without even looking, she bent down and stared at the ring. "Curious." She brushed her finger over the ring and gasped. She looked around the room and saw all the men in coats were waving at her wildly trying to get her attention. She ignored them and slid her finger over the ring again. She let out a spasm of pleasure that embarrassed Antonio more than anyone else. One of the men in sunglasses began to open the door to the clear plastic prison, but one of the doctors pulled him back. This was the moment the blonde woman traced a soft line up Antonio's middle finger and then pressed down firmly right on the top of his ring.
Antonio yelped to feel the ring responding, as it slivered around his finger like some sort of molten metal.
The blonde woman whipped her head around to the doctors and scientists in the room. She smiled softly and covered her mouth with her hand. "Oops," she giggled almost gleefully, before her eyes rolled right up into her head and she collapsed to the floor unconscious.
A funnel of light and thick smoke hid the entire room from view as the scientists were scrambling to understand all their readings. Antonio was screaming in fright even though he was in no pain, and only felt a slightly cool wetness on the hand of his trapped arm.
When the vents above the glass prison finally kicked on and sucked all the smoke and mist away, there laying on the ground was a completely naked older man, spooning and clutching the unconscious blonde woman tightly against his body. The old man began shaking and convulsing, before finally settling down. He opened his eyes and looked around the plastic prison containing him.
"Bloody hell!" he exclaimed before collapsing into unconsciousness.
"Get her out of there, and get that man sedated!" the blonde administrative official known as Grunner ordered. The two men in sunglasses were in the plastic room and carrying the unconscious girl to someplace else secure. A woman in a lab coat hurried over and injected the naked old man with the pre-planned drug cocktail, which should keep him completely lucid as well as incapable of lying.
This time another room was prepped and the old man was strapped to a bed there. The doctors checked him out and found him to be in excellent health, but if their readings were to be trusted, they claimed the man could be 152 years old. He had a full head of black hair, peppered with gray but not to an overpowering degree. Looking at him, you wouldn't guess him to be much over fifty.
Antonio caught his breath while clenching his heart at all the fireworks his arm had been involved in. The doctors freed him from his harness and checked his health to find that while Antonio's heart rate had increased significantly, he was exactly the same as before, minus the weight of a tiny ring. Antonio hurried out of the room and down the hall to where they were going to interrogate his ring man. He was startled to discover the old man smiling, cheerfully awake, and all of his co-workers looking extremely irritated.
"Antonio!" Grunner snapped at him. "Get in here and talk to this shiong-muh duh kuang-ren."
Antonio hurried in and smiled at the man. "Hello."
The old man tilted his head in a disconcerting manner that reminded Antonio of the reader. His voice was still a bit hoarse as he oddly stated, "You look a bit like Percy."
"Percy?" Antonio asked curiously looking at his two superiors for help.
"Yes, Percy. No doubt a great grandfather or great uncle, with a whole lot more greats in front of it."
"So you really are…?" Antonio asked in pure fascination.
"I really am what?" the annoyingly, pleasant old man smiled.
Antonio stared into his almost enchantingly green eyes. "You know… a wizard."
The old man looked at the other half dozen people in the room. "Oh goodness." He began chuckling to himself. "Are you all muggles? How the heck did you even get me here? And where on earth are we? For that matter when are we?"
The first man who had been lobbying for this mission stared down the older man. He monotonously began. "You are in a top secret facility hidden within Capital City. The Earth-That-Was became uninhabitable centuries ago. It is now 3:26 PM, October 31st, 2518, or somewhere in the neighborhood of four centuries since you were last called upon."
"Called upon?" the man asked with disgust. "Am I some weapon or lap dog to you? Need me to help you take over some other country or topple some regime you consider unsafe?"
"Oh don't be naïve," the first man insisted. "There are no more struggles or warring countries. We've been unified under a singular, central Alliance leadership for over seven years now. Before we get any further though, I must know who you are."
"Me?" the old man asked and looked around innocently. "I'm nobody. Nobody important."
"You appeared out of thin air, supposedly a wizard hero." Grunner explained. "Forgive us for finding this… intriguing."
"Are you sure that's where I came from?" the old man leaned forward inquisitively. "Because that doesn't make much sense."
"Your name," the first man demanded. "What do we call you?"
The old man looked around. "You know, why don't we just forget we ever met and you all can let me on out of here?"
The first man was watching Antonio tiredly. "Antonio?"
"His…" Antonio paused and answered weakly. "His name is Harry Potter."
The old man sighed a moment before realizing his name was not in fact recognized at all by the other men. "Why am I here?"
"You're here," the first man explained. "Because we have a mission for you. There is an extremely dangerous and unstable young girl somewhere in the universe. We need you to capture, control, and bring her back, or if all else fails terminate her."
Harry looked over at Antonio before looking at everyone else in the room. "And just how do you expect me to hunt and kill a little girl?"
"She is not some child or innocent." The blonde man explained. "She and the other people she travels with are responsible for all of the current instability within our government. She's the reason many border planets and civilizations are talking about another civil war. This will only lead to more deaths for all of us. She must be stopped."
"So you say," Harry nodded with the doubt clear as day on his creased and gently wrinkled face. "But you still haven't told me how."
"You're a wizard hero, are you not?" The first man asked curiously.
Harry quirked his lips and frowned. "Aren't heroes extremely dangerous to complacent corrupt governments?"
The blonde man's eyes widened in anger. "Are you threatening us?"
Harry chuckled and shook his head. "I wouldn't dream of it. It's just from what I've heard so far, you folks are one well placed orchestral march away from being declared the evilest evil empire of them all."
"This is no laughing matter," the first man calmly explained not the least bit amused. "We've rubbed the genie's bottle and out you came. If you aren't going to be granting us any wishes, and you're not going to cooperate, then you serve your government no purpose. Because the first thing we are determining, through questioning you right now, is whether to allow your existence to begin."
Harry sighed and relaxed back. "If that's your pitch to convince me you're the good guys, it was sorely lacking."
The first man smiled dangerously. "See, that's part of your problem, Mr. Potter. You come from a time when there were good guys and bad guys. We have moved past those barbaric days and are all one people speaking for everyone's benefit. There is no good and bad anymore. There are only orders and whether you can follow them."
"Now that there," Harry said with a sad grin, "is a speech I think I've heard before. And it wasn't ever the good guys saying it."
"There are no good guys. There is the law, the rule, the establishment." The blonde man yelled. "Period. If there are any good guys, it is the one and only functioning government providing for the people."
Harry turned towards Antonio and smiled at him. It was a smile that made Antonio feel extremely uncomfortable. "Well in that case then, let's be bad guys."
Without a sound nor movement anywhere, the entire room was plunged into darkness. Two men yelped and struggled trying to locate a light source or even the door. Antonio heard the tearing of some fabric and had a feeling the wizard hero was loose, free, and the cause of everything currently happening. There were several screams and then it was complete silence. Antonio could feel his heart beating so hard it was trying to jump out of his chest.
"River Tam?" Harry's voice asked in the darkness. "Hmm… kinda cute."
Antonio began gasping in fright.
"Relax Antonio," the voice called out through the darkness. "What kind of wizard hero would I be if I actually hurt you all?" The sarcasm in his voice was quite clear.
Antonio was scrambling, trying to spot any shapes at all in the darkness. He could hear Harry whispering, "Obliviate!" over and over again. Antonio started crawling towards where he thought the door was when he heard the voice whisper right next to his ear, "Don't freak out so much, Antonio. I think there may be some Weasley in you yet. So just act like everyone else, and tell them you don't remember anything. Toodles. Stupefy."
The next thing Antonio knew he was being shook awake, perfectly healthy lying in a hospital bed several hours later. And it seemed no one had ever heard of Antonio's mysterious ring nor any stories from his grandfather.
Author's Note: Translations of my mangled attempts at a language other than English (stolen from scripts and lines used almost exclusively) will not be listed at the bottom of chapters. There is a translations document up on my yahoogroup if you want it, but some of the words may be naughty and listing translations at the bottom ruins the point of using another language to sneak in the naughty words.
Feel free to ask any question and I will do my best to answer. All reviews are appreciated. Let me know what you think. Thanks.