CAUTION! To understand this work of fanfiction, you will need to have read the first book in the Harry Johnson saga; Harry Johnson and the Headmaster's Socks, which can be found right here on this website, under my author profile of course. Otherwise it will not make much of any sense.
I'm serious about this, people; this is a very alternate universe. If you've just read a couple chapters of Headmaster's Socks, or you haven't read any of it, I strongly suggest you go back and fill yourself in on the information you'll need to make sense of this thing. Don't bitch me out if you didn't.
Reading Biker Half Rewrite and the Top Dog Shorts will also help you completely understand what's going on; once again, both can be found under my author profile. Biker Half Rewrite's plot is interlinked with the Enter the Fnords plot starting at the end of Deathtrap Girl, and the shorts contain varied pieces of useful background material that I couldn't think where else to fit.
Done that? Cool; welcome back for more Top Dog.
This ain't no self-insert fic.
This ain't no slash fic neither.
This is Top Dog.
Dudley Darren Dursley, age seventeen and a half, was excited.
He'd been through the wringer since his parents got busted. First off, he was staying at his aunt's place. While he used to really like her, that had come to an abrupt end a few days after he'd moved in.
You see, he'd met this girl back in August, and to his absolute astonishment she actually liked him.
Dudley was seriously overweight and about as attractive as a horse's arse, and he knew it. His cousin had only ever seen the worst side of Dudley; but Dudley D Dursley had another side. He was fat and a bit dense; he'd got into the bullying game because he was constantly bullied himself, and when dealing with the many kids larger and better at being violent than him, comedy had been his only defence. It would have seriously surprised Harry to discover that Dudley was regarded as one of the funniest boys alive at the fancy school he went to.
Then he met this girl. Her name was Reyna Chang. Her father was involved in the Chinese embassy in London, and she was drop dead gorgeous, to the point that most of the boys in school were scared witless in case they offended her while most of the girls hated her for being cuter than they were.
So it ended up with the odd situation that Dudley Darren Dursley, fatass jerk Dudley, used to being shot down in flames by every girl in sight, had been the first person in the whole school to extend a hand of friendship to the beautiful and extremely lonely Chinese girl.
This led to the odd situation that Dudley now had a new best mate. His old best mate, Peirs, had insulted Reyna, calling her 'a stinking nip'. Dudley happened to be a halfway passable boxer, and he had proceeded to break Peirs' nose with extreme prejudice; he privately admitted to himself that he'd probably have killed Peirs if Reyna hadn't pulled him off. Absolutely nobody insulted the only girl who'd ever paid Dudley any attention worthy of the title.
So he and Reyna ended up hanging out a lot. Reyna happened to practise an esoteric form of karate; she could easily have defended herself from Peirs (not that Dudley knew at the point of the fight) and that was how she'd managed to pull the overweight boy off his former best mate, but she took Dudley's furious defence of her in the spirit it was intended.
Then of course there'd been the whole thing with his parents landing in the can and him being shipped off to Marge Dursley's place. He still went to the same school; he now just commuted from the opposite direction.
Problem was, Marge Dursley was more racist than Peirs. Dudley tried to talk to his dad about it during visiting hours, and discovered that Vernon Dursley was even more racist than Marge; he tried his mother and had the exact same reaction. It turned out that both his parents and his aunt were involved in the Ku Klux Klan, a discovery that seriously offended Dudley, who was by this time utterly smitten with Reyna Chang.
And that was when Dudley Darren Dursley came to an epiphany of sorts. That was when he realised that he really didn't like his parents, or his aunt. Reyna was the most perfect girl he'd ever met – and they wanted to kill her because of the colour of her skin, a colour Dudley found remarkably pretty.
And that was what led Dudley to do what he was now doing. He'd spent enough time whining that his aunt had let him get his motorbike license and given him the money to buy and insure a bike; he'd chosen the most disreputable old brute of a machine he could find and legally ride, just to get up his family's noses. He'd found an old Honda CB250 Superdream going for a song at the sole bike shop in Little Whingeing. It was twelve years old and looked thoroughly rotten, but Reyna had drummed the presence of mind to check it's mechanicals into Dudley, so he knew the engine, drivetrain and electrics were in superb condition, and the frame as straight as the day it left the factory; there wasn't one dot of rust on the whole bike. The fact his aunt had given him five grand and he'd picked up the bike for three hundred quid helped; he had fully comprehensive insurance on the thing.
It was a seriously mean piece of machinery; it had a sportsbike fuel tank, a minimal seat composed of duct tape and tennis balls, twin headlamps with steel grilles over them, exhausts with totally insufficient silencers, and this awesome mural of an angel in chains which had been revealed on that curvaceous fuel tank when Dudley cleaned his new purchase; there was a rudimentary supercharger attached to the engine, and on close examination Dudley had realised that it had a nitrous oxide cylinder hidden under the seat that the bike shop's owner (who was blatantly a know-nothing) didn't know was there. Closer examination after he'd bought it had led him to the startling realisation that the entire engine was hand-made out of solid titanium, with 'R J Saotome 1990' filed into the block where the engine number should be.
Whoever owned that bike before Dudley was a damn fool to part with it. Either that or they must have got themselves an absolute beast of a bike to replace it, in which case they were one cool cat and they should have sold it for more. It had a Q-plate, which had helped lower the price, but Dudley didn't care one jot about that.
And now, seated upon the monster of a 250 he'd acquired for only three hundred pounds, he had the few possessions he actually gave a damn about on his back and was running away from home. His destination? The Chinese embassy in London, and the only person who'd ever given a rat's ass about the real Dudley D Dursley.
He wished he knew how to contact his scary-as-Hell cousin; he had realised that much of everything his parents had ever told him was wrong, and he had a gut feeling that their opinion of Harry counted.
Besides, Reyna would like it if he did the honourable thing and apologised.
He roared on through Surrey, the miles to London churning past beneath his wheels and the words of an old Alice Cooper song running through his head.
Disclaimer: I'm serious about reading Headmaster's Socks. And not Sirius, either; he hasn't been introduced yet.
Top Dog: Enter the Fnords
Intermission 1: Harry Johnson and the Lunatic Scientist
A Doghead13 / United Galaxies fanfic
Written & produced by Calum J 'Doghead13' Wallace
Preread by KuroNeko, who caught several slipups.
Brought to you by Hairy Scottish Git Productions, GMBH
This is not a drill.
Chapter 1: The Obligatory Gringotts Chapter
(In which our hero has a chat with a goblin)
An hour later, Dudley was just pulling onto Charing Cross Road when he received an abrupt and rather substantial surprise in the form of a Toyota Corolla coming roaring up behind him with a massive low-slung black monster of a bike in hot pursuit; a couple of guys were leaning out the Corolla's windows and trying to get a bead on the black bike with the sub-machine guns they were holding. Just as they got level with one very startled Dursley, the black bike's rider drew a massive slab-sided handgun and blew the car in half; Dudley had to swerve violently to avoid the wreck as it went through the front window of a shop. He just managed to come to a halt without dropping his bike; as he did so, the other rider skidded his massive machine sideways to a stop, swung off, and sauntered over to the shattered wreck that was sticking out of the seriously damaged window display.
He casually hauled someone out of the wreckage and threw the injured man into the street.
"My employers warned you, Skorzeny." The biker said, drawing a massive straight-bladed katana-like sword with an odd hilt, and Dudley immediately realised with an immense shock who this was. "But did you listen? The fuck you did; that's where I come in. Have fun in Hell, you sick sack of shit."
Then he hacked Skorzeny's head off, smirked at Dudley, sheathed his sword having wiped it clean on Skorzeny's trousers, stuffed the disembodied head into his jacket, swung back onto his gigantic bike, and roared off as the scream of sirens alerted Dudley to the approach of plentiful cops.
"Spock?" Dudley whispered, staring after the massive machine as it ducked into a side-street. He had no idea what his cousin was doing blowing up cars and beheading people in London, but he was absolutely certain that it was indeed Harry Potter.
He was still sat there on his idling Honda gawping blankly in the direction Harry had gone when the cops arrived.
Hermione looked up from her laptop as Harry came clattering back into the road-train's living room. He had an odd bulge under his jacket, which smelt rather bloody.
"Where were you off to?" she asked.
"Just had to take care of a little business." He said, picking up the phone; he dialled a long number, waited while it rang through, and said, "Job's done, I'll be around to collect my pay in about twenty minutes." waited while the person at the other end replied, then put the phone down.
"Uh…" Hermione said.
"Don't worry about it." Harry told her. "I just reduced the galactic population of Nazis by one former SS officer and a couple of other drooling thugs. Seems Skorzeny offended a certain very important gentleman by attempting to kill someone said gentleman is rather fond of, and that means half a million in easy money for me. Oh well, all in a day's work."
"Oh." Hermione said.
"Well, guess it's next stop Daigon Alley." Harry continued. "I gotta go get my wonga, you can't get harder cash than goblin gold. Wanna come along? Gringotts is well worth seeing."
Gringotts Merchant Bank proved to be a tall, somewhat Victorian-looking worked stone building on Daigon Alley, fronted by an oddly Greco-Roman atrium supported by a multitude of finely-crafted stone pillars.
The doors were massive and composed of what looked to be solid gold; a pair of ferocious-looking if short men flanked them. These men had craggy faces, lantern jaws, beady eyes, long pointed ears, leathery brown skin, and wispy white hair; they were about five feet tall, and clad in ornate but armoured-looking jet black military uniforms. Each stood at flawless attention, so still that Hermione at first mistook them for statues; it was only when one blinked that she realised they were in fact people. In some ways, they reminded her of the resplendent guards around Buckingham Palace, stood there with their assault rifles held to port and impassive expressions.
There was a friendly notice-board beside the doors, bearing the message 'For your protection, please do not attempt to rob Gringotts', along with several dozen cartoon burglars covered by 'no-smoking' style red cross-outs. Hermione got an odd feeling that those cheerful little symbols were in fact grave markers.
On entry, they arrived in an equally Victorian cum Greco-Roman foyer. To the left was an asture waiting area with lines of uncomfortable-looking chairs; to the right were queues of impatient-looking persons of assorted species awaiting the attention of assorted tellers of the same species as the guards outside the door; these little people were presumably goblins.
With a start, Hermione realised that the cheery-looking Asian gentleman at the back of one queue was in fact Jackie Chan.
Harry sauntered over to the shortest queue, and Hermione stuck beside him. They were waiting for a while – nearly half an hour; the place was packed.
At last, they found themselves at the head of the queue, and Harry (who had for some reason put on a coweled cape before they went to the bank) swaggered forwards.
"Name?" the goblin snapped as Harry arrived.
"Stormclaw." Harry stated, causing the goblin to immediately look up with an expression of complete and utter shock on his craggy face; a flash of terror crossed that face as he saw the long-eared lizard-eyed man standing before him, but it was gone almost as soon as it had appeared, replaced by a politely attentive look with fear visible around the edges.
"Please accept my apologies, Lord Stormclaw." He said, rising to his feet and favouring Harry with a deep bow; a stunned silence eclipsed the queues of customers. "My name is Ratchetcrank; how may I be of assistance?"
"I'm here as per my little arrangement with the Chairman." Harry said
"Chairman Shatteraxe will gladly see you at once if that is your desire. Do you wish your handmaiden to accompany you?"
"Perhaps better not." Harry said. "It might be convenient if she were entertained in privacy for the duration of my visit."
"My pleasure, Lord Stormclaw." Ratchetcrank said with another bow. "Mr Slackhammer! Show Lord Stormclaw to Chairman Shatteraxe's office at once. If you would accompany me, ma'am?"
A goblin (presumably Mr Slackhammer) arrived, bowed to Harry, and ushered him through into a hallway; Ratchetcrank showed Hermione into a different hall, and from there into a palatial study.
"Have a seat, madam." He said, gesturing to a comfortable-looking armchair. "Would you like a little tea?"
"Yes please." Hermione said. Ratchetcrank smiled, poured two cups of tea from the glass service that was resting on a sidetable, presented her with a cup with a flourish, and settled himself in another armchair with the other cup. He took a sip and thoughtfully rolled it around in his mouth.
Hermione nervously sipped at the tea, finding it to be piping hot and a strong spicy flavour that took a moment's getting used to.
"Kyushu North Field Gold from the crop of '28." Ratchetcrank said, holding his cup up and examining it against the light. "A pleasant vintage; some say it is a little too mild, but I find its bouquet has a certain something that many stronger teas lack, and its colour is flawless." He smiled at Hermione's expression. "That said, goblin tea is an acquired taste that many of your species never take the time to learn to appreciate. Now then, my dear. I find myself eager to ask you a few little questions; your master has a long and intriguing history with goblinkind, and I had never expected to see him take a human retainer such as yourself; it is good to see Lord Stormclaw take a healthy interest in a young lady. Might I know your name?"
"I'm Hermione Granger." Hermione said.
"Aha, yes indeed, your name is familiar to me." Ratchetcrank said with a nod. "The niece by marriage of Seneschal Stanley Scott, correct?"
"Yeah." Hermione confirmed. "Y'know, I never really realised Uncle Stan was famous or anything."
"Notorious would be the word; his is a remarkable history." Ratchetcrank mused. "And speaking of history, do you know of the history between my species and yours?"
"Not really." Hermione said. "I mean, I've heard there's been a lot of trouble in the past, but Professor Meiuu just mentioned that as background when she was talking about Grindlewold and the Second World War."
"Yes indeed, it is pleasant to see history being taught at Hogwarts that is not fixated on the so far unsuccessful guerrilla operations your kind refers to as 'goblin rebellions'." Ratchetcrank said, his tone making it clear he found the term distasteful. "However, I am certain you are unaware of the true reasons behind those operations. Likewise, I am certain that you have noticed certain unusualness about the appearance of goblinkind as compared to your own species."
"Well, yeah, but so what? A person's still a person no matter what they look like or what size they are. I mean, sure, to me you guys look a bit weird, but I guess I must look pretty strange to a goblin, and what with being friends with Tara, S'tarak'hai, Fleggitt, and Harry, well, weird is pretty run-of-the-mill for me these days."
Ratchetcrank nodded. "Indeed. I am glad you share that view with your most excellent master; I must remember to congratulate him on his acquisition. But I digress. Surely you are aware of the letter of the asinine Treaty of Roswell?"
"I've heard of it, but I've never read the details." Hermione admitted.
"Well, perhaps I should illuminate you." Ratchetcrank said with a nod. "The letter of that treaty makes it illegal for persons of obvious non-human appearance to be seen in public upon this planet outside of certain areas, such as here in Daigon Alley. My kind have been resident upon this world for in excess of two hundred millennia; the first goblins were created by the Adeptus Mechanicus in the dying days of what is now called the Old Atlantean Empire, as guardians of the innermost vaults and secrets of the Ordo Malleus – but I digress once more. We have gladly shared our homeworld with your ancestors since before your species crawled from the ruins of the Imperium, and in fact we aided that crawl, and the crawl that brought you forth from the collapse of the Hardak Dynasty; as the distant descendents of our masters, the human species has a most valid claim to the planet you call Earth, and in fact this whole star system. Yet your kin seem to regard us as unwelcome transgressors upon this planet; they have made it a crime for us to leave these few small enclaves. The Treaty of Roswell grants the International Auror Department the power to arrest any man, woman, or child whom they regard as 'visibly non-human', even based on something as elementary as the colour of the unfortunate individual's eyes."
"I didn't know that." Hermione said, shocked. "It's disgusting!"
"A sentiment shared by your master, and by Chairman Shatteraxe." Ratchetcrank said with a nod. "Sadly, this situation predates that treaty; since the time of William the Conqueror, we goblins have not even been permitted citizenship; we are treated as little better than slaves by the Ministry. The tales told to human children of goblins paint us as vicious monsters; the very name 'Goblin' is treated as one to be despised."
"That's horrible." Hermione said.
"As horrible as the apartheid practised by the blood purists against you and your fellow humans of mundane birth." Ratchetcrank said with a nod. "That is in a nutshell the source of our grievances against the Wizengamot and all it's many and myriad tools and toadies."
"So… how does Harry know you guys?" Hermione asked.
"Aha, that is a long and most intriguing tale." Ratchetcrank told her. "I cannot honourably tell you all of it; your master is among our most valuable customers, and I am unsure of how much he would be willing for you to hear; much of it is unsuitable for the ears of a young lady. Suffice to say that he and Chairman Shatteraxe have known one another for some time; I believe they met during the operation within South America that earned Chairman Shatteraxe the gold to seize his current post; courtesy of your master he had the astounding fortune to discover the ruins of El Dorado, and with those riches he was able to buy the services of many mercenaries, but that is a tale for another time. Your master was instrumental in Chairman Shatteraxe's ascension to power, and he has staunchly supported the Chairman's struggle to win equal rights for all species ever since that remarkable chain of events. That has lent him extensive credibility among goblinkind; the simple fact that, although barely into his first millennium, he has succeeded in winning a fortune unequalled by any within this system lends him further respect, and then you do of course have the fact that he is a dragon; our kind and the children of Arcadia have a long tradition of cooperation. Certainly few other peoples recognise the intrinsic value of cold hard cash as well as we goblins; your master's draconic kin are the foremost of that small number." He pursed his lips. "Perhaps I should tell you of the prophecy that surrounds his coming… There has only once been a true seer of my kind. Many centuries ago, she prophesized that there would one day come one born not of goblin who would bring equality to our people, end our ancient struggle, and bring us once more the freedom to walk the many roads of this ancient and glorious world. Chairman Shatteraxe searched all his life for that One; it is his belief that on the day that he met Lord Stormclaw, that search was over. I am unsure, but I do believe that your master has the potential to become that One."
"Wow… sometimes it seems like Harry can't even buy a break." Hermione mused; Ratchetcrank inclined his head.
"Indeed it does; that young man's destiny is intriguingly complex. In less than four short centuries, he has seen and done so many things; he has walked paths no being has trod in many millennia. Though he may be little more than a boy, he numbers some of the richest and most powerful beings in this universe among his allies, and his fortune is remarkable indeed; he is living demonstration of what an honest mercenary soldier can truly aspire to."
"So… what's you guys take on Dark Lords and such like?"
"Voldemort," Ratchetcrank said, making it sound like the word itself was dirty and might contaminate his mouth, "Is bad for business. Ask yourself this question, my dear lady; how long do you think that power-mad lunatic would allow a corporation such as Gringotts to remain in the hands of the non-magi he so despises? His agenda is built entirely upon blood purism and human-supremacism; how long would he allow a 'mere' goblin to manage his finances were he to win his war?"
"Not long?" Hermione asked; it was more a rhetorical question than anything else.
"Indeed." Ratchetcrank said with a nod. "We cannot publicly take sides in the unfortunate situation that looms across the horizon for our ancient world; if we were seen as anything but completely neutral, our business would be severely damaged. But what we can do is secretly aid the people we wish to see victorious, then seize the assets of the losing side; a most profitable situation, both for Gringotts and for our allies."
"Announcing Lord Stormclaw the Magnificent of Kendarat!" Slackhammer declared, bowing.
"Ah, my thanks Mr Slackhammer." The elderly goblin behind the desk said, rising to his feet. "May your days be many and profitable, Harry. Take a seat, take a seat. I trust your little operation went well?"
"Without a hitch." Harry said, and hauled a human head out of his jacket; this he placed on the desk, then he sat down.
Shatteraxe picked the head up, examined it, looked it in the eyes, and said, "Laugh that one off you bastard."
"Making the galaxy a better place – one worthless fuck at a time." Harry remarked with a feral grin; Shatteraxe nodded gravely.
"So. The final SS officer." He said. "At long last, the final buzzard of the Third Reich is no more, and I shall sleep sounder for it. Otto Skorzeny's many crimes against goblinkind had gone unpunished for far too long, and it brings me a certain level of pleasure to pay for his departure from this mortal coil." He put the head back down and placed a fat briefcase on the desk. "And here is the remaining quarter million of your fee."
Harry nodded, swiftly counted the money within – a quarter of a million New Australian dollars, in unmarked used notes – then sat back with a nod, placing the briefcase on the floor beside his seat.
"That's all in order; pleasure doing business with you."
Shatteraxe smiled, sat back, and steepled his fingers. "I have another little job you might perhaps be interested in? This is an extraction operation; a rather unique individual recently fell into the greasy talons of the Eastern Rim Alliance Psi Corps, and the client expressed her desire to see said young lady removed from those black-clad ghouls area of influence."
"Sounds simple enough; what's the catch?" Harry asked.
"The young lady in question has a supernova elemental bonded to her soul. Her twin sister is also to be retrieved, and if at all possible their father as well; the twin and father are currently in Psi Corps custody in Ironforge City, while the primary target is on the loose somewhere on Azeroth; she should be relatively easy to trace as she is currently the target of the biggest manhunt in Psi Corps history."
Harry was silent for a long moment.
"What's the pay?"
"Untraceable bullion, of the precious metal of your choice, to the value of precisely one billion Galleons; half now half on completion, to be delivered to the location of your choice, paid from the account of the client; one Doctor Washuu Hakubi." Shatteraxe said.
"So Washuu wants to play with the most dangerous time-bomb in the galaxy, huh? Well, she of all people ought to know what she's doing, and having something that destructive in hands as stupid as the Psi Pigs wouldn't be a good idea." Harry mused. "I'll take the job."
"Excellent; the details are within this dossier. How would you prefer your payments?" Shatteraxe asked, handing Harry a thick folder, which he immediately picked up and began leafing through.
"Deliver one quarter in Galleons directly to my mansion on Kendarat, my household staff will arrange things from there. Deposit the rest spread evenly across the Gringotts accounts of all my spare identities; make it an even mix of gold, latinum, mithril and rhenium, all in unproofed standard bars. Make the connection between my accounts and Washuu's account as difficult to trace as you can. Run the quarter billion Galleons to Kendarat as if it's a normal Gringotts fund transfer; I'd prefer it to look like I got paid a hundred twenty five million now and another hundred twenty five million on completion, that way unwanted attention will hopefully be drawn away from the other payment groups by Gringotts publicly shunting a quarter billion to a certain dragon."
Shatteraxe grinned; it wasn't a pretty sight.
"So it is said, so shall it be done."
The door swung open and Harry came stalking into the room; Ratchetcrank leapt to his feet and bowed; Harry nodded to the goblin, then turned his attention to Hermione.
"Well, no rest for the wicked." He said. "Time to get mobile, preferably before the Dog drops into the Azeroth Cluster."
"What are you talking about?" Hermione blankly asked, standing up as Harry headed back towards the door.
"I'm saying I've got a job to get done, and to pull it off I'm going to need assistance of the sort Bruce Walker can supply." Harry said.
"Huh?" Hermione blankly asked. Harry stopped dead in his tracks and spun round to face her, his hand poised on the doorhandle.
"This stays strictly in this room, Granger." He said. "The Chairman just hired me to get someone off Azeroth Prime. It's a totalitarian state if you're psionic, which our subject is to a rather extreme degree, and there's something about the collapsed dimensional portal that interferes with subspace doors – they're useless within about a thousand lights of Azeroth Prime. So I'm going to need a blockade runner to do the job. Problem is, we're picking up someone who's got a supernova elemental attached to their soul; I intend to keep her sedated until she's way the Hell away from me." He spat. "If the Psi Pigs had any sense they'd get out the old hypospray and load it up with enough tranquilisers to kill a dragon, then strap the corpse to a ten gigaton mass-energy conversion warhead on a two-second fuse and kick it out the airlock from subspace– just in case."
"How can you say something like that, Harry?" Hermione gasped.
Harry gave her a tired look.
"It'd be the kindest thing to do." He said. "That girl is a living starkiller bomb on a random time delay, who has absolutely no control over her own powers, which will kill her and everyone within a few hundred light years in a really unpleasant manner when they trigger; it's a case of when, not if, especially since she's probably under a lot of stress due to being chased by the Psi Pigs. The last time one of those poor bastards went over the edge, the result wiped sixty-three inhabited systems off the face of the galaxy; you humans call it the Crab Nebula. Come on; it's time we weren't here."
When Dudley finally arrived at the Chinese embassy, having made a lengthy statement to the police (and carefully avoided mentioning that he recognised the guy with the huge bike) he was surprised to find that the guards seemed to be expecting him, and even more surprised to find that one of them seemed unduly interested in the Honda.
Mentally shrugging it off, he headed into the room that the guard ushered him into, and was somewhat startled when he found what seemed to be two Reyna's waiting for him.
"Hi, Dudley. Why're you looking so shook up?" One of them asked, waving him to a sofa; he figured she was Reyna from the fact she was wearing Reyna's wristwatch and pendant, and he knew Reyna didn't ever wear pink; the other Reyna-a-like had a pink T-shirt and the wrong watch.
Dudley sat down on the sofa with a thump.
"Gaaah, long story." He said. "I didn't know you had a twin."
The duo of Reyna's both giggled.
"Dudley, this is my twin sister, Cho Chang." Reyna said. "Sis, this is Dudley who I was telling you about. So… what took you so long, Dudley? I thought you'd be here about an hour ago?"
"I gotta find out how you knew I was coming…" Dudley muttered. "Pleased to meet you, Cho. Anyway, I had a bit of a surprise on the way over."
"What sort of surprise?" Cho asked.
"Well, I was heading up Charing Cross Road when a car came up behind me going really fast, with a couple of guys hanging out the windows with like sub-machine guns. Right when it was beside me, it got blown into bits; it nearly knocked me off my bike. What was left of it hit a shop, and I kinda had to skid to a halt to stop it mowing me down. Then this guy pulled up on the biggest baddest bike I've ever seen – it was more like a missile with wheels – and jumped off. He hauled a scar-faced guy out the wreck, threw him at the road, said 'My employers warned you, Skorzeny. But did you listen? The fuck you did; that's where I come in. Have fun in Hell, you sick sack of shit.' then cut the scar-faced dude's head off with this dirty great sword, stuffed the head in his jacket and rode off."
"Oh." Reyna said, sounding shocked.
"That's what I told the fuzz." Dudley continued. "What I left out was that I knew the dude on the bike; I'm certain it was my cousin, I'd know that voice anywhere."
Reyna looked surprised.
"I didn't know you had a cousin." She said.
Dudley nodded glumly.
"Yeah, I know… I don't like to talk about him." He said. "My parents didn't treat him so good… I wish I knew where he is so I could, I dunno, try to apologise or something. Course, I wouldn't blame him if he threw it back in my face. Anyway that's why I'm late, at least I'm pretty sure it was him… I mean, there can't be that many guys around with like lizard eyes and long pointy ears, right?"
"His name wouldn't happen to be Harry Johnson?" Cho checked.
"Nah, though he is a Harry." Dudley told her with a shake of his head. "His name's Harry Potter… why are you looking at me in that tone of voice?"
"Does he happen to have a scar like a lightning bolt on his forehead?" Cho asked, sounding a bit faint.
"Well, he usta, but it was gone the last couple times I saw him." Dudley said.
Cho had by this time gone a bit shaky.
"Uh, is he like over two metres tall with long shaggy black hair, a thin face, lots of muscles and a whole lot of weapons?" she asked.
"Yeah… do you mean you know him?"
Cho nodded and a stupid grin spread across her face.
"OHMYGOD! I had sex with the Boy Who Lived!"
Reyna gave her a look.
"Okay sis, spill it."
"Er, what's going on?" Dudley asked.
"I think it's okay to tell you since you're Harry's cousin." Cho told him. "Normally it'd be illegal for me to tell people who're not family, but… I go to a college in Scotland called Hogwarts Collegium Arcanum, and the curriculum's not what you'd expect – I was born with a fairly unusual gift; my aura is extremely conductive to thaumatic energy, which is the scientific term for the power we call magic."
"Woah." Dudley said, sounding impressed. "I guess my cousin's like got the same thing, right? That makes sense; there was always weird stuff happened around him, like once I'd swear he teleported onto the roof, I mean I dunno how else he got up there, and another time he turned a teacher's hair blue, and another time he vanished a sheet of like bullet-proof glass. "
"Well, with him it's even more so." Cho said. "I guess he's even more powerful than I thought… that makes sense too. He's what we call a sorcerer; in other words, instead of just channelling the thaumatic energy in the environment, his aura creates it's own magic. I heard that a lot of psychics and such like heard him being born from six thousand light years away. Anyway, I'm pretty sure it's the same Harry. He goes to the same college as me… this is so cool… no wonder Papa wasn't upset…"
"I wonder why he changed his name and what happened to the scar?" Dudley mused.
"Papa probably knows." Reyna said. "It's the sort of thing he'd know, and maybe we could ask Uncle Jackie?"
"Hold on." Dudley said, sounding a bit freaked out. "Is 'Uncle Jackie' who I think it is?"
Reyna looked a bit embarrassed.
"Well… if you think he's Jackie Chan, you'd be right."
"Oh." Dudley mumbled, awed beyond the capacity for rational thought.
"It's a secret though." Cho warned. "I mean, with him being rich and famous, if people knew about us being related to him there's a good chance someone would try to kidnap us. Of course, if they did they'd be buying themselves a whole load of trouble that'd probably get them dead, but I wouldn't want to have that sort of an experience anyway."
"Uh, are there any other shockers about your family?" Dudley asked. "I mean, if you don't want to say anything it's cool, but I'd kinda like to get all the frights over and done with."
"I think you need to ask Papa about that." Reyna admitted. "It's not the sort of thing we're supposed to talk about."
"Fair enough… let's talk about my cousin right now." Dudley said. "I'm pretty sure he's pissed off with me, I mean, I would be in his boots, who wouldn't, and I gotta at least try to apologise for all that shit. I mean, he'll probably spit in my face and punch me out or something, I deserve it, but I gotta at least make the attempt. I gotta."
"I don't think he's that pissed at you." Cho said. "You're still breathing."
"Why'd you say that?" Reyna asked.
"Well, there's this girl he's really close to, her name's Hermione Granger, I think she's sort of his girlfriend or pet human or something like that." Cho explained. "She was kinda raped early in the year, and he went berserk."
"How berserk?" Dudley asked, remembering Harry stomping on Vernon.
"He skinned the sick bastard alive, broke every bone in his body, then shot him two hundred times." Cho told him.
"Ye Gods." Dudley muttered. He was beginning to think he and his parents had got off lightly.
Bruce Walker, who chanced to be chilling out in the Blink Dog's living room, was justifiably surprised when the subspace door swung open to reveal Harry stood on the threshold.
"Permission to board, Captain." He said.
"C'mon in, mate." Bruce replied. "Hey, you know we're about to drop into the Azeroth Cluster in about twenty minutes, right mate?"
Harry nodded and slung the enormous black plastic hardcase he was carrying onto the floor, where it landed with a very solid crunch.
"Permission to board?" Hermione asked, standing on the doorframe.
"Yeah, you c'mon in too sheila." Bruce said. Hermione did, rapidly followed by Carla, who had another hardcase in her arms; she handed it to Harry, then passed another six through, came in, and shut the door.
Harry glanced at his watch and nodded.
"Cut that one pretty fine; we'll be into the Cluster in seven hundred fifty-eight seconds at the current speed, so I'd better be quick." He turned to Bruce. "I need to hire a blockade runner, Bruce."
"Well, you've come to the right bloke mate. What's the job?"
"You're not going to like it, which is why I'll tell you what the paypacket is first." Harry said, and hauled the hardcase he'd been carrying open.
It was full to the brim with gold coins.
"Ten thousand goblinish Galleons, hard cash, all in unmarked used coins without sequential serial numbers, and another ten thousand on completion of the job." Harry said.
"Crikey!" Bruce boggled. "So what's the run mate?"
"Can you get the others in here first? I want the whole crew to know what I'm getting you into."
Bruce nodded warily, triggered the intercom, and said, "Ladies and blokes, this is your captain speaking. All crew to the hangout."
Shortly thereafter, Alice, Tara and S'tarak'hai came trooping in, along with (to Hermione's immense surprise) Ben and Michelle Chaos.
"What's going down?" Alice asked.
"Harry's got a job offer for us." Bruce said.
"Let's hear it, Johnson." S'tarak'hai growled.
"I'm about to snatch a Genocyber out of under the noses of the Psi Pigs, grab her sister and her daddy, and get the Hell to the drop point before the tranks have time to wear off." Harry replied. "For that, I need a fast ship capable of running the blockade round Azeroth."
Bruce considered that for a long moment, and looked at his sister. Alice nodded and looked at Tara. Tara shrugged in an I-don't-care manner and looked at S'tarak'hai, who held his peace and looked at Ben, who grinned and looked at his sister, who just kept bouncing on the spot.
"Well mate." Bruce said. "Looks like you've got yourself a blockade runner, but you're keeping the poor bloody kid sedated until she's well the Hell off my ship, got it mate?"
"That's the plan." Harry said with a nod.
"I don't like this." S'tarak'hai stated.
"What'd be worse, her going off in deep space, or her going off in downtown Ironforge?" Harry asked.
"True." The big catman admitted, then glanced at Tara. "I still don't like it."
"Don't sweat it mate, Washuu put Harry up to this one." Ben said.
"That does not reassure me, Jedi." S'tarak'hai growled. "Sitting on a starship with the galaxy's least stable starkilling device was not on my to-do list for this summer, and nor was discovering that said highly unfortunate psychic is about to become an experimental subject for the galaxy's least stable scientist."
Well, here we go again. This chapter was preread by KuroNeko; if anyone else is interested in prereading, just ask.
Folky , thanks for one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me. If you're ever in Findhorn, look for Calum at the Phoenix Shop and I'll buy you a beer down the Kimberly; an offer that extends to KuroNeko, BlazeStryker, Konton, and Saetan. Cheers! To everyone else who's commented, thanks for the kind words. This pig of a fic takes a lot of keeping track of, and your encouragements help motivate me; to everyone else who's read Headmaster's Socks (and is hopefully now reading Lunatic Scientist) thanks for reading.
I'd originally put answers to several questions on the comments list here, but it clogged up the AN's so much I decided to post it to the Top Dog forum; the link can be found from my author profile. Saetan, BlazeStryker, wolf550e, there's answers up there for you guys; I also included answers to some of KuroNeko's questions, but I figure he's already read them since they were here in the copy I sent for prereading. This time around I've mainly laid out the conclusions from the information I've provided about just how powerful Hermione really is.
I decided to 'humanise' Dudley a while back; the Dudley-humanisation was triggered off by reading Jeconais's excellent sixth year fic 'This Means War', which handled the youngest Dursley very well; it was then aided and abetted by the canon events in the beginning of 'Deathly Hallows', and above you see the beginning of the result. This is an older and wiser Dudley than the canon; he's taken a few knocks, and it's finally knocked some sense into him. I can't remember Dudley's canon middle name (if he has one) so I decided to give him a string of D's for initials, thus 'Darren' as a middle name. Besides, the Darren I'm friends with is a right hellraiser, so it seemed appropriate.
Reyna is someone I pulled out of my metaphorical hat; I chose the Changs because their surname links into the Hou Bang crime group from the original Bubblegum Crisis, and that's a big hint right there. Yes, Reyna and Cho's father is indeed called Chang Chongk, and yes they are going to have a pair of nieces by the names of Reika and Irene. I intend the Chang family to contain a lot of references to Hong Kong action movies, which is why I slated Jackie Chan as being Chang Chongk's brother. As yet, I haven't invented a name for their brother (Reika and Irene's father, who winds up dead courtesy of Gulf & Bradley) so if anyone wants to make any suggestions for people he could be a reference to, they'd be gratefully received; I'd prefer him to be a character played by Jackie Chan, but that's not essential as long as he's someone from a reasonably well-known kung fu flick.
A Q-plate is the worst variety of British numberplate (license tag to you Americans, IIRC) that a vehicle can have. The Q stands for 'Questionable' and goes where the year letter should be; it means that the vehicle's origin cannot be properly traced, which makes the DVLA (Driver Vehicle Licensing Authority) suspect it's stolen. In case you don't know, British numberplates consist of a string of three letters two of which show what region the vehicle was registered in and the third of which multiplies the possible registration numbers by about twenty (I can't remember the exact figure, but not all letters are used) a string of three numbers (the latest in a series starting with the first vehicle registered with all the same letters on the plate) and a letter that indicates the year the vehicle was registered in. Q-plates are the sad fate of all too many heavy custom jobs, and it torpedoes the vehicle's value. Yes, Dudders had the incredible fortune to acquire Ranma Jaku Saotome's first motorcycle; considering that Ranma and Genma probably nicked the parts out of scrapyards, it's hardly surprising that, when eventually registered, the poor neglected beast ended up saddled with a Q-plate.
I haven't checked out where the Chinese embassy actually is in London, which means I may slightly alter the location of Skorzeny's demise in the not so distant future – I have no idea if passing down Charing Cross Road would be anywhere near Dudley's route, it was just the first London street name I could remember.
Yes, Cho is one of the eight girls Harry scored with following the Gryffindor gravball victory.
If anyone's wondering why I'm paying Enter the Fnords a lot more attention than Biker Half v2.o at the moment, the reason is twofold.
Firstly, I want Enter the Fnords to catch up with Biker Half; the events of this chapter occurred in early June 1997, while the events so far detailed in Biker Half v2.0 took place a year later. Once I've finished this Intermission and Enter the Fnords Book 2 (Harry Johnson and the Deathtrap Girl) I'll start spending more time working on Biker Half.
Secondly, I'm currently thoroughly stuck on Biker Half. Events in Tokyo are going to move increasingly fast once I get the Amazons properly onto the scene, and I want to have Ranma and company having been in Tokyo for at least a week before the Amazons roll into town, because otherwise it'll look like the Amazons were too hard on the Saotome crew's heels. I'm going to grit my teeth and properly re-read the original soonish, making notes about the sequence of events as I do so; at the time of writing this I can't remember exactly what happened after Kodachi turned up. Oh well, guess that's more for my to-do list.
See you all next time,