AN: And so begins the newest installment of the Dark Wars series! Enjoy!
By the by, to all my still-skeptical readers concerning Harry's fighting skill (previously expounded in the second installment), let me just say this: you were forewarned of his skill previous to the demonstration. Read the vignettes carefully where you can. Sometimes, they provide foreshadowing clues.
From atop the observation tower, Harry James Potter, General of the British Armed Forces, and Warlord of the Northern Loyalist Britannic Forces (NLBF), watched as a seagull flew past his flagship, the HMIS Retaliation.
To his right, Harry could see the second of his three-Assault Ship fleet, the HMIS Assaye. Shortly after the young Potter heir had learned of the trap that had been set up for him in northern Canada, he'd turned the Retaliation around and, leaving only a skeleton crew to manage the Purity, he had his ship sail at full speed towards Britain, only to meet up with the only other Assault Ship built midway.
It had been there where he learned of the Empire's fall.
The young general had been devastated upon hearing the news of the Royal Family's execution, but had maintained his cool until he heard about the fate of his family.
No contact, presumed dead.
For the next few weeks, the survivor fleet was relegated to the command of Captain Wolf, the senior member of the group as Harry locked himself up in his room, depressed and devastated on every level at the news of his family's apparent death.
Neville, Susan, and the rest of his mates from both Hogwarts and the Army tried to get through to him, but the door's electronic lock, a very powerful shield, and total fear of his wrath kept them from trying to force their way in (the memory of his single-handed defeat of a room full of Death Eaters was still very fresh amongst his men).
Thankfully, after the fourth week of this condition, Harry had come out of his room, wearing a tear-stained uniform and a rather unbecoming, scraggly beard. No one had attempted to speak to him as he walked down the corridor and into a random bunkroom, where he softly asked for someone to shave his beard and trim his hair.
An hour or so later, he'd walked up to the bridge, forgoing the elevator in the process, and asked for command of the fleet. Wolf, upon seeing his commanding officer, had looked relieved and happily turned over command to the younger man. All throughout the ships, cheering had broken out at the news that Harry would be once more taking command.
That had been five years ago.
Now, the 23 year old General (who'd been voted up to Field Marshall by his men) was on his way to conduct yet another raid on Death Eater strongholds.
Harry turned his attention to his left, where he could see the final piece of his Assault Ship fleet, the newly refitted HMIS Redemption, whose original name had been the Purity.
Keeping the Redemption had been initially hard on Harry's forces, as the ship was damaged, and there was not enough men to crew all three ships successfully. Sure, in terms of numbers, he did have the manpower, but most of those men were army soldiers, not engineers, or Navy servicemen, or even pilots.
That problem had been solved somewhat quickly, even by Harry's standards.
It turned out that the crew of the Assaye intercepted a distress call from a former Imperial Navy base in the northern islands of Canada. They were apparently under attack and all available ships had already scrambled out of the area.
Determined to save whatever he could of his beloved Empire, Harry immediately ordered the three ships to evacuate the base. However, what was supposed to be a quick and easy evacuation operation quickly turned into a full battle as the evacuation troops were caught in the fire fight below, forcing Harry to order the ships to move in to support the ground troops.
Thus, amid craterous blasts from the three ships' combined Behemoth-Class cannons and the ground troops' superior firepower (thanks to the Griffin Mk 2 Rifle), the base was eventually evacuated, with mild losses.
Upon meeting with Harry, the commander of the base, one Commodore William Hawke, of thirty-two years of age, gratefully thanked the younger man and officially put himself and his men, all 2,000 of them, under Harry's command. With that, Harry was able to equip the Redemption with a full crew, although several engineers and crew members from the Retaliation and Assaye had to be transferred to it to evenly distribute the men.
Similar operations had become routine for the first year or so, with Harry's makeshift fleet rushing from one area to the next in the northern areas, rescuing Imperial servicemen and women. At one point, he'd even deployed his fleet to save a small town in British Columbia who'd rebelled against the new Dark authorities. That particular operation had gone forward despite the protests of his senior officers, all of whom had been promoted at Harry's whim.
Nevertheless, the rescue operation had gone through, and the village had been evacuated onto the ships. The townsfolk had not been part of those with knowledge of the Empire, however, and had been dumbstruck at seeing the arrival of the giant flying ships and finding out about the existence of magic. Some of the townsfolk had become initially mutinous at that point, but after a short talk (or rather, almost deadly shouting match) between the soldiers and the mutinous townsfolk, they had subsided.
Finding them a home had been quite the task, too, as Harry had no idea of any place not under the thumb of the Death Eaters, or sympathetic to the Empire. He'd quickly resolved that issue when he found a small, uncharted archipelago in the middle of the Atlantic. Not big enough to be mapped, but big enough to support a small base, which he immediately set the townsfolk to build with the materials he'd salvaged from both the bases he'd rescued and the town they'd come from. The base had been finally finished after a couple of more material raids and was now known to all of Harry's faction as New Britannia. To his dismay, however, the entire faction, minus him, voted to name the capital town "Harrisburg" in his honour.
Eventually, as the years went past, the town had grown substantially with the arrival of more and more Canadian and British refugees that Harry's fleet rescued from either towns under siege or Death Eater concentration camps. One particular prisoner rescue ended up with him being informed that London had been burned to the ground, with not a single building left standing, and had instead been replaced by an all-Wizard community.
London, that particular refugee told him, now resembled an old, Edwardian-age city.
The news had saddened Harry, of course, as well as everyone in the fleet, but they'd quickly learned to accept the fact that there was nothing they could do about it. With Britain under Death Eater control, the odds were that they'd begun rebuilding their lost fleet to fully tighten their hold on the British Isles, which was their primary concern.
It was also the reason why Harry could operate so freely in Canada and the Atlantic. The fact that the Death Eaters were obsessed with maintaining full control of Britain had meant that Canada and the rest of the British possessions were far less under their control, which was why Harry had managed to somewhat carve a sphere of influence in the north.
His particular "holdings," so to speak, included much of Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island, as well as the small archipelago in the middle of the Atlantic. Of course, his holdings were only nominally so, as he fought a battle with the Death Eaters nearly every other day for control of the Canadian territories.
In fact, it was for that same reason why Harry and his three-ship fleet were on their way to perform a raid.
"Your Grace," called a voice from behind Harry. The young Potter heir turned to meet the now-Admiral Hawke, who was standing at attention in his midnight blue, Victorian-age Navy uniform.
"Yes, Admiral?" replied Harry.
Hawke tipped his hat in salute to Harry with a slight bow. "The fortress will be within range in less than thirty minutes. We should have a visual of the target within ten," reported the fair-haired admiral.
Harry nodded. "Beat to quarter, Admiral. See to it that we are ready to open fire as soon as we are in range," he ordered softly. Hawke nodded stiffly and bowed.
"As you wish, Your Grace," he intoned, before spinning on his heel and leaving the observation deck.
Harry sighed as soon as the Admiral had left. He was still unused to his newly appointed title of Duke, which had been bestowed upon him by the people of his faction two years ago, during a memorial celebration they'd held in honour of the British Empire.
During that particular celebration, they'd convened in the midst of the celebrations and formally informed him of the fact that he'd been popularly titled Duke of Halifax, in honour of a particularly decisive victory he'd pulled off at that former city's location.
Even now, three years later, he still wasn't used to being addressed as "Your Grace".
Harry sighed once more as he watched the sea rush by before turning and leaving the observation deck.
He had a raid to conduct, after all.
"The target, gentlemen," announced Harry to his audience of officers, "is a small, coastline fortress the Death Eaters built on the shores of New Brunswick, here," he pointed at a particular spot on the map.
"The fortress, as your briefing folders should have told you, is located at the closest point across the channel from Nova Scotia, and thus within range of our shoreline facilities in that area, since they possess several confiscated Leviathan cannons."
"Yes?" asked Harry as he noticed a hand come up. It was one of the fighter plane Wing Commanders.
"What will be the function of the Air Force in this raid?" asked the man. "I mean, it seems to me that we can pull this off by simply firing off the Behemoths from a safe distance."
Several mumbles of agreement could be heard as Harry raised his hand for silence.
"Though your observation would be normally correct," answered Harry, "we cannot afford to cause any such damage in this operation."
"Why not, Your Grace?" asked another, this one a Commander in the Navy.
Harry nodded to the crewmember in charge of the holographic display and a map of the fortress soon came up to replace the region map. Harry now pointed his pointer at a particular structure.
"This, gentlemen, is the fortress' brig. In it are several important refugees which we must free at all costs," he told them. Another nod got him several headshots coming up on the holographic display. "These are the known prisoners within the brig."
Harry pointed at the first one. "This is Doctor Eugene Hale, a renowned British physician whom the Death Eaters have under the Imperius to conduct biophysical experiments,"
He pointed to another. "This is Henry Kraft, a notable engineer that helped in the building of Launch Base One, during Project Archangel,"
He pointed to another. "Professor Emily Jenkins, one of Project Archangel's theoretical masterminds."
Another point. "James Orwell, a guardsman from Buckingham Palace whom the Death Eaters have put under Imperius to promote pro-Death Eater propaganda."
This time, he pointed to two portraits. "These two are of particular value to us, gentlemen," he told them, pleased to see his officers writing down all the names. "This first one is called William Weasley, known as Bill Weasley to everyone who knows him. He was the main magical researcher for Archangel and my wife's brother," he informed them. No one even dared to make a comment at that. They all knew how much the loss of his family had affected the Duke. "The other," he continued, pointing to the image of an older, grey-haired man, "is Doctor Frederick von Eisenheim, the creator of the Magical Energy Generator and the father of Project Archangel," he announced. Many gasps answered his statement.
"Gentlemen, the amount of Archangel scientists in this location cannot bode well for our cause. However, we will not dally and see what the enemy is plotting, but rather cut their plans off now, while we still can," he declared. "It is imperative that we rescue these people and see if any of them can tell us anything about our enemy's plans."
General nodding received his statement, which made Harry look pleased.
"Good. Now, the Retaliation, Assaye, and Redemption will be providing covering fire to the Air Force's fighter planes, so that the enemy's dragons are…convinced not to lift off before we want them to," he explained, among much snickering as the last observation was made. Harry pressed on regardless. "As soon as the Air Force is in the air, water transports will be launched to bring Alpha and Bravo Companies from the Seventy-Ninth Regiment onto the shore, where they will be tasked with retrieving the prisoners. The Air Force is to provide cover for the water transports."
Nods from the appropriate officers answered his orders.
"Meanwhile, elements from the Ninety-Sixth Rifles Regiment will be transported to this shoreline here," he pointed, "where a town is located a single mile inland. They are to evacuate the villagers and assist with retrieving any materials available that New Britannia might need."
"After prisoner and villager rescues have been performed, the Assaye,Retaliation, and Redemption are to pull out of the are and head straight for New Britannia along the routes detailed by the Lyles Protocol, understood?"
"Good," he announced. "Then, gentlemen, get your ships and crafts ready. In fifteen minutes, we begin covering fire."
With that dismissal, his entire officer cadre got up and left the briefing room.