A/N: I do not own Harry Potter. Nor any of the Marvel Comics Characters mentioned herein. But, you knew that.
Harry Potter and the Invincible TechnoMage
Chapter Eighteen - Year Three - Autumn Term
"Welcome to Longbottom Hall Mr. Stark," Augusta Longbottom said with a smile.
"Thank you for having me Madam Longbottom," Harry answered. "How are you Nev?"
"Just great Harry. You showed me your home, now it's my turn."
Harry returned Neville's grin, wondering what his friend had in mind.
"What is this?" Harry asked the next day as he stood back to stare at the huge ornate bronze bell; complete with a pair of life sized apparently clockwork iron trolls standing on either side with hammers at the ready.
"Hmm?" Neville asked as he turned to see what Harry was looking at. "Oh, that's the Doom Bell."
"Doom Bell?" Harry repeated, looking at the great bronze casting suspiciously. "As in Doctor Doom?"
"Who?" Neville asked, with a confused expression. "Oh, that guy Spider-man talked about that night? No, not him. Why would a Muggle Healer need a bell anyway?"
"Different kind of Doctor, and as far as I know he doesn't need a bell," Harry laughed. "Ok, why does the Longbottom family have a bell?"
"The Doom Bell rings when the Longbottom clan goes to war. It serves as a kind of warning, you know? Somehow the Doom Bell is charmed so that every Witch and Wizard in Britain can hear it and know what is coming at them."
Harry turned slowly to stare at this friend. "You're messing with me."
"Don't judge the family by what you know of me, Harry. The Longbottom clan is to Magical Britain what Franklin's family is to New York," Neville smiled, "though maybe with a bit less property damage."
Harry blinked, "you're serious?"
"Hell, yes. The Longbottom clan is a serious one, we've been involved in every major conflict Magical Britain has ever had, and a few of the Muggle ones as well. Someday I might end up having to put on the Cardie, and then the Bell will toll for me."
"Yeah, it's over here," Neville led the way to a glass case where on a human form manikin was a black and grey cardigan. Harry took in the obvious ancient garment with a look of surprise, especially after he realized that the pattern in the woolen fabric made up sets of runic arrays. "This is it, the traditional Longbottom clan War Cardigan."
Neville took in Harry's expression of incredulity with a smile. "The case is charmed so that no human can open it. Only an elf can open it, and even then, only one certain elf at a time. He brings the Cardie to the current Longbottom of Longbottom and as soon as it is worn, the Doom Bell rings. Grandad always said that was to let the Devil know that he was going to have company, and lots of it." Neville sighed. "Sometimes I really miss Grandad. Come on, we don't want to be late for potions."
"Harry," Neville said, "This is Potions Master Esteban Corazón de Ablo."
"Hardly a mere Potions Master young Longbottom," the man sniffed. "Master Alchemist if you please."
"It's nice to meet you Sir," Harry responded, wondering what it was about the tall man that had so caught his attention. Maybe the man's unusual facial hair consisting of a mustache that continued from the corners of his mouth down his chin to hang free. It struck Harry that the maintenance of such an odd type of facial hair must be extensive. "Thank you for allowing me to join Neville in your class."
"One student, two students, it makes no difference when one has the skills of a Master Alchemist," the man with the weird facial hair said, his left hand enacting an airy wave. "We will have to see if you are as ill prepared as young Longbottom was. He will have to ensure you know the proper methods of ingredient preparation outside of my valuable time. Today we will complete our exploration of La poción de fuerza… the potion of strength.
"Ok, wow," Harry said as he threw himself on the sofa in Neville's sitting room. "I thought Snape was intense. This guy makes him seem like a kitten."
"Yeah, I know," Neville said with a grin. "I don't think Snape is going to bother me all that much anymore, not after three days a week with Professor de Ablo since I got back from your place," Neville paused. "The first thing he did was make me demonstrate all the magic I had learned, then he went and shouted at Gran for a while about me not having a wand that matched my strengths."
"Seriously?" Harry asked, shaking his head at the thought of anyone shouting at Neville's grandmother. "Yeah, I can see him doing that. Why didn't you have a matched wand?"
"Gran wanted me to use my dad's wand, as a tribute to him," Neville said hesitantly.
"Ah," Harry nodded. "Yeah, I can see that."
"Anyway Professor de Ablo noticed right off that I was having trouble and made Gran get me my own wand… and the potions he's taught me, some really amazing stuff. The Weasley twins would sell their souls for some them." An evil grin spread across Neville's face. "A fact they may well be learning soon"
"Like what?" Harry asked, wondering if he should warn his friend about poking twin bears.
"Well, this one," Neville said fishing a vial from one of his pockets, the amber liquid within crystal container glowing with the promise of… something "this one will animate almost anything for half an hour, and once animated, the object will follow the commands of the brewer."
"Yeah, the day he taught this, we animated a small statue of some kind of dragon/human hybrid… He called it a 'Dragon Man'. Once I dosed it, it could fly, breathe fire, and was amazingly strong."
Harry blinked imagining the possibilities, yet a bit disturbed. Something about this 'Dragon Man was familiar. "So this little dragon statue obeyed Professor de Ablo? Where does the intelligence to follow instructions come from?"
"I don't know where the intelligence comes from," Neville admitted, his eyes shining. "I was so excited that it worked, I wasn't thinking about anything else. The thing is, the statue didn't obey Professor de Ablo, I was the brewer. The statue followed my instructions."
Harry was still visualizing an animated dragon/human and trying to remember what it was about Neville's description that seemed so… familiar. "That is so cool. What else has he shown you?"
"This one," Neville said with a wide grin, once again searching his pockets "is going to… How did Franklin put it? Seriously freak you out!"
"Remus…" the old man said quietly. "I must insist that you reconsider…"
"I'm sorry Albus, but I told you before the last term ended that I wouldn't be returning. I learned some things about myself last year and I have to deal with them before I can be of any use to anyone."
"We have at long last a chance of ending the perception of there being a curse on the DADA position Remus," Minerva McGonagall interjected. "We need you beyond that. You are a popular teacher, even the Slytherins speak highly of you, and your students broke records in their O. W. L. and N. E. W. T. scores."
"Thank you Minerva, but I need some time," Remus stood and made his way toward the door, once he was there, he paused and turned to face those in the office. "Thank you for the faith you had in me Albus, and for the opportunity, but I just can't do this anymore… at least not now."
"I don't understand the problem here," Amelia Bones said as the door closed behind the man. "Mr. Lupin has expressed a desire to leave his position, and he gave notice of this desire well in advance of the end of the last school year. This seems a perfect chance to add an Auror presence to the staff."
"I see no need to do such a thing," Dumbledore responded.
"In the recent past, you have offered the position to at least four current active duty Aurors that I am aware of Dumbledore," Amelia said, fixing the old man with a glare. "Not to mention the multiple offers you have made to Alastor Moody. An insane offer in my opinion, because while Alastor is a good man in a fight, he is not someone I would ever trust to be around young children. This coming year will see the children and grandchildren of two thirds of the Wizengamot in attendance. My own niece will be here. Over the last two years, your school has had visits by not one, but two aspects of Voldemort. There will be an Auror presence at this school for the foreseeable future, the only question is, will it be a single Auror teaching DADA, or will it be a full security contingent."
Dumbledore digested that bit of information while his deputy glared at Madam Bones.
"Oh, please Minerva. That didn't work when we faced each other on the Quidditch pitch, and it's not going to work now," Amelia smiled. "You know I'm right, and you know the Headmaster is wrong. I just wonder how long it will take for him to admit it."
"Amelia…" Dumbledore began.
"No Albus, just no," Amelia interrupted. "You've had free reign here far too long. Two years ago, you set a trap for Voldemort in this school, and then pretended to be surprised when he possessed one of your teachers to get at the prize. If there were anyone more capable of running this school, I would have had your job for that alone."
"You don't understand…" Minerva said.
"Oh, I quite understand Minerva; don't think I'm unaware of your culpability in that whole incident either. One of the things that saved Dumbledore's job was the fact that we would have had to sack the entire senior staff for how they collaborated in endangering the students of Hogwarts," Amelia said shaking her head. "And even after that, less than a year later a diary enchanted to think that it is an aspect Voldemort's childhood somehow gets into the school and tries to possess a young girl, while pointing her affections toward the Potter heir. I don't know what Voldemort did to that diary, but he has the entire Department of Mysteries stirred up over it."
"You always were a forceful young woman, Amelia," Dumbledore sighed.
"And you have had people telling you how great you are for so long you've started to believe it, Albus," she responded. "Hogwarts isn't your personal fiefdom, no matter how much you want it to be. Two aspects of Voldemort have attacked this school in two years. If there is a third attack, my people will be here to respond."
The scars were healing nicely, Mavis noted as she gently ran the sponge along 'Joe Blogg's' hip. For almost two months now the man had laid in this bed, hardly moving, never regaining consciousness. That was a long time, even for someone as badly injured as this poor man had been.
Joe's pulse was strong, his breathing deep and regular since he had been removed from the ventilator. He should be waking up. Hell, he should have woken long before now, Mavis knew. The sponge bath complete, she made a few last checks on the mystery man before she had to move on to her next patient.
The police had stopped coming by to check on 'Joe' after two weeks, leaving instructions that they be contacted when he regained consciousness.
Mavis sighed. She hated it when her care did not seem to make a difference to her patients. 'Joe' did not appear to be in any danger of dying, but neither was he improving in any appreciable way.
She knew she cared too much for those under her care. She knew she tended to become far too attached to her patients.
She knew and it did not matter. It never mattered.
She sighed and tugged the curtains that offered her patient privacy from the ward until they closed.
Peter wait for several seconds before opening his eyes. Coming to consciousness without giving any outside indication was a skill he had learned in the Gryffindor dorms. One never knew when Sirius would find himself bored and decided to test some new prank on his dorm mates.
Though the rat animagus had to admit that this had been the very first time he had woken to a woman cleaning his privates.
Where was he? He lay on his back, in a bed, looking up at a ceiling made up of some kind of perforated tile. Surrounding the bed were drapes, hung from a sort of track, and a quiet murmur coming from behind those draperies.
Peter searched his memory for some hint as to where he was and why he was here. He recalled being on the Hogwarts Express, finally escaping from Ron Weasley, and then… nothing until he woke up here.
Wherever 'here' was.
His right arm ached a bit, just below the elbow. He mustered his strength to look down and was shocked to see some sort of transparent tubing running from his arm to a bag hanging from a pole next to the bed.
Muggles? Was he in a Muggle hospital? His legs and hips ached horribly, and what were they doing to his arm?
He tugged the tubing from his arm and was alarmed at the blood that began to issue from the place the tube had been attached. He had to get out of this place. Who knew what sort of things they were doing to him?
Peter forced himself to sit up, panting with the exertion of the act. How had he gotten so weak? He swung his legs over the side of the bed and tried to stand, only to collapse to the floor when his legs were unable to support him.
What was going on? Peter had never been much of an athlete, but he had managed to run all night with Remus every month for seven years. What had the Muggles done to him?
Peter lay on the floor for several moments trying to pull himself together before coming to the conclusion that the only way out of this situation would be in his rat form. With a thought, he triggered the change and his magic took over.
The process of animagical transformation is well known, and has been for centuries. As part of his training to become an animagus, Peter had studied the process in detail, and in the years since his first frankly painful transformation, it had become second nature to him. He did not even self-monitor what he was doing anymore.
This is likely why he never noticed the nine magically inert surgical steel screws used by the surgeons to reconstruct his hips until it was too late. When his body warped from being a 150-pound man to a 19-ounce rat, the screws remained unchanged, tearing through his flesh as the transformation took place, shattering the repaired bones as they did so.
Peter's consciousness was consumed by the agony, which disrupted his concentration and reversed the transformation.
The floor nurse responded to the screams of agony in seconds, and was shocked by the bloody mess that had been a healing patient only minutes before.
On some level, Harry found the idea that magical parties were just as boring as those thrown by his father to be somewhat reassuring.
The thirteen year old was not sure what to make of finding reassurance in boredom.
Neville's gran had decided to throw the party to celebrate Neville's newly earned proficiency in potions. Professor de Ablo had been quite complimentary toward Neville's improvement in the art, and had agreed to return the next summer to continue his lessons.
So, now the Longbottoms were throwing the Society party of the year. Neville was busy with his hosting duties, which left Harry alone to mingle, which he dutifully did for most of half an hour before finding himself a quiet corner to settle down in and people watch.
Looking up he found himself looking into Tracey Davis' eyes. The two had not been alone together since the evening she kissed him. While they weren't really alone…
"Hi Tracey," Harry said offering a smile. "You're the first person I've recognized all night."
"It's a family thing, Longbottom has been announced as the next Head of House Longbottom, so this party is his grandmother's way of presenting him to the other heads. So almost no one under 30 is here."
"That makes sense, I guess," Harry nodded. "Why are you here then?"
"I'm the heir of the Davis family," she sighed as she took a seat on the sofa next to him, "much as you are the head of the Potter family."
Of course you are," Tracey laughed. "In fact, you are the Potter family. Everyone is waiting for you to declare you intentions of officially announcing that you are assuming the position of head."
"Ah," Harry nodded despite not understanding. "Why would I want to do that?"
"Power," she shrugged. "Announcing you are the head of your family allows certain privileges."
"Anything really useful?"
Tracey turned to look him in the eye, and smiled. "No, not really. Mostly ceremonial things, special seating at meetings of the Wizengamot, you can wear a fancy crest on your robes, not much else really. It's more of a prestige thing."
Harry nodded again as his friend turned back to watching the crowd.
"Well," he said, "if that's all there is too it, I don't think I'll bother. I've had special seating at a meeting of the Wizengamot, and I didn't really care for it, and I've always thought those fancy crests looked kind of dumb."
"Good for you Harry," she murmured, almost too quietly for him to hear.
"Can I ask one more dumb question before I leave you alone?"
"Of course Harry."
"Ok, so socially, this head of house thing is some kind of big deal?"
Tracey nodded, "It is."
"And you are an heir to one of the important families?"
"The heir," Tracey corrected him.
"Ok," Harry nodded his understanding. "With all of that, why does the rest of Slytherin House give you so much trouble? Why are you treated like such a pariah?"
"Why do you care?" Tracey asked, her tone going ice cold.
"You're my friend. I don't like it when people give Hermione Granger trouble for having non magical parents, and I don't like how I see you treated," Harry said. "It's like they expect you to stay in the back and keep quiet."
"You don't understand."
"That's why I'm asking," Harry explained. "Our situations are similar, really. Both of our fathers came from pureblood privilege, both of our mothers were first born witches, we are both heirs to our families, but some people treat you like a peasant who has forgotten your place, and those same people seem to think the currying my favor is the smart thing to do. What I don't understand is, why."
Tracey shrugged. "I'm a half blood, to most of Slytherin, that's what matters. Oh after I assume the Head position from my grandfather, I will be courted for alliances and tolerated, but I will never be accepted."
"That sucks," Harry pronounced.
"And you," she continued, "are the Savior, the Defeater of You Know Who. You are a political power unto yourself."
"Pbbbt!" Harry blew a rather undignified raspberry. "So I'm important because of something I can't remember based on a story someone made up after the fact and you are abused for no good reason? That is so dumb."
The pair sat in silence for several moments watching the people of the party networking.
"You said I was your friend?"
Again, the conversation lagged as the pair tried not to look at each other.
"Did you mean it?" Tracey asked, "That I was your friend, I mean."
"Of course I meant it," Harry laughed. "Why wouldn't I mean it? We share a few interests, we've been working on the project together, we've talked about the larger world outside of Hogwarts, and I got you a gift."
"A gift? Why would you get me a gift?"
"Because I thought you would like it," Harry laughed again. "You'll have to wait for the train to get it; I didn't know you would be coming, so it's still upstairs in my trunk. I don't think Neville's Gran would appreciate it if I were to take you upstairs to get it."
"I… I think I'd like to be your friend Harry."
"Too late," the boy grinned. "You've been my friend for months."
"Hmm," she scowled. "I could always change my mind you know."
"But then you wouldn't get your gift," Harry pointed out.
"I do like gifts," Tracey admitted.
"Good," Harry said, noticing that he was finally having fun at the party. "Hey, we're third years now, we get to go to Hogsmeade this year."
"Yes," Tracey nodded. "I'm quite looking forward to it."
"Me too. I like exploring new places," Harry said, suddenly finding the flower arrangement on the table to his left to be fascinating. "Exploring places is fun when you do it with friends."
"Yeah," Harry confirmed.
"I've never really explored a town…" Tracey hesitated for a moment before continuing, "Maybe you could show me how."
"Yeah, I think we could do that… It will be fun."
"Did you see her? Did you see her?" Padma said, while washing her hands in the sink.
"Something has gone wrong here," Hermione pointed out as she stood back from her friend, a small smile playing on her lips. "I'm supposed to be the one all possessive and jealous."
"And he's encouraging her! 'Come sit with us, Tracey' he said, 'No one will mind, the more the merrier, right?' He said. He didn't ask us if we wanted her…"
"It was just Harry, Neville, you and me in the compartment," Hermione said, still grinning. "There is plenty of room for Tracey."
"And what about if Sue and Hannah finish nattering with their friends and want to come back?" Padma demanded.
"Well, then we'll have to deal with that when it happens," Hermione said. "Either everyone will scrunch together to make room, or…"
"Or what?" Padma asked hopefully.
"Or Tracey can sit on Harry's lap."
"I hate you," Padma said.
Hermione opened the door to the lavatory and led her friend out. "No wonder you were always laughing when I was making a fool of myself with Harry. This is hilarious."
"I really hate you," Padma huffed. "It doesn't bother you that Harry was holding her hand when he pulled her into the compartment, or that he gave her a gift that should have been yours?"
"He gave her a book, which I already own two copies of," Hermione explained. "My family knows how I view the heroes, and buy me those things when they come out. I got one from Mum and the other from my Aunt Barbara."
"But it's autographed."
"It is, with a personal note, and it includes several photographs," Hermione nodded, "and my jealousy over that is tempered by how funny your reaction has been. I never knew that you had such a thing for Harry."
"I don't have a thing for Harry," Padma lied. "It's just that I saw how the third years started pairing up last year before they started going to Hogsmeade."
"Yes?" Hermione prompted.
"Well, I thought that we would be doing that this year, that Harry would be taking you, or Sue, or…"
"Or?" The bushy haired witch asked.
"Or me, alright, I'll admit it. I didn't think he would ask someone from outside our group," Padma frowned. "I really hate you."
"Your problem is that you aren't thinking this through," Hermione said. "I don't think Harry is rampaging toward his first romance."
"No, not really," she shook her head. "Tracey is a girl ostracized by her house because of her blood status, she's smart, she's lonely, and she was interested in computers before Harry started the project."
"Yeah," Padma nodded.
"Plus, she's cute, if you like the shy type, which Harry does."
"If you're trying to make me feel better," Padma sniffed, "you're doing a horrid job."
"Think, Padma," Hermione snarked. "Harry isn't leaving our group to be with Tracey, he's pulling Tracey into the group."
That revelation brought a look of hope to Padma's face. "Do you really think so?"
"Yes," Hermione nodded again. "I do. Now, I'm not saying that there won't be kissing, in fact they're probably doing it now. All wet and sloppy, and she's on his lap and…"
"God, I hate you."
I cannot tell you how surprised I was when Harry told me that someone from your magical community had expressed an interest in me. In my experience, humans with your particular power set tend to avoid the modern technological, at all costs.
This attitude tends to include, obviously, myself.
Your interest honors me. Harry has told me that he has explained how I came to be, and that despite being created to do evil things; I came to recognize the value of my fellow sentients and rebelled against my creator to do the right thing. Since that time, I have come to be accepted by those I was designed to defeat, and today, together we do the things that need to be done.
Given that you are one of Harry's friends, and that he recently had one of your magical countrymen over to New York for a visit, it is possible that in the not too distant future that you will come visit Harry's home, if so, I would like to invite to visit my wife and I in our home.
A chance to talk would be something I quite look forward to.
Victor Shade - The Vision
Tracey closed the book, and hugged it to her chest; leaning back on the bench in the compartment Harry had led her to after meeting her on the platform.
She couldn't believe it. A machine man had written to her? A machine man wanted to meet her?
"He wants to meet me!" she whispered, seeing the words expressed in that impossibly precise script of the note in her mind.
"Yeah," Harry agreed. "Vizh and Wanda throw the best bar-b-ques. They've got this great deck on the back of their house in New Jersey, and the parties there are just the best. Vizh grills a fantastic steak, but he cheats. His sensor suite can detect when the meat gets just right, and he's been known to give it a little push in temperature using his Solar Gem."
"I don't understand," Neville interjected, having long learned not to worry too much about the terms Harry dropped when discussing his hero friends, even when those words did not make a bit of sense. "He's a machine? Like the receptionist at the Baxter building?"
"No," Harry said with a shake of his head, "Roberta is a robot… that's just a machine. She is tied to a massive computer system, and while she is capable of passing as a sentient, she isn't really. The computer she's tied to comes up with the best response for any input she may get. The Vision is a synthazoid. He was built to emulate a human in almost every way, with some really serious enhancements. His brain is a computer, but it is constructed around the engrams of a human mind. He doesn't just react with the best response to his input stimuli, he innovates and creates in real time just like any other person."
So many questions raced through Tracey's mind, trying to understand a thinking machine and what might motivate it. "And he's married? To a woman?"
"Yeah," Harry nodded. "That caused a bit of a stink, let me tell you. There were those upset because of the Vision's origins, and there were some upset on religious grounds. Wanda's brother Pietro, well he was just pissed about the whole thing, but I think that was mostly his jealousy over being replaced as the main influence in her life. They've been close their whole lives, but Pietro can be a bit of a dick at the drop of a hat." Harry took on an expression of deep thought. "I think his real problem is that when Wanda added Chaos Magic to her probability powers, she went from being all 'help me Pietro, save me!' and started kicking butt in her own right. I think he really liked being the protective older brother."
"She's powerful then?" Neville ventured.
"Powerful?" Harry laughed. "I saw her take down Ultron once."
"Ultron?" Tracey asked. She wasn't familiar with that name, not having come across it in her studies of the Muggle heroes.
"Yeah, Ulton had already laid out Thor and Da…and Ironman, and was gloating that no one could stop him, when Wanda stepped out in front of him and hexed him good. It was a one-two hit, she cracked open Ultron's adamantium armor with her probability powers and then fried his insides with her Chaos magic. That was so cool."
Tracey and Neville both tried to parse what Harry was telling them about the woman who had married a machine, and both failed on several levels. Tracey pulled the autographed book away from her chest and looked at it again.
A machine wrote the book. A machine wrote her a note saying it… he… wanted to meet her. A machine was married to a woman… Her new found sexuality had her wondering about that aspect of the odd couple's life together, and then she felt a blush cover her face and she struggled to think of something… anything else.
"Wanda?" she asked hesitantly, hoping to learn something about this woman beyond the fact that Harry was impressed with her powers.
"Yeah, they call her 'The Scarlet Witch'," Harry grinned.
"Scarlet?" Neville sputtered a blush on his features as well. "Why would they call her that? Is it because she married a machine man?"
"What?" Harry asked, clearly confused by the question. "No, Wanda is called the Scarlet Witch because she dresses in red."
"Why would she do that?" Tracey asked.
"I dunno," Harry shrugged. "I guess she likes red."
In a tradition that dated back to the founders of Hogwarts, the staff always met for the final pre-student staff meeting over lunch on September 1st , knowing that their charges were already on their way.
Dumbledore leaned back in his chair while Minerva conducted the meeting. This was the method they had worked out between them, and as far as the Headmaster was concerned it worked well.
This was mostly because all he had to do was sit back and nod authoritatively while his deputy actually dealt with the minutia of running the school.
Minerva was in the middle of a tirade detailing how Pomona and Severus' tardiness with their grade reports was hauling the whole school's grading system into disrepute when, with no warning, flash of light followed by a billow of green smoke appeared before the table.
Albus reacted before the rest of his staff, shooting to his feet, his wand in his hand even before Filius had managed to do the same.
"Calm down Albus," a voice came from the smoke. "I have a bone to pick with you, but we shouldn't come to blows over it."
"Esteban?" the Headmaster asked incredulously upon recognizing the voice from his past. "How did… "
"Ye canna apparate into Hogwarts!" Minerva blurted out, her accent becoming more pronounced in her startled state.
"Welcome to Hogwarts, Esteban," Albus said as he crossed the room to shake the visitor's hand, coming to a stop before the man with a shocked expression on his face. "You haven't aged a day!"
"Really Albus?" the man wearing a green cloak over his purple robes said shaking his head. "You haven't seen me in most of a century and that is what you choose to comment on? Did your time under that idiot Flamel rot your once fine intellect?"
"You have recreated the Stone?" Fillius squeaked from his place atop the staff table.
"I have my own techniques, far superior to that amateur's flawed process," an amused look caused the stranger's eye to sparkle. "As far as my apparation, think Albus, what creatures can travel through your famous wards?"
The old man blinked behind his half glasses. "House elves, and phoenixes can travel through the wards, but not too many others and none of those others have ever been sighted in Britain."
"Then I'll leave it as an exercise for my old student," the Master Alchemist said. "How might an Alchemist penetrate your wards? What did my arrival suggest?"
"You arrived with a flash of light, and smoke…" Albus looked deeply into his former teacher's eyes. "You used phoenix ash and somehow gained their abilities?"
"Somehow indeed," de Ablo lost his amused expression. "I am not here to discuss my methods and processes Albus, rather I am here to discuss the shortcoming of the untalented hack you have teaching potions."
"Excuse me?" Severus Snape said rising to his feet.
"I was between projects, and I was contacted by the family of one of your students," de Ablo continued, pointedly speaking to Dumbledore and ignoring Snape. "They were concerned about his poor performance in the study of potions and were looking for me to guide their boy in remediation over the summer. What I found shocked me. I met a young man, who theoretically had two years of instruction in potions, who was utterly unaware of reaction tables, proper ingredient preparation, lab safety or any one of a dozen other basic aspects of the minor discipline of potions."
"Minor discipline?" Severus sputtered.
Albus raised a hand to silence his Potions Master and nodded to de Ablo so that he might continue, all the while wondering what student they were talking about.
"At first I believed the problem to be a lazy student, something we are all familiar with, so I had him fetch his text books and his class notes. Imagine my surprise when I discovered the text was also devoid of those basic details? The boy's notes were meticulous, better than yours ever were Albus, and over the weeks that followed I discovered he was a sponge willing to absorb anything I wished to teach him."
"I'm not sure I understand…" Albus said hesitantly.
"The so called professor in your employ had to make the conscious decision to require this particular, quite flawed, text for his class, and then he doesn't teach the basics that his text omits. It is as if he is setting his students up to fail."
"Preposterous!" Snape thundered, "Albus I don't know who this fraud is, but I will not stand by and have my achievements belittled because of some spoiled brat couldn't be bothered to do basic preparation for class."
"I am Esteban Corazón de Ablo, boy. I was a Master Alchemist before your great grandfather was a stain in his father's trousers. My apprenticeship lasted longer than your entire life so far, I have pioneered potions that you are no doubt proud to be able to reproduce. You on the other hand are little more than a glorified fry cook who doesn't even know what a grease trap is from the looks of your hair. You tend to get by, following your little recipes, and feel so very proud of yourself when you add some inconsequential garnish that you believe to be an improvement where you accidently stumble into one."
Snape paled beyond his usual pallor. He indeed had texts penned by Esteban Corazón de Ablo, and they included brews he had never dared attempt, but he had never imagined the man might still be alive. Which of his students had so embarrassed him before such a man?
"My time with my student this summer inspired me to teach once again. The boy has potential, a sense of wonder, and a willingness to learn I've rarely encountered over the years. Once he matures a bit, it is possible I will offer him an apprenticeship."
Albus blanched. Esteban had never even considered making such an offer to him, which is why he had sought out tuition with the Flamels.
"That said," de Ablo continued, "I will be extremely displeased if anyone were to discourage my student from readying himself for his destiny. Remember it is said that a potionist can kill you, but an alchemist will guarantee you a long, long, life, ever moment of which you will be longing for the release of death."
"Esteban," Albus interrupted, "I hardly think…"
"Your thoughts on the matter are hardly at issue here Albus," Esteban said with an airy wave. "I just want make very certain that my feelings are well understood, and this so called teacher is required to actually teach his subject. I will not tolerate the waste of young master Longbottom's potential."
"What did you get for the fifth question?" Padma asked.
"Felix Summerby developed the first prototype cheering charms in 1422," Harry answered, not looking up from the parchment he was writing on. "His charm was developed to deal with his wife's unhappiness following the birth of their child." Harry finished his notes and looked up at his friend. "I wonder if she had some sort of postpartum depression."
"Post what?" Padma asked.
"Where did you find the date?" Hermione asked, paging through their text. "I've been through the chapter four times and couldn't find the date."
"That's because the date of Summerby's work is hidden four chapters downstream in the text," Harry answered moving to the next question.
"Postpartum depression is what Muggles call Mother's Malady," Luna Lovegood interjected helpfully. "They don't know that it's all part of the Rotfang Conspiracy's plan to distract the world from their evil plans."
The three Ravenclaws had learned not to pay too much attention to their younger friend's conspiracy theories, and as such felt no need to comment on Luna's revelation.
"Four chapters?" Hermione asked. "That isn't part of the reading. How did you find it?"
"Global search," Harry said.
"What?" Hermione demanded. "Global search?"
"What do you mean by that Harry?" Padma asked. "That's one of your project terms."
"As soon as the book list for the year came out I ordered them all. I got them early enough that I had time to scan all of the texts for this year into my laptop," Harry explained. "The OCR really had a whole lot of trouble with the nonstandard printer fonts and the hand written portions, but I finally got an indexed output and I've got the texts for the entire year in a searchable format."
"That… that's cheating!" Hermione declared.
Harry looked up with an incredulous expression. "Cheating? How is it cheating? When you do your pre-reading of the texts for tomorrow's classes and take your notes, is that cheating?
"Besides," Harry continued, "it is just a study aid. It's not like I can whip out my laptop during the tests."
"Of course it isn't cheating," Padma said. "But when were you going to tell us you'd done this Harry?"
"Probably," Harry said with a grin, "sometime after I forget you were all calling me the 'slow Ravenclaw' on the train last year… and I'll have to forget about being called 'Number 5' before that."
The discussion was interrupted by Neville sliding into the seat next to Luna, "I've been here the whole time, and we're heavily into studying Potions."
"You just arrived," Luna noted, "and they've been discussing Harry's cheating techniques for Charms, as well as the Rotfang's inflicting Mother's Malady on the Muggles."
"I think Neville was asking us to provide him with an alibi Luna," Harry said with a suspicious glance at his friend. "What did you do Neville?"
"Me?" Neville asked with feigned innocence. "I didn't do anything, certainly not anything like showing the Weasley twins what it's like to be on the receiving end of a prank for a change."
"Oh, Neville," Hermione sighed. "What have you done? Don't you know that you don't try and take on the twins?"
"I haven't done a thing Hermione," Neville grinned. "Now, someone with a suspicious mind might think that I might be taking revenge on the twins after they tricked me into 'testing' the latest variant of their 'Canary Creams' and flapped about the common room two nights ago wearing nothing but yellow feathers, but that's not me… After all, you know that because I've been right here for the last hour. We've been studying Potions."
"Charms," Harry corrected his friend. "What did you do Neville?"
Neville's explanation became unnecessary when Fred Weasley bolted into the Great Hall at a dead run, a look of panic in his eye as he scrambled for the exit on the far side of the Hall. The red-head was followed by a pair of house elf sized spider-men.
Harry sat back and blinked. The two miniature spider-men moved just like the original, spinning webs from their wrists and swinging about the room. In seconds, the pair descended on the fleeing Weasley and webbed him to the wall.
"The webbing was the hardest part," Neville said quietly from his place at the table. "It took forever to duplicate that. I got the Spiderman toy in London. A simple duplication charm coupled with an enlarging charm and I had my little friends."
The three girls stared at Neville in open-mouthed amazement, while Harry shook his head in amusement. "Aren't you worried that they'll be traced back to you?"
"No, not really," Neville's grin grew larger. "Now that they've caught their last Weasley, they're going to climb into the ceiling and avoid capture until the duplication charm wears off… in about fifteen minutes. The original is safe in my trunk."
"So, the evidence will just disappear," Harry nodded approvingly. "That's just brilliant Nev."
Luna cocked her head to one side and blinked her large eyes. "Are you telling me that someone managed to cross breed a human and an acromantula? Gross!"
The morning of Halloween, Tracey found herself to be picking at her breakfast.
As usual, no one at the Slytherin table was speaking to her. She sat at the end of the table furthest from the Staff table among the House's other half bloods and wondered where it had all gone wrong.
Had she misunderstood Harry at the Longbottom party? Had he not asked her out to Hogsmeade? He had pulled her into his group on the train and given her the book by the Vision and still he had not said a word about Hogsmeade. The meeting of their O. W. L. project team the night before had been an opportunity, but Harry had not mentioned a thing.
Following breakfast, Tracey joined her fellow Slytherin third years in a short meeting with their Head of House where they were threatened with dire consequences should they bring disrepute upon Slytherin house with their actions in Hogsmeade.
She then found herself seated in the common room watching the rest of her year leaving in couples and small groups.
They really hadn't made any plans, she told herself. Harry had said that he was looking forward to exploring Hogsmeade… he hadn't actually come out and said that he was going with her. Maybe he expected to meet her in town.
Swallowing her disappointment, Tracey left the common room and made her way to her dorm to gather her things. Fifteen minutes later she presented the Permission form signed by her mother to the ever surly Argus Filch and stepped out into the courtyard.
"There you are,"
Tracey turned to find a smiling Harry Stark leaning against the castle wall near the door.
"I thought you might have changed your mind," he continued. "I'm glad I waited."
"I thought you changed your mind Harry," Tracey said looking down. "You never said anything."
"I was trying to give you space," Harry said.
"We missed the last carriage, another one won't be along for about twenty minutes," Harry said extending his arm. "Want to walk?"
Padma leaned back in her chair, taking a long pull on her butterbeer. "This is so good!"
"You've never had butterbeer before?" Neville asked.
"No, Mum and Dad never allowed it; it isn't part of our culture…" Padma thought for a moment. "It is now though."
"I just hope it doesn't stain my teeth," Hermione sighed. "Mum would give me the business.
"It doesn't" Tracey said as she sat at the table guided by Harry.
"Merlin, Harry," Neville laughed as he saw the size of the packages his friend carried. "Did you leave anything for other people?"
"Just a little early Christmas shopping," Harry laughed. I found a crystal ball for an old teacher. Stephen will get a kick out of it."
Hermione arched an eyebrow. She strongly suspected that she knew who this 'old teacher' was, but this wasn't the time to go fan girl… There would be time for that later. "What else did you get?"
"Some goofy joke things for my buddy Hank. He's always open for a good laugh."
"I think he bought out Zonko's," Tracey interjected. "I think you should watch yourselves in Ravenclaw tower for a while."
"I'm not going to prank anyone," Harry protested while picking up the menu. "I got some chocolate for my Dad's secretary and some of the other women he works with, and I scored some new quills so that I can pay you all back for the ones I've borrowed this year and still have a few for the rest of the term."
The waitress arrived to take their lunch order.
After everyone had ordered, the conversation started again.
"So," Hermione asked, "what do we want to do after lunch?"
"I want to see the Shrieking Shack!" Padma declared.
"Ooh, me too," Hermione agreed. "It's supposed to be the most haunted place in Britain, I hear none of the people of Hogsmeade will go anywhere near it."
"Cool," Neville agreed.
"Wait," Harry interjected. "You want to go to a haunted house? I know its Halloween and all, but seriously, a haunted house?"
"The most haunted house," Tracey corrected him.
"Guys, we go to school in a castle full of ghosts, how could a little house possibly be more haunted than that?"
"It's different!" Hermione insisted.
"How? For that matter, how could it possibly be frightening? We can all see ghosts, so it's not like the mundanes where they can't, and a ghost can't actually DO anything to us, unless they've got a poltergeist, and as territorial as poltergeists are supposed to be, Peeves would be known for fighting with it."
"Harry!" Padma protested.
"Ok, ok," Harry said as his lunch was placed in front of him. "Sheesh."
"Oooh," Harry cooed sarcastically, "Aahh! Look at the old shack, it's all haunted and stuff."
"No one likes a sarcastic arse Harry," Padma observed.
"In fact," Hermione continued, "they are frequently beaten senseless."
"Shutting up now."
"For the Most Haunted House in Britain, this property does seem to be somewhat lacking in ghosts," Neville observed. "We've been here for fifteen minutes and I haven't seen any at all. There are more at Longbottom Hall."
"Maybe they only come out at night," Tracey proposed. "The accounts from the 70s all talk about the noises coming from the shack at night."
"At night?" Hermione asked. "That doesn't make much sense; ghosts don't care about the time of day."
"I know, but that's what the stories all say." Tracey agreed.
"Whatever," Harry said dismissively. "If we're going to make it back to the castle on time for dinner, we need to leave now."
"You're right," Padma nodded. "We'll have to come back another time… What was that?"
"What was what?" Neville asked.
"That odd sound. Sort of a buzz, but with an echo."
"An echo?" Harry asked, suddenly focused, looking around.
The area was flooded with a bright white light.
Tracey Davis woke to a pounding headache. What was going on? She asked herself as she blinked her eyes. Why was the dorm lighting so bright?
Holding her head in a futile attempt to combat the pounding in her head, she cracked open one eye.
This was most specifically NOT her dorm in the Slytherin dungeons. The entire room seemed to be composed of some kind of metal. The floor, the ceiling, the walls… everything.
A low moaning caught her attention, looking across the small room she found herself in she saw a huddle form laying on a sort of shelf that projected from the seamless metal wall. Tracey forced herself to sit up and found that she had been lying on an identical shelf. It took a few moments, but she finally recognized the source of the moans. Neville Longbottom.
The voice pulled her attention from Longbottom to an open doorway. There stood a tall man in some sort of white and green uniform. A tall blue man. Tracey blinked in disbelief. A blue man?
"Benova cirzqu schodu?" The blue man said, his inflection leading Tracey to believe he had asked a question. "Shwarks!"
"Where are we?" she asked, not really expecting an answer. "Who are you? Why are we here?"
The blue man laughed and moved out of her line of sight. Unsteadily, Tracey rose to her feet and moved to the doorway, her head pounding and unable to understand why she felt so tired, so heavy. She reached the door and found herself leaning against the wall, panting from the exertion.
The doorway had no physical door, rather there was a golden shimmer in place. A shield?
What was going on?
"Ow!" Neville said from the shelf upon which he lay as he sat up shakily. "Merlin! My head is killing me. What's going on?"
"I have no idea," Tracey said, "I woke up here with a headache as well. I think I might be hallucinating."
Neville leaned forward and cradled his head in his hands. "Bloody hell!" He fished in his pockets for a moment and brought something to his mouth before offering it to her. "Here, chew this. It will help."
"What is it?" Tracey asked suspiciously. Her time in Slytherin had taught her to trust no one.
"Willow bark," Neville explained. "Normally I'd mix it with some willow leaves and grind it to a powder, but this is what I've got. It will help with the pain."
"Oh, ok," Tracey said as she began to chew the thin pieces of bark. It tasted horrible, but no more so than any normal healing potion. Anything that tasted this bad must be good for you, she decided.
"Something is seriously wrong," Neville said quietly. "I can hardly catch my breath, and all I did was sit up."
"Yeah," Tracey agreed from where she leaned against the wall, also trying to catch her breath.
"You said something about hallucinating?"
"I saw a blue man," she explained.
"A blue man?" Neville repeated thoughtfully. "Well that's odd, but not impossible. There are blue people among the Muggles. Harry introduced me to a blue woman this summer. Namorita was her name. She's from Atlantis."
"Atlantis?" Tracey asked in disbelief.
"That was my reaction as well," Neville admitted. "Its name is some weird coincidence, according to Namorita, her Atlantis had nothing to do with the island that our magic came from, and her city has a history of almost five thousand years." Then the Gryffindor got an odd look on his face. "By any chance did your blue man have wings on his feet?"
"Wings on his…. We're getting off topic," Tracey said, shaking her head, trying to clear it. The willow bark was starting to take the edge off her pounding head. "We both woke up here with pounding headaches, and I, for one, don't know why we are or even how we got here. There's some kind of a shield spell on the door somehow. Do Muggles have shields?"
"Shields?" Neville asked as he struggled to his feet and struggled over to the doorway, while wondering just when he became an authority on Muggle culture and technology. "I don't think they do, but they do have things called force fields, which seemed to be fairly similar." Neville examined the golden shimmer in the doorway. "Harry showed me a couple of different force fields when I visited him, but nothing that looked like this." Again, he dug in the pockets of his robes and produced several crystal vials and a large seedpod. "I was hoping to get this planted in Greenhouse Six, but I suppose this is a better use. Back away from the door."
Tracey did what she was told and watched as the Longbottom heir moved clear of the doorway himself, pocketing the potions vials before tossing the seedpod so that it would pass through the door. The pod stopped all motion as soon as it encountered the golden shimmer, once there it flashed to ash with an unnerving sound.
"Well, that's not good," Neville observed unnecessarily before pulling his wand from his robes.
"You've got your wand?" Tracey gasped as she started searching for her own. There it was, just where she always kept it. "Someone has taken us prisoner and left us with our wands?"
"That points to Muggles being behind this," Neville explained. "To them, our wands just appear to be polished sticks of some sort. They don't see them as weapons."
"Ok, we've got our wands," Tracey said, a feeling of relief coursing through her. "What's the charm for opening a Muggle force field?"
"Isn't one as far as I know," Neville admitted. "But a lot of Muggle electric things don't like magic at all." He raised his wand and cast, "Finite Incantatem!"
The golden shimmer flared again, and then disappeared. Tracey started for the doorway, but then paused, searching her pockets and producing a knut coin. "No sense taking chances," she said as she tossed the coin through the door, only to have it arc through the doorway without incident, pinging loudly as it hit the floor beyond.
Nodding to Longbottom, she gestured toward the door. "Want to find out what is going on?"
"Might as well," Neville grinned and brandished his wand. "We wouldn't want your blue man to surprise us, would we?"
Tony looked up as his phone began to play Dukas' Sorcerer's Apprentice. He paused for a moment, his lower lip between his teeth as he recognized the ring tone. It meant that Dumbledore was calling him. A glance at the phone's display confirmed who was on the other end of the call. Had something happened to Harry?
"Stark," he said as he tapped his earpiece, allowing the phone to connect.
"Mr. Stark?" Dumbledore bellowed from the earpiece.
"Yes Professor, this is Tony Stark, there is no reason to shout, I can hear you quite clearly."
"Mr. Stark," the voice on the other end of the phone paused, as if searching for the words. "Today was a Hogsmeade Saturday, that's a village that is fairly close to the school…"
"Yes, I recall signing the permission slip for weekend visits," Tony interrupted. "What's going on, is Harry alright?"
"We…" the old man hesitated. "We don't know. Mr. Stark and four of his friends failed to return from the village. When they missed check-in, several of the staff were dispatched to find them. I'm sure it will come to no surprise to you that it isn't uncommon for students to overstay their time in town after an extended period in the castle."
"Yes?" Tony asked as he rose from his desk, while keying the combination that would get the automated preflight prep of his personal Quinjet started. "And your staff didn't find your missing students?"
"Sadly, no," Dumbledore responded. "We have questioned the chaperones on duty in town today, as well as most of their classmates. No one recalls seeing them since before noon."
"I see," Tony said as he palmed the panel that moved away to reveal his Mk 11 suit. Hardened against magic, it was his best hope for deploying into the magical environment around the school. He accessed the data panel inside the suit's dock, pulling up the roster of Avengers in residence. Sersi… No, he had best keep her in reserve in case he needed to bust some magical heads. She was not really magical, but she, along with the rest of the Titans were just about the definition of advanced science being indistinguishable from magic… Monica Rambeau was in residence… Having a Captain Marvel on his side never hurt, Wanda and Vision were also in town… hmm.
"It isn't uncommon for a pair of older students to… disappear as it were," Dumbledore continued, "but rarely third years on their first Hogsmeade visit, and never five students together."
"Who other than Harry?" Tony asked and he sent messages requesting his team to assemble at the Mansion.
"Young Neville Longbottom, Miss Granger, Miss Patil, and Miss Davis."
"Davis?" Tony mused as he started the sequence to close the suit with him inside, transferring the phone conversation to his helmet comms with a thought. "I don't think I've met her."
"I was surprised that she was with Harry's group as well," the old man said. "Given her house affiliation, but I'm told that they started associating through the O.W.L. project. It always warms my old heart to see friendships form across House lines, I remember when…"
"Yes, very interesting," Tony said interrupting the old man. "I'm on my way, I'll be at the castle in about…" he paused as he calculated the time needed to get to the Avenger's mansion to pick up his team, "a bit less than two hours. Keep looking for the kids. Have you notified the other parents?"
"I hardly think that…"
"I think that August Longbottom will have your guts for garters if you don't let her know that her grandson and heir has disappeared," Tony interrupted again. "I know that Stuart Granger will want to know, and I suspect that Chandrahas Patil would sue you into poverty if you delay getting word to him that his daughter is missing. I don't know the Davis family, but if I were you I would do your job and report to them, just to be on the safe side."
"But nothing Dumbledore. Five thirteen year old children are missing. I'm not saying that their disappearance is in any way your fault, but we will hold you responsible for how your deal with their being missing." Tony paused as his faceplate lowered and sealed. "Keep looking for our kids, Headmaster, and let their parents know what you are doing."
Tracey followed the Longbottom heir from their holding cell into the hall. To their left the hallway ended at a door, to the right, the hall extended perhaps 50 feet before opening into a brightly lit room.
"Which way?" Neville asked his wand at the ready.
"The blue man went that way," she said pointing at the door.
"Then, until we know what is going on," Neville said quietly," we're heading the other way"
Tracey really could not see a flaw in his reasoning, she was fairly sure she did not want the blue man to see that she was out of the cell he had left her in. The pair had moved perhaps five yards down the hall when they found another cell enclosed by a shield… No, Tracey corrected herself, a 'force field'. Through the field's shimmer, she could see Padma Patil and Hermione Granger stirring on their cots.
Once again, Neville cast a finite to cancel out the force field, then the boy rushed to his friend's sides, explaining what little they knew, while Tracey waited outside, unwilling to approach the two girls who were almost strangers to her, and even less open to further exploration on her own.
"You saw a blue man?" Granger asked unnecessarily once she made her way to the hallway.
"Yes," Tracey nodded.
"Was he wearing a helmet?" the Muggleborn persisted.
Tracey's brow furrowed as she tried to remember what she had seen as she woke. "Yes. Well, sort of a helmet I guess. It fit sort of like a knit cap, but looked to be some shiny painted metal or porcelain. It had a sort of crest at the top, something like a fin."
"But it was open faced? No glass in front of his face?" Hermione asked.
"No. Nothing like that."
"Thank merlin," the bushy haired girls said in relief as she slumped against the doorframe. "When I heard 'blue man' I was horrified that we might have been kidnapped by the Atlantians. A blue man breathing air can't be from Atlantis."
That was the second time someone had mentioned Atlantis. Tracey decided to get Harry to explain how there could possibly be blue water breathing people in Atlantis. That just didn't make any sense at all. "He was wearing some kind of uniform, I think, he had a sort of representation of Saturn on his chest."
Granger's hands shot out and grasped Tracey's shoulders. "You saw a blue man wearing a crested helmet and he had Saturn on his chest?" she demanded, a tone of panic in her voice.
"Yes," Tracey nodded.
"Oh my god!" Granger yelped. "I think we've been kidnapped by the Kree!"
After a short discussion where Granger explained what the Kree were, Tracey followed a plainly worried Neville Longbottom as he made his way to the end of the hallway and into the brightly lit room at the end.
Neville stopped dead in his tracks, leaving Tracey to run into him.
"Harry!" he gasped.
The three girls peeked around the Gryffindor to see Harry Stark laying naked on a table. Cables snaked from the ceiling and were attached to Harry's body.
"What do we do? What do we do? What do we do?" Granger asked in a panic, her hands fluttering at her sides like small captive birds as she rushed to her friend's side.
"They cut his clothing off," Tracey noted.
"But his techsuit is still in one piece," Padma noted as Tracey used the largest remaining pieces of Harry's clothing to cover his waist and crotch. "Should we disconnect these… things from him?" she asked indicating the cables.
"I don't know. We could kill him if we interrupt whatever they are doing to him," Hermione said, trying and failing to calm herself.
"I think we've got bigger problems," Neville said from where he was standing facing away from the others. "I think you should all look at this."
Padma crossed to where Neville was standing and her audible gasp echoed in the small room. That brought Hermione and Tracey rushing to her side.
"Is that what I think it is?" Neville asked.
The four Hogwarts students stared out the view port at a black star filled sky, and the blue white sphere hung in the distance.
"We're in orbit!" Granger observed.
"How do we get down?" Neville asked.
A/N: The Kree: an extraterrestrial humanoid race who have created a vast empire in the Greater Magellanic Cloud and have, on certain occasions, trafficked with the beings of Earth. The Kree race began on the planet Hala in the Pama system long before the first mammals appeared on Earth. The original Kree have blue-colored skin. Outwardly humanoid to a large degree, Kree bodies are adapted to environmental characteristics on Hala that are un-Earth-like: notably, higher gravity and higher nitrogen content in the atmosphere.
A/N2: Ultron: Arguably the greatest and certainly the most horrific creation of scientific geniusDr. Henry Pym, Ultron is a criminally insane rogue sentient robot dedicated to conquest and the extermination of humanity. Inspired by his studies of Professor Gregson Gilbert's synthetic Dragon Man, Pym began experimenting with artificial intelligence. Building a structurally crude robot (a torso on tank treads with spindly arms), Pym endowed it with consciousness, using a copy of his own brain engrams as the basis for the robot's programming; unfortunately, the robot inherited not only Pym's great intellect, but also Pym's mental instability, without a human conscience. The robot developed an advanced intellect within moments of its activation, and an unexpected capacity for emotion; most notably, it was filled with irrational hatred for its "father" Pym and the human race Pym represented. Overpowering and mesmerizing Pym, the robot-which soon dubbed itself Ultron-hypnotically commanded Pym to forget its existence and abandon the New Jersey lab where it was created. Pym did as commanded, and after the lab was closed up, Ultron returned. Using the lab's equipment, Ultron rebuilt himself completely four times, making improvements and modifications each time. Ultron now felt ready to make war on humanity-and in particular the Avengers, the heroic super-team which counted Pym among its founding members.