Chapter 2: New World, Same Place
Harry Potter was in a jail cell. Again.
Through if he had to say, this was the best one yet. Voldemort kept his prisoners contained in a small dark stone room, water clinging to the walls. No chair, no bed, and food had only been provided when deatheaters remembered. Harry had long come to the conclusion that deatheaters were dumber than a post, because they never seemed to remember. The Ministry kept its "witnesses" in small gray rooms. There was a chair, a very uncomfortable one if he remembered, and although Harry hadn't really been there long enough for them to provide food, Tonks had offered, which was a vast improvement. The City of London Mutant Affairs Office on the other hand kept their "detainees" in a light gray room. It was well lit, provided a chair and a bed. Both of which weren't that bad. Meals were regular, 6:00 a.m. breakfast, 12:00 p.m. lunch, 6:00 p.m. supper. They never wavered, and the food, somewhat like the kind provided on airplanes, was pretty good to Harry's way of thinking. All meals provided the full nutrients, which was quite a step up. He even had his own toilet, an extremely lucky find if Harry knew prison cells. Indeed if it weren't for the men in lab coats, accompanied by men with rather large guns, Harry might have been tempted to settle in and call this new place home.
Yes, the men in lab coats were annoying. They'd come in, look at him for awhile, make a note in a chart, frown, and then leave. One had tried to take a blood sample. Harry had quashed that idea, a simple impenetrable charm had made it impossible for them to piece his skin. The doctor (Harry assumed he was a doctor) had eventually bent his needle attempting it, then gave Harry another look. He had left somewhat excitedly.
However if it weren't for the doctors, he might not have learned much about this strange new world he had landed in.
Moments after Harry had magicked himself to safety, the Underground's security group had arrived, followed by a group of police. As usual they had shown up too late to rescue the person trapped in the tunnel, but they were in time to slap some cuffs on him when the well-meaning observers told them what had occurred.
Harry hadn't been particularly worried as these events played out. He had no idea what a mutant was (outside of science fiction anyway) but with his wandless magic he'd have no trouble escaping the muggle police. More out of curiosity than anything, Harry had accompanied the policemen into their car and eventually downtown to a little out-of-way courtroom. There, a rather severe looking magistrate had glared down at Harry and pronounced him guilty of breaking the newly passed City of London Mutant Act. Harry decided he was more impressed than upset, the legal system was amazingly swift in this world.
"You're the first to break the new laws boy, hope you're proud of your little jaunt," the bewigged man had said, interrupting Harry's thoughts. He pounded his gavel. "Detained until further notice," he announced, his voice booming over the empty courtroom. Turning to Harry again the man had smiled in a way reminiscent of Vernon Dursely. "You'll even be the first to try out the city's new mutant-proof facility. That should teach you."
Harry had merely blinked in response. There was that word "Mutant" again. Mutant Act. Mutant-proof. The magistrate had seemed a little disappointed in Harry's reaction. The large man had leaned over in his black robe and whispered something to a man beside him who in turn whispered to the officers at Harry's side. Harry wondered why they bothered as he heard the question quite clearly.
"Are you sure he's a mutant?" the weedy assistant had asked.
"Without doubt, whole tube platform witnessed it," affirmed the policemen, his voice steady.
"Very well, march him out," the magistrate ordered, again his voice booming through the empty room.
"Don't try anything funny," one of the men grunted as they walked him out. "Gerry there has enough sedative in that gun to drop a raging rhinoceros."
The other man, Gerry, Harry assumed, grinned fiendishly and lifted a rather large orange colored pistol to his chest. He flashed it in Harry's direction in what was probably a menacing manner. Harry had a hard time trying not to laugh as he imagined the rather overweight Gerry stalking through the African wilderness, dressed in khaki, bravely tranquilizing raging rhinoceroses.
Lost amid this image, Harry was then tugged by his shoulder and placed in a gray van. A partition, which seemed to be made of lead and reinforced plexiglass, separated him from the driver. There were no windows except for a small hole in the partition, which Gerry shut as soon as the van's motor started. Harry didn't mind the semi-darkness and quickly dozed off.
Wherever this 'City of London Mutant-Proof Facility' was, it wasn't in London. Even though Harry had fallen asleep, it still took them awhile to reach their destination. When the van arrived Harry had been about to slip into dreamland again.
The doors opened, allowing the sunlight to blind Harry. Rough hands reached out and grabbed him, dragging him from the van. Harry was really rather glad that people seemed intent on leading him everywhere as he doubted he could have managed under his own power. With somewhat slitted, tired eyes, Harry had been lead through a maze of corridors, finally deposited in the small gray room he now almost called home. Harry had welcomed the bed they flung him on and had finally fallen into a deep restful sleep. Whatever his problems were, they would no doubt be sorted out later.
Harry had been allowed to sleep for as long as he wanted. And, as the bed was so nice, Harry did just that. When he finally did wake up, a little before noon judging by the now memorized feeding schedule, a man in a white coat, accompanied by a man with a big gun, entered and dropped a few items before Harry.
"Change into those," the man in the white coat said. The pair quickly left and Harry looked at the things that had been tossed in his direction. They were a gray shirt and a pair of gray drawstring pants, each wrapped individually in plastic. Gazing at his own soiled garments, Harry eagerly changed into the clean clothes.
Harry Potter was starting to slowly regain his senses at this point. The full night's sleep had knocked some of the dazedness out of him. He had looked around for the first time. Perhaps a little confused that the ministry hadn't discovered all this yet. Now that he had clean clothes, he was considering apparating there and figuring things out, but then lunch had come.
Harry hadn't had an actual full meal since before he'd been snatched by Voldemort. The sight of some sort of processed meat patty, surrounded by vegetable medley made his mouth water. Deciding to put his plans of escape off for the moment, Harry had settled down and tucked into the fine meal. The man with the gun had kept the weapon trained on Harry as another man, not a white coat but dressed similar, rushed in, grabbed Harry's old clothes and hurried out. Harry hadn't minded. There had been nothing there that was his, and Kingsley wouldn't be getting his robe back anyway. Instead he had enjoyed his meal, relishing the feeling of a stomach that was full.
Of course he'd felt positively sick later. He should have known it wasn't healthy to eat so much after not eating for so long. But it was a good sickness. And, when dinner came and filled up again, it was an even better kind of sickness.
But now that he was fed and watered, as Dumbledore had liked to say, Harry had made his plans for escape. He'd apparate to Hogwarts and find this world's Dumbledore, who might be able to point him in the direction of his family. Maybe he'd be having breakfast in Godric's Hollow next morning.
Of course Harry didn't have breakfast in Godric's Hollow. His attempt at apparition had been a complete failure. As soon as he had tried to leave the room, it was if a jolt of electricity hit him, sending him reeling and leaving him in his comfortable little prison cell.
Harry had looked around startled, not expecting that. He also hadn't expected the door to suddenly bust open. In entered "the man with gun" and two doctors this time. Each doctor seemed to eye him speculatively, as if waiting for him to preform some trick. Harry stared back at them. They stared back at him. Harry was beginning to wonder what they were looking for, when he remembered that he could easily find out.
Locking eyes with one of the two doctors Harry preformed rudimentary Legillimancy on the man. The mental arts had never been Harry's forte, but he was skilled enough to quietly enter the mind of a muggle who had no mental protections in place.
'Unusual subject, unnerving really.' the man had said mentally. Harry had been a little offended at that. 'Subject must have attempted some form of telaportation, otherwise the electrical alarms wouldn't have sounded. Unlucky bugger, that must of hurt. He'd never be able to tell that on the other side of these walls in an electrical current with 75 volts.'
While the man's surface thoughts had been interesting. Harry needed other answers. Mutant? He casually asked the mind, waiting for a reaction to the word. The emotion that the word evoked was a mixture of fascination and disgust. Harry tried to keep still as the man's mind assaulted him with images related to the word mutant. The doctor as a boy hearing something on the news, as a teenager reading an article about identified mutant abilities, studying medical journals in university. Curiosity at how the human body could make such power.
Power...mutants had power. Not magical. But it was if each possessed their own magical skill. The doctor's mind was fertile with an idea about what kinds of powers existed. Harry swallowed, staggered by such a development, how this could be possible? The man's mind provided him with a complicated answer, involving DNA helixes and chromosome sequences. Harry shook his head. He hadn't been to proper muggle school since he was eleven, he barely knew what DNA was.
Then the two doctors had left. The man with the gun remained for a moment, waiting for the doctors to leave before following in them out. In that minute Harry mentally asked ' man with gun' what he thought mutants were.
'Freaks' came the all too prompt reply. As everyone left Harry stared down at his lap.
In that moment, for the first time while captured by the muggles, Harry felt a slight twitch of fear. He couldn't apparate, he was seemingly trapped in a room, studied like a lab rat, and considered some sort of DNA mutation. All considered it didn't sound promising for his future. He was also starting to think that the Ministry wasn't coming to collect him for using magic in front of muggles. If these mutants did exist then, it must make it very difficult for the Ministry to track which oddity was magic and which was mutation. Harry hadn't used a wand, so they would have no way of knowing. It seemed he was on his own again.
Harry looked around curiously for a moment. He cast a simple colour switching spell on his uniform. The material changed from dour gray to a more festive lime green in a second. Harry breathed a sigh of relief. Changing the uniform back to it's original shade, Harry lay back down on the bed, a smile on his face. While their mutant-proofing methods had put a kybosh on his apparating skills, it seemed his magic was still functioning as normal.
They wouldn't be able to hold him here for long if he wanted to leave. A stunner on the man with the gun, followed by another for the doctors, an invisibility or disillusionment charm, and he'd slip out the way he came in. However, in the meantime, this might be the perfect opportunity to find out more about the world he found himself in. He couldn't help but wonder why this world seemed to be experiencing such a violent leap of evolution, while his own was not. The only evolving he'd heard of back home involved people being born without their wisdom teeth. Why here? What was different? Had the veil shoved him into the future as well as into a different world? No, everything else had seemed the same. No hover cars, his food hadn't been in pill form (which he was grateful for) and there were no laser guns just the actual bullet kind of guns. Harry refused to believe he had landed in the future without those devices in evidence.
So, Harry Potter settled back in his bed, and did something for the first time in his life. He embraced those inner-slytherin traits which the sorting hat had uncovered. He'd play the part of a mutant for a bit. Eat the nice hand delivered food, enjoy the room they provided, and rummage through his captors minds, finding out more about this world he had landed himself in.
Now there was nothing left to do but wait for breakfast.
This lead Harry to the present. He had learned quite a lot over the last few days.
He'd learned about this Mutant Act he'd apparently broken. London had been among many cities across England and the world which had banned mutants. It was all very polite of course, citing that the decision was made for mutant safety. The City basically claimed that everyone in London hated mutants, and the police couldn't be bothered to protect them. Hence, wouldn't they be much safer outside the city, and wouldn't it be much better for everyone if they left? In fact, it seemed muggle/mutant violence hadn't been that severe before the law had been passed. Rather the town had practiced a polite form of discrimination, using financial measures to pressure mutants out of towns and neighborhoods. However once The Mutant Act was passed the city made prejudice and discrimination public policy.
Harry really had been lucky. He'd been arrested on a Tuesday morning. The "mutant court" was only open alternating Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9-5. Otherwise he'd likely have been tossed into the general prison population for a few days...which wasn't too mutant friendly by the sound of it. Harry had the distinct impression that city officials encouraged this.
Yes Harry had been lucky, on other counts as well. It seemed that the London Mutant-proof Facility he had been told about wasn't run by the city of London at all. Rather, the building and the doctors all belonged to the military. This building itself was also not intended to hold mutants for long term. It was actually supposed to be used as a staging area. Doing some medical processing before sending the "detainees" to larger facility up North. But when Harry had come in his skeletal thinness, weariness, and a few noticeable scars, had concerned the doctors. So much so, they worried that Harry might not make the transfer to the other facility. Harry had been rather pleased that his current captors wanted him alive and relatively healthy, even if their assessment of his health hadn't been flattering, but he would have been even more pleased if he hadn't learned that the larger facility had more nefarious purposes. What those exact purposes were, no one in this facility knew, but the doctors had rather gruesome imaginations.
Harry had learned all this from doctors and orderlies as they came in watched him, or delivered his food. Of course he hadn't been able to learn quite as much as he'd like. It seemed that many of the doctors didn't like their job very much. Thus, when they were supposed be studying him, more often than not they were thinking about a football game they had money on, Karen (a apparently very attractive tech), or worrying about how they were 'going to afford braces for Tom as well'. Harry wasn't quite good enough at mental magic to quietly go in and find all the answers he wanted. When he concentrated he could read surface thoughts relatively well, and he could sometimes pose a question and get a response , that is if the person was inclined to answer the curious voices in their head. But Harry didn't dare try and dig deeper. He had learned from one doctor that some mutants had the ability to access people's minds. Thankfully the doctors didn't think his mutation included that skill, but Harry knew they had plenty of tranquilizers handy if they felt the least bit threatened. And being doped would limit any escape plans.
However perhaps the most interesting information didn't come from the doctors, but rather from the men with the guns. On a whole they didn't tend to think much, this seemed to be a job for military personnel who couldn't be trusted with anything more difficult than point and shoot. But, from time to time they would stand there and mentally complain about how the added guard duties had really cut in on their sleep or social lives. They also complained that it seemed pointless to be on high alert when there was only one of these 'freaks' in the whole building. Harry had asked why they needed the additional paroles and had been graced with rather interesting images.
It seemed that not all mutants were taking this treatment lying down. A group of "terrorists" had broken into a German facility, freeing the mutants inside. It was said that there had been another attempt on the London Jails over the weekend, in an effort to free any mutants there. These guards had conjured rather terrifying images of what these terrorist mutants must look like. Often the creatures seemed to resemble werewolves or dementors to Harry's mind. Harry had chuckled at this, unnerving both the guard and the doctor staring at him. They had left rather quickly.
However after three days had passed, Harry wasn't learning anything new and he felt stronger then he had in long time. The aurors had fixed any major problems, but the full meals and sleep had gone a long way in repairing the damage done while imprisoned by Voldemort. Harry found himself thankful for his captor's attention.
This attitude had both startled and worried Harry somewhat. It wasn't really normal behavior to enjoy your imprisonment, perhaps one to many cruciatus curses had sent him round the bend. Still he'd once heard that if you were sane enough to worry that you were insane, then you weren't that bad off to begin with. He hoped this was true.
Of course Harry's acceptance of the facility was shattered when he happened to meet another doctor. This man was new. He was short with a thin build, bald except for a few tufts of wispy hair which he had arranged in an attempt at a comb over. The attempt failed. Still, the man's eyes had been what warned Harry. They were cold. Harry had met enough sadistic pricks in his short life to know that the really nasty ones had cold eyes. Harry enjoyed scrupulously looking into the man's mind...but he had been forced to gag at what he found there. Harry quickly learned that this man was from the main facility, he'd come to see if Harry was finally ready for transfer. He was rather restless about the long wait and had wanted to see what the big deal was about.
The doctor evaluated Harry as silently as the other doctors had, but his mind was full of comment.
'Wishy washy doctors. He seems perfectly fine for transfer, what do they think, he is walking there? Hmm, Advanced muscle work and strength, easily jumped six feet carrying another man twice his weight. How illusive this power is. Number 232 had an advanced muscular system but it was physically obvious, bulging size. This one is small, a useful way to hide the power...much more effective.'
The doctor frowned at the chart.
'He hasn't demonstrated this while in captivity. Oh well it hardly matters. Impenetrable skin? Hmm...also very useful. But tricky, very tricky. Perhaps an anamantium blade or diamond headed drill will be effective. If not, many mutations are less active after death. Take some x-rays, allow the body to decompose slightly and it shouldn't be difficult to open it up and see how it works. Very curious. He can be the last. The military should be happy with the mutations gathered. Now if only Stilman comes through with his line of research. Genetically effective soldiers, snort, utilizing various mutations.' the man mentally scoffed. 'If he can pull that off he'd deserve the Nobel prize, not that anyone can know what he did.'
Harry bit his cheek trying to not display the disgust he felt. This man was as bad as any deatheater. His hands twisted, wanting to curse the man with a particularly embarrassing hex. Harry frowned as the man continued to mentally mutter about Stilman and his impractical research methods, adding that it wouldn't be his fault if this whole project was a failure. He'd done his part gathering mutations and determining how they influenced the body. Blah, blah, blah.
The man eventually left, his mind telling Harry that they'd be moving him tomorrow. Giving in to temptation, Harry silently cast a spell (learned from the Weasley twins) just before the door closed. It hit the man's back and no one was the wiser. While not a punishment to fit the crime, Harry was pleased that the man would be suffering from uncontrollable flatulence for the next six months. It was bound to make him unpopular. Although, Harry realized too late, he probably wasn't popular to begin with.
Thus, today was the day. Armed with his knowledge about mutants, Harry felt confidant that he could avoid any problems. Magic, as opposed to mutation was far more versatile, he should have no trouble now that he knew what to avoid. Really it wasn't much different than hiding your magical abilities in the muggle world. He felt a small amount of guilt that he couldn't help those mutants in that other facility, they didn't deserve that treatment. But despite being a somewhat formidable wizard, Harry was only one man. He had no idea where this other facility was, and he wasn't about to ruin his own escape now that he had arrived in a new world.
Harry frowned. He didn't like that attitude. Maybe once he'd settled somewhat, found his family, he'd be able to lend a hand. He hadn't heard anything about the magical world yet. But, these men where muggles and obviously busy dealing with this 'next stage of evolution' they probably had never even noticed the magical community living under their feet. Harry wondered what the wizarding world thought about mutants. He could just picture Malfoy sneering derisively, proclaiming how rude muggles were to craft themselves something akin to magical gifts.
Harry had planned his move for dinner time. And, as usual, they arrived right at six.
Perhaps it had been Harry's complacent nature that had left his captors feeling at ease. During his time here he'd been nothing short of polite. Indeed, even the more prejudiced individuals were starting to be more at ease around the young mutant. It probably also had something to do with his age. Thin and pale skinned, Harry managed to look even younger than he really was. A few of the orderlies had taken somewhat of a liking to him and had snuck in a few comic books.
A few of the soldiers, who were more used to prison duty, had found the boy rather odd. But something about Harry's easygoing nature had lulled even them into a false sense of security. Thus when an orderly, Kenny, brought Harry his lunch the soldier's gun was left hanging loosely at his side. And Kenny didn't rush about as he had been trained to, rather he came and set the tray on a table, acknowledged Harry's thanks, and turned to leave...not backing out as he had been told.
Two silent stunners to the back had dropped both men quickly. Harry levitated the orderly onto the bed, He was sorry it had been Kenny. He'd been a nice one. So, Harry covered him with a blanket, then absentmindedly shoved the soldier under the bed itself. Slipping on a glamour charm Harry took on Kenny's appearance, then calmly walked out through the open door. He hummed a soft tune as he went. The whole thing had taken less than a minute.
After once again failing to apparate, it seemed the whole building was cloaked in electricity, Harry headed down the hallway.
There weren't any guards in sight. Harry had noticed that before. The designers of this mutant-proof complex had been so proud of their anamantian (whatever that was) lined walls, electric vault spaces, and advanced locking systems that the human element had almost been completely removed from the facility's security. The designers believed that the human components of a security system could be too easily manipulated by mutants. The only reason there were so many soldiers around at all had been because some military official had been worried that the technology could break down. The designers hadn't liked that comment, but they let it slide. Still, most of the guards were stationed around the perimeter of the facility. Only a few remained inside at a time, their only purpose was to aide the scientists in anyway they needed. Being at the beck and call of a bunch of "geeks" wasn't a glamourous job and thus was often given to whatever grunt had annoyed his superior the most that week.
Harry tried to walk casually. He didn't know the floor plan of the facility at all, he could only hope he wasn't wandering around in circles. Still, his escape hadn't been noticed yet, and his disguise wasn't something that they were likely to expect. So, Harry just kept walking at a slow pace, acting like he belonged and that he had some business being wherever he was.
Harry groaned. It all looked the same. That was the problem with the government, everything was bought in bulk. Each door looked the same as the previous, as did all the corridors and the floor tiles.
But as Harry rounded a corner, he began to get the vague idea that he was nearing the outside. The air smelled fresher, less recycled. Air wasn't something that one usually noticed, but after being contained for so long Harry was certain he could sense a difference. He was still following his nose when a bright red light burst from the side of the wall like a jack-in-the-box. The light began swirling around like a police siren, casting the boring hallway into a more menacing light.
"Shit," Harry cursed under his breath. How long had it been? It couldn't have been more than ten minutes. He thought his ruse would provide him more of a head start than that. He quickened his pace a bit, a slow jog, and applauded the muggles on their brilliant if unlucky deduction.
Harry spun around another corner, eyes still on the look out for guards with Uzis. He was trying to figure out which way to go when he stopped short, stumbling a bit. A man lay crumpled on the floor, blocking the hallway. It was an unusual sight after the endless repetitive hallways. Harry backed up, his eyes flickering around. He was the escaping criminal right? There wasn't anyone else supposed to be running around throttling people? So, what had happened to the guard?
A strong hand snaked out from behind him, grabbing his windpipe and forcing Harry backwards and into a very firm chest. He was tempted to slap the hand away when he felt the cold sensation of metal slipping along his skin. By the feel of it, several blades were resting against his jugular. No, moving wasn't the best idea at the moment.
"Be smarter than your friend," a gruff voice advised. Harry listened to the accent for a moment trying to place it. American? "Tell us where the mutants are," the voice added.
Harry fought a laugh, not daring to move his throat, it probably wouldn't be the best idea considering if he moved an inch that odd bundle of blades would slice him open. His captor seemed to realize this and the weapon slid back enough for Harry to speak.
"You're looking for the mutants?" Harry rasped through his now sore throat. He quickly put things together. "Let me guess, terrorist mutants?"
"You're not exactly a terrorist if no one gets hurt, just fighting for what is right." Harry raised an eyebrow. The guard on the floor and Harry's throat might argue with part of that statement. The words had been uttered by a soft feminine voice said from his left. The voice moved into his line of vision and Harry saw a woman with warm chocolate skin and long streaming white hair. There was a fire in her eyes as she spoke and Harry found himself mesmerized for a moment.
"That sounds like a good line," Harry finally replied. The man behind him tightened his grip for a moment. The woman however frowned, and the blades backed up again. Noticing what appeared to be a difference of opinion occurring between the two mutants, Harry used it to his advantage. Twisting his shoulder and throwing back his elbow slightly Harry managed to strike man in the gut. Rolling out of his grip Harry backed up.
He hadn't escaped unscathed. Harry grimaced at the sharp sting coming from his neck, warm blood seeped down his neck soaking into his shirt. Harry raised his hand for a moment casting a healing charm to fix the "scratches". And they were actually scratches, now that he could see the male mutant. It hadn't been knives pressed against his throat but rather some sort of claws. When he pulled his had away the two mutants opened their eyes wide. Harry grinned.
Holding out his hand he greeted them. "Harry Potter, nice to meet you. I thought you wouldn't be showing up so I got myself out. I wasn't in the mood to play lab rat at the moment."
Wolverine eyed the man before him. He looked somewhere in his thirties, short sandy coloured hair. And this stranger had the same mutation as him? Wolverine had never met anyone who could regenerate like he could. It was an odd feeling of connection. Without much thought the Canadian mutant shook the younger man's hand.
"Wolverine" he said.
"That's a name?" Harry asked, his eyebrows bent at an angle.
"Do you know where the others are?" Storm asked.
"Only me," Harry replied. "I overheard some guards complaining," Harry explained.
A loud noise echoed down the hallway making everyone pause.
"Let's go," Wolverine growled. Harry nodded and followed behind the two mutants. He was a little distracted in his escape through. The white haired woman, who hadn't yet introduced herself, ran in front of him, her rather slender body clad in some sort of leather suit. Harry had never seen an actual woman dressed all in leather, and even though she was probably more than a few years older than him, he couldn't deny that it was certainly a diverting experience.
Still, regardless of said distraction, Harry managed to keep up with the swift escape. Thankfully the mutants seemed more aware of where they were going than Harry had been. They crisscrossed through the complex, eventually coming upon a thick door, or perhaps what had once been a thick door. The poor thing was rather melted and charred looking, hanging in its hinges in a desolate way.
Bursting out into the sun, Harry paused to blink rapidly. The bright sunlight seemed to pour down upon him.
"Follow us," the woman shouted. She waved her hand in his direction and Harry stumbled after her.
"STOP THERE" a loud voice shouted over the yard. Harry didn't stop, but did turn his head slightly. Five armed men were running in their direction. The soldiers stopped short and raised their weapons, sighting in on the three fleeing figures. Harry ran faster.
Pop. Pop. Pop.
Gunfire seemed to heighten the experience somewhat. The shots echoed against the building behind them. Harry's increased speed had left him level with Wolverine. With a sideways glance Harry noticed that the mutant seemed to be running easily, no where close to being out of breath. Harry himself wasn't doing so well. He'd managed to recuperate some, but he wasn't even close to being back to his full physical strength. He remained himself that it took longer to build a body up than to tear it down.
More pops sounded and Harry tripped up for a minute. He quickly started running again, but Wolverine turned back for a moment a somewhat concerned gaze marring his face, his eyebrows furrowed. He opened his mouth, likely to ask if Harry was okay, when another round of gunshots sounded. Harry watched, his eyes opening in surprise as Wolverine's chest jerked. The muscle looked like it had exploded, blood spattered around them. Whatever those soldiers were shooting with, they weren't using regular bullets. The shot had blown back the leather uniform, nearly ripping it off, exposing what now looked like raw meat.
Harry's mind snapped into action and he ran towards the damaged mutant. He watched shocked as Wolverine seemed to merely shake himself, before shouting an obscenity at the soldiers, then continuing to run. Harry hurried to catch up.
Suddenly a bolt of lighting came out of the previously sunny sky, shooting over Harry's shoulder. Turning to watch it's movement, Harry grinned to see it slam into the troops behind him. The two men closest were knocked flat on their backs.
Once again pushing aside his surprise, Harry ran catching up with Wolverine. He tried not to be startled when he spotted the mutant's unmarked chest. The old rules obviously didn't apply. Upon entering the wizarding world Harry had often been surprised too. He'd experienced the emotion so much that now he often accepted pretty much anything. There really wasn't a point standing mouth agape, imitating a fish. Running was much more productive.
The white haired woman was in the lead, her feet agilely turning to the left when they encountered a fence. She paused for a moment, then turned to Wolverine expectantly. The male mutant didn't even pause. He opened his hands wide, releasing the claws that Harry had seen earlier. The claws swiping through the barb-wire fencing, and the thicker chainlink as if they were as substantial as butter. Harry in turn followed Wolverine, slipping through the gap the man had created.
"Hurry." Harry turned to see the female mutant standing behind him. Her face was turned away but with a wave of her hand another burst of lightning ripped from the sky, shooting towards the approaching soldiers. She turned back, eyes a burning, sparking white.
Escaping through the gap in the fence was slightly tricky, Harry snagged an arm on the sharp metal. Too busy to bother healing it, he kept running.
"They're following us," Harry shouted to the others. A large tan jeep had emerged from the side of the facility, speeding after them.
"They won't catch us in this," Storm said proudly. Harry looked up and spotted a sleek jet. The cargo hold was already opening, Wolverine leaping onto the still lowering door. Harry followed suit.
"Get this thing in the air," commanded Wolverine with a disgruntled voice. The woman ran past them both, arranging herself in a black chair, her hands grabbing the controls on the dash in front of her. The plane took to the air with the cargo bay doors still agape. Harry heard more gun shots fired in their direction but in moments the sound faded. The air whistling against the metal was louder than the confusion they had left behind them.
"This is just great," Wolverine complained. He lifted the bits of torn leather in his hand.
"Why do you care?" Storm asked from behind the controls. "That isn't even yours, it's Scotts."
"You're right," Wolverine said. Suddenly he seemed much happier. "Still, Wheels," the weather woman rolled her eyes at the cheeky nickname, "he said he wanted me to do him a little favor. I thought he wanted me to, I don't know, bring him back some duty-free alcohol. Not cross the world getting shot at."
Harry stood between them watching the easy banter.
"It isn't as if it damaged that hide of yours," she replied.
"Still hurts," argued Wolverine, although he added this quietly, the woman pretended not to hear.
Wolverine turned, finally spotting the other man in the jet. He stood a little slackly, but looked rather healthy. In fact he didn't look like he'd been held for long. His skin still had a rather healthy glow to it. Still his posture seemed to suggest a great tiredness. His breath had a sort of whistle to it, as if his lungs were having trouble getting air, his shoulders slumped. He looked tired. Wolverine casually observed this, he also observed that the kid smelled as if he hadn't had a real shower for quite few days. But the short blonde hair seemed clean. He was a bundle of contradictions. It was difficult to guess the man's age. Wolverine had thought he was in his late twenties or early thirties. But then it was difficult to guesstimate with their particular power. He himself had been searching for his forgotten identity for fifteen years, not seeming to age a day during that time.
"Harry right?" Wolverine asked.
"Yep, not quite as interesting as Wolverine mind you."
"I'm Storm," the woman said, finally introducing herself. Harry nodded. Yep, it made sense. Although he did have to wonder who had named these people.
Wolverine settled in a chair near Storm, Harry happily joined them. Dropping into a similar chair, slightly behind the two mutants. He smiled as the sky slide past them. What he wouldn't give for a broom, Harry thought to himself.
"Pretty nice, huh," Wolverine said noticing Harry's admiring gaze, falsely assuming that the youngish man was examining the jet.
"Yeah, I've never been in an airplane before," Harry admitted.
"Well this isn't quite like your average plane," Storm said smartly. Her voice was a trifle compassionate. Things had been degrading for English mutants for years. Most weren't granted the rights of citizenship, not even something as basic as being allowed a passport. She knew some hidden mutant communities whose residents had never gone further than 30 km from their homes. The relocation laws now being put in place throughout many cities was causing problems for these pockets of mutant society.
"So who are you?" Harry finally managed to ask. The guards' ideas about what these terrorist mutants were capable of wasn't anything like this. These two seemed very efficient, part of an organized group. Harry had pictured them fighting a more impoverished guerrilla warfare style. He certainly hadn't pictured them having jets.
"Well, we're a group from America." Harry nodded. "And we've been trying to help out these last few days. We've been in contact with a few groups here and in Europe but not long after the relocating laws were passed...we've lost touch with them." Storm said this while looking forward, but Harry got the distinct feeling that a frown was on her pretty face.
"So you're fighters?" Harry asked. Trying to understand this organization.
"No, I'm a teacher" Storm replied.
This Harry wasn't prepared for. He cocked his head, looking at the somewhat fierce Wolverine. The man seemed to notice Harry's surprised expression and the covert glaces towards himself.
"What, I can't be a teacher too?" he inquired.
"I suppose so," Harry finally said. Afterall, he'd had his share of bizarre teachers, who was he to judge.
Storm chuckled slightly. "What would you teach?" she asked the feral man at Harry's side. Moving on, deftly ignoring Wolverine's growl, she continued speaking to Harry. "I teach at a school for people like us, for mutants."
"There's a school?" Harry asked. They were obviously more developed than Harry had thought.
Storm nodded. "It's a safe place," she added. She glanced at Harry's thoughtful face. "If there is nothing holding you here...perhaps you'd like to come with us."
Harry drummed his fingers thoughtfully. Perhaps he didn't understand this world as much as he had thought. There was obviously something more complicated at work here. He found himself very curious. It was the same curiosity which had encouraged him to pursue the Philosopher's stone all those years ago and the same curiosity which had pushed him to solve all the riddles since. Harry gazed out a window, looking down he could see his homeland peeking between clouds. A patchwork quilt of farmland and city.
In a far dark corner of Harry's mind, another voice stated its opinion. There was no one waiting for him down there. No mother or father to be concerned for his safety, no friends to wonder where he'd gone, not even a meddling headmaster to advise him what path he should choose. He was quite alone in this world, at least for now. He knew eventually he'd venture to Hogwarts and try to discover what this wizarding world held. Merlins knows, he might be facing another battle with Voldemort. And, as much as the idea of meeting his family appealed to him, once again becoming a chess piece in the epic battle of good and evil did not.
Not that Harry was particularly aware of this part of his subconscious. All he saw was another mystery, and he was filled the unavoidable urge to follow it to its end. He ignored the reason he had ventured to this world in the first place, not even trying to question why he might be avoiding subject.
"I never did finish school," Harry said aloud after a moment.
Storm smiled, glad he was coming. But the smile didn't go to her eyes. "Oh, well I'm sure the professor could offer you some adult classes. We try and find the students before they get out of high school but it isn't always possible. Sadly, many mutants have been kept from gaining their educations." She tutted softly.
Harry frowned. Before he was out of high school? He grinned at her. How old did he look. He hadn't exactly seen a mirror since he'd been captured but he couldn't look that bad. Could he? Harry turned and looked at his reflection in one of the window surprised to see not his face, but that of Kenny the orderly.
"Oops," Harry said with a little chagrin. He rubbed his hair dispelling the glamour charm. The body of a healthy 30-something Kenny seemed to fall away like water, leaving a rather skinny 16 year old Harry. "Sorry about that, forgot, I'm Harry."