This ain't no self-insert fic.
This ain't no slash fic neither.
This is Top Dog.
I am the one, camouflage and guns
Risk my life to keep my people from harm
Authority vested in me
I sacrifice with my brothers in arms...
The convoy of camouflage-painted Land-Rovers, Bedford TM's and Schammel Commanders that came roaring up the Hogwarts driveway garnered immediate attention – unsurprising for two reasons, firstly since it was arriving about an hour after dinner on a Thursday afternoon about as pleasantly sunny as that part of Scotland ever gets and secondly as it was the second military convoy to arrive at the Collegium within a week.
The soldiers disgorged by the trucks were sincerely more like what their audience was expecting than the last such convoy; large clean-shaven men clad in CS95 fatigues, replete with PLCE harnesses, khaki berets, and slung L85 rifles, exactly as one would expect when seeing British squaddies at work.
Like the horde guardians before them, their setup was quick and well-coordinated; they had their trucks unloaded in short order, the Schammels dropping off a mix of Challenger tanks and Warrior carriers while the footsloggers set up a well-appointed tent encampment, and an hour later when they were approached by the senior members of the Collegium faculty (along with CS Ryanov from the SWDF contingent) everything was in order.
The timing chosen for the other four notables who'd be joining the staff meeting – Harry Johnson as Ryanov's boss, Hermione Granger due to Harry currently refusing to let her out of his sight, S'tarak'hai R'hara'tath as the senior member of Her Radiant Majesty's Special Forces on the scene, and a slightly reluctant Tara due to her being an incognito princess – couldn't have been better; it took place right after a razor-precise formation of flat-black deepspace-camouflaged Mentler DX-58 Hellhound dropships (the cutting-edge latest mark of the same basic design as the Blink Dog) came screaming down out of a cloudless sky to drop off the third component of the Collegium's enhanced security presence; Twelfth Section, Her Radiant Majesty's Fifty-Seventh Legion – the Sunbirds – whose crawler-mounted rapid-deployment field HQ setting up provided a show quite sufficient to distract student attention from the pair of Kenti, one Omega-weapon and one weredragon sloping in the back of the British Army encampment.
Disclaimer: Nope. Nope. I deny all knowledge.
Top Dog: Enter the Fnords
Book 2: Harry Johnson and the Deathtrap Girl.
A Doghead13 / United Galaxies fanfic
Written & produced by Calum J 'Doghead13' Wallace.
Preread by the Caer Azkaban Yahoo group.
Brought to you by Hairy Scottish Git Productions, GMBH
This is not a drill.
Chapter 9: A Slight Psi-Related Distraction
(In which our hero unexpectedly receives a job)
Brigadier Sir Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart VC was probably the most senior military officer in Europe to have a ninety-percent blacked-out record, one of the illustrious few whose publicly-released Victoria Cross citation contained the word 'Classified' and a distinct lack of anything informative, and well up the list of most senior to have been promoted from the ranks. He'd already been famed in military circles when he was instrumental in the establishment of the old United Nations Intelligence Taskforce in 1954, then after the disaster of 1966 he'd played a starring role in the British contribution to UNIT's replacement (titled X-Com courtesy of some weirdo in the parent comittee) and he was one of the few to return from Barsoom alive in November of '81.
The man usually known simply as the Brigadier (with emphasis on the 'The') was a self-made British Army legend in his own lifetime; when Britain needed strangeness dealt with, Her Majesty looked no further.
Frequently, that meant another encounter with the Time Lord usually known as the Doctor (also with emphasis on the 'The',) a longterm friend of the Brigadier and all-round highly useful chap to know, but not today.
Oh no; today it meant an encounter with another Time Lord, one whom the Doctor had a distinctly dim view of, who had some sort of connection with HM Police Special Investigation Department, a group with whom the Brigadier didn't exactly see eye-to-eye. At least Sir Albus Dumbledore, a chap who'd proven himself quite trustworthy and competent during all that unpleasantness at the end of the Seventies (not to mention all that unpleasantness in the early Forties) was in nominal command here and NOT the distinctly dubious character sometimes known as Harry Johnson.
"Afternoon ladies and gentlemen." the Brigadier said as the mixed group of assorted local VIPs and allied officers strode into the command tent.
"Huh; Lethbridge-Stewart." Johnson said, cocking his head. "Should've known Queen Lizzie'd send you."
"Elizabeth," Sir Albus remarked, "Has always had quite a good grasp on whom the right personnel for any given job might be."
"Yeah yeah, I know, anyone who made it out of Cydonia's on that list."
"Johnson you utter cock, would it perhaps be too much to ask that you say something useful for a change?" a lanky lank-haired chap the Brigadier recognised from myriad briefings as Severus Snape grumbled.
"Kiss my ass, dog breath," Johnson snapped, flipping Snape off, "Anyway, catboy, suppose the Sunbirds field commander's gonna be joining us any time soon?"
"That," an exceptionally tall and somehow elegant-looking greying-furred Kenti woman clad in a jet-black uniform and officer's greatcoat (That frankly reminded the Brigadier of a Schutzstaffel officer's uniform in several less than pleasant ways) said, entering the tent, "I am."
"Excellent, we're all here." Sir Albus said, clapping his hands. "Perhaps we should ensure everyone's been introduced?"
"I concur." The Brigadier said with a nod, largely as he wasn't sure who the trio who'd accompanied Johnson were and he didn't know the Kenti officer's name.
"Talon Alpha First Class S'tarak'hai R'hara'tath, Her Radiant Majesty's First Legion; my unit is roughly equivalent to your people's Commando Regiment and as personal bodyguard of the Crown Princess I have a certain level of implicit military seniority beyond my stated rank." the huge Kenti who'd been with Johnson said.
"Harry Johnson. Time Lord, merc, Dark Lord of the Sith. Granger's with me."
"CS Sara Ryanov, Ghost Division, Stormclaw's World Defence Forces. My girls are a special operations unit optimised for FIBUA and close-quarters combat." Hmm, Stormclaw was another of Johnson's known identities; him having a world named for him was information the chaps in Intelligence would probably be quite intrigued by.
"Name's Tara, Tara T'rash'gal, I'm the Blink Dog's nav officer." and the pretty black-furred catwoman gave R'hara'tath a sharp side-on look that probably had a story behind it; the Brigadier made a mental note-to-self to remember to look up intel on starships named Blink Dog at the soonest opportunity.
"I am Doctor Severus Snape, Head of House Slytherin."
"Albus Dumbledore, it seems I'm the chap responsible for the running of that little old collegium over there."
"Section Alpha Reiana T'rael'aisha, Her Radiant Majesty's Third Legion."
"Doctor Minerva McGonagall, Head of House Gryffindor and Albus's deputy."
"Also known as she-without-whom-I-couldn't-get-a-darned-thing-done." Sir Albus chirped up.
"Guildsman Filius Flitwick of House Flitwick, Fist of Wrath Platform, Head of House Ravenclaw."
"Brigadier Sir Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart, formerly of X-Com, currently of the Guards. My men are a mix from the Household Infantry and Cavalry; we also have a small number of chaps from Sport and Social with us."
"Doctor Pomona Sprout, Head of House Hufflepuff."
"Well I'm Hermione Granger and I'm not sure what I'm doing here, ask Harry."
"Until this fucking mess is cleared up I'm not letting her out of my sight." Johnson growled, causing the frizzy-haired teenage girl to roll her eyes at him. "Anyway, what's the plan on how to work this?"
"I believe that depends on what we're up against." the Brigadier said.
"That's the kicker; we don't know."
Ron Weasley was vaguely mooching back towards the dorms, having spent a pleasant few hours generally hanging out at the edge of the loch along with a small swarm of fellow students (largely from House Hufflepuff) when he became aware of a somewhat more laid-back than recently Harry, with Hermione close by, coming rampaging up from the car park towards the castle.
"Whattup, thought you were up at the dorms?" he asked.
"Nah, had to have a chat with a squaddie or two," Harry told him, shrugging one shoulder while rooting around in his jacket for a cigarette with his other hand, "No big deal."
Hermione, Ron noted, rolled her eyes at that.
"What? Oh come on Granger, patrol routes and scheduling aren't a big deal... heh, most of the time I'm looking at them from the other side."
"... I don't even want to know what that's all about." Ron said.
"Which is good since the details are need-to-know and you don't."
"Everyone in the Collegium's going to know them sooner or later, so why the big secret?" came a sneering and in no way welcome voice; turning round, the trio of Gryffindors found Draco Malfoy (Unusually enough, on his own) glaring back at them.
"Perhaps because it may mean the difference between 'sooner' and 'later'?" Harry asked, cocking his head.
"Why does it matter if everyone's going to know anyway?"
"Typical attitude for an amateur fuckwad," Harry noted, "There is no such thing as perfect security. Every response pattern has a weak spot – it's simply a matter of finding it. 'Night and Mist', Malfoy. Everything has levels – and the less Joe Sheep knows about everything below the surface the better. Like to know why? Because what Joe Sheep knows, Joe Enemy knows too. Maintaining a high level of uncertainty over whether Joe Sheep knows everything about a security response is good for everyone involved – apart from the enemy. That's how your old man's boss got so far at the end of the Seventies – superior intel. He knew what the good guys were doing before they did it. Sometimes before they knew what they were doing. Ergo, he outmanouvered them at every turn."
"My father was never involved in the last insurgency!" Draco snapped, "We have proof of it!"
"And if anyone in known space believes your old man's 'proof' I've got Zeurghnorf land rights going cheap; I know precisely what your family have been doing for centuries, Malfoy, and I know precisely who bankrolled Old Mouldy, and how, and who cut the deal. There is no such thing as perfect security and no such thing as perfect secrecy – I know as well as you do, your old man facilitated a deal with the Nalfers to bankroll Mouldyshorts and I have proof that'd hold up in any court in the galaxy that wasn't bought."
"You're not going to enjoy yourself when my father runs this place, Pot-!" Draco abruptly cut off, clapping his hands over his mouth and going completely white.
"Illuminating slip, Malfoy." Harry said, voice dead level.
"You're going to kill me, aren't you? Potter." There was a certain note of resignation in the now ghostly-pale blond's voice.
"Oh, I think we can make a deal of some sort. Maybe even see eye-to-eye, if only on one little thing." Harry mused, idly starting to circle the terrified Slytherin.
"You know and I know, Draco, I could destroy you where you stand. It wouldn't take much more effort to eliminate your old man. Your family does not have much of it's past influence or fortune left, with a little help from Voldemort your father squandered much of both... you're shadows of what you once were, and I think we're both quite aware of exactly where in the pecking order you stand. However, at the present time taking you and Lucius out of the picture on a permanent basis would be... politically inconvenient."
"What do you want?"
"Dangerous question, Draco. Very dangerous... at this moment in time, you dead, no strings attached, would be worth exactly sixteen thousand international exchange credits. That's precisely nine thousand and twenty-two Galleons six Sickles and three Knuts at today's exchange rate. Approximate cost of making you dead, no strings attached, around sixty-eight thousand international exchange credits. Every time you piss me off, Draco, the value of seeing you dead creeps up just a little bit... I've got the deal of a lifetime for you, Draco, and this offer is only open as I initiated hostilities between us in the first place. I'm as far above you as you are above that unpleasant crap you find under your foreskin when you've been jerking off the night before. Don't fuck with my people, stay the hell out my way, and try not to piss me off; you do that and I won't crush you. Like a bug. Do we understand one another?"
"Yes; quite clearly."
"Do we have an agreement, Draco?"
"You realise I cannot speak for Father?"
"Far be it for me to punish the son for the sins of the father; if I did that, given not-so-distant galactic history, there wouldn't be a hell of a lot of people left, would there?"
"Then we have an agreement."
"Good. Now get the Hell out my face."
To his credit, Draco didn't run across the courtyard. He walked.
Harry spent a long moment watching him go, then slowly shook his head.
"Brave kid." he said.
"He was just about shitting himself!"
"Said it plenty times before, Ron. Courage isn't lack of fear. Courage is being scared shitless and still getting the job done, and there goes a kid who just did exactly that." Harry resumed his interrupted swagger back towards Gryffindor ground.
"Whaddya mean getting the job done?" Ron dubiously asked, following him through the postern gate.
"He's still breathing, isn't he?"
"... Harry, sometimes you scare the shite out of me, you know that?"
"Just shows you've got more brains than you let on; I seem to end up scaring myself on a not-so-infrequent basis."
"You really would do for the Malfoys if they pushed you too far, wouldn't you?"
"Of course... Trouble is, Lucius Malfoy's in tight with the Fudge administration, and continued open access to Britain is currently mission-critical so I can't burn too many bridges here. Eliminating the Malfoys? Simple. Three rounds in the calibre of your choice, another three to make sure, or alternatively some high explosives, and either way some leg-work; cost about twenty quid and another charge for my rap sheet. Doing so in a way that doesn't get my face splashed all over wanted posters in Daigon Alley? Not so simple. Probable pricetag a couple million Galleons or the use of some very expensive deniable assets I'm keeping in reserve for something else. Lucius Malfoy's head is only worth just under five thousand Marks, works out at about thirty-five thousand Galleons, at present, so the math doesn't stack up; he's paranoid as hell, not surprised considering that price on his head's from Clan Asinara, he fucked off their current Clanlord."
"Thirty-five grand, Galleons? I'd have thought an Am clan would've put a bigger price on someone who really pissed off their Clanlord."
"Didn't you know? The Asinaras were days away from bankruptcy when I splashed Kami Asinara's brains all over his porch, and with the amount they owe it'd probably take 'em centuries to get back into the black – sure, they're turning a profit, but they are literally hanging from loans, I'm talking to the point Soun Tendo promised one of his daughters to the Saotome Heir for enough money to keep the Clan semi-solvent until they can pay off their debts, and considering exactly who paid me to blow Soun's old man's fucking head clean off, that's a little bit extreme a move. Consider that Lucy-boy's implicated in the plot that ended up with some amateur trying to put a bolt pistol shell into the Asinara Heir's head, incidentally converting said heir's mother – their current Clanlord's favourite and incidentally only concubine – into a grease stain. Should give you a picture on how strapped for cash the Asinaras are, they could only afford to throw down five grand Juraian on each implicated conspirator... in case you're wondering I already collected on seven of the other eleven, they didn't have the protection old mono-bollock's got."
"Protection?" Ron asked.
"You mean apart from Fudgepacker? Feh. Listen, the Malfoys have acted for generations as a central clearing-house and neutral-ground meeting point for most of the galaxy's bad-boys, Lucy-boy may not look like much but half the nastiest bastards in known space would find it inconvenient if that particular family went tits up. They're professional money-launderers and deal-brokers, and on top of that they provide someplace the scum of the galaxy can come to feel genteel and superior... Ron, Lucius may not look like much, but he's on first-name terms with such luminaries as Gothwrain Drakul, Heymar Reinhardt, Orochimaru, Cobra, the L'Angell family, Madara Uchiha, fucking Johann Schmidt... hell, he was on first-name terms with Eidun Palpatine. That should tell you something."
"Those sort wouldn't like it if someone wasted Lucius, right?"
"Precisely. And when someone at that level doesn't like something, shit has a tendency to happen in a very direct manner. Planet-busting warheads are frequently involved."
"Harry, I seem to remember you saying something about Lucius having a billion-Mark bounty on him sometime last year." Hermione remarked.
"Yeah, he did. Pity the guy who'd placed it came over all dead last Easter, isn't it?"
"What happened?" Hermione asked.
"Sniped while getting out his motor in Bruges, single round to the brainpan, seven-six-two Russian with crystal-clear SVD rifling marks, by-the-book sniper kill. From the, let's say distinctive, chakra traces at the firing location – ballistics got that much – the shooter was one of Orochimaru's."
"What the hell's 'chakra'?" Ron dubiously asked.
"Similar to thaumatic energy but a slightly different blend, it can be categorised into assorted, for want of a better word, 'flavours' and ol' Roachy's favourite is pretty unusual. Bastard uses it as a calling-card. Where you've got chakra traces you've got ninjas, and ninjas are never good news. Feh, I hate fucking ninjas. They're annoyingly like cockroaches – no matter how many you splatter there'll be another ten along in a minute, and Orochimaru's the worst of the lot. I've killed him, ripped his fucking head off and checked there weren't any vital signs left in him, three times so far and I know for a fact he's been killed another twelve times; the bastard just won't stay dead."
"Body doubles?" Hermione suggested.
"Definitely not the times I got him, that's the first thing I checked. It's a real sod pinning the bastard down – he's like smoke – but each time I've killed him I've made absolutely certain I was taking out the real Orochimaru. Checked before and after, got the stiff verified and everything, hell I've even taken soulkillers to him once, and he just keeps coming back. Can't be copycats either – the second time I killed him, that was the time I hit him with an entire belt of soulkiller-enchanted seven-six-two, the bastard later acted on info he acquired in the process of me killing him."
"Well how can you be sure nobody else knew?"
"Because I policed up the evidence with a planet-buster. What? Oh quit looking at me like that, it's not like it was an inhabited planet, just some dead rock in the cometary halo nobody was gonna miss anyway – I made sure of that much. And it's not like Palpatine having access to double-stage cyclonic torpedoes would have been a good idea, I mean that vastly overgrown zap-gun of his was bad enough anyway and it hardly had the manoeuvrability of a torpedo cruiser... feh, Roachy's even worse news."
Harry sighed and shook his head.
"I'm half-convinced the bastard's using some sort of soul jar, but there was no trace of any of the secondary effects of any of the known techniques – he's definitely not a lich just for a start. Worst-case scenario is he's managed to make his soul indestructible and that's the sort of bad news the galaxy could really do without. It's possible he's using some sort of biomantic decots or some other kind of meat puppetry, but there weren't any traces on the bodies that'd tie into any of the known ways of doing that, and they definitely weren't any sort of production-line decots – definitely had fully-functional brains for a start. Could be Heaven doesn't want the bastard and Hell's scared he'll take over... Long story short I don't know how he survived a soulkiller-enchanted M134A hosement to the face and I wish I didn't need to, but someone's gonna have to get to the bottom of it; the galaxy needs that son-of-a-bitch dead on a permanent basis."
"Are you sure he actually has a soul in the first place?" Ron asked.
"Sorry to burst your bubble there Weasley, but anything aware even if only at the most basic level has a soul – they're a product of awareness itself. Hell, a closed-circuit TV camera has a minute but detectable soul. I'm not entirely sure what makes 'em essential to the continued function of a biological creature, but then that's moving way into celestial physics and that's a little outside my area of expertise. Far as I see it, about all that matters in real-world terms is a non-biological soul-bearing entity – such as a Baneblade tank – can't be taken out with a soulkiller but a heavy railgun will do the job just fine. Want to know more? You could ask Urd if you're willing to read up on the background necessary to understand what the hell's going on, but bear in mind it's the same sort of complexity as warp-drive physics."
"In other words if you understand it either you're a super-genius or your brain's been turned into mush?"
"Pretty much," Harry agreed, nodding to the guards – a new fixture – as they sloped into the Gryffindor hangout, "I file it under Not My Problem, I know these things exist and what they can do for me, and that's all I'm concerned about. I'm no researcher, I'll never be a researcher, I mean I tried and nearly went stir-crazy from boredom. Not my scene and my standard commentary about specialists applies."
"I hear ya man," Ron said, nodding gloomily and sprawling across an available sofa, "Me, I ain't got the brain-power for research, not that I'd want to, right? I mean, being a mad scientist sounds pretty cool but it's not what I want to do with my life."
"So what do you want to do with your life?" Hermione asked, moving to sit down only to be pulled onto Harry's lap.
"No idea but it's not sitting round a lab being bored. Some ways I'd like to play pro gravball but I don't think I'm ever gonna be good enough, I've thought about doing a stint in the Barsoomian Foreign Legion or some-such but I don't much like the idea of being shot at for a living... I dunno, guess I'll worry about that sort of stuff roundabout seventh year or something. I mean, if I stick it at Technomancy – Professor von Zeppelin says I'm pretty good – then by the time I'm outta the Collegium I'll know enough to build myself a spelljammer, I could asteroid mine or haul short freight or something for a few years then retire and spend the rest of my life being a professional layabout."
"You do realise that what von Zep calls 'pretty good' means the sort of technomancer who's liable to have shipbuilders galaxy-wide queuing up to offer him high-paying jobs?" Harry pointed out; he had his chin rested on Hermione's shoulder.
"Well, something like that, yeah, but I mean, construction-line shipbuilding work? Stuff that, it'd be even more boring than some miserable lab and if I was high-placed enough to haul in the sort of money I could earn with a home-made spelljammer then I'd be the sort of person who gets assassinated and, frankly, fuck that. Nah, a few years shipping cargo from, oh, Barsoom to Dachaigh Nuadh or some-such, you know, in secure space, then decades of doing whatever I feel like, probably mostly twatting around with jetcycles or sitting on my arse in front of the triD, sounds way much more up my alley."
"You are one phenomenally unambitious person, you know that Ron?" Neville said, sitting down across the table from the three of them.
"Well yeah, I mean it's no mistake I'm not in Slytherin, it's really not where I'd fit in. Not that the Hat gave me a choice, mind, I'm nobody's Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff sounds like way too much effort, and Slytherin? Get off, all that ambition and cunning and crap, yeah, sounds too much like hard work to me, so when you take those three out the picture that doesn't leave a whole lot of choice now, does it?"
"The Hat wanted me in Hufflepuff," Neville admitted, "But I wasn't going to disappoint Gran, so... What? It's as good a reason as any."
"You're going to have to get out of under that woman's thumb sooner or later, kid." Harry said.
"No offence Harr, but you don't know what you're talking about," Neville told him, shaking his head, "Family's important and Gran's the only family I've got left – well, apart from Uncle Algy about whom the less said the better, he's... not all there. Let's just say the lift doesn't just not go all the way to the top, it doesn't go up, period; not surprised really, he got the third go when it happened to my parents."
"If you don't mind me asking, what happened?" Hermione asked.
"The LeStranges and Crouch Junior happened. They, uh, held the Cruciatus down on Mum and Dad till they were foaming at the mouth, and had started in on Uncle Algy when Gran and her partner kicked the door in, that was like two weeks after You-Know-Who was on the receiving end of the Potters. According to Gran, the LeStranges and Crouch were trying to torture You-Know-Who's whereabouts out of Mum and Dad and Uncle Algy, and the only reason I didn't go first was I was at playschool that morning."
"I've seen the reports," Harry remarked, "It was that hit that tripped off the heavy raids and busts on Old Mouldy's bumchums. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction and when it comes to Old Blood-And-Bones' officers being put in St Mungos on a permanent basis the resulting reaction is quite a fucking thing. Especially seeing as how Augusta Longbottom and Alastor Moody were the first on the scene – the SAT teams still regards Augusta as their real Chief, have done since '44, and nine-tenths of the supernatural law enforcement officers in Europe have been trained to salute Mad-Eye."
"What the hell's a 'sat team'?" Ron asked.
"Special Arrest Team. Name's not descriptive – it's highly unusual for a SAT team to actually arrest anyone, they're who you call when hostages have been executed and it's time for every tango in the area to die. I'm surprised you didn't know about them; your dad was point man for SAT Beta until the Morrigna incident... They're who would've blasted Mouldy Voldey if the DMLE had ever managed to pin his location down – that's the sort of thing they were formed for."
"Okay, but... when?" Hermione asked.
"Final stages of Grindlewald's War, see they're who closed down the Ahnenerbe. Okay, so the old fart took out Himmler himself, someone had to deal with the hangers-on and toadies and yes-men and minions. That someone was Augusta Longbottom and her wrecking crew." Harry said.
"It wasn't like Gran didn't have help, expert help and I'm meaning from people who'd been figuratively mooning the Reich for years. The Backlash Gang." Neville chipped in.
"The Backlash Gang? I thought they were a myth?" Eiko Kent had just joined the conversation.
Harry let out a low laugh. "A myth, Kent? The Backlash Gang are just as much a myth as the Miracle at Mons, the Slayer line, the Golem of Prague, Captain America, ODESSA, Nick Fury, Die Glocke, the Battle of Neuschwabenland, Themiscyrae, Johan fucking Schmidt... you get the picture. Myth? Someone in a position of power wants you to think those people and events are mythological, that's all. The Backlash Gang, a myth? Kent, I'm sitting right here." There was a quiet and very subtle note of pride in Harry's voice, which out of his audience only Hermione knew him well enough to pick up on.
"What the hell have you got to do with the Backlash Gang?" Neville asked.
However, his question was destined to remain unanswered for the present as Harry abruptly shot to his feet, his hands dropping to his Calicos, and barked, "Koset! What the fuck are you doing in Clanspace?"
The source of his ire was immediately apparent; a lanky and rather unmemorable man with dirty-blond hair and an equally forgettable grey business suit, carrying a briefcase.
"Evening Slade. Oddly enough I've got a job offer for you," the man, presumably named Koset, said, dumping a cybernetic interface data chip on the table, "This is straight from the top."
Harry dubiously contemplated the chip for a moment; Uni came dashing in, scooped it up, and jacked it into one of her neck-mounted cybernetic interface ports, much to Koset's apparent displeasure.
"It's clean," the catgirl reported, handing the chip to Harry, who jacked it into himself.
He was silent for a few moments, then snorted.
"I'll take the job. Oh, and tell your boss next time he's looking to hire me send someone else."
"You think I'm happy about this, you son-of-a-bitch?" Koset snapped, depositing the briefcase on the table.
"Do I look like I give a damn what you want?" Harry asked, flipping the briefcase open (revealing it to be full of foreign banknotes) and running a quick count, "Koset, the only reason you're still breathing is you're worth less than the bullet it'd take to blow your fucking head clean off. Right, that's all in order – I'm on this one. Uni, Granger, with me – we've got places to be."
"Me?" Hermione asked, slightly taken aback; the previous time she'd gone someplace on the job with him she'd had to talk him into it.
"Yes, you. Briefing's in ten minutes in my digs, c'mon."
Ron Weasley, having watched Harry depart (trailed by catgirl and girl genius) turned his attention to Koset.
"Who in the fuck are you?"
"Someone who doesn't exist." the man said, and turned to leave.
"Who was that Koset guy and what'd he mean straight from the top?" was the first question out of Hermione's mouth once she, Harry, the Puma twins, and a woman she recognised as the Shen-Long's ostensible captain were gathered in Harry's dorm, the latter having arrived via subspace door.
"Koset's a Juraian secret service operative. Highly-placed – he's only got one boss. Let's just say he and I have crossed swords from time to time – the Juraians are just another self-assigned master-race and frankly I do not get on with master-races. Not like they're as malevolent as most but they ain't exactly on my Christmas card list and I have taken great glee in screwing them around a time or two. Anyway, what do you know about the no-fly zone between the Juraian Empire and New Atlantis?"
"Nothing, actually; I hadn't heard of it."
"Right. As part of the peace treaty that ended the last Jurai-New Atlantis war, so as of a little over two hundred Standard ago, there's an exclusion corridor a hundred lights across between Treefucker space and Nalfer space. The Nalfers are camped one side of the exclusion zone, the Treefuckers the other. They detect anything moving faster than light in the exclusion zone, it tries to get out it's shot to dust – and the sensor tech involved is bleeding-edge, the Treefuckers have the best long-range detection arrays in known space and the Nalfers ain't far behind. There are perhaps two dozen starships in known space able to break the light barrier without the Juraian Navy being able to pinpoint them, one of which is the Shen-Long – for the Nalfers, call it about two hundred ships they can't detect. So, when the Emperor of Jurai has an objective in the middle of his own exclusion zone, who's he gonna call? I'm the only mercenary the Treefuckers are aware of who can dodge their detection systems – kinda limits their options."
"What's our objective, Master?" the Shen-Long's captain asked.
"There's a high-intensity psi-source somewhere in the exclusion zone, it was first picked up about a century ago during the aftermath of the war and has been fluctuating ever since. Twenty-eight hours ago it spiked – so much so it was detected on Rokolushu, and yes I mean as in the Juraiain capital world – fifteen thousand lights from the exclusion zone. Whatever's putting that out, the signal's got every precognitive in Juraian space going apeshit, portents of doom up the ying-yang – whatever the hell's going on in there Emperor Azusa wants it closed down and fast, no questions asked."
"Where do I come into this?" Hermione asked.
"Broadcasting a psi-signal detectable from fifteen kilolights takes about as much power as a medium-size star; when messing with that sort of thing wise men want a little overwhelming firepower up their alley. And as we have no damn clue what we're getting into you're going to be wearing body armour."
Hermione nodded; Harry nodded back and continued, "Anna, Uni – you two are sticking to Granger like glue, understood? As soon as we're on the ground you're within ten feet of her at all times or else. Maria, I want the Shen-Long on the Juraiain border immediately – we'll meet you there in one hour. Speak to Kitten, authorisation code sigma ascendant two nine nine. Get moving."
"Understood, Master," and the Shen-Long's captain beat it out the door into the rest of the Gryffindor dorms.
"Hmph," and Harry dug into his gun cabinet. He came out with a Howa Earthshaker revolver, in holster and attached to gunbelt with several pouches containing speed-loaders; this he handed to Hermione, "This weapon is loaded. It does not have a safety catch. Carla!"
"Sup, Master?" Carla asked, emerging from down the side of Harry's bed.
"Let Ben and Catboy know what's happening. Once you've done that prep Venus Division and Iron Maiden Division in case we need some backup, I want them onboard the Shen-Long ASAP."
"I'm on it," and Carla too high-tailed it out the room.
"Righty, now we need armour for a Hermione," Harry said, rising to his feet and taking her hand as he headed for the subspace door, "C'mon through here, I got an armoured body glove set up for ya a while back, just never got around to giving it to you – it'll stop a bolter shell dead in it's tracks and give you a fighting chance against an infantry anti-tank laser. Expensive as all get-out but whatever, quality's worth the cost."
"Define expensive," Hermione said.
"Just over four and a half times what your collar cost," and he nearly pulled her off her feet as she stopped dead in her tracks, stunned, "C'mon sei kara, we ain't got all week."
"... as much as an entire fucking AIR LINE, ye gods Harry just how the hell does a set of armour cost that much?" she boggled, resuming following him.
"By being an inch thick, lightweight, temperature-controlled bodysuit with a one hundred percent effectiveness rate against a .75-calibre armour-piercing bolter shell. It'll give you a fighting chance, about fifty percent, against a laser able to gut a Leman Russ with a single shot. That's why it cost as much as a Warlord Titan – that and the fact that sort of armour isn't mass-produced. The market for concealed-wear body armour proof against many anti-tank weapons isn't exactly extensive – the materials required to stop a lascannon blast in an inch thickness are nine-tenths the expense... The company that made it have made one other such suit. Queen Rialia owns it, she wears it whenever she's out in public – their main shareholder's an admirer of hers, he had it made for her after the time she took a Frognorfian Mafia sniper's bullet in the guts – closest a Kenti monarch's came to getting assassinated since, ye gods, Rialia the Second got left in a coma by a near-miss with a blasting hex during the Kendarat-Hardak War."
As Harry ranted, they'd taken several turns through the subspace door network, into a complex of twisty passages, and were now face-to-face with a cage-door-like checkpoint manned by two heavily-armed women in uniforms familiar from Harry's hoard guardians, who had been playing a card game and were now pointing large guns at him and Hermione.
"Authorisation code?" the woman on the left said.
"Zeta recumbent two nine nine alpha." Harry immediately replied
"Identification four one one please, Master." the woman requested, not lowering her gun.
"Seven one two one, crux ascendant." Harry said, and both women immediately lowered their weapons; something chimed and the gate slid open; leading Hermione in, Harry gave the two gunwomen a nod and thumbs-up but said nothing; the two gunwomen returned to their card game without comment.
There was another corner right after the 'checkpoint' and round there was a sight that stopped Hermione dead in her tracks – a steel-grey AV-20 Terminator walkertank suit, standing just back from the corner.
She'd seen photographs of Terminator suits before, and had thought they looked pretty impressive, but seeing one in person was a whole different kettle of fish – the thing was massive to the point it would have towered head and shoulder-pads over even S'tarak'hai – it was about twelve straight feet tall.
As for the gun – commonly referred to as an 'assault cannon' – it would have looked more in place slung under the nose of a helicopter gunship; a six-barrelled rotary 'vulcan cannon', it was about six feet long from stock to muzzles and looked like it must weigh more than Hermione did even without it's feed system and the giant hopper of ammunition mounted on the walkertank suit's back.
"Penny for?" Harry asked, smirking at her.
"Oh, nothing much – I'm just realising where the term 'walkertank' comes from,' she said; the thing was very like a two-legged tank with arms instead of turret.
A dry and to Hermione's considerable surprise female-sounding chuckle issued from the armoured monstrosity; Harry echoed it and with a gentle tug on her hand directed Hermione to follow him down the hallway over which the Terminator suit was standing sentry duty.
"I thought you had to be Adeptus Astartes to drive one of those things?" she said.
"Nah, you just need to be big enough and have the right cybernetic interface gear," he told her, "And with cloning tech that's easy to organise."
With that, Harry slapped his hand against the touchpad beside the blast door at the end of the hallway; something ka-chirped, there was a hiss and click, and the two halves of the door laboured into ceiling and floor.
Within was guns.
Lots of guns.
"Harry, what is this place?" Hermione asked, eyeing up the wall of assorted AK-47's to her left; to her right was corresponding ammunition. It was the third such gun rack they'd walked past, the first containing shotguns and the second shoulder-launched rockets, since they entered the cavernous chamber; at each intersection was parked an assortment of armoured vehicles most of which she didn't recognise. Only the Second World War German Tiger tank had proved familiar.
"My main armoury," Harry told her, "This is where I keep most of my collection of weaponry and equipment. Hey – and I've got some rarities here, see that?" and he pointed at an AK-47 that looked just the same as all the others, "Not just any AK-47, that's the very first AK-47 the Russkis produced back in 1947. The pistol in that display cabinet beside the Tiger, that's the gun Hitler killed himself with. Other side of the Tiger, that rifle's the BAR a guy called Jimmy Watson, Private in the Septic's Marines, was holding when he earned himself their Medal of Honour on Iwo Jima. It's the only gun used when winning one of those I've been able to track down. That laspistol right at the near end of the rack of laspistols, that's Ciaphas Cain's laspistol, I've even got two boltguns that were used by the Emperor Himself."
"Ciaphas Cain? The name doesn't ring a bell."
"Hmm? Oh, course not. Remind me to loan you a copy of the Cain Archive some time. Guy was a Commisar in the Old Atlantean Imperial Guard at the Imperium's lowest ebb – and frankly, all Cain's self-depreciation aside, him and his aide, Gunner Ferik Jurgen – been trying to track down his meltagun, no joy so far - were two of the Imperium's top heroes, they have a pretty good claim on being the finest men alive at that time. The archive works on two levels, as an interesting study in the nature of heroism and as a series of cracking good historic adventure stories... But anyway what we're after just now is over here, this is where I keep armour and such like," and they took a left past the Tiger tank into an aisle lined with armour of every conceivable shape and size – from an Ultramarines-blue Terminator walkertank (with 'BROTHER-SERGEANT POTTER' emblazoned in Old Atlantean on the glacis plate) to several dozen different powered armour suits to a whole galaxy of flak vests, plate carriers, splinter vests, stab vests, padded armour, the works – including myriad things that didn't look like armour.
And amongst it all was a perfectly ordinary 40-foot cargo container, into one side of which had been inserted a door; it was into this that Harry led Hermione.
Within was rack upon rack of clothes of a somewhat different character to those without. The stuff outside was the sort of stuff Harry would wear; that within was, Hermione realised with a start, the sort of stuff Harry would like seeing her wear.
He went directly to the end of the nearest rack, lifted down a jet-black padded jumpsuit, and handed it to her.
"Here y'go. One armoured body glove. This is the finest non-rigid armour in the galaxy, kiddo." he said.
"This can stop a lascannon blast?" Hermione rather dubiously asked.
"Roughly a fifty-fifty chance, and if you're wondering that's substantially better than the hull of a Leman Russ."
"What about my head?"
"Protected by two of the optional extras on this thing. First off there's a dual-layer deflection shield generator inbuilt – identical to a starship's navigational deflectors, uses modified sled parts in fact – and second off you pull those two cords in the back of the collar, it'll draw a fully-enclosing hood over your head. Has inbuilt forced air circulation and nano-optics for field-of-view transparency, of course... Hermione, don't under any circumstances think this thing makes you invincible, understand? A lascannon has a fifty percent chance of penetrating and if it penetrates you are gone. Likewise while the suit may perform superbly against hypervelocity slug-throwing weapons, the impact of a railgun slug on that suit would be like getting hit by a freight train. There's a very good chance even if the blast didn't blow your head off it'd make your internal organs collide violently enough to drop you on the spot, understand?"
"... Harry, how about next time you buy me something insanely expensive you make it something I actually like the look of?"
"I'll do my best. Anyway everything else in here's sized to fit over the top of it if you want, have fun." and Harry left the container.
Hermione spent several long moments staring after him, taken aback – she'd intended that as a joke and it appeared he'd taken it hundred-percent seriously – then shrugged that off as yet another example of Harry's basic Harry-ness, stripped off, and started putting the armoured jumpsuit on, examining it as she went.
Made to cover every part of her below her collar, it was about an inch thick all over and sculpted to precisely follow the contours of her body; it sealed up the back with a hiss and click, constricted itself until skin-tight, and stretched in all the right places to avoid restricting her movements. The whole thing was that sort of black so glossy you can see your face in it; it had something Old Atlantean that only a year ago she wouldn't have known translated to 'Ryza Heavy Industries' in white runic text across the back of the shoulders, a slightly modified Adeptus Mechanicus cog-and-skull symbol on the left shoulder, repetitions of the same markings as her collar on the right shoulder, and, embossed and sculpted into the front, seeming to reach up and round from the right to grip the suit's left breast, a stylised scaled arm with thunderbolt patterns for claws.
Eyeing herself up, Hermione immediately noticed that the suit over-rode her lifelong scrawniness and excess of limb – it bulked her out to the point she actually looked in proportion with herself.
Though enamoured with the look she was not; she turned her attention to the racks of clothing.
"Ta-da!" and Harry's attention lifted from where he'd been leant against the side of the container reading a dossier.
He'd realised the moment she laid eyes on the thing that as he'd expected Hermione wasn't exactly pleased with the appearance of the armoured body glove – completely unsurprising, even with the way she'd loosened up over the last year a shiny black catsuit really wasn't 'her'. Thus the assortment of clothing he'd provided sized to go over the top of the thing, and if said clothing included a little more armour, well, that was just pragmatism, wasn't it?
Over the top of the armoured body glove she was now wearing Barsoom Defence Forces red-sand camouflage BDU trousers held in place at the knees and ankles with black leather straps, a plain high-necked crop-top in a colour matching the trousers, a reproduction of an antiquated Kenti wet-navy officer's greatcoat, an underbreast corset, and low heeled boots; as usual she had her gunbelt on, let out several notches to fit over the armour's thickness.
Lighting her up with LIDAR and some quick mental arithmetic underlined that she still had her self-image problems; that wasn't a corset sized to go over the top of the armour, it was her usual one, and she'd got the damn thing tighter than usual – she was overcompensating for the inch of blaster-proof ballistic matting around her waist.
"Go round the Collegium looking like that and I reckon the number of guys walking into walls will rise, kid," he said, mentally totting up the costings of some nanotreatments that'd give her the waist-hip ratio and general body shape she appeared to be looking for – hmm, two grand Imperial, very do-able, he mused as he casually hooked a leash onto her collar in an attempt to needle her that backfired spectacularly, "You ready to get mobile?"
"I think so," she said, stretching elaborately while keeping an eye on his reaction, and a momentary deeply satisfied look flashed across her face as Harry Johnson smiled.
"In that case, let's get out there and make us some cash."
"Can anyone here," said Eiko Kent, "Think of anyone who'd know much of anything about the Backlash Gang? I mean, we've got Harry's statement that they're real and they're something to do with him – at least, I think that's what his commentary meant,"
Her room-mate (a tlhIngan by the name of Doran, Eiko had originally been going to room with Asari Chaos but she and the Drow girl had rapidly and severely creeped each other out while Ginny Weasley's 'difference of opinion' with Doran had spilled out into the hall and threatened to knock walls down) emitted a most unladylike (but decidedly Klingonlike) snort, "I doubt you'll learn anything like this... who are these Backlash people anyway?"
"Jesus, don't you know anything?" Ginny (who had most decidedly not buried any hatchets) complained, glaring at Doran, who, being a Klingon, did a more than adequate job of glaring back.
"Give it a rest Ginny, that era of Earther history isn't very widely known offworld," Neville said, "You do know the last Clanspace-New Atlantis War and Grindlewald's War were going on at the same time, right?"
"I know, I know, I just think the least people could do before coming to Earth or, well, any planet is learn at least something about where they're going,"
"I did you stupid little trollop, I went to the effort of learning your damn language and-"
"Oh shut the fuck up, both of you, or I'll bang your heads together." Eiko demanded; both Ginny and Doran, being perfectly aware that the Kryptonian-Themiscyraean hybrid was very capable of carrying it through regardless of what they had to say on the subject, shut up. "Is anyone else going to start sniping at each other? No? Thankyou... Doran, in answer to your question, sixty years ago a group of unmitigated bad guys and that's with an upper case B and G who called themselves Nazis tried to take over the world,"
"And very nearly succeeded," Neville muttered.
"Part of what they did was trying to wipe out certain ethnic groups of people. Herding them into camps and murdering them on an industrial scale. Nobody's really sure why, apart from just bigotry gone utterly out of control." Eiko continued.
"There's theories that it was some sort of enormous mass-sacrifice ritual, but nothing anyone's ever been able to prove," Neville added, "For my part I think the theories are people trying to rationalise something completely irrational."
Doran nodded. "There are few species without a past shame of that manner," she said.
"Of course, there were some people who knew what was going on and decided to do something, anything, about it. According to all the stories Dad heard from his Dad, well, adoptive dad, John Kent, one of them," Eiko continued, "Was a man who called himself Danny Backlash and he was a complete maniac."
"That's-" Neville started, sounding momentarily angry, only to cut off and mutter, "... probably actually a pretty good description when it comes down to it," and he shrugged it off, going back to a normal volume, "Most of the people rescuing people from the Nazis did things as quietly and sneakily as they could. They had to. There wasn't any option – it was that or they and their families and their friends and basically everyone they knew would be next in the death camps. According to my gran, who worked with him for a few months, Danny Backlash did everything as loudly, violently, flashily and messily as he could. She asked him why once and he told her it was because the more Nazis there were chasing after him in Germany itself the less Nazis there were on the front lines shooting at the Allies who were coming to get the lot of the bastards. And, yeah, Eiko's right. He was a complete and utter maniac, Gran calls him 'the finest and maddest sapient being' she's ever known."
"What do you think's going on with Harry and the Backlash Gang, Neville?" Eiko asked.
"Well, it sounded very like he'd got something to do with them, almost like he was one of them – but that doesn't make sense. I mean, the Backlash Gang were heroes, they did everything for nothing more than the chance to do the right thing. And you know what Harry says – 'In the Emperor we trust, all others pay cash.' He's a through-and-through mercenary... Maybe he was supplying them munitions or something, they definitely used quite a lot of offworld firepower – but I'm really not sure."
"If anyone in the collegium who isn't Harry knows, well, I can tell you who it'll be; my brother." Asari said.
"You reckon?" Eiko asked her.
"Yeah; he knows Harry better than anyone else I can think of."
The noise hit Hermione the moment she stepped across the threshold of the subspace door, and it hit her so hard it was almost like a physical blow – a wall of this ungodly howling mayhem like something halfway between a jet engine, a set out out-of-tune bagpipes, and a cat being horribly tortured.
"Yow!" She complained, jerking back, "What the hell is that noise?"
"That," Harry said with a grimace, "Is the psi-signal we're out to close down."
"Ye gods, it sounds like a jetliner inhaling about a million wet cats,"
"Sounds more like a greater daemon of Slaanesh violating itself with a Titan chainfist to me." Harry muttered with a grimace.
"... I take it you're speaking from experience?" Hermione dubiously asked.
"Oh I really did not need to know that."
"Just lucky that the next thing that happens if a Keeper of Secrets violates itself with a Titan chainfist is a discorporated Keeper of Secrets. Anyway, it sounded like that."
"... Of all the times I've been glad I'm not a psionic sensitive," Uni mused, "This is it."
"Maria!" Harry barked as they entered the Shen-Long's bridge, "Why the Hell haven't you got... Okay. What in the Emperor's name is going on here?"
The forwards section of the bridge – that region not reserved for Harry's throne – was a sight. Several consoles had been, for want of a better word, disemboweled, their components sprinkled wily-nily across the floor amidst a rat's nest of cables and gadgetry; several technicians were digging into the mess, and over all was running a near chorus of multi-lingual swearing.
"One of the verdamnt generators surged and blew, the power surge in the Bridge Two ring circuit fried everything up to and including psi-countermeasure control and half the crew can't focus past that Emperor-forsaken wailing Master, every psyker on board's been knocked senseless, Captain's out cold, now if you can't help get this clusterfuck of a data bus fixed stay out the way." one of the techs snapped, not emerging from the console she was up to the waist in.
"... Right," Harry began, but the technician ran straight over the top of him;
"Hellmaster take it – SARAH! The trunk feed's out, this shitheap console isn't talking to the primary cogitators and I think we've lost number eight lexomat."
"I think the whole fething cogitatorium's out." one of the other techs provided.
"Neg, nothing wrong in the cogitatorium replacing a couple of fried lexomats could not solve but number two bus looks like someone hit it with a mech flamer," a third shouted across from where she'd just emerged from a lift, "We are going to have to rip out the whole trunk line, it has burned back to the primary cogitatorium."
"Screw the conduit, I'll run a patch line straight down the emergency stairwell," Harry said, helping himself to a bundle of cables, "We can do a proper repair job in drydock."
"Is that CRVGS-10148, queaff?" the third tech checked, giving Harry's tangle of cables a highly dubious look.
"What? Oh, right," and Harry dumped the cables in favour of a different roll, "This lot is. Here, gimme a hand with this Granger,"
"Hey Ben, you might know," said Neville Longbottom, causing Ben Chaos to look up from the lightsabre components he'd been cleaning.
"Know what mate?"
"What's Harry Johnson got to do with the Backlash Gang?" asked Eiko Kent, who had approached alongside Neville.
"Well sheila that's a bit of a story," Ben said, sitting back, "I know I don't look it but I'm over a century and a half old just by linear time... anyway I drove Lancasterswith 467 Squadron for the Royal Australian Air Force during Grindlewald's War and got shot down over Germany one time, bombing the Dortmund-Ems canal right sheila, we got hit by flak five times, took out all four of my poor bloody bomber's engines and turned my poor bloody tailgunner into... not much left, and it's Danny Backlash and his mates kept me and my mates out the Schutzstaffel's hands."
"I take it that's a big deal?" Doran, who had likewise shown up along with Neville, asked.
"Big deal? Sheila, you got any idea what the bloody Ahnenerbe did to offworlders or Force sensitives the Krauts got their hands on? Eidun flamin' Palpatine was a flamin' Jedi untill he got got by the Ahnenerbe after the Krauts shot his Hurricane out of under him, they drove him clear off his flamin' rocker, instant bloody Force psychosis, that's how bad news those bastards were."
"He's not joking, Grandma had a Kenti expat on her team, right, and he got captured during one of their raids. They managed to rescue him, but... well, by the time they got to him he couldn't do anything but gibber and twitch and beg to die and Grandma ended up, well, giving him a shotgun and some privacy." Neville told the rest of the group.
"Something like that mate, anyway after Dumbledore put flamin' Grindlewald six feet under I tried to keep in touch with the blokes who'd kept my mates alive, and not just because I'd figured this 'Danny' joker was using the Force or because he recognised me soon as he saw me despite the fact I'd never met him in my flamin' life before – but I failed. Then bloody nearly sixty years later I ran into a cobber whom looked just like him in New Taz. I've satisfied myself it's not just a matter of people who look the same since; Harry Johnson, Danny Backlash – same bloke."
"... I thought he was a straight-out mercenary?" Neville asked, completely staggered, "Didn't give a damn, wouldn't get out of bed unless you paid him?"
"That," Ben told him, "Is what Harry wants people to think. Mate, we're talking about the bloke who said making sure my poor bloody tailgunner got a decent burial was the least he could do, dumb bastard actually apologised for not being able to save a bloke who got a Flak 88 shell burst four feet in front of his face, bloody hell mate there was so little left of Jimbo no joke we could've buried him in a shoebox... Harry spends all the flamin' time trying to convince everyone – especially himself – he doesn't care, and all the while he's ripping strips out himself for not being able to help in situations where fuckin' nobody could've done shit. Maybe one day he'll start to believe himself when he says he doesn't care, but I doubt it and, hell, I hope not because that'd be the day he'd lose himself... Nev, mate, you've heard his Sith title. He's the Lord of Vengeance. What do you think he's fighting for?"
AN – Seems like World War 2 is an overarching theme in half of everything I write; in my defence, it is THE period of history that fascinates me the most and I can't help referencing the war whenever the chance comes up.
Besides, as an author WW2 is epic material. It's one of the clearest-cut cases of 'Good Guys' versus 'Bad Guys' in RL history, if not THE clearest-cut case; Bad Guys don't come much badder than the Reich. It's a time - the last time - when men were men, technology was rough and ready, and bombs used HE rather than plutonium; until August of 1945 WW2 didn't have a nuclear 'End This War' switch, and that makes it truly fascinating.
No disrespect to the actual members of No 467 Squadron RAAF is intended; squadron selected due to having been Aussies in the right place and at the right time; hell, quite the opposite, nothin' but respect is intended.
Anyway Ben Chaos, like a lot of traditional-minded New Aussies, thinks of himself as Australian first and foremost; bloody right he joined up mate, he's Australian and a Jedi and his flamin' family down there on Earth needed all the help they could get. It feeds back nicely that, IRL, 467 Squadron had an enviable record during the war - only one Lancaster flew more sorties than 467 Squadron's longest-lived kite. IRL, they were just that damn good. In the Top Dog 'verse, their record is even more impressive; not only were they that damn good, they had a Jedi at the helm of one of their Lancs...