Disclaimer: I do not own any of the privately owned characters and/or concepts that are floating around this fic. Nuff said.
In an unnamed Russian city in an unnamed yard, work was about to begin on a once abandoned hull. The people were called on to toil upon a vessel that was once a part of a glorious navy. She had been underwater after sinking at her pier. No more, for the ship had found a new lease of life and needed to be returned to her full functionality. A ship that had been left to rust and eventually become scrap was about to get a new lease of life. Still, getting up the partially cannibalized vessel was going to be a bit of a headache, but what's life without some challenges.
The sheer amount of money going into the project was practically unheard of. Assured of profit, a lot of equipment had been already been ordered and was scheduled to arrive and be fitted in the next few months as they worked to bring the ship up to and beyond her past potential. The Slavny would sail once more, a second lease of life to her nearly 25 years of loyal service to the Soviet Navy. Kavochkin, the engineer in charge rubbed his hands in glee. Yes, he would enjoy it. And with a budget that might as well be unlimited next to the comparatively impoverished soviet budgets, he had no compunctions with installing some systems that might have made those whiny pricks in Moscow cry about the cost if they were the ones paying for it. Like crew quarters that didn't make grown men cry. Besides, replacing those guns and updating those radars meant that he was well and truly in his happy place. There may be work to be done, but that was ok. The important bit was to plan and make sure that the hull was up to proper standards. But that was what those other people were coming down for. For now he could simply strip the ship to her frame.
It was good to be king of the build. He only wanted to know what kind of people wanted a ship painted black! But then, it was probably fated that Boris would get a customer more insane than he was.
"Dimitri! Wake up and get back to work! The technicians from Zorya-Mashproekt are here! They're here about the turbines! "
Breathe in, breathe out. Take a moment then slip into the train. It was meaningless action, but it gave her something to do. The mistress was gone. She had left her alone in this world with naught but a promise to return soon. However, with their form of immortality and consequently unique perception of time, "soon" might be anything from a year to a couple of centuries. How would she survive that much time without purpose?
She had abandoned her past, her body and her mind just so that her soul would be useful to her mistress. And now, all that was left were memories and a wand. That was all that she had to remember her. As for the wand, the mistress had imbibed it with her power and identity as she had used it in class. It was now her only connection to the one she called Mistress. And it was what let her assume that identity of "Hermione Jane Granger" on this planet.
So what if she had given a similar connection to someone else temporarily? She didn't want it. That person was not like her mistress. No, that person was a controlled automaton who showed none of the emotions he really felt. Not like her mistress, with her wild exuberance, great power and supreme nonchalance. Yes, her mistress was truly a beautiful creature. Consumed by her thoughts, Aurora crashed spectacularly against the very person she wanted to avoid.
Harry stepped back and shook his head. He had to remember that just because he had a screen of clones guarding him, he was not safe from things they wouldn't bother trying to attack. And since Aurora was the constant companion of the force of nature that was Granger, he sighed and braced himself for a headache. He did not have to wait long.
"Right, you're here. It means I don't have to worry about finding you. Mistress has given me a list of things for you to do. That ship you're buying will need some upgrades. You can use the library to help for the runes, but the rest is all you. Think of it this way, you're finally getting to use all that fluid dynamics and materials science you learned before going to magic school! And in Christmas, you'll be getting yourself a bigger ship to do the whole thing again. It's all in the scroll."
Harry did not bother to analyze her words for too long. He had latched on to just one part of the statement.
"What do you mean bigger ship?! I didn't need one in the first place!"
Aurora shot him a look so expressive that he could almost hear her say "You're an idiot."
"Well, this one is the Slavny right? It's going to be your prototype, and when you succeed at it, the mistress will take it off your hands. But you still need a ship, so your minion has got some extra orders, ones you agreed to by the way, i.e. to get a destroyer and to make some money. Aren't you glad he knows how to use the basics of chakra now?"
Harry rubbed his forehead and fought the urge to cry. Why did he have to be the one to suffer in this manner? And his trusted minion was off to go do things to benefit him, or so she said. Under veritaserum, the butler's orders, as given by Granger had seemed innocent enough; secure ship for Harry by going to Russia; make some money by various means by going to South America for a business opportunity. It was all so simple and clear cut. He walked away with a migraine and a weary sigh. At least he wouldn't be complaining about boredom.
Still, simply being away from that girl had made her servant much more focused and humanlike in her behavior, even if her words meant that Granger's touch lingered upon his universe. And that "touch" had an enforcer to boot. Well, at least he was assured that she wasn't completely crazy, always a positive in his book.
He opened the scroll and rolled it down to see what she had for him. The three foot scroll was packed full of Grangers handwriting, a thin scrawl designed to squeeze the maximum information into a space and still be barely legible. Thankfully, as a ninja, he had better than usual eyesight so he did not bother complaining. Still, there was a lot of stuff "to do" in there. He had caught sight of titles like "increasing conventional endurance", "passive counter measures" and even "propulsion via flow boundary manipulation."
The fact that they were all under the title "chakra theory" did not increase his confidence. He was getting the idea that he had barely scratched the surface of what seals could do.
Draco Malfoy walked into his compartment with a smile. His hair was slicked back and there was a lot of effort put into making his robes immaculate. This was going to be a good year. He was a Slytherin. He had his plan and he knew exactly what he had to do. He was very confident that he would be able to succeed in his self appointed mission. He just had to get rid of those ninja and all would be well. He took out his secret weapon and began to write into it.
Aurora stepped into a compartment with two girls she didn't recognize. They were obviously first years. Since they didn't seem to mind her presence in the split second they looked up, she went and sat down opposite them, after putting her truck in the rack, a feat of strength that not many could appreciate.
Of the two, the blonde was reading a magazine upside down and the red haired one was chattering about some future wedding she would be having. She wouldn't have bothered about them save for one tiny detail. She had red hair. And it wasn't just any red hair, but a red hair that had been consistently showing up in the last four siblings of the Weasley family that she had already met in school. Aurora narrowed her eyes. She then plastered on a smile and introduced herself.
"Hi! I'm Hermione Granger. Are you first years?"
The two nodded and smiled a bit weakly, obviously unsure as to why she was talking to them. It was not like every senior they met were as friendly.
"Yes, I'm Ginny Weasley. This is my friend Luna Lovegood. It's nice to meet you!"
The blonde, looked up from her book with an odd smile and looked at her.
"Your head is crawling with wrackspurts hmmm?"
The former house elf looked at her deadpan.
"I have no idea what they are or even if I care about whether I am infected with them. You're not exactly normal are you?"
Ginny flinched in response to the blunt statement. But even as she opened her mouth, probably to protest the insult, Aurora grinned manically.
"I think you and I will get along just fine!"
Yes, this year won't be so bad after all.
The Hogwarts express may have been relatively peaceful this year, but outside of it the earth spun, people schemed and plotted and people lived and died. In London, newspapers continued to report the curious case of the executed spy ring. MI5 had been scrambled to see exactly what had been compromised in the government and if anybody was left to compromise it further. It was an entirely forgettable time for many people.
Meanwhile, MI6 analysts tried to make sense of some particularly strange transactions that had happened between British and foreign banks, possibly in relation to that spy ring. At Scotland Yard, Inspector Wilkinson tried to pursue even more unlikely leads to find the culprits of his massacre.
Of course, other people were also moving forward. A ceasefire ended the suspiciously large number of unexplained ship disappearances that occurred between Japan and China. An unusual shape floated high above this area, reminding the other more "usual" flying ships that there was indeed a new power in the area.
The year was just beginning, but there was no telling how it would be ending.
V was a person who had a plan. He had been remade by that woman from a meaningless existence to an entity with purpose. And SHE had given him some orders on what to do this first year to make himself useful, and occupy himself when Harry wasn't home that is. That was why he was on the phone with somebody setting up his "business trip". He had been assigned a set of tasks, after which he would be free of any obligations to HER.
Over the next two months, he would be helping his master and as a side effect the rest of humanity in a big way. That his master would be profiting from the operation was of course the whole point of the exercise. He had orders within plans, and as his master had given the authorization, he would be able to use his old and new powers to assist his master as needed. But first, he had to do something to make some parts of his journey more profitable. He entered the store with a grimace. There was way too much dust here. But then, Ollivander was said to be a very odd fellow.
"I haven't seen you before, but it's always good to meet new customers!"
The first night at Hogwarts was as ever a dull, monotonous exercise peppered with the cheers of unthinking sheep. The sorting was a dull and repetitive event marked by children sitting on a stool and willingly having a (probably lice infested) thousand year old hat mind rape and then sort the child into one of four houses based on personality traits that the child would abandon after their first potions or history class. Harry was quite cynical at twelve years old.
It did not escape his notice that over at the Gryffindor table Aurora, who was now posing as the absent (hopefully for good?) Hermione Granger was staring at her house mate Ron Weasley with an air of calculated malice. He pitied that boy, he really did. The apprentice was no less troublesome than the teacher. After ending that line of thought before it gave him a headache, he looked at the head table.
Professor Snape looked grumpy as always. The man was practically engulfed in black flames of annoyance. He tilted his head and squinted a bit, and was hit by an epiphany. Severus Snape looked like Uchiha Itachi! Wasn't that just a revelation? With those stress lines, perpetual frown, black hair, all he needed were a headband, contacts and some conditioner and the image would be perfect. Really, all he needed was a heart breaking back story complete with loyalty, betrayal, and a desire to die for his sins and the picture was complete.
The headmaster looked about as grumpy as his potions professor. Even if his beard hid it, Harry was experienced enough to detect the hint of a massive frown. Come to think of it, everyone but that blond idiot was frowning. McGonagall had pursed her lips so severely that they had disappeared. Sprout looked like her Venomous Tentacular had all died off. Hagrid actually looked irritated, difficult to do by all accounts, mostly because his facial hair hid normal displays of negative emotions.
On the other hand, the new and latest defense professor, Gilderoy Lockhart was grinning like a loon. He was dressed in very garish and loud robes that were obviously expensive and must have been whatever passed for the height of magical fashion. An odd magical effect made his teeth sparkle, much like Dumbledore's eyes twinkled. All in all, he looked like what a Victorian era model should have looked like. It was impossible to naturally look that….well, perfect wasn't the word he would use, unlike a good fraction of the hormonal female student population. Still, he might be a competent fellow for all he knew. Strong people tended to indulge in their eccentricities, and this one could very well be the magical equivalent of Maito Gai. It was best to reserve judgment until he knew more.
Food came and went quickly. Chatter blocked out the noise of a thousand ill mannered gluttons. There were no extra announcements like last year, just the expected ones about the forest and Filch. So why was there a sense of impending doom?
Tetsuya was marching with his fellow Hufflepuffs when he suddenly felt a sharp burst of killing intent. The unusual sensation, in the school of all things, caused him to stumble. He looked around and found an armored figure hanging from the ceiling motioning towards a side door. So he took his time straightening out his clothes while his companions passed by. When he was alone, he slunk into the class room alongside the man, who could only be Skywalker. It appeared they were already dipping into that alliance of theirs.
"What do you need?"
"I would like to know about the sorceress Chang."
"I'll write it up. It's too late to worry about it today."
"I shall wait for you then. Tomorrow, eighteen hundred hours. I shall be at the library entrance."
"I shall see you there."
Tetsuya shook his head and headed for the Hufflepuff common room. He just needed to sleep. Whatever his orders were, it wasn't wise to attempt to help that man while he was swaying on his feet.
The next day he wrote out all he knew and his conclusions about the girl. Skywalker had read it all with great interest but didn't say anything. They nodded to each other and were gone. Tetsuya gave a sigh of relief. Who knew what kind of antics he could have been dragged into by that man?
The three had not interacted after that one meeting in the library and forest. Had the other two stopped caring? Where was Skywalker in this mess anyway? Why was he at school? Was he protecting a student? Was he a student? If so, had he been there last year or the year before that? Where did he sleep? Was last year's troll incident his doing? So many questions, and he was unlikely to get answers. He glumly went back to his meditation.
Ginny Weasley fell into her bed with not a lot of grace. She was tired but elated. She was in Hogwarts! So what if she wasn't in Gryffindor? She was in Ravenclaw! Where Harry Potter was! And she had just over seven years to become Mrs. Harry Potter! Yes, her plan, conceived when she was much younger was now on track. Sure she had to change from Gryffindor to Ravenclaw. But if it had Harry in it, it couldn't be bad. No, it definitely wasn't bad. Maybe it would even stop her mother from going on about OWLs and NEWTs all the time. Yes, this really was for the best.
She did not realize that at the moment, she was giggling and squirming uncontrollably. It was doubtful she would have cared all that much either.
Luna looked at her friend and shook her head. Those wrackspurts were well and truly entrenched there. It was such a shame. At least she had another friend now, even if she was in another house.
In a room not far from her, Cho Chang smirked as she prepared for sleep. It would be so interesting to see if that ninja cracked. He was looking wary this year. It might actually be worth the effort to get him to crack. If only she could see that Skywalker too. That fellow actually knew how to pull off aloof and mysterious. She pouted.
"Oh well, something is bound to make this year interesting! "
Aurora had barely entered the common room when she was subjected to one of the more common prank items of the wizarding world. Unlike its user though, Hermione Granger aka Aurora had no appreciation for the "beauty" of the dungbomb that had covered her in the smelly concoction. She just locked her murderous eyes onto the culprit and began to throw out Reductos like they were going out of fashion. Running for his life, Ron Weasley briefly wondered if all this was really was worth throwing that dungbomb. Then he was nearly clipped by a spell that obliterated somebody's homework and all rational thought abandoned him.
While Ron was running around like a headless chicken, the Gryffindor common room was beginning to look like a warzone. A lot of the furniture was demolished and the walls were dotted with small craters where her spells hit. It was worrying because the walls were specifically warded to dissipate the emotionally charged and volatile spells hurled by immature and uncontrolled children.
"What in Morgana's name is going on here?!"
The dungbomb covered Hermione Granger fired one last spell in the general direction of the white skinned Weasley before she turned to her head of house. It was to be noted that her still plentiful rage was giving her an aura of murderous intent and her brown eyes had a corona of green light that made her power all too clear. So it was understandable that even the unflappable McGonagall took a half step back before she rallied herself.
"Professor! I can't take it anymore! If you don't change my house right now, I'll find a way to murder that idiot in my sleep!"
"Ms. Granger! What on earth are you talking about?"
One of the students, who had been very busy getting out of Hermione's spells spoke up.
"Professor? Ronald threw a dungbomb at her when she got into the common room. And then she-"
The fourth year took a good look at the halo of power around the girl, the very menacing snarl and the choking motions she was making at the red haired boy and decided to change her interpretation of events from "she snapped". The pause was not unnoticed.
"-she unleashed her righteous fury in the pursuit of her justified vengeance against that criminal boy! The damage wasbecausehedidnotstaystill!"
McGonagall sighed and looked around the room.
"And everyone here agrees with Mr. Glendon?"
There was a synchronized and most resolute nod, even from Ron.
McGonagall pinched her nose and muttered under her breath.
"Very well then. Mr. Weasley, a week of detention with Mr. Filch. Hopefully this will teach you to think more carefully before you decide to blatantly attack your classmates. Ms. Granger, you will have a detention with me tomorrow. You must learn to control your destructive impulses even when somebody attacks you in this manner. As for your other request, are you sure you want to change your house? A resorting does not guarantee a spot in the house you want. And as it is I'm not too sure you cannot solve this problem between yourself."
Aurora nodded resolutely. She was very much set on this course. In fact, she could see herself strangling that ginger haired idiot in his sleep right now. And even McGonagall could not ignore the unstable grin and the clawing motions her hand was making.
"I see. We might as well sort it now before your schedules have been given to you. Come with me."
Aurora followed the professor as she walked the halls, climbing stairs and simply walking until she reached the gargoyle that was the headmaster's office gatekeeper. Getting in was simple enough with the password and the headmaster at his desk, writing on parchment with a long feathered quill.
McGonagall told her to stay there at the doorway and walked to Dumbledore, whispering furiously. The two exchanged words, before the headmaster finally motioning her forward. Once she was seated, McGonagall quietly sat the sorting hat on her head. It gave a whimper before shouting "RAVENCLAW!" They glanced at the hat for a moment but shrugged it off. The hat was not a very chatty accessory at the best of times.
"Let's head for the Ravenclaw dorms then. Hopefully this will have been solved by morning. Albus, please take care of the rolls, I'll go tell Filius that his flock has a new member."
As she left the office, Aurora grinned widely. It had all gone according to plan. Except for when she snapped. But that had worked out, so she was happy.
Above her, a shadow clone sighed. Sure, he didn't know what had happened in that office, but the change in color from red to blue was a very big clue. He dispersed because he honestly had no idea how to tell his creator that she was in his house now.
All the classes remained much the same, but as always, defense was the worst of the lot. This was the consensus reached by Ravenclaw. DADA with its various teachers always made for a different environment. This year was no different, in that the classes were very different.
Lockhart was an idiot; there were no illusions (here) about that fact. He didn't know how to teach, he didn't cast a single spell in class, and his lessons involved impromptu skits that had more in common with bad comedy than actual education. As such, he was the biggest disappointment they had known. He was even worse than Quirrel, because that man had at least assigned useful books. The glorified travelogues read like badly written adventure/detective novels. And they were bad ones at that. Some of the spells didn't exist. Lockhart didn't have the physique for some of his "exploits". There were timeline errors. And for all his books and bluster, he could not actually explain just how he got his awards which were officially awarded to him. Some were heard to joke that Lockhart got his Order of The Merlin third class for the "great deed" of adding galleons to (the previous minister of magic) Millicent Bagnold's vault.
Harry on his part kept up a constant genjutsu that made it all but impossible for the professor to acknowledge that he existed. In fact, save for rolls, the professor was not allowed to think much about the Boy-Who-Lived at all. The susceptibility to the otherwise minor genjutsu also displayed a frightening lack of any sort of the mental focus the man ought to have mustered. All told it was a pitiful and disappointing result.
Aurora grinned widely. This idea to move to Ravenclaw may have been the best thing she could have thought of. Nott only was she away from a source of aggravation, she had two munchkins of her own to nurture and corrupt. Those two first years had quickly taken to her, even as the house tried to rally against them. The Ravenclaw females had possessed the ridiculous notion that they were extraordinarily intelligent creatures. Her scores and class ability had soon stripped them of the idea. They did not take kindly to it.
They also seemed to have the idea that the two less than usual first years were odd and perfect targets for bullying. The fact that they associated with the eccentric Gryffindor transfer just made them seem like more targetable.
The problem with rallying a house against the "disciples" of the new Gryffindor transfer was that they were quickly introduced to her idea of revenge. Several Ravenclaw girls had thought it fun to steal from and humiliate the two new girls, Luna and Ginny, who they began to call loony and… well, they hadn't yet found a suitably horrible and annoying nickname for Ginny. That quickly stopped when the perpetrators quickly discovered that their bras were being owled to Gilderoy Lockhart at breakfast.
And while many a girl may have had fantasies involving them, Lockhart and lacy underwear, having the items publically mailed to the man was not exactly a thing to be proud of, especially when the items in question had name tags on them that the professor had no problem reciting at full volume. An anonymous message had delivered a warning against further mistreatment. Unfortunately, some girls failed to heed the warning. The next day, flying panties bombarded the DADA professor, who was by now slowly getting the idea that publically being happy about receiving the underwear of underage and impressionable girls was not exactly helping his image. When the furiously blushing girls saw the subtle gestures she used (a wide manic grin and slash across the throat with a thumb) they quickly got the message. After all, nobody wanted to mess with the mad genius (and yes, they did call her that, sometimes) who aced everything and had enough power to repeatedly punch holes in the warded walls of a Hogwarts common room.
From then on peace reigned, especially after the last completely dense person to defiantly test the warning ended up having her robes transformed while she was in the great hall. It did not help that the highly provocative outfit better suited for "personal activities" was uncomfortably tight for the sixth year in question. After that, they were all left alone. The fact that they hung out with the other eccentric of the house (Potter) was something they decided to collectively ignore. Granger had spent all of last year with the boy, so poking that dragon was best left to the suicidal.
Harry himself was making progress. After having hit a metaphorical ceiling in his ideas, he was finally pursuing new avenues of research. Night after night, clones worked on seals that were sometimes as large as twelve feet in diameter, trying to combine concepts from earlier attempts or make entirely new ones. Aurora had said something that had lit a fire inside him. He was buying a ship, a big ship and he planned to use it as a mobile base of sorts. Besides, his butler was taking care of a lot of details. And he trusted his brand new minion because the butler had sworn his loyalty with veritaserum and a magical oath. He wasn't sure how to go beyond that, but he had made a note to set aside time to learn what he could about neurobiology and brainwashing. Genjutsu could be very useful in that sort of thing. Of course, that would be in his long term plans. He had no intention of attempting it until he had settled his other plans. V had his instructions and he would benefit most usefully. Besides, having spare cash is not something to be afraid of, or so they say.
His new seals were works of art. It had been a while since his seals had been used for something completely new. Like a man who crawled, walked and finally ran, he had reached a stage where his basics were set in stone and it was higher order execution that was an issue. His seals had to do a variety of things. They had to protect and power a 144m (or 472 feet) long ship. It had weapons and a whole set of sensory equipment that had to be incorporated. Not to mention, it was one huge chunk of metal that floated. The scroll Aurora had given him was the most insane challenge he could think of. Turn the once lethal Missile Destroyer into something he could move around in without too much cost or energy. To do that, he had to accomplish a variety of things. He had to remove the ships dependence on fuel. He had to completely eliminate any further wear on any component. He had to remove the dependence on manpower that forced the ship to have a standard complement of 320 men. He also had to remove the ship's property of being identified by any non visual sensors and identifying methodology, because nobody liked the idea of a private party with a guided missile destroyer, especially an armed guided missile destroyer.
So he had a lot of things to do and little time. He was making progress though. He was testing theories, gaining ideas and eliminating failed methods. It helped he had more than two hundred clones collaborating on the project. With chakra absorption seals, they would last a while, but when they dispersed, the headache was enormous. It was why his weekends were now spent unconscious as the thousands of hours of memories rammed into his brain. It was almost nostalgic, the massive use of clones, the mad science and the dreams of tomorrow…
So when he received an owl from his butler, he wasn't paying too much attention. It had simply said "going to motherland, will check up on boat."
What could he possibly get up to?
V walked through the city with a grim smile. Travel to Russia had become easier, but with his British passport, he faced some hostility from the heart of the land beyond the iron curtain. There was no way he would have been let through that easily by the former communist staff. On the other hand, some gestures and code words to the local junior intelligence officer and he was now untouchable in Moscow. He was FSK after all, as far as they knew. It had been a pleasant surprise to note that he was officially still part of the KGB when the organization had been dissolved. As such, his old access codes were still active and let him "retrieve" his identity papers, the one that said he was KGB all but name. He turned to his mission next.
In the land that his past was mired in, there was plenty that he once held a grudge over. SHE had simply plunged an arm into his soul and suddenly he was free. He had no more doubts, no more hesitation. He may be a servant, but in that service laid the ultimate freedom. He no longer had a reason to die. And it wouldn't matter if he was killed. He was bound to his master. And as long as the master was there to serve, the servant could not die. It would not do for the hand to be useless to the owner.
His first task was a minor sort of revenge. After that, he could move on without that squeaking voice in the back of his skull. He wondered if that voice was HER doing. Whatever the cause, it was the reason he was now sitting in front of one of the most rotten men he had the displeasure to ever meet.
"Ivan!" he greeted. The pudgy man sitting in front of him in the dingy office was a pale imitation of the ruthless wraith like colonel his lover had taken her orders from. When he had been recruited, Ivan had been his handler as much as Ivan had been hers. "Special" operatives were valuable resources, and were "repurposed" to the KGB whenever possible. So Ivan had tasked one of his agents to seduce him and recruit him into KGB. She succeeded marvelously. For three years, he had been all but a puppet at her whims, until she had torn him down and cut him loose. He was devastated at the time and had only sunk further into his hell when he learned that she had been killed a few weeks later.
But afterwards, another KGB agent had shown up to tell him the truth. Everything she had done, she had done at the orders of Ivan, who promptly had killed her off when she finally admitted that after three years and dutifully sending the man into depression, she really had fallen for him. V had not been amused when the despair inducing memory had been dusted off and returned to the forefront of his mind.
"You are looking well!"
That was a lie, but it didn't matter. He would soon have what he came for anyway. This man had left him a shell of a human. And he had then all but killed her without remorse. V might have been too far gone when it had actually happened, but he was here to return the favor and then some. After all, it was not proper to leave this piece of gutter trash in the realm of the living. But Ivan would serve his master first, before the corrupt slob was sent to whatever hell awaited godless men like them.
Their discussion took a few hours, with Ivan growing ever uneasy over the fact that this was not the same pitiful wreck he had tossed away. So it was that Ivan finally signaled his waiting guards. They came in through the two doors to the room, from behind the Russian and from behind himself. But it did not matter. Seven men were nothing considering how much his skills had returned from HER touch. The three men behind Ivan were shot down even as he turned to deal with the four behind him. Three bullets had turned their chests into chunks of bloody meat. He turned around and punched the throat of the nearest guard with his other hand, crushing it. The choking man fell backwards, his flailing limbs bringing down his friends with him. Assault rifles were useless unless you could point them at your enemy. V smiled grimly as he shot all four with the pistol, leaving headless corpses and blood spattered walls. Ivan was still grinning. His brain had frozen at seeing the carnage. Apparently he had been out of the game for too long if this was the result. That was OK. It was for idiots like these that the veritaserum was for.
V walked out of the office with a smile. The Makarov might not be a glamorous weapon, but a bullet is still a bullet, especially when they explode. The former colonel had finally died begging and his vengeance was satisfied. But more importantly, his first task had been accomplished. The USSR may have dissolved, but its resources still lay untapped, much like the destroyer his master had purchased. And slush funds in tax havens were a particularly juicy resource. They would be drained by evening. And the intelligence dossiers on American operations in Columbia were much appreciated.
Moscow quickly passed. His next journey took a few flights. But he got there in two days of harsh travel. His government issued FSK identification allowed him to use official means of travel. His demeanor and openly displayed weapon made him a very unapproachable man. He used that to its fullest.
He stood before the hull with a grimace. It looked like hell. Considering that she had spent many a month underwater, it was expected. Still, a rusted hull was a poor foundation for a ship. He focused on his power and pointed a wand in that direction. He had to focus on exactly what he needed, for the hull to be repaired to beyond excellent, but to retain an appearance of being freshly repaired. The spell came easily, too easily. He suspected that SHE had a hand in it. He shivered slightly, but welcomed the chance to help his master's work. He wondered if the boost was because this ship was supposedly going to HER.
A few memory spells and the engineer in charge very happy about the "nighttime crew from outside who had quickly restored the hull but would not be available further." The technical genius could now focus on the important bits. Like the installation of the mainframe and the large displays in the bridge.
The first sign that something was wrong were the screams. Everybody ran to the scene, abandoning their paths and converging around the pool of water those who could see the small clearing in the centre saw teachers trying to remove Argus Filch from a first year. The man seemed to be trying to strangle the child. Away from him, a small figure lay hanging motionless from the wall, the much reviled Mrs. Norris. Harry had chosen to sleep in, and missed most of it, but from the ceiling, a clone had arrived at the scene once the scream had come. There simply hadn't been a reason to go to that area before. So he was surprised to see the effect of a petrified organism. It was a very curious thing.
The next few weeks were filled with rumors and hysteria. It was even said that at one point Binns, the otherwise utterly boring history teacher had broken off his never-ending lecture on goblin rebellions to give a brief speech on the "Chamber of Secrets" that this "monster" had come from.
People quickly became irrational as panic set in. Groups of people moved in small mobs with their wands out. People speculated on the cause of the petrified cat, and the identity of the heir who was mentioned. Slytherin closed ranks as they were regarded with increasing suspicion. Then again, it would have to be a very clever or very stupid person to make the "You're next mudbloods !" right after that dramatic scene.
Harry barely noticed any of this. He worked on his seals, worked on runes and kept up on his schoolwork. Life at the moment was one big workday. Nothing could turn him from his work, not the rampaging Acromantula, the centaur patrols or even that untamed dragon could stop him from playing with his massive scribbles out in the forest. So what was a mythical monster from a mythical section of the castle going to do to stop him from his experiments? Well, maybe kill him of course, but he tried not to think about such obscure possibilities.
The jungle was a harsh and unforgiving place. Insects, reptiles and mammals of all kinds roamed amidst the vegetation waiting for a chance to sink teeth or fang into the unsuspecting and unwary. That was all right, these animals had sense. He was not a cowering villager from some poor tribal settlement trying to eke out an existence even as loggers cut out the forest around his house. No, he was a bona fide predator in service to another bigger predator. His movements were confident, unhurried and purposeful. He had no reason to fear the forest. He may have been of the mountains, but a hunter is at home wherever prey may reside. And when the prey is human, the hunter has a damn big home. There was a reason he was wearing a suit in the middle of the jungle.
V looked around the place carefully. He had been in Russia a few days ago and now he was on the hunt of the near untouchable Cali cartel, because by whatever quirk of fate, Ivan had the most intelligence on them. And intelligence was ever his most important commodity. It was unfortunate for them that they were now in his sights. As few as four months ago, they may have annihilated him if he did what he was doing now, but now he could only pity them. They were only men carrying weapons. He was the weapon. The drug factory was up ahead. It was a relatively large facility that produced cocaine in quite unhygienic conditions; mass produced drugs for people to abuse and die from. It was time for his good deed of the day.
Two hours later, the factory burned brightly. There were only about forty men all told at that location. The guards seemed to be content with sitting at the top of trees and shooting anyone who got too close. After he had dodged a dozen bullets, he had become irritated and had taken an AK 74 and began to shoot the canopy. A few screams and thuds marked the deaths of the first few. After that, it was much smoother.
He had gotten what he came for, in other words names and locations. There was little else to take from here. The workers were poor uneducated simpletons who barely knew how to switch a light bulb on, and had nothing that could be considered valuable intelligence. He killed them cleanly and without pain, because even if he had left them alive their bosses would have executed them on principle. Next step would be fairly less violent, but only in that there would be far less explosions. He jumped into a pickup he didn't sabotage and sped down the crude supply road. The sooner he got this done the better.
His next few weeks were a blur of travel interspersed with death. At every stop in the Cali cartels' chain of command, people died, but not before they spilled their guts. Veritaserum was indeed a valuable resource. At a three drop dosage, his two liters were a lasting commodity. Still, he did not do too much. He only killed about sixty people all told, and interrogated about half of them. People were very willing to talk when their armored body guards were blown up by a silly looking pistol. However, his ability to superhumanly dodge their fire was also a completely terrifying thing. Pistols couldn't hit him if he knew exactly where the barrel was pointing.
On Halloween, V was back safely on British soil, having acquired about 400 million dollars US of former cartel money. It would not make a dent in their operations, but locations of farms, factories and arsenals were mailed to the US consulate before he left. The Cali cartel would not survive for long. If they did, their rivals would make short work of them. The sad part was that 400 million was a drop in the bucket, it was the systematic destruction of mid to top level cartel members that would be the undoing of the cartel, but the survivors would be richer than ever before.
But what was done was done. Now came part two of his busy schedule. He had another ship to check on. A butler's work is never done.
Harry looked over the seal with a grin. The seal was not big, but it could be transferred to the object much like the evil sealing method that Kakashi had used on the curse seal. The transfer of a seal from its surface of conception, it was something that ranked just below the creation of a seal without any pre prepared sealing materials whatsoever, as the Yondaime Hokage had demonstrated when he set up a masterpiece of sealing in mere seconds, one that could confine the kyuubi itself.
The seal construct had to be divorced from the surface it was constructed on and moved without damaging its structure to another surface through contact. This also involved compression and layering, turning his twelve foot diameter arrays into something much smaller. It was an important milestone to his sealing abilities.
What this meant was that some of his larger arrays could now be applied to objects the seal could not directly be written on. Not only did this mean his metal frame Stechkins could now all but invulnerable, his pieces of plastic armor could now be rendered bulletproof as well. Of course, the most important ramification was that he did not need to painstakingly paint the seals and runes he needed directly onto the ship. He could safely use a large portable area surface, say a tarp for the preparation and then simply transfer the seal onto the ship and activate it at the same time. It meant he did not need to linger onsite and chance the discovery of the painstaking work that would have been required. Now he just needed to worry about the chakra cost of applying the seals on a large ship like that.
Propulsion had been taken care of. His seals would provide a frictionless boundary around the ship wherever water met hull. With this, he could achieve chakra only propulsion by manipulating the attractive/repulsive forces at the interface. He could achieve his top speed and then some with a fraction of the output. It also meant that he could theoretically propel the ship on chakra alone if necessary, of course controlling it dynamically was a work in progress.
Defense was also coming along nicely. Absorption arrays could absorb any stresses on the frame that exceeded a certain fraction of the metals yield stress. An entirely different surface based seal absorbed any electromagnetic radiation beyond visible light that was incident upon a surface, making it invisible to any form of active detection system other than keeping your eyes peeled. Or it would once he read a few more physics books and made it less energy intensive than it currently was, but he suspected that it was merely a question of greater understanding of the subject. More interesting were the runes.
His runes work came in two forms, energy batteries and energy circuits. The very impressive thing about runes was their capacity in certain constructs to hold raw energy indefinitely, including. Enchantments depended on this after all. And he had a seal that could absorb chakra and even magic. By combining the two systems, he had made an array which could absorb and store energy. By combining multiple seal arrays, he had created an array which would absorb kinetic and electromagnetic energy and then convert it somewhat inefficiently to raw energy which would be stored. He did have to adjust it until the temperatures matched, because an array that absorbed all energy quickly became an icicle as it sucked all heat it was in contact with. That was not a pretty end for a clone.
He was mass producing his work on tarps that he had owl ordered from his butler (he did wonder why they had Spanish price tags on them). Now all he had to do was use the deck plans that Boris had mailed him and he would be able to get the runic "wiring" all planned out. With everything properly planned, he could have the ship properly set up within a few hours of first seeing it.
It was in the middle of his increasingly successful sealing work that he got the first hint that he ought to be concerned about Slytherin's monster.
V looked at the politician with a grimace. The USSR had fallen just a few years ago, so scum like the one he was sitting in front of was always going to cling on until they were removed kicking and screaming. Thankfully, he had some advantages in this "negotiation." The man had just finished laughing at him when he spoke again.
"So what do you else do you want Podpolkovnik. Titov? You may be FSK, but you hold no power over me. And I doubt you can offer me anything to change my mind."
Apparently the fact that he was a big bad Lieutenant Colonel equivalent in the secret police did not seem to matter here. What mattered was cash or favors, as pointed out by the "offer me" comment. But that was all right, he had other means of getting there. After all, he had questioned and obliviated the man yesterday for just this very purpose.
"You are assuming, comrade Moldovan that I have to offer you something. You may find that unless you agree to my demands, you will soon find yourself living without the comforts of your current station. It has not been that long since I was a KGB 'special' operative."
The man paled at the special operative part (which was interesting in itself), but not as much as when V slid a sheet of paper across the table; it listed among other things several bank account numbers and their balances. It was exactly what his total liquid assets amounted to. Two names of mistresses that he was "entertaining" on the side were not exactly conducive for remaining scandal free. And any hint of weakness would be seized upon by his "friends", rivals enemies so thoroughly that comrade Moldovan would have wished he was eaten alive. So Yuri Moldovan folded quickly. Blackmail or not, it was already something that was in the pipeline, but what the FSK agent wanted was just to speed up the process quite a bit. Downsizing the navy was a continuing process, and removing an extra ship from the roster a few years before would only save them all money. Yes, the pitiful man rationalized, "This is only to my advantage."
V watched the man with a satisfied air. It was easy to blackmail someone into doing something that was already being done. Getting a ship decommissioned was not exactly hard work these days. Only the nature of the class of ship in question made it a problem. There were lots of people who would protest, but money was always going to be in short supply to maintain the "magnificent vessels of the Russian Navy." Already there was more than one ship which has being "overhauled" with no end to the process in sight. The decision to decommission and sell off an anti surface guided missile destroyer would be controversial, but the nation was still corrupt enough that it wouldn't matter. Besides, the 100 million dollar cash injection would remove any doubts in the minds of the detractors who mattered. Money always counted, even when you believed it shouldn't.
V had spent the last few days in the bowels of the Russian bureaucracy for exactly this moment. Bribing and threatening the right people for just this purpose. Moldovan was just the last obstacle that had to be dealt with. In this place, simply throwing money at a problem only meant you had thrown away your money. It was necessary to ensure that the right people got the "message" about the jobs they were expected to do, and the consequences for not doing it. The carrot was fine, but the stick was better.
So, he had abused his FSK credentials to waltz around the capital, the shipyard and everyplace in between, "preparing" the sluggish system for its tasks, either personally or through some very official phone calls. The leeway his FSK identity gave him was very ridiculously large, probably HER work, but he wasn't complaining..
Three days afterwards, the Sovremenny, was officially struck from the Russian navy and sold to "a Russian expatriate who wished to assist his beloved navy and remember his days in service of the motherland". A hundred million dollars was not a small amount, when it officially enters government coffers. Whatever their private bank balances in the Cayman Islands or Switzerland had, paying the government always made the corrupt bureaucrats happy about officially increasing their budgets, especially the ones so concerned with the navy's lack of funds.
V merely went to the yard housing the now privately owned vessel and cast some very powerful spells to make the mechanicals and structure a lot better than they should have been. Unfortunately, it wiped out the last of the reserves that SHE had given him. Something SHE probably intended when he thought about it. Still, his job was done for now and he could safely wait for the master to return for Christmas. With his impromptu assists and some creative negotiations, he had acquired for his master the most powerful acquisition yet. He tasked some otherwise useless bureaucrats to keep an eye on the two ships and went home. After all, Christmas was a time of celebration.
Harry winced at the memories with a grimace. He had been taking one of his few breaks when he had been hit with the memory. All he could say was that it was a unique death. The clone had seen the entirety of a really long snake crawling through the hallway where that cat had been attacked and had just seen the large poisonous yellow eyes when he simply lost cohesion. He had literally felt his life cease. What a powerful creature it must be, to disrupt a clone simply through eye to eye contact…
Harry wished that he didn't have to deal with this, but he had things to do and plans to advance. Dealing with a giant snake was not in his plans. But it seemed like he would have to. Aurora was certainly no help. When he had mentioned the snake, she had just said that he was the one meant to destroy their existence. "Them" not "it", in other words there was more than one entity at play. He simply posted more clones around, making sure not to let their sacrifices stop his efforts to develop his seals by Christmas.
Dimitry Kavochkin smiled as he drank the vodka. With an enormous crew and large amounts of money, he had succeeded in nearly all his aims. The ship was in excellent condition. The new electronics and several other systems that seemed to have been diverted for this build had astounded the man, until he heard that an old school FSK agent had been assigned to get this sale done as fast as possible. It was being sold to some buyer who did not care about anything beyond engineering perfection. Dimitry suspected it was a behind the scenes resale to some third world country who was leaning towards the west, and did not want official trade with Russia.
Hundred million dollars US was a large sum. The hulls of the Kashin class that were sold to shipbreakers could not raise even half a million dollars for comparison. It was no wonder people were falling over themselves to fulfill that customer's every need. He himself had worked fanatically to get the thing ready. In fact, he could not believe just how much work had been done. The sunken cannibalized ship had been missing several components, all thankfully been documented, so replacing them was less difficult than it should have been. Despite the long period underwater, she looked better than new. And the old corroded gas turbines had been replaced by new more efficient ones that were far better than the worn and obsolete cold war units that had graced the ships engine room. Still, at the end of the day, one could not deny that one fact. She was ready to set sail! The vodka flowed. And there was much rejoicing.
Harry was yet again carefully adjusting his seals when it came again, that peculiar feeling of a clone dying in that manner, meeting the eyes of a very unique giant snake. He hated that he couldn't do anything about it yet and that he didn't know exactly where its lair was. His clones had been dying more frequently. That snake had seemingly adapted quickly to his clones spying and seemed to relish taking them out first. So far most clones had died by eye contact. Two had been bitten in two and dispersed. That snake had the teeth of a constrictor, save for two large fangs that were dripping venom. The thing had monstrous strength, incredible speed and could apparently dispel clones by looking into their eyes. It could also presumably petrify cats. And if the ghost in that bathroom was to be believed, it had killed a student fifty years ago. This was not one of his usual opponents.
Without an idea as to what exactly he had to deal with, he decided to do nothing. He simply had too much to do. V had kept up a regular correspondence full of little allusions that were the actual gist of what he had done. So phrasing like checking up on his cousin's boat, collecting from the Columbian pharmacist, and shopping for a bigger boat would seem innocuous, but were full of meaning to him, and Aurora too if her giggles were any indication. He was beginning to dread going home for Christmas. On the other hand, he didn't want to be here with that snake if the shit hit the fan.
In an ironic twist of fate, the forbidden forest was now technically safer for him than the castle. It was a case of the devil you know, because the snake was a devil he didn't. And the spiders were always fun to kill. His puppet Sasori was especially useful here. The only hiccup was that his swords were actually beginning to show signs of wear, meaning that the seals he had used on them weren't as good as he had originally thought. But he had improved their design significantly for the ship's hull and so could use the lessons learnt for his next swords. His work never ended it seemed.
The submarine rose gracefully out of the water, the near black hull invisible in the choppy waters that foretold the coming of a North Sea gale. Even as she settled onto the water surface, the rough seas calmed around her, forming an island of calm amidst a sea that was slowly growing rougher.
The vessel was easily identified as a Russian design, Project 877, better known as the Kilo class to the western world. "Experts" would tell you that it was a diesel electric submarine which held a crew of more than fifty men, that it was capable of independent operations for a month and a half, that it had an operational depth of about 250 meters. And they would have been right, except for one small detail.
This was no ordinary submarine. It was a kilo class submarine only in external shape. Internally, it was a whole lot different. For one thing, it had never touched diesel fuel or batteries. It held no torpedoes or missiles. It did not have limits like 45 days. And it was manned by a mere twenty men. This was the Tsunami, Hakumei I-boat. It was a chunk of metal that could travel to the deepest depths and soar to the highest heights. But today it was doing neither of these things. It just floated on the surface. That was because, everything important was happening inside. In a dull lit control room, faces stared at screens calmly.
"Set the scanners to seabed penetrating operations. Recalibrate all instruments for current ocean parameters. Compensate for endemic ecological noise."
"Yes captain! Equipment is set. Error is plus or minus 0.05 percent!"
"Transmit the first report to Kyoto."
A minute later, a beep sounded in the silence.
"We have confirmation! Message is received Sir!"
"Excellent! Dive to fifty meters and begin sweeping, the entire channel if we have to! I want every single piece of the Spirit Shadow recovered. It's time to find exactly how that ship was destroyed!"
And just as silently as it rose, the submarine descended into the murky depths.
Albus Dumbledore looked over his office with a grimace.
He had done it. Fudge was finally free of his bout of insanity. And it had only taken a year. His ridiculous laws may not have had the touch of the experienced politician that was Lucius Malfoy, but it was certainly a product of some mind seeking to profit from the minister's paranoia and irrationality. He suspected that the minister was under some subtle spell, or maybe the dementors stationed in the ministry as "Security" had escalated that man's fears beyond simple reason. Whatever the case, he had finally settled down. So Albus was finally free to finally return to his real objectives, in other words, ensuring the permanent demise of Tom Riddle. It was not a pretty picture.
Tom was somewhere in the world, plotting and scheming his way back to corporeal form, at which point it would take a mighty effort to return to a semblance of peace. He really was too old for this sort of trouble.
As for the other end of the problem, he had no idea what to do about Harry, or rather he did not till now. His distractions had been costly. He had been forced to choose between resolving the sudden outbreak of barely hidden hostility between practically everyone, and the fulfillment of prophesy which would take at least a couple of years. So he had put off thinking about it, but now he could ignore it no longer.
The opening of the chamber of secrets was an ominous portend. Nobody was petrified yet, in some bizarre display of good luck, yet the castle was uneasy, and the cat was a very damning piece of evidence. Last year, Tom had been content to stick to his goals, letting the children alone as he chased the elusive stone. But now, it seemed that he was willing to attack the inhabitants of the school itself, and that could not be allowed to continue. However, this was still a very vexing problem. How did the wraith manage to do this? Who did he possess this time? And why was he back in the school at all? There was nothing special this year that warranted the attention of the self obsessed wizard. Yet here he was. And wreaking havoc by the looks of it. It only meant one thing. That prophesy, made by Trelawney was coming to pass. It may not be tomorrow or a year from now, but the events that were foretold by forces beyond his comprehension were coming to pass. So he had to be ready to do his part to secure the future of his world, a world of peace and love, one that would hopefully avoid the formation of full-fledged dark lords. Twice within a century was really unfortunate.
He examined his options. What he wanted, was a handle, a method in which he could insert himself into the life of the boy. From there, he could work at modifying their relationship until the eventual goals were met. And while it sounded and in practice was cold hearted, he did care for the boy and wished him a better life, but unfortunately, his wishes and the reality he could achieve were entirely different things. He gathered his thoughts, compiling the knowledge that he had at some point or the other made a note of as "later".
The boy was in Ravenclaw, a consummate researcher who spent a lot of time at the library. He was clever, a bit eccentric and spent time around the only person the Hogwarts grapevine outright called crazy. He had yet to do anything particularly brave, had yet to get a detention and was a source of frustrated pride for more than one teacher.
Minerva considered him to be a boy with a "slightly different mentality". Apparently, he was morbid and seemed to be unusually fascinated with sharp objects and living things. That beetle to button transfiguration that produced a miniature metal saw blade was proof enough.
Filius bragged about the boy. He had a good head for charms, but did not seem too interested in the subject. His spells tended to have volatile tendencies if he was absent minded, as he was prone to being. As a Ravenclaw, his grades were good, and he had not lost any points, even if he seemed unconcerned about gaining them.
Pomona was not much help. Harry was not a large concern for her, so she did not pay too much attention. Aurora was worse.
Severus was the mystery. One class with the boy and he had done a complete turnaround. He seemed almost afraid of the boy, having abandoned his vitriol for a certain unusual blankness whenever the name Potter was mentioned. The way he acted, one would think the boy's name was his personal dementor.
So considering this, how should he proceed? Past, present or future? His past was obviously his life before the night his parents were killed. The present was his education and anything else within the school. The future was the goals he was aiming to achieve. His thoughts turned to the invisibility cloak hidden away in his desk. Yes, that was a good start. The martyred parents seemed like a good place to start when approaching the orphan, if carefully handled. Christmas seemed like the ideal time to make inroads.
A/N: another chapter done. This one was written in the midst of my frustrated rewrites of my tth fic, so it may seem a bit more spy movie style than usual. But it provided me an excellent way to do a lot of explaining for stuff I ought to have before they are used. It always makes me a bit annoyed when people think of things that should have been added in a previous chapter and they suddenly insert "Oh, and X character did Y N chapters before so that's how X can do Z" into their latest chapter, so even at the cost of making the flow seem awkward and leaping further from the core of the story than ever before, I find myself compelled to add tidbits like this. That said, back to the main note.
Draco has the diary. He's using it much the same as GW did in cannon, but the lesser fixation of this Draco on Harry will have effects, maybe. The butler is running around doing oc things for an ooc boss, a lot of descriptions just mainly to test myself in this arena. And Granger is still gone, but her presence lingers in those she has touched. That's what I wanted to convey, bluntly at times. The large parts of seemingly useless text about Russia this ship that are as I said not relevant directly, but have minor effects, butterfly effect and all, and also shows a bit more of the world that everyone is living in.
GW, LL and HG are now in Ravenclaw. Convoluted for one of them, but it made sense in my head, not too sure about everyone else.
And yes, there's a reason I've dumped a bigger ship on harry for seemingly no particular reason. Though you'll see why a lot later, at which point I'll point back here when somebody asks questions.
Dumbledore finally gets his game in gear. The déjà vu of the chamber of secrets has returned him back to the over manipulative do gooder of sorts that canon dumbles is mostly portrayed as. Which means we will be seeing them dancing around each other soon. Not much on the original china that indirectly effects stuff. The sub will be around for a while, and we'll soon be seeing how harry interacts with all those strange ocs that I've been sprinkling everywhere.
Third year is how I'm significantly diverging from canon. Fair warning. Its also the point where I'm going to decide on whether I'm going to stick with adding stargate to the list of crossovers. In case you haven't gotten the hint yet, the "immortal emperor" = magically trapped parasitic stargate alien. That should clue you in to what my original purpose was there. I'm mentioning this because I have written so much in a ninja mindset that I'd almost forgotten the SG part I had planned for. If the response is positive, I'd like to brush up on the SG universe so as to apply it to the fic. If not, I'd continue with the same twisted web of half truths and biased perspectives that this universe is currently operating by. Focus will still be on harry as always.
That's it for now on Womgi TV. Stay tuned and as always, review, pm and however you wish to communicate with me. If you have questions, ask and I'll try my best to answer them. Not sure if I can respond to every comment though. Life's a real pain in the ass.
See ya! And REVIEW! Much appreciated.