Disclaimer: Don't own Naruto or Harry Potter.
A/N: Finally, but not that great. For reasons, look to the end….after reading this. I was never really happy with this, but seeing the reviews and the pms have prompted this.
The Christmas holidays were a very somber affair. Exactly one student had managed to get petrified after that first incident with the cat, a Gryffindor first year who had been wandering around after hours, apparently taking pictures of all things. Which may have been why the otherwise subdued Hogwarts students were extremely eager to leave the castle in their exodus. With the first human casualty, the sense of urgency was increased and the students began to crave the safety they associated with the outside. Harry suspected that a small number would not be coming back after the holidays.
Very few stayed, but practically none of the muggleborn was included in that group. Their fear of the unknown monster had driven them out of the castle. Whatever the intent of the heir, they had managed to whip up the castle into a fearful mob. Actually, even Harry was glad to be out of the place. Even he had a limit to the number of clones that could be allowed to be massacred.
The train ride was consequently unusually quiet. With everyone on edge, no one was prepared to set off their usual tiffs. Slytherins and Gryffindors stayed separate, not willing to chance the vicious combat that would occur if anybody sparked anything. The way things were, many kept one hand on a wand for their own security, and more to the point avoided picking a fight.
This meant that Harry was able to pleasantly meditate the journey away. The clones he was using to patrol the immediate area were quite pleased that there were no problems at all. With even Aurora being absent, he had no problems admitting that this was a pleasant journey indeed.
At Kings Cross, he was accosted immediately by his servant, who whispered into his ear excitedly. He gave a resigned nod and walked outside to a waiting taxi. It seemed that his servant was still stuck in his mission mode and was comfortable in moving large sums of money to get what he wanted. Well, he did want a capable employee...
It was not long after that the two were walking around Heathrow Airport. Since two weeks was entirely too short a time, they really had no time to waste. So V had taken the trouble of acquiring air based transportation. In fact, he had decided that having a private jet in their employ was an entirely excellent idea.
Harry was a few hundred feet from the plane when he finally realized exactly which one was the butler was guiding him towards. He turned towards his stoic associate and raised an eyebrow.
He motioned at the plane with his both his hands.
"Couldn't you get something….smaller? Maybe a Gulfstream or a Learjet?"
"Nyet! This one is more useful….."
And it did indeed look more useful than the average business jet. The mostly light grey Ilyushin Il-76 was not what one could call a luxury aircraft. It was a transport, a Russian mainstay that was not exactly what many would call sexy and beautiful. On the other hand….
"…..It carries fifty tons over four thousand kilometers."
Harry smirked. Yes, that did sound a good deal more useful.
The crew was unsurprisingly enough, Russian, an Air Force crew who had left the military for the more lucrative private sector. Before this, they had been doing civilian airlifts out of Ukraine. Harry did wonder why all his latest stuff was ex Russian. It wasn't like he liked that country more than any other. Still, there was something to be said about having a cheap source of equipment. Where else would he get an armed warship?
Despite the rough look of the craft, it was not uncomfortable. The noise was not excessive and the glass nose provided quite the view for his above human norm eyesight. From what V said, it was because this particular aircraft (an Il-76TD to be exact) had just switched engines from Soloviev D-30 to the brand new Aviadvigatel PS-90, which began production and sales earlier that year. V was very conscious about the extra few tons those engines could carry, and extremely insistent on mentioning the upgrades. He chatted with the crew in halting Russian, but they were seemingly intimidated by the person who apparently had authority over somebody like V. so it was a relatively boring flight. Halfway through, he changed into his new armor set so that he would be able to retain his anonymity in Russia proper.
Harry's brand new bulletproof (finally!) armor was not exactly similar to the old one. He had changed his torso armor to a vest now holding much similarity to a Konoha flak jacket. His helmet had undergone the greatest change. Of course, that was mostly because it was the most visible part of his costume. His scout trooper helmet with visor and mouthpiece had been replaced by an odd looking curved creation that rose over his head into a rounded shell. His ears were surrounded by raised sections, their acoustics enabled such that he could hear everything as if his ears were bare to the world. His face was now represented by a mostly flat section amidst which were set thin red colored lenses that represented his eyes. The angry looking geometry gave him a menacing air even when the lenses weren't shining with an unholy light. Or it would have, if the lenses weren't muted by default, and his carefully designed helmet wasn't covered in his camo pattern.
With the addition of his three shade camouflage pattern, he had finally managed to avoid looking like a crazy cosplayer. He didn't realize that he had managed to fashion a credible recreation of an elder warlock helmet. He could be forgiven, considering that he hadn't the foggiest idea about the new tabletop game called Warhammer 40k and its far in the future computer game brethren. The room of requirement had finally churned out its first solid product under his care. Over the odd looking plate setup, he wore a custom made Akatsuki style cloak, red and black, high collars, zipper and all, not to mention his own oersonal touch of inset plates to offer a bit of extra protection. Even without the helmet, he looked odd. Not that the flight crew would see him in this attire. After all, he had to make some visits personally and needed the anonymity of dressing quite differently.
It was a long flight, but eventually, they reached their destination, a battered looking runway that looked far too insignificant for an aircraft their size to use. Harry would not have been surprised if they had used the place to operate bombers in the last world war. The crew though, was extremely comfortable in their work, landing it with no problem whatsoever. After that, it was a fifteen minute journey in a small ugly looking car that Harry was quite irritated with. Still, the destination was worth it, and it took barely ten minutes after their first checkpoint to reach the dock which housed the refurbished ship.
They spent the next hour carefully examining the ship and in V's case, scanning it magically before deciding to go ahead with their main purpose.
"This is the chief engineer for the project, Dimitry Kavochkin."
Harry looked at the frail, balding sixty year old man who was inhaling a cigarette with every breath. The man looked very happy to be here. He was grinning widely and he was enthusiastically shaking V's hand.
"Excellent! Excellent! I cannot tell you how thankful I am for the opportunity to work on this ship! It was amazing to be able to work on a project where I managed to finish ahead of schedule! No red tape! No delays! Nothing! It was excellent!"
V managed to calm the man and began to quietly talk with the man. The man quickly gathered up the few men who remained to head for the local watering hole. The ship was at the moment waiting its removal from dry dock, so its yard was currently empty. Its military past meant that the yard it was in was roofed, to prevent being photographed by spy satellites, even if every intelligence agency in the world had an idea of what this ship was and even how many toilets it had. So completely isolating the yard from everyone was not as difficult as it could have been. A few quick wards and the area was secured. V sat down in a chair to see the seal work.
Harry moved quickly, assisted by a few dozen clones, quickly crawling around the hull and gluing a number of large tarps at particular places on the hull. Once the outer hull and superstructure was suitably prepared, a large barrel of ink was unsealed and the clones went to work painting the hull with the brushes, linking the tarps and the symbols on them with lines and curves. The new additions were actually quite invisible on the hull, the dull black Russian paint making it all but impossible to see the ink. Only the tan tarps were visible, giving the Slavny the appearance of a patchwork quilt. It took them half an hour before they were satisfied with all the seals. The upper hull especially required some adjustments considering the new electronics suite, which was a minor adjustment considering that they were just upgrades to the old systems, and were quite similar in structure. So it was comfortably close to the scale drawings that Boris had provided. A set of seals were drawn directly into the new bridge, giving the occupants control of the extensive seals array. Thankfully, the refurbishing included a lot of new electronics that replaced the extensive series of buttons. A former chart table was now a dedicated seal control board, to manipulate the end product of the sealing exercise.
This was sealing array 12, the latest successful product, intended to submerge the hull in chakra, giving it a foundation that later, yet to be developed arrays would use to manipulate the hull and its surroundings. At least, that was the plane. He had no idea if the array would actually work on this scale, and this was as much an experiment as it was the culmination of his research.
The next part was the more important one. Harry pushed the chakra from thirty two shadow clones strategically placed around the ship, sucking them till they popped and "priming" the seals, much like one would a water pump. The seals began to glow a dull blue, the tribal looking patterns turning the just black vessel into an unearthly specter. Once that happened, he began to pump his chakra into the central "node" he had drawn up in the bridge. This took an hour before the seals around the ship glowed brightly once before seemingly disappearing. The tarps were quickly removed from the hull and rolled up. Their purpose had been completed.
"V, call that engineer and tell him to prepare to get the ship into the water tomorrow. We will be sailing it back to Britain for the rest of the modifications."
V left to do just that. He had to shake his head though. All those seals and it hadn't even reached the halfway mark. Because all this complicated work was just the preliminary work to get the ship damage proof and undetectable. He had yet to apply any seals related to propulsion or reducing wear and corrosion. Of the applied array, one important set wasn't a seal at all. Norse runes scattered through the hull were perfectly positioned to create a notice-me-not ward. That particular set up was connected to the bridge in a set of controls labeled "SEP Field". To the detriment of his ego, Harry was not the one to come up with it. It had been part of the books Aurora had forced him to devour, and had been specifically requested by her, seeing as it was "her" ship with Granger not being around. Harry's real ship would come later, what with it being slightly modified in another location to remove everything the Russian navy was bothered to take from the ship. As she said, this was practice.
The next day, Harry woke up from his sleep and left the hotel at eight in the morning. It was not exactly a luxury suite, but it was arguably better than some places he had slept in. He got to the yard in the same ugly car he had yesterday. It was arguably not the worst day of his life.
V had arrived to the yard earlier with a shabby looking group of sailors that had been hired during his last sojourn to these parts. While the standard operating crew of this vessel was more than three hundred, considering that all of the armament and most of the electronics were not going to be used, V had deduced that he would be sailing the ship home with thirty men. Of course, the high levels of automation that had been introduced contributed to it, but it was still an impressively short number of people for a ship of that type. Of course, watching the former navy sailors operate the ship would provide an excellent idea on "how to sail a 20th century Russian warship", something he did not doubt would be useful on the Sovremenny once he took charge of that boat. Harry would of course be onboard to ensure that there were no problems.
Of course, all good things must come to an end. Before Harry could plan out his course and his charts, he found that he and his butler were not alone. Standing beside them, having appeared from thin air, was a very much unexpected sight. Aurora was back.
"Thank you for taking care of the ship! Mistress will be glad!"
Harry and V glanced at each other.
"So our end of the transaction is done?"
Harry's slow and measured words were bracing himself for whatever happened next. And something was assured to happen.
The girl, who was wearing a large and much looser version of her Hogwarts uniform nodded cheerfully.
"Yep! It's bloody brilliant how you've managed to get it done till now, but I'm afraid that I'm taking it off your hands! I need it now you see. You can play with your other boat next time. For now, your efforts are appreciated. Bye now!"
She left as abruptly she arrived, there one moment, gone the next. Harry clenched his fist. The armored glove creaking as the fabric stretched.
"She is toying with me."
V nodded somberly. In the space of less than a minute, the girl had managed to render what amounted to a few months of his work useless. And couldn't she have waited for him to finish his tests? It was amazing how irritated that girl made him feel.
"She has taken far more of HER characteristics than I had believed previously. That girl….is dangerous."
The two stared into the dock, where of a black Russian ship, only air remained. The wooden sign, pointing to "Ye ol' sack'o gold" was not amusing in the least. Neither was the sign behind it, revealed by the first one tumbling over saying "I'll get you another ship…honest!"
The Il-76 left the area soon enough. With no point in remaining, they had left to go back to London. They did not leave empty handed though. The military minded V had arranged for a a certain amount of surplus ammunition for the weapons already at home to be loaded onto the aircraft, which was surreptitiously sealed away. Also making the trip was a replica of a WWII Yak 9 fighter aircraft, manufactured earlier this year by Yakovlev, to be shipped to Britain. This was a working model that was going to be used for the private airfield that was being constructed over the past few months as V was gallivanting around the world. Apparently, he was quite fond of the idea of having a private airfield and was preparing the very expensive airfield in the large tract of land surrounding the mansion. The fact that the hectares of land surrounding the area easily accommodated the 1500m runway was a very useful fact. The goblins were fans of excess. Of course, since even rich people can't summon up tarmac out of thin air, this time, they were headed back to Heathrow, where the Il-76 could disgorge the replica and return to Ukraine for a few more jobs. Harry did not disapprove. He had by now found the idea of having a stockpile of all sorts of ammunition amusing. And, as V was fond of pointing out, he did need something to do after Hogwarts.
In any case, Harry's return to Britain was consequently anti climatic and did not have much importance in the overall scheme of things.
There were times when the Black Lake of Hogwarts was an impressive sight. On cloudless nights, the unhindered starlight gave rise to a truly magnificent spectacle as it was reflected off the still waters of the lake, a different sort of magic that has ensnared many an astronomy student from their observation of the stars. However, December was far from cloudless. And in the early and lightless morning, there was no illumination for those seeking such.
Into this dull darkness of the lake a most unusual shape shimmered into existence. Aurora could feel the ambient magic thrumming as it bent to her will. She may not be as strong as her mistress, but she was capable of minor miracles given sufficient preparation and rest. In that vein, the former warship slowly drifted to a stop with a jerk. Atop a decidedly Russian radar tower, the young looking girl raised her arms as if in supplication, as she looked towards the castle. And then, with a mighty and completely unnecessary breath, she slammed glowing hands onto the metal beneath her.
The intricate patterns that Harry Potter had painstakingly planted upon the ship glowed a bright blue before shifting and rearranging itself. Japanese characters melted into squiggles and began to shift and warp in a chaotic display. And then, less than a minute later, the patterns settled into a peculiar pattern of curves and sharp corners, that was interspersed with a strange script that looked like it might as well have been klingon for all anyone could have understood it. This turned red and then disappeared. Aurora collapsed, exhausted. She fell from her perch tumbling the small distance that ought have ended her before slamming into the bridge superstructure. She did not get up. But the ship itself rose from the water and began to sail on thin air. It also began to conveniently disappear.
At the shore of the lake, Albus Dumbledore stood tall but wary, cautious of whatever disturbed him out of the castle at this hour. Something had just happened. But Merlin knew what. The list of unexplained and ominous occurrences grew longer with his every breath. Not one spell of his had explained the events of the here and now. It was not a good sign. Things were moving forward, but he could not say anything else. It was disturbing.
"Master, please take a look at this."
Harry looked at the papers he had just been handed like it was a poisonous snake. He looked at the butler with a very pointed look, which included twitching eyebrows.
"It's the paperwork of Akatsuki. The goblins were very accommodating on learning that my master was expanding into organized profit."
And yes, that was what the goblins called business. Harry read the whole thing quickly, his mind working furiously to process the information his eyes flew over. Even without a sharingan, he was still a damn fine ninja. One final look and he signed the required areas Alexander Grey. Apparently, he was beginning his foray into business by renaming a bankrupt textile concern, a minor company with no real importance. Of course, other acquisitions were about to follow, but that was something for the butler to manage. And while it was infinitely more complicated than can be represented in a couple of sentences, Harry Potter had just stepped into legitimate commerce.
"Very well. Send me the paperwork once it's done. I'll be going out soon."
The butler nodded and left, leaving a thoughtful Harry to sip his tea. He sighed and got up. There was always the outside of the house. V had his orders. And once they were finished, he could coordinate with the clones for his calibration experiments.
Harry walked in his combat ensemble, with a genjutsu on top to ensure he blended in. He was simply wandering the city. It took a bit to get to the city by regular methods, especially considering the traffic, so he just ran in a wind assisted geometrically straight line straight into the city. Not only was it a great workout, but it also made for a far shorter trip than even his XJS could manage. And with the helmet off, it was a great feeling to feel the wind in his hair. Of course, he didn't do that very often. The chances of running into people were too high to risk it, genjutsu or not.
His enjoyment was suddenly cut short as he barreled straight into a wall. His helmet saved him from the pain of crushing his nose between his head and the wall, a most unpleasant feeling, never mind the healing (especially the fragile cartilage) that followed. Apparently, there was something invisible in the country side. A quick knock told him this was wood. He moved ten feet to the left and knocked again. A dull thud resounded. His eyebrows rose. It was quite frankly, a big piece of wood.
A snap decision later, he was walking up the wall. He was about thirty feet in the air when his steps went horizontal. Simply moving over the extremely tall wall had dispelled the invisibility of the structure. And he was shocked.
Exactly what was an odd yet definitely eastern looking Pagoda of all things doing in the middle of England? And why was it invisible?
He didn't have to wait long when he was confronted by the sight of a person he really didn't want to see. In front of him, on a small wooden boat that was floating in the air was Cho Chang.
"Hello Skywalker! What a pleasant surprise! What the fuck are you doing here?!"
Harry scratched his helmet. This scenario seemed to be vaguely familiar to him. It was not that the action served to do anything, but it did give him the momentary ability to examine his surroundings while everyone else looked at his head scratching.
"You know, for once, I was actually minding my own business when I smashed into a wall at a running pace."
Chang's eyebrow twitched before a ghastly looking mask seemed to be creeping up her neck from her already intimidating looking blue robes. Although to be fair, creepy was a far better adjective at this stage of the situation. A steadily increasing whine kept the two focused on the other each waiting for the instant in which to make a move. If they knew what it was, they would have been more concerned with moving out of the way.
Their little altercation in the making promptly dissolved when the pagoda which was about two hundred meters away from the wall blew up in spectacular fashion. It was something to be said about magic when you walled off a section of English countryside and nobody noticed.
The split second of their interruption was something Harry reflexively examined and concluded was not in his best interest to stick around for. His limited magic sensing was overwhelmed by the energy that pagoda had just released. And the blast wave had yet to reach anywhere near them. He stepped back and dropped off the wall, shooting down as wind pushed upwards. His hands blurred into seals. As he reached into the ground, he melted into it without a pause, exercising his lesser earth affinity with urgent ease. The whole effect was as if he had taken a dive into a pool of water.
Chang was nowhere near as lucky and was promptly blown away. She was however wearing her battle robes, minimizing the damage to lots and lots of bruises and broken bones. That is, after she landed a little while later, completely wrecking her boat.
Harry's head popped up about 24 seconds after dropping into the ground. The devastation was surprisingly light, apparently most of the explosion having been magical than physical. But Chang was nowhere to be seen.
He rose up and dusted off his armor, the green ensemble now almost a dark brown from his little trip. He had yet to master subconsciously isolating his clothes from the dirt around him. He quickly disappeared when pops announced the presence of freshly arrived aurors. He did create a squad of clones to wait around for discrete investigation.
The RAF Station Commander looked at the Browning pistol in his hand with a mirthless smile. Just minutes ago, he had finally received word that an entire flight of Tornado Bombers had disappeared from the air in the skies near London. The planes were supposedly flying a new target exercise as a drill, a quick response to a vaguely unrealistic scenario involving dozens of hostiles and a former Russian electro magnetic pulse weapon in a mildly armored bunker. He didn't know what had happened but there was no denying it. The exercise was a sham. Frankly, it was surreal just how easily everyone went along with it. For one thing, it appeared that there was an actual enemy at the location, and it seemed that someone had developed targeting data for the area, somebody from above. The aircraft had done exactly what they were supposed to. Flying a standard hi-lo-hi mission, they had swung in at attack altitude and at less than a mile from the coordinates of their target, they had collectively disappeared from screens. A spy satellite had confirmed an explosion of massive proportions. For whatever reason, the aircraft had crashed with full loads. With the amount of fuel and the bombs they had carried, it would be difficult to identify whatever metal remained.
And now, eight men were dead. Four tornado bombers had been destroyed and whatever had been there, the collective ordnance aboard the aircraft would have atomized it. He sighed and put the pistol down on his desk. Suicide wasn't the answer. Men had died, and it was his job to face the consequences of this disaster. He just wished the world would start to make sense. He shot a longing look back at the pistol before turning back to the paperwork. He paused again. A quick motion and the gun was safe and emptied. Best not to leave a temptation.
Draco Malfoy was much smugger than he ought to have been. Tom may not have been the most impressive of tools for an enchanted book, but there was no denying that it was a brilliant strategist. Not only was Tom a decent tutor in the dark arts, but Draco was now positive he had at least some skills that every "properly privileged" purebloods ought to know, namely the killing curse, the obliviate and the imperius. All were will power induced tools, driven by a desire to kill and a desire to control. The cruciatus was an entirely different kettle of fish that the book would not teach him. Apparently, using that spell (or being under it) from a young age was not exactly helpful with regards to keeping sane. That was all right though. He didn't care much for torture anyway. He didn't need to see the ninja his father was associating with suffer. He just needed them out of the way, preferably permanently. After all, this was why he had decided to imperius that girl Chang when she was asleep into giving up the location of her home. A very harrowing time of interrogating many muggles later, he had found the best way of implicating the ninja of destroying a Chinese outpost. And though Tom had been out of touch with the world for a long time, a bit of veritaserum, imperius and properly worded questions did wonders to quickly find solutions to his problems. He would have to make a note that apparently these latest muggle "moonishuns" could go through even powerful Chinese wards. When the Purebloods took their proper place, it wouldn't do to have muggles accidentally destroy everything with a careless "moonishun".
Inside his head, Tom was also plotting. Things were going well. The fact that he was leeching off a pureblood meant that he was less inclined to jump start the resurrection process. He had to just whisper and the weak minded fool would hasten to obey. It was not glamorous, but then, he didn't expect things to be great when the diary was able to act on its own. A Lord Voldemort at the height of his powers automatically suppressed the ability of his horcruxes to act independently. Simply the fact that he was active was evidence that the worst case scenario had happened. And conversing with his "host" had confirmed the fact. Lord Voldemort, he-with-many-hyphenated-names was dead, or at the very least vanquished (an odd choice ofword to roll off his metaphysical tongue to be sure). He had been struck by a reflected killing curse of all things by the "boy-who-lived". Although, he really wanted to know how anyone got that set of events from what was left.
Monitoring wards? Preposterous! Tom Riddle had an unending hatred for being controlled. Being monitored was easily a part of that. Voldemort would have dispelled those with the rest of the local wards before entering the house. Not even sending a message would have warranted that, since such wards did not record, and a fidelius made a transmitting ward impossible. The most possible ward present at the time was something that would transmit if the fidelius itself had been dispelled, possibly from the house getting partly destroyed, which had happened.
Of course, he wasn't tempted to obsess over the Potter boy either. His earliest thoughts from the enchantment, the sparks that gave life to the horcrux were a list of goals that had namely centered around the ninja. The enchantment that guided his resurrection forced him to follow the lead of the host, not only to avoid suspicious variations in behavior, but also to give the host the belief that they were similar minded, something that helped subdue any reaction by the hosts magic.
In any case, this latest adventure of his was very enlightening. Muggles had advanced much more in the last fifty years. Weapons that could go through at least medium capacity defensive wards, as had been used by the odd looking building... No wonder Grindelwald had allied with those Nazi fools. Truly the man was a genius. He must have foreseen this, back then when those muggles were merely charging ahead in the race to destroy the world. If the muggles were this far ahead, it was always an option to commandeer some of their resources when the time came for him to crush his enemies. Muggles were tools, but ones he would be dealing with carefully.
But all that came later. He had to finish up the school year and use the basilisk properly. He wasn't very concerned about Hogwarts closing. When he was young, it would have been a disaster. Now, it would just be the stepping stone to Dumbledore's demise. It would just have to be done carefully. A slowly increasing set of petrifications would panic the students. Panicked students meant panicked families and a panicked public. So what if Dumbledore would suppress everything to maintain order. When everything spilled out, he would be demolished. And at the end of the year, he would kill the brat and take life, automatically absorbing his real self. Hogwarts would close. Dumbledore would be crucified in public. Lord Voldemort would ascend to power. And there was nothing anybody could do to stop it.
V didn't know exactly how his young employer would react to the news, but it wasn't something that could be helped.
"Master, we have a problem."
That was not something Harry wanted to hear. He had enough problems in this "holiday" that anything else would probably make his head explode. The fact that he was trying to make up all kinds of plans that would help him work around a giant snake was troublesome enough.
"What is it now?!"
"I have discovered a fundamental problem with your sealing array."
Harry looked at his butler/minion incredulously. That was a bit like a car mechanic walking up to Kelly Johnson and claiming that the SR 71 was a piece of junk. You just did not do that. So his next words were slow and ponderous.
"V, tell me you're joking."
The man looked grim and apologetic. He held up a foot square of sheet metal that had a variation of the energy sink array that was going to power his ship once he got it. Well that was the plan until this little hiccup came along. No matter, once the uneducated fellow's doubts were cleared, all would be back to normal.
"It doesn't absorb energy at the rate you want it to. The extra area seems to make the array less efficient, and the actual energy going into it seems to only a half more than what you would be getting from a six inch square seal."
Harry looked shocked. The calculations had been perfect! What had he missed? It was a science he had created from scratch. Where had he gone wrong?
"But that is still a lot of energy! I use much the same in my armor, and the energy does not seem insufficient…."
"It's the fact that you are using a ship, master. A ship has a lot more area and mass to consider. If the rate of energy absorption goes down in the same manner, we won't have enough for the stowed boats, never mind the ship. I regret to say that your original expectations may have been excessive."
The fellow looked quite sorry about it too. A clone popped, confirming the bombshell V had dropped. It seemed that in his usage of the chakra absorbing seals, he had forgotten something. His current extrapolation of the seal onto large surface arrays was based on the seal his armor used. Unfortunately, the armor had something that the ship didn't, namely an underlying chakra system. Apparently, his seal could produce results in the large scale only when it had a chakra system to support the seal absorbed chakra from the atmosphere. If this quality extended to his other seals as well, he could kiss his chakra enhanced ship goodbye. Why the hell hadn't he done quantity based testing anyway? Oh, that's right; Aurora had been distracting him constantly. Blast that girl! She must have known about it. But where the hell was he supposed to find something or someone that would help him get the blasted thing up to his specification?
"Master, it would seem that you will not be able to get it up to specification anytime soon."
Harry couldn't think properly. His brain was shedding thoughts like air from a punctured balloon. This was the first time that he had committed a fundamental mistake without being aware of it. It was as if all his work for the past few months had been utterly wasted. Was this the reason why that girl had taken the Slavny from right under his feet? What a ridiculously logical thought. His hands went to his head in a picture of despair. And then he rose with the spark of an idea.
"V, you said you had magical training, am I correct?"
The servant looked confused but nodded.
"Does that include absorbed enlargement and jikukan style magic?"
The first was a reference to an OWL level technique of passive magical enlargement. The principle was simple. If you had two blocks of steel, you could make one larger by letting the mass of one get absorbed into the other, giving you one block with the total mass of the ones you started with. It needed a certain degree of focus and determination, and was particularly notorious for having being nearly impossible to work it on anything possessing a hint of magical enchantment or charm on it. If you cast even a weight reduction on it, you couldn't make it larger this way. Of course, for hollow spaces, it required a greater degree of visualization and power to ensure the completion of the spell. The reason it was OWL level and not NEWT level or higher was that the creator of the spell, who wanted to build a self enlargening house made it as idiot proof as possible to avoid any catastrophic mess-ups. However, its safety margins (and power drain) were so large the spell was incapable of working with more than one material at a time and so was relegated to the realm of academic obscurity. It didn't help that it actually required a modicum of preparation, something that wizards seemed to be chronically allergic to. How they had ever advanced potions as much as they had was something of a miracle. The fact that the result wasn't really something you could easily reverse was also a consideration.
The latter was quite obvious. The use of space expanding charms was one of the more prominent things that wizards tended to lord over their "lowers" (muggles). The ability to turn a box into a mansion was a very impressive thing. They were wizards after all, and the ability or claim to be able to do this (at least by proxy) was one of the ways that wizards said, muggles can't catch up to us, no matter what electa-kitty and tekno-foggy they used.
It was one of the things that people somehow refused to see. The magical world operated on the principle of reality manipulation in a rather broken manner. But, the problem was that they used only that. It was like someone had discovered how to make very strong glass, and then decided to make cities out of the stuff, never mind if it was useful or appropriate. Power tended to make people blind. No one was immune to this, because much like the chidori, using power gave you tunnel vision…and the behavioral tendency to solve all your problems by stabbing it.
"Now, this is going to seem crazy, but I want you to think carefully on this."
It was at this point that V did look at him like he was crazy, proving, once and for all that, even if the man was ready to die for him, it still wasn't enough to stop the butler's speculations about his sanity.
"I want you to bring the size of the ship up. The Sovremenny is right now at about 160m in length. I want you to get it up to 220 or 230, with everything else proportional to it."
V looked at him with outright disbelief.
"Master, I am no engineer, but even I can tell you that it does not exactly work that way."
Harry was on a roll though.
"See, it's a beautiful plan. I'll make a set of armor that'll pump magic into you. This will let you get the power needed to get the ship up to the dimensions I need."
"Kidnap a ship-builder if you have to; redesign the interior to fit regular size rooms. Then we'll use expansion charms once everything is done using the rune anchors that girl had mentioned."
V was beginning to wish he had not said anything. But like all good minions, he knew the ability to listen was a most vital skill. After all, that was what separated the line between minion and devoted servant. And right now, he was definitely a minion. He consoled himself with the knowledge that this was still better than whatever SHE would have cooked up. And well, it would make the ship bigger, which would be interesting.
"Yessss…I'll have me my floating fortress In the Antarctic and no overpowered girl is going to ruin my peace of mind! MUHAHAHA! …AHAHA-!"
It took another two hours before the somewhat unhinged Harry Potter was returned to his normal sanity and his clones were dispersed, all of them. V also managed to convince him that it would be entirely ridiculous to restructure a ship in that manner and that if they were going to be ridiculous, they might as well buy one of those mothballed Second World War era battleships or cruisers that, in defiance of all common sense, still existed. He later reflected that his life was getting more ridiculous by the minute. He blamed Granger. And the tendancy of all masterminds to unravel when things go wrong
For a holiday, things were very much busy for a lot of people. Unfortunately, the same could not be said of the valiant and determined ninja of Hakumei who were billeted in London like so many sheep. The pseudo war which had turned a lot of magical firepower into wasted offal had reduced their importance for the time being in the grand scheme of things to nearly nothing. It may have seemed odd, but the possible presence of a world ending disaster was nothing compared to the definite skirmishes that made up a minor war. At least as far as the logistics division was concerned.
However, not all members of this seemingly idle unit of trained killers were prepared to let things remain calm.
"Sendo, it's nearly time."
The two men in the storage room, surrounded by wards of a nature that would have baffled the wizards that walked the alley nearby, stood hidden by shadow. The man closer to the door, Sendo was an unusually ordinary twenty something male with a round face. His companion was a gaunt thirty year old They were members of the group that had escaped the Spirit Shadow on her last and ill fated voyage.
"I understand, Yuura. Have you picked a time and place?"
"Not yet. There is still the matter of making sure that Tetsuya's mission is not compromised."
Sendo shifted in place.
"Taka will take care of it. The dragon tears will keep the boy up past his limits. And Takeda has not slacked off yet."
"Do not forget that they are all men. Any of them can be killed at the most inopportune moment. It will not work if there is a sufficient mess to call for backup. The war is over, remember?"
The two men shared a grimace. The sub had been investigating the wreck of the ship but they were tight lipped about their findings. Not that they expected it to make a difference. The peace of the world demanded the status quo be maintained, and even if the Chinese ambassador were rape and kill in broad daylight the favored daughter of one of a minor noble, there would be no consequences to the Chinese. It was sickening. That was why they would act while their brothers could not. No peace would keep them from showing their true colors. It was long past time for the Chinese to learn the folly of their arrogance.
A man ran past the door, in a hurry too, by the footsteps.
"What is the matter?"
The next man through paused at the voice.
"Yuura! You're wanted in the main room. A Chinese Pagoda in the country was destroyed At least seventy dead. We don't know who or why but it wasn't one of ours."
And he was off without a pause.
"Kaji maybe? He is the one with the exploding fetish after all. He would not care about a silly thing like a war ending."
The other shook his head.
"Kaji never made it out of the Spirit Shadow. I checked the causality report."
The two men in the storeroom exchanged a glance. It looked like you didn't need an inopportune death to have your plans become derailed.
The ship moved slowly over the sandy terrain. Aurora woke up with a gasp. Enhanced magical creature or not, there were issues with large amounts of magic being expended within a short period of time. The ship was still not finished with its transformation, but that was okay.
The Slavny was a cold war era missile destroyer that was long past its heyday. As a water vessel, she was capable of incredible things for the time her class was introduced, and gave American naval personal that throbbing vein on the forehead. But today, that was not exactly very useful. She was outdated. Her components were fresh but useless. And worst of all, she stood out like a sore thumb.
But the Slavny was slowly changing. The pure chaos magic that now ran through her steel was not exactly something meant to preserve her as she was.
He first changes were already happening. The hull of the ship was slowly growing up, even as the bottom of the hull was slowly flattening. The very shape of the ship was changing into something that nobody in this world had even conceived of. Not for a few years at least. At frequent points, the ship dipped into the earth, absorbing mass that was useful to it. Aurora had direction, she had purpose, but most of all, she had her orders. And they were all pointed to this one thing.
It took hours for the changes to manifest themselves. Aurora wondered what Harry would have done if he knew that she didn't need this ship in particular at all. Sure, the mass of this ship was perfect for the amount of energy she could expend upon it, and the use of semi energized arrays meant that she could use less magic than planned, but really, any ship would have done. In fact she could have begun the process with a wrecked motorcycle and it would still have worked. It merely would have taken much, much longer, and Aurora needed to be on the ship as it changed.
The hull began to split first into four prongs before rearranging themselves further, bulging and contorting, while the rear began to sprout two growths sideways and then began to compact again. It was like a giant hand was squeezing lego blocks like modeling clay. It was growing less streamlined as time passed, impeding its formerly smooth progress. The silent behemoth continued its quiet progress, swallowing up the occasional pile of metal in its progress, shedding a trail of crushed organic matter and pure sand. But nobody would notice it, because there would never be sightseers here, in the midnight abyss of the North Sea. Even for something that would eventually be half a kilometer in length.
People returned from the holidays to much dread. In some ways, Harry was confused as to why they still returned to the school if there was an unknown monster capable of (at least) petrifying students. He hated this atmosphere. He had enough to worry about without the constant depression that hovered over the castle. Any more depression and he would not be surprised to find a whirling storm cloud literally floating over the castle.
He still stepped wearily. The depression was not unjustified of course and he was not yet reckless or powerful enough to ignore its cause. He had made no progress on destroying a basilisk. And with his holiday distractions, he was not sure he was going to bother.
It was crushing. He had power, but without knowing what to use it for, it was useless. And the magical world seemed to be so hidden and mysterious he might not have bothered to learn about its existence at all. Here were too many factions in the arena and there were too many people working towards too many goals for him to be comfortable with this state of things. Which was partly why he liked the idea of a large ship that he could use to disappear from the rest of the world. For now, he was content to let all this happen without too much of his participation. He had a feeling that when the time came, he would be swept along whether he wanted to or not. And it was not a positive feeling. It was an all encompassing certainty that he was going to be carried along by the raging torrents of fate, that he was merely a pawn in some greater game played by lesser men, who were nonetheless as much to him as he was to mortal men. And the sad fact of it all was that until he achieved something in terms of real intelligence upon the various factions, he might as well be working blind. And then there was Granger. She was enough to give him an aneurism all on her own.
Something was off of course. While he wasn't a fan of lovecraft or actually read any of his books, the concept of whatever she would probably fit right at home in his works. It was not a comforting thought by any means.
And the other thing was that ship that Aurora had swiped. Sure, he had bought the thing because she had prompted him. Sure he was not exactly a miser. Still, was there any reason she was practically stealing the thing from him?
He gripped his knives occasionally, letting their presence sooth his worries. He was a ninja and with a knife, he was anything and everything he could become. He let his worries drain away and moved from class to class, letting his professors infuse chaotic normality into his universe.
Tom riddle, currently blonde and pureblooded, looked around the chamber of secrets with a grin. No matter how many times he came back here, he could not avoid his near childish fascination with the place. It was his dream to find something of his own, a legacy of his past that proved that his lineage held more worth than his peers gleefully attributed. Even after he was resolved to bend the world to his whims, it could not change that here was where he was really born. Here was where the halfblood Tom Marvolo Riddle was cast aside and the Dark Lord Voldemort, Blood of Slytherin was born. At least that was what he firmly believed in.
He looked around at the damp and frankly wet confines of the main chamber, a rather nostalgic location for sure. It was ironic in a way. He had not intended to go this way originally, but there was no help for it now. Draco Malfoy was just too useful a patsy to eliminate altogether. And being as he was a teenage Tom Riddle and not a very much older Voldemort, he was very much interested in retaining the resources that being a Malfoy could bring, not the least was the sheer amount of gold that Lucius had accumulated. Consequently, he had shelved his initial plans to resurrect himself and had settled for assimilating the boy instead. The world would be fine without a Draco Malfoy in Draco Malfoy's body. Well, he would find a use for these delightful little assassins, once he had established himself of course. Maybe he should become an auror? Being the Dark Lord meant that he would not have any pesky little tattoos that would preclude his employment. A thought for later.
He hissed at the face of his ancestor, a simple release of air and then began jabbing the hawthorn wand of his host in the air, the prelude to a ritual that he never thought he would take. Unfortunate circumstances to be sure, but he was more Tom Riddle than Voldemort and the absorption of the Malfoy brats soul would negate any negative effects of having once been a horcrux. It was ironic, but in a way, the first piece of Voldemorts soul would now be entirely free.
Back in London, two former comrades, in the loosest terms were collaborating on the seemingly unnecessary task of purchasing obsolete naval vessels for the use of an odd man for unknown purposes that only the insane mind of Harry Potter could dream off. V himself could not comprehend what use a ninja had for a twentieth century naval vessel. He looked at the list and cringed, they were, quite frankly ships that needed to be scrapped.
It all lay in the simple fact that most ships afloat are obsolete. The reality of today was that having the biggest gun did not matter. It was having the most effective missile. In world war two, nearly a hundred men made possible a turret on a battleship that could fire a shell a dozen or two miles that may or may not hit a target. Today, an officer on a ship pressed a button and an automated system launched a missile that could destroy a specifically selected target from hundreds, even a thousand miles away. There was no help for it, but the big gun naval vessel was obsolete. At least in the muggle world.
On the other hand, if one considered that naval vessels rarely end up fighting the battles they were meant to fight in a war, exactly how obsolete were modern guided missile destroyers anyway?
Harry Potter had a dream. Well, he had a new dream once his dreams of making a chakra powered assassin like ship were completely ruined. He wanted to get a few ships for whatever purpose he had originally wanted, except he wanted a few more. It probably had something to do with how ninja usually didn't fight on the open ocean. So he turned to magic.
With the right pieces of magic, a muggle ship could be wizardified into something more. It was a technique that had originally been invented by the Dutch. The idea was to make a full size merchantman invisible. A ward to make it unplottable, a ward to make a ship slip through water easier and faster, a ward to make the hull seven times more durable to the ravages of the sea. And most of all, a ward to make the ship unnoticeable. However, these was far less useful in an age where you couldn't look at a screen, point out your exact location and destroy you from a hundred miles away. Not to mention the initial requirements included among other things, a dry dock capable of fitting the ship, a few liters of (at the time) expensive dye for the runes and of course, the greatest cost of all, a requirement that the captain bleed over the ships wheel to bond it.
The Dutch East India Company used exactly one ship in the ritual. However, the vessels first voyage ended when the crew decided that they were invincible and took up piracy. The Flying Dutchman spent two months in a grand (and fruitless) tour of the seven seas before they tried to take on a British Navy Third Rate Ship of the Line. The wards mean to prevent it from being plotted or noticed didn't do a good job when the Dutch captain himself was attracting notice by attacking. And a few broadsides reduced the repurposed merchantman to kindling. So the greatest advance in seagoing since tacking was quickly covered up and forgotten about, lest the few magically inclined eastward looking businessmen in the business lose everything to paranoid aurors.
However, it made for an extremely useful modification to a ship, especially with the additions that having a metal hull meant. All of this was in the future though. The extensive nature of this ritual mean that they would need to avoid missiles, and stick as much as possible with guns. Of course, crewing this was going to be a little more difficult, but that was what defence contractors and paramilitary organizations were for. Not to mention house elves.
Boris hesitantly pointed at a ship that was in the file, CA 134.
"This may be what you are looking for, but getting this out one will test even you,Tovarisch"
V grinned. "It will have to do"
At least until his commissioned battleship was completed. Who knew there were Goblin owned shipyards?
The year passed by without anything major happening. For all the excitement of the wizarding world, things were remarkably calm. There were no more petrifications. The students continued to scurry about in a paranoid manner. The teachers were wary yet relaxed. For once, disaster had come and gone without major upsets.
The petrified students were awoken to much fanfare. Everyone finally relaxed. Of course, that didn't mean things were slowing down.
Dumbledore was warily bouncing between ministry personnel, trying to keep things calm and Fudges paranoia down. He was harried and wearing down. But he could not and would not stop or falter. Far more worthy people than him were depending on him.
Draco Malfoy was settling into becoming Draco Malfoy, basking and analyzing emotions that he had not experienced in too long a while. There was a certain joy in taking joy, if that made sense. The basilisk was dead. It was a liability that could instantly be taken out of his control and while Tom Riddle was arrogantly reckless. Draco Malfoy was far more realistic and cautious. He had to be.
Cho Chang went from popular to insular, acting moody and depressed, lashing out at friends and enemies alike. Everyone she honestly cared for was dead, and she didn't care for much of anything else. And she searched her memory, trying to get through the skilled obliviation that no doubt held the answer to the one who did this.
Aurora floated in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, a puppet body left behind to maintain the charade that Hermione Granger still existed. She lay within a metal coffin, invisible yet enormous, giving many an aneurism to NATO submarine detection units. An untold amount of minerals and metal that had been lost at sea was reclaimed harshly, leaving behind pale white sand that nobody would see. Alternate universes provided a lot of ideas when one is willing to look.
V spent his few months of enforced separation from his master in a furious display of competence, hijacking a naval ship from the US Navy Reserve fleet and then successfully getting away with it. A plan involving a mock terrorist attack, a bribed computer hacker and lots of imperioused muggles had spirited away a multi billion dollar warship that would otherwise be destined for scrap. On the plus side, he had managed to hand over a few dozen cutthroats and sickening individuals to the Americans with a fantastic tale regarding treasure and a capsized ship. Considering that decommissioned ships that were being towed to be scrapped had an unfortunate tendency to sink, they were believed.
Harry behaved, if that was the word. He spent his time doing very little to push himself in class. He spent a long time in the library, reading quietly in the company of Luna Lovegood and Ginny Weasley, watching them warily for any sign of anything to make his life difficult. He read up on magical combat and basilisks. He also watched what his minion was doing, establishing Akatsuki as a defense contractor. He also wondered at the niggling feeling that he was trapped. His clones were working on fighting magic users, focusing on dodging, reaction to spells, use of wind chakra to simplify his main bag of tricks. But most of all, he tried to avoid thinking negatively about exactly how many unknown parties there were in the world who would eventually, or already want his head. Thus, Harry Potter was not a happy boy.
"Contact! Unidentified structure!"
The duty officer swung around the scope, looking at the miniature hologram that had a 3d topographical view of the sea bed in false color. Real Kilo class boats didn't have them of course. Sorcery had its perks. He nodded at the sonar technician.
"It is about half a kilometer in length, somewhat pointed looking and was not there last time we swept through the area. Suspicious"
"Agreed. Mark the location and launch a communication drone. It may yet be our SS class at work."
"Sir, Structure creation has been recorded previously, but not something to this size or geometrical exactness. I would hesitate to label it as such"
"I expect that they are changing with the times, as much as we are. A modern twist for a modern world."
"We will communicate what we do have with Headquarters. If it is the SS class, we may not be able to deliver it in person"
A new voice has intruded into the conversation. It was the captain of the boat and he had a fair bit of calmness to his words.
And then the submarine adjusted its course so that it would slowly circle the giant something on the ocean floor.
And that is it. It's been so long since I started this story that I can't remember why I started it. Or at least it seems that way. It's been over a year since my last chapter and I've hit the ultimate roadblock since then. I have lost any and all motivation to continue this. The last time I tried to read it again to remind myself of the plot, I was unable to get to the double digit chapters. The feeling of "Ugh! I wrote this?!" was too much. If you have noticed, my writing style and the focus of my story varies as I progress and its not something I would like to continue. I'll keep this loaded here, but I will personally not be writing any more of this. If I did, I'd have to write another 600k words just to justify all the extras and OCs. If any of you feel up to the challenge of continuing this or even rewriting this based on the premise, kudos to you. Send me a link and I'll glorify your courage at taking up the challenge on this story itself. The other HP crossover I had written, Mask of war was also something I want to continue, but I'm finding it difficult to put words to inspiration as it were, which is why the one story I want to write also languishes. My job is hell on my sleep and I have dropped what little social life I had. It's painful to say it, but I am stopping any writing with the intention of posting. I'll still be reading, and I'm finding that the creative writing board on Spacebattles is all kinds of awesome, but for now I'm done. Sorry guys, I'm just not up to it for now.