Title: Anthem of the Angels
Author: Shadow Rebirth
Warnings: Death, language, spoilers
Chapter WC: 5,069
Story WC: 17,786
First Written: February 13, 2010
Last Edited: June 28, 2010
Posted: June 28, 2010
Summary: Time has no meaning, not to the Planet. Time is a human conception, a human worry. But time is all Harry has left—and something he's running out of. /The Calamity has returned, they whisper. The Calamity will Break again./ AU, no pairings.
Anthem of the Angels
There was not much sun in Midgar.
That was one of the first lessons Harry learned. His room had an entire wall made up of floor to ceiling window panels. It gave him a fantastic view of the city and even a glimpse at the surrounding landscape. Anywhere else, the view offered would have been beautiful. In Midgar, it did little but remind him of just how different the city was from what he had known; Harry was used to lush trees, clear water, and sunny afternoons. Here it did not matter if he kept his curtains drawn all day because the lighting would be the same either way.
That being said, the suite itself was not bad. It was like a mini apartment, consisting of a joined living room and kitchen, a bedroom, and a bathroom. According to Reno, such suites were given to all Turks and military officials. The Shinra tower also acted as barracks and training grounds for the military, so even cadets roomed there, albeit in very different accommodations. Reno complained that the rooms were too small, but Harry did not mind. It was the first time he had had a "home" of his own, regardless of how far the definition of home had to be stretched to fit.
Reno really was a good source of information. Harry did not trust him in the slightest and knew that the redhead would betray him the moment he let up an inch, but that did not stop him from using him in the meantime. If worst came to worst, Harry could always Apparate out of Midgar and use a glamour to hide his appearance, so he really wasn't too concerned with getting caught. He had more important issues to focus on than the affairs of regular people.
Not long after tricking Reno into giving an oath of silence, Harry had interrogated Reno on everything related to Sephiroth. Unfortunately, Reno had not known much beyond what was apparently public knowledge and none of it was useful. Or at least, Harry could not see a connection to the Calamity in any of it. Reno had told him that there would be more information in Sephiroth's personal file, but said file was hidden under electronic lock and key in the Shinra database.
For the first time, Harry cursed his lack of computer knowledge. It did not help that Reno had point blank refused to hack into the system, regardless of the emotional blackmail Harry had pulled over him. That left Harry with few to no options, most of which involved hunting Sephiroth down and personally interrogating him.
Taking a deep breath, Harry forced himself to calm down and think rationally. He had the upper hand in this situation, despite his lack of knowledge. He could leave Shinra whenever he wanted and use spells whenever need be, since no one other than Reno was aware of his abilities. Of course, he would probably have to leave eventually, once Reno figured out a way around his oath and ratted Harry out. But that was a problem for the future, not the present.
For now, he had to figure out some way to get Sephiroth's file. He had already considered using Imperius on Reno or even Sephiroth himself, but he knew he could only use it on one person at a time and he still had the curse on Oliver. If he tried to use Imperius Curse now, his hold over the scientist would break and the older man would instantly raise alarm and bring attention onto Harry, forcing him to flee and making the entire situation a moot point.
"I need to find him," Harry muttered to himself. Find him and obliviate him, to be precise. Only then could he Imperio Reno and get the information he needed.
Of course, Harry could hardly just waltz into the science department and start casting spells. Not with all the video cameras that blanketed the rooms. He was sure there were several in his suite, although he had no idea where they were. No, he was going to have to be more subtle in his approach. Subtlety may never have ever been his strong point, but he was more than willing to try when the situation called for it.
A knock on the front door effectively broke Harry from his musing. He found Rude waiting on the other side, looking stoic as usual. Harry repressed the annoyance and anger that rose in him at the sight of the man, in favor of giving him a polite nod.
"Tseng wants me?"
The Voices burbled up for a moment with their usual nonsense—Waterseaprotectionhatred—before fading once more.
"Yes," Rude replied with a nod of his own. He offered no further explanation, simply turned and began to walk down the hall. Harry sighed, but quickly closed the door behind himself and followed. Like Rude, he was also wearing a black suit. The company gave him an entire closest of them, actually, and since all the Turks he had seen so far wore suits, he assumed they expected him to as well. Joy.
Tseng was sitting in his office waiting for them when they arrived. It seemed like a standard Muggle office to Harry, if one ignored the gun rack on one wall and the bulletproof vest hung up next to a coat. But overall Harry liked the office, truth be told. It was spacious, but with just enough furniture to give him both ample cover and firing room if a fight ensued.
"Welcome, Harry," Tseng said. "Please have a seat."
Tseng ignored the comment. "Before you can actually begin to work, we need to find out exactly what you can do."
Harry's eyes narrowed. "And how do you plan on going about that?"
"A simple exercise." He stood smoothly and made his way around his desk. "If you'll accompany me to one of the holographic rooms, I'll explain."
Once again, Harry had to struggle not to be surprised. In his time holograms had been little more than science fiction, even if they were plausible. But he supposed he should be too shocked of their existence, considering what technology he had seen thus far.
Tseng brought Harry down to a large room made entirely of metal, with what looked like circuits built into the walls themselves. The door to the room read Training Room F49. F49 for the floor number, Harry assumed.
"This is one of our holographic training rooms," Tseng explained. "We'll use this to test your skills in real-world scenarios."
The tall man then stepped up to the nearby wall and entered something into the keypad there. With a soft hiss of air, a section of the wall panel slid away to reveal a large selection of weapons mounted in the compartment.
"Please select the weapon you'd like to use."
Harry hesitantly stepped up to the wall. There was everything from swords to rifles to tasers there. But... He did not know how to use any weapons and knew that he would not be able to pass himself off as having any skills whatsoever. So instead of choosing something, he turned to Tseng.
"I can only use magic," Harry admitted. "I've never been trained in the use of weaponry."
Tseng frowned and gave him an odd look. "Then select a materia instead."
Right, of course, Harry thought, belatedly noticing the faintly glowing stones mounted below a broadsword. Materia. The force behind magic in this time. He reached out and picked up green one, trying to remember which ones Oliver had said were the offensive ones. As soon as his skin came in contact with the stone, the Voices rose up again. He could literally feel their energy—lifestream, was it?—pulsing in the stone. He struggled not to gasp and drop the stone from the unexpected reaction. He had never felt such a concentration of raw power before. It was like holding raw magic in his hand, unfocused, unbound, and so warm.
Honestly, it scared him. He had no idea what it would do, especially not with an actual wizard like him wielding it. He had a feeling that using materia was not such a good idea—at least not without testing it out privately first.
As Harry quickly cast around for something to stall with, he remembered a rather important issue that had been cast to the back of his mind while he struggled to come to terms with this new time period. "Glasses," he said, looking up at Tseng. At the man's blank stare, he continued, "I need glasses. I...lost mine, some time ago. I have made due for now, but if you are going to test me, it is only fair that I can fight at full capacity."
A speculative look came onto Tseng's face. "Fair enough," he agreed. "There's an optometrist two floors down. He can test your eyes and get you a new pair of glasses within an hour. Meet me back here once you are finished." He pulled from his pocket a slim object vaguely resembling a phone and pressed a button on it. The apparent phone speed dialed a number even as Tseng lifted it to his ear. "Rude, please meet Harry at the F49 elevator and take him down to Dr. Rhond's office."
Without waiting for a reply, Tseng had already turned off the phone and turned his back and Harry. The dark haired man stared at him awkwardly for a moment. While he did need glasses, this still did not solve his materia problem. He headed towards the doors to the holographic training room—still curious about the holographic part, admittedly, but more than willing to wait—and exited into the hall. He found Rude already waiting for him in front of the elevator. The slightly older man was standing stock-still with his hands folded before him. As always, his dark sunglasses shielded any expression that Harry might have gleaned from his face.
They were both silent as they stepped into the elevator and Rude pressed the glowing number 43. Harry stared outside the glass elevator, marveling at the height. It made his heart ache for a moment as he wished he still had his Firebolt. How long had it been since he had last flown? Four years? Five? And that was just relative time.
A buzzing from Rude's direction startled Harry from his musing. He stared, puzzled, as Rude pulled a cell phone from his pocket and answered, wondering why it hadn't rang. Was it a new sort of ringtone in this era? Buzzing instead of ringing. He shook his head, knowing he would have to adjust to many different technological and social changes.
"Mrs. Tesra?" Rude questioned quietly. Harry averted his gaze back out the glass, so as not to appear to be eavesdropping, but in the reflection, he could see Rude frowning. "...I see. And she's fine? Thank you for letting me know. I'll be there within the hour."
He ended the call and then returned to his previous stiff position, as though the interruption had never occurred. Silence once again pervaded, although now Harry fidgeted, containing his curiosity. It was none of his business and had no relation to what he was after anyway. The elevator dinged just seconds later and the metal doors smoothly slid aside, granting them access to a long hallway lined with doors. There were a few people walking along, but they appeared to be workers. Certainly not military personnel like those that he had seen so far.
The optometrist's office was larger than he expected. It probably served the entirely building. Did that mean there was a doctor here too? Or even an entire hospital wing?
There were a number of people already in the waiting room, but Rude bypassed them all with a single word to the receptionist and ushered Harry into the one of the back rooms. The process passed by quickly enough, although Harry found himself surprised by equipment he had never seen before. In the end, the eye doctor gave him a pair of slim black glasses that were much more rectangular than his old ones. He marveled at the improvement to his sight; he had lost his old glasses only a few months after the Breaking, more than a year ago for him.
"Your friend already left," the bright receptionist told him. Remembering the call Rude had received, Harry nodded and left on his own. It bothered him a little though; he had only really spoken to Rude once, but he did not come across as the type to up and leave without a word. He seemed too duty bound.
Shrugging the incident off, Harry made his way back to the training room on his own. He had spent the time at the optometrist's considering his options for using materia. In the end, he decided that he would use his wand instead. Even though there was a good chance Tseng would catch him, it was overall safer than using a materia without having any idea what the outcome would be—or even how to use one, for that matter. Fortunately, the black suit he was wearing had long sleeves that were perfect for hiding his wand in. It was one of the only good points to the stiff, uncomfortable article of clothing. Harry was missing his robes already.
Tseng was not in the training room when Harry returned. Rather, he stepped in after him, though how he knew Harry was back, Harry could not tell. Video cameras? He had not seen any in the halls, but then, he had not seen any on that Shinra ship either. They might look completely different in this time than they had in his, for all he knew.
"I assume you are ready now?" Tseng asked with a pointed look. He held his hands formally behind his back and he looked every part the proper politician, but somehow he felt dangerous to Harry; like a viper just waiting to strike. He reminded himself that he had not seen Tseng fight yet, and since he was a Turk there was a good chance he was more than just a desk jockey.
Instead of replying, Harry nodded firmly. He accepted the bracer that Tseng handed him and fit the materia into it. These materia seemed to need metal to channel the magic, much like how he used a wand. He was curious as to how that worked, but now was hardly the time. As he clipped the armed bracer into place, Harry simultaneously adjusted his wand so that the tip was beneath his palm, just out of view.
Tseng strode over to the console again, brought up a screen and began selecting something. Harry did not have the faintest idea what he was doing, having never actually used a computer before. For a brief moment, a hum rose up around the room, emanating from the walls themselves. The hair on the back of Harry's neck stood on end, then without warning the world around him flickered and changed.
Harry was standing on a rocky road sparsely decorated by trees that stretched out over a hill. He turned on his heel and saw that it continued similarly in the other direction, with mountains rising up in the distance. The sun overhead beamed down on him, warm and so real. Harry crouched down and brushed his hand against the dirt, both surprised and yet not to find that it felt just as authentic. Dust clung to his fingers and he wound up having to brush it off on his pants.
Suddenly a loud screeching noise erupted behind him. Harry spun back around and found himself staring up in shock at what could only be a robot. Giant and made entirely of metal, it stood on two massive triangular feet that were attached to its body by deceptively thin rods. Its head/torso almost looked like the front of a car, with a grill covering its front. What Harry noticed the most however were the two large guns mounted on its arms. The robot moved again, emitting the screeching noise, and then an ominous clicking noise rang out.
Harry threw himself to side, rolling out of the way of the spray of bullets that pierced the ground he had been standing on. Even as he staggered to his feet, he stared in shock, wondering if this whole thing was some sort of a trap. They had claimed to make him a Turk, then turned on him and tried to kill him. It was all part of some elaborate ruse!
Or a test, he thought as he dodged again, this time circling around the robot—it was unwieldy and slow to turn, thank Merlin. They could be testing his loyalties. Or his abilities, as they had said. He reminded himself that he knew nothing of world; this could very easily be how they tested new recruits, to see if they could survive.
As Harry lifted his arm, he hesitated for a brief second, rebelling against his desire to use a more useful spell to destroy the robot. He could only "use" a materia, which greatly limited his options. But if he could melt the joints together... Raising his arm higher, he spread out his palm and muttered the words for one of the few fire spells that he knew. Flames erupted in the space before him, licking at the smooth metal of the robot's exterior. It screeched again—Harry shuddered; it sounded far too like a living creature for his comfort—and then tried to cock its arms at him.
Moving lightly on his feet, Harry ducked beneath one of the guns and aimed a spray of fire at the exposed wiring between its grate and its torso. He dodged out of the robot's range as it shuddered and several screws popped, but evidently was not fast enough, as a stray piece of metal scraped against his arm. He ignored the pain but backpedaled farther; shrapnel could be just as dangerous as bullets.
The world flickered. Harry froze for a brief second, surprised. The robot screeched, drawing his attention back to it. It was jerking now and steam was pouring from its back. Harry was surprised it had lasted so long against direct heat, but then figured that it had been built to withstand such temperatures. Again, the world flickered. The time lasted a moment longer and Harry caught a glimpse of metal walls.
It was a hologram, Harry reminded himself. Just an illusion. The most damn realistic illusion he had ever seen, magic or otherwise, but an illusion nonetheless. Harry stole forwards towards the robot again, determined to finish it off. If this was a test, then he would damn well show them that he could fight when he needed to, restricted to fire spells or not.
Before Harry could even reach the robot, however, the holograms around him shuddered once more, before collapsing completely. The dark haired man found himself staring in surprise, still standing in a tense position in the middle of the training room. Slowly, he turned around to face Tseng.
"That was certainly...realistic."
Tseng wore an oddly pensive expression. "Yes, well, Shinra is known for having the most advanced technology on the Planet," he replied. "You certainly are capable with magic; it takes a certain type to learn how to use monsters' weaknesses against them, rather than using brute force."
"Monsters..." Harry frowned. He absently brushed away some of the blood trickling down his arm from where he had been scratched, only to realize that there was nothing but unscathed skin there. Realistic indeed. "And that robot I fought?"
"A Sweeper. They were initially constructed for monster defense down in the slums, but there are a number of rogues. Usually in testing we'd start you off against some Red Saucers, but they're more suited as projectile weapon targets." Tseng glanced at his wrist briefly. "We'll speak more on that later; I have a meeting to attend. Please return to my office at 1600. In the mean time, some of your fellow Turks will fill you in on the basics."
Harry hid his relief as he unsocketed the materia on his wrist. He had been sure that he would be caught using his wand, but it seemed that Lady Luck was still on his side, even here. He passed the green materia to Tseng and then started to remove the bracer as well when Tseng stopped him with a shake of his head.
"Keep that," the Wutanese man told him. "You will need it. We will outfit you with more materia later."
Nodding his understanding, Harry pulled his sleeve back down. Everything was proceeding well, he thought as he hid a smile. He had expected to have more difficulty fitting in with such a high-tech corporation. It would almost be more suspicious, except that he had not given them any reason to be suspicious of him, beyond the boat incident. And since Tseng had not discovered his wand during this little session, he should have little trouble in the future.
With a second polite nod, Harry took his leave of the training room. His short, brisk steps took him out of earshot in a matter of moments. Tseng remained behind, silently staring down at the materia Harry had used.
"Oi, Boss!" Reno called as he sauntered into the room. "Are ya done with Harry, yo? I need to talk to ya."
Tseng fingered the cold materia in his hand for a minute before turning and tossing it to Reno. Ignoring the redhead's exclamation of surprise, he asked, "Can you tell me what that is?"
Reno shot him a strange look, before glancing down at the crystal. "Ehh, a thunder materia? Kinda used-lookin' and worn, but other than that it ain't nothin' special, yo"
What could potentially be a smile twitched on Tseng's lips. "Is that so?" he murmured. Reno stared, wondering what he was missing, but Tseng's humor was gone as quickly as it had come. "You mentioned you had something to tell me?"
Glancing at the materia again, Reno threw it up, and then caught it. "It ain't important," he replied after a moment of silence. "It can wait 'til I've finished my paperwork; you've been naggin' me 'bout that, yeah?"
Harry was convinced that computers were the bane of all evil, Voldemort and the Calamity included. He had never actually used one before. Sure, Dudley had one at one point, but Harry had never touched it and even if he had, it had looked nothing like the ones Shinra had. These were slim and dark, with wide screens and small keyboards. It was the systems themselves that Harry did not like. The Turk that Harry was working with was patient, understanding that not everyone used computers—apparently, there were a number of small towns that barely had electricity, let alone advanced technology—but sometimes Harry would say something that would make the woman stare at him. He would look away uneasily, but he could not do anything about such slipups and sometimes he wondered just how thin his excuses were.
"Are things proceeding smoothly?" Rude asked.
Harry glanced over his shoulder, surprised to find Rude watching as the other Turk attempted to teach him. He had not heard the older man approach.
The first Turk grimaced. "Not quite. Harry's talents clearly lie in...other directions. Directions not including technology."
Rude hummed, but otherwise made no response. "Tseng had requested his presence," he said instead. "You may return to your duties. Harry, please come with me."
If Tseng had just wanted to talk to him, that would have been fine. Harry did not mind in the slightest, regardless of the innate dislike he felt for Tseng. But talking was one thing. Being told he was required to learn how to wield Muggle weapons was another matter entirely, and something Harry was staunchly against even hearing. It was a good thing Rude had left directly after delivering him; he might have seen Harry's steadfast refusal—glare included, for once—as threatening.
"I will be fine with just magic," Harry said stiffly.
Tseng folded his hands before him on his desk. "Harry, as a Turk you are required to learn how to handle different types of weaponry," he said. "Magic is far more exhausting than any other weapon and will quickly tire you out in a real fight. You cannot rely solely on it, even if you choose to use it more than other weapons. You must at least learn. You never know what situation you may wind up in. What if you find yourself backed in a corner with no materia, hmm?"
Harry grimaced, unable to explain that he did not need materia, and therefore would not be having that problem. Admittedly, he would be screwed if he ever lost his wand, but in a worst-case scenario, he could still Apparate away. Plus, he just did not want to learn how to use any Muggle weapons. Magic had thousands of uses. Muggle weapons had one sole purpose: killing. Harry was not killer, regardless of the wars he had fought. Using something that only existed to harm others...The very thought was unimaginable.
Still regarding him impassively, Tseng did not move a muscle. He did not even blink, as far as Harry could tell. His mouth was relaxed—somewhere between a frown and a smile, but giving no hints to how he felt. He was always so guarded. It sent warning bells off in Harry's mind, ones that were growing more and more difficult to ignore.
Finally, Tseng smiled. Harry relaxed faintly, unaware up until that point that he had been so tense. "We will see," the Wutanese man said, confidence filling his voice. "In the mean time, you must at least get used to using summons. As they are an extension of magic, I am sure you have no problems with this."
Summons. Harry shifted uncomfortably, even as Tseng stood and led him from the room for the second time that day. One thing he knew nothing about, and wanted to know even less of. Regardless of the time that had passed, it reminded him too much of Voldemort's actions. Not to mention that he had not had the chance to learn to use materia yet... Harry may have been able to pass by using his wand in the last "test", but summons were an entirely different story, and something that he could not fake. He unobtrusively brushed his arm against his side, double-checking that his wand was still strapped tightly there. If he had to make a quick escape, he was prepared.
They returned to the holographic room from early that day. This time, however, Reno was already there. The redhead was crouched over a box of red materia, shifting through them. He glanced up at their entrance, grimacing slightly.
"Yo Boss!" he greeted with what was obviously faux enthusiasm. Tseng raised one eyebrow and Reno rubbed the back of his neck while smiling sheepishly. "Uh, there was some kinda mix-up in the SOLDIER department. Somethin' to do with one of Hojo's freaky experiments..."
"And the labels got all screwed up on the damn summons," Reno said grudgingly. "I was gonna fix 'em before returnin' 'em, but then ya asked for 'em and, well, not much I can do now, yo."
"Was it your fault?"
"Then have the SOLDIERs fix the issue. We do not have the time to fulfill such menial tasks."
"Eh? You mean go right now?"
Tseng may have twitched. It was hard to tell. "No," he said calmly—a little too calmly, considering his tense shoulders. "Now Harry will be learning how to use a summon. Or at least he would be, if I knew which one to give him. And no—" Tseng gave Reno a pointed look as the younger man opened his mouth. "—I will not give him a random one. You know as well as I that the more powerful a summon is, the harder it is to control. Giving a strong summon to someone new to summoning could very well be suicide, given the right conditions."
"Wouldn' that be murder?" Reno quipped with a grin. Tseng's expression did not waver and eventually Reno looked away with a grumble. "Fine, fine. I'll find weaker one."
Reno snatched a stone from the top of the pile and fit it into a slot on the bangle on his wrist. Unlike the bronze one that Tseng had given Harry, his was pure black. Harry would have said it was obsidian, except that obsidian was a stone and the bangle was clearly made from metal. Once the summon materia was firmly in place, Reno raised his hand with his palm splayed open to the center of the room. Instantly the materia began to glow and energy poured forth, twining around his arm—
Nonononono! The Voices screamed. Wrongbadunwelcomeunwanted! WrongwickedparasiteWRONG! Harry flinched as they rose up, having gotten used to their background volume. Their abrupt harshness bit into his consciousness, burdening him as though they possessed a physical weight. Harry felt all of his muscles contracting in response, tightening like a bow waiting to be released. But there was no release, no reprieve. There was only more mounting tension, pulling at his very heart and threatening to break him as the Voices screamed louder and louder and—
The energy in Reno's hand exploded outward, filling the room with a bright flash that was almost immediately taken over by an explosion of fire that swept across the room, changing Harry's vision just as surely as the holograms had early. He stumbled back as the ground beneath his feet shifted to stone and magma spewed forth below, radiating a heat that surely could not have been simulated. Before Harry could even regain his footing, the ground in the middle of the room—or what had once been a room—buckled then erupted outward as muscled, flaming beast with massive curved horns leapt out, showering them all with burning embers crumbling rocks.
Harry felt all the blood drain from his face. Images flickered before his mind's eye, of London burning, streets cracking, and Neville screaming—a scream that was matched perfectly by the Voices.
A/N: First and foremost, yes, Harry's magic works around technology. Keep in mind that everything in FFVII is run on mako, not electricity. Secondly, any monsters mentioned in this story are canon and pictures can usually be found through a simple Google search. You can also find a video of the Ifrit summoning by searching for "Ifrit Summon FFVII Crisis Core" on youtube (as Crisis Core has much better graphics than the original FFVII game).
A reviewer mentioned that there was a sentence in an earlier chapter wherein a word was missing. This was actually one of the Voice's ramblings, which, for whatever reason, FF decides to delete when I upload a chapter. I fill all of these errors in manually, but occasionally one or two might get missed. As such, if you ever noticed a spot where something doesn't look quite right, please point it out to me!
And finally, I now have a picture of what Harry looks like in his Turk uniform. You can find a link to it on my profile, under Pictures.
Thanks for all your reviews!