The Earth had been dying for years. If he were a decrepit old man, he would say he could feel it in his bones, but that wasn't exactly accurate. He could feel it with each breath, with each spell cast, with each mental brush to the planet's energies…
The constant awareness had become a persistent headache over the years, growing worse with each decade, and no amount of pain medication, potions, or healing made it any better. A century ago he had reached his limit. Tried to give himself the eternal silence he'd begun to crave, to end the cries of a dying planet…
Only to fail.
Stubborn, he'd continued his efforts. Gone so far as to destroy his body by putting himself beneath the engines of a shuttle going into space.
After that time he'd stopped. The pain of joining the dying consciousness of the planet for that short moment before his body had been regenerated had felt like eons. There had been no parents there to greet him, no godfather, no friends… only a mass of pain, death, and screams.
After that, he'd known there would be no peace, and so he continued moving from day to day, hoping… praying… trying to find some way to save the planet that was dying around him in case one day, by some miracle, he would finally die for real. He didn't want to join that mass of writhing consciousness again unless the wounds had been filled, magic had been restored, and that which had been taken from the planet was returned or grown anew.
Because the muggles had won, in the end. Perhaps Voldemort had seen it. Predicted it. Known how they would slowly consume the planet like a parasite until there was nothing left to salvage, until they had to turn to other planets and start consuming them as well.
Humanity had turned into a cancer; once part of the system, it had overcome it and moved beyond the rules of nature to do as it pleased. Destroying the very organism on which it lived, humans were forced to turn to breathing apparatuses or suffer a slow painful death by the toxins in the air. Food had to be grown in giant green houses that were located near the equator in order to optimize production. Water had to go through five stages of purification. The only animals still living were contained, bred, and slaughtered in locations similar to the green houses.
It had taken him a long time to figure out what was wrong with the planet. Nearly a full century of his time was devoted to studying it, to getting a PhD in biology so he could correlate the things he felt with what science could offer. As magic was mostly intuitive, and so was the consciousness of the planet, it was nearly impossible to find any solutions listening to its screams of pain and finding the places on its surface that… hurt the most.
After those many years of studying biology, forcing things into his head that he had no inclination for by sheer, stubborn determination, he had figured it out. The planet wasn't just a rock with minerals, an ecosystem, and a bunch of little things running or swimming along its surface. It had a soul. Merely destroying the body shouldn't have damaged the spirit of the planet to the extent where it would slowly rot away.
It had been a rather simple thing, truthfully, one he hadn't thought of until he'd returned to the ruins of Hogwarts in the middle of the uranium wastelands of Scotland. Nostalgia had brought him there, and nostalgia had given him the answer.
Why did anything electronic not work within Hogwarts' walls? Why did every breathing apparatus Harry had put over his face died moments after coming into contact with his skin? Why did Harry have to contain his aura to such an extent, and wear radiation-dampening gloves to be able to touch a computer without making it explode and taking out the local network?
Technology was a disease.
While humans were a physical cancer spreading across the surface of the planet, technology was a virus that killed magic, the immune system of the planet. Every time Harry came into contact with it, his magic would try to cleanse the alien entity and nearly drive him to magical exhaustion.
He'd died a couple times before he'd figured that one out.
And it had been much, much too late to be able to do anything about it. The natural magic of the planet that had been a buffer between magical people and budding technologies had fallen, and so had her people. At least, if Voldemort had won, muggles across the planet would have been wiped out, but humans would still be able to die in peace.
Now they didn't even have that luxury.
He'd tried to find ways to do it. Tried to find a way to wipe out all technology. For a whole decade he had stored his magic inside a large diamond, intending to use it to expunge the virus that had taken over the planet.
Only, it hadn't spread nearly far enough. It had barely taken out the university near where he lived, let alone all the technology on the planet. And with resources and knowledge at their disposal, humans were quick to put it all back together again as if his hundred years of effort had been nothing.
If he were Hermione, he might have been able to figure out a way to do it. But she, along with every other witch and wizard, had died centuries ago with the weakening of magic. It had no longer been there to buffer their small magical cores from the destructive power of technology. The magic world had literally withered into a dried husk and just blown away like dust on the wind.
Which brought Harry to the quandary he'd been facing for the past two thousand years.
Why was he still alive?
July 6th, 1371 After Corporate Unification
United Charles Jameston University
"Dr. Blackstone? Is that really you?"
Harry turned around with a polite, inquisitive look on his face. He didn't recognize the face at all. When you'd lived for two millennia and you'd ceased to be social, it wasn't hard.
"It's Norm! Norm Spellman. Remember me now?" The lanky kid was nearly vibrating in his sneakers, he looked so excited. "You gave us a lecture on the connectivity between our physical reality and our minds back in Biology 1001. I came up afterwards and asked if I could quote you in one of my papers for that class."
It wasn't surprising he didn't remember, but he shaped his face into a look of recognition and smiled. He'd learned to fit in after so many years of floating through muggle society. He'd also grudgingly had to learn how to manipulate the computers the species was so proud of – it was kind of hard to create a new identity for yourself every twenty or so years if you didn't know how to manipulate the system. The longest he'd ever pushed it was thirty, but at that point people had started noticing that he never aged.
"Did you get a good mark?" he asked inquisitively, curling his lips up at the corners in a semblance of a smile.
"Well, the Prof wasn't too happy about me using theories that don't have much scientific proof behind them, so she only gave me a B."
Harry hummed thoughtfully. Bitch. A blind muggle is as a blind muggle does. "So what brings you here?" Harry asked, continuing the conversation that the boy seemed so eager for. Being too antisocial made people notice you more, and remember you. Sitting down near the front of the lecture hall, he was glad he'd gotten here early enough that there were still some pretty decent seats.
"I'm interested in Pandora as well. I was thinking of applying to be part of the second expedition, but… well, I hear it's really hard to get in. Especially as an AVATAR driver."
Harry frowned. "Avatar?" Maybe he hadn't stayed far enough in the loop on this one. He'd never thought they'd succeed in going to a planet that far away, to be honest.
Norm's eyes widened. "You don't know about it? On Pandora there's a race of people called the Na'vi. In order for the first expedition to get to know their culture, they mixed human DNA with that of the Na'vi and made these remote-controlled bodies called AVATARs." When Harry's expression remained blank, Norm gaped. "You seriously don't know? Man you're out of the loop."
Great. Now someone else was noticing it, too. Fact was, he'd never considered Pandora worth worrying about, before. He had too much shit to deal with on his own planet.
But… he was wearing down. With every year the last vestiges of magic disintegrated bit by bit, and with them went the last of the buffer for Harry. He could create his own anti-technology field for the most part, but forcibly keeping his magic sealed inside his skin was taxing, painful, and only made the headaches worse. Lately…
Lately he'd been wondering if he should just use the money he'd saved up in multiple bank accounts and create a house on Mars, all alone. The idea of silence for eternity had always kept him away.
But if Pandora had real people on it…
The seminar started, tearing Harry from his guilty thoughts. It was utterly fascinating. The first expedition had sent back copious amounts of information on the biology, wild life, and culture of the people, and the leader of the science team had actually written a book in the ten years that she'd been there, almost sixteen years since she'd left Earth. All of this was, of course, sent back by subspace communication.
Then there was unobtainium. The first traces of the alloy they'd found in this solar system had come in the form of a large meteor passing by Jupiter. They'd sent astronauts to catch some of the debris as it passed by, and then they'd discovered unobtainium, an element that had never existed in the solar system.
Being greedy bastards, however, they traced the meteor back to a system of planets that had a high concentration of this metal and toxic gases. Except, the beings that existed on the moon of one of the planets in the system were completely unaffected by the toxic atmosphere, food, and water.
Thus, the first expedition. And the skirmishes that followed it. The natives weren't exactly happy that aliens had shown up on their doorstep and started blasting away earth to get at a rock that they didn't even use.
By the end of the three-hour seminar, Harry was both fascinated and disgusted. This planet seemed like such an amazing place, and yet the Resources Development Administration had jumped on it like flies on a hamburger. Soon it too would be consumed, and no matter how much 'peace talk' they sent back to Earth to placate the public, it would eventually turn ugly. Human history was predictable that way.
He'd been living it for long enough to know.
Six years later, December 14th, 1377 A.C.U.
State of London, RDA Base of Pandoran Operations
"Dr. Blackstone! Fancy seeing you again!"
This time Harry remembered him. It helped that he'd run into the kid a few times during AVATAR training. "Hello again. I see your hard work paid off for you."
The kid blushed, scratching the back of his head with a grin on his face. "Thanks. It was really tough. But I guess you already knew about that, being a year ahead of me in the program." He laughed slightly, eyeing Harry with a bit of awe. There had been three different 'classes' of AVATAR drivers. Harry had gotten into the program far earlier than Norm because of his connections and experience as a scientist. Coupled with the fact that he'd actually met Dr. Augustine a few times before she took off for planets unknown, he hadn't had to go through as much education as Norm had just to get into the program itself.
At the moment, they were in one of the many waiting rooms where they were to be processed before getting on the shuttle that would take them up to the space station-cum-ship that was taking them to Pandora.
"-tone? Dr. Blackstone?"
Harry snapped out of his thoughts. "Oh, sorry Norm. I just… can't stop thinking about the trip." To be honest, he was kind of… empty inside. He knew he should be worried about it, should be worried that he didn't care that he was leaving Earth. That he was almost… relieved to be leaving. To have finally given up on saving it after so many years of strife, pain, and disappointment.
At this point, he didn't even care about what might happen to him, being separated from the planet's remaining magic in this way.
"Would all passengers with last names beginning with A and B please proceed to the gate for inspection and admittance with your Passport ID and baggage ticket in hand."
"Well, guess that's my cue." He turned to Norm. "See you on Pandora, I guess." The kid grinned at him nervously. Harry could see a slightly freaked out glint to his eyes. "Hey, don't worry. You'll be unconscious for the next five or so years sometime later today. Spare the worrying for later, when you really need it." When Norm's expression just paled slightly, Harry had to admit that somehow, he'd gotten even worse at comforting people.
Walking up to the lady checking passports and tickets, he got in the rather small line of people and wondered how many of them were soldiers. With some it was obvious in the way that they walked and the awareness they had of themselves.
Harry had tried the army for a while, hoping some of the weapons humanity had created would finally end his life. This was, of course, rather early in his lifetime. Those failures had ended with the jets of the shuttle he'd stepped under. After that he'd decided nothing could kill him.
Probably not the best attitude to have when going several light years away from home, to a hostile and unknown planet, but at this point he couldn't really bring himself to care.
So, my birthday approaches and this is my present to myself. I know I put that poll up, and HP/AVA didn't win, but I'm doing this for myself. :) I know you all want a BS update, and it's coming, don't worry. It just requires more planning than this thing does, and more time. I'm finally done work, there's just 'moving back to school'. I really should be packing right now… (coughs) (starts laundry)