Hey All. I know what you're all thinking, 'OMG, not another story! Please, God, just finish the one's you've already got in progress!' Well, here's the good news folks, I am now official off hiatus. Granted, updates will come as I write them, so no promises on how quickly they'll come, but I AM writing all of my stories again. ATM, it will probably look something like this; The Coyote Duality/Before the Dawn.
As for this story, well I read the original concept in KingOfLoosePage's 'Loose Pages' and I fell in love with it, so I adopted it. As far as I know, the original is still there if you want to have a look. This will probably be between 5 - 10 chapters, depending on where the story leads me.
WARNING: This will contain SLASH and HET. There will be VIOLENCE of the Mech-on-Mech, Cyborg-on-Mech, Mech-on-Human, Human-on-Mech and my own personal favorite, Cyborg-on-Human persuasions, with a health dash of DEATH and GORE.
Ghost in the Machine
A Harry Potter / Transformers Crossover
Concept by KingOfLoosePages
Written By Duskborn
When Harry Potter moved out of Number 12 Grimmauld Place and caught a plane across the pond, he did it for three reasons. The first, and in his mind, the foremost, was to escape the seemingly endless manipulations of the Ministry. Apparently defeating Voldemort wasn't enough to earn himself a quiet life because not a month after the fateful battle in which the Dark Lord fell to his own killing curse, Augustus Tremmel, the new minister and a Fudge flunky if Harry ever saw one, arrived at his door with a small contingent of Aurors demanding that The-Man-Who-Lived-To-Defeat-Voldemort turn himself over on suspicion of dark magic. In hindsight, he realised that no matter how satisfying it may have been at the time, laughing in their faces and using the wards to throw them all out on their asses probably wasn't the best idea he had ever had.
The second reason for his transatlantic escape was the wizarding public at large. If he had thought his fame was a burden before the light left Voldemort's eyes, he was sadly mistaken. Not a day went by when less than a hundred letters arrived on his doorstep, carried by almost every creature that could fly, and a few that couldn't. Thanks, congratulations, pleas, wedding proposals, sycophantic, bordering on cultish declarations of devotion, Harry got them all. Then there was the "avid admirers" that followed him around, not to mention the hordes of witches and wizards that flocked to him while whenever he left the house. Needless to say, it was not exactly a healthy environment, especially for Teddy. Sweet, adorable, wonderful Teddy, his Godson and the only other heir to the Marauder Legacy. Ever since Remus and Tonks had perished, he had loved their son as if he were his own and he hadn't thought twice about moving when it meant a safe, stable home for his precious Moonlet.
And finally, he jumped on that plane to escape the whining, clawing, desperate clutches of one Ginerva Weasley. Much to Harry's chagrin, the red-headed harpy didn't get the hint when he politely told her that he was no longer interested … several times. No, she simply rationalised his rejections as him being 'self-sacrificing' in order to 'spare his beloved the pain of losing him' should anything happen. Then, after the final battle, her rationalisations changed tune, and she convinced herself that Harry just didn't want to 'subject their deep and abiding affections to the tumultuous attentions of the media.' After he had heard those words from Hermione, who had the distinct pleasure of hearing them from the fire-crotch herself, he gave up trying to be polite. Consequently, the Burrow now had several new skylights and two oldest and two youngest were no longer talking to him.
So, one warm day in June, Harry Potter transferred his accounts to the San Francisco branch of Gringotts, packed his bags, and boarded a plane destined for the West Coast, all in order to leave behind a manipulative ministry, a sycophantic public and a fanatical ex-girlfriend. All he wanted to do was find a nice house in a safe neighbourhood, send for his Godson, and live a quiet life in relative obscurity.
He should have known Fate would not be so kind.
"Thank-you for flying Air America," the chirpy blond air hostess announced from the front of First Class once the plane had come to a stop and the passengers started to disembark. "We hope you enjoyed your flight, and that you'll take advantage of our services in the future."
Harry yawned as he stretched his arms above his head. Adjusting his glasses, which had slipped slightly during his nap, he climbed to his feet and collected his duffel bag from the overhead compartment. Hitching it over his shoulder, the young wizard followed the line of other passengers towards the door, pausing on his way past the hostess to give her a smile.
The trip through customs didn't take anywhere near as long as the airport horror stories made it out to be, and before long he was standing outside the terminal with his newly checked duffel over his shoulder and a smile on his face.
He took a moment to bask in the afternoon sunlight, safe in the knowledge that he wouldn't be mobbed by adoring fans and desperate witches. A smile tugged at his lips. He was free. Free from the ministry. Free from the public. Free from Ginny. Free from everything.
His mind was so internally focussed that he didn't notice the two men approaching him from behind. A dull thud and a sharp pain in the middle of his back was the only warning he got before waves of numbness spread through his limbs and obscured his thoughts in a white fog that even his blinding panic couldn't pierce. He tried to reach for the wand concealed beneath his sleeve, but his arms felt like lead and what little functionality his mind retained became disjointed, leaving him unable to recall even the simplest of spells. The world around him blurred and his legs began to quake. From amidst the mental haze, he became dimly aware of two figures gripping his arms and pulling him along away from the crowd of tourists leaving the terminal, and towards … was it a van? The details were too foggy, running together. All he could comprehend was a sudden darkness, a lurch and the sensation of motion.
The last thing his addled mind registered before succumbing to whatever poison was coursing through his body was a voice;
"Base, this is Alpha-Charlie two two seven, confirming mission completion. Subject has been acquired. ETA two hours …."
Six Months Later
For the next few months, Harry's mind would only sparingly emerge from the oblivion of unconsciousness, occasionally catching glimpses of a cold barren room or snatches of conversation before the blinding pain blazing through his body would force him back.
Anthrocyte implantation complete … no signs of rejection … fascinating … last four died … heart installation complete … Cube energy flow stable …
But even unconscious he could feel that something was … not wrong, but different about his body. An alien energy, not magic but similar, thrummed in time with his heartbeat. His magic pulsed alongside it, changing, evolving and intermingling with it until there ceased to be two separate energies but a single all-encompassing one.
Incredible … the Cube energy seems to have altered the anthrocytes … spreading throughout his body … unexpected …
"I think we can expect great things from you, Number 9, great things indeed …."
Three Years Later
Harry, or Number 9 as he was known to the scientists, surveyed the interior of his cybernetic mind, critically examining his many firewalls, counter-viruses, anti-viruses and encryption codes. Once he was satisfied that Sector Seven's latest experiments with his neural net hadn't caused any damage to his mental defences, he pulled up the external communications program he had been working on for the last three months and had carefully hidden from those probing his mind.
It had been three and a half years since he had first been captured, and so many things had changed, the most notable of which being Harry's humanity, if that's what it could be called. Ever since he had come into the custody of Sector Seven's Cybernetics Division, scientists had been making changes to his body, inserting and removing things. It had started out with daily injections of anrthocytes, experimental nanomachines designed to speed up cellular regeneration and fortify bodily functions. Then, when his body hadn't rejected the nanobots like so many others had, the scientists had progressed onto the installation other 'hardware', including cybernetic lungs, liver, kidneys, and finally, a cybernetic heart.
Harry knew that the only reason he had survived up until that point was because of his magic. They thought it was the anthrocytes they had kept injected him with at weekly intervals, but he knew that it was his magic fortifying his body and forcing his skin, blood, and vital organs to become more compatible with the metal components being introduced to his system. But that had all changed when they installed his new heart.
Unlike the other cybernetic organs Sector Seven had plugged into him, the heart contained something different, something special; a Cube Fragment. A single shard of the celestial artefact that fell to Earth all those millennia ago and now stood, caged in stone and metal, only a few hundred metres away. Filled with an ocean of incomprehensible energy, the scientists had thought to harness it to fuel his cybernetic organs, so they cut a shard away and used it as a power source for his heart. From what Harry had read during his hacks of the S7 mainframe, initial tests with the heart had all been successful. It wasn't until they placed it in his body that things started to get interesting. Once placed inside of him, the Cube Fragment's energy had interacted with his magic, merging with and altering it until they ceased to be two separate forms. The new hybrid energy had then spread throughout his body and, much like the original Cube energy had done, begun to alter his cybernetics.
The anthrocytes were the first thing to be changed. They became completely self-replicating, and started to rapidly evolve along several different technological paths. Colonies of the nanobots began to group together in his brain, forming multiple overlapping networks as well as literally restructuring his biological matter, turning his mind into complex supercomputer that was equal parts neurons and nano-circuitry. Another set of anthrocytes evolved to become a fully functional immune and repair system that had swarmed his body for days, often re-injuring him in places so they could properly repair the damage that hadn't healed correctly. All of his old fractures had been broken, reset and mended flawlessly, and every scar on his skin, including his curse scar, disappeared.
The anthrocytes also evolved into several other unique nano-colonies, including one that coated his bones and fortify his skeleton, one that embedded itself in his muscles in order to strengthen them, and one that formed a modem of sorts, allowing him to connect to wireless networks, computers, and hand held devices.
His other cybernetic organs had also been changed by the hybrid energy. Instead of separate components, independent of each other, the energy along with the anthrocytes, had reconfigured them all, adapting and upgrading them into a single unified system powered by the Fragment.
Thankfully, Harry had been unconscious during most of the changes, leaving him untouched by the fierce pain that would have destroyed him otherwise. He had simply woken up six months after his capture in a tiny cell, his mind racing at a speed that was completely alien, and his cybernetically enhanced senses flooding him with information. It had been frightening beyond words, especially when he realised that his magic had completely changed, rendering him unable to cast even the simplest of spells.
In the end, he had panicked so much that the guards outside his room had called for someone to sedate him. That was when they realised that sedatives, or any foreign substance, had no effect on him. The orderlies had rushed in with a syringe and, while the soldiers attempted to hold him down, jammed it in his arm. Not realising their mistake, the guards had loosened their grip on him and Harry had taken the opportunity to throw them off of him. He had only meant to dislodge their hold, but his nano-enhanced muscles sent them flying into the walls with sickening thuds. All thought of escape fled him when he saw the guards drop limply to the ground and the blood staining the walls of the cell. In fact, he had been so surprised, he hadn't even resisted when a dozen other guards flooded the room and pinned him to the ground.
Since that day, he had been periodically experimented on by the scientists as they attempted to find out what had happened to him and why, what made him so special and why. Every morning at 0830, three guards armed with high voltage tasers — which they had all learned during his first three escape attempts were the only weapons that could subdue him without causing serious damage — would drag him from his cell and escort him to whoever's turn it was to poke and prod him. Harry, for the most part, simply went along with it all, as he had realised that escaping the facility would take more than simply smashing his way out. Instead, he dedicated himself to learning everything he could both about himself and the facility, a feat made all the easier by his infallible memory and accelerated mind.
Harry's external sensors activated, alerting him to the sound of his cell door swinging open with a metallic whine. With a frown, he checked his internal chronometer which informed him that it was 0547. Why was his door opening so early? The guards never brought him breakfast before 0630, and as far as he knew, most of the scientists didn't even arrive until 0800.
Finishing the last few lines of code, he closed down the external communications program and linked it to his communication systems, both of which were hidden behind a complex encryption key. He then brought his conscious mind back out of stand-by, causing his eyes to open. Sitting up, he swung around to face the door. The sight that met him nearly made him sneer in disgust.
Dr. Paul Abrams was a thin wiry man with receding red hair, pallid skin and watery blue eyes that were always hidden behind unattractive glasses. He also happened to be the director of S7's Cybernetics Division and the bane of Harry's existence. It had been Abrams who had selected Harry as a candidate for experimentation from the stack of files containing the names of young men and women immigrating to the US. For that reason alone, Harry hated the man, not to mention all of the 'procedures' he had endured on the good doctor's say so. If it were up to Harry, he'd break the man's scrawny neck, but alas, it was only the good doctor's assurance that S7 would learn more from Harry alive than dead that kept the other scientists from 'terminating the project on the ground of unforseen results'. Bastard.
"Good, you're awake," Dr. Abrams said.
No, I'm just sleeping with my eyes open, genius, Harry thought vindictively, but his vocal processor — his vocal cords having been replaced years ago — remained silent. Backtalking a man like Abrams was pointless since the morally uncomplicated scientist rarely heard anything other than his own voice, or so Harry believed. Instead, he settled on glaring at the balding beanpole.
"Yes, yes, we've got a very busy day planned for you," Abrams announced, pacing back and forth with far too much energy than should have been legal before dawn. Not that either of them could actually see the dawn, or the sky for that matter, given that they were twelve levels below ground, but it was the principle of the matter. "Yes, we're going to put that new data port of yours to good use."
Harry couldn't help but wince at the mention of his newest 'feature'. The process by which the scientists had drilled into the base of his skull to install the interface was not a pleasant one, especially since he hadn't been anaesthetised when it had happened. But then again, it wasn't as if he could be anaesthetised any more. He had been strapped down and wide awake while a team of S7's finest cut open the back of his head and drilled an inch wide hole in the base of his skull. They had then attached a specially designed adapter to his neural net, linking it to a circular port cut into the side of his neck for easy access. Given the way in which his anthrocytes normally repaired his body, they hadn't bothered to be gentle. As a result, the skin around the small metallic plug was still inflamed, even three weeks after the procedure, since his anthrocytes were too busy integrating the new hardware into Harry's systems to heal it properly.
But, even though the procedure had been painful, and the skin around the port still stung when touched, Harry couldn't deny how useful the addition had proved. Due to his internal modem, he was capable or connecting to wireless networks, computers and devices within a 200 metre radius, but he couldn't interface with anything that required a solid connection — like the S7 mainframe. Because of his newest piece of hardware, that limitation was a thing of the past. Now, whenever the scientists linked him to one of their computers to run tests on his neural net, he could slip through their firewalls and infiltrate their network. As a result, he had learned almost everything about the people who had captured him, from the names of the Directors to the exact layout of the base. With all of the new information, his plans for a successful escape were begin to come together. All it would take was a few more sessions with the mainframe and he was home free.
Abrams came to a stop before whirling on his heel and stalking out the door. He paused at the threshold and looked over his shoulder. "Well, come on. I don't have time for dawdling." And then he was gone, leaving Harry to hurry after him, his teeth clenched together in annoyance. His three guards fell into around him as they normally did; one on either side of him, and another behind with his taser at the ready. He had to resist a snort. Even with the high voltage tasers, the three of them had no real chance of stopping him if he tried to escape. His cybernetically enhanced body was simple to fast and resilient for them to stop on their own. Not that he was planning on telling them that. No, their continuing to underestimate him was a large part of his plan.
After a few minutes of walking, Abrams took a series of turns that lead away from the main labs. Harry couldn't help but frown. Where were they going if not to the labs? There were only two possibilities; the Cube Chamber, or the NBE-01 cryo-chamber.
They rarely took Harry to the Cube Chamber and yet, despite the fact he had only been taken there a half dozen times, he couldn't help but think of it as his favourite place in the whole facility. The last time they had taken him there had been six months ago. That occasion also marked the first time he was allowed to physically touch the alien artefact. At the time, he couldn't help the smile that bloomed across his normally stoic features as the wild energy of the Cube, so forcibly harnessed, washed over him and settled in the Fragment embedded in his chest. It had filled him with a sense of euphoria and catalysed another evolutionary leap for the technology inside of him, expanding his already formidable abilities. Later that night, once the scientists had finished probing his body, he had discovered that over a terabyte of new information had been downloaded into his memory, most of it containing science centuries ahead of anything Earth currently possessed.
The only other option, and the one which he was far more familiar with, was the NBE-01 chamber. Five stories high, the room acted as the cryogenic jail for S7's very own alien. NBE-01, a robotic colossus, had crash landed in the Arctic and remained there, trapped in ice, until 1897 when Captain Archibald Witwicky discovered him during a National Arctic Circle Expedition. Covered in sharp edges and with a cruel monstrous face, Harry couldn't help but compare the being to Voldemort.
Only with more spikes, Harry thought grimly as his party took another turn, confirming his suspicion that they were, indeed, headed to the NBE chamber.
A few minutes later, they arrived at the chamber and Harry was quickly escorted, not to the testing area where they normally had him power up whatever piece of technology they had pulled from the extra-terrestrial, but up the scaffolding surrounding NBE-01. It was only when they reached the scaffolding which sat at the base of NBE-01's neck that they halted. Abrams turned around and gestured for him to take the seat beside a new piece of equipment roughly the size of a briefcase.
"Take a seat," he ordered, and Harry hesitated for a moment before complying with a glare. "Yes, excellent. Alright. A few days ago, we began a controlled thawing of some of the NBE's circuitry, specifically, where we think its memory files are located. Your job is to scan those files and retrieve whatever information you can."
"Excuse me!" Harry yelped in surprise, his head whipping around to look at the back of the NBE's head and back again. "You want me to interface with this thing? No bloody way!"
"Yes," Abrams agreed, either not hearing or simply ignoring Harry's words. Most likely the latter. "And when you're done, you'll transfer the files into a computer core we've prepared for you."
The words had barely been spoken before the scientist gestured for the technicians to start. He shuddered when the rough hands gripped his neck, but froze up as he was told. It always felt worse if he moved around with the damn thing in. As he watched, the cable was slotted into the piece of equipment, obviously some sort of adaptor, but he closed his eyes before they attached the other cables so he wouldn't have to see them attached it to the NBE.
The soft snick of the cable sliding home was the only warning he had before a vicious consciousness hammered against his mental defences and began clawing its way through his firewall. Using every skill in his formidable arsenal, Harry locked the invader out, throwing up firewall after firewall with counter-viruses and booby traps packed tightly between them. After several minutes of hacking through his defences, only to find more spring up, the consciousness withdrew.
When it returned, instead of trying to brutally bludgeon its way in, it probed his communications systems. Cautiously, Harry activated his newly completed external communications program and opened a high frequency line with the NBE while monitoring their connection to ensure that no one was observing.
"Hello?" he mentally greeted carefully.
The rumble of an unknown language that answered him made him pause. He brought up his language matrix and activated a translation algorithm but had no success. The connection widened slightly and Harry immediately recognised the offer to download information. He didn't accept the transfer, but instead, compiled his language database and offered it up instead. It was immediately accepted and downloaded. A few seconds later, the NBE made another offer, which Harry accepted in return, saving the new languages and storing them in the heavily guarded section of his memories that also held the truth about his past life as Harry Potter. At that point a request came back over the link, so Harry collated the data on where they were being held, by whom, and the reasons why before sending it back over the link.
They continued on in that manner for hours, exchanging information, though nothing personal by mutual consensus. Through the transfers, he learned about Cybertron, and war between the Autobots and the Deceptacons that had led to its destruction and the loss of their AllSpark. When the NBE sent him an image of the Cube, he knew he should have been surprised by its significance, but for some reason he wasn't. In any case, he had sent an image of the Cube as he had last seen it, along with a request for more information on it. The NBE had immediately sent him a huge file of information detailing how its energy — called energon by the Cybertronians — could be used to bring about the rebirth of Cybertron and the restoration of his race. Some of the information he already knew, but the rest of it, particularly how it could be used to create NBEs, was completely new. If the information was accurate, which Harry believed it was, then Sector 7 had barely scratched the surface of the Cu— , the AllSpark's, power. He was about to send back another set of files, containing his knowledge of S7's experimentation with the AllSpark when someone yanked the cable from his data port, causing pain like molten lead being poured into his skull and error messages into his field of vision.
"Excellent," Abrams crowed from where he was standing, a smile on his face. "The guards will take you to the computer core we've prepared, and you'll sort what data you extracted into files, then download them. Guards."
Harry, still woozy from his brutal disconnection, was hauled to his feet and practically dragged down the scaffolding and out of the NBE chamber. It took them a few minutes to reach the room with the computer core, at which point he was unceremoniously dumped into a chair. A technician approached with another cable, but Harry, having recovered slightly, snarled at the man and snatched it from him.
"Back the fuck off," he swore at the man. "I've had enough of you and your bloody manhandling. Do you have any idea how painful it is when you idiots start yanking cables? No, so stay the hell away from me. You'll get your damn information."
Sufficiently cowed, the technician backed off, allowing Harry to insert it himself. Before plugging it into the appropriate socket he turned and glared at everyone in the room. "If any of you try to disconnect me before I'm finished, I don't care how long they lock me in solitary, I will kill you. Understood? Good."
When he connected with the computer core, Harry couldn't help but smile when he found that it was networked with the S7 mainframe.
Excellent, he thought to himself with a dark chuckle. They had foolishly given him the opportunity he' had been waiting for. For weeks, he had been carefully setting the stage for his eventual escape and almost everything was in place. All he had needed was a few more sessions with the mainframe and he was as good as free. And now he had all the time he needed.
With practised precision, he located the computer terminal monitoring his activities and built a screen of ghost data in front of it, making the technicians in the room think that he was in fact working to sort through terabytes of heavily encrypted data. Once he was satisfied that they couldn't detect what he was actually doing, Harry dived into the mainframe and began his work. The first thing he did was to slip through the back door he'd built into the security system and rip three two hour recordings of the guard escorting him to his room and then standing outside, before embedding them into the virus he had already created. When activated, the virus would tap into the security feed from the three cameras and play the recordings, making anything that happened in that hallway invisible to the security station. Next, he accessed the communications system and carefully ripped recording of his guards reporting in, and set it into another virus linked to the first. This virus would systematically play the recording every 30 minutes so the security station wouldn't become suspicious when his guards didn't report in.
Once that was done, he set the virus into stand-by and linked it to an activation protocol before moving on to his next target. Another carefully constructed back door gave him access to the base personnel log-in system where he activated another virus which immediately generated a set of access codes to all of the main areas, including the garage. This virus also activated another and set a trojan in the alert system on stand-by. The activated virus sent an approved requisition request to the garage for a vehicle under the newly created ID. Also, now that the trojan was in stand-by, activating the security alert from any of the panic buttons set throughout the base would automatically lock every door and block any access codes but the ones generated by the first virus. Harry recorded the code and pulled out of the ID system.
His next stop was S7's computer archive. Once he had infiltrated the system, he loaded the worm he had developed and put it into stand-by mode. When activated, it would start a countdown of 48 hours and begin replicating itself, spreading throughout the S7 mainframe and any other computer that contained information on Harry or any of the research related to him, that the worm came into contact with it during that time. Then, when the countdown ended, it would destroy all of the data and, hopefully, any record of Harry ever existing.
The last part of his plan involved slipping into the GPS systems S7 had installed on all of its vehicles. When he had gained access, he set the last virus he had created in preparation for his escape into stand-by and entered in his newly acquired ID code. Now, when the garage office assigned his ID a car, the virus would automatically deactivate its GPS system and erase any record of the vehicle ever existing.
Satisfied that his plans were ready, he pulled back into the computer core and downloaded an encrypted copy of the data the NBE had sent him along with a virus that would delete it should they manage to unencrypt it. With one last check, he initiated the activation protocol and deactivated the screen of ghost data blocking the monitoring terminal.
Feigning a heavy sigh, Harry extracted the cable from the side of his neck and tucked it into his pocket. Rolling his shoulders, he rose to his feet and turned to the technicians.
"I couldn't break the encryption, but I did download everything," he told them.
"Good," the technician dismissed him, gesturing for his guards to take him away.
Playing meek, Harry let them bodily guide him away from the computer lab. A few minutes later, as they rounded the last corner leading to his cell, the radio of one of the guards crackled.
"Yo, Davis, our screens just flickered. You still got that cyber-freak?"
The guard behind him, Davis, tapped his radio. "Yeah, we got him."
"Copy that. Just checking."
That was the signal Harry was waiting for. His activation protocol has initialised the security virus and begun overriding the cameras. Harry grinned. Time to go. In a blur of motion too rapid to accurately follow with the naked eye, Harry grabbed the arms holding him and twisted, hurling the guards into the walls opposite the side they were walking on. Both impacted with sickening thuds, but Harry paid no attention to it, focussing instead on Davis, who was still trying to process what was happening. The guard's face twisted in horror. To his credit, he tried to stand his ground and fire the taser, but Harry was too fast. Striking like a viper, he stepped into the guard's person space and delivered a single debilitating strike to his sternum. The sound of breaking bone was audible even to the unenhanced ear as every rib in Davis' chest shattered and his heart collapsed from the kinetic energy.
"Sorry Davis," Harry apologised as the guard fell to the ground. "It was me or you, and frankly, I like me better."
When the slightly short soldier entered the chamber housing the NBE, no one glanced up. When he moved to the new adapter that had been used for the first time earlier that day, no one looked up. When that adapter suddenly vanished, no one looked up. And when the guard left the chamber, control room, and then the dam, no one remembered he had ever been there.
Harry Potter turned his green eyes on the twinkling stars of the sky and smiled. Sirius was laughing down on him, and he was finally free.
Two Years Later - Samuel Witwicky, Age 5
James "Jim" Black leant over the exposed engine, his eyes rapidly assessing and reassessing the components that comprised the heart of his newest acquisition — a cobalt blue 1968 Chevrolet Camaro SS. The early afternoon sun beat down on his naked and slightly grease-stained back, its light causing the sweat to shimmer across the taut muscles.
With a thought, he accessed his Chevrolet Subdirectory and activated his Visual Diagnostic Subroutines. Instantly, symbols began scrolling along the edges of his vision and each part of the engine began flashing in sequence as the program surveyed them, compared them against the schematics he had on file and either dismissed or flagged them. The whole process only took a few moments, and when it was completed nothing had been flagged as visually damaged, which meant whatever was causing the engine to stall and idle wrong was internal.
With another thought, he activated another, more complex, set of ocular sensors. As before, symbols began scrolling along the edges of his vision, but instead of scanning the exterior of the components for imperfections, his cybernetically enhanced eyes began looking into the components themselves. Each piece flashed before a complex image of their interiors was superimposed on them. The process took much longer than a simple visual scan, but when it finally finished, Jim could plainly see the problem.
He was just about to reach for his toolbox so he could begin dismantling the carburettor in order to get at the damaged choke spring when a strange, but not unexpected, sound tickled the edges of his auditory sensors. The heavy growl of the engine, coupled with the whine of the wheel axles instantly identified the vehicle as something load-baring, a moving van being the most likely candidate given his inside information. As he predicted, not two minutes later a moving van turned around the corner and made its way down the street before pulling up in front of the house four doors down from his own.
Jim moved out from beneath the hood and walked casually towards the end of his driveway, wiping his greasy hands on the t-shirt hanging from the back pocket of his jeans. When he reached the end of his driveway, he leaned casually against his stone letter box and looked down the street. As he watched, a small boy — Samuel, his files informed him — jump out of the cab and run up to the door of the house, back to the truck, around to the front yard, and then out into the street to get a look up and down the block. Seeing him, Sam raised his hand and waved. Jim raised his own hand and returned the greeting, before shaking his head with a smile.
For the first six months after his escape from S7, then-Harry drifted from town to town using his cybernetic abilities and working as a freelance computer expert to make ends meet. During that time, he did a great deal of soul searching, before finally coming to the conclusion that the life he had once had – Harry Potter's life – no longer belonged to him. Thus, James Evan Black was born. Along with that realisation came another; as James Black could no longer fit into Harry Potter's life, he couldn't fit into the lives of his old friends and family either, not without putting them at risk from S7 when the shady government department eventually caught up with him. So, with a heavy heart, he address a letter to Gringotts via a wizarding Repostal Service, converting a sizable amount of gold into muggle money and transferring it into an American account under his new name, and willing the rest to those he was leaving behind. Half of his remaining assets went to Andromeda Tonks in trust for his beloved godson, who should have been going on five at the time, while the other half was to be divided between Hermione, Ron, Neville, and Luna. So, with the three drops of blood and a shaky hand, he signed the name Harry James Potter for the last time.
With his life as a wizard brought to a close, James, or Jim, as he liked to think of himself, set himself a new set of goals. It was clear that he was never going to have a normal life himself, not with the sheer amount of technology imbedded in his very body, so he'd try his damnedest to protect other people from the same fate, namely, anyone of interest to S7. And, in order to do that, he had needed resources.
His six months of soul searching came to an end in South Gate, California, where he used his newly acquired funds as seed money for OmniCore, a technology company that, using the knowledge gained from the AllSpark, became one of the foremost in fields of computer, electronic, mechanical, and systems engineering in the world inside of a year. Except for the very beginning, Jim stayed in the background, content to run his company from the shadows and supply the information leading to their various breakthroughs anonymously. He spent his days working in his garage, a small place he bought and rechristened 'Black Motors', and by night he used his growing resources to combat any of S7's forays into the private sector. Lawyers would miraculously appear to champion victims and their families. Specific people of interest would suddenly be lost in the system. Anonymous tips would find their way into the ears of trustworthy members of law enforcement and confidential documents would slip into the hands of respected reporters and journalists.
Now, after six months of careful manoeuvring, his latest plans to upset S7 and protect an innocent family from their manipulations had come to fruition. After locating the Witwicky family, Jim pushed plans to purchase the company Ron Witwicky worked for past the OmniCore board of directors and quickly closed the deal. Once he owned the small but successful construction firm, he offered the man a promotion he couldn't refuse, on the stipulation that he moved to the new office in South Gate. Then, with a further incentive of a housing subsidy on certain neighbourhoods, Jim had subtly guided the man into selecting one of the four houses within a mile radius of Jim's own. It was only sheer luck that Ron Witwicky had selected the house in the same street, but Jim wasn't going to complain.
After the move was confirmed, he had then used a virus specially written using Cybertronian computer code to make the Witwicky's vanish from the grid. The virus, released into the nation DMV as well as several other places prevented any computer searches that used the name 'Witwicky' as criteria from returning any results before tracing back to the source of the search and crashing it.
All in all, it was a good plan and he was glad to see it come to term. He could keep a personal eye on the Witwickys while simultaneously shielding them from Sector Seven.
Samuel gave him another frantic wave before rushing back towards his new house, making Jim grin at his boyish energy.
Yeah. Definitely a good plan.
One Year Later – Samuel Witwicky, Age 6
Today was shaping up to be a disaster, Ron Witwicky mused as he twisted the key in the car's ignition. Instead of the satisfying purr of a high performance vehicle, all he heard was a choked growl before the entire car shuddered and the engine died with a noise that sounded suspiciously like a death rattle. Heaving an annoyed sigh, he climbed out of the driver's seat and rounded the front of the car. He popped the hood and lifted it up, revealing the gleaming motor within. The engine looked, well, engine-like.
From the corner of his eye, he saw one of his neighbours, a thin woman who resembled an underfed bird in her brightly coloured dressing gown, was watching him from her side of the fence.
"You should go down the street four houses and ask the Black boy to take a look at it. He works in one of those mechanic places in town and I hear he's very good at what he does." She giggled and Ron frowned at her.
He contemplated the notion for a moment, but he didn't really like the idea of waking someone up just to get his car to start, even if he really needed to get to work. Just as he was resigning himself to calling in late, the woman gasped and scampered inside. Ron frowned, wondering what her problem was. From behind the screen of the hood, someone cleared their throat. Taking a step back from the engine, he walked around the car to find a young man with dark hair and green eyes smiling at him. He was about 6'2 and dressed in a black t-shirt that did nothing to hide his lean muscular build, grease-stained overalls that were tied off at the waist and industrial work boots. His raven hair fell in soft waves to just above his shoulders, framing the luminous eyes that dominated his ruggedly handsome face. Ron was as straight as they came, but he wasn't afraid to say that the man in front of him was incredibly handsome, explaining why his bird-boned neighbour was acting like a school-girl.
The man shifted the tool box he was carrying before offering his hand to Ron.
"Hey there," the stranger said, his soft British accent lilting pleasantly. "Jim Black."
Ron took the offered hand. "Ron Witwicky."
"I saw you having some car problems. Would you like some help?"
"Please," Ron nodded, shooting a silent 'thank you' heavenward for his good luck. His good luck seemed to be on a role because, not five minutes later, Jim gestured for him to start the car, which came alive with a beautiful purr that he could have sworn sounded even better than it had when he first bought it. Grinning happily, Ron nodded to Jim. "Thank you. What do I owe you?"
Jim just smiled and shook his head. "Don't worry about it. It was the neighbourly thing to do." He plucked a card from the back pocket of his overalls and handed it over. "If you ever have car trouble, just give me a call."
Ron accepted the card and tucked it under his sun visor. "Will do."
Jim gathered up his tools and headed back down the street. "You have a good day now."
"You too," Ron called out, reversing his car out of the drive. Maybe today wouldn't be such a disaster after all.
One Year Later – Samuel Witwicky, Age 7
"Uncle Jim!" was the only warning he got before he felt a small body impacted with the back of his legs, tiny arms wrapping around his thighs and holding tight while a head rested on his hip. With a smile, the cybernetic mechanic wiped the grease from his hands with a rag before peaking down at the little boy grinning up at him from behind the empty sleeves of his overalls.
"Hello to you too, Sam," he said. "I take it you had a good day at school?" The small boy nodded against his hip causing Jim to chuckle. Turning around, he scooped the boy up, causing the little guy to squeal in surprise before laughing loudly. Looking down the street, he saw Judy walking towards them.
Oblivious to it all, Sam merely got comfortable in Jim's arms before explaining excitedly, "I made a friend! His name is Miles and we're going to be best friends forever and ever! You were right about talking to the other kid, it really helped!"
Jim's chuckle turned into all out laughter and he jostled the child playfully. "Of course I was right! Aren't I always right, Sammy?" A small sound and a pout caused him to grin at the little boy before setting him down. "And I'm sure I'm right when I say you want some ice-cream." Sam's pout was immediately replaced by a bright smile. Tussling the boy's hair, Jim shook his head. "Why don't you go on inside while I talk to your mom?"
"Okay!" Sam chirped before darting off towards Jim's open front door.
Jim let out another chuckle before turning to Judy who had just reached the end of his driveway. "Hey, Judy," he greeted.
"Hey, Jim," she said, looking a little harried. "Thanks so much for taking him this afternoon."
Jim merely waved her off. "It's not a problem. I love having the little guy around. You go and have a good time. Sam and I'll probably just watch movies and eat pizza," he called over his shoulder loudly.
"Yeah!" he heard Sam shout from just inside the doorway where the little boy had been listening in.
Judy just shook her head before walking back down the street. "Have fun boys!"
"We will!" they both called out after her.
9 Years Later – Samuel Witwicky, Age 16 – T-Minus 3 days to Mission City
"Are you sure you don't want to come?" Sam almost whined from behind Jim's desk, where he was supposed to be completing his math homework.
Jim just laughed as he tightened the last bolt on the engine. Carefully maneuvering out from beneath the car's hood, he dropped his spanner in his tool tray before wiped his greasy hands on a nearby rag. He crossed his arms over his chest and leant his hip against the Mustang's chassis.
"It's not a matter of 'don't want', Sammy," he told the young man. "This is your first car we're talking about."
"Exactly!" Sam declared triumphantly. "And who better to help me pick it out than Mr. Voted-America's-Best-Mechanic-With-His-Picture-On-A-Magazine-Cover?"
Jim snorted loudly. "Hey now, I will never admit to that, and you can't make me!"
"Yeah, yeah!" Sam laughed, flicking a pen at the mechanic, only for Jim to snatch it out of the air with lightning quick reflexes. "So seriously?"
Jim shook his head. "Like I said, this is your first car. It's a big deal, and not just for you."
"Think about your dad. The buying of a first car is, like, this huge milestone in Parentville. It's something you should do with him," Jim explained.
Sam opened his mouth to counter but, coming up with nothing, deflated. "I hate it when you get all logical like that. I can't argue with you when you're right."
"Sammy, Sammy, Sammy," Jim said as he sauntered over to the desk. "We've been over this again and again since you were what, seven? Now let's repeat it together, 'Uncle Jim is always right.' Go on, say it," Jim prompted poking his surrogate nephew in the side, making the young man yelp and laugh. "Saaaaaay it!" Another yelp followed by more laughter.
"Alright, alright, Uncle Jim is always right," Sam finally gasped out between yelps.
"Exactly," Jim said, perching on the edge of the desk, careful not to mess up any of the young man's school books. "So when I say that you should do this with your dad, you know I'm being serious. We both know you don't spend as much time as you used to with your parents, and I'm not saying that's a bad thing – I mean, you're a sixteen year old boy and with the exception of your awesome uncle, it's not really 'cool' to hand out with adults – but there are a few things that are really special for both a parent and a child. The first time you walk, the first time you talk, your first bike, your first car…" Jim trailed off.
Sam sighed and slumped down in his chair. "Alright, I get it. But you're still going to take a look at it when I get it, right?"
Jim rolled his eyes and reached out to ruffle Sam's short hair. "Of course I am. Like I'd let you drive around in something that's only running on youthful enthusiasm. Once you've had it for a week or two, bring her on in and I'll personally handle any problems you find." Jim shrugged, a wide grin on his face. "And if you're really lucky, I just might throw in a free paint job. Michaela's schedule isn't too booked up right now."
Just as expected, a heavy blush bloomed across Sam's face.
Laughing, Jim stood up and squeezed Sam's shoulder. "Alright, I'm finished for the night. Give me half an hour to pack up my tools and lock up the shop, and I'll drop you off home."
An hour later, Jim unlocked his door and kicked it open while juggling his dinner (chinese from Jin Po's), a stack of paperwork (paychecks that he had to personally sign) and his house keys (which still had the misshapen keycharm Sammy had made for him in Shop Class). He made his way to his kitchen table where he dumped everything. Heaving a heavy sigh, he hit the call-back on his answering machine and busied himself organizing his meal. The small machine declared that there were no new messages, so he sat down at the table and dug in to his special fried rice and honey chicken.
Halfway through his dinner, he felt one of his mental alarms go berserk. He closed his eyes and let himself sink into the virtual landscape of his neural net. The alarm was coming from the program he had written and implanted into the POTUS mainframe two years previously.
Jumping to his feet, Jim raced through the house to his basement door where he wasted precious seconds unlocking the various deadbolts holding it shut. When it was finally unlocked, he battered it open and bolted down the stairs and into his 'command center'. The walls were lined with computer equipment built from a mix of Cybertronian technology and his own Anthrocyte-based tech, all of which pulsed with the same violet energy that thrummed within him. Thick cables ran through groves in the floor, all leading to the heart of one half of the most sophisticated computer system on the planet; the Control Chair. Based on the same technology as S7's original adapter, the Control Chair looked equal parts throne and recliner, technology and biology. Cables and wires ran up its sides and were held in place by organic-looking silver webbing, while the back, arm and head rests all shimmered beneath a silvery film.
Wasting no time, Jim dived into the chair. His hybrid energy thrummed deep in his chest as the system activated, causing the chair to tip back and the leg rest to lift up. The silvery film on the back, arm and head rests pulsed and flowed up from the chair to form a tangible link to its operator. As the anthrocytes formed the link, Jim let himself once again fall into a virtual landscape. Streams of data rushed past him like a raging river, but he ignored it in favor of the neon sign flashing a steady warning.
Jim deactivated the alarm and delved into the POTUS mainframe. It only took him a second to locate the source of the signal; someone had hijacked a military uplink in Qatar and used it to hack through the POTUS mainframe's virtual defenses in an attempt to download several terabytes of information related to Sector Seven. The hack had only lasted a few seconds, but it had torn through the Earth-based safe-guards like a wrecking ball. If it hadn't been for the invisible countermeasures Jim had installed in the military defense network when OmniCore had been contracted to build it, the intruder would have gotten what they wanted.
With a mental sigh, Jim examined those defenses. There were over a dozen countermeasures, carefully hidden within the POTUS mainframe's base coding, and every one of them was showing serious signs of damage. That alone made Jim shiver. Nothing on Earth should have been able to damage those programs; they were written in Cybertronian computer code.
They're here, Jim thought to himself as he activated the programs' self-destruction codes, causing them all to delete themselves without a trace. He couldn't risk their discovery and with their damage, he couldn't trust them to remain invisible when the military went over the mainframe with a fine tooth comb.
He pulled back from the POTUS mainframe and retreated to his own system, where he accessed a program he hoped he'd never have to use.
SYSTEM STATUS: STANDBY
UPLOAD PROGRAM: SOL_SYS_OBSV_01
With that final command, dozens of deep space radar arrays, satellites and stellar observation devices around the world turned their gaze towards the heavens and listened.
If the vanguard had arrived in search of the AllSpark, the rest weren't far behind.
To Be Continued...