Chapter 18 – Bloody Fakers
"What is it?" Said councillor was nursing a glass of fine single malt whisky. It was something he was doing a little too often these days.
"Sir." The messenger gulped. "Sir, there's a wave for you from a Tom Marvolo Riddle."
Snape jumped to his feet thunderstruck. "What did you say?" he whispered.
"Tom Marvolo Riddle, sir. He says you and he are old friends and he had all the access codes to connect to our station."
Blood drained from Snape's face and he stared at the nervous messenger. "What channel?"
"Number three, sir. It's completely secure."
Snape nodded and dismissed him. He then did something he hadn't done in years… he locked his chamber. Then with trembling hands he picked up the remote and pressed on number three. A screen slid down silently from the ceiling and turned on revealing the smirking visage of Tom Riddle.
"How good to see you again Severus," purred Voldemort. "It's been what? Twenty years since I surrendered to you?"
"My name is Ebenezer Snape," Snape said, pulling himself together and he adopted the look that made his subordinates quiver. It was, however, ineffective on the man in the screen. "How did you get out?"
"Come on now Snape. You know I could have broken out of you silly prison anytime that I desired. But even if I did, there was nothing out there for me to play with. That was the case until I felt him again."
Snape didn't reply but continued to stare coldly and fearlessly into those hellish eyes.
"Of course your annoying magic suppression solution does work but you know something like that couldn't keep me sedated forever! Or did you really think that your soldiers truly overcame by power that night?"
Voldemort's eyes widened when he realized Snape actually believed that their muggle weapons had managed to overpower him. He burst out laughing.
"Oh Snape. I wish you had the intelligence Severus was blessed with. Now that man was truly a genius. He is the only one I'll ever give credit for getting the better of me. It's a pity he died before the exodus."
"What do you want Tom?" Snape asked through clenched teeth.
It didn't matter to Voldemort what people called him anymore. It amused him to think back and realize what a fool he had been back in the days of living on Earth. He was beyond such petty things now. He was a god now.
"I surrendered to your troops because I felt like it and because life had lost its meaning," Voldemort said, ignoring his question. "Magic was almost dead. The pathetic people under my rule could not even use magic properly. Magical plants and animals were lost in the exodus. There was no way to make more wands." Voldemort stopped and sighed. "It was so depressing Snape. Oh we had our so called wizard scientists who came up with ways to keep magic alive and they even created some interesting metal wands that could channel magic, but it wasn't… it wasn't good enough!"
Voldemort ran his hand through his rapidly growing hair and grinned. "I'm growing my hair back you see," he said. "I like having a pony tail. It feels good to have something hanging from the back of your head but let's get back to the main topic. I was bored Snape. Sixty years in space almost sucked my magic dry but the following four hundred years redefined boredom."
Snape listened to all this quietly. He had no idea why Voldemort was telling him all this but he feared the conclusion of this conversation was not going to be in his favour.
"Do you know how to curb boredom? You redefine the rules." Voldemort's eyes glowed when he said this. "For twenty years I let you run your silly tests on my blood; my blood, that is saturated with power. My genes that are unlike anything you would have ever come across. I do hope you put them to good use by the way," he said expectantly. "I would hate to see that you could not manage to create even one genetically superior soldier."
Snape's eye twitched and Voldemort laughed in delight. "So that means you did! Well I hope you have an army ready because I sure am itching for a decent fight."
"What will you gain from this," Snape asked feverishly. "You just want death and destruction. What is the point? You say you surrendered willingly. What will happen once you get bored again? You're an immortal; you are bound to run out of things to entertain you. Why don't you just surrender peacefully and go back to sleep?!"
Voldemort narrowed his eyes. "I might have been physically contained. But my mind has always been alert, Ebenezer. If you think all I want is death and destruction then what does it say about you and your ridiculous Alliance? But we'll come to that later. I think you know the real reason why I am awake."
"Harry Potter," Snape whispered.
"Bravo, Snape. It will be such a wonderful reunion when I run into him in this universe. I wonder if he'll be happy to see me."
"He's been looking for magic, but I seriously doubt he'll be happy to see you."
Voldemort laughed. "Well I'll be happy to see him. I wonder how his magic has matured?" he said thoughtfully. "I'm sure with the right motivation, he could become a true master of magic and then! ….. Then we will have our battles!"
A shiver of bliss ran down Voldemort's spine just thinking about it. "Now tell me on which planet is Potter."
"And if I don't?"
"I'll be in Londinum in moments and let's see if you can put me down with those silly anti magic weapons of yours."
Snape wasn't ready for a confrontation with Voldemort yet. He needed time to gather the army and think of a plan to control this horrible mess. He hadn't planned on Voldemort getting free so soon! He had clearly underestimated this immortal and now he realized he was never the one in control in the first place. The war was never over.
"His last known location was Beaumonde," Snape said feeling defeated. "We don't know where he is heading now."
"So he's found himself a crew? Potter's resourcefulness is still intact. I'm thrilled," he said. "What ship is he on?"
"It's a firefly class transporter named Serenity. It's captained by a Brown Coat, Malcolm Reynolds."
"Keep Potter on your good side Ebenezer," Voldemort advised. "I'm sure you're familiar with the expression, the enemy of my enemy is my friend."
Snape laughed for the first time. "You think he will side with you?!"
"If he finds out what you've been doing to my wizards and witches and what you plan on doing to him, I'm sure you'll never be his friend."
"You'll be seeing the results of our experiments soon enough, Tom," Snape spat.
Voldemort smirked. "I'll be seeing you soon Ebenezer Snape and I do hope you cured your little squib problem."
The screen went blank and Snape's nostrils flared. He flung the remote at the screen, shattering it and he let out a scream of rage.
Voldemort turned off the communicator and sat still for a moment to organize his thoughts. The conversation with Snape had been very illuminating and the man's withered appearance amused him. As little as twenty years since had passed and poor old Snape had become just that… old. What a pity.
He stood up abruptly and grimaced at the state of his dress. Wearing a lab coat without anything underneath was utterly disgusting, he thought grimacing. His wand was in his hand in a blur and he transfigured the coat into a trouser, a shirt and a long overcoat with a little twitch of his wand. Robes were such a thing of the past. He didn't bother with footwear. He preferred walking barefoot.
Satisfied with his appearance, he began to plan his next move. His first step was to obviously find out what planet he was on and gather intelligence on what had happened since he had been put to sleep and depending on what he found out, he would either remind the Alliance of his presence or find Harry Potter and give him a pleasant surprise.
He chuckled, imagining Harry's expression when he saw him. The thought about their reunion was a source of great excitement for him. The last time he had seen the boy was in a horribly tortured state and he, himself, was not exactly the picture of handsomeness. How things had changed in five hundred years, he mused. The loss of most of his horcruxes did help bring about the changes and he was glad he still had one, safe and sound, far beyond anyone's reach.
He was distracted from his thoughts when he heard the hidden door creak open and a gust of freezing wind blew through the entire facility.
Someone uninvited was here.
Behind the restaurant tent, attached to steel poles, were four sparkling sinks with golden taps attached to them. Just like a magpie, River was attracted to these shiny articles and she slowly ran her hands over them, marvelling at their propensity to shine and stand out. A large mirror, tied to the poles holding the sinks, covered the entire width of the four sinks and there were several diffused show lights, clumsily attached, that beamed from above the mirror. This tent was close to the forest and there were four other different shaped tents nearby. All the tents were facing the dirt packed road and their back sides were almost isolated except for the occasion visitor to the wash room and tiny toilet tent that had its flap open. She could hear crickets whistling loudly on the forest side and on the other side, a cacophony of people chattering and different music from different tents cohering into something unbearable. "How noisy people are," she thought with a grimace. She moved her hand in front of the sensor and a gentle stream of water began to pour from the tap.
The voices in her head weren't bothering her for the first time in a long time. That is, since she was away from the reassuring presence of Harry's mind shields. She cupped her hands under the flowing water and splashed her face with the cool liquid, feeling refreshed almost instantly. Watching the water drip from her face in the mirror made her realize her mind wasn't wandering like it used to. She was lucid enough to understand what thoughts were her own and which thoughts weren't. Before, she couldn't differentiate between the two and it used to cause lots of confusion in her brain. She might not have those shields that would allow her peace of mind but she was really happy that she could think properly again. She couldn't wait for the day when she could control the voices from entering her head. She splashed her face again and frowned when she intercepted some very sadistic and disgusting thoughts that were coming from somewhere close by.
"Hello there," said a man from behind her. She could see him in the mirror and she smiled pleasantly. He was not much taller than her; was fair with blonde hair that was pushed back naturally; he had pretty blue eyes and he was dressed in expensive trousers and shirt. He was the kind of man who could make a woman blush just my looking at her and that's exactly what River did.
She shuffled her feet and looked down, blushing. This man smiled, revealed a row of perfectly formed white teeth. "Are you alone out here?" he asked.
"Yes," River said.
"That's a shame. A woman as pretty as you shouldn't be alone on such a beautiful planet. May I have the pleasure of knowing your name?"
"It's Natalie," River said shyly.
"My name's Carl. I'm from Persephone. I saw you in the restaurant and I'm sorry if I'm being too forward, but I was enchanted the moment I saw you," he said sincerely, his eyes never leaving contact with hers. "This is a little awkward but, I too, am all alone on this planet and I was hoping we could enjoy a tour together?"
River giggled and blushed. "I'm sorry," she apologized. "But I do have friends who will be joining me soon. But you're welcome to join us and then maybe…." She trailed off suggestively.
Carl looked disappointed and his eyes moved to a dark shadow hiding near the tent. "I wish you would have said yes," he said sadly. "It would have made things so much easier."
A huge man stepped out of the darkness and wrapped his thick arms around River and pressed a wet cloth to her mouth and nose. Carl watched calmly as the struggling girl fell limp in his companion's arms and then he smiled.
River Tam felt her blood boil at the thoughts and imagination of this man Carl who was waiting to make his move and so, she too waited. He was thinking about the various ways to seduce and kidnap the pretty young babe in front of him but it was his terrible luck that the one woman he had picked out was a woman capable of killing him with just a finger. Her temper flared when she heard him think about the plans he had for her and her mind shifted from happy to cold and murderous.
Her mind picked out the huge man, who was five times her size sideways and almost double her height, get into a favourable position and Carl stepped out from behind another tent and walked up to her. "Hello there," he said pleasantly.
River's cold, bottomless eyes latched onto his and then, before the men could even blink, in two long strides she was in front of the huge man. She drew the knife hanging on his hip and in a smooth motion she leaped up and slashed his neck.
Blood spurted out in litres and the man grabbed his bleeding neck, his eyes wide in confusion and were unable to register the fact that his throat had been split and he was about to die. He was choking on his own blood, gurgling and struggling to breath until his strength escaped him and he fell to his knees. He was dead by the time his large body fell to the ground.
Carl froze in shock and horror, unable to comprehend the turn of events and before his companion fallen to the ground, in a blur of movement River's fingers were digging into his neck, cutting off his ability to make a sound or even breath. The only sounds that he was capable of making were faint choking sounds and he tried to pry the girl's hands off but the lack of oxygen was blurring his senses. Carl's eyes nearly bulged out of their sockets in terrible agony when River stabbed the seven inch curved knife up to its hilt between his legs. Pure agony shot through his nerves to his brain and terror pulsed through his body. He wanted to scream and scream until his voice gave out; he wanted to beg; he wanted to sob; but River's deathly grip on his throat only made his eyes roll in their sockets. He desperately tried to kick out but he only found air. His body twitched and jerked when River yanked the knife out and stabbed him in the same place again.
Blood was pouring out from his mutilated genitals, coating her hands and boots, but she held her prey firm and stared into his terrified, pleading, dying eyes until the light that was present in every living person left Carl. She slowly unfurled her fingers and smiled, feeling satisfied, when his body crumpled to the floor.
River lifted her blood soaked hand to eye level and watching dispassionately as thick drops of blood dripped from her finger tips. "I'm going to have to wash my hands again," she sighed.
The gas that Greybeard was subtly releasing from the tiny cylinder hidden beneath his robes was steadily thickening the fog that was surrounding Harry's mind and if he had stopped using it, Harry would have never known he was under the influence of something foreign. But a limit was crossed and Harry was suddenly aware that something was affecting his thoughts. Something was taking away his ability to say no and making him more malleable and he also realized that there was peculiar smell in the air and it was coming from Greybeard.
His rationality came back to him with pounding force and his occlumency shields slammed into place, forcing the fog out of his mind but his body was still feeling the strange effects of the gas that was affecting him. He felt foolish and angry for falling for this fraud's act and wanted nothing more than to stun and curse him but Harry decided to play this out. He wanted to see what this Greybeard had to show him and his curiosity, which had gotten him into trouble more than just once, kept his wand hidden in his pocket. Five minutes had passed and Greybeard had another ten before Harry showed him what real magic was.
Suddenly Greybeard stopped and he turned around and smiled at Harry. Harry took the opportunity to read his mind and he was surprised to find excitement for Harry's sake and of course greed for money. Greybeard blew out the candle and he guided Harry towards a light that grew brighter as they got closer.
Harry couldn't help but gasp in awe at the grand scene in front of him. There was a massive pit in front of him and in this pit, at the centre, was a large inverted bowl shaped fountain that was spewing sparkling water. Around this fountain were trees which had pure white leaves and golden pear shaped fruits hanging from their branches and sitting on large, bright green, perfectly shaped leaves that grew out of the ground near these trees were the most beautiful women he had ever laid eyes on. All of them were dressed in white gowns that clung to their bodies and their skin was glowing softly. Their long dark hair was tied and braided with elegance and everyone of them had a look of complete traquility. There were men who were seated around some of these women and they gazed at them adoring while these ethereal beings pulled at the strings of a golden harp in synchronous. The men too, glowed mysteriously but not as bright as the women. They too had long hair but it wasn't tied and braided like the women.
Greybeard led Harry down a stone staircase and took him to the centre of this large pit that seemed to have its contents pulled straight out of a fairy tale.
"A woman slid down from a leaf and sensually walked up to Harry. "Welcome to our home stranger," she whispered, slipping her soft, warm hands into his own.
"What a setup," Harry marvelled in his mind. He couldn't believe this was all in the name of entertainment and to them he was just another customer looking for an enchanting adventure. He now realized what the purpose of the gas was. If it wasn't for that gas, he would not have noticed the many incredibly tiny bulbs that stuck to every person's skin which made it appear like they were glowing.
Greybeard stuck his palm out again and waited patiently while the woman bent and dipped a cup into the fountain, filling it with water. "Water from the fountain of life," she breathed reverently and held the cup near Harry.
Harry understood that he had to pay up again and he smirked. "The things people did for money!" he thought, amused. He removed another fifty and this time he didn't miss the delight that went through Greybeard's eyes. Harry recognized that he was paying much more than necessary.
The woman smiled and handed the porcelain cup to Harry. Harry slowly raised the cup to his lips and drank it. It tasted heavenly. The moment he did, all the men and women turned towards him and started to sing a song of welcome and festivity. They had beautiful voices, Harry thought. He was beginning to feel really glad that he had taken up Greybeard's offer. This certainly was turning out to be worth it.
"The water from the fountain is long been revered by our tribe," the woman said softly. "It will take you on a journey of self discovery and it will help you look deep within yourself to find answers that have long been out of your reach."
Harry blinked. Something strange was happening to him again. Her voice was echoing in his head and her eyes were changing colours. The prominence was of the sharpness of her ears was more evident and the singing of the elves was beginning to feel like a gentle river trying to sweep him into its endless journey into a chasm of light.
Harry frowned. Where had that thought come from? He gasped when the world began to rock on an invisible axis and everything that seemed colourless was now brightening with shades he could never even imagine. The white leaves on the trees were no longer white and the singing elves now had colours streaming out of their bodies in sync with their singing. "Did you drug me?!" Harry gasped. He could hear his heart as loud as drums banging next to his ear. He could feel the blood rushing in and out of his heart at intervals that were steadily shortening. Each breath he took, he could feel the air travelling through his wind pipe and expanding his lungs. His mind was expanding and he was suddenly feeling ecstatic.
"Let it take you deep my friend," Greybeard said. The elves were all focused on him and Harry laughed. He could literally feel his consciousness expanding. Every colour, every object was beginning to tell him a story and when he looked into the sky he marvelled at the brilliance of the stars shining down upon him. The night sky seemed darker and the stars and moons were like light beams shining straight into his eyes. He could see so much more; he could see things that were invisible too.
This whole effect of the singing, the beauty, the dancing, the colours; everything together was taking him to some place magical. "This is brilliant," he murmured, trying to touch the ribbons of misty colours that were floating all around him but his hands just glided through them.
"Would you like to visit the dwarfs?" the elf who handed him the water asked gently.
Harry burst of laughing. "Now I remember," he said loudly. His pupils were incredibly dilated. His eyes were almost entirely green and hypnotic. "All this reminds of those movies Dudley used to watch! He would sneak out in the middle of the night and put in the DVD's because his parents were disgusted by it!"
"That's wonderful my friend," Greybeard said. "Now come along. We have to make a trip through the vast expanse of the flower fields to see the dwarfs. I'm sure they'll be delighted to meet with you."
But Harry wasn't going to listen to this fraud anymore. "You people earn your money by these fake light shows and amazing costumes but you're nothing like the real thing."
Harry's voice was beginning to take on a spiteful edge. He had unconsciously, but with intent, drawn his wand and the fake elves had stopped their performance and taken a step back. There was a palpable energy coming out of Harry and his dilated pupils were crackling with energy.
"Whatever you gave me is making me feel brilliant!"
Greybeard placed a hand on Harry's shoulder and tried to steer him towards the stairs. They had a time frame to keep up with and more customers to ensnare but he should have realized touching Harry at this moment was a terrible idea. Greybeard didn't understand what hit him. He was blown off his feet and he crashed into a tree, which was in reality all cardboard and plastic, and brought it down upon him.
One of the women screamed in horror and Harry got her to shut up with a stunner. Magic was singing to him and he was going to dance to its tune. He wanted to show these fakes what REAL magic was and he animated the artificial set to bind these actors in place. Vines, branches and hidden wires sprang to life and like raging serpents they attacked and wrapped themselves around the actors and actresses.
Harry ignored all the begging and pleading and summoned them to the centre of the pit after banishing the fountain to a corner. "You're all such beauties," he crooned, his voice coated with superiority. "It's just your bad luck that you gave me water which is just….." Harry exhaled in pleasure. "It's making me see magic and I want to show you more!"
There was an odd pulling sensation at the back of his neck and Harry groaned and twisted his neck up and down but the feeling didn't disappear. It was then when he noticed the mountains gleaming under the moon light and his jaw dropped at the intense feelings that assaulted him the moment he laid eyes on them. "They're calling me," he whispered.
"Sir, the mountains are dangerous!" an elf whose fake ear was dangling off his real one squeaked in panic and fear. But the next moment a loud cracking sound filled the air and the branches, vines and wires binding them fell loose. Still bewildered and terrified by the force that had just rocked their little set, they slowly got up, trembling and looked at each other with dumbstruck expressions.
Harry had apparated straight into the path of a blizzard on the mountain. The cold winds felt like scalding hot needles piercing his skin and he quickly cast a warming charm on his body. The spell was, in essence, a ball of warmth that created a protective layer around his body and did not let the cold penetrate its shield.
Body feeling warm and mind still working at an abnormal level, he examined his surroundings. There was nothing but white everywhere. It was hauntingly beautiful. The wind howled in constant distress and Harry heart ached as he related to the suffering of the mountain. It was all alone on this planet. It was a treacherous, gargantuan piece of rock that was devoid of life of any kind. He knew why he was so drawn to the mountains now. This was exactly how he felt on his first night on Serenity. This was the first place he had found that understood the troubles of his heart and he found it incredibly soothing.
For a moment Harry wondered if his thoughts were being influenced by the strange drug that was affecting his mind but that thought disappeared just as fast as it came. It didn't matter where these thoughts were coming from. What mattered was that they were here and they were melting away his self inflicted burdens. A tear rolled down from his cheek as he felt pain buried inside him rise like a bubbling volcano and suddenly pour out of him causing him to fall to his knees and sob. The spasm at the back of his neck got stronger and Harry wept harder. He went on weeping until all the negative emotions were flushed out of his system and a powerful positive energy began to replace it. The fluctuations of his emotional stability amazed him but he was a slave to something more powerful and he was along for the ride.
The broiling energy inside him demanded that he walk and he began to trek up. He couldn't see the peak in this storm that was local to the mountains but he continued to walk without care or caution. His eyes were fixed upwards and his legs kept moving like on autopilot. More than once he was almost swept away by avalanches and he managed to avoid the numerous crevices with magical precision. He kept walking and he showed no signs of tiring out. He kept walking until his foot thumped against something metal and the out of place sound and object broke the trance that he was in.
The blizzard still raged all around him but his magic made him immune to its deadly power. His attention was now focused on the metal door that was embedded on this ice covered mountain.
He knew what this was without having to think twice. At once his thoughts began to darken and the ice beneath his feet began to melt because of the magic he was exuding.
He pointed his wand at the door and hissed, "Alohomora!"
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