Note: The following AU story is best understood if you are familiar with the mainstream comics at DC. If you don't have a clue what I'm talking about and abhor comics then this is probably not the story for you. I will be using ideas from Green Lantern, Sandman, and Worlds' Finest (The New 52 universe) This universe differs greatly from the one you are used to seeing while growing up. Generally, this begins five years after the inception of The New 52 and crosses over with Harry Potter post-Battle of Hogwarts. These aren't the characters you're used to seeing because something happened to change it all. This will be revealed in the story.
Space Sector 1417 - The Planet Ogoro
I floated above the alien city far from my adopted home. The architecture was a little sci-fi for my taste. On the other hand it was reminiscent of an apocalyptic sci-fi, so it wasn't that impressive. The main grouping of buildings located in the center of the city seemed to be the only structures half-way standing.
The air quality looked toxic, but luckily the Power Ring I wore provided a personal shield that filtered out that which would harm. As I glanced to the east I took in the system's binary suns. The larger of the two almost at full setting and the smaller provided enough light to mimic a dark overcast day on my home planet. That is if the sky were a shade of purple I didn't know the proper name for. It was one of the girly ones, lilac or fuchsia, something like that.
"Ring, where's she at?"
"Scanning," replied the artificial intelligence housed within the black metal around my left index finger. "Subject located."
"Take me to her, and keep my shield at maximum."
The mineral substance the building was made out of reflected the lingering light of the smaller sun, highlighting large cracks in the facing. It didn't seem enough to threaten the structural integrity of the building, but it wouldn't take much to bring the fifty foot tall thing down on top of me. Granted I was protected by my personal shield, but it would still be an inconvenience nonetheless. If there was one thing I was tired of dealing with over the last two years, it was inconvenience.
"Harry Potter." The rasping sound of a female voice echoed from inside. "What is it that you fear?"
I didn't answer; instead, I took the time to scan what I could of the inside from where he stood. It was obvious that my target was trying to intimidate me. From what I had read about her history, that was her main weapon. Her Yellow Power Ring was second.
"Have you come to tell me a story?" she said.
The voice didn't sound healthy. In fact it appeared weak and lacking energy. I'd become more than familiar with the noise people make hours or minutes before they painfully die.
"Lyssa Drak," I said as I subconsciously pulled my cloak tighter around my body. "Where's the book."
The voice turned to laughter and then to a low hacking cough. The lack of furniture, carpeting, or any semblance of décor only intensified the sound.
"I've read your story, Harry Potter. Death has no hold on you, but she has you in her grasp all the same; doesn't she." With a clearing of her throat and the sound of her spit hitting the floor, she chuckled, clearly amused. "The holder of the final Power Ring of the Black Lanterns has come calling. How does it feel to be the Master of Death, Harry? Hmm? I've always wondered."
The planet's light was starting to make my skin itch, that and the sound of Lyssa Drak's voice, not to mention her hacking. I stepped forward and entered the darkness. Once my eyes adjusted I saw her sitting on the floor with her back against a wide support column. Blood was dripping at a slow but steady rate from her mouth.
The dim light of from the doorway reflected off her sharp teeth and blue skin, and there was a lot of skin to be seen. Even after five years of seeing various super-beings and aliens pop up out of nowhere I never understood the propensity of this universe's women to wear next to nothing. Not that it was entirely bad idea in some cases.
"Ah, there he is," she said. "But he has no face."
The Death Cloak was performing its job admirably, hiding my features in darkness and only hinting to a thin skeletal feature underneath.
"I'm here for the book. Where is it?"
Monologuing tended to draw experiences out. When all I wanted to do was sit back at Chelsea's, a pub not far from my apartment in London, and nurse a pint or two, she wanted to chat me up.
"I knew you were coming. Everyone that's touched a Black Ring knows. Everyone that has been in the presence of that which you seek knows." Holding up her right hand, Drak wiggled her fingers. "But Sinestro destroyed my Yellow Ring, so here I sit waiting for Death's Knight to take my blackened soul."
Rolling my eyes, I stopped to glance around. My ring would have notified me if any other life forms were in the area, but Power Rings can be fooled if you know how.
"Why is it that villains have to overdramatize everything they say?" I asked.
She smiled again, showing me those shark-like teeth. "I'm a storyteller, Harry Potter. I was the keeper of the Book of Sinestro and then the keeper of the Book of the Black, but you already know that or else you wouldn't be here hunting it down."
A black holographic screen, shown upward from the ring with Drak's personal information and a running digital countdown clock in the upper left hand corner.
"You've got less than two minutes remaining before she comes. Do yourself a favor and lighten the burden on your soul before it's too late."
The grin dropped from her face and I watched as her eyes closed in a painful grimace. She grunted once and her chest lurched before a relieved sigh exited her mouth.
Considering the shape Drax was in and the destruction of her Yellow Power Ring, I concluded as much. She was either lying in an attempt to rally me to get payback from her killer, or she was telling the truth. Either way I didn't have much else to go on.
"He took it after he killed you," I said.
No more answers were forthcoming.
Growing up in my cupboard on Privet Drive, I believed that I would always die alone. It's a somewhat morbid thought coming from a preadolescent, but when you've spent the majority of your life being encouraged to be silent and unseen, weird thoughts tend to make themselves known. It not true; none of us die by ourselves. There's always one person that shows up at the end.
Looking over my shoulder, there she was, my own personal savior and jailer.
She was pale-skinned and had very shiny black hair, looking somewhat windswept and full. The clothing she wore consisted of a black camisole and black denims. Around her neck hung a silver link chain with a very large Egyptian ankh dangling from the bottom. The last thing, and most important, in my opinion, was her face. Compassion exuded from her expression. Her irises were very light-grey in color and her right eye was traced or perhaps tattooed with an Egyptian symbol I recognized: the Eye of Horus, with the little curly-cue hanging underneath the outside.
The first time I encountered her, I fell in love so profound I thought I'd weep. It wasn't until after that particular conversation that I wondered if everyone that met her felt the same.
I gave her a muted smile, because ever since I took her job offer, her aura didn't affect me any longer. "Death."
She slid up beside me and rested her hand on the inside of my upper arm. "Any luck?"
Nodding once, I turned my attention back to Lyssa Drak. "Thaal Sinestro, leader of the Yellow Lanterns, has it."
Her grip tightened slightly; I barely noticed. "After you complete your mission, there is trouble brewing in Houston. Your ring has the information."
My shoulders relaxed and I felt the tension in my back release. Home was almost a distant memory. For two years I've been tracking the Book of the Black. I really hate Outer Space. It's very dark. Even with thousands of stars illuminating whatever galaxy I happened to be in at any particular moment, it was still cold and dark, not to mention lonely.
"I'll get right on it."
Death lifted up on the balls of her feet and kissed my cheek. "Of course you will, Harry. Try to relax a little, maybe go out on a date and reconnect with your race. Eternity is a long time to be by yourself. Trust me on this."
"I do. You've never lied to me before."
A loud wheeze sounded from Drax's direction.
"Ah," Death said with finality. "Duty calls."
With that, she let go of my arm and strode to where Lyssa Drax released her final breath.
"Hello. Are you ready to go?"
I turned around and lifted off the planet surface never to return to Ogoro again.
Sector 2814.38.C – Planet Earth
Sinestro was nowhere to be found. Normally my ring, gifted to me by Death herself, had the ability to locate virtually anyone in the universe, if I knew the correct way to ask. Names duplicate, so I have to be specific. Obviously Yellow Lantern Thaal Sinestro of Sector 2814 wasn't good enough. Until I learned more about this person he would have to wait.
What I did know should have been enough. His missions and crimes as a Green Lantern were legendary until he was cast from their ranks. His tenure as a Yellow Lantern was horrifying, as he made Voldemort seem like a five year old with a stick that shot sparks. But after a universe-sized war between the forces of the Emotional Spectrum of Power and the undead forces of the Black Lanterns, he disappeared.
That's why I have my job, by the way, because of that war. Nekron, a god of death from a different universe, stole some of Death's power and fashioned it into a Black Lantern Power Battery. Using that same power he found an acolyte and produced thousands of Black Power Rings, which traveled across the universe waking the dead in their graves.
Nekron corrupted Death's power for his own use, and one just doesn't steal something from one of the Endless.
Standing on the rooftop of Starr Enterprises, I watched the chaos below. My personal shield protected me from the flames engulfing the research and development arm of the company. Normally, I would help out in situations like this by extinguishing the flames with magic or the aide of my ring, but I needed the building and its contents to be irrevocably destroyed.
Inside the main lab sat a machine that shouldn't exist on Earth. A machine that was capable of tunneling though universes, or more realistically from this universe to a specific one. If certain things were altered or recalibrated, it could go to pretty much anywhere, even to the Etheric, where the Endless dwelled. One theft was enough, and I had the full support of my benefactors to suppress or destroy anything that threatened another.
Destiny, Desire, Delirium, Dream, Destruction, Despair, and Death; they are seven brothers and sisters that embody seven fundamental forces of existence itself. Born when the universe and life began, billions of years ago, they're what holds chaos at bay and brings order to the universe.
Very few things have the power to fool them, but it can be done. That's where Nekron came in, and once he was put down and the Black Lanterns destroyed, Death came in with a vengeance and demanded from her brother the universe be set right. Very few entities refuse her ultimatums. To this day, she's never told me what she threatened him with.
A white limousine pulled up on the street in front of Starr Enterprises and spat out two women, one long black-haired and the other, a short bobbed blonde. It was the blonde I was interested in, Karen Starr herself.
After a few moments, Starr disappeared behind one of the three fire trucks on the scene, and the next, large portions of the building were being doused. The flames had already finished the job I intended. The device was melted slag, that's how the fire began in the first place. All the computer hard drives in the building were wiped, degaussed, and finally shattered along with the hard copies and backup drives located in the supposed fireproof safes. Everything else was cover for my presence.
There would be unanswerable questions afterward, but the arson I'd committed would eventually be linked to the machine itself.
All the important work was performed by the lady. She was intelligent enough to separate each section of the device's construction to different departments so none would have knowledge of the final product. That was all her. Karen Starr was the last link in the chain and it was her life that I'd come to claim.
"Ring, give me her location."
"Karen Starr is currently inside Starr Enterprises, room 100, room 230, subbasement 3…"
I cut it off before it continued. "Which is it?"
"Subject is moving from room to room faster than I am communicating to you."
I blinked and looked down at the smoldering remains of the building. The conclusion I immediately came up with was that she was a metahuman, which complicated matters.
"Scan her and give me a summery."
Only a few seconds went by before the ring responded. "Scan inconclusive. Subject possesses similar DNA structure akin to Sector 2813 – Planet Krypton, subspecies Kryptonian, however it is not exact."
I frowned and stepped off the ceiling, floating downward to get a look though the remaining windows to see what there was to see about the mysterious Karen Starr. With the Death Cloak, my presence was muted from mortal senses, so I felt confident enough in not getting caught peeking.
"Taking into account mission parameters, knowledge of the Kryptonian Kal-El's biology, and scans of Karen Starr, extrapolate and theorize."
That seemed to take a lot longer than expected. Considering the processing capabilities of the AI in the ring, that was a telling note to how much information had to be processed and analyzed.
I took the time to locate Starr in the lab where the device was located. The devastated look on her face was enough to let me know how close she was to the project's completion. It was then that I noticed what she was wearing, or not quite wearing seeing as it was mostly burned away. That showed exactly how long it had been since I'd seen a woman much less a human being. What was once a white dress was now in tatters barely clinging to her body. The odd part wasn't that I was ogling her tremendously gifted assets; it was because my attention was drawn away by the costumed woman entering the area.
The vigilante who, at the time that I'd originally left Earth, worked mostly out of Metropolis, walked up beside Starr.
"Back to the old drawing board?" she said.
Starr didn't even flinch at her presence which indicated to me that they obviously knew each other.
"Analysis complete. The two people present are not of this universe, much like you are not."
"Pardon?" Needless to say, I was shocked. In all of my time spent there, I'd never come across another being that was for all intents and purposes trapped in a universe that they didn't originate from.
"Karen Starr and the person next to her, which scans inform this ring is the metahuman known as the Huntress, both resonate with the same quantum signature which in turn differs from yours and this world's. This explains construction of the so-called quantum tunneling device. There is an eighty-three point seven percent chance that they wish to return to their home dimension."
I closed my eyes and rubbed at them for a few moments. "So, basically I just blew up their ride home. Great… good work, Potter."
With a resigned sigh I said, "Keep an eye on them, Ring. Once they're able to rebuild, let me know so I can destroy it after they leave."
"Mission parameters state that the creator of the device must be terminated. The chance that said technology can be used to penetrate the Etheric is not acceptable by the Endless."
With a deep frown I took to the air. "Well murdering someone that just wants to get home is unacceptable by Harry Potter. If Death has a problem with it she can take it up with me. Just do what I say, Ring."
My apartment in London took most of the afternoon to put in order. As there wasn't enough ambient magic, because of my lack of attendance over the previous two years, there was enough dust accumulated to cause a sneezing fit of epic proportions. By nightfall the next day, the pantry was stocked, the electricity turned back on, and the furniture was properly decontaminated.
This was the one of the many downfalls of choosing to take Death up on her offer five years ago. Virtually every tie I had to the wizarding world was gone along with most of the wizarding world itself. My choice was to serve or be part of the alterations. I often wonder what would have happened to me if I said no.
It's amazing what one little modification in reality can do to the universe around us. While I always saw Death as the most powerful of the Endless, I think it is really her brother, Destiny, which can affect the greater whole than any other.
He holds the Book of Fate in his hands. Everything that has ever been and all that will ever come is written in that ancient tome. Through his magic he altered events which collapsed all those alternate universes my ring spoke of earlier.
Imagine my surprise when all was said and done, after the Battle of Hogwarts, Death came calling. With her endearing aura and sweet look of innocence she asked me, the holder of the Deathly Hallows, to help in saving billions of lives.
After assurances that those I loved would be safe and some of those that were killed would be brought back, it didn't take much else to convince me. Of course I didn't read the fine print. I was seventeen and stupid beyond all comprehension. However, I learned my lesson. I just wish I didn't have to pay so high a price.
Every time I laze on my couch and stare at the mantelpiece above the fireplace, Ron and Hermione look back at me. A picture was one of several things I was allowed to take with me into the Etheric before Destiny did his thing. Then all I had were memories. I still visit them from time to time. They don't know who I am and there are barely any wizards left, but I visit nonetheless.
Hermione runs a Muggle book store, and is married to a guy from the West End. When I saw her last, she was starting on her first child that was due that winter. It would be almost two years old by now. Ron was a plumber's assistant and still single at the time. Neither of them had any magic and never did, but Ron still had all his brothers alive and unharmed.
Hogwarts, or what passes for my old school, is still there, just not as grandiose. If they're lucky, they have about fifty students a year pass through their doors. Oddly enough, Dumbledore is still alive and headmaster once again.
I visit on occasion, when I need to perform research on some esoteric charm or curse that can aid me in my duties. He thinks I belong to some sort of think-tank akin to the Department of Mysteries and has an almost obsessive curiosity toward my ring. Seeing as Death's sigil is blazoned on the top he can't stop himself from interrogating me whenever I'm around. Needless to say, I don't visit that often.
"Ring, connect to local communications network and dial Ginny Weasley."
Her phone rang twice before it was answered by a decidedly male voice.
I couldn't help it; I faltered. "Um… may I speak with Ginny, please."
"An old friend."
A grunt returned to me. "Since I grew up near her, I know all her old friends."
My teeth made a grinding noise before I let up. "Is she there or not?"
"Yo, Gin! Some douchebag is on the phone, says he knows you."
Reigning in my temper, that was balancing on a needle fine line, I waited until I heard her voice.
"It's Harry," I said, hoping that it hadn't been too long since I last talked to her.
Even though she wasn't the same Ginny Weasley from my universe, I still made a connection with her when I arrived. It was almost too easy at the time. However, working for Death and the Endless made my working schedule more than unreliable.
The silence that followed my announcement wasn't encouraging.
"So, you've decided to come back from Africa and ring me up?"
It was the best excuse I could give someone when I was gone for large periods of time. Most people are under the impression that there are no phones on that particular continent; no phones, no cell towers, and thus no way to contact anyone. The fact that there are cities there that are populated with actual people never entered into the equation. Africa, to them was jungles, Tarzan, cannibal pygmies, and possibly starving Ethiopians.
Still smooth after all these years, Potter.
"I waited for six months. You said it'd be a couple of weeks."
Ginny's voice had dropped in anger. After knowing her for so many years, I deduced that she was somewhat miffed.
"I got caught up."
"Yeah, well, I moved on. Don't bother calling back."
The line clicked off and I contemplated the odds of hunting down Daphne Greengrass for a lap dance or seven at the strip club she worked at before I last left.
"With my luck, she's probably a lesbian by now."
My fallback plan, a pint at Chelsea's, was the only viable option.
After two years in space, chasing after the Book of the Black, spending the evening sitting on a bar stool nursing a pint of Guinness felt a bit like I was slumming. The only person who recognized me was Neville Longbottom. The last time I saw him, he was just promoted from bartender to closing manager, and strangely enough he was one of the people left around Britain that had their magic. The question I'd never asked was, why was he tending bar in a Muggle pub?
"The birds," was his answer.
Imagine that; Neville Longbottom, chick magnet.
"Birds love the guy behind three feet of oak. Figure I learn the business here and then open up my own place up near Hogwarts, rename all the drinks to something magical, say I invented it all, and hit up the seventh years when they come into Hogsmeade to get pissed."
Okay, scratch that; Neville Longbottom, pervert.
"They come in, flirt a bit to score some free drinks, and then I get to score some action, because they're so grateful."
I shook my head. "Nev, they're just seventeen."
"Bah, age of consent in Scotland is sixteen." He straightened his tie and tried to look magnanimous. "Figure I give them a year to brace themselves and then hit it when they come of age. Golden!"
He looked up and scowled. I glanced in the mirror behind the bar and saw some local getting a little too physical with a girl half his age. The crowd was fairly decent, but it didn't stop Neville from palming his wand and sending a Pants Dropping Jinx at the offender. Apparently he held a tight rein on the perverts at Chelsea's. All offenders must work behind the bar.
Once the guy saved his pants he made an embarrassed dash for the exit. Neville picked up his dropped bar towel and resumed polishing the same shot glass that he'd been working on for the previous thirty minutes.
"Anyway… Oh! I completely forgot; Dumbledore came in here looking for you." A look of concentration dropped over his face. "Must have been seven, maybe eight months ago."
I grimaced and finished off the last of my pint. Setting it down, I motioned for another. "Remember what he wanted?"
"Never said. He just wanted to know if you'd been by."
While it wasn't unheard of for the Professor to venture off magical grounds, it usually took more than a desire to find someone. That's why wizards invented post owls. The old man must have been pissed that his letters came coming back because I wasn't in England, or the galaxy for that matter.
We were interrupted by a waitress seeking a dozen drinks for her customers. As Neville worked I pondered what my sort-of-mentor wanted. Considering nobody I knew from my old life knew who I was, odds were it wasn't anything to do with a certain renegade Dark Lord. Besides, one of the first things I did when Destiny got finished shuffling the Fate cards to deal a new deck, was to look up Tom Riddle. He existed, for all of thirteen some odd years before being bombed out of existence during the Blitz. You can't say the Nazi's never did anything useful at least one time during their miserable rule.
I rarely zone out anymore. However, imagining Riddle looking up in the sky and seeing a bomb about to introduce his mouth to his ass left me in a pleasant and distracted mood. That's why I didn't notice someone sit on the stool next to me.
"As luck would have it, young mister Potter, we meet again."
Cocking my head to the side, I gave Dumbledore a painted on smile. "Professor… fancy meeting you in London, far far away from any magical gathering."
Neville sallied up to the bar. "What can I get you, Professor?"
Dumbledore eyed my Guinness. "I'll have what Mr. Potter is having, Neville. How are you this evening?"
"Fair. Haven't been laid in three days. I hate Wednesdays."
"Raise your spirits, young man, Friday and young nubile bodies are only two days away."
Neville grinned and pulled a tap for the empty pilsner while I shifted in my seat, trying to look casual.
"Heard you're looking for me."
"That was some time ago," said Dumbledore.
"Mmm. So, naturally the moment your name is mentioned inside Chelsea's, the Fates intervened and informed you of my presence? Or was it maybe a Taboo on the premises?"
The Professor looked slightly embarrassed at being caught out. "My apologies for intruding upon your private time, however I believe it is in both our interests to develop a relationship of sorts."
Knowing what I know about the Albus Dumbledore of old, that was a loaded statement.
"No offense, Professor, but you're out of my age range and I like my dates to be a little bustier."
His eyebrows shot up into his thinning white hair. There was a slight push against my mind at that moment. While I never learned Occlumency, I was trained enough to know when I was being read.
"Oh, dear," he said. "I do believe my youthful indiscretions weren't as private as I once thought. However, it is not a night of promiscuity that I seek, Mr. Potter. I fear my heart would give out before there was any enjoyment to be had. Though, I thank you for your interest."
The mental image that set to mind made me want to whip out my wand and obliviate myself. Dumbledore seemed amused by my distress as he sampled his pint.
"No," he said as he set the pilsner down. "My interest this evening is in exotic jewelry."
I sighed. This again.
I was cut off by a motion of his hand before I even got started on my standard cover story.
"Not yours, my boy. Another."
That got my attention and I knew Dumbledore saw my surprise. Even though it was a minute gesture, I knew the Professor was a master at reading people, so I didn't try to hide it. Turning very slowly on my stool, I looked over my glasses at him like his double had done many times in my youth.
"Another black ring, like mine?"
The tone in my voice was level and brooked no obfuscation as he was notoriously known for. His answer would likely determine which one of us would survive the resulting battle. Death had assured me that the only Black Power Ring in existence was my own. If there was another, then the war that resulted in the multiverse being dealt a new hand could be played out once again. Dumbledore would have to surrender it and allow himself to be Obliviated of its presence in his mind, and I've never heard of a circumstance in which the Professor would willingly allow knowledge to simply cease to exist.
Books and items, no matter how dark, littered his personal library, secreted away from curious eyes. Yes, it would have to be taken by force, and no matter how much I've improved in my magic over the previous few years, I knew I was no match for him.
Again, I felt his presence at the forefront of my mind.
"Professor, I've allowed you the benefit of the doubt regarding your passive use of Legilimency, but if you continue your attempts to break into my mind, you're going to have an intimate moment with your spleen."
Dumbledore's eyes narrowed and I watched as his lips rose slightly in amusement. "Perhaps we should retire to a place with fewer eyes and ears."
Reaching into my jacket, I palmed several bills and laid them on the bar. "Gotta go, Nev. I'll see you next time."
The Professor rose along with me and motioned me ahead. I didn't even move.
"A show of good faith, perhaps?" he said before taking the lead to the door.
My wand was already in my right hand and I was prepared with my ring in the left. In a second I could call my Death Cloak and a personal shield that would protect me against virtually anything thrown at me, but this was Dumbledore. The man probably knew a hundred different ways to melt every bone in my body if given enough of an incentive to use a spell that deadly.
Perhaps it was time to see exactly why Voldemort feared battling Albus Dumbledore.