Disclaimer: Neither Harry Potter nor Mass Effect nor their affiliated bits and pieces are my property. The lucky people who do own them are J.K. Rowling and both Bioware and EA, respectively. No copyright infringement is intended, and no profit is being made.
Author's Notes: Sorry everyone. A while back real life intervened and I stopped writing fanfiction for some time. Suffice it to say there were a whole lot of issues: my father got diagnosed with cancer (now in remission, yay!), my grandfather died, and I've moved closer to home and been job-hunting. Now that thing's are starting to get back on track, I'm trying to get back into the groove for this story. This isn't the whole chapter, just the first section with the Council conversation I had sketched out and now drafted. I'll be back soon with a complete chapter, but I figured you guys deserve what I've got, and this'll help motivate me to write. So again, sorry of the massive delay, and please enjoy.
The Green Eyed Spectre
Chapter 8: Downtime: Part 1
As Harry and Nihlus moved to stand at attention in front of the console, the vidscreen lit up and the three Councilors appeared, each seated in their respective offices. A moment passed before the link stabilized, each councilor appearing in their respective offices.
Tevos was the first to speak, "Nihlus, Shepard. Greetings. We received your mission reports, and we'll discuss them in a moment, but I do believe we have a series of more pressing matters to deal with, do we not?"
Nihlus remained silent and Harry caught the asari's gaze, speaking up, "Indeed we do, Councilor, but I suppose that depends on what you've done."
Sparatus snorted, "In lieu of having you both committed to a mental institution, you mean? Obviously we've contacted the Alliance seeking answers. I imagine it comes as no surprise that they confirmed it, however reluctantly."
Here Valern cut the turian off, interjecting, "Yes, quite fascinating indeed, and we will get to it in a moment, but I believe there is a more pressing concern. Shepard, you've issued a direct threat against the homeworlds of the Council races. Would you care to explain yourself before Nihlus detains you?"
Harry cocked his head and locked gazes with each of the councilors in turn, "My explanation will be tied into the answer to my question. The Council has now made contact with an entirely new culture, one with abilities quite unlike their own. So, what have you done in light of the situation?"
Sparatus scoffed, "You've already declared your allegiance and intentions. Though we are presently neutral towards your culture, you personally have already issued a threat against us. Why, by the spirits, would we grant information to a self-avowed potential enemy?"
Harry shrugged, turning to look at the turian, "On the contrary, the magical world and I aren't on the best of terms at all. I'm friends with a number of people down there of course, but the government as a whole? No. So long as your dealings with them and actions towards them remain ethical, I've no problem serving the Council before the magical world."
"And if we were to engage in hostile action towards your people?"
"Not enough context. As I've threatened, if you were to attack preemptively I would probably side with the magical world. On the other hand, if the magical world as a whole were to be the aggressor, I would take your side. As a Spectre, I am to preserve the stability and peace of the galaxy as a whole, am I not? If anyone tries to disrupt that balance, I will happily be the one to take them down, magical or not."
Sparatus threw his hands up, "Yet you yourself are attempting to disrupt the peace! Sprits, Shepard, you've threatened homeworlds!"
Glaring right back at him, Harry responded, "Only as a reactionary measure! If you do your damn job as a politician to foster peaceful co-existance between the races, then I'll never have to! If you're willing to be so arrogant as to judge and condemn an entire race of people without even exploring the opportunity for peace, then you should expect to receive the same!"
"Arrogance? You joined the ranks of operatives tasked with protecting the galaxy and you promptly threaten the safety of our homeworlds! Why would you do this? Why even reveal the secret at all? You could have continued operating und-"
Tevos cut the pair of them off, gesturing with her hands for calm, "Gentlemen, please. Shepard, Given what we have been told about the situation by the Alliance, we have decided against revealing the secret of magic right now. Such an action would likely cause mass panic and hysteria. Instead, the Alliance has begun widening the knowledge of it and preparing to deal with the fallout. As humanity is already an associate member of the Council, when the secret is made public, magical humans will be considered that of a client race to the Alliance. That will offer them protection, and in return I gather there are many things they can offer us."
Valern, having sat back analyzing, swiftly rested his arms on the desk, interlacing his fingers, "Yes, about that. We've received some word as to your abilities from Nihlus and some more information regarding your culture as a whole from the Alliance, but there is still much we don't know about your race. Would you care to offer some more insight?"
Harry sighed, "There's literally too much to go over in a meeting like this, though I would be happy to prepare a brief for you and attend a meeting to explain more in-depth, but perhaps some basics. Firstly, it's not simply wizards and witches in the magical world. There are also many different magical creatures, some of which are sentient beings. Goblins, centaurs, and vampires, for example. Some are magical but non-sentient, such as dragons, dementors, and manticores. Secondly, magic has few limits on its ability to alter reality. Generally, a witch or wizard will reach the limit of their own ability before magic itself does, even if they knew how. Many high-tier spells are restricted by the Edict of Atlantis to prevent inexperienced wizards and witches from having access to the most destructive spells."
Valern paused, looking down at his datapad before interjecting, "This…Silentum Exorcismo de Profanus Terrem…am I correct in assuming that it is one such restricted 'spell?'"
Harry nodded and straightened, "You are correct. There are several spells like it in their destructive potential, and all are classified under the Edict. The Edict itself is a treaty binding all magical citizens, created after the fall of Atlantis, the last purely magical civilization. In particular, the spell I've threatened to use was cast improperly and was thereupon responsible for the destruction of an entire continent. At that time, magical leaders came together and instituted said Edict, which simply controls how the knowledge of these spells is both restricted and protected. To put in bluntly, any spell thus classified can only be taught verbally to a pupil deemed worthy. It must never be written down, and any pupil must prove that they are capable of protecting their own mind from having the knowledge plundered."
"Protecting their mind?"
"A magical discipline known as Occulemency, which allows practitioners to organize and defend their own minds from intrusion by any means. Though admittedly I've yet to test it against asari melding, and have no inclination to do so."
"Very well, continue."
"While there are quite a few fields that have been explored, several remain common to most if not all magical societies. Transfiguration, the art of physically altering one object into another. Charms, the art of active magic. Enchantment and Warding, the art of passive magic. The Dark arts and Defense against them, this is both a study of magic used for nefarious purposes and that which can counter and prevent it. Potion-making, that art of combining magical ingredients to form physical substances that can create magical effects. Herbology and the Care of Magical Creatures, the studies of magical flora and fauna, respectively. Divination, the art of seeking answers. Runes, the art of inscribing magic. And finally, Arithmancy, the study of magic in numerical form. Obviously, there's far more to each field and those not mentioned than a blurb could ever encompass, but this will give you an idea. I'd be happy to prepare a more in-depth brief on the various arts if you wish."
"That would be appreciated."
"One thing of note: as a direct result of the secret being kept and the subsequent separation between the magical world and the non-magical world, referred to as the muggle world, magical society has not reached the same level of culture as the non-magical world. Given their lack of technological development, the magical world is merely beginning to approach the rough equivalent to Earth's twentieth century. Most solutions that technology provides are replaced with magical equivalents. Some are less effective, others far moreso."
"Well, Sparatus, Valern, I do believe that puts the matter somewhat to rest. Shepard has indicated that he will work for whoever is preserving the peace, as dictated by his oath. I can find no fault in that. However, Shepard, understand that we will be watching you very closely. If at any time you appear to be attempting to carry out your threat, the full power of the Council will be brought to bear against you. Furthermore, I believe we can agree that you will not be allowed passage to Thessia, Sur'Kesh, or Palaven for the immediate future, though perhaps there will come a day that we lift that restriction. I'm sure you understand."
"I do understand, Councilor Tevos. I hope that my actions will prove me worthy of regaining said passage, and that your actions do not prompt me into taking measures that would make me an enemy of the Council."
Sparatus scoffed, "Yes, far be it for you to become an enemy."
"Despite what it may appear, Councilor, I am on your side, so long as you work for peace and its maintenance. Something you will find to be true of nearly all magical citizens is that we take oaths very seriously. Something that makes sense when breaking an oath sworn on magic and life can cause you to lose both."
Tevos nodded, about to move on, but Sparatus interjected, "I have one more question before we get to your mission report. You mentioned that you were not on friendly terms with your magical world's government. When we contacted the Alliance, we were informed of your banishment along with your government's reason for it, but I'd like to hear your own. Why should we allow a convicted murderer to remain as a Spectre guarding peace?"
Harry grit his teeth. He'd expected it would come up, but the very thought dredged up memories he'd rather forget, "They murdered my wife. My actions were simply that of taking revenge, that's why I was banished. As to the follow-up, that is of course up to you, councilors. I am a Spectre by your will."
"Three thousand, four hundred and sixty one men and women?"
"And every one of which was connected in some way to her capture, treatment, and eventual execution, either actively taking part or in covering it up and preventing me from rescuing her. I submitted myself for judgement and my banishment was the sentence. It has already been carried out, and was the result of a legal system you had no jurisdiction in, let alone knowledge of at the time."
"You've thought this out."
"Make no mistake, the banishment stands. I am not welcome on Earth. The only way I was able to go through N training was in secret. But that is in the past, and I make no apologies for it. I'll say it again, I am a Spectre by your will. If you believe that I am not fit for the duty, then by all means, I'll step down."
"Very well, let's continue. A summary of your mission?"
Harry turned to Nihlus, but the turian simply gestured for him to take the lead and the wizard nodded, continuing, "I assume you've received the mission reports. Several days ago we learned the location of Dr. Liara T'Soni, the daughter of Matriarch Benezia. She was on Therum, in the Artemis Tau Cluster, conducting a field expedition to study the prothean ruins found there. As she may have been able to lead us to her mother, Nihlus and I led a team to the surface to retrieve her. Upon entry to the system, we discovered that the geth were in orbit and on the ground. At the time, we did not know if they were allied with her or not. We split the teams in two to cover the three possible sites she could be located at."
Here, Sparatus interjected, "And we will have words after about your appointment of Urdnot Wrex to command the second team."
"Of course, Councilor. Wrex took Lieutenant Alenko and Gunnery Chief Williams in the Kodiak to check sites Beta and Gamma. They had a lower probability of her presence and proved not to have her there. I led Nihlus, Detective Vakarian and Tali'Zorah in the Mako to site Alpha. We encountered numerous geth units along the path from the drop site to site Alpha, destroying them as we went. Eventually, the path became too narrow for the Mako and we continued on foot. We encountered more geth units and destroyed them en route. Upon entering site Alpha, we attacked the geth units inside and proceeded to descend to the dig site. The site itself was in an ancient volcano, and as we were heading down, we noticed the prothean structure rising, and Vakarian identified Dr. T'Soni along with several geth units and a krogan rising. We reversed course and prepared to ambush them at the top of the mining shaft. At this point, we noticed that whatever the krogan and geth had done at the bottom of the shaft had cracked open the seal on the magma below the rock. Fortunately, it rose slowly enough that it was not a hindrance. At the top of the shaft, we ambushed the enemy, offering surrender and receiving no acceptance. After destroying and killing them, we freed Dr. T'Soni from her restraints and attempted to leave the site. As we were leaving, Tali'Zorah was the first to see the geth dropship returning, and we took cover in the tunnel. Flight Lieutenant Moreau brought the Normandy in atmosphere and destroyed the geth dropship. This allowed us to set up suppressing fire to keep the ground units' attention on us while Wrex brought the Kodiak around and destroyed them before he extracted us. Once on board the Normandy, we exfiltrated and obtained medical care while writing and sending you reports. Recent conversation with the doctor has confirmed our suspicions. Dr. T'Soni is not allied with the geth, and has not had recent contact with Benezia. Furthermore, she had little to add regarding the Conduit, save that it was in some way connected to the Prothean extinction. She has also posited that 'the galaxy is built on a cycle of extinction,' and I will ask her to write a report and send it to you. Finally, using an artifact of mine, I was able to show the vision given to me by the beacon on Eden Prime to the rest of my squad."
"Nihlus, is there anything you'd like to add?"
"Nothing of note regarding the mission, Councilors. It was completed satisfactorily."
"Apart from the destruction of a major Prothean ruin."
Nihlus unfolded his arms and continued, "We can't be sure that it was destroyed, and even then that was the work of Saren's troops. The structure was embedded in the volcano, and it appeared that it had erupted before, as rock had formed around the ruin, rather than destroyed it. As a secondary note, I can confirm that the beacon on Eden Prime did indeed give Shepard a vision of sorts connected to the Prothean extinction, and the Reapers were mentioned."
"Are you certain you can confirm that, and that it was not simply a trick manufactured by his…magic?"
"I suppose that I cannot fully confirm it as I'm not an expert, but I would be willing to vouch for it."
"And just how did he show it to you?"
"Shepard possesses an artifact, a bowl with strange markings carved into it-"
Here Harry interjected, "A penseive."
"Right. A penseive, which apparently allows users to view and experience memories from an objective perspective. Using it, he showed us his memory of activating the beacon and the vision it gave him. The details regarding it are in my mission report."
"Very well. Nihlus, Shepard, you are to continue your mission to track down the traitor Saren and bring him to justice. STG has begun their own investigation to Saren's activities, we'll forward their results and emergency contact codes to you. Best of luck." With that, the signal closed, and Harry and Nihlus were left standing in the dimly lit comm room of the Normandy.
As Harry turned to leave, Nihlus spoke up quietly, "I'm putting a lot of trust in what you say and what you can do. Every instinct the Hierarchy trained into me is telling me to bring you in and continue the investigation on my own, but I've learned enough over the years of service as a Spectre that those instincts aren't always right. But let me make this clear. You continue helping, you hold true to your word, and we'll be fine. Go back on it, try anything that would harm a single innocent life, and I'll put a round in your head without hesitation. Are we understood?"
Harry just nodded and continued up the ramp to the CEC.