Please do read this Prescript, it's here for a reason.
Credit: If anyone thinks the opening of this is similar to keiranhalcyon2010's 'Harry Potter: An Ancient's Journey', it is – that story was what gave me the idea for this in the first place, and I haven't come up with a better opening. I asked the author for permission to use it, but he/she didn't get back to me. Since the story hasn't been updated in three years or the author's profile in two, I'm just going to go for it.
1) This chapter is setting the scene, worldbuilding if you will. It's very heavy on narrative description at first – stick with it please, it won't all be like this.
2) A note on dates – HP dates stay the same, although not everything will happen the same way. Stargate dates are moved 'forward' ten years, making the first Stargate mission (Stargate: The Movie) in 2005 rather than in 1995. There are several reasons for this, but I won't explain them here.
3) This is obviously HEAVILY AU. Do not expect me to conform to canon in any way, this will probably bear only a bare minimum of resemblance to the original franchises. This is Harry Potter done through a Stargate 'verse-based lens of military science fiction; nearly all parts of both will be overhauled considerably. To that end, I haven't decided exactly what things will feature/not feature yet, but anything I can't think up a Stargate-esque pseudo-scientific explanation for may well be discarded without warning or explanation.
With that rant delivered, and if you're still reading, fantastic. Welcome aboard the good ship SVPPB.
Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum
'If You Wish For Peace, Prepare for War'
Act One - Preparation
On the galactic South-East of the barred spiral galaxy known to some of its inhabitants as the Milky Way, there is a set of nine planets orbiting around a basically normal, completely unremarkable G-type yellow star. That star, rather unoriginally, is usually known as 'Sol', if a name other than 'the sun' were to be given for it – as per the usual, Sol simply means 'sun' in one of the more pretentious local languages.
Up until about a million years ago, a planet in this system had been the homeworld of possibly the greatest spacefaring civilisation that this galaxy, and many other galaxies, had ever known. The Alterans did not evolve on this planet, but had been forced from their home galaxy even more millions of years before by a civil war; refusing to fight, they elected to leave entirely and relocated to the Milky Way, which they named 'Avalon.'
They settled on the third planet of the Sol system, and called it 'Terra'; it became the centre of a vast peaceful empire, founded on the bedrock of scientific curiosity and development. The Alterans never stopped asking 'why', and sought to understand everything around them; it is fortunate they were at heart pacifistic, or their discoveries might have destroyed them utterly - and possibly the rest of the galaxy with them.
They established a network of Astria Porta, now known as Stargates or 'chappa'ai', to enable near-instant transportation via stable wormholes between the worlds of their empire; and, while the most widely used, these gates were far from the greatest peak of their achievements. They could manipulate time, access other dimensions, cross into alternate realities, and artificially accelerated their own evolution to a point where they developed such capabilities as telepathy, telekinesis and touch-healing. They established contact with two other reasonably advanced races (although not quite to their level): the Nox and the Furlings. They would meet periodically to trade and discuss matters of mutual concern, and the Alterans assisted the Nox and the Furlings in advancing their development.
However, even the mightiest can be struck down by something tiny; in this case, a microbe. About a million years ago, a plague ran rampant throughout much of the Alteran civilisation in the Milky Way, a plague that even their advanced technology and physiology could not cure. To preserve their species, the Alterans once again uprooted and left, departing with the remainder of the uninfected survivors in the city-ship Atlantis. They seeded their second homeworld, Terra, with the basis of a 'second evolution' of their species, and vanished, apparently for good.
Chapter One – The Story So Far …
"Whoever wishes to foresee the future must consult the past; for human events ever resemble those of preceding times. This arises from the fact that they are produced by men whoever have been, and ever shall be, animated by the same passions, and thus they necessarily have the same results."
However, it was not the last the Milky Way would see of the Alterans. The remnants returned to Terra via Stargate ten thousand years before the present era, a broken and much-reduced race, the losers in a century-long conflict with an as yet unknown, powerful and implacable enemy that they preferred not to speak of. The few thousand survivors, determining that the 'second evolution' was still too primitive to help re-establish their race and empire, decided to go their separate ways. Some 'ascended', evolving to a higher plane of existence as beings of pure energy, while some departed to travel the Milky Way through their ancient but still-functional wormhole network. A small number remained on Earth, and interbred with the Human population there, passing on a genetic inheritance that would, eventually, become rather important.
Those that departed made contact with their old allies. The Alteran remnant and the other two races re-formed the Great Alliance, now of Four Races, as they were joined by the Asgard, a powerful spacefaring species from the Ida Galaxy. Together they opposed the encroaching power of the parasitic, aggressive Goa'uld - even driving them to the brink of extinction - until all four powers eventually had to give up fighting for various reasons.
The few Alterans remaining either died in combat or ascended, whilst several of the Furlings' key worlds were destroyed in a cataclysmic simultaneous sneak attack by the Goa'uld Ra, wiping out the majority of their population. The much less numerous Nox too suffered significant population decrease as a result of Goa'uld aggression, and adopted a defensive, pacifistic outlook and retreated to their homeworld. The Asgard were forced to withdraw their military resources to their home in the Ida Galaxy due to the emerging threat of the relentless, all-consuming Replicators.
Of the four, only the Asgard maintain even a token amount of opposition to the Goa'uld, forcing them to sign the Protected Planets Treaty before withdrawing. While still in effect, is regarded by both sides as a less-than-satisfactory compromise; however, the Goa'uld are not sufficiently advanced and the Asgard are too over-stretched to force the issue in either direction. Even today, the Asgard are required to dedicate almost the entirety of their race's considerable resources to the continuing containment of the Replicators and research into a way to defeat them, as well as several other critical issues that threaten their race's continued survival.
At some point, the Goa'uld leader, the Supreme System Lord Ra discovered Terra, and found that Humanity made much-improved hosts for their parasitic race. Despite the best efforts of the remaining Alterans in the Alliance, now reduced to just a few dozen, they were unable to force the Goa'uld off their ancestral homeworld. It took five thousand years for humanity to learn that the Goa'uld were not gods, and to throw off Ra's shackles, but by that point millions of humans had been exported across the galaxy as slave labour through the Stargate. Ra no longer required 'Earth' as a source for slaves, and left it in peace.
This would come back to bite him in the ass. Quite spectacularly.
However, some Alterans had used stasis pods to extend their lifespan, to guide the second evolution's development in the future. Unable to force the Goa'uld occupiers off Earth, they chose to wait for such a time as when they could emerge from their cold sleep and begin accelerating the development of humanity, seen particularly in the Roman Empire whose language took heavy influences from Alteran. Centuries after the Romans, one ascended Alteran, now aware of the threat from their oldest adversaries - those who had forced them to abandon their original home galaxy - chose to return to physical form as 'Merlin.' He entrusted his secrets to King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, enlisting their aid as he created a weapon that he knew would be needed one day to fight back against those that now called themselves the 'Ori.'
It was during this period that 'Merlin' or Moros, to give him his proper name, became aware of an interesting legacy passed on from Alterans who had interbred with humanity several millennia before. A small percentage of humans exhibited abilities not unlike those of the Alterans' more evolved biological forms. Merlin recruited four especially powerful young 'Wizards' and 'Witches', all with suspiciously alliterative names, and aided them in their attempts to control and refine their powers.
Merlin was able to pin down the scientific basis for these powers: Zero Point Energy manipulation, or energy drawn from warping other dimensions; an incredible innate biological ability to replicate - albeit on a microscopically smaller scale - a process similar to that used in the subspace energy cells that powered all the greatest works of Alteran technological genius.
This 'magic' enabled its practitioners - homo sapiens magi, to use modern Earth scientific terms - to literally 'pull' energy out of these dimensions and twist it to their intentions mentally, whether that be to create or, unfortunately, to destroy. Merlin and his apprentices agreed to hide the truth of their origins, believing it to be too much for the still backward, superstitious population of Earth to handle. However, these powers were now being unlocked with increasing frequency by a tiny but noticeable percentage of humanity, and as such they needed to be guided and taught, less they destroy their entire race or planet.
And so by the time 'Merlin' vanished into legend and myth, Hogwarts School had been founded by his students; the truth of their powers' origins was concealed in a Chamber beneath the Castle, constructed by one of the four apprentices and guarded by a fearsome, near-immortal sentient reptile called a Basilisk; the simple rumour of which should be enough to keep most people's curiosity in check.
It was intended that, once a sufficient state of advancement had been attained by humanity, then the Chamber would be easily accessed, the Basilisk - which was sentient enough to understand not to indiscriminately kill intruders, and only try to scare them off - could be communicated with and persuaded to stand down, and some subtle biometric scans would determine if the subject possessed the required Alteran DNA heritage. The actual contents of the chamber were hidden 'out-of-phase' with reality, shifted into an alternate dimension. Once the ATA test was passed, and the subject had taken a few simple tests to confirm understanding of mathematics, geometry and other basic scientific principles, the contents - in particular, a complete database of Alteran knowledge and various other devices - would be shifted back.
It is worth noting that Merlin discovered that not all so-called wizards and witches possessed what is referred to now by the Asgard as the Alteran Technology Activation gene, i.e. a particular gene present in their entire population that was chosen by the Alterans to function as a biometric security check. The 'powers' passed on by the Alterans' descendants were, in fact, rooted in other genetic sequences.
While there was a statistically noticeable relationship between magical abilities and the ATA marker, its incidence was not massively higher than in the non-magical population: while the ATA occurred in roughly two per cent of the 'normals', it appeared in about fifteen per cent of the 'magicals'; despite this, due to the disparity in population size between the two societies by the 20th Century, even non-magical ATA gene holders significantly outnumbered magical ones.
Thus, when one Thomas Marvolo Riddle broke the defences on the Chamber of Secrets, he found nothing but a complex of empty rooms because he did not have the ATA gene – but he also found an ancient basilisk that had been literally bored to insanity by a thousand years of absolutely nothing happening.
If he'd been around, Salazar would have agreed that part of the defences probably wasn't his brightest idea. But back to the history.
For many centuries, Hogwarts was the sole magical educational institution and continued to grow larger in order to accommodate the educational needs of the increasing world magical population, but eventually even the proportionately very small wizarding population became sufficiently large and dispersed to need more schools. Hogwarts was reduced to only teaching those from the British Isles - and by the time this occurred, the world's magical societies had isolated themselves from the rest of humanity's prejudice under the Statue of Secrecy.
Unfortunately, due to the wide extent of the research already undertaken by Merlin and those now known as the Founders, very little further development was required for anything other than exceptional circumstances. Thus, the magical world slowly began to stagnate under the Statute; secure in the belief that they were superior to and safe from the barbaric 'Muggles' anyway, further magical research while of course desirable was hardly required. Thus, much of the knowledge that the revered Founders had originally taught was lost to apathy and ignorance; ignorance that gave rise to the aforementioned T. M. Riddle.
Riddle was, essentially, a successful opportunist; a highly intelligent and extremely ambitious opportunist who also happened, unfortunately for both his followers and enemies, to be a psychotic megalomaniac of the highest order. By the time of Riddle's rise in the mid-to-late 1970s, much of the 'Established' Wizarding nations – primarily Britain, Northern Germany, the Baltic and Scandinavian nations and what in the Muggle world would be called 'The Soviet Bloc' regions – were heavily conservative, with governmental systems, laws and social customs that strongly favoured the 'Old Guard' pure-blooded magical aristocracy.
Newer magical governments, such as in the Americas and Australasia (both of whom had been on the receiving end of less-than-enlightened policies from their erstwhile homelands), and those with more diverse populations, (such as France, Belgium, the rest of Southern Europe and most of Africa, all of which featured higher proportions of non-human 'magical' sentient species), tended to be more liberal. The non-human magicals had evolved from various sources; mostly from 'failed' Goa'uld experiments on human slaves to create even stronger, more adaptable hosts, or were imported from offworld although when they gained access to their curious and often highly specialised 'magical' abilities is as-yet unknown. It should be considered fortunate that Ra lost control of Earth before the energy-manipulation talents in homo magi became obvious, or the Goa'uld with them as hosts would have been unstoppable.
Riddle, however, did not live in these better-governed regions. He lived in Britain, where he saw an opportunity – surprise, surprise – to rise to dominance by leading the strong pureblood faction there. Riddle himself was not a pureblood, but was able to hide this fact by adopting a pseudonym - Lord Voldemort. He began his rampage, however, not as a psychotic murderer but as an effective politician, a charismatic and effective leader who charmed his way through the upper echelons of pureblood society until he had their absolute loyalty. However, Riddle's brutal childhood in a wartime non-magical orphanage had led both to high-functioning sociopathy and all-consuming hatred of those he considered inferior, which later rose to the surface more and more prominently. He became prone to inflicting pain and occasional death on even his closest subordinates; what he did to his enemies was the stuff of nightmares.
Riddle's five-year reign of terror was cut short on 31st October 1981, when he targeted the Potter family. It is not yet known why he went alone that night, or indeed exactly what happened. What is known is that the Potter adults, Lily and James, were murdered, and their son Harry survived, while 'Voldemort' did not. The rest of Magical England celebrated.
For his safety, fifteen month-old Harry was secretly placed with non-magical relatives on his mother's side, his Aunt Petunia and her husband Vernon Dursley. From their extremely narrow-minded point of view, they had been saddled with supporting a child they did not want, who possessed abilities both of them were intensely jealous of; this attitude bled over into their treatment of their nephew, as they tried to 'beat it out of him.'
The abuse was systematic, beginning the day Harry arrived, and only became more savage as he grew up. The early years of under-nourishment and emotional neglect gave way to verbal abuse, physical beatings and forced labour. Even social workers who deal exclusively with such cases wouldn't even have nightmares about abuse this horrific; all this, directed at a child still at an age in single figures. His parent's behaviour encouraged Dudley to do the same, continuing Harry's abuse and social isolation even at school and away from the adult Dursleys.
From a neutral point of view, Dudley was a victim as well. A child's mind is malleable, vulnerable to the influence and viewpoints of his or her adult protectors; encouraging one in such behaviour pretty much guaranteed Dudley would have little to no chance of fitting into society as an adult. Similarly, Harry would have his psyche scarred by this childhood abuse, albeit in different ways.
Evil is a hard thing to define, but anyone with even a shred of morality should have recognised that Harry's life, from his parent's murder to the present day, had had more than his fair share, and his relatives treatment of him was most certainly evil. Unfortunately, in pursuit of presenting a perfectly 'normal' face to the world the Dursleys became exceptionally accomplished at hiding their own abnormality; while some residents of Little Whinging may have suspected something was wrong, they either vastly underestimated the true depths of their neighbour's depravity and cruelty, or were simply apathetic. In either case, they decided it was 'none of their business', and nothing was done.
'The present day' was a week before Harry's eleventh birthday. Harry had cooked breakfast for the Dursley's as usual, and was quietly waiting for them to finish so he could get the scraps. He no longer thought of it as 'stealing', as Aunt Petunia always screeched if she caught him – despite knowing no other childhood, and having no friends close enough to ask how life was for them, soon-to-turn eleven Harry knew his life was not normal, no matter how hard the Dursley's pretended he deserved it.
"Go get the post boy," his Uncle Vernon ordered absentmindedly, scanning the paper. Harry went with alacrity; any time spent away from Vernon vastly decreased the likelihood of being smacked around.
There wasn't much. Postcard from his uncle's sister Marge, a few bills and …
A stiff, heavy envelope … addressed to him.
Can't be for me. I don't get mail. Harry read the address again.
Yep. For me. Even though he had never received post before, Harry knew that this unprecedented event would not be simply accepted by his relatives without comment - more probably a beating. He hid the letter in his 'bedroom' as he passed it on the way back to the kitchen.
A few minutes later, Harry was pushed back into his cupboard – hard – with a handful of scraps from his 'Aunt.' He finished them off before turning his attention to the letter.
It was sealed with red wax, which Harry carefully broke before …
A flash of white light showed around the doorjamb.
Loki had been searching for someone like this for decades.
An Asgard geneticist of some considerable repute, Loki was not much to look at. Asgard generally weren't, these days. About a metre high, with grey pallid skin, stick-thin limbs and disproportionately large bulbous heads and eyes, the Asgard of today were a far cry from their ancestors of thirty thousand or more years before.
In pursuit of means of extending their lifespans, the Asgard had turned to cloning, and through their advanced technology developed a way of downloading an individual's personality and knowledge from one body to another; this made each Asgard functionally immortal, but at the cost of continued evolution. Over time, it became apparent that excessive cloning was degrading their species' genome, and they had lost the ability to procreate biologically; a long-term issue as critical as the Replicators, as it was as sure to result in their extinction - just more insidiously.
Loki was one of the scientists assigned to the problem, free to take his research in any direction he deemed fit - within reason. However, what he had been doing for many years would not be regarded by the High Council as in any way ethical. He believed that the secret to resolving the issue lay in studying any Alteran DNA he could find; the Alterans had been hyper-advanced in genetics and biosciences, and had successfully fiddled around with their own genome to induce the gradual evolution of their intriguing powers of touch healing and telekinesis.
Loki had, almost a century before, been made aware of the existence of the 'second evolution'; it was no secret that the Council was interested in the development of the Milky Way's 'human' race, but it was not widely known that they were related to the Alterans. He had studied humans from orbit for decades, restrained by the High Council's protective attitude towards the planet before eventually deciding he needed more accurate data.
He started abducting people; covertly, so as not to draw the Council's attention. While capable of distinguishing between, say, Jaffa or Human lifesigns, even Asgard technology could not discern someone's DNA from orbit so he was forced to start pretty much at random, beginning on the 'Western' continent near where the Stargate was housed in storage. Loki had time on his side, as the genetic issue was a very long-term one, so slowly and patiently he built up a picture – the humans own discovery of DNA sped that up. Eventually, Loki became aware of 'magicals.'
They were well hidden. As a biosciences ship, Loki's vessel did not have an extensive sensor suite – just the bare minimum to get by, unlike warships or dedicated survey ships – and relied on physically beaming samples aboard for examination; Loki was often so focused on his research he didn't pay much attention to the sensor data anyway. Thus, it took him a long time to find those he searched for; those he believed to be the 'true' Alteran descendants were concealed behind subspace-energy fields created to hide from the other, power-less humans on Earth.
However, he quickly discovered they weren't remotely as closely related genetically to the Alterans as he hoped, so he remained in orbit, picking up subjects from the various wizarding cultures whenever he could – something their teleportation made rather difficult, as they rarely ventured outside their secure areas for long. Most frequently, he detected subspace emissions being exhibited by children in unshielded homes, but despite his 'ends justify the means' attitude, even Loki drew the line at kidnapping children - usually.
Now he had crossed that line. The child in question had exhibited near-constant low-level subspace emissions for years now, very unlike the others which usually only gave out occasional bursts, and had demonstrated teleportation capabilities at an age a full ten years before any other he had observed.
Loki was growing desperate for results, as the Council had been asking some pointed questions of late concerning his exact whereabouts. With advanced communications technology, being in a different galaxy was not an issue, and as long as he reported in and completed the other projects assigned to him his prolonged absences from the Ida Galaxy would not be noted, or his exact whereabouts tracked. However, Loki now believed the High Council was suspicious; his rather forthright opinions on how to fix the cloning issues using humans were not secret, after all, but he believed his actions to be for the greater good of all Asgard, and should he find a cure then all would be forgiven, if not necessarily forgotten.
Loki's initial scan proved the wait had been worth it; the black-haired ten year old human had more Alteran genetic markers in his DNA than any other subject to date. He decided to keep the child around for further tests, and immediately initiated growing a clone of his new research subject, copying the boy's mind and memories into the body. The process would take slightly more than a week, and while he would normally return the subject none-the-wiser for the interim, he didn't want to take the risk of being unable to retrieve him should the Council come for him.
That means I will have to implant false memories to cover the period when the child is 'missing,' something simple but convincing. Complicated implanted memories tend to break down if the subject was faced with proof of their false nature.
The next few days saw Loki alternate his attentions between perfecting the clone, and the actual subject himself. The child was not at the right stage of development for his study, so Loki induced accelerated growth through injection of programmed nanites, and delivered some material to keep his new ship-guest occupied; Loki might be a kidnapper, but didn't consider himself cruel, even if the 'cruelty' was through simple boredom.
Just a few hours before the clone's growth was completed, however, the ship's sensors detected another Asgard vessel approaching the system in hyperspace. With only a few seconds warning, Loki was forced to flee from orbit. Clearly, the High Council were now onto him, and performing his usual bait-and-switch would be pointless; besides, even had the clone been completely grown it still did not have the original subject's memories implanted. He shut down the power flow to the clone's amniotic vat, killing it without a second thought before it's heart ever even started beating, and shunted the energy to the hyperdrive instead to aid his escape.
It had been a surreal a few days for Harry. He had been kept in a wide room with smooth metal walls – and no door. Periodically a white light would flash accompanied by a musical tone and food, clothing, books or some other form of occupying his time would appear.
That wasn't the really odd part, however. Two other things stood out – first, the wall that was a window. Taking up the entire surface, it looked out onto a view of what Harry recognised immediately from books as Earth from space, with vast expanses of blue ocean and broad bands of swirling clouds. The night-day cycle allowed him to get a reasonable guess at how long he'd been here. He wasn't sure if it was some kind of awesomely realistic image or the real thing though.
The other was that whenever he went to sleep his body seemed to change. Several times, he fell asleep even when he wasn't actually trying to, only to awake in an awkward position on the floor, leaving him feeling unsure of his guess as to how long he had been up here. His hair was longer, and he thought he was growing taller faster than he should too – certainly, the roughly half-metre high platform the food appeared on seemed gradually getting lower; he wasn't sure until he compared the clothing he was wearing to the next pile of replacements that appeared - they were definitely bigger.
He busied himself with the books. They were mostly scientific in nature, textbooks geared towards teenagers. Harry didn't mind the academic bent; in fact, he was glad for it. He was never allowed to excel at school; when he'd brought home a particularly good school report, hoping to win some small sign of approval from his guardians – to prove that he wasn't the worthless child they always said he was – he was beaten for several minutes simply because the report had been better than Dudley's, before being thrown in his cupboard bruised black and blue in areas that Vernon knew wouldn't show at school. That had been a turning point, when he realised that there was no way his adult guardians could be treating him 'normally' - whatever normal was anyway.
After an undetermined amount of time, the ship suddenly jerked. Harry didn't feel it, but he saw it – the view of Earth suddenly tilted out of frame, with the window now pointing out towards the starfield, where he saw something even more incredible than the view of the planet.
An opaque purple-blue cloud blossomed out of the nothingness of space, growing larger and larger until a massive object decelerated out of the cloud, which dispersed into vanishing wisps behind it. It was a long, flat oblong, with a wider T-shape at the nearer end and a broad curving shape at the far end with two vertical spines emerging from that curved section.
Harry's brain kicked back into gear as he realised that if – as he believed – the view of Earth had been real, and he had actually been on some kind of space ship, then this was also one. The view of this fantastic new sight was cut off just as suddenly as it appeared. The starfield and the new ship vanished, replaced by a swirling blue-black kaleidoscope. Another blink, and shift of perspective, and Harry realised this was a tube, and he – well, whatever he was in – was travelling through it.
In a castle in Scotland, a silver spell monitoring device screeched in protest at the sudden increase in distance between itself and the spell it was anchored to. The odd-looking artefact (which for some arcane reason resembled a steam-puffing windmill rotor tilted at a forty-five degree angle), attempted to draw more power from the subspace energy-rich environment around it to compensate, but it was not designed to handle the kind of energy requirements to track something now several hundred lightyears away.
"Oh, bugger," said the device's owner, who quickly ducked.
With a suitable sense of dramatic timing, the spell monitor exploded, completely wrecking the shelf of similar devices it rested upon.
"Well, I suppose that's one way to answer your Hogwart's letter, Harry," muttered the current headmaster of Hogwarts, Albus Dumbledore.
While many of the random curios that decorated his office were there simply to make ill-informed visitors think he was off his rocker - it was always useful to be underestimated - that particular one monitored, or more accurately had monitored the health and general location of the 'Boy-Who-Lived'. Dumbledore wasn't going to jump to conclusions - if Harry had died, the device would have simply stopped spinning. The explosion meant the spell itself had gone awry, which was unfortunate but did not necessarily indicate a life-threatening situation. However, it did of course need to be followed up on.
I've been too damn busy to check on him for ten years … and I owed Lily and James far more effort than that, not to mention what we all owe to Harry himself. I suppose giving him his letter in person would be an easy way to check on him. I can reassemble the tracker and determine what went wrong with it later.
With that decision, the Headmaster summoned a house elf to retrieve one of the spare letters from his deputy's office while he created a Portkey from a random piece of parchment. The elf was back in just a few seconds, and Dumbledore vanished to reappear in a secluded side alley near Number Four, Privet Drive. What he found in the Dursley's memories and in the cupboard under the stairs made him so angry it triggered his first outburst of accidental magic in more than a century.
With no Earth to be his reference, Harry was not sure how long the ship he was on stayed doing whatever it was doing now, or where it was. However, judging now from how many meals were delivered, it had been at least a week or more, but the mysterious changes continued, messing with his estimate again.
Suddenly, as he was pondering this, the view out of the window switched back to a vast sweep of stars. Several ships similar to the one he had caught a glimpse of before leaving Earth hovered in the void, forming a semi-sphere around the one he was captive aboard.
Although he was not allowed to watch any of Dudley's science fiction shows, Harry had heard it from his cupboard and knew the general gist of it, so he was fervently hoping the newcomers didn't blow his transport away before rescuing him.
It took several minutes, but eventually, the musical chime-flash of light thing happened again, and after a brief moment of disorientation, Harry realised he was … somewhere else.
'Somewhere else' turned out to be a wide, high room designed in a similar style to his previous accommodations. The walls and floor were the same smooth blue-grey metal, polished to a fine sheen. One wall had a window, and the others had screens displaying some strange text he didn't understand.
All this Harry took in before realising that there was a … something - or someone - in this room with him. Seated behind some sort of desk a few metres away, a grey-skinned, black-eyed and distinctly not-human individual looked at him unblinkingly.
"Greetings, Harry Potter," the alien - and it was pretty clearly an alien - said in a monotone.
"How -" Harry began, but stuttered somewhat, surprised by the new, deeper pitch of his voice. Apparently his height wasn't the only thing that had changed.
"What has happened to me, and how long has it been? How do you know my name? Where am I? Who are you? And what are … you?" Harry trailed off. "Sorry, that was rather rude of me."
"I do not take offence at your questions, Harry Potter. To answer them in no specific order, my name is Thor, Supreme Commander of the Asgard Fleet, and you are aboard my flagship, the Beliskner. The Asgard are a race from the Ida Galaxy, and I know your name from a short, ongoing analysis of the computers in the ship that kidnapped you from your homeworld for the past six weeks. Your kidnapper is also an Asgard, a scientist by the name of Loki, and he will face the full weight of our people's justice for his unethical actions. And finally, from those same computers, Loki appears to have deliberately accelerated your ageing. I am still waiting to find out why."
Harry processed this for a few seconds. "Can you, I don't know, de-age me and send me home?"
"I am afraid that is not advisable. Your biological development is now equivalent to a seventeen year old male human; this would be noticed." Thor broke off for a moment, focusing on the panel in front of him.
"This is unexpected."
"Long ago, the Asgard were allied to another race, who called themselves the Alterans. Loki kidnapped you because he believed you were descended from them. His tests appear to prove the theory. Interesting. However, I would like to check myself."
There was a white flash of light, and a short, white column appeared in front of Harry.
"Please place your hand on the scanner. It will only take a moment."
Completely overwhelmed and confused by … well, everything, Harry stepped forward without thinking about it, then hesitated. "How do I know this isn't a trick? How do I know you aren't Loki, whoever he is, or that this is something … I don't know, something not good for me?"
"You do not, Harry Potter. Loki did not see the need to interact with you in any way, so you only have my word that I am not he. However, I will point out that I have revealed myself, and have not harmed you in any way."
Harry stared at Thor for a few seconds. It was obvious that Thor could do whatever he pleased to Harry, so he might as well cooperate. He stepped forward again and placed his hand on the rounded top of the pillar.
"Excellent." Thor studied his screen for a few seconds. "You are indeed descended from the Alterans. A very close descendant, indeed. This is both unexpected and possibly very helpful."
"What, exactly does that mean?"
"It means that, in comparison to most humans, a much larger proportion of the dominant genetic sequences in your cells' nucleic chromosome sequence structures can be traced to the interaction of the Alterans and humans of roughly ten thousand years ago." That didn't make any more sense.
"Umm," said Harry cautiously, "I didn't understand that. Please could you explain a bit more, sir?"
"Of course. And just Thor is perfectly acceptable, Harry Potter."
"Then just call me Harry, please. It sounds a bit odd with both names."
"Of course, Harry." Thor paused for a few seconds, organising his thoughts. "A million years ago ..."
The explanation of the history of the Alterans took several hours, in which time Thor eventually produced - 'transported', Harry was told - a seat for him. Several hours of listening to the Asgard's soporific monotone was only just counteracted by the sheer unbelievable-ness of the information being conveyed. Harry had no choice but to believe, however; he was sitting with an alien on a spaceship many lightyears from Earth, which kind of proved the whole thing without needing any tests beyond pinching himself a few times … which didn't wake him up.
"Okay." Harry sat back, and considered the lengthy lecture he'd just received. "I'm the last descendant of, or perhaps the first discovered 'true' member of a new generation of an old ally of your people."
"That is essentially correct."
"This is all very interesting, but what does it mean for me?"
"I can offer you several choices, Harry. First of all, while I can of course return you to Earth, I cannot reverse the changes Loki has made to your physiology. You have been missing several weeks, as well. Combined, those two factors will draw significant attention. Given the level of paranoia Earth governments have exhibited towards unknown, inexplicable events like your return would appear to be, I doubt they would leave you in peace."
"Okay." Harry repeated. "The other choices?"
"Second, I can leave you in the care of a friendly advanced race, probably the Tollans, or possibly the Nox. They are all races in this galaxy we have had contact with in the past, and they are technologically advanced and peaceful. They would not infringe your rights as an individual, as I fear your own government would. Finally, you could opt to remain with the Asgard. Given Loki's actions, I can understand if you do not trust us, but we can offer you an extremely advanced education which will give you even more options in the future."
Seeing Harry hesitate, Thor continued. "Of course, you should not make a hasty decision. The console over there contains further information about those races and the galaxy as a whole, in English, that will help you make a more informed decision. I will also answer any further questions you have."
Harry might only have been ten … now eleven years old, but he understood he was at a critical crossroads in his life. Thor's opinion on returning to Earth was clear; Harry could understand his point, and had no wish to become a lab rat.
From the data on the terminal, Harry had a basic understanding of the cultures of both the Nox, Tollan, Hebridians and more importantly, the Goa'uld. While he could respect the integrity of the non-aggression stance the Nox and Tollan had held rigidly to for several millennia, he found he could not accept the same himself.
In his eleven year old's immature, but not inaccurate comparison, the Goa'uld were bullies that needed to be stopped. Given their near-total domination of much the Milky Way, that would require force. His own home, Earth, was powerless to do anything, not sufficiently advanced to even be aware of the threat let alone resist it. The Nox would not do anything, nor would the Tollans, and the Hebridians weren't advanced enough and relied on secrecy to avoid Goa'uld attention. Thor had explained why the Asgard were unable to themselves …
Here, Harry realised, he had a choice. He could hide with the pacifists, or he could stand up to the bullies. The seed of an idea took root, unformed and barely articulated even in his own mind. Maybe, just maybe … he could do something about the Goa'uld himself. He'd always wanted to stop Dudley from bullying both him and others, wanted it so very badly. And if what Thor was hinting at was correct ... he was in a potentially unique position.
Even for an eleven year old, albeit one with an as-yet-undiagnosed case of Chronic Hero Syndrome, the choice between doing what was right and what was easy was clear.
Of course, if he took that route he would need all the help he could get. The best of all four Great Races, if possible; especially the Asgard, since they were making the offer. He turned back to Thor, who had been working in the background on a different console.
"Before I make a decision," Harry began, "what would you suggest?"
Thor tilted his head to one side, regarding Harry intently. "I do not wish to influence your decision in any particular direction, Harry. It is not my place."
"I know, but while the information you have shown me is helpful, I don't really have any understanding of what is possible for me? As an Alteran, I mean. You seem to think it is a big deal, and I can see why you would; but I don't really understand what or how high I, myself, should be aiming for even with all the stuff you've told me."
"I see." Thor paused for a few seconds again. "As an Alteran, you have the ability to utilise many pieces of technology that border on the miraculous. While the Asgard have had partial access to some of the databases of knowledge your ancestors left behind, I cannot emphasise how much we do not yet understand; we have barely scratched the surface despite several thousand years of study. With access to a full, undamaged Ancient Repository - admittedly, something we do not have - your knowledge of these things would essentially become instinctive, and if combined with understanding of Asgard science you would be possibly the most knowledgeable single individual in existence. From there," Thor shrugged, or at least Harry thought it was the Asgard equivalent. "From there, anything would be possible."
"In that case," Harry said resolutely, "I've decided."
Four Years Later ...
Harry was now a vastly different individual to the eleven-going-on-sixteen year old Thor had rescued. For one, the Asgard High Council had approved of Thor's request he be brought up to Asgard standards as quickly as possible, and liberal use of time-dilation to accelerate his education meant his biological and chronological ages were vastly different - and that was without taking into account the gene therapy created by Hemidall to counteract Loki's tinkering that had messed with his ageing even more.
In linear time, Harry was still only almost fifteen. Biologically, he looked around nineteen to twenty. Chronologically, Harry had actually experienced ten years, making him twenty-one; nine years of intense academic study and military training compressed into three, followed by a year of visiting allies and the Protected Planets in the Milky Way - not always with his hosts' knowing of his connection to the Asgard. Somewhat strangely, he had come to view the Supreme Commander as a kinda-sorta surrogate father, an position Thor fell into without immediately noticing. He appeared to view Harry's training and development as a key personal project, but also encouraged him to visit non-Asgard cultures, acknowledging that most Asgard were far too cerebral to provide the social education and interaction Harry also required.
The seed of the idea that had appeared when Thor made his offer all those years ago had germinated, flourished and grown ever clearer.
Harry had studied Earth in detail; although he had been unable to visit his home planet, Thor's enormously advanced Asgard computers had copied pretty much the entire contents of Earth's information networks, both open and encrypted, for later analysis even as he blew past in pursuit of Loki. This study covered many aspects of his homeworld's various cultures, but had most often focused on Earth's diverse political and military history, and although the Asgard no longer required ground combat in war, Harry had analysed, discussed, de-constructed and adapted Earth's often extremely inventive methods of strategy, diplomacy, espionage, leadership and, of course, warfare with various learned members of the Asgard military when they had the time. Although most of it was outside their usual remit of space-based combat, they had found the ideas he put forward thought-provoking enough to eventually endorse his plan to the Council.
Eventually, he had assembled his ideas for defeating the Goa'uld into an ambitious long-term plan, combining Earth military tactics, Tok'Ra strategy and covert application of their technological superiority that the High Council had agreed to - with a few constraints.
First - that the System Lords not discover any evidence of Asgard involvement. The fleet was too over-stretched and lacked any strategic reserves to defend the Protected Planets if the Goa'uld were to attack them in force - which they would most assuredly do if any evidence of Asgard involvement in the Milky Way outside the stipulations of the Treaty was detected.
Second - that he be entirely self-sufficient. The Council chose to trust in Thor's assertions that Harry was now sufficiently well-trained to operate independently and without much oversight; however, they would be unable to dedicate anything more than token resources to assist, and he could forget about any real military support. Harry was fine with that. He was well aware of the precarious strategic situation of the Asgard, but the Replicators weren't his fight; the Goa'uld were, as they were a threat to his home. He still regarded Earth as home, despite not being back there in five years (objectively speaking). The High Council had acceded to his passionate and logical arguments - after all, they as well were all too familiar with being under such a threat. They would provide the 'startup' infrastructure, and trust in his judgement.
Thus, it became something of a weird desert island training scenario on a galactic scale for Harry - get dropped off to fend for himself with some tools, and complete the objective. Except that it wasn't training any more, the tools were rather advanced - a ship, database and a few multi-function construction/mining drones as well as a molecular fabricator - and the objective was the defeat and/or eradication of the dominant race of megalomaniacal, narcissistic parasitic galactic overlords.
Yeah … that was going to take a while.
And he wanted some more personal answers; answers he could find only on Earth, answers to questions he had had to put aside since Thor rescued him. Questions mostly engendered by a curious envelope Thor had discovered on Loki's ship, an envelope that had been in Harry's hand when he had been kidnapped.
What on Earth - pun intended - was 'Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry,' and what did they know about powers like his?