He'd been taking a late flight around his new home – if anybody had seen him that knew anything about birds at all, they'd wonder what a peregrine falcon was doing out and about after dark. Then again, if anybody had been there to see him, they would also have seen the alien space craft that had made a good go of crashing into him on its way to the ground. Never one to let a good mystery go un-investigated (and hadn't that been the cause of more problems throughout his life than many people would have thought reasonable), Harry winged his way over to a roof-top and perched where he'd have a good view of whatever the heck was going to happen.
He watched as a bunch of teen-aged kids (girls in the lead) came out of from where they'd hidden to help the blue, centaur-like alien, and while he could hear them talking (and their dog barking), he had no idea what the alien was saying. If it was saying anything at all.
Which considering what the kids was saying, he almost definitely was.
Parasitic alien slugs that did the mind-control thing.
Harry watched each kid place their hand on a side of a cube, and then another space ship was coming down and they were running for it. One of them turned back and the blue alien centaur threw something – only for it to go very wide. The kid definitely didn't catch it, despite reaching for it before he was dragged back into hiding by one of the girls. The kid probably hadn't even seen where... whatever it was... had landed.
Harry did though, and despite the harsh wind created by the second spaceship's landing, he swooped down to collect it before pulling up hide in the shadows of roofs again as the next alien showed up, transfigured itself into something much more grotesque, and then (literally) tore the other alien apart. Harry, not really caring to stare at alien gore, turned his attention to the kids instead.
The two girls were looking a bit sick, and frankly so did one of the three boys. The other two were too scared to feel sick, it seemed. And then the blonde... had a blonde moment. She screamed – it was a denial, rather than a frightened shriek, but she screamed all the same and gave away where they were hiding.
People were suddenly all over the place and another type of alien was released, likely to track down the kids, based on what Harry could hear. Well, it looked like his attempt at a 'normal' life wasn't off to the best start. There was no way he was going to be able to keep his beak out of whatever this was. He had to at least deliver whatever the strange thing was that the blue centaur-like alien had tried to throw to one of the boys, after all.
That was provided that they all got away safely, which looked a bit iffy when one of the girls (not the one who screamed) got her foot caught in some of the garbage that had been left lying around by whoever was there during the day. One of the boys decided to play distraction for her – drawing away the strange new alien while the others helped free the trapped girl.
Yes, just watching them went against his Saving People Thing, but right now if he just swooped in and offered to help, it was much more likely that he'd spook them. So, for now, he only watched, memorised their faces, and followed the main group of them (one boy still unaccounted for as he'd run off to be a distraction) to their homes from the air. Well, as far as he could without losing the others. The last of them – the girl who'd got her foot caught – lived on a sort of farm/animal hospital/sanctuary. That would probably be the best place for him to introduced himself to them, where there was lots of space with only animals listening in.
Oh yes, this was going to be fun.
Harry didn't have to deal with movers, since he'd brought everything with him from England in a multi-compartment trunk. He'd even brought an elf, not Dobby of course, since the eccentric little fellow had been killed by Bellatrix, and not Kreacher either, since Harry had found his body sliced in two on the battlefield where the old elf had eventually led the others of Hogwarts castle against Voldemort.
No, the elf Harry had brought with him was called Yoyo, and was actually on loan from Andromeda, rather than actually being his. Yoyo would be returning to her mistress just as soon as all the furniture was set out in the house – which really didn't take long. Harry only had to supervise really, and they were done in time for Harry to lock up the house, let himself out of an upper-storey window, and wing his way over to the local high school. From which he was able to follow the kids he'd seen the previous night to (as he had suspected) the out-of-the-way farm place where the darker-skinned girl lived.
Of course, they didn't all come at exactly the same time, but it wasn't hard to tell they were all headed that way. Except for the boy who'd played distraction last night. He went off somewhere else before he headed for the farm.
"I didn't drop it!" Harry heard one of the boy's object sharply as he glided down, aiming for the stable they'd congregated in – minus the girl who actually lived there, for some reason.
The boy's shoulder would do for a convenient perch. He was wearing a leather jacket, so Harry wouldn't have to worry about his claws hurting the kid.
"I never... even touched it," the boy continued, distracted by Harry having landed on his shoulder.
"Well we've got to find it," said the boy who'd been the distraction, blonde, blue-eyed, kinda round in the face.
"With all those Controllers, we can't exactly sneak back into the plant," the blonde girl pointed out.
"No," the blonde boy agreed. "But we could go back as animals," he countered out, a slight smirk on his face.
"Shouldn't we wait for Cassie?" asked the darker-skinned boy, and Harry could tell he was nervous about the whole idea.
"Yeah," the blonde boy agreed. "What's taking her so long anyway? I think we all need to be here for this."
"She'd better not flake," the blonde girl said, and was promptly pushed by the ebony horse that had just walked in. "Hey! … Cassie? Really?"
"I think she's lost it," the darker-skinned boy whispered to the blonde one, only to do a double-take.
Then the horse, jerkily, began to turn into the girl who'd caught her foot the previous night. Cassie, apparently. A process that had her friends making exclamations of that varied from "ew," "gross," and "oh man," in various "I'm about to throw up" tones of voice. The darker-skinned boy actually said as much and put a hand to his stomach, though he held it in admirably.
"It's getting smoother," the girl informed them once she was herself again.
"That's smoother?!" the blonde girl asked incredulously. "That was harsh."
Harry agreed. The sound of it was enough to be off-putting. The grinding of bones and twisting of flesh. But the jerky transfiguration... McGonagall would have given the girl an acceptable for completing the transformation, but no higher because of how rough the transfiguration process was.
"We'll have to get used to that," the blonde boy said, gentle but resolved.
"You guys that was so awesome," Cassie said as she stepped up to them, eyes wide with excitement, joy, and child-like wonder. Then again, she was still a kid. Teenager. Kid. Not an adult yet. "I mean, I was a horse! I was powerful and fast."
"Wow," said the boy Harry was perched on the shoulder of.
"Weren't you scared?" asked the darker-skinned boy, his nervousness over the idea not helped by the mild nausea induced by watching his friend's transformation.
"I sure was," the blonde offered quickly.
"So was I at first," Cassie allowed, "but then I started to run, and... I forgot all about being scared."
"Who's next?" the blonde boy asked.
"I'll go," immediately replied the blonde girl.
"Surprise surprise," quipped the darker-skinned boy as she looked around her for an animal.
"Hey kitty," the girl said before long, having clearly made her decision as she approached the mottled cat that had just hopped up onto a railing.
Harry had seen a woman turn into a cat before. McGonagall's transformation was smooth and seamless. This would not be that, and he had no desire to see these kids twist themselves painfully like that. Yes, they were determined to learn, and okay their way wouldn't be the same as his, but...
He let out a shriek that drew all of their attention to him, and with a beat of his wings leapt from the shoulder he'd claimed, easily setting his feet down on the ground and tucking his hands into his jeans pockets. A smooth transition that McGonagall had, in fact, given him an Outstanding for (as a joke, since she was no longer his professor when he stopped by her office at Hogwarts to show her, just before he'd left the country).
"Who are you and how did you do that?" demanded the darker-skinned boy, eyes wide as he – and all the other kids, backed up a step from him.
"Lots and lots of practice," he said, answering the second part of the question first. "And my name is Harry," he added, then pulled out of his pocket the disk he'd picked up the previous night. "I believe this is... yours?" Harry asked, turning to hand it to the dark-haired, pale boy in the leather jacket. "Though I only got half of the conversation last night when I saw you kids talking to the blue alien centaur."
He nodded hesitantly and accepted it. "Thanks..."
"So, I understand that the lovely young lady who had hooves a moment ago is Cassie, but that's the only name I've heard," Harry said, hoping for introductions.
"How do we know we can trust you?" the blonde boy asked.
Harry smiled, utterly pleased with the show of distrust. "Good answer," he informed the boy. "You don't, but I'm willing to help you learn to make your transformations smoother, as far as I'm able."
"As far as you're able," the dark-haired boy repeated.
Harry nodded. "Like I said, I only got your half of the conversation last night, so I'm not sure about any differences in the mechanics, but I can walk you through the methods I learned with."
"Methods?" Cassie asked, taking a step closer, curiosity outweighing her caution.
Harry nodded. "First of all, you don't just go straight in to a full-animal transfiguration from never having done it before. That's what's making the transformation so jerky. You build up to it, slowly."
"So... what? Where do I start?"
"With your hands," Harry answered. "Because you can see how they change in front of your face, as well as feel it. For a horse, they will become hooves. Change, change back, and repeat. Don't try and change the rest of yourself with them, and only move on to doing the feet – your back hooves – once you've got the front ones sorted," Harry instructed. "But don't hold the hooves on your hands while you're practising your feet.
"Okay," Cassie agreed, and brought her fingers together, focusing on them as she held them up in front of her face.
"Woah! Cassie! You're just going to trust him?!" thd darker-skinned boy asked.
"You saw how smooth his transformation was," Cassie pointed out as her fingers merged together and became darker, harder. "I figure, for this at least, there isn't much to lose. He already knows I can turn into a horse after all."
"I say we forget about the whole thing. We don't mention it, and we don't morph," the darker-skinned boy said, backing away slightly.
"What?" the blonde boy asked, shocked. "I mean, okay, I half-way agree with you, but -"
"This isn't some dumb video game!" the boy snapped. "This is for real! You saw what happened last night to the blue dude. We could get killed!"
"What's your name?" Harry asked softly.
The darker-skinned boy hesitated, but relented after a moment. "I'm Marco," he said.
"Marco," Harry repeated. "Yes, you could get killed. I don't know what exactly you've been asked to fight against, but I saw the blue guy get torn to pieces last night just like you did, and that's enough to tell me that whatever this is, it isn't safe. But Marco, being able to turn into an animal will make you safer. Not perfectly safe, but safer. You pick the right animal, and if you're being chased you can duck into an alley, morph," he said, using the kid's word for the human to animal transfiguration, "and vanish. After all, who looks for a stray cat in an alley?" Harry frowned as old memories tried to resurface. "Or a rat in a sewer?"
Marco slumped and sighed, defeated. "Alright," he said. "I always wanted a pet rat," he allowed as he looked over his shoulder to where there was a rat running on a wheel in his cage. "Just never thought I'd be one," he added as he reached in to stroke the rodent as it ran on its wheel.
"Hands first, right?" the blonde girl asked.
Harry turned to her – she was holding the cat she'd been approaching when he interrupted them – and nodded. "Hands, then feet, then arms, then legs, then head, then torso, then tail if they've got it," he said.
"Okay," she said as she expelled a breath in determination, and like Cassie, raised her hand in front of her face and concentrated on it changing.
"What's it like to fly?" the dark-haired boy asked. "Oh, I'm Tobias," he added, and offered his hand to shake.
Harry smiled. "Pleased to meet you," he answered the boy, and accepted the hand. "I could teach you, if you like?" he offered. "Because, really, there are no words that can really describe what it's like to fly. 'Rush', 'freeing', 'exhilarating', 'liberating', all come close, but it's more than that." Harry smirked a little. "And flying for a long time will make your shoulders ache."
Tobias chuckled a little at that. "I'd... like to learn," he said with a tentative smile.
Harry nodded. "It will be nice to have some company on my flights," he said. "Oh, is there any chance I could get a look at that cube from last night?" he asked. "I did see you guys take it with you when you ran, right?"
"We did," Cassie answered. "I hid it in the bucket at the back of the stall over there," she added, jerking her head at the stall she had, temporarily, occupied as a horse.
Harry nodded in gratitude and moved to reach the bucket.
"Um, Harry?" Tobias called.
Harry turned and cocked his head in silent questioning.
"How do you start turning hands into wings? It's not like hooves or paws," the boy pointed out.
Harry smiled and stretched out his own arm, fingers together. They melded a little and the primary flight feathers stretched out from them, the rest of his feathers coming into being over the top. The feathery covering worked its way up his arm all the way to his shoulder until he had a fully developed wing – proportionate to his body, rather than the body of the bird he turned into – where his arm had been. "And don't forget that a bird's bones are hollow," he said, and then appeared to begin folding his wing the way a bird would, only for the transfiguration to drop away as his arm came closer to his body.
"Wow," Tobias breathed softly, eyes wide.
While the kids all focused on their transformations, Harry settled into a better hidden corner of the box-stall and palmed his wand. As an adult, he didn't have to worry about under-age magic, and as an adult his discretion was trusted in the use of his magic. Plus, as a British citizen who had moved to the US only the day before, his magical signature wasn't on the grid – yet.
Using his magic, Harry studied the cube. It was a strange thing, he decided. A sort of cross between technology and magic. Which he supposed made sense since it was a sort of technology that allowed those who touched it to be able to do something magical. Further probing of the cube told him about the aliens that had created the technology, and the limitations that this technology had.
Why had the blue alien centaur – no, why had the andelite – been so determined to give these five teenagers the power of change that this cube was capable of granting? Harry sighed and ran one hand through his messy black hair in a slightly frustrated motion. He needed the rest of that conversation. He was fairly sure he'd filled in a good many of the blanks from studying this thing, but definitely not all of them. No, definitely not all. He still didn't know what the enemy was called yet.
He'd probably use legillimency later, hopefully with permission. For now, Harry was toying with the idea of touching the cube and obtaining the ability to turn into a clone of any living thing he touched, and he had access to some pretty awesome living things. Oh yeah, this thing wasn't limited to critters of the air, land, and sea. No way. This thing could let him turn into other people, he could use the various DNA of whatever he'd touched to mix it up and create a whole new one so he wasn't a clone (still stuck with the two hour time limit though, even if it wasn't a clone), and he could even do plants as well, if he really wanted to.
It also wouldn't interfere with his animagus transformation, since the peregrine falcon was still his DNA, not the DNA of some 'acquired' animal. He could still stay in that form all day and night if he cared to. Or for years, the way Pettigrew had done, if he really wanted to. Not that he particularly did. Hiding out as a falcon wouldn't really be appropriate at the moment.
"Are you done communing with that cube now?" the blonde boy asked.
Harry looked up sharply, releasing the magic that held it above his hand. The boy hadn't entered the box stall, and Harry was actually holding the cube now, rather than using his magic to hold it aloft – gaining the power of change as well, as it happened – but he'd had a war to live through on the tail-end of his own teenage years, so people sneaking up on him still made him a bit twitchy.
"Pretty much," he answered at last. "It's really very interesting."
"What's so interesting?" the boy asked, tone wary, slightly dangerous – utterly laughable. The kid had a baby face and was trying to be threatening. It just didn't work.
"Say, for instance, you had a chance to pat a whole lot of different cats. Different colours, different fur lengths, different breeds, you could use the abilities this innocent-looking little cube gave you to take your favourite parts of all those cats and roll them into one cat, a whole new cat. One less likely to be spotted by... whoever, because I still have no idea what or who you're fighting... as a clone and therefore as someone with the andelite power of change."
"The yeerks," the blonde boy said. "Slugs that can get into people's brains and control them."
Harry nodded in acceptance of the information. "Do I get the privilege of your name?" he asked.
"Pleased to meet you Jake, even if the circumstances aren't that great."
"Oh, and I'm Rachel," the blonde girl said over her shoulder distracted from her morphing practice when she realised that she was the last one to give her name.
"Enchanted," Harry assured her with a smile.
Harry apparated from his kitchen to the local British Magical Embassy Office. His house was set up, and he'd put his papers through requesting residency with the muggle government. All that was left was to register his magical signature on the local radar, so that they would know if he got up to mischief of the 'revealing the magical world to the muggles' variety. If he happened to stop by Houdini Way – a local equivalent to Diagon Alley – then there wasn't anything wrong with that.
The Magical Menagerie was a world-wide franchise, with different animals in the different shops around the world, and all of them connected to each other by a specialised Floo that allowed for the easy transportation of the animals they sold. Harry stroked, petted, and cooed his way through the many, varied animals of the shop until he reached the counter.
"Looking for something in particular?" the shop clerk asked.
Harry smiled. "I don't know if I want to buy anything," he allowed, "but I will pay to use your Floo, so that I can have a look at some of the more... shall we say, exotic options?" he said, and set a bag of galleons on the counter.
"Exotic?" the man answered with a smile of his own as he opened the bag. "Would you mean the sorts that get hired as gate keepers and guards for treasures?" he suggested. "The ones that there are laws about when it comes to being allowed to keep them?"
Harry nodded. "I thought it would be prudent to see what options there were, before I invested," he said. "And every animal is different, so giving me a list wouldn't be as helpful."
"Wise choice, wise choice," the man agreed, bobbing his head. "Yes, I can see you're a man who has thought this out. Alright," he allowed, and waved Harry around the counter to the back room where the Floo was. "You just have to name your country of choice. We've only got one in most countries. America's a bit bigger, so we've got two, but otherwise..." the man shrugged, not bothering to finish the sentence. "And if you try for a country we don't have a shop in, you'll be re-directed to the shop nearest where you were aiming for."
Harry nodded in understanding. "Thank you," he said, and shook the man's hand before he took a pinch of Floo powder from the pouch of it he'd bought in the shop across the street. His first destination was Greece.
The first thing he did when he stepped out of the Floo was cast a translation charm. It wouldn't do him any good to get here, only to not be able to communicate with the shop keeper here.
Especially since Greece really had the best monsters. Well, that weren't aliens, anyway. And not including the nundus of Africa.
"Where have you been?" Cassie asked, her eyes wide and relieved, the echoes of frantic fear still lingering in their depths when Harry joined her and the others as they were just leaving the farm behind.
Harry blinked, then smiled in amusement. "I had business meetings," he said, twisting the truth as far as he could.
After all, he could hardly tell them he'd spent the days (yes, plural) since he'd met them globe-trotting, acquiring the DNA of every person and animal he'd come across. From every tiny bug that had wanted a bite of him as he passed through, to Charlie Weasely and the baby dragon he was hand-raising when he'd stopped by Romania, to merfolk and manatees, hippopotamuses and hippocampuses – and even a few trees and flowers for the heck of it, just to see what he could do with those.
"Why?" he asked. "What did I miss?"
"My brother is a Controller," Jake answered unhappily.
Harry winced in sympathy.
"At least we also know now that the yeerks need some kind of booster treatment every three days," Tobias said, offering what comfort he could.
"And we know a way to this 'pool'," Rachel added, "whatever that is."
Harry smirked. "If it's important to the brain-slugs, then it sounds to me like something that needs a good explosion," he offered. "You kids been practising while I've been gone?"
"It's how we found out what we did," Marco answered. "Me an' Jake, we acquired a couple of skinks, heard Chapman talking, changed, followed him. Almost got caught too," he added with a frown. "We need an instruction manual for this stuff."
"And when would Alfangor have been able to give us one?" Rachel asked, rolling her eyes. "He had Viser Three to deal with, remember?"
"Maybe that's what the disc is," Tobias offered.
"We need an instruction manual for that too!" Marco pointed out.
"Here we go," Cassie announced as they reached a high fence. "This is where my mom works with all of the exotic animals."
"Exotic?" Marco asked. "Like rare chickens or something?"
"Let's face it Marco, we need something more powerful than a rat, a cat, and a dog if we're going to fight the yerks," Jake said. "Alright, I'll boost you up."
"Me?!" Marco yelped.
While the two boys went on about who should get boosted, Cassie unlocked the door with the keys she'd brought. "You guys almost finished?" Cassie asked pointedly, jangling the keys from the other side of the fence.
"So, start at the front, work our way back, leave no animal un-acquired?" Harry suggested with a grin, clapping his hands together in anticipation. There was a possibility, after all, that there were animals here that he hadn't had the chance to meet over the last couple of days. A high possibility, since the only non-magical animals (apart from the small, crawly ones that got everywhere) that he'd acquired had been the aforementioned manatees and hippopotamuses – the former in a hospital for them not far from a hippocampus reserve, and the latter actually were a magical animal. The muggles just didn't know it. Hippos weren't much on the scale of magical, but they were spell-resistant. It was the only reason they were classed as a magical creature.
"Sounds like a plan," Tobias agreed. "I've only got the hawk so far."
"Got the hang of it?" Harry asked.
"Yeah," Tobias answered with a nod. "I don't even need flying lessons. The mind of the hawk knows how already. I have to remember to not let it control me, but the body knows what to do."
"Damn you," Harry complained jokingly, and even messed up the kid's hair. "I had to learn from scratch."
Tobias laughed and – froze a moment, eyes going distant – then he ducked away from the hand in his hair. "What was that?" he asked, a little sharply.
Sharp enough that it caught everybody's attention.
Harry grinned and morphed. There were now two of Tobias, one in his own clothes, the other in Harry's – which were a bit long in the arm and the leg on Tobias' body.
"How'd you do that?" Jake asked, eyes wide.
Harry shook his head and changed back into himself. "You can do more with this than just animals," he told them. "I spent a good long while 'communing with the cube', remember? I may not have gotten the explanation from... Alphangor, you said his name was?" he asked Rachel.
"Right, but the cube itself told me a fair bit," Harry finished with a nod.
"Maybe we should get you to commune with the disc then," Marco suggested.
"Hey, can I turn into you now?" Tobias asked, a thoughtful frown on his face.
"You want to risk busting a seam to find out now?" Harry countered with a smirk. "Stick to the face if you want to try it."
Tobias grinned and did just that.
"Wow," Rachel said softly, impressed.
"You have terrible eyesight," Tobias informed Harry when he released the change from his face.
Harry chuckled. "I know it," he agreed.
"So that's the first acquire of the evening," Cassie said with good humour. "Who wants the second?" she asked, and gestured to a cage.
"Oh hello beautiful," Harry breathed with a smile when he saw what was in the fourth 'cage' Cassie led them too. An albino king cobra, perfectly white, and clearly a king cobra from the size. The king cobra was the longest venomous snake in the world, growing up to five and a half metres – which this one had.
"I hear the voice of a snake from the mouth of a man," the snake within said, tone feminine to Harry's hearing, and head jerking up in surprise.
"I am called Harry. What's your name beautiful one?" Harry asked, and held out an arm for her to slither up.
"I am called Delilah, Harry," the snake answered as she accepted the invitation.
"Okay. That's officially creepy," Marco said. "Man, you're hissing! And it's crawling up your arm!"
"Yeah," Harry answered absently. "Everybody, this is Delilah. Delilah, may they stroke your scales?" he asked her. "I promise they will do you no harm. You will not need to bite them."
"They may," she answered as she coiled around Harry's neck and settled there. "Mm, you are deliciously warm, Harry."
Harry chuckled. "She won't bite," he promised them. "Come on and give her a pat, but be gentle."
"She was brought here to lay her eggs," Cassie said as she stepped up cautiously. "They're changing her enclosure at the zoo while she's here."
"You can't acquire her state as pregnant, if you're worried about that," Harry said easily. "You will only acquire her DNA, not that of her eggs."
"She is beautiful," Tobias said softly, and reached out a hand to stroke her scales where her long body was wrapped around Harry's other arm.
"I don't know if I'm nervous because the snake is huge, because the snake has deadly venom, or because it's a snake and my first morph was a rat," Marco grouched.
"King cobras eat other snakes," Harry stated. "And mostly the snakes that the cobra eats are rat-eaters. Rats themselves only get added to the diet when there isn't anything else to eat."
"Well that makes me feel better," Marco grumbled, but still shook his head and stayed back, rather than coming up close enough to touch the cobra. Jake and Rachel held back too.
"You must put me back now Harry," Delilah hissed. "It is time for me to fill the nest that I have made ready."
"Of course, beautiful one," Harry agreed with a nod, and gently lifted her from around his neck, allowing her to slither the rest of her coils off him after that first bit was down. "I wish you well."
"Blessing be upon thee, Harry, man with the serpent tongue," Delilah hissed as she nodded her head to him before slithering off to fill her nest.
"Harry?" Cassie asked. He had moved away and back to the cage rather abruptly.
"There'll be eggs in that nest tomorrow morning," Harry answered with a smile.
"Hey, uh, no offence, but is it really a good idea to leave that disc in -" Marco started as they left the exotic animals behind in their cages.
"My pocket," Tobias finished. "It goes where I go."
"Alright," Marco said with a nod. "So hey, that means we can see if Harry can commune with it now? Get more details?"
"After," Jake interjected firmly. "We've got stuff to do tonight."
"Think we'll pass as human Controllers?" Rachel asked.
"I guess we'll find out," Jake answered, a little tense.
"Oh you have no idea how much I want to punch you right now," Harry informed the boy. "You find out about the pool, and the same day you plan on charging it, without doing any real recon or making any kind of escape plan."
"You think you can do better?" Jake demanded. "I want to save my brother!"
"And if you take three days to come up with a plan, then you will have a greater likelihood of doing just that, as well as a lot more people besides," Harry said firmly. "Where are your priorities Jake?" he demanded, looking the kid in the eye. "Saving one person, or saving as many as possible?"
Jake frowned, averted his eyes, and nodded. "You're right," he admitted.
"Is the title of fearless leader passed over then?" Marco asked.
"Yeah," Jake agreed, and seemed a little lighter for it.
"So what do we do?" Cassie asked.
"Tonight, we use the smallest, least noticeable morph each of us have to get in, look around, see what actually happens, and get out again as fast as we can. Tomorrow, I 'commune' with the disc while you kids are at school, and then after, depending on what we learn at the pool and from the disc, we make new plans," Harry answered.
"My smallest is a cat," Rachel pointed out. "They're going to notice a cat hanging around the school."
"And apart from a skunk, my smallest at the moment is the king cobra," Cassie added. "Neither is exactly subtle."
Harry sighed. "You seriously didn't acquire any critters that are good at hiding in cracks while I was gone?" he asked, then shook his head and concentrated. "Alright kids, you're going to be acquiring the DNA of a horsefly second hand," Harry informed them, as he took off from the ground and landed on bits of their skin, making sure they'd all acquired the DNA before changing back. "That is so weird to be on the other side of," he informed them.
"When did you acquire the DNA of a horsefly?" Cassie asked.
"My business meetings may have involved visiting a stable," Harry answered.
This was true. If the stables he was visiting happened to be home to thestrals', pegasus', and hippogriffs, well, they didn't need to know that. Nor did they need to know that, using the horsefly disguise, he'd been able to acquire the DNA of a few centaurs who really didn't like humans.
"Change only once we've reached the school," Harry instructed. "I really don't want to chance the time limit and being stuck as a horsefly for the rest of my life."
"Oh yeah. Man, that would not be cool," Marco agreed.
They picked a classroom with an open window, changed, and flew in, then under the classroom door and into the hall, at which point it was the simple matter of following the line of people through the school to the janitors room with the secret passageway behind it. It was actually a little worrisome, how much secret passage was behind that janitorial closet. Also, the reason for it being called 'the pool' was quickly evident.
Harry landed on the alien thing that was guarding the people who were being held captive while they were free, just long enough to acquire it (never know when it might be useful), and then flew through the gaps in the lazer beams that were acting the part of bars.
"Kids, get over here and memorise these faces. These are people who will likely be willing to help, once we get them free. If they're not too scared to do anything," Harry called mentally.
"Guys, it's Principle Chapman," Rachel's voice said. She even landed on the middle-aged man who was curled up in a corner. Poor guy was muttering about the desecration of his school and protecting his daughter as he rocked back and forth, nearly crying.
"I'm going to see if I can find our big blue bad guy," Harry said. "You guys check to see if there's anything that can get blown up. Then head outside and change back. Don't want to push our luck, either here or with the two-hour limit."
The five other flies all took off from the people they'd landed on and headed in different directions, and then Harry took off as well, moving fast to circle the whole place and then up to where they'd (briefly) seen the andelite that was host to the yeerk known as Viser Three. Fortunately, from that spot it was easy enough to find the guy.
Harry landed briefly, only just long enough to acquire the guy's DNA – and thankfully, the andelite host went into a trance, not the yeerk controlling it. The yeerk didn't even notice. Cackling mentally to himself, Harry buzzed out from there as fast as he could, and returned to normal as soon as he was outside of the school building.
Which he proceeded to begin to circle on foot, looking for the teenagers he'd come with.
"Good, no one got left behind or got stuck," he said with a relieved smile when he found them.
"That was so weird," Rachel announced. "I mean, a horsefly! I could taste with my feet!"
The comment spawned a round of chuckles.
"Alright kids, this is the part where you go home, think about everything you saw, and start coming up with ideas for how to shut the place down. Tobias?" Harry asked.
"The disc, yeah," the boy agreed, and dug his hand into his pocket for said item. His expression fell. "It's gone," he announced weakly.
"Well, you can't have dropped it in there, since you were a fly the whole time you were in the school building. So, it must be on the ground out here somewhere," Harry reasoned.
"Found it!" Marco announced a moment later, and bent to pick it up.
Every single pair of shoulders slumped a little in relief, and Marco handed the disc over to Harry.
"We tried it on Jake's computer," Marco said, "but it didn't work."
Harry nodded in acceptance. "Well, be safe, try and have pleasant dreams, and I'll see you all after you get out of school tomorrow," he said.
"Meet at my place," Cassie offered.
Nods all round, and they split up.
Harry spent the rest of the night until midnight probing at the disc with his magic. The bad news as far as the kids were going to be concerned was that it wasn't a battle plan of any kind that they could use. The good news... was that it was essentially everything they could possibly need to know about yeerks. It even had yeerk DNA on there, so that they could acquire it and become yeerks for infiltration purposes if they needed to.
The next morning, Harry laughed to himself as he watched two packets more than he usually bought of oatmeal get scanned by the cashier at the check-out. The disc hadn't actually specified that weakness in so few words as "oatmeal is bad for yeerks", but the list of nutrients that were bad for yeerks could all be found in that one, convenient place.
"Health-nut?" the guy asked as he bagged the oatmeal.
"I'm hosting a 'Goldie-Locks and the three bears' themed tea-party," Harry answered with a wry smirk and a shake of his head. "It wasn't my idea, but I'm stuck providing the food all the same."
The cashier chuckled. "Tough luck," he commiserated with a grin.
"Yeah, but it's no so bad. The kids will like it," Harry said with an easy shrug.
Once he'd paid for everything, and left his own grocery shopping at home, Harry popped by the British Magical Embassy to get permission to tell five kids about the magical world. Honestly, it would be easier than having to hide it from them, and really, they'd have to figure something out eventually. Not to mention, it could be dead useful if fighting the yeerks was going to be a long-haul sort of fight. Or one that would eventually see the kids fighting witches and wizards with yeerks in their heads, unlikely as that was.