I don't own Harry Potter, not nearly enough Harmony, or Marvel, my drawing skills are below an elementary age child's. Seriously, one class I cannot teach is art. Just can't do it.
Warning, this chapter is not the chapter I initially thought it would be. Hopefully however everyone will still find it fun. I know some of you PM'd me about when i was going to update, but please don't. Seriously - I got ten plus PMs by people who said they were losing interest because there was too much time between updates? Honestly? Come on. I also probably responded too strongly to a few who were generally inquisitive because of the assholes, and I apologize for that to those individuals.
This chapter has been edited by Kathyrn18, my flow/big idea lady, and Jessolt, who is a master at grammar/word choice and commas. I can tell the difference in the chapter after they've both done their work, and I am certain you all will too, so give a shout out to both of them.
Chapter 17 Where Do I Sign Up…?
By the time Harry ran off, Ororo had already left the castle heading to New York to meet up with Kitty and her parents. She did so by having Cory pop her over to the mansion. She used Cory, despite the fact that there were now other house-elves who could pop that far, simply because he was also one of the most comfortable around technology and she had a meeting in New York later that day.
She found Kitty waiting for her with a bright grin on her face as she launched herself at Storm, which brought a smile of pleasure to Ororo's face as well. Ororo wasn't certain why the two of them had become so close, but there was most definitely a connection between them and the thought of seeing Kitty every day again was a pleasing one to the African woman. Eventually Ororo moved back, waving a thin folder at the curly haired girl, who grinned. "My parents should be here soon, do you think we should make tea or something?"
"Why don't you get your grades for this past year while I make tea?" Ororo replied. "I'm certain that they would like to see your progress in your regular scholastic endeavors before we talk about the job Harry and I would like to offer you. Where are Charles and the others?"
"The others all went to the beach, the Professor and Logan went some place. Not sure where, but the Professor was talking about upgrading our security." With that, Kitty ran up the stairs to her room from the foyer, which was where Cory had popped Ororo in.
The older woman chuckled a little at the younger girl's exuberance and then looked down at the folder she was carrying. It contained the contract that Kitty would be kept to, with four copies of course, as well as a few legal forms her parents would need to sign to let her work with them, and a few she would sign as well with them as a witness. It was something that she had made up, not Harry. She and Jean had been talking about it recently. They were going to be sitting down with him sometime soon and basically pointing out that he was far too trusting with money and the future of his company.
Harry was a rather odd person. Once he trusted someone and that final barrier came down, he trusted completely. To make matters worse, he saw money as simply a means to an end. That was changing slowly but it wasn't changing fast enough. In point of fact, Ororo had worked with Jean on writing up a new contract for the redhead in her position as chief engineer for Future-Tech, the name they were using at the moment for the engineering division of their corporation, Magical Minds. Jean had been very thankful that it hadn't just been her that had been a little freaked out by the amount of trust Harry had put in her. She had gratefully signed a new contract rather than putting pen to paper for the old one.
Kitty's contract, while very generous, wasn't about to break the bank. Yet even so, they might not have been able to pay her after a single month. If Jean hadn't found that gold, they would be in a very bad way in a few weeks, considering their ongoing expenses in terms of furniture for the Castle and High Note, food expenses, and the ongoing contracts they were paying for their growing workforce. The biggest expense thought was the high-tech gear that Jean had installed in the castle, which had wiped out nearly all of Harry's reserve.
To that end, Jean was going to be dropping off the gold bars and coins she had found the day before directly into Harry's Swiss account. Harry hadn't found any curses on those when he perused the items for a few minutes last night, but the statues and other items had yet to be cleared. Harry had already set it up so that she could access that account, though Jean had asked the bank earlier that week to make it so that she couldn't withdraw funds, merely add them. The person on the other end of the phone line had sounded a little surprised at that, but they had agreed. Jean was going to set up her own bank account, eventually, which would do for things that she wanted to buy for herself such as clothing and other items of that nature. But that would wait until they were actually in a position to start paying her for the job as a chief engineer.
At that point in Ororo's musings, she heard the intercom come on and she quickly moved over to the speaker. After exchanging a few pleasantries, Ororo opened the gates, allowing Kitty's parents to drive their car up to the front of the mansion. Moments later, she opened the door with a smile, allowing Terry and Kathleen inside. "It's good to see you two. As I said, I'm afraid Harry couldn't make it today but I have full authority to speak about the job we wish to hire Kitty for and, if you wish, can negotiate within a certain limit." Of course, Ororo had set those limits herself, but she wasn't about to share with anyone else Harry's bad fiscal habits.
Both Kitty's parents nodded at their daughter's favorite teacher. They had heard that she was moving out to be part of this company, but what it was doing they didn't quite understand just yet and hoped to learn during this conversation. Their greetings, however, were interrupted by their daughter racing down the stairs and enveloping them both in a hug.
Ororo smiled as she watched the three get reacquainted, then coughed gently. "Perhaps we should move to the sitting room?"
The weather witch let Kitty dominate the conversation for a time, as the girl talked about schoolwork, the trip to Vietnam that Harry had paid for as a present for Scott and Jean's graduation, and her ongoing relationship with Lance, which she said wasn't serious, but it was still fun. "Don't worry mom, I know there are limits to how far we should go at our age."
The pained look on Terry's face at that portion of the conversation had Ororo chuckling into her hand, but she controlled herself quickly. "Ahem, perhaps we can move on to why we're all here?"
Terry took that opportunity to change the conversation with delight. "YES, um we have some questions about this job you want to hire Kitty for. For one thing we were looking forward to spending more time with our daughter this summer. If this job cuts into that I'm not certain we would be willing to allow her to do it."
Both Kitty and her Kathleen smiled first at his attempt to change the conversation, but Kathleen nodded, her arm around her daughter hugged her tighter for a moment. Both of her parents had dearly missed their only daughter since Kitty had been fostered here at the Institute and even though it had only been a year it had been very rough for the two of them.
Ororo understood that of course, she had long known that this family was very close, not only physically but emotionally as well. In fact, she was going to bring up something at the end of this conversation about that. "Let me first describe the job we wish to hire Kitten for and then I will tell you about a portion of it that will help assuage that particular worry." She said smoothly. "First of all, you know that Kitty has learned how to use runes and runic arrays?"
Both parents nodded, though they had only the barest knowledge of those disciplines taken from conversations with their daughter in person. Kitty had followed Harry's stern injunction to not mention magic or what she was learning to anyone except in person and, even then, only if she trusted them.
"What you might not understand is that much of what Harry, Jean, and I are up to at the moment is based around magic and in particular runic arrays. The problem is that, despite the fact that we have hired several other individuals to handle some areas or our ongoing work, including one who can aid in magical areas, we haven't found anyone who has skill with creating runic arrays. This forces Harry to spend time on those projects while he could use that time more effectively in other ways. He also would like someone to devote some time to actually thinking up ways to use and make money on runic arrays in the future. Those two aspects will, if Kitty agrees and you agree to let her sign the contract, be part of Kitty's job."
"As she is Harry's apprentice in runes," she went on, "room and board of course will be provided without any charge, and we're looking to pay her an hourly wage starting at $100, going up to $300 when we move into expanding her repertoire."
Both parents' eyes widened at the number and they looked at their daughter who was also startled. "For that kind of money, ah," Kathleen paused, then gathered herself "are you paying her that much because the knowledge, this job, is dangerous, or because her knowledge is so rare? That amount is…"
"Under no circumstances will this be dangerous." Ororo replied firmly. "There is a room here in the mansion that is set up to protect against any issues that might arise in a runic array. I believe Kitty might have mentioned it?"
Terry nodded, though his wife frowned for a moment, having trouble bringing that conversation to mind. "In any event, there is a similar room in the headquarters we are currently using. Anything Kitty does, will be done in that room first and then, only when it is approved by Harry, will she be allowed to recreate the array elsewhere. At the moment, we're paying for this because Kitten is literally the only other person we can get to do the work."
Which was true. Dr. Strange had a vast knowledge of runic arrays, but only in terms of wards or protective arrays woven into his clothing. He could do several things in those areas with them that Harry was only barely able to understand at the moment, not having enough time to really devote to figuring them out. Connecting a anti-teleportation ward to the waiting room Harry had run into for instance. But using them in the myriad ways that Harry was thinking of, such as the lie detector, was out of Steven's area of expertise.
And it wasn't like they could ask Steven to work for them. He had his own duties, which judging from a brief conversation he had had with Harry during the last week seemed to have picked up for some reason. Even so, he seemed confident in his ability to handle things, but Steven, his girlfriend, and Wanda would not be available for a time outside of short discussions.
Kitty leaned forward eagerly. "Will I be just copying out arrays at first, or will I be experimenting?"
"At first you will be simply copying out arrays, I'm afraid," Ororo replied, chuckling lightly when Kitty pouted. The girl's interest in learning and pushing her brain was a treasure to watch. "I'm afraid at this point we need one specific array as quickly as we can get it," she said obliquely, not wishing to mention, even to Kitty's parents, the fact that Harry knew a runic array that could inform a person that someone else was lying, or untrustworthy. That, among everything else, was a real game changer and not something she wanted anyone else to know they possessed. After all, the moment something like that was known, people would begin to either copy it somehow, block it, or maneuver around it.
"One of the first arrays you will have to do is an array that Harry has devised that will protect your mind from invasion. We're uncertain how well it will do against a telepath, because I have a natural protection against such given my mutant power and Harry uses an entirely different system. So you'll have to work with Jean for a time to make certain it works before we allow you to start working on secret projects."
"I'm fine with that," Kitty nodded, "so long as the professor can still reach me mentally at need anyway." Both of her parents looked a little worried but Kitty waved them off. "I trust Jean." she said simply. "I trust the professor as well or, even as scared as I was when my powers activated, I wouldn't be here."
Terry and Kathleen nodded as well, at that. They too had trusted Xavier and, for the most part, the man had done a very good job with their daughter. The mistakes (those they knew about) seemed to have been out of his control, in fact, they had more of a problem with Logan than with the professor.
"I don't think we need to haggle about the wages." Kathleen said, understating things quite a bit, though neither parent truly realized how scarce the skills they were paying Kitty to use were. "That's a very generous offer but now we come to what my husband and I consider the main point here. We want to spend more time with our daughter and, if this job takes away from that, I'm sorry Kitten," she said looking down at her daughter "but your father and I just would not be comfortable with it."
Kitty hugged both of her parents to her tightly and it was easy to see that she would not have been happy with that, either. Despite how mature she was in many ways, Kitty was still a young girl and she loved her parents very much.
"Actually," Ororo said smiling widely, "while it won't be your first job, one of your jobs that Harry has mentioned to me is creating what he calls permanent teleportation doors. It's a theory of course and it will probably involve quite a bit of trial and error, but he would like to set them up between us and one of our allies, as well as other places. Of course, they can be also secured to only let certain people through, but I see no reason why they couldn't be set up between you and your home and here, say, or from your home to where Kitty will be working."
She watched as their eyes lit up at that prospect. Having their daughter only a single room away would be fantastic, though in all honesty, Ororo didn't know how well the doors would work. If they were all interconnected, no matter where they were, then having one of them at Hogwarts with its heavy magical atmosphere would power them all, but if not, well Ororo just didn't know enough about them to say if that was possible or not. She did know however that Harry would come up with some other solution if this didn't work. "Regardless of that, this job will have flexible work hours, and we are more than happy to work with you so you can all spend time together."
Ororo opened up the folder, and handed over the three copies of the agreement, as well as showing her own copy to them and waited silently while they went over it. "The nondisclosure aspect is the most important part there, besides your daughter's hourly wage of course."
"We agreed to allow….such that… Use any and all means necessary to safeguard the classified secrets of the company as well as the well being of the individual in question? Is that… that's not normal, why…" Kathleen asked worriedly.
"Keep reading" Ororo said gently.
Kathleen complied sighing in relief when it listed all the things that the company would not do and would do to protect their workers, regardless of where they were in the world or what threats they faced, be it in the pursuit of the companies work or normal life.
Her father however was looking at Ororo his head cocked to the side thoughtfully. "Eventually, you know that your secrets are going to get out."
"Yes," Ororo said simply, "we do. However we intend to put that off as much is possible, and there are certain secrets that will never be shared with the public, at least not for a very long time."
For a moment everyone was silent as the parents communicated in that way that married couples who have been together for a long time could. Ororo idly wondered if she and Harry would ever get that point, not realizing that in some ways they were already there, despite having only been around one another for under half a year now. Eventually, Terry nodded and said brightly, "Well, I don't think we have any issues with any of this, so long as it doesn't take away from her school work when the school year starts."
Kitty grinned wildly, hugged both her parents and then raced off to grab a pen.
When she left, Ororo asked the parents. "By the way, would you be willing to do some PR work, eventually? I don't have to tell you that the whole 'mutant issue'" she said, making quote marks in the air, "has the world pretty badly divided, even here in America. Eventually, once we start moving openly on the world stage, my Harry plans to do something about that and a PR blitz is going to be a part of it. You two are, forgive me for saying it this way, poster children for how we want parents of mutants to act like."
Both parents blushed a little at the praise, not really understanding why they were worthy of it. It wasn't as if they would have done anything different after all, their daughter was their daughter was their daughter, and that was that. "We'll have to think about it or course," Kathleen said, "I don't have any problem with it in principle, but we'll have to see."
"Of course, take all the time you need," Ororo replied, then Kitty was back, jumping onto the sofa between her parents with a pen in one hand. The weather witch looked at the time and frowned a little. She had scheduled another meeting today down in New York, though she hoped it would be relatively quick. "Unfortunately, I need to run. I have a meeting down in New York and the transfer time from here to there, well you know how it is."
Both parents nodded and Ororo looked over at Kitty. "Kitty can show you around again. I think the workroom in particular would assuage some of your concerns, but hopefully you'll still be here when I get back. I have been authorized to take you two, as well as Kitty, to where she'll be working."
Terry and Kathleen expressed interest in that, and Kitty pulled them out of their seats heading up the stairs to show them the workroom, which Harry had turned over entirely to her. After, of course, powering all of the wards inside to the highest level he could. The house elves that rotated into the mansion, had the task of making certain that those wards never reached a low level as those around the entire house had, which Harry let die.
Ororo had been about to take Harry to task about having a house elf work for the X-Men, until Harry had mentioned that it was primarily because Kitty was still his apprentice that he had done so. After that, she hadn't had an issue with it. And of course they still used the mansion as their teleportation point in America, or at least this side of America, so it wasn't like they weren't being paid for it.
After watching the trio walk off, she stretched, smiling faintly as she moved to the garage, where she found the X-Men van still there despite all the kids and Charles and Logan being gone. It wasn't exactly glamorous, but it would get her there. About two hours later (no traffic until she reached the city, praise the goddess, which Ororo did) Ororo pulled into the parking area for one of the public libraries in New York, which had been designated by the man she was meeting as their meeting point.
She looked up briefly as through the noise, hustle and bustle of the city she heard a faint swish, and caught a glimpse of someone swinging away overhead. "That must be that Spider fellow that we've heard about." Ororo mused to herself. She briefly wondered if the young man was a mutant, but decided that it really didn't matter one way or another. He seemed to be one of the good guys and that was enough. Possibly, eventually, they would get in contact with him, although with the amount of crime in New York and the job he was doing protecting the city against it, possibly they wouldn't.
Ororo walked into the library searching around for the person that she was here to meet and saw him waiting, seemingly nervously, by one of the windows.
The man was of only normal height, but was massively muscled across his chest and had long arms reaching down to his thighs with massive, dexterous, yet muscled hands. He had wire-rimmed glasses on and short cropped brown hair over a pleasant, yet somewhat absent-minded looking expression on a handsome face, which at the moment looked oddly nervous. She strolled up to him, "Henry McCoy? Dr. Henry McCoy?"
The man turned from the window, nervously tapping the fingers of one hand on his thigh. "You must be Ms. Munroe, a pleasure to meet you. But I'm afraid I have some bad news. You see, prior to you getting in contact with me I had been in contact with a school at offering my services there. They have accepted and, unfortunately, they have a prior claim on my time."
Ororo frowned faintly, "A teaching job? I would not think that would be your calling, Dr. McCoy."
"We all have different callings pulling on our souls, my lady," Henry, or Hank to his friends, said, bowing his head slightly. "Research is one of mine but teaching is another. This job will allow me to have time to research on my own and also to teach. My own… personal research has reached a critical juncture and I cannot leave it as is. And as I said, the school in question has a prior claim on me. I cannot, in good conscience, ignore that claim."
"Very well, I have to say that I'm happy that you actually were willing to meet with me at all in that case and I completely understand." Ororo said smiling a little. "In point of fact, this will allow me to spend more time at my day with two of my favorite parents, so it's all to the good despite the irritation of driving down here. But please, do keep us in mind in the future. Your intelligence and knowledge in the fields of chemistry and biology would make you uniquely suited to working with us. I assure you further, that in a matter of months we will be at the forefront of several new fields of interest in those areas."
"Good parents are a teacher's dream." Henry said nodding. "And yes of course, if this job falls through for any reason, I will try to contact you again but may I ask what precisely about me had you contact me in the first place?"
"I'm afraid I'm going to have to say that is proprietary, Dr. McCoy, though of course if you ever start work with us, I will tell you then. All I will say is that we were referred to you and that your previous work in the fields of medicine, as well as your grades in your Master's program, were both important to us. Have a pleasant day." she said shaking his hand once more and departing quickly. That haven't gone nearly as well as she had hoped.
She wondered what research it was that the good doctor was working on. It was obvious it was the research, not the teaching that was the reason why he turned them down. Also, Ororo wondered why Henry looked so nervous and jumpy. Still, it wasn't any of her business. She also had showcasing Hogwarts to Kitty and her parents to look forward to, so with a shrug, Ororo got back in her van and drove back to the mansion.
After sending out his Patronus, Harry and Hedwig (who had arrived on his shoulder just as he was about to apparate out with her consummate sense of timing) had gone up to High Note, swiftly maneuvering the asteroid fortress over Russia, then hit himself with a translation spell, before exiting.
Russia was one of the countries in the world where he was most concerned about their response to the mutant question. It was 'officially' a democratic nation now but anyone who even looked in their direction could tell that that was not the case. The Communists might be out of power on the surface but that didn't change the fact that there was a small cabal of people making the decisions, with little in the way of the democratic process visible.
According to Xavier, since they first started to show up in Russia during World War 2, mutants tended to die the moment their powers came out, ripped apart by wild mobs or killed by the police or military, showing how intolerant Russians were to those different from themselves. Nowadays, Russia had woken up to the potential resource mutants could be, causing a push for all mutants to be registered and to be educated 'for the good of the nation'. The fact that they were so open about it bothered him and so did the fact that no other country had objected to the policy being carried out inside Russia's borders.
Harry had no idea how many mutants had been rounded up already by Russia's government but he was determined to make certain that one at least wouldn't be today. To that end, Harry exited High Note and flew down through the atmosphere towards a small farming community near Lake Baikal in Siberia, where the Big Book of Students had told him a mutant had activated his powers a few hours ago. Given the time difference, it was dark by the time Harry arrived, which was possibly a good thing.
Using his invisibility cloak to cover himself, Harry flew down, allowing Hedwig to make her own way. He eventually landed in a wheat field, noticing that there were a few people out, more than he expected this late at night in a farming community. More than one of them seemed scared of one small house on the edge of the community, yet kept watching it warily as well. Several of them looked at it whispering to one another even as he watched and Harry frowned. I was skeptical of the idea of mobs forming and tearing apart mutants without someone instigating it, like the Friends of Humanity, which surprisingly Russia doesn't have, but while it looks like that's not happening here just yet, there is certainly a lot of fear in the air here. And fear can make animals of men.
He pushed that aside for now and made his way unseen over to the house. He briefly scanned around it then looked at Hedwig who was circling overhead. He waited there for about ten minutes, then breathed a sigh of relief as the last of the villagers who had been watching the back of the house moved away, heading back to their own houses. He waited another five minutes then moved in, hopped over the privacy wall around the small garden at the back of the cottage, and made his way to the backdoor. He knew someone was still awake because he could see a few lights inside. He hoped to put them at ease quickly, yet didn't want anyone to see the door opening.
Harry rapped gently on the door then calmly pulled off his invisibility cloak, allowing Hedwig to alight on his shoulder. He didn't have to wait long and soon the door opened. Harry had to crane his neck upwards to stare into the face of a man who was as tall as the Blob, yet built on a much more streamlined body type. "Good grief, you're a tall one aren't you?"
The surprised comment seemed to startle the big man who had looked both fearful and defiant when he opened the door and he blinked. "You would not be the first one to say so." He then shook himself, staring at the man before him and the owl on his shoulder. "You do not seem to be from the government, stranger. What brings you to our backdoor? The one in our private garden, which just so happens to have a wall around it?" he said looking around at the wall and beyond it out into the night of the small community.
Harry shrugged. "I didn't want any of your neighbors to see me knocking on your door. As to why I'm here, may I come in? It's not something we should be discussing outside."
"No threats, no duplicitous statements, no soldiers behind you," the man said chuckling a little now. "Most definitely not from the government. You can come in, I suppose. But know I will be watching you, stranger."
"Not a problem, I come in peace and all that." Harry replied. That won another chuckle from the younger man, who moved back to let Harry enter.
Harry took a moment, as he was ushered inside, to study him further. Not only was the young man (Harry estimated he was a year or at most two years older than Scott or Jean) taller than Harry, he was fit, with the kind of build you get when you have to work from dawn to dusk. Heavy shoulders, powerful arms with the rest of his body similarly developed. He had short cropped black hair, the kind of haircut that you got when you couldn't pay for someone else to do it so had someone in your family cut your hair short for hygiene reasons rather, than aesthetics. He wore simple and durable clothing, which fit the environment of the farming community. His eyes, deep set into a face that had been in all sorts of weather, were blue. Yet, for all that he looked like the poster child for the bucolic farm life, his face was lively with intelligence and there were even smile lines around his mouth.
The man led him into a small kitchen, which had an equally small table set in the center of it on the other side of which sat a very elderly couple. The man looked almost as big as the younger man, although he was now stooped with age, and his hair, equally short, was completely white. His face was craggy, what could be seen of it from behind a large beard. His hands were gnarled with arthritis, his eyes nearly blind with cataracts. The woman next to him was equally elderly and equally wrinkled, though she didn't seem to have been out in the sun as much as he but she was even more stooped. Her hands trembled where they rested on the table. Both of them wore simple clothing, as well, in dark colors. They were both also clearly worried and stared at Harry as if he were some kind of venomous snake.
"Peace." he said calmly raising his hand to touch Hedwig's plumage gently, causing the old couple's eyes to widen as if they hadn't noticed his owl perched on his shoulder. Given the concern and worry that almost radiated off them, that was actually possible, though Harry suspected Hedwig had been using some kind of trick or other. He wasn't about to ask her what kind, she'd just come over all smug, again. "My name is Harry Potter and I just want to talk."
"That government never wants to just talk," the old man said bitterly, "they take."
Before the woman could shush him, which seemed to be an automatic response rather than something that she was doing because she was afraid of Harry's response, Harry replied simply. "I'm not from the government, any government, not just the Russian one."
That seemed to startle them and, while two older people looked at him rather dubiously, the younger man frowned thoughtfully. "As I said before, you do not carry yourself like a government man with their arrogance and sneering contempt for all. You carry yourself with something else, confidence perhaps? You're not from Russia at all, are you?"
Harry smiled slightly. "No I am not, I originally hail from Britain, but that is not the country I give my allegiance to. I don't give my allegiance to any country, at present. My hand in friendship perhaps, but not allegiance. My name is Harry Potter, as I said and I am here, Piotr Nikolaievitch Rasputin,to talk to you. Something has happened recently hasn't it, something has awoken inside you? And you are worried because you know the government's response to such things, such mutations."
"I am concerned about it." the younger man said, waving his grandmother to silence when she opened her mouth and staring at the shorter man. Harry was of a decent height at 6'2" (feeding on his magic in the Negative Zone had cured much of his malnutrition, surprisingly) but Piotr dwarfed him by at least four inches, and was far wider across the shoulders.
Yet, the idea of using violence on Harry gave Piotr the willies. There was just something about his stance and tone of voice that said he would be able to handle anything that came his way. Even so, Piotr was a very self-possessed individual and none of those thoughts showed up on his face. "But I am not so concerned as to talk about such to someone who has not yet told me why he is here."
"Bravely spoken." Harry replied with a smile. He was beginning to like this young man. There was an air of toughness about him, not the toughness of someone who was trying to be, but that kind of proven toughness that came from facing a life of fighting the nature and the elements, that came from being your family's main support. "To be honest, I'm here to see if I can convince you to come with me. I am opening a school for mutants, where they can learn to use and control their powers and, of course, further their own education in a safe environment."
The phrase 'further their own education' made the grandmother perk up noticeably, and she exchanged a glance with her husband.
"And how would I pay for this?" Piotr was rather skeptical of this man who had appeared out of nowhere. Certainly, he was trying to do a soft sell, whereas the government would not sell, as his grandfather said, but take, yet Piotr was not willing to just jump in right away.
"First, I should tell you that you won't be the first one I've recruited. I have several others who are helping me and you'll meet them later on if you agree to join us. Yet, to start, I am a mutant as well. My mutant power isn't very applicable in most situations," Harry said chuckling a little, "though it's extremely helpful for me. Because it isn't my primary power. My primary power... is magic." Having said that, he conjured up a tea set, complete with tea. The tea wouldn't actually give anyone any nourishment, but it was warm at least.
There was a gasp from the hallway, and all of the people around the table turned in that direction.
Harry cocked an eyebrow at Piotr who frowned for a moment then sighed. "My sister, Illyana." Harry nodded and Piotr raised his voice. "You know you should not be eavesdropping, sestrenka."
A moment later a young girl of around ten or so shuffled in, looking a little sheepish. She had blonde hair down to her shoulders and was wearing an obviously hand me down nightgown. Her face was pretty, in a little girl way, and her eyes were bright blue, twinkling with interest over a small, expressive mouth twisted into a pout, at the moment. There was something about the girl, something that called to him, yet Harry couldn't figure out what and merely smiled gently at her. "Hello little one." he said. "Shouldn't you be in bed?"
The girl pouted a little at this even as her grandparents chuckled and Piotr nodded his head firmly. "Yes, she most certainly should be. Illyana, what are you even doing up?"
"I heard voices and came to see what was going on." She said, then stared at Harry. "Are you really a koldun?"
"Technically I am a… a volshebnik, a wizard, not a mage. The distinction has to do with where you get your power from." Harry then paused in shock as Hedwig left his shoulder, swirling around the younger girl before alighting daintily on her right shoulder.
The little girl bobbled a little at the weight of the owl. Her eyes were wide and startled, yet joyous at the same time. "She's beautiful, what's her name?"
"Her name is Hedwig, she seems to like you. She doesn't do that often, as in almost never really." Harry shook his head and turned back to Piotr. "Where were we?"
"I think you were trying to sell me on this idea of going to school to learn how to use my mutant power. On the surface," Piotr said, shrugging his shoulders, "it sounds like a good deal, but, if you were not their targets, so did communism. And while you have convinced me you have magic or something equivalent, that is not enough to get me to agree that you are a better bet than the government."
Harry laughed, liking this young man more and more. He was confident, he was intelligent, and he was unafraid to speak his mind, yet wasn't arrogant, all in all a very good combination. He waited to respond while Piotr picked up his younger sister gently in his lap. Hedwig flew to the table in front of them, where Illyana continued to rub her plumage just the way she liked it. "I am not trying to sell you something right away, though in time I might. I am putting together a team to help protect mutant rights the world over as well as face other threats. But joining us will be your personal decision. The schooling is free," he went on, looking around at the family "as is the relocation of your family to the school. Eventually they might have to be moved out of the school, but at the moment the castle is pretty empty."
"Castle!" they all said, with tones ranging from incredulity to surprise and joy in Illyana's case. The little girl was clapping her hands together in glee.
"A Castle," Piotr said incredulously. "Really?"
"Really!" Harry said laughing at Piotr's face and the joy on the little girl's face. "Trust me, I can understand where you're coming from. I was astonished to find it here as well. I'm not from around here, to put it mildly." he said, shaking his head. "That's why I said I'm a wizard rather than a mage or a sorcerer. But I'll explain that to you later, if you agree to come with me."
Piotr frowned faintly, the idea of going off and leaving his grandparents to care for his sister had not appealed to him at all, which was what would have happened if the government had come to take him away, so that aspect was a major draw. Both of his parents had died years ago. His father had died during one of the communist government's last gasps at foreign expansion and his mother had died when Illyana was only a baby, a few months after his older brother was chosen to become a cosmonaut. It had been just him and his grandparents for so long, working the communal farm with Piotr doing the majority of the work assigned to their family for years now. Yet at the same time, he was aware of the fact that his family could be used as hostages for his good conduct.
Harry laughed a little, looking at the man. "I'm not going to use your family against you or anything like that, if that's what you're worried about," he said, as if he could read Piotr's mind. And before Piotr could gasp in surprise he said "No, I can't read your mind, but your face is an open book when it comes to your emotions and you were looking in their direction, seemingly very worried."
Illyana and his grandparents all chuckled and Piotr looked down, slightly abashed. He was not good at hiding his feelings, his thoughts yes, but not his emotions. People tended to see him his size and assume that he was as slow as he looked, but Piotr was not in fact slow either in body or mind.
Harry stopped chuckling quickly and went on. "Seriously, I'm not going to coerce you into anything. I'm here to help you. I'm here to help you and your family. As I said, eventually you may wish to join the team I'm putting together, but that will be your choice. I will not pressure you into it. Training in your powers is what I offer, as well as continued education up to and including college if your grades are good enough. If they're not, I can help you find a job or hire you myself eventually. I have quite a few rods in the fire at the moment, all of whom could use people."
"And are all of them supposed to help mutant kind?"
"They are supposed all help humanity." Harry shrugged. "Helping mutant kind is part and parcel of what I'm doing, but eventually, I hope that the entire world will benefit from what I'm doing eventually. But can you honestly say you like the way mutants are being treated, here or abroad? It is becoming a larger issue every month as more and more mutants discover their mutations."
Piotr stared at him, trying to stare into Harry's soul. He couldn't of course, but eventually he decided he liked what he saw. He frowned, leaning back and scratching his chin, as he thought.
During this momentary silence Illyana spoke up eagerly. "So what can you do with magic? Can you fly? Do you have a broom? All the witches and wizards in the old stories carry brooms, like old Baba Yaga! Do you brew potions? Can you transform into a bear?"
Harry laughed shaking his head. "I can't wait to introduce you to Melody. I think the two of you will get on quite well. In order, I can do quite a lot with my magic." he said pointing a finger at her. Suddenly Illyana was wearing a fluffy and comfortable pajama top and bottom shaped into a comic book version of a tiger. Harry had seen a book called Calvin and Hobbes in Harrods when they were shopping there, and the tiger in it had tickled his fancy.
The girl giggled hugging herself and feeling the soft fur of the pajamas under her hands. Piotr looked down and smiled faintly, but Harry went on before he could speak. "I can fly yes. I used to have to use a broom, but then someone pointed out a rather stupid point I had been overlooking. She's another person that I think you'll both like to talk to, but we'll see. I can brew potions, that's partially what I'm going to be doing worldwide. I think a lot of them can help humanity, quite a lot. We'll see how that goes soon enough. As to transforming into a bear, I can't change my form like that, but I knew someone who could."
Neville Longbottom was the only one among his friends who had been able to figure out how to become an animagus before they died and he had transformed into an immense Kodiak bear. Harry smiled gently, his eyes far away as he remembered his dead friend, a look both the as yet unnamed grandparents recognized. They had seen that look before, often in the mirror, of bittersweet memories of friends long gone.
"Neville was a good friend, brave and true as the saying goes. We went to a school for wizardry from where I was from, and he was in the house, which were a kind of way to split up the students, that was known for being the bravest and yes, he transformed into a giant bear. I remember the first time he did it, scared the life out of me. Here I am," Harry said, laughing and looking at them now, "standing across from a friend who is going through this meditation, do you know if that means?" He looked at Illyana with one quizzically and she nodded listening eagerly to the story. Harry went on, "And then suddenly I'm faced with this giant bear whose head is an inch away from my face. And then he yawns and all I can see is this maw that could bite my head off and dirty yellow teeth."
"No matter what he said later," Harry said firmly, "I did not scream like a little girl." Illyana broke out into giggles, and even the parents and Piotr chuckled.
Piotr shook his head, amused. Harry came off as human above all else, personable and open in a way that no one from the government could ever be. "Will your offer for schooling apply to Illyana as well?"
"Of course!" Harry replied, looking a little startled at the idea that it wouldn't. "We'll probably have to bring in a special tutor for the younger ages. We were setting up more for secondary level schooling at the moment, since most mutant powers activate during or after puberty. Or maybe Illyana can go to school nearby, not certain yet. But she and your grandparents will, of course, be living with you, we can even set up a small area for families rather than single students. Might have to think about reorganizing the Castle that way in the future, and of course your grandparents won't have to do anything." He shrugged, "That is for later however."
Piotr looked over at his grandparents. They looked at one another before nodding. The older man, who had been silent since his initial outburst, shrugged. "It would be difficult to leave on our own, the government knows by now that you are a mutant. But if you were able to get here mere hours after Piotr's power awoke then maybe we can get away in the same fashion, Mr. Potter. And to my mind, it will be good to be pampered for a time."
Harry chuckled. "Eventually, we might be opening up our own farming community and, if we do, the two of you could possibly be put into the position of overseers or advisers. Again, we'll have to see." At this point, Harry was speaking more in terms of possibilities than before, since he did want to get to the point where the school at the least was self-sufficient, but didn't know if he would eventually have other tasks for his house elves to work on. At the moment, they got their food from various farms in Scotland and New York, but eventually they might need to start growing their own.
Both the grandparents nodded, they liked that idea. Sitting down and ordering young people around all day sounded like an excellent plan.
Piotr also nodded his head. "I will agree, I would like to be able to practice and be able to control my mutant power. Since it activated, I have not been able to recall it. But other than that, I am uncertain if I would be willing to fight, though we will see."
Harry nodded. "In that case I would suggest you all pack, and we will be on our way."
"How are we going to get there," Illyana said piping up again.
Harry chuckled then waved his fingers in the little girl's face, "maaagiiiccc!"
Illyana smacked his hand aside, pouting a little and he chuckled even more, with Piotr and the others joining him.
About ten minutes later Piotr was ready to go, though Illyana and his grandparents were still gathering their keepsakes. Piotr had stopped and was looking at Harry quizzically. Something about his manner, the way he was staring out into the night was telling Piotr that Harry was worried about something. He moved over to Harry as his grandparents finished putting together their few valuables and family keepsakes, while Illyana ran upstairs to grab a few articles of clothing and pictures as well as the ones stuffed animal that she had, a very battered and elderly stuffed bear. "What are you thinking about?"
Harry looked up abruptly and shook his head "Was I that obvious?"
"Not really," Piotr said shrugging, "but you seem to be slightly more serious now than you were when you were talking to us, and you've been staring out the window."
Harry shrugged. "I'm just wondering how the government will react. Have you heard any stories about them rounding up new mutants or anything like that?"
"We have," Piotr said nodding his head. "The propaganda tells us that mutants are dangerous, and a threat to the public unless safely controlled. There was one young man in another farming commune about 60 miles from here who was taken. According to rumor they came for him quickly, and took him to the local magistrates and then from there to somewhere else."
Harry frowned. "That's worrisome," he said mildly, belying his true feelings on the matter.
"And something you wish to do something about," Piotr said shrewdly. "I can see that you are worried. For all your talk about reading me like a book, you aren't any better. And you do not look like the type to simply turn around and leave now that you are here."
"No I'm not," Harry said softly, tapping one finger against his chin for a moment, "no I'm not. You know of any other mutants that have been taken away?"
Piotr hesitated for a moment then said slowly. "My, my older brother Mikhail could've been a mutant. He was about 10 years my senior, and he was chosen as a cosmonaut nine years ago. Illyana was barely speaking before he left us."
"Does that mean he went into space? Sorry, but I don't know much about much of the world's space programs. Well, except for the fact that they are rather mediocre in scope, and have mostly stopped altogether after the accident that gave the Fantastic Four their powers, three years ago."
"Yes, he was. Mikhail was sent into space on a mission seven years ago with a crew and he never returned. The government of course said that nothing went wrong but," he shrugged, "when the government changed hands, they told us he died along with his crew. One of the first and only times we ever got the truth out of them, though they would not tell us how he died."
"I'm sorry for your loss." Harry said. "Still, I want to know what's going on in this country and, since I'm here anyway, I might as well look into it if I can."
Piotr frowned faintly wondering about himself than shrugged. "If you can tell me how to activate my mutant power, I will stay with you. You may need a local expert. You speak Russian well enough, but you know nothing of the land here or its people, or how they will react to outside aid or interference, if you make your presence known."
"True enough," Harry said looking up at him and smiling faintly. "In answer to how to activate your powers, the best I can tell you is to try and summon up the feelings of it activating or possibly just replay the memory in your head. It seems to vary. What exactly is your power by the way?"
Piotr chuckled. "I would like to keep that a secret for a time, if that is alright, I would like to see your expression when I use it. Will you be able to send off my grandparents and sister without going yourself?"
"Oh yes, though I'll have to send Hedwig with them. She's my familiar, so she'll be able to get them through the castle's protective magics. I'm not actually certain if Storm or Phoenix, the two acquaintances I mentioned, will be around, yet there should be someone there, my, I guess you could call them house gremlins, if no one else will be there."
Piotr nodded, and moved over to have a quiet conversation with his grandfather before Illyana and his grandmother came back into the kitchen. "How are we doing this?" Illyana said bouncing up and down.
Harry chuckled and tapped the table muttering, "Portus." The table glowed for a moment and he nodded. "I would like you all to touch the table please. I will warn you however that the transportation will upset your stomachs a bit." Once they did he took his hand away, letting Hedwig move onto the table, ruffling her feathers in irritation at the necessity. Once Hedwig was situated, Harry nodded. "Now say the word activate."
Piotr's grandparents did so before Illyana could point out that neither Harry nor Piotr were touching the table and a moment later they were elsewhere.
"Now," Harry said clapping his hands together. "Let's figure out how to do this appropriately. Could I borrow a bit of your hair?"
Jean had woken up late and after asking one of the house elves to make up something for a brunch, found Melody in the dining hall along with Shiang- Chi and Sir Dennis eating lunch. "Hello you three, what have you all been doing today?"
Dennis smiled faintly, but it didn't touch his eyes for once. He was carrying what looked like a large parasol under one hand, with a cheap, folding beach chair under the other. A house-elf, who was wearing what looked like a Hawaiian t-shirt cut down to fit and a very nervous expression, stood behind him, holding several bottles of what appeared to be different kinds of alcohol on a tray. "Good morning, Ms. Grey. Shiang and the little lady have a plan to explore the woods again today."
The young girl nodded eagerly and Shiang-Chi smiled, although he was looking at his older friend and advisor with worry.
Dennis went on. "I alas, have decided to call it an early day. A friend of mine I tried to contact has passed away. He and I had a bit of a promise between us on how we would celebrate one another's passing. The shore of the lake isn't quite the ocean and my little friend here isn't in anyway the type of waitress either of us would have wished, but it will have to do."
Jean nodded, not sure what to say, and the man with the small, rather elderly house-elf following him left the dining hall and the castle, heading down to the lake. Shiang-Chi murmured something about getting ready for their exploring the woods before heading back to his room, leaving Melody and Jean alone at the table. The redhead hugged the young girl with one arm, then began to grab some of the fruit and a bagel for herself from the table. "So, looking forward to seeing what sorts of animals are out there, Melody?"
"Oh yes," Melody said excitedly, "There were some animal tracks Mr. Shiang wanted to show me and there are so many birds that have already moved into the area!" she frowned a little. "Um, he helped me finish all the work Ms. Ororo gave me for the day except for my math stuff. I just…"
"I understand." Jean said, slipping her arm around the girl again. Melody tried, but numbers simply didn't come easy to her at all. "I think you're doing great just as you are, don't worry about the speed you're learning any of your subjects. Ororo just wants you to be well rounded, so long as you continue your education at your own pace, she will be more than satisfied."
In fact, Ororo had told Jean that much a few days back. Melody's mutant power made it unlikely she would ever be able to truly mature, messing as it did with her mental faculties, and learning was much the same. The weather goddess however wanted to give her as much of an education as she could grasp, so that she could at least interact well enough with children her own age or younger. This was why despite all the other demands on her time Ororo still made time to create work for Melody to go through, and to work with her at times as well.
Melody smiled, leaning her head against Jean's arm for a moment and then going back to merrily munching on the grapes she had piled on her plate.
The two of them looked up in shock, gasping as a large golden and silver creature made of energy, yet remarkably solid looking for all of that, in the shape of a stag bounded into the room. Melody's gasp was much louder than Jean's, since Jean simply thought it was a magical thing that Harry had made for some reason. Melody, however, actually began to tear up, hugging her arms around herself as she stared at the stag, a wide grin blossoming on her face despite her tears.
As soon as it reached the two, its mouth opened and Harry's voice came out of it. "Jean, I'm done connecting the ley lines to the book of students. It's already started to write down the names of possible mutants. I'm going to go out and check the first one because the Book indicates he might be in danger."
"Hmm…" Jean said shaking her head. "An interesting way of sending a message, I guess Harry was really concerned if he didn't even want to make time to come himself." She was more than a little irritated by that, but hopefully Harry wouldn't run into anything that he couldn't handle. Of all of them, Harry was easily the one who was the most capable of handling himself, but the fact he had run off on his own, bothered her. Still, he had trusted her to handle Selene's caches, so Jean decided to trust him to handle this on his own. She didn't like it and it gave her something else to talk to him about when she and Ororo sat down with him, but there was nothing they could do about it now.
She looked down and Melody and frowned. "What's wrong Melody?" Jean knelt down on the floor next to the shorter girl's chair, putting both her arms around her shoulders.
"All his happy songs," she said, "it's, the stag, it's made of Mr. Harry's happy songs, all his good emotions! I can hear them better now without any of his other songs in the way. He's so happy and so loving…" She began to sway her head to music that only she could hear, her hands reaching out to gently touch the stag's nose. A bright burst of laughter broke out of the girl and she flung her arms around the stag laughing and giggling. Jean shook her head a little but laughed as well seeing the young girl like this was rather infectious.
Melody turned to look at Jean, her eyes bright. "He really loves you, you know. You and Ms. Ororo. Most of the memories he used to make this are from the two of you. And me!" Melody giggled, turning away and burying her head into the side of the stag's neck, which somehow, despite the fact it was made out of energy, felt real and warm and solid under her touch.
For some reason Jean actually blushed at Melody's explanation, and she quickly changed the subject asking "So, where are you and Shiang going to explore today, out in the woods or near the lake?"
About ten minutes later, while Melody, the still-corporeal stag (which seemed to have bonded with her for some reason) and Shiang-Chi left the castle, Jean got to work. First, she connected two more computers up to the system, adding their computational power to it.
This would allow them to have more users throughout the castle, though she estimated that they would have to add several more, once they started to have actual classes and more people here. At least three dedicated to classwork and the teachers, with another one for the still unnamed team's use for various reasons. Then two, possibly more, would be dedicated to organizing the company(ies). Then Sir Dennis would have access to one and at least one more would be primarily for research purposes of all sorts, as well as some of the more secretive information and files Harry, Jean, and the others would be building up. Eventually of course, they could all be placed into one high tech system, but at the moment they were making do with computers that Jean could buy as a private citizen.
The ones they had were good, really high-end, really expensive computers, which was one of the reasons Harry had nearly run out of money. Yet for all that, they were nowhere near the level of a computer system that could run, say one of Stark Enterprise's buildings, let alone the ones the Fantastic Four used. Harry's laptop was actually far better than any of the ones Jean had bought and was the main one that Jean had used to run her design programs.
The difference between what was available on the open market and what was available to the more high-end scientists, government agencies, and such was simply amazing at this point, although that might change now that Stark was joining the commercial computer game, along with a few other new companies. Still, it made Jean wonder where the heck the professor had gotten the stuff needed to create the Danger Room and the security system in the basement, but she didn't think about it too hard, really.
After that, Jean went to work on finalizing the design for their arc reactor. Once she blew it up and used the holographic and hard light system to view it, she could see a few issues with the initial design. Eventually she was able to solve them (only one output port, the inside of the casing being too close to the actual energy core among others), but Jean eventually felt that she had come up with a design she could start to work with in the real world that, hopefully, wouldn't take them all that much in the way of resources to build. To that end, Jean decided to work with the Room of Requirement. So, since the computers couldn't work in the Room of Requirement, she grabbed a paper and several pens instead, along with a copy of the Orihalcum which would allow the RoR to recreate it.
While the computers could now work in the majority of the castle, not enough wild, ambient magic to bother them, they couldn't work in a few places in it. The first place, and the hardest to understand, was the Library tower, which was where the Ravenclaw tower had been. For some reason, the spells on the books and the massive array of spells on the Big Book of Students just couldn't be grounded enough to let a computer work in there. It was a shame, since Harry had mentioned at one point he wanted to create a computerized version of the library, with an index, quick search functions, and other things but it was impossible at this point. Maybe sometime down the line, Harry might figure out a way to create a magical version of a computer.
The other two areas were much more obvious. The hearthstone room and the room next to it with the living map Harry had created of Hogwarts was one; the Room of Requirement was the other. There was simply too much ambient, ungrounded magic in them to allow anything based off science to work.
Jean felt a little silly pacing in front of the door to the RoR while muttering "I want a high-tech engineering lab to work on my arc reactor design like the one hovering in the air in the dining room" three times but it was the only way to get the room to work. It was a holdover from Harry's old universe, which he had kept for nostalgia's sake. Still, it worked and a moment later she entered, finding the room changed to meet her parameters.
Inside was a room matching her needs almost exactly, a major engineering and physics laboratory complete with everything she wanted. Some of it was a little rough around the edges, as if the magic couldn't quite figure out what some of the gear was supposed to do but, since her command had been so specific, it was still amazingly close. "So this room can really create everything I want can't it? Pity it's all magically created and wouldn't last beyond the doorway. If it could we would solve most of our issues with one fell swoop. Still, I can see why Harry spent so much time on it."
With that she went to work, first building the outer shell with the magically created Orihalcum that the room provided for her and then the electronics for the outer shell. She ran into a few more problems with the design, some things that she wouldn't have been able to see if she hadn't gotten her hands dirty, so to speak, but she enjoyed herself greatly. Right up until she began to work with the actual energy portion and powered it up. "Boom!"
It was only Jean automatically raising a telekinetic shield when she saw the arc fluctuating that saved her from the explosion. It nearly took her head off as it shot out of the top of the generator. Even with the shield, she was still thrown around the lab, which itself was vaporized. She got up woozily, rubbing her face. "All right, that hurt." she muttered coughing a little. "Ouch… What exactly did I do wrong there?"
It turned out, she had made a very simple mistake in the early stages, routing far too much of the power back into the plasma containment system. Her system wasn't toroidal like Stark's design, but more of a helix, with one helix inside the other. This meant the generator could handle more power in a smaller space, but the material had to handle more strain. It was only the monstrous amount of durability that Orihalcum gave them that allowed it. But the angle of the helix had to be changed slightly so that the curve of the upper edge didn't take as much strain.
Eventually, after several false starts, she got it to work, thrumming away. Of course she would need to try and recreate it out in the real world, since everything in here was made by magic so it might not react like it would in the real world, but it seemed to be a viable design. She wondered why the room could create high tech devices like this and, yet, such devices could not be brought into it. Still, the end design was much like an air-core transformer choke, ten feet tall by fifteen feet wide, with a very faint glow of blue coming from the top. Wires led off from the bottom to where they could be hooked into the electrical network.
She hooked it up to an industrial oscilloscope and volt meter, noting down the numbers she got. She smiled faintly as the Geiger counter and other emission detectors scattered around it didn't detect any harmful radiation or gases coming from it. Still, Jean continued to run several experiments on the system, a hit or miss part of the project, as the Room of Requirement couldn't quite figure out how to give her a few of the things she wanted such as "I want to see what would happen if you pulled as much energy out of it as a city the size of London would need." It left Jean with a lot more work to do in the real world, but it was still a major advancement.
She gathered up the dozens of pieces of paper that were around the room, filled with very small, tight scribbles that she had made during her experiments here in the RoR. Jean spent a moment looking them over, making certain that she had them all. Harry hadn't told any of them what happened to items left in one of the RoR's configurations, so she wanted to make certain she didn't leave any notes behind, just in case. After she was satisfied she had them all, Jean patted the wall by the doorway, then then exited the lab, sighing tiredly.
As she walked up the stairs from the basement, Jean stretched her arms above her head, cracking her shoulders and neck, whistling the tune that Melody had been humming when she rode out on the Patronus stag's back, with she said had sentimental value to her. "Because the truth may vary, this ship will carry us to shore."
Exiting the stairwell, Jean came upon Ororo showing the Prydes around the castle. "You look tired, Jean." Ororo said, smiling a little as she took in Jean's mode of dress. Since she had been busy getting dirty, Jean had dressed in a tank top and exercise shorts, which showed off her body, although that hadn't been why she wore them. She wore them because she didn't care what happened to them or what filth got on them. "I take it you had a productive day?"
"I have had a magnificent day, Ororo." Jean said moving over and giving the older woman a hug then looking over at Kitty and high-fiving the younger girl. "And since these three are here, I assume that you have as well?"
"Yep!" Kitty said, grinning widely. "My parents and I have already signed the contract and I am good to go! But this place is incredible, not only what you guys have done with this castle, the castle itself. It's fantastic!"
Terry, an amateur historian who particularly liked architecture, was looking around still, though right now he was doing that for more reasons than simple interest. "This place is amazing, though I was more concerned about the story of what happened to Mr. Potter's sort of wizards. Storm didn't go into much detail, but what she did say sounded bad enough."
"It was that." Jean replied. She shook her head a little, amused by the fact that the older man was pointedly looking around the hall and at his wife rather than at her as they were talking. The smile of satisfaction on Kathleen's face however broke a grin out on her face and she winked at the older woman who smirked a little wickedly in response.
"I think I'm going to go get a bath and grab a change of clothing." Jean said, shaking her head. "By the way, Harry's out. The Big Book of Students apparently is working now and the location of the first name on the list worried him, so he went off to do his hero thing."
"That man." Ororo muttered.
"Do you want to talk about that as well? I think I'd be up for our little group effort tonight," Jean said obliquely, not really wanting to get into the fact that the three of them were dating in front of Kitty's parents. Kitty was fine with it, but that was no certainty that her parents would be and dealing with it would be irritating and unnecessary.
Ororo nodded, smiling a little at the idea. "I think that that would be an excellent idea, in fact, I made up a list of ingredients already."
Nessy popped in behind her. "Where is the list, mistress? We will go and get them and then cook for you."
Ororo knelt down in front of the elf and said softly, "I would like you to get the items, Nessy, but I wish to cook for myself and my friends tonight. Sometimes it means more if you do the cooking yourself."
The house elf frowned. "We have heard this argument from the master, mistress, we do not agree with it but we will do as you order."
She popped off in a huff, and Ororo shook her head. "I think the idea of humans looking out for ourselves bothers the house elves for some reason."
Kathleen chuckled, but frowned as she looked down at her watch. "If you could return us to New York, I think we've seen all we can see today. When do you want Kitty to start work?"
"Tomorrow." Ororo said firmly. "As I said, there are several arrays that we require almost immediately."
"That's fine by me." Kitty said, nodding her head happily. "The time difference is going to be annoying at first, but I'm a teenager, so we're supposed to keep odd sleep schedules." That won a chuckle out of the others and Ororo called for Clare, the young female house-elf that Kitty had worked with before, to take the group back to New York. This she did by taking the two women first, then Terry, who was heavier than either his wife or daughter.
After the trio was gone, Ororo walked up the stairs to the seventh floor with Jean. "Where are Melody, Shiang-Chi, and Dennis?"
"Sir Dennis is down by the lake. He's sunning himself and taking it easy with one of the house elves bringing him piña coladas, I think, something like that anyway." Jean shrugged. "Apparently, one of his old friends died recently, so he's having his own personal wake for him or something. He's been down there since lunch."
"Melody finished most of the work you gave her for the day save her math. She and Shiang-Chi are out and about exploring the woods, along with some kind of magical construct Harry used as a messaging service. Shiang found some animal tracks, including a badger according to Melody. How they'll get close enough for her to see a badger's 'songs', I have no idea."
"I seem to remember seeing a series of children's books that had badgers and other small animals forming their own communities and fighting against various vermin." Ororo mused. "I was never a big reader of fiction, but do you think Melody would like to use it to learn from?"
Jean laughed, leaning against Ororo's shoulder for a moment. "The series you're thinking of is the Redwall series, and there are three books in it that I know of. And yes, I think that Melody would love it. It's got songs mixed into the stories and it's all about good versus evil with a bit of romance at times. I think the first one was made into an audiobook recently. I'll look it up. But Melody ran into problems again with her math work."
"I know." Ororo sighed sorrowfully. "Her mutant ability changes her mental abilities and in many ways hampers her. That happens to be one of them. I am fine with her not learning much math as long as she continues to learn reading and writing. Audiobooks and audio lessons might help her, we will have to see."
The redhead nodded and the rest of the walk up the stairs passed in convivial silence. When they reached the sixth floor, Ororo leaned down to kiss the redhead briefly on the lips, then pulled back, wrinkling her nose. "Why don't you go get that shower?"
Jean laughed, stretching up to kiss the taller woman again and raced off eagerly, looking forward to the triple date they had planned with Harry that evening. Well the two of them had planned, that was sort of the point it was going to be a surprise for Harry. That man deserves some pampering and he is, by God, going to get it.
While her friend went on her way, Ororo went to look at the Big Book of Students. While she didn't understand how it worked, she could see what it did. Each name appeared on its own line along with a location by country and then longitude and latitude. If it could, the book would also give a specific address, but if not, it would give a description of where the prospective students were living.
But the Big Book of Students didn't stop there. The names were color-coded to show how much danger, physical danger the person was in. Harry had said red would indicate imminent danger, and yellow would be incoming danger while blue was no danger.
The spells on it were complex as hell. If Harry had needed to start from scratch, it might well have taken him as long as the RoR, with the added difficulty that half of it was based off spells rather than runic arrays and you couldn't leave a spell matrix like that half-finished. Another problem, it wasn't as accurate as it could be, just yet. It only picked up mutants as their powers were used, which caused something of a noticeable surge, changing what was there to something new, though how accurate it was, was up in the air.
Ororo however didn't know that last part. What she noticed right now, was that two names, brothers apparently, since they shared the same name, were blazing in red on the page as she stood there. The location was in Sudan and that wasn't very good, since the Sudanese were not known for being very understanding of those with physical (or even spiritual) differences from the norm.
She frowned thoughtfully tapping her fingers on her thigh in thought. Then decisively she nodded, copied out their names, the longitude and latitude and description of their domicile, then raced out of the room. "I require a house elf."
One appeared in front of her, bowing his head. "I am Simmy, miss. What do you be wanting?"
"That's 'what do you need', I think?" Ororo said distractedly. "Follow me please." Ororo quickly changed into her combat uniform, then moved down the stairs to the dining hall, which was the room with the largest amount of holographic and hard light projectors. Grabbing up a wrist controller from where the two of them were stored, she swiftly opened up a connection to the network and then, from there, opened up a map program, entering the coordinates she had copied out. Turning back to the house elf, she nodded at the large map, handing over a headset. "I am going somewhere to this point. When I get far enough away from Hogwarts, my own dot will appear on this map. Once I am down in Africa, I will need you to direct me to this dot, do you understand?"
Simmy looked a little worried and Ororo smiled gently. "Once Jean finishes her bath, have one of your fellows have her come down and help you if you need it." that made Simmy perk up a little and Ororo smiled, then raced outside, ascending swiftly into the sky.
Jean actually did not get to the bath before being told Ororo had gone off. She had stopped by her room to grab a change of clothing then was interrupted by one of the house elves on her way to the bath. It was the majordomo, Dilly, and he looked a little worried. "Miss, new peoples just popped into the entrance hall. It be by a Portkey made by the master, Her Owliness be's with them, but we's cannot talk to them. Young Derry be with them. Missie Ro be gone, and Simmy says she be off to someplace far off, she told him to direct her to a dot on the, the floating globe thingie." Dilly was one of the few house-elves who made a point of speaking in the manner they had for so long, despite Ororo's lessons, and he wasn't very at home with technology, but he did such a good a job at running the castle, Harry was willing to overlook his faults.
The redhead looked at her bundle of clean clothing then sighed, nodding resignedly. "I'll be right down." Jean pulled off her tight shorts and pulled on a pair of jeans but didn't change her shirt, not wanting to put on clean clothing until she was able to take a bath.
She went downstairs as quickly as possible, coming down the main staircase into the entrance hall. Down below were two people who looked to be in their 70's or so, possibly younger, it was hard to tell with how weathered they were. Between the two, was a young girl of ten or so with blonde hair falling down her shoulders wearing a very furry looking tiger shaped pajama suit. What was astonishing however was that Hedwig was perched on one of her shoulders.
While the two grandparents were looking around themselves warily, she looked much more interested than anything. In fact, the girl was trying to talk in rapid fire Russian, if Jean had to guess, to a young male house elf. Derry was one of the better cleaners among the house-elves but that was, of course, no help right now in dealing with someone who couldn't speak English.
In fact, the knowledge that Jean couldn't follow the language caused her to groan aloud. "Of course, it just had to be a language I don't speak. Crap!"
Her voice grabbed the attention of all four of the beings below. Derry sighed in relief, popping out quickly, which caused the young girl to gasp in shock, but the two grandparents hadn't even noticed. They stared up the stairs at Jean, and she somehow felt they were a little disapproving of her mode of dress. Jean shrugged that off however and continued down the steps.
The grandfather tied to talk to her but she shrugged. "I can't understand you, sorry." She pointed at herself. "Jean."
The girl popped up form where she had been squatting, pointing at herself, then up at her grandparents. "Illyana. Babushka, Dede."
Jean smiled warmly, pointing at her mouth and miming eating movements then shook her head. "Hold on, why am I doing this? I bet Sir Dennis can talk Russian and, if not, I can contact Ororo to translate." She motioned for the trio to follow her, and led the way into the dining hall, smiling when Illyana gasped at the sight of the dining hall and the large map hovering in the air in the center of it. Another young elf was there and he turned to stare at Jean with relief. "Miss Jean, mistress Ororo ordered me to wait here and direct her dot on the map to the other one. She said she saw two names of young boys in danger in the Big Book of Students."
"I understand." Jean said, shrugging. "When it rains, it pours, ah well. I can handle this, could you pop down to Sir Dennis and ask him if he can speak Russian? If he can, pop him back here."
"I will do so miss." Simmy replied, popping away immediately, very relieved he wasn't going to have to work with the technology any more. Even if he had been taking lessons from Clare and a few others who handled it better, the computers and stuff still bothered him.
Not a moment later he was back, with a somewhat drunk Sir Dennis in tow. "Heellloooo, young lady. I've 'HICK', been told you needs a trans, trans, voice person thingy."
Jean slapped her hand over her face irritably, and Illyana giggled, while her grandparents shook their heads. The one called Dede said something to his wife in Russian. "I thought Mr. Potter's operation would be more professional than this. We have one girl who dresses like a shlyukhawhore, several little creatures who can somehow disappear which we cannot communicate with, and a drunk old man with questionable taste in clothing."
"I would not try to call her that again sir, the young redhead has a bit of a temper at times and she is no slut. Those are just the clothing she wears when she is working on engineering projects." Dennis responded in Russian, sobering somewhat. "Normally, I am no drunk, but a good friend of mine died recently and I was having my own personal wake for him." That mollified both grandparents somewhat, they were old hands at grief. Dennis then went on. "May I ask you who you three are and how you arrived here? Going by what you just said, I must conclude Mr. Potter sent you here?"
After that the two older adults gave a description of what had happened, with Mr. Potter and their grandson having stayed behind for some reason. When that was relayed to Jean, she sighed. "I imagine Harry wanted to stay behind to see what he could figure out about how the Russian government is treating mutants. Though why he allowed the young man, Piotr?" She asked, looking at their guests, who all nodded, with Illyana exaggeratedly enunciating her brother's name. "Piotr, I have no idea why Harry would allow him to stay."
"Our grandson has a high sense of honor, if he saw Harry wanted to stay, he might well have decided to stay and help." The grandfather replied, after this was translated, his voice a mix of stoicism and pride in his grandson.
"Damn it." Jean muttered. "Why do I think he's going to run into more than he expected. Oh, that's right, that's how the world fucking works for all of us! Well, I suppose I can set you three up in one of the rooms here for now."
Even while saying that, Jean sent out her telepathy, searching for that connection she shared with Harry. Yet after only a moment she sighed and came back to her body. She couldn't project her thoughts anywhere near far enough to contact her lover. Harry was on his own for now.
She looked around and asked the air, "Can I ask a house elf to prepare a room for three guests please, with three beds?" Jean actually wanted to go and race after Harry, but if he was moving there was no way one of the house-elves would be able to get to him without first being called. If she just tried to fly to Russia, it would take her several hours at least. She couldn't move nearly as fast through air as she could through space, something she had noticed during her adventures the other day.
Two female house elves popped in and bowed. "We will do this, miss Jean, where would you like them to be?"
"In the first room on one of the sides of the Gryffindor tower, I think. Those rooms are already set up for residences. We can switch them to a room on the seventh floor, once we go out and shop for some furniture." She turned to the three Russians and smiled. "For now, why don't you get these three something to eat, if they want anything, and then show them outside? With the time difference, you all are nine hours ahead of us, so you should get used to it if you can."
At that moment, the door to the dining hall opened and Melody stumped in happily, followed by Shiang-Chi. The stag seemed to have dissipated, though how long that had taken Jean had no idea. "Hello Ms. Jean! Oh, and who are these?"
Illyana looked at the slightly older girl and smiled, waving her hand shyly. Melody returned the gesture and Jean smiled. "Good timing, Melody. This is Illyana and her grandparents. Her older brother is a mutant who is back where they came from in Russia with Harry. Could you first get her some jeans or something, then show Illyana around, particularly the lake area? They should try to stay up until at least nine, and I bet you and Illyana can have some fun until then."
Melody looked at the slightly younger girl, entranced by the songs she saw there, a mix of rustic tones and lilting woodwinds that she could almost match to some songs she had seen in Fantasia, along with another song that had odd rumbling tones to it, which she could see in the two old people as well. "Sure, I can show her around! It will be fun." She held out her hand with a faint, almost tremulous smile. Melody was all too used to being bullied or ignored because of her powers, but was willing to try to make friends.
The blonde girl reached out and took Melody's hand, not having understood anything the girl with the multicolored hair and forest-folk features had said, but knew she was being friendly and that was enough. The castle itself was so amazing to her that she was still dealing with it, the idea of having a new friend to show her around was just icing on the cake.
The two young girls raced off together with Hedwig following through the air much more sedately. Is it just me, or did Hedwig seem rather fond of the young Russian girl? Jean turned, with a faint smile, to the other two Rasputins. "As for you two, I think we can set you up outside somewhere in the sun and the warmth and ask one of the house elves to bring you some food…"
With the dissolution charm on her costume covering her, Ororo had no need to worry about being seen, so she rocketed along as fast as her powers over air could propel her, which was very fast indeed. Still, she had barely begun to fly through Italy's airspace when Jean's voice came over the headset. She had left the communication mirror at home, unfortunately. "Your timing was particularly abysmal for this little excursion, Storm. The moment you left, Mr. Wizard portkeyed in the family of the mutant he went to help."
After that Jean filled Ororo in and the African beauty shook her head in amusement. "Good grief, I wonder what Mr. Wizard is up to. Still, never fear Phoenix, I should be back in a few hours. After I return, we will need to figure out if we can somehow go after him."
"I don't know how we could, unless he calls one of the house-elves to him first and we get him or her to take us along, we might be able to get there simply flying there, but not in any kind of timely fashion."
"Hmm… you're right, just trying to fly to Siberia would take far too long, even this trip down to Sudan is a little overlong."
"That's what I thought," Jean agreed with her. The two made small talk for a time as Ororo swiftly flew through the air, faster by far than most jet fighters could go, zooming through the air towards her target near the border between Sudan and Eritrea as night descended around her.
About two hours flight, brought her over the Mediterranean Sea and then she was in Egyptian airspace, moving through the now dark sky. Fifty minutes later, she was nearing her target and she called back. "Phoenix, I think I'm near my target area. If I am, can you direct me in?"
"Roger that, and yeah, you're very close, I would say head down and toward the sun on an angle, and you should be right over the area. Though why the Big Book of Students gave you longitude and Latitude, I don't know."
"I assume it will only do that if the area the prospective student is living doesn't have addresses. In Sudan, that makes sense." Indeed, very few countries in Africa, in particular, had the organization necessary to actually have set addresses. So when the Big Book of Students gave them longitude and latitude as well as a description of the building that was actually the best it could do. Here it gave the longitude, latitude, and 'shanty building created by pieces driftwood and metal siding'.
Ororo landed gently on the ground and wondered for a moment if she should've brought along a change of clothing, so as to not appear so unusual, but she shrugged that off. In fact, if I'm lucky they'll have heard a description of me from my time in the Serengeti. I know that my time as a goddess spread the rumor of my powers far and wide. Indeed, Ororo remembered several times during that era of her life when young men and a few young women from other tribes and nations came to look for her, though most never found her.
The area where this house was located was a widespread shantytown on the outskirts of some inland city, the houses made of bits and pieces of metal and wood, none of them permanent, all of them barely enough to be called houses. There were no paved roads here, only hard dirt tracks. While there were several trucks and cars here, all of them were old. One of them looked as if it had been made during World War 2. More looked as if they were spliced together from several different types of cars. All of them showed wear and tear well above what they should've taken, but in areas like this they were probably the best anyone here could do. This was the case for far too much of Africa, but then again it was the case in far too much of Europe as well, it was just that hit Ororo harder here.
Despite the fact that the area was so run down there were dozens of people around, and several half-dressed and more than a few almost entirely undressed children running around. Ororo frowned at that sight, remembering all too easily her own childhood on the streets of Cairo.
That sense of familiarity was heightened as she drew closer to the house she was here to see, which was on the right side of the ramshackle town near a small copse of trees. It was two voices raised in anger, though apparently not at one another. As she grew closer, she was able to discern actual words, and she easily translated them from Sudanese Arabic. "This is the last damn time, you two have destroyed too many electronics! If you two freaks can't control yourselves I'm putting both of you out on the streets! See how long you last without someone to look after you!" That was, surprisingly, a female voice, and the hate in it was practically physical. "If we didn't have to take care of you two maybe we could actually make something of our lives!"
There was a plaintive voice now, one that sounded much younger than the two who had been yelling. "But mom we didn't do it! We don't…"
There was a slapping sound and Ororo hastened her steps, her face growing flinty. She had to stop and compose herself for a moment before knocking on the door. This act made her Disillusion ward fail abruptly, causing several passersby to stop and stare, but she ignored them with ease.
"Who the fuck is knocking on the door?! If you two have been causing trouble again…"
Ororo waited, controlling herself with the ease of long practice, although at the moment, what she really wanted to do was tear apart the house with her wind power and, possibly, whoever was inside yelling at their children like that, but she womanfully refrained. For every family like the Prydes, there must be its polar opposite, I suppose, she thought, rather sadly. Hopefully, I'll be able to do something about that in this case.
The door was opened by a large man about six inches taller than Ororo, but he was also very fat. It wasn't the fat of over eating, the man instead had a major beer belly. His arms were somewhat muscled and he seemed to take inordinate pride in them, given the fact that he was wearing a muscle tee and had crossed them in anger the moment he opened the door. A rather childish display, in Ororo's opinion, as was the anger on his face when faced by a stranger. "Who the fuck are you!"
From behind the man, a whiny voice, the same female voice that spoke earlier, spoke up now. "Dressed like that she can either be a whore or some kind of circus freak. Maybe she's here to take our freaks off our hands!"
It was with extreme difficulty that Ororo kept control of herself. "While I am neither of those things, that might be why I am here. But may I come in, I don't think this is conversation you would wish us to have on your doorstep?"
The man paused about to launch into a fresh tirade but something in the white-haired woman's eyes caused him to falter and stepped back. "Fine," he mumbled, "you can come in."
He stepped back and Ororo stepped forward through the makeshift door, which was made from very badly cut wood that did not fit into the actual opening. She kept her eyes on the man as she did, staying well out of range of any sudden lunge. One hand also fell to her waist, where Ororo had one of her hold out daggers hidden behind her belt buckle. She hadn't thought to grab the utility belt that Harry had put together, but Ororo was always armed with at least one holdout knife.
There were three other people in the small room that was obviously the main area of the small house and Ororo took a moment to look them over. The woman, she assumed the wife and mother of the house, was sallow faced and rather unpleasant looking, the sort of person you would not want to talk to talk to on the road or attempt to converse with. There were signs she might've been better looking when she was younger, but like her husband the passage of time had not been kind.
There were two boys as well, young teens of fourteen or so, and Ororo looked at them closely. The older one had a guarded expression on his face, and was staring hatefully at his father. He was somewhat malnourished, though not as much is the younger brother, and seemed to be somewhat tougher, more inured to the blandishments of their parents. He glanced at Ororo and it was with a jolt that she realized he was trying to figure out if she was a threat or not. Both boys had their hair completely shaved, which in this area was probably a very good thing. The younger boy looked fearful, although not of Ororo but of his own parents. Unlike the older brother, he seemed somewhat more inquisitive in terms of Ororo. But it was obvious that he would follow the older brother's lead, who stood in front of him protectively.
"Hello." Ororo said pleasantly nodding her head to the two children, trying to appear as nonthreatening as she could, which, given her normal regal air and somewhat imposing presence, at first meeting anyway, was a little hard. The older one looked at her even more dubiously, but the young one returned her smile tentatively.
After a second, she looked around at the parents. "My name is Storm." she said holding up one hand and generating a lightning bolt there for a moment which went from one finger to the other "I am what is known as a mutant, an individual given power by a chance mix of genes. There are many of us worldwide and all of us, when we start out, need to train our powers, either by ourselves in some fashion or preferably in conjunction with others. I am here to see if I can interest you in sending your children off to have their powers be trained in a safe environment."
Surprisingly, neither parent questioned how Ororo had found out about their children's powers or, rather they did, just not in the manner she would have thought. "Oh just what we needed, our freaks attracted another freak!" the woman spat angrily.
Ororo couldn't tell whether or not she truly was that bigoted or simply hated her children for some other reason. She knew that there were parents like that, parents who saw their children as burdens, but she had never understood why. To Ororo, who had seen far too many children dead on the street or babies dead from disease before their first birthday among the tribes who worshiped her, all children were a gift from the gods.
The woman went on. "If you want the freaks, then fucking take them, so long as we don't have to fucking pay for it!"
"I think that is enough of that." Ororo responded, now showing a bit more anger. Despite that she turned to address her next comment to the children as well as the parents. "Mutants are not, as you put it, freaks, we are simply chance byproducts of a possible evolutionary step. That does not make us freaks! Our mutations make us different, yes, but different does not mean evil, wrong, or unnatural. It doesn't make us better, it doesn't make us worse, we are all still human. Moreover, these are your children, your flesh and blood!"
"They're a fucking burden, that's what they are," growled the man flexing his arms angrily. "My wife's right, if you want the little bastards, you can take them."
Ororo stared angrily at the two parents, all of her self-control now brought to bear on her anger so that she didn't simply wiped the two out with hurricane force winds. Or freeze their bodies with subzero temperatures and then shatter them, electrocute them, or any number of ways that she could use to wipe out these blemishes on humanity. Ironically enough, thinking of all the ways she could kill the two of them actually calmed Ororo down.
She turned to the two children, who were both staring at her with wide eyes. The older brother had kept his gaze on his father for most of the discussion, but had been sneaking glances at Ororo. Since her little light show and speech, his eyes had slowly changed from their guarded expression to being filled with suppressed hope. Ororo knelt, bringing her face level with theirs and said gently, "Well, would you to like to come with me?" They both shared a glance, and then the older brother nodded, followed quickly by the younger. "What are your names?"
"I'm Christopher," the older boy said, trying to sound older and tougher than he was by making his voice low and gravelly. "This is Jesse."
Ororo stood up, moving slightly to one side and turning swiftly to look at the father, who had been trying to get behind her for some reason. "Very well, I will be taking these two with me. Frankly," she said staring angrily at both parents, "if I have my way, you'll never see them again. You are two of the worst examples of humanity it has been my horror to meet the past two years and I hope to never see you again myself, either. But if these two were abused in any way, above and beyond the malnutrition I can see, then I may well be back to… discuss that with you." Her whole body started to crackle with power, lighting her body up like a Christmas tree with little electric lights, the wind rising around her. Both parents shied away fearfully, but the sight brought a grin to Christopher's eyes and a small smile from Jesse.
With the two parents thoroughly cowed Ororo gestured again for the two children to precede her outside. She kept her eyes on the two parents as she followed the kids, closing the door behind her.
She turned to see the children looking at her apprehensively and she sighed faintly. "I'm sorry that you have had to deal with those two, I can promise that where you are going no one will yell at you like that, no one will blame you for your powers, and no one will call you a freak. We can help you understand and control your powers."
"Why?" Jesse's voice cracked a little, and there were tears in his eyes. Christopher's eyes were dry, and he was staring at the doorway hard. "Why don't our parents love us?"
Ororo sighed again, going down to one knee and reaching out gently to trace his face with one hand. The fact that Jesse flinched a little at her touch made her anger rise up again but she fought it down. The important thing was to get these two away, not to take vengeance on the parents. "I don't know child, but I do know it wasn't you or anything you did, no matter how much they wanted to try and blame you for it. Nothing about you caused your parents to act like that. Some people are simply petty and hateful and some fear what they do not understand."
Christopher scoffed. "They looked at us like a burden even before our powers developed. Even if we don't understand, it we know we're different. They just called us a burden, but if they didn't want us, why the hell did they have us in the first place?"
"That I cannot answer." Ororo said standing up. "There isn't anything inside there you to want to keep is there?" Both brothers shook their heads and she nodded. "Good." She frowned suddenly. "I should have thought about this before," she muttered to herself in English shaking her head, then raised her head looking around. "Can I have a house elf appear here please?"
The young female house elf, Clare, did so, wearing a pink frock, at the moment, which was rather quite fetching on her or so she thought. Clare had begun to develop a taste in clothing but her main claim to fame was still being the second-best popper around. "Yes, Ms. Ororo?" Claire piped up in her voice squeaky but the sudden appearance of her had caused both brothers to jump back in alarm before staring at the little creature, who was even shorter than Jesse. "What can I do for you?"
"Could you pop all three of us back to the castle, Clare?"
Clare frowned a little while the two children looked lost, not able to follow the language. "I will be having to take the children back first Ms." she said looking at the two malnourished children clucking under her breath at the sight. "I will also be telling the cooks to get some food ready for them. It is nearly dinnertime in any case. These two look as if they could use several meals worth of good food."
When Ororo translated this and told the children what was going to happen, both brothers perked up visibly, having only been given enough to live on by their parents.
Ororo gave her approval and Claire popped off with the two children holding her hands. A moment later she was back, and Ororo, still ignoring the crowd around her who had begun muttering and shouting, she too disappeared.
At the entrance to the shanty town stood a man who was dressed in a tiger stripped loincloth and who had the look of a jungle tribesman, though his eyes were shrewd, offsetting that somewhat. The man frowned as he watched the goddess disappear. It was only chance that had put him here in this shantytown to hear the murmurings of a African woman with goddess-like beauty and white hair and he had arrived to get to speak to her. "King T'challa will wish to hear about this." he murmured, wondering where the goddess had disappeared to and what the little creature had been. Regardless, the king would be pleased to know that the goddess of weather was still alive.
Piotr watched as Harry began to weave spells, his fingers flicking through the air and suddenly across from him stood a replica of Piotr. At the originals astonished gaze Harry shrugged. "It's a simulacrum, a golem that you can sort of program to respond as the person who it resembles. Normally, it would be a sorcerer spell, but I can power it easily enough, unlike sympathetic magic, which I have no idea how to use. Wish I did actually, that way I could connect it to you and let you control it."
At Piotr's blank, look Harry went back to the original topic. "Now, if you help me with this, I can get it to act like you for a time. How long that is, I have no idea but when they come to take you, they can take this instead. Then we can follow them back to their base and figure out what they're doing with mutants in this country."
Piotr nodded, looking worriedly at the image in front of him. "Do I really look like that?" he asked.
"I don't think any of us look exactly the way we picture ourselves." Harry said, shrugging. "Now, let's walk through what kind of questions we can expect the people who come to collect you to ask."
They did this for about forty minutes until they heard the sound of jeeps pulling up outside and shouted orders. Harry quickly cast a dissolution spell on Piotr and himself, then pulled out his Invisibility cloak and threw it about their shoulders just in case, before pulling Piotr back into one of the corners of the small entrance hall. Then he cast a Mufilatio over them both, to cover their voices and any other noise.
Harry chuckled, but said warningly. "Try not to move too much. I don't want to throw too many spells around just in case they have someone here who can sense it."
"I have not heard of the government having a magic user," Piotr muttered, "but I take your meaning."
A final spell zipped from one of his fingers to impact the simulacrum in its forehead. It began to move, looking around nervously as the noise from outside registered on its 'senses', but other than that stayed put, silent and waiting.
Piotr stared down at his own body as the line of disillusion went down his body. "This is a very odd experience."
They watched from the corner when thirty seconds later, the front door suddenly burst open. Six heavily armed troopers came in, wearing black mufti and infrared goggles over their eyes. At their barked command, the simulacrum held its hands above its head and two of them stayed put, keeping their guns on it while the rest moved through the house.
They quickly came back. An officer entered soon after, staring at the simulacrum then looking around as one of the troopers whispered in his ear. "Where has your family gone!?" he barked.
"I asked them to leave."the simulacrum said calmly. "I knew you would come. I surrender, I will not put up a fight."
The man, an army major or something similar, Harry wasn't well read on Russian military ranks, frowned. It was unusual for the family to up and abandon the person like that entirely, most of the time they simply waited until the state came to collect their shame, but the reports had told him it was composed of two old grandparents and a young girl so they couldn't have gotten far. If they had to find them, just in case, they could do so later. "You understand why I am here. Your power makes you both a threat and a resource for the state."
"I understand." the simulacrum nodded, "I will come quietly."
The man nodded. There were always a few who did come quietly. Whether or not he would be useful, was still up in the air. The reports of the young man's power however were impressive. If he remained biddable, he could be an asset to the Super-Soldier program. "Good to see you are a patriot. Leave everything behind, your identity as a civilian has ended. Your identity as a servant of the state has begun."
Piotr snorted, a sound that caused Harry to look up at him quizzically. Piotr saw his look and shrugged. "The more things change, the more they stay the same, yes? I wonder if the military has even had to change their public speaking lessons since the fall of communism."
"Yes, exactly what is going on here with the government and everything anyway?" Harry muttered, watching as the simulacrum march out with the soldiers before motioning Piotr over to follow him as he moved towards the back door. "I've read the news, and after the fall of communism it looked as if Russia was going to become a democratic state but…"
"Democracy is all well and good, but stability is better, yes?" Piotr said, shrugging his shoulders in pure Slavic stoicism. "The Americans and their allies put in place the pieces of democracy here, but they could not keep the trash being picked up, the food flowing from one place to another. They left and other people moved back in. The KGB is still around in various forms and people who were high up in the final days of the Soviet era still have that power or have passed it on. In Russia, the trappings do not matter so much as the reality. And of course," he said, now showing some more insight then most would have thought to hear from a farmer, "the government keeps people from noticing this by focusing on external and internal threats. Islamic terrorists, the 'mutant threat', and of course European and American aggression, all of these have been used. Oh, and China of course."
"So people don't really notice that they're not exactly represented because they prefer to have the simple things taken care of day by day. Wish I could say that came as a surprise to me. Though, I didn't expect that insightful an answer from you, given the fact that I didn't see a TV or even a radio in your house back there."
Piotr shrugged. "Farmers gossip, Mr. Potter, and we all exchange news. There are many things that can affect farming and the crops after all and we need to be aware of more than just the weather."
"Makes sense, I suppose." Harry shrugged. By this time they had exited the small garden at the back of the house, and had turned to look at the group of soldiers, about a platoon spread out in five open trucks. "What I know about nonmagical farming could fit in a thimble. Come on." he said rising into the air and casting a levitation spell on the larger Russian, who squawked a little as he felt his feet leave the ground. Ahead of them, the simulacrum had gotten into one of the jeeps and the troopers were pulling out.
Piotr visibly controlled himself, looking down at the group of soldiers. "Are you certain they will still not see us?"
"Positive." Harry responded, nodding his head. "I haven't run into any tech yet that can look through a dissolution spell, I don't doubt I will eventually, but not yet. And I don't feel any magic user among them."
They traveled through the air following the convoy down below, watching as outside the community, it met up right with a much larger force, consisting of a tank squad and two motorized rifle companies. Piotr barked a laugh that was more than a little concerned and worried. "All that for just me?"
"You didn't tell me what your power is," said Harry, looking across at him.
Piotr shrugged. "My skin transforms into metal. I also gain strength from it as well." He went on to explain why his powers had activated and what he did.
Harry whistled, a little impressed. "I've seen a tractor, they're rather large and you smashed one to bits to save your sister? Given that, I think that they are rightly concerned although, obviously, they're still trying the whole Soviet overpower and overawe plan."
Piotr shrugged again. "It is in our national character, I suppose. If you show you can crush your enemies, sometimes they do not become enemies."
"Yes, and has that ever actually worked? Outside of Russia anyway?"
That caused Piotr to fall into a rather thoughtful silence, and Harry smiled as they continued on their way. The two of them began to talk again, just trading stories of their childhoods for a time, and a few of Harry's early adventures. Harry also gave Piotr some advice on how to call up his mutant power. "The best I can tell you, is to think of what it felt like at the time, reach down inside of you and pull out that feeling, that sense of steel, I guess." Piotr simply shrugged again, and the conversation turned to other things.
The now much larger convoy continued to move for five hours or so, during which Harry led Piotr sleep, having noticed that his eyes were drooping. Harry kept watch, not feeling tired really, despite it being early morning now.
They turned off the main road onto a dirt path that entered what looked like a large forest with trees, as far as the eyes could see. But as Harry followed them, that image blurred, eventually disappearing, and he looked around, whistling in surprise.
Close by where Harry and his still sleeping companion were floating, was a spear like metal pole about tfive stories tall. It was very thin with what looked like some kind of conical shaped emitter on top, which was one of dozens of others he could see all around, somehow creating the illusion he had just passed through.
These towers were set at very specific intervals all around a large base, about fifteen miles to a side. There was an air strip here, complete with over a dozen helicopters, although no fighter planes, as well as a machine park full of different types of tanks and BTR armored personnel carriers. There was a control tower for the air strip, several large concrete buildings including an obvious communication and command building, and over a dozen smaller, equally permanent buildings that were obviously barracks. One entire side of the base was dominated by several training grounds spread out over the entire side of the base. At this time of the day, there were several platoons and fire teams working through them.
The base was surrounded by trees on three sides with the back of the base leading deeper into the huge forest. Harry could see several guards perched in trees here and there, although more than half of them were turned inward toward the base rather than to defend it from outside threats.
Here and there, as they swooped closer, Harry could see groups of soldiers marching about exercising and training. He frowned, however, as he noticed that a few of them looked to be very young, teenagers in many cases, no older than twenty in some others. These soldiers were not the majority; there were only one or two of them for every platoon of regular soldiers. All of the younger soldiers were wearing matte black formfitting uniforms rather than the regular army uniform. Surprisingly there were two women here as well, surprising and somewhat disturbing.
There was actually one older looking man dressed in the same suit with red armor over his chest with a large backpack of some kind built in. He was tall from what Harry could see, with dirty blonde hair down to his shoulders, and he was standing aloof by one of the exercise areas, either watching or waiting his own turn, Harry couldn't tell. By him, one of the older looking teens, a female, was racing through an obstacle course, sometimes flying along to add to her speed.
Harry frowned even more when one of the other oddly dressed troopers changed into a giant bear at a barked command from someone else. The massive bear began to perform what looked like strength building exercises, lifting and lowering, like a deadweight, a granite block about five feet on a side.
"I thought I'd find something but nothing this built up or organized. This is like going fishing for minnows and nabbing a shark. Why me, why the fuck me, why?" he muttered, the sound of which woke Piotr.
The Russian farm boy stared around him in shock. "What is all this?"
"A training center." Harry said, guiding them down towards the ground now. They landed on the empty rooftop of one of the larger buildings and Harry frowned again, looking around. Now that they were closer, he noticed some discrepancies. Some of the weapons here, including some of the tanks, looked far more high-tech than the others. A few tanks had main guns that looked too much like something more in keeping with what Richards, Stark, or Doom might come up with than he liked to see in a regular army unit. "I'm not certain if this is just a training center, however. It also looks like some kind of high-tech proving ground."
Piotr however was watching the training of what he supposed he should call mutant soldiers. The bear in particular was very aggressive, wholeheartedly putting his all into the exercise. A few others he could see were somewhat more reluctant, yet they were all following orders readily enough. He looked over to Harry. "Well we're here, what are you going to do? I must confess I didn't actually think this through."
"You," said Harry grimly, recasting the dissolution charm and Mufilatio charm on the large Russian, "are going to stay here. I am going to sneak around and see what the hell this place is."
Harry had noticed something that Piotr hadn't. While there were several mutants here in their teenage years and up, there were no younger ones. That didn't make much sense if this place was one of the main holding centers for mutants. The ages when mutant powers activated varied greatly, being from puberty on for the most part, although, obviously, physical full body and permanent mutations could impact their bodies even before that. The Blob was one such example as was the Toad and, of course, Kurt. In Kurt's case however, Harry had been wondering for a while if Kurt's looks were really part of his mutation or an unrelated issue.
"You just want me to just stay here?" Piotr asked incredulously.
"Yep. You don't have experience in sneaking around, whereas I'm very good at it. I need some answers from this place."
Piotr shrugged again, but his face was worried. "I am getting the impression that neither of us will like the answers you find, Mr. Potter, but I will wait for you here, if you wish."
Harry nodded. "Just in case something happens, my code name is Mr. Wizard". He then leapt off the roof, floating quickly to the ground before moving away, his invisibility cloak over his shoulders, just in case, despite the dissolution spell still on him. There was no such thing as being too careful, after all.
He paused by the doorway into to the building they had been standing on, looking inside briefly. Seeing it was an armory, with normal, mundane weapons, he then moving on towards the largest building he could see, besides the command center. On his way, Harry noted where the communication tower was in relation to his location. He also noticed another tower rising from a smaller building, which might be connected to the hologram covering the base.
Behind him, Piotr settled down on the roof to wait, stretching out and wondering if he should just go back to sleep. He'd had a very long, trying day after his power activated, having to deal with the reactions of everyone else in his community as well as his own fears. The nap he had gotten on the way here hadn't been very restful, really, and Piotr realized that it might be a while before he truly got a good rest.
Harry made his way toward the larger building that was built like hanger, yet instead of having a door on either end, it had large doors on either side, with a smaller one on one end. The central location of it on the base made it a likely place to start looking for answers. It also had a security lock on the doors. Harry waited outside the door, then moved inside quickly after a man dressed like an army engineer, regular mufti with dozens of pockets added to it and with a large wrench as a company badge, came rushing from one of the barracks and entered it, swearing something about being late.
When he entered the building it looked like the interior of the building was separated into three distinct parts. What they all had in common, however, was the fact they were given over to high tech weapons. "Fuck… its already started?!"
On one side, several tanks were in the middle of being disassembled by technicians. Above them were a few of what looked like laser cannons, ready to be used to replace the former cannon and turret system.
But it wasn't that which had made Harry groan. No, that would be the other two sections, which were smaller but even more filled with the paraphernalia of engineering and one suit of armor each. Mechanized armor that looked to be based off of the Iron Man suit or Doom's, possibly.
One of them was huge, about 15 feet tall and very wide at the shoulders, painted all in green. It looked monstrously powerful and this was displayed most in the weapons that were being fitted to it by the technicians all around it, which included a twin-barrel Gatling gun that wouldn't be out of place on a warship as an AA gun. Harry couldn't hear the scientists but by the gestures and exclamations, he decided there was an argument going about that particular gun, but he didn't know what about. Nor did he particularly care.
Next to that one was another area separated by a waist high wall. In that area was a man-sized, much more streamlined suit, painted all in red. It didn't have nearly as many technicians working around it, though the ones that were seemed to be working more in concert than the ones around the green painted behemoth.
What this suit also had was a man inside it, since the helmet was off and a bearded face with dark intelligent eyes could be seen as the man wearing the suit gave his own input. One of the scientists was a short diminutive fellow with a craggy face and quick twitching hands, who seemed to be generally in charge of that project. Well, either him or the man wearing the crimson suit anyway, it was hard to tell.
Harry scowled at the sight, wondering how many other countries were working on a version of the powered armor that Tony Stark had shown the world could indeed be built even if your name wasn't Doctor Doom. How far will this spread, and how will it change warfare and the balance of power? What will the effect on my plans be? I wonder if I take this place out, what that would do to Russia's efforts in this direction. Very tempting, it must be said.
In front of Harry were two men watching the activities on that side of the hanger, talking quietly. As he watched, the two men turned and began to make their way toward the doorway. Harry leapt into the air, sticking himself to the ceiling to let them go by.
One wore the uniform and markings of a general or so Harry thought, not having made a study of Russian rank tabs. The other looked almost like an academic, except that he was wearing purple body armor under his coat. His eyes were also cold and hard in a thin, arrogant looking face with a short clipped beard and he seemed to be fighting back a sneer.
It was the doctor who was speaking as they were passing. Harry frowned for a moment, looking between them and the powered armors before deciding to follow them rather than start destroying things just yet.
Luckily his translation spell was still working, and he easily understood what they were saying. "While I can understand your fascination with the idea of armored soldiers general, it is simply not going to be economical. The numbers tell us this! Moreover the designs we are working with are based off Tony Stark's old designs, as well as the impressions of Dr. Doom's suit. We were aided by Professor Vanko knowing what he does about the arc reactor, yet it stands to reason that unless we can come up with something fundamentally different from them, our suits will always be, what is the American phrase, 'behind the eight ball'? We will always be playing catch-up."
The door to the outside opened, and the doctor waved his hand around expansively as he led the way over to another building Harry had discounted. It was short, squat and only a single story, which Harry had assumed meant it was some kind of office, not anything really important. "No, the future is in my Soviet Super-Soldier program, as you should have already seen in my predecessor's experiment, the Winter Soldier."
The general growled, turning angrily to the scientist. "Yes, the Winter Soldier has proven his worth, but your mutant freaks have not, as yet. You have been training your initial batch of recruits for months now and, of them all, only four are of any worth in combat."
The man shrugged. "The problem is not their skills or combat potential, but their loyalty. It is true that indoctrination is taking over long, but once it is finished they are ours, body and soul, devoted to the government. Is that not worth the extra time? Besides, my other endeavors have already proven their worth have they not? The one you chose to don the name and armor of the Red Guardian, young Alexei has proven to take to the new version of the super-soldier serum very well, yes?"
That seemed to mollify the general, and he went on in a much calmer tone. "Yes, he is a credit to the program. Yet at the moment, we are in need of immediate results. The government needs to show that we can handle super powered threats, that is why so much of your funding has been changed over to the Steel Armor projects."
"That," the doctor replied dryly, "and the fact that you found out that young Boris had already begun work on his Titanium Man armor. There must've been quite a bit of, what is the phrase, eating a crow?"
"Your fascination with Anglican phrases irritates me, Dr. Phobos." the general said coldly, causing the scientist to clam up. "Still, I take your point. If your four original soldiers are ready, how long will it take for the rest of your senior projects to be ready? I would like the team to consist of at least three more, if we include the two armored soldiers and Alexei."
"Why not add the Bogatyri in?" The doctor, apparently named Phobos, asked, glancing at the general out of the corner of one eye. "Their numbers would give us that and one more, and the combat potential is more than enough to let them fit right in."
The general stiffened and his voice came out in clipped, cold tones. "You are not cleared to know of that project, Phobos! Do not mention it again, or I will be forced to report the fact you know things you should not to our superiors. Now, answer my question."
The doctor frowned, though whether at the general's tone, his words, or something else, Harry couldn't tell. "Those few that have survived of our second batch haven't responded well enough to indoctrination to be trusted in combat against enemies of the motherland just yet. It will take more time for them, though now that we have captured the ringleader for the mutant underground, we should have much better luck bringing in new recruits, which will help us add to our numbers far faster than have been able to do previously."
The general grunted, this time in satisfaction rather than irritation. Harry however was listening to all this and frowning heavily. It looked as if he and Piotr had arrived on the scene just after a major victory for the powers-that-be here in Russia. "We captured him and several of his followers, did we not? How long until they too are indoctrinated?"
"That will take some time. The two followers we captured are too young to take the majority of the tools that we would normally use."
The general grunted again, though this time Harry couldn't figure out what the grunt meant this time. "Still, progress. I'll leave you to it, Phobos, just remember that we will need to report on our progress in two days."
With that the man marching away, leaving the doctor behind him. Phobos stared after him for a moment, his face now twisted into a sneer of contempt, then turned and moved inside the building they had been walking toward. Harry debated which one to follow then decided to follow the scientist, seeing as he was the one who had apparently been put in charge of prisoners.
As he passed through the doorway, he muttered "Magia Erebea," which he hadn't done before on this trip. Doing so, he shunted about 40% of his magical reservoir into powering the body enhancing spell.
Behind him, two of the Super-Soldiers that had been training outside had turned away from the training, the giant bear changing back to his human body. One of them, one of the two women Harry had seen, stopped suddenly. She stared at where the simulacrum was walking being taken to an outlying barracks building for processing, then moved in that direction, waving the skin-changer to follow her.
Harry followed Phobos inside the building, which consisted of two heavy weapons emplacements with very large guns pointed at the door and a short, thin corridor leading to an elevator. Since the building was only a single story tall, it stood to reason that the elevator went down, which made Harry feel better about his decision to follow the scientist over the unnamed general. After all, people always hid things they didn't want found under the ground, it was almost automatic.
The elevator opened only after the scientist swiped his card, and presented both his eye and his thumb at the same time to two different security devices. With that done, the door opened and Phobos went in, with Harry still unseen following him in quickly. The elevator went down swiftly, Harry couldn't tell how far, though he didn't think it was that far, maybe thirty, forty feet. It was impossible to tell, as the elevator seemed to only have two destinations.
Soon the elevator stopped and the door opened, exiting out into a large area which was a cross between a laboratory, a medical facility, and a torture room with twelve scientists moving around it. There were dozens of computers at stations scattered around the room and one location that looked like a communication station. But it was what was along the walls that made Harry gasp in shock and horror. It was all he could do to stop himself from reaching out with his magic and ripping the scientist to shreds right then and there.
Along one wall were several tables and upon those tables were bodies, two of which were small and childlike, though after the ravages of the experiments they had been put through Harry couldn't tell their genders. Another body was almost adult sized, and his body was mostly intact, except for the fact that his brain had seemingly been removed placed in a jar to one side, with electrodes leading out of it. The next one over looked as if someone had merged two people together, only the merging had failed and both of them had died, in great agony judging by their faces. The last, and most complete body, had been that of an above average height bald man. Yet his body was utterly desiccated, as if all the blood in him had been removed. His skin had also been peeled back in places, and his chest cavity had been opened, a few ribs missing from his corpse for what purpose Harry didn't want to contemplate.
Chained to the far wall were two boys of around fourteen or fifteen, possibly. One looked like a Siberian tiger crossed with a boy, wiry, quick of limb, and wild eyes. He had ears like a tiger, fur like a tiger, and showed in his snarling expression fangs to go with his claws and a tail. His companion in captivity had a swarthy complexion, who was glaring in fury at the surrounding scientists. His hands were in what appeared to be specially made metal devices, connected to a large machine alongside him. They were both chained there spread eagle fashion, though the second boy was only chained by his hands instead of all four of his limbs like the Siberian tiger boy. Both of them had small bracelets of some kind on one wrist.
In pride of place, so to speak, in the center of the room was an old man strapped to a gurney that had been tilted so that he was almost standing upright, his eyes covered by metal glasses, which were part of a helmet that covered his entire head, connecting into a monitoring or control device behind him. He was thin, though not malnourished and he had a short beard but what was really odd was the fact he wore what looked like somewhat damaged priest's cassock. He, too, had a bracelet on one wrist.
Along the last wall, also in chains, were several children of varying ages, all with various physical mutations. Four of them were very obviously dead, their bodies looking as if they had gone through autopsies, but three of them were alive, though they all looked as if they had been mistreated, and were very frightened. One had skin that looked almost like a lizard's, another had no eyes, just a blank space where eyes should be but he had huge ears. The last was a girl whose hair was in the same kind of clamp like the swarthy teens and chained to the wall along with her arms, linked to the same machine as the teen.
Harry's blood boiled as he watched two of the scientists take blood samples from the boy with lizard skin before moving onto the next. All right, he thought to himself, this has just become a rescue rather than an intelligence gathering operation.
Phobos stood before the man on the gurney, smiling faintly. "You did so well Father Garnoff, or should I call you Blind Faith? That's the name you used as leader of the Mutant Underground Railroad, is it not? Forty Years you've kept from being captured. How many assets to the state did you help escape from our mother country? That was a great evil my friend, one you will spend the rest of your life paying for. Your friend, Iron Curtain, has already paid. With his help, we were able to recreate the original super-soldier serum and have already assigned a new Red Guardian to wipe the slate clean from the previous traitor."
Despite the fact that he was physically abused, despite the fact that he was chained and a prisoner, there was no fear in the chained man's voice as he spoke. "Dr. Phobos, please don't patronize me. You do not care about the state." He moved the arm that had the bracelet on it, clanking it gently. "Or you would have never developed this, using it for your own gain. By the way, any luck in that area? Any new powers that have recently begun since you began to try and siphon ours off?"
The man's face twisted into a snarl of rage and he flicked a switch, causing what looked like electrical current to start running through his prisoner for a second, after which he turned it off. "Keep that spirit, Father, it will make it all the more interesting when I break you."
Despite the pain he must be in, the old man sounded more resigned than anything. "Why bother? You shattered my mutant underground syndicate and captured me. Everyone else will have gone to ground and started over. I can tell you nothing."
"You need not tell me anything, my friend," said the doctor, smiling evilly, "but your telepathy can help us greatly. With that and certain devices we have been working on, we might be able to find the mutants you have so shortsightedly hidden from us."
Now the man showed real emotion, his teeth gritting as he strained against his bonds as he shouted his reply. "Never! You will not use my powers against my friends! I will not allow it!"
The doctor snorted. "You make it sound as if you have a choice."
While this 'discussion' was going on, Harry had been listening to it with half an ear, concentrating the security devices. There were ten gun stations, six in the ceiling and one below the four cameras in the corners. There wasn't a single place that wasn't covered, but that was more an irritation rather than a true obstacle to Harry. The cameras however, are a problem, Harry thought to himself, if I want to get the group of us out of here without raising an alarm I…"
Almost as soon as he had that thought, an alarm sounded elsewhere and the beeping red of the alarm began in the laboratory. A hissing sound came from the elevator as if some security device had activated there, some gas let loose or something.
Doctor Phobos moved swiftly over to a communication device in one corner and shouted into it "what's going on, who sounded the alarm?"
"Doctor, the new recruit we just brought in wasn't a new recruit, Fantasia spotted it as some kind of construct. Then she found someone under some kind of concealing spell up on a roof. It looks as if we've been infiltrated. Lock down has been ordered as per standard procedure. Fantasia and Ursa Major are already moving to deal with the threat." A man's voice replied from the other end, while in the background several voices began to shout orders.
The doctor cursed, but before he could do anything Harry made his move. Seeing that the time for caution had passed he struck with brutal and overwhelming force. "Diffindo!" He spat, pointing his finger at the doctor. A white crescent shaped blade of magical energy shot out, cutting the man in half along with the communication device, despite the armor he wore under his doctor's robe.
Exclamations of surprise and horror sounded from the scientists all around, and Harry whirled, shooting out more spells, cutting them down mercilessly where they stood, ignoring for now the turrets that were already trying to range on him, to make certain none of the scientists tried to escape. When the last scientist fell, Harry turned his attention to the gun apertures along the walls, smashing into them with precision "Rifela!" spells from one hand while his other hand shot 'Diffindo', destroying the cameras.
"Not how I wanted this to go!" he shouted over the beeping of the now broken systems, pulling off his invisibility cloak, which had dropped from covering his arms when he started casting spells. "But needs must when the devil drives and all that." He loped over to the two teens who were chained to the back wall, both of them now watching him in shock. "Are you two able to move, at least?"
The one who looked like the love child of a Siberian tiger and a human snarled angrily gesturing at his chains. "Get us out of these stranger and help the Father, we'll help you!"
"Good enough, kid," Harry said pointing his fingers again. The boy's chains snapped under his spells. Harry switched to the other boy's, being more careful now to not injure the swarthy looking boy's hands.
The boy's special cuffs fell away from his hands as Harry raced over to the man in the middle of the room, gesturing the two teens over to the children chained along the other wall. "They'll probably respond better to you to then to me at the moment, other children aren't nearly as frightening as adults after what they've been through."
The swarthy one nodded, and pulled his friend over before he could move toward the old man in the center of the room.
"I take it we're being rescued, though who by is still a mystery to me." the man said, now much calmer than he had been a minute ago. "I am Alexi Garnoff, sometimes called Blind Faith, and you are?
"Mr. Wizard."Harry muttered. "Rather lame and silly I know, but I haven't had time to think up a new name for myself just yet. My naming sense is… even I have to admit it's rather pathetic."
The two teens chuckled at that, which was what harry had hoped for really. It actually drew a giggle from the young girl as well, though that might also be because the two boys had found some keys and had unlatched her from the wall. Her hair, now loose from its confinements, transformed into hundreds of tiny metal knives and began to move around as if controlled by her thoughts.
Harry pulled the man's helmet off him, wincing a little at the fact that some of the connecting devices had gone through the helmet into the other man's head. A few whispered healing spells healed the damage superficially, but he shook his head. "You're going to have to see a doctor after this, I have no idea what that thing did your brainbox, or worse."
"It canceled my telepathic ability, as does this." The man replied, motioning towards the device still around his eyes.
Harry removed it and the man stared at him. Suddenly the wizard could feel a presence pushing against the cloak covering his mind. "Don't do that." he said staring hard at the man. "I'm trying to rescue you, but my mind is my own."
The man shrugged. "Sorry, but I just wanted to know what sort of person my rescuer was."
"We can talk later." Harry muttered having other things to worry about. He moved over to the children, going down on his knees and pulling out from a small pouch a few emergency potions he kept on him at all times. "I am here to help you, my name, for now anyway since I don't know if I took out all the listening devices, is Mr. Wizard." This drew a weak chuckle from the kids, who had heard him introduce himself to Father Garnoff. "This is a magic potion, it should replenish your blood, after that I can use some spells to heal your wounds, but only if you let me."
The young boy with lizard skin moved forward quickly grabbing the potion out of his hand and gulping it down. After a moment he nodded, and the girl and boy with huge ears moved forward, taking sips from the potion as well. While this was going on Harry started to cast spells on them all, healing what he could, but their basic malnutrition couldn't be solved by any potions he had on him.
Harry wished he could spend more time healing these kids, but what he had overheard from the other end of the talk with Phobos worried him and he turned to look at the teen and the older man. "I have someone upstairs I need to go rescue but you and these kids need to get out of here." He frowned a little, hoping this worked. "Cory?"
The house elf appeared in front of them, looking ecstatic, as he always did when popping to someplace new, until he saw the children and how badly battered they were. "Who did this master!?" He growled, his house elf magic crackling around him in a kaleidoscope of colors. If there was one thing most house elves would take very poorly indeed, it was the mistreatment of children.
Harry took a moment to wonder if he should probably make some kind of training manual for the house elves, after all they could be a help in combat situations, but then shook his head. They were too valuable, and frankly too kindhearted to make good soldiers under most circumstances. He hadn't gotten to know all of them yet, but that seemed to be the norm at least. "Can you pop these kids and this man back to the Hogwarts? How far can you carry them all?"
"Weight be changing how far I can pop, master, it be much harder to go sideways than up for some reason, too. I can't pop back with any of them but the smallest back to the castle." Cory said, frowning. "I coulds pop them up to High Note in two groups though."
"Damn it." Harry muttered. At a small swishing sound he whirled with the speed of a striking snake, one hand rising to point at the door of the elevator which was just opening. "Bombarda!" The spell zoomed through the elevator doors, exploding inside and reducing the fire team of infantrymen, who had been rushed down to the lab after Harry cut off the doctor's communication with the command center, to offal. It also buckled the doors, nearly blowing them off their hinges.
He looked around at the children, none of whom had been able to follow the conversation with Cory then at Blind Faith, who was now staring with sorrow on his face at the emaciated corpse along the wall.
Harry didn't want to send them up to High Note. For one, Cory actually wouldn't be able to get them through the teleportation wards Harry had put up, only Harry could get a new individual into High Note. For another, Harry was unwilling to tell them the secret of High Note, not knowing enough about the old man to trust him with that secret. The castle however had Ororo, Jean, Shiang-Chi, and the majority of the house elves, who could handle anything this man or the two teens, who were apparently with him, could do.
Sending them up without letting them in on the secret was possibly worse. The disorientation of being in a place under Fidelius when you didn't know the secret was incredibly debilitating. On top of the trauma they had all been through, it might well cause permanent mental damage. On top of that was the trust issue. The kids at least would never trust Harry again, even after he had rescued and healed them.
Harry also didn't have Hedwig with him and without his familiar with them, he couldn't create a portkey that would get them through Hogwart's wards, which was a part of the wards here that was vastly different than in his old world. There the headmaster could create a portkey and have anyone use it to bypass the wards. Here, the wards were more untrusting when it came to magical transportation and only the headmaster or a representative (which a familiar was) could use a portkey created by Harry to get through the wards.
All this flashed through Harry's mind and he nodded crisply. "How far from me can you pop without any other reference?"
Cory frowned, then shrugged. "I's can pop into the local woods with them master. Woods be easy to feel out."
"Do it, then stay with them to guard them." Harry switched to Russian for the kid's benefit, all of whom had been staring in wonder at the little house elf, who greatly resembled cross between a gremlin and a domovoy, a spirit of the house. "This is Cory, he is going to transport you by magic out of here into the woods. Stay there until I come and get you, and then we can get you all someplace safe."
Cory nodded and moved over to the former prisoners, who were all looking happy about the idea of getting out of here, except for one. "Wait!" the Siberian tiger boy said. "I can fight!"
"Then protect the other children and Father Garnoff." said Harry grimly. "I have a young friend I need to rescue. I can't do that, watch over you, and guard them at the same time."
The younger teen growled a little but nodded, grabbing the hands of two of the kids while his friend held the young girl in his arms.
"If I may?" The man who had been the ringleader of the Mutant Underground Railroad, said weakly. "There are at least four minds up there that are not fully indoctrinated as yet, possibly more. Two of them, in particular, are debating whether or not to throw in their lot with your friend or, at least, I assume he is your friend. He is fighting one of the heavily indoctrinated ones however, I'm afraid that if you don't get up there quickly, it might go badly for him, as I sense more minds heading in his direction."
Harry nodded grimly, and as the group popped away, Harry pointed to the ceiling and shouted out "Bombarda Maxima!"
A massive hole was blown through the dozens of feet of solid ground between him and the base above. He dodged to one side as some of the rubble came back down, shaking his head a little. I need to seriously remember to not vocalize my low level spells, its not as if I need to anymore. Really need to break that habit.
With that, he jumped up through the massive hole he had just blown, eyes ablaze with lightning, hands crackling with power. He couldn't say he was exactly unhappy for the chance to get it stuck in with the rest of these bastards, grimly ecstatic would describe his current feelings much better. Killing the scientists hadn't really made him feel all that much better about what he had found below but, perhaps emptying the base of every soldier and individual within it who had, passively or actively supported Dr. Phobos and his experiments, would.
Piotr had been waiting quietly watching the comings and goings of the camp below him and, despite knowing that his new acquaintance had used some kind of spell to make him invisible, hid as well as he could. He spotted several of what he supposed were mutant soldiers being trained here and there, noticing as he did that they were not exactly trusted. Only three of them were training as a group and, even that, only for one exercise before two of them walked off in the direction of the row of barracks.
The others were always trained separately, always surrounded by at least a platoon of other men, ostensibly training as well. It was obvious that the majority of the soldiers on the base did not trust the mutant soldiers, in particular two of them, keeping them well apart. He didn't know why that was but it was pretty obvious from his current vantage point.
Piotr's eyes hardened as one of the two, a young man Piotr estimated was possibly a year or two younger than himself, was smashed to the ground by the butt of a rifle. From this distance, he couldn't say why, but it might have been for failure to complete a climbing exercise fast enough to please his supervisors. He noticed the other one of the two who seemed to be the least trusted, turned and almost moved toward where the young man was, before stopping herself.
He was so busy trying to control himself at the sight of a younger man being beaten like that, he didn't notice two of the Super-Soldiers moving toward the building he was hiding on. One of them was a woman, with long black hair down to her waist, wearing a black jumpsuit with a long V neck cut out of the front and boots that rose high up her thigh. The other was a man almost as tall as Piotr and even wider across the shoulders, with close cropped brown hair and deep-set brown eyes. He was the one that had changed into a bear and was lifting a massive block of granite as an exercise when Piotr and Harry first arrived.
The two of them had stopped momentarily to talk to the officer who had brought Piotr in, who stiffened and began to walk hurriedly towards the base's command center. The two super soldiers continued toward Piotr's location, the woman leading the way.
Once there, the woman paused for a moment, muttering a spell in Russian under her breath, then spread her hands up towards the roof of the building. "Pust' sokrovennoye vidno!" Above her the spell that had covered Piotr slowly faded, although he didn't notice right away, staring out over the base as he was.
At the same time, the man had charged inside, racing up the steps and transforming into his bear form moments before slamming the door onto roof open and charging out. Before Piotr could even think of what was going on, he was grabbed in a literal bear hug and lifted off the ground. "I know not who you are, or why you have invaded our base! But know that we Soviet Super-Soldiers do not take kindly to being snooped upon!"
The woman floated up the side of the building to land gently on the wall surrounding the roof. The bear then looked to the side and laughed. "You were right, Fantasia, there was someone here!"
"Yes," said the woman slowly, looking at the young, black haired Russian boy through narrowed eyes, "but I do not think that this one cast the spells I felt on him or that odd golem-like creature that took this one's place, Ursa Major. No, someone else is here even if I cannot sense him. See if you can squeeze any information out of this one, if the other one is truly invisible to me, he could be anywhere on the base!"
Ursa Major grunted, then willingly began to squeeze the man in his arms, while below them around the base the alarm began to sound.
Piotr gasped, his air leaving his body explosively under the brute force of the giant bear's grip. He could feel his ribs creaking and groaning and he realized he was in real danger here. As Harry had tried to describe, Piotr reached deep inside himself, searching for that feeling he had felt when rushing to save his sister from the out-of-control tractor, searching for the feeling of steel deep in his soul. He found it.
It started from his toes, that feeling of change. His skin changed color, no longer skin but metal. Segmented bands of shining metal encompassing his body from his toes to the top of his head. It also added a foot or more to his height, Piotr could feel it as his body pushing the bears grip around him back, letting him breathe again. Taking a deep breath, he slammed his head back into Ursa Major's nose.
On any bear the nose is one of the most vulnerable spots, a bundle of nerve endings that hurt like the blazes if you smack it. Ursa Major, despite not being an actual bear still had this weakness and he howled, letting go of Piotr as his claws rose to his face.
Piotr turned, one fist coming around like the hand of god, slamming into the side of the Ursa Major's face smashing the larger bear off his feet and over the side of the rooftop. With that threat momentarily dealt with, the former farmer turned to the woman a little worried, he was not brought up to hit women after all. He didn't have to do anything however, for Fantasia was already gone.
A bright red beam of light slammed into the side of the building, shattering the rooftop and hurling stone everywhere, some of which slammed harmlessly into Piotr's metal form. Piotr cursed, looking in that direction he saw that two tanks, part of the base's quick reaction force, had taken the building under fire from the end of the dirt path that crossed in front of the building he was currently hiding on. Down below, the few people that had been inside the building were running outside and four fire teams were quickly moving into position around him.
Piotr grabbed up a large piece of rooftop hurling it back at the tank that had fired on him. The chunk of masonry slammed with destructive force into the barrel of the laser, destroying it. That allowed him to jump down from the roof, landing heavily amongst a group of infantrymen. His fists flashed out slamming them one way and the other, trying not to hit them with enough force to kill them but still throwing their bodies around like rag dolls, staying in among the troops to protect himself from the other tank, which couldn't hit him now with the buildings and its own men in the way.
The protection of the soldiers around him proved to be an illusion however. A bolt of lightning slammed down into them from seemingly out of the clear blue sky. The soldiers around him screamed in agony from their ricocheting bits of electricity, and Piotr staggered to his knees screaming with agony.
"A boy with an iron boy should not challenge a god-touched avatar who wields lightning!" said a booming voice. From out of the sky came one of the Super-Soldiers, one that Piotr hadn't seen before. Rather than the normal matte black bodysuit, this one was wearing what Piotr would term a period costume, something that looked like something a Slavic warrior would wear it. He was wielding a massive axe in one hand, the end of which was crackling with the residue of a lightning blast. "I know not why you think one man alone can stand against a force such as ours, nor do I particularly care. I should thank you, however, live targets are always more interesting!"
Piotr looked up through bleary eyes, the metal of his skin having saved him from the majority of the damage the lightning bolt could cause, but not all of it, and the effect of the electrocution was fading slowly. In front of him the man readied another lightning bolt, preparing to knock Piotr out.
Just then the axe wielder was smashed to the side by a blast of wind, which picked him up, hurling him into a building on the other side of the road from where Piotr was kneeling. "One," said Harry's voice coming from the smoke and ruin of huge hole at the far end of the area where a small building had once stood, "he did not come alone. And two, if you're going to play with lightning, try and face the master."
"gwaywffon mellt!" Harry shouted and a spear of lightning appeared in his hand, crackling with power and longer than he was tall. He hurled it forward into the rubble where the man had been thrown from his previous attack. The man had just been getting to his feet, and he looked up in shock as the lightning spear slammed into him. Whatever immunity he had to his own power did not stretch to stopping this. He shouted in agony as he was thrown back, his chest and side burning from the lightning spear's strike.
"Th-thank you for the timely rescue, Mister Wizard." Piotr said, climbing to his feet and almost absentmindedly using Harry's codename. "I was found out by a woman named Fantasia. She and a man called Ursa Major attacked me, he was the one who transformed into a bear. What are our plans now?"
Harry shrugged. " I found enough here to make me want to wipe this place out, if you want I can get you out first though." He went on to describe the 'lab' of Dr. Phobos, as well as how he had rescued the latest victims of the now dead doctor.
Piotr's eyes hardened as Harry gave his description, and his eyes burned with righteous anger and resolve as he through off the last of the effects of the lightning attack.
At that moment three APCs came around the end of the road and another burst through the rubble of the building where Piotr had hidden and began to fire on both Harry and Piotr. One was using a laser weapon that was much less powerful than the one the tank had sported, but also far faster firing, while the other two were armed with regular machine guns. These wouldn't have been much danger to either Harry or Piotr, but the APC's had cleared the line of sight for the other tank which immediately fired.
Harry grunted as the cannon round from the tank impacted a hastily woven shield shattering it and moving through to slam into his body. Luckily his crisis suit and Magia Erebea enhanced body was up to the task of taking the blow, but he was thrown off his feet skidding backwards on his ass. His return spell however slammed into an APC blowing it to pieces and killing the crew inside.
Piotr had simply run forward, taking the shots from the APCs on his armored body, slamming bodily into one APC which flew backward, slamming with crushing force into another. Then Piotr leaped forward into a group of soldiers who had tumbled out of them. His steel fists smashed out with untrained but powerful blows, throwing them hither and yon.
Nikolai was a young man, only a year or so younger then Piotr. But his life had been even harsher than Piotr's had been caring for his family and working on the communal farm. Nikolai was selected at a very early age to be put through the Russian equivalent of the Red Guardian program, which was the Soviet equivalent of the program that had developed Captain America. This program was had many more men than the American version, but despite this was nowhere near as successful because none of their scientist had come up with a way to replicate the original formula given to Captain America.
During WW2 they had come up with a somewhat similar serum, and it had been extremely successful. The man wasn't as fast but was even stronger than Captain America. But it had severe downsides, shortening the life of the man who had been given it by more than half.
Only one man, Aleksey Lebedev, was given it before the Red Skull (not wanting anyone else to have the physical skills he had) destroyed the serum and killed the scientists who came up with it. Still, the Red Guardian, as he was called, had become a rallying point for Russia against German aggression.
When mutants began to initially appear however, the Red Guardian had protested against the pogroms against them. Lebedev had been a hero both for the soviet people and for the allies. He had worked with Captain America and the original Defender, so when he protested it had carried a lot of weight. This forced the government to take direct action against him, but Lebedev had the last laugh.
Realizing his life was in danger, Lebedev hunted down every scientist who was working on recreating the serum they had given him. He destroyed every piece of research, killing every scientist who had worked to recreate it before they killed him. This had forced soviet scientists to start from scratch yet again and it had only been in the last few years where they had made any progress.
Nikolai was one of two people who had been chosen to try the latest attempt at the serum, though in his opinion it wasn't worth it. The scientists hadn't exactly made a big secret of how they had come up with it. The mutant freedom fighter, Iron Curtain, had been captured months ago, long before Blind Faith had finally been hunted down. The present serum, which Alexei Shostakov, the other man who had been put through the current training had already been given, was based off analyzing the Iron Curtain's blood and putting that together with some bits and pieces they'd been able to figure out from their spies in America. Together, it seemed to work, but the failing was that it would almost certainly have the same downside as some of the previous, rejected versions, that of shortening the users lifespan tremendously. It also seemed to do something to the man's mental abilities, enhancing his already huge ego while adding a bit of darkness to his personality. Or perhaps that had always been there, hidden until he had real power.
Despite his lack of serum however, Nikolai was a superb soldier, having been trained since he could walk. But he wasn't exactly loyal to the government. His indoctrination hadn't taken, for a single, simple, reason.
He shared a long glance with his sister, who was a mutant. The two of them had been trained together for the past seven years and the indoctrination hadn't taken in either one of them because of one another. The indoctrination forced you to put the state and following orders above all, and neither sibling was willing to do that because they were loyal to one another. It had been his sister Laynia (codenamed Darkstar) who had kept Nikolai sane during his early years of training, which had happened under their father before their father was reassigned elsewhere. And it had been Nikolai who kept Laynia sane in turn when her mutant powers activated and she was forced to join him, becoming a Super-Soldier trainee.
Now, they glanced at one another. With that odd connection couples and siblings sometimes have both wordlessly turned and began to take the fight to the infantrymen around them.
Darkstar's powers allowed her to manipulate an odd energy the scientists who had tested her called darkforce, in a limited manner. It was a kind of energy whose characteristics were only vaguely understood at this point. What she could do with it at this point was fly, create shields, blasts of varied power. She could even use it to create near-solid objects, which had the same tensile strength as steel, though she couldn't sustain any such projection for very long.
That didn't make her powers any less lethal however. She turned and blasted the seven soldiers who had been around her when the alarms sounded to powder, then turned her sights on the others she could see as they tried to bring their rifles to bear before she could blast them. They did not succeed and their bodies flew away, charred, broken, and very dead, allowing her to concentrate on the other soldiers now running toward her.
Nikolai on the other hand had no superpowers, but he was a fantastically trained soldier, well above the norm even here. He struck out, slashing one with one hand across a soldiers throat while slamming his other hand into the face of the sergeant who had been beating him a moment ago. He flew back with a shattered nose and skull. Nikolai's legs then lashed out, tripping the two soldiers behind him who had tried to raise their rifles toward him, then grabbed their weapons and began to fire into the soldiers around the training area who hadn't yet gotten to their emergency response stations.
Swiftly he dove into a nearby foxhole, one of the many obstacles that were part of the training ground. Once there he raised the rifle and began to fire single shots at some of the soldiers he could see deeper into the base, allowing his sister to take out the majority of those closer and without any cover of their own.
As the base roused itself, however, the two rebels and the two invaders would have quickly been overwhelmed if one of them had not been named Harry Potter.
Harry jumped up from where he had been dumped by the round from the tank, scowling angrily as the noise of more combat and moving troopers reached him from all around. The base was waking up to the danger that had suddenly appeared inside it. "I think it's time to even the odds!" Then he knelt down swiftly planting his hands on the ground and shouted out a spell. "Shi Jundai!"
Piotr, who had taken refuge from the laser cannon behind some rubble (he did not want to see what a laser could do to his metal skin just yet), gaped in astonishment. From the ground rose over 300 golems holding blades of stone. Four of them immediately brought their blades around slicing apart an APC and a infantry fire team that had been unlucky enough to be right beside them as they formed.
"Attack!" Harry shouted, and the golems moved inexorably around, overwhelming the troopers. This show of magic power unnerved even the infantry of the base that had been trained alongside the Super-Soldiers and more than one ran in panic, which was actually the best thing they could do. The only weakness the golems truly had were how slow they were.
Only a blow from one of the tanks, of which there were three manned now, could really damage them and there weren't enough tanks moving at this point to offset the golem's numbers. Then there was the fact most of the tanks were long range platforms. The short ranges of the base worked against them. The tank commander realized this and quickly ordered the few tanks that were already moving to pull out of the crowded area of the base into the airfield, the surrounding training areas, and the machine park, but Piotr and Harry didn't let up.
"Piotr, head toward the machine park, destroy as many of their tanks as you can before their operators can get to them! I'll keep riling up the base and take the fight to the Super-Soldiers and the infantry." Harry ordered, understanding the threat the laser armed tanks could pose.
Piotr nodded. He was not happy to fight like this, but if what Harry had told him was true, Piotr was more than willing to help destroy this wretched place. "I understand, but don't forget the helicopters!"
"Teach your grandmother to suck eggs!" Harry retorted as two spells streaked out, smashing into another group of soldiers, blasting them to pieces.
The steel-clad mutant laughed as he raced forward through the rubble of two buildings, getting underneath the cannon of the last tank of the quick reaction force as it tried to retreat. He grabbed the barrel, twisting and crushing it before lifting it up grunting slightly. There was a shriek of metal and the turret came off entirely, dragging along one of the soldiers who had been sitting there, who leaped away in terror. He hurled it at another tank which had been able to escape the carnage of the golem charge. The turret slammed into the other tank with enough force to actually flip it over onto its side.
Ursa Major had recovered by this time and had gone looking for Piotr, ignoring the other attacker, to get to grips with the one who had hurt him. He charged out of the smoke and confusion of the battle, slamming into Piotr's side and bringing him down to earth, pinning one arm and raking his side with his claws, slamming his paws into Piotr with punishing force.
Even Piotr's metal body could only take so much of that and he grunted in pain, feeling his metal skin buckle a little under the blows. Still, he was game and brought his forearm around to slam into Ursa Major's head throwing the huge Kodiak back enough to let him get his other arm free to push the bear off him. The two titans glared at one another for a moment before slamming bodily together. Their arms began grappling and punching, Piotr's legs kicking out when he could, as the battle became up close and personal.
Harry had other worries, one of which was taking out the Comm. tower. He didn't want anyone to be able to call in more aid after all. He took to the air for just a moment, protected by a strong shield, and as soon as he was in sight of it, shooting out a silent Bombarda at the tower, shattering it entirely.
Nearby, two Super Soldiers came out of one of the barracks. One of them was the one Harry had seen watching Ursa Major training, who had gone there to grab a energy bar. Now, however, the large backpack he wore was explained as four tentacles made of some unknown metal came out of it, each of them transforming into different weapons. He leapt into the air trying to close with Harry, but Harry backed away easily, slamming him backward with a single spell to the ground.
The other was dressed in a form fitting red suit with a black star on the chest and was wearing a large circular shield on his back which had the hammer and sickle sign on it. He however, was much less headstrong than his friend. Alexei, in fact, always had his mind on the main chance and decided he wanted nothing to do with the sorcerer who was behind this attack.
Instead, he looked around trying to find a better target and smirked when he saw Nikolai had taken the chance to defect. Alexei had never liked that little punk, always nipping at Alexei's heels, yet never really ready to take the final plunge. Alexei had been in this program for several years longer than Nikolai and he had put in his time as a spy as well. The idea of someone who had only been trained for this, who hadn't really put in the time as a soldier of the state, getting the super-soldier treatment was damnable to him.
And Nikolai had protected his hot ass of a sister since she had arrived here seven years ago, never, in all that time, letting her anywhere on her own unless an officer was with her. Where Alexei could intimidate or convince a few of the regular troops to join in on some fun, the officers were something else, under orders to treat both Darkstar and Fantasia as untouchable objects, just in case their powers could go out of control. In Darkstar's case, that was even more of a concern than in Fantasia's, so the officers were under orders to make certain they were both treated well. With a grim smile he raced off in that direction.
Above him, Harry had cast another lightning spear, which pierced straight through the tentacle wielder's chest, killing him instantly. Then he turned to a tank that had ignored the tank commander's orders and charged into the base.
"I don't care if they're ready or not! Get the Titanium Man and the Crimson Dynamo out there! There's some kind of magic user. he just created a fucking army of stone creatures and we need more firepower!" The base commander, a general, was a veteran and he had responded quickly to the emergency. In the corner of the command center, the only Super-Soldier that had been assigned there lay dead, gunned down before he could even think of betraying them like Darkstar and her brother had. He snapped out orders quickly, trying to get control of the battle.
Even as one of the general's aides passed on that order to what had been dubbed the Iron Institute, the general ordered two of the infantry companies that had not yet engaged the invaders to pull back to their armory to rearm with heavier weapons. Ostensibly, the force of this base was one tank company, five infantry companies, and two motorized rifle companies. In actuality, it was two regular infantry companies, two heavy weapons companies, and one sniper and recon company, the majority of which unfortunately had been training with Nikolai and Laynia and had died when they turned on them.
Their weapons with the more expensive payloads were not normally used in training but they were available for emergencies like this. With one of the motorized rifle companies already wiped out by the sorcerer and his golems, the general hoped that the heavy, crew served laser cannons and machine guns could at least hold the golems off. If they could, the powered armor and Super-Soldiers could deal with the wizard and the metal mutant.
He turned to another one of his aides, and said crisply, "Get the helicopters into the air, use them on the perimeter to cut down the traitors in the training ground, if you can. I also want one helicopter to head towards the nearest base with available troops, now!"
"But sir, this is supposed to be a secret installation, no normal military unit is supposed to…"
"Do you think that would matter if the base no longer exists after this?! Do it!"
The man gulped, but nodded his head and moved off to do his general's bidding. As he did, the base commander turned to another aide, a young man he knew to be among the fastest runners on the base. "You, I have a job for you…"
In the Iron Institute, the mutant known by all by the name of Gremlin, who willingly worked with the state to round up his fellow mutants, paused in his work on the Crimson Dynamo when they heard the barked order to two send out their creations. He sighed faintly. While the suits were ready, calibration, personalization, and final tests had been scheduled to take another week before their first real combat mission. Still, that was more because he and Anton were both perfectionists and Gremlin knew it. The suits were ready and they would be more than enough to help the rest of the Soviet Super-Soldiers against the rather idiotic traitors and attackers.
He looked over at Boris, who was clamoring into the Titanium Man suit, then to Anton Vanko as the Crimson Dynamo's helmet was lowered over his head. The two men could not be more dissimilar. Anton was a man of average height but immense intelligence, a genius at physics whose father had worked with Howard Stark to create the arc reactor before being deported back to Russia. The reactor the suit he was now wearing used was far less economical, but it could put out the same amount of power for short amounts of time. Boris on the other hand, was of only normal intelligence, yet was a massive bruiser of a man, who perfectly exemplified the thinking behind his armor, strength over speed.
And, contrary to what Harry had thought, both suits had been the works for years before Iron Man appeared on the scene. Indeed, work had begun on both to counteract Dr. Doom rather than Iron Man. Of course neither had been used against him yet, but plans were in the works to send in a special team to take Doom out and seize Latveria before installing a puppet government that would funnel its technology back to Russia.
The Titanium Man, fourteen feet or so of perfectly controlled Titanium in the shape of a massive man, was the first to be ready. It systems were not nearly as sophisticated as the Crimson Dynamo's, and it source of power was a very old-style electric battery, which meant it wouldn't be good for a long extended battle, but it was simple and easy enough to operate plus was massively powerful and durable. "I'll leave now." Boris said via the armor's loudspeakers, grabbing up one of the large twin-barreled Gatling cannons that fit along one of his arms.
"Dynamo," Boris went on, now using code names as they were going into battle. "You follow up, I'll head towards that magic user. If we take him out the golem army will probably fade, then we'll be able to simply overwhelm the traitors and this other interloper."
The Crimson Dynamo's operator nodded his head, flexing one hand as he scientists finished hooking its relay system up to his fingers. "I'll be right behind you."
Dum-Dum Duggan scowled, slamming an autopsy report down on his desk. Specifically, it was the autopsy of the terrorist that Phoenix had dropped off. "How they hell did Talmud sneak a fucking cyanide pill in?!" He barked angrily looking around and his lieutenants. "We did a fucking full body strip search, a cavity search, and scanned his teeth for hollows, too, so can one of you useless fucks explain to me how this happened!?"
None of his men would meet Duggan's eyes, knowing that this was a major blow and actually having no real idea who it had happened either. The terrorist leader, Talmud As'avier, had barely been in their custody for a day, and somehow, despite being under 24-7 suicide watch had managed to kill himself. SHIELD wasn't exactly naive when it came to this sort of thing, and the man had indeed been searched as thoroughly as they could do it. Yet still the man was dead, not by a cyanide pill, but by cyanide. The difference was important since the autopsy hadn't been able to tell them if the man had taken the cyanide via mouth or what. All the guards had been questioned, but not one of them had seen the man even reach for anything. One moment he was alive, the next moment he was foaming at the mouth then dead before any medical aid could reach him.
The Army major, there as the base liaison to SHIELD, scowled. Could that mutant who dropped him off have done something to him, some kind of delayed reaction?"
"I've had just about enough of your damn fascism!" Duggan practically snarled. "That young lady did us a major favor, and you want to tear her down just because she's got powers that you don't! Remember, if not for her we wouldn't have even had the bastard in the first place. If you don't have anything constructive to add to this discussion major get the fuck out of here!"
The major scowled even more, but didn't respond verbally, just leaning back.
Duggan nodded grimly then turned to stare down at the printout of a picture taken from one of the man's arms, showing a tattoo of some kind of creature with many separate, smaller heads around a single skull. The image reminded him of something, something he had seen once in a mission during WW2, but for the life of him he couldn't remember where. "These guys don't run themselves like any kind of terrorist cell I've ever heard of, they're too damn good at information control and suppression. Far too damn organized over way too wide an area without any sign of communication either." Whatever the aim of this HYDRA group was, it went well beyond helping their catspaw terrorist bands. In fact, his instincts were telling him any such connection was there just to draw interest to the Middle East from elsewhere.
"And some of the weapons we've seen lately." he shook his head. "They're way too damn advanced. They've got a major industrial and tech base, way beyond the level they should have if they were just a new terrorist group, no matter how well dispersed they are." SHIELD and the UN had only run into a few advanced weapons, but when you're talking about portable heavy lasers that can punch through tank armor or anti-air weapons that somehow vibrated planes to pieces, a few times was enough. Dum-Dum had lost a third of his men since starting this job, and he was lucky, even so.
Damn Stark anyway. Cold Steel's all right for the small stuff, but Hammer Industries had major connections to the underworld, and there was no other company that could match Stark for high-tech weaponry. Duggan didn't think Hammer was connected to HYDRA, not directly anyway. Hammer was all about profit, and this group's aim, destruction and chaos, wasn't one Hammer would be interested in. While there could be profit in war, if a country's economy tanked then Hammer wouldn't see any return.
His lieutenant, a young man with dark black hair swept back over his head and wide shoulders, shrugged. "There's some kind of deal in the pipeline with Reed Richards, and pressure is being brought to bear on Stark to restart sales to at least SHIELD, if not the rest of the American military, so we might be able to match them their eventually. The tech we grabbed from the site of Talmud's cell should give us a better idea of what we're facin' boss. It's not a complete loss."
After a full night spent arguing about it with the locals, SHIELD had gotten agreement that morning to go in and search the area where Phoenix had taken that terrorist cell out. They found two boxcar loads of tech, one full of energy based weapons and the other, parts of what the eggheads were telling Dum-Dum were components for some kind of communication gear.
The guns weren't quite as high tech as Duggan had heard the one gun they had gotten from a blocked AIM kidnapping of a scientist in Canada. (SHIELD had good relations with Canada, one the few countries that they did.) That gun was just as powerful as the heavy rifle-sized guns Duggan and his men had captured, but it was the size of a pistol.
Duggan sighed. "I want all that gear we found boxed back up and ready to go in twenty minutes, and a full guarded flight ready to head back to America. I know it's standard procedure to keep it here and bring the scientists here to study it, just in case, but this base has proven it isn't secure enough. I want it all gone before someone realizes we may have come up with more than just Talmud."
That brought him back to what they had originally been discussing. "I want every damn person that came within twenty feet of the prison questioned, run through the fucking ringer, and their possessions searched. I do not fucking care about their god-damn first amendment rights, someone got to our prisoner, and I will, by god, learn who."
The base rep made to protest but a single glare from Duggan shut him up once more and Duggan went on. "After that, I want the local air waves rechecked for anything unusual. I…"
He was interrupted by a knock on the door frame. Dum-Dum turned, along with the others you talking to stare at the young ensign that stood there. "I'm sorry sir, but, um, you might want to come and take a look at this."
"What is it, ensign?" Duggan asked calmly, not ripping the boy's head off as many officers would have. He had a lot of time for young ensigns. If you fed and watered them properly, many of them became very good officers, eventually. That was one lesson he had learned from Nick during the war.
"Sir, we, we picked up something on long-range scans, via one of our long range projects, a certain apparition in the system." He spoke obliquely, knowing that a few of the man in the room were not cleared for Operation Ghost.
Duggan stiffened and nodded sharply, then turned to point first at his second in command, then the lieutenant who had sweptback black hair. "Reese, get the crates and stuff out of here, Frank you handle the investigation, jump on it right now. The rest of you are dismissed."
The major, unfortunately, did have clearance and followed Duggan as he raced out of the conference area toward the area of the base taken over entirely by SHIELD, the ensign right next to him. Even so, Dum-Dum kept his voice low as he looked over at the ensign. "Fill me in."
"Ghost 3 was flying over Siberia, everything was checking green all across the board and it found what looked to be a secret base of some kind. It was camouflaged really damn well, covered with some kind of odd illusion field for a time but when the action started that went down quick. It's somewhat bigfor a hiddenbase, sir, and old judging from the buildings, possibly as old as World War II. It's got its own airfield, a dozen buildings, maybe four companies of mixed mechanized and regular infantry, at least a full company of tanks along with its own organic air assets. It's also got the oddest set up in terms of tech I've ever seen, a mix of really high tech gear and old fashioned stuff, even the tanks reflect that kind of mix. It looks as if the Russians have started to develop their own gear as well, this base has all the earmarks of some kind of testing bed for new gear."
"They were bound to of course." Duggan said while the major scowled agreement from his other side. "That's part of why we're here. But what do you mean, 'action'?"
The ensign said hesitantly, "I don't think you'd believe me if you don't see it for yourself first, sir."
By this time, they were at the entrance to the cordoned off sector of the base SHIELD had commandeered and Duggan flashed his badge to the two guards outside. Both of them took a moment to look at it before running it through their system along with the major's before letting them in.
He nodded at that, pleased. It'd taken him a while, but he had smashed this group of agents, taken from the CIA, the FBI, the NSA, naval intelligence, and army intelligence together into a coherent unit. They all had operational security written into the inside of their eyeballs by this point, as well as the need to never let down their guard. There was, by God, not going to be any leaks from his troops. Duggan wished he could say the same about the regular army officers and soldiers here, but that wasn't going to happen anytime soon. Still, hopefully Frank's investigation will turn up something and we can find out who the hell 'helped' Talmud to die before we could squeeze him.
A moment later, the ensign had led them inside to what was Project Ghost's headquarters. Project Ghost was a system of utterly invisible, ghost-like automated drones that were the brainchild of Tony Stark. As they weren't weapons, Stark Industries were still making them, including some new versions, but the ones they already had were scary enough. Dum-Dum and his men had arrived here with a full complement of twenty of them, though they only used four at a time. The drones were able to literally ghost through any nation from here to China on one side or Italy on the other without anyone knowing, though at that range they were only good for half a day. The Bronx-born SHIELD commander was a little ambivalent about the lawfulness of what they were doing, but seeing as none of the countries directly around them were exactly democracy friendly, save for India and Israel (a few were moving in that direction slowly, but weren't there yet) he was willing to overlook it, most of the time.
On the other hand, Dum-Dum had ignored the orders that told him to send a few over to Israel and into India with a certain degree of amusement. Seeing as a local man had come up to him and greeted him by name the first time he left the base and had given him a certain call sign before disappearing before his lieutenant could follow him into the crowd, it was pretty obvious that the Israelis at least knew SHIELD was in the area. Duggan wouldn't put it past them to have figured out a way to spot the drones somehow.
India, on the other hand, was the largest growing democracy in the world. He was not going to be party to anything that would bother them in any way or make them turn away from being allies of America. He might have a major problem with the fact that they had a caste system and a lot of other things, including the way they treated women in certain areas of the huge country, but that didn't mean it was SHIELD's job to look over India's collective shoulder.
As they walked in, it was obvious what was going on. Someone, apparently two someone's with possibly a few agents on the inside, were staging an all-out attack on the base. At the moment it looked as if they were holding their own at least and possibly winning but that wasn't what shocked Duggan and the army major. "D-did that one man just transform that tank's gun into glass?" the major stuttered in shock.
Dum-Dum frowned at that, sitting down in the chair set into the center of the room, fiddling with his bowler hat's rim in thought. Then he grinned as somebody whose body looked it was made of polished steel slammed into a tank throwing it back into a person who looked like a giant bear at the moment. That one, Duggan recognized from a few files on the new Soviet Super-Soldier program. According to SHIELD sources, the Russian government was supposedly putting together a group to be a government-sanctioned team to be like the Fantastic Four that they were calling the Soviet Super-Soldiers. The team was supposedly a mix of mutants and 'super-soldiers', though what made them super was up in the air.
The two massively powerful fighters came together on the screen. He barked a laugh as the other man apparently began to take the fight to an entire company of soldiers, throwing them around and smashing buildings with his powers which were obviously magical. Dum-Dum hadn't fought many sorcerers (only two actually in his time as a Howlin' Commando and looking at this he was glad of that), but he recognized the signs of spells. Though this guy had a shit load of spells and they were head and shoulders above anything he'd ever seen in terms of speed and power.
"What should we do, sir?" said the major looking around at the screen anxiously. "Whoever that is, they're breaking international law, and you know the soviets will bleat and whine about it and blame it on America."
"Son," said Duggan now leaning back in his chair with his hands folded behind his bowler hat, propping his feet up on the table in front of him, "international law is more like guidelines. Yes, I prefer most people to follow them, but I'm not about to look a gift horse in the mouth. And goin' by the people runnin' away over there, I'd say they're breaking a few international laws themselves." He motioned to an area directly under where the drone was hovering over the surrounding forest where some kind of little creature (or possibly a mutant who had been done wrong by his mutation) had just popped in.
Even from the height that the drone was hovering at now they could see several of them were injured, and many of them had obvious mutations. The most obvious one was the teen in the lead who looked like a cross between a man and a Siberian tiger. "Last time I checked training young teens to be soldiers was against international law. Nah, in this case I'm just goin' to sit here and watch the fireworks. The best thing about it is, when we deny any knowledge of it, we'll be tellin' the truth. After all, we really did have nothing to do with this."
Duggan laughed suddenly. On the screen a man dressed like someone out of a Viking epic had just tried to attack the sorcerer. Yet, he was thrown aside through a building with a single punch, and then the man turned his attention to some helicopters that were trying to get off the ground. "You all better hope you started recording this from the beginning, and someone get me some popcorn!" He shouted over his shoulder. "This looks to be damn good."
Harry frowned suddenly as he felt a spell go off near him and he ducked reflexively but it wasn't actually an attack spell, it was an illusion. The illusion tried to cover up the attack of an infantry fire team with heavy weapons, both the sound of the heavy thrum of their portable crew-served cannon and the sight of them setting it up at the far end of the makeshift street Harry was standing on at the moment.
His mage sight, however, enabled him to see through the illusion as if it wasn't there however and he shot out a mid-level attack spell even as he dodged the ravenous beam of orange light that their cannon emitted. "Terra Hasta!" Dozens of thin spears shot up from the ground, impaling the soldiers and destroying the cannon.
The illusion caster tried again, trying to cover the charge of the man with the axe, his side still smoldering from Harry's previous attack. Harry saw through it once more. Ducking underneath the blow he returned one with all his magically enhanced strength straight up into the man's jaw. He felt the bone shatter and the man's left his feet flying backwards, sailing through the air of the base to land somewhere out of sight and, hopefully, out of the battle.
"Are you a one trick pony, whoever you are?" Harry called out sarcastically, weaving a shield in one hand to block incoming blows from a machine gun armed team who had moved into the rubble of the building on his left side. His other hand rose quickly and another lightning spear shot out to impact the first of three helicopters that were trying to take off from the airport, shattering it into pieces.
Those pieces fell down, impacting the other two below it and forcing them to evade wildly. That availed them nothing, however, as Harry swiftly turned, grabbed a piece of debris with a spell, then hurling it at the second helicopter, slicing it in half. The helicopter's front half fell to the ground, the rear portion fell directly down into the canopy of the third helicopter, killing the pilots as it slammed through the glass.
He ducked underneath a dark curse, made of bits of arrowhead shaped green darts, then leaped to the side as another curse tried to take his legs out from under him. This time it was a crescent shaped cutting spell, which he thought might be similar to a spell Selene had used during their battle in London.
In response he flipped himself over through the air, slamming his hands together and sending a shock wave through the air. "Aeris Fluctus!" The spell picked up and threw several troopers around, including a black haired woman dressed in a formfitting black bodysuit with large purple boots, who desperately weaved a counter spell to Harry's second attack, a Bombarda spell sent straight at her.
Harry was distracted by two more teams setting up their cannons and firing at him. The orange colored stream of energy from one nearly caught him in the side and he whistled, a little impressed at the power of it as it cut a channel through the debris of the battle and the ground. The other sent small pulses of purple light toward him, yet these didn't get through Harry's Protego. He dealt with both teams quickly.
The woman tried to disappear behind another spell and Harry chuckled grimly, ducking underneath a sniper shot that would have taken him in the head. This wasn't a bullet, either. It was another laser based weapon, though its bolt was the same orange as the cannon round. Realizing he didn't want to find out if his crisis suit could stop that, Harry paused briefly then spat out a spell. "Orbis fulgur scutum!" Around him suddenly appeared four foot long flat ovoids of crackling lightning. They began to orbit around him, intersecting the next two blasts from a sniper well out of Harry's sight.
This spell was a family spell he had found and, like many, it had its good points and its weaknesses. For one, it was, as the name implied, ovoids of lightning. They couldn't block area effect spells and were easily overcome by real curses, such as bone breaker hexes or similar, which didn't 'carry their nature' through the air only really imparting their nature when they hit their target. For pure energy spells, however, like Diffindo or Reducto, they were very good and they proved able to stop the sniper rounds easily enough.
However, this had given the woman enough time to fall back on what seemed to be her mainstay, casting illusions and cutting spells. The illusions Harry ignored. The cutting spells were easily intercepted by the lightning spheres.
Harry was getting rather irritated by being held up by this amateur and he shouted his next spell swiftly, bringing his hands around in a wide circle around him, glowing slightly as he cast the spell in Italian. "Lasciate tutte le illusioni spariscono!"
It was one of the spells that he had learned from Blaize Zabini. Daphne's cover wizard, Blaize had been a surprisingly intelligent and romantic young man, who had returned to Italy to marry his childhood sweetheart a few days before the battle of Hogsmeade. His family magics leaned heavily towards illusions and dissipating said. This woman was no match for the illusion specific finite class spell, which could even remove illusions based off runic arrays and even force an animagus back into his human form.
The illusion that the woman had tried to cast over herself and the other deceptions she had tried to cast on the surrounding area failed, blinking out with a suddenness that was shocking. Harry's spell also took with it the transformation that had covered Fantasia's own appearance.
Instead of a woman, there appeared a grotesque monster, with wide wings, a beak for a mouth, and covered with a mix between skin and scales that looked altogether horrible. The thing shrieked trying to dive out of sight but three of the soldiers had seen the transformation and obviously not been expecting it. At the sight of the horror where the woman (who had been their not so-secret object of lust) had been, they reflexively turned their fire on it. Whatever it was, it was not bulletproof and their bullets riddled the thing causing it to dance in place, screaming in pain before falling to the ground dead.
Harry had taken a single moment to stare at this monstrosity, wondering if she had been a mutant and that had been her normal form, or if she had been something else entirely. That was all he had time to think of however, because at that point Titanium Man joined the fight.
The massive metal armored man had slammed down into the ground from the smoke filled sky, his Gatling gun filling the air between the wizard and him with bullets. Harry ducked to one side, not really wanting to trust his crisis suit to stop so many bullets traveling at that speed. He knew it could, but it would probably hurt like the blazes even with his physical durability strengthened.
This proved to be a good move, as the rounds of the Gatling gun were not normal rounds but explosive, much like the ones made for Fury's special gun, only somewhat less powerful, being full of regular gunpowder rather than cordite. Upon hitting the building behind Harry, they exploded with concussive force, scattering bits of masonry everywhere. The green metal man raised his other hand and two beams of power, not lasers but circles of force, shot out, trying to slam into Harry. One of them clipped his arm and he hissed as it damaged his crisis suit, but it didn't get through, merely blistering the skin underneath. Already the suit was repairing itself, as was his skin.
Harry returned fire throwing to Bombarda's at the green painted mountain of metal. Yet the armored man simply shrugged them off, his armor able to withstand the magical assault. Seeing that, Harry cast a high level cutting spell and sent that forward, followed swiftly by another lightning spell, a circular beam of blue power that zoomed towards his target right on the heels of the cutting spell. "Kesmek! Fulgur plumbum!"
The man raised his hands to block the first spell even as he dodged. The cutting spell impacted on his outstretched hand but he had already moved so the second one missed. He lost two fingers of that hand and apparently had actually lost a few fingers if the squealing on the armor's loudspeaker was any indication.
He returned fire, however, with more of the armor's weapons coming online to try and kill Harry. There were the two power beams, the Gatling gun, mini-missiles that launched from its thighs, and a blue/silver electrical attack that shot out from its helmet.
Harry dodged, blocked, or deflected all of it, throwing back spells as fast as he could. The man's titanium armor was able to block most of his lower level spells and he too, dodged all of the spells it could. Harry took off bits and pieces of the armor, but the man was using mobility and the surrounding shattered debris of the base as well as his own comrades as shields against Harry's attacks. Several times, he actually pulled an infantryman in front of him or dodged behind one, letting the unarmored man take the brunt of Harry's spells.
Harry was irritated that for some reason his transfiguration spells couldn't catch on the power armor. He supposed that it was because the armor was made of so many different materials and had electricity coursing through it, but at the moment it was just damn irritating to be unable to end the fight quickly that way.
Once, the Titanium man closed in and tried to grab Harry but Harry dodged and delivered a punch with all his Magia Erebea strength behind it, throwing the man back through a building and out the other side. The blow actually deformed the Titanium Man's chest plate around his fist. A Lacero brought the man back but he disengaged by blasting the ground underneath Harry, causing him to lose his footing and let go of the spell for a second. Harry took a few blows in return, his defensive spheres long gone, but the Titanium Man was becoming more and more battered as the fight went on while Harry's crysis suit and Magia Erebea kept him going.
Ten minutes after the green monstrosity arrived, the Crimson Dynamo joined in, changing the flow of combat once more. Striking from on high, the man in the red painted suit disdained close combat. Not even landing, he simply fired from on high at Harry. Most of the Crimson Dynamo's weapons were energy-based and there weren't nearly as many as the Titanium Man had. But what he did have were actually more dangerous, concentrating more on penetrating power. From his hands came small slivers of plasma, hotter than the Titanium Man's force blasts and able to burn their way through rather than blast their way through their target. From his eyes came dark red colored lasers which pierced their target, slicing through it like a hot knife through butter.
Even Harry had to be aware of the plasma bolts, proven when one blew through his most recent lightning shield to impact his arm, burning his suit away and burning his arm to the bone. A hissed healing spell and pouring more power into his Magia Erebea began to heal the wound almost immediately yet Harry knew he couldn't take another blast like that. Still, even with that Harry was pretty much coasting in neutral, as he had his mind on the battle as a whole.
For the next twenty minutes, Harry dodged and guarded more and more, only blasting out when he had to, not at the two armored units fighting him, but at the four remaining helicopters when they tried to lift off. When the last one crashed back to the ground, shot down by a Rifela from near the other end of the base from the airfield, where he had been forced by his attackers, he nodded, grimly satisfied. Communication is down, helicopters are down, the base is cut off entirely, now to end this.
With that thought, Harry then went on the attack, killing several fire-teams around him and wiping out an entire platoon before taking it to the two armored men. Both Anton and Boris fell back under the sudden assault, as the battle they had thought they were slowly winning suddenly turned against them.
Jesse and Christopher had been shown around the castle, then, after a large meal (for them), had run down to the lake to play in the water's edge. Two house elves followed them, ready to jump in if they went out too far or begin to drown, since neither could swim. The novelty of all that water, however, that was actually clean enough for them to go in, had both of them very interested in it. then the two were shown their beds, and fell asleep around nine.
Melody and Illyana had done the same thing, but by the time the two boys arrived had retired to Melody's room and were watching a Disney movie with subtitles for Illyana for the rest of the evening.
Ororo had immediately made both grandparents, whose names were Ivan and Moisha, much happier about their decision to let Harry spirit them away. Her calm demeanor, mastery of Russian, and general appearance had gone a long way to make them realize these people really knew what they were doing.
It was now pushing eleven o'clock, however, and not only had Harry not appeared, but their grandson hadn't either. Despite Melody still distracting her, all three of them were growing worried. So were Ororo and Jean. Jean busied herself with the kids, while Ororo had taken time to cook the meal for their date tonight before turning it over to the elves to keep from spoiling, but both were unable to keep it up. Neither liked the fact they knew, not just thought, but knew that their lover had run into something and they were stuck here, unable to help.
"There's got to be some-way to get there!" Jean muttered. "I should have gone out after him the moment you returned, I could be there by now!"
"We had no way of knowing we would arrive in time to aid him and missing each other in transit would have been even worse." Ororo said, philosophically. "Still, you're right, we need to get there somehow. I refuse to let Harry go into danger without me, he might allow it to become a habit." She thought for a moment then asked the air. "Clare, can I talk to you?"
A moment later the elf appeared in front of her, looking worried. "Yes mistress?"
"I have seen elves pop up around Harry even when he doesn't actually call for them, is there any reason why you couldn't take us to Harry now?"
Clare wrung her hands worriedly. "Mistress, we's not be able to pop to someplace the master not be owning unless he calls for us, and even then, we's be limited by range. Cory be gone, and only he be able to get to where I's can feel the master from here."
"That doesn't make sense to me, Clare." Jean confessed. "You can pop up to High Note when its above us and the distance from the ground to orbit is far farther than here to any place on earth."
"Its be much more difficult to go sideways than up, Miss Jean, we not know why. And High Note is not above us anymore. I's could maybe get to it alone, buts not carrying anyone."
Ororo looked at the ceiling for a moment, thinking. "Tell me, can house elves work together in popping?" Clare nodded, and Ororo smiled. "Then could you get Jean and I to High Note, if you worked together with a few of the others who specialize in popping?"
Clare pouted in thought for a moment then nodded. "Maybe mistress, do you want us to try."
"Yes, I think I do. Harry has been gone too far for my peace of mind and I just know the irritating man has gotten himself into trouble, somehow. If you could get the best poppers that are in the castle at present, Jean and I need to get dressed in our business suits." Jean laughed at that, but nodded and the two women raced off.
While Harry was pretty much pinning down both the air assets (eventually literally) and about three of the remaining infantry companies, Laynia and Nikolai were having their own problems.
Laynia had only been training for a little over six months, and hadn't developed the situational awareness of a soldier. And she had drifted as the battle against the platoons of their former 'comrades' moved around, leaving her without Nikolai's rifle to protect her.
Nikolai in turn had been concentrating on the snipers and guards up in their lookout posts wherever he could, eventually forcing them to stop firing into the base at the main attacker and concentrate on trying to pin him down. With their more powerful plasma-based weapons they were more dangerous than the regular infantry, especially since the heavy weapons fire teams had all been pushed into the base against the wizard. However, his mobility and sheer skill offset their advantage in numbers and firepower. He had killed seven of them, leaving only two in his sight by this point.
Thus it was that Laynia was taken by surprise from behind when the shield of the Red Guardian, a shield that was made out of a mix of carbonadium and titanium, slammed into her back, sending her falling to the ground. Before she could turn around a kick to the temple knocked her out.
Alexei grinned down at the hot blonde teen. "Somehow I doubt we'll be winning this fight, but no matter, I can still escape. And after that, you and I are going to have some fun, Laynia. Now excuse me, I have to go and kill your brother."
With that he grabbed up the shield and raced across the training ground, effortlessly moving through the obstacle course toward the foxholes at the other end of the training area. Nikolai saw him coming and cursed, bringing his third purloined rifle (having expended all the ammunition in his first two as well as the ammo carried by a soldier he had killed nearby) around to fire at the speeding man in red armor.
Alexei put his shield up, blocking the bullets his former comrade sent his way, laughing wildly. "You'll have to do better than that, little Nikolai!" He reached down suddenly, grabed up a dead trooper, and hurled the man toward Nikolai.
His target cursed and jumped to the side, then raced away to the side along the fox hole, dodging at the last second a plasma round from the woods. Nikolai turned his sight to the sniper, shooting him dead with a single round before jumping out of the foxhole. He was trying to keep the range open between him and the charging Red Guardian.
It was not to be. Alexei had crossed most of the distance between them and now roared, leaping forward and covering the last twenty feet slamming his shield face on into the younger, more mortal man. "Hah, no running away now little Nikolai!"
"UNNGH!" Nikolai grunted in agony as he was thrown backwards by the blow, but he rolled with it, coming to his knees. He quickly brought his rifle up to blast a full clip out at his attacker, forcing Alexei to cover himself with his shield for a moment. But the moment the clip clicked dry the larger, far stronger Alexei was on his former comrade, leaping forward to smash a fist down into Nikolai.
Nikolai raised his rifle to block the punch, but it shattered under the blow, and he felt a few ribs crack under the punch as well as he was smashed to the ground. He still lashed out, kicking Alexei's leg out from under him, but the larger man simply hopped on his other foot. Then he lashed out with the leg Nikolai had kicked, smashing Alexei in the face.
Yet he had pulled the kick, so that instead of shattering the younger man's skull it simply threw him backward with a shattered nose. "You don't honestly think you can fight me do you? Even before I was given the Super-strength serum you could never beat me!"
He strode over to the red-haired young man, who had flown backwards to land limply on the ground. "You should never have tried to defect here Nikolai. I don't know about the rest of the battle, but you should know the state would never allow you or your sister go. Don't worry though, I'll put in a good word for Laynia, if she gives me the proper incentive of course!"
Nikolai made a weak groaning noise, and Alexei reached down, lifting him off the ground into the air. The younger man's feet dangled a foot off the ground and Alexei laughed as he made certain the younger man who had dogged his every step, forced him to push himself to keep his position, knew at last how outmatched he was. "What was that friend, I couldn't hear you?"
Nikolai's hands suddenly flashed out, one arm grabbing his tormentor's arm, the other slamming his fingers into the inside of his elbow as hard as he could. "ARGH!"" Alexei howled in agony, dropping Nikolai and immediately kicking out.
Yet Nikolai had fought Alexei dozens of times before and knew all his tells. He was able to see the blow coming and this time he was able to duck. His fist flashed out again, crunching into the side of Alexei's knee as he held it with his other hand, breaking the knee.
"Damn You!" Alexei howled, bringing his shield on his other arm to slam again into Nikolai's face with all his strength.
Even crippled, that blow would have ended the fight if not for one thing: mutant powers sometimes activate in times of great stress, and at that moment Nikolai's mutant power activated. A shield of some kind sprang up over his body, reflecting the power of the blow back into Alexei.
The reflected force from this attack threw Alexei back stunned, but Nikolai had fallen to his knees, momentarily unable to press his advantage. Then, he began to slowly push himself to his feet. He shook himself, not realizing what had happened. BHowever, he had something he wanted to say to Alexei before they finished this fight.
It was something that he had wanted to say ever since the decision to give Alexei the codename of the Red Guardian had been made. "You know, I grew up hearing conflicting stories about the original Red Guardian, Aleksey Lebedev. At first, he was hailed as a hero, then the 'mutant threat' was seen and suddenly he was a danger to the state, seduced by a mutant or whatever to turn against his beloved motherland. I wonder why so many of the sheep actually believe that? What I know, is Lebedev was a real hero. He led the fight against the Nazis; Lebedev led the tanks in during Operation Kutuzov, which gave us the momentum and the initiative for the rest of the war even after the horrendous losses we had sustained under their assault, and fought in Stalingrad as well as numerous other engagements large and small. He stood against fascism then and at home later, and was killed for it! The Red Guardian was a hero and you are not worthy of his name!"
With that he charged forward, dodging a wild swing of the shield, to hammer two blows into the man's face. Alexei was stronger and more durable, but he was also already crippled by the earlier exchange, leaving him with only the arm that had the shield on it. He was also reeling from the force of his own blow being returned to him and was truly feeling it now.
Alexei lurched back under the blows, trying to return some of his own. Now flailing with his numbed arm, he managed to catch Nikolai with a few blows. One caught him with Alexei's full remaining strength behind it, throwing him back.
But Nikolai merely skidded across the ground, grabbing up a knife from the body of a dead trooper. When Alexei lunged forward to bring his shield down on Nikolai edge first, Nikolai threw the knife desperately. It caught Alexei in the shoulder of his other arm, throwing off his aim just enough for Nikolai to roll to that side and lash out with a kick, catching his opponent in the side.
"Agghhhh!" Alexei howled in pain from the knife now sticking out one of his shoulders, something that the drill sergeants would have beaten him for. Pain was to be endured, to be loved by those trained as Super-Soldiers.
Even through the pain, however, he still brought his shield around again, intending to ram the edge with all the force he could muster into Nikolai's chest. Nikolai brought his hands up to meet the blow, knowing it would probably break both his hands. His powers once more activated at his desperate need and the force of the blow was reflected back again.
This time, however, it wasn't a thrust of the shield but a swing. This sent the shield back at Alexei too fast for him to compensate or change its flat trajectory. The edge of the shield caught him in the neck under the chin as his own power was turned against him. The blow crushed his larynx and Alexei fell back onto the ground gasping, gasping for air that would not come.
Nikolai had still been thrown backwards but he got to his feet as quickly as his accumulated injuries allowed. He stared down at his hands, murmuring in a rather shocked tone, "Huh, I guess I do have a mutant power, after all, huh sis?" After a moment he looked up then moved to stand over the man who had been chosen as the second Red Guardian, staring down at him with grim eyes. He then reached down, taking the shield off the dying man's arm. "You were never worthy of using this, Alexei. I'll be taking it off your hands."
With that he moved over, picked up a dead trooper's rifle from the ground, turned, and put two bullets into the man's head. With that done, he moved as quickly as he could in his condition across the training ground toward his still unconscious sister.
Harry pressed the two powersuits hard, pushing them back, in particular the Crimson Dynamo, its armor unable to take the pounding of the Titanium Man's. It was now missing several thrusters, more than a bit of his armor, and his hand from the elbow down, which was bleeding badly from the stump. The Titanium Man was still in better shape, but he was now reacting even more desperately than the crippled Crimson Dynamo.
When he got them close enough to one another, his hands flashed out, one finger pointing towards each of his attackers as he shouted out a spell. "Æther!" This was one spell he had actually created, more as a prank spell really than anything else, since he didn't normally face people in his old dimension that it would have worked on, but in this situation it proved to be very useful.
The powersuits were suddenly magnetized to an incredible degree, but only in relation to one another. The Crimson Dynamo was nearly pulled out of the air, despite all his thrusters could do. The Titanium Man was pulled into the air. The two of them slammed together with concussive force.
Both operators yelled angrily, trying to bring their weapons to bear on Harry but he was already gone from where he had been standing, reappearing directly over them in their blind spot. "Drill of Light!" he shouted bringing his hands down. With a thunderous roar of power thirty drills of light, a massive gouging, cutting and penetrating spell slammed into the two armored men, who were now unable to dodge. Both of them were shredded under his magical assault leaving more bits of armor behind than men, their last screams of pain cut off as their speakers died.
The few remaining troopers nearby saw this and broke at last, falling back and away, trying to run.
Harry however grimly flew above them, killing any he saw. After what he had seen in that laboratory, there was no mercy left in his heart for any of these men.
Over in the machine park, the two titans continued to clash. The majority of the tanks had already been destroyed by this point, but the fight between Ursa Major and Piotr continued, vicious as it ever was.
Piotr gasped as he was lifted off the ground, having overextended a punch and having his arm grabbed by Ursa Major. The giant bear lifted the steel clad farm boy off the ground hurling him around into one of the empty tanks. The tank rocked on its treads, going over on one side when Piotr slammed full body into it, smashing its side open. Piotr was only winded by the landing however, and pushed himself out of the wreck easily.
His opponent pressed the assault, jumping forward to try and land with all four limbs slamming into Piotr but he dodged, kicking out hard and catching the giant bear on the side of his chest, throwing it in turn into a strange, futuristic looking jeep which exploded as the bear smashed through its engine cowling.
This didn't do much to Ursa Major, merely singeing the bear's fur. At this point he was joined by the ax wielding warrior dropping out of the sky to slam into the ground next to Piotr, swinging his ax in a wide arc trying to cut into Piotr's side. Perun, which was the man's name, had decided he didn't want anything to do with the mage anymore and when he recovered his senses from Harry's punch had gone looking for the steel clad intruder.
Piotr desperately clapped his hands together catching the blade of the ax between his palms just as it was about to slice into his side. His strength was greater than the other man's and he began to press the ax back towards its owner.
Ursa Major roared, coming out of the fire from the jeep to slam one paw into Piotr's head, throwing him to the ground.
Even through the pain of the blow the young Rasputin kicked out, taking both of his attackers to the ground. A second later, his forearm slammed into the face of the bear again causing him to howl in agony. Piotr leapt to his feet quickly, showing all the speed that so often surprised people when they first saw him move, reaching forward to grab the bear by the shoulders, turning and slamming him into the side of a tank, raining blows on the bear before he could recover.
Unfortunately, this allowed Perun to get up and gather his power. A second later, he sent forth a lightning blast which impacted Piotr's side. Both Piotr and Ursa Major screamed in agony as the lightning blast took them, with the bear taking the brunt of it. Despite Piotr being made of metal, his skin wasn't actually conductive, whereas the bear was merely flesh and blood. The man however kept it up, willing the steel titan that had invaded their base to fall. "Fall, damn you!" he shouted, "Fall!"
Piotr gasped suddenly, though not with pain, when he saw Ursa Major's eyes start to glaze over as the smell of burning fur and flesh became more prominent. Piotr, realizing what was happening, let go his hold on Ursa Major, and leapt backward, but the damage was already done and the giant Kodiak fell forward, face down.
The man finally stopped his attack, gasping and breathing heavily, having expended most of his power reserves on that one attack.
Piotr however didn't know or care about this, appalled at what had just occurred. He leaned forward turning the bear over to lay his head on Ursa Major's chest trying to hear a heartbeat. After a few seconds he realized he couldn't and glared up at the man who had been attacking him. "You killed your comrade, is this the honor of a Russian soldier?"
The man gasped breathing deeply, from his exertions. "He, he knew the risks, and if one of us should die to make certain you do, that is a price I am willing to pay!" With that statement, his attacks began again. He had dropped his ax, now throwing lightning bolts with both hands. "I call upon the power of my God, Perun, whose name I am honored to bear as his avatar! Bury this man in lightning!" The lightning bolts somehow changed, becoming even more powerful and intense.
Piotr grimly placed his hands in front of his face, teeth clenched in agony from the pain of the continued lightning attack, but he continued to step forward through the elemental assault, grimly determined to close with his enemy.
Harry appeared in the air above him and Piotr glared up at him, everything in his face, despite the metal covering it, telling Harry that this was his fight. Harry didn't know why Piotr was feeling that way, but decided if Piotr felt so strongly about it, Harry would leave him to it.
With a wave of his hands, he ordered the remaining (around one hundred twenty five were still moving) golems to split. Most moved toward towards the training ground where two platoons had managed to get out of the base commons. They had pinned down the two Super-soldiers that had turned on them, one of whom wasn't moving, dead or unconscious, Harry couldn't tell from the air. The golems took them from behind, ripping them apart. Four more stationed themselves in the airfield, while twenty others moved into the remains of the machine park, smashing everything there, staying well clear of the ongoing battle between Perun and Piotr.
Harry himself flew towards the center of the base towards where he knew the command center to be. With long range communications down he hadn't bothered with it, knowing that the people inside were at best impotent in the face of the carnage his assault had unleashed.
When he reached the command center, Harry ripped off its roof with a single wordless spell to stare down at the general and the other soldiers inside. He was about to ask for their surrender when they all reached for their sidearms, pulling them out, and firing up at him. Harry's instincts took over and with one hand he summoned up a shield, which blocked all the bullets, while his other hand sent a Bombarda straight downward. After the smoke from that attack cleared, what was left resembled an abattoir.
All of the systems had been destroyed, all of the people had been torn apart. "Damn it, Harry, that was a fucking mistake," Harry muttered to himself. "Still, the computers seem relatively intact. I'll come back for them later." To make certain they would be there when he did Harry conjured up a rock golem and set it to guard the area. With that taken care of he turned and made his way over to the training ground.
The fight had gone out of the last pockets of resistance when the troopers saw the wave of golems coming at them from out of the wreckage of the base. Half of them tried to break for it, but Darkstar, once more awake, and her brother were having none of it. They both cut them down the moment they tried to flee. With the golems taking their heat off their hiding place, the two Super-Soldiers pressed their advantage, with Nikolai covering Darkstar as she blasted away at any group of troopers she could spot.
Harry then arrived on the scene and began to rain lightning spells and cutting spells, slaughtering the remaining infantry without mercy.
Piotr and his foe knew none of this, however, locked in their one on one battle. Step-by-step, Piotr forced his way closer, with the other man more and more desperately trying to pour more power into his lightning blasts. But Piotr grimly forged his way forward, ignoring ever-increasing pain, until finally he was it within arm's reach of his foe. His hands lashed out from where they had been crossed in front of his face, grasping the other man's arms and pulling him in close.
The man tried to struggle but, while he was much stronger than a normal human, he wasn't up to Piotr's strength and his attack fizzled. Piotr let go with one hand but retained his hold on the other man's arm and used that grasp to keep the avatar close while he pummeled the man with hard blows to the face. Perun tried to fight back, hammering punch after punch into Piotr's chest and face. While they hurt, they didn't stop the angered metal clad man.
Perun finally slumped to the ground unconscious and Piotr moved backwards, scowling angrily. "It is lucky for you that I am not a killer or I would send you to join the comrade you murdered." With one last kick to the face, he turned away, shaking his head wearily, his body already recovering from its exposure to the lightning blasts.
The sounds of battle gradually subsided, while Harry's remaining golems moved out into the forests surrounding the base, taking out any trooper who tried to stay and hide rather than flee.
"Stranger, I don't know who you are, but thank you, thank you for this chance." said Nikolai, laughing a little (any more would hurt his cracked ribs) and looking up at the floating wizard while he absentmindedly discarded his stolen rifle, the magazine in it spent. "I don't know what good fortune brought you here, but my sister and I have been hoping for a chance to escape from this place from the moment she was sent here."
Harry smiled, somewhat grimly. "Happy to oblige. I just wish I could've gotten here sooner. For now, you can use the name Mr. Wizard, stupid I know, but it will do for the moment. Now, let me see if I can help those wounds of yours."
As Harry began to work on her brother the blonde girl said abruptly "The scientist, Dr. Phobos, is he still alive?"
"No," Harry said, "he was my first target in this attack actually, and his prisoners have all been safely transported to somewhere nearby." "Cory?" he said to the empty air.
Cory appeared, smiling brightly at him. "Master calls for Cory? The people you had me transport are all fines, sir."
"Good, we'll be moving over there in a minute, just wait a second and I'll have you transport these two over there."
At the news that the mad bastard who had been their personal boogeyman for so long was dead, Laynia slumped against her brother, whose arms went around her comfortingly. After Harry translated what he had just said to the strange little fellow, both of them exchanged a glance before nodding. Wherever their new friend was going to take them had to be better than staying here, or hell, anywhere in Russia, once the government realized what happened here. Nikolai nodded. "We need to get out of here, so going with you makes sense."
Piotr came up that point, nodding his head toward Harry. "I think this was a bit more than you expected, Mr. Wizard."
Harry laughed, then made certain no one besides the trio were in hearing range before responding. "Piotr, you fought today when you didn't have to, came here with me when you didn't have to, and did damn well. I think by this point you can call me Harry. And yeah, it was quite a bit more. But when I saw what that madman was doing to those kids…"
That brought to Harry's mind the odd occurrence with the transforming individual who had used illusions. "Sorry. Cory, can you take these three over to where you have hidden the others and then come back for me but only when I call you. I have some unfinished business here."
When this was translated, the trio of younger fighters frowned a little, exchanging glances but after a moment, they all nodded and went with the elf willingly. Nikolai was still carrying the Red Guardian's shield.
As the trio disappeared Harry turned back and made his way through the carnage of the base. He soon came upon the first thing he was searching for, the body of the creature that had used illusions and a few low-level spells. He stared down at it, frowning thoughtfully, then knelt down and, summoning up a vial, took a sample of the thing's blood as well as a bit of its skin. For some reason I don't think this is a mutant, and I by Merlin want to know what it really is. Its personal transformation spell also worried him, as he hadn't seen any sign of it, even though he should have with his mage sight, if it was magically based.
With that done Harry moved back to the command center, taking several of the computers there after disconnecting them and repairing them as best he could. At that moment a flare appeared in the sky way, way above the base. At the same moment he heard a voice in his mind, through that small hole he had allowed in his cloak to let Jean through. "HARRY! Where are you? Are you alright?"
Harry smiled, shaking his head a little bemused, though he was also very happy for some reason. "I'm fine Jean, but the fact you came to check on me is, well… it makes me happy, love, thank you. Let me guide you in. How did you get here anyway?"
"It's not just me Harry, it's Ororo as well. She was able to get Clare and a few other popper specialists to pop us up to High Note, and we're flying down from there. After the first six hours passed and you and young Piotr hadn't returned with his family we figured something must be up. What the hell did you run into this time, my love?"
Harry chuckled quietly, before filling Jean in on what he had run into, guiding his two lovers toward his position. Then he called Cory to tell him to warn the others they had friends incoming. "I don't suppose you have the mokeskin pouch on you do you?"
Ororo and Jean arrived quickly, exchanging hugs with Harry, then looking around at the utterly demolished base. "This must have been an interesting fight. I'll be interested in meeting this young man, Piotr, his sister is fun. She's already bonded with Melody."
"That's nice." Harry said, taking the mokeskin pouch from Jean, and tossing the computers he had grabbed into it. "Thanks for coming to check on me loves, this makes it a lot simpler. And I can go around and grab some examples of the weapons they were using here."
Ororo on the other hand, had her mind on more important things. "Show me where this mad scientist's lab was." She ordered, her eyes flashing.
Her lover understood her, and wordlessly handed the pouch back to Jean, who took it and nodded, moving off through the rubble while Harry led Ororo to the massive hole in the ground where he had blasted his way out of the underground lab. Ororo silently flew down, moving to the bodies and wordlessly closing the eyes of a few whose eyes had been left open then touched the chests of the two dead children, shaking her head sadly. She looked up at Harry who nodded and began to levitate the bodies up and out.
The two of them moved to the training ground, where Harry began to use his magic to dig holes in the ground. Jean, after hitting up the lab for its lone remaining computer, joined them. "Do you want me to have Cory bring over the people I rescued and the others?"
The African woman shrugged. "They might wish for some closure if these were their friends, my heart." Cory popped in and out, A moment later Blind Faith, Piotr, the two young teens, the soldier siblings, and the children were all standing around the makeshift graves that Harry had dug out. At the sight of the children, Ororo's eyes widened and she moved over to hug Harry tightly. "Oh, well done my love. I shudder to think what those children would have gone through if you hadn't arrived."
Harry nodded, laying his head gently against her shoulder. "I just wish I could have done more." Jean wordlessly put her arms around them both, then they all stepped back. Ororo was about to step forward and give her benediction for the dead, but saw that the older man Harry had rescued was wearing a priest's cassock. "Father, I assume these souls were raised in your faith. Would you like to say something?"
Blind Faith stared down at the largest grave, where the desiccated remains of his best friend and follower lay. Iron Curtain was captured months before he was, and his body had been almost unrecognizable when Garnoff was brought in. He sighed sadly, but nodded, one hand rising to touch the starched wool neck of his cassock. "I, I would yes. I am unworthy, but I hope God will give me the words to aid these souls on their journey."
Father Garnoff began, speaking slowly, his head bowed. The others stood around with their own heads bowed as well. The kids were watching quietly, the two young teens standing with them crying.
Eventually the Father finished and Harry looked over at Piotr, smiling faintly as he already knew the answer to his question. "So, what do you think of all this now? Are you going to just be a student, or do you want to join my team?"
Piotr smiled faintly, though it did not reach his eyes which were still locked on the graves. The sight of the bodies that Harry had removed from the dead doctor's lab, especially those that had been dissected to figure out their mutations, had hardened his heart against those who would do such things. Even if it required fighting, Piotr was determined to do what he could to prevent such atrocities from occurring elsewhere. Joining up with Harry seemed the best way to do that. "You are rather opportunistic in when you ask that question but, yes, I have made my decision. Where do I sign up, tovarishch?"
"Heh, I think you already did and gave your resume quite a boost as well. Happy to have you, Colossus."
"It fits you I think, you're strong, immensely durable… it fits." Harry replied, shrugging.
Piotr said the word a few times, tasting the sound of it. "Colossus, Colossus, I think I like that."
"Good, I'm glad I finally got one damn name right. Still, I think it is time to go everyone." He moved over to a rope that had fallen from a climbing wall, muttering "Portus." He turned back to the others. "This will take you to someplace safe. My friends here will go with you and I will be right behind you, I have one more thing I need to do here first. There will be food, medical attention, and clothing there for all who need it. Cory, you'll have to go with them."
Ororo and Jean stared at him, then around at the base. "Are you going to do something here, Harry?" Jean asked in a low voice. "It doesn't feel write just leaving it like this…" she hinted.
"Oh yes, I want to send a message here." Harry's voice was grim as he spoke, looking around at the base then down at the graves.
Jean nodded, looking a little grimly satisfied, but Ororo looked more than a little sad. "There has been so much death here already, Harry are you certain…" she trailed off, looking at him hopefully.
"There's not many of the troopers here still alive anyway Ororo," Harry replied gently. "Besides you saw what was going on there, can you honestly say you would be happy to leave this place still standing?"
"No, No I cannot say that." Ororo reached over and kissed Harry on the cheek. "Simply, in the future remember that our enemies are people too? Especially in the case of soldiers we need to be careful about painting them all with the same brush as it were."
Harry nodded, understanding her point. In fact, he might well have spared more of the regular troopers here if they had run sooner, but they kept on attacking, and that sealed their fates.
Ororo moved forward taking one end of the rope and everyone else did the same, including the reluctant Cory who didn't like the idea that he couldn't pop from here back to the castle. A moment later, they all disappeared to reappear in the main hall of Hogwarts.
Harry lifted into the air, moving high up into the sky, then cast the Sciath na BhFéadfadh shield over the entire area. The Russians seem to like trying to overawe and overpower their enemies, let's see how they like it! He concentrated again, closing his eyes. When he opened them they were filled with his magical power, and he shouted out a spell that he had used only rarely, but he wanted to create an impression here. "Solus Perditio!"
Suddenly, a flare of white hot light appeared in the center of the base, flaring brighter and brighter, growing and burning, searing everything it touched. This included the unconscious body of Perun and the many other soldiers that Piotr had knocked out, although Harry was only peripherally aware of this, nor would he have cared if he had known. Perun had made his bed just as much as any of the other soldiers of this base. Soon enough the spell ended.
Harry controlled the spell however, melting the entire base, every building, every dead body, tank, machine, everything but the graves in the training area, which he left untouched. After ten minutes he stopped the spell and he let the shield fall, staring at the bed of twisted glass and molten metal that had once been a secret base and nodded, satisfied. With that done, Harry flew up into the air, heading up to High Note.
All was silent in the SHIELD communication center as dozens of people watched what had occurred with varied reactions. Dum-Dum was impressed, concerned, and, though he would never admit it to anyone else, more than a little scared. Two of the spells that the magic user used in particular worried him. The one where he summoned up an army of artificial beings was worrisome, since it offset any kind of numbers advantage, a true army killer. The other was the last spell he used to utterly wipe out the base and everything and everyone in it. The fact he had raised some kind of shield to help control the damage was even more worrisome.
On the other hand, the man was clearly a very moral individual, if more than a little ruthless to his enemies. The whole funeral for some of the people on the base had been interesting. It showed just as much about the morals of the wizard and those with him (and he recognized the Phoenix when she showed up) as the attack did.
These are decent people, fighting a good fight here. Those kids they rescued, that alone points to it, though I have to wonder if the two turncoats were plants or just trying to take advantage of an opportunity. Whatever the case, this will set Russia's attempts to make a government sanctioned Super-powered team back years, if not decades, which is all to the good. Yet, at the same time, they are damn game-changers and they ain't tied to any government or other power I know of. That isn't going to sit well with the boss or the damn councilors.
That made Duggan snort aloud and he shook his head in amusement. As if I care about those fuckers, tying up so much of our manpower on shit that don't matter or isn't covered by our remit. If they stopped doin' that maybe we'd really be an international agency. He turned away from such thoughts for now and looked over at the chief control officer for project Ghost. "Get that drone back here ASAP. This project is shut down as of now, no more drones are going out for now, and no more drones are going to be sent into Russia for at least a month. I know they're supposed to be invisible but I don't want to chance it for a while. There can't be anything to connect us to what happened here. The Russkies will try to make that connection anyway, but without proof, no one else will believe it."
Dum-Dum turned to stare at the major. "By my authority, this base is base is locked down. No-one, and I mean no-one, comes in or out, and no signals or message of any kind. If anyone tries to communicate with the outside world or leave, I'm going to order them detained and questioned." The man tried to protest and Dum-Dum barked, "Use your head man! Someone helped Talmud die, we don't know who they are yet, or what their agenda is, and I'll be damned if I let news of this get out from here."
"Why sir? I mean, these people aren't on the Russian's side, but that doesn't mean they're on ours you know." The major asked, sounding rather disgruntled.
"I don't know whose side they're on kid, and neither do you, though obviously they're pushing a pro-mutant agenda. But knowledge is power, and as long as we have the knowledge, we might be able to combat or influence these guys, who knows." Or gain some points with them by burying this shit as deep as I can. Frankly, that is the best thing that can come out of this. These people are fighting the good fight but are Dangerous with a capital D and I think SHIELD needs to try and get on their good side, maybe regardless of orders to the contrary…
The major frowned, but nodded and he and Duggan left quickly to implement his orders.
Irene slowly came back to consciousness, her eyes fluttering, yet tracking once more. She looked at her lover kneeling next to her where she lay on the bed. She groaned weakly, raising one hand to her throat and Raven immediately brought a bottle of water to her lips. Irene gulped the water down greedily.
"I found you out on our veranda having some kind of seizure." Raven's voice was deeply concerned, as was her face. "Did something happen, are you all right, what the hell happened?"
The older seeming woman shook her head, her body still feeling the pain of what she had gone through. "I, I have never felt anything like this before, the future, you know I have said that the future had originally three general paths?"
"Yes, and I also think we agreed that you wouldn't be using your powers anymore on this trip, it's been taking more and more out of you." Raven said tartly, but the gentle kiss she laid on her lover's forehead belied her tone.
"We did, and I will admit my instincts got the better of me. Yet, I will not apologize." Irene's hands gripped Raven's own with a strength that bellied their seeming age. "The future is changing every time I look at it! The third path, the one that the wizard leads, it is becoming stronger at every turn, and whatever just happened, the Russian steel has joined him, but more, something else, something that strengthens his position immensely has occurred. I cannot see what exactly. It is a harsh future in many ways, but our futures, the future of mutantkind, is far better than even if Charles's dream was taken to heart! Yet, it is so chaotic, so many things have changed, are still changing. Every move Potter makes, the future that had once been dominated by two paths changes. Every step creates these ripples, which smash into one another, making the pool of the future more and more choppy, more and more difficult to wade through."
Irene went on, now staring at her friend. "Now more than ever, if we join him we will be forces of good, forces of change, and in charge of that change."
Raven hadn't truly been sold on the idea of running to Mr. Potter for aid in staying away from Essex. She was all for being in the place where she could influence the future of mutantkind, but she'd had her fill of following someone else's vision. Still, Potter is a better bet than either Charles or Eric, and if we can influence him… "Well, in that case, I think you need to get some real rest Irene. We just arrived in Mumbai Harbor, and we'll be disembarking tomorrow. Being in India will still allow us to be, how did you put it, under the wings of the owl?"
The mutant known more as Destiny than by her real name smiled as Raven began to fuss over her, undressing her and getting her ready for bed. "Yes, I did. There is one person here who has something very dangerous indeed, something that we will need to remove from his person. But there is someone else, a man who will offer us a choice and I am still unable to see which way that can go."
"Hmm, so it's back to being a thief, huh." the shapeshifter Mystique laughed quietly. "Still, I can do that easily enough. The man worries me more."
"I as well," Irene said quietly, "I as well."
Harry entered High Note and sighed as he felt the wards close up behind him. Today had been a rather trying day, more so than he had thought, and his body was feeling it a little, even if his magic core was still not showing any kind of strain. "Gordon?"
The head house-elf of High Note appeared before him, bowing his head slightly. "Master?"
"Jean and Ororo told me they had three house-elves work in concert to get them up here and that they were exhausted. How are they doing?"
"They are doing alright master, simply exhausted. There was no permanent damage done to them, though I would not recommend any of them do any work for a time to allow them to build up their power again."
"Good, if they wake up, tell them to take tomorrow off and tell them they did an excellent job from me would you? I might not have really needed the support this time, but if I had, Jean and Ororo would've been a major help, one I hadn't thought to call in." He shook his head at that. "I think I've become just a little too cocky lately. I need to tone that back somehow."
"I will tell them master. Is there anything else?"
"No, not right now. I may be back sometime tomorrow night though, to put those runes I told you about a while ago on the farming rooms. We'll see how that goes." With that Harry waved Gordon away and moved to the command center, repositioning High Note once more over Scotland with the ease of long practice.
With the asteroid once more in its home position as it were, Harry apparated down to the castle, appearing in the dining hall. There he found that Illyana, her grandparents, and surprisingly Melody had stayed up, and had greeted the newcomers. All of them were sitting around a central table in the dining hall which was piled high with food, and only Melody and the two grandparents, who, Harry realized, he had never actually gotten the names of, being the only ones not eating. The children and the two young teens who he had rescued from Dr. Phobos were eating like people possessed, and father Garnoff was right behind them. The three combatants actually weren't as much, though they were still putting it away pretty well.
Jean and Ororo were not eating for some reason, and moved to Harry, pulling him into a hug which he returned wholeheartedly. Ororo murmured into his ear, "Don't eat anything just yet my love, I've prepared something for the three of us later. For now however, and I realize this sounds strange coming from me, but could you cast an area-effect version of that translation spell of yours I so derided? I think it would help immensely if everyone here could communicate without my having to interpret it. Not that we've gotten much out of the children anyway, they're too hungry to spend time on unimportant things such as introducing themselves to their hosts."
That last was said rather drolly, but there was some seriousness to it, too. It was obvious the children and the others had been starved in an attempt to break their wills. It would probably have worked in time too, so it was understandable they were so single-minded. It would be hard for next few days to actually make certain they didn't overeat and make themselves sick.
Harry raised an eyebrow smiling at her, but nodded acquiescence. With one of his ladies on each arm moved over to the table. As he got closer, he waved a hand, casting a spell that permeated the entire castle, allowing everyone to speak in English. It startled Nikolai who was taking questions from Sir Dennis and Shiang-Chi on what had happened in Russia. The others hadn't been speaking at the time and took it in stride.
He waved Piotr over from the place where he had been talking to his grandparents and younger sister, who moved over with him, with Melody and Illyana arm in arm. He smiled down at Melody reaching forward to ruffle her hair. "I see you've met my young daughter here, Piotr, Illyana."
Melody gasped and her eyes started to brim with tears and he cocked his head to one side. "What's wrong, Melody, what did I say?"
He was interrupted went by the young girl barreling into his legs and hugging him fiercely, crying quietly yet with a grin so wide you would have to use surgery to remove it. He patted her looking a little befuddled for a moment and Ororo shook her head. "Harry, did you ever actually call her that before or tell her that you see her in that fashion?"
Harry actually had to think for a moment and said a little sheepishly "Um… no I don't think I did actually. But I mean, er, after all I've done, shouldn't it have been sort of obvious?"
All the women there shook their heads and said in tones of deep despair, "Men."
Still, Jean and Ororo shared another thought as they watched Harry with Melody, and that thought was 'My god, what a father Harry will make. Ororo imagined the two of them holding a baby with a mix of their skin color but his hair and her eyes, while Jean imagined holding a baby girl with her hair, but with Harry's features and a mix of their eyes. The thought was surprising to both, as neither had thought about children before, and after all, even Ororo and Harry had only been involved for a little over four months. Still, for all of that, it was also a very compelling image. They both looked at one another then chuckled, somehow knowing without saying anything what the other was thinking, then forcibly shook the thought off.
After a little, Harry was at last able to calm Melody down and perched her on his shoulders as he waved at Piotr. "Anyway, ahem, ladies, I would like you to formally meet our first recruit, both as a student and as a member of our team. This is Piotr Rasputin, and he was instrumental in helping me today."
The younger man bowed his head slightly to both Ororo and Jean, rather awed by their beauty. "How do you do miss, ma'am?"
Jean merely nodded her head, rather amused by Harry wanting to make a formal introduction. Ororo smiled faintly. "If your sister hasn't told you, your family has already been placed in one of the rooms prepared for teachers for the moment. I'm afraid it doesn't have much in the way of furniture, but you will be able to go shopping for that in the next few days I'm sure. For now you can choose to either bunk with them, or with the students. Now that you are done eating, I would recommend that you all hit the sack, it's been a long day for all of us."
Piotr indicated he would rather stay with his family for their first night in the castle. He watched in shock as Ororo exchanged a kiss on the lips with Harry and the redhead before leading him and his family off.
Harry looked over to where Dilly was standing proudly watching the meal as the children slowed down their intake at last. "Has Gryffindor tower been prepared?" The tower in question had never actually been named that in this dimension, but Harry still called it that, in honor of those who had courageously given their lives to trap the dementors here. Regardless of his own thoughts on the matter, that act was among the most courageous he had ever heard of, well worthy of someone from the house of the brave.
Dilly nodded firmly. All the elves in the castle were ecstatic at having more people to serve, even if they weren't magicals. "Yes, master. We's finished replacing all the old bedsies and stuff on both sides. The two boys Mistress Orrie brought in are already asleep in one of them." He looked a little worried. "Master, we's also gave the kiddies some potions to help with their hurts, as well as missy blonde and the thin man."
Ororo had mentioned the fact she had also been out recruiting in passing so Harry concentrated more on the second portion of what the majordomo had said. "That is excellent Dilly, that's what I hoped you and my ladies would do."
He looked over to the table and seeing the kids were done, cleared his throat. "Ahem, if you ladies and gentlemen are done, I can show you where you'll all be sleeping. We can all get to know one another tomorrow, right now you all need some rest and need to get used to the time difference." Harry would also run them through a physical the next day, but at present, with the memory of the doctor and his experiments still at the forefront of their minds, mentioning anything to do with the medical field might have disastrous consequences. "But if anyone wants to get in contact with their family, tell me now and I'll try to set it up."
To his shock and horror, none of them, children, teen, or ex-Super-Soldier took him up on that, and he sighed faintly, shaking his head, as he lead them up the stairs to the tower. It appeared as if Piotr's family was the only one that truly had been supportive of him, and that was rather sad.
Even Nikolai and Laynia were looking around the castle in awe. It truly felt like something out of a fairy tale to them, suddenly being in a medieval castle. Father Garnoff, too, was in awe of the magical resources his young rescuer could call on and hoped to speak with him further tomorrow. The teens and children however were simply tired, exhausted both mentally and physically, and now that they were full, just looking forward to sleep. Harry had won a lot of good will in all of them thanks to his rescue, and the convivial, personal atmosphere of the castle (and the food) had made them feel safe and welcome, something the boy with no eyes and bat ears, whose name was Sergei, in particular hadn't ever felt.
Harry led them up to the tower and motioned them all to enter the common room there. This had been completely redone in light green, brown and red tones, with several small sofas and some very nice, comfy chairs scattered everywhere. "This is the Gryffindor tower and it is going to be the dormitory for students here at the school." Harry suddenly realized he hadn't actually thought about changing the castles name and decided he needed to figure that one out if he wanted students to take the school seriously.
For now however he simply went on. "Your bedrooms are up these steps, girls on the left, boys on the right. For now, you can choose to separate yourselves and spread out or not, but eventually we may become too crowded to let you do that. Eventually, you will also be able to personalize your area, bedding, a light, other furniture and posters and stuff like that. There are two boys already sleeping in the first room by the way, so be quiet when you pass them by please. Also, a word of advice, there is a bit of a security device on these steps." Harry looked up at Melody, who had refused to come down from his shoulders since he had, however absentmindedly, called her his daughter. "Melody, could you do me a favor and try to go up to the boys dorms?"
Melody got down from his shoulders and moved up the steps but after seven steps the staircase suddenly became a slide. Melody whooped a bit as she came back down. "That was fun!" she said excitedly. "Slides are always fun, but sudden slides are even better."
Harry chuckled and when Melody wordlessly asked to be picked up again did so, setting her once more on his shoulders. "The spells are spelled to keep people of the opposite gender out." That hadn't been here originally in this dimension and in his old one it had only been on the girls' side, but Harry had decided that was stupid, so put it on both. "The slide is actually the first warning, if someone tries again in a short amount of time, other spells will activate. There is also another spell that will activate if someone tries to fly up the staircase, so unless you like to be painted permanent puke green and ejected out into the lake, I suggest you don't bother."
Nikolai chuckled, wiggling his eyebrows. "Not that I mind this at present but in the future…" Laynia scowled at her brother, smacking him gently upside the head.
Harry on the other hand, merely laughed. "In the future students above a certain age will have their own rooms, elsewhere, and will be able to set their own security. Under a certain age however, sorry but your beds and bedrooms are not going to be places for your romantic meetings."
None of the current children seemed to have an issue with that, not even the young teens, who were nearly asleep on their feet. A second later the staircase reset and Harry waved them all up to bed. Laynia and the young girl with the morphing hair talked briefly then went up together after Laynia smacked her brother affectionately on the shoulder. The two of them had decided to share a room, for now.
Soon only Nikolai was left, Father Garnoff having been among the first to head up. The young man briefly rubbed his short cropped orange hair then spoke up. "When you talked to the farm boy, you mentioned putting together a team of some kind? To what purpose?"
"To help mutantkind the world over against oppression, to keep mutants from abusing their powers, and to face any threat that comes along against the whole world." Harry responded promptly. "Why, are you interested in signing up?"
Nikolai nodded firmly. "I am, although my sister does not. I was trained to be a soldier for most of my life, though I never bought into the idea of being a small cog in the machine of the state. I wish to fight for a cause worthy of my blood and sweat and that sounds much like it could be worth it. My sister on the other hand, is much more of a gentle peaceful soul than I. She has no wish to continue to fight unless under dire need. She would also like to continue her high school education."
Harry chuckled. "We're going to be setting up a school here, though we might have to change from being a middle-to high school to offering all levels. I think we've been making a grave mistake in terms of looking for mutants, one so obvious it never occurred to us, but we can adjust for it. And if she doesn't want to stay here for whatever reason, she wants to go to a more normal school say, I know some people who would gladly take her in. They owe me anyway."
Nikolai nodded. "We will talk about this more tomorrow, but again, thank you for timely aid, and I will see you in the morning." With that he turned and made his way up to the boys' dormitories.
The messy-haired wizard then took his adopted daughter to bed, who fell asleep the moment her head hit the pillow, emotionally and physically exhausted. Exiting Melody's room, Harry found both his ladies waiting for him. When they came up to him, Harry sighed faintly leaning in to Ororo's shoulder, breathing in her scent gratefully. "A rather long day."
"Indeed." she answered putting her arms around him and smiling faintly as Jean hugged his other side. She kissed him tenderly on the lips, and said softly, "Why don't you go get ready for a bath, my love. I believe you're do for some pampering. Then I have prepared a bit of the date for the three of us."
Harry cocked his head, a little surprised. "Really? Isn't it a little late to go anywhere?"
"Date's don't have to be extravagant Harry." Jean said kissing the back of his neck and pushing him slightly to get him moving. "Trust us, you'll like this."
As he walked into the bath, Harry decided that he would have to work with the castle over the next few days to prepare other bathrooms just like the prefects bathroom for everyone else, but that this one he would share with only his family. It was something he had forgotten actually, that they would need showers and other things. The Gryffindor tower of course had them on both sides, but the teachers, parents, and families would need at least one to share. And maybe put in a few more lavatories. He couldn't remember offhand how many water closets this version of Hogwarts had and idly wondered if there was the same amount as the Hogwarts from his own home reality.
His thoughts skidded to a halt as the door behind him opened, and Jean and Ororo walked in, with the African beauty carrying a small jar of something. Ororo of course was naked, yet again it was different than it would have been if she had just been walking around. Sensuality oozed off her as his weather goddess stalked towards him, her breasts lightly swaying and her hips swinging from side to side.
Jean was wearing a two-piece swim suit, which was made of red and gold swirls, barely covering her breasts and private parts. Her own body was intensely alluring to Harry and she flushed slightly under his hot gaze. She looked away and Harry belatedly noticed she was carrying a large towel.
"Suddenly, I feel energized." Harry quipped. "Merlin, you two would be enough to revive a dead man."
"Lay off the corniness, love." Ororo replied dryly. Then she kissed him lightly before moving away, letting Jean take her place after the redhead had laid out a large towel.
After her kiss ended, Jean forcefully pushed Harry down onto his rear onto the towel she had laid out. Harry tried to push himself up but Jean shook her head. "I'm going to give you a massage love, just lay there and enjoy it, okay." That was actually her part of this date. Ororo had cooked, and Jean had researched massages, both normal and erotic.
Harry's eyebrows rose and he willing turned over, though he was rather uncomfortable laying down this way. Ororo opened the bottle of massage oil that she had grabbed from their room. The two women shared a brief kiss before they went to work, drizzling the oil on Harry's back, then began to rub it in sensually. Ororo started on his shoulders, while Jean went to work on his back.
Harry felt several knots that he hadn't even noticed he had, disappear under their tender ministrations. He groaned as Ororo kneaded one knot under his left shoulder away. "Merlin you two, that feels amazing!"
Ororo leaned over, letting the tips of her nipples brush along his back as she murmured into his ear "We're just getting started, my Harry."
Harry groaned in reply as Jean went to work on his legs, staying well clear of the towel around his waist. Ororo had no such concern, however, and undid the knot holding it, then began to work on Harry's buttocks. A moment later she murmured, "Turn over, Harry."
Her lover did so, feeling sort of boneless and weak at the moment, all the tension and worries leaving him for a moment. The strained muscles from the battle in Russia, the tensions he had built up in the past few days, even his wrists, which he had overworked on all the runic work he had been doing lately, got some attention.
However, one part of him was currently standing at attention. Jean gulped at the sight and shuddering a little. That's supposed to go inside of me? It was just a little intimidating to Jean, especially considering that she had never experimented with toys or anything like that. A few fingers was all she had ever used on the very few occasions she felt such urges. She resolutely turned away from staring at Harry's cock to working on his toned, scarred chest while Ororo took over working on his legs, leaning down to lay a teasing kiss on the tip of his cock.
Harry raised a hand to play with the underside of Jean's swimsuit clad breasts gently, molding her to his hand, gently flicking the tip now visible through the fabric with his thumb before moving onto the other.
"None of that now Harry, this is all supposed to be about you." Jean tried to pull away but Harry's arm snaked around her breasts to her back, gently pulling her down to kiss him. The kiss started slowly yet quickly deepened, their tongues beginning to duel in Jean's mouth. She groaned aloud into Harry's mouth as his tongue worked the underside of her own, which was a strangely sensitive spot for her.
"I'm feeling a little left out." Ororo quipped, pushing one hand up until it reach Harry's crotch, where it began to move up and down his cock.
In response, Harry broke off the kiss to stare down at her. Ororo chuckled throatily, leaning down to give Harry's cock an apologizing lick along the head, clearing it of a bit of pre-cum. She then moved back a ways, dropping backwards into the water. Kneeling on the seat under the water she reached out, grasping Harry's legs by the ankles. She then proceeded to gently drag him along the stone, with the towel underneath him, into the water. He sat on the ledge underneath the water and Ororo leaned in quickly, kissing him on the lips.
Jean moved over to lay down on the stone floor by the water's edge, kissing Harry's neck lightly. Harry moved back slightly from the kiss with Ororo, allowing Jean to lean in. The three began to have a three-way kiss, which was mostly tongue, and extremely erotic for all three, with Harry slowly taking control.
His free hand snaked down below the waterline to Ororo's rear, fondling and squeezing it affectionately causing Ororo to moan in approval before leaning back into the kiss. "Hmm…. That's good love." Her hand moved back to work on Harry's member in the water, and look back and see how deep the water is on the ledge.
Harry's hand traced around Ororo's hip to her front. His fingers began to play with her pussy while his other hand went down Jean's back to the redhead's rear, beginning to squeeze it.
Jean's rear was actually a little less pliant than Ororo's, which made sense since she had exercised as part of the cheerleader squad at her high school along with the exercises she did as part of the X-Men. But it was still magnificent and Harry chuckled deeply as he pulled back to stare into Jean's half-closed jade eyes a rumbling sound from deep in his chest as he molded her ass under his hand. "Hmm, lovely ass, Jean, you sure you're not interested in a bit of spanking play?"
"Oh, hell nooo," Jean groaned, shaking her head and pulling back from the three way kiss. "Not my thing at all Harry." Harry's hand rose from his ass to flick her now very visible nipple under her bathing suit. "Ohhhhh, I want to wait a little while before going all the way with you Harry, but damn if you two don't make it hard."
"Not going to apologize for that one, Jeeeaaan," said Harry, loading her name with all the love he could, causing Jean to moan again.
Ororo moved back in the water then pushed on Harry's chest making him sit on the outer edge of the tub rather than on the ledge underneath the water. Once that was accomplished, she smirked and leaned down quickly, taking the head of his cock into her mouth. "Mmmmm…."
Harry groaned, his eyes widening then closing in pleasure. "Merlin, Ororo, that feels so good!"
Jean leaned over tentatively, licking along the side of Harry's shaft for a moment then with more enthusiasm as she noticed that he didn't actually taste of anything just yet, and she breathed in his scent, a musky smell that seems to send a little shiver down her spine. Good grief, this isn't nearly... I mean I always thought it was somewhat demeaning, but Ororo was right the other day, if there's any control here, its with me and heeeerrrr…. Jean's thoughts cut off abruptly as she felt her nipples being pinched.
Unable to get to Ororo outside of putting his hand into her hair, Harry concentrated on Jean, both hands going to work on her. One hand started to tweak and pinch her nipples through her top while the other moved down to her legs and began to play with her pussy through the bottom of her swimsuit.
Jean almost moved away at that, but subsided, reckoning that as long as he kept his hands outside of her swimsuit it was all right. They'd only been going out for a little over three weeks after all and that wasn't enough time for her to want to jump straight into bed with them whatever her emotional attachment. The redhead was still fighting her staunch Catholic upbringing, which forced her to go slower than she might otherwise have gone. When she felt Harry's hand about to dip around the edge of her swimsuit she pulled her head off of the side of his shaft and murmured, "None of that. I'm still not ready for that, not just yet."
Harry's hand shifted away as he nodded, murmuring, "No worries, Jean. Like I've told you before, I'm not about to push." His hand went back up over her swimsuit, slowly working with her pussy through it, playing with the little nub he found at the top.
This caused Jean to gasp aloud, but her mouth was still busy on the side of Harry's shaft while Ororo was taking as much of his shaft down her throat as she could, one of Ororo's hand around Harry's waist, while the other gently played with Jean's fiery hair.
The work on Harry's cock soon caused him to groan aloud. "Ororo, Jean… I'm gonnnaa!"
As soon as he started to shout, ropes of cum shot out of his dick and he came with a loud groan, his left hand snaking into Ororo's hair and the right hand, which had been busy with Jean's clit, squeezed. That sent Jean over the edge and she pulled her head back to scream. "Oh Gooood!"
Ororo tried to gulp down as much of her lover's cum as she could, finding it tasting of cherries this time for some odd reason, which was just bizarre to her. But it was very tasty all the same. It was only when her mouth was too full that she pulled back gulping it down and then moving back quickly to catch the last strand as it shot out of his cock.
She leaned back, swallowing and reaching forward with one hand to scoop some more off of his dick, which was still hard. She leaned forward pressing her breasts to either side of it and rubbing it there for a moment as she kissed Harry's chest. "You're very tasty, Harry, though I have to wonder why?"
"What… ohhh Merlin that feels amazing Ororo, what are you talking about?" Harry said looking down at her quizzically, having no energy at the moment to do anything else. To one side Jean was leaning on his side, recovering herself from the orgasm she had just been given.
"Every time I taste you, taste different, but in a good way. Today for example it was cherries for some reason."
Harry blinked at her then laughed quietly. "You may have just solved a minor mystery for me my love." he said leaning down to kiss her on the lips. She still tasted a little of his semen there, but it tasted the same to him as it did to her so he was fine with that. He pulled back, leaning his forehead against Ororo's, groaning as Jean reached out between them to start stroking the bit of his dick that was visible pressing out of Ororo's breasts. "Oohhh, I had a bit of a prank war at one point with my godfather and one time he hit me with a spell that had no effect, or so I thought at the time. It was right after he gave me the birds and the bees and witches talk, so it kind of makes sense." He closed his eyes for a moment then opened them to stare at Ororo in the eyes. "Ororo, that feels amazing, but if you don't stop I'm going to throw you down and screw the living daylights out of you."
"Well, we wouldn't want you to do that!" Jean laughed, pulling a little harder. "Though, watching you make love to Ororo might be interesting."
Ororo looked down at her, her eyes full of question but she merely smiled. Before Ororo could say anything else, she found herself lifted into the air, her wet (and not just from the bath) pussy now level with Harry's cock. He slid home easily and she moaned, throwing her head back in ecstasy. "Goddess, I love the feel of you inside me!"
The African beauty found herself whirled around to sit on the outer edge of the pool as Harry began to slowly thrust into her, their eyes locked, all their love for one another showing. Harry leaned down gently kissing her, and continued to slowly thrust himself in and out of her even as he turned away, staring at Jean with the same look.
Jean shuddered a little, moving close and kissing him on the lips, kneeling there beside them. Both of her lovers began to work her over with their hands and she found her swimsuit top, which had heretofore still been in place, pulled off and tossed aside. Then she felt both of their mouths latch onto her nipples and she threw her head back. "Fuuuuckkkk, that feels so good!"
This was not fucking as Harry laughingly commented on to Jean, this was lovemaking in his eyes, and despite the fact that Jean was still unwilling to take that final plunge it was amazing for all three.
This gentle lovemaking hit all of Ororo's buttons, as Harry changed the angles of his thrusts occasionally adding to the sensation. She moaned aloud as Jean contorted herself so that she could lean down in take one of Ororo's dark chocolate colored nipples into her mouth, biting and chewing at the largish nipple murmuring amazement at its taste and texture.
As the most inexperienced of the three (by this point by a wide margin), it was Jean who first peaked again, followed quickly by Ororo. She fell to the floor, pulling away from her lover's somewhat reluctantly yet she was feeling a little tender now, so she merely that there, playing with herself very lightly as she watched the two of them continue.
Ororo shuddered and spasmed where she lay, squealing out "Goddess, Goddess," over and over as she came. Harry began to pound into her even more, heightening the sensation and quickly bringing her back to the edge, moments later. Jean and Harry both leaned over to exchange kisses with Ororo, and then Harry cried out as he came again spewing his spunk deep into his African lover. His hand rested lightly on her stomach for a moment as he pulled out murmuring a spell which caused her stomach and his hand to glow slightly before fading away.
For a moment, Jean lost herself in an image of Harry doing that to her, and then the same image she had earlier that evening came back to her. It was of Jean holding a small child with red hair the same color as her own yet with Harry's emerald eyes and some of his features. The thought nearly caused her to shudder and Jean had to fight herself from jumping Harry then and there. Something deep inside of her was calling out to Jean, urging her to become a mother but she fought it off. It would be a long time before she was truly prepared to have children, at least rationally.
Harry slid out of Ororo and into the water causing a bit of a splash as he hit, just his head above for a moment before he pushed himself back up to sit on the seat under the water, shaking his head. "That was amazing my ladies."
"It was supposed to be all about you," Jean murmured, "but I am in no way displeased by how this turned out."
Ororo weakly raised her head to look at them from where she was still splayed out, a mix of her juices and Harry's cum slowly dripping out of her. "Nor I, a fantastic start to our date." she said weakly, pushing herself up slowly before sliding into the water.
Jean did the same, not even bothering to retrieve the top of her swimsuit again before pushing herself into the water lengthwise. It wasn't as if Harry hadn't seen her tits before, of course, and Jean was quickly coming to love the fact he enjoyed looking at her, freckles (which she had been somewhat embarrassed by) and all.
"You mean there's more?" Harry said his eyes widening slightly.
Jean laughed, amused that Harry had used the same words that she had during the start of their date in Vietnam. She moved forward to join Harry on sitting on the step under the water, leaning her head against Harry's shoulder for a moment. "Ororo cooked for us, Harry, that's why we asked you not to eat with the others earlier. I think she's outdone herself frankly."
"Just as you did with this portion, my Jean." Ororo said leaning down and kissing the younger woman tenderly. Jean arched her back slightly returning the kiss and it was with reluctance the two broke it off.
A moment later, all three of them very reluctantly moved away from one another to get out of the pool and change for a very late dinner. It was after all, nearly two in the morning local time, not that any of the trio particularly cared. Ororo and Jean left the bathing area to go and change, while Harry remained where he was.
In response to the effort his ladies had put into the date Harry dressed in a button down silk shirt which was open halfway down his chest, and a good pair of pants. Ororo wore several diaphanous silk wraps of varying colors, almost like the outfit she had worn when giving the benediction to the dead at Hogwarts, but nowhere near as formal looking thanks to the number of colors there were. Jean wore a slinky blue dress that was much shorter than anything she would wear in public. It hugged all her curves but was also tight by the throat, not having any décolletage. With the way it molded to her body, that was unnecessary.
They met up at the bottom of the staircase up to Harry and Ororo's (at this point anyway) quarters. Ororo led the way up the stairs and through their quarters to a small dining area off the headmaster's quarters. Originally it had been the bedroom, with the main room being the library and office. Ororo and Harry however had changed that. The group sat down happily, and it must be said rather expectantly, seeing as all three were very hungry.
Nessy appeared next to Ororo's and Ororo reached down rubbing the little house elves head affectionately. "Excellent timing, Nessy. I think we've all worked up an appetite, so could you start bringing out the food I prepared earlier?"
"Nessy will be doing this mistress." The house elf bobbed her head happily and with a click of her fingers, food began to appear on the table. Bread and salad first, then what looked like expertly seared tuna with seasoning dribbled with some kind of spicy looking sauce. The smell of it had all three of the lovers' stomachs rumbling. "This smells lovely, Ororo." said Jean happily, already spooning out some salad.
"Indeed. Love." Harry said, leaning over and kissing Ororo on the cheek. A small glass of brandy appeared before him, while a perfectly prepared strawberry daiquiri appeared in front of Jean and, surprisingly, a glass of tequila in front of Ororo.
For a moment all three of them were quiet as they ate, murmuring appreciation to the cook as well as the service, but soon enough they slowed down enough to actually talk. Now alone, they gave one another more in depth summaries of their day.
There was a moments silence after Jean finished, allowing all three to go through what they heard before going on. Jean and Harry then looked at Ororo, who they saw as their sort of expert on things scholastic/children related.
Ororo laughed, shaking her head at their looks. "Your belief in my expert opinion is touching, but misplaced. I might have a teaching license, but it is only a secondary specialty. I haven't ever been involved in setting up a school like this and I've been playing makey-learney, much like you and business Harry."
She laughed again as they simply looked at her but went on more seriously. "I think first we need to have Dr. Druid go over the children you saved Harry, just in case the spells you used and the potions the house elves and I administered didn't catch something. Children who have been abused, and these most certainly have been, tend to hide things just in case they bring unwanted attention down on themselves. I would have insisted on it tonight if he hadn't magically exhausted himself doing something this morning."
In point of fact, Dr. Druid had tried to replicate a transfiguration spell he had seen Harry use, a very simple one actually, and the magical power needed for it had drained his already barely there reserves dangerously. Powering his wooden hand used almost all of his magical potential remaining after he fought Selene and her creature.
"Dr. Druid has a background in biology, he's not a real doctor but he can sing the tune at least, unless we want to borrow one of the medical beds from the mansion. In fact we should buy our own at some point."
Ororo paused to take a sip of her tequila before going on. "The age of the children you brought in means we'll need to do two other things as well. One is to get one of the den mothers or fathers in here almost immediately. They will need an adult minder, and with all the other things we need to be doing none of us will have the time to devote to it. I found one woman who could fit the bill, though getting her here quickly may be something else. The second is to start interviewing elementary teachers. All the teachers I've thus far interviewed were high school or middle school, it's an entirely different job at the elementary level. One I think is certified at the elementary level as well as at the high school level, but I can't remember offhand who. I definitely think it should be a woman, the children might respond poorly to a male authority figure given what you told us about the ordeal they went through."
She paused again to take another sip, thinking as she did. "The den mother is definitely more important however. I can make up some lessons to teach them all English, though for now your spell will need to do its work. Other than that, I am through."
"I agree with everything you said Ororo, but I think you're missing a point here," Harry said seriously. "The oldest of the kids we rescued are young teens, the rest are even younger and all of them had physical mutations. I would be willing to bet that all of their mutations were there at birth. That means the basic idea of mutations starting up at puberty or later is wrong, or at least no better than a general guideline. I may need to rework the spells on the Big Book of Students, if that's the case, and the school here will need to offer all levels of education. We may need to start off offering just elementary level for most, and tutoring at higher levels, let Charles take some of the load."
Harry was also a little worried about something else he had noticed about Charles and the mutants he had gathered, but he didn't want to voice it just yet. No reason to go borrowing more trouble after all, not at present at least.
"True enough, but that's a problem for the future. Right now, let's concentrate on taking care of the students we have and our upcoming issues." Jean interjected. "For instance, you're meeting Dr. Doom the day after tomorrow, have you contacted him with a specific place and time? Have we heard back from King William as yet about a specific time this week he wants to meet with us?"
Harry shook his head. "I have a message I'm going to send to him with Hedwig telling him will meet with him Thursday or Friday, and to send back a message with her about a specific time. As for Dr. Doom, I'm sending Hedwig out tonight with a specific time and place. She'll leave it somewhere where he'll find it. I'm not certain what, but something Doom did angered and worried my Hedwig, so that's all I'm going to ask her do to."
"We'll want to talk with Emma before that, remember." Jean said seriously. "We want to get the best deal we can, I know that the King has already begun to push a pro-mutant policy, which is a good thing, but we need to be taken seriously about this."
Harry shrugged, but Jean said sharply "Stop doing that!" Harry looked up at her startled and Jean continued. "Harry, I know that for you this business is sort of a means to an end but it is important that we take it seriously. If we don't, not only will we be taken advantage of by those who do take the business side seriously but we won't have the respect we need to try and change the world. I'm not saying that the truth-detecting array won't help, but there are ways around it, I bet. "
"I understand." Harry said mildly, "I'm still getting my head around this whole business aspect and it's not as if I've had much time lately to devote to it."
"I suggest you make time tomorrow, my love." Ororo said joining in. "I realize we have a lot of projects already in the air, but this is important. If the United Kingdom is going to be the home for our corporation, we need to get the best deal we can and then we need to start selling our potions for an appropriate price. Not so much that no-one can afford them, but not so cheap that no one respects them or people use them frivolously."
"I can see that," Harry said again, "and I'm having a much easier time working on that aspect than the rest of it. Taxes, tax cuts, tax break deals for corporations, all of those are still rather murky to me, but selling actual things like that is much simpler. We will have to start selling to the military probably, unless the doctors from the civilian side that saw me working with those soldiers after the fight in London create a civilian demand."
"I agree with that," Jean said, reaching out and taking his hand, "but Harry, we need to talk about something else, too. Ororo and I redid the contract you gave me. The wage was fine, but I don't want to have that much of a say in the running of the company. I'm not qualified, I don't have the experience necessary, and I don't…" she paused, thinking it through. "I don't have your vision for the future. Before you came along, I was perfectly content with following Professor Xavier's dream for the future. Sure, I thought it was somewhat naïve, but I wasn't in a position to go off on my own nor did I even think of doing so, even after I broke out of my shell so to speak. While I did want to go off on my own, I didn't have the drive or the ability to plan ahead to… to strategize what I wanted to do above and beyond the near future."
"We're here because of your vision Harry, because of your desire to change the world for the better and the planning you've put into it. We agree with that vision or we wouldn't be here, but you are our leader, like it or not."
"I don't like it," Harry said bluntly, leaning back and looking at the two of them. "I don't like the idea of being indispensable. What we build needs to be able to keep going without me at the head."
"That's an admirable thought, Harry." Ororo said reaching over and taking his free hand. "But at the moment, even putting aside all the things that we are doing magically speaking, you are still indispensable. This isn't an ego boost, this is a warning to you. Neither of us are comfortable with having that much voice in the running of the corporation. We can't think strategically like Jean said. I am a tactician, a very good one admittedly." she acknowledged, bowing her head. "I can think up solutions for problems as they come at me, but I can't envision future problems and solve them before they get here."
Jean continued to put it in military terms, knowing that Harry, despite the fact that this was about business, would relate to it better that way. "At the moment, Harry, you are basically a general running a war, and we're, I guess you could call us captains? We're trying to study up to become majors or colonels or whatever the rank is that's below general, but we're not there yet. If you have an idea of what you want the engineering section of our company to do whatever the final name we decide on is, I'll see it done. But I don't want to be placed in a position to make those choices. I'll give you advice, and I know you'll listen to me because you've done it before." she said smiling and kissing his hand her eyes alight with joy at that.
That had been one of her problems with Scott and Charles both. Neither of them took criticism or suggestions very well. Scott had gotten far better at it and actually did look for suggestions from his teammates now but Charles was still somewhat close-minded. "So long as you listen to me, like you did to Ororo about using that lie-detector array on a smaller area, or when you listened to me about the arc reactor design, that is more than enough."
Ororo softly reaching forward and touching his cheek lightly. "Jean is right, my Harry. Just because we are equals in this relationship doesn't mean we are equal in terms of business or in control of our, our faction, I suppose you could call it. I think you need to be able to separate personal and business from now on, all right?"
Harry frowned but nodded. "I'll try at least, and if I don't I you two can smack me back into line, right?"
"With great speed and deliberation, my love," Ororo replied, laughing.
"Okay I can see that. But in that vein, as the leader of this little group, I have something to say to us all. We've been damn lucky the last few times we've gone out on missions, but it's going to end and we all know it, or should know it."
It took a moment for Ororo to get it, but Jean nodded her head firmly. "I had the same thought this morning when I heard from your Patronus that you went off on your own. Melody loved that thing by the way."
"I'm not surprised she did, a Patronus like that form is made by focusing on all your happy and loving memories. I seem to have built a hell of a lot more of those lately," Harry replied, giving both women a smoldering sort of look that sent a pleasurable shiver down their spines and brought very wide smile to their faces.
However he went on more seriously. "We've been lucky these past few days, all of us going out on these missions of ours without back up. That ends now. We can't trust we won't run into something we can't handle. Jean, you handled the mission against Selene's caches very well, but it would have been much easier if you and I had gone together."
"And you would've had a much easier time of it today if Ororo or I had gone with you," Jean countered nodding her head. "What if you had run into someone who could cancel out your magic somehow, how would you fight without it?"
"I'm decent enough with a sword," Harry said, shrugging, "and I know some martial arts, enough to get by." In point of fact Harry would probably be the equivalent of a brown belt in judo, but it wasn't skill that allowed him to be so dangerous in close quarters, it was his reflexes.
Harry was lightning quick, his hand eye coordination was simply beyond human. He could give Quicksilver a run for his money in that area, and he was an expert in terms of combat cool reading, the ability to read an opponent's body language and anticipate his attacks. "Yet I take your point."
"We've got Piotr. Nikolai said he wants to sign up, too. Nikolai's been trained to the nth degree, and Colossus, did very damn well in his first taste of combat. Let them get settled in for a few days and we can start using both of them on missions with us." Harry smiled, liking the fact he had finally come up with a good name for once. Now if only I could figure out a new codename for myself…
"My gut feeling is telling me Piotr's probably one of the most trustworthy people we're ever going to meet. And don't let that farmer's expression fool you, that young man has a very decent mind behind that face and a very caring soul. I don't have as good a read on Nikolai and I'll of course like your impressions of him, but let's start using them both as soon as we can."
"Kitty should stop by tomorrow, I already asked the house elf assigned to the mansion to bring her over when she's ready. She'll start working on those arrays you want her to do. I'll speak to both young men again and make my own impressions of them." Ororo replied, with Jean nodding agreement.
Harry nodded. "I'd appreciate it. Like you said, I might be the leader of this troop but I do value your opinions and I always will. Now, Jean, this design of yours, how good is it, and how much time before we can start selling them?"
"I would want to use one to power the castle on normal operational settings for at least two months, maybe longer so I can be certain it can handle the output. However it looks great at the moment. Of course it wasn't in the real world and I bet we'll run into some teething issues when I do construct one out of actual materials but the RoR was able to help me spot several issues. However, I seriously need to work on a paper describing what we've got. If we don't have paperwork to explain how the reactor works and how we've been able to miniaturize it, then no one is going to trust them. Whatever else, we're going to be a new name in the energy industry, and that means we need very 'i' dotted and every 'T' crossed. I want to know that the reactor can really take the strain of a city, one the size of London say, before we even think about putting it on the market."
Harry shook his head. "I'm in no rush to sell them love, just to use them. I was thinking about ways to use the land that was previously under wizard wards elsewhere in the UK. We need a visible headquarters for Magical Minds and I never took down the wards around the largest Dark Spot. If I do, and we work it right, that land can be the site of our headquarters and a farming community. It obviously won't be where we grow our potions ingredients, but we can always use our own dedicated farms. And I have two spare hearth stones so I can use one to power defensive wards for it. But the main reason I'm in no rush is the amount of enemies we'll make when we move into the energy business."
Jean looked blank at that, but Ororo's eye's widened. "Of course, we're going to make enough enemies with our paramilitary activities and our politics once we make them known, why borrow more trouble, just yet?" Jean looked at her and Ororo elaborated. "Oil and, to a lesser extent, coal are big money, Jean. In the states, they call it King Coal. Oil won't be as big an issue just yet, unless we start putting out far smaller generators, but coal, oh yes. Those companies are ruthless in the political arena when protecting their interests, and that's in the states, abroad they are even worse. And then there are the electrical companies who will be jealous and not like the idea of someone new coming in. Security will be an issue, we don't want anyone trying to steal our secrets."
Harry shrugged. "The secrets part isn't so bad, I think there are only a few people in the world who could create Orihalcum and it would take them a hell of a long time. Remember I didn't come up with it myself; it was looking at the Juggernaut's armor that allowed me to come up with Orihalcum. And it's a wide range of skills that allow me to create it. No, the weaponization aspect is what I'm afraid of. Those suits I ran into in Russia were an example of what can happen, and I don't want anyone to have tanks or ships powered by this, let alone weapons based of their tech."
Jean shrugged. "In that case, it'll take me a week or so to build a working version for our own use, though we'll need to get in a lot of specialty tools to help me build the first mini-one for the castle. After that though, what should I start thinking about?"
Touching the scar on his forehead Harry leaned back thinking hard. "Tomorrow the two of us will go up and create the metal you need, I'll create it if you can tell me the measurements and such like. With the changes you helped me make to the metallurgy room it won't take more than a few hours, I think. After that, there's one thing I want you to start off with, and one job I want you, Piotr, and Nikolai to work on, if you agree to do. First, look over the weapons and tech we grabbed from the base in Russia. In the future, I'll want to set up a meeting between all of us and Reed Richards to talk about some other issues, after that we'll decide what else to direct that fertile brain of yours to. He still hasn't gotten back to me about what he'd be willing to do for a observation area in space, but let's deal with Dr. Doom and getting our business set up first. But first, clear out the last two caches of Selene's. One is definitely another gold depository, that second one in the middle east."
"I'm going to put off going over the magical and 'other' items that you gathered until after our meeting with the King at the least. Sometime, after we're done talking to Doom and dealing with whatever the not-so-good doctor wants, we'll all go down to the one in Greece. The impression I got, was that it was the one where Selene kept stuff of a non-magical nature that she didn't know how to handle. Not a good thought, but we'll see."
"I'll take time tomorrow, as you two say, to get a better handle on the business side, in fact, if she's free, I can head over to talk to Emma in person, ask her to walk me through it, or at least recommend some books to read."
"Of course, we'll take care of the children's checkup, first." Ororo cut in, firmly.
"Of course, that's the most important thing right now. So tell me about those two little boys you picked up, do you have any idea what they're mutant power might actually be?"
From there, the conversations segued into other things and the trio had a very nice evening of it.
Eventually however, the food was all gone and the talking had subsided for the most part, so Ororo decided to end the evening. She stood up stretching, deliberately pressing her chest forward, an act that caught both of her lover's attention like a lodestone would catch a magnet. "I believe it is time to turn in for the night, my loves." She cocked an eyebrow at Harry.
Harry nodded and stood up, taking her arm in his before turning to the redhead. "Are you going to join us tonight Jean?"
Jean frowned, her desires warring with her swiftly disappearing sense of propriety. They had still only been going out for a few weeks at this point and she wasn't prepared to just jump straight in yet. Yet, on the other hand her body and mind were telling her to join, to feel Harry inside of her in the most intimate way.
Harry somehow red her mind and shook his head. "We've got so much to do tomorrow love, we're just going to cuddle and then sleep."
"Oh well, in that case." Jean laughed, and linked arms with him on his other side. With a final thank you to Nessy, the trio headed out to the bedroom.
Later that evening Harry sat looking out the window, his eyes dark as he gently stroked Hedwig's plumage before sending her on her way by lifting his arm under her gently. The note he was sending said:
Dr. Doom, King of Latveria:
I am sending this message to inform you I have decided on the specific meeting place and time in Barcelona. I will meet you on the top of the historical monument, the Casa Mila, so-called La Pedrera at noon tomorrow. Please feel free to make whatever arrangements you wish to in order to not be seen, as I will do the same. I hope our future association is beneficial to us both, and will deal as fairly with you as you will with me.
Even after Hedwig left, Harry sat there for several minutes, staring up at the stars as he fingered a small vial filled with blood and tissue: the sample he had taken from the corpse of the woman who had used magic during the fight in Russia. Something about it, some instinct he had was screaming that this blood was linked to a problem that would rear its head in the future, he just didn't know what.
He shook that thought off for now, however, and turned away from the window to head back to bed, sighing happily as his two lovers automatically made room for him, one on either side of him.
Yeah, like I said above, this was not the chapter I expected. I wanted to cover a lot more, but then the fight against the Russians took it over, and the fluffy goodness and the rest and…. I am not in the habit of putting out a chapter that would cover only a single day of in story time, yet nonetheless a lot of things happened in this chapter, and more was shown.
Hope everyone liked the battle in Russia. I wanted to paint it like Harry had come in like the fist of god, yet enough background to tell you that there had been a lot of stories and tales there before he arrived.
No, I will not be changing Piotr to the anglicized version, that can be considered a rather insulting thing to do to a person's name. For those of you who were waiting for me to add a main male character alongside Harry, here you are, hope it was worth the wait.
Should Illyana stay the same age? While Harry having her as an apprentice will occur, her age is up in the air and I'm not certain how I wish to work with that just yet.
I did not go into the science of the arc reactor for a very good reason: the original seems to change what it is by author, so there is no point to trying. I found a site that said it might be a a Multi-Isotope Radio-Decay Cell, but I'm sorry, I don't have a science background, so couldn't follow it, and the author admitted that it was unlikely given the symptoms later on and the miniaturization aspect. So, no. Not like mMarvel or even DC has ever really been able to explain the 'science' of some of the things they have in their comics.
A question to my Greek readers: are there any Greek mMarvel heroes or mutants you would like to see me include in the story in any way? I really don't think the Greek gods will be staying around long unless you can talk me into it, not if Harry has read up on how they have treated humanity in the ancient tales. Hephaestus now, he's a possibility.
As always I hope you enjoyed it and please review.