The Astria Porta Project – Part Four : Who By Fire
Disclaimer I don't own the Harry Potter franchise, nor the Stargate franchise. Other, rich, people do. I also apologize if several people in this story aren't portrayed with sufficient respect; I try, but I only have my imagination to base off.
Grandmaster Harry James Potter, destroyer of souls and protector of Atlantis and Athos, looked out of the bridge of the Vulture-class battleship Reaper , the most recent ship design to make it into reality. Manned by an international crew compromised for the most part of Russians and Chinese men and women, the Reaper was the first battleship to be outfit with the Asgard/Terran blend of technology followed by the alien race's demise. It resembled the Destroyers from afar - several thousands of kilometers - but had a more refined look than previous ships of the Terran Space Force.
One of the major differences perhaps was the switch from a Portdrive to an Asgard hyperdrive and the usage of a Neutronium Ion Generator as its power source. It made for a definite evolution in the way Terran spacecraft was used and employed, though the power requirements made mass-producing them quite impossible. There were only two Vultures in existence: the Reaper who was assigned to Atlantis and the Grim whose major duty consisted of scouting out the Milky Way and battle Terra's enemies alongside the other Destroyers and B-305s.
That wasn't to say the ship he was on at the moment was the only one available to the expedition, there was a B-305, Daedelus, assigned that ferried personnel and supplies between their homeworld and the Pegasus galaxy.
"Vice-Chieftain Nakhimov, when is our estimated time of arrival?" he asked the ship's commander.
"Fifteen minutes. You are certain you want to go through with this?" confirmed the Russian without any accent to indicate his origin.
"I realize there's certain risk associated to helping Wraith, even if they're semi-transformed Wraith for the next couple of days, but my sense of honor and beliefs demand I help them."
"I understand, Grandmaster. I am helping you despite protest of Atlantis, am I not?"
"I appreciate your effort."
Sergei Nakhimov inclined his head. "The retrovirus is not the solution to our problems, your arguments are valid."
"I wish Weir would have acknowledged them in time," he grunted. "I know this mess was a last resort kind of thing on Caldwell and Sheppard's part, but it's not something that should have happened."
"It is most unfortunate their communication systems were down during the battle."
"I only hope Michael's hatred hasn't festered enough and he's still willing to listen to me."
"Could you care to tell me what makes you think he'll be the most susceptible to you?"
"When he was under the influence of the retrovirus for the first time, Weir ordered me to accept him in the ranks of the security division. As he didn't pose an immediate threat to Atlantis and was quite docile in those days, there was no way for me to ignore the order." He paused. "I've been opposed to the retrovirus since the beginning, people will easily recall the tension going on during the last months. From a magical point of view, I believe it's impossible to reverse a corporal transformation as extensive as the Iratus bug changed the humans of Pegasus thousands of years ago.
"It's about the same reason why werewolves will never be cured, why vampires can't become human, why I'll never be a wizard again. You can morph into something, but to revert to an earlier point in your evolution? It doesn't work that way, there's no 'undo' function in life.
"I was the only one to keep a close eye on Michael by being friendly," he shook his head, "it's amazing how humans act and think they're being subtle. That man is a survivor, just like I'm a survivor. We deal with the cards granted to us and if it isn't to our liking, we cheat. Ronon Dex, aside his Satedan honor, has about the same disposition. And I know that if I were Michael right now, I would plan my vengeance. And it would be big, striking both Wraith and humans. I want to prevent at least that."
"I hope you will succeed."
He was transported to the surface of the planet without a Stargate by means of the Asgard beaming technology, the small settlement in the middle of the forests occupied almost solely by the converted Wraith.
He walked around, observing his surroundings extensively. It already was happening from the looks of it, beneath the surface there was a torrent of confusion and determination, a purpose to seek the answers no matter what.
Having taken a decision, he used his comm link to get in touch with the security detail and Carson, the only expedition members aside himself that were present on the planet.
"This is Grandmaster Potter, I'm at the center of the settlement, meet me there. That's an order." Five minutes later everybody was gathered in front of him. "You will all be transported aboard the Reaper as soon as I give the word to them."
"What about the-?" questioned Carson.
Harry looked at Scotsman. "You know my opinion about the retrovirus, my concerns are being proven correct as we speak. This experiment of yours is out of your hands, you've played god long enough. You've started to roll a ball, I want to prevent it turning into an avalanche."
"What about your safety, sir?" asked Knight Nicholas Doyle.
"I'll survive, I always do. No matter what, so no worries on your part alright?" He shook his head, tapping his PWD and engaging communications with the Vulture above. "Vice-Chieftain Nakhimov, you can transport the men. I'll stay in touch."
White beams surrounded him momentarily, leaving only air in its wake. From the various tents, humans with strange white hair emerged, glancing at him in curiosity. One fellow even had the misfortune of resembling Lucius Malfoy in human form.
"Who are you?"
"Where did the others go to?"
"What are you planning to do with us?"
"Why are you here?"
And at last, the voice he was the most familiar with spoke: "I know you."
"Undoubtedly you do," answered he. "Is it safe for me to assume some of you didn't take the medicine they want you to take?"
This caused a handful of them to take on a wary stance.
"Good, because what they told you about that stuff is a lie."
Michael regarded him. "I feel like I know your name, but I cannot recall it."
"The humans of Terra call me Grandmaster Harry Potter, though Harry will do for now. They named you," he pointed at the brief inhabitant of Atlantis, "Michael, though I know for a fact that is not your true name."
"Why is the medicine not good for us? I thought we had to take it to keep from getting ill," someone argued.
"That's what they told you it was?" He shook his head in dismal. "The truth is that all of you were members of a race called the Wraith. Wraith feed off of the life force of humans though they once were human themselves. You were aboard one of your species' hive-ships on your way to my native galaxy, several of the humans of my home world stopped you and spread a virus into your ship as a last resort kind of thing."
They frowned or tilted their heads in thought after this explanation.
"I'm not fond of their decision, which is why I'm here explaining you the truth. This is the second time they did this to you, Michael."
Michael's eyes narrowed, his expression turning into a slight snarl as several keywords punctured the amnesia within him. "They betrayed me."
"Because they're scared of you and their own actions. It's not a good reason, but it's a reason."
"Why are you here and not with them?"
"Why was I the only one that was in close contact with you during your time in Atlantis?" He shook his head. "I'm not human myself, Michael, I know what it's like to be an outsider."
"You are not human?" There was a curious undertone in his voice.
"I'm a hybrid between an immortal bird of fire and a human. Granted it wasn't forced upon me like it was with you, but I assure you, dying for dozens of times isn't exactly fun either."
"So the medicine doesn't work?" a simpleton inquired.
"Weaklings," muttered Michael.
Harry grunted his assent, surprising himself by doing so. "Anyway, if you want to and agree not to harm the humans aboard, I have a spaceship in orbit of this planet that is willing to take you to a planet with a Stargate. I'm not saying you should ignore the actions of the other humans, but I don't want you making a mistake by returning to the Wraith."
"They didn't accept me."
"And they surely won't in the future. You know them better than I do."
Lucius Malfoy's lookalike spoke up. "We already got in touch with others of our kind. They're coming for us."
Harry sighed. "It's your choice. Take the easy way with me or go for the one filled with torture and what not."
The other's hesitation was interrupted by a beeping sound coming from the immortal's wrist.
He glanced at his PWD, wondering what the sound was about. He cursed.
"What is wrong?" Michael asked, stepping closer to see for himself what the problem was. On the screen a simple text message was shown. Atlantis under siege, leaving immediately. Will return when threat gone - Reaper. "Who is Reaper?"
"The ship that was going to transport us."
"They abandoned you as well?"
"It seems that way."
"Humans," sneered the other.
He shrugged. "You get used to the disappointment after a while."
"Do you not seek vengeance?"
"I don't bother with thoughts of vengeance anymore. It's kind of pointless when you know that I can't lose." At the other's questioning look, he elaborated. "I will be there when the last human dies, when the Wraith cease to exist, when the universe collapses upon itself. And I don't know if that'll stop me from living. I'm immortal, the ultimate survivor. If someone harms me or casts me aside, I know that I will be there when they have their last breathe. I find sufficient satisfaction in that act."
"I wish I could say the same."
"As a Wraith, even a partial one, you need to feed to survive. Nothing says there doesn't exist a way to negate that need. If you're not dependent off of feeding to survive, you could age indefinitely and eventually witness humanity's decline, followed soon after by the end of the Wraith. Should their decline be natural of course."
"Do you not long for power, for the lower species to respect you and follow your command?"
"Not immediately. It's something I'm learning from my son, to not interfere in the affairs of mortals. It doesn't always work, otherwise I wouldn't be here. I generally stick to the side these days, not like during the first year I was in Atlantis when my power was new and something I wanted to explore. But like in your case when I think the mortals are making a big mistake, I take a stand. I don't need to have followers to feel powerful, the mere fact that I'm alive is a testament to my strength, prove of my power."
"Curious..." Michael tilted his head. "The hive-ship has arrived, it seems like we will have to find our own way out of the others' clutches."
"For what it's worth, I'm sorry my offer couldn't be pursued."
"At least you have the dignity to help me, unlike the others of Atlantis."
The hive-ship's Darts were already on their way, emitting their people-catching beams. There might have been a chance to evade them and it would have come in handy to make Portkeys at that moment, but what were they to do, stuck on a lifeless planet with uncertainty clouding the Reaper 's return? Not to mention that Harry never had the opportunity to see what Wraith life consisted of. Did it correlate to a vampire's existence? And he made a promise to help Michael, he wasn't going to neglect that promise.
Even if Senya was on Atlantis waiting for him...
He awoke in a dark cell, alone. It was chilly, but still dozens of Celsius degrees away from Antarctica's climate.
"You are awake?" sounded a voice to his right. Harry recognized it as the one from 'Lucius'.
"I am. Where is Michael?"
"You can hear his screams in the distance. They are torturing him."
"Is he the first?"
"Then either of us will be next."
"You will be the first."
"They will reject us like they rejected Michael."
"That's a correct assumption."
"There are enough of us to take over control of this hive."
"If you manage to get out."
"If we manage to get out," 'Lucius' acknowledged. "Can you do something?"
"I can destroy the ship, but I don't think that's what either of us want. I have several options available to me, but first I want to make sure Michael is okay. My guess is that I'll be taken to the hive queen."
"Queens are powerful Wraith."
"I've fought tougher beings than Wraith."
"I destroyed an Ascended being, vanquished a person who came close to immortality. The hive-ship and cruisers assaulting Atlantis for the first time were dealt with by me. I think that a Wraith queen won't be so difficult to deal with."
"Would you return to Atlantis if you had the choice?"
"I think so."
"My son is there. A queen looks after her subjects, I look after my son in the same way."
"And if your son was with you?"
"He's half-Lantean and Ascended, you would have to fight every instinct in you to stop from harming him."
"And what if the human part within us dimmed those instincts?"
"I don't know."
"You don't seem to find the idea of taking the life force of humans so appalling."
"You're a different race, you survive by taking the life of humans. I can't begrudge you for that." He paused. "On Terra, my homeworld, there is a race similar to yours. They're called vampires. They feed on human blood. They've been around for thousands of years, yet most humans believe they don't exist. They don't drain their victims off blood, live in the shadows of humanity and do everything they have to keep their population under control. They could be more like the Wraith if they wanted to, but they find it easier to fend of resistance and opposition by not drawing attention to themselves."
"Do the humans of Atlantis know this?"
"They don't. The wizarding world, my old community, is the only one to know about them with absolute certainty. Of the descendants of that community, I'm the only one to know more than myths and facts provided by the vampires. Stumbled across on of their hiding places when I was younger, had some interesting conversations with the Tepez clan."
"It is something to think about... They are bringing Michael back."
"Where is his cell?"
"He's with you."
"Oh. Not very smart."
"Depends on the perspective."
"Indeed it does."
The guards dumped the twice-humanized Wraith with him several minutes later. Crouching in front of the man, Harry examined his outward appearance. It would be a waste of time and effort to check for vital signs seeing as today was his first real encounter with the species. In the past, all of his interaction with them was from a distance, Lantea's magic protecting him.
"You are weak," noted he.
"What did you expect?" Michael bitterly replied, his body shaking slightly at the effort it took.
He hesitated slightly, but decided to follow his instinct. It hadn't failed him so far. "You need to feed." He unbuttoned the upper part of his robe, exposing his chest to the other man.
With a slightly grateful look, Michael put his hand on his skin. His touch was cold, like what he remembered of the touch of vampires. A gasp escaped him as he felt his life trickling away from him. It didn't happen immediately, but he still felt himself age... A most curious feeling for someone who hadn't aged in several years. It wasn't pleasant per say, but it wasn't as horrible as waking up beneath the pole cap or crawling through a landscape of ice and snow.
Watching your skin grow dry and shrink around your bones, the hair on your arms become white, your bones stick out, there far more pleasant activities to witness. Then came that one moment of perfect bliss, the afterlife. One moment without worries, where your past didn't matter. An unconditional feeling of happiness surrounding you, warming your soul. It was fleeting, like a whisper in the wind, but he lived to feel that brush of something better. Alive, it sometimes caused him despair, there were days that he woke up with nothing but the desire of death on his mind.
It wasn't possible. He'd died about thirty-forty times in Antarctica, Atlantis saw him die for sixty times. To test the limits, to observe the various ways he came back to live, to train his control over his various organs. He knew that he could shut off his lungs, his heart, his brains if he wanted to. Never for a long time, a couple of minutes was the longest time he ever stayed dead.
Senya knew about the attempts of course, it wasn't like he could hide the sounds coming from his throat or the mess he left behind each time. Thankfully his Ascended state and natural curiosity negated most of the emotional trouble children would have with the idea.
When he opened his eyes, the same body before Michael started feeding met his sight. Such was the way his immortality worked: always returning to the same state it had the first time he died - without the superficial wounds, but with the malfunctioning spine causing him to become dependent on artificial legs.
"Fascinating," breathed Michael, regarding him much like a mad scientist regarded his subject.
"Bloody awful, that's what it is."
He closed his robe, just in time it seemed as the guards were back, this time to fetch him. They led him through a myriad of corridors and halls, passing different kinds of Wraith. It was evident from the way they made weird throaty sounds and showed off their teeth that the Wraith didn't have any dental care. Then again it wasn't as if they needed mouths, those were simply reminders of their human and Ancient lives before the Iratus bug. The guards were the most evolved from that aspect with those bee hives stuck on their face. Or was that something like a logo depicting their rank?
Eventually they came in a grand looking room with a red-haired queen sitting on a throne in the center and several of her minions standing in the shadows.
"Grandmaster Potter," the queen said, a hissing sound escaping her mouth after each word. "I have heard many things about you."
In an unimpressed gesture, his left eyebrow rose. You had to hand it to his former professor, Snape knew how to manipulate his brows. He glanced at his surroundings, from what he heard Colonel Sumner at least was served a healthy meal before they started sucking the life out of him. It seemed their etiquette wasn't uphold so easily anymore. Oh well, two could play this game. The queen's hiss might've been a mockery to snakes, he still retained his Parseltongue abilities.
" And I've never heard of you. "
The queen's eyes widened, her head doing a very odd movement, immediately followed by her mouth opening and a supposedly threatening hiss escaping it. He could see why somebody like McKay would be frightened, but seriously? Vampires were far more intimidating, their women more attractive. And no hiss could equal that of a basilisk.
"You speak like a snake." Oddly enough her tone was seductive for this comment.
She regarded him carefully. "You would make for a perfect pet."
He swallowed. "Pet?"
"You're perfect to warm my bed... The snake language you speak, I find it quite exciting. Yes, you will be mine."
What was it with female aliens that they always found him attractive? And why were it always the ugly ones? (Freya/Anise not included, she was special.) "What if I refused?"
She rose from her seat and approached him, her hand caressing his cheeks. He shuddered, repulsed by the sensation. "You will learn."
She left his side, motioning to the guards to take him back to the cell.
"Are there any guards nearby?" Harry asked Michael a while later.
"We are alone."
"Excellent." He unzipped the flaps on his legs, you had to hand it to the tailors that made his uniform, they knew how to subtly take into account the oddities of his legs. His 'skin' exposed he searched for the 'birthmark' on his right leg that operated like the manual controls of the internal magical facilities of his legs. Its shape was that of the continents of Terra, opening the compartments required a certain combination. He tapped the middle of Siberia, the jungle of Brazil, Switzerland, the general whereabouts of mount Kilimanjaro, the Gibson desert of Australia and finally the South Pole. Aside the last location, they were all places where a Phoenix base was founded. As such only someone familiar with the organization and Terra itself would ever be able to have a clue what the combination was.
It certainly beat Dumbledore's little map of the London underground as a 'birthmark'.
The compartments jumped open, eliciting a surprised yelp from his companion.
From his right leg he took two Disintegrators - smaller and better as human technology was wont do, handing one over to Michael. He closed the lid and plunged his left arm in the bottomless hole of his other leg, his fingers clutching various objects. Explosives weren't going to help them right now, they needed a quick and easy way to conquer the Wraith governing this ship.
He brushed past his book collection, ignored the crossbow and P90, discarded the mines, but paused when he came across a flask. Clutching it, he retreated his arm.
"What is it?"
Harry looked at the flask/bottle. "An endless supply of holy water, blessed by pope John Paul himself." He remembered the gift, provided by one of the first supply trips of the Daedalus. He also recalled he was unsure on what to do with holy water at the time and simply chucked it with the rest of his spare supplies.
There was a note stuck on the other side of the flask. God moves in the most mysterious ways. In case you are in need of a miracle, let the Lord guide you.
Holy water didn't harm vampires on Terra, but as he'd already found out: magic worked everywhere. And you never knew... So much of Terran history was influenced by alien races and events taken place eons before the human race every grew a backbone. Where did holy water come from? What made it holy? He wasn't raised religiously, so it wasn't as if he knew the answer to those questions. Who knew, maybe holy water protected against the Wraith in some way.
"I think I've got our way out of captivity, but I need to test something first. Can you give me your hand for a moment?"
The other cautiously moved his hand forward.
Harry uncorked the bottle, cupping a bit of its content in his palm. It smelled funny, that was a start. He set the flask on the 'ground'. His cupped hand moved over Michael's. He turned his palm to the opposite direction suddenly, allowing the drops to fall on Michael's skin.
For a moment nothing happened, then the skin reddened like burn wounds, darkening until all that was left was a shriveled black hand. It was eerily familiar to Harry as he'd already seen the same result coming from the curse Voldemort put on the Peverell ring, the one that disabled his former headmaster's hand.
"It seems, my friend, that this holy water isn't as useless as I thought it was." He shook his head. "That old codger, the pope must've known it would do this."
"It heals very slowly," Michael commented. "Already I feel the energy you gave me withering."
"Which means that if a lot more than several drops are used on the other Wraith, they won't survive."
"There is only this small flask."
Harry hummed in agreement. "Which is why I'm going to attach it to something else I've got it with me." With little difficulty he was able to procure the water bazooka stored in the compartment. By carefully maneuvering and adjusting the bazooka with a screwdriver, he was able to replace to make it so that the magical bubble with water would from now on be a magical bubble of holy water, with at least three liter being launched each time the trigger was pulled.
Putting the unnecessary objects back to where they came from with only a knife and the bazooka remaining, he closed the lid and zipped the flaps of his pants back.
Michael took the knife in his hand, cutting lose the tendrils of the organic fiber separating them from freedom. It didn't take long until Harry was in position to fire at possible incomers, giving the other the time to free the former converted Wraith.
Lucius came to stand right behind him, so he gave the other humanoid the second Disintegrator.
"Fire once to stun, twice to kill, thrice to disintegrate."
Lucius nodded in confirmation.
"Everybody stay behind me when I fire, I can't guarantee your survival if the holy water finds its way on your person." He checked whether all of his Wraith brothers in arms were gathered. "Let's go."
They moved through the corridors, securing their perimeter at each corner. When they were about to ascend a stairway, Lucius tapped on his shoulder. "Your display devices."
He placed them in a pocket. "Thanks."
"They'll be waiting for us."
He inclined his head. "It's a strategic position."
Step by step they ascended, constantly on the lookout, straining their senses. When they gave him the signal, he aimed the bazooka and pulled the trigger. A cannonball of holy water rushed forwards, seeking its target in a way a bludger would be jealous of. The shrieks of several dying Wraith sounded like music to his ears. He waited five seconds and launched another load, this time hitting a group of five that had been walking towards their position with their guns loaded.
They rose a bit higher, Harry firing a volley of Wraith-killing liquid every five seconds. Sometimes he really adored magic.
Soon enough they had control over the corridors and hall surrounding the stairways, his unarmed companions picking up the weapons of their dead opponents. From there the process of eliminating the enemy and steadily gaining control only got better, the hand weapons distracting those who might've wanted to take out the bazooka.
Two hours later the job was done, the queen was dead as were her subjects.
"Now that you've got a hive-ship at your disposal, what are you going to do?"
"Eliminate the competition, strengthen our position in the galaxy. You've given us much to think about."
He inclined his head. "And your vengeance?"
"The humans," he sneered, "of Atlantis will reap what they sow." He paused. "If it is not by my hand, it will be through other means, of that I'm certain. I will not seek them out, but if they cross my path I will show the same mercy they showed me: none."
"What are your intentions?"
"Return to Atlantis, talk to my son, withdraw from the expedition. I'll see where the stars take me. Maybe I'll set up camp on a different planet, I'm not sure."
"You are welcome on this ship," invited Michael.
He shook his head. "I'm glad I helped you out, but this is not my place and you know it. I wouldn't mind staying in touch, but it's high time I took a more neutral stance towards the situation in this galaxy. This whole ordeal has opened my eyes, giving me a perception broader than most Terrans have."
"I canaccept that. You can have one of our Darts to leave once we've left hyperspace."
"I'm grateful for that."
"You helped us, we help you."
"Unscheduled incoming wormhole," warned Vice-Knight Eduardo Gonzalez from his position behind Atlantis' advanced DHD. "Receiving Grandmaster Potter's IDC."
Guardian Bates frowned. "I thought he wasn't anywhere near a Stargate?"
"Something must have happened," voiced out Lord Sheppard from behind them.
"Receiving audio signal. Turning on the speakers."
"Atlantis, this is Grandmaster Potter, do you copy?"
"Potter, this is Sheppard. You're on the speakers."
"All right. Is the gate room clear?"
Bates turned to the guards stationed below and signaled for them to rush Kavanagh out of the way. That scientist always managed to find his way in places he shouldn't be, always complaining about this and that. The guards gladly obeyed their superior's order.
"This is Bates, the room is clear."
"Excellent. Don't be surprised by what you're going to see."
"What exactly might that be?"
There was no reply necessary however as they saw a Wraith Dart materialize in the gate room, initializing alarms instigated by the Ancients.
"Can somebody open up the roof?"
An hour later a debriefing/meeting took place consisting of the most important persons of Atlantis, with the commanders of the Reaper and Daedalus present as well. The threat to the city apparently was a fluke, some mindless scientist entering the wrong code sequence in the systems' long range communication facilities while trying to configure a direct connection with Earth, his absence having taken the better part of a week, most of which was spent flying the hive-ship to the habituated part of Pegasus.
Senya's higher state of existence showed themselves clearly when after sharing glances, his son simply said: "I know a place." It was odd to know that while the boy literally had the universe at his finger tips, he chose to be with his father.
"A hive-ship arrived not too long after the Reaper left. It was too short notice for me to do anything, so nearly all of us were captured. When I woke up they were torturing Michael, with the other Wraith converted to humans lined up to be tortured next. I spoke with one of them, he reminded me of a man I knew on Earth, Lucius, so that's what I'll use to refer to him."
Nakhimov looked uncomfortable hearing that, while Rodney McKay stared at him.
"You were on a hive-ship in a cell and you decided to simply talk to a Wraith?"
Harry shrugged. "I was curious and I wanted to know what was going on."
"All right... Just like that?" the scientist uttered, shaking his head.
"Anyway, they brought Michael back. Let me tell you, he isn't pleased with humanity and this expedition in particular. As it was, I let him take my life force to bring him back to full strength. Odd experience, for a moment I was nothing but a skeleton." The others looked sickened. He waved their petty concerns away. "I've been through worse things. After a while the guards came to fetch me, I was brought in front of the queen. She hissed at me, I replied in Parseltongue - snake language for your information. Seemed like a bad thing to say, because she decided to keep me as her pet." Some squirmed in their seats, wondering how they would fair as a hive queen's pet. "To warm her bed." This newfound frankness was quite amusing now that he'd finally and completely made the distinction between them and him.
He continued. "They dragged me back, I decided not to stick around any longer, so I searched through my supplies until I stumbled upon a flask I hadn't given much thought of before." He smirked. "A gift from pope John Paul, an endless flask of holy water."
This seemed to surprise them.
"And you used this flask of... endless holy water... to get free?" Sheppard questioned sceptically.
Harry nodded. "It's the secret to fight the Wraith. Several drops shriveled and blackened Michael's hand and it took a lot of time until it was healed. I attached it to my water bazooka and with the help of all of the reverted Wraith killed every hostile Wraith on that hive-ship. Their body couldn't handle more than a glass worth of the stuff."
"You killed an entire hive-ship?" Carson murmured, impressed.
"That I did. Michael and the other Wraith you converted are in control of it right now."
"You did nothing to stop them?" Elizabeth confusedly asked. "They're the enemy."
Harry shook his head. "Michael isn't my enemy. He's grateful I went through all the trouble to help him. You can however consider him as your enemy. I gave him some other ideas to play around with, but I knew enough by his calculated look. Until the expedition, there wasn't anything done about changing their Wraith form now or playing around with the human background. I don't know what exactly he's going to do, but rest assured it'll be by Atlantis' doing."
Carson's eyes had widened, his face blanched.
"You neglected to listen to what I had to say, ignored the arguments I gave you. And strangely enough, I find myself reaching the end of my patience here. My mortal, human life ended more than two years ago. I thought being a part of this expedition would make me feel useful again, but it's not and I accept that. My perspective and outlook is changing.
"Effective immediately, I resign from my position as Grandmaster of this mission and Phoenix Operations in general. Atlantis doesn't need me anymore, that's become obvious by the way my concerns and objections were dealt with. I will be leaving with my son to a different part of this galaxy. I won't say I'll refuse to help you in the future, but it's about time I settled down. I have eternity to look forward to, I'll need a place to call home sooner rather than later."
"Can't you wait with that for a couple of years?" argued Elizabeth, "As you said, you've got eternity to look forward to."
"And that's the crux of the matter," replied Harry softly, "eternity's happening right now, not later."
"You'll leave behind a way to contact you?"
"I guess there's not much we can do about it except accept," sighed the Chieftain.
"My mind's made up and Senya is in agreement," acknowledged he.
"Are you in need of transportation?" proposed Nakhimov.
He tilted his head. As if on cue, Senya appeared next to him. "While it is not a requirement, we appreciate and accept your gesture," the boy spoke. "I will give the coordinates as soon as possible."
"What's the name of the planet?" informed the father, curious.
"The hidden kingdom of the Himalayas?"
Senya smiled at him. "The spiritual center of this galaxy." 'The temples need some cleaning, and there are things we could occupy our time with. It used to be the most important place where people Ascended. At least until the Wraith destroyed it..."
He raised an eyebrow. Legilimensy? That one hadn't been done before.
Elizabeth interrupted them. "Would you mind if we sent a team with you?"
Harry frowned, looking at his son first and then at the older woman. "I don't mind." He turned back to the youngest and wisest present. 'What kind of projects are there to do?'
'A city-ship without any buildings and the necessary materials in places I can find them,' replied the other.
'Like the ZPM from the brotherhood?"
Senya's smile brightened just a tiny bit.
'All right, I'm game.'
'It'll take several decades.'
'Compared to eternity, several decades won't make a difference.'
'You're starting to understand, Dad.'
He ruffled the boy's hair. 'Not everybody has a connection to the universe to guide and help them.'
'It's a shame you can't Ascend.'
'It's nothing for me.'
'If you say so.'
"You weren't lying when you said this place needed some work," murmured Harry to the boy at his side. They were near the Astria Porta of Shambhala, looking at the ruins of Pegasus' spiritual center. Temples and monastery-like buildings stood all over the place, some of the towers reaching hundreds of meters in the air. The area was circular, the buildings arranged in the same snow-flake structure of Atlantis, though they only knew that from the images captured from space.
And while it all looked impressive, you easily saw everything had stood there, abandoned, since the Wraith attacked the planet. Different kind of plants sprouted from the ground, going so far as to penetrate the walls thirty feet up.
"Atlantis is in the middle of an ocean for a reason," was the reply.
"Are we going to restore everything?"
Harry shrugged. It wasn't as if he didn't know how to construct or pull weeds. And it was a far more pleasant job than worrying about alien entities penetrating the base.
They started walking forwards, glancing everywhere and taking in what would be their new home. Harry shook his head, how many homes did that make already? Godric's Hollow, Privet Drive, Hogwarts, Grimmauld Place, Adder Castle, Atlantis, Shambhala. The seventh home. Well... seven was a magical number, maybe he'd get lucky and could stay here for the remainder of eternity.
"It's times like these I miss Adder Castle."
"The castle on Terra that was my home. I spent more time there than anywhere else except my old cupboard. I have only been there to pick up my possessions before I came to this galaxy since Antarctica, it didn't feel so much like home anymore with Homeworld Security settled in."
"I'd like to see it someday."
"This city-ship you spoke of, where is it?"
"At the edge of the temples ahead of us. The spire between those roofs over there, that's the center of the plateau." Senya paused. "The stardrive didn't work when they were attacked here."
"You seem to have a firm grasp on your abilities."
"Your lessons in control helped me achieve a mastery in using the full extent of my power."
"How are the others?"
"Agreed on how to deal with the likes of you," the Ascended brat cheekily said.
"I'm included in the rules?"
"Something like that."
"Why are we in the spiritual center, for real this time?."
Senya skipped ahead of him, entering one of the largest temples of the complex. Sighing, Harry followed him, coming to an abrupt stop when he saw what was inside the temples.
"Senya, are that what I think they are?"
He regarded the hall, lit by the energetic presence of thousands of Ascended beings.
"Are they aware we're here?"
"Most of them are, some are focusing on different parts of the galaxy."
"How come they're here?"
"When you Ascend to a higher state of existence, you shed your physical body and assume an energetic form. This you know. But the energetic form in itself still has some physical representations. To lessen the solitary strains of our existence, most of us choose to stay near each other. It's why banishment to different planets is such a cruel existence. You stay in touch with the rest, but you'll never physically be near a person."
"You're sounding more mature the older you get, I don't want to know what you will be like when you enter you're a teenager."
"My body doesn't need to go through that," smirked the six year old. "I'm already perfect."
"Now you sound like McKay."
The smirk left Senya's face.
"Is the team from Atlantis going to find out about them?"
"Only you are allowed to see them."
"What do they and you want from me?"
"That you're here. You're the closest the Ascended have to an equal, it's only natural you stay with us. Some are convinced that your understanding of life and death and your command over the physical universe will help in evolving to an even higher plane of existence."
Harry snorted in amusement, they wanted him to teach them? They needed it though, the rules they upheld originated from a very indifferent point of view towards the 'lesser' planes of existence. And while it was good to assume such a position, it wasn't how life worked, wasn't the purpose of having a soul... the opportunity to make your choices, make mistakes and correct them. For him the afterlife was bliss, but he could easily imagine it to be different for every individual. Heaven and hell, the afterlife was a very individual affair. Ascension was not.
"Where do we stay?"
"The central spire of the unfinished city has living quarters."
"Let's go check them out then."
Senya smiled at him.
He shook his head. Their father-son relationship certainly wasn't a usual one, but you couldn't expect less when your Ascended son held the answers and only craved for affection of his 'old' man.
"You want me to carry you?"
"I'd like that."
He crouched and opened his arms, pulling Senya up. Thank god his legs worked automatically, he didn't think he could go through the effort of carrying his son and walking around for a long time. The kid was getting a bit heavy.
"What did you tell Zelenka anyway?"
"I told him if he ever wanted to Ascend, I'd be glad to help him."
"What did he say?"
"That he'd think about."
"I'm sure he will."
"I want to hear about the Chamber of Secrets."
"Again? I must have told you that story dozens of times."
The six year old shrugged, embracing his father's neck. "I like to hear it."
"All right then... Let's see... It was my second year at Hogwarts. I had a good friend in those days by the name of Ronald Weasley. His family..."
In the hall of the Ascended, two figures that had been watching the interaction in their physical form sighed and returned to their energetic form. It was story time and reluctant to admit it they were, the Ascended collective liked to listen to Harry Potter telling about his life... A life the Ascended hadn't been able to follow due to the presence of magic.
Story time always caught their attention.
Senya frowned. "Dad, there is-"
"Activity near the Astria Porta? I know."
"You put the Cricket Detection Ward up?"
Harry shook his head. "I can't get around the wand requirement for that one." He gestured at the window in front of them. "I saw it."
Senya pouted. "Stupid height."
He rolled his eyes. "Then why don't you assume a taller form."
His son mumbled incoherently.
"I didn't quite catch that."
"I said: because I don't know what being tall is like."
"The universe doesn't cover that?"
"No, something to do with natural progress."
"Do you know who came through the Porta? We're too high for me to see any details."
"Humans and... something else."
"They seem to be looking for something."
"They're here to see us."
"Then let's go find out what they want."
Twenty minutes later they were face to face with Atlantis' flag team for offworld missions: Sheppard, Teyla, McKay and Ronon, accompanied by a complete stranger.
"Potter!" Sheppard greeted. "Just the man we need!" He winked at Senya. "How's your old man doing?"
"Older and wiser."
"Who's the fifth man?" questioned Harry.
Said man stepped forward. "I am Niam."
'I know a Niam,' Senya sent in a Legilimensy probe.
"I'm Harry Potter."
"My people and I have been led to believe that you are an expert in Ascension?"
"I know quite a bit of the process and what's it like, if that is what you mean?" He noticed Senya staring at the man, frowning.
'He's an Asuran. They're a failed experiment of the Lanteans, the Ascended thought they were exterminated thousands of years ago.'
'What are they?'
'Evolved nanites. Someone showed them how to mess with their base code.'
"There are many on my world who are eager to Ascend, unfortunately we do not know how to go about Ascending. We were wondering whether you want to help us."
He stared at the Replicator-like man briefly, before looking at McKay. If anybody would have been so foolish to do what Senya told him happened, it would be the Canadian scientist. The man mouthed ZPM at him.
"Unfortunately that is not a decision I can make by myself," he told the Replicator. "As you might guess I am not at a liberty to disclose secrets like to whomever I want to."
"The Lanteans were like that," Niam neutrally said. "But you believe you could help us?"
"It's a probability," acknowledged Harry.
"Excellent. A ship is on its way to this planet as we speak."
He gave the man a thin smile, his eyes flashing 'idiots' at the team from Atlantis.
'The shutdown command won't work if I would give it.'
'Do the rules of no interference also include not defending yourself when they try to attack?'
'Hive ships coming in orbit of the planet have been known to disappear...'
'Good, 'cause I have the feeling that's exactly what will be necessary to stop these monstrosities.'
"Was it really necessary to destroy their city-ship?" McKay whined as Harry escorted them to the Astria Porta.
"This planet is more than merely our home. You should have let us know you were bringing a failed experiment of the Ancients to this place. Besides, they had to be destroyed. Thanks to your meddling, those Asurans can ignore the shutdown protocols in their systems, you've got nobody but yourself to thank for that mess."
"You going to be okay out here?" murmured Sheppard. "You can always come back with us."
He shook his head. "I left for a reason. I have a few tricks up my sleeve to keep intruders away."
They paused in front of the Astria Porta.
"You're not going to resurface for a couple of years, are you?"
Harry looked at his son and glanced at the temples of the Ancients. "I doubt it."
Sheppard looked uncomfortable for a moment, before taking the decision and hugging him briefly. "Take care."
"I will. Keep safe yourself."
Ronon nodded at him, while Teyla embraced him as well.
"Give Kanaan my regards," he told the Athosian woman.
McKay still looked as if somebody killed his puppy.
"McKay... Don't do anything foolish in the near future for me, will you?"
"I'll have you know, I don't do foolish. For what's it's worth... It was enlightening to know you."
"It was a pleasure to work with you," he wryly said.
Soon after the expedition members and associates left.
As they turned around to head back into the temple complex, Harry said to his son. "I guess your comrades will get those lessons they're interested in after all."
Senya hummed in agreement.
Harry regarded the collective in front of him. It had taken months to convince them to 'revert' to their physical forms, perhaps even longer until they were ready to make that step. Several of the Ascended hadn't been in a physical form for millions of years, the results of which reminded him awfully much of Transfiguration accidents described in his schoolbooks. Women with beards, men with breasts, animal body parts,... Some of them really seemed to have lost their connection to the lesser planes of existence.
He sighed. This would be the first group he'd deal with and probably the most difficut of them all: those that had been Ascended the longest. He'd rather deal with the 'younger' ones, but when it came to evolution on this level... Hopefully this generation learned a bit more about themselves than the rest and were prepared to accept several things they'd discarded long ago.
"I know you are all older than me and have seen far more than I at this moment in my existence, but I'd like to hear your thoughts on several subjects. I'll then offer my opinion. Hopefully with my understanding of the metaphysical and your knowledge, we will be able to come to several conclusions. It's far removed from transcending to a higher plane of existence for the moment, but it's important to know."
The one that appeared as a man with chicken wings - he found the animals apparently very interesting to observe - spoke up. "Why should your opinion matter to us?"
He shrugged. "When I think of Ascension, I easily come up with several questions nobody seems to be able to answer. And in my book, everything that doesn't have a clear answer, that happens without any reason at all, is magic. At the same time as it doesn't seem to make sense, magic nearly always has a purpose, a raison d'être. It's in the process of discovering what the purpose is, that one learns about the mystical ways of the universe."
The man tilted his head to the side, before nodding. "It is easy to forget that you are no mere human."
"Have I ever been?" he pondered out loud, "I doubt it."
"Some individuals are destined for greatness," was the reply.
"Then what, might I ask, are the Ascended destined for?"
They didn't manage to find a decent answer to that question, which didn't surprise Harry in the least. And it became apparent when the next group came and went, followed by yet another group, and another, and another, until every Ascended present had been asked that very question, that nobody quite knew the answer... That for all their might and understanding, the Ascended did not know what their purpose was or why they even had that power. And for all his compassion and intellect, it wasn't a question Harry could answer either.
So they watched the stars twinkle and shine, the planets turn and humanity rise and fall. Occasionally some thought they had the answer, but they were proven wrong. And still they wondered, figuratively colorblind and deaf, what meaning there was to their existence.
Until one day the universe ceased to exist.