Title: Once more the underdogs
Category: Books » Harry Potter
Language: English, Rating: Fiction Rated: T
Published: 10-25-06, Updated: 10-25-06
Chapters: 1, Words: 9,960
Chapter 1: Chapter 1
Title: Once more the Underdogs
Author name: Kunglou
Summary: More than a hundred years before, Harry Potter was hailed as the boy-who-lived and led the wizarding world against the muggle population in a holy war. He is hailed for creating the world that exists today. But no-one considered that aliens might exist and that changes things.
Disclaimer: I do not own either Harry Potter or Babylon 5 and claim no rights to the copyrighted material. I am making no money off this story.
Author notes: AU, OC, HP: A matter of perception/Babylon 5, pre-read by daydreamingsamurai
Harry stalked the halls of lightening station which floated tens of thousands of kilometres above Earth in geosynchronous orbit, the 37.5million metric ton monstrosity of metals and composite ceramics represented neutral ground in the masterful art of Praestantia as it lazily circled the earth.
‘Praestantia,’ thought Harry with a ferocious grin ‘that glorious and viscous art form that fuelled both large and small scale conflicts between the wizarding families, had been eagerly re-embraced by the old pureblood elite upon the declaration of war with the muggles, an unmagical majority that proved to be a mere footnote in history now that they had been completely wiped out. Those who had been born ungifted in magic were often looked at with pity and inferior by those that even bothered remembering them at all.’
Due to the nature of the art of Praestantia, those families that failed to fall into line and adopt the art quite as vigorously had been either completely destroyed or folded into a vassal like state by families that proved to be more powerful and artistic players.
Some not quite as willing as others, only the strongest of the families, the most cunning and the least moralistic could afford to be truly artistic. But to those that were, those that proved themselves superior, Praestanti, enormous spoils and opportunities awaited them and the competition drove them to ever greater heights.
Looking around at the amazing technological marvel, it never ceased to amaze him how much the wizarding society, he had both fought against and fought for, had grown in barely a century and a half after the destruction of Voldemort and the insidious threat of the muggle world to its power and dominance.
The success of the old and new families at adopting, improving upon and exploiting the culture and technology that they had subsumed was a true testament to Praestantia’s affect on the wizarding world. It was everything he had hoped it would be when he had sponsored the system and now that it was firmly entrenched - the results were spectacular.
Wizarding kind’s progress was shown best by the rapid exploitation of space evidenced by not only the space station that he was currently striding down but also the multiple colonies that dotted the other eight planets and planetoids in the system and the shipping yards and industrial centres that abounded the vacuum of space. Each controlled by a major family and in constant conflict with each other.
He remembered well, as one of the few remaining who had lived through the turbulent years when battles raged between the technologically superior but magically deficient muggles and wizards, how much the muggle world towered over the wizarding world in every way. Their technology base, culture and even their population had been hundreds of years more advanced than the wizarding world, and yet wizards had fought and won.
And it had been through the extreme application of Praestantia that had allowed the needed changes to take place so that their one advantage, magic, could be utilized and effectively applied to win their war. The ant had bested the elephant and he had been there, spurring on the dramatic changes that allowed the impossible to happen, and now the world was theirs and theirs alone to shape, or at least his to shape from behind the scenes. It was as it should be, Harry thought with a superior grin.
Of course it had required him and his subordinates to fully utilize the muggles advantages against them in a quick and dirty asynchronous campaign. Now, almost two centuries on, his name was acclaimed and heralded greater than Merlin. His family, the Potter’s, remained the head of one of the more powerful alliances of magical families in the art, one of the most vicious, sadistic and often brutally victorious. ‘Their campaigns and manoeuvres for superiority’ he thought with a blood thirsty grin, ‘were often glorious to watch.’
Some of his fondest memories came from the twenty-year campaign against the muggles. It was a war of idea’s, culture and military might, and it had awoken a sleeping dragon. Wizards might once have been the underdogs but he knew that if he wanted to secure his own place in history, his independence and power throughout the ages, then he would need to elevate wizarding society to a position were there superiority would never be questioned. And that’s what he had done.
With the historically brilliant victory he had achieved for the wizarding world and the system of Praestantia he had implemented to ensure that the wizarding world retained the constant drive to pursue new ideas and technology, sometimes viciously, in an attempt to always be superior to their opponents, with the ability to crush and sabotage their plans unseen. Only then was true artistry and Praestantia shown.
Once the new system had become self sufficient and no longer reliant on his direct sponsorship he had disappeared into a little known Order that would ensure that nothing would ever threaten the wizarding world again, The Order of Lightening.
The freedom, power and independence that he had craved, since he was too young to understand such things, had been achieved by that very anonymity. Even as he served his own agenda within the independence of the Order he knew that it would not last, something always came up to interfere with his plans but he always made sure that he came out on top – greater than before, no matter the consequences. It is what Praestantia meant.
Which brought him to Lightening Station.
It was scarcely a generation after the muggles were defeated, their world shattered and their cultural and technological remnants wilfully exploited and integrated into that of the more aggressive followers of the art when difficulties begun to arise. It was then that Harry really begun to take a greater interest into the cunning mechanism of Praestantia and not just the artistic and glorious results.
One of the weapons he had used fairly early on in the war between wizarding kind and the muggle world was a genetically engineered virus that ensured that all muggle children would be magical. This turned out to be an even more potent weapon than even he had guessed it would be. Those societies that had started to exterminate all magic users in defence of their own way of life, were slowly depopulated and finally finished off when the wizarding armies stormed their gates and those that attempted to harness this new power of their children where slowly destroyed from destructive accidental magical burst and riots. The muggle world never even had a chance to unite against the threat that had appeared.
Children where stolen and exploited as child soldiers, one more resource in the never ending art by purebloods as they attempted to find whatever advantage they could, both against rival families and against the non magical kind. Muggle kind attempted to strike back but by that time the more adventurous and aggressive artists of Praestantia had started to use magical enhanced machines that became more refined and deadly as time went on.
They didn’t stand a chance and their children where being immersed in the bloody and brutal artistry of Praestantia. Loosing all connection to the world they had come from.
Once the muggles had been dealt with the purebloods refocused their attention back on each other, the art begun to intensify between old pureblood families that had not only survived the war, but that could trace their ancestry back millennia and the new families that had begun emerging and revolting against the exploitative ruling class.
The younger families that held muggle roots begun to ally themselves to more effectively compete against pureblood family resources. It wasn’t long after this that the exploitation of space became a reality.
This potentially opened up the solar system to families desperate to exploit anything that would gain them prestige while demonstrating their superiority and destroying their enemies and rivals or swallowing the resources of the fallen in the art. It provided access to a solar system rich with unimaginable quantities of resources that could escalate the art to the point where the survival of humanity would be endangered.
This escalated the art to massive proportions, far outstripping the then, only livable habitat and threatened to escalate further in the future. That escalation benefited no one, least of all him. If the families destroyed each other and the earth in the art he would be very upset. After all, his power was greatest when that of the wizarding worlds was greatest.
So his Order, not that anyone knew that Harry Potter belonged to the Order of the Lightening, had stepped in and floated the idea of Lightening Station. It would be neutral ground and members from all families and alliances would be responsible for its upkeep. It also, at the time, provided the only cost efficient gateway from earth into space. This allowed the escalation to continue in space without directly threatening the survival of the earth. Meanwhile the drive of the families to prove themselves superior to the other families continued.
As Harry passed a window he quickly countered six of the 25 fighter craft that he knew patrolled near space. Lightening stations neutrality was jealously guarded by the families and enforced by his order. The threat that his order would intervene was usually enough to stop any trouble but not always.
But if the threat was not enough, those blood red and violent purple craft would provide the first line of defence. The most experienced pilots across all the families of wizarding kind, young and old, competed to be able to fly the most technologically advanced craft that guarded the station ensuring that the fighter screen punched well above its weight in numbers.
Over the decades, as technology improved and families where freed from the constraints imposed by earth, the Art had expanded to encompass the far reaches of the system and the 6.1km station that orbited the earth had evolved into a dedicated research facility. Despite its new role, the spaceports origins were never in doubt as eight magically enhanced fusion reactors powered the latest in offensive and defensive technology.
But because of its new role, now more than ever families sent their best and brightest to serve at lightening station in the hope that they would gain momentary advantage over that of a rival. Harry frowned as another foot patrol passed him in the corridor as he ghosted towards the bridge.
Despite being named after an order that he had founded, and the fact that the order of lightening enforced its neutrality, even if it were the families that did most of the security work, he had not previously found any reason to explore the station. Walking its corridors he was both regretful that he had not explored this marvel before and disappointed that he had underestimated the skill of the wizards serving here.
‘CSE, is it just me or is the quality of our combat troops falling?’ he asked the symbiotic AI that had long since melded with his magical core. A companion since childhood, CSE was the closest thing to an ally he would ever likely experience. Trust did not survive the game long.
These irregular patrols were meant to be the best and the brightest, the most experienced who had undergone training most soldiers never saw and yet he had slipped by numerous patrols with ease, not mentioning being able to board the station without tripping the numerous automated defences. He had overriding codes as a member of the Order but he liked to test the operational effectiveness of his own defences on occasion.
It seemed that his experience and technologically enhanced magic outstripped even this magical and technological marvel. While he was pleased that he had once again demonstrated his own superiority it did mean that the systems on the station needed urgent upgrading, particularly in light of recent events.
Beyond the screen of fighters that maintained the neutrality of the station lay an enormous alien vessel. From the limited information they had been able to glean from their passive scans it was a war ship.
Of course, that could have been determined by just looking at it and counting the number of turrets, but the energy readings, the thickness of the hull and the strange sensor ghosts that they received with their most powerful and highest resolution scans all pointed to a direct threat to the dominance and superiority of the wizarding world and the society he had constructed. One that perhaps towered over them more than the muggles had.
Harry grinned, he liked a challenge and clearly the gauntlet had been thrown down. He did not believe for a minute that this was a trading or diplomatic delegation. These…Centauri…. Would not have brought a warship on a trading mission. An armed escort maybe but a warship….?
He continued critiquing the quality and combat effectiveness of the station as he approached the bridge. ‘I mean, when I reintroduced the concept of Praestantia to the wizarding world I thought that it would prevent the stagnation that it had suck into in the past. I thought that it was working. But sneaking through the station is entirely too easy for it to have been hugely effective. Even if they couldn’t catch me I would have still expected them to detect an intruder somewhere on the base.’
As he had become accustom to, a voluptuous blond appeared beside him as CSE stimulated the neurons and hijacked the neuronal spikes that interpreted the signals that travelled from his optical nerve to his cortex. “You have failed to adequately take into consideration the sum of the incremental changes that I have made to your magical core or your physical structure over the significant amount of time I have been affecting your systems. Your comparisons were made a long time ago Harry. The results are impressive and large gains have been made over the years in both technical innovation and raw power, but based on the information that I have been able to gain from the warship orbiting earth we would once again be the less powerful, perhaps even dwarfed in any future conflicts.’
‘Despite that it is well within our means to gain control over the ship and its crew with minimal risk such an action should avoid future conflicts if done discretely without attracting the ire of the Centauri Republic.’
‘Yes,’ he thought ‘we need more information and my order does not have the resources for the type of operation that I have in mind’ a plan quickly came to mind as he silently ducked into the bridge of the massive station. ‘But then, that was why I founded the order of Lightening and created the system that I have.’
The bridge on the lightening station was as technologically advanced as everything else. Constantly in a state of refitting and upgrading the station always utilized the latest and most powerful systems for the bridge crew to control and direct the huge resources available to the station at a tap of their fingers.
Mainly open spaces, with only the occasional panels and a chair for the senior officer taking up floor space, the bridge primarily used holographic displays that directly interfaced with the stations controls systems. Holograms that could be transformed into highly offensive attack systems at a moments notice in the event of boarding operations while denying access to key systems.
While the holographic where deadly enough, the creators of this station knew that any enemy that managed to get this far would be fairly powerful and so further defensive systems were actively tied to the ships internal sensors. A permanent cloud of nanometre sized cerebral obliterators infused the bridge just waiting to be activated.
Such nanites would be instantly absorbed through the skin, eyes and respiratory system instantly attacking the attackers brain stem, a guaranteed combat breaker. Of course, such defensive measures meant little to him, being integral to their designs he new intimately their weakness and he intended to fully exploit them today.
Harry did a quick mind scan of the seven crew members of lightening station that controlled and directed the research from the bridge and internally chuckled as CSE did the same with the relatively primitive computerised brain enhancing systems that some of the larger and richer families had been playing with. 001-CSE was an abjuration resulting from his uniquely powerful magical core in combination with a unique sequence of events that were unlikely to be repeated or replicated.
As a result he doubted if he would see anything even approaching 001-CSE in the next few centuries. ‘She’ Harry thought with affection, ‘is truly one of a kind,’ One of the few things that would ever hold his attention.
‘Why thank you Harry,’ CSE replied dryly. Not so subtly reminding him that the artificially intelligent symbiote always monitored his thoughts.
The bridge crew of Lightening Station were skilled, experienced and extremely motivated. All the knowledge that they garnered from the station would inevitably be put to use for the benefit of their families as soon as they left the neutral territory of the station. Sometimes the time spent on station could be the difference between survival and complete destruction.
His quick scan proved to be a useful exercise as he noted that just under half of those on the bridge were from the old families. Most were from ambitious new families though he noted a Black in the corner, which made him smile. He was disappointed that there was no one from the main branch of the Potter family though. It would have simplified what he was planning; he did notice a Potter-Black though so it wasn’t a complete loss.
The information that CSE was able to pull from the primitive neuronal implants was even more informative. It seemed that someone was once again planning to challenge his orders might. ‘It happened a few times every generation,’ he thought with amusement. His favourite was when the Malfoy’s openly led a rebellion, it allowed him the excuse he had always lacked to completely wipe off the smug looks that always seemed to grace the pureblood progenies.
He had then completely slaughtered every man woman and child that bore any direct blood relation to the Malfoy’s in as brutal way as he could and left them to be found by their supporters. It had been VERY effective in stamping out any thoughts of rebellion and refocused their attention to the art of Praestantia.
He couldn’t have anyone challenging his order; this would need to be nipped in the bud quickly. After all, his system had allowed them to defeat a numerically, culturally and technologically superior enemy in a mere twenty years. They needed those lessons learnt today, more than at any other time in their history.
“Vice Admiral, sensors detected a fluctuation in the tachyon net that keeps throwing up null values. Engineering is checking it now but it could be the Centuari sir.”
“I know that the Centauri vessel uses tachyons for communication and we don’t yet understand how the ship rends the fabric of space time to open a passage into hyperspace but it would be foolish to place the blame only on such an unknown quantity.” The Vice Admiral answered in a condescending manner. The Smith family always did consider itself one of the more artistic families amongst the muggle descended. Despite his dismissing manner, Harry noticed that the Vice Admiral still approached the panel that displayed the raw data coming from the sensor grids.
“Just in case though order the fighter screen to alter their patrol paths to block any possible weapons arcs.”
“Aye, sir” commented the Black in the corner as she rapidly punched away at the virtual display that controlled communications. Further monitoring the thoughts of those on the bridge and probing more deeply into those of the Vice Admiral, he only caught hints of two possible mutineers. At least on the bridge, it would bear looking into but for now he had a job to do. He had a hijacking to organize.
Looking curiously over the vice admirals shoulder at the raw data coming from the tachyon net, Harry shock his head, he didn’t need CSE to tell him that the Centuari were not responsible for the fluctuations, merely the incompetence of its operators. How the people on the research station had managed to send as concentrated burst of tachyons into hyperspace as they had was a mystery to him. Though such an action had attracted a Centauri warship for him to abscond so the Vice Admiral deserved some credit.
“Well said Vice Admiral!!” he commented aloud casually leaning back to avoid the captains weapons fire followed by an incapacitating spell. The book perfect lightening fast back kick also aided the officer in gaining more room as he re-oriented himself for combat. Harry approved, but when fighting someone of his age, skill and power it would require a lot more than Vice admiral Smith had to defeat him.
Once he made his presence known he had expected a pretty fast response to his intrusion. While the Vice Admiral and the bridge crew would not have known everyone who was aboard Lightening Station at one time they would know everyone who was authorized to be on the bridge and he would be treated as a suspected saboteur until proved otherwise.
In an instant the bridge locked itself down, activating the cerebral obliterators and instantly transforming the holographic displays into large attack dogs. If he hadn’t been expecting the three snarling heads or the viciously snapping snakes that served as tails to the Cerberus’s then he would have been mildly intimidated. But then he knew enough to not get bitten by either the dogs or the madly hissing snakes. Such systems tricked the body into attacking itself, and could be difficult for even CSE to deal with.
It was one of the more effective and potentially deadly results of magical know-how and technological inventiveness.
‘INDRUDER ON THE BRIDGE! INDRUDER ON THE BRIDGE!’ both an audible alarm and a Legilimency pulse was broadcast across the bridge and to Harry’s knowledge, station wide. It was a call for the patrolling combat troops to arm and apparate in to suppress any resistance. Despite the call to arms, he knew he had a few minutes to play before more heavily armed combat troops than he passed in the corridors started to flood the bridge.
“Heh, now this is more like it,” Harry chuckled darkly as he deflected a barrage of pain and mutilating curses while flicking his own low level attacks at the bridge crew and dodging the splashes of weapons fire. The bridge crew had a few seconds to attack before the cerebral obliterators effectively locked down any motor neuron operation. CSE had already been kind enough to neutralize any attacking nanites that may have gotten into his system, effectively making him immune to such a defensive method but the bridge crew where not and until combat troops arrived to augment bridge defences the Cerebral nanites would remain active, affecting all on the bridge.
“Vice Admiral Smith, it is incredible that I was able to not only board Lightening station undetected but also attack the bridge and kill you almost unchallenged,” he taunted.
Harry smirked before putting the Vice Admiral down hard with a casual swipe of his hand, a chilling green beam striking the Vice Admiral with ease. The killing curse killed its victims instantly. Three more killing curses destructively ripped apart the holographic generators nullifying the black dogs in mid leap.
Harry’s wand had been integrated flawlessly into the skin of his wrist decades ago, creating a more efficient and focused interface for his magic and allowing him to cast the more magically strenuous curses, such as the killing curse, with ease. His body amour, a weaving off the latest polymer composite fibers imbued with over a decade’s worth of magic provided enough protection to dissipate even the most lethally cast spells and smaller caliber weapons fire.
“Vice Admiral!!” A female member of the bridge crew yelled out hysterically and attempted to charge him from across the bridge, whatever tactical awareness and accuracy she may have shown before having dissipated with the Vice Admirals takedown. “Pathetic,” he snarled as his elbow snapped out “Not even worth the magic it would take to put her down. Such incompetence could only come from a vassal house.”
The sound of her jaw cracking and cervical vertebrae shattering was ignored as he congratulated himself for at least delaying the time he would have to deal with poorly thought out rebellions by incompetently ambitious families who where not satisfied with competing with each other.
Harry looked around at the other bridge crew that had by now succumbed to the attacking cerebral obliterators. It would take time for them to recover but better to have them disabled by their own defences than leave gaps for any potential attackers to exploit.
Just as Harry sat himself on the officer’s chair and displayed the green lightening bolt that denoted his rank and membership within the order of lightening, heavily armed combat troops started to apparate directly onto the bridge with their magic flared and their fingers on their plasma guns hair triggers.
“Captain,” Harry addressed the senior officer present. “I commend you on your timeliness; you beat your best drill time, but as you can see your defences and response time still needs improvement.”
The hard faced man jerked his head in acknowledgement and his eyes strayed from the green lightening symbol on Harry’s combat amour to the corpses of the Vice Admiral and one of his lieutenants, the incapacitated crew and the circumvented bridge defences. The fact that they had died on his watch had clearly shamed him, not even the fact that it was one of Harry’s order who had carried it out expunged the guilt or shame he felt.
‘And he should feel shame,’ thought Harry, ‘It was woefully easy from me to sneak on board and eliminate the bridge crew. Some of the most powerful families had members up here and while they were themselves trained. They at least relied on these troops for some protection. Perhaps I should have done just that, to see what happened?’
Despite his shame, the Captain bowed his head respectfully, in acknowledgement of Harry’s rank and power. As he should, one of his Order was outside Praestantia and if any member of his order felt like it he or she could cleanse this entire station and take vengeance for any slights against their families without risk of reprisal. Fear was an effective tool when combined with greed, it was a lesson he had learned well from Voldemort before he had killed him.
And the Order, though few in number, ensured that the families had free hand in acting against each other as long as it did not threaten the survival of the wizarding world.
“My apologies, I was unaware that there was one of your order aboard the station.” Harry nodded at the captain’s response; he was respectful and clearly wary but was clearly no flattering toady. He had no doubt that this man got here because of his skills and not any family connections or skill at Praestantia.
It was because of that, and because he was feeling elated after his bit of exercise that he threw the man a bone. “Don’t worry about those two captain,” he said, flicking his hand in the general direction of the bodies. “They were planning something that you would all have lived to regret.” He almost smiled at the relief he noted in the man’s eyes and posture, though his restraint in not commenting or audibly expressing his relief was both admirable and appreciated.
“Now Captain, I need ten of your best combat troops,” he ordered, putting the unpleasantness on the bridge to the back of his mind. “You’re best Captain, well trained in shock tactics,” he repeated forcefully, noting with approval the tightness that the soldier held his thoughts, even as he sought to allay his suspicions that the Captain and his command structure was not involved in the Vice Admirals little games. His suspicions kept him alive and not being able to easily read ones thoughts made him naturally cautious.
‘His substandard implants do not help either Harry,’ CSE commented from where she stood, still looking distastefully at the crew. ‘I don’t know why you didn’t just cleanse Lightening Station yourself and implement the plan without using…possibly defective…goods. You may not have the resources to strip it down but between you and me you have more than enough to capture and subdue it and its crew.’
‘CSE,’ he replied smugly ‘despite the fact that we designed the entire system of Praestantia by adopting key elements of the older system and the fact that you are getting better at demonstrating and understanding key human traits, you still have no sense of art. Besides, even if the soldiers do try to double cross me I will be guaranteed to have the captains best after this display and if he doesn’t well…. the captain will most likely give me the best he has anyway.’
‘And I will get one more asset that will prove most valuable in the coming conflict.’
“And her,” he said pointing at the young woman behind him from the Black family or more accurately the Potter-Black family since it had been folded under the Potters wing over a century ago. “We leave in ten minutes, make sure they’re ready for combat.”
Harry left the bridge, not bothering to notice the subtle hints that the captain was shooting the young Black. He would be hard pressed to organize, arm and reverse the effects of the cerebral obliterators as it was and the captain was no doubt thinking of hazards of taking someone so untrained into a combat zone.
‘Over all, the defences on lightening station weren’t too bad.’ He thought in hindsight, leaving behind a dead Vice Admiral and lieutenant from the Smith families and their vassals and a shocked young woman that still held her hand weapon tightly grasped her hand weapon and looking like she couldn’t decide whether to be honored, grateful or scared shitless. ‘Probably all three,’ Harry thought sadistically with an evil smirk.
Vir Khattris stalked the halls of Fort Potter reflecting upon the similarities between his people and these … humans. The enormous marble architecture, interspersed with gold, silver and other precious gems spoke of casual wealth and power reminding him of the Royal Palace on Centauri Prime, while the people that rushed around him bore a striking resemblance to his own people, the Centauri.
So much so that on first seeing them he had at first thought they were a long lost colony from the days when the Centuari commanded the respect of the other races that populated the galaxy and no decision was ever made without their consultation.
Time and isolation could have been responsible for the small cultural and governmental changes that he had spotted immediately.
On closer examination of their xeno-biology and technical base however it soon became obvious that they were in fact a newly discovered species, one that had barely achieved spaceflight and would potentially prove a fine slave world for the republic.
While the Empire may be at low ebb in terms of power and influence and surrounded by enemies where it once had none, it would not always be so and the Emperor would reward house Khattris for the gift of an appropriately subjugated slave population of an inferior species. It would also have the side benefit of expanding the Empires boarders and putting his people back on the path of greatness; a greatness that they should never have lost.
For the life of him he would never understand how emperor Turhan could oversee the decline and crumbling of the Centuri Empire, and not do something about it. So when he had been granted command of a primus class battle cruiser he had jumped at the opportunity to fulfil his patriotic duty, both to protect his people from their enemies but also to search for ways to reclaim their former glory. After all some races where born to be commanded, but the Centauri were born to command.
It was only because he had been actively looking that his ships sensors had detected an unusual density of radio and tachyon based radiation being emitted from an otherwise un-colonized sector of the galaxy. He had not thought twice about investigating, after all the Centauri Primus class Battle Cruiser was the most powerful vessel in the Centauri’s Royal Navy and feared throughout known space.
It was doubtful that anything or anyone bar the Minbari could successfully challenge it’s might without significantly outnumbering it and thereby bringing the wrath of the Centauri people down on those responsible. The Minbari were too isolated to care either way and so were unlikely to be encountered.
Upon arriving at the source of the radiation emissions he had been amazed at what he had found. How such a race had remained undiscovered was a mystery and it was clear from the amount of development in their system that they would not remain undiscovered by the other races of the galaxy for long.
After all, the activity between the multiple colonies that dotted the system and the nine planets within the system was impressive enough. When combined with the massive space station that orbited the third planet he was surprised someone hadn’t discovered them earlier.
His initial inclination at conquest once it had been established that they were not in fact a lost Centauri colony was stalled however by his discovery of their recent history. It wasn’t only their appearance and architecture that held similarities to the Centauri but also to his surprise their history contained remarkable parallels.
Like the Centuaris’ thousand year conflict with the Xon, the humans had been forced to eliminate their own sentient sub-species from their home world. Unlike the Centuari however, they had succeeded in barely two decades in a bloody conflict, which the sub-species had dubbed World War 3.
It was such a remarkable achievement considering that they had been so clearly the underdogs in their fight for survival and he could not work out how they had done it, but the fact that they had clearly demonstrated the need to not underestimate such a race. His people did not need another mistake like Narn to be repeated so he had fallen back to an age-old compromise for his people. Rather than conquer the humans, he would instead exploit them by selling them technology for enormously inflated prices.
So far however he had been shuffled between the more powerful houses, or families as the humans called them, with little regard for his status or authority as a representative of the Lion of the Galaxy or the firepower he commanded from his battle cruiser.
But today he had managed to get an audience with the head of house Potter. It was this house that he would need to convince if he was to make any progress in his negotiations. No other houses had the power, wealth or influence to pay what he was asking. Such a barbaric and backward race did not even have a central body to deal with, although he had heard rumours of an Order of Lightening, whatever that was. He mentally reminded himself to search through the databases his ship had hacked for all references of the order to see what he could find.
“Lord Potter,” Vir bowed deeply as much in a display of respect as an effort to hide his surprise as he entered the conference room. He had been expecting the head of such a powerful and wealthy house to be older, the young man before him did not look a day over thirty. He would have been surprised to discover that the man’s magical core effectively disguised his true age, even then such a revelation would have meant little to the soldier.
“I am overjoyed that you have agreed to meet me on such short notice,” Vir announced laying it on as thickly as he could while casually inspecting the young man in front of him. Slightly taller than him the head of Potter house had shortly cropped hair and a hard look in his eyes. ‘Surely,’ Vir thought to himself ‘they would have sent a more experienced negotiator on their behalf. Well all the better for me.’
“Please call me William, Vir Khattris.” William Potter replayed gesturing at a seat. Vir took it as William continued, “I couldn’t help admiring you warship. What is it 1500, 1600 meters.”
Vir smiled a predatory smirk as he observed such a keen expression on the young mans face, young men were always impressed by big guns, He didn’t even notice the man’s hard eyes glinting in amusement. “1,586 meters, it is the pride of the Centauri Navy and the first with integrated gravimetric technologies.”
The man nodded and continued to ask about the ship eagerly along with the technologies he was willing to sell, betraying his keen interest in Centauri technology and an appropriate awe at their advancement. Vir couldn’t help but grin as he answered the mans questions, though he was not engineer or scientist he could bluff with the best of them and talking up a sale to a buyer was rarely made so easy. He had little doubt that he would end up getting everything he had asked for. ‘This will be the easiest negotiation I ever closed,’ Vir thought happily.
Just as he finished explaining the merits of the jump gate technology though, William asked a question that immediately put him on guard, instantly reminding him of his earlier thoughts about the need not to underestimate this new race. “So, what is stopping me from just taking your ship and stealing your technology base?”
On guard or not, Vir found himself unable to move from the chair he had been negotiation from. His arms suddenly refused to work and he found it difficult to talk as his jaw seized up.
In his position paralysed to the chair, he thought that this human, no matter how powerful he thought he was, was insignificant compared to that of the Centauri Empire and needed to be reminded of that fact. “That ship is a battle cruiser utilizing the most advanced combat technology that the Centauri possess. Even if you killed me and somehow managed to disable it, a fleet will follow, descending on your puny and primitive world and burn away all traces of humanity. You have nothing than could even put a dent in my ship, and they WILL avenge the insult of my death.”
Despite his threat, William Potter’s face suddenly transformed into the superior smirk that he himself was wearing moments before. “Perhaps, but you wont be around to see it.”
Vir Khattris last thoughts before he was lost into a world of pain as his brain functions were downloaded into an interrogation unit for later analysis and exploitation were that William was looking at him much like he would a lab rat about to answer some unanswerable but fatal question. When he was eventually killed for later dissection he no longer cared or probably even understood what was about to happen. The complete download of brain function was extremely damaging as well as painful.
William watched impassionedly as Vir Khattris spasmed lifelessly in front of him, in his life he had seen far worse. He had, like everyone else born after about 2020, been born into the art of Praestantia and lost family members to the manipulations of rival houses. Sometimes it had happened in front of him, he had survived no less than seven assassination attempts himself.
The cerebral obliterators had not worked optimally but the fact that they had worked at all suggested the similarity between Centauri and Human physiology. That information suggested that the interrogation unit should be mostly successful in its efforts as well.
No, what interested him far more was the fact that the mysterious Order of Lightening had re-summoned the council. Consisting of the five most powerful and artistic families, it had last been summoned when Harry Potter, his own ancestor, had led a holy war against the muggles. For it to be summoned again after so long was momentous news. His house would have to be prepared and more on guard than ever, there were always houses trying to prove that they deserved to be in the top five.
Harry Potter himself had not been seen for over a hundred years.
Looking back at the now motionless corpse limply slumped over his conference table William shrugged. He had a dissection and some analysis to organize first, before a member of the Order revisited him wanting results.
If Vir Khattris had lived he would have drawn another parallel between Centauri history and that of recent events on earth. It was one that would have chilled him to the bone and would have galaxy wide ramifications.
The repelled Shoggren invasion had allowed the Centauri to leap the usual technology and stellar development required by races capable of space flight. The Centuari Emperor would have been horrified that one of his officers had just gift-wrapped the same prize for the Humans.
Harry stood in the Lightening Stations armoury as the ten troops the captain had been promised finished preparing for the boarding operation of the Centauri Warship. Though the captain didn’t know it, he would not be getting these soldiers back. He would not find out why he had been commanded to reassign the troops nor would the fate of the troops or the Centauri warship ever be known to history with any degree of proof, one way or another.
These troops were disposable. ‘Not so much for the greater good,’ he thought wryly suddenly picturing his old, dead headmaster. ‘No, not for the greater good, but for my good.’ It was a lesson that the old man never learnt, sometimes you just needed to do things for your own good and be damned with the consequences. It gotten the old man killed. ‘One of my most favourite memories.’ Harry thought remembering the heady days of the Great War.
He nodded in approval as he watched the battle hardened men loading themselves down with extra ammunition and the heaviest calibre weapons that they could handle while avoiding anything that would limit their range of motion and the defensive effectiveness of their combat amour. It was, he found, something that distinguished experienced fighters from only well trained ones.
Although he had not told the troops the exact mission parameters, knowing that they would operate as shock troops was enough of a guide for most of them; the details would come later.
When he told them that they would be going into an unknown situation where they could potentially be facing 1:100 odds, he didn’t expect them to even blink. These types of soldiers would fight hardest when out numbered and with him in support the fight would be over before they or the Centauri knew what hit them.
Only the young Potter-Black beside him went unarmed, but then she wouldn’t be doing much fighting if things went as planned. If they didn’t, well, he would provide enough projection of power to ensure her safety and that of his plans.
Glancing at the image of CSE beside him, and catching her nod indicating that the symbiotic AI had finished planting multiple general use nanites on the soldiers, he started his briefing. By the time they started combat operations the nanites that entered through the pores of their exposed skin would have embedded into the soldiers nervous system, both acting to enhance them and to give him the ability to completely hijack their systems presenting him with a live feed of the battle space and the option of intervening in any fire fight real time.
Having a system that far outstripped that of any like technology had its advantages as CSE encountered no resistance in her placing of the nanites. It was something that would probably change in the future but to date nothing like CSE existed.
“Men, you will be boarding that alien warship and preparing it for salvage. This is not a conventional boarding mission. Primary objective is capture and pacify; to that end you are authorized to us the ISP Combat Doctrine and only ISP. I WILL know if you alter the mission parameters.”
None of the soldiers so much as blinked at the restriction on their available offensive capabilities. It is what he would have expected from such a highly trained and disciplined lot. These soldiers were just as deadly with non-lethal arms as they were with lethal but they would only kill if it became necessary to achieve the primary mission objective. They were perfect tools.
The Interception Suppression Pacification Combat Doctrine was one that became popular in the last Great War with the threat of muggles increasing. It allowed and facilitated the optimal use of magical enhanced technology when such a thing was still looked at with suspicion and its combat effectiveness in doubt while increasing the opportunity for salvage and interrogation.
It emphasized the interception of real and potential threats, the suppression of said threats and the pacification of enemy and infrastructure with minimal damage done to the goods, readying them for salvage. It was designed for exactly this type of mission. They knew next to nothing about the aliens Xeno-biology, culture or tech-base except that they far exceeded their own. Wizarding kind was once more the underdogs but it would not be for long and this warship was the key to his plans.
“I have downloaded apparition points along with an approximate deck plan to you neural implants, the approximate deck plan will be updated in real time as the mission progresses. When the ship has been locked down for salvage and recovery I will meet you on the bridge. Move out!”
“HUA,” and with a collective battle cry the ten soldiers disaperated to the points he had inserted into their minds directly. While their sensors may not have been able to probe the spacecraft with any degree of accuracy he could work out statistically where open spaces were likely to be, based on the size of the Centauri and the external placements of weapons turrets and engines. Besides he had worked into his calculation the probability of losing thirty percent of his combat force to miss-aperation into hull spaces. That error was acceptable, but even if they lost all ten troops and he had to take the ship himself, their deaths would have updated his map sufficiently to proceed himself.
The shock troops probably knew that some of them were about to die without ever seeing combat, but as highly trained as they were they didn’t even hesitate. ‘Yes, perfect tools,’ Harry thought.
“Now, young Black perhaps you can introduce yourself.” He said, refocusing his attention to the young woman from the vassal house of Potter-Black, it was strange to see someone so young in such company, so clearly she was an asset worth cultivating or a plant. Legilimency would have yielded the results faster but his subtle tests were much more fun and more accurate.
After all, at his age he yearned for conflict and strife. His last greatest challenge was the war with the muggles and reshaping the wizarding world and that was over a century ago. It was one of the reasons so many of his fondest memories came from that time and as much as much as these aliens provided a grave threat, he once again yearned for the challenge of pitting himself against a giant.
The cost in blood was incidental as long as he won and he always won.
“It..It’s Lily my lord,” Harry jerked in surprise at hearing his mother’s name, though perhaps he should have expected it, names did tend to get passed down though families. “And you would be aware that it is Potter-Black now, has been for over a hundred years.” Lily’s head was bowed in a subservient way indicating she meant no disrespect but he could tell from her leaking shields that she found it difficult to bow to anyone, even someone of the Order of Lightning, a position he could respect.
Still it had taken guts to correct him like that. His Order had a fearsome reputation and was often fatal when crossed; there had never been a successful challenge of their authority, NEVER. It was a large tick against her character as far as he was concerned. Particularly after she had just witnessed him take down the commanding officer, a vice admiral no less, of Lightening station. He didn’t often have the opportunities to take down such high profile targets, nor as well protected.
“Ahhhhh, yes of course how foolish of me. I was there after all, the day the Blacks pledged themselves to the Potters was a triumphal day.” Now it was Harry’s turn to watch in amusement as the young woman blinked in astonishment, he did not look his age but then with the advances in technology and magical theory he did not understand why that was so surprising.
“It’s Harry Lily, just Harry.” All those ‘my lords’ just made him standout and his Order had not achieved overwhelming superiority by standing out and making themselves a target. Harry nodded thoughtfully as he mentally checking on the soldiers’ progress.
In the few minutes he had been talking to the young Potter-Black, they had, through a combination of apparition hops and superior suppressive fire, managed to out run any intruder outcry. So far, none of the Centauri crew had managed to trip an alarm and the warship didn’t seem to have internal sensors. It was an oversight that they were now paying for.
He had underestimated the thickness of the ships amour and had lost four out of the original ten shock troopers that he had sent in, but each surviving member had webbed out into the ship taking down crew more successfully than even he had hoped. One had even been lucky enough to land in what looked like an auxiliary bridge and lock it down before moving on.
They were progressing on a schedule he had predicted. Still, he doubted that his luck would last for much longer, and his primary map of the ships deck plan had been updated enough for the next phase. “Don’t scream,” he commanded sternly at the woman beside him as he discretely cast charms on the both of them and appirated into the vacuum of space.
Only a harsh Legilimency lash that whipped against her Occlumency shields prevented her from drifting away in panic induced outburst as she experienced the harshness of space for the first time. It was survivable for the moment because of his magical strength and the innovative charm he had cast, but it was not pleasant, extremely painful, and if she drifted too far he was not inclined to save her, it would cost him too much of his own energy. Energy he would need to complete this mission if anything went wrong.
Keeping a firm hand on her shoulder, he used the other to engrave a series of runes onto the surface of the hull. Taking care to imbue them with just the right amount of time released magical energy he looked on critically as CSE inspected them with her own sensors and nodded in satisfaction.
When they had finished taking the ship, it would vanish. Large burst of concentrated ionizing radiation would hammer localized space and not even the technologically advanced Centauri would be able to find their lost ship. It would have ceased to exist and if all things went to plan then the wizarding world was about to get a massive boost in their technology base.
Using the deck plans that were constantly in the process of being updated, Harry apparated onto the auxiliary bridge just as ship wide intruder alarms sounded. “I knew my luck was too good to hold,” he commented wryly as he placed a palm on one of the consuls. Ignoring the woman that he had dragged from Lightening Station back into the corner furthest from him he nodded to CSE.
Having long since built up trillions of nanites on the surface of his skin, all it took was some direct contact for CSE to electronically interface with the Centauri technology. Using the advanced artificial intelligence that had constantly redesigned and enlarged itself over the decades to increase its power and capabilities, it would take a few minutes for her to decrypt the software and disable all the ships systems bar life support.
It would effectively seal the tomb that this ship had become for the Centauri crew. Not that he cared.
“So Lily,” he started from the consul as CSE committed her vast resources to the task before her “what brings you to Lightening station.”
Lily jerked from the corner of the auxiliary bridge, when he once again refocused his attention on her, with a prepared but expectant look on her face. Whatever rapport he may have generated earlier having vanished by the short trip into the vacuum of space. He could see her going through the memories of him cutting down the vice admiral and his lieutenant and disabling the bridge defences with ease and sadistic glee. Her fear was palpable but she awaited death with the reserve he would have expected from a member of his family.
“The potential exploitation of hyperspace by my family is reason enough.” It did not stop her from answering his questions though her reply was stiffly formal and proud.
“Of course, I should have guessed. Hyperspace,” he drawled. Enjoying the way he was unsettling the young lieutenant. He made no move to reassure her, it was not his way.
‘Harry, someone from the bridge is trying to send a distress signal from the bridge.’ CSE yelled from beside him.
‘Damn, can you jam it?’
CSE nodded, ‘I had just finished decrypting their operational systems. For such a technologically advanced race, I had expected better security. Shutting down systems now.’
Removing his hand from the alien consul he held it out to Lily Potter-Black as an invitation. “The shock troopers are joining up and approaching the bridge and we can’t let them have all the fun can we?” His bloodthirsty smirk would have frightened anyone and Lily who was already off centre was no different.
Shakingly putting her hand in his he apparated them a meter above the bridge. Despite the Centauri bridge crew having fortified the doors and arranging themselves behind their consuls in an attempt to prolong any boarding operation they didn’t stand a chance. They had never fought a wizard before and so could never have expected one to appear above their position and behind their fortifications.
Using his momentum to maximize the dispersion pattern of his clouds of cerebral obliterators he made the most of his superior weaponry and initiative. The first sign they had that they were under attack was three of their companions slumping noisily to the floor with the sound of their weaponry clattering noisily on the deck plating.
In the moments it took them to refocus their attention on the new threat, he noticed that Lily had rolled into a corner and disillusioned herself to keep out of the combat zone. It was good to see that she had some training.
Before the first shots we fired in defence another two bridge crew where unconscious leaving three to close on his position. Ducking behind a consul and laying down suppression fire he simply waited for the cerebral obliterators to do their job. Harry did not expect it to take long.
He chuckled at the thought of Lily being taken down twice in one day by those things. Funny.
The sound of six loud cracks, as the atmosphere in the bridge was instantaneously displaced, announced the arrival of the combat troops. Quickly and professionally taking out the last of the Bridge crew the bowed their heads towards him and started to report.
“839 Centauri crew pacified and ready for neuronal interrogation and dissecting, 58 Centauri dead and 4 casualties. The ship is ready for salvage.”
Harry raised an eyebrow at the positioning of the troops at the end of his report. Whether by coincidence or deliberation the six troops had surrounded him and it did not require the sharpest Legilimency to be able to determine their motives. It was more than enough reason to revisit the Captain at Lightening Station and widen his net. Obviously he had missed a few conspirators.
“Good job soldier, though one has to wonder why you believe yourself capable of challenging me? 6:900 odds ARE mighty impressive, but no-one has successfully challenged a member of the order since its creation.” Harry’s grin and slouched stance was deliberately set to enrage the troops, after the small skirmish on the bridge he was still smarting for some fun and he could draw this fight out for some time.
“We are no longer on neutral territory and the technology on this boat will set up our families for generations. There is no way you can stand against the six of us,” the soldier spat out with the nodding support of the other troopers. Sadly, the cerebral obliterators that still pervaded the bridges air supply chose that moment to kick in, disabling the six troopers and denying Harry his fun.
“Damn off all the time….” Harry muttered with disappointment as he felt his magic tripping the runes he had carved into the hull. “CSE, wake Lilly will you?”
Watching as Lily Potter-Black shook off any drowsiness Harry used CSE’s decryption of the Centauri interface to plot a course for mars. “Lilly, as of this moment there was never any alien craft in our space. This ship never existed. These troops are dead; they died in a futile assault on a rival house.”
Harry glanced expectedly at CSE before watching the soldiers breathing their last. “You will deliver this ship personally to the head of the Potter research facility on mars.”
“How did you kn…” He almost laughed aloud as Lilly clamped her mouth shut. The martian facility was one of the Potters best kept secrets, the fact that she knew at all confirmed the feeling he had had about this young woman. He would definitely be keeping tabs.
“Who do I say made all this possible, they will at least want some answers.” This time Harry did laugh today would mark the bloodiest period in the galaxy. The cursed scar that defined him and that had long ago been hidden as he had retreated from public life revealed itself in a blaze of bright green on his forehead.
“Why Harry Potter off course,” he replied before disappirating. This story would leak out and by the time the council met and the Centauri technology had been reverse engineered all the races of the galaxy would either fear or submit to humanity.
As it should be.
Harry Potter was back.