A Very Harry Happening
“Please tell me I’m actually dead this time.”
Harry’s voice came out in a deadpan as he opened his eyes in an all-too-familiar location.
He hadn’t been back to Platform 9 ¾ since leaving for his final (eighth) year of Hogwarts.
There was no need, as he had neither friends at the ancient school nor any children to send off. Though he supposed Teddy was almost there, but it wasn’t yet September and that nightmare of first-year anxiety was months away. Andromeda would handle most of it, as she’d done with the rest of the day-to-day of raising his godson/her grandson. But Harry would still be the one the young Lupin would lean on for those first-day jitters.
He would have been.
But being a Hit Wizard wasn’t exactly all sunshine and roses, and Harry had already beaten the odds more than once.
Moreover, he’d recognized that sickly-purple spell the newest wave of wizarding-cult-followers had shot at him. Hell. He’d used the Sectumsempra more than once in the line of duty.
He’d felt it hit across his upper chest and neck.
He’d felt himself get cold and his vision — finally corrected after reaching his majority and being able to request and pay for the expensive potion — fade out.
Harry had died.
Though maybe this time it would take, even if it would leave behind a grieving Teddy.
Harry didn’t try and fool himself.
After he’d thrown off everyone’s expectations, taking up his seats in the Wizengamot and going after his Inheritance that everyone had somehow neglected to mention *cough, Dumbledore, cough, Weasleys, cough*, not many people would miss him other than his godson.
He imagined that even Andromeda, stern matriarch that she was, would only miss having his support and more importantly his name to throw around, more than him himself.
Going back to Hogwarts, not what the Ministry wanted or the public expected, but still within the “allowable” realm of behavior.
Accepting all his vaults, his titles, and his responsibilities, well, it wasn’t what anyone wanted for him, per se, but it wasn’t beyond the pale either.
It was when he entered Hit Wizard training instead of Auror Academy that people started to twitch.
Harry was already considered volatile, powerful, and somewhat dangerous.
Joining the ranks of witches and wizards who were the Wizarding World’s version of Special Forces crossed with MI6…that started up a tone of concern, though it was levied in part that as a Hit Wizard he was ostensibly under the aegis of the Ministry and all-was-still-well.
It was also the first real strike against the tidy “plan” that had been set in motion for his life, ever since he was born and likely before he was even conceived.
The Wizarding World liked things neat and tidy in their little labeled boxes.
Potters were Aurors.
Malfoys were Politicians.
Blacks were eccentric (or flat-out crazy) Nobles.
And so on, into infinity.
But Harry bucked centuries of tradition and went into the more dangerous field of being a Hit Wizard, which carried with it a ten-year expiration date: either you died before then (which was ninety percent of them) or you retired and either taught the oncoming young-bloods or transferred into the DMLE either as an administrator of some kind or as an Auror.
Harry’s ten-year mark was coming up soon, and he’d made it despite curses, hexes, vampires (and wasn’t that a fun case…) and now this new muggleborn-driven cult that wanted, irony of ironies, to tear down the Statute of Secrecy and usher in a world where wizard kind were benign rulers.
This shit just never ended.
It simply changed faces.
He could almost hear Tom laughing from the gates of Hell where he was no doubt waiting for Harry to show up.
Harry had no illusions about himself. Not anymore. He might’ve made a middling-to-good godfather when he wasn’t dodging curses or blood-sucking-fiends, but he also killed his first man at the age of eleven and thereafter never really…stopped.
Oh, there were lulls, and sometimes it was creatures that he ended up ending instead of people, but it was as if once his heart got a taste of death it never forgot it — or how easy it was to dole it out.
He had a survival instinct that was, even he could admit, second to none, surviving things that would have killed anyone else.
And this time that survival instinct was screaming at him that he’d finally failed to listen to it in time.
Most of all…Harry was just tired.
Not so much of his job, he’d been damn good as a Hit Wizard, nor of his role as godfather though he was glad that he’d got to at least spend the last ten years with Teddy.
But tired, oh yes, he was tired of other things.
Tired of the expectations of him to finally “settle down” with an appropriate Alpha and start popping out litters of bitty Potters, especially with his retirement from active duty Hit Wizard coming up.
Tired of having to explain, again, that no, he wasn’t interested in Ginny for the five-thousandth-time when he went to the Burrow for Sunday dinner.
Tired of Hermione trying to use his name and influence to direct the Wizarding World.
Tired of Ron trying to use their shared adventures to advance his Auror career.
Tired of being seen as everyone’s favorite bankroll, after all, it wasn’t like he had any family to spend his galleons on, Harry.
Just tired of all the bullshit.
And now, unless this was a potions-induced psychotropic trip, he could finally rest.
Sighing, he blinked his eyes in the wake of the glowing-white-haze the Platform was covered in and wearily climbed to his feet, absently noticing that like his previous visit he was wearing the same clothes as he remembered before taking the death-blow but clean, though this time it was his Hit Wizard wear of gunmetal-grey Horntail dragonhide trousers, boots, and gloves matched with a goblin-forged steel-mail undershirt topping a soft cotton undervest and topped in turn by a wool long-sleeved tunic in dove grey, a basilisk-hide sleeveless dueling robe that had a hood and dropped to the top of his knee-high boots thrown over it all. On the left side of his tunic was his rank as a Hit Wizard, no surprise that after nearly a decade in the field, it was of a Field Commander, the words embroidered in the same venom-green of his basilisk robe, with his call sign: Kiba, under it and the nine gunmetal-grey stars that signified each year of service.
His wand was back in the Horntail-hide holster on his right arm, having been dropped and automatically returned when he, well, died, and he felt the comforting weight of his favorite knife still tucked inside his left boot.
“Sorry, son.” He heard from behind him the voice was soothing and gentle but with an underlying rasp, Harry turning to face the speaker, one he didn’t think he’d ever met before in his life…unlike last time. “But far be it for Death to forsake His Master in such a way.”
“Merlin,” he cursed, rubbing at his tired emerald green eyes. “For once I wish it wasn’t me.”
Harry eyed the other man — if a man at all was what the other figure was. He was…utterly normal in just about every way. Harry knew operatives on the muggle side of things that would kill to have his seeming blandness, that ability to be everyone and no one all at once. Grey hair, a sober face that was handsome but not overly or memorably so, soft grey eyes, and dressed in a muggle suit in black with a mandarin collar, there was nothing remarkable about him not his looks, his middling height, nothing.
Nothing at all, save his voice that had a resonance that struck at the very heart of Harry.
“But it is you,” Death said, folding his hands elegantly before him, watching Harry with a sort of paternal pride and care. “You are the last of the Peverells, the last of my chosen Wizards. You collected all my Hallows, and yet never sought them. And you who cast them away, breaking and burning the wand, turning the stone to powder, only keeping the last, the Cloak that was handed down from father-to-son, for your own.” There was no mistaking it, Death was proud of him. Proud and entertained, unless Harry’s instincts were off. “There is no other I would have ever chosen — nor did I, when I gave the Three my Gifts and sent them out into the world. I always knew it would be you, Harry. And I’m very glad it was.”
“Omniscience…great.” Harry said with a sigh, barely holding in an eye roll. He was tempted to give into sarcasm but had enough self-preservation, even while mostly-dead, to refrain in the presence of a deity…of some kind. “To recap: you met my ancestors, gave them the Hallows, all so that I would become your Master, which I never wanted to be in the first place.” Harry held out his arms in a Here-I-Am gesture. “Now what?”
“That is, for the first time,” Death gave him a gentle look of understanding. “Entirely up to you, son. Should you wish it you can return to your life, knowing that you are my Master and therefore will have a problem staying dead. If you wish, you can summon the Hallows to you before you return. Or you can choose to go on: either to your well-deserved rest having lived a half-life or…”
Harry knew he was going to regret this but his damned-infernal curiosity would torture him for ages if he didn’t do it. “Or…?”
“You will never have the life you want, the life you were meant to have before Fate meddled with you, if you go back.” Death looked unbearably pissed-off at the mention of Fate meddling. Something to think on later, as well as what it implied about both entities? Deities? Whatever. A problem for another time. “Nor can you remain in these Crossroads without becoming a wraith yourself, even the Master of Death is still human, and this is not a place for a soul such as yours.”
“Then I can go on.” Harry said softly, voice wistful as he stared off at something only he could see. He could almost hear the voices of his parents, of Sirius and Remus and even Severus, calling out to him. “To my rest.” The quirk of his lips was nothing short of bitter. “I rather think I’ve earned that much.”
“Yes, I daresay you have.” Death agreed easily with that much. “You have single-handedly at times and jointly at others, saved no less than millions of lives, both magical and otherwise by your deeds. You were a true hero in your life and have earned a hero’s rest. However, there is another path that you might take.” Death’s eyes gleamed with unearthly brightness for a moment. “This is, after all, a Crossroads: there are more choices than merely forwards or back.”
“I can return you to another time in your same world, with all your same knowledge and powers.” Death waved his arms, and several trains pulled into the station, the first an inky black, the second a blinding white, the third a dove grey, and the last an emerald green. “I can send you back to your life the very moment you were struck down, merely with a lesser wound, I can send you onwards to your rest, or,” Death’s smile was too toothsome to be comforting. “I can send you to a place outside of the influences that have thus far guided your life. The choice, my son, is up to you.”
“I know I don’t want to go back to the way things were.” Harry admitted with a sigh, Death nodding and the white train disappearing. “I’m tired of playing their hero.” He thought for a moment and gave a sneer. “And as tempting as it is to go back to another time in my own world, to change things, make them better,” he snorted. “I’ve already bled enough for them; why should they have any more of me?”
“Why, indeed?” Death asked lowly, waving an arm and the black train fading away.
Honestly, the deity hadn’t been sure if this Harry would choose to go back and “fix-it” as many other Harrys have. After all, as quantum cosmology put it: everything that can happen will happen in opposite and parallel universes. This is merely the first time this Harry has stood before him and they’ve had a version of this same conversation.
Though granted when you thought of it that way, this was the first time this Death has done so as well.
It was enough to give a deity a headache…if deities got headaches.
“Which only leaves the question:” Harry said to himself, staring at the two trains. “Do I rest, or do I bite the apple that’s been offered to tempt me?”
“It isn’t poisoned; I can reassure you of that much.” Death smirked. “But neither is that choice without struggle or conflict. Choosing to step outside of our influences will lose you your inability to stay dead for one: where you go I would not be able to extend my grasp. But at the same time, Fate won’t be able to toy with you any longer: you will also be outside of Her reach.”
“What else can you tell me?”
“I can give you the information about that world you’ll need to survive the first thirty days.” Death folded his arms in front of his chest, a knowing arch to his brow. “Anything outside of that, you’ll have to bargain for: Death may be neutral, and you my Master, but there are rules to such things that even we cannot disobey.”
“You said I can summon the remains of the Hallows.” Harry lit on what Death meant almost immediately. “What can I ask for in exchange for returning them to you, along with giving up my phoenix wand?”
“The Wand was a weapon to best all others.” Death intoned solemnly, a chilling reverb in his voice. “I can supply you with one that with practice and work will be the same. The Stone was designed to recall a loved one from Me: along with your phoenix wand I can augment you so that we shouldn't see each other again for a long time. And the Cloak when mastered and used wisely could hide anyone from even Me: I can grant you the skill to do the same in your new home.”
“A weapon, an upgrade, and a skill.” Harry summed up, turning it over and over in his mind. “What about my other things? Can I have any of them in my new life?”
“I cannot touch that that isn’t yours alone.” Death said slowly, thinking of how best to word his answer. “But there will be things I can send along with you as part of your ‘grace period’ as it were.”
“What isn’t mine alone…hmm…” Harry pondered that. “The contents of my trust vault and my personal work vault then.” He decided fit the bill. “Only in a bottomless trunk or bag from my vault and made into a form that won’t draw attention. My clothes, say all my Hit Wizard uniforms save for my dress uniform that I’ll be buried in, and my boots. My personal potions store. Everything else I suppose all belongs to Teddy now…or was my own inheritance and not strictly mine.”
“It shall be as you ask, if a new home is the choice you make.” Death agreed with a regal incline of his head. “Save for things that cannot or will not function in your new home, that is. There may be artefacts and the like that won’t work where you’re going.”
“I think we both know what I’ve decided.” Harry drawled with a half-smile. “I’m tired enough to want to rest, but still curious enough to take your bait. Send me on: to a place where those that have influenced my life cannot touch me.”
“As you wish.” Death nodded his head and the green train disappeared, leaving only the dove grey in its place to carry Harry onward. “It shall be done: Master of Death.” The deity looked far off for a moment and smoke and vapor started to climb from the engine’s smokestack. “What shall your name be, Master, in your new life?” He asked several moments later after Harry had carried through with his half of the bargain and summoned the Hallows, setting them down on the bench beside him along with his original wand.
“I’ve always wanted to be just Harry.” The green-eyed wizard said with a little laugh. “But unless I’m going back in time as well as far away, I don’t think that’ll cut it.”
“No, son.” Death chuckled a little as he made several things materialize in his lean hands. “It won’t.”
He handed the items over to Harry, the wizard arching a brow at the all-too-familiar sword though this time it was housed in a basilisk hide sheath, likely the only thing that could protect the bearer or others from its deadly venomous blade. Rolling his eyes a bit at the vicious grin on Death’s face, Harry threw the buckled sheath on over his robe, settling it onto his back with the ease of someone who has undergone serious weapons training as a Hit Wizard. It wouldn’t be the first time he’d used a sword in the last decade, though he — or anyone for that matter — hadn’t seen this one since Neville killed Nagini with it.
Harry had to admit, as far as trades go, an unbeatable Wand for a poisonous, deadly sword wasn’t a bad deal.
Even if the rubies made it a bit flashy for his taste.
Next went on the plain black canvas bag, likely containing the things he’d asked for that “belonged” to him, Death tapping the small pocket on the front of the bag. "Inside you’ll find your new identity and information on your upgrade…but be careful.” Death warned. “Read the information I’ve provided thoroughly before you go running around willy-nilly. A gift can quickly become a plague upon yourself if it isn’t handled correctly.”
“I understand.” Harry nodded once, sharply. “Will I understand the information with my current level of knowledge?”
“Once I’ve given you the information you’ll need to survive and your new skill-set: yes.” Death smirked a little. “Though I would wager that even without it you would’ve figured it out…in time.”
“Okay then…” Harry shrugged on the pack over top of the sheath but not so it was blocking the hilt of the sword and preventing a clean draw. “Anything else?”
“Just this.” Quick as a viper, Death reached out and pressed the palm of one hand to Harry’s forehead, the forefinger of his other hand digging into the base of his neck.
The smaller figure screamed and writhed in place as information was literally shoved into his mind, tearing through his mental barriers like tinfoil and making his nose drip blood from the strain. To make matters worse a spike of pain and heat to rival Voldemort's Crucio seared through the rest of his nervous system, originating from the base of his neck.
“Fuck!” He cried out as Death finally let him loose, hunching over with his hands on his knees, barely keeping himself from collapsing onto the ground. “What the fuck was that?!”
“That.” Death answered dryly as he escorted Harry over to the open door of the waiting train. “Was what you can call an information download, and the implant of your focus needed for the start of your upgrade. Not pleasant in the least, but effective. You’ll survive what’s coming now.” He waved one hand to the open doors, beckoning Harry forward. “Or at least, you should. Meditate while you travel, where you’re going is no little distance away…and you’ll need to be prepared for anything the moment you arrive.”
“Okay.” Harry blew out a breath. “Be prepared, survive, any other advice before we part ways, hopefully for a long, long time?”
“Just one:” Death said softly, the paternal mien returning. “This life has taught you to block yourself off from others, to withhold your trust and guard your heart: and those were and are necessary skills for you to survive. But.” He held up a warning hand when Harry went to protest. “But, there will come a time when you’ll need to trust to survive, and to open your heart if you want to live…and not just survive.”
Harry nodded, once, shortly, jaw clenched at the implied censure.
As if he hadn’t heard similar things before, most recently from Andromeda, over his shunning of Alphas and even Betas, who were brought to him in an attempt to matchmake.
“Harry Potter Black.” He decided, ignoring the opportunity to respond to Death’s advice. “That’ll be my name. Harry P. Black.”
"Very well," Death nodded, the doors beginning to close. "Your destination is a densely populated space station nestled inside and around a far-distant mining asteroid in another galaxy. The year is 2184, in an alternate future from this one, where magic does not truly exist, not like you know it here...though some beings have discovered other, similarly fantastic abilities."
"Ok." Harry said as he stepped back before cocking his head and raising his hand briefly in goodbye to his old friend. "And the name of the asteroid-space station?"
Death's grin was borderline malicious as he answered, raising his voice just enough to be heard over the closing doors and the squeal of the train wheels.
Harry laughed darkly as he settled into a compartment on the moving train. The irony was, even he had to admit, rather wonderful. He passed up a chance on his afterlife and gave up his not-dying-thing only to land in a place named for the end (or for his dynamic) — the end of what would be the question.
It had a delicious sense of symmetrical macabre to it that he enjoyed, even as he wondered and worried about some of the things Death implied — or out-right stated about his “new world.”
No magic for one — or at least — not as he understood it.
That was worrisome, making him unsure about whether his own magic would work. Or not. Or just a little. Which was all somewhat moot as he didn’t have a wand anyway and he only had a few skills in his wandless repertoire.
Don’t get him wrong, they were dead useful skills to have, which was why he’d taken the time and massive effort to learn them wandless: Episkey, Tergeo, Stupefy, Allohomora, Accio, and Windgarium Leviosa, none of which are necessarily high-level spells but could be learned wandless and even wordless, as he’d done.
The only other magical skills he had that could be done without a wand were his Animagus transformation and a few blood-based rituals he knew for warding that he had to learn to take control of his family properties as well as Grimmauld Place.
That was if using his magic didn’t fry whatever electronics he was around, as since this wasn’t a magical world he was going to, and the year 2184, electronics were going to be a fact of life as Death had referenced an asteroid and space station, meaning space travel.
Given that this was an alternate future, he couldn't help but wonder what Earth would be like and if he'd ever be able to see it again, assuming there still was an Earth in this future. Even if it wasn't his Earth, it was still some variant of home so therefore he'd hate to see something happen to it.
Sinking into his meditation to process the migraine-inducing information overload he’d received, Harry arched a brow at one of the first things he found: his new skill-set.
Part of being a Hit Wizard was undergoing a course with the muggle military on survivalism, as well as tracking and bringing down targets. What he’d gotten in exchange for the Cloak was a different set of skills entirely, though not one that was completely alien due to the aforementioned training. It was what his trainer/mentor for the Hit Wizards called “Ghost Training” and something Harry hadn’t gotten into as he was slotted into the Hit Wizards when they were short “Tanks”, powerhouses that were mostly used to cause shock, awe, and leave a wave of destruction in their wake. With his magical core, and proven ability to deal damage, making him into a Tank-Class Hit Wizard simply made sense over the other two classes which were Proteus-Class a kind of jack-of-all-trades that filled in the blanks between Tanks and Ghosts, and the Ghost-Class which were the lone-wolves of the Hit Wizards. Ghosts were able to adapt to any surroundings, survive any terrain or environment, gathering intelligence or taking out threats as needed.
Needless to say, Tanks and Ghosts rarely worked together, mainly backed up by Proteus who were the bulk and the back-bone of the Hit Wizards.
Altogether, Harry would wager that there were only ever a handful of fully-trained Tanks or Ghosts in the ranks at any given time, whereas all the rest were Proteus.
Wave after wave of instinct, skills, and habits flooded his mind as the information Death gave him to ensure he’d survive the first month met and married up with the skill-set he’d bargained for, Harry suddenly just knowing that Omega was home to over 7.5 million intelligent beings, and was nearly lawless as well, meant that he would have to deal with smog, multiple sentient races in close proximity with each other, heavy technology use, and extreme heat and cold as well as all the health problems those things made, and deal with the massive lawless population there. Unless he decided to relocate immediately, people were likely to be a much bigger problem than the weather.
Also, apparently humans weren't alone in the universe after all, and were in fact not the highest intelligent life form on the proverbial totem pole. No, that position was taken by the alien races known as the Asari, Turians, and Salarians, not to mention the whole host of other life forms jockeying for position in the galactic politic and power arena, many of which were none-to-fond of the up-and-coming human Alliance. Omega being one of those power hot-spots, though of a less than legal persuasion, as compared to the central galactic government hub, the Citadel.
Not Harry before now.
Another piece of information, more of a whisper than a shout, which from what he could tell meant it was unconfirmed info of the whisper/gossip/conspiracy-cover-up sort, told him that there was recently an altercation of massive proportions. That same…instigator may have been a scouting vanguard for an entire race of similar, malicious ship-sized beings. Which, in the style of all organizations that liked to pretend they were ostriches, was conveniently being flat out denied by the Citadel Council who had their heads firmly lodged up their collective asses about the potential threat.
"Well," he murmured as piece by piece his new skills and information settled into place. "At least now I know why Death gave me a damn sword. I might very well have to use it if there's hostiles in the area despite it supposedly being a modern society."
Feeling muzzy-headed and still fighting off a migraine, Harry knew when he was close to his destination, sensing the motion of the train slowing down.
Standing and shaking his head, he took a deep breath, steeling himself to step out and into a life filled with unknown challenges — save that it was going to be a challenge, Death wouldn't have given him the information, the tools and skills he had, if it was going to be an easy coast to easy street.
No, Harry chuckled, somehow a soft, easy life wasn’t ever in the cards for him.
But if he was honest with himself, that sounded boring as shit anyway.
Stretching up onto his toes, he mentally thanked restoration/nutrition potions as well as a late-teens growth spurt that he wasn’t a damn shrimp anymore. Being stuck at well-below average height and weight for a male of European extraction would’ve sucked, especially undergoing his weapons training and physical combat training to be a Tank. Granted, even with magical help he didn’t hit the 6’ 3” of his Alpha father or even the 6’ 1” of his godfather, but a reasonable 5’ 10” was a lot better than the 5’ 4” he was when he faced off against Voldemort, magic taking care of his vision issues as well.
Magic had also helped his eating issue — or rather the involuntary eating disorder he’d gotten from years of sustained and systematic neglect and abuse — which in turn helped him pack on pounds in the form of muscle, even if he’d never be as “smooth” as an Omega was supposed to be.
Omegas — while they could be tall, and if they were male often were due to the double-set of internal sex organs they had, unlike the double-external of female Alphas — were, supposedly, smooth and lithe with more curves than angles.
Harry was none of that.
It started as being nothing but muscle, skin, and bone from his childhood, but even with a specialized diet, exercise, and potions regiment, Harry would still never be the “ideal” Omega physically.
And he was fine with that, since as far as he could tell, he wasn’t an ideal anything in any other way either.
It was easy enough to guess at a child’s dynamic as they grew, there were some general markers and behaviors for each, but that was only in a “general” setting. Add in things like abusive/neglectful relatives, manipulative magical guardians, and a megalomaniac and his merry band of murderers out for one’s head, and their behavior wasn’t likely to reflect their dynamic. Case in point: Harry.
Everyone assumed that the “Savior” would present, naturally, as an Alpha when he turned seventeen and hit his magical majority. Non-magicals presented at between fourteen and twenty depending on a lot of factors like environment and stress. But magicals always presented at seventeen.
It sure as shit was a shock to his system — and everyone else’s — when he walked down the stairs on his seventeenth and Moody pegged him as an Omega.
Which also had the handy side benefit of fucking up the bonding contract Dumbledore had arranged before his death that bonded “Alpha” Harry J. Potter to the assumed-Beta Ginevra Weasley.
Ginny proved to be a Beta in the end.
But no one — at least in their right mind — would try and bond a Beta to an Omega.
At least not alone. In a bonded triad or bonded harem with an Alpha involved, sure. That worked. Just not singly, Beta/Omega.
Snow-cones-in-hell would happen first, much to Ginny’s fury.
And as the contract was written for an Alpha, Omega Harry had no obligation to fulfill it, no matter how idiotically Ron and his sister tried to coerce him into doing so.
Steadying himself as the train slowed to a stop, the doors cracking open and showing a bustling transit center of some sort to his right with a mercantile center to his left, Harry took one last look around the train and closed his eyes, taking a deep breath to center himself so as to not stare at all the unfamiliar beings bustling around him, then stepped out into a tucked away alcove out of the main bustle of foot traffic.
Putting his back to the wall and keeping himself as much in shadow as possible, he took stock of the surrounding area and shuffled through his mental knowledge dump to try and make better sense of things. The previously unreadable signage over the various locations in view shifted slightly and became intelligible. Most turned out to be shops of various sorts, though an assortment of food places were around, one or two bars, and best of all for his current situation: a mid-grade hotel equivalent close by.
Good to know, looks like Death gave enough a damn about him to drop him somewhere he could take care of his wounds so he wouldn't keel over right away.
Settling down further into the shadows, and instinctively pulling some of his new Ghost ability to cloak him from the immediate attention of others (more of a notice-me-not equivalent at at the moment, as opposed to true invisibility which would have made seeing what he was doing difficult) he set down his pack and quickly traded out his clothes for some that didn't have rips and bloodstains on them, and tucked away his sword. If he was going to get a room for the night, he couldn't exactly look like the walking dead or someone trying to rob the place. He needed time to adjust to all the information he'd been force-fed, more than he'd had on the trip. And, oh yeah, heal from the damned Sectumsempra that killed him.
It was only a deep slice or two across his upper chest now, but it still could kill him yet if he didn't take care of it.
Thankfully it had scabbed over enough that he wasn't leaving a massive blood pool on the pavement as he quickly used a Tergeo and an Episkey to take care of most of the sluggishly oozing blood — the bleeding starting up as soon as he stepped back into the mortal plane. He wrapped it up tight, then pulled out the couple of things he'd need to take care of himself...before he became a spectacle on the street.
And that couldn't happen soon enough, as even despite the cloaking he'd enacted he could still feel at least one pair of eyes a little too interested in him. He couldn't pinpoint their exact location in the bustle around him, but he wouldn't be surprised if they were some sort of spec-ops trained person, given that he knew personally how difficult it could be to see through cloaking like this. He pondered pulling his sword back out of his pack, but thought better of it — until he knew better, it likely wouldn't look good for obtaining lodging for the night. Even without it he wasn't too worried, he was still more than capable of fending for himself, plus thankfully so far the eyes just felt observant, not immediately threatening.
"Maybe now's the time to try and train up some other wandless spells." He told himself as he dug out his potions supply and knocked back a few for healing, blood replenishment, headache reliever, and a Pepper-Up to get him through arranging a room. "Or to see what exactly our good friend's upgrade lets me do."
He knew there wouldn't be food in his supplies he could easily get to at the moment — and Merlin, but he was hungry — but there might be a med kit or other things that he didn't realize were covered under the "his personal property" clause of his deal...and this was a major settlement, he could always have something delivered or get take-away.
Dressed and at least partially presentable, he shouldered his canvas pack after hitting it with another Tergeo to remove any blood it'd picked up from him, then loped easily across the way towards the hotel, in the mid-afternoon light, dropping the shield along the way. He'd already found and donned the omni-tool wristband Death had provided — apparently some sort of combination identification, bank access and other all-purpose electronics device — as well as pocketed one of the anonymous credit chits provided as well. From the bank statement he'd taken a glance at, it had him thinking that Death had converted at least half of his personal assets into the universal credits currency, to set up him up in this new world.
Or he was a hacker...either way.
A flash of white teeth, a pleasant and slightly flirtatious demeanor, and the swiping of his new omni-tool had Harry tucked away in a modest human-physiology friendly hotel room that had a comfortably sized bed, a mini-fridge/food reheater combination device, and a vid-screen mounted to the wall accessible remotely once he'd synced his omni-tool to the device. The bathroom held his interest much longer than the brief glance around the bedroom, and he readily indulged in a shower to wipe away any lingering battle (and death-plane) grime. Towel around his hips and running one through his messy, shoulder length black hair, he called in an order for delivery after consulting with the front desk as to a place recommended for humans' nutritional needs that was also considered appetizing. Then Harry started sorting through everything Death had seen fit to send with him into this new life.
A nutrition potion — thanks to his paranoia over keeping a full potions stock for emergencies after living on the run for a year — took the edge off his hunger even if it didn’t sate it, allowing him to focus on his job of sorting his stuff out — and then repacking it all over again.
If it wasn’t something useful in a highly technological, mostly non-magic world — like the gold, silver, and bronze from his vaults — he stuffed it away in several of the bottomless pouches he’d had in his vaults and put them in the very bottom of his pack.
Semi-useful things — books, excess clothing, etc. — went into another bag on top of the useless items, while the actually of-use supplies went into a variety of the outer pockets of the pack, Harry taking the time to remove the informational datapad on his new "upgrade" while he was at it and re-purpose that pocket.
One med kit found, he was about to take another healing potion and reapply the bandages but raised a brow, surprised that the wounds were healing much quicker than he would have expected. Still not completely healed but at this rate he'd likely be fully mended in the next day or so, as the wound was fully knitted and almost past scabbed, the lines angry red but as long as he took it easy, there was little risk of them opening back up on their own. Quickly scanning the datapad from Death, he groaned quietly as he saw just what it was the deity had meant by being able to escape his grasp. Death had seen fit to augment his body with various nano-tech upgrades, including ones that made his skin tougher and more resistant to damage, and to his blood that made wounds clot quicker and knit faster. From the looks of things, these upgrades weren't completely unheard of, however they were very bleeding edge tech not to mention still quite experimental. Or at least the general versions were, Harry wouldn't be surprised if Death had jumped the tech tree a few years in what he'd been outfitted with, either and given him access to glitch-free augmentations that were still in buggy stages now.
And that didn't even count the whole biotics side of things, apparently the bio-amp that he'd been outfitted with on the back of his neck in exchange for his phoenix wand (and the implantation site still hurt from that darling little surprise) was also a bleeding-edge tech/wouldn't exist for a few years version too. If he thought about it, his brain knew the physical mnemonic forms for activating the various biotic powers he now had access to, but they'd still need practicing and assimilation to be more useful. He mentally compared it to practicing wand movements until spells became rote and habit, and resigned himself to several hours a day practicing until he got things better polished.
As his skin would normally be resistant to such cutting and the healing would have kicked in right away, Harry could only suppose that since he’d gained the wounds prior to his death and receiving the enhancements that it had taken his body a little while to realize that they were in fact damage and not part of his normal physiology.
On top of his potions supply, and the med kit that he thought came from under his bathroom sink, Harry had found several more knives, most of which went into various places on him before the overflow went into his pack, matches, that day’s Daily Prophet (at least it would make a good reminder of where he came from, when the magical world seemed but a dream), and other small personal items like his hygiene products, Hit Wizard gear, and other odds and ends.
It wasn’t a supply meant to sustain him forever, that was for sure, and he’d have to hunt around the asteroid cum space station first thing in the morning to find shops and grocers…and a place to live, but all in all…could be worse. All while not running amok with the various malcontents he knew were on the station.
Yeah, he decided as his delivery of spiced otherworldly vegetables and protein, pre-paid with his credit chit account, buzzed the hotel room door, and he sat down to eat while he perused through the info on his datapad.
Definitely could be worse.
Thanks for reading, let me know what you think! After this first Prologue chapter I'll be running with much more my own material, don't you worry.
Also, I'm open to suggestions as to who else you'd like to see Harry with and if anyone besides Harry will be A/B/O or if that's just another odd carryover from his old world. :) I have some ideas on that front of course, but nothing concrete yet.
Chapter 2: One
A/N: Basic timeline, for those curious as to how these fit in with the games. Most of this is pulled from the wiki timeline. Going to try and keep it somewhat generic, though this whole story will be naturally laced with spoilers since I'll be riffing on ME2. And really, the games are old enough by now I would hope I wouldn't have to put spoiler warnings for the original trilogy. :) Kind of to be expected at this point. No spoilers for Andromeda anywhere, since I haven't even played that game yet (and since I'm not on the current gen console system, won't be played for quite a while)
2154: Malia Shephard is born.
2157: First Contact War (w/ Turians)
2158: Garrus Vakarian is born. (This is my own speculation/in-story timing)
2165: Jack is abducted by Cerberus, roughly at age 4.
2172: Shephard enlists in the Alliance, about age 18, after being diagnosed as having biotic ability the year prior.
2183: The events of Mass Effect, the first game in the trilogy, and the War for Eden Prime. While it's not said how long exactly the events of this take place, all of the events do happen within the year.
2183, 1 month after the Battle of the Citadel, and ME1 ends: The SSR Normandy gets destroyed and Shephard dies.
2183, Q4: Archangel moves to Omega. Starts wrecking havoc. (Own speculation/in-story timing)
2184, Q1: Death drops Harry into Omega
2185: The start of ME2 proper
2186: The start of ME3
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Day after Harry's arrival on Omega
With his wounds mostly healed by the time he woke up the next morning, Harry couldn't use that as an excuse to spend the whole day holed up in his hotel room sorting through his mental data dump. And he could only spend so long each day practicing his new powers. Especially since he needed to find a better area to practice in; after the second close call with a warp too near a piece of furniture, he figured he needed to find his own place with a training room stat. That and he really wanted to find some additional restaurants, or better yet see if he could find a market so he could prep his own food. Seemed he would also have to train himself to eat half again as much a day as he'd previously trained himself to do, and wasn't that a joy to contemplate, just to fuel his newfound biotics.
Though waking up in the middle of the night from a nightmare, levitating a meter above the bed, surrounded by a crackling, glowing blue aura was a brand new WTF experience for Harry. Destroyed bedrooms with himself as the epicenter, sure. Self-levitation, not so much up until now. Further reason he needed to get a better hold of his new…powers. Seemed his wandless spells still acted mostly normally, and he had a variety of biotic mnemonics at his disposal, but then he got to thinking of how the two abilities might augment and enhance each other. He winced as another scorch mark marred the wall, damn that was coming out of his cleaning deposit.
Yeah, he really needed to find his own place. Or at least somewhere secluded no one would bother him.
After the latest poorly aimed warp incident he gave up on that type of practice and decided to make sure his animagus transformation still worked, not having tried it out since his relocation. While his research had revealed that Earth still existed in this universe (and discovered the thorough similar-but-modernized backstory Death had given him at the same time), his home planet was galaxies away and there weren't any sort of wolves that he knew of near where he was.
So after his large lunch of more take-away from the same place as before, he spelled the furniture over to the sides of the sitting room leaving himself plenty of space. After initially pulling his inner animal to the forefront to shift, he realized right away that something was indeed off, so he aborted the imminent transformation before actually shifting at all. Best to not get stuck now that no one could revert it if things went poorly. It took about two hours of meditation and focusing on his animal self, similar to some of the exercises he'd done back when he was first trying to find his form, before he felt re-centered enough to try again. Thankfully the process felt just familiar enough still to not need to start from scratch. That and he wouldn't have been surprised if Death had prodded things to make the transition a bit easier, too.
He was glad he'd cleared out as much space as he did. As it was he still knocked over a drinking glass with his tail and made a dent in one of the armchairs as he tried to get used to moving around again. He was right—this new, updated form was similar to the dire wolf before but just different enough to feel a bit odd at first. A riffle through his mental database and he came up with a word: varren. When he realized he kept his dynamic in this form while normally this species was single-sexed, he prayed to Circe that he couldn't actually get pregnant while like this. Based on what he'd heard told of some of the trials Unspeakables had done on other animagi forms back home, he suspected his animagus form was essentially sterile, but couldn't know for sure without further testing, here in this new world, under whatever possibly new rules of biology applied here.
And then his gut clenched at the thought of home. Harry shook off any thoughts of homesickness with a full body shiver-shake reminiscent of the canids he was more familiar with, as if drying his formerly furred self off. No, he needed to move on.
After some transforming back and forth and careful positioning in the bathroom he managed to get a decent look at himself. His dorsal scales were a gunmetal grey stripe on black, the scales fading to silver-white on his belly and lower legs. His eyes however were still his vivid green. All in all a rather striking, and definitely unique and identifiable colour pattern—handy in preventing friendly fire if that ever became an issue. (And part of him thrilled at the thought of going into combat in his animagus form again, though the 'with allies' thought accompanying that was a little surprising. Hmm.) A little bit of concentration and he was surrounded by a nimbus of glowing blue light before he let it dissipate, so yup he still had his biotics even in animagus form. However many of the mnemonics he was used to wouldn't work as a quadruped so he added that to the mental list of things he'd have to practice and figure out. Another thing a helper-ally could help with. But, good to know.
Feeling more than a bit cooped up and a wee bit mischievous he decided to go spend the rest of the afternoon exploring some of the seedier sections of the station close to where he currently resided, but in his new found animagus form instead. Yeah, this could be fun.
Well…that was interesting. Back in his room and hosing off under a quick shower Harry thought over what he'd found on his half-day jaunt around the warren.
Looks like one of the big three mercenary groups here on the station have taken to using varren as expendable shock-troop war beasts. However, there were multiple packs that appeared to want nothing to do with the merc group. With how they treated the animals, it wasn't any wonder. Thoughts of wrangling his own pack of varren, under his own banner, started dancing in his head. Though he couldn't communicate with them with speech per se, it would be easier to get ideas across to them given his form than another non-varren being, who could only relate to them via stick and carrot means. He grinned and cackled to himself as he rinsed. He'd just have to get much better carrots.
Now, even more reason to go flat hunting, in addition to the general exploration and recon he'd planned on doing.
Two weeks after Harry's arrival
"Welcome to Omega, Mr. Black," said a rapid, masculine but somewhat reedy voice from behind and to his left. Harry whirled around, a knife springing to hand—his wand wrist holster had come in handy for something after all—a wandless stupefy at the ready but not fired off yet, and the light blue crackling aura of a barrier popping into place.
Five paces in front of him stood an older salarian male, weathered by years and—if Harry hazarded a guess—combat. The loss of one horn, his visible scars, and the somewhat haunted look in his eyes that Harry recognized from his own view in the mirror every morning were some pretty clear signs towards a hard life. The salarian slowly (and wasn't that unusual, snarked a small voice in the back of Harry's mind, since when did salarians do anything slowly) raised his hands somewhat, palms facing forward, in an obvious gesture of non-aggression and took a step backwards. "Peace Mr. Black. Or should I say Commander Black. On my word as medical personnel I mean you no harm today. Only wanted to talk."
Harry noticed the obvious caveat to that statement but just filed it away for now. At least the other male was being honest that his motives might change in the future—Harry well knew that allegiances could be a fickle thing. Dropping his knife to sheathe it automatically—and Harry mentally smirked when that raised a very intrigued expression on the other's face—he relaxed his stance but kept the barrier up, allowing it to dissipate on its own time schedule after several minutes. "Alright, I'll bite. Who are you, how do you know who I am, and what exactly do you want with me?" Harry asked, voice cold, his pureblood mask firmly in place. "And it's technically Lord Black. I'm not an active Commander anymore."
"Apologies Lord Black," the salarian said, giving a deep nod with his head and clasped his hands behind his back. "Dr. Mordin Solus. Researcher, scientist, and head of a clinic here on Omega. For the rest," Mordin started, then sucked in a breath through pursed lips. "Not here. Ears. Eyes. Not all friendly. Have somewhere to go or might I suggest?"
Harry narrowed his eyes and pondered the options. While he wasn't planning on staying in hotels forever, it was his only place at the moment and he didn't necessarily feel comfortable taking a near-stranger back to his current refuge. Then again Dr. Solus wasn't just a doctor, one didn't get that kind of visage by working in a cushioned lab. That and he was getting a vibe of a fellow operative off of him—he wouldn't have been surprised if this were one of the pairs of eyes that he'd felt tracking him off and on since he got here. And if that was the case, there was a very good chance the Doctor knew where he was staying anyway. As his habit was to leave nothing of import out of his reach at any point—a year of being on the run plus nearly ten as a Hit Wizard heightened his sense of paranoia—there was nothing preventing him from bolting from his hotel and finding other lodging elsewhere if this went pear-shaped. The clincher was that he'd managed to set up some simple but effective non-aggression and anti-theft protective wards around the hotel room since he'd arrived, which did mean it was not only known to him, but likely the safest locale for him currently in this gods-forsaken place.
"My place will do, follow me." Mordin only nodded in reply and stayed a comfortable three paces back and to the side, covering his back he noted as well as staying out of quick striking distance. Yeah, definitely not just a doc.
Despite the circuitous route they took in order to drop any potential tails—another paranoid quirk of Harry's that the salarian didn't seem surprised with, another mental tick in the non-civilian check-box—they made good time getting back to the hotel. Harry waved his companion through the door first, double checked the hallway for anyone (it was empty) and then followed in behind him.
Harry set out a flagon of water and two empty glasses and let Mordin select and pour his own, earning a small smile from the alien. "My thanks. Mind if I set up a sound proofing barrier?" Mordin asked.
"One way?" Harry asked.
"Naturally. Foolish otherwise."
"Man after my own heart," Harry's lip quirked up in a small smile. "Sure, go ahead." Mordin quickly did something with a little snitch-sized sphere so that it emitted a soft light and set it by the door they came in, then set up another one by the window as Harry watched intently. "Wouldn't mind getting my own hands on a couple of those, actually, if they work well."
"Best. Designed myself. Might be convinced to relinquish a couple," Mordin said before doing the pause to breathe Harry suspected was a characteristic speech pattern of his, "depending. But not why we're here."
"True. So, answers," Harry stated, leaning forward in his chair, making his body language a bit more aggressive. He also tapped into his animagus form to enhance his scenting ability, to help read his guest better. "Why do you know so much about me and why are you so interested in me? And who are you, really?"
"You are a puzzle. Full background, yet not. Terran military, N training, top marks, honorable discharge, normal. But dig and it's smoke and mirrors. Facade. New on Omega, yet transit here was unproven. Intriguing—"
Well, fuck. Harry felt his heart racing and only with his years of practice did he keep his rising panic from showing on his face. Death should have been better than this, should have made things airtight. Yet in less than a month this being in front of him has seemed to crack the ruse. He just hoped no one else had done so yet (or could do so for that matter).
"—Very good work. Nearly air-tight. Was curious when I first saw you. Appeared from nowhere, thin air. Hidden in plain sight, very good tech. Unknown by STG."
That confirmed that: STG was the salarian special ops force he knew. "Are you still a member of the Special Tasks Group? And what do they want with me?" asked Harry, green and blue energy crackling along his skin at the perceived threat, both his biotics and magics reacting together.
Mordin blinked and held up his hands again in supplication. "Apologies. Not intended as threat, just find you fascinating. Appear human, but not. Biotics wrong color. Other things…off. Am former operative, yes. Not active, but still have contacts, consult at times. They know nothing. I've told no one anything of import. Investigations all private. Can stay private. Will."
Harry sucked in a deep breath and closed his eyes, centering himself and tried to settle his volatile feelings. After a moment the crackling combined energies dissipated with a pop of static and the smell of ozone. As far as he knew he wasn't being lied to so far. "Thank you, for that clarification," Harry said, eyes still shuttered. "How do I know you'll keep this private? I can think of half a dozen people without even trying that'd pay good credits for this information."
"Can swear on my honor as a scientist. Otherwise, only trust. Know of nothing binding, airtight."
The words 'Trust to survive…' flitted through Harry's memory, from his brief time with Death. This would certainly be one of those times, and his instincts were saying that while the Doctor was more than a bit mercenary and not exactly moral, neither was Harry and he could recognize and appreciate a similar worldview, at least in this. He wracked his brain for anything at his disposal, if only he still had a wand and could invoke an unbreakable vow from him. And then he wanted to smack his forehead at the realization. Blood magic. There was something he could do. While not quite an unbreakable, he could draw up a contract and seal it with runes and blood magic, at least making going back on their understanding rather uncomfortable for the scientist.
"That's a start. If you'll be willing to sign something for me and donate a small amount of blood to seal the agreement, I can set up something a bit more binding than just your word. Amiable?" Harry asked. When Mordin looked curiously skeptical but nodded, Harry continued. "Give me a little bit to draw something up. Help yourself to refreshments," he said as he waved his hand toward the cold box, then headed out of the room.
An hour later and they had a document drawn up on parchment that was signed and sealed with two bloody fingerprints and a flare of green-gold light. Then Harry poured himself another glass to drink and sat down with Mordin and gave the twenty-minute summary of himself. He left out certain details, such as about Death being his so called patron and having died before being set in an alternate universe entirely, however he did say that there were parts of his history that he wasn't able to give full disclosure about.
Having access to an alternative-to-biotics set of energy manipulation in addition to his biotics, and most of his various augmentations? That he did share, to a much fascinated scientist, though he refrained from using the term 'magic'. He envisioned many hours of study and analysis from his new ally, which to be frank he didn't mind the thought of—information and confidential assistance on certain things would be helpful. Not to mention assistance from someone who's lived here as long as he has, and who has his network of contacts. He also revealed his dynamic after some internal debate, knowing that his store of contraceptive and hormone regulation potions wouldn't last forever and he'd likely need assistance in obtaining equivalents. He provided samples of both to Dr. Solus who said he'd be happy to start analysis and attempt recreation, especially if he'd be willing to come by periodically for blood-work samples and other tests.
What really made Mordin have kneazles was when Harry showed his companion his animagus transformation—he'd hemmed and hawed about revealing it, but figured it would be useful to have him in the know, especially if he needed medical assistance while in this form, since depending on the damage shifting out of it could be further detrimental to his health. He promised to let Mordin study the shift in its entirety back in his private lab, just so they could proceed onward with the conversation. There wasn't the room or equipment to do a proper job of studying it here, in his hotel room after all.
"Call it an accident of time and space if you will. Much of my history that you've managed to find is true in a sense, though re-spun for this current time and location. Yes, my name is Lord Harry Potter Black, and yes I was a Field Commander in a Special Forces group back on Earth, having served for nearly ten years. However my training was pre-Earth Alliance, and I was a member of a very secretive and secluded population in the former Great Britain, where I served. The only member of that population left, as far as I'm aware, I'm afraid—that's where the non-biotic energy manipulation abilities come from," Harry said.
"Genetic trait then? Isolated, insular society?" Harry nodded at Mordin's rapid fire questions. "Inbreeding a concern?"
Harry chuckled. "Yes, in fact. The funny thing was the population was so isolationist that many of them were either unaware or didn't want to admit that they were killing themselves off by not being willing to introduce new genetic variety into the mix. Birth rates were dropping and the energy manipulation power decreased the more the families interbred. However those from generations past that had the gene but it was unexpressed would then produce offspring down the line where the gene was turned back on again, once the genetics were refreshed enough to not cause issues. Though the old-blood, if you will, swore that the talent came from nowhere. Where in fact it was from these over-bred dead ends that were tossed out of the family trees popping back up later seemingly out of the blue. My mother was one of these refreshed, rediscovered dead ends, though my father was of the old-blood. That combination—her refreshed genetic stock and his old talent was partly why I was one of the more powerful members of the group. Or at least that was the theory anyway."
"Fascinating. But elementary genetic science, really. Youth would know this, yes?" Mordin mused.
"The children raised outside of the isolationist society did, yes. It was something we learned in school biology, typically, growing up. However the education system of the secluded society was centuries behind in many technological and scientific principals, but very advanced in others," Harry explained. "Due to being orphaned early in my life I wasn't originally raised in the isolationist society, but rather rejoined it later on. So my educational background was from a bit of both sides, unlike most of my peers."
Mordin nodded, pondering. "Accident of time, you said? What time?"
"Caught that did you. I was born in 1980." Mordin blinked rapidly, opened his mouth then closed it again, not wanting to interrupt Harry. "However I'm not even 35 yet."
"Then when you appeared on the transit platform, bleeding and injured?"
"Thought that might have been you, watching me. That was when and where the…accident kicked me to, from my original time and location back on Earth, in England. And yes, it was very much a one-way, unrepeatable trip," Harry said, anticipating Mordin's follow up question. "I did have some assistance, hence the updated backstory you found. My old, true history is unfindable. No, I can't tell you from whom or what helped me. That is one mystery you'll have to leave unknown, sorry. Know of anyone else who saw me that day? And if you partly cracked through my altered history, how much at risk am I from anyone else doing the same and getting suspicious?"
"Remarkable. My thanks, Lord Black," said Dr. Solus. "And unknown. Though 95% certain no one noticed your arrival. Only observed during your first-aid attempts. Few have my combination of resources to research you that deeply. However I can assist in shoring up a couple of week-points. If you would like."
"Please, after this I think you can call me by my first name, Harry, at least in private," replied Harry. "And that's reassuring to know, if true. Your assistance would be greatly appreciated, in that and however else you choose to give it, thanks."
"Then call me Mordin. My thanks. So now what, Harry? Since you're here now, after all," asked Mordin.
Harry's grin grew a bit more feral, showing teeth, his eyes glinting. "I think…it's time Omega met Kiba. Want to help?"
Mordin's smile grew to match Harry's. "Certainly. Happy to. What do you need?"
And yay, we've got Mordin in the picture now. Hopefully he's not too horribly OOC.
Wanted to get this second (first real, all new) chapter up as soon as I could. Others likely won't be as frequent, sorry, though the next chapter is currently in the works of being written. Comments, questions, reviews welcome as always. Thanks for reading!
Chapter 3: Two
A/N: Hello again my lovelies. Thanks for reading and your reviews—they feed my muse. Happy to see the attention this fic is getting so far! Lots of Mordin here, we also get to introduce another new (to this story) character into the mix. Also, preemptive apologies, Mordin gets a little caught up in Science! in this chapter, though hopefully not too badly. This also ran a bit longer than my usual, happy rainy-day present to you all!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Mordin was invaluable in helping Harry get settled into the station, figure out his way around the place, and getting his first residence established. And if he happened to promise Mordin that he'd give him access to study some of Harry's more…interesting possessions and abilities well then that was just a benefit to both of them, wasn't it? Although thinking back on it Harry should have expected the fervor that Mordin would attack his new pet project, aka him.
Thankfully he was able to talk him down to only weekly visits, not every other day like the scientist had originally wanted. The first things Harry provided for him to study were of course the two potions provided during their first meeting: the two most pressing, especially in this new world where it seemed his biology didn't match the new normal. However, doses of all the other staples soon followed suit. Some, Harry thought he might be able to brew close to the original recipe here in his new home, if he got a greenhouse going of his own. Those were the potions that relied on ingredients that were essentially mundane, only grown and/or prepared in a magically steeped environment, and brewed by a magic user in a prescribed manner. However, most of the potions relied on at least one completely magical plant and/or animal ingredient, and while the universe was a vast and diverse place, unless there were unicorns and such cavorting around somewhere out here his likelihood of being able to adhere to the original recipes were next to nil. And even those "simple" potions would require time and a setup he wasn't sure he had in this time and place, at least not until he got a better idea as to the socio-political situation he was thrown into. That and the whole "reaper" thing there were whispered mentions of in his background knowledge dump. Still, maybe with Mordin's help he could get a tiny garden going. He didn't do horrible in Herbology after all, even if he was no Neville.
Since from what he could tell from his research and reviewing of the materials Death had provided, and what he'd found on the codex, there's no magical society back on this Earth at all. Which is pretty much what he surmised originally from Death's talk right before he got dumped here. He supposed he could take a trip back to Earth and go check it out for himself—though he had little enthusiasm for what would likely be an unfulfilling, depressing, long, and likely pointless trip. Plus Death wouldn't have plunked him here down on this place at this time without a reason—and Harry didn't feel much like leaving until he'd gotten at least a better idea as to why that might be.
If he ever did get back to Earth, which a small part of him did hope that was the case and another part of him was afraid of what he would—or wouldn't—find, he'd find a way to make an investigative detour then, but not until. In the meantime he'd proceed under the assumption that he was the only magical person in this universe, and that there would never be another magical community (unless he happened to breed one but that was a whole 'nother can of worms he didn't even want to think about right now).
The flat they eventually found should work well for Harry's needs. In actuality it was two adjacent properties that were, in theory, unrelated and were purchased under unassociated accounts, with closing dates far enough apart as to reduce suspicion should anyone think to pry. And if Harry and Mordin just happened to add a couple of hidden connecting passageways between them, and then warded, secured, and hid them to high-heavens—well then what no one else knew wouldn't hurt them. If there were no witnesses or construction crew who were able to talk about it either…well then that was just a bonus.
That still didn't stop Harry from picking up two other places around the station, purchased completely anonymously and tied to fabricated, dead-end aliases. Bolt-hole safe-houses that not even Mordin knew of. Maybe Harry was paranoid, but it'd kept him alive for over nine years as a hit-wizard plus helped him survive all those years before during the war, so it wasn't a habit he was going to give up any time soon. It's not like he didn't trust Mordin, but he'd been burned enough times by previously "trustworthy" people in the past that part of him didn't feel completely safe and secure unless he knew he had options and contingency plans set up that didn't rely on anyone else's assistance. Even his most trusted adviser and confident.
One month after arrival on Omega
After the usual greetings and securing of the lab, Mordin took a deep breath and waved the now somewhat emptier vials Harry'd given him at their first meeting. The first two potions Harry'd ever given him. His stomach started alternately clenching and doing flip-flops in dread. "Harry, these appear to be hormone medications. For regulating fertility cycles and preventing conception, if my analysis is correct," Mordin said. Harry started breathing deeply, trying to settle his nerves.
"Also," continued Mordin, giving Harry a piercing look, "preliminary blood-work analysis indicates unusual hormone levels and genetic markers. Unusual for males of your species. Certain indicators more in-line with females of your species, yet not. Intersexed? Genotype points to typical XY male pairing though. Hmm. Combined with medication you provided for analysis, hypothesis is energy manipulation and transformation abilities aren't only differences to typical humans. Care to elaborate?"
"Fuck," Harry blurted out before he could help himself. Mordin just shot him a curious and expectant look in reply, patient for his answer.
Harry knew the question was going to come up at some point, and he supposed that was part of why he gave those potions to Mordin first, as some way to broach the subject without actually having to you know, talk about it up front. Also partly why he agreed to provide the blood samples.
That didn't mean he was looking forward to the conversation. At all.
Back…before—he couldn't, didn't want to keep calling it home, where he came from before dying, before Omega, so he needed to call it something else—it was something everyone knew about, part of the "about your body" talks they had growing up. Here, his face heated up even thinking about bringing up the topic, let alone how he'd actually broach the subject with Mordin. Hence the breadcrumbs he'd laid.
He shouldn't have been surprised Mordin caught on and asked him this quickly though.
Harry took a deep breath and closed his eyes, centering himself. No time like the present, right? "You're not wrong," he said at last, slowly, picking his words with care as he went. "I'm male, and identify as such. But I'm also what we called an 'Omega', back…there, which I suppose would appear as intersexed here, but probably not in the way you're thinking. There, people had not only their sex and more fluid gender, but also what we called dynamic, which could be one of three options—Alpha, Beta, and Omega. Assuming things didn't get really scrambled when I was dumped here, which is entirely possible mind you and part of why I was hoping for your assistance, I can bear children and, if left untreated, will be hyper-fertile on a slow cyclical schedule. Hence the potions—sorry, medications, that I gave you to analyze and hopefully recreate, especially before I run out."
He then proceeded to explain what he knew of how things worked back before, and Mordin got his first chance to see some of what Harry was talking about in his external, non-invasive imaging and diagnostic scans that Harry somewhat reluctantly agreed to, as part of their agreement. The same scans Mordin also used to start his baseline, analysis of Harry's magic abilities when not being actively used while he was at it—not wanting to run the risk of blowing out the equipment due to conflicting energies, a potential hazard Harry had warned him about early on. They also agreed that as part of their weekly meet-ups Mordin would include a blood draw to, among other things, monitor hormone levels and add info to his "Harry P. Black" data-files. Encrypted under his best security, though.
However, it took several months of occasional hints and inquiries before Harry relaxed enough to allow Mordin to examine him further, in a more…gynecological nature, in his role of medical doctor. Several months, and as many drinks on board. While helpful, the imaging scans just couldn't show everything, especially when there was no precedence for what he was looking at.
Three months after arrival on Omega
"You're starting to make a name for yourself, you know," said Mordin by way of greeting when Harry strolled into his private lab. Harry just flicked on the now-familiar anti-eavesdropping device and made a noncommittal hum in reply. "People are asking questions. Aria wants to meet. Archangel is trying to figure out if you're a threat or not. Big Three merc groups getting shifty. Blood pack getting furious from your 'thefts'. Not surprising. Expected, really."
"Of course," Harry replied, shrugging out of his over-robe and rolling up his sleeve for another blood-draw, routine by now in their little tête-à-têtes. "Must be doing something right then. You say Aria wants to meet? I've already been introduced to her, though."
"Ah. Yes, and no. She met 'Lord Black' shortly after we did—," Mordin started.
"Briefly," Harry interjected. "She seemed more interested in my potential bank account than me, except as maybe a potential shag. Though that was probably tied back, again, into getting into my bank account via my pants. Or using me for my (nonexistent) political contacts, or both. She knows how to reach me if she needs to. Frankly, if I was going to shag someone I'd much prefer someone of my own century in age."
"Briefly. Hardly dignified. Powerful though, do not underestimate." Mordin concurred, then held up a digit in emphasis and continued. "She wants to meet Kiba. The 'Varren Whisperer'. Heard about the shifts with the more wild varren population. Heard other rumors. Curious. Concerned. Unsettled. Considers all of Omega her domain, as you know."
Harry snorted, "Yeah, that whole 'I am Omega' shtick. As if I wanted to take the station from her. No thanks, too much responsibility and hassle. She can have the gods-forsaken place for the next two-hundred years and then some for all I care. No, my pursuits were more along the lines of A) get my proverbial feet better situated under me, and thank you for that by the way." Mordin smiled and nodded in reply. Harry continued, ticking off the points on his fingers, "B) Have fun and possibly cause some havoc in the process of a), and C) figure out what in the bloody hells I want to do from there. I imagine it's that havoc part that Aria's having issues with, isn't it?"
"She does like her status quo. Or at least the status quo she had before Archangel showed up," Mordin said, and set out metallic cube on an exam table, away from his main computer. "Levitate this for me? Still unsure what she thinks of him and his growing band. Then you show up several months later. Now two unknowns in the mix. Making her nervous. Worried about insurrection." Mordin sucked in a breath and grinned, fingers flying as he read in sensor data. "Fun to watch her sweat. Exiting year."
"I suppose she would be as close to an 'authority figure' as this place has. That and the leaders of the Big Three," mused Harry. "So, should I meet her? Obviously I couldn't look the same as I did as 'Lord Black', that's just stupid and asking for trouble."
"Obviously. And ways around appearance. Want me as introduction? Can lower cube now, thanks."
Harry hmmmed in reply and shook his head. "That could be too problematic for you and your clinic if you were seen as directly associated with any of the merc groups, especially the more…radical of us," he said with a cheeky grin. "Better to go through a more anonymous method, if we go through with this. I appreciate the offer though. Suppose I should meet her if nothing else to let her know I don't have any designs on her position as Station Goddess, as it were. She doesn't know where Kiba operates, does she?"
"No, not that I'm aware. She's starting to look into that though. Be careful," said Mordin. "In time won't be surprised if she makes connection between your personas."
"Oh, she won't be able to find that outpost of mine. Made sure of that, before recruitment started. As far as appearance goes though…" Harry started, pulled out the leather thong holding back his hair, then concentrated. His hair shrank in length to a much more military-friendly cut and lightened to a golden brown. He was getting quicker at this but was still nowhere near Tonks' level of skill and could only do his hair. Then again he's really only had months' worth of practice—part of his innate Black legacy being unlocked or combined with some of his new Ghost training skills, or some gem of a gift from Death, he wasn't sure. Then he concentrated again and his facial features blurred to the point where you could make out colorations and rough shapes, but nothing specific. "Think that'll do? I pondered Mum's red hair or a platinum blonde I knew from back when, but figured those would be a bit too distinctive."
"Fascinating. Still have full, perfect vision?" Mordin asked as he poked and prodded Harry's face in study, and took a lock of his brown hair as he was at it. Harry nodded. "Skin feels normal, though details are fuzzed. Eyes still same green, though not quite so obvious. Still, potentially problematic. Lenses?"
Harry shuddered and shook his head violently. "Never again, if I can bloody well avoid it."
Mordin nodded, still analyzing the effect, visually, tactually, and with his omni-tool. "Helmets? Not unless armour needed. Hmm, Have defense already though. Decreased visibility, circulation. Potentially problematic. Visor? Could augment with tech, yes. Promising."
Interested, Harry chimed in, "Oh that could work. Assuming the tech doesn't break on me again. Even without a tech augment it'd work for concealing my eye colour, though the boost would be nice. You do make the nicest toys, my friend. Speaking of, here's the latest test for your analysis and deconstruction. Lasted five days this time before going tits-up, a new record." Hermione, the bint, would have loved to tackle the magic/tech conundrum, he thought to himself with a frown. Then cheered when he realized that was yet another person he'd never have to deal with again from…before.
"My thanks," said Mordin, smiling, as he gave a little nod with his head in acknowledgment. "Still too short. Progress, though. Eye-ware it is. Will see what I can do. Can at least have placeholder thrown together right away if nothing else. Otherwise, appearance more than adequate."
"Awesome," Harry replied as he dropped the blur and let his hair revert back to normal, and plucked a couple of longer black hairs for Mordin before tying the rest back again, knowing by now what he'd be wanting. "So, Archangel. What do you know about him? Do you know who he is? From what I've heard he's as much as an enigma as I am, though much more virtuous." Harry snorted and said as an aside, "Not that Omega has any laws to be lawful about, as it were."
Mordin placed the hairs in one of his machines for analysis then started picking apart the now-defunct device Harry'd returned. "Turian, male. Three decades or less in age. Likely former Palavan police or C-Sec personnel given morals and rumored style. Arrived roughly a year ago, promptly started making waves. Expect sniper. Good with weapons overall. Collected team here to work under him. Gaining attention of Big Three. Talk of putting bounty on his head." He looked up and narrowed his eyes at Harry. "Potentially dangerous."
Harry snorted, "Who of us here isn't? Hells, even one of Aria's dancers would shank me if I stiffed them. Nah, I'm not so worried about that, though the fact that he's also making things nervous for the current self-assigned leaders is interesting." Mordin just shot him a look, and Harry blushed a little. "Yeah, ok, interesting in the same way that moths find lights interesting."
"Funny thing is I'm more interested in potentially meeting him than Aria, that's assuming he's not too much a goody two-shoes with a stick up his turian arse. Not sure I'd want to be one of his groupies but I could see working with him occasionally to cause some chaos if our plans coincided," Harry said, stroking his chin in thought. "I can at least reassure him that at minimum I'm not going to work against him, having no love for the merc groups he seems to have such hard-on for, myself. I think I'll go ahead and send missives to both of them, see how they react."
Harry pondered at first sending one of his 'adopted' varren as messenger to both parties, but then his softhearted side got the better of him and he decided he'd better go himself, so as to prevent unnecessary injuries to his pack. That, and this way he could see first hand the reactions of his two intended recipients and better react to developments.
However, while he was debating what to write Aria in a letter and how to sneak himself in as his animagus form, he realized that to send a messenger when she wanted to meet him would probably send the wrong message. Which given her self-appointed position of power on this station, would probably be a perceived insult he'd best avoid at this early juncture. Archangel though, was more just curious so a delivered handwritten message scroll probably would work for him. Which he'd deliver, as one of Kiba's "pets".
First, he needed to see Mordin about a couple of gadgets, then he could worry about the letter later.
While her security was good, as he knew from earlier visits to Afterlife that it wasn't really until you got to her meeting area and office area that it really became an issue. Slipping into the club itself was ridiculously easy, even armed to the teeth. All it involved was ghosting in—invisible—in behind another patron as they entered. And once inside? Apparently they expected everyone to use the stairs to get to Aria, since those were the only guarded routes? Amateurs.
Kiba really wouldn't want to be Aria's head of security right now, he mused, smirking to himself as he perched high up on the rafters with a clear view of Aria and where she was currently holding court. Though to be fair she doubted any of her goons had the combination of his skills and Mordin's tech at hand. Nor would they.
With a wave of his hand he sent a metallic device—one of Mordin's creations, about the shape of a shaved off half-dome about the same size around as one of Dudley's old CD's back when but 5cm thick—floating off towards Aria's private area. It even had a circular indentation in the middle where the optics were, so from the top it kind of looked like some freaky space CD. Only a lot less broken than any of Dudley's old disks.
Right, enough of that train of thought, back to work. He floated it well above everyone's heads for most of the way over there, and then once it was above a clear space in her booth, he floated it downward to the ground to land a couple of meters away from where she was lounging. Thankfully, (sadly?) thanks to the dim lighting of the place no one actually noticed the bloody thing until he activated it on and a life-size and real-time projected image of himself stood there in full armoured glory, bejeweled sword sheathed on his back, popping into existence without even a flicker as warning.
To be fair, he really should have expected that reaction to someone appearing out of nowhere, not even five meters away from Aria and her guards.
Which is when the gunfire started, whizzing ineffectually through the hologram projection and pinging around the walls of the club. Aria just glared at the guard and called a ceasefire once she quickly assessed the situation and noticed both the device and the lack of solidity of her visitor, and sent the trigger-happy mook away to do some sort of undesirable dribble of a task. Out of her presence. On the other side of the ward. While enjoying the mocking of all his coworkers as he made a hasty retreat.
Kiba (both himself and the projection, since they mirrored each other perfectly, and thanks to the tech he saw and heard everything from the perspective of the disk) just stood there, hands crossed behind his back at parade rest, an amused smirk on his slightly blurred face as he tracked the action with a slight movement of his head.
Having dealt with the imbecile, Aria strode back over near to her original location, but remained standing for now. She gave projection-Kiba and the disk a careful once-over, her arms crossed over her chest. "Well, you certainly know how to make an entrance. Kiba, I assume? Interesting tech," she said.
Kiba nodded and swept out a half-bow, showing respect to someone of slightly higher status than oneself. "Indeed, Mistress Omega," projection-Kiba said, voice somewhat modulated but still intelligible. "You understand my…reluctance in presenting myself in person, though you said you wanted to meet. I found this a suitable compromise. Consider this projection device a gift, a gesture of my non-aggressive intentions towards you. Just be warned that any action to dismantle the device in the attempt to reverse-engineer it will render it into nothing more than a smoking, melted pile of useless slag. However, this way you have an easy way to contact me, should you have need. Depending on the circumstances I may either reply in full projection like this, auditory only, or if I am…indisposed or otherwise unavailable for real-time conversation at that time it will allow you to leave a message which I will receive right away."
Aria pursed her lips and leaned back in her stance a bit, giving him a calculating look. "Non-aggression, hmm? So what are your intentions towards me specifically, then? And what makes you think I'd want to call on you, if you're nothing more than an upstart, short-lived human?"
"I have no designs on your position or desire to in any way control or rule this station. Believe you me, that's among the last thing I would want. You appear to have this place well in hand and I have no plans of breaking your two-hundred plus year rule. And yes I'm aware of how you came to control this station, and please believe you me that I have no desire to pull a similar coup. No, I'll leave Omega in your capable hands, thank you," he said, hands held up in a placating gesture. "So between the two of us, and between your men and me, assuming they leave me and mine well enough alone, I propose a truce. As I'm sure you've already divined somewhat, I possess a unique skill-set that you may have need of in the future. Depending on the occasion, I could be convinced to assist should you need it. Not that you would, as you appear to have things well enough in hand already.
"As far as myself," Kiba continued, his gaze a bit sharper now, "yes I am human, and by definition short-lived at least compared to some races like your own. However that does not mean I'm easy to get rid of, as many former enemies have found out the hard way. No, consider me more an independent, possibly merc for contract if the reason and payment is attractive enough. I'm not desperate for work though so I have the luxury of being…choosy, shall we say."
"I see," said Aria, sitting back down on her bench and lounging back, donning an air of relaxation and ease once again. "So, the agitation I've heard about through my contacts with the Blood Pack? That you're trying to steal their varren? What of that?"
Kiba chuckled and gave a little smile, "That would be somewhat true. I'm not trying to steal their varren specifically, rather just offering whatever varren that are interested better living and social conditions, regardless of whether they were 'wild' or controlled by one of the merc guilds. After all, if the guilds can't take care of their own troops well enough, whether those be sentient beings or animals, then that's not my problem if those troops decide to move on to other, better living conditions. Right?"
Aria actually smiled a little at that. "Indeed," she mused aloud. "Why varren, though? Some would consider them almost vermin."
"Let's just say I have a soft spot for the animals," Kiba replied enigmatically. "That and I find it easy to come to an accord, to cultivate an effective working relationship with them."
She stood back up and took a step towards the projector. "Well then, I would assume I don't need to warn you against crossing me at all. If you stay out of my business then I have no issue with you for now. Thank you for your…token. I'm sure you'll be hearing from me again at some point. Oh, and if you happened to come across any information you think I might be interested in, I'd be pleased to hear it. If that's all?" Kiba only gave a respectful nod in acknowledgment and goodbye. "Then goodnight, Kiba," she said, giving him a look that said she knew very well that she knew that wasn't his real name, before shutting off the device and pocketing it.
He saw her make a careful visual scan around her nightclub, and it didn't take long before she found where he still stood, far above her and at the far end of the room from her sitting room. They met each others' gaze for a moment before Kiba tipped a nonexistent hat in her direction, hopped off of the rafter without an apparent care and disappeared completely from sight before he fell even a third of the way to the ground. He slipped out of the club when the door was opening for another patron, and headed back towards home (in a roundabout fashion of course, making sure to slip any possible tail that Aria or someone else may have tried to put on him).
All in all, not a bad meet-up he thought. Tomorrow, he thought, the turian.
Archangel in the next chapter, yay! I'm excited. :D
Hope you liked Harry/Kiba's introduction to Aria well enough here. I did the math and realized that she's likely at least 400-500 years old, having lived on the station for 300 years and ruled it for 200.
Chapter 4: Three
A/N: So there's some name jumping in this one (and probably in the future), as Harry's brain is shifting between his various roles/personas/etc. Hopefully it's not too confusing. Basically the name used is whichever proverbial 'hat' Harry sees himself wearing at the moment, or how others are seeing and/or interacting with him. Let me know if it's too brain-breaking, hopefully it works. Basically we (now) have:
Harry - His main self identity, but also the most private one. Only Mordin (and Death, back in the Prologue) see him like this at the moment (as of before this chapter happens).
Lord Black - Strictly a mask, useful for getting his way at times and negotiating through high society when he's not being the merc Kiba. Mordin will use it as a joke sometimes, Aria has met him like this, and separately as…
Kiba - His merc/hit-wizard persona. While technically he was Commander Black as inherited from the Hit Wizards (and that title/role may come up later, especially once the more militarily inclined people get involved—see also the Normandy showing up), Harry's less fond of the "Commander" part preferring just "Black", or at least while on Omega, his nickname-turned-merc name.
Black - When he's not wearing his Lord hat, and people don't know him as his merc self or well enough to be given permission to call him by his first name. Not really in use yet, but will later.
Ōkami - The name he's given his animagus form, especially when referring to it in the 3rd person (such as in calling that varren by name to others not strictly in the know), or when he's more in the varren mindset or instincts.
I don't foresee any additional ones being added anytime soon? But you never know, I wouldn't take that as hard fact. These are the ones that will be in play for the near future, though. Holler if there's questions.
Thank you for your patience with me, and now onto the next chapter! Yay! You all are wonderful and thank you so much for being loving readers. And as always, I do appreciate hearing from you—your comments are delightful cookies that help feed my muse. She can be fickle at times, sigh.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Once Harry set up his headquarters and warded the less public portion and entrances (yes, plural) to hell and back, he started getting to work.
First he set up a half dozen or so makeshift shelters or gathering areas around the station, providing food and bedding for the wayward varren population. No apparent strings attached...yet. Everything he provided, he made sure it smelt like himself slightly, in his animagus form. Not enough to pronounce "Keep away!" but more a clear declaration as to who the provider was.
Once the local populations had a chance to acclimate to the idea, he started hanging around himself—for starters, in his varren form, which he'd taken to calling Ōkami to prevent confusion, among other things. Many of the other animals were still skittish of him at first and understandably so, given him being an unknown and on the somewhat larger scale, not to mention how the other denizens of Omega had treated many of them in the past.
However, a reasonable number of them were more fondly disposed to him before too long. These he started introducing to his human scent—marking himself with it in varren form before he showed up to the makeshift shelters. It didn't hurt that as a human his scent was related to his as Ōkami, though it was still notably different and more distinctly "human".
When finally he showed up to the animal refuge sites in full Kiba regalia, his potentially most loyal varren companions didn't flee but rather were just as affectionate towards him as a human as they were previously. Naturally they related to him slightly differently between his two forms, of course, but in neither presentation were they hostile in any manner and were happy to follow him wherever he called, now identifying him as leader.
And that? That was a win.
These he led back to his headquarters in groups of two or three, to live there and be provided for in more comfort than the rudimentary and austere shelters. He also outfitted them all with golden medallions debossed with a stylized fang image, hanging from a thin but nigh unbreakable cord from around their necks—partway between a collar and a necklace. This identified them as his, to anyone who cared to pay attention, and were also inscribed with tiny runes that among other things keyed them into the wards on his headquarters. This way they could come and go at will, and also allowing them to cut through the mild repelling wards that prevented unwanted guests from showing up to the private half of his home. They also prevented others from tracking them, and inversely acted as a tracer for his personal use so he could locate any or all of them as needed.
Once he'd collected his core group of loyal varren—his initial pack if you will—he then spent at least a couple of hours each day diligently working with them and training them until before too long he had a good solid relationship with them and they'd do nearly anything for him. He still occasionally visited and stocked the outposts he'd set up previously, but more with the goal of keeping the population out of the easy control of the Blood Pack and other mercs rather than increasing his own force. He did still keep an eye out for the occasional promising candidate, but growth was no longer his primary goal with the wilder population. He didn't want his core pack to grow beyond his easily manageable scope, preferring a smaller precision team over a massive army of troops.
Day after Kiba's visit to Aria
The morning following his amusing little chat with Aria, Harry—dressed up in full Kiba battle garb—set out close to where he'd tracked Archangel's current base of operations. In his hand he held a scroll of ivory parchment wrapped with a white ribbon and sealed with mica laced gray wax, the same fang emblem that his varren wore, (only much smaller of course) clearly visible stamped into the now-hard wax. None of his pack accompanied him this morning, much to some of their whining disappointment when he went to leave. However he still couldn't cloak them like he could himself, and this was a stealth operation not a fighting mission—hopefully, if everything went as planned.
Cloaked, he made good time and thankfully none of the light traffic paid him any mind. He slipped past the few proximity sensors without issue—any life-sign blip they read showing up as nothing more than a small rodent or similarly unimportant animal—and past the two lookouts posted, who thanks to the still somewhat early morning hour were not at their most observant. If Archangel agreed to a mutually beneficial agreement with him, that was something he'd have to address. Couldn't let such a potentially valuable ally have such shoddy defenses.
Once inside the initial perimeter but not yet into the headquarters proper he found a secluded alcove and shifted into his animagus form. Gingerly taking the scroll into his mouth, he was careful not to crush it (or drool on it too much, either). He knew he was looking for a young-ish but still adult turian male, but not much else as far as appearance went. Hopefully that would be sufficient knowledge for what he planned on accomplishing at this visit.
He slipped into the building unnoticed and through the front room where a salarian was snoozing, feet propped up on a low sitting table. It wasn't until he reached the kitchen, on his way to heading upstairs where it appeared the sleeping quarters and possibly office were (not smelling any strong presence of turian down on the main floor) that he was spotted. There, at the kitchen table tinkering with a small tech drone of some sort was a female batarian, who apparently was not so oblivious nor unobservant as her compatriots.
Harry-as-Ōkami froze and kept most of his attention on the batarian who was staring at him, hands also still, mid motion. However, he still kept an ear and senses out for any other parties that might show up, in case he needed to bolt and/or defend himself. Moving carefully, smoothly, he sat back on his haunches and brought up a front paw to bat at the scroll lightly, trying to bring her attention to what he was carrying. Specifically, the word "Archangel" written on the outside of it in trade common, the scroll situated in his mouth such that the word was clearly legible along with the white ribbon and seal.
She just sat there, blinking at him, not making any sudden moves towards a weapon however also clearly baffled and surprised, unsure of what to make of everything. Is written communication really that unheard of now, Harry wondered to himself, while still patiently waiting and watching. After a couple minutes or so of inaction on her part he gave a small huff, batted the scroll a couple more times, and gave a significant look—first to her, then up the stairs, then back to her.
Finally she seemed to gather herself and stood up from the table, slowly, keeping an eye on him. When he didn't do anything besides watch her warily she made her way over to the base of the stairs and hollered up, "Hey Boss! Got something you need to see. Get your bony ass down here!" A thump followed by some unintelligible grunt of a reply shortly followed, the batarian smirking and shaking her head at the sound. She eyed Ōkami then said, "Don't know if you can understand me or not, feels crazy talking to a varren of all things, but you don't seem like a normal one. Anywho, Boss-Man will be down here in a jiffy. Hopefully." Ōkami just wagged his tail in reply and took the chance to look around the kitchen from where he sat, otherwise staying put in an attempt to continue appear as non-threatening as possible. However, he did notice that she never quite took her eyes off of him either, nor did she block herself from being able to quickly draw the weapon he saw hanging from her hip.
Before too long Ōkami heard the distinctive click-click of a turian's gait headed their way from upstairs, plus the hurried footsteps of someone else rushing in from from somewhere to Harry's left side, on the main floor. He quickly glanced over towards the unexpected sound and side stepped a couple of times away from that direction, positioning himself so he had a better view of all three directions and leaving himself about equal room to potentially maneuver. Things had seemed to be going so well so far, he just hoped it wouldn't go completely pear shaped before he could deliver his message. However, he did ready himself to activate a couple of potential defenses depending on what happened, but didn't bring them up to the point of glowing yet since he didn't want to tip his hand if he could help it.
First, he saw the turian—Archangel he presumed…scratch that, he hoped—come into view at the landing at the top of the stairs with a clear view down into the kitchen. Harry only had enough time to make note of his distinctive blue on gray markings, and that yes he did appear to be in the rough age range for who he was looking for, when the source of the rapid footsteps coming from his left slid into view. Oh bollocks, this couldn't be good. It was a dusky-blue coloured younger asari, maiden by his estimate, raring for a fight by the looks of it. Her biotics had already begun to flare and she wore a look of panicked alarm with a dash of determination on her face, her eyes darting first from him to the batarian he'd first met here, still in the kitchen with him. "Kay!" the asari exclaimed, the corona around her getting brighter. Ōkami took another couple steps back and away from the sparking energy and hoped he wouldn't have to pull out his tricks already, knowing his barrier wouldn't be as useful against the warp it looked like she was preparing to throw.
Archangel's eyes jumped from person to person, quickly taking in the tableau below him and assessing what was going on. At the same time, the batarian female—'Kay', Ōkami assumed—called out as she held out her hands in front of her, palms facing the asari who'd skidded to a halt by now. "Wait! Stop, Lena. Don't. It's okay." Thankfully that at least seemed to get the asari's attention, as while the biotic field glow didn't dissipate, it didn't intensify at all nor did she make any further move to complete the attack. Instead she just stood there blinking, confused, her hands still cocked back.
"Enough," snapped out Archangel, voice harsh, the harmonics grating on Ōkami's sensitive ears. Thankfully, that seemed to get their attention. After a moment he continued, his voice slightly less grating but still crisp, "Nalena. Stand down." That seemed to do the trick as the asari's posture sagged as the fight left her, the blue nimbus quickly dissipating into nothing. "Thank you," he said, much softer now, the timber in his voice much more pleasant now. Ōkami's ears perked forward in interest involuntarily, only barely consciously registering that he'd reacted so. The situation not quite as volatile anymore now, Archangel continued on down the stairs until he was just inside the kitchen, eying the other parties there. "Kay, sit-rep, please," he ordered.
Kay, the batarian, nodded and swallowed, throwing him a grateful smile. "Aye aye, Boss-Man. I was sitting here in the kitchen, working on Gidget," she said, gesturing towards the table and the half-assembled drone lying there, "when I see this varren show up in the room, looking like he needs something, acting all friendly-like or at least polite. Most well-behaved varren I ever seen. Like he's a messenger, with that roll of something in his mouth addressed to you, Boss, and with that white ribbon and seal it looks all official-like, even if it does seem archaic and fancy. Also, he never once made any move to attack me, or either of you I might add, not even when Lena shows up here, barreling into the room all charged up and ready to warp. If nothing else, I think you should see what he's carrying. Seems a smart one too, Boss. Uncanny smart," she finished, eyeing Ōkami carefully.
Archangel nodded and looked Ōkami over, who stood there, waving his tail slowly in a cautiously friendly manner, the rest of his body language non-threatening. He was just relieved that things seemed to be a bit better under control now. The turian's eyes took note of the scroll with its seal, and also noticed the matching medallion hanging from Ōkami's own neck. He nodded to himself and took a couple of steps forward, moving purposefully but not suddenly, being careful to not startle the apparent animal. "Well, alright then. Let's see what you have there for me, hmm?" he said, crouching down so he was closer to eye level with Harry's animagus form.
Harry could appreciate that, even if he had to be careful and prevent the more animal instincts from taking charge right now. He, likewise, took a few careful steps forward so he was only a couple of meters away and dropped the scroll in front of him, glad to finally get it out of his mouth. Luckily, mostly thanks to the preparations he'd done ahead of time, it was still undamaged on the most part, only showing the smallest indentations from his teeth. He nosed the scroll towards its intended recipient so it rolled about half of the way there, then took a couple of steps back and lay down, his mouth opening in a large yawn—both to relieve stress and to stretch his jaw that had been stuck in that position for longer than he'd liked.
The asari, now standing very close to the batarian in an affectionate manner gave him and his numerous long and sharp teeth a wary look, but otherwise didn't seem to react. Her batarian friend and apparent mate Kay—or at least occasional lover, if he'd had to guess—had a more friendly posture and still gave him a small but sincere smile. He wouldn't be surprised if they smelled like each other but given the events so far and the distance he'd kept from them he couldn't tell for sure at the moment, though their body language and actions earlier certainly alluded to that fact. Currently Kay had her head resting on Nalena's shoulder, one hand stroking her back.
Once Ōkami had retreated, Archangel stood up and took the couple of steps forward needed then bent down and picked up the scroll, though he never quite took his eyes off him. Ōkami completely understood, and even approved of that fact. The turian walked back over to near where he came in and propped himself against the kitchen counter, legs crossed in front of him at the shin, ankle spurs offset. He took a careful look at the scroll and turned it over in his hands before opening it, running his fingers over the parchment, the seal, the ribbon—taking in all of the details. His attention wasn't focused on Ōkami ever since he retreated to the counter, instead apparently he trusted his two team-members to keep an eye out for him while he focused on the scroll. Ōkami appreciated the show of trust in his good will, while still being careful and alert, being the stranger here.
"Certainly don't see this every day," Archangel murmured to himself though Ōkami's acute hearing picked it up. He ran a talon underneath the wax seal to break it loose, then unrolled the parchment. As he read, the other two talked quietly amongst themselves, keeping a careful eye on both their boss and the varren. Harry of course already knew what the message said, having written it only the night before. So he waited and relaxed as best he could in potentially unfriendly territory while studying Archangel as he read, looking for his reactions to the letter.
The whole thing was written in trade common, partly as a gesture of good will (even though he knew the translator implants that everyone had nowadays could handle Terran or likely even English), but also as a way of obscuring Kiba's background, since while there were some speculation and rumors, at the moment his species wasn't a commonly known fact yet. However, after the meeting yesterday with Aria he guessed it wouldn't take long for at least part of the truth to make itself known in certain circles. Still, the longer he could keep the news from spreading, the harder to track down he'd be. Never a bad thing, when one tended to make enemies, intentionally or not.
Thank you for taking the chance, and time, to read my letter. First off I wanted to reassure you that my trusted messenger here, Ōkami, will not harm you or yours as long as as he is otherwise not threatened, and even then would only act to defend himself. He's been instructed to await your reply and will return it to me faithfully and securely, should you desire. Be warned, that doesn't mean you can put trackers on him or send someone to tail him—we'll know and that won't go well for you. Not to mention reflect poorly on the potentially positive working relationship I suspect we'll both want to cultivate with each other, if what I've heard about you is true.
I've heard through sources that you're curious about me and my motives, and I am willing to deal with you honestly and openly as best I can. Naturally there are things that I cannot tell you, (at least not yet), however I promise I will tell you whenever that's the case outright, instead of lying to you whenever those things might come up. If we do develop a working relationship, I want to keep falsehoods out of it as much as possible. Omissions sadly are somewhat of a necessity in our line of business, at least for now, though on my part I will try and keep those to a minimum.
First off, I am not your enemy. Even if we cannot develop a close working relationship, I do not see us working cross purposes much if at all. In fact, I rather think that some of our interests could quite nicely align. Likely I could be convinced to support at least some of your goals—from what I've heard you're currently a bit more…driven than I, at least in plans for the station itself, whereas I'm still relatively new here and don't know the place as well as you do. I'd certainly be happy to discuss said goals and plans in the future, see where we could get a nice synergy going. However, consider me potentially more a cooperative semi-independent ally, rather than an outright follower like the rest of your crew. That being said, you do intrigue me and I would like to find out more about you and your aspirations and goals.
As I told Aria, I have no designs on the station itself, since as far as near-anarchical societies go she appears to be performing adequately as de facto station-monarch. There are certainly many worse options out there. As such, I hope in your stirring the proverbial pot you do not have your sights on her position. You would lose. Please don't take this as a threat, rather see this more as an accurate, unbiased outsider's analysis of her power-base vs. anything you might hope to accumulate. Even if you were able to actually kill her—which, while theoretically possible, would not be advised nor likely—you would not survive the power vacuum implosion said death would cause. Not to mention said implosion would leave this station in dire straits, obliterating any hope of justice or rationality here for the foreseeable future. Not a pretty picture.
Just a word of caution that I felt I should mention, that I hope you take to heart. I don't know if you even had your sights set on her in your crusade for justice, but wanted to put that out there. There are many other easier, and much more effective ways of improving this station and the lives of those that live and work here, that have nothing to do with Aria. Something I'm sure you're already well aware of.
On a more pleasant note, the Big Three mercenary groups here I have no issues with you fucking with them to your heart's content. I can get completely behind that endeavor, in fact I eagerly support that idea. I have after all already started tweaking the Blood Pack's nose with what I've been doing with the local varren populations, which I'm sure you've heard of already. Some of my pack would even happily come join me in assisting you, should we have need of them. Mind you, I will NOT stand for using them as throw-away cannon fodder like the Blood Pack does—that was part of the understanding I have with them, why they'll work for me in the first place vs. working for their former masters. However, we all understand that sometimes losses are unavoidable in violent conflict—that's another thing entirely. If you can agree to work with me and my pack within those constraints, please let me know. I'm sure we could have some fun together, *grin*.
I think that's enough from me at the moment. If you're interested in continuing this discussion, either via correspondence or in person, please either send back a reply with Ōkami here or use the secure messaging link address I've provided at the end of this letter. If you have no interest in associating with me at all, while I have to admit I'll be somewhat disappointed I can respect that decision as well, and will try and stay out of your way as best as I'm able. Either way, let him know how you want to proceed and we can go from there.
Until then, best of health to you and yours.
Finished reading (and quite possibly re-reading, if Harry was tracking Archangel's expressions and actions right), the turian carefully rolled the letter back up and tapped the end of the tube lightly against the counter as his eyes unfocused somewhere in the near distance, deep in thought. Finally his gaze snapped to Harry, still lying down relaxed on the floor but alert. "Ōkami, hmm?" Archangel asked. Ōkami nodded, letting out a soft yip in reply. He tapped his fore talon against a mandible, peering down at him, gaze sharp. "Seems like you're a smart one, too, like Kay said. Smarter than most varren, aren't you?" Ōkami's tail wagged happily in automatic response at the praise, slowed down as he caught himself and the tell, then thought 'fuck it' and let it wag again, his tongue lolling out slightly in a happy grin. Archangel just hmmed, then said, "The letter said you weren't a threat to any of us, wouldn't hurt any of us, only acting in defense of yourself. From what I've seen and heard from Kay so far that seems to be true, even when Lena was about to go on the offensive. That right?" Ōkami bobbed his head in reply, doing a canine bow in submission briefly before standing back upright on all fours. "Well then, I'll just have to extend the same courtesy. No harm to your or yours, unless provoked first. Hear that ladies?"
The two close friends, having already stopped their conversation once he was done reading, both looked between the two and nodded seriously. Kay replied in a perky voice, "Sure thing, Boss-Man. We'll let the rest of the crew know, too. Helps his color pattern is distinctive."
Archangel nodded and motioned to Ōkami, standing up, "Well, want to come with? Let's head up to my office." He got a yip in reply and followed him up the stairs and to the right, then into his quarters. Harry looked around and realized it was a combination space, office type area up front with desk and chairs, but in the back was a bed with another door, closed, leading to what Harry assumed was a washroom of some sort, a sofa and two armchairs in the middle of the room, dividing off the two spaces.
Archangel peered over at the sofa briefly when he walked in the room, then apparently changing his mind perched himself on the front of his desk, arms crossed and standing in a similar pose to what he had downstairs. Ōkami hopped up on one of the squashy armchairs, the one with the best view of his companion and the door both, and waited, looking at him. "You're not a typical varren, are you," he stated after a few moments. Ōkami sneezed.
"Hmm. I'll tap out a reply to him via the link he provided. Have to admit, not sure how he expected me to reply in kind—or for that matter how he even managed to come across these materials to make the letter in the first place," he said, mostly to himself. "You're welcome to relax here but I have nothing else for you, so you're welcome to leave if you like."
Ōkami sneezed again and hopped off the chair. On the way over to the door to leave he took one look back at Archangel, wagged his tail while making another canine style bow, then made his departure. Kay gave him a jaunty little wave as he passed back through the kitchen, Lena only glancing at him before returning to her meal.
He noticed only one drone follow him on the way out, but it stopped just past the outer perimeter he'd passed on his way in so he didn't pay it any mind, however he didn't switch back to human form until he was well and truly sure he was out of sight and unobserved.
Thanks again for your interest! Don't know when the next chapter will be up, as we've used up my buffer. I'm still writing this though, so don't worry there. Love these characters too much to leave them abandoned.
Chapter 5: Four
Hello everyone again, and thanks for your patience and love! Life has been a little rough--think happy healing thoughts towards my pupper, he's been pretty sick lately. :( So yeah, stress. Anywho, that's what happy fic is for, right? Without further ado, here we go. This time the 'real' meeting with Archangel. ;)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The experiments with magic—actively used magic—and tech were rather…explosive at first. Much to Mordin's delight. Harry just thought Mordin was bloody mental, for that and so many other reasons if he was being honest. Though part of him could admit the explosions were fun in some ways.
Regardless, Mordin still made good on his promise and started working on ways to help prevent the "boom today". Seems there was some precedent for reconciling conflicting fields of energy causing havoc and destruction to electro-magnetic devices, so at least he wasn't having to start from scratch. However, further complicating things it wasn't just magic and tech he had to integrate, it was magic, tech, and biotics. Tech and biotics were well documented, and Harry had some information with magic and tech (they didn't tend to work well, but some progress had been made in the years post-Voldemort war), so Mordin wasn't starting from scratch there either. But the combination of the three? Practically uncharted territory. Mordin loved it.
This progressed from "boom today", to "no boom today, but likely boom tomorrow, (also not working)", to "briefly working then fzzt and flames", to "briefly works and no fireworks", and so forth. Harry stopped trying to make sense of Mordin's humor long ago and just let him be, since it seemed to make him happy and didn't seem to hurt anything…much.
Later that morning, after Ōkami's visit to Archangel
Harry wasn't surprised that he received a reply from Archangel the same day as his visit. He was pleased, and a little surprised however, that said reply came as soon as it did—before he'd returned to his own home. The ping came through on his omni-tool when he was still in transit, however he waited till he was back home naturally before pulling up the message. His pack was quite glad to see him, as usual, and they curled up around him as he read the message on his tablet.
Harry sat back and pondered the note and the meeting for a little while, idly scritching his favorite pack member, Esma, between her shoulder-blades. He really wanted to meet again. More than he probably should. There was just something about him that resonated with him. It also didn't hurt that his voice… Turians as a species of course usually had lovely harmonics in their normal speaking voices. However, Archangel-especially with Harry's animagus hearing—was just so much more. Reminded him a bit of Snape in fact, he may not have always liked the man but he had to admit few in his old world could match Snape's speaking voice and presence.
Got your message. Friendly messenger, interesting method of communication you have there—can't say I've really seen that used much before. A couple of my company were really interested in it and would love to pick your brain later, just so you're forewarned. For some reason I'm inclined to trust your word for now on what you've told me. Might I advise you that breaking that trust would not be recommended. I can appreciate the the need for discretion in some things and can trust that you'll not withhold information should that lack of information be detrimental to me and mine. In exchange I promise that you'll receive the same courtesy from myself.
I would like to meet in person in the near future, at a place and time of your choosing, my preference would be for somewhere private so we could talk in peace. I'm happy to offer up my own office, as you know where it is already, if you're willing. I swear on my honor that no harm will come to you while you are here by me or mine, except in case of defending ourselves against breach of trust on your part.
I look forward to your return correspondence and hopefully await a mutually beneficial agreement and working relationship between us.
Harry shook his head and attempted to snap himself out of his musings and back to the matter at hand. From his visit he was able to get at least a rudimentary idea as to the character of the turian. Between that and what he already knew or at least suspected about him previously he felt he could meet with him without too much issue or risk of duplicity. He would rather meet alone, on both their parts, however he wasn't ready to give up the location to his own base of operations just yet. So Archangel's place it was, not wanting to risk anywhere public, either. The station had ears and eyes everywhere. He would warn Mordin as a precaution though, that if he didn't check back in after that something had gone wrong and he should take appropriate actions. He didn't survive this long without building, (what he felt was) a healthy sense of paranoia, after all.
Another reason he wanted to meet in person: he was hoping to get a better look at Archangel's markings, when he had full, true colour vision. Many of his senses were enhanced as a varren but while his sight was better for certain things such as lower light conditions, his colour vision was rather piss-poor.
Pulling out a scrap of paper (not parchment, he was trying to conserve that until he had an easy resupply lined up), he sketched out the line pattern Archangel's clan markings were in. He knew from Death's data dump that the markings served a similar purpose to the heraldry markings of old—what clan, or family, you belonged to or were associated with, and therefore your ancestry. Knowing that, he hoped to figure out or at least narrow down Archangel's true identity. He didn't have any specific plans for that information at the moment, he just knew that knowledge was power and increased flexibility, and therefore worth pursuing whenever possible.
He was rather surprised that Archangel hadn't shown up in their initial encounter this morning in a helmet or other concealing gear. However they couldn't have known that Ōkami actually had the mind of a human and suspected things would have been very different had he tried to show up as himself, especially unannounced like that.
He sent off a capture of his drawing to Mordin.
There, that should do the trick. Knowing his salarian friend he'd have something for him by the end of the week, if not sooner.
Got B/W look at turian clan markings for A. Feel like digging? See attached. Also, new record for tech, happy to say. Think we may be in the clear (asks blessings from deities of choice). Will keep in touch.
Now, to arrange that visit.
It felt odd showing up at Archangel's headquarters so publicly. Sure he'd taken matters into consideration and didn't just waltz the whole way there with a sign plastered to his chest ("This way to Archangel's!"). However he was nowhere near as circumspect as his first visit two days ago. Accompanying him was his favorite varren, after she'd insisted on joining him.
"You sure do like your varren, don't you?" drawled that very familiar, smooth as butter voice, once he'd been shown into the complex proper and to the front sitting room by the same female batarian crew-member he'd seen before.
It was all Harry could do not to shiver or show any sort of reaction to that voice, (even though he'd heard it before, damn those overtones) other than affixing a polite smile to his face. "Yes, well I find them under-appreciated and all the more potentially loyal because of it. Plus I seem to have an…affinity with them, if you will," Kiba replied. He held out his hand to shake in greeting. "Archangel, I presume. Pleased to meet you. As I'm sure you've guessed, I'm known as Kiba, and this is Esma."
"Good to finally meet you in person, as well," said Archangel as he shook Kiba's hand. "Thank you Kay. Well, shall we retire to my office?" he said with a head-bob towards the stairway and where Ōkami had been with him earlier that week. He nodded in reply.
The three of them now upstairs, Kiba set up Mordin's anti-surveillance devices in key places around the room as soon as he arrived, after he received permission of course. He took the same couch as he had before, Esma curling up at his feet, both of them facing Archangel. Both men took the moment to take a good look at each other, sizing each other up, while the other recognized it and silently acknowledged it for what it was. Granted, Kiba had already met him once so he had the advantage there, and was able to move beyond first impressions. He wondered what Archangel saw when he looked his way.
Archangel still didn't have any face covering or obscuring gear other than the same eye-piece as he wore before. Seeing his markings clearly for the first time, (with his normal human vision), he mentally ran through the list Mordin had sent him last night, since he knew what colour he was looking for. Vakarian clan, likely the younger son Garrus he reasoned. If so, his father a semi-prominent member of the government back on Palavan. Known impromptu recruit and member of Commander Shepherd's crew before her death, and therefore front-line participant in the Battle for the Citadel, and related encounters. Pieces of the puzzle began to slot into place in Kiba's mind, cataloging theoretical reasons for what he was doing now, and what his goals might be now that Shepherd was gone.
Now, what to do with this information. Secrets, or put things out in the open? Times like this he wished he had some veritaserum (that's if it would even work on non-magical, non-human beings…), or knew wandless legilimancy. He did however tap into his animagus and augment his senses somewhat, and hook into Esma to get a better read on his companion, since she often picked up different things than he himself did.
Archangel leaned back in his chair and propped up one ankle on his other knee, and broke the silence. "Have to say I was more than a little surprised to get your note the way I did. That wasn't just paper, was it?"
Kiba shook his head. "Not normal paper, no," he said, not bothering to elaborate further.
"Yeah, didn't think so. Also, interesting messenger, unusually intelligent," said the turian. "Esma here is very well behaved and I'd never have thought varren could be trained so well and to be so civilized, however Ōkami seemed even different from that. Just something about him set off my senses, tickled the back of my brain. Didn't really realize it until after he'd left. Luckily there was still a large enough sample to run an analysis."
A slight prickle of flush spread over Harry's skin and he swallowed. Hadn't thought of that, when he'd carried the scroll in his damn mouth. Saliva, had to be. He'd have noticed if any blood was taken, and there wasn't any hair to shed, unlike a mammal. He was impressed, he'd have done the same thing—in fact what he'd done had been different but along similar ideas.
"Seems your varren Ōkami isn't normal. But of course you probably already knew that, didn't you. Even if I have no idea how that would even be possible or what exactly is going on with him, or you for that matter. Didn't take you for the genetic experimentation type," Archangel said, narrowing his eyes at him. "Then again there's definitely something not typical with you going on either, got a sixth sense about it."
Harry sighed, if the two of them were going to have a healthy, long-term relationship then it was best to come clean now. Thankfully he'd already prepared a similar contract to the one that he'd had Mordin sign. This one was for mutual protection, however, since he well knew that both of them had secrets and identities they'd rather kept secret. "I'm impressed, clever thinking Archangel. Or should I say Mr. Vakarian. Garrus, if I'm not mistaken?" The turian's eyes widened in shock before they softened and he let out a rueful chuckle, raising his glass in a silent toast. "Yes, well we both have secrets. Hazard of the business. Towards that, and keeping said secrets secret, I'm hoping you'd be willing to sign a binding contract stating in essence that neither one of us will disclose anything the other has revealed in confidence, without the other's express permission. Amenable? Unless you're willing to sign, I should state that I'll be less than inclined to disclose many more of my own secrets, and you've only scratched the barest surface so far."
Garrus hummed and studied him, then held out his hand. "I can appreciate what you're after. Hand it over and I'll take a look." Harry did so and waited patiently for him to read it through, answering a few clarifying questions along the way. Like the other one this too was written out by hand on parchment, and augmented with runes and would be keyed to both their signatures and blood. Five minutes later and it was signed and sealed by both, Garrus made note of both the fountain pen and parchment, muttering "You're lucky Mother forced us to practice writing by hand…", and seemed confused at the blood requirement but complied anyway.
After Garrus had signed (with his name, Harry saw, which also served to confirm his suspicions) Harry followed using his new legal name which Garrus also caught, giving him a look. However that expression quickly changed to shock when the contract flared bright green then rolled itself up after Harry added his own blood. Harry sent him a knowing smile and pocketed the rolled up document for safe keeping.
"Okay, now I know that wasn't normal," Garrus said, harsher undertones starting to come out in his voice. "Talk. Since you seem to know more about myself than I do you, apparently."
Harry nodded, having expected a reaction similar to this. "Yes, as you surmised I'm not in any way…normal. Not for any race I'm aware of, and certainly not for humans." He paused for a bit, pondering how best to go about this, petting Esma as he thought. "For one, I'm a biotic, up there on the human power scale." He held up a hand as Garrus made to say something and clarified, "that's not what makes me atypical though." Garrus settled back in his chair at that, question at least initially addressed and willing to wait for more information.
Harry—in demonstration—held out his two hands, palms up. In his right he let his biotics flare, a blue corona surrounding his entire hand and upper arm. In his left however he gathered his magic in concentrated form and a cold-flame of green energy appeared in the palm of his hand, dancing and sparking in the light. It was mostly a technique used to help build control and awareness of ones magical core, more parlour trick than anything useful. However it looked flashy and was visually very distinct from his biotics, which was the point here. Harry noticed the green color again that seemed to be consistent with some of his magics here, and made a mental note to look into that more in the future. For now he suspected it had something to do with how his magic interacted with this new, magic-less world or with his biotics or both.
Garrus leaned forward in his seat, seemingly fascinated about the green flame Harry held. He reached forward but then paused before he got too close, and sent a questioning look Harry's way. "You can touch it," Harry replied, nodding at him. "It's not hot, for all it looks like fire." The turian did so, closing the rest of the distance and tentatively brought his gloved hand near. He paused, testing for heat, and then carefully ran one clothed talon through the edge of the flame briefly. He blinked in surprise then ran his talons through a couple more times, lingering longer each time.
"Hmm," Garrus hummed, taking his hand back. "It's just a little warm, and…tingly? What is that?"
Harry cocked his head to the side and inquired, "You can feel that? As tingles, I mean?" Garrus nodded. "Mo—I mean one of my close contacts here on the station couldn't feel anything at all when I ran it by him. I wonder if it's a turian thing, or if you're just more sensitive to it. Try taking off your glove and trying again." As he talked he let the biotic flare dissipate, shaking his right hand out, so he could focus more on his magic. Garrus shot him a shocked look and Harry remembered something in his protocol lesson downloads on how turians practically never removed their gloves while in company. Harry gave him a reassuring smile and hurried to explain, "It's ok, I won't be offended or horrified at all. I just thought you'd be able to feel the energies better if you didn't have your gloves in the way. I'm as much curious as anything else."
"Energies, huh?" Garrus stated. He had a dubious look on his face, but started peeling his right glove off anyway. Harry looked on in fascination at the now bare—and obviously very deadly—talons his companion sported and now appreciated in a much more…visceral sense why turians wore gloves in polite society nowadays, even if they did still tend to blunt the tips. He was very thankful for his masks then, as his face reflected nothing but polite openness, despite his shock (and if he was being honest with himself, slight arousal) at the close and personal reminder of the raptor-like predator qualities his companion sported. It would be the dangerous ones.
Harry nodded, "Yeah, that would be a big part of what makes me not-normal. Easiest way to describe it would be non-biotic based energy manipulation, though that's really an over-simplification." Garrus reached his bare hand back into the cold-flame again, this time with little hesitation, and shivered as it touched his bare skin. Harry was watching him closely, curious at what kind of reaction he'd have, so didn't miss the slight hitch in Garrus' breathing or dilation of his pupils. Interesting, he mused to himself.
Garrus pulled his hand back and rubbed it with his gloved hand before putting the glove back on. "Interesting effect," he said slowly. Harry wished he could read the odd overtone in his voice. "You were right about the…tingling being a lot more prominent sans glove." He cleared his throat then resettled himself in his chair. "You said big part of, what's the rest of what's unique about you? Have anything to do with your being an apparent varren whisperer?" Garrus asked wryly, a mandible flicking out in a smirk.
Flame dissolved at this point, Harry shook out that hand as well to help dissipate the energies. "You could say that," he said, eying the turian. Well, in for a pound as they said. "Easiest for me to just show you." He stood up and moved to a more open area of the office, gesturing for Esma to stay put when she lifted her head in question towards her leader. He shot Garrus a wry smirk himself before stating, tone dry, "Try not to freak out." And shifted.
"Spirits above!" blurted Garrus, jumping up and backwards in his chair, all but sitting on the back of it before he stopped and stared, bewildered. "Kiba?" he asked, his voice trilling with incredulity. Ōkami stretched, then shook himself before looking at the turian with amusement. He nodded, grinning, then chuffed quietly. Garrus huffed and settled back into his chair, still eying the new varren. "Well, that explains a lot," he muttered to himself out loud, shaking his head, though Ōkami picked up the words easily. He sighed and looked up at the varren, then said louder this time, "You want to change back, assuming you can, so we can discuss this like civilized folk?"
Ōkami sneezed then in moments Kiba was back, crouched on one knee and looking at Garrus with amusement. "Like I said," he stated as he moved back to his seat, "not a typical human." Garrus just snorted in reply, shaking his head in disbelief. "Vakarian," Kiba snapped out and Garrus looked up, eyes focused on him. "The truth about myself and Ōkami does not get out to anyone, without my permission, understood? I know that contract covers practically everything I've shown you tonight but that, most especially, is not to be discussed in open company. Ever. Capisce?"
"Understood," said Garrus, nodding. "Not that anyone would believe me," he muttered.
Kiba chose to ignore that last little comment, though inwardly he wondered. "Just so you know, there is one other here on Omega that knows about that. Dr. Mordin Solus—he runs a med clinic down in the Gozu District. He's also the one to contact should I need medical attention—in either form—that you or your field medics are unable to take care of. He knows all about my…unique situation and physiology, and I trust him."
"Got it," said Garrus. "By the way, what should I call you? Kiba? Black? …Harry?"
Harry chuckled, "Yeah, should have expected that. Ōkami while I'm in my varren form, for sure. Slipping on that while in any other company besides myself or Mordin would just be…bad, so best to keep good habits there. Kiba when I'm around your crew or others in my merc guise here, Black if I'm pretending to be a civilian. Either, or Harry in private if you like. Oh, and before I forget," Harry said before removing his eye-wear and changing his hair. "This is Lord Black. And how my face actually looks, actually."
Garrus just sighed and shook his head, "Of course you can change your appearance like that. By now I really shouldn't be surprised by anything you do, should I?" Harry just chuckled and looked a little sheepish. "Any other crazy groundbreaking, mind-melting surprises I should know about you?"
"Oh, certainly. But nothing critical for the moment, and I'm sure you'll find out more as needs be." Harry grinned, "Besides, what good is life without a little mystery and/or surprise, hmm, Garrus?"
"Don't call me that in front of the others. Not even Sidonis calls me that, though I imagine he knows." Harry just nodded. "In private, of course you can call me whatever you like. As long as no one's listening, of course."
"Ah, that reminds me. Here," Harry said, passing over a spare one of Mordin's anti-surveillance/eavesdropping spheres he had in his pocket. "Little gesture of goodwill. Same as the ones I've set up around the room already, only that one's for you to keep. Mordin, who's also brilliant with tech, made them. One warning though—I wouldn't suggest you try and reverse engineer it, safeguards have been put into place and you wouldn't like the result. Plus, we'd know and you could consider that goodwill dissolved."
Garrus nodded slowly, while turning the small sphere over in his hand, studying it. "I understand," he said. "While I'm sure Kay would love to pick this apart I'll make it clear this is off-limits. May just keep it to myself entirely for that matter. My thanks for the warning."
"Oh, another thing I should mention. You should really up the security protocols around this place, and your personnel discipline. I don't want to tell you how to run your operation, but there are some dangerous holes we discovered. Not to mention my 'messenger'", Harry said with a smirk and air quotes, "was able to slip in here too easily. That could have been a much less benign visit, with disastrous results. Something to think about, and I'd be happy to assist you in improving, assuming you're willing." Serious mode over for now, Harry smiled and leaned forward. He clasped his hands in front of him and propped his chin on his fingers, his eyes sparkling and inquired, "For now, shall we make some plans? See how we can't shake this station up a bit more?" Garrus grinned in reply, and they went to work.
A/N: Yes, that was a little homage to an awesome TV show and a great character therein. Cookies to anyone who caught the reference. Since we know that Mordin already has some awareness of old Earth culture (Gilbert & Sullivan, anyone?), or at least in my head-cannon does, why not other references as well?
Also, if anyone wants to say 'hi' my email is lady.v.lair at gmail (build into an actual email address, of course).
Thanks for reading, and letting me know what you think!
Chapter 6: Five
A/N: Back again my lovelies! My muse is somewhat returned—must love you or something. :) So here, have another chapter with a much more reasonable delay than before.
So, if you haven't noticed, the opening vignette sections for all of the non-prologue chapters are all rather removed from chronology. Not attached to a specific point in the continuum, though since all have been on Omega so far none of them have been too far flung into the future yet (and none yet have been from before Harry showed up on Omega). That's not to say I won't use them to go farther forward or backward at some point, just not…yet. After the opener, though, things have been much more sequential, though we may start to lose the more exact time-frame tags and go a bit more generally forward, as we start speeding up a bit towards ME2 events (and Shepard!). Hope that hasn't been too confusing so far.
And since it's now a thing… §Parseltongue§
Warning: semi-minor character death ahead (not one of the characters in any of the relationships, don't worry). Though I have to say I have been looking forward to offing this one… hehee
Anywho, thanks for reading and hope you enjoy!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
"So," Harry started, propping his head up on his arm so he could better look at Garrus while both of them were stretched out in bed, late one night. "I heard some of the rumors of 'The Battle for the Citadel'. You were there, weren't you? That's what those nightmares are about, aren't they?" Harry asked with affectionate concern. "What really happened then, that year, Angel?"
Garrus's mandible flicked in a quick half-smile then his expression got more serious again. "He…It got in your head. And it wasn't even focused on me specifically, we were just spillover from the general field permeating the area. No, Shepard…Mari, was the target. It was fixated on her," he shuddered in remembrance. "I mean we all were, fixated I mean, to some extent. She was a leader you know? So charismatic… She'd worm under your skin—but in a good way," he hastily added. "Not like," another full body shudder and a deep swallow, "that thing did."
Harry shot him a concerned and open look. "Tell me about it?"
Garrus closed his eyes and took a deep breath, letting it out slowly then did so. "You know, Shepard thought it was the vanguard, the scout. The battle at the Citadel? It was really trying to open up a mass effect relay for its buddies. Or so that's what we could glean, at least. We'd been unknowingly chasing the thing around the galaxy for a while prior to that though, thinking we were chasing after a rogue Spectre instead. All the while it was watching, waiting, preparing its pawns for the eventual takeover and invasion, taunting us, all while just pretending to be an advanced ship. That's what the battle was really about: to shut it down, keep that from happening. Thankfully the civilization that came before us put measures into place before they were wiped out that gave us the time to keep Sovereign at bay. That was its name—it wasn't just a ship. Shep called it a Reaper." He shivered again. "You should have seen what it did to Saren—that rogue Spectre I mentioned. As much as he was a bastard, I wouldn't wish that on anyone. At the end there, he was more machine than turian. A puppet on strings, dancing to the tune of his evil incarnate AI master. Ugh." Silence, both of them quiet, reflecting on their own ghosts. Taking comfort in each others' warmth and closeness, listening to the others' even breathing and heartbeats.
Wanting to get on a little happier topic, Harry asked after a bit, "So what was it like working under Shepard, anyway?"
"Like I said, she was charismatic, for lack of a better word. You'd do anything for her. And I do mean anything. Some of the same qualities you have, actually," Garrus chuckled and looked a bit sheepish. "Stars, as much as this is 'my' crew, I think if you were around more consistently you could have easily taken my crew's loyalty away from me. They already complain when you're not around, or I should say when Kiba's not around. Thankfully they still haven't made the connection to your other forms yet, even when they're never here at the same time."
Harry grinned and gently slugged Garrus' shoulder, "Good thing we're on the same side then, isn't it? Though," and his gaze grew serious and he looked at his companion intently, "you have a lot of those leader qualities yourself. You really should give yourself more credit, you know. Why do you think you've been so successful in getting the team you have to work with you so eagerly in the first place?"
"I suppose," Garrus replied, his neck flushing slightly in embarrassment. "But Shep?" Garrus sighed. "She'd put either of us to shame. People just followed her, without question. You'd have to have met her, experienced it, to truly see what I mean." Harry hummed and nodded in reply, the "But she's dead, so that's impossible now," hanging in the air unspoken like it tended to sometimes, when Garrus was being maudlin.
After that they fell into a companionable silence, Harry's mind pondering what they'd talked about and more while he both heard and felt Garrus' breathing slow down and even out as he drifted back off to sleep. Harry though, took longer to fall into Morpheus's embrace, his mind going over his own list of loved and lost, and wishes and has-been's. As much as he'd not liked to think about it, he suspected that those lists were only going to grow over time, despite all his best efforts. Best to just do what he could then, take care of those few people and goals he prioritized most and let the rest take care of themselves.
Month & a half after 'official' first meeting with Archangel
Kiba had opted to take the visible sentry position that morning, enjoying the quiet to himself. Near but hidden were three of his pack, concealed for if they should be needed, though most of him hoped that wouldn't be necessary.
He stood at the entrance to the main path towards Archangel's base, his posture seemingly relaxed, partly leaned against a corner of the bridge while idly scanning the populace, hiding it under the guise of people watching. Or so it seemed. Really he was much more alert than the let on, ready to intercept or act as needed while still seeming casually normal to the average passer-by. To top it off he had a subtle 'I'm harmless and unimportant' effect cast on himself. Similar to a notice-me-not or his ghosting, but this didn't actually make him invisible and therefore suspicious to alert people. More just let him blend into any crowd or area, to not draw attention to himself unless someone was actively looking to interact with him. Much more innocuous and safer in general company like this.
So far things were pleasantly uneventful this morning. As Kiba was idly munching on a piece of fruit Lena has scrounged up for him before he went out he noticed someone intently headed his direction. He straightened up slightly and quickly finished his food, improving his weight displacement for quick movement but otherwise kept a seemingly relaxed air about him. He also gave a subtle signal to his pack to stay put for now, but stay alert.
As the rather grizzled older man neared Kiba asked him, "Can I help you, there?" while watching the newcomer carefully.
"What's it to you, shrimp? Move aside, my business doesn't concern you at all," the human, merc by the looks of it, said rather harshly. This close Kiba noted the Blue Suns emblem on his belt buckle, non-standard markings for them but still distinctive enough to be noticeable.
"Well, by wanting to come any further you're making it my business," Kiba said, voice a bit harder now. "Either move along, or state your name and business here and I'll notify the applicable parties."
The man scoffed and looked him over, clearly finding him lacking. "What's a pipsqueak like you going to do? Cry at me? You don't even have a proper weapon for all your fancy-talk."
Kiba raised an eyebrow. Sure, the only gun he had on him currently was a handgun Mordin had helped tweak, but he never left home without his sword—regardless of guise—and this morning was no different. If this arrogant prick wanted to go there, he'd certainly oblige him. Kiba drew his sword and took a semi-relaxed ready stance, not overtly threatening yet but not backing down from the challenge either. Eyes boring into the merc's even through the headpiece he wore, he drawled, "Not a proper weapon? Then what would you call this, hmm?" He wasn't looking to kill the guy, but if he was going to contrive to be a jack-arse, on his head be it.
The merc—identified as Zaeed Massani, former leader of the Blue Suns, now independent, by his oh-so-helpful facial recognition software—rolled his eyes. "That? That's just a pig-sticker. Useless in a real fight, kid," the last part said as he knocked the blade aside with the back of his minimally armoured gloved hand.
Kiba only barely moved at the confrontation, his stance sturdier than casual appearance would suggest, his body easily absorbing the force. Instead, sure enough it was the hand that had taken the brunt of the force applied. His gaze flickered down Zaeed's hand, and a small smile graced his lips. "Huh, looks like you got yourself on my 'pig sticker'. Hope you've made your peace already with whichever higher power you believe in."
"Wha?" Zaeed shot him a baffled look then glanced down at his own hand, where there was a slice bisecting the back of his hand and a thin trickle of blood was oozing out. "This? Just a scratch. Have had worse shaving. Won't even need medi-gel for that."
Relaxing his stance further but still alert, he knew what was coming. Kiba's smile grew larger and he replied, "Exactly. Medi-gel won't do squat for that."
A moment later the merc's face grew ashen and he began to sweat. His breathing grew ragged and he choked out, "What…did you…do? …was that?" while doubled over, wheezing.
"That," Harry said calmly as he grabbed the hem of Zaeed's tunic and carefully wiped off his blade, mindful of the edge before sheathing it. The merc didn't even notice his action, "is what happens when you don't respect what you have no clue fucking about." Then what was once a merc collapsed, pink-tinged bloody foam escaping his parted lips, body convulsing a couple of times before going still. Harry tucked a combination cloaking/homing device into a gap in the now-corpse's armour and sent a quick message to Mordin that he had a new lab rat to pick up at his earliest convenience, with his complements. He knew his good friend would have fun with his present—the salarian had been itching to see the effects of his blade first hand outside of controlled lab trials on disposable vermin. Though, Harry mused as he shoved the body further to the side and out of the way of general traffic, this was still a disposable vermin, just…much larger than normal.
That logo and what it implied was concerning, though. Wanting to head off any troubles at the pass he stripped the buckle from the body and pocketed it (along with grabbing any anonymous credit chips he had), and sent a quick note to Archangel that he should meet him out front as soon as he was able. Kiba knew it would display on his ever-present monocle, so figured he'd be out shortly. That taken care of he took his post back up same as before, and waited.
Sure enough, less than five minutes later he heard Archangel coming up behind him, along with—yup, one of his other crew members: this one a human male with a penchant for blowing shit up if he remembered correctly. "Kiba," Archangel questioned him softly, in full business mode at the moment.
Barely glancing at the turian's companion Kiba handed Archangel the buckle, causing him to raise a brow ridge. "That," Kiba started, bending down to temporarily deactivate the cloaking device he'd placed on the corpse so he could take a look, "was on this," and nudged the body none-to-gently with his armoured toe. Once they'd had a few moments to take in the sight he cloaked the body again and stood back up. A few keystrokes later and he'd sent off a data packet to Archangel's omni-tool with the identity of the body and what information he'd managed to pull up so far on the mercenary. Unfortunately, not as much info as he'd have liked, though to be fair it was still a new investigation. Between Kiba and his two good friends he was sure that they'd dig up a lot more dirt on the man before too long.
"Well then," was all Archangel said, crossing his arms in front of him. His eyes flicked from where the corpse was, now hidden, to Kiba's hard expression, to where the sword was sheathed on his back, then back to meeting his eyes where he gave a simple nod.
"Indeed," Kiba replied, channeling one of his old professors for a moment with some internal amusement.
Their companion however just stood there gaping, mouth opening and closing like a fish without actually saying anything. Finally he squeaked out something that sounded vaguely like a question, however unintelligible it may have been.
Kiba snorted, the corner of his lip quirking up and guessed at the meaning of the noise. "How?" The other human just nodded vigorously, still looking a bit dazed. He glanced up at Garrus and saw the amusement he felt mirrored in the other's gaze as well, knowing he could very well guess how since he knew about his blade and its rather deadly properties already. "Sorry," he drawled, "trade secret."
"Wow…," their companion breathed out slowly, eyes wide.
Archangel cleared his throat pointedly and shot his teammate a look which had him flushing in embarrassment, before turning his attention back to Kiba. "Cleanup?"
"Being taken care of. I'll stay here until it's done, and finish out my shift."
Archangel nodded and turned to head back into the complex, but before he left he looked back around and said, "Come see me when you're done." Harry nodded. "Oh, and good work." Then he left, the human scurrying to follow in his wake.
That evening was the first that both Harry and Garrus got even remotely intoxicated in each other's company, discussing all sorts of things but started with Archangel's history with the Blue Suns. Harry considered it a win. Maybe he should present more dead former leaders of major mercenary companies to him? This one seemed to have a reasonably favorable reaction, Harry mused to himself as he watched his companion loosening up and acting more familiar with him and listened to the pleasant overtones that sent happy little shivers down his spine. Yes, favorable indeed.
"So, Mordin. Got a bit of time for something?" Harry asked during one of his visits to the clinic.
"Yes, Black? What do you have for me today?" replied Mordin eagerly.
"I had an idea. Think you can get a private translation program or function or device going? Something exclusively for just myself, Ōkami, you, and Vakarian to use."
"Purpose? Thought you already had a universal translator implant. Standard. Should shift with you," countered Mordin.
"Oh it does, thank Merlin. This is something unique." Harry hummed in thought. "Example: §Can you understand what I'm saying now?§ How'd that come through?"
"Just hissing, unintelligible," said Mordin, pausing to think briefly before continuing. "Ah, I see. New language? Identify?"
Harry wiggled his hand in a so-so gesture, "It's a very unique language, rare, but not new. If anything it could be considered quite old. There were only a couple of us known to be able to speak it back home—well, only a couple of us magical humans that is. It was said to have originated with one of the sentient snake-human hybrid magical races, and was then passed on through their bloodlines as they inter-bred with magical humans, though that was long ago back in times of legend. It was a gift of sorts, tended to follow lines of inheritance. It wasn't really learnable though one person I knew taught himself a few words, at least the comprehension thereof. All snakes and some other reptile like creatures spoke it naturally, however. This person I knew used it to help him keep his lab pets more controllable, among other things."
"Snakes, as in earth reptile, scientific suborder Serpentes?"
"Yup, those. Both magical and mundane breeds, though I don't know if the magical breeds fell under the same scientific classification. Not sure there were enough mundane university trained magically aware biologists to even bother with that kind of study, for that matter. Anyway. I haven't seen any in this universe yet to be able to test whether that still holds true here or not, however I have no reason to think it wouldn't. Some other reptile-like magical creatures could also speak and understand it, such as some breeds of dragons. Kind of depended on how closely related they were to the serpent lines. Regardless, I'm likely the only non-reptile in existence that still speaks the language, if anyone ever did in this universe."
"Fascinating," said Mordin, used to the references to the parallel universe vs. time travel in the same universe theory discussion they'd bantered around enough times before to not even blink at Harry's references to it. "But see little point other than purely academic exercise. Reason?"
Harry smiled, "Ah, that's where this gets fun. And useful." He held up a finger to wait, then shifted into his animagus form and hissed out, "§See, I can still speak out loud like this as a varren. Whereas English or Common are impossible.§"
Understanding and glee lit up Mordin's face, even if he clearly had no idea what had been said. "Of course! Communication to select few regardless of form. Also uses in covert instructions while human. Yes, yes—fascinating possibilities."
By this point Harry had shifted back to human. "Exactly. I'd love to be able to talk to you and Vakarian at the very least, as Ōkami. Plus like you said, always useful to be able to present information no one else could hope to understand. So, think we can do it? And how would you want to go about building up the dictionary/translator database?"
Mordin hummed while tapping his chin. "Yes, certainly doable. Now for method. First, name of that language? Snake? Second, written form exist?"
"It's called Parseltongue, a speaker of it is a Parselmouth. The written form is, as logic would suggest, Parselscript. But no, it doesn't look anything like Roman alphabetic characters or any other alphabet you may be familiar with, that I'm aware of," said Harry. He took a stylus and marked out a few simple phrases on his tablet then spun it around to show Mordin. "See?"
"Ah, yes. Not as helpful as hoped. Fascinating for study and linguistics purposes. Probably best to start with verbal only translator? Can tackle written form later, when time. Likely will. Enjoy challenge." Mordin perched himself at the work table, ready to input his findings into his private, secure computer terminal. "So, sentence structure? Verb conjugation? Rules of grammar? Tenses? So forth. Fundamentals, must know."
Harry looked a bit sheepish and replied, "You know, I've never really even thought about that. I've only ever spoken it like it was English, and hissing came out instead of the normal words. In the beginning I didn't even realize I wasn't speaking English. It's not a learned language, it's just…instinctual, I guess. And I don't have any reference materials for you to help, either. Sorry. Just what's kicking around in my brain," he concluded as he tapped on the side of his head.
"Hmm, well long way it is then. Start with lots of words on their own, then see how they string together into various types of groupings of various lengths and styles. Build up more formal academic analysis later." He pulled up a comprehensive most-used word list for Common and set up a device to record and analyze. "We'll begin with these. Whenever ready. Recite Trade Common, then same in…Parseltongue? Yes."
Harry shook his head. "Not Common; English is better. Late 20th century British English, to be specific. It's still what my brain defaults to, and what most of my mental thinking patterns are in. Hope that's alright."
Mordin just nodded in reply and pulled up a similar but different word list, geared towards the altered word usage statistics. "Very well. Doable. Can iron out inaccuracies later. Hazard from jumping multiple languages. However correct, will build most accurate initial database if we use your native language given your description of language mechanics."
And they got to work. It took Harry a bit to get used to swapping back and forth between languages so much but he got better at it as they progressed. For that matter, it even helped him with his own comprehension of the nuances of Parseltongue's structure. Which realization he naturally shared with Mordin. And so together over weeks' time, they built up the database while Mordin wrote the program, then they honed and refined it. Eventually they had a reasonably workable system that could understand about 80% of typical conversations—better if Harry intentionally simplified his speech.
Just in time, too.
So can you tell I'm really not a fan of Zaeed's character in the games? *grin* Figured he'd quickly piss Harry off just as badly, so ran with it. The method of death was actually my partner's idea, since I needed to kill someone off of the ME2 crew beforehand.
Yeah, this one's a bit shorter in length than the previous, though this is actually closer to my average length for chapters. The prior ones have just been all on the longer side, heh. Breaking it here did mean you get a much cleaner plot break, which is good. Even if it is a little bit of a cliffy. Sorry not sorry, for that. ;)
So, have a question for people. Animal/animagus sex: fade to black and gloss over? Write it out and mark it for people who want to skim/skip? Break it out into a separate outtake fic and gloss over in the main one? I haven't decided, and since it kind of borders on the whole bestiality thing (even if no one is actually human at the time) I was hemming and hawing on how to handle it. Also kind of depends on how my muse wants to handle things, of course. But yes, would like to hear what people think. (And yes that was a not-so-subtle hint/teaser at what's coming up in the near future, muahahaha. Ha. Ahem.)
Another comment from my partner during one of our morning ME/HP think-tank breakfast discussions, he was saying that it would be interesting to have Shep die completely (i.e. Lazarus project fails) and Cerberus has to scramble to find a replacement--and tries and recruits Harry for that. I wasn't going to run this fic like that, but it is an interesting thought experiment. If anyone wants to grab it as a plot bunny, they're welcome to it. It may end up as an offshoot/AU/outtake at some point, but that's probably long in the future (sooo many other plot bunnies...) and so consider free game for the snagging. However this did show up a little in their snuggle time discussion, since frankly Harry is at times as charismatic as Shepard, so he could be a reasonable replacement if need be. Or at least Cerberus could see him like that, if they knew.
Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think, and yes constructive criticism is welcomed as well. :)
Chapter 7: Six
A/N: Warnings in this one for animagus form/animal sex and omega heat(the more graphic stuff implied but still there, hence the warning). It's right after the initial opening vignette, which as usual is removed from the more strict chronology of the rest of the story. This one's earlier still while they're on Omega, a bit earlier in the time-line.
Most explicit bits are sandwiched between ^^'s, towards the end of the first proper time section, before the *** jump. That whole first section after the time flag can be skipped if you really want to, though you might miss some of the plot (the most important things are alluded to in the aftermath though so you can probably infer enough of what's going on to make sense of the story still). Note, this isn't going to be a frequent occurrence in this story, right now I'm guessing only this chapter, so I'm hoping it doesn't chase anyone away.
And with that, enjoy my lovelies!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
"So…have you heard of Commander Shepard?" Harry asked Mordin during one of their regular meet-ups.
"Certainly. First human Spectre. N7 Spec-Ops graduate. Catalyst of the Battle of Eden Prime and the Battle of the Citadel. You know this," Mordin stated, then paused to suck in a breath before continuing. "Why?"
"Well," Harry replied, watching his companion carefully for his reactions, "apparently Archangel worked with her, fought with her during those same confrontations you mentioned. Idolizes her, still. He came here right after she apparently died."
"Interesting. Of course—Vakarian. Should have known," said Mordin, blinking and shaking his head. "Explains much, reason for actions here. Starting crew. Cleaning up seedier trades. Hero worship and attempt to recreated glory days by leading crew? Not same levels of charisma though, from supposition and hearsay. Still, enough to stir things around here with merc groups."
"Yeah, that's what I've gathered as well. Still, he's trying and I've worked under much worse excuses for leaders, though I still prefer to operate solo. But, while we already pretty much knew who he was knowing this is another confirmation for his real name, and therefore we know his background. Not that I'd use it against him. I'm beginning to really like the guy." Harry hummed and tapped his lip with a finger. "In fact, think we could tie up some informational loose ends for him?"
"Could. Can. Aria likely knows already, but unlikely to act on it unless playing card becomes more valuable than keeping it close. Can protect from others though. Motivation? Some security for self in eliminating data leaks." Mordin's eyes narrowed slightly and studied Harry, who looked back at him nonplussed. "Not only reason though. Interest in him strictly platonic? Or more? Issues with hormone supplement?"
"No new issues that I'm aware of at the moment, no. And my interest is my own concern for now, though he is certainly easy on the eyes. And that voice…" Harry's eyes glaze for a bit as he gets lost in remembrance and reflection, Mordin just chuckled lightly.
"Will start working on that. Consider it friendly gift. Or repayment of experimental advancement help."
"Thanks, Mordin. Let's just keep this between us two, hmm?"
8 months after arrival on Omega
Harry woke, his skin fever hot but with a layer of cold sweat coating his skin, and an all-too-familiar deep-seated ache deep in his lower abdomen. And swore. Profusely. In as many languages as he knew.
He'd been on the supplements and suppressors Death had brought over from his old life, same schedule as before, but apparently something had changed. Enough that the usual drugs hadn't worked the same way, or had degraded or something. He'd get Mordin on the project later—obviously there was something the Salarian had missed in all the various tests he'd done, though given that this was all new territory for him Harry could forgive the lapse later. Now, now there wasn't time. For any of that.
Through the building mental and hormonal haze he had just enough self-awareness to dash off two notes, right after putting the place on lock-down in all ways he could—physically, magically, and electronically. Only Mordin would be able to get through security, via the pass-keys he'd been provided previously as a show of trust and thanks for helping him set up the place originally. Not to mention he was hopefully the only one in this existence who really knew where he called home, anyway.
I'll be out of commission for roughly a week. Don't expect to hear from me during that time, so don't worry if I drop out of communication. Feel free to leave messages but I likely won't see it or be able to respond until this thing is over.
Take care, and see you soon.
Home meds didn't work as expected. Will be out of communication for about a week, if history proves itself. Analysis needed later to fix, for future successful treatments.
No time for regulation or treatment on this cycle. Too far gone.
You know how to find me if you feel it necessary, but should be fine to ride out without assistance.
Talk to you when I can.
Letters finished and transmitted just in time he peeled the last of his clothes off (having already started before, during, and between writing his letters), and let them plop onto the floor, sodden lumps where they lay. An irrational little trail of breadcrumbs for whoever might come across them.
Times like this he was very glad he'd set up an auto care and feeding system for his live-in pack, since there wasn't any way he'd be able to manage any of that during his heat, let alone muster up enough mental bandwidth to be able to care for and feed himself.
Speaking of pack, Esma and the males had kept close by him ever since his heat had first started that morning and followed him as he staggered into the bedroom. As he crawled up onto the bed and fumbled for the lube and various toys—some from this world, and some alpha models with knot and all that had come over from his prior—Esma hopped up to join him. She curled up by his head when he lay down on his back, his knees bent and legs spread to allow himself room to start working with the toys. She didn't bother him at all, just gave him the occasional lick in support on his sweaty forehead or cheek and watched. She seemed…sympathetic, if one could assign such feelings to their animal best friend towards their human companion and leader.
The others though…the others weren't so subdued. They paced and whined at the foot and sides of the bed. Watching, waiting, eager to help, to participate, but were still subservient enough to Harry and Esma to not approach further without permission. Especially once she snarled and snapped at a couple of the younger, more headstrong ones that had put a paw or two up on the edge of the bed, only to quickly retreat once reminded of their place. Really she was the one keeping order in the room, not Harry at the moment. Any respect they had towards this authority was driven more from their months of prior interactions, not through any correctional action he did, could do, at the moment. They all wanted to, though the better behaved ones only pawed at the floor and got as close as they dared without crossing that invisible but still enforced line. They rutted against the floor, the edge of the bed, each other (but not for long as that didn't tend to go over as well), anywhere really—their canine cocks erect and exposed from their sheaths, tips leaking. A couple of them resorted to felating themselves in frustration. Harry had never seen them quite like this (through what little attention he was able to spare them through his own haze), the lot of them driven into a lusty frenzy by the scent and pheromones of his own heat.
Harry could sympathize. Irrespective of what he tried, what position, what toy or aid, what rythem, anything and everything, nothing was working to take the edge off the ache and get him through it. He'd never had this problem before. Back…there he'd had little trouble taking care of his own heats, thank you very much. Now, none of that was working. His snarl of frustration was laced with a touch of growl and more than a hint of desperation to it as he threw the dildo he was currently attempting to sate himself with against the far wall (only to have a trio of the pack scramble over and proceed to fight over who could lick it clean). This wasn't working. Three bloody hours later and he'd still not taken the bloody edge off, not one bit. It had never been like this before, had never had this much trouble riding out his own heats on his own. Especially not to this degree. It was maddening.
He didn't know what was up. Yet another thing to ponder later, what little shred of rational mind he had left mused in the midst of the blur of mental fog and need. He sighed and collapsed back onto the mattress, staring at the ceiling. Glanced over at Esma, who gave his overheated skin a reassuring lick. Glanced down at the eager, panting faces of his faithful pack, eyes bright and tails wagging.
Fuck this shit. He was already going to hell (not that he really thought there was one).
"Alright you guys. You want to help, hmm? Here's your chance. Esma luv, try and keep them somewhat well behaved?" She chuffed in reply and licked his chin. He rolled over onto his hands and knees and shifted, hopped off the bed, flipped his tail up and to the side and presented. The closest male packmate didn't waste any time and quickly mounted him, front claws digging into his sides as his pointed dick stabbed once, twice then seated fully into his still-lubed and relaxed ass. "You know that's the wrong hole now, dude," Ōkami thought to himself, but frankly didn't really care right now since it still felt way better than it had any right to. It didn't take long before this one was coming in him, the knot tying them together finally helping ease the need but wasn't quite what his body was apparently looking for. While the others waited their turns and the first was stuck tied to Ōkami with nowhere to go, another crawled underneath him and got busy licking Ōkami's exposed and aching privates, which was certainly appreciated.
Thankfully Tetsu, the second male to mount him—after the first eager idiot had softened, pulled out, and gotten displaced by the lead male of the pack—was much more with the program and quickly seated himself deep in Ōkami's varren quim and got to work.
The last semi-rational thought he had in a long while was that it certainly sated the itch he'd had.
He came to groaning and whining. Everything was sore and he was both parched and famished. He managed to drag himself over to the feeder system and gratefully lapped up water until he felt slightly less wrung out, then scarfed up some food as fast as he dared without making himself sick. Most importantly, he tried to not think too much about what he was eating (not exactly being food intended for humans after all). Or what had happened.
The edge of his more immediate needs blunted he flopped onto his side and took stock of things. Esma and his primary male Tetsu, (who tended to lead the pack in Harry's absence and was effectively his male beta) curled up next to him for comfort and companionship. His muscles still ached, especially his hips and back—probably from supporting the others' weight while getting fucked, he surmised. His quim and ass both ached and the skin of his cock and balls felt raw and abraded, but he couldn't recall ever feeling better satiated in his whole entire life, from any of his previous heats. His lower abdomen also twinged oddly, but he dismissed it as just general muscle soreness and his digestive system getting used to becoming active again. Merlin knows there wasn't much of him that wasn't sore. Thankfully it seemed his augmentations gifted by Death were already helping him with a speedy recovery.
He stood up on all fours and stretched out, almost doubling the length his canine torso normally was, working some of the tension from his back and joints. He wasn't entirely sure how long it'd been, he hadn't looked at a calendar or clock at all and had lost track of the days in the haze. Probably time to get back to work and reassure the other two all was well, as much as he'd love to just head to bed and sleep for 36 hours straight. He couldn't smell anyone else so no one had intruded during his time out of commission at least, which was somewhat surprising. He'd half expected someone to try nosing their way in but was glad they hadn't stumbled in on any of that. One final affectionate lick bestowed on his two pack-mates and he proceeded to shift back to human.
And screamed, as pain immediately ripped through his lower body.
When he came to from the agony, he realized he was still in varren form. He must have reflexively either shifted back immediately or the attempt failed and aborted entirely before getting anywhere—he wasn't sure, though somewhat suspected the latter. Either way this really wasn't good.
He praised and thanked all the benevolent deities he could think of that he'd removed his omni-tool from his person when he'd stripped the rest of his clothes off at the beginning of his heat, so it wasn't also lost to whatever magic space stored ones' things when one was in their animagus form. With his nose he poked a button and hissed out a voice command to send an emergency communication to Mordin. It'd transmit in Parseltongue but knew the salarian would be able to understand it on his end. Between the pain and animal-brain he did his best to choke out something intelligible, while still translatable.
§Need help. Come soonest. Much pain. Mystery.§
He only hoped that was enough to get the point across and help would show up soon. Curling up in a ball, protected by the rest of his in-house pack, (in the time he'd been unconscious from the pain many of the others had come in and joined their grouping on the floor), pain-laced sleep pulled him under, despite his best efforts.
"Black?… Ōkami?… Harry?"
§Hmm?§ There was a voice, he thought it was one at least, but it was layered—one that sounded familiar. But why would those voices be here? Then there was rumbling next to him…no, growling. He whimpered involuntarily.
"Black," and this was another voice, somewhat higher pitched, and also familiar. "Can you tell your pack to stand down? Need to get close enough to scan you. To diagnose." Diagnose? Scan? Those were medical words, weren't they. Something seemed familiar about them but he wasn't sure what.
"Harry?" And this was the first voice again, the soothing, layered, lower one. Garrus, Vakarian, Archangel—those were the names attached to this voice. Mordin, Dr. Solus, was the other. A spike of pain stabbed thorough his abdomen and echoed almost as bad in his head. Another whimper-whine in reaction he couldn't help but let out. Garrus continued. "You ok there? Esma, we're just trying to help your master." There was shifting of one of the bodies near him, his eyes were closed so he didn't see them but knew from scent that it was Esma who had probably lifted her head to take a look at the two intruders. "Something's wrong, you know that, right? Can you let us pass, help him out?"
His pack didn't move—either to hurt the two or to get out of the way—however Harry mustered up enough coherency to sort through what was happening and sent out a mental command to the pack. [Allies. Let pass. Don't harm. Here to help.] There was a pause, and then the majority of the pack retreated over to the side of the room—still within easy viewing range but no longer impeding the path of the two. His two primary companions stayed next to him however, though Tetsu did stand up and move slightly to the side and out of the way, though remained closer than the rest of the pack that had retreated as he stood sentinel. Esma stayed in her favored place near Ōkami's head, already out of the way of the pair of newcommers.
His two friends approached slowly, careful to not startle or spook the varren around the room still clearly standing guard over him. Closer now, Garrus spoke again, Mordin doing something with his omni tool but letting the other talk for now. "Harry, anything we can do to help?"
§Is. Drag bag over here. On table. Don't touch directly,§ Harry hissed out, still keeping his eyes firmly screwed shut in hopes of not having the pain in his head spike further. He just hoped that Garrus could make sense of his instructions, abbreviated as they were.
He heard the drag-hiss of leather being pushed along the floor, then the distinctive lightning-and-leather smell of his satchel—the same one that Death gave him back at the beginning of this…adventure. Once it was close enough he sent a flare of magic through it to temporarily disable the anti-theft protections which would allow Garrus to touch, and more importantly retrieve what he desperately needed from it. §Safe now, can touch. Left side, second pocket down. Black pouch red stitching. Medium vial,§ Harry paused his hissed instructions to breathe through a wave a pain that coursed through him. §Light green liquid. Let me see, to check.§
Rustling noises then they ceased. Garrus cleared his throat and asked, the overtones in his voice clearly betraying his nervousness, "This the one?"
Harry cracked open his eyes and checked the written markings on the vial, and nodded slightly, confirming the selection. §Need to drink. Please pour in.§ He opened up and Garrus complied. Soon the pain dropped many decibels, and he sighed in relief as his muscles began to relax somewhat as the combination light general healing and moderate pain relief kicked in. He could finally open his eyes without a spike stabbing him through the ocular nerve as well, which was a bonus. §Thank the gods, that's so much better. Mordin, diagnosis?§ he asked, knowing that his Salarian friend wasn't just standing by idle while Garrus was helping him out.
Mordin shook his head slightly and his mouth thinned in puzzlement or consternation. "Need testing to confirm. Tools back at lab, more precise."
Harry sighed and rolled his eyes in fond exacerbation, air whistling past his fangs. §Yeah, but you can do an initial scan, right? A field diagnosis, if you will?§
"Yes," he nodded. "Elevated hormone levels detected. Almost… No, can't be right. Highly improbable. Impossible?"
§Mordin, I greeted the improbable for breakfast and regularly dealt with the impossible by the end of the day. Just spit it out,§ Harry snarled, his patience long gone.
"Need to check to confirm. But if readings were on typical patient, normal circumstances, would highly suspect early stages of pregnancy."
Harry grimaced, yeah he should have expected to hear something like that, given how his week's gone. §Not a remnant of the suppression meds or the heat?§
"No. Similar, but very distinctively different. Give 85% likelihood of supposition being correct. Need detailed scans, bloodwork, time to confirm. Almost certain though."
Garrus' mandible flicked out in suppressed amusement. "Congratulations?" he said, his tone one of sheepish with overtones of snark Ōkami clearly picked up.
Whew, there we go. Poor Harry? He is fun to torment, though.
Brain was fighting me on that chapter but finally managed to get it put together to some degree of satisfaction. Hope you enjoyed!
Anyway, thanks so much for reading and comments/kudos! I do read all of your comments even if I don't manage to post a reply, and they do help.