As soon as they stepped out of the car and onto the hot asphalt of the parking lot, Harry felt the thrum underneath his torn trainers.
Like guitar strings against the soles of his feet, the vibration traveled up his entire body and left him stiff and covered in goosebumps.
"Hurry up, boy." Aunt Petunia snapped, shoving him away from the car and toward the Hoover Dam.
"Is that an earthquake?" He asked, taking a few cautious steps that felt normal enough.
"Don't be stupid." Was all she said before leading Dudley to the office doors peeking out from the colossal structure. Harry trailed in behind them, hardly paying attention as Aunt Petunia passed along her tickets and bragged happily about the discount Uncle Vernon had managed as a Grunnings employee on an important international business trip.
Another pulse shook under his feet, strong and fast, sweeping through his skin. Harry stumbled into Dudley, looking at the ground in bewilderment.
"Hands off." Dudley kicked him, allowing Harry to scramble for balance before he hit the floor.
"You didn't feel that?" Harry demanded, was there an earthquake happening without their notice?
"Enough of your funny business, brat, or Vernon will tan your hide." Petunia said lowly, passing him by to greet the tour guide in the next room. The group was fairly large, large enough that the room was cramped and hot, and the hallway the guide presented even more so. Still, everyone shuffled through, cameras flashing and perfectly at ease.
Harry trailed behind, gingerly stepping on the traitorous ground that no one else was reacting to.
As the guide began to explain the historical significance of Hoover Dam, the thrumming hit Harry again, and only Harry. No one else flinched or rocked as the vibrations traveled from the rubber of his shoes to the tip of his nose, and stronger than before.
Harry pressed a hand against the wall to keep his balance, swaying helplessly.
The guide lead them deeper into the dam, where only fluorescent lights kept pitch blackness away and the stuffy air was giving way to a cool cave-like atmosphere. Harry expected the wave this time, it was coming at steady intervals. This one was stronger than all the rest, it made his skin tickle and buzzed right into his knees. Harry leaned harder against the wall, falling further back to keep from landing right on his face. Still, he searched the adults' faces desperately for any sign of acknowledgment.
What was going on? No one had even blinked. Was he sick? He had been stuck in his cupboard with a fever before and had never felt so loopy and clear-headed at the same time.
They traveled even further into the dam, and this time the pulse came with a barely audible hum, so quiet Harry would've thought it was just the noise of idle chatter if it hadn't ringed right in his ear like a whisper. The simultaneous thrum made his teeth rattle.
"Aunt Petunia." He whispered nervously, speeding up to the group to catch her eye. "Something's wrong. I don't feel-..."
"If you get sick in this room you'll be shipped back to Surrey in a dog crate." Aunt Petunia cut him off, and Harry shook his head.
"No, it's weird. There's this feeling in -"
The thrum jolted up his spine, fast enough to make his feet numb. The whisper was louder too, a clear straight note all around him.
A sharp pinch made him focus on Aunt Petunia's pale face. "No freakishness here, boy." She hissed, "Shut up and keep your abnormalities to yourself."
She tore herself away from Harry to surge to the front of the tour group, leaving Dudley trudging reluctantly in her place. Harry let himself fall back, rubbing the burning spot on his arm where she'd pinched him. It had been a bit of a long shot to ask his aunt for help, but Harry had no idea what he was supposed to do.
The further into the tour, the worse it got until Harry was stumbling drunkenly after the group, his ears ringing and joints aching. The noise wasn't actually unpleasant to hear, like music if it were narrowed down to a single all-encompassing note. Harry was certain he was going mad, though. Poisoned or feverish, he was at the mercy of whatever was going wrong inside of him.
Twenty minutes later, the tour finally arrived on the lowest floor available to the public, and though Harry had tensed and braced himself for impact, it still hit him with the force of a truck.
He slipped to his knees, legs completely numb with the thrumming in the ground, and bones aching as they ground together with the ferocity of the shaking. The tone in his ear was deafening, covering his skin and surrounding his world.
It was the vibration, Harry realized dimly, having a hard time concentrating when the vibration was so overwhelming. The tone had the physical force of the thrum, and it was saying something.
There weren't actual words, the tone was still a single note. But when Harry lowered his head to the floor...it was like what he was hearing meant something, and he was figuring it out.
Harry shut his eyes and waited for the next pulse. It didn't hurt as much when he was limp against the cement floor, but his head was starting to throb and the sensation of his skin going numb and his bones growing sore wasn't pleasant.
…-ome closer…..come clos-...co-...closer….come closer….come closer…
Like a lightning bolt, Harry was struck with the desire to do exactly what the force told him to. He pulled himself from the floor and onto wobbly legs, he wanted to come to the source of the vibrations under his feet so badly it hurt.
When Harry looked around, he was startled to find the hallway completely deserted, the tour had gone on without him and no one had noticed. He knew he wasn't worth much fuss, but it was odd that even Aunt Petunia had been fine leaving her ten-year-old nephew collapsed in a hallway where anyone could see him.
Shrugging it off, Harry stumbled to the first elevator he came across and hit the lowest floor before the tone struck him dumb with its weight.
...Come closer….come closer….come closer…
Harry toddled out of the elevator on the lowest possible floor and knew he needed to go deeper. It was still under his feet so he opened a wide vent into a ventilation shaft and crawled inside. He had no sense of direction in the black vents except to go further down.
It was so cold in the shaft too, chilled air blowing clean through his threadbare T-shirt and making him shiver. His hands against the frigid steel burned and numbed over time.
….Come closer...come closer...come closer...come closer…
Harry couldn't keep his grip with the thrumming pounding him from all sides, and he dropped and rolled noisily through the vents, smacking into a wall only to fall down another shaft. He kept himself tucked as tight as possible, a strategy meant for Dudley kicking him down more than one flight of stairs until he finally lost momentum and come to a crashing halt. Harry gulped in big breaths, his heart jackhammering in his chest.
His whole body throbbed like one big bruise and his knees and elbows were scraped bloody, but nothing felt broken.
Harry dragged himself a few more feet until he found a light source, and fell face-first to the cement floor of another hallway. He lay still for a moment to catch his breath and wait for the pain to die down.
Come closer. Come closer. Come closer. Come closer. Come closer.
It was so much clearer now, the note that swept the entire world away. Harry was almost there.
He got to his feet, gritting his teeth against the stinging of his scrapes and throbbing of his bruises to limp forward. More than one person in a black suit strode by, but none gave him even a passing glance.
Harry took a turn on the next hallway and entered what looked to be a warehouse covered in computers. There were people in white coats here, typing madly on their machines or racing down the aisles with clipboards and papers bundled in their arms.
Harry stalled awkwardly, but no one looked up or scolded him for wandering so far away from the tour.
Come closer. Come closer. Come closer. Come closer. Come closer. Come closer.
Harry stiffened and craned his neck, it was almost screaming into his face. The thrumming was no longer against his shoes, but blanketing his body from the side facing further into the warehouse. He was on the right level.
Disregarding the people around him, he raced down the warehouse and followed a stern-looking old man through a scary door, full of lights and buttons that only opened with a frightful hiss after the man pressed several buttons and stuck a card into a slot Harry hadn't noticed before. The old man didn't seem to notice how close Harry got, he pocketed his card and turned to begin speaking with a woman in a huge plastic suit that covered her face and hands. There were others dressed like her, with rubber gloves and plastic goggles all rushing around holding silver instruments and blinking devices.
Come closer! Come closer! Come closer! Come closer!
Harry left the weirdly dressed people behind and carefully continued forward. The warehouses were getting darker now, fluorescents glinting from vaulted ceilings. Towering structures were taking up space instead of people, thick cranes and platforms and railings crowded close together.
Finally, he saw it. He could've never guessed what the tone was coming from but as soon as he laid eyes on it, a jolt went through his heart and another wave crashed over him.
Closer! Closer! Closer! Closer!
Unbidden, his feet began to move him toward the monolithic giant. A block of pure gold larger than anything Harry had ever seen. Indescribably huge and stretching to the very top of the vaulted ceiling. Inscribed on the block were thousands of intricate spirals and jagged symbols, stretching across the sides like stunning art. Harry couldn't tear his gaze away, it felt magnetic even from here, restless and ancient in a way Harry wasn't sure he would ever understand.
Harry was shaking by the time he was within reaching distance, his head craned to take in every detail he could, it was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen in his life. Proud and powerful, like an idol, Harry instinctively knew he wasn't allowed to touch it.
Still, he couldn't stop his trembling arms from raising and he didn't want to stop his palms from pressing against the side of the cube. Light overtook his vision and he knew without a doubt that he had garnered the cube's undivided attention.
The block was hot to the touch, pulsating like a heartbeat, and Harry wasn't sure if his head was invaded or if he had been dragged inside the cube. Either way, he wasn't alone anymore.
The presence was all around him, against him, inside him. Harry was a flimsy thing, solid as tissue paper by comparison, completely at its mercy.
After a moment in which Harry was examined like a germ under a great microscope, it spoke.
Perfect, it rang out, perfect.
"W-what?" Harry croaked.
Able and fitting, a gift, though Harry hadn't thought it capable of emoting, he got the distinct impression it was pleased with him.
This will go, his forehead heated up like someone was pressing a hot penny against his lightning bolt scar. You don't need it, this will go.
"Y-you want my scar?" Harry asked cluelessly. He didn't want to part with it, the only thing Harry really liked about himself.
In the way, pointless. This will go. It is taking up space.
His next question was ripped away with a shout of pain as the hot penny sensation increased tenfold, it burned against his head with fiery intensity. Harry tried to yank himself away from the cube but his hands were stuck tight.
There was a terrifying tugging sensation in the center of his chest to accompany the horrid burning, something was giving way inside of him.
"Stop!" He yelped, but whatever it wanted was torn away with a blinding heat and a furious shriek that didn't come from Harry.
There, it purred in his ear. Harry tried to lean away, but there was no escaping its crushing hold. There. Much more room now, perfect.
Harry didn't want to examine why he felt lighter than before, why he felt that, without the cube's grip, he would float away. Whatever it had taken had been heavy and large in a way Harry couldn't describe. Like if someone shook him, things would rattle inside now.
"What do you want?" Harry whimpered fearfully and felt the sensation he was being stroked like a pet now.
You will not die, it vowed, you are the hope of worlds.
Harry couldn't understand, his head was swimming and he felt faint. Unlike any other? He was chosen because he was a freak?
You will not die, it repeated when he didn't respond. Your spirit will not warp, you already hold a spark within you, this will not change. Only the rest.
"Are you gonna possess me or something?" Harry cried, blinking away tears.
No. You are a holder, you will hold us. His forehead heated again, and he flinched away.
"You want to be in my scar?" Maybe Harry was simply crazy, maybe he was raving from the trunk of the Dursley's car right at this moment. Nothing made sense.
Beside your spark, held in a perfect gift. Capable of carrying our spirit alongside our will, but first you must carry our spirit.
"What do you-"
Fear not. You will live as the hope of worlds. Fear not. We are beside you now.
Harry's whole body was heating up now, and it wasn't stopping. "What-"
A spark so close to our own, made for change. You will change. Others like you have been witnessed, but none so perfect. Only you will change.
The fire was unbearable now, Harry writhed against the being, pain overcoming all his desperate questions.
Peace, fear not and change.
Harry knew no more.
Harry's flesh body blackened and curled against the Allspark, the energy at the center of his chest galvanizing and pulsing right back against the limitless power rushing from the cube. Strong and magical, versatile in a way muggles' souls weren't. The Allspark worked quickly for the tiny gift, melting bone into alien steel and churning guts into black shiny gears. The little holder would have to become a skinny thing, the human creatures surrounding the Allspark had been careful to bring as little metal as possible into its reach. As if the Allspark would bless them with anything more than the facsimiles of life they demanded every so often.
Just as expected, the gift was taking to the change, all the other aliens poking at the Allspark would've died irrevocably once the brain oozed away. Their find was of a species more familiar with transformation, receptive to the Allspark in ways it had never encountered outside of its own children. Its soul knew to survive when the shape around it contorted beyond viability, to hold its breath and wait for the next moment. The Allspark watched as the holder's life force blazed with vitality while all else turned to blinking lights.
When the spindly frame was finished, the Allspark watched as the gift's spark shifted, integrating itself into the very core, touching and connecting and unifying in a beautiful harmony the Allspark hadn't witnessed in millennia. As the spark set to spinning in a way it hadn't needed to before, all other functions sank away. The shape had changed, and with unification, the soul had changed as well, meeting new demands and forgetting old ones as easily as water changed shape in a container.
The Notice-Me-Not charm Harry unknowingly cast in his previous lifetime crumbled, the power holding it in place removed from existence. Several things happened at once.
Petunia looked up from her purse, startled to realize her ungrateful nephew was not back in the parking lot with them.
The panicking scientists, bustling to discover why the cube was active, froze in absolute horror as they spotted sparks and supernatural light at the foot of the colossal artifact.
Sector Seven agents swarmed like a nest of angry bees, closing down the dam and trying their hardest not to let the stark terror show on their faces when they heard exactly what the scientists found.
A prophecy in the Department of Mystery was discovered shattered across the floor. Though no one would make the connection, its destruction perfectly coincided with the demise of Voldemort's horcrux.
And at the end of it all, the Allspark sank itself into the gap in Harry's spark where a horcrux had once dwelled, slotting in perfectly.
Once the dust had cleared, the dam had been evacuated, and personnel had been suited against radiation, the incident was explored.
Before the cube, strewn like an offering and sticky with baked blood, Sector Seven found another NBE. It was incredibly minuscule in comparison to the NBE-01, and there was heated debate over whether the item should even be included in the same classification. For all that it was bipedal in form, eerily humanoid in shape, and robotic in nature, that was where the similarities ended.
The item was a base silver, slight and sharp and if it were to activate and stand upright, barely four feet tall. It had four limbs that ended in five points, and though the razor digits could be considered dangerous, there were no other obvious weapons they could find through visual observation alone. There was very little plating on the new item, whereas the NBE-01 was so thickly armored, reverse engineering required military-grade weapons. It only possessed delicate covering for the upper and lower limbs, the lower abdomen and pelvis, and the head. Fixed in the center of the thorax was a light that shone like a star. Oval in shape, it was placed deep and protected by the thinnest of gossamer sheet metal.
If the item indeed turned out to be a smaller version of the NBE-01, the scientists were very curious to pry further into their larger project and find a similar light.
But perhaps the greatest difference detectable through visual observation and sparse X-ray alone, besides the startling size difference, were the extra appendages. Fixed high on the back of the item were two long silver planks that tapered off into separately directed fine points right before the posterior. They served no obvious function, too flimsy for a shield and awkwardly placed for a weapon. It has been cautiously listed as a purely aesthetic addition, as some of the prior experiments had formed similar additions, such as horns and spines.
Whatever it was, after the panic and confusion had somewhat abated, they needed to act. Sector Seven placed the item in a thick, bullet-proof case the size of a large shed, ringed it with agents prepared to fire at will, and held the standard electrical charge on standby. They would treat it like any other experiment but be ready to act if this was not the case.
Scientists flocked to monitors displaying live footage of the box, looking over scan after scan with frantic enthusiasm. It gave off a high heat signature, hotter than a human but not dangerously so. It was fully active, every nameless component whirring smoothly inside the item's chest. All that was left, was to find if the item had an awareness to regain or if the cube had given them a well-formed puppet. Then they would either gain another project or eliminate a threat.
Harry could never describe how it felt to wake up after touching the cube. He had no words to convey the change in his own perception, in his perception of his perception. His senses bombarded him, strange and new, and what information they gave even worse.
He opened his eyes in alarm, and there was something missing in the instantaneous sight. The pain was gone, he no longer felt like he was burning alive, but he didn't feel better. He felt...indescribable.
His thoughts were no longer fluid nonsense, they were squared in a way he had never experienced. Tied down to something physical, they fell through his head in boxes that lead from one thought to another and could be clearly tracked. Every shift and twitch had a new deliberation, like even as he did these things subconsciously, he was monitoring them.
A movement caught his attention, his sight was incredibly sharp and bright, everything looked so much clearer and lighter than he had ever seen before. It hurt, he could barely comprehend what he was seeing, feeling, touching, smelling, tasting. All of it slamming into him, screaming for attention.
His gaze narrowed on the moving object, a sweaty face. The man's eyes were wide and his nostrils were flared. Harry's sight traveled lower to find the man in a black suit and crouched halfway behind a border of some sort. In his hands, pointed steadily at Harry, was a gun.
Harry tried to give a shout of alarm, flinching back. But what came out was an inhuman warble, too loud and too high.
A flurry of movement made him dizzy, and suddenly there were dozens of faces. All people in black suits crouched behind the border and aiming guns at him wherever he looked.
What had Harry done? Why were there so many people with those weapons that killed in Dudley's movies? Had Aunt Petunia called the police on him after discovering he had left? Was he in trouble for trespassing?
A screeching noise hurt his ears, the boxes jolted in pain, the array of information stunned him momentarily.
He finally tore his head down to the source of the noise and pain and found a metallic claw scraping against the clear plastic floor. Harry pulled away from the claw, a cry of fear pouring from him that sounded nothing like it should. But Harry couldn't focus on that because the claw followed him. It moved when he moved, and he felt the plastic slide away from what should've been his hand.
Trembling, Harry followed the claw up to a narrow silver arm that glinted off the fluorescents. It continued, tapering to a point after connecting to a limb that looked far too similar to a forearm. The forearm was fused to a dark joint, and Harry had to crane his head to see the rest because it was his chest.
A mass of glittering motors and gears, twitching and clicking like beetles behind a thin grey casing, where his insides should've been. Gone were his scars and freckles, his bones and muscle, his heart. In their place were smooth metal, wires as thin as thread, and intricate chips and metal bits he had never seen before.
Distantly, he could detect a high, mutant keening noise. And his vision was cutting in and out erratically, his whole body a spasming mess. But Harry couldn't pull himself away from the thing socketed in his chest.
Right below where his collarbone had once protruded, sat a blinding light. It came from his center, glowing brightly enough to look like a moonbeam escaping the metal plate. It was inside him, inside this machine. He was the machine.
A clawed hand, Harry's clawed hand, rose up. It trembled wildly, the keening noise had risen into an unwavering shriek in the background, Harry felt like he was underwater, everything was drifting away. A single, sharp finger tapped against the plate covering the light. It made a clear, metallic sound. And Harry felt it. He wasn't touching an elaborate prank, a trick glued to his skin. What he was touching was a part of him. It was Harry.
The world suddenly flipped and Harry spilled against the plastic box he was in. Through his tunneling vision, he could see the suited people watching him, aiming their guns at him. Their mouths were moving but he couldn't hear what they were saying over the shrill cry that had yet to falter.
Another movement, and without thinking, his eyes zeroed in immediately. It was a reflection off the plastic of the clear box. It was him.
It was Harry.
That alien, monster face. Flat, oval save for the angular fastening surrounding his head like a helmet. Colorless, metal like all the rest. He didn't have a nose, but he could smell. Where his mouth should've been was another sheet of metal, darker and thicker like the plates on his arms, it wrapped around his face and connected with the helm structure. But he could feel something underneath when he wanted to move his mouth.
He did have eyes, and Harry wished those had been stolen as well. What had replaced his human eyes were so much worse than nothing. Fixed on the flat face, above the mouth plate, sat twin glowing lights.
They were large and inhumanly round, like headlights in the dark. And an artificial, poisonous green.
It was the last thing he saw before the shrieking finally choked off and he passed out.