AN: The idea for this story came to me several years ago, and has been running through my mind on and off since then. The first 16 chapters were finally written in first draft form for NaNoWriMo 2014. However, there will be much more to the story than what I finished during those thirty days. The premise was simple in my mind: Hogwarts borrows magical-technology from the Americans, and sets up a special project during the summer before the 6th year for Harry and friends begins. Essentially this creates a magical virtual reality, which is designed originally for training Aurors - but they obtain a version to use at the school for a Defence Against The Dark Arts project in the hopes of also creating team building and breaking down inter house rivalries. Obviously, things don't work out as expected…to find out more you will have to read the story. Clearly this will not be canon compliant after 5th year and definitely will not be epilogue compliant. The story will include adventure, angst, maybe a little mystery, hopefully some fun, and maybe even some romance, but as usual with my stories, not with canon pairings. As per my profile page, I don't own anything created by JKR, but this is for fun. At least I have had fun creating this story.
Amelia Bones had left Britain shortly after the return of Voldemort was made painfully public with the events at the Department of Mysteries and the Death of Sirius Black. The Department of Magical Law Enforcement had a lot of catching up to do in order to deal with this very real threat that the Dark Lord and his followers represented. With Rufous Scrimgeour having ascended to the position of Minister for Magic, Amelia was given more authority to strengthen the department. With that renewed commitment from the Ministry, she chose to travel to see what new innovations were being made in the United States. For many years, the wizarding world in Europe, or at least in Great Britain, had been taught that technology and magic could not co-exist. But apparently there were major breakthroughs with certain technology companies making progress by combining their technology with magic.
She spent a week in California learning about some of this new technology, something called Applied Technomancy, which was a special project from the magical department of a company that the muggles knew as Apple/Pixar, which was making digital animated movies which the muggles apparently loved the world over. This Applied Technomancy project was being tested by the American Aurors and Hit Wizards already and she was there to see a demonstration.
Madam Bones was brought into a large warehouse, and inside the warehouse was a rather large machine. The machine had two doors, one on either end, and a rather intricate panel of displays and controls in the middle taking up the space between those doors. A screen that looked to her like a muggle television of some sort was in the middle of the display. The lead researcher, a Mr. Tomas Hernandez, was explaining to the head of the British DMLE just exactly what this machine was designed to do.
"Essentially it is a computer that combines magic with an advanced computer game, and allows an individual or a group of individuals to enter into the program," he began to explain. "In computer terms, we refer to this as a virtual reality, or a simulation. However, with the integration of magic, we can place the participants into this artificial world. We can create scenarios, such as training missions for our Aurors, so that they can be prepared to face anything they may come across in the line of duty. However, within the confines of the virtual magical reality that this machine will create, they are completely safe."
Amelia Bones was a smart woman, she had to be exposed to the muggle world to do her job properly so she had heard of computers, but what Mr. Hernandez was claiming this could do was beyond amazing. "You're saying that the Aurors, or cadets, could go into a simulated fight, face dark wizards, even face a killing curse within this machine, but they won't be hurt?"
"Oh, they would be incapacitated within the machine," answered Tomas, "but they would not actually suffer or die. They would experience pain but no lasting effects. There are failsafes within the program that are designed to be synced with the wands of the witch or wizard before they enter the magical realm that is created within the machine. We can create any sort of world within there. Any environment can actually be created, however, right now we only have a few that have been fully programmed; but we have the capability to create anything that you could ask for."
Amelia raised an eyebrow of her good eye so as not to lose her monocle. "Minister Scrimgeour has made it clear that our Aurors and our Hit Wizards must be trained and we need to train more of them as quickly as possible. This machine seems like it will help us with creating safe but appropriate situations to accelerate their learning."
Hernandez couldn't help but smile. "I would have to agree with him, Madam Bones. It is a unique device. And from the information that we received on the situation in England, all I can say right now is that it seems to us that anything that will help in your getting prepared for dealing with the likes of that Dark Lord can only be a very good thing."
Amelia smiled at the young man. "How soon would such a device be ready to be shipped to England?"
Tomas smiled back at her, "Apparently the order is already being processed. Two machines have been ordered and should be set up by the middle to the end of July. Then it will take some hands on training by our personnel, so as to make sure that your staff understand how to program the scenarios. We will of course, send over an advance team to begin discussions on what sort of material you want incorporated into the scenarios so as to be able to customise the encounters to you're liking."
Amelia tilted her head, quite pleased to hear this. "Well, then, Tomas, I look forward to seeing these units operational as soon as possible upon my return to England.
Amelia Bones was not a happy woman when she returned home from her trip to the Americas. She partially wondered why she needed to go in the first place as it seemed the decision had already been made by the time she even had arrived to look at the virtual magical reality machine. She did not particularly enjoy her travel back from the United States, but her arrival at her home was even more unpleasant. Walking up to the Ossuary, the ancestral home of the Bones family, she could immediately tell that something was off. She stopped before she got to the ward lines as she could sense that they were missing. Immediately she sent word via a patronus to one of her most trusted Aurors to come and meet her at her home, and she warned him that she was expecting trouble there.
Amelia tried to detect if there were any wizards or witches present on her property but she could not find any such persons. Silently she was grateful that her niece, Susan, was spending time with her best friend, Hannah Abbot, so at least she wan't home when whoever came by had shown up and dropped the wards. Amelia only made it another ten meters before she heard the sounds of apparition and then she was joined by Kingsley Shacklebolt and Alistor Moody.
"What's going on?" whispered Shack.
"I just arrived home from my trip to the States," replied Amelia through gritted teeth, "and I could tell something didn't feel right. Then I could feel that all of the ancient wards, and the new ones which I had put up had fallen. They must have all been deactivated somehow."
Mad-eye Moody seemed to growl slightly at the news. "At least you're learning the constant vigilance that I taught you all those years ago, lass."
Amelia rolled her eyes, "I went through Auror training school with you Alistor, and as I recall I taught you plenty of things back in the day."
His magical eye whipped around manically and his one good eye opened up as if surprised, "I never said ye' didn't lass, I only said you've been finally learning' the one thing I have been trying' to teach you."
"Fair enough," she replied with a slight smile, and then she turned and made her way towards the manor house.
There were no signs of anyone being on her property, but once they arrived at the actual manor it was clear that someone had been there. The front door had been blown open, and the inside of the house had been trashed. Her bedroom and that of her niece had been trashed as well. The symbol of the Dark Lord had been burned into one wall by the entrance to make it clear who had been into her home and had taken down her wards, as there had not been anyone home when they showed up at her home. Amelia understood that if she had been at home it is highly unlikely that she would have survived, and if her niece would have been here, she might have survived if only to be used as a toy for the sick beasts who considered themselves superior to other witches and wizards. Amelia started to feel a little ill just thinking about what might have happened if they had actually been home.
Moody looked around and cast some spells to identify what exactly happened and to look for wand signatures. "The blighters covered their tracks fairly well," he commented. "Probably swept the place for their ambient magic once they realised you weren't here so they couldn't be identified."
Shacklebolt nodded in agreement. "Whoever did this had plenty of power to be able to get through your perimeter wards and the house wards. Clearly they intended to leave a lasting impression."
Amelia Bones looked at the deviation of her home. "The impression is definitely going to last," she replied, "trust me on this. But I will be finding out who did this, and they will face the consequences for their actions."
Mad-Eye Moody's magical eye continued to whirl around taking in as much detail of the scene as he could to aid in their investigation, hoping to find some sort of clue, but they all knew for certain it was the work of Death Eaters, even if there was no Dark Mark burning in the sky at this time. From the best they could estimate, they must have made their attack at least four days previous, shortly after Amelia had left for the United States. Amelia thought to herself that at least her travels had been kept secret that the Death Eaters had no idea she wasn't going to be at home.
Amelia Bones left the scene of her family's ancestral home to Auror's investigating the attack that had destroyed her family's protective wards and damaged a large section of the manor house as well to the care of Kingsley Shacklebolt. She had stayed at the Abbots with her niece, Susan and then she had an earlier start to the next day at the Ministry. After filing her report on the attack at her home she had a meeting with Minister Scrimgeour who was joined by Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Amelia wondered why the meddling old man was present for her report back to the minister on what she had learned on her visit to the United States and her tour of their magical training facilities for their version of Aurors and Hit Wizards.
Amelia sat down at the small conference table and she was immediately annoyed by Albus' constantly twinkling eyes. Scrimgeour's expression was stern buy calm as she began to explain the Americans' progress in associating technology with magic and how they had been able to utilise that in training.
Scrimgeour spoke up first, "So, this new technomancy field, you actually think that it will be useful for us?"
"Most definitely," she replied, glancing between the two men, trying to gauge what sort of response they each had to her presentation. "This virtual magical reality machine they have, it has the ability to create any sort of scenario for the trainees to experience. They can practice and spells, they can fight any sort of foe, and not worry about serious injury."
"So we have heard," commented Albus, as he had his hands steepled in front of him.
"Yes," responded Amelia, "I had assumed you had already heard some of this. That is why I gather that you have already ordered two of these units even before I returned and made my presentation."
Scrimgeour twitched slightly at her abrasive comment, but Dumbledore seemed to ignore it.
"Well, yes," began the minister, "we did place an order for two units. The advance information we had received sounded like they would be quite useful. Your report is now confirming what we had suspected."
"But why two units, minister?" asked the puzzled head of the DMLE.
Albus' eyes seemed to twinkle a little brighter. "One unit is being installed at Hogwarts for use with students. It will be used as a demonstration project this August, as an extra credit for DADA for those students are allowed to participate. I do believe that we plan to select a number of incoming sixth year students to trial this for a special project. Alistor Moody will be overseeing the project in conjunction with the staff from the Applied Technomancy Project."
Amelia was surprised to have the students being drawn into this. "Sixth year students, using such an advanced piece of magical technology? One that has never been trailed in Britain before. Is that appropriate?"
Dumbledore seemed to understand her frustration. "Of course there may be some concerns, Amelia," replied Dumbledore placatingly. "But this special project will be overseen by technowizards from the American equivalent of our DMLE research department." Then he spoke a little quieter, almost conspiratorially, "It seems our new minister wants to make a point to the people that he takes the safety of our students seriously and he plans to use this as an example of how he is forward thinking and improving the training of our young witches and wizards."
Amelia seemed confused as to how this would exactly help. She turned to face Scrimgeour. "Minister, this seems highly irregular."
Also in the room was the representative from the Applied Technomancy Project, who now stepped forward. "This machine will be especially programmed for one scenario, a magical island training mission. The other machine, at the Auror Training facility, is the one that will have the advanced training modules and programs."
Amelia nodded in understanding. "So, the two machines are not exactly the same."
The representative nodded slightly, "On a technical level, they are essentially the same machine. However, the one being supplied to the school will have different capabilities based on how the programming is set up. One test environment that has been used hundreds of times for new recruits and for test runs. Relatively straight forward stuff."
"Very well," she said, realising that there was little that she could do about this anyway as it was clear that the minister was making it all happen no matter what anyone else said, and he had the full support of the headmaster, even if he was trying to make it look like he was simply placating the minister. She then turned to Albus Dumbledore, "So, if this is to be a special project for entering 6th year students, how will you be choosing which students will be involved?"
Albus' eyes twinkled slightly again. "We will be having three groups of six students chosen to participate in the program," he said with a smile. "Three young men and three young women in each group, the names will all be chosen shortly. Once the three groups have been selected we will have the students come here in early August to participate in the program."
Amelia felt a slight chill run down her spine as Albus seemed much too pleased about this whole situation.
For his part, the headmaster noted the concern on the head of the DMLE's typically stern face. "I am sure you are concerned, Amelia, but I am delighted at this opportunity to help break down inter house rivalries. This could be just the thing we need to help make the right kind of changes we need so that the students can learn to work together, which ever house they are from. This sort of project can also give the students confidence in their spells and magical ability that may someday help save themselves or a loved one if necessary if the unthinkable happens and they are attacked by a few Death Eaters."
Amelia shook her head. "You know perfectly well, as I do, that it is not a matter of 'if' but a matter of 'when' these things will come to pass. However, let it be known that I expect that myself and my team, which I will pick, will be present for ALL of the official project activities."
Dumbledore averted his eyes from her gaze. "But of course, Amelia," he said with a slight bow, "I wouldn't have it any other way."