Harry Potter: Project Omega - 2 - A Mission Amongst The Ruins
By 4 April 2063, Doctor Zephram Cochrane had made plans to pilot the Phoenix on a test warp flight that was scheduled to launch on the morning of 5 April 2063. His primary motivation for commencing warp technology was financial gain in the devastated, poverty-stricken America that existed in the wake of the Third World War. He finally built Earth's first warp ship, the Phoenix, in the hope its success would prove profitable and allow him to retire to a tropical island filled with naked women. A historical irony was that, contrary to the fact he went on to use the Phoenix to inaugurate an era of peace, Cochrane incorporated a weapon of mass destruction into its design; constructing the Phoenix in a missile silo, he equipped a Titan II missile as its launch vehicle.
- Capt. Jonathan Archer (archived at Memory Alpha)
It had been over three months and, unbelievably, the city was still burning.
A figure, swaddled in a mass of rags picked its way carefully through the rubble, avoiding the still hot debris and some unseen hazard it occasionally encountered.
A few pitiful remnants of humanity still lurked wherever there was shelter to be had - from the occasional, toxic rain, less frequent explosions of whatever was left to burn and, worst of all, the bands of raiders that frequently patrolled the ruins of civilization.
A heavy pall of toxic, yellowish cloud covered the sky, but a brighter area overhead indicated the position of the sun. The figure stopped briefly and, from under the cowl of its covering, looked toward the sky to the west, regarding the world through the thick goggles of some kind of gas mask.
Hurrying more, now, the figure climbed the hill that had once been clothed in the towering offices of this centre of the country's business. Office blocks that were now broken, skeletal fingers reaching, raised eternally in supplication to the poison pall hanging over the city's corpse like a shroud of stinking pond-scum.
Passing between two of the less damaged towers, the figure came to the remains of one of the country's most iconic sights. Broken, cracked like an egg stood the remains of the famous dome of St Paul's Cathedral.
Here it was that people had gathered for mutual protection and to pray to an uncaring god for divine intervention.
Here it was that those same people were interred in the collapsed remains of the great church, entombed under the tonnes of rock and sealed by the melted copper and lead of the roof.
Shaking its head, the figure moved on, making haste toward the north, away from the trickle of yellow and red sludge that had once been the heart's blood of the city, Old Father Thames, now reduced to a poisonous ooze seeping through the mud of the former river's bed.
At least the loss of the river would make access simpler, assuming the tunnels were still accessible.
At length, the figure arrived at the relatively clear path of what was once Newgate Street, now just a relatively safe path westwards. Making better time, the figure made its way westward, along the partially-dropped remains of Holborne Viaduct and to its objective, Chancery Lane tube station.
Ducking into the reinforced bunker of the station entrance, a forgotten relic of a previous war against Germany in its V1 and V2 bombs, the figure pulled out a small device.
Two red lights and one green seemed to satisfy the figure as it made its way deeper into the station. A pause, a button press and one of the red lights became green. The figure moved forward through an open gateway, and the green light flickered to amber and then red. The passage was painted matt black, and made a double turn and then again. Here there was light, dim and slightly green. This was a part of the underground forgotten long before the bombardment that had killed humanity.
A sign on the wall carried a complex crest and the legend MIE - Omega Project - Authorised Personnel Only.
The figure passed through an open gateway, and closed the lattice-work with a final crash of metal. A click told of the lock engaging, perhaps for the last time.
Now came the long climb down, two hundred and ninety six steps down a spiralling staircase into the depths of the world below London - below the level of the river. It was clear that the bottom level had been partially flooded before the water level dropped, the muddy tide line and the all-pervading smell of damp told its own story.
The tunnel, when the figure arrived, was closed by two great iron doors that slid back on its approach. Passing through, the doors closed once more, and the crunch of a locking mechanism indicated that they wouldn't open again.
A sudden torrent of water fell from a series of nozzles in the roof of the tunnel. For a minute, the figure stood, a muddy slick of toxic dust, poison ooze and ash flowing off of it.
The water stopped and the figure shed its outer layers of rags. Stepping forward, and leaving the sodden heap where it lay.
A few more paces, and the process was repeated. This time, there was no slick of visible mire before the outer layer was shed.
The figure, now visibly female and wearing some kind of frog-suit walked forward, coming to a row of lockers. The suit was removed, revealing a short woman with wide, blue eyes, long, blonde hair and a slightly puzzled expression. The suit was hung up in one of the lockers, and she walked through a door and into a changing room.
A long, hot shower with shampoo and soap, followed by a clean set of clothes, and Luna Lovegood emerged in order to complete her mission.
A proper meal, albeit a Tesco ready meal preserved long beyond the time when that shop still operated, provided her with her first real food in weeks, followed by a night's sleep in the quarters assigned to her when there was still a human government.
A government that existed before Zephram Cochrane's ill-fated flight of 2082, in an experimental ship built out of a decommissioned nuclear missile. Before he caught the attention of The Others, those shadowy creatures that had noticed Humanity. Before their bombardment, a mere two years later, that had blasted Humanity back to the stone age ... and beyond.
Seven days in an office in the bunker far below London saw Luna compiling her logs, her reports and her other information.
The bunker was deep enough that the miniscule power emissions from her computer equipment wouldn't be detected from above ... assuming that The Others were still around - that they were still monitoring.
A final night's sleep and Luna said farewell to her quarters, her office and the last memories of her friends - all long dead in the battle for Earth.
Through the sadness as she made her way to the main bunker, a tiny thread of amusement that a witch should be so comfortable with technology. It was a ten minute walk along a dimly lit tunnel that rose gently to a point a mere hundred feet below Whitehall.
It stood mute testament to the engineering expertise of the contractors that the tunnel had remained largely undamaged even after the bombardment had dug a sixty-foot deep crater above it, and turned another thirty feet of ground into molten slag. She hurried through the darkened section of the tunnel, knowing that a lake of highly radioactive glass sat a mere stone's throw above her head.
She noticed that the paint was peeling in this section.
At length, she arrived at the great blast doors that stood open, waiting for her to come and to complete her final mission. The last of her kind in Britain - the last Unspeakable.
She pulled a lever and the doors slid shut behind her, powered by counter-weights as there was no power available to open and close them.
The wards were still active, which was a good thing.
The Atrium of the former Ministry of Magic would be unrecognisable to anyone who had been here before Re-Integration.
The whole chamber was filled with structural steel, doors and defensive concrete walls. The old visitors' entrance was blocked by a massive pillar of reinforced, iron-loaded concrete. The offices overlooking the chamber were dark and empty as she made her way to the stairs.
Down further, Luna passed, unwilling to risk the lifts after so many years, and beyond the level that the tunnel from Chancery Lane had reached.
The lowest level, the former Department of Mysteries, was accessed through a security door bearing a sign, Project Omega - No Admittance - Project Staff Only.
And there it was: Project Omega. Luna looked around the control room. The door closed with a quiet hiss, and Luna was cocooned in the hushed atmosphere of this temple of science.
Hermione followed her best friend along a grey corridor in Whitehall. She hardly expected to be delivered to the front entrance of the Ministry of Defence offices, and even less to be escorted by a besuited Harry Potter.
Even less did she expect to be put through several scans, have her wand weighed and then have to sign a number of forms. On top of that came a magical oath.
Harry ushered her into an office, and went to sit behind the desk, inviting Hermione to take the chair on the other side. There was a keyboard, mouse and flat monitor on the desk. He surprised her by inserting his wand into the side of the keyboard before logging in.
"Now, Hermione, I am going to give you an opportunity to do something for your country - both in the magical and non-magical worlds. There is something afoot, something big, and it has already had major repercussions both past and future ..."
He regarded her speculatively.
"Do you still watch Doctor Who, Hermione?"
She blinked, stunned at the sudden change of direction.
"Umm, yes ... ?"
"Good. What can you tell me about it?"
She thought for a moment before speaking.
"The current and last few Doctors have been based very much on Earth ... the adventures ... It's just like when Jon Pertwee was The Doctor! It's real, isn't it?"
Harry grinned. "Near enough. The Pertwee era was very much the start of the public information, but it tapered off for a while. Back in 2017, the decision was taken to return the series to preparing the public for when the Statute of Secrecy finally broke down ... amongst other issues."
"Other issues? What about UNIT?"
Other issues. I will explain once we get there. UNIT, on the other hand, has another name in reality, and they have been around for a long, long time. They pre-date the Ministry for Magic."
"The Unspeakables of the DoM?"
Harry nodded. "Very good. They aren't all magical, and they aren't all human, either. The head of department is codenamed Croaker - you knew the current head's predecessor, Neville's uncle Algernon. Algie works for me now.
"You were earmarked for being invited into the DoM, but your marriage to Ron scuppered that - he was always considered a security risk, after all."
Hermione interrupted. "Harry, how long have you worked here?"
Harry grinned. "Twenty seven years, just over."
Hermione's face went blank. "You were working as an auror for most of that time, before becoming the Senior Auror and then Chief Auror."
Harry nodded. "Yes, and when they sacked me, I came to work for the MoD."
"But that was just two years ago."
"And? How could I work somewhere for 23 years having joined just two years since?"
"Hmmm ... time turner wouldn't work ... time compression would have aged you prematurely ... using the TARDIS ... no, that's fiction ... or ..."
Harry's grin threatened to separate the top of his head from the rest of him.
"You have a TARDIS? Really!"
"Not a TARDIS, no, but the arithmancy of the Translocation Equations has been re-examined, and the original Bode solution thrown out. There was an assumption made, an assumption that had deadly effects - not the least of which was the side result."
"The Taboo? That was part of the Bode solution to the Translocation Equations? What was the assumption?"
"Essentially that physical Translocation occurs only across an approximately spherical surface in Euclidean space. It works for short ranges, a few metres, and it works on the outside of the dome of St Paul's Cathedral, but once you have things on a geographic scale, you tend to get the kind of backlash that Selene Lovegood experienced."
Hermione gasped. "Luna's mum was working on translocation?"
Harry nodded. "Yes, and there is evidence that Bode knew full well that the assumption was invalid. That one published paper has killed dozens of spell crafters. He was a Death Eater, after all."
"So what correction is needed?"
"There is a non-Euclidean term that takes account of gravitation, and there is a term that comes from the Chorister Field Equation."
"CFE ... there's a temporal element? Of course, translocation isn't instant!"
"Better than that, what do you know about the work of Jacobi, back in eighteen thirty two?"
"The Paradox theory?"
She thought for a moment. "Jacobi came up with an empirically derived set of dynamic boundaries on temporal displacement. It's why time travel is only possible backward, and why there is a limit of a few weeks on any travel. It is also the reason for there existing a lock on anything that you know has already happened ..."
Harry nodded again. "Go on ..."
"Jacobi's limits state that true time travel is impossible, and that the best that you can do is to warp your personal time-line so that you are effectively in two places at once and experience the whole as a temporal loop."
The grin was back. "We isolated the arithmantics of the Jacobi conditions, and solved the Paradox Conundrum"
"How? Tell me everything ..."
"After you agree to join the team, undergo the Rites of Induction, suffer the Black Arts of The Act and are properly briefed."
It had been three months and, unbelievably, Hermione had found herself swamped by her new job. She had never imagined that she would be working alongside Harry's godson, Teddy Lupin.
The metamorph had not only completed his studies at Hogwarts, but had then taken his non-magical exams and proceeded on to university, studying Physics, and then going on to a masters and then a doctorate. He had entered the MoD directly from college, joining Harry's team immediately. Like Harry, he had been sent back, unlike Harry, he had spent much of his time studying advanced arithmancy, runes and warding within the Department of Mysteries under a woman code-named Hecate.
It was Teddy who had solved the issues with Bode's simplistic solution to the Translocation Equations. He and Hecate, along with some woman, Sylvia or Selene or something had then re-written Jacobi's Paradox Limits.
Now, while Teddy worked on some advanced warding scheme, Hermione was doing research into, of all things, some of the events surrounding the life of a Dr Bernard Quatermass. The man was a rocket scientist of the old school, but he had become embroiled in a number of strange adventures back in the 1950's and 60's.
Sadly Quatermass was long dead, though he had left copious notes detailing those adventures, along with photographs, recordings and so forth. There were also a number of exhibits - the remains of several creatures, samples of stuff, hollow meteorites, fragments of machinery and a stack of textbooks that were more up Teddy's street than hers.
The man was, to say the least, years ahead of his time. The idea of using a nuclear reactor to pre-heat the fuel and oxidiser in a rocket engine was remarkable, and even when faced with the design blueprints and the assistance of one of the nuclear engineers from the Admiralty Office, she couldn't see any reason why the engine should have turned spontaneously into an atomic bomb - the geometry was all wrong.
An embittered Quatermass had quit the MoD when his rocket project was axed. He took early retirement and puttered around between his own projects and put in time at Ringstone Observatory until a relatively short illness that featured a total break from reality and his subsequent death. The autopsy said that he had died as a result of his exposure to radiation in conjunction with his rocketry research.
Harry looked round to see Hermione bearing down on him, a determined expression on her face.
"You've found something?"
She nodded and led him back to her office. her evidence was stuck to the whiteboards that she so loved.
"Harry, Bernard Quatermass didn't die of exposure to nuclear radiation. He was never exposed to significant levels of either radiation or contamination."
Harry nodded. "Go on ... "
"He was involved in a number of incidents similar to our own at Hogwarts. That may have contributed but ..."
"But, he was researching nuclear-augmented chemical rockets. The two actual launch tests ended up in thermonuclear fireballs and a static engine test suffered a major structural failure that led to a major irradiation incident. It was easily cleaned up and nothing was damaged, and no one was injured, but ... it couldn't have happened."
"What do you mean by it couldn't have happened?"
"The test bed test was of the chemical system only. There was no nuclear fuel on board to cause any kind of radiation-related incident, and the boffin from the admiralty says that the rocket engine, whilst an excellent reactor design for heating things up, was not in any way capable of becoming an atomic bomb.
"He told me that the design was revolutionary, and probably couldn't even go into melt-down, the reactor was that self-regulating."
Harry was nodding.
"Can you write this up for me. I would like a separate summary of your findings regarding his adventures at the same time."
Hermione handed Harry a sheaf of print-out, knowing that he preferred to read off of paper to staring at his screen.
He just grinned.
"What next, Harry?"
"We have an old friend coming to visit. He is proving to be something of an enigma, just like a number of other who have come under out purview of late. Go take a break, and I'll call you when he arrives."
Luna padded over to one of the consoles and pressed a green, faintly glowing button.
There were a few mechanical noises from the door. A heavy sensation filled the air and Luna smiled.
"Thank you Teddy," she whispered to her long-lost friend.
A computer display lit and the distant sound of machinery starting up could be heard.
Luna nodded as the messages scrolled up the screen.
"Environmental seals are fine. Good... Project wards activated smoothly. I just hope that the Ministry wards will be enough to hide us for a few more minutes."
She placed her laptop into one of the docking stations and went back to the screen that was displaying the project status.
Her face lit with a smile as the words temporal shield active at full strength appeared.
"We're cooking on thermite, guys!"
There was no reply, nor had she expected one. At least, not yet.
Her laptop beeped and she crossed over to it. She sent her reports to the relevant systems in the project, but she could take all the time she wanted now. That last message meant that she was no longer part of the world that she had been living in - she was in a little bubble outside of time and space, at least for as long as the power lasted.
The lights now came up to full brightness rather than the anaemic glow that she had grown used to.
The other consoles and workstations finished booting up with a chorus of beeps.
A holographic display became active and five heads appeared, ghostly, slightly transparent and currently rather expressionless. They were, above all, bodiless.
"Hello guys, I've missed you all so much."
Something shifted and the faces became animated.
"Luna?" A voice that she had missed for so long.
"Hello Harry Potter, I have missed you."
The image smiled at her. "Well, I'm not actually here, am I, Luna? At least, not the real me."
"I have no idea where the real you actually is, Harry. I know where Hermione, Teddy and Neville are. I'm here, so I know where I am, and that just leaves Bernard. Bernard?"
The bearded face with half-moon glasses and a wry smile. "I died the same years that Harry defeated that Dark Lord of yours. That Voldemort fellow. They never did figure out what I died of."
While the machines of Project Omega continued to come to operational status, Luna was able to spend time with her deceased friends.
Eventually, everything was up and running. Through the armoured glass of the control room, Luna could see the massive structure of the Tachyon Pulse Engine, a super-accelerator that changed the nature of space and time, the miraculous machine that she had helped to build, that would translocate matter and energy to wherever and whenever was required.
Hermione would have described it as a massive achievement and a feat of modern engineering. Luna described it as a miraculous exercise in constructing an insanely complex floo system without the floo.
"Oh, poo! It's time to get started. The reactor won't run forever."
The Bernard AI smiled. "You have at least thirty years before you can't power the jump matrix."
"True, but I only have two packets of crisps, a packet of Rich Tea and all of the Darjeeling I can drink. Is there a loo in the complex?"
Teddy spoke up. "I always wondered how you could drink that stuff. It's too smoky for me. I'll stick to Assam if you don't mind?"
Neville grinned. "Harry got me onto PG and I never looked back. Cheap, commonplace and plentiful. Just how I like my tea."
Hermione smiled. She had always drunk Jasmine Tea, for preference, and remembered Harry and Neville's tar-like beverage all too well.
"No use putting it off. I'll see you all on the flip-side."
The transport chamber was built using the seat from a decommissioned jet fighter. Indeed, the device that it was in resembled the cockpit of that same fighter, but with the addition of some really cool electronic accessories.
She caressed a few keys and her AI was projected into the transport chamber. It mimicked her actions in every detail.
The lights dimmed as she started the transfer.
"Luna Terminal calling Hecate Actual. Get your ears on Hecate Actual."
A face appeared on her screen. Well, a head hidden under the cowl of a hood.
"Hecate Actual receiving you, Luna."
"Hecate Actual, we are in the final phase of Omega Terminal. I will be transmitting as scheduled to the assigned locations. Are there any last minute changes to the plan?"
"Luna, changes as follow: Project Selene is a go, repeat, Selene is a go. Good luck on that one. See you on the flip side, Luna. Hecate out."
The transfer was closed and Luna sighed. It was more work, but it meant that she would get someone back who she had lost a long time ago.
Hermione followed Harry along the corridor and into the morgue where a body was waiting on an examination table. The pale hair was unmistakeable.
Harry shook his head. "He was transferred from Azkaban three days ago due to failing health. There is something that you need to see ..."
The medical examiner, one Barbara (Bunny) Long was waiting, ready.
"Have you ever performed or even watched an autopsy, Miss Granger?"
Hermione nodded. "Yes, it was while I still worked for The Ministry. I had to attend several."
"Then you will be performing part of the procedure under my guidance. I fear that this is something that will be necessary again in the near future."
Hermione was dressed in surgical greens and wearing the appropriate safety equipment. Bunny had been recording the initial findings.
"Now, Miss Granger, there is a difference between this procedure and the traditional, mainly due to a number of anomalous results form the routine CAT scans.
"Please make an incision along the median of the face, from fair-line to upper lip. The incision needs to be about six millimetres deep."
Hermione looked sharply at this. "Six mil? But the nasal septum is only about three below the surface."
"Six millimetres. That is one of the anomalies."
Hermione complied, drawing the scalpel expertly down the middle of Lucius Malfoy's face. She felt a frisson of schadenfreude at being allowed to mar the peacock's features.
"Now, place your palms on the cheeks and exert a firm downward pressure in order to separate the skin."
Hermione felt a little sick at the idea. This was not how a facial examination was normally carried out.
She pressed and there was a sensation like a sip-fastener separating. She gagged slightly at the acrid smell, sulphur and creosote were there, and maybe some sort of marsh effluvium.
"What the ... ?"
Her voice trailed off. The skin had separated cleanly from the underlying structures, showing a distinctly yellowish flesh. The muscles were ... wrong. The nose was ... it looked like spongy bone rather than cartilage. The eyes were twice the size of a normal person's eyes and she could see that a full sclera contact lens had been displaced on the left eye.
She lifted the lens and gasped. The orange-yellow iris was enormous and surrounded a diagonal slit pupil.
She looked up at her best friend.
"That's right, he wasn't human. This is the seventh so far."
She was shaking her head, as if to deny the horror of what she had just witnessed.
"Do you want to complete the examination, or shall we just give you the run-down?"
Five people were sat in the auditorium briefing room. There were two generals, an admiral, a squadron commander and a grey suit known simply as 'S'.
On the podium was Harry Potter, Bunny Long, Hermione Granger and another grey suit, one James Mycroft, the head of MI5.
The briefing had been long and tedious, but now the clinical details were being shared.
"... as you can see, the arrangement of organs in the abdominal cavity is quite unlike any human, magical or non-magical. The circulatory system is powered by a pair of heart-like organs comprising six muscular chambers, attached to the underside of the diaphragm. The entire thoracic cavity is taken up by a laminar lung structure that resembles a set of gills more than anything else.
"The head comprises a cranium similar in shape to our own and plays host to a pair of large eyes that sit behind relatively human eyelids, except for a pair of nictitating membranes.
"The nose a bony process that is separate from the skull, resembling the internal structure of the platypus' bill. The primary dentition is very similar to our own, but the enlarged canines suggest a higher meat diet than our own. There is a secondary dentition behind the primary which comprises a series of ridged plate-like teeth used for grinding. This is a structure found regularly in animals that consume a diet of woody vegetation or have a large intake of chitinous prey.
"It has been observed that there are two venom glands located in the neck with ducts that emerge adjacent to a pair of barbs attached to the underside of the tongue. The hair appears to be exactly the same as our own species."
There was a long silence.
"What about DNA?"
"They share less than five percent of their DNA with Homo sapiens. Considering that even jellyfish share fifteen to twenty percent of their DNA with us, it is reasonable to suggest that these are representatives of a completely different evolution from our own."
More cogitation, and then -
"Then where do they come from?"