They landed with a stomach turning squelch, sinking waist deep into recently disturbed too-hot earth. Looking around, Harry realized they had been transported to what he could only describe as a battlefield. The ground was so uncomfortably hot because three odd looking planes had crashed. There were small fires and metal fragments everywhere. Harry groaned. Hermione was going to tear him a new one for this. It had been his brilliant idea to grab the bloody portkey. Hermione had gone on and on about how reckless it would be, especially as they had no idea where they might land. Ron had, as per usual, sided with Harry in the end and so now here they were.
"I told you," Hermione screeched, trying to wriggle free of the muck. "Where on earth are we? Obviously somewhere muggle by the looks of those flying vessels." She didn't stop there, but Harry tuned out the chastisement. Looking around the wreckage, having finally freed himself, Harry found himself pausing. What was that shock of red by the nearest... plane? Vessel? Ship? Whatever it was. The shock of red wasn't moving bright enough to be fire, which had been Harry's first thought. Suddenly a hand reached out above the red. Merlin's hairy balls, that red was someone's hair! Eyes darting everywhere, now alert for signs of life, Harry quickly spotted two other figures laying in the dirt by the vessels.
"Shit! Hermione, shut up! They're wounded by those ships!" He started running towards the redhead he had seen first. Ignoring Hermione's "oh goodness!" the wizard sprinted to the prone body, skidding to his knees alongside what he could now see was a tall and muscular guy. He looked around Harry's own age, maybe slightly younger. Even Harry had enough medical field experience after the war to see that the boy was going to be okay. The crooked angle of his shoulder and his already purpling eye were undoubtedly painful, but not life threatening. The guy was extremely battered, but he was lucky the damage hadn't been worse.
"Hey mate, can you hear me?" The redhead twitched rather violently but did look up to meet Harry's eyes. Involuntarily, Harry gasped. The boy's eyes were crimson. Creepy.
"Who are you?" the prone figure bit out.
"Apollo." he groaned, moving his limbs slowly.
"Well Apollo, I think you're going to be alright. Can you stand?"
Apollo shook his head. "Leg is busted up."
"Is someone coming for you? Someone who keeps tabs on you? Someone I can contact? Your ships, they've all crashed. What happened?" At Harry's words, Apollo paled drastically.
"Are the others okay?" his voice was pained as he began struggling to rise, nearly ending up face-first in the dirt for his trouble.
"Whoa, whoa!" Harry cried, rushing to help the kid up.
"HERMIONE!" Ron suddenly hollered. "THIS ONE ISN'T BREATHING!"
Harry whirled, seeing Ron kneel down next to a dark skinned boy and begin administering CPR. Hermione immediately dashed over, abandoning the blond girl she had been talking to. The girl didn't seem to mind as, much like Apollo, she began frantically trying to get to her feet so she could follow Hermione.
It was becoming drier by the minute and everything seemed almost energized. Like the tension on your skin right after you've been shocked. It felt like the aftermath of a duel, magic still crackling in the air. There was a massive circle floating high above them, leagues over their heads. Its border was comprised of symbols Harry had never seen, although to be fair, even if they were astronomical equations he wouldn't have had a shot in Hell of recognizing them. That sort of thing never had been Harry's strong suit. He tensed. Something was coming through the circle. Something large enough to make Charlie Weasley drool.
"We have company!" Harry shouted in warning in Ron and Hermione, who both looked up with wide eyes, following Harry's gaze. Speaking more quietly, he addressed Apollo. "I'm going to help get you over to your friends, okay?" Apollo just nodded, gritting his teeth and fixing his gaze on the ground. This wouldn't be easy, with rubble and small fires everywhere, but Harry figured they could manage.
It wasn't a terribly speedy trip across the debris field but Harry and Apollo made it over to the now groaning and breathing boy laid out by Hermione. Ron had gone to retrieve the blond girl, who aside from looking pale as Peeves and a bleeding cut on her forehead, seemed more or less alright. She leaned on Ron pretty heavily but compared to the other two boys, she seemed to have gotten off easy. A strange whooshing noise from above caused all faces to whip upwards.
"Bloody hell," Ron muttered. Right before them a giant robot of some kind was descending from the circle Harry had been staring at. So the circle was some kind of gateway? Seeing a large bizarre shape in the sky had been eerie enough but seeing a fuckoff big machine was just a smidge more distressing. Vague geometric shapes and symbols might just float there. A giant robot, on the other hand, well that sort of thing attacked.
"Listen," Apollo said urgently. "Normally other pilots would have come to replace us by now. Something must have been damaged with our transportation systems when we crashed. If someone doesn't get into those vectors and fight that thing, it will not only kill us but everyone around us for miles."
"Please," the blond girl broke in. "None of us can fly in our conditions. We wouldn't be able to merge to form Aquarion and Aquarion is the only chance we have to beat that monster up there."
Ron had a confused, albeit determined, look on his face. Hermione's worry was plain as the nose on her face but Harry could also see her big beautiful brain churning with calculations. Could they even do this? How might their magic affect the technology they were supposed to pilot? Would they even be able to get these ships, these vectors, in the air? Did they have a choice? Seemingly coming to the same conclusion as Harry, both Ron and Hermione looked expectantly at the Boy Hero. He sighed heavily, throwing his hands into the air.
"We're probably going to crash," he pronounced with no small amount of exasperation.
Ron nodded, but his eyes were sparkling with mirth. "Probably. I reckon you've used up all your luck, mate."
Hermione rolled her eyes and put her hands on her hips. "Be serious, you two! This is suicidal, even for us."
"Don't think we have much of a choice, 'Mione." Harry quipped, squeezing her shoulder in contrast to his tone. She was right to be worried. It just wouldn't do them much good at this point.
"Come on babe," Ron added. "I'd rather die fighting than running away."
Now it was Hermione's turn to sigh. She pinned Apollo with her most intense stare, all scrunched up eyebrows with a vaguely pinched expression. "What do we do?"
Surprisingly, explaining the procedures didn't take long. They each got in one of the vectors, used the joystick-type controls to pilot, flew near each other, and "merged." Their vectors would come together to create their own giant robot called Aquarion, if all went well. Apollo claimed everything was controlled by instinct and willpower after Aquarion was formed. In theory, as soon as the trio boarded their vectors, they would be in contact with command HQ, who would provide further instructions during combat.
Silvia, the blond girl, was now sitting next to the still unconscious dark-skinned boy, with his head in her lap. As Hermione turned to leave, Silvia reached for her wrist. "Will Pierre be okay?" Her voice shook and you could tell visibly that she was holding back tears.
"He'll be fine for now," Hermione said soothingly. "He'll need to be tended to as soon as this battle nonsense is sorted out but for now, I've stabilized him."
Now Silvia was actually crying. "T-thank you," she choked out.
"Let's do this," Harry broke in firmly. The "angel," as Apollo had called the airborne robot, had stopped moving. It seemed to be staring down at them. "Creepy fucker," Harry mumbled under his breath.
The trio hugged briefly, Ron and Hermione taking an (irritatingly long for Harry) moment to snog before they each dashed off. Harry didn't have too much trouble finding the hatch into his vector. At least the thing was small on the inside. All he had to do was plop down into the only chair, tilt the joystick like Apollo had said, and rise.
"Wicked!" Ron's face appeared in a video window to Harry's right, Hermione popping up to his left.
"Everyone in the air then?" Harry asked.
"Miraculously, yes." Now it was Hermione's turn to quip. Ron just nodded.
"Who the Hell are you?!" a furious voice erupted inside their vessels. "Where is my sister? Apollo? Pierre? What have you done with them?" Harry ground his teeth in annoyance. That hadn't taken long. It was like the stupid Crouch regime all over again. Accusations after accusations, just because Harry was in the wrong place at the wrong time. "Answer me, you bastards!" the voice shouted, not three seconds after finishing his first verbal assault.
"Who we are is of little consequence at the moment," responded Hermione, pointedly ignoring Harry's reddening face. "We didn't hurt your people. As a matter of fact, we dug them out of the rubble from their crashed vessels and tended to their wounds as best we could."
"We saved that Pierre guy's life!" Ron interrupted, not quite as red faced as Harry but obviously still quite affronted. They were war heroes in the wizarding world. War heroes generally weren't accustomed to being called bastards and accused of hurting innocent strangers. People generally trusted war heroes, even though sometimes that trust wasn't deserved. Besides, that first voice had sounded an awful lot like Draco Malfoy. More than enough to rankle Ron and Harry.
"Are the three pilots you found alright?" A harmonic female voice queried.
"They're fine," Harry bit out warily, sizing up the angel coming closer and closer to his eye level. "Not to be rude, but we were told to get in these things or die and I'm not really looking for an early grave. Been there, done that, wasn't particularly enjoyable. So you'll excuse me if I ignore any more presumptuous, pompous, prats, who speak in favor of someone who will please tell us how to merge?" Silence. Harry couldn't make anything out distinctly but it seemed like a number of conversations were happening on the other end of the line. The angel was lazily making its way towards them, clearly not concerned with the idea of taking them by surprise. It made Harry nervous. This thing didn't even seem to view them as a threat.
"Their aura levels are in the optimal range," the woman's voice finally spoke again.
"You can't be serious!" That first haughty voice burst out.
"Merge approved!" a new voice commanded, so loud all three of the trio jumped in their seats.
"What are your names?" the female voice asked. "I'm Rena."
"Harry," the raven haired youth provided immediately, continuing to eye the angel's progress and doing his best to keep himself between it and the vectors constaining his two best friends.
"Hermione," the girl piped up.
"Ron," finished the redhead.
"It's nice to meet all of you. I apologize for our initial alarm. You've done us a great service and we thank you." she paused. "Now, who shall be the head?"
Hermione and Ron both looked to Harry, expecting to debate, but deep down they surely knew him well enough to know that was pointless. Looking into the face of the angel, Harry wasn't willing to waste any more time arguing. Ron and Hermione would be irritated later, if there was a later, but they would get over it in time. "I will," he quickly responded, voice full of Gryffindor determination.
"Alright then," Rena said. "Hermione, you'll say 'merge one.' Ron, you'll then say 'merge two.' Lastly, Harry you'll say 'go Aquarion.'"
Hermione sounded like she was back at Hogwarts, answering one of Snape's trick questions, as she promptly chirped. "Merge one."
"Merge two." Ron just sounded excited, looked it to. Harry rolled his eyes. Trust Ron to get excited about new technology, even in the face of their potential demise. Definitely Arthur Weasley's son, that one.
"Go, Aquarion!" Harry said firmly, part of him hoping those wouldn't be the last words he ever spoke. No one had mentioned what happened to the pilots if they weren't able to complete the merge.
The effect wasn't exactly instantaneous but Harry did feel his mind opening up to his two friends alarmingly quickly. He started to feel overheated and lightheaded, his senses rapidly becoming overwhelmed with this new intimacy. If Harry was willing to be brutally honest with himself, which he absolutely was not, it felt like they were all sharing the best orgasm of their lives with each other. Thankfully, that particular sensation was a fleeting one. Harry loved both Ron and Hermione dearly, but Hermione was like a sister to him and Ron... well, Harry wasn't bent, so that was quite awkward to contemplate, really. Geez, Harry wasn't going to be able to look the other two in the eye for weeks after this.
"Merge successful. Aquarion Mars formed," came that booming voice again. Harry thought he heard someone mutter something like "Mars? Really? At least it's fast" but no one responded and the mutter wasn't repeated louder. As if it had been waiting until the trio merged, the Angel suddenly dived towards them.
"Hermione!" Harry called, seeing the Angel swerve towards her.
"Protego!" she shouted automatically. Shockingly, some sort of force field seemed to have enveloped her side of the Aquarion.
"Oh my," Hermione said in awe. "I wasn't even thinking, it was just instinct. I can't believe that worked!"
Harry grinned, looking almost feral. "I'm glad you did 'Mione. Now we're in business."
"What was that attack you just did?" a new female voice queried. "I've never seen anything like it."
"Let's just say we have our own type of fighting and it's a bit different from yours." Hermione responded, eyes still wide in shock.
"Whatever you did," Rena broke in. "Do it again."
Hermione, who had continued casting defensive spells, met Harry's eyes. "We need to think of this as wandless magic. Our efficacy probably would increase if we all focused on a singular spell at a time. Or, at least if we all focused our magical energies towards one person and have that one person cast the spell. As merging and becoming one are the apparent keys to winning with this particular piece of equipment, I suggest Ron and I follow your lead on the casting." Ron nodded. He didn't look so excited anymore. That probably had something to do with the repeat reducto-s he was volleying off. Harry didn't even bother with a proper response. Hermione and Ron knew Harry well enough to pick up on his battle plans. Not that Harry was terribly difficult to figure out; rash and reckless, that's how the savior of the Wizarding World played it. Wow, saying it like that, it really was a miracle he had stayed alive this long.
"I want to see if we can bring it down," Harry said. "Even with wandless magic, we're not exactly doing very well at flying this thing. We need to eliminate as much of its advantage as we can."
"Are we going to shoot it out of the air?" Hermione asked.
Harry bit his lip for a bit before smirking. "I think we'll make it explode." Before they could work out which spell to cast, the Angel attacked. Aquarion was pummeled with a series of blows. They were able to swerve away just in time, barely missing the Angel's arm as it groped for their machine's neck. Ron coughed, wheezing a bit as his lungs struggled to filter out the smoke now filling up his vector.
"Alright, Ron?" Harry asked, concerned.
"M'alright," Ron responded weakly. "Something in here went boom on that last blow."
"Harry, it's coming again!" Hermione called.
"Reducto!" Harry shot at it, before diving out of the way. As they dived, an idea struck Harry. A dumb, dangerous, entirely foolish idea, but at least it was in his wheelhouse. He could totally do this. The Angel dove after them, causing Harry to grimace in pseudo satisfaction. Perfect.
"Harry, no!" Hermione half-cried, half-groaned
"Fuck yeah!" Ron countered, whopping in glee, then promptly coughing up a storm as his abused lungs protested.
"Stop, stop!" Rena broke in frantically. "You're going to crash at that speed!"
"You don't know our Harry," responded Ron. Harry himself was too busy grinding his teeth in concentration, evading the Angel's attacks, and trying to keep control of their descent. This was most definitely not the same as flying a broom. Similar, maybe, but much more difficult. Of course, the knowledge that even a small miscalculation on his part would translate into a major crash on their part, didn't exactly help Harry's nerves. At least on a broom, he would most likely roll a few times, but Aquarion was simply too big. They would just explode into the earth at a terrifying speed. They wouldn't even have a chance to readjust before they, in all likelihood, blew up.
Speaking of the earth, it was seemingly coming up to meet them.
"... Harry," Hermione said warningly, impressively keeping her voice calm.
"I know, 'Mione, I know. Just hold on." Just a few more seconds, just a few more. Harry was sweating now, a dribble of perspiration sliding down the left side of his nose. If he could just hold the dive a little longer, there was no way the Angel would be able to compensate in time. Said Angel was keeping right on Aquarion Mars' tail, most likely in an attempt to avoid their spells. They only seemed to have really hurt it with long-range magic, hand-to-hand hadn't gone so well, as Ron could attest. Harry was banking on this. If the Angel continued to focus on keeping close, largely so it could further engage them in close quarter combat, hopefully it wouldn't see through Harry's ploy. Wait, were these Angels even sentient? Did they think like humans did? Oh well, too late to alter the plan now.
Any second... any second... "NOW!" Harry yelled in way of warning, trusting Ron and Hermione would understand they needed to help him veer the Aquarion back into the sky. Harry could see his friends reaching for their joysticks with both hands out of the corners of his eyes. He couldn't make out their expressions without allowing his own gaze to wander from the ground they were hurtling towards but he imagined they were probably as grim as his own. With a lurch, Aquarion Mars screeched skywards. All three pilots' bodies strained back against their chairs, the pressure nearly unbearable. In what could only have taken a few moments but felt like a nauseating eternity, Aquarion Mars was zooming in the air. The trio each took deep breaths. Ron continued hacking, Hermione looked like she was going to be sick, and Harry's nose was bleeding from the rapid descent to ascent. He looked down just in time to see the Angel hit the ground, shattering into pieces that were flown across the debris field. He hoped Silvia, Pierre, and Apollo, hadn't been hit with its wreckage.
"I... I can't believe it," came Rena's voice. "The enemy has been neutralized. You did it!"
"Wronski feint," Ron coughed out. "Works's every time."
"I wouldn't go that far," Harry moaned, wiping his nose on the back of his hand. "Thank Merlin it did this time."
"Hey!" That was Apollo's voice, if Harry wasn't mistaken. Good, that meant the injured had been retrieved. "Are you guys okay? That was amazing."
"We're good, everything considered. Are you lot sorted out now, then?"
"We are," Silvia broke in. "Thanks to you." Harry blushed, extremely grateful that their video link had been rendered nonfunctional at some point during the dive.
"I'm glad everything worked out and all of you are okay." Harry sighed, allowing himself to close his eyes briefly as Ron and Hermione steered Aquarion Mars back to the ground at a reasonable speed.
"We have to go now, boys. The portkey. The statute of secrecy. Authorities. We can't afford to go back to these peoples' base." Hermione spoke softly enough that their rescuees probably couldn't hear them.
"Take care of yourselves," Hermione said, louder now, apparating out of her currently landed and separated vector.
"Thanks for the adventure," Ron said cheerfully. "Bye!" He too apparated out of his vector. Never one for farewells, Harry said nothing, just apparated.
By the time Apollo, Sirius, and Reika (plus a few other HQ personnel) flew out to pick up the vectors, the trio was nowhere to be found. It was as if they had never even been there. Odd visitors from an entirely different world. Well, whoever they were, Earth was indebted to them. Apollo just wished he had been able to talk to Harry about that amazing dive. And, you know, thank the odd trio for saving their lives.