Disclaimer: Don't own anything.
Okay... Two of my characters have finished the Shadowkeep campaign. Classes are going well for me. That's partially what's been eating up my time. I'm also grinding out the Undying Title, so wish me luck on that front.
Victoria Aut Mors will probably be a monthly update kind of thing but I'll try to update as often as I can.
Hadrian Ghaulsen looked out at the skies of Torobatl from the hanger deck of his flagship, The Forge, with a mug of hot caffeine in his hand. He looked back at the sound of a Gladiator's war cry to see members of his Legion engaged in spars and other training exercises. Seeing nothing wrong, he turned back to the open hanger door and leaned against it.
It had been over two decades since he had been removed from his Terran homeworld and he could honestly say that he had loved every moment of it.
He could still remember how he came here.
Blood fell from five-year-old Harry's forehead where a fresh gash lay.
He had been fixing dinner under Aunt Petunia's watchful gaze when he had made the mistake of slipping and losing one of Dudley's favorite cakes.
Petunia had descended on him in an instant, a wooden spoon in hand that she used to whack Harry over the head, all the while screaming insults at him while Dudley had cackled from his chair at the table.
The large boy's folds of fat shook with his laughter as Petunia had dragged his bleeding form back into the hall to toss him in his cupboard.
Having left him with the promise of no food for the next day, Petunia had locked him in.
Harry tried to push himself up only to gasp in pain as he felt the bones of his arm shift. He fell back against the worn-out mattress and felt the blood loss start to take effect.
As he fell into the blissful realm of unconsciousness, Harry let out a silent wish for someone to help him.
In the deep pits of an unknowing Harry's magical core, a thread fed into a different dimension and grew in response to his wish. A thousand tears in reality opened and swallowed his broken form whole.
He had been unceremoniously dumped at the feet of Dominus Ghaul and the Consul. Hadrian had been only partially aware of his surroundings at the time but had understood enough that the Consul had advocated for his death, the reason of which Harry did not know, even to this day.
It was only by Ghaul's mercy that he lived and joined the Cabal, for which Harry was eternally grateful to the being who had spared him. This act had inspired Harry to change his name to Hadrian and cast aside any remnants of his past.
Beyond allowing him to join the empire, Ghaul had gone on to personally train him from a mere skin and bones human to a lean and powerful member of the Red Legion.
Hadrian had gone on to earn first his assigned squadron's respect, then the other Bracus', then the Val above them, their Valus, their Primus, and then Ghaul himself all over again with his efforts in the campaigns of the Legion.
Those campaigns had dipped Hadrian into the blood of dozens of species the Cabal fought, often drenching him in the blood of his squadron, many of whom had died over his ten-year-long membership in the Legion. All the while, Ghaul continued to participate in Hadrian's training.
"Again." The Dominus' voice echoed through the empty coliseum as he stood to the side of the ring.
In said ring, fifteen-year-old Hadrian breathed heavily as he leaned against one of the posts. Across from him, Thumos and Kurg of the Blood Guard stood, not even winded by the spar they had been in. Hadrian had attempted to beat them in a straight fight like he did with his squad mates but found that the Blood Guard Centurions had stomped him to the ground and kicked him away.
Time for a change in tactics.
Hadrian sucked in one last breath before he readied himself. He raised his dulled knife and charged with a war cry. He swung at Thumos, who dodged and slammed his fist into Hadrian's gut. His breath left him, and he flew up into the air. Hadrian flipped midair and landed on the main post. He jumped off towards the two Blood Guard, his knife extended. Lightning crackled around his body as he flew.
Thumos ducked under the strike but Kurg found himself being hooked by Hadrian as the boy swung himself up onto Kurg's harness.
Hadrian whacked the flat against Kurg's helmet, sending a shock of power through his armor.
Kurg gargled as the power flew through him before he flopped down onto his face.
Hadrian jumped back off as the Blood Guard Centurion fell. He flipped the knife around in his hand as he faced Thumos.
Ghaul's Chosen glanced down at Kurg and snorted before he lunged at Hadrian.
Hadrian ducked under Thumos' attempts to grab him and slid between his legs.
Not one to be confused by the action, Thumos used his momentum to kick off one of the posts to face Harry again. What did confuse him was Hadrian's war cry before the boy threw himself at Thumos again. Shaking himself out of his momentary pause, he pulled back his fist to launch another uppercut into Hadrian's gut.
Hadrian sidestepped and slammed his shoulder into Thumos' gut. While he normally wouldn't be able to throw around the 800-pound Cabal, Thumos overextended his reach with the punch and had all his weight on his left foot.
This imbalance made Thumos pinwheel his arms as he stepped back and tripped over Kurg's unconscious form.
The deck shook under his weight.
Thumos tried to push himself back to his feet only to feel a pair of feet land on his chest. He looked down to see Harry's knife a mere hair's width from his eye.
"Dead," Hadrian said.
Thumos looked at him for a full three seconds before he laughed and relaxed.
Harry hopped off his chest and looked at Ghaul.
"Even though you have only been focused upon your training with Otzot, I see that you haven't neglected your physical training," the Ghost Dominus said as he stepped up into the ring.
Thumos pulled himself up and hefted Kurg over his shoulder before he passed Ghaul on the way out.
"I've been training with my Legionaries under my command. Most of them are mostly muscle for brains so that's why the Blood Guard caught me like that." Hadrian flipped his knife once before slotting it into its place on his armor.
"Indeed," Ghaul rumbled, a hint of amusement in his voice. Said amusement disappeared from his eyes. "Let us see how you deal with me, then."
Hadrian nodded and drew his knife.
He was unprepared when Ghaul blurred and he found himself on his back with most of his body under Ghaul's boot.
"Firstly, keep your eyes open, my son. You never know who will try to kill you."
Hadrian groaned and tapped the ground. "Yes, father."
Ghaul had beaten Hadrian in their regular trainings, often ending with Hadrian ending up in the medical bay. Despite the broken bones and gashes, Hadrian found himself healing at an extraordinary rate beyond what would be normal for humans.
This had led Ghaul to enlisting Otzot's scientific expertise to study Hadrian. In the midst of one of Otzot's experiments, they had found his gift for using Psionic power much like how Otzot's people could.
Otzot had been ecstatic on the abnormality Hadrian presented and had demanded that Ghaul allow her to teach Harry everything about Psionics while also studying him.
He had grown strong over the years.
And then there were those under his command.
Hadrian turned to find a glowing red female humanoid standing behind him. Burning yellow anti-matter ran under her ruby shell and blazed behind her retinas. A cloak made of the same crystal as her shell hung from her shoulders.
This was Korosivash, a Red Sentient from a world just outside the Cabal Empire's reach that had been found by the Cabal shortly after a Hive infestation had overwhelmed the majority of the Sentient populations of the Red homeworld and Modulus 5.
Both of them could recall the day they met.
"Forward!" Hadrian yelled as his squadron's Goliath fired, incinerating a group of Knights and Acolytes. His squadron killed the last of the Acolytes as Hadrian's second-in-command, Gilal, stopped beside his Primus.
Gilal was clad in the golden armor of a Valus Colossus and wielded a Heavy Slugthrower longer than Harry was tall. His armor, scuffed and burned by the Hive's magics, groaned as he rested his gun upright. "Two days we've been here, Primus. What would you have us do next?"
Hadrian hummed as he considered their next move, his eyes sweeping around them. Spotting the dull green crystals and chitin growing on a wall, he scowled. The ruins of this red world were already showing signs of Hive corruption.
"Get the Incinidors down here and have them start purging the corruption," he ordered.
Gilal nodded. "The other squads have reported nothing of the local inhabitants."
Hadrian shook his head. "No, that doesn't make sense." He gestured to the hive corruption that stretched up half a wall. "This corruption is barely two months old. Hive take their time with their victims while filling the area with their filth. We'd have to have noticed one of them by now."
"Perhaps they managed to evacuate?" Gilal asked.
"Where would they go? There's no other habitable planets in this system besides that one." He jerked his head toward the blue planet above. "And we've already scanned that world. No, they're hiding."
A wall crumbled near them and they all pointed their weapons at it. The faint sound of footsteps faded into the distance.
Hadrian turned to Gilal, who huffed as he lifted his gun.
"Yes, yes. Oh, my gods."
The rest of the squad chuckled under their breaths as Gilal led them after their Primus.
Hadrian knelt and examined a set of small humanoid footprints. "I'd guess we're looking for something smaller than a Thrall." He followed the footsteps to a blank wall. He turned back to Gilal, who huffed again.
"I can blast it open." He hefted his slugthrower and readied his missiles, only to stop at Hadrian's raised hand.
"Or we could be more polite." He moved his hand to the wall and knocked three times.
"Where's the fun in that?" Gilal asked, setting his slugthrower down.
Hadrian sighed and looked at Gilal over his shoulder. His gaze turned back to the wall when a panel opened, and a mechanical eye extended out.
"Who are you? Why are you here?" A woman's voice asked in Cabal, making the entire squad perk up in surprise.
Hadrian took the unexpected lack of a language barrier in stride. "I am Primus Hadrian of the Stormborn Legion. We came to this world to interfere with the Hive advance on our Cabal's borders. Are you one of this planet's people?"
The eye considered him for a moment before it pulled back into the wall. The panel snapped shut with a click.
"Are negotiations over?" Gilal asked as he hefted his slugthrower.
"Peace, Gilal," Harry said as he ran a hand over his helmet face.
The wall hissed and slid aside.
A slender red figure stepped out from the entrance. The crystalline creature looked Hadrian in the eye. "I am Korosivash, a Red Sentient. I wonder if you are worthy of my trust."
In a way, Hadrian was.
The Stormborn had found hundreds of Red and Blue Sentients in stasis and moved them off world. Korosivash had stayed with her people for a year to ensure that they had been safely integrated into the Cabal before she moved on.
Hadrian had been very surprised when he found Korosivash's profile amongst the new recruits for his Legion. When he had questioned her, she had admitted to finding him more of an interesting choice than the other Cabal commanders, most of whom wanted to put her with the Psions and treat her as such.
"What news, Koro?" Hadrian asked as he pushed off the edge and walked back into the hanger. He took the offered Data Pad and scrolled through the information on it.
"The fleet is fully restocked. Final inventory is occurring now," Korosivash said as they walked past the training soldiers. "The last of the squadrons are onboarding now. I've already directed them to start preparations for combat drops."
"Clever Girl." Hadrian nodded his approval.
They entered the elevator and were quickly moved to the bridge.
"Hail, Primus!" Gilal thundered as soon as he noticed them enter.
The bridge crew snapped to attention and saluted.
Hadrian returned it as he moved to the command station.
Korosivash closed her eyes. "Final preparations complete. We are ready to depart, Primus."
Hadrian checked the clock. "Less than a forty-eight-hour window. Nicely done everyone." He cracked open the navigation screen. "Koro, do we have any marching orders from the Dominus?"
"Negative, Primus. Dominus Ghaul has indicated that he wants the Legions to maintain the border while searching for the Traveler."
"Of course." Hadrian rolled his eyes as he looked around the map of the empire. He tapped a small world highlighted. "Ia. An athenaeum world lost to the Hive shortly after the Coup." He turned to Korosivash. "Any of the other Legions have their eye on it?"
Korosivash closed her eyes as data flowed through her processors before she reopened them. "None of the other Legions have submitted plans to assault this athenium world. We are clear to proceed."
Hadrian grinned as he turned back to his console. "All ships, set a course for Ia."
Professor Albus Dumbledore rolled a lemon drop in his mouth as he paced his office.
It had been nine years since Harry Potter had disappeared.
When he had first found that Harry had disappeared, Dumbledore had tried to keep the information under wraps. He had called the members of the Order of the Phoenix in and had set them about on a search for young Harry.
Six years they had managed to keep the story hidden.
That ended the minute Harry's Hogwarts letter failed to deliver.
The enchanted quill that wrote out the address had been indecipherable, and the owl set to deliver it had circled Albus' office before it had landed and dropped the letter back on his desk.
Albus had been forced to reveal Harry's disappearance to the public when people noticed his absence from the First Years of 1991.
Needless to say, public opinion had turned against him very quickly. His position as Chief Warlock of the Wizengamont had been stripped by the group.
Albus didn't see that as too much of a deterrent seeing as how he managed to keep his positions as Supreme Mugwump of the ICW and Headmaster of Hogwarts. He didn't care much for politics anyway.
Despite this setback, Dumbledore had adapted as much as he could. The Order had continued to search for Harry both in Britain and abroad.
After nine years, the morale of the Order members was falling rapidly. It was only through Dumbledore's instruments that indicated Harry's survival that kept Remus and later Sirius in the Order when the Marauder of the Black family had escaped Azkaban to find Harry.
He was down to his last few cards.
The Philosopher's Stone had been secured and Voldemort's shade had been banished. The Chamber of Secrets had been opened and Dumbledore had rescued poor Ginerva Weasley only after she had been reduced to a Squib. The Horcrux of Voldemort had been destroyed in the battle and Dumbledore had narrowly avoided losing the Headmaster position. Sirius had escaped Azkaban and had retrieved Peter Pettigrew in the ensuing chaos.
Now the Triwizard Tournament was on the horizon with Hogwarts at the center.
With this new challenge on the horizon, Dumbledore saw an opportunity in the chaos.
The Goblet of Fire was not just an impartial judge. It was a vessel of ancient and powerful magics. It was capable of drawing in powerful beings from anywhere in the world and perhaps even beyond. Dumbledore had found written descriptions of beings summoned by the Goblet that he wouldn't be able to stomach had he not found one of Voldemort's Horcruxes.
He could only pray that the people could forgive him for putting children in the firing lines of this tournament as a result.
All for the Greater Good.