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Enter the Dragon (Harry Potter/Shadowrun)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Dunkelzahn, Jul 10, 2018.

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  1. The Unicorn

    The Unicorn Versed in the lewd.

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    Pretty sure there isn't. There certainly wasn't in 2003.


    Not "near the sea", "of the sea". Radar has not just a maximum range but also a minimum range so if you have a radar intended to look out over the sea it won't see any targets flying over land near it. Additionally modern systems need to be programmed for certain types of returns and filter out everything else, and harry's returns will not fit any pattern for long meaning that even when he shows on radar he's most likely show up as a brief blip.
     
    Acolyte likes this.
  2. Doghead13

    Doghead13 Grumpy Old Scottish Biker

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    A brief blip lasting a couple of minutes directly under (and not really all that far below even with particularly low-laying clouds) a major transatlantic air corridor - most northern Europe - America traffic passes over the northwest of Scotland with on one occasion truly horrible results, look up the Lockerbie bombing - and conveniently situated in the middle of an area used for routine RAF training flights doesn't need 100% coverage of the country for someone to notice it. It needs only coverage of the right specific part of the country, which I can tell you for sure there is once you're up out of the 2,000-foot-tall ground clutter in that area.

    And the blip in question is going to resemble a large aircraft flying in a particularly odd way at low altitude - in an area that also just so happens to be rife with drug smuggling.
     
    Skjadir and EternitynChaos like this.
  3. Threadmarks: Section 3.15 - Quiet conversations
    Dunkelzahn

    Dunkelzahn No one of consequence

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    3.15.0 Quiet conversations

    Christmas had come and gone, and Harry had very much enjoyed it while it lasted. Like all good things, however, the holiday had come to an end. Hermione and her parents had left earlier in the day, off to do their annual whirlwind tour of the extended family, and left Harry and Suze to their own devices.

    Currently, those devices had the centaur maiden once more catching up on her spinning as her dragon lounged indolently next to a large pile of serious-looking books in the middle of the Lair, reflecting on current circumstances.

    “You know, Suze,” Harry spoke into the stillness of the Lair. “It sure seems quiet now that Hermione and her parents left.”

    “I suppose it does,” she agreed absently, her hands never stopping their work with the nettle fiber.

    The stillness returned, disrupted only by the gentle noise of the centaur’s work. It stretched out for a few moments before the young dragon spoke again.

    “I’m bored.”

    “I see,” Suze acknowledged with the calm air of someone rehashing an oft-repeated conversation yet one more time. “And what do you intend to do about that?”

    “I dunno,” Harry answered. “Do you have any suggestions, Suze?”

    “You seemed to be quite involved in your reading earlier,” the centauress nodded to the large stack of books next to him. “Why not go back to that?”

    Harry sighed, the resultant breeze ruffling Suze’s hair. “I just wasn’t getting anywhere with it! Every book I found touches on casting and injection molding; it’ll describe the general process; it’ll say people use it all the time; and then it just cuts off and goes to something else without giving any real detail!” He huffed, “It’s like they don’t want to actually say anything useful!”

    His centaur damsel frowned, finally pausing in her spinning to give his words some thought. “Perhaps it is the sort of skill best learned by doing?”

    Harry cocked his great head curiously, “What do you mean?”

    “Well,” Suze paused for a moment to compose her thoughts, “when Uncle Ronan was first teaching me to carve a bow, he simply gave me a piece of wood and a knife and told me to make an attempt before giving me much of any instruction at all. Then he pointed out the problems with it and had me carve another. When I asked him about it, uncle said everyone carved differently, and there was no point in trying to teach me how he did it when I would just have to work it out on my own anyway. Perhaps foundry work is the same?”

    “I don’t think that sounds quite right,” the dragon said with a thoughtful frown. “I mean, I can kinda get carving wood into bows, ‘cause you’re carving by hand, and wood’s really got a lot of variety to it. The whole point of casting is to be repeatable, though, so that doesn’t really fit.”

    The pair fell silent for a for moments before Suze put forth another idea, “Mayhap the authors truly did not want to say anything useful?”

    “Why would they write a book, then?”

    “Well, if it does take some specialized knowledge to accomplish,” the centaur maiden proposed, “perhaps they wish to keep it to themselves, so that their customers do not take up the practice and remove them from the business. I believe Vice Director Slackhammer referred to the idea as a trade secret.”

    “Oh,” Harry said in a small voice as the realization hit him.

    That sounded all too plausible.

    Hopefully the goblins would be more forthcoming.

    For now, though, the young dragon needed something to occupy his time, so he ambled off into his library to try to find something new to read — maybe that one on electrodynamics? It’d been a while since he’d worked on that.

    3.15.1 Strange detective

    Washed by a steady, soaking winter rain and shrouded in darkness due to the lateness of the hour, a familiar stone circle stood proud and quite nearly abandoned on a grassy plain in Wiltshire, showing no evidence of the momentous magical event which had taken place there just a few days before — not visibly, anyway. Stonehenge looked as it generally did, but for one curious detail.

    The fact that it was ‘quite nearly’ abandoned.

    Having any visitors at all was a decidedly unusual condition for the landmark in rainy, nighttime conditions. Very few were so desperate to see the ancient stones that they would brave such weather at night. It wasn’t like the things were going anywhere, after all.

    Nonetheless, a lone figure surefootedly picked its way among the standing stones. Tall and rail-thin, it wore a double-breasted coat made of dark-colored leather, it’s full length serving to shed the rain quite admirably. Boots and a wide-brimmed hat — which served to both ward off the weather and plunge the figure’s face into impenetrable shadow — completed the ensemble.

    Suddenly, the shadowy figure paused next to one of the stones, reaching out to touch a particularly rough spot on its surface curiously. Heat-spalled stone flaked off with the gentle touch and stuck to the the figure’s pale rain-wetted hand.

    The hand was shaken sharply to knock loose the stone flakes before drawing back, only to turn palm up and have a light flash into existence above it.

    The sudden light illuminated a face painted a stark chalky white. Its harsh angularity was not softened by the pair of long crimson diamonds painted over its eyes. The now-revealed man’s vividly green eyes focused intently on the standing stone before him.

    “Hmm…” the man hummed quietly, barely audible over the dull hiss of the rain.

    He turned to examine the rest of the newly-illuminated area, alert eyes quickly focusing on some seemingly innocuous depressions in the thick grass, carefully noting their placement and spacing. The man tilted his head forward, revealing a crimson-dyed ponytail peeking out from under his hat at the back of his neck, as he scanned the grass carefully until his eyes suddenly widened.

    He took two long steps before kneeling to examine a tiny burn mark on a patch of grass. Unmindful of the wet, he brought his conjured light low and searched carefully on the ground before finding a tiny, unassuming pebble sitting in the mud at the base of a charred grass stem. Picking it up gingerly, the oddly made-up man straightened to his full height and examined the miniscule thing closely before rubbing it between his thumb and forefinger. It left a streak of red-brown.

    Rust.

    Green eyes closed in thoughtful consideration as he allowed the conjured light to gutter out. Eventually, the man sighed, pocketing the tiny bit of heavily-rusted iron as he walked calmly back towards the nearby road.

    “Well, it seems someone is up early.”

    3.15.2 Investigations

    Seated at a cheap table surrounded by hundreds of boxes, crates, shelves, and other assorted storage containers, the man currently going by the name of Frank Nadgett stared at a notebook thick with writing inked in his own cramped hand. The cluttered room was heavy with the scent of tobacco smoke from Frank’s ever-present cigarette, but even that couldn’t quite overpower the musty smell of old parchment permeating the entire building.

    The room was one of many of its kind belonging to a rather eccentric old wizard of Frank’s acquaintance — a contact whose existence had been a significant part of Frank’s success in his career. That first chance meeting really had been a godsend for the budding private eye.

    The elderly man obsessed over truth with an intensity few could hope to match, and the omnipresent lies of the wizarding world deeply offended his sensibilities. As a result, he had devoted his life to collecting and preserving copies of every scrap of written material he could get his wrinkly hands on in the hope that eventually, someone, somewhere would be able to analyze and cross-reference the morass of lies in such a way as to suss out the truth they were hiding and piece together an accurate accounting of history.

    Frank had no idea what had sparked the man’s obsession — whether is was a simple whim or some tragedy of his youth — nor did he hold out much hope that such a monumentally ambitious quest would end in success, but he wished him all the luck in the world, nonetheless.

    Whatever the reasons for its existence, the collection made for a priceless research tool for Frank’s investigations — made available to him for the low, low price of helping to put the disorganized mess in order as he searched through it. It might be a bit of a slog… okay, scratch that, it was a massive pain in the arse, but Frank counted himself lucky to have struck the deal.

    In a world of libraries that were repeatedly and routinely sanitized by the highest bidder and rags like the Prophet that tweaked their own back issues to suit the propagandists’ flavor of the week, this sort of private archive was really the only way to get any reliable research done. At least it let you work with the first set of unpolished lies, which made it much easier to pick out the inconsistencies — all in all, an invaluable tool for a private eye.

    And, judging by the pattern Frank was beginning to piece together, it seemed it might have paid off once more.

    Luckily for the private investigator’s purposes, Gilderoy Lockhart’s fame made him common fodder for what passed for news publications all across wizarding Europe, and there was a plethora of interviews available — both with the man himself and with other witnesses and bystanders. It was in those interviews that Frank struck paydirt.

    It was subtle, extremely so — tiny inconsistencies and contradictions between different accounts that would be easy to dismiss as simply poor memory or innocent hyperbole, if not for one niggling detail.

    They were internally consistent.

    For each of Gilderoy’s exploits, the associated interviews varied, as witness accounts often do. They conflicted with Lockhart’s official line as published in his books in varying details, one might be off in the sequence of events, another might have had him wearing a different outfit, and so on — nothing too odd there — but none of those inconsistencies conflicted. If two witnesses reported him wearing a different outfit than the one in the official account, it was always the same outfit. If two witnesses gave alternate timelines that conflicted with the official account, they were always consistent with each other.

    The errors in the accounts were not random.

    Frank had to admit, it wasn’t much to show for the time he had spent so far, and there were plenty of innocent explanations for it, but it was enough to warrant a bit of travel — best to talk with those witnesses and see what he could find out, amd, more importantly, what spell traces he could pick up. He might not think much of the job or the client, but he was an honest professional, damn it! He would bloody well put in his due diligence before reporting his conclusions.

    The hard-bitten man sighed and ground out his cigarette before standing up. It seemed he had some travel preparations to make.

    “You find what you were looking for?” came a crotchety old voice from the doorway.

    It seemed the owner of the room had come by to check up on him.

    “I just might have,” Frank acknowledged with a nod to his acquaintance. “I’ve got to go check, and that means some international travel on the continent, but it’s the best lead I’ve got.”

    “Going traveling, huh?” He was met with a shrewd stare from a wrinkled face. “You’ll be off for another round of insurance, then?”

    Frank nodded reluctantly, regretting all over again the one time he had gotten drunk enough to share some of his closely-guarded personal life with his elderly… well, the old man was probably the closest thing Frank had to a friend after his old life had torn itself apart. “Yeah, I can’t afford to lose track of her — not again.”

    The old man’s face screwed up in thought as he obviously restrained himself from saying something before letting out a gruff sigh instead. “Well, be off with you then, lad.”

    “Later, old man,” Frank said his farewell. “I’ll see you when I see you.”

    With that, the private eye made his way to the fireplace and vanished in a flash of green fire.

    The old man remained staring at the fire for a few moments after it returned to normal before turning away.

    “Good luck, lad,” he muttered under his breath as he shuffled back to his precious boxes. “God knows you need it.”

    3.15.3 Distasteful means

    Appearing in a flash of green fire before the public floo in the dive bar below his office, Frank quickly regained his bearings with the ease of long practice before immediately making his way out into the near-perpetual gloom of Knockturn Alley. He had important business to attend to before he could get to the next step of the Lockhart case.

    Spending time away from his main base of operations had always been a risky endeavor for the private eye; he didn’t have a staff — never could afford one — and his work often required frequent, personal attention, whether that attention was tracking down a timely lead or tending to surveillance wards.

    As he walked down the hazy alley, he casually slipped a potion phial out of an inner pocket and knocked it back.

    Despite the massive price tag on the Lockhart project, it wasn’t his only ongoing case.

    For that matter, it wasn’t even his most important one.

    That dubious honor belonged to a stalled case he’d been working on for what seemed like an eternity now, a tracking and rescue job — not his usual fare to be sure, particularly the latter half, but it’d been a special case. He’d managed the tracking bit, but the rescue had proven to be beyond his capabilities at the time.

    His target… well, the poor bird had been forced into prostitution by the time he’d tracked her down, and there was too much magic involved for him to extract her successfully. Between contract bindings, layered compulsions, routine obliviations, outright mental programming… it was a bloody mess! The physical security was a tough nut to crack, too — hardly insurmountable, but that hardly mattered; pulling her out without dealing with the magical component would kill them both anyway.

    Nonetheless, Frank had refused to give up, determined to see this particular job through to the end and free that much-abused girl from her own personal hell. His eyes hardened as a multi-story building, looking more like a run-down apartment building than a more normal place of business, emerged out of the gloom ahead, it’s brightly-painted red door standing out from the rest of the dingy gray alley, the color serving as advertisement enough for the wares sold within.

    Without a means of extraction, Frank had been reduced to keeping tabs on his target until he could put together a plan to get her out. However, even keeping track of her had proven to be a challenge — the magics layered onto the luckless girl included several which strongly repelled any attempt to mark the merchandise, as it were. They were not specifically intended to prevent tracking charms — rather, they were intended as insurance to keep rowdy johns from accidentally damaging the goods — but they worked admirably for that purpose, too.

    Despite the difficulty, he’d managed for some time by the straightforward, if laborious, means of keeping a constant watch on the surrounding area — an area which he could bespell as he pleased. Frank had even discovered a few charms for detection and analysis of magical travel on the off chance that they moved her out via a portkey. While keeping so many detection charms going for so long simultaneously had been a nerve-wracking — if surprisingly educational — experience, he’d managed well enough, until one day when he’d left the immediate area on another job.

    During the time he had been away, her captors had moved his target without warning — sold her to a new establishment, as it had turned out. His monitoring charms had alerted him despite the distance, but his target had been long-gone by the time he’d returned to handle the situation. Afterwards, it had taken months of frantic effort and an incredibly unlikely series of lucky breaks for the private investigator to track her down again.

    After he had located her once more, Frank had been unwilling to trust that he’d be so lucky a second time and had decided to take steps to ensure he didn’t lose her again. He had needed a marker, something which would allow him to track her no matter where she went, and it needed to be something that would stick to her despite the spells preventing such things. It had taken time, effort, and all the ingenuity he could muster, but eventually, he’d managed to develop a means.

    Distasteful as it was.

    Frank shook his head in a futile attempt to shake off the feeling of self-loathing as he approached the brightly-enameled door of the brothel currently serving as his target’s latest prison. Truthfully, distasteful didn’t even begin to describe what he’d come up with, but it was the least unpleasant of a slew of horrible alternatives.

    The potion he’d downed earlier had been the first component. Originally a commercially-available product which caused certain bodily fluids to develop the taste and consistency — though thankfully not the appearance — of chocolate syrup, Frank had called in a favor from a potioneer of his acquaintance to have it modified. The end result caused those same fluids to harden over time, setting into a tough, sticky mass — the sort of thing you’d have to really scrub at for a while to remove from whatever it stuck to. Combined with a tracking charm cast on himself just before delivery, it made for a durable, nearly undetectable tag that would last for weeks before the tag broke down and the magic faded.

    As for the delivery mechanism… well, it was straightforward enough, if absolutely loathsome.

    His target had been forced into prostitution, after all.

    He closed his eyes, hanging his head in shame. God, he hated himself, sometimes.

    Frank paused a few yards away from the door, once again fishing a fine golden chain out of his collar and this time opening the delicate golden locket hanging there to reveal a wizarding photograph depicting a happy couple, his younger self embracing a brilliantly smiling blonde woman. The hard-bitten man seemed to draw strength from the picture, his expression hardening with resolve before he snapped the locket shut and tucked the chain back into his shirt.

    No matter how much he hated what he was about to do, and no matter how much he hated himself for being willing to do it, he needed to get on with it. Frank could only hope that after he managed to get her back, his fiancée would forgive him for his actions along the way.

    Pasting a more neutral expression on his face — there was no way Frank could manage a smile, not now — his wand flickered, casting the long-term tracker with a well-practiced movement, before vanishing back into his hidden wrist holster as he stepped up the last few feet to the door. The establishment’s alert-ward ensured it was opened before he had the chance to knock.

    “Ah, welcome once again, customer,” the brothel madame, a worn-looking older woman with a deeply cynical air to her, greeted him familiarly as he entered, her businesslike manner not quite managing to mask an undercurrent of contempt from his practiced ear. “I assume you will be wanting your usual?”

    Frank nodded tightly, unwilling to speak.

    As the madame turned to lead him deeper into the establishment, she spoke again, “Are you certain you do not wish to sample any of our other merchandise? We have some fresh stock, very beautiful, well-trained, young, and quite eager to please.”

    He shook his head in a firm negative, scoffing internally at the idea of any woman here being eager to please. This was a fantasy brothel, after all; the women enslaved here were programmed to act out whatever scenario they were told to act out. The magic in place effectively turned them into puppets made out of living meat — they would act as eager or recalcitrant as they were instructed to act, but there was no eagerness or enthusiasm in them even if they could emulate it well.

    Their minds were too thoroughly suppressed to feel such things.

    “Ah,” the old woman said, sounding unsurprised at his response, “perhaps another time, then.” After the usual fee exchanged hands, she stepped over to the desk and tapped something Frank couldn’t see.

    “Lizzie will be along in a moment, customer,” the madame told him.

    Less than half a minute later, his target arrived.

    At first glance, the young woman was well-groomed and made-up, looking healthy, standing straight, and to all appearances eager to show him a good time — until you looked at her face. She was beautiful, to be sure — magic ensured that — but it was the beauty of a still painting, not that of a living, breathing woman. Face painted with an artificial smile, she looked at Frank without emotion, her eyes glassy and dead. There was nary a hint of recognition nor even the slightest familiarity.

    “Lizzie, show your customer to room fourteen, and make yourself available for his needs,” the madame told Frank’s target, who nodded mechanically in acknowledgement of the order. “He has paid for three hours.”

    Frank followed his target deeper into the building, keeping his eyes on her swaying blonde hair, until they reached the room and entered it, and his target turned to face him.

    “I am at your disposal, sir,” she said in a neutral voice. “What is your wish?”

    As he gazed deep into the glassy eyes of the blonde woman before him — a poor, unfortunate victim who had been horribly ill-treated over the course of years — Frank tried to convince himself that he was just doing what he had to do. It was the only way forward, a necessary part of the business of rescuing the girl. He needed to keep a tag on her so he could find her when he finally acquired the means to get her out, otherwise he might lose her and then she’d be stuck in this living hell until it managed to snuff the guttering light of her soul completely.

    He knew it wasn’t real; she was programmed to carry out his requests. Anything that passed between him and his target, here and now, was fake, baseless… not to mention, utterly wrong and reprehensible.

    “I’d like…” Frank’s voice broke, and he swallowed before trying again in a gruff tone. “I’d like a newlywed scenario. We’ve just been married and are now on our honeymoon.”

    So, why couldn’t he help himself?

    With the command given, the ill-fated woman’s mental programming took over. Simulated emotion filled the previously lifeless doll with life. Dead eyes turned animated, and that unnatural, wooden smile melted off his target’s face…

    …only to be replaced by the very same brilliantly smiling face pictured in the locket hanging at his neck.

    He could only hope that, once he had finally managed to rescue her from this hellhole, Betty would forgive him.

    Helpless to resist the smiling face of his beloved fiancée, an equally brilliant smile of his own welled up in response, accompanied by bitter tears of self-loathing as Frank stepped forward into her welcoming arms.

    Heaven knew, he’d never be able to forgive himself.

    3.15.4 Etiquette and protocol

    “Hi, Mr. Slackhammer!” the Great Wyrm of Hogwarts greeted his friend and business associate from his place standing at the dapper goblin’s office door.

    “Ah, Mr. Potter! It is good to see you this fine morning,” Slackhammer greeted his visitor. “Come in, do!”

    As the young dragon in human form made his way past the increasingly well-stocked gun rack and ammunition locker over to his usual chair, the goblin continued with the usual ritual offer, “Would you care for something to drink?” Which his guest answered as he was wont to do.

    “Now on to the meat of today’s business,” Slackhammer began as his aide left to retrieve his guest’s requested goblin tea. “Your letter requested advice on the subject of obtaining a syllabus for the Defense Against the Dark Arts NEWT so as to better prepare your friend Abigail for her attempt later this spring. Is that correct?”

    At Harry’s affirmative nod, the dapper goblin continued. “Further, you proposed the means of meeting with the current head of the Wizarding Examination Authority to make the request personally, reasoning that they might be more willing to help if you met with them personally rather than going through an intermediary.”

    The young dragon nodded again, “Yeah, that’s what I was thinking; I just didn’t know who I needed to talk to so I figured I should ask.”

    “Quite right,” Slackhammer nodded, “and I agree that you have hit upon an excellent way forward. You’re proposed method should work quite admirably, and I will be happy to assist in the planning.” The goblin paused for a moment before continuing, “For the sake of full disclosure, however, I do feel obligated to point out that this course of action, while admirable, is technically unnecessary. Such syllabi are available from the Examination Authority upon written request.”

    “Oh!” Harry exclaimed, before continuing rather sheepishly. “I didn’t know that. I’m sorry for wasting your time, then, Mr. Slackhammer. Um, who do I need to contact to request one?”

    The goblin waved off his young partner’s apology. “Think nothing of it, Mr. Potter; I would not have expected you to know. As with most genuinely useful things available from the wizards’ Ministry, that fact is not widely publicized — it might, in fact, be more accurate to say it is quite well-hidden. Before you rush off to send that request, however, I ask that you hear me out. I was not simply humoring you when I judged your initial idea a good one, and I suggest that you consider going through with it regardless of its lack of necessity.”

    “Oh?” the young dragon locked his currently human-shaped head curiously. “Why?”

    “It occurs to me, Mr. Potter,” the goblin executive explained, “that our future plans will, most assuredly, involve some not-inconsiderable amount of political and social maneuvering. I am, of course, pleased to offer my expertise to the cause; however, there will come a time when my expertise will not suffice. If nothing else, there are sure to be some among those we treat with who will be unwilling to deal with me on account of my race. In those future situations, either you or Master Snape will be required to step into the breach, and given our mutual business partner’s… antisocial tendencies, I believe it would be best for us all if you are well-prepared to step in. I foresee only benefit from taking the opportunity this affords us to allow you to learn how such things are done.”

    “That makes sense,” Harry acknowledged thoughtfully. “Shouldn’t I practice with someone first, though? In case I screw up, I mean.”

    “I do not believe that to be necessary in this particular case,” Slackhammer averred.

    At Harry’s curious look, the dapper goblin elaborated. “The current head of the Examination Authority, one Griselda Marchbanks, is an old hand at wizarding politics and high society. She has held the position for an exceedingly long time and is widely known to have a soft spot for the young and curious — she would almost have to have one in order to spend the better part of two and a half centuries overseeing the education of wizarding children. As such, I believe she is more likely to meet any errors on your part with understanding and gentle instruction rather than offense — so long as you maintain your usual earnest disposition, of course. The combination of an innocuous request and a friendly audience seems to me to be an ideal opportunity for low-risk practice.”

    The young dragon, who had been nodding along with the dapper goblin’s reasoning, frowned thoughtfully for a moment before nodding decisively. “That makes sense. So, how do we go about setting this up?“ Then his tone turned less decisive, “Um, and can you give me some advice on what to do?”

    Slackhammer chuckled. “I have already taken the liberty of having Mr. Steelhammer write out an example script for you with the appropriate elements to remember clearly marked — though I do ask that you remember to use your own judgment in the real event; you are supposed to be taking your first steps along the road to becoming a statesman, after all, not an actor. As for instruction, well that is why I requested that you come here to meet with me personally, rather than explaining via the post.”

    “Oh! Thank you, Mr. Slackhammer,” the young dragon said with a relieved sigh.

    “You are most welcome, Mr. Potter,” the dapper goblin acknowledged gracefully. “Was there anything else you wished to discuss before we begin your instruction?”

    “Um…” the young Potter’s face screwed up in concentration for a moment as he considered the question. “Oh, yeah! There’s a couple things. One was that I wanted to thank you for doing such a good job on hiring for Hog’s Haulage. I think they’re all going to work out right well! I hear from Mr. Wardale that they’re expecting to be able to bang out a prototype for a new locomotive in the next couple of months that uses Mr. Porta’s combustion system and all the magical optimizations the maintenance crew had come up with over the years. He was saying most of the magical stuff seems to be on the steam and mechanical side of things, while Mr. Porta’s stuff was mostly about the firebox and efficient combustion, so they don’t really interfere with each other very much. It sounds like it’s gonna be pretty awesome!”

    “You are once again most welcome, Mr. Potter,” Slackhammer repeated. “And the other thing?”

    “It’s kinda related, actually,” the young dragon began. “I was talking with a couple of my new engineers, and I had an idea, but the details were outside their field of expertise. I was wondering if I could meet with somebody from the engineering corps to talk it over with them and see if it was worth pursuing — preferably someone who works in the foundry.”

    “I do believe that could be arranged without much difficulty, Mr. Potter,” the Vice-Chairman allowed. “We are always eager to explore new opportunities. Mr. Steelhammer!” Slackhammer’s aide stepped into the office promptly. “Please contact the foundry to see which of their engineers might be available for a consultation with Mr. Potter in a few hours.” The smartly-dressed goblin saluted and left immediately to carry out the task.

    The dapper goblin turned back to his guest. “Very well, Mr. Potter, if there is nothing else, we should get on with the instruction. Now, in terms of preparation, I would wish to point out that appearances and formalities often account for a great deal more among wizards than they rightly should — certainly more then they do among more sensible persons — and, as you will be dealing with someone long steeped in wizarding traditions, you will be well-served to dress appropriately for the occasion and pay attention to the proper forms. In fact, that is a good rule of thumb to follow in general; be sure to keep it in mind.”

    Pausing to take in his young business partner’s attentive demeanor, the goblin continued, “For this meeting, I would suggest something similar to my current garb,” he gestured to his neatly-pressed collared shirt, waistcoat, and, after standing to ensure they were visible, his woolen trousers. “For a wizard, I would suggest eschewing the tail-coat and stovepipe hat.”

    “Really?” Harry gasped, crestfallen. “But those are the best parts!”

    Slackhammer smiled, “I tend to agree, Mr. Potter, but I am afraid the wizarding world is rather woefully behind the times. Instead I would suggest a single-breasted coat in either three-quarter length or full. If you acquire one without the usual wizarding frills and frippery it will serve equally well for most non-magical meetings. Be sure to match the material of your trousers, and the effect will be close enough to pass for a conservative wizarding robe. The waistcoat can be somewhat more personalized. Oh, yes, and be sure to stick to dark, neutral colors if you wish to be able to reuse the same clothing in a non-magical setting.”

    “Okay,” the young dragon nodded, his expression making it obvious he was carefully committing the advice to memory. “What else?”

    “Aside from remembering to be polite, the major item to remember in this sort of situation is the regard gift,” the dapper goblin said. “It is considered polite to bring something for your host when visiting to commemorate your meeting. The custom is an old one, dating back at least as far as the hospitality rules in ancient Greece.”

    “A gift, huh?” Harry said speculatively. “Hey, I’ve got more…”

    “I do not believe another slab of basilisk meat would make for an appropriate regard gift, Mr. Potter,” Slackhammer interrupted. “While I very much appreciate your recent gift, and I am certain Sergeant Major Hooktalon does as well, a food item, even an exotic one, is not the sort of gift you should be looking for — not at this stratum of society in any case. For an upper-class visit, the regard gift should be something unusual or unique rather than useful, and it should not be consumable.”

    “Well, what would you suggest, then?” Harry asked, puzzled.

    “Hmm, perhaps a further explanation is in order,” the goblin mused. “The custom among the ancients was for the traveler to provide a carving or sculpture which would then be broken upon leaving, one piece left with the host and one taken with the traveler. Thus, when the two met again, the pieces could be fitted back together to provide proof of the earlier visit. As travels could often take years in the ancient world, it served as a useful memory aid. The details have changed over the millennia, yet the intent remains. The gift should be sufficiently unique to bring the visit back to the forefront of the memory — a keepsake, as it were.”

    The young dragon frowned thoughtfully as the considered that. “I guess I could give her some of my gold coins. They’re doubloons, so you don’t see many of those nowadays.”

    “I would also advise avoiding anything of obvious monetary value Mr. Potter,” Slackhammer interjected. “In this case particularly, when you are visiting to make a request, such might be interpreted as an attempt at bribery.”

    “Well, what should I give her, then?” Harry asked exasperatedly.

    “I would suggest bending your not-inconsiderable intellect to the problem,” the Vice Director suggested. “It will be a good exercise for you.”

    The young Potter nodded reluctantly. “What else do I need to know then?”

    “Perhaps we should begin with the usual greetings,” Slackhammer began, leaning forward with steepled fingers. “The relative social status between yourself and Madame Marchbanks indicates…”

    The young dragon’s prodigious memory would be put to the test over the next several hours.

    Manners were hard.

    3.15.5 Hindsight is…

    As it turned out, the same foundry-goblin who had helped tend to Harry during his indisposition back in spring happened to be among those available by the time the young dragon finished his long meeting with Vice Director Slackhammer. So, after several hours discussing the finer points of upper-class wizarding etiquette, Harry found himself meeting with Foundry-Specialist Flame-Eye once again, this time under much better circumstances than the previous ones.

    “Glad to see you when you’re up and about, Mr. Potter,” the foundry-goblin greeted his visitor as he stood up from the chair in a hastily-arranged conference room deep in the bowels of Gringotts. “What brings you to see us today?”

    “Hi there!” the currently human-shaped dragon greeted his goblin acquaintance brightly. “Um, well, I was talking to Mr. Wardale — he’s one of my steam engineers — a few days ago about making parts for the new locomotive they’re working on, right? Anyway, he got to telling me how early steam engines were really loose-fitting and wasted lots of steam at leaking seals and such, but he and Mr. Porta started precisely machining their parts so they fit together well, and that helped make everything more efficient.”

    At Flame-Eye’s understanding nod, Harry continued, “So, that made lots of sense to me, and I asked why they didn’t just do that from the start, and he said it was ‘cause machining like that is expensive and hard-to-do, so they didn’t think it was worth it, but then I thought about stuff like them plastic forks we were using at the picnic. Those are really precise, right, easily good enough for pistons and stuff, and they’re dirt cheap, even though the plastic resin they’re made of is more expensive to get than steel.” Flame-Eye nodded intently as his visitor paused to take a breath. “So, I was wondering why we didn’t just make the parts like the forks are made so everything got cheaper?”

    “I see,” the foundry-goblin said. “Well, you see, Mr. Potter, the molds used for those forks are made out of steel, and being made out of the same material, they cannot remain solid at the temperatures required to cast steel.”

    “Right, that’s about what Mr. Wardale said,” Harry nodded. “But I was thinking, what if we used something else other than steel for the molds?”

    “We do cast steel routinely using that approach,” the goblin offered. “However, the selection of materials that can withstand the required temperatures is severely limited. We normally use a few different mixtures of sand which can take the heat long enough to be useful, but no sand-casting method will give a surface finish good enough for a precision piston fit right out of the mold — not reliably, anyway.”

    “That’s what Mr. Wardale was telling me,” the dragon nodded, “but I was thinking, we’ve got that stuff from my guts Mr. Snape figured out how to make. Wouldn’t that work for making proper molds?”

    The foundry specialist’s beady black eyes opened wide in startlement. “That might just work. It can certainly take the heat, and from what I’ve seen with our crucibles and tuyeres, molten steel just beads up and rolls off it,” he said thoughtfully. “I… how did we not think of that? We cast steel all the time, and it’s so obvious in hindsight.” He fell silent for a moment as he considered the question. “I suppose we’ve just been automatically dismissing the idea as soon as it came up for so long that it never occurred to us the situation had changed.”

    “So, you think it’s a good idea?” Harry confirmed.

    “A very good one,” Flame-Eye confirmed, “and potentially a very profitable one as well. Foundry work like that, particularly the precise stuff like injection molding, is finicky work, though. With thermal expansion, degassing, crystal growth, and all the other things to consider, it takes a lot of trial and error to work out the details.”

    The foundry-gob sighed and ran a taloned hand over his scalp as he considered the situation. “We’ll need to shuffle some work around to free up the machining resources to start experimenting; injection molds are notoriously difficult to machine properly, and Logistics has been overbooked for a couple years now trying to keep up with our arms upgrades.”

    “Um, I’ve got something that might help,” Harry offered. “Maybe we can use it, instead?”

    “Oh?” the goblin asked, curious. “What do you have?”

    And so, the young dragon told his collaborator about just what sort of machining capability he had acquired.

    3.15.6 Reflections

    As the portkey completed its transit and Harry smoothly landed on the lip of the Lair, he reached up with a still-human finger to dig at his ear even as he walked toward the Lair-proper. With any luck, the ringing might stop soon.

    Flame-Eye had been quite impressed with the machining capability Harry had managed to acquire for himself — in fact, one might even say the foundry-gob was a mite jealous. He had immediately suggested a number of additional acquisitions for the dragon’s budding machine shop as well, ranging in complexity from a high-quality surface plate and set of Jo blocks all the way up to a selection of manual machines, including both a mill and a lathe — purchases which Harry had already made through Gringotts’ own purchasing agent who had been called in while he was still talking to Flame-Eye.

    The new aquisitions totaled less than he’d spent on tooling alone for the behemoth already installed in the Lair, so the young dragon wasn’t terribly fussed about the cost.

    The goblin had said manual machines were often — counterintuitive as it might seem — more convenient for certain common tasks. Harry had found the reasoning easy enough to understand when Flame-Eye had explained it; if you needed to mill something square or turn a simple cylinder, well, it was much easier to do it in a manual lathe or mill than it was to model it in software, set up the automated machine… and then proceed do all the work you would have had to do for the manual machine anyway to position and prepare the work piece. It was best to use the right tool for the right job.

    Speaking of which…

    The conversation had then turned to precisely why Harry had purchased his impressive CNC machine in the first place. Harry’s answer seemed to have offended Flame-Eye’s tender sensibilities — “Engraving! You don’t use a beautiful machine like that to do a bloody, fucking engraving, boy! That’s like using gold leaf to wipe your ass!” — prompting a rather impressive dressing down from the irate goblin for relegating a “heartstoppingly beautiful piece of precision engineering” to play the role of “the most horribly over-specced pen-plotter of all time”.

    After a Snape-worthy tirade on the critical importance of proper respect for equipment and proper allocation of resources which had left the dragon’s ears ringing, the foundry-gob had concluded with a promise to send another goblin of his acquaintance to drum a “proper understanding of and appreciation for machining and fabrication” into Harry so that his “beautiful piece of poetry-in-motion of a machine” could be put to proper use. Harry had gathered he was supposed to expect a visiting tutor in about a week and that Flame-Eye would be bring a few of his compatriots to help with prototype design, but he hadn’t really caught much detail before he left in a bit of a hurry.

    Sergeant-Major Hooktalon now had some company on the young dragon’s mental list of people not to annoy.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2019
  4. QafianSage

    QafianSage Ascending Ape

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    Well, that got dark. Good chapter, though.
     
  5. EternitynChaos

    EternitynChaos Once there was a Maiden...

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    Hello Harlequin it's nice to see your painted dandelion eater face again
     
  6. Zyvorg

    Zyvorg Possibly a Squid

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    I liked most of the chapter, but I don’t like how dark it suddenly got. It’s a very strange tone shift and I have to say I’m not really a fan.
     
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  7. EternitynChaos

    EternitynChaos Once there was a Maiden...

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    what do you mean suddenly got, there's always been a horribly dark world in the background, it's mentioned multiple times, Hell, I believe Hermione almost became a victim of that darkness? or it may have been teased and I'm thinking of the Spark Harry fic instead, but no there has not been some strange shift in tone, it's just bringing to light some of the previously mentioned horribly nasty stuff in the background, basically the Shadowrun in the cross is not just the painted Elf Immortal snooping around with a hard on *perfectly justified as it is* against dragons
     
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  8. The Unicorn

    The Unicorn Versed in the lewd.

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    Not several minutes, less than a second since it will only be visible when Harry fits the filters they use to identify aircraft.

    I did miss the air-traffic corridor which would mean there would be radar coverage of the area, but just because there is radar coverage of the area doesn't mean there'd be the right sort of radar coverage to actually see Harry. The closest valid target to what harry would look like is a helicopter, and those have blades producing a set frequency of returns, not the chaotic pattern Harry's wings and muscles and changes in position will produce so they'll likely only spot harry momentarily in a dive (and that will likely look more like an ECM burst, or a very unusual combination of atmospheric effects and/or birds).

    I was assuming coverage for smuggling would be focused over the coast and outwards, putting Harry within those radar's minimum range and thus not be detected. Anyone looking for smugglers would also be looking for targets flying low to the ground, not at the sort of altitude where Harry would be visible.


    Nice chapter, I'd not one of the big issues with material for casting mold is it's thermal expansion. It's perfectly reasonable for the material Snape synthesized to have suitable thermal expansion rates, but that's something they'd want to check if they want the castings to come out right.

    I'm glad to find out the victim the Investigator is looking for was his wife, I had initially assumed his daughter which made his solution for keeping tabs on her much worse.

    While there isn't really any reason for wizarding fashion to not have some resemblance to modern fashion, I found having the clothes suitable for Harry's meeting being so similar to modern clothes annoying.
     
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  9. Dunkelzahn

    Dunkelzahn No one of consequence

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    That was in Doghead13's original draft (the fragments he has posted since as a second chapter of ff.net), happening during the summer between the first and second years.

    For overall plot reasons, I needed to move it a bit, so it is yet to appear in this version.


    The Frank and Betty subplot is there for a few reasons:
    1. As a reminder that there is still a crapsack setting in the background where horrible stuff is a constant danger
    2. Giving a point of view character to make that danger resonate with the audience, rather than just having it be handwaving exposition from Snape as it was previously
    3. Add foreshadowing and emotional impact when the Malfoy subplot is brought back to the foreground
    4. Give a bit of weight to the Frank/Lockhart interplay
    The first three are straightforward enough, but the fourth might take a bit of explanation.

    The investigation subplot is there to drive Lockhart's arc forward in the absence of the canon motivations for doing so (the basilisk is gone, and he's much more competent than the canon version). It is intended to make Lockhart nervous enough to overplay his hand and do something rash.

    That runs into a problem immediately, though. This Lockhart is supposed the cream of the crop among the Ministry's 'cover-it-up-and-make-it-disappear' squad. No one is going to be able to hire some random PI and expect him to be better at finding evidence than the Ministry's best fixer was at hiding it; that's just not believable --- especially when the PI doesn't know what he's supposed to be looking for. Frank was hired without a clue as to what was going on except a scheduling conflict.

    Therefore, Frank had to have the exact set of skills and resources necessary to catch the traces Lockhart left behind.

    That then begs the question: why does this random PI happen to have the skill to pick up on the traces of mental manipulation? Enter Betty, his missing fiancee, who was enslaved into a magical version of Shadowrun-style bunraku. He needs to rescue Betty who is being kept enslaved at least partially by massively potent mental manipulation. Frank therefore has a very good reason to have the specific skills needed to pick up on the traces of mental manipulation Lockhart left behind.

    This then makes the investigation a credible threat for Lockhart to be jumpy about.

    Thermal expansion is an issue Flame-Eye specifically named in 3.15.5, among several others. They're not going into this thinking it'll be simple, by any means.

    Technically she's his fiancee --- she was kidnapped before the wedding. It was mentioned back during Frank's initial introduction.

    It's not a normal wizarding style; rather, it's an acceptable style in wizarding fashion which will also work in a non-magical business setting with minimal alteration. Slackhammer suggests it specifically so Harry can reuse the outfit for potential future business engagements in the non-magical world. The style of coat suggested is one that could pass for a very austere wizarding robe if worn properly. Magical formal wear tends to the very colorful and ornate --- see Lockhart and his flowing pastel silks or Dumbledore and his eye-burning wardrobe for examples. When Madame Marchbanks sees him, one of her first thoughts is that his fashion sense is much too dour for a boy his age, and she'd suggest something in bright purple, possibly with yellow sleeves.

    That said, Slackhammer would have loved to put Harry in a tail-coat and stovepipe hat, like he wears, but frugality is important, and Harry is still growing --- he shouldn't be loading up on outfits he's just going to outgrow, you know.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2019
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  10. Tisaku

    Tisaku I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    elderly
    Your
     
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  11. Doghead13

    Doghead13 Grumpy Old Scottish Biker

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    The sequence from that fic where Hermione gets grabbed uses several partial scenes originally written for this fic. It's the most direct piece of recycling I've so far done - so let's just say if the upcoming sequence Dunkelzahn's very broadly hinted at looks familiar in places, well, there's a reason for that.

    The entire concept around a magical industrial revolution propped up and made approx 10x worse than the (already pretty goddamn horrific) RL industrial revolution by the Wizarding capacity for messing with people's minds is the primary idea originally come up with for this fic that I then reused in that fic.
     
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  12. Zyvorg

    Zyvorg Possibly a Squid

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    I know there’s been implications of dark stuff in the background, but there’s a big difference between “society is awful because magic lets you get away with terrible stuff.” And “Hey, look at this detective whose fiancé was kidnapped and sold in to prostitution and now he basically rapes her every couple weeks just so he can find her in case she gets moved.” I personally feel that just because the setting is dark doesn’t mean it has to go that far, and it’s a pretty big tone shift from just watching Harry as he slowly learns to deal with a world that isn’t as nice as he hoped.
     
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  13. EternitynChaos

    EternitynChaos Once there was a Maiden...

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    If that's the story your after I'd suggest writing it yourself, because I don't think your going to get your desires meet with this one
     
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  14. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Versed in the lewd.

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    It's very dark. Not because a girl is forced into a hellish life, but because apparently, that's perfectly fine in Wizarding Britain, otherwise, a call to the DMLE would suffice and the Aurors would free her. In other words, the entire coutnry is rotten to the core and so evil, massacring everyone in the government who didn't stomp this out would be a perfectly fine decision.

    That's a concern, in my opinion - why aren't the good guys doing anything? Why doesn't Dumbledore, presumably a good man, tell the scum running the country that they either clean this up ASAP, or he starts going Grindelwald on them? This is after the first wizarding war, so they fuckheads would know they cannot stand against Dumbledore - Voldemort brought them almost to the brink of defeat, and Dumbledore has much more popular support.
     
  15. Skjadir

    Skjadir Versed in the lewd.

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    I really like this story as it doesn´t just power up the enemys so they can keep up and follwoing from that nothing changes, but goes the route of not handing out lazy power ups and as such much more interesting with the world reacting to the change.

    And i have a question for the last update ? why didn´t harry ask some of the teachers for which books they think might help.
    They are in pretty much every way a better help then the goblins as they are wizards themself and should have a much greater understanding for which books to get and he can just ask them as he sees them pretty much daily.

    Overall i only have a realativly tiny problem with the story and that comes from the shadowrun side of the story:
    If we go by the shadowrun wiki Orichalcum can´t be create without alchemy, needs magic to even exist and is quite hard to create and as such very valuble.

    *also it being made of silver, copper, gold and mercury

    or is this a case of snape just being flat out wrong here about aluminum being orichalcum?

    it stops being a problems if that is just changed here and there aren´t any metals/alloys here that need magic to be created.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2019
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  16. Doghead13

    Doghead13 Grumpy Old Scottish Biker

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    As usual, can't truly speak for how Dunkelzahn plans to work this, but in the original the answer is quite simple: bulk enchantment.

    Every magical object in the entire setting has to have been enchanted by someone, somewhere, from a bottle of Butterbeer on up, and it has to have been done individually. Every last candle in the Great Hall at Hogwarts, every self-inking quill, every bottle of the magical ink usable with erasing charms, everything. By hand. One at a time, and it takes several minutes to do each one. There is no known way to mechanise it beyond reducing a magically-gifted human being to nothing more nor less than a machine part.

    Dumbledore is entirely too aware that the end result of him dropping the hammer the way he wants to is his own death by killing curse in the back from some random or another pissed he can no longer afford the magical equivalent of Weetabix or somesuch, followed by the industrialists sweeping it all under the carpet and taking off what little in the way of kid gloves he's been able to manoeuvre them into. He hasn't solved it as he doesn't HAVE a solution, not one that'll stick instead of resulting for the light side in something a bit like what happens when you chuck an adorable fuzzy bunny into a wood chipper. People get nasty when you impact their comfortable lifestyles - just take a look at what we turn a blind eye to right now.

    As per most of Rowling's canon setting, it's directly modelled on Victorian Britain - already a bleak as fuck time to be anything short of rich, at one point they literally had to make it illegal to chain child workers to production lines and not as an academic 'just in case' either - and the existence of magic able to manipulate people's minds the way we know wizards can in canon not making it even worse is just flat out unbelievable.
     
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  17. Edmond G. Bertrand

    Edmond G. Bertrand Making the rounds.

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    You used the word "Tuyeres" above - and while I understand what you were probably trying to relate, it seems like maybe you picked the wrong part of the
    forge. The Tuyere goes on the outside, and is therefore exposed to much lower temperatures, except at the very tip, than
    the crucible itself. If, however, you talked about the Oxygen lance than goes right into the heating (liquifying) metal, then I'd say that you were
    right on.

    https://www.google.com/search?q=def...69i57j69i58.7215j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8
     
  18. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Versed in the lewd.

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    If Voldemort can terrorise the country as in canon, Dumbledore could bring down the hammer. If he were so easy to kill, some imperiused wizard would have done it right away. And honestly, the people described in the story deserve to get killed if they support the system. Just start killing those who profit, then those who step up and so on. Dumbledore could easily keep his identity secret.

    If this slavery is legal and trying to change it will lead to even Dumbledore getting killed, then killing all involved seems the only option anyway.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2019
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  19. Hunting time

    Hunting time Getting out there.

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    You guys forgetting that Britan is the progressive or good area on the planet?
     
  20. Dunkelzahn

    Dunkelzahn No one of consequence

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    Doghead's assessment of the wizarding economic base is mostly accurate for this iteration as well, for reference. Though there are a few wrinkles.

    As for Dumbledore, he could bring down the hammer, and this version of Dumbledore is strong enough that he would even survive doing so.

    The problem is that he has no idea how to build a better wizarding society in the aftermath. It's not like he has any examples to lift ideas from --- they're all as bad or worse.

    Every existing wizarding society in this setting has some major flaws, and Dumbledore has no idea how to build a wizarding society from scratch that will avoid them --- hence his current method of slow internal reform (from back in 1.9.6). He's already managed some progress. Slavery is illegal (as of 1963); non-magical people are legally classified as people (as of 1920) making rape, murder, and enslavement (as of 1963) of non-magicals technically illegal, though it often goes unreported in many circles; and hunting non-human sapients for sport is currently out of fashion and considered to be in poor taste.

    He's even established a decent legal system for enforcing those laws, which is another reason he avoids vigilantism --- he worked hard to put that legal system in place, and he's not about to undermine its legitimacy through his own actions.

    The progress is slow, to be sure, but he manages to live with the delays by downplaying the problems that do exist as unavoidable growing pains of a society in flux that will eventually be fixed. This Dumbledore is a generally decent person, but he's not without his own flaws, some of them quite severe.

    So, the takeaway is that slavery is already illegal, the difficulty lies in proving to a court of law that what is going on in a situation like Betty's is actually slavery. The slavers are really good at gaming the legal system, and they have enough support to kill (sometimes literally) attempts to reform it.

    In order for law enforcement to be effective in such cases, they really have to catch the perpetrator red-handed in the act of capturing the victim, which is a difficult standard to meet. If that initial window is missed, and the slavers have a chance to get their hooks in place, airtight proof of wrongdoing is almost impossible to come by, and without that, so is a conviction.

    Mental magics are difficult to detect and insidious, the charms used to detect such are horribly subjective and thus do not lend themselves well to court evidence. The only other option, deep medical scans, require either the consent of the one being examined or a court-ordered warrant to be admissable evidence, and the warrant requires sufficient corroborating evidence to be issued. On top of this, the handlers know how to game the legal system to their own benefit, and when you have the victim --- and thus, the primary witness --- mind-controlled it's easy to take advantage of a number of legal protections --- intended to protect said victim and put in place with the best of intentions --- to squirm your way having the charges thrown out. Combined with a robust extralegal enforcement apparatus (the likes of our friends from 3.1.4), this makes reporting such things to law enforcement generally end in tears, even when the law enforcement officers are out to help you --- which most of them actually are, surprisingly enough.

    Efforts to reform this system, say by lowering the evidentiary requirements for a warrant are generally shot down by those interested in keeping the system as it is.

    If we take Frank and Betty's case as an example, were Frank to file a report with Law Enforcement claiming his fiancee was kidnapped and forced into slavery, providing his evidence of her current location, his claim would be taken seriously by the department, who tend to be well-intentioned and out to help people. The accused would be arrested and brought to trial, and Frank would issue his accusation in court.

    The defendant would counter with the argument that Betty had decided to leave Frank of her own accord and cast doubt on Frank's character by accusing him of being unable to deal with his fiancee walking out on him. Prostitution is not illegal in this setting, so the fact that she is working at a brothel is not damning in and of itself. As for the nature of the brothel, the argument will be made that the girls undergo the procedure willingly --- prostitution is unpleasant work, and the triggered artificial personality lets them get the money without having to consciously endure the worst parts of it, or so the argument goes.

    The defendant would then produce a legitimate paper trail of all the contracts Betty had been compelled to signed along the way, giving explicit permission for everything done to her. They would then provide a written testimony, signed by Betty under orders, that she had entered those contracts of her own free will, and, if pressed, they would then bring Betty in person with explicit orders to testify in support of their version of events. She They would then force her to refuse to submit to any medical exam sufficiently detailed to put the lie to their claims, and there would not be enough evidence to issue a warrant to force the issue.

    Everyone involved would know what was going on, yet there would be no way for Frank to conclusively prove his version of events, and thus his case would fail. The law enforcement officers would be crushed with disappointment, the judge would probably be sick to his stomach, and the defendant would go smugly on his way.

    In the meantime, with Frank's belligerence and identity now known, the handlers would then approach some of their shadier contacts who would move to deal with Frank through extralegal means --- threats, blackmail, holding Betty's continued well-being hostage, disappearing him to a similar fate, murder... whatever works, really. If Frank were higher-profile, they might resort to character assassination using the propaganda machines like the Prophet. At that point, Frank is gone, Betty is left without any hope at all, and things continue on as they were.

    After enough such cases, people learn that going to law enforcement with your concerns in these cases will just get you killed, so they stop doing it. Most learn to live with it, like oppressed populations throughout human history, and some, like Frank, do their best to take matters into their own hands --- to varying levels of success.

    Again, it's a knotty sort of situation. When law enforcement actually manages to catch one of the bastards dead to rights, they're toast, but it's a hell of job trying to do so.

    People do know that a significant part of the upcoming plot is going to have Harry dealing with a lot of this, right? I thought I had hinted pretty strongly at it back in chapter 1. He's got a lot of resources coming online (businesses, resources, philosophical reading, big dragon brain, etc.) that Dumbledore never had, so the situation is in flux at the moment.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2019
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  21. hyperspacewizard

    hyperspacewizard I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    Plus you know when a giant magical immune as powerful as a small deity dragon says I'm done with your shit these are the new rules shit gets done and change happens
     
  22. Doghead13

    Doghead13 Grumpy Old Scottish Biker

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    The two aren't even remotely comparable.

    Voldemort was not a lone actor. I didn't even write that part into the story, Rowling did: as per canon he had built himself a large, very capable, high-influence, terrorist organisation long before he made his takeover bid. He's not even remotely close to being a lone actor, he's more comparable to something like so-called 'loyalist' terrorist gangs during the Troubles - which I have to suspect had some bearing on how Rowling thought him up. He had widespread popular backing on almost every level of magical society ranging from active support to turning a blind eye, much as the 'loyalist' gangs did IRL - including at government level, both for Voldie and those 'loyalist' gangs. Again, I didn't even write that part into the story, Rowling did.

    In a lot of ways, Voldie was the system fighting itself over which part of it got to run the show, and he rarely put himself in harm's way - at least not to Harry's experience in canon and I doubt he did much to change his MO - preferring to have people brought to him by semi-disposable cannon fodder with a few exceptions where he had to act in person due to the internal politics of his gang, such as the fateful visit to the Potter household to demonstrate that he wasn't afraid of this prophecy thing Snape was on about.

    Dumbles, meanwhile, doesn't have that, is up against a bunch of backstabbing professional paranoids who're used to looking over their shoulders all the time anyway, and has aims that can only really succeed via utterly destroying the system - a system that absolutely deserves destroying, yes, but he lacks the power or, it must be said, will to do so. He has a small group loyal to him but they really do not have the manpower (or again will) to sacrifice the way Voldemort casually did. Sure, he could keep his identity secret and start bumping bad guys off: the first few kills are going to get everyone else involved on high alert the exact moment they realise what's going on, making each hit progressively harder and (assuming he didn't get got, which seems hilariously unlikely) setting off revenge attacks: he escalates, they escalate, next thing you know it's the 70s all over again and the entire reform-themed house of cards he's spent the last decade building, the one that means the bad guys actually have to be subtle about what they're doing instead of going full pre-Civil-War-US with it, goes bye-bye. And he really does not have popular support, just like anyone actively trying to shut down the use of sweatshop near-slave labour in the modern-day clothing industry would lack popular support the very moment Joe Average realised that means clothing prices skyrocketing.

    People, at the end of the day, are cruel - here or in real life.

    And solo rampages do not work, here or in real life. A lone actor has to get lucky first time, every time - and the scarcity of unsolved serial killer cases should go some way to illustrate how often that happens. He's not freaking Robocop and this doesn't run on Hollywood 'physics'.
     
  23. Belenus

    Belenus Know what you're doing yet?

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    I'm reminded of a quote from HBP.

     
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  24. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Versed in the lewd.

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    Given the small size of Wizarding Britain, killing key people would work. And I really don't think that Dumbledore couldn't recruit enough people willing to kill the kind of scum enslaving people to form an army. Every muggleborn. Every decent human being. Hell, the Order of the Phoenix should be full of people willing to kill. Add some press campaign about all the evils covered up, and I don't really see many problems in sweeping Britain clear of this. Proof? You don't need proof in the court of public opinion.

    It just feels a little too "it needs a dragon, everyone else is powerless or evil".

    With regards to "Dumbledore doesn't know how to make a better society" - muggle society showed the way. And you'd immensely improve things by driving away the slaving scum. As I said, you don't need air-tight proof in the court of public opinion, and a few assassinations can go a long way as well.

    Having Harry do everything and everyone else being useless seems a little boring to me.
     
  25. Belenus

    Belenus Know what you're doing yet?

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    There's two problems with this idea. Dumbledore is terrified of going off the deep end and becoming Grindlewald. It is unlikely he would consider killing someone, even if they're guilty as fuck and their immediate death would save others.

    The second is that, at least in canon, the wizarding populace are so soft and decadent that they bite the hand that feeds them and lick the boot that kicks them. They are so terrified and uncomprehending of violence that they defend their assailants (otherwise they'll be next) while attacking all who try to use justified violence, because there's no danger in attacking the good.

    It will take a complete overturning of society, like the overthrow of the Ministry in canon (or a dragon), for the masses of sheep to stop backing whoever poses the most threat to them personally.


    Now I want to see a fic where Voldemort started with this specific intent in mind, to stir up British Wizardry's fighting spirit again.
     
  26. elif

    elif Know what you're doing yet?

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    I've seen a few sources claim that the British magical population is only 3000 individuals, with a third of those being 17 and under.

    That's... basically nothing. If the poor doddering muggles can figure out how to get millions to billions of people to mostly get along, then I'd really hope that the magicals with their literal post scarcity and various information gathering magics could make a functioning justice system to manage less people than a modest company.

    (What the hell kind of setup allows for someone suspected of being under compulsion to testify that they're fit to testify, anyways?

    And why is this setup using humans to start with? Make a literal meat puppet and gussy it up with magic, or polyjuice a pig or something and program that to be a doll in the dollhouse. Sure, still moral arguments to be made, but less missing persons that'll raise a fuss. Petty sadism?)
     
  27. Edmond G. Bertrand

    Edmond G. Bertrand Making the rounds.

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    I've seen fanfics that put the number of British magicals as low as 70 - 90K and as high as 1.8m, with the majority being hidden on islands off the coast of Scotland & Wales and some off the coast of
    Ireland. I've seen writers speculate that there are 20K in the "village" of Hogsmeade and a further 10 - 15K in and around London.

    I've also seen speculation that there might be 3M magicals in the high mountain valleys between France, Germany, and Italy and that they're hidden using sophisticated weather-magics and rune-based 'notice-me-not' charms. I get the feeling that magicals would have a far easier time of it hiding in plain site - making already existing city buildings taller, by adding floors that are magically hidden and segregating spaces for themselves with the tacit help of squibs-turned-architects or city-planners. Doing any or all of that could add 100K to a magical population with little or no effort.


     
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  28. Gaming Geek

    Gaming Geek Tired of the random default stuff

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    There is literally no way the population of magical England is as low as Rowling said.

    If true then in the last book about 50% of the population was living in the slums she described. And the World Cup would have contained the entire world population plus extras.


    She does not numbers. At all.
     
  29. Edmond G. Bertrand

    Edmond G. Bertrand Making the rounds.

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    "(What the hell kind of setup allows for someone suspected of being under compulsion to testify that they're fit to testify, anyways?

    And why is this setup using humans to start with? Make a literal meat puppet and gussy it up with magic, or polyjuice a pig or something and program that to be a doll in the dollhouse. Sure, still moral arguments to be made, but less missing persons that'll raise a fuss. Petty sadism?)"

    The whole system as described by JKR and those of us who've followed after her is truly horrifying. No MIRANDA warning or ban on testifying against yourself (5th Amendment) and no system for determining "probable cause". The whole system stinks and is just this side of a complete, fascist regime. It's no wonder Snape wants to burn the whole country to the ground.
     
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  30. Aaron Fox

    Aaron Fox That Crazy/Not-Crazy Guy

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    However, they would be smaller than first assumed to the fact that the first war against Voldy was so destructive that the Ministry was basically going to fall, numerous important/significant families being wiped out (as in, every man, woman, and child of that family line killed) alongside some more that are basically all but wiped out, and anyone that was willing to face up against Voldy was straight up killed in horrific ways alongside their families. From what I've read of the series,Voldy during the First War against Voldomort had all intents and purposes won that conflict. Voldy inadvertently kicking off the Prophecy (from what I can gather from the books, a prophecy can only be truly activated when one or both of the individuals/groups in said prophecy think that said prophecy would happen) and activated some lost/unknown love-and-sacrifice-based protection upended a lot of what Voldy had gained. If Voldy knew that simply believing in the prophecy is enough to cause it to come to fruition, he would have won then and there...
     
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