1. Due to issues with external spam filters, QQ is currently unable to send any mail to Microsoft E-mail addresses. This includes any account at live.com, hotmail.com or msn.com. Signing up to the forum with one of these addresses will result in your verification E-mail never arriving. For best results, please use a different E-mail provider for your QQ address.
    Dismiss Notice
  2. For prospective new members, a word of warning: don't use common names like Dennis, Simon, or Kenny if you decide to create an account. Spammers have used them all before you and gotten those names flagged in the anti-spam databases. Your account registration will be rejected because of it.
    Dismiss Notice
  3. Since it has happened MULTIPLE times now, I want to be very clear about this. You do not get to abandon an account and create a new one. You do not get to pass an account to someone else and create a new one. If you do so anyway, you will be banned for creating sockpuppets.
    Dismiss Notice
  4. If you wish to change your username, please ask via conversation to tehelgee instead of asking via my profile. I'd like to not clutter it up with such requests.
    Dismiss Notice
  5. Due to the actions of particularly persistent spammers and trolls, we will be banning disposable email addresses from today onward.
    Dismiss Notice
  6. We have added another rule, please check the Rules post for more information.
    Dismiss Notice
  7. A note about the current Ukraine situation: Discussion of it is still prohibited as per Rule 8
    Dismiss Notice
  8. We are now accepting applications for new forum moderators. If you are interested, please see here for more information.
    Dismiss Notice
  9. We have a quick update on Rule 8 - Please see here.
    Dismiss Notice

Enter the Dragon (Harry Potter/Shadowrun)

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

  1. The Unicorn

    The Unicorn Experienced.

    Jan 10, 2015
    Likes Received:

    Very nice and a musing section with a crackish view into the way some screwy goblins (that don't fit any of the previous depictions you have or the tone of the story) think.

    Goblins enjoying a good bar fight and consider fighting together a good way for a couple to bond I can, sort of see, however given that they emphasize being armed and prepared at all times that would be an odd fit. Them appreciating betrayal or fighting for the sake of fighting does not make sense. For that matter the couple beating everyone does not make much sense in a culture where everyone enjoys fighting.

    This line ruins all the good work you just did in establishing why magical cargo transport doesn't work. If the shrunken luggage has the same effects as the space expansion, then they shouldn't have had any shrunken luggage because it would be very uncommon and unusual to do something like that. If shrinking luggage is a way around the limit then we're back to magical trains making no sense.

    1)This is not how a working floppy drive sounds. If your floppy drive was making an "obnoxious shrieking", chances are it was about to eat your disk, destroying most of your data in the process.
    2) Second, or even third hand used computers with internal hard drives would not be too difficult to find by 1990. Commodore 64 (which would be on their way out by this point) had hard drives available since at least the early 80s if not before.
    3)Assuming he couldn't find a computer with an internal hard drive he could get without feeling he was exposing himself too much, connecting multiple floppy drives to a computer was easy which would make the setup simpler and remove the need to switch floppies like you have him doing.

    While the computer bits were annoying, I really liked the theories the shadowland BBS came up with and them being around.

    I wouldn't think they'd need this sort of thing anywhere BUT along the interstate. Even today, after 9/11 and everything that followed from it you wouldn't need magic to cross the border without drawing any official attention, in 1992? You practically had to be looking for an official border crossing to get someone stopping you to look at your passport (and note that's just look, there was no border stamp). With magic? Transfiguring something that has a vague resemblance to a US or Canadian passport would get you through with no issue. In this time frame you'd have more trouble crossing the border from Nevada to California than US/Canada border (in either direction) because California actually had cops looking for people bringing in fruit.
  2. Dunkelzahn

    Dunkelzahn No one of consequence

    Jul 10, 2018
    Likes Received:
    You make a good point. I hadn't thought about that wrinkle. Made some changes in that regard to highlight Ed and Buck noticing Harry's accent.

    Good point on the goblins; got a bit carried away when writing that part. I've now changed that section to be a little more reserved.

    Now I have Snickersnack being fond of a good bar fight and impressed that Quickknife joined in this time when he usually prefers to sit things out. End effect on the plot is the same, minus the previous cartoonish violence.

    The effect of the shrinking spell wasn't supposed to be seen as functionally identical to a space expansion.

    For reference, I'm treating shrinking/engorgement as effectively transfiguring something into a smaller/larger model of itself. It is also unsuitable for bulk cargo for mostly the same reasons that portkeys and apparation are unsuitable: active and draining casting requirements combined with the tight wizarding labor market. There are some niche issues as well regarding materials that do not respond well to transfiguration, either due to conflicting enchantments or bulk materials properties (the latter of which was addressed obliquely in the scene in question), but the labor requirement is the big one that leaves trains as the better option.

    That said, I can see how the language was unclear in the scene, so I've switched out Dumbledore's shrunken luggage for a more obvious transfiguration in lieu of adding another exposition on shrinking/engorgement spells to an already large scene.

    1. You are correct, changed the floppy drive sound description. Wasn't particularly happy with it in the first place, and I think my frustration with trying to find a proper onomatopoeia for "the sound a floppy drive makes" showed through in the word choice.
    2. As for why I went a little bit extra old-school on the computer, it was a call-back to the Tandy 4000 I first learned on when I was a kid. It was the family PC, and the base model did not have a HDD (the other options went up steeply in price); though admittedly, ours had a 3.5" floppy rather than a 5.25".
    3. See above. Mostly a nostalgia thing.

    Glad you liked at least some of it.

    Perhaps. Despite living in the midwest for a number of years (first as a young child, and then later during college) I've never actually had the occasion to cross the US-Canada border, so I will defer to others' experience on the matter.

    That said, I will point out that the bypasses make a certain amount of sense from the Confederacy's point of view regardless. International relationships can change unexpectedly, especially when those relationships are between two foreign nations rather than a foreign nation and your own. If the Confederacy doesn't want its citizens' internal movements to be unexpectedly curtailed by (or at least unexpectedly inconvenienced by, given magic) foreign powers, then bypassing those foreign powers' security checkpoints entirely is a smart thing to do if possible, even if the foreign powers in question are mostly ignoring their own checkpoints at the moment.
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2020
  3. Kitty S. Lillian

    Kitty S. Lillian Transhuman

    May 20, 2018
    Likes Received:
    May I suggest
    for this sound.
  4. The Unicorn

    The Unicorn Experienced.

    Jan 10, 2015
    Likes Received:
    It's improved but
    The last line there seems to have been left over from the previous version.
    The problem is, from the POV of transportation limits, it is functionally the same regardless of how you present it.
    It doesn't matter if it's a transformation or space manipulation, or something else entirely. What matters is the fact it allows you to pack 10x as much grain or iron or beer or whatever into your wagon (or car or backpack or saddlebags, etc) as you could normally, that means magical freight transport becomes viable and there's no reason for trains.

    Given that Dumbledore was able to casually pick up the transfigured box in one hand, it looks like the weight is reduced as well, which makes things even worse from the POV of justifying trains.

    Was this explained in the story? I don't recall it also that doesn't fit with

    Which suggests that transfiguration into something smaller for transport is normally quite viable, just that for iron and aluminum it requires "significant preparation".

    You might solve both these issues by changing the transfiguration suggestion to suggesting Harry transfigure it so that he'll be carrying a lot more of the load, and it not being viable for whatever reason.

    I get that, the problem is the character not only doesn't seem nostalgic he seems very annoyed that there aren't any computers with harddrives or multiple floppy drives, and given all the engineering and jury rigging he must have done to get this he'd have no issue combining a couple of different computers. The harddrive I can get, he couldn't find one he felt he could acquire safely, but restricting himself to one floppy drive when he could easily connect 3 or four to the computer doesn't make sense.

    I liked about 90%, some of the rest I really liked, and some (like the above nitpicking annoyed me) but the vast majority was nice.

    Granted, we do have 9/11 as an example, but given how the border between US and Canada stayed basically the same way for ~100 years, and there are multiple towns that straddle the border, I don't see them spending money on something like this.

    That said, I can see them needing bypasses for transporting freight, but why would the British group think to use one? Or even know about them?

    It's not so much that they are ignoring their check points (at least I believe that since 9/11 they've stopped doing that), it's that there's no way for them to actually close the border. Marking the border is a major undertaking.
    WinterPhoenix and Damnedmatt like this.
  5. zup

    zup Experienced.

    May 16, 2016
    Likes Received:
    They have the wizarding road map? Which probably ignores muggle border crossings. Remember that as far as the local wizards and witches are concerned, this is all domestic road. It should be far easier to track their foreign guests if they do not make detours through muggle areas, nevermind the exposure risk of the muggles were to catch that cargo in some routine inspection to catch drug smugglers or something.
    WinterPhoenix likes this.
  6. The Unicorn

    The Unicorn Experienced.

    Jan 10, 2015
    Likes Received:
    Why would a wizarding world map not show all the rods crossing the border?

    It might or might not note where the border is, but not telling people where the roads are doesn't make sense.
    Cheetored20 likes this.
  7. Dunkelzahn

    Dunkelzahn No one of consequence

    Jul 10, 2018
    Likes Received:
    • The tone was perhaps a bit off, but I had intended that exchange to take place. Have edited a little again for clarity and tone.
    • On transfiguration and shipping
      • Expanded spaces and transfiguration are not functionally equivalent for cargo shipping
        • Expanding a space means you are altering the shipping container (a single action)
        • Transfiguring cargo means you are altering the cargo (repeated for every piece of cargo shipped and then undone after shipping)
        • This makes the economics of both options quite different, even if the physical situation seems similar
      • The reasons that portkeys are not used for major logistics were spelled out back in Chapter 2 during one of the Hogs Haulage interludes
      • The reason transfiguration is not used on a large scale has not been laid out specifically in the text yet, but the components are sprinkled throughout
        • Transfiguration takes significant personal effort to cast (large labor requirement...)
        • It requires skilled magical labor (...taken from the high-priced end of the labor market...)
        • Wizarding labor markets are tight enough that companies are willing to run the risk being caught using illegal slave labor to keep their costs down (...which is a very high price, indeed)
        • Ultimately, the marginal cost of shipping the extra volume/mass via trucks or trains is a great deal less than the marginal cost of hiring transfiguration-capable porters
        • Additionally, some materials do not respond well to transfiguration
          • "Cold" (magically resistant) materials like iron - resist transfiguration
          • "Ignoble" (magically inert) materials like aluminum - do not respond to it at all
          • "Hot" materials and enchanted items - respond in a variety of unpredictable ways, depending heavily on the specifics of the situation
          • Potions ingredients/potions - there are less painful ways to commit suicide
          • ...and others
        • As a consequence, transfiguration requires a certain amount of knowledge of the thing being transfigured, making it unsuitable for packaged goods whose composition may not be known to the shipper
        • Very skilled casters may or may not know ways around some of these issues. McGonnagal implied as much for steel and aluminum while Harry actually demonstrated it for steel, gold, and a particular form of runic enchantment with that tree sculpture, but McGonnagal is a transfiguration mistress and Harry is a dragon who learned self-transfiguration over the course of a few months when he was nine years old. Those two are not the average wizarding worker, and that means even more skilled labor. You'd have to offer a fair bit of compensation to get either to take up a full time job loading and unloading cargo at some warehouse.
      • Particularly skilled individuals can and do use transfiguration to move their own luggage and sometimes ship their own packages
        • Note: Transfiguration can change apparent weight with the use of enough magic and skill
        • Which is not to say that Dumbledore needed to do so in this case. He is picking up the transfigured form of a big box of assorted chips, maybe twenty bags or so. The whole thing probably doesn't weigh much more than fifteen pounds... maybe twenty depending on the quality of the cardboard box.
      • Businesses do not do the same with freight because they can't afford to hire it done.
      • As for why they didn't transfigure Harry's food in this case, that's simple: they didn't think about it.
        • Snape was doing the planning, and transfiguration is not in his wheelhouse so he didn't go looking there for solutions.
        • Slackhammer suggested the RV, and Snape ran with it.
        • No one thought to suggest transfiguration as an option until they were already exhausted from the first leg of the trip and couldn't do it.
        • For similar reasons, Snape didn't think through placing an order for solid steel billets. Harry eats metal, so originally Vernon got him scrap because that was what he could scrounge. Hagrid continued the tradition, because scrap is cheap, and so "Harry eats cars" got embedded in everyone's head, not "Harry eats steel". So Snape arranged to carry crushed cars not solid steel billets.
        • The characters are imperfect. They make mistakes, and they don't always think of the best way to munchkin things.
        • Of course the narrative reason for Snape's mistake was quite deliberate. I wanted to have the road trip happen and take a while for a number of reasons
          • Demonstrate the properties of expanded spaces for the reader
          • Keep Harry out of the way for Hermione's kidnapping and its resolution arc
          • Get the DMLE more involved in the plot
          • Showcase the Confederacy for worldbuilding purposes
          • Get Harry to see Jurassic Park
          • Get Harry to meet Ed the gunsmith and get ideas
          • Put Harry in a position to learn some interesting information about the petroleum industry (in an upcoming section)
          • Get Harry involved in the Interdiction situation
          • On his return, put Harry in a situation where he desperately wants to help, but there is nothing immediate left for him to do, leaving him frustrated, angry, ashamed, and motivated to act... potentially rashly.
    • On the computer topic:
      • The character isn't being nostalgic; the author is being nostalgic.
      • As to an in-story reason why Buck hasn't upgraded, we can answer that with another bit of nostalgia from my childhood. Have a Choose your own Adventure fork! ;)
      • You choose (pick one):
        • Buck's limited list of off-the-books suppliers don't have the parts he wants (continue reading below)
        • The selection of parts available from Buck's suppliers are not compatible with his particular setup (continue reading below)
        • Afraid of attracting their attention, Buck refrains from asking around too openly (continue reading below)
        • The only hard drives available are external models, and the old motherboard in Buck's computer only had two serial ports, which are already occupied by the external modems (continue reading below)
        • Buck's rig has available expansion slots, but one or more is no longer functional which is why the computer ended up for sale in the first place (continue reading below)
        • Given the lack of widely available online software archives, Buck has found it difficult to acquire a compatible driver for his outdated hardware (continue reading below)
        • Buck, being at best an amateur computer technician who got into the business because of his curiosity about the goings on at the gun club rather than any particular enthusiasm for computers, has so far found dealing with the status quo to be at least marginally less irritating than the prospect of trying to kludge together a more capable machine from the parts available (continue reading below)
        • Buck got tapped for being sysop before he had the full kit together. Now he doesn't want to risk taking the rig apart for upgrades with the whole board depending on him (continue reading below)
      • Kudos to those who remember that series
    • On the topic of the border:
      • The Confederacy has been fighting a war with their southern neighbors for the last two millennia, and about half their leadership have held their positions on the Council since before the last war between the U.S. and Canada. From their perspective, a century years of stability could easily be someone just biding their time.
      • Yes, it's nigh-impossible to seal the US-Canada border, but it is possible to seal off road access. You don't need to seal a border to make travel inconvenient; even if you have a vehicle that can handle it, no one wants to have to drive off road to get where you're going.
      • They put bypasses at the non-magical border stations because that is where the existing roads cross the border, and being both lazy practical and cheap frugal, the moochers Confederacy wanted to minimize the amount of construction they needed to pay for. Better the equivalent of a dozen or so long driveways than potentially hundreds of miles of warded roads
      • By having dedicated bypasses, they minimize potentially suspicious interactions between Confederacy citizens and the non-magical government, protecting the Silence (Secrecy equivalent).
        • Yes they could use charmed papers or some such, but depending on how records are kept at the border, that could leave an anomalous paper trail if someone looks hard enough.
        • The bypasses mean that not only is that potential issue eliminated entirely, but as a bonus they never have to wait in line when crossing the border.
        • You mentioned you could see the point for freight. Why would that not be an attractive option for passenger traffic as well?
      • Harry's group knows about the bypasses because they were given maps with the bypasses clearly marked (mentioned specifically in 5.2.10).
      • Seriously, why is this an issue? The Confederacy spans both American and Canadian territory. Its citizens travel primarily via the extensive road network built by those two governments. Roads crossing the border have checkpoints that can be used to choke off road travel. Why on earth would the Confederacy not install bypasses on at least some of those checkpoints? Is it somehow a less realistic option than using magically forged papers, repeatedly assaulting non-magical border guards with mind magic, or off-roading for routine travel?

    As I noted above, they have maps specifically marking the bypasses for magicals (mentioned by Kohana in 5.2.10 and delivered while Snape was sleeping at the wheel in 5.2.11).

    As a bit of additional information, you can assume that in addition to the bypasses, those maps list features particularly relevant to magical travelers (including locations and routes that require special handling, like border crossings and toll roads) and the various magically hidden points of interest as well as everything you would expect on a non-magical road map of similar scale.
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2020
    Corvus 501, Grimrr, Finerc and 14 others like this.
  8. Kooler

    Kooler Making the rounds.

    Jun 17, 2018
    Likes Received:
    On the computer topic:
    • The character isn't being nostalgic; the author is being nostalgic.
    Well it brought out the nostalgia in me. My maternal grandfather did alot of genealogy on a computer that had 5.25 inch drives back in the BBS days. And my first computer gifted to me when I was realy young was a commodore 64 by my paternal grandmother who worked for Ma Bell and saw the world changing before her eyes. And wanted me to be very familiar with a computer growing up. I can remember the thunks of the drives and the modem squeal.
  9. Kitty S. Lillian

    Kitty S. Lillian Transhuman

    May 20, 2018
    Likes Received:
    Great CYOA reference there. (continue to next page)
    …at least, unless the line gets longer than the border-to-bypass segment.
    Corvus 501, Rune_Cre and Dunkelzahn like this.
  10. Threadmarks: Section 5.4 - Progressions

    Dunkelzahn No one of consequence

    Jul 10, 2018
    Likes Received:
    5.4 Progressions

    5.4.1 A much-needed lifeline

    Thirty meters under the bed of the Thames, Hermione Granger sat listlessly at a desk that had been roughly pushed aside days earlier to make room for her bed in the hastily repurposed office space. A book lay open before her, but it did little to distract her from her troubles... she had already read it twice.

    It was now the second day since she had effectively moved into the DMLE offices at the Ministry... the second day since she had been kidnapped and then rescued from the auction block... the second day since her parents had been obliviated... the second day since Harry hadn’t... frizzy hair bounced as Hermione violently shook that thought out of her head. That wasn’t fair to say, and she knew it.

    It was just that…

    Her brooding was interrupted by a knock on the door.

    “Who is it?” Hermione called, standing up.

    “Amelia Bones,” a vaguely familiar woman’s voice answered, sounding slightly muffled by the intervening door. “I’ve brought guests.”

    Hermione frowned uncertainly, as she opened the door to let the woman in. As she did so, she was once again interrupted, this time by a much more familiar voice.

    “Hermione! Are you okay?”

    “Susan?” the bushy-haired girl mumbled, her brow furrowing in consternation. “Um, what are you doing here?” “What do you mean, what am I doing here?” Susan answered in an exasperated huff. “Auntie told me about what happened, at least the gist of it, last night, and I flooed Hannah and we came as soon as we could.” “You came...” the shocked girl said as she turned to face the other familiar face.

    “Of course, we came!” Hannah huffed in turn, using much the same tone as Susan. “You’re our friend, and that’s what friends do! And we’re going to keep coming to visit as long as you let us.”

    Hermione knew that the adults had tried; the officer yesterday had clearly put in his best effort, and she was more than grateful for it — as horrifying as the explanation had been, she knew it would have been far, far worse to walk into her parents’ situation unknowing — but nothing had really seemed to take. Nothing seemed to penetrate the creeping fog of numbness that had kept her paralyzed for the past few days.

    Susan and Hannah though…

    The bushy-haired girl started to tear up.

    At the sight, the Hufflepuffs pounced, and a sobbing Hermione was quickly wrapped up in a tight hug as they murmured reassurances. At the door, a now-forgotten Amelia Bones smiled softly and saw herself out.

    Nearly twenty minutes later, Hermione had finally recovered enough to wonder.

    “Um, Susan?” she sniffled.

    “Yes, Hermione?”

    “Who’s your Auntie?”

    5.4.2 Hunting plans

    As the ‘Auntie’ in question turned the last corner on the way to her office, she caught sight of her chief interrogator, Emma Trussel, standing at Amelia’s office door, a wide grin on her face.

    “Good news, Truss?” Amelia asked as she drew near, cocking a curious eyebrow. The woman had been temporarily reassigned to Operations to handle the upcoming Crabbe raid. “Don’t often see you grinning like that.”

    “Only the best,” she nodded, stepping aside to allow Amelia to open her office door. “Breaker charge is in the final soak. Just missed the window for tonight, but we’re planning to kick things off tomorrow night.”

    “Good,” Amelia smiled in return. “What more do you need?” “Coordination with Forensics. I want them in quickly so can process the scene fast, but I don’t want to risk a leak,” Trussel explained. “I know Ops is clean — the only ones I had suspicions about kicked it in the auction house raid — but I don’t know the rest of the organization well enough to say for certain. We need to keep this quiet if we want the follow-up to lead anywhere.” The Director tapped her chin thoughtfully as she considered the problem with a thoughtful frown.


    “I’ll call everyone in for a late afternoon meeting,” she said, tapping her chin. “I’m sure I can come up with an excuse to keep them late and then explain the situation while the door is sealed. That’s about as far as I can push it, I think.”

    “It’ll have to do,” Trussel agreed. “I’d also like a few assault teams on tap for tomorrow morning. I’m hoping we’ll kick over something we can point them at right away.”

    “I’ll see what we can do.”

    5.4.3 Idle summer days

    At about the same time that Hermione was being smothered in badgerly affection, Su Li found herself sitting at an outdoor café table at Fortescue’s, polishing off a light breakfast. The meal had become part of her customary routine when she had last stayed in the Alley during the previous summer, and she had fallen right back into the habit over the past few days since the end of term.

    Her classmates might have expected her to go home as most of them did, but travel between magical Europe and the Han Empire was far more trouble than it was worth… at least for short interludes like the school holidays. For a witch of the Han, a trip from London to Hong Kong and back again meant at least a month of sailing around the Cape of Good Hope. It was the shortest safe route to take; all others passed through unacceptably dangerous areas.

    The Suez Canal would pass far too close to the magical warzone that was the magical Ottoman Empire. Worse yet, it was territory claimed by the Romanian Empire, with which the Han had a... tense relationship at best. Skirting Romanian territory to the north would mean dodging the bloodthirsty nomads on the steppes, while edging south of the besieged Ottoman stronghold in the Ethiopian highlands would run through the isolationist Empire of Madagascar. Of the set, the Han had only ever had favorable relations with the Ottomans on account of their mutual trade in the slave markets, and that was only for certain values of “favorable.” Even that had been irretrievably ruined when the Emperor had instituted his slave reforms, practically bending over backwards to appease his terrifying Romanian counterpart… the very same man behind that five-century long campaign to eradicate the Ottomans. It was far better to step wide around that whole mess rather than attempting to wade through.

    All of this added up to Su Li spending her holidays in Diagon Alley… at least until she graduated and had a schedule flexible enough to accommodate month-long sea voyages. Of course, there were quicker ways to and from home… as long as you weren’t sending people. If you knew the right places to look and the right people to ask, there were couriers willing to run the Romanian gauntlet to carry letters and small packages. She had used one to send her report during the winter holiday, and she had received her orders via the same method. Only the last leg of the journey, from London to Hogwarts, had involved owl post.

    As to how those couriers accomplished the feat? Well, that remained a mystery. Most international wizarding businesses were highly secretive about their contacts and methods, treating them as corporate secrets just as critical to the company bottom line as their products themselves. Couriers were no exception; in fact, they tended to be even more reticent than the norm because for an international courier, those contacts and methods actually were their product.

    Such courier services worked well for occasional letters and deliveries, though generally only very occasionally. Couriers generally expected to be paid handsomely for their services, and if more regular service became necessary, it was generally better to seek other means. For freight, that generally meant planning ahead and sending things on the slow boat along with the passengers, but for information, there were other options… dedicated devices that allowed one to bypass the intervening obstacles entirely. Such devices were, in the end, much cheaper and faster than sending frequent messages via courier, though that was a relative statement. As a general rule, they were by no means simple or cheap.

    Because of that expense, the clan normally made do with the delays inherent in normal travel, passing out such things rarely, only when rapid communication was an absolute necessity. In fact, it had been the announcement that she was to expect to receive such a device that had been Su Li’s final confirmation that the Elders anticipated complications with her task. She felt she had a good idea of what those complications might be — she’d compiled the reports herself, after all — but it would not do to assume, so she would patiently await the matriarchs’ explanation. The device was due to arrive within the week anyway, so she wouldn’t be waiting for long.

    For now, however, the petite girl was content to spend her morning enjoying her breakfast and the mild weather of the English summer as she watched the barbarian wizards go about their sordid affairs. She’d nothing in particular scheduled for the day, so she had the time to waste. So it was that she had just ducked back inside to order another pastry when she spotted a familiar yet entirely unexpected head of bushy brown hair in the crowd outside the window.

    “Is that Granger?” she murmured under her breath, brow furrowing.

    Su Li had been under the impression that the girl was spending her summer with her nonmagical family in Surrey. What could have brought the frizzy-haired girl to Diagon so soon? Dark eyes narrowed further as she recognized Susan Bones and Hannah Abbot on either side of Granger. The petite girl frowned; she hadn’t thought those three were so close.

    What on earth was going on?

    “I’m sorry, Miss,” the clerk apologized, looking up from his task, “Did you say something?”

    “It was nothing. I just noticed a friend outside,” Su Li explained absently. Then her frown cleared as she came to a decision.

    “I’ll be right back,” she informed the clerk decisively, “I’m going to invite her to join me.”

    Whatever it was that had changed, the petite witch wanted to know about it. She’d already hit her quota of unpleasant surprises with the Abercrombie debacle, and Su Li wanted some forewarning this time.

    “Sure, kid,” the clerk nodded agreeably. “Go right ahead.”

    So, she went.

    5.4.4 Setbacks

    “PROMINENT SOCIALITE CAUGHT RED-HANDED RUNNING CRIMINAL SLAVERY RING!” Narcissa’s expression blanked as she read the headline in the Prophet.

    “So, it was Dolohov’s,” she heard her husband murmur as he read his own copy of the paper at his end of the breakfast table. “That was where I had contracted for...” he trailed off with a frown, reading. “Sixty-eight arrested, see page three for more details.”

    Narcissa absently sipped her tea as she listened to the rustling of paper as he flipped through to the continuation and began reading through the names. Eventually he came to the end of the list and trailed off, closing the paper with a snap.

    “Thank Merlin!” he breathed, heaving a sigh of relief.

    “Thank Merlin?” Narcissa raised a single blonde eyebrow, her tone deceptively mild.

    “Of course!” Lucius quickly corrected himself. “Thank you, my dear, for dealing with that. If not for your intervention, I’ve no idea what I’d have done! Had that job gone through and...” he trailed off with a shake of his head. “No matter. You stopped things early, so that did not happen. Thank you so very much, Narcissa.”

    With his head inclined in a grateful nod, Lucius did not see his wife’s delicate lips twitch into a slight frown. Her husband had misread the situation, though Narcissa saw no reason to correct it now. It was better, she reasoned, to allow him the comfort of his illusions rather than risk him breaking down again. Lucius obviously lacked the nerve required for such things; after all, he’d folded like a wet napkin at the first hint of trouble all those weeks ago. Narcissa would allow him to play with his trucks and floo powder while she handled the more mentally demanding aspects of business.

    As the owner and CEO of Black Industries, she could not be so faint-hearted as to reverse course on account of a few threats… not even ones from the likes of Albus Dumbledore. Though, that said, she was certainly willing to adjust her methods as needed. After her husband’s little panic attack, Narcissa could have stopped the operation in its tracks, removing the risk of discovery but also completely wasting all the resources expended; however, she had seen another way forward, a low-risk gamble which would have allowed her to recover some of the sunken costs in the operation. She’d had to eliminate her husband’s contractors to do so, but that was unavoidable in either case… they were an unacceptable liability in light of Dumbledore’s threats. It was a plan that would allow her to have her cake and eat it too…

    ...or at least that was how it was supposed to have worked.

    That auror raid had ruined a great many things, her plan among them. While the article named none of the rescued victims, Narcissa knew well that the Granger girl had to have been among them.

    All that effort, wasted.

    After graciously nodding an acknowledgment to her husband’s thanks, she raised the paper once more. Hidden behind the newspaper, her eyes narrowed once more as feminine lips pursed thoughtfully.

    How was she to proceed from here? Leaving things well enough alone was out of the question. Her son had been attacked, and vengeance would not be denied. That was a general motivation, though, not a plan of action. She needed more to go on before she could respond properly to this latest setback. Narcissa had come late in the game, and she was woefully ignorant of the details of the situation even now. She needed intel, Narcissa realized with a decisive nod, and that realization set her immediate agenda. She’d arrange to meet with one of her agents after the meal.

    One thing was certain, though; her eyes narrowed as she peered over the top of the paper at her husband who was even now avidly reading the sports section. She’d not be farming the job out to Lucius this time… not after this last debacle.

    If you wanted something done right, after all…

    5.4.5 Ice cream therapy

    Noah Green, long time Fortescue’s employee, smiled from behind the counter, rinsing the ice cream scoop in the sink with practiced motions as he watched the tiny oriental girl walk off once more.

    The girl, a Hogwarts student by the name of Su Li, had already established herself as a Fortescue’s regular during the previous summer when she had come by nearly every day. This summer had so far proven no different, and the girl had become a pioneering connoisseur of Fortescue’s newly expanded breakfast lineup already over the past few days. Over the course of that time, Noah liked to think he had come to know her as well as anyone did… which was unfortunately not very well at all. Miss Li was personable enough, answering questions and the like, but she never really put the effort in to maintain a conversation, nor had she ever really sought anyone out to socialize. The petite girl always sat alone at her usual table on the patio.

    That had just changed, and it did Noah’s heart good to see it.

    This time Miss Li was not walking off to sit alone at her table; instead, she was sitting down in the company of three other girls of similar age. Each held a small cone of chocolate ice cream, which Noah had offered on the house. It might still be early in the morning, but it was never too early for ice cream, especially not after seeing how the little brunette had broken down when she hugged his customer.

    In his experience, chocolate always helped with that sort of thing.

    Noah turned away as the quartet settled down at Miss Li’s usual table and his regular gestured for her recently crying friend to start talking, ostensibly to wash up but mostly to give the girls a bit of privacy. Years of taking orders in a noisy restaurant had left him much too skilled at lipreading to avoid ‘overhearing’ their conversation if he kept watching, and this looked to be a private sort of affair.

    As he watched the charmed dishrag industriously wipe down the counters, the ice cream vendor sighed. Hopefully, a bit of talking would help with whatever was troubling the girl. If not… Noah chuckled as he glanced over at the chilled display case that doubled as the shop’s main sales counter… well if not, there was always the old standby.

    If talking wasn’t enough, then Fortescue’s extensive line of ice cream flavors would step in to help soothe the troubled soul.

    5.4.6 Ducks in a row

    Hours later and hundreds of miles to the northwest, a short train slowly chuffed along the short branch line serving the Hogsmeade industrial district. Pulled on its leisurely route by one of Hogs Haulage’s tank locomotives, No. 48 “Leadenhall”, the train was a small one consisting of only three wagons, and it had been running back and forth over that same two-mile stretch for two days to no discernible purpose. For those who paid attention to such things, its existence was quite the mystery.

    First was the choice of locomotive. No. 48 was one of Hogs Haulage’s four LB&SCR A1 Class tank locomotives. Built in 1876, she’d been the last of four A1’s the company had rescued from the scrapyard during 1901. No. 48 had originally been intended as a shunter for the proposed Hogs Haulage terminal in Glasgow, but with the untimely death of the company founder a few years later that role had dried up and blown away. In the decades since, she and her sisters had sat in the shed, well-preserved but mostly idle, taken out only on exceedingly rare occasions. It was almost unheard of for one of them to be under steam for two days running.

    Then there was the train itself. The district line saw regular traffic to be sure, it served the manufacturers’ loading docks, after all. However, given that the line was barely two miles long and was immediately adjacent to the Hogs Haulage yards, that traffic was almost always single freight cars pushed individually to their destinations by the old Barclay. The distance was simply too short and the traffic load too light to justify firing up a second locomotive. That this new train was not a single wagon but rather a rake of three — a matched set at that! — was another red flag. That much regular in-town traffic was enough of an uptick to raise more than a few eyebrows all on its own.

    The fact that those wagons were obviously heavily customized passenger coaches rather than the usual freight wagons was simply the tempting icing on the mystery cake. Hogsmeade Village had never had any local passenger rail, and for good reason. It was possible to walk from one end of town to the other in under an hour if you pushed it, and the tracks didn’t even run that whole length. All that meant the change was puzzling. Was this some new local passenger route? If so, why? Were they testing a new coach design for the Express? Did it have something to do with the recent locomotive prototype?

    Rumors had flown thick and fast among the company men and their families, but none came close to guessing the role those coaches were meant to play. The pieces were all there, waiting to be assembled — quite a few of the guessers had worked on the coaches in question, after all — but the ambition that led to their creation was simply too audacious for the vast majority of those at Hogs Haulage to grasp. Those coaches were intended for a grand purpose, too grand to bear thinking about for long-time employees of a company that had been treading water for the better part of a century.

    Of course, there were those who knew the plan, Abigail Abercrombie among them. The recent Hogwarts graduate was currently seated at a small built-in dining table in the second coach in the string, idly sipping a cup of tea.

    The interior of the coach was an odd affair. The rear third of the interior was set up like a small, modestly-appointed apartment. The table she was sitting at was part of a small kitchenette which took up perhaps half that living area. Behind it was a loo and bunk space for eight... just enough to sleep four two-person shifts in a round-the-clock rotation. Quarters were tight but manageable. The last half of the coach was all storage space, filled with rack upon rack of uniformly sized rolls of paper. The mass of paper filled the coach with a slightly chalky sort of smell due to the special sizing meant to keep enchanted quills from wearing too fast. Jammed between the two was a small work area principally occupied by a sizeable, built-in desk occupying the entirety of one wall. It was that desk that currently held Abigail’s attention.

    The desk was occupied by one of Abigail’s new coworkers, a man in his early thirties by the name of Cliff who had started work the same day Abigail had. The man sat, methodically casting diagnostic charms at regular intervals marked out by a rolling odometer embedded in the desk in front of him. A quick wand motion — well-practiced after hundreds of repetitions — a tap on the gold spell-guide inlaid into the desktop, and then a short wait as the odometer rolled on with the motion of the coach; as soon as it clicked over, the process would repeat. All the while, an enchanted quill busily scratched out the results of the charm on a roll of paper mounted on the other half of the desk… or it would have, had the feeder been loaded properly. Instead, it simply wrote the results over and over again on a single scrap that had been placed there to absorb the mess, long since turning it entirely black. Behind Cliff, a Healer hovered, keeping vigil and periodically casting his own diagnostics at somewhat less frequent intervals. After each spell, the Healer would note the results on his own clipboard, and so it went for a time.

    Abigail was about halfway through her cup of tea when a new arrival interrupted.

    “How well do you think he’ll handle things tomorrow? That’ll be our first full-speed trial?” the new arrival asked as she emerged from the bunks and set about pouring herself a cup of tea. She was another of Abigail’s new coworkers, a blonde witch in her early thirties by the name of Edith Wood.

    “He seems to be holding up well, so far,” Abigail answered, turning to the new arrival with a friendly smile. “I’m sure he’ll be able to handle the job.”

    “Not as well as you, he won’t,” Edith joked as she sat down with her freshly brewed cup. She gave an admiring shake of her head, “You were going strong for an entire four-hour shift yesterday! How on earth did you manage that, anyway? I could barely handle the first hour before the Healer pulled me off for a rest.”

    “A whole lot of sweat,” Abigail chuckled, giving a rueful shake of her head before taking another sip. “A good friend helped me work on my practicals for the NEWTs, so I’ve spent the last six months on daily endurance drills. If I couldn’t handle four hours of diagnostic casting after that, it’d be time to give up my wand.”

    “That’d do it,” Edith breathed, giving an impressed whistle. “Wow! I guess you really don’t need the practice, then.”

    “Oh, I can always do with practice,” the younger girl shrugged. “I’ve got endurance aplenty, but the casting is a bit tricky... not the charm itself, I mean, but that fiddly bit to hand the results off to the quill. We’ve all got to get that down pat before we head out at the end of the week. The survey won’t do anyone any good unless it’s recorded properly, after all.”

    The older blonde nodded agreeably, and the conversation tapered off for a time as her tea cooled enough to drink. As the two young women sipped at their tea, the coach fell silent... or at least as silent as it could be, given the two wizards regularly casting spells and the usual noises of rolling stock.

    Finishing off her cup, Edith asked, “Think you’ll be able to stand dealing with Cliff?”

    Abigail tilted her head in question.

    “Well, I mean, the rest of us have sort of paired off for shifts,” the blonde explained, “and since you haven’t shown any preference, it looks like you’re going to get stuck working with Cliff.”

    “What’s wrong with him?” Abigail casked, glancing over at the man in question even as she continued to nurse her own tea. “He seems alright so far.”

    Baby pictures,” Edith groaned. “The man never opens his mouth but to brag about his wife and kids. If I hear about how cute his daughter was at her third bloody birthday party one more damned time...”

    “Doesn’t bother me, to be honest,” the brunette averred with a disinterested shrug. “I like kids.”

    “Better you than me then, I suppose,” Edith shook her head and took another sip, only to raise an eyebrow slightly at finding her cup now empty.

    As the blonde woman rose from her seat and ducked back into the kitchenette for a refill, Abigail’s idle gaze took on an amused gleam.

    “You know, Edith,” the younger girl spoke in an mild sort of tone, “if you find Cliff that irritating, I think you might want to reconsider your position on the shifts.”

    “Oh?” a blonde eyebrow arched curiously.

    “Well, I am working a shift with him,” Abigail explained with a sly smile. “He’ll either be actively casting or recovering the entire time. He can’t exactly brag about his kids or show baby pictures while that’s going on, now can he?”

    The blonde’s eyes went wide as she quickly worked through the implications.

    “It’s the other shifts that’ll need to worry,” Abigail continued, spelling it out for her. “That’s when he’ll have free time. I'll be able to go to bed or read a book; you'll be stuck out in the open unable to get away.”

    “Oh, hell, you're right,” Edith groaned.

    Abigail chuckled and opened her mouth to continue when she was abruptly interrupted.

    “Alright, that’s your limit,” the Healer’s voice rang out from where he stood behind Cliff. “Remember what you feel like now; that’s the indicator that you need to rest. Miss Abercrombie, get ready to switch in.”

    “Well, I’m up,” Abigail gulped down the rest of her now-lukewarm tea and shot a sly smile at her new coworker as she put the cup in the sink of the kitchenette. “Best of luck!”

    Abigail had barely had time to sit down when she heard Cliff’s excited voice wafting from the dining table.

    “Edith, there you are! Have I shown you the pictures from my daughters third birthday party? She was so cute when...”

    Abigail smiled at the byplay. So far, this job was shaping up pretty well.

    5.4.7 Burning rubber

    Beady black eyes focused intently on the traffic as the local Gringotts representative barreled down I-29, heading north as fast as he felt he could push the sleeper van. Fargo lay ahead, the next major landmark on the way to the border crossing. He was making good time, enough so that he was almost certain he had gotten ahead of his quarry.

    After the previous night’s disastrous phone call, the goblin had slept a few short hours before setting out in the predawn gloom that morning. He’d been underway for over an hour before the time came to to stop and make his morning check-in with the home office. They’d had nothing new to relay, though he had vented his spleen a little more than he probably should have. This time the operator had been more annoyed at him than distraught, which had honestly been much easier to deal with.

    The van’s engine strained and the van rattled as he accelerated to pass a tractor-trailer rig.

    He just had to keep it up long enough to get to the border, and then it would become a waiting game. Potter and his group would have to pass through the border sometime, and he’d be waiting for them. Then he would pass on that damned message and put this horrible mess behind him forever.

    He just hoped he’d guessed right.

    5.4.8 Improvements

    Trudging wearily down the corridor towards her increasingly familiar temporary home in the DMLE offices, Hermione sighed tiredlycontentedly… if tiredly. The day had been exhausting for certain, but it had been a good one, nonetheless. Mentally and emotionally, Hermione was in much a better place now than she had been when she woke up that morning.

    The two Hufflepuffs had been a godsend. Susan and Hannah had kept Hermione from sinking back into her spiral of depression, pulling her mind away from obsessing over her parents’ situation and reminding her rather forcefully that her friends had not abandoned her. She had people who cared, even if they were far away. If Hannah and Susan cared enough to go out of their way for her then how much more would Harry have been there for her, had he known? It had been a sorely needed metaphorical shot in the arm for the bushy-haired girl.

    The door of the repurposed office creaked slightly as it swung open under her gentle touch.

    The girls had spent the morning with her, eventually suggesting a trip to Diagon Alley to get some fresh air. Hermione had thought that sounded like a good idea, and the reality had turned out even better than she had imagined. As it happened, her friend Su Li had been polishing off a late breakfast at Fortescue’s and had invited Hermione and the two Hufflepuffs to join her after noticing them in the crowd. The nice clerk behind the counter had given them all a round of ice cream on the house, and Su had provided another friendly ear… this one from a close friend of her own rather than a loaner from Harry. The petite girl had even promised to come by and visit her every day, a promise which had been echoed immediately by the Hufflepuffs.

    Yes, the day had been a good one;… so much so that for the first time since the aurors had rescued her from that awful place, Hermione was actually looking forward to seeing what tomorrow would bring. At the moment however, the bushy-haired girl was looking forward to nothing so much as putting a cap on that good day by getting a good night’s sleep.

    Necessary though they might be at times, crying and cathartic conversations were exhausting.

    But first, she thought, there was one last matter to attend to. She dug through the personal effects Officer Simmons had collected for her the previous day, searching for a critical bit of equipment.

    “Aha!” she proclaimed, brandishing her prize, a small bag containing toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss.

    Hermione was the daughter of two dentists, and it wouldn’t do for her to get a cavity. Her parents already had enough on their plates; they didn’t need to wake up to that sort of disappointment when they finally recovered.

    5.4.9 Productive disappointment

    As his human damsel was climbing into bed half a world away, the Dragon of Hogwarts gazed out the window at the passing countryside and sighed, settling back into the now-familiar embrace of his usual seat as the Winnebago’s engine roared, accelerating the vehicle back up to speed as it merged back onto I-94 heading northwest across Wisconsin. They’d just stopped for fuel, snacks, and an hour’s rest at a large truck stop, an experience almost indistinguishable from the half-dozen other rest areas and gas stations they’d stopped at so far that day alone.

    Road trips had turned out to be a lot less exciting than Harry had imagined.

    Winnebago had rolled out of South Bend just before dawn, and it was now in the middle of the afternoon. Between the frequent stops and long breaks, they had covered a little over three hundred miles so far — about three-quarters of their goal for the day — and if the last ten hours of interstate driving through the American Midwest had taught Harry anything, it was that highway scenery in the area left much to be desired. Farmland, forest, and city, once you’d seen the first few examples of each, you’d pretty much seen them all. After that, the hours ran together into one big monotonous blur.

    The young dragon shook his currently human-shaped head, turning away from the window, and leaning back in the seat to stare up at the ceiling.

    To be fair, there had been a few notable exceptions. Some of the skyscrapers in Chicago had been kind of neat to look at — even if the interstate had proven to be a poor vantage point and there’d been a few impressive bridges and neat industrial buildings, too. The best by far had been that huge steel foundry they’d passed late during the first leg that morning. That thing had stretched for miles along the south shore of Lake Michigan. It had actually taken a several minutes to drive past!

    Worse yet, those few gems had been enough to convince Harry that there actually was plenty of interesting stuff to see, and he was missing it! There had been plenty to see when they’d stopped early on that first day, but that was all down on the surface streets, well away from the main road. Everything looked the same from the interstate, and that boded poorly well for his sightseeing prospects in the near future.

    Harry sighed.

    That all would have been bad enough on its own, but after that first night, Harry had thought he’d just make do with getting out to look around on foot like the he had that first night. It would only be select locations, true, but it would have been something. Unfortunately, after that first day Mr. Snape had taken to stopping at truck stops and rest areas rather than veering off into the weeds. The potions master argued — correctly, Harry had to admit — that it reduced the total distance traveled and thus the strain on the passengers. A practical choice it might have been, but it was one that did nothing to make the stops any more interesting. Some of the rest areas were kind of cool, and the same went for the lorries and their vast assortment of cargoes, but neither had much staying power when it came to holding the attention of a hyperactive young dragon.

    With little to see, denied the freedom to go out and roam the forest or take a bit of a fly as he usually did to keep himself occupied, the dragon had been forced to devote an unusual amount of attention to more sedentary pursuits. Of course, even that had been restricted by circumstances. Without access to his usual workshop, Harry was forced to focus almost exclusively on purely intellectual work. Fortunately, both for his own peace of mind and his friends’ sanity, he had managed to collect plenty of problems to work on…

    …a whole research notebook full of them, in fact.

    Flipping said notebook open to where he’d left off before their most recent stop revealed a partially solved differential equation scrawled across the paper. The equation of state would have been an interesting challenge if he hadn’t already solved half a dozen nearly identical ones over the course of the day. By now it was down to almost mechanical repetition.

    As he set pen to paper, Harry sighed. At least it was easy work.

    In the meantime, the Winnebago rolled on, diesel roaring as it hammered down I-94. It would be another hour and change before they would start looking for a place to pull over for the night somewhere near the Minnesota border.

    5.4.10 Morning interlude

    “Hermione! You were waiting for us?”

    Amelia Bones winced slightly at the pitch of the excited girlish squeal as Susan and Hannah rushed over to embrace the DMLE’s youngest temporary ward where she stood near the door to the Ministry receiving chamber. Her niece had insisted on coming in to visit Miss Granger again, and she had brought her friend Hannah along with her as a matter of course. Neither showed signs of slacking in that self-imposed duty any time soon.

    Amelia smiled at the sight. At least her niece's efforts were appreciated, Miss Granger’s presence in the transport chamber was any indication.

    The Director of the DMLE shook her head with a wry smile, and turned to give the two officers providing a discreet escort for the girls — one from Susan’s usual protection detail and the other assigned to Granger for the day — a firm nod of acknowledgement before heading in to the DMLE offices. Much as she might have liked to spend the day with her niece, she had other matters occupy her attention. Chief among those was the upcoming raid on Crabbe manor. The breaker charge would be ready within the hour, according to the latest reports, and that meant the schedule for the Crabbe Manor raid was now firmly set.

    As she walked through the busy halls of the Department, she sighed pensively. Now that the time was set, she had to follow up on the previous day’s discussion with Trussel… by no means an easy task. The Forensics boffins were both intelligent and observant — they were Forensics boffins for precisely that reason — and finding an excuse which would keep the lot of them occupied for even a few hours without any of them realizing it was an excuse was no small task. She had to keep them around for the evening, buying time before the final briefing until it would be too late for any potential leaks to reach the Crabbes.

    It certainly promised to make for an interesting morning.

    Opening her office door, Amelia’s expression firmed with resolve as she approached her desk. At least Shack had cleared out Ops for her, so she didn’t have to worry about leaks from that angle. Much the thought shamed her as soon as it crossed her mind, she couldn’t help but regret she couldn’t pull off the same sort of purge in the non-combat segments of the organization. The old cloak and dagger routine was bloody awkward at the best of times, and it was damned awkward to have to pull it off on what were supposed to be her own bloody people as well as the bastards on the other side of the law.

    Awkward or not, however, it still had to be done, and soAmelia sat down at her desk, set her jaw, and got to work.

    5.4.11 Research directions

    Still in human form, Harry straightened in his seat and stretched widely, turning his head this way and that to work out the kinks that came from working on paperwork without a proper table.

    The day had been long, both in terms of time passed and distance covered. The Winnebago had covered the last quarter of Wisconsin and, if the signs he had seen were any indication, nearly all of Minnesota. According to the most recent one, the city of Fargo lay ahead, and with it, the border of North Dakota.

    The past two days had been as productive as the scenery had been boring — facts which correlated quite closely, for obvious reasons — and that trend would likely stay steady as they continued across the vast grassy expanse of the Great Plains. The enforced downtime had prompted the young dragon to finally address some outstanding questions he’d been putting off for months in favor of more urgent — and interesting — issues.

    The last Potter sighed, relaxing into the comfortable seat while he considered his recent progress.

    First on the docket had been following up on his recent discussion with Mister Toh Yah, mostly because it had been close to mind. Harry had already had a good idea on how to proceed, but the actual implementation had required further development, both theoretical and practical. Unfortunately for Harry’s boredom, that theoretical bit — all he could work on at present — had been almost embarrassingly simple. As Toh Yah had explained to him, the the Interdiction was simply a clever application of a common error in rune systems — one that tended to crop up frequently during attempts at miniaturizing runes — induced intentionally and on a grand scale.

    Toh Yah hadn’t had to do much explaining since Harry had found the issue quite familiar, having had to design around the phenomenon during his experiments with electricity. The modification he had in mind required only a bit of minor rearrangement — barely twenty minutes’ work all told — to permit one simple yet profound change. Actually taking advantage of the flexibility that rearrangement introduced, however, would require a bit of non-magical engineering which promised to be much more interesting, as it would involve some very reliable, very precise mechanics. Unfortunately, it would also have to wait until he got back home and talked to his engineers, or at least until he got back to his workshop and the tools there so he could give it a go himself.

    In the end, Harry shrugged for there was nothing to be done about it at this point but to accept the delay as unavoidable. At least there were no urgent deadlines; Toh Yah had already set up a communications channel through the goblins, so he’d be able to get in touch when he eventually got back home. Honestly, even if he had had a prototype, he wouldn’t have been able to demonstrate it within Confederate borders in any case. There’d be no way to prove its effectiveness without shutting down a segment of the Interdiction, and Harry knew perfectly well from their discussion that that was simply not going to happen without an ironclad alternative waiting in the wings. Harry figured that Toh Yah would probably end up having to send a representative over to Scotland to see a demonstration there once Harry got the thing working, anyway.

    The delay was disappointing, but Harry smiled nonetheless… after all, he had other projects to work on.

    Chief among those had been a problem he’d set aside quite some time ago: converting magic to electricity. Unexpected challenges had stymied his progress for months, right up until his visit to the Burrow near the end of term. There he had come across an unlikely bit of inspiration in the form of Arthur Weasley’s stove. The clever little device had prompted him to look at the problem from a different angle, and Harry had been eager to follow up on that fresh insight. Sadly, he’d had just enough time to recreate that little camp stove Arthur had let him take apart before the tangled mess with Hermione had killed his free time. Still, he had gotten it working in the end.

    Now Harry knew how to efficiently and automatically convert magic into heat.

    At first blush, it might not seem to be much of an advance — heat was not electricity, after all — but while he might not be able to efficiently convert magic directly into electricity, converting heat into electricity was a very well-established field. Harry even had an entire engineering staff that specialized in it... or at least in the first part of it, converting heat to motion; the second part was available as commodity hardware. That little stove opened up a number of very promising avenues for future research, and the young dragon had spent quite a few hours earlier in the day working through possible methods for improving that prototype stove to the point of being powerful and reliable enough to be useful for power generation. At this point, he had pages upon pages of possible designs awaiting testing…

    Harry slumped slightly.

    …and that was where he had hit a roadblock once again. The young dragon was in no position to prototype much of anything while on the road, and that held true even for those portions of the design which didn’t involve alchemy directly. He thought the improved heater designs seemed straightforward, but Harry was quite intimately familiar with the foibles of magical experimentation from his past forays into the practice. While it was technically possible to test those designs on the road, the young dragon was more than a little reluctant to do so. There was no guarantee that his calculations had accounted for everything — if there were, then testing would have been unnecessary — and if he’d gotten something wrong… well, he was sure he’d survive.

    Everyone else in the RV — and the vehicle itself, for that matter — was a less certain prospect… what with the energy densities that could potentially be in play. Depending on how severe the mishap was, it might take a sizeable chunk out of the interstate for that matter.

    So, yeah, that would wait, Harry shook his head with a sigh.

    All of that had led the last Potter to his current pursuit. He’d managed to hash out a solid theory during the past few hours, and now he was far enough along to need some additional input. Fortunately, he knew just the man to ask. Snapping the third volume of Jenner shut, Harry set it atop the stack of other volumes currently piled in the next seat over and stood abruptly. Closing his research notebook, he scooted out into the aisle and turned to walk short distance to Mr. Flitwick who was sitting two rows ahead.

    “Mr. Flitwick?” the young dragon asked his diminutive professor.

    “Yes, Mr. Potter?” the half-goblin prompted, looking up from his own reading.

    “You know how we talked before about that snake-summoning charm, right?”

    “Indeed I do, young man,” the Charms master nodded immediately. After a moment, he speared his young student with an intent gaze. “Am I to presume that you have come up with a research plan?”

    Harry nodded. “I think so, but I need to check with you to make sure I understood something properly first.”

    “And what is that?” the half goblin cocked his head curiously.

    “When you explained about the charm, you said it’d been modified a lot of times to summon different animals,” the currently human-shaped dragon began. “I checked into that, and from what I read it seemed to me that the only thing you need for that is an idea of what the animal is and a name. That then goes as input into the tuning matrices in order to calculate the changed wand motions and cadence, right?”

    “Roughly,” Flitwick confirmed with a nod and a qualification, “though the procedure is a bit more involved than it might seem. Deriving that tuning matrix is hellishly involved, and even then it will sometimes fail for reasons no one fully understands, at least not yet, but that is the usual procedure, yes.”

    Harry nodded quickly, “Yeah, I figured that would be the case. Mostly I just wanted to make sure you didn’t need anything like a tissue sample or a live specimen or anything. Just a name and a mental image, right?”

    “That is correct,” the half-goblin nodded.

    “And then you can summon anything?” the young dragon queried.

    “With the caveat that it must be real and an animal, yes,” Filius nodded, “subject to magic requirements, of course. Sometimes new spells — and this spell family is notorious for this — have a ‘burn-in’ period before they can be cast as efficiently as will eventually become the norm.”

    “The books didn’t mention that,” Harry frowned curiously, “Why is that?”

    “No one knows,” the half-goblin shrugged. “The ‘whys’ of spell creation are, for the most part, still unknown. At best one might say some of them are on the edges of our understanding, though unknown is likely more accurate.”

    He shot a sly glance at his draconic student, “Perhaps that would be another thing to investigate?”

    “Maybe,” his young student allowed, snapping open his notebook to jot down the idea.

    “Ah well, I suppose we ought to set that aside for another time,” Filius shrugged, glancing curiously at the newly revealed notebook before his eyes opened wide. “Best not to complicate things too much too quickly.”

    Leaning forward eagerly to look at the notes, the charms master quickly scanned a number of equations in an unfamiliar format involving many superscripts, subscripts, and oddly distorted versions of a lower-case Greek delta. Lambda also seemed to appear prominently throughout for some reason, many times with unique and often lengthy subscripts. The half goblin cocked his head to the side with a puzzled frown, unable to make heads or tails of the mess.

    “What did you have in mind, Mr. Potter?” he asked, hoping for some clarification.

    “Well, I figure when you summon something, you’re pulling it from where it was before, but if you conjure something, you’re making it right there in front of you,” the last Potter explained. “Now, those two things look similar, so if you want to figure out which one you’re actually doing, you need to find some way to tell the two cases apart. After we stopped that first night, I got some other books, and one of them mentioned...”

    “Mr. Potter!” they were interrupted by Snape’s shout from the driver’s seat.

    “Excuse me, Mr. Flitwick,” Harry apologized. “Be back in a minute.”

    At the diminutive man’s agreeable nod, Harry set out for the front of the Winnebago.

    “We are approaching Fargo city limits,” the potions master informed him as Harry arrived. “You had mentioned it on your planned route.”

    “Yeah,” the young dragon nodded, “we want to stay on I-94 West. It’ll probably be marked by signs for Bismarck.”

    “I see,” Snape nodded. “How soon will we arrive at the next turn?”

    “Not for a while,” the dragon shrugged. “It’s a straight shot until we get to a town called Belfield and turn north. That’s almost all the way across North Dakota.”

    “Understood,” the potions master nodded. “You may go.”


    Harry made his way back to Flitwick who was drumming his fingers impatiently.

    “Right, so anyway,” the young dragon picked up where he had left off. “When I was reading about dinosaurs and stuff, I came across this thing about using isotope ratios to tell how old something is, and that reminded me of these books I read on the plane about radioactive decay and magic. I figure I could do something like...”

    And so, the young dragon explained his idea, with the ever more interested half goblin listening intently. The conversation would carry on for quite some time.

    5.4.12 Contacts and preparations

    “Come in,” Amelia commanded on hearing the knock on her office door, looking up with a curious frown.

    Who could it be this time? Her niece had come by with her friend just a few minutes earlier asking to stay with Miss Granger for an impromptu sleepover — something about overnighting in the DMLE offices being a neat thing to do… children and their strange ideas — and she wouldn’t have come back so soon.

    The door swung open to reveal the grinning face of Auror Shacklebolt, his teeth gleaming whitely against his dark skin.

    “What do you need, Kingsley?” she asked without preamble.

    It was almost four-thirty in the afternoon. If she was going to call a meeting to keep the Forensics people around and available, she would have to do it soon before the end of the workday.

    “Worked out who you need to talk to for our project, Boss,” he said, entering the office and closing the door behind him.

    Amelia cocked an inquisitive eyebrow.

    “Chairman Shatteraxe,” her subordinate answered her wordless request.

    “That high?” she winced. “Are you sure?”

    Arranging an appointment with the Chairman of Gringotts’ London Branch would be a pain, though not nearly as much of a pain as explaining why she was meeting with him to her superiors in the Ministry.

    “According to my contacts, he’s the lowest rank you can count on having decision-making authority for what you want to do,” he explained with an apologetic shrug. “It’s almost certain that one of his direct subordinates is actually running the project, but there’s no way to know which one. If you want to make sure to get in on the first try, you need to go one level up the chain.”

    “Right,” Amelia nodded, accepting the explanation at face value, “any suggestions on how to proceed?”

    “One of my contacts knows someone who can get you on the schedule.”

    “Any way to keep the Ministry in the dark?” she asked hopefully.

    Amelia had no desire to open that can of worms, not if she could help it. Any hint of a high Ministry official entering into private contact with the goblin leadership would be like blood in the water for the political sharks, no matter the reason.

    He reached into a robe pocket and withdrew two single-dose potion vials.

    Amelia’s eyes lit up in understanding. “Source?”

    “Private and untraceable,” he explained. “One for going in, one for coming out.”

    “Alibi?” she asked, taking the vials in hand.

    “Fake meeting tomorrow,” Shack replied, “same one we are using to cover the assault teams standing by to follow up on tonight’s operation. If anyone investigates, they should find that explanation and stop there.”

    “Good work, Shack,” the Director thanked him, pocketing the potions.

    “Thanks, Boss.”

    5.4.13 Picnic dinner

    “...thinking I could modify the bubble-head charm to isolate them in order to perform an assay on respiration byproducts,” Harry was saying as hours later and several thousand miles to the west, a familiar modified Winnebago Chieftain veered off into a rest area not too far past Jamestown, North Dakota.

    Feeling the deceleration, the currently human-shaped dragon looked up. It had been a productive conversation, but he was more than ready to get out and walk for a bit now that they were stopping for the evening.

    “You’re going to need something else, I’m afraid,” Filius Flitwick shook his head, eyes still on the notes his student had been showing him. “The bubble-head won’t do what you need it to do, if I understood your experimental procedure correctly.”

    When Harry didn’t respond, the half-goblin looked up and shook his head when he realized they were coming to a stop.

    “Well, I suppose we will have to pick things up later,” Flitwick mused with a rueful smile as he recognized the distraction in Harry’s eyes. The boy was unquestionably intelligent, but he was still a young boy. Flitwick knew better than to think he’d be able to keep the boy’s attention when there was something new to explore. “Perhaps after dinner?”

    That rated an absentminded nod from Harry as Snape pulled the vehicle to a smooth stop in a parking space near the first of the pair of picnic tables on the grounds. Before anyone else could do much more than sit up and stretch, the young dragon had hopped up from his seat and broken for the door, eager to explore the place.

    The first thing Harry noticed was the wind. It came from the northwest — a normal state of affairs, judging from the little two-sided shelters built over the picnic tables which walled in their north and west sides — and seemed to have a certain minimal level to it, punctuated by intermittent gusts.

    Aside from the wind, the rest stop featured the usual small building with restrooms and vending machines, the two aforementioned picnic tables, a scraggly collection of wind-blown trees dotted across the grassy lawn, and an expansive view of the many miles of farmland stretching from horizon to horizon on both sides of the interstate. All told, it was much like the half-dozen other such areas they had stopped at over the past two days, just with fewer trees and more wind.

    Wandering the area eventually brought him inside the building where in addition to the usual facilities, Harry found an exhibit detailing the construction of the interstate and the North Dakotan prairie lands, which was kind of interesting but again, not too uncommon. They’d stayed the previous night at a rest stop just past Eau Claire that’d featured a marker commemorating the members of the Wisconsin National Guard who’d participated in World War I. It lacked the depth to keep Harry engaged for long, so the young dragon soon found himself heading back to the Winnebago.

    During his absence, Mr. Dumbledore had set up the usual concealment charms, and everyone was in the process preparing a large picnic dinner. The motorhome’s internal expansion had been deployed and its interior reconfigured. Suze stood at the stove in the newly-revealed kitchen, having volunteered to handle cooking duties for the evening.

    “Hey, Suze,” the young dragon called, “Do you need some help?” “No, Great One,” the centaur maiden shook her head without looking up from the stove. “I have everything well in hand; though perhaps you might retrieve your own extra rations from storage?” “Right!” Harry nodded agreeably. “I can do that!”

    The young dragon ducked back outside, only to find that a pickup with a trailer in tow had parked in the next spot over in the short while he had been inside… just barely in the next spot over. Harry pursed his lips thoughtfully as he walked back to the latch on the cargo compartment door. Popping it open, he looked at the roughly four-foot-long and eighteen-inch square billets he had wadded the scrapped cars into when they had stopped at Mr. Ed’s place. He turned to look at the truck parked perhaps twenty inches away. He turned back to the billets.

    Harry frowned, glancing back and forth as he eyeballed the relative distances.

    Then he shrugged and reached in.

    “Leave it, you blasted beast,” Mr. Snape’s acid voice drawled from behind him as the potions master returned from stretching his own legs. “That is asking for trouble.”

    “But Suze asked me to get it out for dinner,” the young dragon protested, still shoulder-deep in the storage compartment. “I’m pretty sure I can get it out without breaking anything if I angle it right.”

    “Be patient, Mr. Potter,” the sallow-faced man commanded. “The driver of that vehicle passed me on my way back from the facilities, he will likely return shortly to continue on his journey. You may retrieve your dinner then.”

    “Okay, Mr. Snape,” Harry sighed.

    It made sense... even if he did think he could have gotten it out anyway.

    With time to kill, Harry meandered over to lean against a light post near picnic table, breathing deeply as he enjoyed the feel of the wind on his face and the commingled scents of recently cut grass and partially burned diesel. It was pretty nice. Just then, the sparse wind-driven clouds passed between the young dragon and the late afternoon sun, their sudden shadow catching Harry’s attention.

    Looking up at the light as filtered through the clouds, it idly crossed Harry’s mind to wonder what was going on back home in Britain. How was Hermione doing? Was Abigail enjoying her new job? What was Su Li up to?

    “Mr. Potter,” Poppy Pomfrey called from the steps of the RV, gesturing to the now-empty parking space next to the Winnebago. It seemed the truck had moved on while Harry was woolgathering. “If you would be so kind as to deal with that before your dinner gets parked in again?”

    “Sure!” he jumped up quickly, abashed at not noticing it himself.

    As he jogged over, Harry shrugged off his earlier speculation. Given the now six-hour time differential, it’d be midnight in Britain. The young dragon didn’t imagine anyone there would be doing much beyond sleeping right now, anyway.

    5.4.14 Release the kraken

    “Three... two... one... GO!”

    Auror Matt Weasley mashed his thumb down on the ward trigger just a few minutes after midnight. Dull snaps issued forth from various locations about the grounds of Crabbe manor before him, followed by a deep thrum as the capacitor stones planted earlier by the reconnaissance team cracked on command, dumping their stored energy into the nascent kraken ward the team had placed at the same time. Brilliant blue flashes seared through the darkness, and before the spots had time to fade from their eyes, the entire field lit up bright as day with a shifting, multi-hued web-work of light as the sudden influx of power brought the kraken violently to life.

    It took a long time to lay down the elaborately layered structure of any significant warding effort because of the tendency of different wards in close proximity to interact with each other… almost always detrimentally. While that tendency lessened as the wards settled over time as the magic flows burned in and became less volatile, it never truly disappeared. A kraken ward was specifically designed to take advantage of that tendency, sending out writhing tentacles of dense magic to grasp and twist any nearby magic, much as its legendary monstrous namesake did to ships unfortunate enough to fall into its tentacled grasp.

    As a fortunate bonus for law-enforcement, the intense interactions warped the local magical field enough to temporarily inhibit almost all forms of magical travel… a feature which only somewhat mitigated the kraken’s tendency to shred temporary containment wards like wet tissue paper. It was a compromise solution: releasing the kraken on the location meant abandoning any pretense of stealth, and as soon as the transient effects passed, the metaphorical barn door would be left wide open. There would be no way to close it in time to keep the suspects from escaping. The auror teams would only be left with a narrow window of opportunity to secure the entire manor.

    That said, the compromise had been deemed necessary. The longer things stretched out, the greater the chance that information would leak. Speed was of the essence, and the kraken was necessary to attain that speed.

    Of course, impressive as the lightshow might be, the kraken would only weaken properly installed wards; it would not bring them down. It would, however, twist the wards out of alignment enough to make way for the real star of the show, a knockout punch which would soon be delivered up close and personal.

    Under the riotous aurora of warring spells, Team Two raced in lockstep across the manor’s neatly trimmed lawn in a tight knot, running toward the brightest segment of the ward line where it struggled against the kraken. Between them, carried like a battering ram of old, the team held the heavy wood and iron form of a prepped ward-buster.

    Spells seared through the cool night air and shattered against the centuries-old wards before them as teams Five and Three provided covering fire as their compatriots crossed the last few yards. At the last moment, they planted their feet and swung, transferring as much of their own momentum to the ram as they could manage, and the ward-breaker’s magic-resistant cold iron head smashed into the ward line with a loud THWAM!

    Matt knew how it worked. The black powder charge at the back of the ward-breaker would be set off by any sufficiently forceful impact on the head — such as the hard resistance of a ward line — driving a piston forwards, compressing a volatile ward-cracking potion before it. Forced down the needle-thin channel through the head of the ward-breaker under immense pressure, the ward-cracking potion would be projected into the wards in a narrow jet strong enough to bore a hole in stone, ripping apart magical structures on its way through. Then the magic of the potion would latch onto the shredded remains, quickly spreading through any connected magic, twisting and deforming it in the process, and sowing chaos in its wake. Such a blow would bring down the targeted ward structure in short order, particularly with the wards already strained by the kraken.

    The biggest downside was that the potion had to be tailored to the ward, a process which required a great deal of specialized knowledge, close examination of the ward in question, and not an insignificant amount of time. On shell wards like those at Crabbe Manor, the process was easy enough; their entire structure was visible from the outside, forming a shell around the area… hence the name.

    Volumetric wards like those at Hogwarts, of course, were an entirely different kettle of fish. Designing a similar potion to take down the Hogwarts wards would be a Herculean undertaking. Even this one, specially formulated and brewed for the strong but simplistic wards on Crabbe manor, had taken several days to design and brew. It was the reason the raid hadn’t been launched the day after the auction house raid.

    That said, even if it had delayed things, the potion did its job perfectly. Within seconds, there was a dull thump somewhere in the guts of Crabbe Manor as the primary ward-core explosively overloaded, likely shredding anything nearby with supersonic shards of granite. Denied its physical foundation, the remaining magical structure shuddered once, twice, and then shattered like glass. In the aftermath, the tendrils of the kraken ward, no longer facing opposition, tangled together and ripped themselves to shreds.

    As the glowing embers of the ward fell around them, Teams Four, Six, Seven, and Ten rushed the place barely forty-five seconds after the kraken ward first lit off. The physical doors of the manor were blown off their hinges, and the raiders swarmed through the manor house, catching the still groggy inhabitants by surprise as they went room by room. The four teams made short work of it, sweeping the entire place in a matter of minutes.

    The stunning display of coordinated precision which brought an admiring tear to Matt Weasley’s eye as he watched on the tactical display... like a bloody ballet, it was. Beside him, Emma Trussel, the woman who had organized it all, watched her handiwork play out with a tight, cold smile and eyes of flint.

    Within fifteen minutes, the tightly bound Octavius Crabbe’s vicious cursing still echoed across the grounds as the Forensics boffins descended on the manor like a swarm of man-sized, magic-using locusts. Within the hour, they would find references to the locations of four hidden manufacturing facilities. By the time they finished their analysis over the course of the next several days, the DMLE would know more about the goings-on at Crabbe manor than its owner had.

    Taking advantage of that intelligence would, of course, be another matter.

    The investigation would be best served by acting in secret as long as possible, so they had to take care. There had been no real way to avoid the auction raid hitting the papers right away. Amelia had scrambled the Aurors in response to the attack in Crawley, and that very public alarm couldn’t be hidden or covered up. This raid, on the other hand, had been a more discreet affair, which would hopefully buy the investigators time.

    In the end, though, even if all their people were loyal and did keep their mouths shut, news would eventually leak. When it did the investigation would become a race: Investigations trying to uncover evidence before it could be hidden and Syndicate scrambling to cover its collective arse. The bigger the head start they could get before their quarry inevitably caught on, the better the DMLE’s position going forward.

    The clock was running… tick, tock.
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2021
  11. Shance

    Shance Not too sore, are you?

    Nov 1, 2018
    Likes Received:
    Aaaaah! I want to see his reaction to hermionies kidnapping!
  12. stads

    stads Versed in the lewd.

    Nov 20, 2018
    Likes Received:
    poor harry being bored will be interesting to see him tranform into an angry dragon for the first time just hope he does not roast the goblin delevering the news
  13. Simonbob

    Simonbob Really? You don't say.

    Jan 3, 2014
    Likes Received:
    I like the kraken ward.

    It's a good excuse for a fun line.

    The world building, about how screwy the Magical world is, well, that's interesting as well. Dark and fucked up, sure, but interesting. A lot of magical factions haven't changed in centuries, I see.
  14. Jordisk

    Jordisk Versed in the lewd.

    Jul 10, 2017
    Likes Received:
    If you are familiar with Shadowrun, you also notice a lot of the big factions there, have roots in this story. Aztechnology (the megacorp) and the Native American Nations (of Great Ghost Dance fame) are there in the US, for example, and Harlequin has already been shown on-screen. We also got the early version of Shadowland BBS, which will rise to prominence as the primary place to for Shadowrunners to meet following the Crash Virus, though it broke down during Crash 2.0.
  15. TheGrog

    TheGrog In the number mines

    Sep 22, 2018
    Likes Received:
    Wait, what? I don't remember Harlequin, but maybe it's just been too long.
    Grimrr, Acolyte and Damnedmatt like this.
  16. Skjadir

    Skjadir Experienced.

    May 9, 2015
    Likes Received:
    Several times, first time shortly after they went and dealed with one of the leyline spots.
    The last one I can remember is in the update where they did fly over to the USA.
  17. Something

    Something Your position has been compromised

    May 11, 2015
    Likes Received:
    I’m just gonna sit here screaming internally for a minute. Bones is racing three doom clocks: Harry finding out and doing his worst, Dumbledore finding out and executing Order 66, and the Syndicate finding out and counterattacking. I’m rooting for you Bones!
  18. Acolyte

    Acolyte Know what you're doing yet?

    May 19, 2018
    Likes Received:
    Can harry bend fates. Like edge
    Damnedmatt likes this.
  19. Cheetored20

    Cheetored20 I trust you know where the happy button is?

    May 31, 2020
    Likes Received:
    Who's edge?
    Damnedmatt likes this.
  20. D King Hecht

    D King Hecht Know what you're doing yet?

    Jul 11, 2018
    Likes Received:
    Edge is a tabletop statistic that can be spent to re-roll or permanently burned to guarantee success on a given task. It can be viewed as a character's personal luck score.
  21. ContemplativeWyrm

    ContemplativeWyrm Know what you're doing yet?

    May 23, 2018
    Likes Received:
    Will we be seeing a dinosaur summoning charm?
    NavigatorNobilis likes this.
  22. drvash

    drvash Getting some practice in, huh?

    Sep 18, 2019
    Likes Received:
    Great world-building with Asia, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe.

    It really shows how dangerous the magical world is.

    With so few wizards traveling abroad due to the inherent dangers, perhaps Ronald Weasley could brag a little about his family trip to Egypt and how well-connected his brother Bill must be to arrange everything on such short notice.

    Is the Romanian Empire run by Vlad Tepes a.k.a. Dracula?

    Didn’t Flitwick or Snape hypothesize that Dracula might’ve been the result of a node-draining to explain why one vampire is so abnormally powerful?
  23. Littlenous

    Littlenous Getting out there.

    May 30, 2018
    Likes Received:
    Wasn't Bill goblin's employee? "Too risky target for too low gain" id say...

    For some reason, that reminded me (again) of old joke I suddenly remembered today: Wife of "New Russian"* in Rome asked that her photo near Coliseum should be taken WITH her car! When guide asks "Why?" the answer was "So my husband won't think it was my doing**" ;)

    * "Half bandit" in process of legalization, too often "half educated too" which lead to a lot of jokes about them in Russia.
    ** Coliseum IS "half ruined" ;)
    Acolyte likes this.
  24. Dunkelzahn

    Dunkelzahn No one of consequence

    Jul 10, 2018
    Likes Received:
    Try to remain calm, you've got a little bit more of a wait yet.:)
    While I've not mentioned him by name in-story, opting instead for physical descriptions only, he is pretty distinctive. He's been in three subsections so far (spread over two scenes). The first was shortly after the draining of Stonehenge when he showed up to examine the site. The second took place outside the charter terminal at Stansted Airport when Harry took off. Hermione's father bumped into him on the way out.
    Possibly, but he certainly has no idea how to pull it off at the moment if he can.
    After a fashion. Though only for research purposes, not combat. Harry has the giant death lizard angle fully covered all by himself.

    His summoning efforts will be both successful for his primary purpose and terribly disappointing on a personal level.
    Real velociraptors, after all, were quite different from those depicted in the movie... being about the size of a chicken. The movie ones would be more similar to the Utahraptor, though Harry will not realize that until he has already designed and implemented the new charm variant, much to Suze's relief.
    Domesticated "Fancy" Velociraptors!!!
    Credit for the image (and the idea) to the webcomic, The Punchline is Machismo. It's a pretty funny read for the most part, though it hasn't been updated in more than two years.
    They are included for more than just the humor value, though. Specifically, the mechanics of the spell and the dissonance between what Harry envisioned and what he got are one of the first hints that there is something more going on with the charm than anyone realized. It is pulling information from somewhere other than the caster, information associated somehow with a human-created name rather than any environmental system or tissue sample. It is another very, very oblique lead-in for the third setting... groundwork, groundwork, groundwork.
    Glad you like it!

    Yes, it is, though despite his choices in aesthetics, Tepes is not precisely a vampire in this setting. There are vampires, of course, but they are a known quantity in-setting. Vlad is something quite a bit weirder.
  25. TheGrog

    TheGrog In the number mines

    Sep 22, 2018
    Likes Received:
    I had just forgotten that Harlequin had popped up.
    Dunkelzahn likes this.
  26. lancelot

    lancelot Grand High Poobah

    Jun 17, 2015
    Likes Received:
    So I read the start of this years ago on a MSN forum or something like that and only found it continued here recently. Still like it still only up to 4.7.

    I do have a question about something that has started to grate on me. Harry acting like a naive 8 year old was cute at the start. But he still mostly acts like a naive 8 year old after everything that has happened and is now 12 is starting to become seriously annoying.

    When will we see him mature in wisdom instead of intelligence?
  27. Littlenous

    Littlenous Getting out there.

    May 30, 2018
    Likes Received:
    My guess is "not so soon", since he IS a dragon now, and those are maturing at MUCH different pace.
    Acolyte likes this.
  28. lancelot

    lancelot Grand High Poobah

    Jun 17, 2015
    Likes Received:
    Uh no, I recently read of him taking sexual interest in Abigail even if he didn't know that is why he was focusing on her while she was working up a sweat with her casting training. So despite for some brain dead reason Harry still looks 8 or 9 years old he is starting to act like a 12 to 13 year old.

    My problem is in almost all other regards but knowledge and murder he acts like a child. Still goes on about Knight despite having read as much as he has he should know reality from fantasy, and that 'Knights' haven't been around for centuries. Somehow when it come to murdering anything that attacks him he can't put 2+2 together. He's been told in exacting detail the many ways people can be forced to do things and yet can't seem to connect to the fact that someone could be forced to kill him.

    These kinds of things were cute at the start of the story, but the longer it goes on the more irritating it gets. He should have read books on history and philosophy. He should have spoken about these things and he should know better by now. The story is great but the more this lack of character progression drags on the more harry goes from cute brat, to annoying dimwit. Thank the gods he got over the rambling at least.
  29. Monitor

    Monitor A Monitor sitting before a Monitor

    Jul 14, 2020
    Likes Received:
    My headcanon is that we have two development cycles at work:
    1. the hormonal development cycle of his human body (sexuality comes from that)
    2. the mental devlopment cycle of an extremely slowly aging dragon (acting like a child)

    This in turn means that he for certain does not and cannot really understand sexuality. He can have the urges (although only in his human body, which is growing, as far as I remember.

    And about philosophy: Do you really want the gigantic, (nearly) unkillable murdermachine with a rather naiv view of the world understand that certain people are bad, and how to identify them? Dumbledore and Friends are likely preoccupied preventing exactly that from happening. His already slow mental development is artificially diminished to prevent him from realizing that the Wizengamot might become better from being set on fire...
  30. lancelot

    lancelot Grand High Poobah

    Jun 17, 2015
    Likes Received:
    Yes, yes I do. It's far better then acting like a particularly dimwitted child. A child would think bad people should 'go away', an adult thinks attempt to make all the changes you can through peaceful means until that is no longer an option. What I'm saying is that Harry's character progression has stalled, his business progression continues but things like that he still brings up Knights like their a real threat is fucking ridiculous. I'm not saying he should be acting like an adult, but he should have started to act like a more centered teenager and think things through.