Time has a way of disappearing if your not careful. Spend long enough just focused on getting by to the next day, next thing you know months have past. Important dates you would remember in the best of times are forgotten. You look at the calender, and you wonder where all the time has past. Harry Potter had times like that in his past. The dark days of the war, on the run, minimal supplies and only two friends to count on.
Now, he was back in the same situation. However this time he could only count on himself and Lily. He trusted Leoben, Rose, Castleman, Elara, and Cavil, however they weren't as close as Ron and Hermione had been. He'd spend hours going over star charts one day, working down in the Garage others. Everyday he would meet with his command crew and go over the matters of the day.
Castleman had gotten his people on a pretty good schedule of training and scouting. A steady CAP was flown for the most part as the Ascension spent most of her time at sub light speeds. Harry had found out what any Engineer in the Colonial Fleet already knew, that you couldn't just keep jumping until you got somewhere. The Apparition drive, though different in design to Colonial Hyper-Light Jump drives still required a cool down period. It also gave some time to potentially lock on to where Galactica might be. They were heading in what they thought was the right direction but couldn't be certain.
Lily spent most of her time trying to cross-reference and rectify Colonial stellar information with available astrometric data from Earth in order to get a better idea of their position. Every Raptor flight dropped a sub-space relay that tied all the information they were getting back to Ascension. It was the Harry's hope that this budding network of cloaked sensor platforms would help him map this part of the galaxy. The range on the sensors was only at most a light-year, but the signals sent back and forth along the network allowed them the ability to at least have some idea of where they were. Much like the GPS navigational satellite network back home.
On Chief Tellus' recommendation they had started up an internal security force. Four-thousand people in close quarters was a recipe for unrest. There were some people who had worked ships security on their own ships, as well as the Marines with Castleman's group. They at least allowed them a chance to work out contingency plans just in case something happened.
The doctor's and other medical professionals had been stationed in Sickbay, which had been designed on the fly by Harry, Lily and the doctors since it hadn't been put together before. They made use of Ascension's magical origins by creating beds that provided the non-magical doctor's information much like diagnostic charms and other healer based spells. While Harry had a relatively limited store of medical potions for emergency use, he had included everything needed to create a magical garden. He wasn't certain at the time WHY he had everything to brew several years worth of potions and grow ingredients for others but he didn't care. It gave them more usable medicines in case something occurred. Add in the fact that some of the people they had pulled form the ships had been fundamentalist Saggiterons and you had people who didn't like modern medicine now able to be treated. Drugs like the Caprican doctors had were a no no, while apparently magical potions created from natural herbs and other ingredients were acceptable. It also seemed to make them a bit more comfortable with Harry.
One of Harry's projects had him getting multiple Viper Pilots to take a spin in the Thunderbolt. When he had originally designed it he had based piloting on how he flew brooms. So a pilot would instead of being in a seated position would be leaning forward, holding on to two control grips on either side. One of the compliments about the craft was that it could handle sharper turns at higher speeds then the Viper MK-VII. This was in part due to the inertial dampening field generated by runic clusters and enchantments. The Heads-Up-Display also made identifying a target easier as opposed to having to look down at the scanners. Weapons on the Thunderbolt were smaller versions of Ascension's primary energy weapon, but fired off small bursts similar to how the Viper's guns worked. One complaint was that at times it felt like they had to pilot the craft with their whole body, like riding a motorcycle. Though it was a tossup as to whether or not that was a bad thing.
After taking in all this, as well as several suggestions from the pilots he refitted and redesigned the Thunderbolt into what he now called the Raven Mk-I. Having air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles being a feature request, Harry had to start plugging away on a unique weapon that would be usable by the Ravens that he could manufacture on his own. That project was put to the side however as he designed three other small craft. A Raptor analogue he called the Hawk, a planetary explorer he nicknamed a Lander, and a ship to ship transport he called a Runner. While the Raptors were used by the Colonials for all of the above, Harry wanted them to be a little more specialized. So it was setup so Landers could fit four people in the cockpit, with a door that could be sealed off to another area with benches for personnel and equipment to be loaded. Entry for the Lander was from the back, and had a cylindrical look he kind of liked with engine nacelles that extended from the sides. The Runner could hold twelve passengers, was just slightly bigger then a Raptor, and a more rounded appearance the the cylindrical Lander craft.
Once this was done, and he had designed a multi-purpose munition that used a weaponized version of CRPB technology he moved on to projects that matched the original purpose of Ascension to work on. Discovery and exploration for the benefit of all mankind. He had, while unexpected, an extraordinary opportunity here. The sensor packs he deployed in every part of the galaxy they jumped to were able to transmit their positions in relationship to the others. This was providing Harry not only with valuable astronomical data, but with the building blocks of a navigational backbone. He told everyone he was building a GPS network, Galactic Positioning System.
“Makes sense really. We never went very far past our home star system. If we had the capability of faster-than-light communications we could have done something similar, and that would have helped plot jumps with a lot more accuracy,” Chief Tellus mentioned when Harry told him.
“Seems the real problem with the FTL drives I developed and that are used in the Colonies or even by the Cylons is really navigational,” Harry said.
“We can't really be sure of anything related to the Cylons. Just that they've upgraded their Basestars and Raiders. I wouldn't be surprised if the Centurions had upgraded beyond anything we had seen before either,” Castleman offered up as Harry opened the garage door into space and dropped another one of his drones. He pulled out a data-pad and activated the drones systems, to include it's subspace beacon and cloaking systems.
Harry shook his head, “Were any of their systems originally organic?”
Tellus looked confused and then shook his head, “No, just silica pathways and computer chips.”
Harry frowned, “When I first jumped into this area I was attacked by Raiders. I was getting readings off my sensors that indicated that they were in fact alive. Almost like some kind of flying crab with a metal space craft shell.”
This was news to the other two. Tellus spoke, “I was in the First Cylon War. There were rumors that the Cylons were conducting some human experimentation. But it was all just rumors.”
“Well, switching from synthetic chips to organic matter for information processing and transfer has it's advantages I suppose. The average human is said to only use maybe ten percent of total brain capacity at any one time. Of course I could be wrong, I'm not a neurobiologist,” Harry mentioned.
“Makes you wonder what else they put a brain in aside from the Raiders,” Tellus said.
Harry thought for a moment, “Makes you wonder if they haven't developed a more organic form all around.”
Castleman made the leap of logic first, “My Gods, it's the the only way they could have done it.”
The other two men looked at him, “Done what?”
“They've managed to develop human forms. It makes sense, infiltrators to put the back door into our networks. All the radio chatter during the fall said that it was like they just threw a switch and shut down entire Battlestars. They must have infiltrated the Ministry of Defense, Scorpion Shipyards, Picon Fleet Command, all our vital areas,” Castleman explained.
Harry thought about it, “The new CNP Dr. Baltar developed. Is it possible that a Cylon got to him without him knowing it?”
“From what I know about Gaius Baltar, if the infiltrator was an intelligent and attractive female he would have shown her everything if only so he could get her into bed,” Tellus muttered.
Harry thought for a moment, “I wonder how biology would have effected the Cylons.”
“What do you mean?” Castleman asked.
“Well, infiltrating Enemy territory isn't unique to Cylons. It's practically the hallmark of espionage no matter the species or planet. And even in war, soldiers are trained to disassociate the people they are killing with themselves. We all do it in war, if only to retain our sanity. What I'm wondering is how would a mind, previously unaffected by things such as hormone levels and biological processes, handle the sudden differences being in a human body would bring?”
“They're machines,” Castleman said.
“Maybe, but the difference between a mechanical body and a biological one is that no matter what you do you can't control everything that goes on inside an organic form.” Harry said.
“Well, I guess the question now is what do we do? If Castleman is right, then we might have Cylons on board and not even know it,” Tellus asked.
Harry took a moment to think it through. He didn't' want to alienate the Cylons if they were on board. Even after everything, after his war against Voldemort, he still held out hope that things like this could be solved peacefully. He didn't give as many chances as Albus had, and forgiveness was hard to come by with Harry.
“For now we act as if nothing is wrong. Even if we think there might be Cylons on this ship, we have no way of determining who they are. It would just cause a panic with the civilians, and that is something we can do with out. Also, we have to admit that all that's been discussed here is conjecture. We have no proof one way or the other. However, I think it might be wise for us to tighten security around vital areas. Lily won't let anyone who isn't meant to get to places they could cause significant damage,” Harry said.
“Your computer systems?” Castleman asked.
“Should be alright. My systems are so alien to what you or the Cylons are use to it won't matter. They tried to upload something into the primary data-core when I jumped into Caprica. Lily's been making sure something like that can't affect our systems. And even if by some chance they get the technological systems, the Magical ones are completely different. Only myself and Lily can control them, and that's because no one else on board, even if they are magical, is keyed into the whole system,” Harry explained.
“Agreed, though is it possible Lily could scan for Cylons?” Castleman asked.
Harry shook his head, “If they are here they are good. Lily would have notified me if anything strange came up in her scans. Probably means that at least physiologically Cylons are indistinguishable from humans. Any differences are probably at the genetic level, so small it take a much more intrusive scan to see. I MIGHT be able to sense something different between Human and Cylon, but I'd need to be around a Cylon to know the differences in how they feel to normal humans. Even then, my senses and instincts have been so out there since this started I might not.”
“Bottom line, we can't know unless we end up finding one of these Human-Cylons,” Tellus said.
Harry nodded, and the three men simply kept that in mind and went about their business. Harry couldn't help but feel tired after that discussion. Security seemed to always end up being a major problem for him, one way or the other. At least Death Eaters were marked, you could just check their left forearm and be done with it. He doubted very much he'd find such a mark on a Human-Cylon.
He couldn't even key the magical protections on Ascension to Cylons specifically without a Cylon to know the difference. He had a thought however. He could key the wards to intent. Cylons, even emotionless, would have an intent to harm. It might even help the Security maintain a semblance of order in the populated areas. He was fortunate that Ascension's internal structure was so flexible. No one would be able to get to any section of the ship they weren't meant to be in. That would assist the issues that had been brought up in the recent discussion.
Harry waved his hand along a seemingly random door, which most of the time would lead only to a food storage area. He had really picked the door at random, so no one would ever be able to use it to get to the secret area he was heading for. It was an auxiliary control room, but he had kept it hidden from everyone else. He was still Master and Commander of this ship, and even if things seemed to have settled down he didn't completely trust everyone. As he worked on the wards within that room he thought back to his first few lessons beyond what Hogwarts gave. The lessons that Albus taught him, not about magic, but about himself.
The Mirror of Erised, the Chamber of Secrets, Saving Sirius, Voldemort's rebirth, the Prophecy, through out all those challenges Albus had been there with some pearl of wisdom. If anything, Albus Dumbledore had taught Harry the most important lessons of his life. And for that the barmy old headmaster would forever have Harry's respect. He worked on the internal security wards for a few hours, hoping that it would work and even then wasn't certain as he had no experience with Cylons.
After his work was done he returned to his quarters for some rest. After meditating and connecting with the magic he felt throughout the ship and the universe itself for a time he was restored. During his meditations he couldn't help but remember one of the last conversations he had with Albus before his death.
Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft – Headmaster's office – Sometime in the Spring of 1997
They had spent most of the evening meeting looking over the pensive memory of Horace Slughorn. The idea of there being seven horcruxes, splitting the soul seven times in order to prevent your own death was just horrific. Harry sat down in front of the desk after they had gone over the destruction of at least two of the horcruxes. Harry shook his head.
“All of this, just to keep from dying,” Harry muttered.
Albus nodded, “Some people do not understand that there are worse things then death.”
Harry just shook his head, then stood up and paced the office, almost agravated. In the time he had been at Hogwarts he had started up a few personal projects outside of the school, preparing what he wanted for the future. He closed his eyes and looked upward, “It's like everything he does is intended just to gather more power, but has no real purpose to it.”
“For some, power is a purpose all its own,” Albus said.
Harry just shook his head, “That's just waste is what it is. One of the first things Voldemort ever said to me was there was no good and evil, only power and those too weak to seek it. I'll be honest, I thought about it for a while. Frankly I came to the conclusion that it was just an excuse to justify his behavior.”
Albus just nodded, letting Harry keep going. Harry turned and looked at Albus, “Do we as wizards and witches and magic users have power? Yes. Do we have more abilities then the average muggle? Yes. Does this make us superior to the muggles? Depends on how you ask the question I suppose. Culturally, I'd say no. One on one, maybe if you're talking individuals. Academically and philosophically, I'd say that it doesn't matter as those are really products of the mind and not of any real ability outside ones capability to think differently.”
“This is true,” Albus responded.
“I'll be honest, I'm not convinced that the Statute of Secrecy is a good thing. I'm not certain that hiding was ever the right thing to do. When I asked Hagrid when I first met him why we hid he said that Muggles would expect magical solutions to their problems, and it was best we were left alone. I'm not convinced, if anything I think we have an obligation. Nothing I've read says things like potions won't work for Muggles. Nothing I've seen says magical healing can't work for all humans. Nothing I've seen says we can't mesh both magic and science,” Harry ranted.
“In all the old stories on the muggle side of things, wizards like Merlin were guides. The good ones never dominated, they guided leaders of men towards just cause. Yes, he did great things with magic by staff and deed, but his greatest contributions were magic of the mind and soul, and I'm not talking dark magic like what Voldemort did. The magic of the human heart.”
Albus sat back for a moment and thought back to conversations from his own youth with someone else. He then asked Harry, “What would you do, if you could change the world as you saw fit?”
Harry thought for a moment, seriously thought about it. He answered, “We reveal ourselves to the rest of the world, once we do we don't dominate, we don't act as if our magic gives us authority. We share this planet with over six billion other people, magical and non-magical. We can help, we can make life better for all people. The problem is though, no matter how noble the thought we've got too many people who can't see past their own hate. And I mean this on both sides of the line. Voldemort and his Death Eaters have proven that.
“We'd have to have a reason, to bring all of us together in common purpose. Power without purpose is waste. And even then, without a common purpose we'd end up with people fighting each other, hating because we're different, one way or the other. No matter what, we're still human every one of us. So we're scared of what we don't understand, think we're superior to others cause we've got more money, more power, more whatever. If I could change the world I'd have to make sure everyone would be protected by law, no matter what. The muggles have laws against such discrimination, we're behind them on that.”
Harry went and looked out the window behind Albus desk, the old professor watching his student closely. Harry looked out and said, “And lets face it, the majority of our population is at most just civilians like the Weasley's. It be up to them and the other every day magic users to make nice with their non-magical counter parts.”
“You're forgetting the muggle-born,” Albus said.
“True, and I'm practically muggle-born as it is. But the integration of both would lead to who knows what kind of advancements of our people. We don't have to rule, we don't NEED to rule. Hell if history is any idication we SHOULDN'T rule. We do like Merlin did so many centuries ago. We make the suggestions, but in the end, it's up to the people to do what's right, not what's easy.”
Albus just couldn't hold it back anymore. He started chuckling amusedly at Harry's words. Harry turned to his mentor, an eyebrow raised in confusion. Albus calmed down enough to say, “I've heard something similar before my boy. Almost one hundred years ago, when I was barely older then yourself. Felt like I was wasting my potential at the time. It was then I met a much younger Gellert Grindelwald. This was long long before he turned to darkness. We used to talk about how the world was progressing, certain that everything was going wrong. The arrogance of youth is that you always feel like you can do things better then they have always been. It was also the turn of the century, and to us it seemed as if the muggles were going to destroy the very world we lived on in their unstoppable march of progress. We felt, much like you do, that magic users should take a greater role on the world stage. But where you feel that we should work together with the muggles and try to work towards a common goal, Gellert and I felt Wizards were meant to rule. We simply disagreed on the position we would take. I felt that we should rule from the shadows, a puppet government if you will enacting our will. He however, felt that Wizards should dominate the world, force the muggles to bow before us.”
Harry listened closely, shocked. Albus Dumbledore had been friends with the same Dark Lord he would later defeat in single combat? And they felt the same way about the world at one point? “What changed?”
Albus hesitated for a moment, “We had a fight, one which cost me something extremely precious. It was at that point I knew I could not be trusted with power. So I dedicated my life to Hogwarts, to educating children instead of pursuing the purpose I THOUGHT I was meant for.
“But you, you see things the way I did but unlike either myself, Gellert, or even Voldemort you see both sides of the problem. Where we felt that magic users should rule in one form or another you feel we should simply co-exist. Where we would have limited the muggles, you would work with them to see a new age for all mankind. Where we placed all the blame on muggles, you hold both sides accountable. I don't know if you will ever be able to pull off this dream of yours, but I do hope you follow it.”
Harry smiled lightly, “It's not enough to live, you have to have something to live for.”
Albus nodded, and Harry smiled.
An explosion rocking the ship ripped Harry away from his memories.