The aftermath of the bomb
A/N: Ido not own Harry Potter. Nor any of the other characters or situations associated with Harry Potter. Nor do I own any of the characters and situations associated with The Marvel Comics Universe or indeed the more outgoing citizens of the MU Version of NYC and points west. But you knew that.
A/N2: Ok, last chapter had Harry and Hermione accidently wander onto the NNTS and prevent Bruce Banner from being exposed to the Gamma Bomb, but Harry was exposed. To answer the questions asked, this is seventh year, with Harry turning 17 on the day the bomb goes boom, Dumbledore is still alive, though his ring wearin' arm is still all toasty and crunchy. Hulk canon tells us that the effects Gamma exposure is different for each individual, but what effect would Gamma exposure have on magic?
July 31, 1997
Nevada Nuclear Test Site
From inside the trench the sky went as bright as a dozen noonday suns. Banner threw himself over the girl forcing her face down into the hard packed ground at the base of the trench. He had no doubt that he had hurt her, but better that than she see her friend die.
No one thought to tell Rick Jones not to look up. He had been starring at the raven haired man who was waving a stick and chanting in bad Latin. Jones winced when the sky lit up, and his jaw dropped when the young man standing at the lip of the trench seemed to become transparent with blood red luminous bones. There was... something swirling about the body of the man, it looked like... like the illustrations of a magnetic field from his dimly remembered science classes from school... the patterns that iron filings took on when in a magnetic field, only with a green tinge. That greenish field pulsed bright enough to outshine the sky as the man stood there, his mouth open, seemingly trying to scream, but no sound came. Then the sound did come. The sound of the bomb. More noise than Jones had ever imagined possible.
The noises seemed to buffet the man and he fell forward into the trench, except he stopped in his fall directly over Jones' head. He seemed to just hang there, then slowly, as if sinking through a thick liquid; he fell atop a most severely weirded out Rick Jones.
July 31, 1997
Nevada Nuclear Test Site
Twenty three minutes after G-Hour
Senior Airman Jason Bowen was experiencing a massive high from just being on the same base as the explosion of the Gamma Bomb less than a half hour before.
"I'm tellin'ya Sarge. That was the coolest thing I've ever seen. I thought that the grenade drills from guard training was cool, but..."
Technical Sergeant Andy Delfino shook his head. Sure things that went BOOM were a lot of fun, but the perimeter patrol afterward wearing anti-contamination suits while inspecting the monitoring equipment and bunkers for damage ground the fun off the evolution in quick order. Then something caught his eye, distorted by the plastic facemask. He turned his head to look at it dead on, but still couldn't identify what it was. "What the hell is that?" he said pointing toward Bunker 9.
Bowen's eyes followed his sergeants pointed hand and raised his binoculars. "It looks like a vehicle. That wasn't there this morning. Did someone tow an old wreck out here to see what happened to it, like they did with those ships for that island they blew up back in your day?"
Delfino refrained from pointing out to the kid that the Anawetok test was substantially before his enlistment began. Making a mental note to assign the smart ass to the next particularly nasty job that came along the pike, he turned the wheel to direct his Humvee toward the smoking mass. He keyed the microphone inside his suit. "Boom Box, Scavenger Two. Something out by Bunker Nine is smoking. Deviating from patrol to investigate."
"Roger Two." The radio crackled in his ear. "We see the smoke from here; we've no idea what it is. Deviation from your patrol area is authorized." Oh goodie. Delfino thought. I have permission to do what I'm doing. Where would we be without the graduates of the Colorado Springs Vo-Tech? "The good news" The voice on the radio continued, "is that none of the instrumentation is detecting any residual radiation."
"Roger Boom Box. Heading to Bunker Nine."
"Well that's good news." Bowen said. "Can we get out of these canary suits?"
"Sorry, no." Delfino sighed, didn't this kid pay attention to the mission profiles? "Protocol has us in these damned things until we return to processing for an in depth and personal checkout."
The trip to the unknown fire took most of twenty minutes, the closer they got the more the smoking mass looked like a vehicle. Parking the humvee they approached the mass on foot.
"Sarge." Bowen said. "This ain't a car. This is at least two... no, three different vehicles. Christ Sarge, one of 'ems a Hummer!"
"Yeah. Isee that." Delfino stumbled over something in the dirt. "What the fuck?" Bending over he lifted the rectangular something to where he could see it. His blood suddenly went cold. Keying his microphone he made his report. "Boom box, this is Scavenger Two. The smoke is coming from the remains of what appears to be three, that is One-Two-Three, vehicles, one of which appears to be a project Humvee, the others are civilian vehicles. Boom Box, I've found aStark Datapad out here."
"Scavenger Two, Boom Box. Are you serious Sergeant?"
This butter bar was seriously getting on Delfino's nerves. Did the young idiot actually think Delfino would joke about something like that? "Affirmative Boom Box. We have three vehicles indicating at least three individuals and a Stark Datapad."
There was a short pause, and then a new voice, one that Delfino recognized as belonging to Major Talbot came was in his ears. "Scavenger Two, this is Boom Box Actual. Understand you have the remains of three vehicles at your location. Any signs of bodies?"
"Negative Sir. Just three wrecks clustered practically on top of each other and a Datapad."
"Understood Two. Scavenger Units One and Three, Converge on Two's position near Bunker Nine to assist with the search."
"Scavenger One acknowledged."
"Scavenger Three acknowledged."
"What's going on Sarge?"
"Bowen, we just lit off a big fucking bomb in the middle of what was supposed to be aclear safe area. Three vehicles were destroyed, that means at least three people were out here when the bomb went boom. One of them dropped a Stark Datapad. Those are only used by the Brainiacs in charge. This means that somewhere out here one of the big brains behind this project is probably laying dead."
Delfino reflected on Bowen's way with words.
July 31, 1997
Nevada Nuclear Test Site
Thirty six minutes after G-Hour
Hermione Granger cradled Harry Potter's head in her lap while tears flowed down her cheeks. Nothing that was happening made the slightest bit of sense. How was it even remotely possible they could drive into the middle of a weapons testing area without even being challenged? Why had Harry not jumped into this trench with her, and then called the two men? Why hadn't he cast his shield from inside the trench? Damn him and his 'people saving thing'. Now he lay unconscious in the floor of this pit they found themselves in, his clothing burnt and crumbling at her touch, the only part of his wand to survive the blast was that shielded by his hand, the skin on his back a blackened blistering horror
Worst of all, his shield was still in place, though that made no sense either, without out his conscious mind and intent behind it, the silly shield should have faded almost instantly. Unlike herself, the two Muggles seemingly couldn't see the shield, but they could tell it was there. The one in the lab coat was calling it a 'force field' (which she supposed it was) and was postulating that it was caused by the interaction of some localized mineral deposit and the energy from something he called the 'Gamma Bomb'.
Hermione looked up just in time to see the shimmering silver tinged shield fade to nothing when a sharp pop sounded. What the hell was going on? A shield falling wasn't supposed to make any noise. She wiped at her eyes as the younger man helped the man in the lab coat attempt to climb out of the trench, only to fall back in. A figure clad in yellow from head to toe appeared at the lip of the trench, his face covered in a black breathing mask.
"Doctor Banner?" the man's voice muffled by his mask. "We never thought it would be you out here."
"We need to institute the Spa Treatment protocol. The four of us were out her during the detonation. This young man," the man called 'Banner' indicated Harry "was in the open during the explosion."
The man in yellow indicated that his understanding with an exaggerated nod. Then he was speaking again. "Boom Box, Scavenger Three. I have located survivors. I say again, I have located survivors. Have identified Dr. Robert Banner among them. Dr. Banner has called for Spa Treatment protocol."
July 31, 1997
New York City.
8:52 pm EDT
Fifty Eight minutes after G-Hour
Nicholas Joseph Fury looked over the rim of his wine glass at the young woman sitting across from him. A devastatingly beautiful model half his age, Nick enjoyed his time with Nicola Jasmine mostly because she wasn't impressed with him, his cover or his reputation and wasn't looking for anything from him beyond the casual encounters they both enjoyed.
After three wives, Fury wasn't in the market for anything more than casual encounters. His steak and her pasta had just arrived when his cell phone started chirping.
"Excuse me." He said perfunctorily not really caring if she did. He rose from the table and opened his phone as he made his way to the hallway that let to the restrooms.
"Fury." He said into the phone. The security function of the phone did an instant analysis of his voice to confirm his identity. A low tone sounded three times to signify a positive ID. Fury was rewarded by a burst of static over the earpiece that told him that the encryption suite was engaging. Seventeen seconds later the voice of Jasper Sitwell was in Fury's ear.
"Pardon the interruption General. There's been a problem at Project Boom Box."
Problem. That word worried Fury, Sitwell tended to understate things, and for him to call something a 'problem' meant that Fury would probably be calling out the Avengers shortly. "What kind of problem?"
"The details are not clear yet. We are currently one hour since detonation. What we do know is this: Somehow three civilians got onto the test site immediately prior to the event. They were spotted by Dr. Banner himself, who then rather than abort the countdown went to get the intruders out of the danger zone. They were all crowded round a locked bunker building five miles from the bomb when it was detonated."
"Damn. Have they located the bodies?"
"That's part of the problem Sir." Sitwell hesitated. "They're all alive."
Fury paused while digesting this bit of information. Sitwell said that the bomb detonated, so how were they alive? "Have you IDed the civilians?"
"Yes sir. The first is one Richard Milhouse Jones, Twenty two; late of Gary Indiana. He is currently going through the radiological decontamination scrub down that Banner has designated 'Spa Treatment'. The other two are British. The names we have for them are Hermione Jane Granger and Harry James Potter. Their Passport records show them both to be eighteen, but if they are who I think they are, they're a year younger. They are both tentatively identified as Class W. The woman is undergoing the scrub, the man is badly injured and the doctors are still deciding the best method to decontaminate him."
"From what we've gathered so far, Potter got everyone else into one of the emergency trenches, but was standing in the open when the weapon detonated. He's horribly burnt, but so far no one can explain how he's still alive."
"So we have a pair of British teenaged Class Ws at a test of a new strategic weapon?" Fury tried to see a way to avoid doing what he knew he was going to do. "Evoke Strategic Override. Pick them up. Ross can keep Banner and the Jones kid. I want the Class Ws here as soon as possible."
"The pickup team is at the main gate of Boom Box now General." Sitwell was very good at anticipating his boss's decisions.
"Good job Sitwell." He glanced at his watch. "I'll be in the office in twenty minutes. Call all the section chiefs."
"Yes sir General. The staff will be standing by."
Fury closed his phone, breaking the connection. Returning to the table, he opened his wallet and laid Two hundred dollars on the table. "That was work." He said simply. "I've got to go. Can you catch a cab home?"
The woman smiled. "Just go Nicky. I'm not helpless. Call me when you're available again, we can pick this up where we left off."
Yes. Fury thought. This one definitely had possibilities.
July 31, 1997
New York City.
10:20 pm EDT
Two Hours Twenty Four minutes after G-Hour
Fury strode into the conference room dressed in his green Service Uniform to find his section chiefs at their places.
"Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen. Lets get started shall we? Science Section?
The Grey haired woman from the Science Directorate spoke up. "Project Boom Box proceeded normally through its programmed countdown. Detonation of the device was precisely on schedule at 4:56 pm Pacific Daylight time," she glanced at the clock, "Two hours twenty five minutes ago. The yield has been estimated to be slightly more than five hundred kilotons, only two percent more than the computer projections. In short, purely from a Science Directorate point of view, the test was flawless."
"Thank you. Security?"
"According to the preliminary interviews, Dr. Robert Banner was taking a final look at the device at 4:32 pm Pacific Daylight Time, during this he spotted a vehicle in the vicinity of Bunker Nine." The young Asian man manipulated some controls on the tabletop in front of himself and a holographic display of the Nevada Nuclear Test Site bloomed in the middle of the table, with the Command Bunker, weapon placement and Bunker Nine high lighted. "Dr. Banner instructed his aide, Dr. Emil Blonsky to abort the countdown, and then for reasons he hasn't yet explained personally went to inspect the vehicle rather than send base security. Banner took one of the Project Humvees and drove out to find one Richard Jones, who had apparently entered the base in an attempt to garner publicity for his musical career. It was then Banner discovered via his Datapad that the countdown had not been stopped and Bunker Nine was locked."
"Why had the Countdown not been aborted?" the woman from the Medical Directorate asked.
"A full investigation is still getting started, but Blonsky doesn't seem to have attempted to abort the countdown. The reason for this is still unknown; Blonsky has been taken into custody for questioning." He looked for more questions. "This was when the second vehicle carrying Granger and Potter arrived. Miss Granger claims that they had gotten lost looking for the Moapa Paiutes Reservation and had entered the base via an open gate intending to ask directions. We believe this to be the same gate Jones broke into to gain his own entry. Banner then directed everyone to one of the emergency trenches. Potter and Granger got to the trench first, Potter pushed Miss Granger into the trench, then did something to pull Banner and Jones to him at high speed. Once they had joined Miss Granger, Potter remained outside the trench, doing something with what Banner described as a 'stick' and the device detonated while he was still above ground." The Security Section Chief paused to sip from his glass of water. "Banner was on top of the girl, forcing her into a'duck and cover' position. Jones was watching Potter. He claims that Potter's flesh went transparent for a time. This was probably just the light from the detonation. He also claims that he saw something like a magnetic field or an aura surrounding Potter. The Shockwave from the detonation knocked Potter into the trench. Somehow what Banner describes as an 'invisible force field' formed over the trench. Banner postulates that it is due to an interaction between the energy of the Gamma burst and an unknown mineral deposit in the area. The 'force field' contained the four of them in the trench until it released with an audible sound they describe as a 'pop'. This sound attracted the attention of one of the search party, who called in to report finding them."
"Thank you." Fury paused digesting all of this. A force field? "Medical?"
"The three conscious survivors are all seemingly unaffected by their exposure. All went through the 'Spa Treatment' decontamination scrub downs as a precaution despite showing almost no signs of radiological contamination. I have no explanation for this lack of contamination. The only contamination on any of them can be traced to exposure to Potter. Which brings me to the odd part." The woman in white manipulated some of the controls imbedded in the table top in front of her position and a large screen came to life on one end of the room displaying a naked man laying face down on an hospital bed, his rear side from skull to heels was burnt black and blistered. "This is Harry James Potter. His passport lists his age as eighteen today, but our colleagues in Section W tell me he's fudged a bit somehow and is actually 17. As you can see, he suffered third degree burns over sixty percent of his body. Our readings found high levels of radiological contamination all over his body. At least at first."
"Our medics on the scene had the problem of attempting to decontaminate him in this condition. In the seventeen minutes between his preliminary radiological scan and the diagnostic scan the readings dropped to below normal background."
"What cleaned him up?" The Science Section Chief asked.
"We have no idea." Medical continued. "The radiological material was still on his body, embedded in his skin, but it had been rendered inert, with no apparent outside cause."
Every eye in the room moved to the Department Head for Section W.
"Don't look at me." He said shaking his head. "There is almost no interaction between magic users and radiological events. Nagasaki was a city that Japanese Magic Users avoided for cultural reasons, and Hiroshima had a huge seer's event that chased every Magic User from the city well before the bomb dropped there. Science among Magic Users pretty much stopped at Alchemy, with potions being more akin to cooking than chemistry. The Transuranics aren't even on a Wizards fantasy list."
"Mr. Potter's oddity continues." The woman in white continued. "The medical team on site attempted to deal with his burns by performing an emergency debraiding." She pushed a button. "This is what they found."
The image blurred, then changed to a team in yellow anti-contamination suits using surgical tools to ease the tension on the charred skin, when a large piece, perhaps six inches square sloughed off, exposing damp pink skin underneath.
"Somehow, Mr. Potter had regenerated the burnt skin in a matter of minutes. The burned flesh would have come off on its own, but our team helped it along."
"It that an aspect of magic?" Fury asked.
The man who represented Section W shook his head. "Given a team of healers and several different potions, maybe. Spontaneously? No."
The youngest person in the room put down her Big Gulp cup and leaned back in her chair. We got a full six man team from the Seattle office to the site one hour after detonation. Both of the Brits believe themselves to be who their documentation says they are. I use that qualification because both of them show signs of mental manipulation over a long period of time. I had to put a stop to our people linking with Potter because of the effect doing so was having on them."
Fury really disliked this kid. She had joined the Psi section at the age of twelve, and had risen through the ranks to become Department head of the section in only seven years. She was the very best at what she did among those not wearing an X on their clothing, and she was arrogantly dismissive of most of those who did. At her interview for advancing to Department Head she had told Fury 'Xavier is good. The rest of them? Pah!' Her habit of making statements that left you hanging was one of her more annoying habits.
"What effect was Potter having on them?"
"The three who linked to him, one man, two women, all offered their resignations. When I refused, pointing to their contracts, they requested leaves of absences so that they might go to the UK and deal with some people who had mistreated the boy." She started to pause, but saw Fury's eyes flash. "He has a history of mistreatment and abuse from his earliest memories. Abuse from his guardians, mental manipulation from his Headmaster, mind rape from his Potions teacher and that magical Dark Lord that the Brits are always going on about. Having shared his experiences via the link, they want to go to the UK and kill some people. Potter is evidently a very sweet kid despite everything that has been done to him. Anyway, that's why I've put him off limits to the psi teams until I can take a look inside his skull myself."
Fury nodded. A reasonable precaution. "Section M?"
The man to Psi Section's immediate right shook his head. "No evidence of an active X gene in either of them. No evidence of any mutations of any kind outside of their ability to access magic."
The Wizard looked up from his notes. "I have positive ID on the pair. One of my West Coast operatives who responded to the incident is a Brit who was four years ahead of Potter and Granger at their school "Hogwarts', she IDed them both. No question about it. We got a second confirmation from our agent inside Hogwarts. Miss Granger is a First Generation Witch, which is a magic user born to mundanes. Very intelligent, if there's any justice in the world she will be the Head Girl this year." He looked up from his notes and saw the lack of understanding among his peers. "Head Girl is an honor bestowed upon a class leader. By all rights it should be hers, but she is a First Generation and the politics of the school play against her. Mr. Potter is, well, Harry Potter. The young man is, within the magical community, internationally famous."
"How so?"Fury asked.
"The world's magical communities have a problem with 'Dark' Magic users coming to power. The most recent was/is The Dark Lord Voldemort. His rise to power through the 1970s reached a point where the British Ministry of Magic was in danger of falling. My predecessor in this position had plans for a SHIELD assault on him to prevent that from happening. However before that happened, Voldemort was stopped by Harry Potter in 1981."
"That would have made him less than two years old." Psi pointed out.
"Fifteen months to be exact. What actually happened is not clear, but Voldemort was disembodied from November 81 to May 95 when he used a ritual involving among other things the blood of Mr. Potter to create a homunculus to house his soul in. Potter managed to escape and tried to warn the British Ministry of Magic of Voldemort's return. He was ignored due to the political ambitions of the current Minister. One of our agents in the British Ministry reports that there was a prophecy in the British Department of Mysteries that alluded to Potter being the only one capable of killing Voldemort."
"I've never met a man that couldn't be killed. Some of them are difficult, but everyone dies eventually." Fury growled. "Alright. Does anyone here believe that these two Brits appeared at Boom Box intending to steal the Gamma Bomb?"
His question was greeted with silence. Then Sector W spoke. "If they were purebloods, possibly. Given that they are both mundane raised, and absolutely have to be aware of the destructive capability of the smallest nuclear weapon, coupled with the relatively easier access they would have had to one of the British weapons depots, I would say no."
Hermione had been through hell. Men dressed in what she recognized from her father's love of science fiction movies as anti-contamination suits had pulled her from the trench, separated her from Harry's unmoving form, stripped her naked and physically pulled her into a shower thing that was spraying the most unpleasant foul smelling liquids that she was fairly sure had no water in them. Once in the shower her hair was shorn from her entire body and she was roughly scrubbed until she was sure that there wasn't a single square micron of her body that didn't hurt.
When they were done with her, she was subjected to a humiliating battery of tests where dozens of men examined her entire naked body in the most utter clinical detail. Then she had been questioned a length, and no one would tell her anything about Harry. In short she had been washed, shaved, prodded, poked, probed, questioned and humiliated beyond her worst nightmares. Then she was given an injection and she woke up in this grey chamber with no windows, a locked door and a constant hum.
Looking about she found a the foot of the cot she had awaken on a set of medical scrubs, that she put on immediately, then started banging on the door. She tried for what seemed an hour but was actually less than ten minutes, then returned to the cot nursing her sore arms.
The door opened and a tall black man in a green military uniform entered the room. The left side of the man's face was scarred, his left eye covered by a leather patch. His uniform blouse sported several rows of pieces of ribbons on the left side and a black nameplate on the right with FURY embossed in white letters.
"Good Morning Miss Granger. My name is General Nick Fury. You can call me 'Sir'. Iam the executive director of the Strategic Hazard Intervention, Espionage Logistics Directorate."
"Very good Miss Granger. Very few of your countrymen would be able to identify my organization so readily. Even fewer of your fellow magic users."
"M-m-m-magic?"she stuttered, shocked that he would know of such things. "There's no such thing as magic."
"Miss Granger, please." The man took the position she recognized as a military'parade rest'. "Don't insult my intelligence, or the intelligence gathering abilities of my organization. The young man in your company is one Harry James Potter, heir to the Noble House of Potter and the Ancient and Noble House of Black. The Defeater of The Dark Lord Voldemort at the age of fifteen months. Since that time he has the record for direct confrontations with the aforementioned Dark Lord by a magic user at five. I know all about your little 'magical world' and its ongoing civil war." He stepped closer to the young woman. "So tell me Miss Granger, what were two British Wand Wizards doing at atop secret Weapons test?"
"It was an accident! Honestly it was. We got lost looking for the Moapa Paiutes Reservation. We had an appointment to speak with one of the tribal Shaman, Alexander Grayson."
"We'll be checking on that." His face softened. "I regret the circumstances of out meeting Miss Granger. I take no pleasure in your discomfort. I will see what I can do about your clothing. What you were wearing was destroyed in the decontamination process, and your luggage was destroyed along with your rental car."
"The car was destroyed?"
"Yes it was." He'd seen this before. The girl was coming down off her initial adrenaline rush and was having difficulty believing what was happening to her. That above all else told him she was telling the truth.
"Good thing we took the extra insurance I guess." Hermione said quietly.
Fury looked at her closely. He would need to get someone to stay with her.
"What about Harry?" She asked, suddenly taking a fresh interest. "Can I see him?"
"Mr. Potter is still unconscious Ms. Granger, he was hurt badly, but our doctors tell me he'll be fine. When Mr. Potter regains consciousness I'll see to it you get to see him."
A/N: Afew thoughts
Some of the questions in the reviews keep reoccurring, so I thought I'd answer them here.
Why does Hermione know about SHIELD? Mostly because, in the version of the Marvel universe I'm using, SHIELD is not the secret organization whose name must never be spoken immortalized in the Steranko era (for non-comics geeks, Jim Steranko is one of the Gods of comics art. He took over Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD art from Jack Kirby (another god) and changed a minor back story into its own book and practically invented the Silver Age. But I digress). Rather it is a publicly known organization that does secret things. Think CIA or NSA on steroids. Pretty much everyone knows they exist, but the actual operations are (in theory) secret. I mean the organization has several flying air craft carriers that fly over New York City for goodness sake, how secret could they be? Fury was commenting one Hermione's instant understanding of what the Strategic Hazard Intervention, Espionage Logistics Directorate was.
Did Banner become the Hulk? No.
Why didn't Harry and Hermione just grab Banner and Jones and Apparate away? Because that would have made for a very short story.
How is the Gamma Bomb going to affect Harry? That would be telling.
How does Gamma radiation affect magic? That would also be telling.