Thank God You’re Here: The Flood
by Big D
Disclaimer: Not mine. No Profit. No Shit.
Challenge: Harry fast-forwarded the tape, stopping at 5:59:06.
"Which is weird, right?" Ron said, gesturing towards the fallen Death Eater. It was barely recognizable as human, let alone male or female. "Look at it. Something just, scrambled the insides."
"What is that?" Snape muttered. "Muggle weapons?"
"I don't know," Fred said. "Maybe it was an accident, friendly fire or something?"
"What do we have, Severus?" Dumbledore asked, walking into Ginny's line of sight.
"Bad-ass DE unit," Snape replied. "All KIA."
"Real pretty," Dumbledore said, casting his eyes onto the cadaver. "Friend of yours?"
"Nah, we just met," Ron said quietly.
Harry jerked the modified omnioculars away from his face as something began pounding against one of the heavy metal doors that lined the dimly walls of the dungeon. The thing must have been a good six inches of solid, magically-enhanced steel, but Harry could clearly see it denting under the massively powerful blows. He frowned. No, not blows... they sounded more like small explosions. He raised his wand and carefully backed away towards the door he had just entered through.
It swung closed behind him with a crash.
Cursing to himself, Harry drew his second wand and moved to the center of the chamber, keeping one weapon trained on the door that seemed moments away from bursting open and his back-up wand in a defensive position behind him.
There was a shrieking sound of tortured metal ripping apart and the door burst open.
Odd, bulbous little creatures boiled out of the tiny cell like a champaign cork popping. Harry caught a glimpse of sickening yellow-green flesh and the smell of pure rot and decay before they were on him, bounding through the air, grasping at his boots with long tentacles like ravenously hungry worms. He greeted them with a stream of fire from one wand and a powerful dueling shield from the other. The hideous little monstrosities shrieked and exploded in violent bursts of green swamp gas when the flames touched them, but somehow were able to pass through his shield with no resistance whatsoever, one of them landing on his shoulder and driving a sharp spike filled with potent venom deep into his flesh, aiming for his spine. He gritted his teeth and cleared the area immediately around him, then tore the creature off of his body, flinging it away to burst harmlessly against the wall.
He could still feel the long stinger inside of him, having broken off when he pulled the thing loose, throbbing as it pumped even more toxins into his system. His temperature spiked, the blood in his veins churning as his immune system raced to destroy the invader. The amount of poison that he had taken should have been enough to kill him on the spot, but his near-fatal encounter with Voldemort’s basilisk during his second year at Hogwarts had given him vast resistance when it came to poisons and venoms, something that had saved his life many times over the years, and hopefully would again now.
Fewer than half the number of creatures that had originally attacked him were still alive, but even more began to erupt from the other doors, surrounding him on all sides. They swarmed towards him in a wave of bulbous, diseased flesh and Harry activated the enchantments in his boots, launching himself upwards and putting as much distance as he could between him and the flood of chittering beasts. It wasn’t much, given the constraints of the ceiling above, but it was enough to buy him some time. The very-illegal boots were based off of the charmed sandals that the Greeks had used back in the good old days, and worked very much the same way that a broom did.
Harry glided through the air like a particularly manly figure skater, dodging nimbly as the creatures hurled themselves at him over and over again and dispensing ugly death with sweeping bursts of flame. On a hunch, he switched to a solid shield projected from the end of his other wand, which gave him less total coverage but was far more effective than his fully magical protection had been a few moments ago. A dark suspicion floated through his mind and he decided to test it out. He thinned the herd down even more, until only a dozen or so of the little ghouls remained, then dropped back to the floor and stepped aside, letting one of them get behind him and firing a Stunning Spell at it once it was isolated from its comrades.
Sure enough, the spell passed right through the creature, as if the magic couldn’t even touch it. The thing bounded at him again and he swatted it away with his shield, letting loose with a Killing Curse to equally useless effect.
“Oh, Voldemort,” Harry whispered. “You stupid, psychotic son of a bitch. What the hell did you make down here?”
He ran a few more quick tests on the survivors and came up with the same disturbing results. The creatures could be killed or blocked by things created with magic, such as fire or transfigured objects, but couldn’t actually be touched by magic itself. The implications were clear and terrifying. It meant that no existing wards, not even the ancient and formidable ones surrounding Hogwarts, would be able to sense them or prevent them from entering. That any magical means of tracking or containing them would be completely and utterly useless.
If these things ever got loose...
Harry snarled wordlessly and destroyed the final handful with a massive, arching blast of blue-white lightning, then turned back towards the door he had entered from. The venom he had been injected with still bubbled in his system, but he could feel the effects lessening rapidly. If not for his special immunity he never would have survived this, but that wouldn’t save anyone else from these beasts... this... flood. It certainly hadn’t saved Dumbledore and the others.
“Well... at least it can’t get any worse,” he muttered to himself.
BOOOOOMMMMM!!!!! The vast, echoing sound of something far larger than the little pods that had already attacked him slamming against the door in front of him told him differently.
Harry snorted in irritation. “Fuck... had to open my stupid mouth.”
This time he didn’t wait for them to come to him. He took a moment to whip up the most powerful Banishing Spell that he could possibly cast and flung it at the thick metal door. Five hundred pounds of solid steel broke free of its hinges and threw itself forward, crushing the creature behind it into pulp against the far wall. Vile green and yellow gore splattered in all directions, but the creature’s companions didn’t hesitate for a second, flinging themselves mindlessly into the fray.
It was then that Harry understood the true nature of the Dark Lord’s Flood.
They were people. Bloated and rotten like they had been left to decompose in a swamp for days, their chests ripped open from the inside, the hearts and lungs replaced by the pod-like things he had fought earlier, but still the bodies of people. Most of them wore torn and blood-soaked Death Eater robes, but Harry had no problem picking out the walking corpses of the Order team that had been sent in to discover just what kind of “super-weapon” that Voldemort was supposed to be developing here.
Little had they known that the so-called weapon would find them first.
Harry didn’t hesitate. He knew what he would want if he were in their place. If there was any part of his friends that was still alive and trapped inside those decayed bodies, then he was determined to end their pain and stop this infection from spreading.
But it wasn’t nearly that easy. The Flood’s resistance to direct magic seemed to extend to their hosts as well, and the fire that had worked so well for him against the little ones was much less effective against the animated corpses he now faced. Oh, it burned them just fine, but these combat forms were large enough to shrug off the pain of their scorched flesh and keep coming, significantly faster and stronger than they had been when they were alive.
Harry took to the air again, but the creatures quickly followed, bounding at him with great leaps that often as not sent them crashing violently into the ceiling. He moved around the room, never staying in one place, alternating fire and lightning with hordes of conjured ball bearings, which he banished savagely into the crowd of former humans like so much ancient musket fire. Curdled, viscous blood splattered onto the floor as arms and legs were ripped apart by the merciless hail of heavy steel projectiles, but the mindless creatures just wouldn’t get the damn hint.
He thought that he was beginning to turn the tide when one of them raised his wand and fired off a weak Killing Curse. Harry nearly dropped out of the air in shock at the revelation that these... things could actually cast spells using the bodies they had stolen.
Something seemed decidedly unfair about that.
Like it was a cue, the other surviving combat forms unleashed a veritable storm of spells at him, forcing Harry to go on the defensive with both wands just to survive. He wasn’t going to last long like this. He needed to escape, needed to regroup and figure out his next move. Moving backwards, deflecting spells and physical attacks at the same time, he flew towards the door and quickly dived through, turning on the speed once he got into the hallway and streaking towards what he hoped would be at least temporary safety.
With the Flood securely behind him for the moment, Harry ducked into what appeared to be a small washroom and took stock. In the crush of battle he had taken a number of small and not-so-small wounds, and was leaking blood in at least a dozen places, but he thought he would survive. For now, anyway. But it wouldn’t take the Flood long to hunt him down, and once he had been eliminated, there would be nothing to stop them from making their way to the surface and infecting every person they could get their slimy little tentacles on.
He glanced into a mirror set into the far wall and grimaced at the haggard, bloody reflection that stared back at him. He was in no condition to go fight a one-man war against a foe that was immune to his most powerful weapons... but it didn’t seem like he had much choice.
What he needed was an edge. Some way to neutralize at least some of the Flood’s advantages over him. He doubted that he was going to be able to figure out a way around their immunity to magic anytime in the next fifteen minutes, so that meant trying to match their strength and speed somehow.
His eyes narrowed in thought and a faint smile flickered across his face as he reached into one of the inner pockets of his robe, pulling out a flat, circular disk roughly the size of his palm. On one face, a hammer was engraved into the center, surrounded by various strengthening and protection runes in a dozen different arcane languages. On the opposite side were minuscule lines of computer code that seemed to subtly change and shift across the jade green surface.
Technomancy, the blending of magic and science, was one of Hermione’s pet projects, and one that she had made vast leaps in since the war began. The majority of her work was way over Harry’s head, but this particular example was something that he had been helping her design and test out. When used properly, it would clothe the caster in armor that vastly enhanced their natural physical abilities and gave them head-to-toe protection against most kinds of magical and non-magical attacks. There were still a number of bugs to work out, largely due to the fact that the armor worked by anchoring itself to the user’s magical core. So not only did it have the very real potential of killing anyone who wasn’t magically strong enough to support it, but it was a steady drain on the user’s power, preventing them from casting higher-level offensive and defensive spells.
Harry felt himself grin. Spells which were practically useless to him at the moment.
“Lorica Magus,” he growled, tapping his wand against the hammer symbol in the center of the amulet.
There was a flash of copper colored light and he felt something pressing against him on all sides, molding to him like a second skin. He looked down saw his hands encased in heavy gloves of green ceramic plating, with black mesh showing through at the joints. Fresh energy flowed through his limbs like a dozen Pepper-Up potions and he suddenly felt like he could run for miles.
Harry glanced into the mirror and chuckled at the gold visor that covered his face. He turned his head as the sound of rapid scuffling and animalistic howls reached him from down the hall. It looked like the Flood had finally caught up... and that suited him just fine.
Taking a wand in either hand, he stepped out to greet them. The Flood swarmed at him, hundreds of disgusting, mutated bodies cramming into either end of the narrow corridor. Harry grinned under his helmet.
“Now let’s finish this fight.”
AN: As you can see, I used the challenge as more of a quick prologue than anything else. Fans of Halo don’t need any more setup to know which scene this is, and anyone who hasn’t played it should be able to follow along just fine.
I was this close to making the Flood into flesh-eating bunny rabbits, just so I could include a joke about Harry forgetting to bring his mummified fox paw (trust me, it’s hilarious if you know what I’m talking about), but thought better at the last minute.
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