Harry had ported himself at the same time as the corpse of one American Ambassador. Using his Magic, he quietly crawled into the air ducts and made his way to the Bridge, where he listened to the Admiral order the immediate evacuation of the ship. He followed, as a seagull, the canoe that took the Admiral and the Bridge crew to the USS Yorktown, and again, disguised as a Rat, made his way to the Bridge where he listened to one side of the conversation. He marked the Admiral in the neck to be able to port to his location at a moment’s notice and also keep track of his displacement. Once satisfied with his intervention, he returned to Camelot, unnoticed.
"Where have you been? The Queen is in her Throne room waiting for a crowd of pen-pushers and she has been asking for you."
"I accompanied Wilkes to the runway deck of the USS Enterprise and gave the Yanks something to think about. You should see it fly over in five minutes..."
"What did you do?" said a worried Frank.
"Oh, simple, uncle Frank: I showed them why it was not a good idea to even consider following up on Wilkes’ nuclear threat. Their Admiral, which commands that fleet, and which I did not catch the name, is on his way to Washington."
"With what is left of Wilkes?"
"Oh no, that one is in deep freeze..."
"They put him in an ice box? At least they did not put him in a barrel of good whiskey like we did for Admiral Nelson!"
"No... Ah, here is the demo. Look up!"
The Mages moved to the window and saw a bright light fly over London. What the hell was that?
"And how is that mirror going to tell the Yanks you are serious?"
"That ‘mirror’ is the USS Enterprise, twenty-four thousand miles up in a circumpolar orbit. It should be over Washington just about when that Admiral lands there. Let us go see the Queen. I wonder why she choose her Throne room rather than Camelot’s as it was us that got threatened?"
"Lack of space, Harry. The Round table sits twelve in tin cans, the Queen, and you as King of Magic, no more. There are standing space for another fourteen and they step on each other’s feet."
"Tin cans, Lady Malfoy?"
"Armor, Sirius. I consider the wardrobe of the Knights tin cans just fit to reduce a man to a sardine!"
Harry snickered, as he too considered the Knight’s armor merely tin cans!
Lady Alice Longbottom and dowager Longbottom joined the procession to the Queen’s Throne room, Harry as a Lion that had his claws out, clicking on the marble floors menacingly. Shortly, the double doors came into view and were opened by guards in faction, calling the attention of the Queen to the new arrivals.
"Ah, you are here.We were wondering... The only one missing is the Lord of Admiralty. He should be here shortly, as We just received a report his function car just turned into the main gate entrance. Have a seat. Harry, can you do Us a favor? Cloth up as formally as you can tolerate. The Lord of Admiralty is a stick in the mud that values decorum more than anything else. We have been trying to break him out of that bad habit, but We doubt his ignoring you for your lack of vestment will be conducive to productive interactions and We do need him and his input. He knows Our forces better than We do. And no, you can not shock him out of it. We need him alive and functioning, not in the mental ward."
Harry’s posture as the depreciated Cat was so hilarious everyone in the room burst into unbridled laughter. Harry quickly changed form and clothed himself in a very formal military dress, with enough decorations to blind anyone that looked at his left pectoral for too long.
"Okay, We will not ask what these pieces of kettle represent..."
"Right, I brought the Merlin first class I won for killing Riddle; I also brought forth the entire collection of House Marks, all two-hundred and fifty I inherited, plus the additional three hundred I gained by right of conquest after disposing of the Death Eaters. Just do not ask me to swim with them: I would drown. Also, I will wear my Crown, visible for once for mundanes. That should bring that Admiral of yours to his knees!"
The Queen realized, once again, that this boy had more weight in her kingdom than herself. At least, he did not flaunt it needlessly to her face... unless she required it of him. Thank God for true modesty.
The Lord of Admiralty walked in and spotted the Queen on her Throne, along with a small group of individuals he quickly identified as the magical side of the Kingdom. One caught his attention to the point he stumbled on the perfectly flat tiles of the room and finally fell on his knees on a cushion that appeared miraculously, no magically, he realized, just in time to save his aging articulations.
"Told you he would fall to his knees upon seeing me!" whispered, theater-style, Harry as he looked at the Queen. "Stand up, Lord Admiral, We do not attach importance too much to such marks of subservience. We much prefer looking at a person in the eyes... And you need not get down to Our level, We will rise to yours when We so wish and feel the need for eye-to-eye exchanges."
Elizabeth noticed Harry had the Imperial We right to an art. She even had to fight bowing to him as he spoke to the Lord Admiral.
Harry finally noticed that there were no sittings for him and the members of the Round Table. He smirked, quite sure the Queen had left things that way so Magic could be brought into play for the irreducible skeptics. He first created a second tier and moved the Queen up, adding a copy of the Throne of Camelot beside hers. He then place a small rectangle table on the lower tier and created seats for the Magical Lords and Ladies; finally, on the floor of the Throne Room, he added another, rather long table, with chairs set across it and facing the Queen, himself, and the Magical Lords.
"Take your place, Ladies and Gentlemen. We have a meeting to start." Harry’s tone, albeit gentle, had the commanding tone of a whip and everyone quickly moved to obey! As soon as the noise of chairs grating the stone floor stopped, Harry looked at the Queen asking for the right to speak. After all, it was her Throne Room, not Camelot’s! She nodded and he stood.
"About an hour ago, William Wilkes, the American Ambassador to the Kingdom of Great Britain, came to meet with the Queen. During this meeting he threatened the Kingdom of invasion, thus triggering my obligation to protect the Throne. I stated so, and he then threatened my kingdom, Camelot, of extermination by nuclear fire. I disposed of him and saw to it that he be brought on-board the USS Enterprise, as a message to the Americans. Once the message was read and photographed, and in which I ordered the evacuation of said aircraft carrier, the Admiral abided and thus saved his crew. Once the ship was vacated, I slowly ported it into space, where it is now in circumpolar orbit at twenty-four thousand miles of altitude. The Pentagon should have a front seat view of the new satellite in twenty-one hours, just as the Admiral commanding the Sixth Fleet lands in there. I heard the Admiral acknowledge instructions on the horn from Washington, but I have no idea as to their nature. In short, until further notice, we must take Wilkes’ declaration of war at face value and consider Great Britain is in effect at war. I, for one, will bring the Magical to bear on the issue, and as my own Kingdom got threatened, the Americans will learn the cost of pissing off High Mages. I may be the only one currently present in this dimension, but I felt billions of us across the divide. It would not even create a noticeable dent in the population to bring a few millions across to knock the Americans back to the stone age. As King of Magic on this side of the divide, I hereby order general mobilization of the Mages. The Americans will find not a single one of theirs will stand with their government as they are bound by Magic to my Crown and would die if they tried to betray me by inaction or overt action against my Crown. So mote it be!"
A blinding flash of light erupted in the venerable hall, and Mages around the World felt the call to battle from their King.
"BRR! Harry, I felt the burn of the call and I am supposed to be a friend. Those that do not have your interests at heart will die!"
"I know, Lord Longbottom. I would not be surprised if some hard-nosed Mages were found dried husks. Magic is unforgiving."
All around the world, Mages felt the call; some tried to ignore it and... turned to dust as Magic abandoned them. The news agencies soon learned of the sudden combustion of hundreds of people in all reaches of society around the globe and NBC even showed one person burning alive from a camera crew in New Zealand, before the clip was pulled down when someone finally realized it was not a Bonze immolating himself to protest some inequity or other. No one thought of associating these events with anything Magical, except the Mages themselves... and the high-ranking officials of the American Administration, as it cost them quite a few persons. Strangely, there were delays in Magic’s retribution: some betrayers were flying in mundane planes and only burst into flames on the tarmac, once they walked off the plane! It was attributed by the authorities, wrongly, to a failed coordinated attack by terrorist.
"What are your ideas concerning the unfolding events?" asked the Lord of Admiralty, looking shakily at the young King that just killed an unknown number of his own people for betraying an order.
"First, we activate your fleet to DEFCON One. That should bring the readiness level for immediate intervention to full power. Second, as I just did, you order General Mobilization. Recall every member of the forces that have retired aged sixty-five or less. Convert your industry to producing military equipment, from guns to tanks. Kick the shipyards to full production. Increase the production of aircrafts. Abandon, for the moment, the restrictions on the use of coal. You need energy to run smelting plants to produce steel. Reactivate bomb shelters and make sure they are able to sustain a nuclear hit. Create water reserves underground to supply the population with that vital resource. Install as much of your production underground. Move those that can not produce out of the way, preferably underground in the countryside. Cities are favored targets by the Yanks. Dig tunnels at least 300 feet below to allow people to move without going outside. Install geiger counters everywhere and have their reading automated so we can follow any radioactive material displacement, be it in the air or in the ground water. Install filters in water lines to catch radioactive elements; centrifugation is one of the best ways to keep them separate from water, and will allow us to keep the water supply relatively clean. If you have anti-missile capabilities bring them on-line, but also produce more of these missiles and lay them on the Atlantic coast. The Americans will try to deal with us by crossing the Atlantic Moat. Ah yes, put an array of sound sensors to track their submarines and their ships around your coasts. Move your National Treasures down below. Abandon surface dwellings and move everyone below. Do not forget your island is mostly chalk, so it is relatively easy to dig tunnels in it. Use the equipment used to create the Channel Tunnel. I will use it as a model to create several thousand copies of this machinery, but it is up to you to use them."
"What about water leakage?" asked the Queen.
"Chalk is relatively water-tight at a certain depth. By making your shelters, tunnels, and production facilities at that depth, you can probably minimize the need for water pumps to the entrances and other sub-surface facilities. Anyway, I can also order the production of pumps and pipings. It will be up to you to install them! High Elves are good at doing repetitive tasks."
"I am sure the Yanks will notice the construction work," said the Minister of Industry.
"They will, but I plan to use Magic to the hilt. First, the entrance to the construction sites will be hidden by Magic. Disillusionment charms are good for that. Then, I can put a ward that will port any ill-intentioned person into a magical cage. Bye-bye spy network or mundane traitor. Magic is already taking care of my own people."
The last comment sent a shiver down the spines of everyone in the room, even if, at that time, they were yet unaware of the extent Magic had been applied on the Mages.
"For now, we use the Underground as atomic shelter, until we can move the people to the new shelters!" ordered the Queen, getting in on the decision process.
"I expect London will be one of the main targets, along with Belfast and Edinburg. There is also the possibility they will try to target Hogwarts, so I will reinforce its wards and add anti-radiation ones. After all the Founding quartet had no knowledge about nuclear bombs and could not plan for them. Your Palace here and the one in Scotland are also to be considered main targets. I will set up top-notch wards around both. After all, Camelot’s Throne room is right under us! I will also move the Portal to this building, right below Camelot’s Throne room. That way, I will not need to travel to the Ministry for Magic to go to my dimension. Madam Bones, see to it that the department of Mysteries and the DMLE move out of the Ministry building. I will reinforce the wards there as well. Frank, Sirius, your wards are good enough, however, I want the House Elves out of there, as well as your family. That goes for you as well, Lady Malfoy. I will visit your Manor to reinforce the wards. Move everyone to my Manor in Sussex. It is unknown to the Yanks, and Grandpa Potter did a good job of warding it. I only need insure there is no radiation drifting through as I will for your Manors."
"Anything else, your Majesty?" asked the Minister of the Exchequer.
Harry was not expecting that call by the mundane, so did not respond immediately.
"It is you he is talking to, young man, not me," noted Elizabeth, smirking.
"Let me see... Oh yes... Madam Bones, see to it that anti-radiation and anti-ballistic wards are set around mundane building of importance. They might nuke us, but they could also use conventional bombs. Why facilitate the destruction of historical monuments and buildings? Elizabeth, make sure schools and universities are vacated, and indicate to my people the principal research centers, be they of military value or not. Also include hospitals for immediate sheltering, albeit as soon as the underground shelters are built, the medical staff and the rooster of patients gets moved. An empty building is a less tempting target. Anything else?"
"Update water filtering plants to remove radioactive elements?" said a mundane whom had not been identified by the Queen.
"Correct. We will supply magical filters. That will help. However, your city plumbing is way too shallow to be effective should the city be hit. I will have to ask for my people to install substations along the main water lines. Anything else?"
As no one said anything, Harry looked at the Queen. She stood up and spoke: "You have your work cut out for you. Get to it, and be diligent. Remember, do not talk of this conference in public. Walls have ears. Have a good day!"
With that, the Queen, Harry, and the members of the Round table moved out of the Mundane Throne room, leaving behind a group of shocked individuals. Madam Bones stood up and spoke:
"All Mages, report to the Ministry. We are on a war footing. We need to ready the move of our facilities as ordered by the King! Lord of the Admiralty, I will pay you a visit as soon as things get moving on my side."
"Fine, Madam Bones."
With a nod of acknowledgement, Amelia Bones walked out and reached the nearest floo connection, quickly getting to her office. As she made her presence known, an Auror called her:
"Madam Bones, the Minister exploded in flames ten minutes ago and is now in dust!"
"So, Finigan planned to betray Harry, the High Elf King of Magic. I always thought his obsession with power was of bad taste. Do not bother writing a necrology column for the Daily Prophet. I am sure they will contend themselves with putting a list of names in the back of the journal. Just add it to the list... Oh, what am I saying? The Roll of Birth and Death will report every magical death and why. Just sort them by alphabetical order and cause of death. I suspect ‘Betrayed vow to Magic’ will be a major cause of death."
"You heard the Queen and the King," said the Lord of Admiralty, "Madam Bones is on the dot: we are at war. I hereby decree military rule, not that I needed to as the Queen has already stated so when she took power some years back, but I wish to remind you that we are under Camelot’s rule, the rule of that young Boy, the King of Magic, and that the Mundane Throne is subsidiary to his! Scotland Yard is hereby authorized to arrest and detain indefinitely any mundane suspected of terrorist act, any spy, or any traitor. Knowing how effective the Knights of the Round Table are, I intend to keep up with them! Get moving!"
Harry kept busy reinforcing Manor wards around the country, barely taking a break to eat and rest. Within twelve hours, all Magical Manors had seen their wards reinforced to filter radioactive material and their water supply secured. Meanwhile, Sirius installed magical filters on the main water lines of the principal cities of the Kingdom, Lord Longbottom reinforced the underground tunnels and added proper wards, and Ladies Alice Longbottom, Dowager Augusta Longbottom, and Narcissa Malfoy began warding mundane monuments, starting with the biggest and oldest. After taking a break, they moved to Edinburg, and paid a visit to Hogwarts, informing a shocked McDonnagall of the state of war with the United States, of the need to reinforce the wards, and to expect Harry’s visit shortly.
"What about my ancestral home?"
"Harry is improving the wards of Manors, including yours, Minerva."
"I will open my home to as many children as possible."
"That may be good, but Harry has already opened some six hundred Manors to take in both mundanes and magical children. I will reinstate my invitation, and add yours when I see him. I am sure Alice will also add her voice to the plea. Now, off we go; Belfast awaits. Then we need to visit Stonehenge, and other important sites. Yanks are willing to protect history... as long as it favors their side of the story!"
Moving back to London, Harry quickly created a new room under Camelot’s Throne room, a gothic arch style that could support immense pressure without the need for pillars. Once that was done, he ported to the Ministry of Magic, waved to a very busy Amelia Bones, went down to the Portal Arch as quickly as possible, and wrapped the Arch in a magical bubble before shrinking it. He had bare minutes to move it to its new location as the magical field condensed and stressed. He did not bother getting out by the standard means, directly porting to the new room and expanding the Portal Arch as quickly as possible. He then installed an anti - apparation ward to prevent someone from misusing the gate. Finished with this task, he moved up to Camelot’s Throne room and sat in the Magical Royal Throne, thus activating the connection with the Elvin dimension.
His sudden appearance on the table surface took the High Elves by surprise, and they quickly sat quietly, waiting for Harry to speak.
"I hereby order the General Mobilization of all Elves from age twelve up, male or female! My Kingdom is under threat of attack. I plan to strike first. I expect one hundred thousand High Elves to be on this side within the hour. I have moved the gate to under my Throne room. Every time one hundred of you have ported across the gate, press the red button found in front of the gate and you will be ported across the wards to a switchman. You are to report to Lord Sirius Black, my Godfather, whom will see to it that you are distributed across the kingdom evenly. I do not want you to be concentrated and become easy targets for my enemies. They can and will hit from a distance given the opportunity. You will notice the moment I opened this communication, a magical decree took effect. Traitors to my Crown died instantly. I just hope I did not lose too many of you to the misconception that they could roll over me and get away with it. The Mages on this side probably have lost a large number of their own to this decree already. I will know when I get the newspapers."
Harry got up, thus cutting the communication. He expected obedience, and may God attempt to save foot-draggers! He moved to Sirius’ location, currently finishing the installation of the last filter in Belfast.
"Hey Harry, what brings you here?"
"Frank and you will be in charge of spreading my Elves around the country. Make sure they are well spread out, well hidden, and safe in anti-radiation wards. You should expect the first one hundred in thirty seconds. Go to the mundane Throne Room, where they will materialize shortly. I already sent a message to Frank via my patronus and he should meet you there. I expect you two to work in tandem: you to receive the Elves and give them the image of where to port while Frank builds the barracks and the incoming elves ward them for their own safety. Do not forget to give them the knowledge of nuclear weapons and how to filter radioactive material with wards."
"I do not know..."
"Yes, you do. I gave you that information mind to mind while I gave you my directive. Get going! You are almost late!"
Sirius quickly obeyed, barely apparating ahead of the first contingent. Spotting the leader he sent him the information on wards Harry had just dumped in his mind. Less than a second later, Frank’s patronus showed up and dumped the image of the location for the first barrack site to all the Elves present. Understanding the message, the group ported there to begin installing wards while Frank moved off to another site, right across the country.
Barely two seconds after their departure, another group of High Elves appeared and the process repeated itself. Sirius kept eating chocolate by the box, and Frank was drinking it in its raw syrupy form to supply himself with enough energy to create stable barracks. Luckily for the two Mages, the flow gradually dwindled to one new contingent every two minutes, giving them a welcome break.
"We are the last ones. The next troops will come through in five hours. General Mobilization is not something we are used to do," said the commander of the last block of High Elves.
"Thanks for small mercies. I was running out of chocolate!" said Sirius. "And Frank’s last patronus looked rather thin!"
"Where is Our Lord?"
"His last patronus has him getting ready to port on-board the mundane plane as it lands in Washington. I suspect he wants to insure the safety of the Admiral of the sixth Fleet and also monitor the reaction of the brass and civilians in the American Capital. That kid gives me the creeps. He has done more to protect the British Isles and their colonies in the past twenty hours than we did. I wonder where he finds all that energy. Ah, here is the last patronus from Frank. Port to the location it feeds you. I suspect Frank will meet you. You have your instructions on warding. Once it is done, make sure to rest. We may need you on short notice."
Harry moved to the bathroom in the rear of the plane and warded the aircraft from ballistic objects. He did not put it beyond the creeps to try and shoot down the plane to have an excuse to attack his people. Shortly, the plane landed and taxied to the gate. Harry ported to the front door where the Admiral was walking to exit the craft. Harry, sitting above the door, out of sight, enveloped the mundane in a bullet-proof ward the moment he stepped out, just in time as a bullet rebounded and hit the plane’s inner door. Several further shots were heard, but Harry barred passengers from leaving the plane behind the Admiral and shielded the passengers both inside the plane and on the mobile bridge leading to the concourse. The Admiral took a dive to the floor that would have made any footballer proud, and crawled out into the concourse, thus removing himself as a target.
Harry located the shooters, all four of them, from his vintage point and stopped their hearts, thus disposing of the threat. One individual, that had not fired, looked up at him and lost his memory as Harry extracted every bit of information the back-bench leader of the group had concerning the attack. Harry also found enough information about what he now called a disguised coup to get quite a few mundanes incinerated. Once the mundane’s mind turned to mush, Harry released him and watched as his body tried to call upon the breathing reflex only to noticed it really needed to focus on the act to do anything of the sort. Harry smirked. Destroying gray matter nodes of the lower brain always had fascinating effects!
Harry made his way in the concourse, catching up with the Admiral, that was quite recognizable even if he was in civilian skivvies, if only because of his pitiful attempts to pass unnoticed in the collection of freaking passengers. The sudden incineration of a Mage as it reached the baggage claim added to the mayhem and helped Harry get closer to the Admiral, totally unnoticed in his shorts, running shoes, T-shirt and Cubs baseball cap. To complete the disguise, Harry added a pair of neutral glasses that gave him a nerdy look.
Once the Admiral had recovered his luggage, Harry casted a disillusionment charm on him and escorted the Admiral out of the claim area. Looking around, he spotted the Admiral’s contact, whom was wearing a full-blues uniform. What a way to pass unnoticed! That was the Chief of Staff? No wonder a coup was in progress directly under his nose. Harry walked with the Admiral and then whispered to his ear:
"The guys that tried to kill you may not be alone. Walk to your contact but do not say a word. I will hide him from view the moment we reach him. I see at least a dozen interested parties keeping an eye on him and trying to spot you. Given the crowd which encircles us, keep moving and, for the sake of your survival, do not act so stiff!"
The Admiral understood he was being protected by a Mage, but he could not see how it would work since he stood out like a Christmas Tree on Time Square! And his contact was getting ready to light the Christmas lights with his uniform, tons of medals, and the blues! The Admiral did as instructed and moved to his contact, without saying a word.
Harry, still in close contact with the Admiral, pulled him to a stop a foot in front of the Chief of Staff. He then froze the man in place to stop him from making sudden moves that would have told his watchers something was up.
"General Wolf, you are a dumb ass. You were supposed to meet the Admiral incognito! Is wearing the full blues dress your notion of incognito? Or is it you plan as an excuse you never learned Italian? No use trying to talk, or even move. I am keeping you still, in balance and, for better or worse, alive. There are a dozen interested parties just in this hall. I will create a... shade, that will walk slowly toward the door in front of you as if you had spotted your target. This will make the interested parties move into final position. The moment the shade is created, you, Sir, will become invisible, much like the Admiral is currently. As I will be busy keeping the shade moving and visible, you need to walk toward the exit on your own. When you reach the door, stay away from it and wait for me. I will need a few minutes to dispose of the trackers in the hall. Do not go out, as there are others and you can not exit the door as they are controlled by the passage of a visible target in front of magic eyes. Got it? Oops, forgot! You can not talk. Okay, the shade is created. Both of you start moving to the door. Hug the walls please and stay away from groups. It is hard not to notice when someone collides with an invisible wall, way too hilarious, and you guys are just such movable walls!"
Harry watched the two men make their way for the back wall and slowly progress along it to the corner. Once they had reached said corner and began to walk along the wall leading to the window panes and the domestic embarkment point, he had the shade move purposely toward the luggage claim door, as if it had spotted its target. Making sure the shade did not ‘collide’ with anyone and pass through either a person or a column (one sure-fire way to break an illusion!) , he positioned the shade near the door. Studying the crowd of on-lookers, Harry spotted an additional two interested parties. He quickly scanned their minds and found they were the leaders of the two assassination teams, one for the Chief of Staff, and one for the Admiral. A thought set all fourteen on fire, and created another panic wave in the public. The King of Magic used the result to port to the two targets, and, grabbing them, ported them out of the airport grounds.
It was the sudden change of scenery that told the two mundanes something had happened.
"What? What happened back there?" asked the Chief of Staff to invisible interlocutors.
Harry, having made the area invisible to mundanes, removed the disillusionment charms on all parties involved, including himself.
"Good afternoon, Admiral, and you too, General Wolf. I am Lord Harry James Potter, King of Magic. What you did not see back there was a group of fourteen people burst into flames; twelve were targeting you, and two were their controllers. Had you managed to reach your car, starting the engine would have incinerated the both of you, from what I found reading the leaders’ mind. That was the responsibility of a group specialized in high - yield explosives distinct from the three groups we just met. I plan to dispose of them. However we do need to blow the car in-situ to give those targeting you the change. The promoters of this will probably believe you spotted their men and disposed of them in the most gruesome manner but that you missed the explosive device, thus getting killed. You follow me so far?"
"Err, yes," said the Admiral. "After feeling bullets whizz by while de-boarding the plane, I am inclined to believe you. Was it you that created the living torch in the luggage claim hall?"
"Indirectly. It was a Mage that betrayed his vow to the High Elf Crown, my Crown. Magic does not hold trials, it executes betrayers."
"Your legal system expedites the judiciary process!"
"Very much so. The laws are also simple: respect Magic, respect your vows, respect your gift, and you will do well. Do otherwise and you end up dead... incinerated, as is the case here. Or without Magic for some rare occasions."
"So, what now?"
"Take a seat at that table and talk. You will not be disturbed. I need to get a car blown up... after leaving another six corpses laying around. It should take half an hour. The hard part is to reduce collateral damage."
"You do need to leave some collateral..."
"I know. I just want to make sure no innocent is hurt. I could not care less for cars. Their owners should have insurance. Luckily, General, I read in your mind you parked on the top of the multi-level parking lot. That will reduce damage. I can easily see pieces of a car encrusted into a concrete ceiling, while a ball of fire spread to adjacent cars. The result would have been almost impossible to circumscribe. I created a small meal for you on the picnic table over there. I know airplanes believe chips are the best way to pass your appetite, and that the Admiral is starving. Included is Chicken, salad, baked potatoes, and a fruit pudding. To drink, water and white wine. The white wine is in limited quantities, but water will never run out. At the end, coffee or tea is available. Again, in limited quantities! You do not need to be high on caffeine when I come back from my little clean-up. See you later!"
Harry ported to the General’s car, a Hummer in black that stood out like the nose in the face! Harry smirked... He slowly made his way to near the car and spotted a man under it as he passed in the other row... The other five were keeping look-out for unwanted snoops, quite close to the car. They ignored the child, only to tell the man working under the engine to hurry up as if there was a child, adults could not be far.
Harry continued to the end of the parking lot, hid behind a van, and triggered the explosion after making sure no civilian bystanders would be hurt. The resulting explosion threw the car several feet in the air, tearing it to bits and making shrapnel of its components. Harry ported out immediately, not bothering to check if someone survived. That explosion was powerful enough to set cars on fire several yards away from the target, and a cascade of explosions could be heard from the picnic table.
"Do you think it is his work?" asked the General.
"It is my work. I think they went a bit overboard with the plastic. I estimate they put in 5 kilos of the C4 thing. Had it been below, the damage would have collapsed the upper floors of the parking lot."
"They will be able to report success..."
"To the Devil... I blew up the explosive charges as they were keeping watch while their explosive expert completed the connections. From the peek before I ported, they were reduced to tenderized meat and being cooked in gasoline from ten or so bursted car tanks that were feeding the fire. Ah, the smell of roasting pork!"
The two military whistled. Talk about a well-conducted varmint removal task!
Harry sat down and picked an orange, which he began peeling while looking at the two militaries.
"General, whom did you tell of your meeting with the Admiral?"
"Let me see... my orderly. After all, he wondered why I had cancelled this afternoon’s Chief of Staff meeting."
"What is that man’s leitmotiv? What drives him?"
"Ambition. He would sell his mother for a promotion."
"So, he is trustworthy... as long as it serves his ambition, right?"
"Is he well-known? Does he have political contacts?"
"His dad is on the Military Appropriation committee... A senator, from Massachusetts if my memory serves me right..."
"Is there anything about the man that stands out apart from his dad and his ambition?"
"He is a religious zealot," commented the Admiral.
"He is?" asked a surprised General. "He never approached me..."
"Your faith is well-known, General. As a Presbyterian, you are main-stream. He would not bother you with it. As an atheist, an avowed atheist, I was targeted repeatedly by that prick for conversion, and had to put up with his impassioned speeches concerning my evil ways and my damnation. I told him that, as a Devil’s advocate, I would see to it he got into the propeller blender if he ever came on-board one of my ships! You should have seen his face! It was hilarious, but I misjudged the impact of that exchange. He has been trying to double-cross me every step of the way, and even overrule my decisions concerning the Sixth Fleet. I had to put my foot down several times, and threaten court-martial if he kept it up. He just changed tactics, and decided to undermine my authority with more subtlety."
"So, we have the motive, the means, and the modus operandi. Tell me, on the political side of things, what would be the relation between that man, his dad, and Ambassador Wilkes?"
"Wilkes is, err, was married to his Aunt, and was the little bastard’s Godfather," the General replied.
"Anyone else you might consider part of this conspiracy? Close friends, high-level boot-lickers, family members? I have a network I sort of read from the minds of the cold cuts now peppered around the airport, and I would like to know if these Mites were actually in the secret or just plain sacrificial lambs for gun fodders."
"Well, I sure would like to know what faith that little bugger really practiced. Zealots come in many flavor, and nothing tells us he is not a member of the numerous anti-magic groups that have flourished since the return of your Kingdom to the fore. We had several groups calling for the reinstatement of Witch burnings, especially in or near Salem."
"Salem, George? Are you talking about Salem, Massachusetts?"
"I would not put it beyond plausible that the Senator we are talking about represents the riding where Salem is located."
"It bears some research. We might as well look into where Wilkes was born. He moved to Utah, if my memory is correct, but I do not know where he was raised."
"So, if I get the picture you are sketching right, we could be facing a small group of religious fanatics that has managed to infiltrate the American military to the point they can order the murder of the Chief of Staff and the Commander of the Sixth Fleet. Nothing stops them from trying to trigger a nuclear war, especially if one of their members or more likely several, are in the line of command to launch said missiles. Am I near the truth?"
"Way too close to the truth for comfort," replied General Wolf.
"How could they bypass the triple layers of security? After all, it takes the President, the Vice-President, and the Secretary of Defense to order such a launch."
"What happens if say, one of the triad dies? For instance, the Secretary of Defense?"
"There is a whole list of cascading people involved, going from the Secretary of Defense, it devolves to the Speaker of the Senate, the Speaker of the House, the Chief Justice... and so forth. It would take the entire destruction of the top level of the government for the nukes to be left in direct command of a non-civilian... And the complete incineration of this country for myself to be called into it." explained General Wolf.
"And yet, Wilkes was sure he could trigger the launch on a whim. I am perplexed," commented Harry.
"Could our launch codes have been compromised?" asked the Admiral. "No amount of security is fool-proof."
"Especially when it comes to religious beliefs. They supersede, for many, any fidelity to a nation. I think you can name groups that have either refused to serve, or down-right worked against the security of the state. You mundanes do not have the added layer of protection afforded by a magical vow. And notice we have yet to get a complete count of those who ended up burned to dust by Magic... The Roll of Magic still reports deaths on a minute-by-minute basis, and that gives only a partial list, as the Roll of Magic only counts those that are within this plane of reality, not those living across the Portal. I should have an approximate count by the end of the day, as each Mage leaves a sensitive area thus becoming susceptible to the application of the Magical retribution for forfeiting their ancestral vows."
"Define sensitive area, please?" asked the Chief of Staff.
"An airplane, a ship, a nuclear facility, a car or other motorized vehicle, a horse, donkey, or other animal that would suffer from their fiery death, a laboratory, a storage facility such as a paper mill’s, a grain silo, a grain mill, a manufacturing plant... The list could go on for several hours... In short, any situation where if the person leaves her station, or bursts into flames, the result would lead to persons suffering, an industrial disaster, or a transport accident. That is why the Mage on your plane only burst into flames as he walked into the Airport Concourse. By then, he was off the plane, there was no danger of explosions, and the fire could not spread."
As the meeting came to an end, The Admiral asked a clarification.
"George, you said the condition was Code Red. You certainly did not have an inkling of the gravity of the situation when you talked to me?" as he looked at the passage of his ship above his head, wondering if, one day, he could convince the young boy in front of him to bring her back down.
"That the situation was so out of control? No. But when you read to me the message over the horn, I realized something was terribly wrong in the line of command if an Ambassador could order a nuclear attack. That should never even have been thought possible. So I tried to give you a message without saying too much: prepare for the worst, and expect it get even worse. I figure you understood."
"Yes. That is why I carry the documents inserted in a wooden canister, itself lodged in my ass hole. They could search me and find nothing. Even an x-ray would show nothing, as the wood is balsa, and of the same density as crap. I had the on-board dentist put in a false teeth with chloro cyanide. I only need to bite the teeth hard for the gas, under high pressure, to enter my lungs and kill me and everyone within 10 yards."
"Good. We have had the same idea, it seems. I paid a visit to my family dentist and explained the need for this procedure. As I had complained to my wife about a pain in a tooth for the last month, it did not seem out of place when I told her I was going to an emergency dental appointment this morning as the pain had become unbearable."
"Good precautions, gentlemen. I suggest you do not return to the Pentagon. It is probably infiltrated to the highest level. My next target is to visit the White House Situation Room. I want to know if your President, or any higher member of the Administration, is implicated in this nuclear time bomb. I will bring you to Salem Magical Institute, and leave you there. I can not, for your own safety, bring you home. I am sure your homes are under surveillance. For the same reason, you can not, under any circumstance, call your family. They would instantly use them as chips to pressure you into doing something."
The two men nodded.
"It is an integral part of Code Red. The moment I uttered these two words, we stopped having a family," said, somber, the General.
"Yet, you used a vehicle that spelled ‘military brass’ in capital letters, and wore your blues."
"I had nothing else to wear. Civvies are not on the list of things to keep in my office, young man. Anyway, had I left in civvies, I would not have been able to leave without tons of embarrassing questions being asked by just about every nosy busybody! And can you see me ask one of the civilian employees if I could borrow his car indefinitely? I had to lie to the car pool employee, complaining I had an emergency meeting and my function car just would not start... It would not, because I unplugged one of the cables to the fuel injection regulator. Having been a land lubber in a motorized division of the Army during my youth has its benefits! They will work on the problem for days... as I grounded the cable, which seems to be normal on the outside. Oh, and I am sure they will try to boost the electrical circuit, thus ensuring that the computer board burns and smokes badly as it melts the tiny copper wire I used to ground the circuit."
"George, are you sure you are not a terrorist? Destroying state property!" snickered the Admiral.
"Anyway, off to Salem Institute. Stand up gentlemen, Royal Bus Service is glad to have you on-board for a quick trip to Salem Underground."
The two men stood, and saw the table disappear and the food get distributed for the animals in the park.
"If I create food, it is to share it. Animals need it as much as you do."
Taking the two by the wrist, he popped to the office of the American Secretary for Magic, located 25 stories below the surface of the park commemorating the Salem Witch Hunts... ironic sense of humor these Yanks...
Quick introductions done, Harry left the two to the able care of the Lady. "No need to search for an exit. There is none for non-magical beings. The only in or out of here is by porting. I will be back after visiting the White House."
Harry popped to his destination, hoping to find information that would reduce the need to flatten the country.