Harry Potter: A New Hope Episode IV
Part 2 - The Desert
Hermione Granger did not struggle against the ropes twisted sharply around her wrists. She knew it would be pointless anyway. Even if she managed to slip out of the ropes, she would have several Death Eaters (who surrounded her in an escort) bellowing who knows what into her face. Once or twice she slowed her pace stubbornly, but a jab from a trigger happy someone's wand would push her forward a few paces, much faster than she intended. If only she could see past their hoods, to see if any bestowed any kind of emotion which she could exploit.
The carriage corridor opened up into the buffet room where "The Shadow" stood taller than everyone else, made more menacing by his raspy breath. No one really knew how he had come to be this way, but some people suggested a nasty tickling charm gone awry. He didn't move or speak as the escort entered, just kept his eyes on the captive.
Hermione gritted her teeth as the Death Eaters fell away. "The Shadow. I should have guessed. Only you would be so brave and stupid to do something like this. Well, the Ministry of Magicwill not sit still for this. When they hear you have attacked a peaceful ration carrying train..."
"Commander Granger," "The Shadow" growled dangerously, "don't play games with me. You aren't only any aiding mission this time. You departed a restricted station, ignoring the orders to halt. I know that the blue prints were owled by spies in London. I want that data."
The woman narrowed her eyes. "I don't know what you're rambling on about. I'm a member of the Ministry of Magic on an aiding mission to Hogwarts."
"You are part of the Order of the Phoenix and a traitor," bit out the tall menace. "Take her away!"
Behind his mask, a high ranking Death Eater regarded Granger cynically. "She'll die before she gives you any information."
"The Shadow" rumbled, "Leave that to me. Send out a distress signal, inform those at Hogwarts that the commander's transportation ran into a problem with Goblins and that there were no survivors. And Avery...find me those blueprints!"
"Dobby seems to be made to suffer," the house-elf said gloomily as he and Hedwig made slow progress across a barren countryside experiancing drought. "Dobby lives a rotten life. Dobby needs to rest before Dobby's feet fall off."
Hedwig chittered in an off hand way and turned ninety degrees abruptly, urgently clattering with her beak. Dobby looked at the bird suspiciously. "Hey does Hedwig think she's going? Dobby is not going that way. It's too hilly and full of hunters."
He paused for a moment at the owl's insistent pecking. "What makes Hedwig think there are settlements that way?"
The snowy bird chriped in agitation and soared into the air. Dobby, rapidly becoming only a speck, cursed and yelled, "Hedwig go her way! Hedwig will be shot in a day, the rabies infected apothecary! Don't let Dobby catch Hedwig following him, chirping for help - because Dobby won't give it!"
His shrill cries faded into the wind, leaving the house-elf very much alone in the middle of unforgiving country stretching as far as the eye could see. Grumpily, he stromed down the route he had been taking and kept muttering under his breath about pets being annoying "turd-droppers" with nothing better to do than act on that phrase. Dobby noticed with some increasing panic that the sun was sinking slowly and lazily, the sky darkening with each leap down the ladder of day light.
He was sure he'd been going for hours when he stopped at a rock on the grassy plateau and shot a cross look over at the sweeping hills. The hills rose teasingly, hiding any dangers and the low flying Hedwig. Dobby burst out savagely, "Turd-dropping bird! This is all Hedwig's fault. Hedwig tricked Dobby into going this way, but Hedwig will do no better."
Trying to cheer himself up, Dobby tried counting rocks but was soon bored. With no sign of help in sight, he may as well just lie, baking in the sun, waiting to die...Suddenly, a glint uponthe horizon brought his ugly head up,his huge eyes widening. He wasn't sure what it was, but it looked safe if not friendly. Shoving aside the feeling of foreboding he got, the house- elf ran forward, waving his arms.
Hedwig glided free and low over the hills, dipping gracefully as she searched for a place of solace for the night. Her flight was peaceful and without event as she tried to assess her hidden mission. Of course, that natty house-elf with dire wishes to be freed would never understand. Pathetic. The owl hated to admit to herself that without Dobby constantly hovering around, she felt kind of lonely.
A rustling in the trees that appeared ahead alerted her to a sense of paranoia. Cautiously, she peeked down into them before flying on her way. She kept her eyes on the horizon after that, not noticing the small figures amongst the occasional trees. Hedwig swooped lower and lower in her security and started chittering to herself. Thus she didn't notice the rope net until she'd flown right into it and gotten tangled up. The owl passed out from the effort of trying to escape moments later.
Chortling, the figures emerged from the dark effortlessly. They were Goblins, muttering amongst themselves, giggling about their new haul of stuff to trade onto the nearby farmers. One hacked down the net and began swinging it jovially until another snatched it off him and gloatingly paraded away with it. Ugly stout things they Goblins were, full of malice and quite willing to bite. The only thing that made them cower in their cow skin boots were the Country Raiders.
Still jabbering and fighting, the Goblins took their catch to the nearby waiting tanks. They tore the netting off and tossed the bird into one through a turret before dividing up into their respective tanks. None too gently, the machines shuddered into life and began chugging in a group across the hilly terrain.
A jolt brought a grumbling Dobby awake who was holed up in a corner with assortments of other creatures, most of which were animals fit to be pets. However, he spied a very familiar bird nearby and gushed out, "Hedwig - it's Hedwig, it's Hedwig!"
The house-elf bounded over and threw his thin arms around the owl who wriggled free, making a stinging remark through all her squawks. But at that moment, Dobby didn't particularly care. All that mattered was that he wasn't alone anymore.
The Armoured Floating Fortress
The oak table sagged heavily on its pressured wooden supports. It was dirty and cast under a murky light, piles of parchment and empty bottles of ink littering its face. The stone walls, floors and ceiling were cold to touch and made the conference room freezing. But neither of the high ranking Death Eaters seemed to care as they waited patiently for an arrival by discussing matters.
"I tell you, he's gone too far this time," one muttered angrily. "The Dark Lord should bring him into line - "The Shadow" will be the undoing of us all. Until his fortress is fully equipped, we remain vulnerable while he gallants about the country looking for blue prints he himself lost."
Another pressed his hands together tiredly. "Some of you don't realise how organized the Order of the Phoenix is. Their transport is excellent, their drivers better. They're more dangerous thanyou realize."
An older Death Eater, one with a severe mono brow sneered, "Dangerous to your group, but NOT to this fortress."
"I cannot agree," shot back the previous. "Within the Ministry of Magic, the Order will continue to increase their support as long..."
The door swung open and bange dagainst the wall, drifting only a little inwards on the rebound, cutting off the conversation. All heads turned respectively, but all remained in their seats or corners. Two imposing figures of different stature stood amid the doorway, looking down at each minion. One of these was Commander MacNair, cruel, slightly on the old side and known for his winning strategies and quick decisions. He seemed nothing this time, compared to "The Shadow" who merely inclined his head at the suddenly tense room.
MacNair carelessly positioned himself at the head of the elongated table. "The Ministry of Magic will no longer be of any concern to us. I have just received word that Lord Voldemort has dissovled that system of weak fools. The last remnants of the previous wizarding world have been swept away."
"And what of the existing Order of the Phoenix?" demanded a Death Eater, unconvinced.
MacNair waved a hand dismissively. "The blue prints, an unavoidable mistake. It is immaterial. Any attack made against this fortress by the Order would be a suicidal gesture, stupid and pointless regardless of their spies and blue prints. This frortess has become the most powerful weapon in the world, leaving most nuclear bombs to shame."
A gloved hand rested on the table and moved a stack of parchment without going anywhere near. "The Shadow"'s voice had dropped far below its usual grate. "Don't become too proud of something as small as this. The ability to destroy a cityis still insignificant when set against wandless magic. A simple Disarming Spell might well have more use."
"Basic magic," sneered a young Death Eater. "Don't try to frighten us with your wandless crap. Your sad devotion to things so small has not helped you find those blue prints or gifted you with the insight to find the Order's hidden base. Why, it's a shame fit to..."
Suddenly, his voice dropped off in a gurgle and his eyes bugged helplessly. Slowly his face began to turn blue, blotching around his face. He clawed at his own throat, trying to fight an invisible foe.
"I find," "The Shadow" ventured tonelessly, "Your lack of faith disturbing."
MacNair cleared his throat impatiently. "Enough of this bickering. It is pointless. "The Shadow" will provide us with the location of the Order headquarters by the time this fortress is fully equipped. That known, we will proceed to crush this pathetic attempt with one swift stroke."
"As you wish."
"The Shadow" wriggled his fingers idly and the victim drew in a lungful of air, coughing down on to the table. The Death Eaters muttered amongst themselves, doubt and resentment dripping off their voices. MacNair ignored them, only nodded at "The Shadow" who swept out of the room...