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Out of Time by Marshal
Chapter 1: Chapter 1
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"The time bubble will tear the great known world apart! In less than five minutes Epsilon Three will be inverted into it and it will be worse than a black hole tearing apart the very fabric of the universe!"
"How do we stop it?"
"There really isn't..."
"There has to be a way!
"If someone goes through..."
"That isn't guaranteed! And it is suicide!"
"I'll do it."
"What? Marcus, you can't. There is no way to tell if it would work. It might not."
"It's a chance, right? If we stand here and do nothing we're all dead, but if I go in at least we'll have tried something. Either way, I'm dead - and I like my odds better trying than sitting here and doing nothing. What do I need to do?"
The words continued to ring through Marcus' mind as he drifted in and out. All that existed around him and in him were those words. As the explanation of what he needed to do started up for what seemed like the hundredth time, he felt a sudden jolt as air rushed into his lungs causing his back to arch for a moment before falling hard against the ground below him. It was at this point that his eyes blinked open and he saw a large tree towering above him and sunlight streaming from the branches.
"Oh, Bugger." He was supposed to be dead. He knew at least that much things were fuzzy in his mind and as he lay there, things started to fade in his mind. The words were less clear and the images were broken. He could see a face of concern in his mind and a bright light and diving into it. As the images dissipated and the words grew into a distant memory he lay there staring at the sky. This was most certainly not dead. He could feel a weight of fatigue all throughout his body and he knew that if he lifted his head it was going to be throbbing and in a great deal of pain as well. A small groan escaped his lips. Laying there until heaven knew when was not an option he needed to get up and figure out what in the name of sanity was going on, what was happening.
The moment he shifted to get up the tree did as well. In an instant, the branches were coming down at him and he just managed to roll away, his body reacting to the situation before his mind was. He grabbed a small metal cylinder that extended into a long pole and began to deftly counter and block the flailing limbs of the tree that was swinging at him. All the pain and fatigue that he had felt moments before were gone pushed aside and forgotten in the heat of the moment. Fighting a tree was not exactly part of his training and if he had been told he would be doing that in his lifetime he would have told the person that they were barking. Yet here he was taking on an overgrown tree with serious anger management issues. It wasn't like he had tried to pee on it or invited himself to sit under it. What set it off he didn't know but he knew enough that you didn't take a tree like this full on and so as he used his den'bok to rebuff another swing of the tree all while jumping over a low swing of a branch he moved to get out of this tree's reach. He finally just found himself out of reach with a summersault that if it had landed short would have ended with a solid blow against him by the tree. Having solidly missed him the tree seemed to let out a creaking groan as it raised up into its statuesque position.
"Have I somehow found myself on the planet of the killer trees?" he asked of no one in particular as he caused his weapon to collapse into a smaller more manageable form. He sheathed that beneath his robes as the pain and fatigue from before started to ebb back and he staggered as the world began to spin around him. He had to figure out where in the universe he was and what was going on. What was next was the grass going to rise up and start biting at his ankles?
He looked to the grass for a moment waiting for that to happen next before he gave up on it and turned to see the most remarkable thing he had seen in a very long time. A castle, a right bloody castle full on with grand stone stairs and towers. He wouldn't have been surprised if further out there were ramparts. Of course, it was missing a moat but who needed a moat when you could potentially have a grove of killer trees? Not to mention there was a lake.
Marcus' attention didn't sit there for long and a woman in a long cloak billowing behind her came rushing down the last few steps and across the large lawn toward him. Instinct put him on guard and he was ready to pull our his den'bokif necessary.
"For the love of Merlin! What in the world do you think you were doing? I have a right mind to report you..." The words fell off of the woman's lips as she took a closer look at Marcus and took in his attire. "Who are you? How in the world did you get here? You are not one of the students."
"Student?" asked Marcus in confusion noting that this woman was of an English background. It wasn't often anymore than he came across a fellow Brittan. "No, I -" Marcus faltered and stumbled forward a bit.
"Are you alright dear?" The woman took on a concerned tone as she reached out a hand to potentially try and steady him.
Marcus opened his mouth to try and tell her what all had happened but the words never left his mouth and his body slumped into the woman's arms and he was out cold. He was unaware of any noises and sounds until he heard soft voices speaking a male and female the woman who he had met outside but he wasn't outside anymore. He was on a bed a soft bed and the place smelled distinctly medicinal. He didn't quite open his eyes and he kept very still as he listened to what was being said.
"I don't know where he came from Headmaster. I was on my way out to meet with Remus Lupin and there he was out on the lawn fending off the whomping willow. You don't think he could have apparated do you?"
"I highly doubt that Poppy. The charms and protections around the school are still standing strong. It is not possible to have apparated into school grounds."
"You don't think it was some form of dark magic. With the news that has been going on outside the castle..."
"I hardly think that to be the case either. You yourself said that he was found without a wand and while there are some witches and wizards myself included who are capable of some small forms of wandless magic - there are none who are capable of achieving something as great as breaking into Hogwarts without a wand."
"Then how do you think he got here?"
"That I don't know but hopefully when our mysterious young man awakens, he will be able to shed some light onto the situation."
With the Marcus heard the shifting of people as he assumed the man walked away. Marcus didn't dare move or look around as he listened to what was around him. He didn't dare indicate that he was awake as it seemed he was going to be faced with an interrogation. At this point, he was at an advantage as he was thought to be unconscious. It was in his best interest to feign still being asleep so as to be able to gather more information, which his mind was already swimming. Wandless magic? Charms and protections around the school? Where the hell was he? There was no such thing as magic. Sure there were stories and tales of magic all throughout his countries' history but surely it wasn't real. He had seen some amazing and interesting things in his life the universe was filled with odd mysteries that were near impossible for him to explain or describe but he certainly would not call it magic, certainly not something with wands and charms.
As he chewed on this new bit of information the door or rather what sounded like the door to the room he was in swung open with a loud bang. "Is he okay? Is he alright?" panted a tenor voice with concern.
"We knew he was sick but we didn't know he was that sick," offered yet another voice.
"Is - is he going to die!?" squeaked yet a third voice.
"Boys, please. Mr. Lupin is perfectly fine, he is currently resting."
"Can we see him?"
"Mr. Lupin needs his rest."
"Hey, whose that over there?" suddenly asked the tenor voice.
"He is none of your concern Mr. Potter."
"But who is he?" said the other voice that was not Potter.
"What about Remus?" spoke the squeaking voice once more.
"Gentlemen, please," begged Poppy, "This is a hospital wing and both of my patients need rest. You need not be concerned for anyone as they will both be fine. Now please move along."
"But Remus!" cried the squeaking voice.
"It's okay Madame Pomfrey," rasped a weaker voice close to Marcus.
"Remus!" called the other boy as a group of feet went rushing past his bead and there was the sound of a curtain being drawn back all while Madame PPomfreyas her proper name appeared to be called after the other boys to try and get them to stop.
"You alright mate?" asked the voice that belonged to Potter.
"Yeah, I'll be alright. Just tired, I didn't sleep very well I was up all night sick as a dog," said the raspy voice that Marcus assumed was Remus.
"I will give you five minutes then I shall insist that Mr. Lupin get his rest.
Marcus heard the soft footsteps of Madame Pomfrey glide away as Potter spoke in a soft tone. "You hanging in there Moony?"
"I'm fine just tired as I said before. That and sore. You know it is never easy going through a moon. You guys shouldn't have come."
"Aw come on Moony it was the last moon of the year. We had to," said Potter.
"You worry too much," added a gruff remark from the other voice - the not squeaky one.
Though Marcus wasn't watching as he was keeping his closed and not giving the slightest hint that he was awake and listening he could sense the tension that was coming from the group that was not far from him. It made him wonder, as did a great many other things that were being said. Why were they talking about the moon like that? This world was getting more and more curious. Instead of answers he was getting more questions.
"Do you know anything about the guy?" broke in the squeaky voice an edge of nervousness in it.
"No he was brought in with me. Madame Pompfrey found him outside - apparently he took on the whomping willow. They don't know much else about him."
"You don't think he knows do you?" asked Potter in a low tone.
"It might be possible," said Remus in a low raspy tone.
"He looks to be about our age," remarked the other voice moving closer by the sound of it. Their age? What did they mean? He was far from being a student.
"Padfoot don't," said Potter is a lazy tone as if it was something said out of habit but without conviction.
"He's got funny sort of robes on doesn't he?" said the looming voice of Padfoot, "They don't look to be muggle to me."
"Madame Pompfrey could be back at any minute!" said the squeaky voice a little more shrilly.
"Oh shut it Wormtail."
Marcus could feel the shifting presence near him and the shadow of a person above him getting a better look. "Why can't you leave well enough alone Sirius?" said Remus a little tersely.
Then a hand reached down and touched Marcus' shoulder as he words "Hey, mate" started to leave and then die on Sirius' lips. Instinct kicked in for Marcus and he wasn't inclined to let any person just touch him like that. It was unknown what that touch could entail. He didn't think these for boys meant him harm but he simply could not take that risk his hand jolted and took Sirius' wrist his eyes were open and looking into the shocked face of a young man with longish hair. He twisted the guy's wrist as he moved to stand up causing a flash of pain to cross his face as he fluidly moved out of the bed and onto his feet. He still felt weak and sore but he could push past that - it was part of his basic training as a Ranger.
"One false move and I'll break your wrist," he warned gently but firmly. He didn't want to do it but he would if he had to. He looked around quickly surveying his surroundings. The place looked a lot like a hospital wing what with beds and bed pans. He saw the faces of who he assumed was Remus sitting surprised in bed, a small blond boy hiding behind him and the bed and a boy with glasses who held a grim and determined look as he pointed a stick at him.
"You hurt him and I'll curse you so hard you'll wish it was only your wrist that was broken." So the boy with the glasses was Potter.
"Curse me?" demanded Marcus with a half laugh not believing what he was hearing, "How are you going to do that? Wave your stick at me?"
"What in the name of Merlin is going on?" cried Madame Pompfrey from behind Marcus.
Merlin? The aged wizard of old Arthurian legend? Surely not! "I would stay where you are Madame Pompfrey," called back Marcus he didn't need to look to know she stopped where she was. Marcus kept his eyes on the boys in front of him. He was going to explain how he didn't want to hurt anyone he simply wanted some answers when all of a sudden his fingers lost their grip on Sirius' wrist. He had no control or feeling in his fingers. What was going on here? Sirius wrenched himself free and pointed a stick at him as well.
"He is unarmed and no longer a threat," said Madame Pompfrey in a commanding sort of tone as she drew closer. "Mr. Potter if you will be so kind as to reverse the jinx."
Unarmed? Did they take his den'bok? He quickly checked to see if it was still on his person without making an obvious reach for it, all the while keeping his eyes on the boys that were across from him. His fingers felt like limp noodles and kind of moved like it too. How was this possible?
"Would anyone like to explain just what exactly is going on?" boldly asked Marcus taking a chance to look at Madame Pompfrey as he took a casual seat on the bed - it was a good way to conserve energy. He wasn't going to turn his back on Sirius or Potter any time soon but a fight was not something he was looking for and really he might as well make the best of the situation at hand. Maybe a little bit of cordiality could help turn things around. Also it helped him to hide the fact that he was more than a little disturbed at the fact that his fingers were as if like jelly, they were returned back to normal in short order and he flexed them a bit as he looked to the two once more Remus and Wormtail were behind them and seemed to be inconsequential at the moment.
"We could ask the same of you," said Potter keeping his stick pointed at him. Marcus looked to him and calculated quickly in his mind what it would take and how quickly he could attack these two if he had to and what to do if Madame Pompfrey joined in on the attack as well. He didn't want to resort to that but he would if he had to and that is why he played it through his head.
"I suppose you could but I'm not the one poking things they know nothing about or pointing stick in people's faces now am I?" There was a nonchalant and casual air to Marcus' tone.
"I think that is quite enough!" snapped Madame Pomfrey in another commanding tone "You will put those wands away and leave the infirmary at once!" Taking another look at her as both sticks or rather ‘wands' were lowered Marcus couldn't help noting that the woman Madame Pomfrey though young had a way about her - very commanding and Marcus respected that.
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
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The three boys who had come to visit Remus finally left and Marcus was sure to observe them and they the same of him. Things had not started off on the right foot but, at the same time if they had left well enough alone none of this would have happened in the first place. Of course, he would have still been laying there perfectly still as if asleep and that was dreadfully boring. Now that he was up, he didn’t want to go back down. This was a new and oddly peculiar place; he needed to see and learn more beyond just taking in an infirmary. However, Madame Pomfrey insisted that he lay back and rest. Something that he was not inclined to do.
“Really madame, I’m quite fine,” he argued as she urged him to lay back. He wasn’t as well off as he was trying to let on. He could still feel the heavy weight in his limbs, and he knew too much exertion would probably cause his head to betray him, but he wasn’t going to let on about that. He wasn’t one for sitting still in a medical facility waiting for time to heal him. He’d rather be out and doing – it was much more interesting, and he could handle himself. He’d dealt with far worse.
“Let me be the judge of that.” Marcus decided to appease the woman and laid back. He wasn’t happy about it but in the land of the killer trees rushing headlong into things wasn’t exactly the wisest of ideas, not that he was one to exercise caution consistently. In a lot of ways, it was easier to rush into things and sort it out as you went rather than dallying about trying to make a decision and missing a prized opportunity. Still, he would wait because he wouldn’t be surprised if Madame Pomfrey had some trick up her sleeve if he did try something. Medical people always did, and it was clear to tell that she was one of them.
As Madam Pomfrey walked away, Marcus let out a sigh and looked around the room and laid eyes on the boy Remus who was sitting there looking worse for ware and watching him. “Looks to me like you were on the losing end of a battle against one of those killer trees, that or Madame Pomfrey can get rather shirty with her patients.”
Remus continued to look at Marcus with a critical gaze as if he was judging him. “Who are you?”
“Me? Just a traveling wander lost and trying to find my way home!”
“Why are you here?”
“Well, naturally I woke up this morning and decided – you know what, I haven’t wrestled with a killer tree yet I should go off and fix that. I can now dutifully mark that off my bucket list.”
Remus continued to give Marcus a rather securitizing look as he himself sat there with a blank and expectant look as if he was having the most normal conversation in the world. There was a fair bit of time as the two looked at each other before Madame Pomfrey came bustling back.
She had two containers of liquid. She passed one to each, Remus and Marcus. Remus dutifully drank from the cup while Marcus looked into his to see an oddly lime green concoction that was the consistency of a melted milkshake.
“Not very thirsty thanks,” he said setting the cup aside.
“It is a revitalizing potion to help you bounce back from your recent endeavor. I’m not sure what exactly happened with you or how you came to tangle with the whomping willow, but your body has placed under a great deal of strain.”
“I’ll be fine. I’ve never felt better. I’d be happy to run a marathon to prove it if you’d like.” Marcus wasn’t sure he could hold out to run a marathon, but he wasn’t about to drink something that he knew nothing about. It could be a form of sedative or worse.
“Fine,” said Madame Pomfrey in an exasperated tone. “I don’t know what it is with you boys and your refusal to take proper treatment seriously.”
Boy? As much as he knew he was far from being a boy. Maybe it was a generic referral to all males. Marcus dismissed it and looked to Remus who had just finished his potion and was looking a bit better. Was the stuff as good as all that? Something like a liquid stim? Not that he was going to try things. Madame Pomfrey took the empty cup from Remus and left the full one with Marcus. “Now the two of you should rest.”
Marcus frowned at that idea and was antsy to get moving and see what was beyond the hospital wing, but knew it was probably in his best interest to stay where he was for a little while longer. So, considering that he was bored, he decided to find a form of entertainment. “I spy with my little eyes something that starts with a B” It was a really easy and obvious answer, but he thought he’d start simple after all. Sometimes the most simple and obvious things were the most difficult to figure out.
Remus who had closed his eyes opened them and looked to Marcus. “What?”
“I spy with my little eye something that starts with B.” How hard was it to figure out that he was starting a game?
“I heard what you said.”
“Then what is that I spy?”
“You are seriously playing a game like this?”
“Why not? Do you have anything better to while away the time?”
Remus let out a plaintive sigh and leaned his head back apparently content to try and ignore Marcus. Marcus waited for a few moments watching Remus before speaking up again. “Well?”
“What is your guess?”
“I’m not playing.”
“Well if you aren’t going to play I suppose I could entertain by singing the Major General song.” This got a reaction out of Remus as he opened a critical and glaring eye that told him not to dare which, of course, was an open invite. Marcus quickly inhaled and started singing. He didn’t get much further than the first line of the song before Remus broke in with an answer. “Beds! The answer is beds!”
Marcus stopped singing and smiled. “Alright. Your turn then.” Silence permeated the air as Marcus looked to Remus and waited for a response. There was none.
“If you don’t take a turn I’ll just go again.”
There was no response from Remus. “Alright, I spy with my little eye something that starts with W.”
Again no response. “I could just start singing again…”
Remus turned to look directly at Marcus. “Do you ever shut up?”
Marcus paused and thought about this for a brief moment. “Rarely.”
It was at that moment that the doors to the wing opened and in stepped a rather tall and wizened man. He had a long silver beard. He was dressed in midnight blue robes and a matching hat that rested upon his head. This man was almost picture perfect to the old pictures of Merlin from Arthurian legend.
“I am glad to see that you are up and well,” remarked the man as he approached Marcus’ bed. So this was the headmaster he had heard speaking from earlier. “You also Remus. I trust Madame Pomfrey is taking good care of you?”
“Can’t say I could complain. Comfortable bed – good company, a person could be set for life here.”
Dumbledore smiled warmly at Marcus and focused on him. “I have heard some rather interesting things about you.”
“Me? Nah, I’m probably one of the most boring people in existence.”
“Sometimes it is the least interesting people I happen to find an interest in. Is there a name with which to call you by?” asked the Headmaster an infinitely patient calm surrounding him.
Marcus debated for a moment about calling himself by some absurdly long title such as the Most Grand Regent Flox or something of the sort but at the last minute decided there wasn’t harm in giving a straight and honest answer to this one. “You can call me Marcus.”
“It is a pleasure to meet you, Marcus. I am Professor Dumbledore, headmaster here at Hogwarts school of witchcraft and wizardry. I am quite certain you have a fair number of questions..”
“You’re joking!” He had to have been hearing something wrong, that or he was going insane. Witchcraft and wizardry? Magic wasn’t real; there were no schools for it. Not really, some crazy people believed in such things, but it wasn’t real. It was said that early telepaths were considered witches, but they weren’t. Was this a telepath school? There were no Psy Core symbols anywhere, and these people were humans, and if they were telepaths, then they would be affiliated with the Core unless they were rogue. He couldn't blame them for being rogue, but if that was the case how could they be in a castle like this? There was no way a school of telepathic children could go without the Core knowing.
“I, in fact, am not joking,” spoke Dumbledore very calmly and non-pulsed by the interruption of Marcus. He pulled out his wand and gave it a wave conjuring up a rather plush purple armchair in which he took a seat a small smile playing on his lips as he tucked his wand away once more.
“No,” said Marcus looking disbelieving at what had just happened. He turned to see if anyone else was as surprised by this as he was but they were not. Remus seemed to be looking at him with curiosity rather than at the magical apparition of an armchair. No, it couldn’t be magic it had to be some form of technology. There were some weird and interesting things in this world, but magic was not one of them. “How did you manage that?” asked Marcus. He wasn’t a science geek or anything, but clearly, there had to be was an explanation for it all.
“I know it comes as a great shock to you Marcus, but magic is real, has been for centuries. This isn’t some form of technology that you would be inclined to believe it to be. I assure you there are no tricks or anything more than what your eyes are plainly telling you.”
Marcus shook his head. This was a lot to take in and was a whole lot more than he could chew.
“Professor, how could a muggle make it into Hogwarts I thought wards and charms were preventing them from reaching the castle.”
Marcus looked at Remus who had asked the question; he had almost forgotten the boy that was just a bed over from him.
“That is true Remus, but I don’t think Marcus here came to us by conventional means.”
“What is the last thing you remember Marcus?”
Marcus thought about it, and the voiced that he had heard before played in his mind. Epsilon Three will be inverted, Marcus closed his eyes for a moment. He remembered jumping into a bright light and then nothing.
“I remember waking up underneath a rather hostile tree.” It was after all his last clear and consistent memory. Before that, he remembered leaving Babylon 5 on a mission for the Rangers to determine the source of some strange energy readings. From there it got fuzzy again.
“Mmmm,” mused the old man, Dumbledore, giving Marcus the feeling that he just might know more than he was letting on – something about the glint in his eyes behind those half-moon spectacles. “So you have no idea how you came to be here then?”
Marcus gave a shake of his head. “So magic?” he asked still stuck on that a bit.
Dumbledore chuckled and pulled out his wand once more. “Avis.” A small bird flew forth from his wand gave a quick sail around the room before landing on the bedside table next to Marcus before it let out a little chorus of tweets.
“Okay,” said Marcus reaching out a ginger hand toward the small songbird that hopped back with a chirp before allowing his fingers to touch it for a moment before it popped away causing Marcus to pull his fingers back quickly with surprise.
“My apologies, Madame Pomfrey is not fond of animals being in her hospital wing.”
“Quite alright,” answered Marcus a little thunderstruck at the moment.
“Considering that your memory seems to be a bit lacking do you think you can tell us where you are from?”
“I’m not from anywhere really; I spend most of my time traveling.” Marcus gave a casual shrug of his shoulder. It was the truth, his last home had been one of the mining colonies, and that wasn’t home anymore, and as a Ranger, he didn’t exactly have a residence, he was always traveling anymore. Sure the Rangers were based on Minbar, but that wasn’t exactly home to him either. The closest thing he could label as a place he belonged was Babylon 5, but that was just a post where he worked.
“You are rather young to be wandering around as a traveler,” remarked Professor Dumbledore.
Marcus’ brow furrowed. “I’m not that young!”
“You aren’t much older than I am,” broke in Remus who had been sitting in on the conversation rather than resting as Madame Pomfrey would have liked him to be doing.
“You might want to get your eyes checked then,” answered Marcus looking back over at Remus.
“How old do you think you are Marcus?” asked Dumbledore calmly.
“A lot older than him.”
In response to this Dumbledore conjured up a mirror and passed it to Marcus. He took the mirror as it was handed to him and looked into it. “What the- "
Marcus reached up and stroked his face – his beard was a lot shorter and thinner than it was before, but that wasn’t all, his face was also thinner and younger, he looked to be no older than nineteen.
“This – this can’t be real! What happened to me? It’s not possible.”
“I assume you remember yourself to be older than what you appear to be?” asked Dumbledore as Marcus continued to stare into the mirror.
“You could say that,” answered Marcus in a very wary tone as he watched his reflection move as he moved. He thought discovering magic was real was the most bizarre thing to happen to him, but this-this now took the cake.