Continuing Tales


A Marvel Movieverse Story
by startrekfanwriter

Part 17 of 26

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Darcy's eyes go wide. She looks at the man in front of her who looks so much like her Loki but isn't. He is blue, his eyes orange...

She must cease her struggling, because the hand over her mouth drops, the second man slides around to the front, and suddenly she is looking up at both of them.

"Valli and Nari?" she says. Loki's sons. Her eyes shift from one man to the other.

One of the men smiles wide and bright, and he actually laughs. Too loud. The other gives him a reproving look.

"At your service," say the one who laughed, teeth glinting. Bowing briefly, he says, "I am Valli."

"And I am Nari," says the other, his face and the timbre of his voice more somber.

Darcy squints and tries and see the difference between the two, but it is nearly impossible.

And then their skin fades to pink, their eyes change to blue, and their hair to dark wavy brown. As they transform they relax. They stand taller and shrug their shoulders as though they're stretching. The movement makes their cloaks slide back.

The one who is smiling wears a curved sword, like that of a samurai. The other man has a bulky European looking scabbard at his hip with a pommel of nondescript appearance poking out.

Darcy shakes her head. "But haven't forgiven him for disowning you..."

Stepping forward, Valli's smiling face turns to a frown. "He what? You lie!"

Backing up, Darcy's back hits an icy wall. Her hand going automatically to the taser in her pocket. But before she's even withdrawn it, Nari's hand wraps around Valli's arm and pulls him back. "Of course father would have told her that, brother. He was protecting us."

Valli slumps backwards a little and he blinks.

Arm still on Valli's, Nari says, "Father disowned us to protect us. Otherwise when he sabotaged Uncle's coronation, our lives and mother's could be forfeit along with his..."

"Like they almost were after Hothur killed Baldur," says Valli darkly.

Darcy looks at them blankly. Nari sighs. "When father went to the cave with the snake, it was only because the Diar threatened to have us all banished to Midgard."

"That was in 1342," says Valli with a tight smile.

There is something about that date...

"That the year the plague came to Europe," says Nari, seeing her look of confusion. "We would have died. For all of us, father went to the cave. We are forever in his debt. That is why we helped Uncle release him during the Chitauri attack, and why we help him now."

Tapping the pummel of his sword, Valli pulls away from his brother. "Though he could have let us help him ruin Uncle's coronation."

Nari looks sharply to his brother. "You know he could not..."

"He didn't go far enough," Valli grumbles. "With our help he could have brought the whole monarchy to its knees."

"The people were not ready!" Nari snaps.

Still tapping the pommel of his sword, Valli rolls his eyes. "Who cares if they are ready? Why wait for justice?"

Valli's body is in silhouette against the faint blue light filtering into the igloo from outside. They both are as tall as Loki, and definitely Loki's sons, but their shoulders are broader, though not as broad as Thor's. Their features are more classically handsome. Valli and Nari are two of the most beautiful beings Darcy thinks she's ever seen. But Valli frightens her.

Edging closer to Nari, Darcy says, "Where is your father now?"

Nari turns to her. "We don't know."

"Sif won't tell us," says Valli tersely. "She is afraid we'll try to mount a rescue without Uncle's help."

Nari looks a little nervously at Valli, and Darcy feels like she can read his thoughts. She'd be afraid of Valli doing something rash, too. But she tilts her head. "Sif? I know Sif doesn't like Loki...She's helping him...Why?"

"Oh...she still hates him," says Valli, crossing his arms over his chest and pacing the room. Darcy pulls back a little to be safely out of his path.

Turning back to her, Nari puts a hand on her shoulder. Darcy feels her nervousness dissipate. "Sif has been in the dungeons these past few months. She was the only one present at a secret trial for our father - where Odin and the Diar expected no advocates on Father's behalf."

"They muzzled him again," says Valli with a snarl.

Ignoring his brother, Nari looks into Darcy's eyes. "She did not agree with the sentence, protested, and was punished for it - without trial. And at last Sif began to see what we see. That the monarchy is rotten to the core and must be reformed to be fairer and more just."

Darcy feels her heart lift, and an inexplicable feeling of hope.

"Or it should be destroyed," says Valli.

"Everyone should have the Assistance of Counsel for their defense..." Darcy says, mesmerized by Nari's voice and stare.

Nari smiles and it is the loveliest thing she's ever seen. "Excellent! The Sixth Amendment. I am a big fan of your Bill of Rights!"

Valli steps forward. "We both are. And now Father has killed Heimdall and we can assemble almost freely. Change will come at last to Asgard. We will make sure of it." His mouth splits into a feral grin.

Darcy blinks and swallows. "Why have you come to me?"

Valli's smile tightens. "Odin still has other spies. We cannot go near Uncle Thor without them following, and Sif has told us that we need Uncle and Mjolnir to free father."

"But you can go to him," says Nari. Reaching into his robe he pulls out a scroll bound with a red wax seal and presses it into her hand. "This is from Sif, sealed by our grandmother, Frigga. It can be read by no one but Uncle. Take it to him as soon as you are able."

From outside she hears Eisa. "Lady Darcy! Lady Darcy!" And then Uxi bellows, "Smallness! Smallness!"

Valli and Nari look at one another. Their skin changes to blue, their eyes go orange, and they look so much like Darcy's Loki her heart skips. But the transformation doesn't stop there. Their chins narrow, and their bodies straighten. Instead of short frost giant men she finds herself staring at frost giant children.

"He didn't tell me you were shapeshifters," she whispers.

"Our magical abilities manifested just lately," says Nari, pulling his cloak over his sword.

"But we will never be as powerful as Father," says Valli, pulling on his own cloak, his voice thick with bitterness.

Before Darcy can think of anything to say, Eisa slips in, Uxi and Bera bending low right behind her.

"Oh! Hello!" says Eisa to Nari and Valli.

Uxi barks something at them and rubs one of their heads. They glance at Darcy and then slip from the igloo.

Darcy watches them go. She belatedly remembers something Loki once told her. If Godly titles were still given my son, Nari would be the God of Democracy and Valli would be the God of Armed Rebellion. They have so much bloody glamor...they must have gotten it from their mother's side.

She swallows. Valli scares her. And Nari is beautiful - but there is something about him that is almost too smooth, too perfect...

"The merchants are to be invited to the feast! We will celebrate the death of our enemy!" shouts Eisa happily and Uxi barks.

Loki. Their enemy and their savior. Darcy looks down at the scroll in her hand. Loki, like his children, is dangerous - but beautiful, too.

And she loves him.

x x x x

It's harder leaving Jutenheim in a hurry than she expects. It's easy enough to tell Uxi and Bera that they are leaving the village right now. She is Darcy, friend of Lopt, widow of David, and they obey.

And King Vili might be upset that he won't have her services for propaganda any longer, but he concedes relatively quickly to her demands.

Coordinating rapid transit out of system isn't so hard either. Stark Phones work across the galaxy. And even though she doesn't pull as much weight on Earth as she does with the frost giants, all she has to do is call Steve, who'd left Jotunheim a few weeks earlier. She doesn't even tell him why she needs to come home, only that it is urgent. He presumably calls Tony, because everything is arranged within an hour.

What is hard is saying goodbye to Eisa. Darcy is frantic to leave; she keeps nervously tapping the scroll concealed in her coat to make sure it is there. But as she waits for the helicopter that will take her to King Utgard's floating castle, Eisa throws her arms around Darcy and bawls. Darcy finds herself crying, too. She wishes she could take Eisa with her, give her a real chance at an education and a different future. But that it isn't what Eisa would want.

Sniffling in Darcy's arms, Eisa says, "We may be different creatures, but we are both women."

Eisa is only 10. But Darcy doesn't laugh. She just pats the little giantess' hair and smiles through her own tears. Eisa represents all that is hopeful and open and good in Jotunheim.

"Come back, someday," Eisa says, and Darcy feels like she is rushing off to save one Frost Giant, but leaving so many behind.

The wings of the chopper beat in the air above their heads, whipping snow in a blizzard around them. Darcy has to yell into Eisa's ear to be understood. "I'll try."

Eisa pulls away, the glow of her eyes magnified by her tears. The sound of the chopper is too loud for any words, and Eisa just nods as Darcy turns to the waiting machine.

The frost giants could use magic to reach the floating castle, but magic costs calories. Helicopters only cost fuel, and Jotunheim is blessed with thousands of years worth of untouched petroleum reserves. This chopper is piloted by a human and a frost giant pilot in training. He nods at Darcy as she enters.

A few minutes later, they are airborne. Nervously tapping the scroll in her coat, Darcy stares down at the brilliant white tableau of Jotunheim, watching Eisa become smaller and smaller.

When the chopper touches down on Utgard, Loki's floating castle, she sees Steve running towards her. As she gets out of the chopper, the thin air makes her gasp - as does the sight of humans all around, talking with Frost Giants who are too small to be warriors. Mages, most likely, talking to human engineers. As Steve takes her arm she remembers the conversation they had so long ago about using Frost Giant technology to colonize the clouds of Venus. She pats the scroll beneath her coat, knowing she's crushing the paper cylinder, but needing constant reassurance that it is safe.

Next to her Steve says, "Is our friend in trouble?" Tightening her jaw, Darcy nods, and then they race to a waiting aircraft on what is now King Utgard's floating airstrip. The aircraft will take them to the interstellar ship that waits in orbit above Jotunheim's gravitational pull. It's a cumbersome way to get from world to world compared to the Bifrost. But it's theirs.

Darcy finds herself choking up again.

x x x x

Steve and Darcy go to straight to the Avengers' mansion after arriving on Earth. Thor is waiting along with Jane.

Darcy holds out the scroll, and Thor takes it without a word. Before she can give any explanation, Thor looks at the seal and says, "So mother's found Loki. I knew he could not be dead."

There's so much surety in that statement. But Darcy isn't in a mood to ask questions. "Open it."

Thor's fingers are already peeling back the wax. When it falls away, two slips of parchment unroll. Thor scowls down at the first. "This is from mother. She begs me not to kill father - she says he is trying to avert a civil war."

"Where is Loki?" Steve asks, his voice tense.

Thor lifts the second piece of parchment. "From Sif..." he says, voice trailing away.

As Thor reads, his brow furrows, his lips curl, and then Darcy smells the telltale smell of ozone. The papers in his hand suddenly burst into flames. Lifting his hand, Thor calls Mjolnir to his side. He turns and screams at Steve in a language that isn't completely English, but Darcy hears the words Stark, spaceship, Asgard, and Prometheus. And then Thor is bodily grabbing Steve, dragging him from the room, already swinging his hammer. There is the sound of wind, a door exploding outward and they are gone.

Jane sidles up to her and puts her arm in Darcy's. Darcy puts her hand to her mouth but doesn't cry.

x x x x

"You mocked me, you rejoiced at my death, and then you watched the Chitauri torture me and you laughed!" The words spilled from Loki's mouth in a torrent, but they were not his words. They were the other's words, Thanos' words. But Loki believed them. Because he'd seen. He knew. They were true.

He was in Asgard's dungeons just after he nearly conquering Earth. His hands and feet were still bound, but the muzzle was just released. Thor stood above him, the darkness of the prison held at bay by just a small torch.

"Brother, listen to yourself! How could I rejoice at your death and mock your torment? This is madness."

For a moment Loki's mind settled...Thanos' words retreated, Loki's vision sharpened. And then he heard an explosion far away. Thanos had sent the Chitaur to Asgard to reclaim him.

Dread uncoiled in Loki's stomach. His mind spun and swirled. He felt as though he might be sick. Loki screamed. "You're returning me to them!"

Thor fumbled at the bindings on his feet. "No, Brother. Though the Diar may wish it. I know what happened to you."

Liar. Liar. Liar. Loki twisted. "You did see my torment!"

Thor's hands went to Loki's shoulders and he shook him so hard Loki's teeth rattled. "No, Brother! I did not know until just recently. I went to the Norns."

At the word Norns, Loki's body stilled. And then a he felt a tug at his mind. Run, run, run. He is not your brother. He is a liar.

Thanos would torture him.

No, no, no. Thanos would give him truth.

Loki ran.

Thor followed. Or the Chitauri followed. No, the Chitauri were ahead in the corridor. Loki froze. He wanted to go to them. Wanted to run back to Thor. Wanted to hide. Wanted to die.

One of the Chitauri raised a weapon like Loki had never seen. It ripped through him, took his breath away, took his magic away. Loki fell and Mjolnir streaked through the air above him in a bright crackle of lightning.

Ozone filled his nostrils. Loki knew without looking that the Chitauri were dead. It is only him and Thor left in the corridor, and Thor was staring down at him with a look of horror...Loki scowled...and then it all came to him. All he'd wrought on Midgard...and how he'd been used as Thanos' puppet. Loki covered his eyes. "What have I done?" he whispered.

Thor's voice was suddenly close. "It was not you. You could not have fought it. I've been to the Norns...I know what Thanos did..."

Loki pulled his hands from his eyes. His mouth twisted in an effort to keep from crying. Thor knew how weak he'd been, how vulnerable, and he hated it. But what he said was, "You went to the Norns. You idiot! What did they take from you? Whatever it was, it was not worth it." The words were cutting and caustic even to his own ears.

Thor laughed, low and genuine. Unshed tears stood in his eyes. "My Brother, you've come back to me..." He put his hand to the side of Loki's head and something wet and warm fell on Loki's cheek.

There was an explosion above and the whole dungeon rocked. Dirt and rocks fell from the ceiling. "You came for me," says Loki. To this death trap...after everything.

Shaking his head, Thor smiled and patted his cheek. "I will always come for you. When you go too far I will come and pin you beneath Mjolinar. When you are wronged I will come and set you free. But I will always come for you."

Another drop falls on Loki's cheek. But this drop is cold and chill.

Loki's eyes open with a start. He is chained spread eagled to the mountaintop. He sees the light of dawn slinking up on the horizon. His wounds from the day before are healed. Of course. With dawn his wounds will come again. But it doesn't matter. Odin and the Diar have taken away Loki's physical freedom and his magic, but unlike Thanos and the Chitauri, they have not restrained his mind.

There are no drugs in his system. His mind is his fortress, and his sanctuary.

The rain begins to fall harder, and he sees the shimmering glimmer of the wings of a bird on the horizon. A bird of magic and metal and endless appetite. Loki laughs to himself at Odin's attempt at humor and retreats to his mental fortress as he has done for more days they he has bothered to count.

And it works. For a long time. And then something that Thanos had taken away but Odin couldn't starts to eat away at Loki's mental sanctuary.

It's all Thor's fault...isn't it always?

One day Thor comes for Loki. He smites the blasted metal bird with his hammer, and breaks Loki's chains the same way. He reaches for Loki. And Loki, for the first time in a long time, reaches for Thor, laughing as he does...and finds his hands are still bound and the bird is there and there is pain until he passes out and wakes to darkness. His wounds are healed, the bird is gone, but the dread of the next day is unbearable.

He is alone. There is no Thor. It was only a dream. A nightmare of happiness. Loki closes his eyes.

"I will always come for you, Brother."

No, Thor will not come, because no one but Sif knows where Loki is. And she cannot tell, she is in the dungeons. She will not tell, she wants him dead, and this punishment can't be that much of a let down.

"I will always come for you, Brother."

Loki clenches his jaw as a wind that smells like winter dances around him. Damn Thor. Always so earnestly trying to to do the right thing and blundering so royally.

"I will always come for you, Brother."

Loki blinks his eyes at the debri blown by the rising gale. His mouth twists.

Thor planted the seeds of hope in Loki and hope is destroying him.


A Marvel Movieverse Story
by startrekfanwriter

Part 17 of 26

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