Continuing Tales

Fallen Star

A Marvel Movieverse Story
by Alydia Rackham

Part 4 of 27

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"Be careful about touching him," Erik warned. "He says he's a guard—he may have defense reflexes."

"What the heck are defense reflexes?" Darcy asked sleepily, coming around the corner of the counter with a steaming cup of coffee. She was dressed in her usual jeans, t-shirt and jacket, but her hair looked mussed and her glasses sat low on her nose.

"A soldier will sometimes lash out if someone shakes his shoulder or prods him when he's asleep," Erik explained, facing Fenris and putting his hands in his pockets. "Especially if he is sick or hurt."

"I might lash out too if somebody shook me when I was hurt," Jane muttered, then stepped around the coffee table and sat on the edge of the couch near Fenris' hip, gazing at his still face. "Nobody wants to be woken up like that."

"Especially him, I bet," Darcy added. "He's cranky. Makes me miss Thor."

Jane swallowed, her jaw tightening as she glanced down.

"What are you going to do, then?" Erik asked. Jane didn't feel like she needed to answer. Erik seemed to be afraid of the Asgardian, but she wasn't. She couldn't be. Not when she needed him to tell her more.

Jane reached out with her right hand and rested it on the piece of armor on Fenris' forearm. Gently, she ran her thumb back and forth on the back of his cool hand.

"Fenris. Can you wake up? Fenris?" she said quietly. He didn't stir. She scooted a bit closer, then rested her fingers on his forehead. He didn't feel overly warm—that was good.

"Fenris," she repeated. "It's morning. Can you hear me?" She moved her hand down and pressed her fingertips against his throat, checking his pulse.

His eyelids fluttered and opened. Emerald eyes met hers. His pupils constricted, then he squeezed his eyes shut again against the light. Jane slowly withdrew her hand, watching him keenly. She could have sworn his eyes had been another color last night…

"Where am I?" he groaned.

"Erm…New Mexico. On Midgard," Jane said, finally remembering the word.

"Oh, yes," Fenris grunted, turning his head to his left. "Blast it."

"Are you feeling any better today?" she asked.

"Fit to spear a boar," he said through his teeth. He finally opened his eyes again. "I feel foul. In fact, I might be sick if I had anything in my stomach to retch."

Jane glanced worriedly at Erik before turning back to Fenris.

"Are you sure you don't want a hospital?" she asked.

"And what would they do to me, eh?" Fenris shot back. "Nothing I can't do myself if I'm simply left alone for a day or two."

"You mean you have, like, super healing powers?" Darcy asked, stepping closer.

"Compared to my frame, you're made of paper," Fenris said, closing his eyes again. "Yes, madam, I will heal. If you let me be."

"All right, so…What do you need?" Jane wondered.

"I need you to go away," he said.

Jane's mouth fell open as a stinging sensation ran through her. Next time, she wouldn't bother to wake him so gently—she'd probably kick him.

"Afterward, Lady Jane," Fenris added, his eyes closed. "I promise to tell you everything you are just dying to know. All right?"

She stared at him, off balance. She looked at Erik and Darcy, but neither of them could summon any words. So Jane got up, went to the counter and grabbed her cup of coffee, then strode to the door.

She pushed it open and stepped out, and the warm morning wind caught her hair and clothes. She bit back tears as her feet crunched on the gravel, then she stopped, standing in the full sun. Jane shut her eyes, letting the warmth bathe her, her hand clenched on the handle of the cup.

"Thor," she whispered, her lip trembling. She tried to say more, just in case he was somehow listening. But her thoughts went hollow, and she could only stand there, as the voiceless wind swept around her.


Loki lay still the rest of the day as Jane, Darcy and Erik moved about the laboratory, speculating about this Nick Fury's find, and studying the bridge Loki had made when he crash landed.

At first, Loki listened to their theories, interested in hearing more about Erik's mission—but when conversation turned to their speculations about the Asbru bridge and the gates between realms, it all became very ridiculous and Loki tuned them out. Then, he focused down on himself.

He knocked away that throbbing pain in his blood—he had no time to dwell on that right now—and began measuring his breathing with exact precision. It took a while, for the pain still sent a stab through him every time he moved. But after he had taken seventy-seven equal breaths, with closed eyes, he reached outside himself for the black, sparkling tendrils of power that floated invisibly around him. At first, his weakened senses could only detect a few wisps, like the smoke from an extinguished match. But as he immersed himself further, the smoke drifted nearer, became more solid, until he could coax them to him and pull them down against—down into—his broken chest.

As soon as those tendrils entered his skin, awareness flashed through him: he had two broken ribs and one cracked rib, and a bruise that almost covered his entire chest. One rib was quite loose, and drifted dangerously close to the delicate tissue of his right lung. The agony sharpened as he could finally "see" all the damage—his snapped bones and torn muscle in bright shades of pulsing blue, serrated white and ugly bruised green. His eyes watered. He screwed them shut.

He spread his shaking fingers out and pressed his hand down over the worst rib, though his breastplate tried to interfere. He gritted his teeth, mentally binding up the tendrils and hauling them closer, like a sailor grabbing and drawing the rigging of his sails.

Then, when Loki had laid out his plans, and blocked out all the voices of those in the lab, he took three short, preparatory breaths, and set to work weaving the minute strands of magic back and forth, back and forth, gradually pulling that one rib back into place and securing it.

He was weak, the bone break was jagged—and it hurt like mad. Cold sweat broke out on his forehead, and he had to force himself not to bite his cheek, or he would bloody himself.

He knew he did not have time to mend this entirely before Erik left tonight to see the discovery. But at least Loki could keep his own rib from impaling him when he followed.


Loki gasped and fell against the rough outside wall of Jane's laboratory, wrapping both arms around his chest this time and grunting out each breath. He squeezed his eyes shut and forced himself to keep still, letting the cool midnight wind soothe his fevered face. The spells he had cast around himself, and the efforts he had taken to remain unseen during his journey had taken their toll.

But he did not care.

He had seen it.

He had wrapped darkness and shadow around himself like a cloak, and veiled his form from the sight of all mortals. When the black sedan had come for Erik in the darkest part of the night, Loki had followed, sweeping out of the laboratory and soundlessly landing atop the vehicle. He had stood balanced atop it as it drove, like a raven on a fence, his cape billowing out behind him.

It had been a long journey—several hours—and he had the sense they had been traveling west. Loki had allowed his invisibility to drop briefly during this leg of the journey, for no other vehicles or mortals were anywhere nearby. Ordinarily, he would not have allowed himself such vulnerability. But maintaining that shield drained him—and he would need it later.

When they had finally arrived at a stone bunker sunk half in the ground, lit by the headlights and lamps atop a wire fence, Loki had vanished himself, and followed on Erik's heels like a phantom, every step in sync with the scientist's. They whispered down hallways, Erik heeding the directions of the tall, strapping guards, Loki ignoring is pain and memorizing every detail of their passage.

When they had come to the last corner and turned into a dark, tall-ceilinged hallway lined with boxes and cases, Loki had slowed down and altered his very form, so he could slide through cabinets and between hairline cracks. He stayed beside Erik and gazed sideways at him as Erik greeted a formidable, dark-skinned stranger in a suit bearing only one eye.

"So you're the man behind all this?" Erik said as he walked in, obviously trying to hide his nervousness. "It's quite a labyrinth! I was thinking: 'They're taking me down here to kill me!'" Erik laughed.

The other man said nothing. Loki's eyes narrowed as Erik's mirth vanished and he swallowed, slowing to a halt.

"I've been hearing about the New Mexico situation," the other man said, his voice deep and crisp. "Your work has impressed a lot of people who are much smarter than I am."

"I have a lot to work with," Erik confessed. "The Foster theory, a gateway to another dimension…It's unprecedented."

The other man lifted his chin. Loki sensed Erik's doubt ripple out from him.

"Isn't it?" the scientist frowned. The other man turned, hands in pockets, and strode toward a small stand on which sat a rectangular silver box.

"Legend tells us one thing, history another," the man said, coming around behind the box. "But every now and then, we find something that belongs to both."

He unlatched the box. It hissed. He lifted the lid.

A blue glow shot out from beneath the lid, dazzling Loki's eyes.

All the black sparkling tendrils around him and inside him flashed. Then, as his eyes locked on that glow, the wisps of magic danced like fireworks, setting his pulse pounding, shooting thrills and sparks down to his fingertips. And the next moment, the tendrils pulled his heart toward that sapphire light like an iron chain.

All Loki's breath locked in his lungs and he stared, transfixed, at a small glowing cube that would fit snugly in the palm of his hand should he choose to reach out and take it. But he stood frozen.

It was so old—so fantastically rich and simple and vast. He had never felt such raw power. It shook him down to his foundations, kept him rigid and breathless. And in the same moment, he was possessed by a mindless, racing terror. Terror of a crouching, sharp-fanged beast restrained by a piece of thread.

"What is it?" Erik murmured.

"Power, Doctor," the other man said, watching him. "If we can figure out how to tap it, maybe unlimited power."

Again, Loki sensed Erik's doubt, his uncertainty—and it hit Loki like a slap. His eyes flashed and his throat latched shut as he wrenched his gaze from the box and stared at Erik.

Loki was not sure what this blue box was, or what it did—he could not even decipher his whirling emotions yet to decide whether or not he hated the thing or could not live without it. All he knew was that those were suddenly his only choices: hatred, or desperate need.

And at the moment, in Loki's state of weakness, Erik was his only link to it.

Loki took a breath, and whirled the ebony and twinkling shroud around him once more. He turned his head, and whispered coaxingly, just to Erik. And when he did, he saw the scientist tilt toward him.

"Well," Loki breathed, watching him. "I guess that's worth a look."

The indecision faded from Erik's face, and he lifted his eyes to the other man.

"Well I guess that's worth a look!" he smiled.

Now, in the silence of the desert, Loki sank down to sit on the ground and lean back against the cool wall, unveiling his presence and returning to his usual state—and trying to keep from losing consciousness.

He felt dirty and clammy and tired beyond reckoning, and the mending he had done to his broken bone had nearly come apart.

But the presence of that blue box now sat heavy in his heart, like a stone at the bottom of a glass of water. He could feel it pulsing across the distance, calling his name—and three tendrils of magic, each no wider than one of his fingers, had strung themselves between him and it, and its energy played upon them, softly, like silver strings of a harp in another room.

Loki opened his eyes. The dawn pressed against the horizon, and he had to tilt his head—but if he looked straight up, he could still glimpse the stars amidst a field of velvet blue—and the unsettling strum of that harp joined the throb of black poison through his limbs.

Fallen Star

A Marvel Movieverse Story
by Alydia Rackham

Part 4 of 27

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