Continuing Tales

Overlapping Spaces

A Marvel Movieverse Story
by Khilari

Part 11 of 37

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Overlapping Spacesl

Holda was surprisingly supportive of the plan. Maybe not that surprisingly, since she'd been supportive the first time too, but it hadn't exactly gone well. The result was that a few days later Loki was at the foot of the Bifrost again, mounted on a very steady horse with Holda leading it. Loki was trying not to suspect that he'd got a horse used to carrying young children, but it was clearly used to being led and not terribly bothered by its rider's nerves. He was rather less bothered by suspectingJane's horse was used to carrying young children. Even so, she dismounted with a certain air of relief and sent the small roan off to the grass, then came back over to Loki's stirrup.

He smiled down at her, then realised he'd probably have to spend the whole trip remembering not to look at her. It was good to have her there, though. 'Good morning, Jane,' he said, managing to actually sound calm although he strongly suspected that didn't extend to his expression.

'Good morning.' She gave him a decidedly brighter smile than he'd managed. Loki decided it was probably meant to be encouraging. After a slight pause, perhaps for thought, she added, 'I'm not sure if there's really anything helpful I can say at this point, but I'd try if I thought of something. Ready to go?'

'I'm ready,' he said, giving a nod to Holda, who was watching him with a look that asked the same question as Jane. She smiled at him too, a slight glimmer of amusement in her smile that he realised was aimed at Jane's comment and not at him, and then turned and led the horse out onto the Bifrost.

The horse stepped onto it without concern, following Holda with the easy movements of a horse that found there wasn't usually much point in rushing. As soon as its hooves were on the bridge their fall became silent, the effect rather eerie and not terribly reassuring. Loki swallowed. There was a bridge, the horse would not be walking on a bridge that wasn't there. Above him the stars were starting to show, the first of the askreisa coming out. Below him he could hear the wash of the sea, but he didn't look.

Jane kept pace alongside, silent for the first few moments - Loki fought the impulse to look around and make sure she was still there. It wasn't as if she were likely to wander off randomly - where would she go? 'It is beautiful out here,' she said finally.

It was, although the extraordinary, nebulae filled sky would be more beautiful to Loki if he didn't remember falling into it. 'Yes,' he said, anyway, and forced himself not to close his eyes.

In his peripheral vision, which he was trying to ignore, he caught sight of the motion as she turned to look up at him. 'You know, I've realised something,' she began, 'from talking to you and Heimdall... an awful lot of my data cannot possibly have been from the Bifrost.'

'The data you collected on Midgard?' Loki asked, grasping at the distraction gratefully. On his own he wouldn't be able to move, he wasn't actually sure he could move in all honesty, but the horse continued on steadily, warm and reassuring under him.

'Yes. There are readings that are -' She was gesturing. Loki assumed it helped her think and was not an essential part of the communication. 'Not the right set of frequencies, or not in a location that matches up to anything you people were doing from here. And mostly, a lot weaker. But the patterns are too similar for them not to be related phenomena. Which raises questions as to what is actually going on.'

'Were they fixed in relation to the askreisa?' Loki asked, only realising after he'd said it that Jane would have had no way of measuring that at the time. Would have no way of measuring that from Midgard now.

'I didn't know about the askreisa at the time,' said Jane. 'I might be able to convert between reference frames?' She frowned. 'The sign ambiguities are a problem, though.'

The centre of the bridge was approaching. They would be walking over the part Thor smashed soon and Loki jerked, stiffening in anticipation, making his horse twitch its ears although it paid him no more mind than that. The nebulae above made him feel just as bad as looking down would, as if every direction was suddenly down.

'The elf paths might have superficial similarities.' He could hear his voice shaking, but talking was at least grounding him in a place where he was next to Jane on the Bifrost and not tumbling through stars. 'But they are only fixed in relation to the askreisa, not the stars of Midgard. They would be much.' His breath hitched as his horse's hoof fell on a part of the Bifrost that he was sure had been smashed. 'Much lower energy. Than the Bifrost.'

'The askreisa have predictable relationships to Asgard's stars, though. Not constant, but describable. I'll have to work through it to see if it's even theoretically possible to solve. Without being Heimdall.'

'You can't see the askreisa from Midgard, though. Not once you're right into it, you'd have to work out the relationship between Midgard and Asgard's stars first.' The stars were so bright, it felt like they were getting closer…he hunched forward, sharply, focusing his gaze on his horse's ears.

'I know. I think it's worth a try, though. Not that I'm planning to try to get into the elf paths...' Her hand came up and landed a bit gingerly on his wrist.

Loki grabbed onto it without thinking, wrapping his own hand around it tightly. Like the conversation it was a link to reality in a world that seemed to be unravelling around him. The weight of Mjolnir on his chest, feeling heavy enough to push him through Bifrost, carrying with it, too, the weight of his own failure to be worthy. Thor yelling as the hammer came down and the Bifrost broke. 'The -' He couldn't remember what he'd been talking about for a moment. 'No, not without magic. I don't know if you could, but if something went wrong you'd never find them again.'

Jane's fingers twitched slightly and then curled around his. 'That would definitely be a problem. As would actually meeting elves. And going by some elements of the folklore, I wonder if there are issues similar to time dilation with some of them.'

'I never lost time on any of mine.' His horse bobbed its head, giving him a momentary glimpse of shining Bifrost that made him shudder. 'At least noticeably. I didn't time it.'

The horse stopped and for a moment Loki couldn't fathom why. 'We're here,' said Holda.

'That's probably encouraging.' Jane stepped aside to let him dismount. As he let go of her hand, he saw pale marks where he'd gripped it and realised, too, that she'd had to reach overhead. She didn't seem to mind, but it couldn't have been entirely comfortable. 'Still, don't worry, I don't plan to try going in.'

The platform was still solid light, with the control chamber and its more obviously solid floor just a few steps away. Due to the fact that it was still under construction, perhaps, the door was open. Loki took a deep breath and slid off his horse, ignoring Heimdall who was watching them with the same impassive look he watched everything, and took the few steps into the control chamber holding on to nothing and no one. Once inside he grabbed at the wall, leaning with the side of his face resting against the cool metal, feeling sick, dizzy and utterly triumphant.

He heard Jane and Holda greet Heimdall; the reply reached him more as a resonance in the wall than a voice. All of them followed him in after a moment. Heimdall nodded minutely in passing and then went to stand by the unfinished pedestal and stare... outward, as if the structure surrounding them simply weren't there. Both women stopped and smiled at him, warmly pleased and genuinely happy for him. Jane was outright grinning.

'I would offer an account of the progress of the repairs,' Heimdall remarked, without turning back to them, 'but I understand Dr Foster has already done so.'

'Pretty much,' said Jane. 'Except for the past day or two, and that's mostly been fine calibration, hasn't it?'

Loki grinned back, heart rate slowing as he calmed down from the journey here. Maybe he hadn't done anything except not panic and demand to turn back, but right now he was somewhere he'd expected never to be again. He pulled away from the wall and looked around, glancing slightly warily at Heimdall. Last time they'd met Heimdall had tried to stab him and he'd frozen Heimdall. 'Now you can show me some of the things you were telling me about,' he said to Jane.

Jane led him around the chamber, cheerfully discussing everything from the geometrical configuration and the energy courses she insisted on calling circuitry, to the interactions with void-space and the source of the spectral effects. She seemed entirely unawed by Heimdall - Loki reviewed the mentions of him in her conversation, adjusted for possible caution about discussing someone he'd fought, and decided Jane might well have spent more time talking to Heimdall than even some of Asgard's regular travellers. He wondered if Heimdall had spent all of those conversations gazing through the wall.

Curiosity, and maybe bravado after his successful journey, gradually overcame caution. Heimdall was on duty, after all, and Loki was still a member of the royal family. 'What are you watching, Gatekeeper?' he asked.

Heimdall's head tilted back very slightly. 'Thanos.'

'Ah,' said Loki carefully, suppressing a shudder. Was this some form of revenge? He wouldn't have expected this kind of subtlety from Heimdall, but the Gatekeeper was hard to read.

'Heimdall,' Jane said, with a note of protest in her voice.

'Dr Foster.' Heimdall's voice was grave and formal, but his mouth flexed, very faintly, into a smile. 'It is the sole comfort I can offer.'

Loki looked at him dubiously. Revenge would at least make sense; Heimdall wanting to reassure him did not.

Jane looked between them, then past, possibly at Holda. 'That's comforting?'

The smile was definitely there now. 'Is it not? That I see our foe, and know what he does?'

'As long as what he does is remain a very long way away,' said Loki, still feeling rather off balance.

'It is. He gathers dark energy, but we will be able to reach him well before he can make a journey of his own.'

'What?' Loki felt as if he'd had the air knocked out of him. 'You can't go after him. He'll kill everyone.'

'Do you think so?'

'I know so! You have no idea of his…' Loki trailed off uncertainly, realising that claiming Heimdall had no idea about anything he'd managed to see was simply inaccurate.

Heimdall barely moved. 'I have watched him since I found you in his hands. I believe I have some idea of his capabilities.'

'You - you knew I was there?' Maybe Heimdall had already had his revenge. Or maybe he had told Odin and it was Odin who had chosen to leave him there, to let Thanos find a use for him.

'Later than any would have liked,' Heimdall said sourly.

'Thor mentioned that part,' said Jane. 'He said they thought you were dead at first, but then they found you.' She came up beside him. 'He said Odin had been preparing a rescue.'

'No.' Loki shook his head sharply, moving away from all of them. 'He can't have been, he only had enough dark energy to send Thor.'

Heimdall's head turned, golden eyes finally fixing on Loki in the here-and-now. 'Did you think he gathered that in two days?'

Dark energy was hard to gather, the amount to send even one person must have taken months. But that just made Heimdall's lie transparent, because the amount of time it would take to gather enough to move an army would be ridiculous. Odin couldn't have hoped to reach him with a powerful enough force to make a difference. And why would he even try, when Loki had already failed at any purpose he'd been set to?

'Stop this,' he said, forcing command into his voice. He felt trapped, unable to face the way back alone. 'Lying demeans you, Gatekeeper.'

'Does it?' Heimdall asked. Did the name Lie-smith hover on his tongue? 'I have not lied to you, Prince Loki.'

Loki laughed. 'Then when was he planning on rescuing me? In years, when his supply of dark energy was enough? If Thanos had kept me that long there wouldn't have been anything left to save.'

'It would not have taken years. Some months more, to send one warrior there and retrieve you both. Had he thought you in any condition to trust such a plan, he might have sent Thor alone, and soon, that you might use the tesseract to bring both of you safely to Earth.'

'One warrior. Against Thanos and all the Chitauri. I can see why Odin would consider that a worthy plan.' Loki's voice was heavy, cold with sarcasm.

'Not to carry out a war, Loki. It would have been a risk, but he would only have had to hold them off briefly.'

'No. No, it's not true. Stop saying these things.' Loki could hear the desperation in his own voice. He grabbed at Heimdall's sword, not sure what he intended to do even if he could wrest it from the much larger man's grasp. There was a moment of confusion, the vertigo from the bridge suddenly manifesting again when he didn't expect it. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Holda reaching for her bracelet and the slide into unconsciousness came as a relief.

Overlapping Spaces

A Marvel Movieverse Story
by Khilari

Part 11 of 37

<< Previous     Home     Next >>