Author: Del Rion (delrion.mail (at) gmail.com)
Fandom: The Avengers (MCU)
Era: Post-Avengers movie
Genre: Action, drama
Rating: M / FRM
Characters: Bruce Banner (Hulk), Clint Barton (Hawkeye), Jane Foster, Nick Fury, Happy Hogan, J.A.R.V.I.S., Loki, Pepper Potts, James “Rhodey” Rhodes (War Machine), Steve Rogers (Captain America), Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow), Lady Sif and the Warriors Three (Fandral, Hogun and Volstagg), Tony Stark (Iron Man), Thor
(Brief/smaller appearances: Odin, Maria Hill, Darcy Lewis, The Other, Benjamin “Benny” Pollack, Erik Selvig, Jasper Sitwell, Claire Wise.)
Pairings: Happy/Pepper, Jane/Thor. Mentions of: Benny/Claire, Pepper/Tony
Summary: Iron Man never fell back through the portal. The Avengers must deal with the loss of their comrade and move on – until Earth once again comes under an attack from the Chitauri and their new-found weapons that decimate everything in their path with unmatched power and intellect. As cities and nations collapse around their decreasing resistance, the heroes of Earth must find a way to defeat their enemy before there is nothing left to avenge.
Work in progress.
Written for: Apocalypse Big Bang, Round One (apocalypsebang at LiveJournal)
Art: Imaan (insteadofdeath at dA/DW/LJ)
Warnings: Graphic description of torture, major character death, apocalypse & invasion themes (including but not limited to: mass destruction, terrorism, holocaust, death, violence and gore), brain-washing & mind-control, language (including some remarks that could be seen as racist). Serious spoilers for the ending of The Avengers (and other random spoilers for the rest of the movies in the Avengers cinematic universe).
Something was brewing, Loki could sense it. The ship had been moving recently and he could smell the tinge of nervousness in the air, brief yet potent. He hadn’t spent enough time with the Chitauri to read them perfectly but the way the one guarding him kept shifting around suggested unease.
Loki wondered if Midgardians had finally won a battle, or whether Thor was getting close; his step-brother would look for him tirelessly, he knew that, but Loki had recently given in to the idea that Thor wouldn’t be able to find him. Perhaps his friends were even holding him back, to make Thor focus on the war instead of one lost family member…
Yes, Thor’s precious Avengers would have happily thrown him straight into the arms of the Chitauri the moment they arrived on Earth, but Loki had made himself useful and they had had to swallow their childish bitterness.
He entertained, in small doses, the possibility that he would be saved regardless of facts and certainties; that Thor would find him, on purpose or by accident, and release him before the Chitauri finished the work they had started.
Loki shifted slightly and that small movement tugged at every wound and bruise on his body. They hadn’t killed him yet but torture came in many shapes and forms. His death would take time, and Loki was certain he would wish it to be over long before it actually was. That didn’t mean he would give into them, nor would he break for a long time to come, but he didn’t regard his capture with fondness.
He bared his teeth in a slight hiss as his abdomen continued to burn from the earlier movement.
Those Midgardian fools hadn’t seen it, none of them. They had looked at their enemies, at the mecha, and kept tossing theories back and forth. Yet when the one in the small suit lifted him up by his throat, Loki had understood all too well.
He hadn’t seen Stark since he had been taken to his prison cell, nor during the long hours of agony his hosts put him through, but he knew the man was there. Not necessarily on the ship but alive, on Earth, wreaking the havoc that could have been Loki’s. He had a feeling there would be no one left for anyone to rule once the man was done.
Whatever madness drove him…
Loki moved his head as the guard shifted again, looking down the hall, adjusting the weapon in its hands. Truly, they should have paid more attention to him, their prisoner: even in his weakened state Loki was happy to grasp at a chance for freedom, and when the guard kept looking away, Loki focused on a piece of metal on the floor. He had spotted it earlier but it was too far away for him to reach. Nothing but garbage, really, but as his mind grasped it the sharp piece shifted, slowly turning ninety degrees.
His jaw set and brow furrowed, Loki lifted one hand, slowly, carefully, the piece of metal following, drifting into the air. A bit higher…
The Chitauri turned, looking at him, noticing the movement of his hand. It stepped closer, as if demanding for him to stop or explain himself, but Loki had come so close… He sent the metal splinter flying, embedding it deep in the Chitauri’s eye-socket. It fell heavily to the floor after taking two stuttering steps, the crash echoing off the walls but attracting no attention.
Loki waited a moment longer then forced himself upwards, sweat covering his skin at the effort. With the guard taken care of, he still needed to break out of his prison cell. He was just considering trying to move the body with the last of his magic, to use the Chitauri’s weapon to break the lock, when a shadow moved against the far wall. He froze, alarmed, considering it was lucky he had gotten this far. He had killed several guards during his first days of imprisonment, trying to trick them setting him loose, but they had quite effectively drained the fight out of him afterwards.
The shape moved, almost soundlessly which seemed impossible for a machine. Loki moved away from the door of his prison, backing up to the far wall as the dark miniature mecha advanced, stopping in front of the door, regarding him through the barred door with its glowing eyes. It didn’t seem to have noticed the dead guard – or rather, it wasn’t paying attention to it.
Loki stared back at the suit or whatever it should be called, waiting for its next move. When nothing happened he wondered if this was his new guard. “What do you want, Stark?” he asked, unable to help himself. He may have been slow witted the first time they met but he knew the score this time and would try to somehow play the situation to his advantage.
There was no reply. Loki hadn’t known the Armored Avenger was so capable of silence which led him to wonder if there was anyone inside the suit…
At that moment the suit’s right arm moved, a blade sliding out of it. Loki wondered if he would be introduced to it soon. Perhaps Stark’s personal need for vengeance drove him to dismiss what the Chitauri wanted, which was to provide Loki with a long suffering before the end.
The arm moved, swift and merciless, embedding the blade in the lock of the door and cutting it to pieces, forcing the door to open under force of that brutal strength. Loki waited, drawing himself taller, calculating his chances. He refused to die without a fight although he would rather not die at all.
The suit took a step back, one foot landing on top of the dead Chitauri.
The blade was withdrawn.
The glowing eyes met Loki’s again, cold and lifeless, then the machine took off and disappeared down one hallway.
Loki released the breath he had been holding, carefully stepping to the open door. He could hear nothing. Whether it was a trick, or a trap, he didn’t know. He wasn’t going to waste the opportunity, however, and stepped out of his cell and took off, walking as fast and silently as he could, ignoring the pain in his body, determined to make the most of this.
He had survived worse.
He would prevail.
A group of Chitauri passed him a while later and he took shelter in a dark corner, waiting until they were out of sight before moving on. He needed to find a way to get out of here. Loki considered the possibility that they were in outer space, which meant he needed a space ship to travel to Earth. Then he would find his foolish oaf of a brother, heal his wounds and make sure he didn’t get caught again.
He finally discovered the hangar and took a cautious look around. There was only one ship so he couldn’t be picky. Quick as he could, Loki moved to the ship and slipped inside, trying to find the shortest way to the cockpit. A door he chose led to another prison area – or so it seemed. Loki caught a glimpse of people bound and chained to one wall, a sight which made him want to roll his eyes: the Warriors Three and Lady Sif were there, as well as Captain America, Black Widow and Hawkeye. So much for a great victory, which led him to wonder about the uneasiness of his captors.
Perhaps it had to do with the fact that the mini-mecha suit had just released him and didn’t seem to have an issue with him walking out of his cell alive. Perhaps Stark wasn’t as far gone as he had thought…
He was just about to move to the other side of the room where he could see another door, and perhaps release the others – who in turn would ensure his safe return to Earth – when he heard movement and quickly pressed into a crevice in the wall. The familiar figure of The Other passed him a moment later, along with the Chitauri he knew as The Engineer. The two entered the room and Loki peered in to see what they were doing.
Instead of approaching the prisoners, they went to the opposite wall. Loki dared to slip a bit further out of hiding to see what they were looking at, his eyes discovering a strange tank with a murky yellowish liquid inside – and a person floating within it.
“His mind struggles,” The Other was saying in the tongue of the Chitauri – which Loki had learned to be able to communicate with his army. Well, what had been his army…
“It is easily pushed into place,” The Engineer replied, appearing somewhat agitated despite its words. “However, it may be too soon to force his hand against the Avengers. It may push him over and he could be unreachable –”
“Unreachable?” The Other hissed, displeased.
The Engineer cowered slightly. “He is under our control, but pushing him too far… We should not risk it.”
The Other appeared not to like this, snarling softly. “It would be his final test. To kill those who stood by him… Who failed him!” He turned to look at the captives, who clearly didn’t understand a word that was being said – not even the Asgardians. “Very well. We shall dispatch of them, and you will rein him in.”
“Yes,” The Engineer agreed eagerly.
The two of them left, not speaking further. Loki waited until they were certainly gone before emerging. He knew better than to waste any time, seeing as his escape could be noticed at any moment. He entered the room, giving the tank another long look. He could make out Stark’s prone form, dead to the world.
“Loki!” Volstagg announced his arrival.
Turning his attention to the warrior, Loki sneered at him. “Be quiet! Do you wish them to come back?”
“Loki,” Sif repeated although in a whisper. “We thought you might not be alive. Thor –”
“I see he is not here,” Loki commented.
“He was not captured,” the Captain interrupted. “We thought you would be held prisoner.”
“Do I not look like a prisoner to you?” Loki asked, incensed. “If you would rather I leave you here while I escape –”
Well, seeing as they were in the plane he was about to use to escape, that threat was somewhat pointless.
“We apologize,” Fandral hurried to speak up. “Please, free us.”
Loki examined the chain and wondered if he had the strength to break it, then looked around the room. There was no key in sight, no tools, and he knew better than to hope the mecha suit would come and help him out on this one. The thought made him look at the tank again with more intensity.
“Loki!” Volstagg reminded him of the task at hand, this time in a quieter tone. “Just magic the lock open.”
“Don’t you think I would have done that with my own cell if I had the strength?” he asked, insulted. However, he laid his palm against the chain and focused, trying to draw out the last of his power. If it was too much, these people better not leave him here or he would kill them all, painfully, if he ever got free again.
“Then how did you escape?” Hawkeye asked, suspicion in his voice.
“That is a story for another time,” Loki mused. The metal was cooling beneath his palm and finally it cracked, cutting the chain in half and releasing the bound prisoners from the wall. Loki swiftly undid the bonds of Black Widow and Sif, knowing they would free the others – which they promptly did.
Captain America pushed to his feet once released and moved past Loki, not even a ‘thank you’ on his lips which was quite unlike him. Loki leaned against the wall, spent, watching as the man approached the tank swiftly and examined it for a moment. “Do you know how to… open this?”
Black Widow joined him, tugging at the top and finally the two of them forced the cover open. They stared inside and Loki felt like telling them to speed it up if they were determined to fish out their ally-turned-enemy before they took off. Finally the Captain sank his arms inside and pulled Stark’s naked form to the surface. The man appeared to be heavily asleep or unconscious. He wasn’t restrained, a healing wound on his stomach, and the only thing connecting him to the tank was something attached to the back of his neck. The Widow reached over carefully then yanked that something free and dropped the entire thing back into the tank.
“We must go,” Sif announced needlessly.
“Let’s get to it, then,” Captain America commanded, holding Tony Stark’s body firmly to his chest and looking out towards the door which Loki had been about to try when first entering the room.
They moved to it and down another narrow hallway, Sif helping Loki along when he felt like he might not be able to take another step. “Thor wanted to come after you, to find you,” she explained. “He will be overjoyed when you return with us.”
Loki didn’t really care for that, as long as he lived past this experience.
When they finally found their way to the cockpit and its controls, the group fell silent at the sight of them.
“Can you fly this thing?” Hawkeye asked Loki.
Loki took a look around and sighed. “Yes.” After his time spent with the Chitauri, he was familiar with some of their technology; he had always been one to pay attention – unlike some. What he had learned would have to be enough to get them into the air, out of the space ship and back to Earth.
First he closed the hatch, locking them all inside – and the Chitauri out, should any of them come to investigate. Having bought them a little time, he looked at the controls, trying to concentrate and recall the symbols. Asgardians had no use for machinery like this, but that wasn’t a useful notion in this situation.
Once Loki thought he had the gist of it, he started the engines and got them into the air after a few rocky attempts; it was a good thing the hangar was empty save for their ship, giving him room to maneuver. He could sense the dreadful looks of the others but none broke the silence. Smart. This wasn’t a moment to criticize his skills at flying.
Since no one was going to open any doors for them, Loki found the weapon controls and blasted their way through. The vacuum made their departure a bit shakier than it should have been and almost made the ship hit the wall on their way out, a scraping sound making him wince but the ship held and spun out into space.
Volstagg made a sound as if he might be sick and everyone clutched on for dear life as they rotated and artificial gravity pulled them this way and that.
Luckily, once out of the larger ship, they could see Earth directly beneath them and Loki didn’t waste any time guiding their aircraft down towards it. If they were still alive after landing, he would be most pleased with himself.
to be continued…