Some Loh-Khey Spelunking

June 18, 2017:

Atli, Groot, and Rocket go exploring in some caves, looking for Loki!

A cave in upstate New York

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Loki, Thor, Star-Lord

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Another day.

Another fishing expedition.

Another catastrophe.

That's Atli in a nut shell. This time though, it isn't exactly fishing. It's more like.. spelunking. How do trees and raccoons do underground? The gave is dark. Dank. The moss smells delicious though. Well, maybe not to all of them. Atli was insistent though. Her grandfather had told her many times how he had washed his nethers of the sacred pool of Gilease. Or, was that a sacred pool that a man named Gil had leased to some corporation called Roxxon?

Hard to say!

Hard to know!

Atli sniffs once, her arms crossed as she stands on yet the edge of another pit-like chasm, a long draw of her nostrils pulling God-snot into the back of her throat for a divine loogie that carries with it the blessings of Asgard.

It goes and goes and goes. They don't hear it hit the bottom.

"Hel's Bells. Does this world have no center?! Is there no reason left in the nine realms?!" Boy is she loud with that echo, and behind her, Rocket and Groot will see her gesticulating wildly. Still, they are no closer to their goal: Finding the pool, so they can channel the energy of a true believer, and summon the demon behind the Were-Bilgesnipe.

None but foul Loki, God of Lies and Horns, himself.

—-

By now Rocket's treated this whole routine as some kind of show. It's same ol', same ol'. Stop by big, gaping hole. Watch Atli hawk a wet one and then get all frustrated before they move on. Leaning against Groot's leg, the not!raccoon yawns, scratching himself not so surreptitiously.

"Eh, who knows how many seemingly bottomless pits Terra has? I'd say it's a feat in an' of itself to hear your spit hit rock bottom anywhere, though. You sure yer doin' this right?" It had been all fun and games at first, but now it's starting to get a little boring.

—-

Spelunking is sort of new to the sentient tree. Then again, he's always been a fan of trying things out if he's never done them before. And why not? He has some good friends to hang out with and they have a goal in mind! Or, well, it's more like one of them has a plan to work with.

Groot looks on, tilting his head ever so slightly and staying where he is in relation to Rocket's bored leaning. He's not so sure how this is supposed to work, either. "I am Groot," he says curiously, glancing about their endless rocky scenery before scraping a handful of moss off of the nearest rockface. If he spends any more time here, he'll end up with a lovely coat of moss. And he wouldn't complain.

—-

The moss feels wonderful on the bark, of course. It probably tastes just as good. Just about when Rocket leans on a big tree-trunk leg, and just about when that scraping is complete, an annoying light will suddenly reach out to nearly blind rocket in one eye. Turns out Groot's scraping has.. dislodged some rock? It falls away, even as Atli carries on and on, oblivious to the light shining in behind her.

"I am sure that I am not sure that I am doing this ri-" Her brow furrows, and her arms drop. "Perhaps you are right. Perhaps I must be naked, as Thor was in all of his stories…" She reaches for a clasp on her armor.. and then her palm hits her head before Rocket even gets CLOSE to seeing the goods.

"But Thor the Avenger was a fool! My grandfather told me so! And he is never wrong about these things."

A sharp kick sends a rock flying into the endless pit. Then another. Then a stomp sends most of the edge of the outcropping careening down.

The Asgardian tantrum is real. "Foul world! Will you not unleash your secrets?! Will you not unhand your fetid pool, so that we may destroy our enemies?!"

Rocket and Groot will see it then: The light is coming in from the chamber they've uncovered, reflected from waters brilliantly lit by something above. It is in fact a giant pool, filled with water that brims with life energy.

The kind of water Rocket and Groot will not have seen since Brimaz IX, where the water was a giant eternal youth fountain… until Quill seduced the faerie keeping it that way.

Oh well.

—-

"Oh, things might be gettin' interesting after all," the little Guardian murmurs, furry brows arching as Atli talks out her thoughts. "-don't even think about putting that in your mouth," Rocket starts, craning his head up to shoot a look at his predictable pal. That flash catches him right as he starts to look up, earning an angry shout as he throws his hands over his face, rubbing at his eye. Stupid lights in dark places! "Ow! What the- Oh hey."

Pushing away from Groot, he shades his eyes as he moves closer to the light source. He reaches a hand out to brush away more of the moss. "Hey Atli. I think we found your holy spithole."

—-

Whoa. That's not how snack time's supposed to go.

The moss almost makes it into Groot's open maw, stopping a few inches short once Rocket's attention falls away from Atli's suggestion of impromptu stripping. He shakes his head vigorously, denying the very idea of eating the moss that is just clumped up in his hand.

That's when he also realizes there's a light coming out of the spot he's cleared. He blinks, squinting at the hole in wonderment because ooh, shiny. And after a few more seconds, the moss goes into his mouth anyway, tasting as delicious as he thought it would be.

—-

The moss tastes extra delicious, blessed in the sacred waters of Mino-Tunka. Or, you know. Whatever they call this place in upstate New York now. Atli stops short of her wild flailing, finally turning to squint into the light, and then look to her friends.

Before Rocket knows it, he's being God-Grappled, scooped up into a pinning hug that will even pinch Groot's impervious bark.

"YAUS!!! MY FRIENDS! YOU ARE THE BEST OF EXPLORERS!"

At least the hug won't last long. Without thinking twice she'll let go and leap through the hole to land with a canonball into the life-giving waters.

It almost looks like one of those hair product commercials when she surfaces, hair whipping back and forth, that perfect smile on her face, snot-bubble forming on her no-.

Look nothing's perfect.

With a furious fluster she blows her nose and shakes her head once, splashing her arms. "This is it! Come, friend Rocket! You must speak the incantation and hold the necklace." She begins fishing for it immediately. "If I attempt to summon Loki, he will know and run farther away, like a very fast running coward of some sort, I imagine."

—-

"I saw that!" Rocket is about to snap at Groot, but instead he has a near heart attack as he's suddenly grabbed and embraced tight enough to have him gasping for a breath. Coughing once he's back on his feet, he shakes his head, glaring after the woman who's gone off ahead of them.

Giving Groot a glance, he shrugs and slips through towards the pool after Atli, coming to stop by the water's edge- which doesn't really serve to help since he ends up getting splashed by the wave of the Asgardian's leap. Sputtering, he shakes himself out, slipping his rifle from his back to make sure it hasn't gotten waterlogged.

"Wait, what?" he says, looking back at Atli as she may as well be talking gibberish. "Incantation? Hey, how do you even know that water's safe?" It's glowing and has been hidden behind a moss curtain for who knows how long. Maybe it's radioactive!

—-

"I amf Gfrooth!" Groot exclaims as he's group-hugged, feeling his tree limbs and trunk chest squeeze and bow under the pressure of Atli's python-like grip. He sounds a little confused, maybe even a little indignant, but at the same time, he's happy they have finally come to the spot they've been looking for.

Unfortunately, he has a feeling he'll never taste moss like that ever again.

That's all shoved aside as the other two go diving into the pool below, leaving Groot to gather two more handfuls of moss to take on the way down. It's too bad it doesn't hold together once he hits the water afterward, sinking and then resurfacing like the best of logs.

Despite Rocket's susupicion of it being radioactive, the tree takes his time swimming around in the water. "I am Groot," he replies to no one in particular as he paddles his way to the side, enjoying how fresh everything feels.

—-

The water feels great! It feels invigorating! Like maybe it's radioactive or something! Wait, no, that can't be right. Atli's brow scrunches up, and her eyes narrow on the Rocket as if he just said something terribly offensive. "What is this active radio you speak of?" She stands, proving the pool only comes up to her chest. Which means Rocket might need a flotation device. Unless he floats.

Maybe just holding on to Groot will do. After all, he wouldn't want anyone to see him swimming around LIKE SOME KIND OF ADORABLE OTTER OR SOMETHING ECKS DEE.

Yes, Atli just smiles at that thought.

Then, she produces the amulet, the one that they had taken from the Were-Bilgesnipe, offering it to Rocket. "I assure you, brave Rocket, this water is safe. Other than, perhaps, my grandfathers testicles having once rested in it. Often. But do not worry, it should not be fatal."

She waggle-dangles the amulet.

Meanwhile, as more water soaks into Groot, he'll get to feel hour nourishing it is! Forget fountains on Xandar Prime! This stuff is like energy drinks for Groots!The moss growing on the walls looks lush and delicious too, and no wonder!

"The words are easy Rocket, I promise. Simply concentrate on the abnormally swarmy face of my Uncle Loki, and then pray to him 'I, Rocket of Low Morale, summon thee, Loki, God of Lies. I have money.'"

Yes, she seems serious.

—-

Rocket still does not look convinced. He sets his rifle off to the side where it won't get accidentally splashed before stepping towards the water, toeing the liquid experimentally. Grumbling under his breath, he starts to ease into it, keeping a hold of the edge as he can.

"That. Is disgusting," he says flatly, but he seems to be keeping his head above water well enough. At least until Atli holds out the mulet he's supposed to be holding. Yeah, how's that going to work? He reaches out to take it, and promptly disappears under the water as hands and arms prove very important to tread water when you've got tiny legs and feets. Blub.

—-

Groot finds his own footing in the water, completely missing the part about Atli's grandfather dipping what he shouldn't in the pool because hey, this stuff is GREAT. Nourishment is a plus and he'll go with that just fine!

While munching on whatever moss is left in one hand, he watches Rocket and Atli as they go about business. Which is cut short when the raccoon slips under the liquid surface. He gasps, wading a bit to reach down and pull his little buddy back up for air. "I am Groot?"

—-

When Groot wades in to rescue his dear friend, Atli stops. It's a moment that draws her gaze into something beyond serious, swallowing back some well of emotion. Mostly because it is simply touching to have friends who would risk their life to find her hated foe. Mostly because she has never known what it's like to have someone save her in such a way, nor seen it take place before her eyes.

Clearly, there is to much sand in this cave, some of it must have gotten in her eyes.

"Yes, well. Being a disgusting fool is what Thor has been best at. It did not stop when he got old. Though, he did glean some Wisdom when he inherited the Thor-Force. One day, I too will inherit it. When it is the Atli-Force. Then, I will be wise as well. Until that day, though!" She beams, as if being unwise is something that equates good living.

Their previous outings stand ins tark opposition to this notion.

"Repeat the words, fair Rocket, and we shall meet our foe once and for all, and save this world at least several more years before it is inevitably turned into a barren, blasted wasteland."

—-

Rocket coughs and sputters once his head's above water again. He grabs Groot's arm with one hand, the other still hanging onto the talisman at least. "Yeah, thanks Groot," he says, missing Atli getting all misty eyed in his near drowning.

"Huh? Yeah, sure, whatever," he says, nodding hesitantly at the Asgardian. "Although if you ask me, you already got your own brand of…force. Anyway."

The little Guardian wipes his face of the excess water before peering at the talisman in hand. "What were the dumb words again?" He kind of missed it when he failed treading water.

—-

"I am Groot," Groot sighs with relief, glad to see his furry friend isn't too waterlogged. He then smiles in Atli's direction, catching a glimpse of her so-called sand moment.

He then glances back at Rocket. "I am Groot," he repeats, remembering the incantation perfectly.

—-

Atli can't help but smile at Rocket's tenacity, and Groot's… hunger. As he eats the moss. Her brows lift a little, as does one finger, and her mouth opens, as if she's finally catching on to reinforcing Rocket's warning.

But then Rocket is asking for the words again, and she holds her tongue on that whole other thing. Also, Groot smiled at her. How could she be mad at him!

"I, Rocket of Low Morale, summon thee, Loki, God of Lies. I have money.' And remember, you must think of Loki when you say this, and that you need his help. Possibly to stea-.. borrow things. Of great value."

—-

"Oh shut up," the raccoon mutters at Groot. "You try hearing anything with your head under water!" Huffing at that, he looks back at Atli, squinting.

"…the hell kinda incantation is that?!" He seems highly suspicious of this, if he hadn't already been. But Atli looks serious about it, as she usually does. Sigh.

"Don't you dare laugh," he warns Groot before taking a deep breath, rolling his eyes. "I, Rocket of low morale, summon thee, Loki, god of lies." Pause. "I have money."

Frankly he doesn't know what Loki looks like to picture him, but wanting to steal things is natural.

—-

There may have been a snort of amusement as Rocket carries on with the incanting. Groot is then quick to pretend it never happened, turning his attention elsewhere.

—-

At long last. The incantation. The words of power, channeled through Rocket's tiny, soaked through body bring a feeling most profound. A sensation that crawls up the back, and nags at the back of the mind. A sensation, that one cannot deny.

The sensation of nothing at all happening.

Atli blows a strand of her hair out of the way then takes on a thousand yard stare, looking slowly around with her fists on her hips. Like she expects something to happen.

Any minute now.

At least a full minute passes, and Groot will notice just how strong he's starting to feel in this water. WOW is it refreshing. Just like that time that he found a ball of AquaOmnium floating in space, the primordial water said to have helped spawn the very first plants. Well, Groot would have found it, if not for Peter changing course to avoid this strange word that had popped up on the comm system.

What even was 'paternity' anyway?

Rocket will finally see something. Oh wait, it's just his reflection in the water. Huh. That's strange though. It's awfully big. And awfully three dimensional. And awfully rising out of the water behind the waiting Atli.

IT'S RISING OUT OF THE WATER BEHIND ATLI.

The face is absolutely Rocket's, and it's grinning, sharp teeth blazing, the rest of it's body that of a giant, vile snake-like dragon, with stubby arms and a whip like tail that looms over head, dripping water over them all.

"Hmm." says Atli, "this is an odd cave indeed, I had never known it to rain inside. Another feature of this miserable planet, I suppose. Ha!"

Atli, oblivious.

—-

"……."

The silence is broken, if by a sneeze from the smaller Guardian. He wipes his muzzle off with his arm, which sinks back into the water because hey, if an old guy's splooshed around in here naked than some raccoon snot ain't going to do any worse harm.

His brow seems to tick lower and lower with the lack of anything else happening, but then something /does/. At first he thinks it's his imagination. Stare at things long enough and your mind plays tricks. But then the waters move, and it's wearing his face but it's got some crazy body and HOW DOES SHE NOT NOTICE THIS.

"-gah!" Rocket spits, after a couple of false starts, because words escape him, but he points at the thing looming above the Asgardian, nearly going under the water again as he pulls his other hand away from Groot to grab for a rifle that isn't at his back.

—-

The anticipation builds, then collapses, and then builds a bit more. Although the tree initially sees nothing happening, he does start to feel a little weird. More weird, in fact - the strength that suddenly rushes through his wooden body is exhilerating! (And that what-if scenario would have been a very awesome comparison to have in handy in order to distinguish what exactly this rush is.)

Thinking that's all there is to the pool, Groot hums, looking down at the water again to see if anything else has changed. "I am Groot- " His slightly disappointed ask is interrupted by Rocket's rampant pointing at the thing he successfully summoned, black eyes widening and jaw going slack at the sight of it.

—-

There is a certain, sudden vacancy in the eyes of Atli as she hears breathing from above her, slack jawed and wide-eyed, she turns, backpeddling and splashing Rocket with more water. But she does not hesitate any more than that, reaching for her sword, which quickly lengthens to become a spear, hoisted high as she screams to the Rocket-Faced…THING.

"I, Atli, Daughter of Woden bring your end foul beast who have stolen the beautiful face of my snouted friend! HEAR ME NO-"

WOOSH!

The tail whips in, splating Atlis sidelong and sending her crashing to the cave wall before she plops back into the water with a sudden, sinking glub-glub.

Then, the creature speaks, it's voice a garbled growl, nothing like Rocket's handsome voice at all. Instead, it sounds very much like what a shark might sound like could it talk, and roar.

Maybe more like a street shark. You know.

Jawsome.

"HEAR ME MORTALS. I, LOH-KHEY, SPAWN OF LO-KEE, SPAWN OF LOKI DO NOT APPRECIATE YOUR LYING SUMMONS. IT REMINDS US OF OUR FATHERS FATHER, WHO WOULD NEVER SHARE WITH US HIS FORTUNE. PREPARE FOR DEATH, TONIGHT YOUR BLOOD RUNS DEEP THROUGH THESE WATERS!"

With that, the creature roars.

—-

Rocket clambers onto Groot's shoulder, looping the talisman around his wrist so he can hold on to the tree better. He watches as Atli valiantly fights to save his face, or…something, wincing as she's sent flying instead. Couldn't say he hadn't seen that coming.

"Flark."

His eyes widen as the thing then turns to face them before glaring. "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! What kinda lame-oh freaks are these people?!" he sputters. "AND HOW DARE YOU WEAR MY BEAUTIFUL FACE!"

The thing with his face roars, and he nearly loses his hold on Groot's head. "I knew this was a bad idea- Groot, go find Atli!" he shouts, pointing off where she'd plunged as he turns to vault off of his friend's shoulder and back to dry ground where he left his rifle.

—-

"Groot."

These words seem to best fit the situation they now face.

With Rocket on him, yelling at his face and then giving him direction, Groot nods, letting his feet push off of the bottom to wade across the pool as fast as he can. Of course, 'wading' and 'fast' aren't words that usually go together in one sentence.

He manuevers, determined to get to where Atli was last seen by letting his arms extend and plunge back under the water's surface. "I am Groot!" She's gotta be around here somewhere…!

—-

The brave Not-Raccoon will reach his rifle, just as the monster crashes sidelong into Groot with a great heave, until finally, horribly, it's massive Rocket-like jaws come crashing in to clamp down on the tree-man.

But wait! Somewhere below, a stabbing pain makes the creature cry out, as a spear slams into it's side with the suddenly returned Atli!

"Fair Rocket! It appears to have copied other attributes of yours, for instance, it's feet resemble your dainty toes! And it also seems to have your p-"

Another tail-slap and Atli goes spiraling away, crashing into the water once more.

For sure, she was going to say 'personality'

Honestly though, it kindof does. It's just able to muster this kind of rage WITHOUT having a rifle!

It looks grim. Atli has the strength of Thor! Or.. something close to it, and this thing is just smacking her around. And it's getting all bitey and wrestely with Groot!

At least it can't drag him down and drag him, right?

—-

Oh good, she's not dead. Then again, Atli's proven a tough one to kill. It's like she's made of Drax or something. Several times over. Eesh.

Rocket scoops up his rifle, the talisman clinking against it as he cradles the weapon almost lovingly before he hauls it up. Swinging around, he turns to try and get the monster in his sight.

"You don't know that-!" he finds himself shouting almost out of reflex, right on the heels of Atli's almost carefree words before she's rather rudely cut off again. And aw crap, Groot's getting the brunt of this beast too.

"Aaargh, quit moving around!" Rocket grumbles, squeezing the trigger to start firing away the moment he thinks he sees a clear shot. He doesn't seem to care too much that it's his face he's shooting at, because there ain't no one else like him, baby!

—-

Getting rammed into and chewed on by a giant raccoon head is not how Groot planned to spend the rest of his day, but in this instance, he really has no choice. Arms flailing, the sentient tree growls in surprise, trying to reroute his current action to face the the Rocket-looking summon head on. Unable to work fast enough, he groans, feeling the teeth dig into his bark as he tries to get a good grip and pry the thing's mouth open.

What's more important is that Rocket gets his rifle and they all survive this madness. With Atli thrown again, Groot grunts, yanking on the jaws while literally rooting himself into the bottom of the pool. This can at least raise the chances of getting Rocket the shot he needs. "I am GROOT!!"

—-

Oh no. Rocket made it angry. Double angry, because now Rocket is gleefully firing weaponry at it, and Rocket has HIS face! THAT'S RIGHT! IT CLAIMS THIS FACE IN THE NAME OF ALL LOWKEYS LOKEES LOH-KHEYS, etc, etc. Besides, after it's done chewing Rocket up and swallowing him, Rocket won't need that face anyway.

With a savage roar the beast releases Groot, finding the tree a very sudden, very immovable object. Instead it lashes out with it's tail to slam it towards Rocket, intent on knocking him into a floating pile with Atli!

Meanwhile, it's stubby arms grapple with Groot, struggling, bending, a roar sending bits of thousand year old rotting meat barreling past Groot's face.

Atli seems alive, and floats, blurry eyed and staring into the light that streams in from far above. It must almost be noon.

Groot will feel something as the roots run deep. Something primordial. Something ancient. Another system of roots, roots that feast on these waters. Roots of this world's First Tree, an ancient God of tress that the native people of the Americas knew as the source of all life, and good water.

—-

Rocket believes in the power of tooth, claw and WMDs. His finger's practically glued to the trigger of his rifle as he continues to fire shot after shot at the roaring beastie. The downside is that it makes it difficult to dodge when you're trying to compensate for the weight and force of each shot.

To his credit, the raccoon tries, but the thing's tail moves faster than he anticipates, sending him flying in Atli's direction.

—-

Water finds its way into Groot's open maw, forcing him to swallow and sputter during the struggle. Wrestling a giant head takes guts, but the power he's been getting from the pool has been helping immensely.

He can feel the shift as he now fends off the short, stubby arms and claws raking at him, adding more cuts than he can count. Pieces of old, rotting meat fly past his field of vision, sticking onto his face and shoulders within the deafening roar.

And then Rocket goes flying. Which he shouldn't be able to do if he doesn't have a jet pack on his person.

Groot's brow creases. His eyes light up. Suddenly thriving on the anger of seeing his friends being treated like ragdolls and the strength of an ancient nature, he ROARS back at the giant raccoon beast, flinging one over-extended tree arm around its huge neck. He then tugs, pulls at it with all of his might, aiming to throw it down into the water in one go.

—-

The Space Not-Raccoon will land right on Atli, who barely seems to notice, her eyes fluttering a little, until an arm curls up and around him, fingers shifting into his hair for one of those magical scritches that are impossible to escape.

It almost makes the pain go away.

"I fear this is it my friend. Dear, fair Rocket. Perhaps I will be eaten by your face that is not your face. Perhaps I will drown here, in this place, where grandfather used to wash his unmentionables. Which I now mention. The laws of reality are breaking down. I feel it!"

They really aren't, she's just got a concussion.

"Hel's Bells. Does Groot have abs? Why is he bulging in such a manner?!"

Why is he bulging? Why does he have abs? Because no one kills a tree in the water of The First Tree, and that power flows into Groot's roots and turns him, for a brief moment, into the personification of The Tree God.

LOH-KHEY chokes as that branch wraps around, bulging tree-muscle choking off air, and the thrashing begins, pulling it's foe into the water.

Atli's eyes go wide, and she reaches over to fish up Rocket's gun, to force it into his hands for moral support, even as she tosses her spear towards Groot, giving the tree a weapon only a God can wield.. now that he appears to have become one.

That's right. Rocket's face became a God and Groot became a God.

And Quill is just stuck being Quill somewhere.

Pathetic.

—-

The water would have been a softer landing. It's only a miracle that the rifle hasn't exploded and killed them all. Never anything done in halves with this one.

The only reason Atli's keeping her fingers is because Rocket's still a little dazed from getting flung around, and well, it'd be a lie to say that being scratched on the head right there doesn't feel nice. He'll hate himself for it later.

"Wha… No, no one's gettin' eaten. If anything, I'll eat that guy's face first," he growls insistently, trying to push himself upright. It's okay, Atli's wearing plate armor so there's no accidental groping, unfortunately.

Blearily he looks towards Groot as Atli starts babbling things that make no sense- although to be fair, that's almost half of the time she's talking with them. But then he sees…and squints. "What the hell?" That's not Groot. Or it is, but it isn't, because he's sure he's imagining things since his pal-o didn't have that much definition to his bark, or was ever that huge!

He almost falls off of Atli and into the water, saved only by clinging to his rifle as the Asgardian hauls it upright. His teeth grit, he pulls the trigger with all the intent of blowing a hole into that imposter's face. Instead there's a sad spark or two, and frankly it's a miracle they hadn't gotten electricuted by any loose wiring.

"THAT STUPID THING BROKE MY GUN!"

—-

The spark and loss of power in the rifle is ignored in the greater action occurring, Atli's babbling and Rocket's shouting lost among the tussle between god-like figures.

The water churns, tree-created waves splashing against the upset of a giant raccoon head, wild and fierce the longer it goes on. Groot wrestles, continuing to fight the beast LOH-KHEY with his new bodily endowments, branches sprouting and wrapping and clinging to every available space left open as he brings it back up from its previous dunkings. Grunting, the tree makes sure his grip is solid, unrelenting no matter how much the head fights back. Every following tug proves he's in control, and the waters below allow him to use his strength to its fullest potential.

"I! AAAAM!! GROOOOOT!!!"

His battlecry echoes throughout the cavern, punctuating the violent motion of tearing the beast in two. It's a gruesome noise, terrible in its own right the further he goes.

Can't stop, won't stop. Not until it's dead.

One last bellow finishes the job, leaving Groot tired yet filled with some sense of accomplishment. Large chest heaving, he stares down at the thing to make sure dead is dead, nudging it before pausing and looking over at the other two.

"…I am Groot!"

—-

The battle is pitched and ferocious. Atli cries for victory, fist thrust to the sky. Rocket cries for his rifle, or laments it at least. Poor, poor Rocket. Atli will surely notice, but she's to busy cheerleading for Groot, God of Bark-Fu.

Cracks race along the bottom of the pool, and a great sucking sound is heard as the water drains, returning to the roots it had come from millennia ago. Now no one will use this place as a bath ever again. So it's like a two victories in one! The creature sputters, thinking it impossible that it could be bested, until finally it's slammed furiously into the ground and breaks, almost like a twig, twisted and distorted.

Slowly it turns the color of half used up coal, and then, like so many ashes, it blows away. Curiously, it does leave something in it's wake.

A gold bracelet, with iconography that identifies it as a not a bracelet at all, but a key.

Oh no, another mystery. Oh no, another adventure!

"YES!!!!"

Atli leaps up, throwing her fist to the sky, hauling Rocket to his feet on the now drained pool-bottom. "Now we celebrate in the tradition of Midgard! Now we celebrate…"

Her eyes go wide, pupils shrink. Revels must be had.

"…pancakes."

—-

With no tools at his disposal to even make an attempt at salvaging his poor baby on the spot, Rocket's only able to watch as his friend goes at it, toe to…tail with the big thing with the dumb name. "Go get 'im, Groot!" he shouts, half-heartedly urging his friend on, if only because he would have really liked to have properly shot that thing in his face. Wait, that doesn't sound right.

It's a frightening display of raw power, and for all the shouting, Rocket wonders that the whole cavern doesn't come down on their heads. But then just like that, it's over.

The great beast collapses and shrivels up, the glowing waters of the pool drain like the toilet of the gods that it might very well have been. On his feet and no longer having to worry about accidentally drowning, Rocket looks around at his comrades and then at the very shiny thing that's been left in the creature's wake. He slings his currently useless gun behind him again, stepping over to pick up the thing.

"All that for a lousy bracelet??" he grumbles, clearly not sharing in Atli's exuberance. He looks at Groot tiredly, then at the Asgardian, opening his mouth. Oh, there will be /words/!

…except instead there's a very telling rumble from the ring-tailed one's stomach. Well, swimming does work up an appetite, on top of all that spelunking.

"…pancakes," he concedes.

—-

No more water. No more giant raccoon head. No more to worry about here.

Exhaling, Groot rolls his shoulders out, bark soaked and ashy after everything drains and blows away. He also feels himself shrink a little, but that doesn't bother him too much. He's much too tired to be concerned about that or any non-threatening injuries he picked up. All he does now is grin that silly grin at his friends.

Pancakes. The lunch of champions.

—-

NEXT FOR OUR BAND OF HEROES: Unlocking the most coveted treasure on Midguard - Loki's heart!

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