Atli and the Wonderful Hair

June 03, 2018:

Finding Pietro to be a younger, more accessible, and thereby more appealing version of her crush, the Man of Magnets, Atli Wodendottir valiantly engages in lovestruck pursuit. Only to encounter Wanda…

Long Island, New York


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Magneto, Tony Stark, Rocket, Thor, Loki


Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

The allies of Trask Industries come in all sorts of shapes and serve all sorts of functions, legitimate and not. The most visibly obvious arms of influence, as of late, have been the various forces behind the R&D resources being poured into the mutant suppression collars, and the legislators even now debating the bill in the New York Legislature. But there are those who work to bolster the goal of metahuman control in more subtle ways.

At first glance, Nicholas Anastos doesn't seem like one of those people, or someone who should be connected with any of this nasty mutant business at all. He's a top executive at one of the world's most prominent pharmaceutical companies, certainly, but not one that's taken any sort of stance on the brewing mutant issue. Too big and too diversified for that. It'd be like Wal-Mart throwing its support behind something. No, they're busy just making money as usual, and Anastos has been busily keeping his head down too. He's got a yacht (or five) and he means to make full use of them now the weather's getting warmer.

No, it's not Anastos that's the problem. It's someone else who's a guest on his yacht this afternoon.

4:34:00 PM finds the relatively small craft riding serenely in the Atlantic, about five miles off the eastern tip of Long Island. Anastos and his guest, seated in chairs out on the deck, seem deep in conversation.
4:34:02 PM finds a sudden bolt of indistinct white spearing towards the yacht from the west, seawater boiling in its wake.
4:34:05 PM finds Anastos and his skeleton crew speed-knocked the hell out and locked in the yacht's cabin, leaving that one problematic guest out on the deck, with someone else now seated across from him.
4:36:30 PM is about when Quicksilver ascertains that Daniel Martin, Genoshan defector, has nothing to say to him.

"That's fine," the young terrorist decides. "I can get that information from elsewhere." He rises, and pauses. "Besides, if I was really invested in that, I would have brought my sister. Now, I think — you should experience a state of mind authentic to that of the average mutant."

At which point, Quicksilver promptly hurls the man over the side, into the sea.

"Helplessness," he explains, leaning on the railing. "Well — you might make it to land. It's not impossible. The shred of hope does tend to make everything worse, in the end."

4:37:00 PM. Pietro has turned away, and is even now crossing the deck to turn the craft back towards land.

SOMEWHERE. Well, somewhere on Long Island anyway.

"You know, Toothbender, it is a sensation most strange to feel such triumph over such a simple thing. I have toppled giants and metal men, even slain one of Wehrsweir's avatars and subdued the great and terrible Loki into cooking pancakes for us. Bacon pancakes, draped in honey and butter and syrup, or rather, what butter substitute we had left over after summoning. Well, you know, you were there fool goat! Why do you not stop me when I speak of things which you already know?"

The goat stares up at Atli, it's new GoPro 'battle helmet' blinking a dull red light.

The goat has no explanation.

"Right, well, where was I? Ah, yes. This sensation of triumph. There has been nothing quite like it since I arrived on midgard. While it is certain I could find heaping mounds of ice cream at one of Midgard's many foodhouses, or even trade gold for a great many full paper boxes of it from one of their foodhalls, nothing compares to this. Perhaps it is the thrill of chasing the lingering sound of this chariot's merry call, songs meant no doubt, to enchant all who here them into craving such frozen delights. And though it is smaller than that which I might consider my favorite, slimmed down, as if some lean, glistening precursor to a main course, I want it more. I want it more than I have ever wanted any other iced cream. The chase alone has intoxicated me. I am only thankful that nothing but the bristling flavor of frozen vanilla has such hold over me."

"Uhh…" The ice cream truck driver leans out just a little, and gestures to the kids staring up at the Girl of Thunder. And her goat. And her sword, all marveling at her tale, as much as they can make sense of it. Also, they are waiting patiently to buy their own ice cream. "I'm glad you like it, and all, but could you not use the word glistening to describe the soft serve? And.. maybe let someone else buy some ice cream, you're holdin' up the line."

It is in this moment that Atli's ice cream cone seems to droop, ever so slightly. "Ah. Yes. Well, you're right. I should be on my way. OH! But I did come here for something else."

The sudden explosion of blood and gore as Atli spears the ice cream vendor through the neck and bodily drags him from the window with Jarnbjorn is most impressive. As are the screams of all the children as he gurgles and flails and slowly shifts to his true and natural form: That of an exiled Jotuntroll.

Atli takes a bite of her ice cream, messily enjoying it as she stabstabstabs the thing in the chest, while Toothbender grabs hold of a leg and rips left and right until the leg pulls off. "Of course, as good as your ice cream is, it does not make up for your past deeds. Eating children lured by your tasty treats is low, even for one of your kind. Did you think you could hide from the mighty nose of Toothbender? As soon as you saw my goat you should have run for your very life, not that it would have done you any good, for the goat is one of the fastest things in the Nine realms. Verily you woul-"

There is a blur of sorts as the nasty ice troll sputters and dies and with a little electricity channeled through Atli's once-sword now-spear, begins to smolder. Thankfully the children have all run away by now. "Toothbender! Did you see that? It was but a blur to my eyes but I could have sworn… we must go quickly! This is my chance!"

Astride the goat, she spurs it to motion and the world bends around them to a rush of air that sends cape and hair fluttering. Spear at the charge, Atli arrives just before the man is tossed into the water, the goat hanging in mid air as she leaps to the deck of the boat behind Pietro with a fire in her eyes.

"Woe, stranger of majestic bearing. I see that your friend has thrown himself overboard, clearly stricken to despair by both your formidable jawline and impossibly perfect hair. You.. are not who I thought you were, and yet, something about you is most transfixing. Really, I should be saving that screaming man in the water but instead I wish to only offer you this, my creamed ice."

Atli slowly extends her dripping, half-eaten, wind-obliterated soft serve, wonder and confidence both in her eyes.

The entire yacht sways gently with the impressive arrival of Atli, granddaughter of King Thor. In the cabin, Anastos stirs to semi-consciousness, looks out through the glass, and decides the better part of valor is 'going back to pretending he is unconscious.'

Fortunately for him, Pietro doesn't notice, because he's spun around at the girl's thunderclap arrival — and the first thing he sees is the goat, hanging in midair.

Nonplussed, he almost misses Atli's singular introductory speech, which is incredible in and of itself, given Quicksilver's rapid perceptions miss very little. As it is, he hesitates slightly at its content, clearly caught between his fabled vanity and a sneaking suspicion he is being, somehow, mocked.

There is also the concerning fact that this person just, you know, appeared from nowhere. With a goat. And is offering him the remainder of her ravaged ice cream corpse.

"He's not my friend, for one, seeing as he's out to destroy my species," Pietro begins dryly, ticking each point off on his fingers. "Which leads to point two: I'd be rather cross if you saved him. Point three: are you flirting with me?"

He regards the dripping cone, head canted, brows lofted dangerously close to his hairline. "I appreciate that you prioritize offering me that over undoing my very good work here, but it's a little… used, don't you think?"

The yacht drifts farther and farther from the man in the water. His screaming does in fact form a pleasant backdrop for the conversation.

The Girl of Thunder's head tilts just a little as Pietro begins his counting. Fingers tick off one by one. Something about wiping out his species, and undoing his hard work, and all Atli can do is stare at his appendages and wonder. No, not his fingers. His other appendages. They probably don't move much. maybe they're mostly in her imagination. But she stares at his hair antenna, a slow, broadening smile taking her over until finally he gets to his last point. Oh! And the ice cream.

"Ha! Flirting. Yes. Perhaps. Maybe! I don't know what that is."

She tosses the ice cream cone now that it's clear that Pietro is not interested in her leftovers, and it spirals through the air as cries for help ring out, until it lands with a sudden splat on the head of the poor man in the water.

'Why!' comes his cry.

Why indeed.

Atli leans her spear on her shoulder and then reaches out to put her hand on one of the Yacht's deck struts made for holding fishing rods. This breaks under her Asgardian mass and she stumbles, fishing rods falling over and scattering overwhere from the hidden cabinet. She tries to brush it off of course, straightening her posture and flipping her hair back.

Was the hair flip on purpose.

"Verily, where are my manners. I am Atli Wodendottir, Goddess of Thunder, Lightning, all that sort of thing. And it is not that I am 'flirting'. It is just, well.. you're so very hot, and I thought you might need something to help cool you off. Also, it seems a shame that such a glorious day be wasted on torturing this man here in the water with his demise when you could be letting your hair flutter in the wind, in that.. distracting, glorious way it seems to flutter even when you stand still.. while we go get some unused iced cream. Worry not! Toothbender could ferry us… unless you wish to run again."

Her eyes say 'please, oh please, run again!

"Tell me though, are you related perhaps to a man who can fly and crush metal people with a thought? I am only asking because I have not seen such a fierce gaze as yours since the Man of Magnets battled beside me at the isle of Genosha."

I don't know what that is! Atli reports cheerfully, on the subject of flirting. 'Seriously…?' Pietro mouths to himself, not actually troubling to disguise his incredulity from the Asgardian.

Nor does he disguise the moderately disdainful way he watches every last moment of Atli's fumble, in her attempt to Lean Coolly upon the railing. One brow lofts, the young man's head similarly lifting haughtily as he quite plainly judges her efforts. Two of ten. At best.

Why! the man wails, as his struggle is capped off with confectionery indignity. Pietro leans over the railing and hushes him. "Your betters are talking," he says. "And you know exactly why."

His gaze slanting back towards Atli, he considers her introduction. Her declaration that he is 'hot' is taken so much in stride by him — complete with impatient nodding — as to make it seem Atli were merely reciting physical law. He accepts its truism as if she were telling him water were wet. Pride is clearly not in short supply. "I thought there was already one of those," Pietro wonders instead, at her declaration of her status as Goddess of Thunder.

But speaking of relatives… those familiar blue eyes narrow precipitously as Atli asks whether he might perchance be related to a certain infamous flying magnetic man. The arrogant ease of his demeanor, so like that of the magnetic man who captured Atli's heart, twists tense and hostile, though not necessarily at her…

"He's my father, more's the pity," Pietro hisses. "Blood is all we share. You were at Genosha? Helping him?" A pause. "You unfortunate creature. How did he fool you into it?"

He starts to say something else, shuts his mouth (a miracle where he is concerned), and just frowns as a horrible thought occurs to him. Two and two add up in his mind. "You know what — " he starts… and immediately afterwards, he is gone. Apparently he decided he did want to run again. At hypersonic speed. …Without Atli. Away from her, in fact, back towards land.

This is a perfect portrait of 'Pietro losing his patience.' Or perhaps, Pietro suddenly realizing Atli thought his dad was hot too, and no. Nonono.

To say that she had seen Magneto angry is not even close to the truth, for that was a man who wore his anger in his soul and let it seep to the surface with every word, every motion. But never in the way of his child, so overt and full of fire. Pupils grow in the face of such braven questioning. When he says the word blood, her cheeks might just have darkened a shade. If nothing else, Pietro Maximoff can say he's made more than one god blush in his life.

"Well, it's a funny story that begins with the vaunted house of Tony Stark, and the fued his family had with the Lannisters. But.. wait! Toothbender did not mean to look at you with his strange eyes in his offputting goatly manner! I promise!"

This, she calls futally, and if Atli wasn't much of a hero today, Toothbender was. He nudged a life preserver overboard for the struggling man. Also, he ate his pants.

"Verily, Toothbender. You know what this means."

Here she turns to the goat, fire in her eyes as she leaps to his back and sets him in motion once more.

"Fly you fool!"

It will begin as an odd sensation at Pietro's back, as if someone were staring too intently, and manifest as a sound, one that seems to break all laws of physics, and certainly should not catch someone who is running faster than sound! But it does, almost metallic in it's escalating crescendo as the goat pulls into Pietro's periphery, Atli's cape furiously fluttering in the wind and her face locked into a beaming smile. Finally, she reaches up a hand, hair rippling behind her as she gives a wave.

"Ah I see now! You must be build for such speed! Slim and streamlined as a fierce predator! Honestly you remind me of another beautiful man I know. His name is Rocket! But do not worry, not Rocket, not the Magnet Man or anyone else can come close to the beauty of your hair in the wind!! Please, do honor me with your name, God of Speed and Perfect Hair!"

There are a panoply of ways in which Magneto's son resembles his father. Most immediately and most obviously in outward appearance, certainly, but also in the way he carries himself, and the way he reacts to the world around him. Yet where the elder has had decades to refine himself to a razor's edge of self-control, cunning, and cold collected rage, the child is still raw and rough, jagged around the edges with a fury that has not yet had its points filed off by the grinding years.

He demands how on earth she wound up helping his father, of all people. And her answer widens his eyes.

"Oh," he says. "I suppose that was actually me. My sister and I told Stark to go. Be useful. And so on." So it was technically his fault. Well, he excuses himself, that was when he still had some small hope. Back before he realized what his father was actually like. Back before he realized the pointlessness of the entire endeavor… of the idea that helping there could really make any significant difference…

" — Lannisters?" he wonders.

But there's no time to ponder such pop culture references. One, he's wasted too much time out here already, and two, he's come to a horrific realization that no child can stand before: people find Dad attractive. The yacht is left on its steady course to convey its remaining passengers back to shore, leaving behind the man in the water (plus life preserver), and Pietro abandons both in his metaphorical dust. He certainly tries to abandon Atli too.

Except halfway back to land, within the roaring curtains of flash-boiled water slashed up along either side of him, Atli suddenly pops up again. The sight startles Pietro so much he almost trips, which at his current speeds would be catastrophic. — Not for him, but for Montauk.

Recovering, his head whips to one side to regard Atli with frank incredulity. This angle does, in fact, unintentionally create a glorious tableau as the wind combs its fingers through his silver hair.

"Oh come ON," he objects. "A goat should NOT be able to do Mach 10."

Within heartbeats they reach land again, the sea falling back in place as Pietro slows to a comprehensible trot upon regaining some solid ground. He looks deeply perturbed still at a goat keeping pace with him, his stride unbroken as he continues to try to walk away from Atli. Despite this not working even at hypersonic speed.

He does pause, however, when Atli rates him above his father. The corner of his mouth pulls with reluctant humor. That seems to mollify him enough that he glances over his shoulder. "…It's Pietro," he says. SMALL VICTORIES.

He rolls his eyes skyward, as if seeking patience from the clouds. "Is this what you do?" 'This' being, obviously, chasing silver foxes on goats. "Don't you… I don't know… Avenge things like that other God of Thunder?"

"Do not let it sting your pride, Pretty Pietro! The goat was made to traverse the starways and paint the skies with it's rainbow hindparts!!"

That's right. Stretching out behind Atli, in the wake of such terrible speed… is a rainbow. Her beaming smile almost sparkles with it's multicolor glare, and as Pietro slows so too does the goat to keep pace, and finally the multi-colored energy stream fades behind them. "Ah, well. There are many Gods of Thunder! For instance, both of my sisters. And yes, my Grandfather, Thor. But please, enough about our oddly handsome relatives and their rippling muscles!"

Unless Pietro fully stops, she will not dismount the goat, but she does skirt ahead, just a little, if only to beam at Pietro in a ridiculous manner.

"Do tell, Pietro, God of Silver Haired Glory, what would it take to earn an evening of your time? I promise you a mighty outing, filled with… drinking! And more drinking. And likely, some amount of shouting and fighting. Verily it is the natural progression of such things, and with the goat at our side, we're bound to have to answer for property damage. Which is fine because I have a bag of endless gold. I suppose if I have a thing, that would be it. I am very good at entertaining people with excellent jawlines. If you like we could even make it a working revel. Something that deals with more of these fools who wish to wipe out your species, which, if I am made to guess, would be the species of people with divine glutes! Please Pietro, there will be only one thing to avenge tonight should you deny me, and it would be my broken heart!"

Only seconds ago, silence cloaks the mid-day Long Island shore.

The sun beats down, the humidity holds in a stewing warmth, but there is an occasional reprieve: the wind blows in cool off the sea, bringing with it the hiss of the moving tide, water battering the rocks and coarse-ground sand left to bleach white under the day.

Left behind and let alone, Wanda Maximoff does as told. She stays put, not permitted to linger or wander far from where her twin brother has stowed her, and still well-within her attention span to wait. Fortunately, today is not one of her worse days, which seem to come and go like a tide upon themselves: those rare, hard days where her mind becomes so tempestuous that she cannot hold onto her thoughts for long. When a residual nightmare, or some unwanted whisper off from the world, renders Wanda to her anxious confusion.

For now, she is her closest to peaceful, dressed more like a civilian and not like a terrorist: a simple red dress, with her dark hair let down, curling audaciously with the humidity and salt in the air.

On a secluded, rocky corner of the shoreline, kept deliberately away from the throngs of tourists, she has waded into the water deep enough to find a large rock as a perch, high enough and deep enough to sit dry while submerging her bare legs up to their knees. There is a reason she's this far out; in this time, Wanda has made a friend.

"Hold still," she directs kindly, with red in her eyes, and red playing along her fingertips, as she directs it along a gossamer-fine tendril lain across her hand. It was ripped in half, shredded, but in an instant, she heals it back to health.

It belongs to one of the thousands of arms spreading from a Lion's Mane jellyfish, churning vividly through the water around her. One touch of its stinging arms is easily fatal for a human, but Wanda neither seems harmed nor bothered. "See? All better. What?" Her head tilts down at its translucent mass. "Of course I healed clean. Women do not find scars attractive. What does this even matter to you? You reproduce asexually."

Her eyes tighten. "You want options? What — how —"

And then the conversation breaks, and the witch looks up. A familiar blur of speed takes her attention, but what keeps it is — that voice that follows. Confusion knots up her eyebrows.

Pretty Pietro? The man in question fires a deeply incredulous look over his shoulder, the incredulity of which only deepens when he registers the glorious trail of rainbow light streaming out behind the goat.

"Do not," he enjoins, with an emphasizing point, "call me that."

From the way he about-faces and keeps walking sharply away afterwards, he has also had enough of conversation about Asgardian rippling muscles. As Atli scoots ahead to try to keep pace, she's only allowed to beam at him for a few moments before the young man determinedly picks up the pace and pulls back ahead of her again.

This continues until his 'speedwalk' clocks in at forty miles an hour. It also takes him unerringly back in the direction of the spot where he left Wanda. Atli happily propositions him the entire way.

"If you're trying to score a date, Miss Atli," Pietro finally interjects into her cheerful inquiries, her positive currency with him clearly used up, "you should know I am emphatically not available, and even if I were, I really don't have the time to waste on such frivolities, due to aforementioned 'fools who wish to wipe out my species.' If you hadn't noticed, anti-mutant sentiment is at an all-time high."

He stops — not far from Wanda's rock — and turns towards Atli severely, as if to emphasize his next point: "Which is to say, I'm very busy, and the state of your heart is at the very bottom of my list of concerns."

He nods, as if to close the conversation, and turns back towards Wanda, only to — "Wanda! What did I tell you about touching deadly jellyfish!"

This is apparently a repeat infraction on her part.

It isn't until they're near Wanda's rock and Pietro has set about all the reasons he doesn't have the time or inclination that Atli lets up the reins a bit, watching as Pietro turns to admonish her. Finally she dismounts the goat, which lifts it's head to sniff at the air, it's strange goatly eyes turned towards Wanda. It nearly bowls Pietro out of the way on it's splashing gallop towards the Scarlet Witch, bleating out something, but not exactly towards Wanda.

No, no, it means to confer with the jellyfish, intent on finding out if the women in red is, you know. Cool.

Atli will wander up beside Pietro, almost oblivious to the good will she's lost with him, her expression screwed up into something well beyond mild confusion. "But.. it is on the list? Verily, you're saying there's a chance!"

This is the happiest anyone will have seen her since she saw Magneto, murderous and fierce! "This is excellent news. Though… I.. do wonder who your friend is. She has the most excellent manner about her, as if the world might wash over her and be better for it. Really, it must be some blind luck of fate that I am to encounter two creatures of such peerless grace in the span of just mere moments. Wanda, you say? Lady Wanda! Come forth and bring the goat. Apparently the only way for Pietro and his wonderful hair to find time to revel is if we do something about this scourge against your people!R

Atli waves at Wanda most vigorously, as a plan begins to form in her mind. It's the best plan.

"I know! We'll simply petition the Magnet Man to join our cause. He seems to have some trust in Lord Stark, and I am certain he could arrange a meeting. You will simply have to do your best not to look more impressive than him while we negotiate some sort of alliance, Pietro. Perhaps, set the fire in your eyes to a mere smolder, something that will not challenge him to rip off his helmet and wrestle you on the spot. Because that? That would be a terrible shame."

Really she looks broken up at the thought, beaming that brilliant smile of hers is.. is she giving Pietro two thumbs up?!

"It's not that deadly of a jellyfish," Wanda argues weakly, letting the healed thread-thin arm free from her hand and taking it back without so much of a sting. "However hung up on a dangerous reputation as it seems to be. I'm trying to teach it that reputations are largely superficial and a strong inner character is far more important."

Her eyes veer down on the water, and she adds impatiently, "He doesn't care about seeing your scars, so just —"

And that's about when Pietro Maximoff comes bearing some strange new company. Wanda lifts her head, hands on her knees, still like the rock upon which she sits — a perfect, unmoving tranquility among an in-and-out lapping of the tide. The wind moves her dark hair, but does not so much as twitch an eyelash. She gazes her red eyes straight towards Atli, Goddess of Thunder, and the very not-terrestrial goat upon which she rides.

She stares, unblinking, unbreathing, unmoving, through all the insanity that comes off the young woman's mouth.

Perhaps it is a boon of the witch that she does not react in any such way to the things Atli says. Perhaps to Wanda Maximoff, whispered to by reality itself since childhood, this is in all an average day's capacity for weird bullshit. Perhaps —

'Pietro and his wonderful hair'

Wanda's face approximates a :/

'Petition the Magnet Man'

Wanda's face slowly changes to a :I

'Lord Stark'

Wanda's face is now a :S

And then she finally deigns to move, slowly, subtly, simply, in a patient tuuuurn of her head to level a long look on her twin brother. Her eyes ask one question: what did you do?

The giant space-transversing goat gallops up through the shallow water, and in response, the deadly Lion's Mane jelly, tough and mean and strong and scarred — twists itself up with anxiety. It confers back a, 'pleasedonteatme pleasedonteatme' and quickly churns itself away, deeper into the waters.

"Grimhands!" Wanda calls after. But her friend is gone. She frowns to herself. Her hands tighten on her knees, flexing once.

Her eyes level on the goat, then turn, finally speared on Atli, her scarlet irises braiding light as she pushes into the woman's mind. "Who are you?"

Pietro is forced to dodge out of the way as Toothbender charges suddenly off to try to make an acquaintance with the jellyfish. It doesn't improve his mood, the young man grumbling subvocally to himself as he straightens back up, and pulls back into place a sleeve that rode up in the midst of his run back to shore.

He might have worried about the thing running towards his sister — under most circumstances, he would have regardless of whether Wanda wanted his overprotection or not — but honestly she can take care of herself, and right now he has more worrying matters to attend.

Like the fact that Atli still thinks she has 'a chance.'

"No, I am not saying there is a chance — " he starts, aggravated, but Atli is already waving cheerily at 'the Lady Wanda' and formulating a great plan to take care of Pietro's 'mutant prejudice problem' so he can get back to more important matters. Like dating her.

Her proposals go from bad, to worse, to oh my god no. Pietro sputters incoherently at the suggestion Magneto might wrestle him in jealous fury, and that Atli, Granddaughter of Thor, would thoroughly enjoy watching such a contest. "We are not petitioning my father anything!"

Then, worst of all, Wanda turns him a Look. Pietro, for once, looks the admonished one, his hands lifted in a defensive I DIDN'T DO ANYTHING. "She just followed me!" he objects in the face of his twin's judgment.

Then Wanda's eyes start glowing. Pietro deflates. "You've done it now," he observes grimly, in Atli's vague direction.

"Verily Pietro, I see no reason to protest so very much. After all, you said it yourself, YOU told Lord Stark to go to the wonderful island with all of the metal men who needed to be defeated, and so he took me, because I am a great warrior. Then I met your daddy, who in turn showed me how very virile your line must be, with all his warrior spirit and flexing muscles and all that. So really, if you think about it, it's all your fault that we must now petition him."

Her logic is only undeniable because it's not logic, you see.

'You've done it now'

"Hmm? OH, yes! Lady Wanda, I must say, what beautiful blue… red? eyes you have. That.. that's odd. I can taste something. Like ice cream, but macaroni flav-erk!"

'Who are you?'

It does not happen suddenly or all at once. The mind of Atli Wodendottir is not like an open book. No, more like the pressure layers of a hurricane. Crackling with lightning, with shadows reflecting some far off place and time, words swirl in the red tendrils that seek purchase, voices echoing from the hazy din of a reality that is no more. There he sits on a throne, bearded and fierce and disgruntled. A metal arm. A hammer at one side. A sword at the other. He is alone, for all the others have been taken.%rAsgard is a dead place.

Asgard is tomb.

Black shadows race against time to consume one and all, and King Thor steps to them in challenge. He fights, but not alone. He fights with Thor the Younger, and Thor the Avenger, past selves combined to kill an ancient enemy. Gorr, Butcher of Gods. The mindscape shifts, tilts, away from the dark time before, where Atli was trapped on a world with her sisters and made to work with Gorr building his Godbomb.

Soon she is laughing as she constructs a statue out of butter. But not real butter. The churnmasters of the Land O' Lakes have blessed her with their bounty, or at least, she has borrowed one of their trucks full of it, and will surely return with restitution. For now, her and a tree man share a love of art as they sculpt Foul Loki, and use it as a gateway to summon him forth from a burning realm.

Then there is Fair Rocket. Beautiful. Bold. Oh, how she wished Rocket would look at her like he looked at mechanical appendages. To be coveted by someone who has a warrior's spirit such as his would be divine. The thought shifts again, and they are, all of them, having bacon pancakes. Foul Loki wears a most glorious apron.

'Kneel before the cook.'

Again, it shifts, and she cries. She cries because she had to return her goat friend to Thor, and was now all alone. She would not admit it to him how much the goat had helped her to learn love for Midgard. She tells everyone she 'forgot' to bury Toothgnasher's tailbone the day prior. In reality, she wanted a keepsake. Which is quite morbid when you think about it but, in Asgardian terms, almost sweet. She buries it in the flower garden Phil Coulson arranged for her to have, connected to a home far enough away from other people that, surely they could not harm anyone with their antics.

From cooking for Steve Rogers in nothing but Loki's apron to defeating Sentinels beside The Man of Magnets to meeting the living legends, Jane Foster and Bucky Barns, her's is a life about the here and now. She lives only in this moment. Because otherwise, she is made to think of the past.

In the past, she fought Galactus, breaking an unbreakable axe upon his jaw. Old King Thor defeated the great giant, but did not secure the weapon he used to do it. The All-Black, the Necrosword that Gorr used to butcher the gods, infested Galactus and turned him into the Butcher of Worlds. In a last gasp of hope, they tried to use Chronux to stop him, but Loki betrayed them all, and tricked her into the portal. Everyone she had ever loved was gone, until she learned to love others. Until she learned to love Midgard

Of course the story of what Pietro did is simple. He just looked like Magneto, who she attempted to hit on, something Wanda will see in great detail in her mind, as terrifying as it is to witness. She is just as effective then as she is now!

When she snaps out of her momentary stupor, she inexplicably has a flask in her hand, one she takes a swig from.

"That was… something… I feel as if my nostrils have tiny people in them, and their voices are echoing. Pietro? Wanda? Would you like a drink? I'm going to have a drink."

There is another swig, and the goat will nudge at Wanda's hip, as if demanding her attention. Or maybe pleading for his friend's life.

For all the ways Pietro Maximoff is vivid, eye-catching, and ostentatious — from face to presence to his whiplash ability —

Wanda Maximoff does not share his peacock's feathers. To her twin's vibrancy, she is a little shadow, dark and all browns, subdued in every way like the colour was wrung from her hair and flesh. She is little, drawing on herself as if trained by life to leave as little an imprint on her world as possible.

There she sits, tiny and unassuming, hands on her knees, feet in the shore water.

And eyes on Atli Wodendottir.

The only trace of anything inhuman about the witch is the way her eyes suddenly glow scarlet. And, then, just like that, Wanda tunnels her impatient way into the thunder goddess's mind.

A lifetime's memory flickers over the Scarlet Witch's face, taken in like a stiff draught — a single drink reaping decades upon decades of history, knowledge, and future speculation. She sees of worlds past this one, a deep and peerless stare straight into the cosmos. Beings of power so great that their better lives have not called them to a small planet such as this — Earth long from its potential. And loss.

And a raccoon with a giant grenade launcher is somehow the epitome of intimate beauty, just another thing to really not help Wanda's flagging mental stability. JUST ANOTHER THING.

Then it all really culminates into recent memory, and somewhere between Atli's romantic loins-yearning for their father and her romantic overtures sung for Pietro to please plow her fields verily, and Wanda loses her patience.

The goat nudges her. For a beat, the witch does nothing. Then —

"ENOUGH!" snaps out of Wanda, her voice like a door slamming, the sound twisting like spun metal.

The sea suddenly pulls away, water sucked off the land, parting violently as the Scarlet Witch moves, unfolding her body to set her bare feet down on dry soil. Her body is a living storm, wild with scarlet energy, a breathing fire that moves the skirts of her dress, whips her hair, and drips living red from the ends of her fingers.

Her eyes are twin suns.

"BE YOU thE dRInk!" seethes the Witch, her voice splitting apart, phlanging into two. "Go whErE thEY may DRINK YOUR BLOOD!"

The hex glows off her hands, and reality obeys. It twists, and the skies darken, opening up into a swirling, pulling wormhole at Atli's back. There is a violent pulling, wrenching sensation forced on her, on Toothbender — a curse designed only on their bodies, their atoms — to be sucked from this world and pulled to the next.

The cold is legendary. Just as fatal as told in her grandfather's stories.

An icy world rises up beneath a dead, sunless sky. And a hundred giants look down on her, sharing one, same look of hate.

Pietro has no possible response to Atli's incredible non-logic or comments upon his family line's virility, except to stare in frank astonishment.

"That doesn't even make any sense," he finally concludes crankily. "How does that lead to any of this in any way, shape, or form? I did not send Stark anywhere with an end goal of being stalked by a crazed goat-woman — and for that matter he's not lord of anything, do you actually call him that in front of him, because that sounds like an incredibly bad idea given his overinflated ego — "

He stops abruptly, because a very familiar sensation is tugging at his senses from across his link with Wanda. Slowly, his head turns as his twin — eyes glowing baleful red — promptly peels Atli's mind apart in cold fury.

His hand lifts, and his face descends firmly into his palm. He rubs at his temples with a sigh, resigned, as his twin blows the ocean apart into a parted Red Sea of righteous fury.

Then her voice flanges, and he winces tellingly.

"This is going to take a while to fix," he bemoans, mostly to himself, in the backdrop of Wanda declaring her dread curse upon Atli (and her goat) from the heart of a corona of scarlet power.

After a few moments, it gets very quiet. Pietro finally peeks through his fingers. Aw jeez.

"I really have no idea where she came from," he reiterates, in the denouement, a slight flush darkening his pallor as he regards his sister.

A sigh, as his hand drops back to his side, and he approaches his sister, heedless of the nuclear-radiation fury of her power in the same way a long-time lion tamer walks at ease among his leonine charges. "Te calmezi, draga mea," he soothes, taking her by the hand. "Come on, I'll get you some pancakes."

"Ah, it all makes sense now. Clearly you are a a Goddess of Water and Jellyfish! A most splendid purview to rule over, where see through creatures do your very bidding and — is the water supposed to be doing that? ALSO WHY ARE YOU SHOUTING I CAN HEAR YOU JUST FI- FI—… WAIT WHAT SORCERY IS THI-"

The spear pulls from her back, it's magic fierce and strong and more importantly, unbreakable. It digs into the ground, so that even as the goat at full, rainbow burning force can barely keep pace with the pull of Wanda's spell. The great wind buffers her and the goat, and she looks around with a frantic bent - just long enough to catch sight of Pietro's beautiful hair, one last time. "Perfect Pietro! Goddess of Jellyfish! Do me perhaps one favor before this hole in all of creation swallows me up! I have two goldfish that will require attention while I am gone!! They are named Jaime and Cerse-"

Then she is gone, the spear losing it's catch on the ground, the hex pulling the goat in a flailing mess to slam into Atli and take them both to the cold dark oblivion that freezes all around them. As if a meteor of fire hair and goat mange, they slam into the ice and draw attention from even the sleeping things on this world. Giants rouse and stalk, and their beasts come with them, great terrible creatures that have not seen challenge since last the Odinson stood on this ground and dared bring war to them.

Staggering to her feet, her hand digs into the snow as the shadows loom large and crowd around, though Atli seems to mostly ignore them. Finally, she has her spear, a single smack of the haft against her shoulder clearing it's gleaming blade of ice, and a shake of her head sending snow scattering from her hair.

"This doesn't make sense! Why in the Nine Realms would I be sent here, to this frozen, awful place with all of your frozen, awful faces. None of you have beautiful hair! It simply do- OH! Wait! This is not unlike the challenge my Grandfather faced! Once, in order to lift a hammer that was smarter than he and almost certainly wiser, he had to prove himself worthy! Don't you see?!"

The Jotuns continue to stare down at her brazen madness. Knuckles crack. Great axes lift. Atli's demeanor does not diminish.

"The Goddess of Water, Jellyfish, and.. Portals to Cold Places has deemed me worthy to lift her and Pietro's haft only if I kill each and every one of you!"

Somewhere overhead, the sky begins to roar. It is an unfamiliar sound to those accustomed only to howling wind and raging snow. Now there, too, is thunder.

Somewhere under a snowbank, white turns to red and yellow and blue, a violent shimmer of rainbow power, pooling at the hindparts of a very irate goat.

Then a hundred Jotuns pile forward from every angle, a goat gives a savage roar, and the Girl of Thunder puts Jarnbjorn, Reforged, to a glorious test, a single word echoing across the cold horizon.


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