Fix Everything Pt. I

June 29, 2018:

Atli Wodendottir has 1% of a plan, and in order to stop Gorr the God Butcher from potentially causing future destruction, she rounds up her good friends and sorta relatives to work out the other 99% as they travel to Chronux. (Backdated)

The Triskelion -> SPAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaace

Can't see, there's rainbows everywhere.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Steve Rogers

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

The plan was a simple one.

No really.

Atli knew exactly what to do.

"So you see, it's quite simple. I know exactly what to do."

There she turns and on the wall of the Milano, she plants a piece of paper with elegant, well written words. Not many words, of course, because when you're Atli Wodendottir, words are just sortof things that people use to describe other things that are better done, than described. There, in that glorious text, studiously penned, are just the two words.

'Fix Everything'.

With a turn to the rest of those gathered, including Rocket and Groot and The Drinklord, Peter Quill, she beams at them. "You see, if we do not, Gorr the God Butcher may well come to Midgard. Or set off the God Bomb. Or do a number of horrible things we would be helpless to stop. Of course, we cannot do this alone, so I have invited the greatest Wizard that Midgard has ever known. The innocent and guilty alike tremble in fear at the very sound of her name. I saw the wonders of her marvelous destruction first hand at Castle Stark!"

This said even as Bucky and Jane are arriving at the Milano's rear ramp, which is not far from where the rest are gathered.

Toothbender stands at the ready, dutifully eating his fill of… a bag of garbage. He needs fuel for the battles ahead. And is he laying on the skull of a Jotun? That's strange.

"Now Fair Rocket, Brave Groot, Drunken Quil-Lord, I would also introduce Noble Barnes, a man so fierce that, apparently, his name is known even on Jotunheim. I do not know why those giants are afraid of you, dear Barnes, but I like it!"

This she calls to him on approach.

"So, as I said. We will fix everything. We will go to Chronux, disable the portal, and be done with it all. Oh yes, and we'll need one more thing. Someone to enchant Noble Barnes' arm, so that he might open the gate of Chronux! UNCLE! Ready your pancake skills and other measures that might help us on our journey!"

This, she calls simply into the abyss, because as she has come to find out, her Uncle often just appears and disappears as needed.


Rocket is staring at Atli's so-called plan, a clawed finger digging around an ear, picking wax and whatever manner of gunk gets stuck in furry ears. He squints hard at the writing as though expecting something more to reveal itself, idly flicking his fingers off as he hears out Atli's explanation.

"…I'm still trying to figure out if I'm awake or dreaming yet," he mutters to absolutely no one in particular. This sounds just like something someone would lay upon you in some kind of wack dream brought on by too much beer, pizza and leftover girlscout cookies. …of course, it also sounds like typical Atli.

The raccoonoid presses his palms against his eyes and drags them down his face.

His eyes fall upon Bucky and Jane, ears perking a bit, his look somewhat guarded, but that's probably to be expected. Then he turns and wanders through another open hatch. "…I think I need a drink."


Next to Rocket, Groot is listening to Atli's plan of attack.

Or, well, he was.

At the start, the sapling was all for doing things and fixing stuff. He even stared at those two words written in fancy script until he figured he couldn't parse them. Eventually, he started to doze off as the Asgardian warrior explained her points, his bulbous head tilting off to one side and threatening to topple himself down onto the Milano's floor.

But he wakes up with a snort, blinking rapidly to catch up on something about a man called Uncle. "I am Groot," he mumbles, rubbing the sleep from his eyes while trying to sound like he knows what is going on. This includes a perk and some waving of a small hand at Bucky and Jane once they come up the ramp.


"You better have made sure we're getting paid for this, Rocket." Peter Quill mutters as he watches the goat and his other and assorted passengers approach. The CAPTAIN of the ship in question leans against said ship, the Milano gleams. The beacon of interstellar tech functional on the outside as it is cluttered on the inside. It gets crowded with an actual crew ok!!

A glance towards the plan and Quill just sighs slightly. "…for once I agree with you." This towards Rocket.

This should say how dire things are. When they both agree.

"Well on the up side. It'll be good to get to flying again. We haven't really done anything major since that race. "You ever heard of this Chronux place, Rocket?" He asks as he looks around, waving a lazy hand towards Bucky and Jane. Even though there is a smirk towards the latter.

He told you he was from space.

SUCK IT JANE FOSTER.


"I still can't believe he has a ship," Bucky grumps while he's still out of earshot, as he and Jane approach the Milano per the scheduled rendezvous. He says this despite having seen said ship multiple times in the past, and even attacked it in one of his Phases. Quill being allowed his own spaceship is just that much of an affront to logic. "And that we're actually going anywhere with QUILL driving it."

His Bad Feeling that he and Jane shouldn't have agreed to help Atli Wodendottir out only intensifies once he spies the Asgardian standing proudly beside her Plan, and he finds himself looking at the words 'FIX EVERYTHING' upon a piece of slightly grubby paper.

Still, he ruminates, this actually has more substance than some of the plans Steve enacted Back in the Day, so maybe it'll be fine.

He's come geared and kitted out for a long and doubtless combat-filled trip, the left arm in question bared for work. The introduction Atli gives flickers a hint of humored reminisce across his face. Why indeed is the legend of Noble Barnes known in the frozen wastes of Jotunheim? "Well," he explains, "there was this one time Jane and I were flung in there. I punched one of the frost giants in the face. He was asking for it." Fond memories.

Whatever levity there is in his features soon dies as he beholds the others assembled, in particular Rocket, whose reaction sobers him up fast. He exchanges a guilty look with Jane, clears his throat awkwardly, and at the least returns Groot and Quill's waves with a nod. His expression flattens out at the smirk, however.

"Time to see this tub actually fly, Quill," he says, stepping on board and — pausing as Atli speaks again of his arm being enchanted. His gaze slides towards Jane.


Jane Foster arrives, bearing guilt.

Vast, oppressive, suffocating guilt, of the, 'five months ago, I was possessed by an ancient demonic force, had my soul taken away, and my unchecked mind unleashed to do unspeakable physical and emotional damage on everyone I knew, not to mention also attempt to recalibrate the world's free will' variety.

Preparing for this Grand Adventure was one thing, with her assembling any and all needed items into her backpack — and the rest into her phone — where her spirits were high and her curiousity irrepressible, but coming into sight of the familiar faces of the Guardians, Jane's spirits knot up into uneasy reserve.

Well, almost. The first sight of the Milano widens her eyes, enough that she only half-hears some of Bucky's grousing, busily craning her head right back and turning it at awkward angles to try to see into the joisting of the ship, even as much as to give a peek at the externals of its thrusters. Oh, God, she'd sell her apartment she doesn't even own to gut and understand its engine.

Atli's welcome and excitement draws Jane momentarily from the nerd zone, and she looks on in quiet humour at talk of Jotunheim — now THAT is a memory — and adds, wry, "Yep. James cold-cocked him — wait, can you cold-cock an ice giant? Already cold, maybe more a —"

And then Rocket appears. Jane forgets her own chatter. The guilt drops out her stomach. "Hey, Rocke —" she starts, but the raccoon's guarded glance glues up her voice. At least, noticing Groot, Jane seems to excise some of her shyness, and her guilt warms into enough hope to return the wave, bending down to a kneebend. "Groot," she greets. "I'm so happy to see you again." ALIVE. NOT DEAD. NOT BLOWN UP. Oh, the guilt. She exchanges Bucky's glance, uneasy.

And, much higher than her crouch, comes Peter Quill's voice. Jane's eyes look up, some of that guilt unchanged. She remembers him too, that night, calling out for his —

"It's really good to see you guys," she says awkwardly. Because she is a GIGANTIC COWARD and has been too afraid to make a sooner visit, lest they look upon her with hateful looks like the monster she certainly was at that time. Watch out, Quill, heree it comes. Feelings. "I just wanted to tell you guys — I, ah. I'm so sorry. I can't — I brought you guys gifts. Awkward apology gifts."


Space. The final frontier.

Well. If you're particularly boring, anyway.

Really, the universe is fine, as things go. Plenty of entertainment, if a bit on the droll side of things. But there's so very, very much more out there, if only one would care to look. So many wonderful tales that have been, and have yet to be, told. Such a pity that most people don't have the vision to.

But the universe is fine. After all. There's tales yet to tell out here, too. Such as the glorious tale of Atli and the Fixing of Everything!

Behold now, the granddaughter of Thor All-Father (really?) detailing the beautiful and ingenious simplicity of her plan to fix everything by fixing everything (a more Thor plan I truly have never heard). Bear witness to the wonder and awe of her steadfast bosom chums as they whole-heartedly support her plan an hang on her every muttered word! A more rallying charisma has never been seen as all doubts are so utterly cast aside by the clarity of her vision. But the sense of suspenseful awe truly reaches its dizzying apex as she calls out—

UNCLE!

— and no one appears.

Oops.

Well. It's fine. After all, everyone knows…

You ever heard of this Chronux place, Rocket?

"It's a planet of cosmic gods far removed from mortal matters. It's all, of course, terribly ostentatious."

… the heroine always waits for the dramatically appropriate time to reveal herself.

It's a woman's voice, of course, that answers Peter Quill's very pertinent pondering; as if it could be nothing else, as if just to pettily protest Atli's summoning cry (which would, of course, be silly), her aunt shows up as if she had always been there, just waiting for the moment to be written in to the narrative; dressed in all her green, black and gold regalia, golden horns (with the curve) perched perfectly upon her head, she sits upon a stack of crates, chin resting on one upon palm and elbow upon her crossed leg as she peers quite pensively at that piece of paper.

"Hm. It appears a simple enough plan. Truly easy to digest. Well done keeping it concise, Atli. Well then!" Hands clap together; Loki's smile is a brilliant one as she hops off her crate and meanders her lazy way towards the Milano.

"Let's go save the universe! Or perhaps just me. And Atli. You all seem like you would be graciously ill-affected by something called something so bluntly specific as a 'God Bomb.' Not quite the creative type, is this Gorr? Well, regardless. Let's go save the gods, for all the wonderful things they certainly must do for someone, somewhere."

And with this truly inspirational speech, the true heroine of this tale (shhh, don't tell Atli) boards the ship. With a serenely saccharine smile and a molasses-sweet, "Why hello, Lady Joan, I've heard ever-so-much about you. I don't know that an apology gift is necessary, but I certainly won't say no!" for Jane as she goes.

Like she was a blip on the radar.

"Come, Master Barnes. It's time to get you the magic hands."


"…that…" Quill says in the quiet moment after Loki's appearance. "Is totally not a uncle."


"I thought you said uncle," Bucky agrees, looking at Atli, and then looks annoyed because he agreed with Peter Quill.


As friends new and old gather, a strange sort of brilliant calm washes over Atli. For her adventures are not always the most successful, you see. And here, with Noble Barnes and Jane, Sorceress Supreme on board, the Guardians of the Galaxy may actually get out of this without utterly exploding. Oh wait, Rocket is here.

Nevermind.

Still, she looks to her plan, looks to those gathered, and lets a brilliant smile fill up the Milano as Bucky affirms his reputation on Jotunheim. "Very good! I used your name often to strike fear into their hearts on my quest to win the hearts of others. But that is a story for another time, for we only have time for… what's that? Oh, no. No apology gifts for me, Jane. Weather you are my Grandmother or not, we are family now, for all you have done for my Grandfather. And so, I forgive.. whatever you are apologizing for." Atli, oblivious that none of that was meant for her.

Loki has made his - HER - entrance, and as if she had been Atli's aunt her very entire life, she blinks a bit, shakes her head, and even smacks the side of it. "No, no, forgive me. I did not mean for you to assume her gender. She is my Aunt Loki, the Redeemed. For while a great deal of mischief and murder no doubt rests in her past, including seducing those she often must ensorcsel, and all that" She indicates Bucky's arm, off hand. "..that is all behind her, for we have cleansed such terrible things from her soul with the power of Land O' Lakes. And thank you, it is a plan that Thor and I worked on not too long ago, after defeating Ugli, son of Who Gives A Damn."

The most powerful butter substitute in all of Midgard.

With a great clap of her hands to both Groot and Quill's shoulders, she gives a squeeze that's just, maybe, a little to hard. Perhaps it betrays her nerves. Ah, well. "Yes indeed, Aunt Loki. Let us see what attentions you might give the appendage of Noble Barnes. And Quill, the Greatest Star Lord I have yet known, let us begin our journey. I have attached power cables to the hindparts of Toothbender, and he should be able to give your craft the boost it needs to make it all the way across Chronux. Though, if you don't mind."

Atli leans in here, gaze cast sidelong to Jane and Bucky as she whispers to Quill. "Perhaps take us up slow at first, for the Heroes of Midgard have yet to see their world from above, and I would not rob them of this for all the universe."

Finally, she calls out to Rocket, cupping her hands around her mouth.

"ROCKET COME BACK! LOOK AT ALL OF THESE WEAPONS NOBLE BARNES WILL NO DOUBT SHARE WITH YOU!"

She is already beaming back at Jane while wrangling Groot into a hug that's almost like a headlock. What a Tree-Rascal.


"I'M HERE, you don't needa yell!!" Rocket comes back with a whole six-pack of beer dangling from one hand, one of the cans already freed and opened as the small Guardian chugs it down. He tosses the empty can into a corner, tugging another free to toss to Peter. Your pilots. Drinking before they set off. This can't go wrong at all.

He'd been about to say it sounded like the name of a messed up donut shop but pauses to look back towards Jane and Bucky. It still hurts, and even though he knows that it hadn't completely been their fault, it didn't change things. He knows he should let it go. Instead, he walks over and scoops up Groot from the floor, looking at Jane, but not trusting himself to say anything terrible, which, considering they were all going to be stuck together for the duration of this..flight? Mission? -was probably not a good thing. That alone says he's trying.

Opening his mouth to respond to the awkward apology gifts, he instead finds himself cut off as someone else steps in, answering the other question he'd overlooked, but prompting dozens more simply for his-her presence. "Oh flark." Rocket yanks another can free from the plastic rings, popping it open with a hiss. This is gonna be a looooong trip.

"Erm. If it's called a 'god bomb'- it should just affect gods. And if that's the case, then we're all good. 'cept you two," he says, pointing with a pinky claw as he takes another swallow of beer. "An' if that ain't the case, someone named the thing wrong."

He tosses the empty can to the side and makes his way towards the cockpit, but not before glancing over his shoulder to snappoint at Bucky's arm before he goes to claim his seat.


It's so nice to see old friends again. Setting aside wondering why they haven't done this more often (along with memories in the months past being shot and hazy due to the circumstances that resulted in Groot being this small), Groot happily bounces from his chair perch. Clambering his way down, he scampers over to Jane as she kneels, running into her side with the full force of a walking stick. That's a hug - a tiny hug that holds no grudges.

Also, that hug may just turn into 'dig through Jane's bag' time when she mentions something about 'gifts.' "I am Groot!"

Everything else flies out the window just as 'Uncle' Loki joins them, his little tree brain focused on seeking out the treasures Jane Foster brings in their presence. But of course that all gets sidetracked when he finds himself swept up in Atli's MIGHTY embrace. There's a squeal of anger (?) paired with tiny branch-hands and arms flailing like a cat that just wants to be free and fifty feet away from any hugging of any kind. "I am Groot!!"


A moment passes where he continues to stare at Loki…but then Peter shakes himself. Mostly because a beer is flying at him. One hand raises up to catch it out of the air before he shakes his head. Stay good Quill. Stay good. Come on. Kitty is trusting you here…

…oh god why would she do a thing like that.

…Peter is betting that Groot will tell her everything that happens. Thats why.

But regardless he pops the tab on the beer to take a pull. Apparently there is no rules about drinking and driving in space. He does sigh though as he looks around, giving Bucky a smirk before letting his eyes fall on Jane.

…and her awkward gifts.

"If Bucky's arm is a gift for Rocket, you just made one happy space panda." He drawls. He knows its not. "Anyway get on the ship. Strap yourselves in. Its gonna be a bumpy ride." A beatpause. "It usually is. I mean breaking atmosphere is a bitch…" A longer pause. "…Rocket did you figure out how even to connect the goat to— you know what I don't want to know. That's prolly better this way." Under his breath he adds. "My damn ship better not explode."

It's one of the few things he loves.

"Anyway, yeah. Welcome aboard." No judgement or grudges from Quill towards either of them. Mostly because trying to kill him is like an entrance requirement for the Guardians. Also feelings suck and he would like to avoid them like a proper and mature space pirate.

"So…you two…" This to the Asgardians. "…have an actual gate entrance for this place or are we just winging it?" He adds with a smirk.

Leaving the question of weather he'll take the departure fast or slow entirely up in the air really.


Bucky is still trying to process the fact that Uncle Loki is in fact Aunt Loki when the 'Loki' part of the equation clicks. "Wait," he starts, eyes narrowing. "I thought he was — " He glances sidelong at Jane with a very obvious I THOUGHT HE WAS DEAD? question printed on his face.

Apparently death is not very permanent for Asgardian gods.

Bucky looks equally dubious as Atli goes on about how her Aunt Loki is very redeemed from his — her? — previous life of mischief and murder. "Yeah… yeah," he says. "That's the first I ever heard of butter saving a man's soul, so you'll excuse me if I'm a little… doubtful."

He can't even form a response to 'Ugli, son of Who Gives A Damn,' so he doesn't try.

At the least the hug from Groot for Jane is a small ray of light amidst all the awkwardness. The awkwardness… and the sudden realization it will be Loki enchanting his arm, which suddenly seems even less good of an idea than before. "Do you think he should be — she should be — oh for fuck's sake," Bucky eloquently gives up on the 21st century.

"You can't have it," he adds automatically to the snap-point from Rocket, even as he moves (grumpily) to try to get settled before Quill decides to blast off at Mach 10.


Above all, Jane cannot miss that telling look from Rocket. He says nothing — deliberately — and some large, intuitive part of her seems to understand why. Even, as writ on her face, is a promise that even if he did say something terrible —

— she knows she'd deserve it. Pursing her mouth, she doesn't push it, instead turning her attention down as tiny Groot popsicle sticks himself up and… hugs her. Her heart breaks in half. For the first time in her life, tiny as she is, she takes great pains to be extra careful, curling a hand around the tiny tree's back in a brief touch.

Then, of course, he goes straight for the gifts. Jane's eyebrows rise up. "Ah, Groot, watch out — there's a quantum detonator in there —"

But as Groot is summarily picked up by Rocket — then hugged by Atli — Jane rises back up to her feet, in time for —

— Atli's aunt. To appear out of nowhere. Flicking Bucky a glance, Jane goes on guard — there's something unmistakably familiar about her. Joan, she's called, already apt to treat Jane as if she's smaller than a proton. "It's Jane," she corrects, dry.

"And who the hell are — Quill, I did not just hear you crack a damn beer. If you think you're going to drink and pilot —" warns Jane, just as Atli announces something very Loki-shaped.

EARLY 2017

Some time after the incident in Ozone Park, Thor had made a stop at Jane's residence, in part to check up on both her and Bucky Barnes — who had taken residence with her — and to catch up on the time lost between him and the scientist of Puente Antiguo who helped him find his worthiness.

With his guileless face full of pain, Thor had uneasily told both of them Loki had died — been lost from the bifrost and unable to be recovered. His eyes held the grief of a man having lost his brother, his family. Jane, hurting for him, expressed her condolences, and squeezed his mighty shoulder through the hurt. Pat pat, pat pat. Both mortals did their best to cheer the heartbroken god.

Then Thor left them to their privacy later that night.

Where Jane Foster, caring, empathetic, gentle-hearted and pure of spirit, tenderly reached and uncorked three bottles of wine, and shrieked, "DID YOU HEAR THAT? Asshole is D-E-A-D PUUUUNKED! BOOSH!" She gangsigned it. CULVER CRIP REP. "James we are getting SO WASTED TONIGHT!"

She ran off through the apartment, an opened bottle of wine in each hand. "IMMA RAISE THE ROOOOF!"

AND NOW

'WHAT THE SHIT?' is an apt way to describe Jane's returned look to Bucky.

"Aunt LOKI?!" Jane SNAPS. "ATLI, WHAT THE HELL? THAT Loki? Dead Loki? BROKE MY TOWN AND RUINED LIVES LOKI? LOKI WHO — WHO — IS SUPPOSED TO BE THOR'S "BROTHER" LOKI?! THE SAME ONE? HERE —?!"

And that's pretty much when Quill starts protocols for take off. Unfortunately, Jane's not listening.


"Tragic Ugli can never truly catch a break. Quite fetching, though. For a troll, anyway."

And so Aunt Loki goes about making herself comfortable as if she had run of the ship; finding a comfortable spot from which to lean against and take stock of her slightly stodgy surroundings, the raven-haired trickster pokes fingers at various, sensitive-looking pieces of equipment and turns those sharp green eyes on Quill just as he is trying to shake himself out of his staring fit. Her head tilts, just a touch.

"Ah! You must be the brave and noble captain who took my niece in! I know I've yet to truly form a familial bond with her because she's yet to properly exist, but it still warms my heart to see her taken care of by someone who so clearly knows what they're doing. You have my thanks," says the God(dess) of Lies. And her smile is radiant like the twinkling cosmos, the wiggle of her fingers quaintly charming.

And the way she utterly ignores Jane Foster slowly processing her way through her shock and disbelief, truly sublime.

"The gods of the Palace of Infinity have overseen the maintenance of time and it's many branches since the concept existed, or so they claim," continues on Loki, spinning her truly delightful tale as Jane stares on with a mixture of flummoxed disbelief most unbecoming. "When the first minute passed the waking world by, the time gods were born from it and doused within it, like clay absorbing the water of an endless stream of all that was and ever would be. Some say the gods of Chronux once used their gift to try to glean what happened before happenings could dare to occur, but, well… that's a story for another time."

The fair and honorable Lady Loki's shoulders come upwards in a glib shrug, her sigh effortlessly put upon as her hands raise, palm upwards. "The truth is they are a stuffy order of humorless snobs who think time is their personal bonsai plant. Gardening metaphors everywhere. It's quite tedious. And, between us all? They're not even that good at it."

As she speaks, Loki sprawls her way into a seat like a contented cat. If she's taking up two of those seats at once it's just because she has worked -that- hard to prepare for her dalliance with selfless heroism today, and that ought to be respected. "Regardless, they hid their planet away like a little wrinkle in time, but like all such things, it was bound for the inevitability of failure. A lone record of Chronux exists within the hub of all gods. I may have taken a peek or ten when I was a younger Loki, more prone towards bouts of debatably lawless mischief." Yes. More prone. She stifles a yawn (for she is clearly tired, from having worked so hard and been so selfless); if the yawn comes just at the dawn of Jane's snapping, well, that's just clearly coincidence, and one shouldn't read anything into it.

Should they?

A smile curves at painted lips just before they part to give the grandest secret of all. "Chronux is well guarded. Unlawful entry, of course, means instant banishment to the moments between time for any and all intruders, forever lost in a nothing-point outside the boundaries of the comfortable tick-tocks of time's eternal march. And so, this is quite important, so I beg you all to listen carefully —"

ATLI, WHAT THE HELL? THAT Loki? Dead Loki? BROKE MY TOWN AND RUINED LIVES LOKI? LOKI WHO — WHO — IS SUPPOSED TO BE THOR'S "BROTHER" LOKI?! THE SAME ONE? HERE —?!

And as the ship's protocols begin to take off, the dear, redeemed (in butter) Lady Loki just sort of… squints at Jane Foster. Lips pursed. Like she was looking at a child throwing a particularly potent tantrum.

"… I suppose that means I'm not getting an apology gift! But if you could please calm yourself for just a moment while we discuss how to save all creation as we know it, I would deeply appreciate it,"

And —

"Lady Jenn."

Smile!


Of course Atli will let Groot go, she just needed to say hi. He is free to ravage that bag all he wants. Then, to Rocket, a hand held high. "Might I have one of those?! It has occurred to "Do not worry, Lord of Stars, the goat will guide you to the correct gate, if you can but get us past Midgard's little moon."

It is here that Atli reaches into her coat as she straps in next to Toothbender, who has also been strapped down. Wouldn't do to have him wandering whilst jumper cables are hooked up to his hindparts. The brown paper back she has is absolutely, positively soaked through in grease. This draws Toothbender's odd, goatly eyes upward, snapping him to attention.

Still, that concern in Bucky's voice draws Atli from her task, eyeing this man who is so very much a Legend to her, her expression most perplexed. "Well, the sake of fucks is always in mind when I make this sort of grand, well researched plan, Noble Barnes. You see, if I fail at this, there is a Mini-Man of Magnets and a Jellyfish Whisperer I will never see again, and since I would never let that happen, you need not worry. I'll only never see them again if I die, and my Aunt Loki would never let that happen, so we should be fine."

The smile she gives Bucky is, if nothing else, earnest. Once more her eyes connect with the goat, and she whispers to the Not-Quite-Goatlord. A copy of a copy at best. The Multiplicity of goat lords, to be true. But in this, Toothbender is the best he can be. Again, no one should be worried. Especially not when Atli opens that bag and lets another kind of divinity spill towards the goat, who makes fond words at.

"And what do we have for our good little navigator? I think we have Five Guys, with twice the normal patties, and one each of every topping. Legend says the last person to dare such a thing spent hours in the bathroom paying for his misdeed, and so for you, loyal Toothbender, a gift of both challenge and delig-"

At last the patience of the goat ends and it grabs the entire bag, full of that monstrous burger wrapped in foil, along with a ton of fries, and begins noisily chomping it down. Even then it's backside begins to glow, rainbow power channeled through the jumper cables and into the core of the Milano.

It's about then that Jane's rant begins to reach Atli's ears, and she stares at it in wide eye'd amazement, thinking that Jane just put herself back in the running to be her grandmother after all. I mean, really, why else would King Thor have a tomb just for her next to his wives. And to hear someone so small make such a violent proclamation, well. It draws Atli's face into the pinnacle of smiles, and she cups her mouth to shout above the din of noise as the sound of the engines and …is that music?.. begin to drown out the magical rant of the Sorceress Supreme, Jane Foster. Loki will finish her near-explanation of how to avoid such terrible dangers before Atli feels compelled to answer Jane's confusion, which her following statement is sure to clear up.

"YES THE ONE AND THE SAME BUT SHE HAS A VAGINA NOW!!!"

There is a thumb in the direction of Aunt Loki, then two thumbs up at Jane.


"I didn't touch nothin' on that goat," Rocket informs Peter, handing off a beer to Atli before setting the remaining between the two pilot seats. "Groot, buckle up."

His hands sweep over the console in front of him with ease that one might figure he can probably do take-off prep in his sleep. Hopefully no one from S.H.I.E.L.D. would get on their case for unauthorized leave. That chick from S.W.O.R.D. might actually be relieved if she heard they'd left. Rocket can't wait to see her reaction when they get back. Which means they'd better be coming back from this jaunt.

"Yeah, don't lick anything in here, word of warning," he says, only half listening to anything going on behind him. He's too busy watching- or trying not to watch as Atli primes Toothbender. Shaking his head, he looks at Peter.

"I won't say a thing if you won't." Because it sure wasn't his cockamamie idea to hook up the space goat to the ship, and he's still not entirely sure how the physics of this work. Pretty sure he doesn't want to know.

He's mid-sip of another beer when Atli makes her exclamation of her dear now-Aunt Loki, liquid spewing across the viewport.


Groot is used to being handled. Being scooped by Rocket is nothing new, nor are the bone-crushing hugs from Atli. He just sometimes feels the need to be difficult…and that need to be difficult has been steadily growing.

He's grateful to be set free from the Asgardian's grasp, however, bouncing back like nothing ever happened. "I am Groot," he shouts - not mad, just loud - and hesitates because he really wants to go diving into Jane's bag.

But buckling up is important!

…But goodies!

Frumping a bit, Groot skitters across the floor, hopping back up into one of the seats. Tugging out the seat buckle and belt, he manages to click it into place over his lap. He then gives everyone a good look, meeting their eye before giving a proper thumbs up.

"I am Groot!"


Quill finds himself smiling and waving back towards the transformed Lord…er…Lady Loki. He can't help it. Its the eyes and the smile and the…NO QUILL. FOCUS. FOCUS.

Space. Must space. Yes.

Besides. Lockheed might be hiding on the ship. Watching him. Just waiting for him to mess up. Just waaaaaaaaaiting.

Damn little dragon.

To cover this moment of weakness he shotguns the rest of his beer before crunching the can and flinging it over his shoulder towards a battered box that says 'recyclables'.

Kitty is trying okay.

"Nope! I have no beer in hand right at this moment." The pilot calls out as he starts flipping switches, the engines of the Milano begin to hum as he settles into his command chair.

Of course with the other hand he's making 'toss me another' motions towards Rocket.

Then Atli speaks of her aunt again.

"First off. Ewww. Second off. Buckle up."

He has no idea who the hell Atli is talking about. They could be entirely made up. "Oh! Bucky! Hit play on the tape deck would ya?"

…and sure enough. There is a cassette tape player set in among the supertech of the ship. Fake wood paneling looking like it was ripped directly from the 80s.

Should Bucky do this…

'Please allow me to introduce myself~
I'm a man of weath and taste~
I've been around for a long, long year~
Stole many a man's soul to waste~~

The strains of The Rolling Stones start to echo though the hull of the spacecraft.

A glance at Rocket.

"Thought it fits us." He drawls out as he brings the engines online, tilting the ship up. "Hope everyone's buckled up cause I have no idea what that goat is gonna do."

Especially after all that food.


Quantum detonator, Jane says. "Where's my quantum detonator," Bucky grumps, because apparently he's going to spend the entire journey to space grumpy now. For reasons not least of which because LOKI is here, Loki who they both thought was dead and heartily celebrated the death of, in exactly the vivid manner as described in Jane's flashback.

Not that Bucky really knew Loki personally, but Jane's description of his crimes was most thorough and florid.

Also, Loki is really doing a good job right now of alienating Bucky just on his/her own, giving the old soldier any number of perfectly personal reasons to dislike the God of Mischief, rather than secondhand reasons. He listens, of course, because there is at least some (debatebly) useful information in Loki's extended rambling. But Lady Jenn?

"It's Jane," he repeats, probably equally as futilely as Jane did earlier, partially because Loki is Loki, and partially because his objection might be drowned out in Jane's explosion of fury.

Atli completely fails to take the meaning of the vernacular phrase 'for fuck's sake.' Bucky starts to try to explain, and then visibly gives up again.

Resigned, he gets himself settled, buckled up, and — "Why does a spaceship still have seatbelts?" he ruminates, as he reaches for the 'play' button as prompted.

"…And why do you still have a tape deck in your spaceship? It's 2018," judges the man from the 1940s, as the strains of Rolling Stones begin to fill the spaceship.


Blessed be the mind of Jane Foster, able to parallel process such things at the same time as, 1) Why is LOKI alive?, 2) Why does LOKI have boobs, is there a different system of social genders in Asgard?, 3) Why hasn't LOKI been thusly punished for DOING TERRIBLE THINGS?, 4) She's finally going to space and LOKI will be there?!, 6) Listening and letting her eidetic memory store all which LOKI is saying, even though he/she/both is a dickbag, 7) ignoring Quill making sex eyes at LOKI.

In the end, Jane breaks her stricken silence, and shouts leagues after leagues of rage in a tone too loud for just how damn small she is, her hands balling into fists at her sides.

Even worse? The way Lady Loki yawns through it all. Fury spreads like a red flush along Jane's face, lighting her all the way to the tips of her ears. Her hands white-knuckle. Her brown eyes reflect murder. In the grand scale of things, she knows, Puente Antiguo is nothing — a little hick town in the middle of New Mexico — but it was three years of her life. It meant everything to her, when she'd just lost her father, and transplanted her life on the faith of her work — she felt like an orphan — the town took her in, treated her like one of their own. Thought she was crazy, but she was their crazy. And Loki thought himself entitled to just walk through it and make an attempt on mortal Thor's life.

'Lady Jenn' is just the icing on the cake.

A knuckle cracks as Jane's fist tightens — until, at the right moment, a warning lurch of the Milano rocks her back, and unable to keep up with her violent High Noon, the tiny scientist backs off and sits, forced to buckle up beside Bucky.

Atli's double thumbs-up is met with a withering look. One that says 'HOW COULD YOU NOT TELL ME? ABOUT THIS? I HAVE TO WORK WITH THIS?'

Jane exhales. "Whatever. We get this finished. But don't think this is finished," she adds, eyes on Loki. "And new rule. You don't touch him. You don't do or put anything on him." Her thumb points at Bucky, the Winter Soldier who has a foot and hundreds of pounds on teeny Jane Foster. "You try, and I swear to God — the real one, not one of your second cousins you God of Dicks — and I will spread your atoms inside a pulsar."


YES THE ONE AND THE SAME BUT SHE HAS A VAGINA NOW!!!

"WELL SAID, ATLI."

Atli performs the legendary double-thumbsup.

And Loki's response, of course, is the mythical 'ok' sign of approval. See? What a good aunt she is!

It's just another sign of her redemption: her unflagging dedication to making sure her dearest brother's descendants grow up with a proper role model in their life.

"Well! The mood in here has soured by a not-inconsiderable margin, so I'll save my advice until we've all become a little more comfortable, or perhaps inebriated. Don't worry! Whatever tensions exist between you all," and not her, does she look tense? "there's nothing like the threat of temporal damnation to engender trust and friendship! It's like a falling exercise at one of your Midgardian team building camps, except falling means your consciousness is shattered across the void of nowhen!"

Basically the exact same thing, by her reckoning.

It's Jane, corrects Bucky.

"Is it?" Loki squints, as if she's simply not seeing a Jane in Jane. "Deepest apologies, of course, if I misremembered. I certainly didn't mean to offend."

If she knows what a non-apology apology is, she does an effortless job of looking guileless. Of course, some say FOUL LOKI was the creator of that dark art —

But that, too, is a story for another time.

As it stands, as everyone else buckles up, the green-eyed princess of Asgard remains comfortably sprawled over her two seats, reclining back against them as if they were the most comfortable things in the world. One leg crossed over the other, eyes to the ceiling, she seems quite content to leave Jane to her business — the trickster seems more interested in humming along to the notes of the Rolling Stones with a fond sort of smile.

"You have quite excellent taste in music, Lord of Stars!"

And so it is that they begin to embark on their journey. As the Milano lurches to life, Loki's humming comes to a slow stop. Those half-lidded, bored eyes roll back towards Jane, to consider her as she exhales and comes to terms with the situation with a look that is somewhere between sympathetic and… something else. Like a tiny, dismissive glint. Like one would have to be suspicious of everything Loki said and did to see it. Like it could be a trick of light easily explained away as paranoia.

Whatever the case, it's certainly NOT in her apologetic smile as she snaps her fingers behind the back of her head…

… and the music pumps up the exact moment that Jane starts to issue all her warnings.

'SORRY, I CAN'T HEAR YOU,' the good Lady Loki mouths with all the apologetic haplessness in the world as the Milano takes off.

And she STILL hasn't put on a safety buckle.

Because magic is bullshit.


"THANK YOU AUNT LOKI!" This, the reply to her dear aunt, before she catches Jane's terrible look. It drains the very strength from her, and she visibly recoils. Now it is Atli's turn to be confused, for while she knew some of Jane Foster's ire towards Loki, she could not have guessed that someone so small could ever be so very angry. Her brows lift, and her eyes go wide, and then she sheepishly begins feeding Toothbender cans from that recycling bin. At least this means Jane might be too distracted to think about the scientific principles behind converting beer cans and a burger into enough power to launch them via rainbow-goat-power across the universe.

The Goddess of Thunder does a good job of keeping her head down until she hears 'God of Dicks.' This draws her gaze up and up, fixed suddenly on the horns that Lady Loki now wears. In that moment, she looks absolutely vindicated.

"There, you see! It is as I said, Aunt Loki. Your great bendy horns look somewhat like the nethers of a A'askavariian!! God of Dicks indee-""

Then it happens. Suddenly Atli is pushed backward into her seat. For all the wither in Jane's stare, and the beer on the windshield, and Bucky's grump and Groot's grooting and Loki's, well. You know Loki, it all drowns away in that moment as the boosters kick in. Also partially because the music turns up. But mostly, because the adventure begins.

OUTSIDE.

SHIELD Flight Coordinator Wilbur Sykes checks and rechecks his tablet, brow furrowed as several techs gather around and the Milano begins to fire up it's engines. "Tower, I was told by Phil Coulson himself that this thing shouldn't be leaving the ground unless the world was about to end an-"

The blood drains from his face.

He drops his tablet.

"Oh my God. Somebody call Steve Rog-"

WOOOOOOSHHHHHHHH!!!

Repulsors send the men scattering as the Milano lurches skyward.

INSIDE.

Atmosphere begins to part. At first it is like any takeoff, but perhaps steeper. Then the blue sky and clouds begin to peel back from the Earthly glow all of them are used to when looking up, shed as they find something deeper and darker and celestial, something not crushed by the pollution of light or the haze of smog. Here, above the clouds and all Earthly concerns, there are only the stars stretching out before them as they race for a point past the orbit of the moon. Well. Sortof. Their might be a few satellites in their way. A bit of space junk. Surely Rocket and Quill will not quibble over who gets to pilot around such obstacles.

"Do not worry friends! For all that we might need time to work out our differences, for all the challenges we might face here, such as running out of beer before we get back, or where the goat might be relieving itself, remember two things that will no doubt see see us through: One, we have Earth's greatest wizard on board. Even if we become horribly stranded at the edge of nowhere, Jane Foster can no doubt teleport us back! And two!"

The look she gives them is more dangerous than any she has given anyone, for all the jovial power it holds, and some small bit of the royal lineage that allows her to inspire. "We. Are. Mighty. LORD OF STARS! ACTIVATE THE GOAT'S HINDPARTS!"


They're gonna run out of beers. Maybe even before they get to their destination.

On second thought, maybe it's a good thing they're only, at most, several drinks in. Whatever argument or grudges and veiled comments are being made in the back are forcefully ignored in favor of getting them clear of New York and Earth. Rocket grins as Peter's tape deck begins to play, and perhaps it's because of the couple of beers he's already had that a laugh escapes him at Bucky's comment. But with the yelling and the chatter, it's almost like old times with the usual crew. And space. It'll be nice to be back in space. The thought's enough to lift him out of whatever mood he'd slipped into prior to take off.

And then he makes a face, glancing back at Atli before looking over at Peter. "…after all the crap she fed the goat, I don't wanna see where the relief goes." No, don't think about don't think about it don't—

"Of all the glarkin'- couldn't you just say 'jump to lightspeed' or something?" Not to mention he has no idea how one goes about activating a goat's hindparts. Nooo don't think about it.


Between all of the shouting and the thrum of the Milano's engines, Groot begins grooving to the tune the Star Lord plays on the tape deck. A lot of shoulder-bopping and arm waving goes on. And he's fine with that, content to go along for the ride.

Although he sits behind Rocket, his eyes settle on Quill moments after Loki goes and smiles at him.

Those eyes. Them big ol' eyes. Staring their way into the back of Peter Quill's head. Into his soul.

Judging.

…Or maybe he's just staring at the headrest. The details can be pretty interesting to look at.

But YEAH, SPACE TRAVEL! The tree's arms fly up, fists pumping into the air with a holler of "I. AM. GROOT!!!"

Which may have been a repeat of what Atli yells. Roughly translated.


"We are soooooooooo buying new fuel linkages after this trip…" Peter grumbles as he flicks the last bit. "Rocket you told them we were leaving right?" He adds as he notes the sudden panic on the flight deck. People throwing themselves out of the way. Security teams coming up to aim at them. The hanger doors closing…

"Well. Guess you didn't. NOW YOU GET TO SEE WHY I SAID BUCKLE UP!"

And he slams the throttle forward.

The Milano leaps ahead, smashing its passangers back into their seats even before goat power is applied. The engines hurling the ship forwards towards the closing hanger bay doors as Peter grins wickedly. He slams the controls around, tipping the Milano on one side as he narrowly makes it out the doors and arcs up into the sky.

The engines really open up then, the Milano stretching its legs as it trails flame from the boosters. Tearing free of the bonds of gravity as he angles the nose towards the cloud layer. "Breaching atmo in five!" He warns as they punch though the clouds faster than a bullet, ignoring com calls from SHIELD as he rips the ship away from the grasping fingers of Terra.

The ship rattles, the friction against the hull fantastic as it feels for a moment like it might fly apart at the seems…

…and just before it does…

It punches though the ceiling. The shaking stops as Peter flips the ship over, winging past several satellites in a feat of piloting that actually does show that he is almost as good as he thinks he is.

Then, past the debris field of satellites the Milano hangs for a moment, the engines cutting as he shifts fuel systems around. The view of the earth though? Is spectacular.

And yes. That is a smug look on Peter Quill's face.

"I have a tape deck because I follow the rule of cool of course. Cassettes are cool. Ergo I have one. Not some weird shiny disk thing."

He shifts the engines over to the Gate systems then though, glancing back towards Atli and the others. NO DON'T STARE DIRECTLY AT LOKI!

"You tell em, Groot!" He adds cheerfully. "Hold on to your butts!" He calls out cheerfully. "Because I have no idea what this'll do!" He calls out as he hits the cobbled together systems that should draw some kind of power from said goat.

…at least that is what Atli said.

It's prolly fine.


Loki keeps talking. Jane lays down some ultimatums. Loki keeps talking over the ultimatums. Bucky secures alcohol and starts drinking. It seems like the safest thing to do at the moment.

The fact Rocket actually laughs is a bit of a relief after the earlier tension — it gives Bucky a little hope for forgiveness from that particular angle. Not that he really expects or feels particularly entitled to forgiveness, but to think that it could happen someday is perhaps something this old soldier needs to start recovering from all he's been through and all he has done.

This more sober mood is perhaps fitting for the once-in-a-lifetime experience of going to space. It may not be novel for most of the people on board, but it is for a man born in 1917 who was locked in a Russian freezer for the moon landing, and therefore missed it. For a few moments, Bucky isn't paying attention to any of the talking or squabbling or anything else around him, because he's busy looking at the stars. Busy looking at his home planet from an entirely new vantage point. All he's seen and done there, all the wars in which he has fought and all the petty political power struggles he has been wielded to begin and end, seem a bit small from out here.

Well, clarification. He's not paying attention to most of the talking. One thing does get through.

"If you were actually cool you would have vinyl," Bucky comments absently.


"Pffft. Ok grandpa." Says the most mature and not at all intimidated Starlord.


CAN'T HEAR YOU, mouths the God of ABOUT TO GET PUNCHED IN THE FACE.

Jane's eyes narrow in response.

Maybe a couple years ago, out of Jane's mouth that would be an empty, superficial threat. But now?

Her dark and absolutely mortal eyes do not blink. They hold Loki for a protracted moment, pensive, weighing, before with a flicker of a muscle against her gritted jaw, she looks away.

Above all she knows, has done, and plans to do, one truth shadows all else about Jane. One truth that the late Agent Phil Coulson would attest to — God rest his soul — if he were here.

Dr. Jane Foster can hold a grudge.

Her face screws up briefly at the loud intro chords of the Stones — she's had a billion fantasie about going up into space, and none of them sure started this way — before she lets it go, checks her seatbeat, and — exhales sharply when sudden inertia nails her back into her seat. It pulls on her bones, her teeth, her eyeballs, but not for a moment does she feel fear.

Her heart races in her chest with pure exhilaration. She's going to space. She's been driven by a space raccoon and a space manwhore. Sure, why not!

Then the Milano flips and Jane with it, suddenly upside-down, and permitted a front seat viewing of her home drifting away before her very eyes. All of Earth, in one glance.

Memory of everything else, fights and threats and vengeance for Puente Antiguo, leaves Jane behind. She's not letting Loki of all people take this moment away from her. Her hand reflexively moves to clutch Bucky's, wringing on tight. Jane's shining eyes reflect the stars.

They're beautiful. They're everything she dreamed them to be. They're —

"That goat is not enabling an FTL drive —" Jane sputters helplessly in the moment before it does.


Bright green eyes catch a darker pair. So much is exchanged within a single, rare sliver of silence. She sees the threat there, far from hollow. But Jane Foster should, really, be beneath her. Beneath notice or care to that arrogant detachment. An eyeblink, to be forgotten about the second one looked away.

But in a tale where Loki nearly got all that she wanted, everything she deserved… there was one road block, one deus ex machina, who ruined everything. Who was the key to throwing her lower, and more unwanted, than she had ever been.

And that is the thing that nurses that tiny, unspoken spark of contempt in a gaze that would look otherwise indifferent, before it turns once more to the interests the ceilings hold for it.

"Ah yes, loath be to us should we find our stores of Midgardian mead diminishing. Whatever shall we do."

The experience of taking off within the Milano is something altogether different from the ships of Asgard or especially the prismatic turbulence of the Bifrost. She feels the way the physical laws of this world strain against the reinforced hull of the ship, rattle their way all the way into her bones as they puncture Earth's atmosphere. It's, in its own way, a fascinating experience as everything feels as if it simply fall apart, literally.

Even as, figuratively, they seem to do just that, judging by the incessant blare of the Milano's comms.

"My, that's an angry sound," muses Loki, brows lifting as she turns those vivid green eyes upon the cockpit. "It has quite the familiar ring to it, in fact." If nothing else — the Goddess of Mischief knows trouble when she hears it.

Trouble she may ruminate on another time, another place — after all, there is so much in this moment to wonder over. As they breach into the infinite stretch of space, as they hang for so brief a moment within forgotten and unwanted debris caught helplessly in Earth's orbit, Loki's gaze turns towards that pale blue dot behind them, growing smaller and smaller. That blue dot of nothing. That blue dot that somehow captivated her brother's heart. That blue dot that her father always put above her, even as he condescended to it in all his godly hypocrisy.

Hands clenched behind her into taut fists, that sight inspires something completely else in Loki, hidden behind the mask of her impassive expression.

She doesn't want to see this place anymore.

ACTIVATE THE GOAT'S HINDPARTS!

"Ugh. Must we use something so horrendous? The smell —"

An ominous note, before the race for Chronux begins.


As the conversation turns to what is cool or not, Atli tips back her beer and drinks down the refreshing ale of Midgard, or wherever this is from, happy to have it for her flask is only so full. It will be a sad day indeed when they run out of nourishing amber nectar, but soon she's fed the beer can to the goat and Peter Quill is putting them through all sorts of acrobatic nonsense.

For Atli, it is nothing new. The goat does far worse to her. But what is new is the look on Bucky Barnes' face as the stars reflect in his eyes, and the fear of nothing at all as space takes hold of them, showing exhilaration in the moments that pass over Janes' face as a certain manwhore turns them end over end. And even her Aunt Loki, who, judging by the look on her face, has truly met such redemption that this vision of Midgard strikes her almost silent.

Once Thor spoke of the things they leave behind, of the moments in the adventure not paid enough attention to. It was quite an odd, not-Thor thing to say, Atli had thought at the time. But now she understands it all. A moment so perfect that it hangs in the very balance in the time between her order to activate the goat, and Jane's all too Midgardian protest.

Atli's smile is ever so invigorated as she explains, though there is nothing condescending here. Just the whimsy of someone for whom this is all very set in stone. Or in archives, at the very least. "Of course not, Sorceress Supreme. The goat merely taps into a tachyon pathway capable of resisting the geodidic strain present in all collapsing dimensional singularities. You see, as King Thor once explained it, the Einstein-Rosen bridge requires such things for stability. I would say it is somewhat like one of Midgard's highways, and the goat is simply one of the ramps. A very good ramp, isn't that right Toothbender!" Her smile is every bit the smile of Thor the Unworthy when he ate breakfast with Jane in that little town that Loki all but destroyed. A smile of someone who learned that the Bifrost had another name, one that Jane Foster put in the Asgardian archives forever and ever, far into a future well beyond the end of the Earth.

Her hand smacks the goat's rear, just as a rainbow energy blossoms all around them.

"And best part is, it's a beautiful rainbow color."The ship leaps forward and powers into what appears to be a Bifrost summoned from a goat's ass, stretching reality as they zip through the gates that Quill and company are far more used to, and then, in less than sixty seconds, they pop back into existence clear across all creation.

There, a tiny sphere on the horizon of a cracked moon circling a cloudy giant. It appears to be made of milky white diamond, tarnished by some unseen force that blows across the cosmos: Chronux, the Palace of Infinity Awaits.

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