Fix Everything Pt. III

August 22, 2018:

Guardians spark war against Asgard. The appearance of the Destroyer. A star falls, but a Hammer rises.

Another Asgard in another time.

Characters

NPCs:

Mentions: Thor

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

That is not the only thing that goes charging. While Quill has been making friends of the Asgardians, at least one does not enjoy intrusion into his realm. The All-Father has given the word, and troops are on the move. They can all of them hear it, shouting and rallying of the guard, to which Atli does some quick math, her specialty. "We may be slightly outnumbered now that all of Asgard seems to know we're here. Blast that fool Odin and his beard that can detect Science-Wizards!"

Wait, what?!

"But do not worry friends, I have anticipated that things might not go exactly as planned! GROOT! While I have no idea why my uncle insists on playing with you as a tiny monster, do your best not to harm him. He - or SHE, is still precious to me. Grab her by the great bendy horns and follow us! And don't worry about Quill, I'm sure he'll find the way."

WHERE QUILL IS.

"YOU THERE, YOU LOOK SUSPICIOUS, STOP IN THE NAME OF THE ALL-FATHER!!"

Volstagg tries to explain but then he belches instead, excusing himself in the chaos as troops go running past.

WHERE EVERYONE ELSE IS.

"Come companions, this way! To the vault! Only Odin himself can enter the vault once the door is shut, and it should buy us time since he is quite lazy in his old age, and by Thor's descriptions, immensely fat. Verily, the fattest one eyed man ever!"

Off she goes, darting across the green garden, which just so happens to fill up the space between the rest of Asgard and the immense vault doors.

Which are already shut.

There, at about head height, is a giant hole in an odd shape, one that widens Atli's eyes and turns her to face Bucky. "Noble Barnes. I know we did not enchant your arm, but since only Odin or the Destroyer can open this door, verily, you may be our only hope. Unless Jane Foster's science can unlock it. Or.. Rocket's explosions. Whichever you prefer. Is that The Lord of Stars?!"

*

The thing about talking is it takes too long. Rocket's dashing towards Groot and has a clear view of the 'snake' as it begins to stir, and then change. His rifle's swung about and his finger depressing the trigger as soon as the creature's appearance clears into something all too familiar. They beat one up, after all. And Rocket had spent a better part of the day as one, if unintentionally.

In short, he's sick of these things, big, little, or otherwise, and especially when one's threatening his tiny pal. Of course, one might argue that it's dangerous to shoot things with children in such close range too, but that's not something the raccoonoid is thinking about.

"BACK OFF!" he growls, about the same time Atli's trying to explain that they should not attack said bilgesnipe. As he attacks said bilgesnipe.

*

And Groot is screaming.

Even if he finds himself extending his arms to defend himself, he continues screaming until he realizes the Baby Bildgesnipe is being brutally shot in the face. Sure, that's way too close for comfort, but Rocket knows what he's doing!

…Kind of???

It's Full Trust at its finest. "I Am Groot!" He squeaks, snapping back from the screaming to thrash the creature with his whippy tree arms. Because he also wasn't listening to any warnings and he really just needs to move away but doesn't do that.

*

Having long since learned not to trust anything even remotely related to Loki, Bucky has his weapon still raised as the snake begins to change. His suspicions are soon confirmed as it becomes, indeed, not a Loki, but a very angry bilgesnipe in full charge.

He's about to fire when Atli insists they probably shouldn't be hurting the Loki-snipe. Grumbling, he trails after her instead as the Asgardian charges off, towards a very large set of vault doors, locked by what is doubtless a very large key, judging by the size of the keyhole.

Bucky looks up as Atli says he's probably the best bet to actually open it. His eyes narrow.

"…How do you figure on me doing that?" he says, touching the metal of the door lightly, just below the vast keyhole. "I'm not exactly Odin, here — "

*

"Hey guys, chill. Like seriously. Chill. I'm just here with my good buddy Volkstagg here…" He gestures to the most rotund of the Warriors Three. "…and I was just waiting for some friends of mine to—"

The sound of high powered rounds being unloaded at a very high rate pitched with a very familiar shouts and curses comes to his ears.

"Whelp I hear em gotta go duty calls!"

And there is a whoosh of rocket science as the man known as Star-lord shoots up into the air, carried by his rocket boots towards the sound of the gunfire. Frantically clicking on one of the com systems. "Rocket?! Is that you trying to tear up half this place?!"

*

"What do you mean, all of Asgard?" Jane snaps back, with a ferociousness that even has her — momentarily — forget the whole snake phobia. "Odin didn't authorize any of this? Or doesn't know of any of this? You said we'd be saving the galaxy, not declaring some sort of war against an alien planet? Least of which one whose prince is a friend of mine?! We're not violating any intergalactic treaties, are we?"

Silly Jane, glancing to the Guardians as if they'd be knowledgeable about that one. SILLY JANE.

And that's just about when the bilgesnipe becomes more than apparent, and instinctively shuffling closer to Bucky, she pulls her own firearm: a small, handheld thing, a derringer similarly Jane-sized. Ready to aim, she — falters as Atli explains to please not shoot her family.

Jane's trigger finger itches still. Her mouth tics. Not convinced. Loki really, really, REALLY has it coming and — fine. Fine!

Eyes rivetted toward the door, she listens through the calamity and sounds of some great, oncoming army, pensive at the way Bucky's arm should come into play. "I don't care if it's enchanted by Odin or Hades voiced by James Woods. It's a lock, so it can be picked. You've got Odin's blood, Atli. Right? It might trick the ward. Fix it to James's arm."

*

Legends of the girth of Odin the Oversized are surpassed only by those of Volstagg the Voluminous.

And even then it is a subject of hot and contentious debate, as Odin must be the greatest of all things, even things of debatable health or sanity. Such prideful demands inevitably led to the troubling Girth Wars of yonder times, but such an epic could scarcely be told in one scene alone. And it's hardly relevant to our current tale. Suffice it to say, Asgard's space goat population suffered greatly that day.

What is important to know for the tales being spun this day: Bilgesnipes are hardy creatures well-defended against any possible munitions an Asgardian could possibly imagine. Thankfully, the Asgardians are, by and large, not very imaginative gods, and thus is the baby Bilgesnipe poorly prepared against such mysterious and mighty armaments as 'a raccoon rifle' (that does not fire raccoons, that it could deal with) and 'an angry tree.'

And so it is that the Bilgeloki, or perhaps the Lokisnipe — the proper nomenclature of which is also a fiercely contested matter of debate — is thrashed and shot and then thrashed some more until it is rolled on to its back, steam wafting off its body in the adorable little baby Bilgesnipe crater Groot has lovingly provided it.

Its leg twitches, just slightly, as the noble Guardians of the Galaxy Plus Others leave it in its smoldering ditch.

Did they, perhaps, kill it?

Was it, perhaps, Loki?

Did they, perhaps, kill young Loki?

Oops.

*

Fortunately, Atli is wholly oblivious to the murder of her UncleAuntieBilgesnipe. Or what might be murder. Really she just trusts her friends to do the right thing. Why? Well, like all things that come from Thor or Asgard in general…

She is first and foremost a fool.

Atli stops and stares in awe of it, for she had not seen the vault with it's doors so.. intact. It's a long story, but on her Asgard, Thor had ripped the things off. Something about them being built by a bigger fool than he. Of course, the vault was mostly for the tombs of his many dead wives by that point. That moment of reverie passed, it transfers to Bucky, looking upon him with the kind of hope that only someone who heard childhood stories about him might. The kind that end with Bucky saving the day. The kind that end with Bucky Barnes a great hero.

"Because Noble Barnes, Odin designed this for The Destroyer's great big metal arm. And you have a great big metal arm. And… and you have a mountain named after you on new Midgard. And possibly a lake. I can't remember, Ellisiv did most of the Lake-naming. But… you can do this. Tales are told of the time Steven Rogers held a flying machine in place with nothing but a tight shirt and bulging muscles, and you taught him everything you know!! He is only a man because you are such a great man!!! And…"

Jane Foster, Sorceress Supreme of Midgard speaks, and Atli gives the dullest blink. Not because of the whole thing about treaties. Really, such things are boring and Atli has no idea. But because it is indeed just a lock, and as much as Atli likes to think she has some handle on things, she knows in that moment a sad truth: Jane Foster certainly cannot be her grandmother. Jane Foster is far to clever. None of Jane Foster's descendants could ever be fools.

But how does she wish Jane Foster would adopt her, in that moment of clever suggestion that has Atli pull a dagger and with a smile on her face, spill the blood of would-be heroes. And then she sets to awkwardly rubbing it allllll over Bucky's arm. Verily, it looks like Bucky was back to his old 'shove his metal arm through someone's body' days once she's done.

That finished, she kneels down to give Bucky the promised boost so he can get his arm wayyyyyyy in there.

"Is that.. the Lord of Stars flying? Verily, he looks most cutting against the sky,"

And so he does, as the Asgardians begin firing energy spears at him to try and bring him down.

*

Bucky is really trying not to think about the whole 'possible intergalactic war' part. He's had enough of starting wars, much less upgrading to starting intergalactic wars, and if Atli has led him into a situation where they're instigating one —

But it's a little late to be thinking about that now.

Jane takes point on the inquiries about that. Bucky, perhaps reasoning it will all be over faster if he just gets this door open, stares up at the keyhole with a definite 'how in the hell am I opening this gigantic door?' face. Atli's beaming conviction, as she stares at him with the sort of childlike hope that has total faith he will heroically save the day because he taught Steve Rogers and Steve Rogers is a great man, is both helping and not helping.

No pressure, Barnes.

Fortunately, Jane swoops in with the solution — or a solution — and Atli enthusiastically takes it on, covering him with probably 'way more of her blood than necessary.' "I look like an extra from 'Carrie,'" he mutters, proving that his pop culture education has at least advanced up to the 70s, before accepting the boost from her and catching hold of the edge of the keyhole.

Whereupon he sort of hauls himself up, has a look in, and then — for lack of any other immediate options that present themselves — sticks his metal arm in there and starts fishing around.

*

"OH MY GOD DID YOU HEAR ME I SAID BE COOL!" Peter Quill wonders just what has gotten into these Asgardians! They are totally not bro material like Volstagg. "If you keep shooting you're gonna hurt someone!"

Which is when a laser lance spears though his coat. Burning leather and leaving a near round hole to join…other neat round holes because lets face it this isn't the first time this has happened.

"Screw this!" Which is when he spins in the air to return fire. Thankfully on stun settings.

"ATLI YOUR PEOPLE DON'T KNOW HOW TO CHILL!"

*

Jane looks askance — not quite disturbed, more bemused — as both Rocket and Groot lay waste to the not-Loki-once-snake-something-else, her mouth twisting into a half-grimace as it… starts to not move anymore. "You guys — she said — maybe — " You can hear Jane's desperation, deadpanned in sotto voce, just low enough there's no hearing it. "Don't do that. Oh no." And it stops moving.

"You guys…" she asks, a little perplexed, "um, is Loki —?" She winces. "I mean, it's fine with me, but I didn't just witness a — yeah."

Letting it go.

Holstering her gun, there's the bigger worry about AN ONCOMING ASGARDIAN ARMY, and getting Bucky to unlock a door that might be their only way out of not immediately dying, being alien-imprisoned, or who knows whatever the hell Asgardians figure corporal punishment — probably getting drip-lined with snake venom for ten thousand years or something. She looks on, approving first of Atli catching on to her plan, then approving slightly less of the sheer volume of blood Atli deems appropriate. "You can — Atli, please don't exsanguinate yourself — that's enough. I'd think of some sigil, maybe, something to bind for sure — but Asgardian physiology may be enough the bridge we need."

Glancing up, Jane doubles Atli's cheerleading with a quick, reckless, we-may-die smile up at Bucky, and tiptoes to quickly kiss him on the mouth. "You can do it, James. We can —"

Yelling fractures her attention. The blood drains out of her face. "Quill?! You're alive? How did — QUILL! WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING!"

He's returning fire on Asgardian soldiers. HE'S RETURNING FIRE.

"OH MY GOD," Jane shrieks, and powers rocket boots of her own — rocket flats, really, well, magnetically propelled flats — that immediately lifts her a good twenty feet into the air and hurtles towards Peter Quill on a breakneck collision course. One spear misses its mark as she tries to football tackle both of them straight into the earth, with a shrieked: "QUILL! STOP! DECLARING! WAR! ON ASGARD!!!!"

*

"Don't worry! They are set to stu—OOPH!"

*

With all and sundry oblivious to the dubious fate of Little Loki and thus the fate of all the Nine Realms, perhaps this truly is the end of the trickster's story. Erased in the past, or at least one possible telling of it, with all the influence of the God of Lies and Mischief quite thoroughly removed from the world. With all the pros and cons of such a thing that need apply. Erased from existence. A thousand tales to go untold. Ne'er to darken their doorstep again —

"Oh. You're finally here."

— though of course, we could well be lying, as is often the way of such tales.

Oops, again.

Because there, as the grand geometric patterns of those doors part like a honeycomb sea around James Buchanan Barnes' thusly enchanted ("enchanted") "Destroyer limb" (the particulars of Atli's plotting need a profound amount of practice more), is a woman with black hair. Green eyes. Cocked brow. And beautifully bendy horns of gilded glory.

Just sort of steadfastly and valiantly waiting there for them, hand on hip. Foot tapping with clear excitement, and not impatience.

The other hand? Why, it's sheathed in an ornately gold gauntlet with six glittery gems embedded in it, of course.

Wiggling its fingers in greeting.

"Don't mind me. While you've been gallivanting about, I've just been wasting my time with pointless busywork like puzzling a way out of the perilous predicament our little Atli has gleefully thrust upon us. Nothing truly important." So says Loki, Goddess of Lies, continuing on amiably even as the sounds of warfare and also Jane Foster's yelling — which is another war crime all its own, it should be said — carry on in the background.

"Tragically, most of the things in here are gaudy fakes. But by now I assume you've all realized that my grand-niece's quite well-intentioned but disastrous plan was bound for failure from the beginning. So!"

Hands clap together with the metal ring of Loki's (infuriatingly) fake Infinity Gauntlet.

"Once the good and noble and wise Lady Jane of Foster is done declaring her openly and adamantly hostile intent towards the sum whole of the Kingdom of Asgard, perhaps we could be on our merry way?"

Yes, she is putting the blame for the Asgardian armies swooping upon them like some predatory birds squarely on Jane's shoulders. Yes, she has not explained how she even got in the vault already before them. Yes, she also has yet to explain why she hasn't vanished like Marty McFly.

But these are stories for another pose, dearest readers. For now?

For now, Loki is content to comfortably wrap this one by giving Peter Quill, off in the distance, an encouraging thumbs up with her Infinity Gauntlet.

You're doin' great, it seems to say.

*

"YES THAT IS TRUE PETER QUILL, AND BECAUSE OF THIS THE JOTUNS HAVE NEVER DEFEATED US!!!"

Atli shouts this while helpfully giving a thumbs up at Peter, who catches an Asgardian with a stunbolt that staggers the man to his knees. Volstagg shouts something from behind them, trying to stay their many spears, and one breaks the treeline, heading for them all.

"Verily, Noble Barnes, just a moment."

It's here that Atli sidesteps a spear-lunge and sends the Asgardian flying with a punt-kick that lets him sail over the trees, and just about that time that Bucky will feel something clamp down on his blood-covered arm. Something running over it. Light washes over sections of the arm and billows from the opening about his shoulder, and all at once, the door lets him go, peeling away as if it were nothing at all.

Because no one's supposed to be able to do that but Odin.

It's about this time that Atli notices, and sees the dark chamber beyond, filled with relics from across the universe and wonders untold!! "YAUUUUSSSSS!!!"

This, Atli's shout, just as more spear-fire lances towards them all. "QUICKLY FRIENDS, INSIDE, THE DOORS WILL ONLY STAY OPEN A MOMENT WITHOUT ODIN'S GIRTH TO STOP TH-verily, Noble Barnes, why is Jane Foster grappling with Peter Quill?

And now it seems Atli is trying to start a war, her face screwed up in confusion. Thank god she doesn't know about Quill stealing Jane's underwear that one time. In any case, she waves them all inside, past the double doors that are already closing! Atli looks back at them, to all her friends, hopeful to corral them inside. And then she sees it. The dead TinyLokiBilgeSnipe. An audible gasp escapes her, and for a long moment she looks like she might shrink inward, for of all the things she wanted to do to her aunt, it was not see her destroyed. Redemption was her only hope for Loki. Backing away, in horror, she hears those words from behind her.

There is a slow turn from the Goddess of Thunder, and she stares at that Gaudy Gauntlet of No Power giving that thumbs up. Mouth wide, eyes wider, Atli looks up at the great bendy horns. Then she lunges for the greatest, adoring hug she could ever give her favorite aunt!

"HEL'S BELLS YOU'RE ALIVE!!!"

*

Why's everyone yelling? Not that it registers with Rocket until he's finally pried his finger off the trigger of his rifle. Threat smoldering and dead? Groot in one piece? Good enough for him. He shoulders his rifle, and then blinks and glances over his shoulder as he hears a familiar voice shouting.

"…what the hell is Quill doing now…?" he asks, brow arching. Jane's panicked shriek cuts through and those fuzzy brows knit in confusion and then lift in sudden realization.

"DAMMIT QUILL, NOW WE'LL NEVER BE ALLOWED TO LEAVE STUPID TERRA!"

Or worse, he supposes as he thinks better on the situation, which, it seems the more he takes in, the less he begins to understand as he looks one way, then another, with Atli joining the fray and Loki… Oh, there he is. She? It. Rocket squints.

Then he digs into a pouch to remove something that is most likely Very Explosive. Surefire way to stop some crazy, definitely. He just has to figure out which way he's hurling this sucker.

*

As he warily eyes the smoldering crater he and Rocket created for the poor bildgeLokisnipe, Groot snorts, his little chest rising up and down so quickly it looks like he's possibly hyperventilating. After taking a few more gulping breaths, he finally mutters.

"I am Groot."

One threat down. More to go. Since he has no real bearing of what the mission was supposed to be, Groot marches to the beat of his own drum, dropping his overused limbs to regrow another set of extensions. Little legs jog him in the general direction of wherever Starlord and the angered Asgardians are.

"I AAAM GROOOT!!!"

It would have been a great rallying cry if he had heard Atli's instructions. Instead, he runs off to the other side (and hopefully out of range of Rocket's explosive explosive) to let rage fly and chuck people ten to fifteen times bigger than he is off to the sides.

*

Jane's quick kiss puts a brief smile on James' face. "Well, with that kind of encouragement, I — "

And then Quill.

Bucky should probably be paying attention to Peter Quill starting an intergalactic war and all, but the door is clamping down on his arm — which is highly alarming — and well, Jane seems to have Quill handled anyway, judging by the sound of blasting rocket flats and the following impact of something smol hitting something rather less smol. An instinctive panic runs through him as his left arm is briefly trapped, but at least it doesn't last long as the door subsequently just… folds away, in a sea of geometric patterns.

"…Huh," Bucky says. "Guess it worked. Though — " He glances down at his arm. No blood — all burned away — and in the place of blood, a series of Asgardian runes. His eyes narrow. The last time he had Norse runes on his arm, everyone involved had a bad time. "Hey, Atli — "

But there's no time!! Atli ushers them all into the vault, and within… is, of course, Lady Loki.

"Oh," Bucky says, with a telling lack of affect. "You're not dead."

*

"Its fine! They are stun rounds!"

Quill's definition of 'fine' might not match up with Jane Foster's either. "And don't you shout at me Rocket! You just exploded a muskrat in their garden or something! Besides!" And here we get to Quill's usual rationalization for things like this.

"They started it!"

Yes. Very mature and correct that.

He's just lining up for a new volley when he hears something incoming at speed.

"Look I said you don't have to wor—OOPH!" As he gets speared out of the air by one Jane Foster. It is a text book shoulder tackle. Spearing him right out of the sky. Bucky should be proud.

…however…

There are now two sets of rocket boots(or flats) going in competing directions. Which means they are now not traveling in a line. Its more of a corkscrew. "AHHHH ARE YOU CRAZY! EVEN OUT EVEN OU— STATUE!"

Which is when the pair slam. At speed into a massive statue of Odin in the garden before ricocheting off it. The statue teeters. Totters. Then slooooowly keels over to smash to the ground on the magnificent visage of the King of Asgard.

Right in front of the army.

Dead silence. Slooowly the front rank looks up towards the gathered group there.

Sloowly spears are leveled…

AND MEANWHILE!!

Quill and Jane go flying into the vault. Past Bucky. And Loki. And Atli.

"THIS IS SO YOUR FAULT!" Are possibly going to be the last words of Peter Quill.

*

As QuillJane go flying past him, Bucky reaches out and neatly snares Jane out of the air.

Quill? He lets that guy keep going.

*

Before descending into the madness that is 'babysitting Peter Quill,' Jane turns one last look back on Bucky Barnes. A large part of her doesn't want to miss his unlocking of the vault door — that mystifying tangle of magic and science.

Part of her knows she should be worried — worried old wards may turn on him — but there are few things Jane trusts truly of her external world. Her craftsmanship is one of them.

The man attached to it is another. He can do it.

Steeling her heart, Jane indulges the task of NOT MAKING PETER QUILL CAUSE A WAR BETWEEN EARTH AND ASGARD. She's an incoming ninety-pound missile, fearlessly rushing him, colliding the two and subjecting Quill to her furious shouts, and —

"I'm a PHYSICIST! I KNOW what I'm DO —" SMASH.

And there goes down the statue of Odin. Jane's heart breaks with it. So much for ever being invited back here, ever ever again.

Not that she has much more time to mourn it, as velocity careens them straight into the Vault. But there is hope, namely in that familiar shape of Bucky Barnes, and Jane mid-flight reaches out towards him — and is caught, plucked out of the air like some fly. She hugs him in utter relief.

Poor Peter.

When Jane does recover, somehow, somewhere, in the resounding, sepulchre-silence of Odin's personal vault, it's to the grand visage of — twice-dead twice-notdead Loki. And Loki's friendly blame. And Loki's newest accessory. "Perfect. And what the hell are you wearing?"

*

Oh, says the Winter Soldier, with a tone of voice that well lives up to his namesake. You're not dead.

"Worry not, Master Barnes," assures Loki Odinsdottir (at times), with a tone of voice that could bring spring to the shrillest winters. "I'm quite sure that was never a risk. Why, with such fanfare as this to greet me, it's a wonder how I could ever bear to stay shuffled from the immortal coil!"

The foundations of friendship.

Distracted as Atli is, though, Loki busies herself prodding at another pedestal decorated with a simple helm. Her brows lift, ever-so-faintly. "Mm. Not too bad, though it all rather pales in comparison to the treasures of Omnipotence City," she muses, half to herself. Spear fire lances about the entrance of the vault, but Loki seems to pay it no heed. Instead, she carries on, with effortless aplomb that is, of course, as natural to her as breathing. "Regardless, the brave and charming flailing of the Lord of Stars sent me a bit adrift in the timestream. But what fortune that I managed to end up in roughly the same spot as you all! This must mean we're destined to be together forever, yes? I — mm." Her nostrils flare, just slightly. Her lips purse. "Why does it smell like burning bilgesnipe—"

HEL'S BELLS YOU'RE ALIVE!!!

And the answer to that question goes tragically unvoiced before Atli careens into her. There is the faintest emerald shift about the trickster's figure like someone intent to muster up a reflexive and suitably evasive countermeasure—

— but it never comes in the face of what is a most affectionate embrace. So hugged, Loki staggers back from the impact exactly two steps that bely the otherwise utter stillness of her frame. For a few, precious moments, the Goddess of Mischief looks utterly flummoxed, like a startled cat. Green eyes wide and partially crossed trying to stare down at her redheaded grandniece, thin black brows making a march towards their center as if intent to go to war with one another, dark green painted lips partially parted as if words have died nobly upon them.

She looks surprised. Surprised by the unexpected. And Loki hesitates for a moment, as if waiting for some other shoe to drop, before she reaches her Not-So-Infinity Gauntleted hand up towards the top of Atli's head in a tentative gesture that could mean everything and nothing. That could be the start of a fond gesture, or something spiteful. Endless possibilities in the span of a single second —

— before Jane Foster and Peter Quill helpfully make the decision for her as they crash into a statue and go blasting past her.

And Loki stares, blankly, at the sight of Odin All-Father lovingly stroking a strange, fiery bird coming crashing down before her just before the vault doors snap closed once more. And she has never felt quite so pettily satisfied as she does at that moment.

And, with the moment so thoroughly spoiled, the only real outcome that can come of that falling hand now is, tragic as it may well be, the way the gauntlet grips to Atli's scalp to s l o w l y peel her away from her barnacle-tight embrace.

"Yes, well," begins Loki, voice mild. "We still have quite a bit more time and opportunities aplenty for that to change, thanks in no small part to our vandelous companion."

Loki looks back, towards the very end of where Peter Quill is flying off to. She frowns, slowly.

And what the hell are you wearing?

"An overly elaborate holder for ring pops. Does it matter? This is no time for pointless questions you'd scarcely believe anyway. I do believe it would be in our very best of interests to vacate this place, rather quickly."

*

Rocket and Groot look for violence as their answer, and much like the Bildgesnipe, hardy as it was, They Are Not Prepared. Wherever Rocket ends up throwing that explosive is going to have a bad time, but he'll be playing catchup to the thrashing rage that is TinyGroot, who begins tossing Asgardians this way and that, sowing a massive amount of chaos that is of course, Jane Foster's fault. Why does Atli think that? Well, she doesn't know! But it feels like a thing to think! Then, the Odin-Statue is knocked over, and Atli just stares as Peter goes barreling by, with Jane taken from the horrible crash by Bucky's quick hand. Red hair fluttering in the wake of their disturbance, and Atli's eyes go wide at the small contingent that advances on the closing door. Then she's peeeeeeeeeeeeeled back by Loki, whom she forgot she was holding onto. Just as the doors slam shut.

Certainly, Rocket and Groot will be fine.

Mostly because they don't hear a staff in Odin's chamber strike the polished floor. Not like everyone in this room does, when Loki's dire warning turns out to be oh so right.

There is a sound like ice sliding against slick metal, as the wall in front of Peter Quill begins to sink back into the fog that seems to simmer through it's chained surface.

Thousands of pounds of metal complain as bands of Uru twist and shift and come to life.

Atli, Loki, and especially Jane will recognize this creature as it steps out of that fog, it's face sinking inward. Fists curling, arms bared wide.

The Destroyer has come.

The room lights up with power that blinds. Atli leaps into the stream of the blast, throwing herself towards danger to shield Noble Barnes and the Sorceress Supreme, the ray of energy reflecting off of her spear and into the floor which ripples and tosses them all every which way.

Atli hits the far wall, her chest blackened and burned, and she slumps to fall face first, her weapon dropping point-first to spear the floor just beside where Bucky will land.

The Peter is so close to the Destroyer as to evade it's notice for now, and it actually steps over him as everyone else goes careening away.

Not far away from Bucky, Jane Foster will find herself powered through a podium that weighs less than it seems, for all the ruckus, she will land on the floor and slide to a halt.

Something else will land heavily in front of her. Something else familiar. Something with familiar words that slowly appear, with but one unfamiliar change among them.

'Whosoever holds this hammer, if She be worthy, shall possess the power of… THOR'

Words try to form in Atli's mouth, stung by the burning rage of The Destroyer and it's rampage. 'D..Decimux. Pl.. please bring us back. I know not what I have done. I don't…I don't want them all to die. Not because of.. m.."

Consciousness leaves the Girl of Thunder.

It's up to real heroes now.

*

Whatever Quill's started, Rocket has decided that he'll just have to finish it. The mad laughter that underlies the sounds of explosions, screams and the sound of autofire with someone's finger locked on the trigger can probably be heard right up until the doors slam shut, welcoming an odd silence on the one side, and a sudden awareness on the other where yet chaos seems to reign.

The raccoonoid pauses, looking towards the vault doors that he vaguely recalls being open a moment ago. What was it Atli was saying about them? …okay, so he hadn't been listening because he'd been too busy shooting a tiny bilgesnipe. But the rest of the party's gone and it seems only he and Groot are outside. Huh.

No, no. This is fine. Things are fine. Just a raging tree child over there, Asgardians for whatever reason (We're going with Quill) on a warpath. Right. Now isn't exactly a good time to start to think rationally.

"Aarrrrgh, stupid freakin' — GROOT! C'mere!!"

Rocket fires a more carefully aimed shot as he dashes off for the angrily flailing tree. He's going to grab Groot and then hightail it back over to the vault doors and stuff the kid into the keyhole. It's more than big enough for him, right? And…slightly…eyew, gross, what did they do to this thing???

"See if you can get this thing open!" he shouts after him. If they can't get in that way, he'll have to slip Groot something explodey to jam in there. But otherwise he's not terribly worried that they can't get the thing open. They've broken out of every prison they've ever been locked in. Doors, locks, high security? PFaah! …albeit usually he'd be the one usually doing the finer work but of the two of them of current, he's the best bet at keeping angry Asgardians at bay. Hopefully he doesn't run out of explosives.

*

Doors shutting? It may have been important to be in there with the rest of the team.

But being outside among the chaos feels like the better choice.

Groot roars at the lowest octave he can muster in such a small form, flinging one more Asgardian out of his way, teeth bared as his path of destruction winds down. He shoots a look at any other potential targets, only to have his gaze flicker back over to a Rocket charging at him.

"I am Groot!" He's grabbed like he needs a squeaky toy sound effect to go with the whole motion, arms snapping off to start new growth. "I am Groot- !?"

He's immediately shoved into the hole, muted squealing and legs kicking wildly before disappearing completely.

Because Groot is a Real Hero.

And a lock pick.

Complaining will get him nowhere, so he will have to comply and try to get the doors open again. He can do this. It'll be fine.

*

"REALLY?!"

This is said by Peter Quill as Jane is plucked away from him and…wait…

"HEY ROCKET AND GROOT ARE STILL OUT THERE YOU ASSHATS!"

He…actually might sound slightly angry at that one. Or it might be because he just careened headfirst into a wall. Which does at least stop his careening. Dropping to the floor, groaning in pain, the pilot starts to sit up, back against the wall…

…when the wall turns to fog and he falls right though it. Smacking his head again.

"I hate this place." He mutters as he starts to sit up again…just as The Destroyer steps over him and flattens Atli with a destructo-beam.

Well. That isn't good.

So he peers around the leg of the giant monster to mouth towards Bucky, Jane, and Loki.

'…we aren't fighting this thing are we?'

*

Loki's longwinded reply, such as it is, just brings Bucky to sigh heavily. There's really no talking to this guy.

Putting Jane down, he watches Loki warily as she starts poking around, as she's hugged — as she declares that it might be in their best interests to vacate rather quickly

The sudden rap of a staff behind them punctuates Loki's dire statement. Followed by the grinding sound of a very large wall sliding open like a door. "Uh," Bucky says, slowly looking over his shoulder, "that's never a good sound — "

The surging blast leaps towards them faster than anyone can respond. Anyone except Atli Wodendottir, that is, who leaps into its path and pays for it by being blasted across the vault. Her spear stabs down inches from his face. "Atli!" Bucky yells, rolling back up and bolting towards her, stooping down to check her pulse. Her heart still sounds strong, she's still breathing… good. But she's out like a light.

Bucky stares over his shoulder at the construct as it stomps towards them. "What the hell is that?!" he demands, even as he tries to consider whether any of his own weapons will even work on it. Are we fighting this thing?! Quill wonders, and Bucky yells back, "Do we have a choice until we can get those doors open?!" At the very least, he thinks, it has to be distracted until then.

His eyes fall on Atli's fallen spear. Reaching for it, he wrenches Jarnbjorn from the floor, hefting its weight with his left arm with a slight moment of surprise.

"This spear better be enchanted," he mutters, as he takes off running. "I think it's enchanted." He's gonna find out. He darts towards the thing from an angle, obliquely, before he thrusts the point of it into the ground, pole-vaults up and over it, switches his grip, and centrifugal-forces it around in a front-flip to cleave the blade down into the thing's side.

*

Set down, Jane's attention veers as Peter Quill — with real, rare emotion — gives a sitrep on two missing party members.

She gives a surreptitious glance for Rocket and Groot. Her face pales. "They are WHAT?" she snaps, all her anger immediately switching hands to horror. Asgard certainly wasn't ready to give them a friendly reception. "We have to get that door back open. They aren't going to have much time —"

And even less time, on this side of things.

That's never a good sound, deadpans Bucky, as Jane slowly looks past his shoulder to —

"No," she says simply, her pupils narrowing to pinpoints. Memory makes her heart catch. Her voice is small, terrified. "Oh God, no. It's the Destroyer. It —"

The blast cuts Jane's explanation short. Atli's brave sacrifice redirects it and flings them away, and the physicist tries desperately to keep ahold of Bucky's hand. Momentum throws her away.

Her attention skips like a stone over a pond. Maybe hit her head too hard. Maybe lapsing consciousness. Jane blinks her eyes, strangely calm, looking on as Atli lays numb in one corner, and distantly, Bucky — spear in hand — bravely leaps up onto that metal monster.

Her heart twists, besotted and afraid at the same time. It killed Thor, stopped his comrades — James needs help.

She finds her hands, standing up shakily, and bracing herself, finds herself touching something warm, metallic — and strangely familiar. She looks down.

Mjolnir. What is it doing here? How could it —

She's not certain how even she can read the inscription — different script of a different race — but it says She. She?

Most people would not dare to wonder further. But Jane Foster?

She has to — touch things.

Something lights up every fibre in her soul. She inhales, unsure what it is — but it feels like stepping straight into the burning crux of a star —

A blur of motion cracks across the vault, barely within comprehension, winding a shuddering arc that slams that hammer down on one of the Destroyer's leg joints, moving in battle collusion with the Winter Soldier's spear strike.

It comes of a woman, tall and lean and cut like a warrior, her golden hair falling like a furious halo, her face sheathed beneath the wicked point of a helm.

"Have at, worthless cur!" snaps Thor. "I come steeped with vengeance for thee!"

*

-=THOK=-

It is a distant thing, that sound. And yet Loki Odinsdottir recognizes it immediately for what it is.

-=THOK=- always the sound as the All-Father slung his disappointment in her.

-=THOK=- went the sound whenever he struck her down.

-=THOK=- went the sound —

— when the thing built only to destroy was roused from its slumber.

Concerns about Rocket and Groot, of which the trickster, caring soul that she is, certainly had aplenty, are immediately sidelined. She is deaf to the words of Peter Quill as she takes a single step backward.

"Oh no," she utters, in a small voice.

"This is going to be terribly unpleasant."

The sound of the Destroyer's fury in such an enclosed space is deafening even to godly ears. The light of the god-stoked furnace in its breast brighter and hotter than the core of a great star. It sears green eyes, and in its aftermath, Loki feels the rush of wind of a limp body and the scent of burned godflesh as Atli Wodensdottir collides with a nearby wall. Green light flashes. A gold staff forms at Loki's hand, a prize weapon to be sure. But not the greatest of Asgard.

They aren't fighting this thing, are they?

"The Destroyer was created to deter Celestial threats!" is Loki's very to-the-point response to that subtle body language. Her staff sweeps out, and arcane runes forge into jade life around Atli, scooping her up and encasing her within a protective shell of emerald. "While Master Barnes and Lady Foster-" she will lament the urgency of this scenario forced her to properly address Jane for once, later, "-may not grasp the scale of such a thing, I trust you can! Lest you crave to be inflicted with the fabled ultraviolence, I suggest we take our leave immediately-"

And then something happens. Someone reaches out. Someone holds onto a hilt.

She smells the crackle of ionizing air long before she sees it and she knows exactly what is happening. Green eyes widen.

"no"

.:BEFORE:.

WHOSOEVER HOLDS
THIS HAMMER, IF
HE BE WORTHY,
SHALL POSSESS THE
POWER OF
T H O R

There are dozens — perhaps hundreds — of artifacts within Odin All-Father's vault. Treasures with value incalculable.

Loki Laufeysdottir has spent her entire time staring at just one.

Green eyes fixate on that inscription. She wonders, in some small, tiny part of her, what her life would be like if she hefted that hammer. Had all the adulation and acceptance that came with it. The feeling of belonging. The epic scores that might be sung of Loki Odinsdottir, hero of Asgard.

To be the story, and not the storyteller.

She reaches out with her gauntleted hand, pilfered from the deeper depths of the vault. She knows Odin cannot see her. She knows his eye is blind to things he doesn't care for. Gilded fingers curl around the hilt of a hammer forged in the heart of a dying star. She knows the stories. Better than even Thor ever could. She even knows the truth behind those tales, for as much as they call her a God of Lies.

To be the story, and not the storyteller. To be…

And the inset gems on that gauntlet shine as she tugs…

… and nothing happens.

The hammer does not budge. For a time, Loki's expression is inscrutable. "Damnable fake," she mumbles under her breath. Her eyes turn back to that inscription, like it was mocking her. Her lips twist in a pained frown. If he be worthy…

"… Heh. Of course. I never was in your eyes, was I—"

And the doors of the vault hiss open, and Loki turns to look on the ushered calamity, hand on hip, gauntleted hand perfectly poised.

As if she were just there waiting for them.

.:NOW:.

"No!"

It's practically a whisper, seethed out between pearl white teeth, as she sees it. Sees that inscription. Sees who grasps it. Emerges from it, wreathed in armor and power and acceptance and worthiness. Not Bucky. Not even Quill, even HE would be preferable to — to —

her. Why? Why?!

I come steeped with vengeance for thee!

Why her?!

Her throat is dry. All she can think of is to maintain her magics and cradle a new, burning pit of hatred.

"Decimux, TAKE US FROM THIS PLACE NOW."

*

Outside, shadows fall upon Rocket and the Key-Groot, as they work their problem. "You there! In the name of the All-Father, surrender or be destroyed."

Then the door suddenly unlocks when Groot finds a little of Atli's blood inside to grind against the rune-catch, and it falls away. Just in time for a beam of Destroyer-energy to catch that particular Asgardian in the face and utterly obliterate him. But hey! At least they're inside now!

Bucky Barnes finds his feet, finds his weapon of choice, and shows Asgard the measure of a man that Atli Wodendottir looks up to as if he were the one filled with divinity. In a moment of vaulting violence, he proves his metal, drawing gasps from Asgardian soldiers who watch as Noble Barnes uses Jarnbjorn Reforged to cleave through Uru as if it were made of hot butter. The sound is terrible, every bit the metal on metal screech one might expect, along with sparks that splash across the entire room. The whole of the creature buckles with the spear half-caught in it's side, and just as it reaches for Bucky to strike him with force enough to kill a God…

A God strikes The Destroyer first.

There is not only the sound of a hammer striking metal, but an explosion of thunder and lightning that once again blinds the entire room. It shears outward from the point of impact, billowing back bands of Uru, striking harder, with more power, more urgency, than even Thor hath wielded before.

All reflected in Loki's eyes. All etched there on her gaze, as if written, to be recounted.

The plight of The Storyteller, never-ending.

The Destroyer, meant to deal out violence of untold measure, crumples in mere moments. But only Loki knows that it is not so easy. Only she knows it will rise again.

Somewhere at the edge of consciousness and discourse, Atli hears the cries of battle, but cannot move. She hears her spear pull from the floor, hears it whistle through the air. She must be fighting, she thinks, but simply unable to see you feel anything at all. Stars stretch behind her eyes, distant and dreamlike, in the shape of great big bendy horns. Try as she might, she cannot open her eyes. Try as she might, the trip through time, for the second time in her life, is taking it's toll. She knows not if Gods can pray to other Gods, nor if any would listen. But as the star shatter in her mind, and she fails to join the battle, she asks for one favor.

Please don't let this be the end of them.

They're all I have.

'Decimux, TAKE US FROM THIS PLACE NOW.'

You know my price.

The world changes.

Some power channels around all of them, tugging them upward, tugging them onward and away. And then it slams them all back downward again, through the sky over New York, where Jane will feel the hammer leave her grasp.

There, they all materialize in a burned rune, in the middle of central park, along with the Milano and various bits of Asgardian refuse.

Somewhere behind them, Mjolnir splashes down in Central Park Lake.

*

The spear works even better than even James Buchanan Barnes expected.

Sped on by a combination of super-soldier strength, a left arm of Jane Foster's genius engineering, and its own great weight, Jarnbjorn Reforged cleaves into the Destroyer and sticks there, showering sparks in all directions. Left dangling by his grip on the weapon, his eyes turn towards its reprisal, and he prepares to drop and dodge.

Only for Someone to smite the Destroyer with furious divine power first. Even through the sparks, the changed physique, the flying blonde hair, Bucky can recognize her.

"SERIOUSLY?!" Bucky Barnes rarely raises his voice. Seeing his girlfriend become an Amazonian Norse God qualifies as a moment that warrants it.

Fortunately, he's not given a lot of time to think extensively about this before they are mercifully whisked away from what is almost certain death. The world inverts nauseatingly, spinning with a thousand colors, and then —

Flat on his back, Bucky finds himself staring at a familiar sky, in a familiar park. He turns his head to the left, looking past the burned expanse of the rune beneath them. A Central Park pick-up soccer league, frozen mid-game, stares back.

Bucky looks right. If Jane is still Thor, he's just not getting up.

*

Quill has just sighed and fished out a set of magnetic grenades from his seemingly endless supply of explosives that he keeps on his person. I mean really. Where the hell does he keep all those things?! He always has one more left! Is there like a dimensional space inside his coat?!

…that would likely explain things.

Anyway he fishes them out just before he hears something.

"What Celestial threats?! WHY IS THAT HERE THEN! WHAT IS IT WITH ASGARD AND OVERKILL!"

Then he's leaping out of the way of Bucky's charge, slamming the mines into the ceiling to try to keep the thing in place and…

…and suddenly…Thor? GirlThor? Thorette? What the hell do you call them?!

It doesn't really matter because she pastes the damn Destroyer.

"…well…" He says slowly. "…that's a thing."

A wrenching sensation suddenly takes him though and his eyes widen. "NOT AGAI—"

Annnnd…teleport…

And he lands flat on his back in the middle of a field. "…oh good." He groans. "This wasn't goddamn obvious at all!" A longer pause. "Rocket! Groot! You two alive?"

*

Outside, left alone and most importantly, unsupervised, a Guardian of the Galaxy fixes the approaching Asgardians with a look undaunted, and at the ultimatum given them, he flashes them a bird of his own as he growls, stepping back closer towards the door. Hurry up in there, Groot..! The trigger of his rifle is millimeters from being fired at the Asgardian speaker.

And then suddenly, a clank, and the solid wall behind him shifts as the doors swing open. Rocket dares turn about to look into the vault with full intent to grab Groot and run inside. He's all at once thankful for his short stature as a blazing beam flies well over his head and takes the head and everything else of the foremost Asgardian threat. Caught between wondering what could have possibly been powerful enough to do such a thing and could he keep it, just about everything comes to a record-screeching halt as he and the Asgardians behind him are treated to…a very confusing sight.

Inside, another battle. The Winter Soldier is practically flying, the spear grasped in hand so very familiar. The finishing strike… Not by his hand. But by a hammer. Rocket knows the hammer. He doesn't know the one who bears it. Those curves definitely don't belong to the loud-mouthed God of Thunder that had kept them on parole for the destruction of one (1) statue of Odin. …two now, if he were paying closer attention to the rest of the things within, but even he would have to agree that that one deserved to be junked.

There is light, and then there is darkness. The sensation in between is like taking one jump too many while gravity and everything else played tug-o-war with your insides and outsides.

He smells burnt grass and that general 'green'-ness he'd associate with, well, nature. Groggily, Rocket shoves himself up from where for whatever reason he'd landed flat on his face. He spits out a mouthful of nature, takes a precursory look around to make sure the important things have made it along with him before promptly face-planting again. His ears perk a bit at Quill's voice, and he raises a hand.

"I am so done with Asgard."

*

Perhaps it is a good thing Groot isn't aware of his surroundings inside of the keyhole. Getting blood on his malformed hands is all he notices as he squeezes further into it, shifting and changing his proportions as best as he can in order for something to work. Luckily, the taint of his Asgardian friend's blood and the rune-catch grinding together tells him he should alert Rocket. "I AM GROOT!"

His shouting, however faint within the keyhole, fights both the noise outside and the re-opening of said doors. As he crawls out, he's again grabbed like a doll off the shelf, clinging onto Rocket's humanlike hand and furry arm with all of his might.

Everything else after that becomes a sequence of colors and flashes of light, the sharpness of sound. He sees his friends. He sees them fighting…

And then the shift in the air, in the chaotic ambiance suddenly dips down into that familiar stomach-churning feeling.

Seconds pass. Huge, dark eyes flutter open, staring up at the Terran sky. The grass, despite its charring, smells delightful.

Safe.

He sighs. "…Grooot."

*

The power of Mjolnir takes out the Destroyer's leg. Between the spear, and that unerring strike, it falls.

And in its wake, Thor rises. She stands tall and glorious, wreathed with godly ambiance, her regal cape — blood scarlet, blood of their proud line — draping her shoulders. Worst of all, her proud jaw high, the Goddess of Thunder keeps her back rigidly — dismissively — on Loki.

Mjolnir and its mistress both waste not a glance on such things.

Instead, light gleams off her helm as she stares down at the fallen metal thing.

"Wretched wight, shaltow fall and be forgotten," Thor speaks gravely down on it. "May thee never trespass on mine again."

Head raised, she turns to account the others with a shift of her blonde hair, expression equal parts solemn and firm. Quill is unharmed, looking a little off-balance. And —

"Fair James, dearest beloved, art thou in need of succor?" Thor beseeches. "I pray thine flesh is without insult! Thou assuredly — pardee!" She freezes, aghast. "What dare this byjapery?"

She grabs onto her own throat, suddenly hearing herself, hearing the utter nonsense coming out of her. "Hast a bishrewe crossed mine tongue?! Maystow find my wandering words? Thee — oh sard it."

By poor, maligned Loki's call — they are all whisked away. As Jane falls, she finds a choice — try to cling harder to Mjolnir, or to reach to try to hold onto James as they travel magic's bridge. As the hammer rips from her hands, she finds herself not even caring to give it a second glance.

And when she awakens, sprawned across that burnt rune, coughing lightly — it's tiny, dark-haired, human Jane, looking a little pale around the edges, meeting Bucky's glance. "We're all alive. Can we get drunk now?"

*

"Yes," replies James Barnes.

There is a long pause.

"Please," he implores, verily looking as if he will never feel amorous again, "never talk like that to me again."

*

The hammer blow resounds in a way that cracks across the entirety of Asgard. Lightning peels across the heavens. It will spark tales told about the day a stranger proved herself more worthy than all of Asgard's scores. Perhaps it will inspire Thor to try to strive to reach that same level of greatness.

Perhaps it will fester the deepening envy in a young trickster who was taken in to forever stand apart.

Would you know more?

Of course, it would be of sound judgment to note that this story, like any truly great hero's tale, is one that would have, should have, ended tragically. The tale of a warrior wielding the hammer of the cosmic storm, pit in a final stand against the Destroyer, only to learn exactly why it has earned its namesake. They would weave the tale of the Thor who actually managed to shatter the armor before it reformed and smote her whole lot most mightily. And then stomped upon them several times before they were to be buried within eternally heated uru enchanted to burn the soul like it was bubbling flesh day after day, as Odin is a petty sort and did not hang himself from the World Tree just to have a silly girl upstage him. Honestly. But it would be a day of bravery in death worthy of Valhalla indeed, no matter the pettiness of the All-Father.

If it weren't for the intervention of a cruel, pitiless trickster, deserving of nothing but revulsion and spite.

And so it is by said spineless intervention that even as the Destroyer is pulling itself together within the brimming fires of the Odin-Force, a bridge across time and space is made manifest. It is a path that Loki Laufeysdottir has taken many times. But she scarcely notices it. Atli wrapped in the protective cocoon of the Goddess of Mischief's magic to guide her through that journey, Loki's eyes burn into one thing, and one thing only.

Jane. And her hammer. Not even acknowledging her.

Like the trickster was beneath her, dismissed like she has been so many times before. Fingers curl, and bite into the god's palms.

"…"

By the time that time-displaced Mjolnir crashes into Central Park Lake, Atli has been deposited carefully near Bucky and Jane. The skies are clear and free of any imminent threat of destruction with a capital D on their horizons.

And Loki Laufeysdottir is nowhere to be found.

*

Of all the things that might bring Atli back from the brink, it is certainly a godly intervention in the form of Thor. Perhaps the best Thor. One of Atli's eyes opens, peering through the green field and her hair plastered to her face. All she can do is stare at this woman that she knows only from books. The only book she's ever liked. The only one that's ever inspired her. Because as much as he loves her Grandfather, how can she not look up to a woman with a hammer? Still.

"Ve..verily.. what the ..fuck are you even… saying?"

Then the power of Decimux takes them. Or more specifically, the power of Chronux, whisking them away into a tortured miasma of energy that suddenly drops them in a soccer game. A soccer ball doth skip by Atli's head, and she reaches out for her spear, oblivious that it was Jane that saved them all. That she is the hero she could never fully know about, that her Grandfather NEVER spoke about.

"Thank you, whoever you are."

This she whispers into the ground, before falling to unconsciousness again, in need of a deep and restful sleep before she wakes up and thinks she dreamed every bit of it.

SOMEWHERE IN THE INFINIPLEX, A NEXUS OF REALITIES WHERE THE MACHINE GOD REIGNS.

A great hand takes a shard of the gem that allows Decimux to tie his alternate selves together. "First, my task. Then, do as you like. But leave The Broken to suffer. He will never again be part of us."

….

SOON.

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