Jan 23, 2013

In a World of Glass

Ideas are sand within an upright hourglass. The shifting changes of the world upend and unsettle the neat pile of hopes, thoughts, and wishes. Each grain tumbles and fights for its turn through the bottleneck. They make their inevitable way toward the bottom which was once the top, a world turned upside down. But only one grain may pass through the narrow opening at a time. Only one idea—one view—may hold the fleeting passage of time before yielding to the next. And the next. And the next. Until...

At the end of the grain's journey (which you could argue is also the beginning), after a hard landing against others below and beside, it comes to rest so that it may watch the progression of the rest of his kind. Will it sit at the top, aglow with the unexpected triumphant of the last-become-first? Or does it cower in its fear of the first-become-last? When the glass tips again, it will find its place buried below thousands, or millions, of its kin. Quickly forgotten by the world for all the shiny ideas stifling it.

Sep 24, 2012

Reality Beckons

reality beckons,
a sharp knife concealed
piercing remembrance
fatal to wield

dreams spread as a rust,
incremental and vast
a slow death indeed, yet
defense unsurpassed

there will come an assault,
an assailant unseen
shall I wield harsh reality
or defend with a dream?

Sep 13, 2012

INFJ Thoughts

This could make us sound arrogant (we aren't INTJs, you know), but nothing could be further from the truth.
We’re humbled and puzzled by our existence. Our divine spark is a torch, a burden, a comfort to ourselves, and a beacon to others. It is the question. It is the answer. It is our lens to view the world. And we live with it day in and day out, wondering if anyone else uses a similar lens even though we know no one else could ever see the world the way we do. Yet we excel in seeing reality as anyone else can by easily stepping into their shoes.

We feel like everyone and no one. Someone someday, perhaps, but when? When will we realize we're already ourselves?

Sep 7, 2012

For BC/On Obsession

You're stuck in my mind, and I can't get you out.
I'm so sorry
But I alone know of your presence
and your influence upon me.
I drift through my day, customarily gesturing at others.
And you are with me, even though you are not.

In another world we are woven together.
we are new friends talking of books
we are old lovers tenuously reunited
we are bitter enemies in perfect misunderstanding
growth and progress and developments are made
I respect you
You respect me
caught in perpetual possibility

I long to strip this web from my sheltered self
and stretch it across my breast for all to see
its intricacies
its schema
the raw energy
the basics of me, the basis of me
a fatal flag to fly
baring uniqueness to this world

Why do you stay with me long after you're gone?
We have never met, and we may never be.
But chance fuels my odd faith
And the hope of reciprocated respect is my ambition

Aug 17, 2012

Notes from Estranged: On Loki's Progression from Villain to Anti-hero

Do not confuse Loki’s absolute confidence with an acceptance of place in the universe. He is very much a lost soul.

Mirella’s sacrifice to save Loki’s life leaves him feeling that he has more moral worth that he has ascribed to himself. Where the death of lesser creatures has meant little in the past, Mirella’s sacrifice strikes a chord of loss in him. She showed him freedom from the bonds he has wrapped around himself, and with her death he will never have a chance to experience it again (in that way, at least). And he regrets, if subconsciously, that his actions lead to her death. With moral worth comes the realization that he is the tyrant of his own world, except that his world is empty and the real world demands interaction (and compromise, among other criteria) to successfully lead others.

Loki is stunned to think that all of his plans have failed due to his own self-righteous arrogance. He decides to take a hiatus from villainy and “play by the rules” while he is on Midgard/Earth. He does not, however, resolve to become a hero. Heroism holds few rewards that interest him. After he has committed himself to follow the rules, he encounters Rowan. Her intuitive yet stagnant life pulls Loki to take her in and make her better—make her work to the best of her abilities rather than allow them to languish in a job she hates.

When they first meet he is objective about discovering her skills and abilities. He chooses her trust as his reward for behaving as a respectable human. He later decides he can accomplish his task quicker if he helps her to become better. To him, he intends to correct the inefficiencies in her life, but to her it comes across as a wish to make her a better person. Loki reads Rowan’s unfinished novel to get an idea of what he can do with it to help her so she’ll finish it and move on—the story is the source of her fear and stagnation. Rowan takes a chance to let him read it at all, and she assumes he wants to read it to know more of her world and know her better. These are byproducts that Loki takes for granted, but then realizes he would miss if they weren’t part of the package.

From the time they first meet Loki and Rowan are always a little awkward with each other, but at the same time they are comfortable together. This can be explained by their personality types: she is an INFJ and he is an INTJ. They are both introverted intuitives, but the outside world sees their auxiliary functions of extraverted feeling and extraverted thinking respectively. They organize information similarly until it comes to focal points and priorities.

Surprisingly, Loki has little problem caging his hatred and destructive urges. His burgeoning feelings for Rowan help him to make personal growth a priority rather than a diversion. After several weeks of helping others improve their systems and workflow, he eventually finds himself wanting to be a better person for her. She has come to rely on his friendship, and he hers.

Over the days and weeks he spends with her, he develops sincere affection for her and begins to incorporate her into his world as an anchor. He chooses to remain mortal as a challenge to himself and for his love of Rowan. He has come to love the challenges of the simple life that he has begun to build with her.

After almost a year together, they both inspire the other to grow and push their own boundaries. Rowan gains confidence in her writing abilities and promoting herself, and Loki learns to appreciate helping others rather than just improving systems. He is still cold and dislikes people in general, but he shows a little humor and has grown fond of the area they live in. Rowan is now the center of his world. He cannot imagine his life without her now. They become engaged with a child on the way, and Loki’s awareness begins to expand to incorporate the roles of husband and father, but then tragedy strikes and jeopardizes everything Loki has worked for the past year.

Rowan is killed in an accident. Her death prompts Loki to fall back on his more traditional coping mechanisms of hatred and blame—blame for Thor’s lack of help and hatred for Rowan’s fate. He has no support system and his faith in humanity is shattered. His faith in Rowan, however, does not waver—she has become his conviction—and he cannot accept her wrongful death and continue his life as a mortal. He commits suicide only to be resurrected by Odin. Rather than continue his life in Asgard, he instead vows revenge on the force that caused her death—fate itself. In this case he learns through Odin and other unknown contacts that Thanos and his possession of several Infinity Gems had been the cause of Rowan’s death, as well as the cause that brought the two of them together in the first place. Upon learning this, Loki accepts Director Fury’s offer to work with S.H.I.E.L.D. as a spy for them to report on Thanos’s plans as he gets closer to him.

Loki’s alliance with S.H.I.E.L.D. is tenuous and practical, as he is only working with them for his own means. Yet Nick Fury needs all the help he can get to combat Thanos. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. Loki understands this and agrees to offer his help to the Avengers Initiative. He operates on his own, not with the rest of the Avengers, and only reports back to Fury. In Loki’s eyes he is doing S.H.I.E.L.D. a favor that he will later collect on. He cares nothing for Fury’s promise to erase his criminal record on Earth now that Rowan is gone. He is no longer mortal, therefore he no longer cares what Earth thinks of him. His only focus is taking down Thanos.

Loki becomes an anti-hero since his actions benefit others even if his reasons are for his own benefit.

Estranged, Epilogue

The gateway closed behind Loki, and he surveyed his surroundings. The darkness did not bother him anymore—he could easily discern the shapes of rocky outcrops and cliff faces in the midnight gloom. He was thankful for the restoration of his Asgardian abilities even though the price paid was not worth the trade. He had nothing left but to work with the resources available to him now.

The location he had traveled to was far removed from Asgard, a dark and craggy realm located deep below even Midgard—Svartalfheim, the realm of the dark elves.

He approached a large fissure that split the expanse of land before him. When he peered over its edge he saw dim lights shining through windows of dwellings built into the rocky wall of the canyon itself. An uneven staircase spiraled its way around the fissure’s jagged wall on down to end at its floor. Wishing to avoid notice, he swiftly descended the stairs toward the bottom, keeping to the shadows as much as possible.

He had heard of a neutral observer who dwelt here among the dark elves. A scryer and collector of quite a valuable commodity: information. It was said he would offer his services for the right price, and information from anywhere other than Midgard was something Loki was sorely lacking due to his year-long exile. And what he needed to know resided in no book, but in the distant outer realms that were not a part of this dimension.

Certainly he could leverage the right price.

Upon reaching the canyon’s rocky floor he spotted a small freestanding dwelling. It was built with rough bricks and mortar, worn with age, and in need of several repairs. It had one poorly hung door and no windows. He approached it and entered, confident that it was his desired destination.

The small main room was cluttered and lived-in. Clothing and blankets had been tossed carelessly and dishes were piled onto a small counter next to a mildewed sink. A writing desk was stationed in the corner, parchments and books strewn about its surface.

The interior of the hovel was poorly lit by a single red candle on the mantelpiece. A mound of cooled wax from previous burnings piled beneath it and cascaded over the shelf’s edge. The fireplace beneath it lay cold and bare.

The ornate centerpiece of the room was quite out of place in such a tiny unkempt house. A large shallow bowl of the thinnest blue porcelain stood mounted on a delicately carved wooden vanity. An even larger oval mirror was mounted behind the basin. The mirror’s frame matched the embellishments present throughout the rest of the vanity. Around the perimeter of the mirror’s surface were etched symbols that Loki did not recognize. While he might not have understood the meaning, he definitely knew the apparatus was used for scrying.

From the adjoining room he heard movement followed by a gruff voice.

“Ah, I have a visitor it seems. What day is today...? Oh! Oh yes!”

A shriveled greyish figure emerged from the room at what Loki assumed was a quick pace for the elderly being. His exterior was as gruff and grizzled as his voice. The mystic might have once been a dark elf, but time, darkness, and seclusion seemed to have taken its toll upon his stature and eyesight. In Loki’s experience many scryers forsook their physical eyesight in favor of their scrying visions—what they called “true sight.”

“Let me put my failing eyes upon you. Yes...yes... The neglected son of Odin,” he continued with pleasant surprise. “I knew you would come to me soon,” the old scryer cackled with a crooked grin.

“Mystic humor...charming, to be sure. Then you know why I seek your assistance?”

“Hm...not exactly. Scrying is a tricky art. Visions of your next meal may come across clear as rain water while epic battles may be fuzzier than a cloud. It’s never precise, but usually what you need to see.”

Usually? This had better be worth my time.

The mystic motioned Loki to sit in one of the rickety chairs beside a messy table and joined him at its other seat.

“So, tell me Loki...is it Odinson or is it Laufeyson again? I cannot recall which I last saw. You’ve questioned your identity many times these past few years.”

Loki did not appreciate being known so well by a stranger, but granted the mystic a smile anyway. He was here for assistance, after all.

“Simply Loki will suffice. I seek to know the motivations behind the death of my betrothed, a human called—”

“Ah, so it’s Rowan you seek to avenge. I wondered why she was so important. She showed up in several of my visions about Midgard. Along with you, of course.” The old scryer momentarily lost himself in a fond memory and smiled.

He watches our lives like they are books to him, just stories to be told.

As an afterthought he added, “She saw her world in a beautiful way, you know.”

Loki’s heart heaved, but he quickly quelled the simultaneous urges to cry and to kill. His plan would fail if he gave in to his extremes.

“Yes, Rowan Fields.”

“Well... as you may have heard, there is a price for my services.”

“Name your price, and I shall pay it,” Loki declared without hesitation.

“Now, I usually ask for a trifle, but of you I wish a steeper amount, yet it should have some return value to you as well: Talk with me for the evening.”

Perplexed, Loki pressed for clarification, “Is that all? Why should talking be so costly? Does any particular subject interest you or will Thor’s sleeping habits suffice? He snores loudly enough to rouse souls from their eternal slumber.”

The mystic’s chuckle turned into a cough and cleared his throat with a rasp. “Sounds riveting, but I do have a request. Talk to me of your lady love. I would know what magic between you two made the god of lies seek revenge. I may have watched you both, but it is different to hear it from the source in person.”

Loki cleared his own throat, pondering his answer.

I must have the information I seek.

“Very well. Where shall I start?”

The mystic scoffed, “Oh, start wherever you want. I’m used to seeing events out of order.”

Loki expected such disclosure of his memories of Rowan to be painful, but after a time he found himself smiling and even laughing rather than crying. Soon he was sharing his fondest memories.

“...and all of us around the table wore different shades of disgust because the cake tasted incredibly bitter. But no one had the heart to tell her it tasted so awful until she finally sat down to eat a piece herself. The look on her face was the most amusing!”

“All because she added the wrong amount of rising agent? Oh my, how funny indeed!”

The two unlikely conversationalists laughed for a time.

Winded from his hearty laugh, the scryer caught sight of his mirror and remembered his promise. He rose from his chair stiffly and hobbled toward it.

“Oh, but we have talked for hours. And I do believe I can see the spark you saw in your beloved. She is worthy of remembrance. Worthy, indeed, yes.”

Loki felt the buoyancy from his happy memories fade as he remembered his current goal.

“Now then, what exactly do you wish to know?”

“Who is responsible for Rowan’s death? Who orchestrated it?” Loki did not want to play his hand by mentioning Thanos. Not just yet. There was always a chance it was someone—something else...

“Now, let us have a look at what is out there.”

The mystic prepared his scrying apparatus by filling the shallow bowl with water then retrieving a small vial from a cupboard below the vanity. He unstoppered the vial then allowed three drops to fall into the basin, causing ripples to form along its previously undisturbed surface. The ripples did not fade over time, instead they slowed instantly, but maintained their intensity, as if the liquid had become thicker. Nodding in satisfaction, the mystic replaced the vial in the cupboard then proceeded to trace his hand along the mirror’s inscription, reciting the ancient incantation that drove his craft.

As he chanted a blue mist arose from the water that became more opaque when he finished. He placed his hands upon the vanity countertop adjacent to the bowl, assuming a stance that showed his concentration and long years as a master diviner.

Loki could see movement happening within the mist, but the action was too quick and blurry for even his sharp eyes to perceive. He watched for several minutes as the mystic stared blankly through the mist into the mirror, absorbing the visions he observed.

Without warning, the mystic spoke flatly, entranced by his deep concentration, “Step closer if you wish to view the face of your accused.”

Loki crossed the room quickly to stand beside the mystic. He peered into the mist, but could only make out blobs of color.

“I see nothing. It is unclear.”

“Relax...let your mind reach out to the mist, and it will show you...”

Loki complied, focusing his own concentration upon the blue misty cloud hovering before them both.

What he saw came at first as a jumble of colors, then settled into a surreal scene:

A huge, muscled grey-skinned figure stood against a backdrop of space and stars—Thanos, the fallen titan, the mad titan. He loomed above a massive throne, gesturing toward a Chitauri warrior that knelt silently before him, waiting to attend his master’s needs.

Thanos then placed a large, golden gauntlet upon one of his hands. He grinned widely as he flexed his hand in it, relishing its heavy weight and admiring the back of the glove piece. Capping each knuckle and the back of his hand were six large gem settings. Most were empty except the settings on his index finger and the back of his hand which held a yellow gem and blue gem respectively.

“So, Little Lord Loki thought he could run away and hide after his failures. He should prove an adequate test of the gems’ capabilities. But how to punish a man who desires recognition above all?” The fallen titan mused, lost in thought.

The gauntlet’s blue gem glowed as a chuckle escaped his thin lips. The blue gem—the mind gem—would allow him to know another’s thoughts and dreams.

“Ah, so a little human has won his heart. And her roots have grown deep within it. Time to rip them out.” Thanos jerked his gauntleted fist. “Chop him down, and watch him fall. He will yet understand the price of his failure and cowardice.”

Thanos clenched his fist and chuckled darkly as the yellow gem in his golden gauntlet glowed.

Loki’s vision blurred until all he could clearly see was the yellow gem—the reality gem. Promptly he brought his focus away from the mist’s vision. Thanos had, without a doubt, wished for Rowan’s death. Loki felt ill and furious and—

This was the reason for my visit. I must remain in control of myself.

He did not know how Thanos had obtained the Infinity Gauntlet and two of its gems, but he did know that Rowan’s death had been a sick and twisted message: When you refuse to take sides, someone will choose your side for you.

Infuriated by the information he received, he bowed his head wordlessly to the mystic and departed the hut.

It is quite difficult to wield a gauntlet if you have no hands to wear it upon. He will yet understand the price of opposing ME!

The mystic watched after him quietly with a wise look only a seer of his magnitude could give. He was well aware of Loki’s mission and its results.


Loki’s eyes adjusted swiftly to the inky blackness outside the mystic’s home, and he formed a gateway to Earth. He stepped through to a dank alleyway in the middle of busy downtown Atlanta, Georgia.

First to leave a message, then on to business.

He approached the mouth of the alleyway cautiously. The crowd of passers-by paid him no notice. In fact, many of the pedestrians were dressed in odd costumes, apparently on their way to some function.

He searched for someone with a phone in their hands, quickly targeting a young woman in a curly wig and short colorful skirt. When she passed he snatched her from the crowd and pulled her into the alley with him.

“What are you—!”

Wordlessly Loki plucked the fake rhinestone-infested phone free from her hands, ended the current call, and dialed a number from memory. Given the long hours he had read Fury’s file over and over, it was only natural that he recall it easily.

“Hey, man, if you wanted to borrow my phone, I would have let you. But that was really jerky to just take it. That was my mom you hung up on! And you’d better not be making some international call!” The young woman kept her distance, content to berate him rather than oppose a man at least two feet taller than her.

He ignored her protests and stepped a few paces away to maintain his privacy. If you had told him three months ago that he would be making this kind of call, he would have laughed hysterically. But so many things had changed since then.

“I’m gonna be late for my photoshoot if you don’t—”

Without turning to face the woman he waved his free hand over his shoulder as if he were tossing something toward her. Her head flew backward, landing hard against the wall. She slid to the alley’s floor, settling in an unconscious heap of bright pink and blue. He finished leaving his message and ended the call.

Fury may prove a useful...ally.

He cringed at the thought of trusting Director Nick Fury in any way.

Until I am finished with my task, of course.

He dropped the phone to the ground next to the woman, a disheveled mound of gaudy fashion.

“Thank you for your assistance.”

He walked further back into the alleyway to leave for his next destination. This time his gateway revealed the same surreal landscape that he saw in the scryer’s vision. There was no land at all, but a star-filled scene of black space dotted with what appeared to be an organized asteroid field. It was the Chitauri home base.

He stepped through and approached the lone Chitauri present.

“I seek audience with your master. Take me to him.”

Recognizing Loki, the Chitauri sneered. “You failed. He does not wish to see y—”

Loki rushed the warrior, hands at his throat in an instant. He choked the alien’s words to a gurgle, raising him to eye level so that his feet dangled in the space below him.

Loki growled at him in disgust, “Take me to him, and I may yet allow you to live. Refuse and I will throw you to the true darkness that hungers in the wicked depths of reality where your soul will be devoured mercilessly. Every ounce of your being will be ripped away painfully—exquisitely—until nothing remains but a useless husk of madness and filth.”

The Chitauri grunted a moment in consideration—his master would not be happy if he disobeyed orders—but consented with a quick nod of his head. Loki released the ugly whelp, and he fell to the ground panting.

“This way,” the Chitauri sputtered, coughing as he stood and led the way. “What is the nature of your request?”

“Tell him I have returned to seek his favor and forgiveness. I am here to propose a different plan of attack. This time there is no room for failure.” Submitting to his love’s murderer was agonizing, but he buried the feeling deeply. This was a necessary deception, business to be done.

As he approached Thanos atop his rocky throne suspended in nothingness, he held the burning hatred and darkness tightly in his heart, held it steady and controlled it. He would not fail her.

Not again.

Loki knelt before Thanos, the fallen titan, and guarded his thoughts well, carefully planning the words that would set his plans in motion. Thanos sat up at Loki’s entrance, and a smile slowly crossed his face. The gauntlet lay feet away upon a pedestal. He could not see how many gems it held.

Slowly or swiftly, I will exact my revenge. You will fall by my hands and pay for the pain you have caused me!

It had indeed been a serious mistake to remain neutral.



Dr. Bruce Banner chuckled and shook his head at Agent Clint Barton’s prank. “That’s not going to work on me, man. I have to be angry and out of control, not startled.”

“Right. I’ll use an arrow next time, then,” Barton concluded with a wink.

“Oh, here she comes,” Tony Stark eagerly commented to Barton as Agent Natasha Romanov entered the room briskly with files in her hand for their meeting. She walked straight to the large oval table in the middle of the board room without acknowledging anyone else. “You see that? No response. She walked right past me and didn’t even blink!“ Stark gestured to Romanov as he vented his irritation.

Dr. Banner wandered away a few paces, wishing to remove himself from any possible action.

Barton lowered his voice to a whisper. “That just means you haven’t seen her countermove yet.”

“Countermove?” Stark raised his eyebrows in interest and casually placed his hands in his pockets. “I’m ready for anything she can throw at me.” He did not, of course, lower his own voice.

Romanov ceased her paper collating and shuffling to shoot a menacing glance toward Stark and Barton.

Barton took a half step backward under her glare. “Hey, don’t look at me, Natasha. It was Stark’s idea to install a remote sonic device in your boots.”

“Yeah, but the squishing noise was your idea, Clint. It was also your idea to activate it during breakfast in the cafeteria.” Stark smiled as he incriminated his comrade. “Very nice,” Stark mouthed quietly in approval.

Resuming her paper distribution around the table Romanov lightly commented, “Don’t forget I know where you sleep, Barton.”

Intimately understanding her threat, Barton’s eyebrows creased with worry.

“But— Stark was—!” Barton pointed at Stark in defense, but Tony only grinned at Clint knowing he was in deep trouble with his old partner.

Across the room Thor and Captain Steve Rogers were in their own conversation near a large green potted plant.

“And my brother was so distraught over the loss of his beloved and their unborn child that he took his own life to end his pain,” Thor was saying to Rogers with a sorrowful expression as he recounted Loki’s dilemma.

A mixture of surprise and sadness crossed Rogers’s face as he listened to the Asgardian. “That’s tragic, Thor. A guy like that manages to turn his life around only to have it ruined in an instant. His crimes were inexcusable, but I wouldn’t wish a situation like that on anyone. I’m sorry for you loss, buddy.” He clapped Thor on the shoulder as Director Nick Fury entered through a doorway at the side of the room. Above the door hung the large round S.H.I.E.L.D. logo featuring a stylized eagle.

“But there is happy news as well—”

Before Thor could continue, Director Fury approached the table and cleared his throat loudly. Everyone around the room wrapped up their conversations as they made their way to the large oval table in the center of the room to begin their scheduled meeting.

Director Fury remained standing momentarily as everyone got seated, “Let’s get down to business. Agent Romanov, if you would please bring us all up to speed.”

Agent Romanov placed the report she held on the table and stood to address the group.

“Approximately 12 days 22 hours ago the artifact known as the Infinity Gauntlet went missing from the vault in Asgard. You all have a brief in front of you detailing what we know so far. The vault was locked and undisturbed as reported by the sentries on guard. The gauntlet’s whereabouts are currently unknown.”

“And the gems? I’m not sure that everyone here understands their significance.” Director Fury prompted her to continue.

“There are six Infinity Gems that can either be used alone or in conjunction with the gauntlet. They have the power to manipulate space, time, power, mind, reality, and soul respectively. According to Thor the Infinity Gems were detached from the gauntlet some time ago and distributed amongst different realms by Odin in the hopes they would be kept safe from being used together.”

“Thank you, Romanov. Thor,” Director Fury asked, “Do you have any more information from Asgard?”

“Yes, Director Fury. I bring news of Loki.”

Murmurs and seat-shifting erupted from everyone around the table.

“Hush. Let’s hear it, Thor.” Fury folded his hands, listening intentely.

“Some of you know that Loki was exiled here in Midgard one year ago to live as a mortal—the Allfather wished him to understand and demonstrate compassion for others. In time Loki befriended a mortal called Rowan. They were soon to be wed and bear a child, but she was killed in an unfortunate accident. Loki took his own life to end his grief.”

Thor waited for any reactions. When none came, he continued, his brow creased in thought.

“Odin resurrected Loki following his mortal death with the hope that he would reclaim his place in Asgard and show the maturity he learned while in exile. While he did reclaim his powers as an Asgardian, he has again left Asgard.”

“Just what we needed, a rogue god.” Fury huffed. “Any idea where he’s gone?”

“We know not where. He was very upset over Rowan’s death. Odin did not understand the depth of his despair.”

“We’ll deal with Loki if he becomes an issue. We have bigger fish to fry in the meantime. Let’s focus on what we do know. Any leads on the gauntlet?”

Thor continued, “Asgard’s contacts have heard whispers that Thanos possesses a magical glove of power. We have sent contact to the realms which hold the gems. From the messages we have received, Odin was able to determine Thanos possesses at least one gem, but possibly more. We are still awaiting contact from several sources.”

Fury spoke to the rest of those in attendance, “He could make a move any moment. We need to get one of ours close enough to retrieve more information.”

“Director Fury,” Thor interjected quietly, which was still a boom in his deep voice. “I have another message, but it is for you alone.”

“Understood. Come with me into my office.” Thor and Fury rose to exit the room. “Everyone else put on your thinking caps. I want to hear ideas worth implementing when I come back.”

The two of them walked through the door the Director had entered the meeting room from. Fury closed the door behind them and motioned for Thor to take a seat, but he shook his head, opting to stand.

“So, what is this private message?” Fury stepped around behind his desk and leaned forward on both arms.

“Prior to his departure Loki requested I relay a message to you alone,” Thor paused with a concentrated look, attempting to recall the message exactly. ”An eye for an eye.

“So, it’s revenge he wants.” That could be good or bad for us, depending.

Nodding, Thor agreed with the Director. “Revenge is not out of his character.”

“Did he say anything about Thanos?”

“He gave no further explanation to me and left Asgard shortly thereafter.”

A knock came at the door. Fury eyed the door before concluding their brief discussion.

“Was that all, Thor?”

“That is all, Director.”

“Enter!” Fury called.

The door opened to admit Agent Maria Hill. Behind her Fury could see Stark gesturing wildly while Dr. Banner nodded his head slowly in thought. Captain Rogers shook his head vehemently in opposition of whatever Stark was proposing. Barton and Romanov listened quietly, but seemed to be trading glares at one another from across the table.

Hill closed the door before speaking.

“Sir, there’s a voicemail for you on my phone,” She looked to Thor briefly. “—from Loki.”

Fury’s eyebrows rose in pleasant surprise, but his tone remained serious as always. “We may have an answer straight from the horse’s mouth. Play it on speaker.”

Loki’s icy smooth voice emanated from the phone’s speaker, and indistinct yelling could be heard in the background:

Greetings, Director Fury. The mission you offered me coincides with my desires therefore I have decided to keep you informed of my discoveries. Direct discussions may prove impossible, so watch closely for my messages. [pause] Oh, you may wish to update my current status.

Fury weighed his options quickly as he scrutinized Loki’s message: This could be very beneficial for us. But how far can we trust his information? How long will his vengeance keep him loyal to our shared goal?

Hill was still confused. “Update it to what? We don’t even know where he is.”

“Not deceased, for starters.” Fury pulled Loki’s file from a drawer in his desk and handed it to Hill. “He’ll contact us when he has more information. For now update his current status to ‘Asgardian, God of Deception, S.H.I.E.L.D. Informant.’”

Author’s Note:
I sincerely apologize if my interpretation of Thanos is off in any way. I haven’t read his arcs in the comics, so I did my best given the information I had available.

Physical descriptions of the Chitauri and Avengers were assumed for brevity. If this seems confusing, and you think I should include descriptions, let me know.

Aug 13, 2012

Estranged, Chapter 9: Fate's Call

You may also read this story on FanFiction.net

He remembered the fall.

He remembered the temporary feeling of weightless freedom, like soaring above the rooftops, gliding eternally.

There was no fear in Loki’s mortal death, only relief from the physical stress of humanity and its expectations. But the damage to his soul had been done. He had not taken the time necessary to grieve and heal his wounds before departing. Despite easily shedding his mortality, he still carried his memories. They would never leave him. After the fleeting freedom of death wore off, lingering emotions seeped back into the forefront.

Love, broken and bittersweet. Wretched anguish. And so much pain. Unbearable pain.

Distantly he regretted that his death had not improved his situation.

For an unknown time his consciousness drifted. He tried to shake himself free of the memories that crippled his momentum and strangled his emotions from moving on—acceptance and growth was not impossible in this vacuum, just improbable.

In response to the torture he called to the darkness of the void surrounding him. He felt it’s slimy taint catch hold of him, and it began to engulf his consciousness. Within its corrupted grip he heard demented babble of the collective depraved, dejected, and delirious eternally lost in its midst:

warm memories to eat. soft parts. the oh so sweet beginnings. delicious frailty. ready to soak, ready to seep. inside the sweet memories of death. life polluted. beautiful screams. singing screams. exquisite agony. bathe in the lie.

Loki could remember the first time he had experienced its poisonous filth. But back then he had hope, purpose, ambition, jealousy, and passion to strive for his continued existence. His psyche had been fertile ground for growth. Now he had nothing to fight or live for. His spirit lay fallow. Nothing more to do than relinquish himself to become a breeding ground for insanity. To be sown with the fetid darkness that infested the void between realms.

But before he could succumb to the void’s permeating madness, he felt a tug in the center of himself. It wasn’t part of the taint, though, it came from outside and beyond.

Suddenly the world was filled with bright light. Then reality battered the rest of his senses like a jackhammer. He was sorely aware of every aching bone and muscle in his again-present body. Breath rushed into his lungs with an audible gasp. He heard murmurs and the drone of conversation, but it felt like an eternity before his blurry vision sharpened.

A golden glow suffused the retreating sunlight shining into the room. With difficulty he turned his head slightly and saw arched windows framing the image of a familiar fountain: a robed matron, her arms outstretched, cool blue water cascading over her upturned palms—a symbol of life and health. He was in the healer’s ward.

Hoarsely he pondered aloud, “Asgard...? No... Not here...” He managed a groan as his head was propped up slightly. “Take me back...” he complained feebly.

Odin, a shining beacon, stood over his recovering son and spoke briskly.

“You have been resurrected and healed, my son. Your recovery should be quick. You were not separated from your body long, perhaps only minutes.”

“I am...alive?”

“Yes, Loki,” Frigga, his mother, said as she rested her hand upon his. He had not noticed her sitting next to his bed. “You are alive and home with your family.”

Slowly he began to see that others were present in the room: Several healers and their assistants attended him or milled about the room performing complementary tasks. The healers, clad in white robes, rubbed salve upon his torso, arms, and legs and gave him herbal mixtures to drink that would restore his strength and speed his healing. He thought of refusing their aid, but was still too weak to do more than complain.

As if the day wasn’t bad enough, Thor appeared in the doorway.

“Father, I heard Loki had awakened—”

Odin cut off his older son with the silent raise of one hand. “Later, Thor. Your brother needs his rest for now.”

Thor called to Loki from the doorway before leaving with an excited grin, “I shall speak with you when you are stronger, brother. Be well soon!”

Loki’s senses slowly returned to him, and he said wearily to Odin,  “I chose death. Why did you disturb my soul’s rest?”

“Your soul was far from restful, Loki. Heimdall tracked your descent to Hel, but when you did not arrive, he searched and found the chink you must have slipped through into the void between realms. Knowing your exact whereabouts made it easy for the healers and I to bring you back from the clutches of darkness.”

“I would rather madness consume me than endure the pain I carry,” Loki admitted sulkily. Discussions with Odin often made him feel as if he were still a young boy deep in reproach. Odin and Frigga exchanged a knowing glance. Thor had explained the situation to them already, and no one understood love and loss like older parents.

Frigga rose from Loki’s side to caress his pale cheek briefly and place a kiss on his forehead. “Our love for you is steadfast, Loki. I shall leave you to rest a while. Be well soon, my dear son.”

He gave no reply, only watched her exit. Hearing his mother’s sincere affection made his heart ache bitterly. Her gentleness reminded him of Rowan. Was there nothing in the waking world that would alleviate his pain rather than put more salt in the wound?

Frigga placed a delicate hand upon Odin’s arm as she left and whispered softly to him, “Give him your support, my King. He has suffered greatly, yet continues to bear his anguish alone.”

“Your doting will not help him accept his grief,” he whispered back to her, “He has learned much, my Queen, and his resilience is greater than you know.”

Odin paced the room briefly after his wife’s exit, silently scrutinizing Loki and the fountain outside in turns. When he finally spoke it was an earnest attempt at concern, but Loki desired none of his sympathy.

“How do you feel, Loki?”

“As if my heart has been ripped asunder.”

“Anything else?”

“No.” His reply was resolute and measured. He was done chatting.

“I see. The healers have given you a concoction to help you sleep restfully. We shall speak in the morning. Sleep well, my son.”


Loki awoke the following morning from a dreamless sleep feeling much more rested than he had expected. He was even able to stand and move about fairly easily.

As he consumed a bit of breakfast that the healers’ assistants brought him, he attempted to focus on his movements and his surroundings—anything to stay out of his own brooding thoughts for a time. Yet as he fought to keep his head above the waves of misery there was a feeling below him in the deep that he almost did not recognize, a feeling of wholeness. A feeling that he would be able to touch the bottom again should he slip under.

Hearing the news of his quick recovery, Odin summoned Loki to the great hall rather than visit him again in the healer’s ward. The assistants helped Loki dress in a plain, but well-cut outfit that he had often worn to practice in the training yards. Normally it might have brought back old memories, but today he was focused on speaking with Odin. He had some questions that needed answers.

His thoughts seemed to steady as he walked even if his body was still a bit shaky. He could control the pain of his loss a little easier—he refused to ignore it or wallow in it any longer. If it was going to be a part of him, it would be put to good use somehow. It hurt immeasurably, but he did not want to forget her. She was the woman who chose him for what was inside of him, not for his favor or power or lust or any other selfish concern. She loved him for the qualities no one else took the time to appreciate. And she was the woman who would have given him a family to call his own.

Loki entered the audience chamber, giving his father only a cursory incline of his head rather than kneeling. He saw no need to grant such a formal show of respect for someone who disrespected his desires.

It was my choice to die.

Odin strode through the great hall toward him. He had been pacing the balcony adjacent before his arrival.

“Good morning, Loki. How do you feel this morning?”

He found Odin’s persistent attempts to elicit discussion of his personal struggles quite irritating, but a little self-disclosure would be necessary for the answers he needed.

“I am closer to myself again. My heartbreak lingers, yet I no longer feel divided or hollow as I did on Earth. Why?”

“That is the response I awaited yesterday. Freyr sensed the pervasive taint of your madness when he rescued your mind from L’Shale’s mental devastation. He could not rid you of the madness; it has grown from within a part of you. Yet he was able to restrain the dark heart of its influence, giving the rest of your spirit a chance to strengthen against it and grow around it. The lack of your malignant madness was a small reprieve to make living among humans easier for you. Freyr gave me instruction on how to release the restraint once you were ready. You have gained much mental clarity and stability during your exile, and I removed it upon your resurrection. You have the power to properly control your madness now that is weak from disuse, should you wish.”

Odin’s explanation had been quite revealing, but the word “resurrection” hung around his brow like a stolen halo. Why was he alive when his innocent Rowan was lost?

Growing anger, despair, and irrationality shook his voice. “Where is she? You were watching. If you resurrected me, then you can do the same for her.”

“No, Loki. I cannot.” His father’s calm words stabbed deeply. He should not have contemplated that pathway of thought. He had previously avoided bargaining for a reason—it was futile. “Your betrothed made peace with her existence and moved on to the ether. So did the child. They shall watch the universe as a part of it. One day they may choose to reincarnate, but we cannot know right now.”

Loki’s heart sank in disbelief. Part of him knew that moving on was a part of life that everyone must go through, yet he was angry. Angry that he had been cheated out of his life with Rowan. Angry that he would not know their child. Angry that his father had overturned his decision to take his own life.

“This was not what was to happen—” His words were spoken too quietly for Odin to hear, a fervent denial thick with frustration. His emotions roiled.

Attachment is a weakness.

The old mantra nagged at him. In a world of unbelievable agony it beckoned to wrap its comfort around him. He dusted it off like a forgotten cloak and pulled it around himself. It would shelter him from future emotional thorns no matter how enticing the flower. But there was no relief from the damage already done.

I will trust no one henceforth. Never again.

From thin air Loki created a nameless staff as black as night—something to focus upon as he gathered himself. He had forgotten his sorceries, but the skills were once again second-nature  after using them.

Odin, oblivious to Loki’s internal struggle, entreated his upset son to speak with him. “I watched over your actions, yet I bid you to share with me, my son. What insights and lessons did you learn during your exile on Midgard?”

Loki was affronted at Odin’s audacity to reduce his murdered beloved to a life lesson.

He seethed with a deep, dark anger that had been withheld from him as a mortal. He could clearly distinguish parts of himself that he had not felt in over a year. Even though they were tainted with madness, it felt good to freely control all of himself once again.

“Lesson?” He glared at his father incredulously, "I mourn my murdered love and you speak to me of lessons?! I intended to bring news of my engagement and the addition to our family. But in twisted mockery of your lesson to be learned, I live while she is taken from me! Rowan was no lesson... She was to be my wife! She chose me, and I truly loved her! I would have died for her! I would have died for our child!” Loki paused, his heated focus fixed on the illusory staff clenched within a white-knuckled grip.

Fatherhood is lost to me as well. Never again will I endure this much pain!

“Can you even understand such a feeling?” His voice was half plea, half accusation. “Can you? You sit atop your ivory tower watching the rest of us prance about our lives like your playdolls, learning the lessons you see fit to teach us. Am I to believe my mortal life was but a puppet in your twisted play?” The rage climbed in his voice. The madness would seep out soon if he did not control it. “Did you enjoy twitching my strings, old man? Did you?!” He paused another moment to recompose himself, but his words were no less acidic. “You dole out your cruelty and dare to call it a lesson. I am disgusted I ever called you my father and sought your approval.”

Never again.

Odin narrowed his gaze circumspectly. “I twitched no strings, my son. Some hands of power are even more far-reaching than my own. Fate, the threads of reality...are all that may claim credit for your experiences.”

His father’s cryptic message spoke volumes to Loki and set his mind into motion—Thanos. Odin is not to blame for her death after all. Thanos indeed possesses the Infinity Gauntlet as well as at least one gem—the reality gem—if not others as well.

Possession of the yellow reality gem would have allowed Thanos to fulfill wishes even if they contradicted scientific law. But how far had Thanos reached into Loki’s life? Had Thanos wished for Rowan’s death? Or perhaps the malicious intent was deeper than that. Had Thanos wished Loki to meet someone worth losing? Had Thanos wished for Loki to suffer? Was this all a joke or was he a tool in Thanos’s plan? The possibilities ran wild, adding more and more twigs to the fire blazing within him.

Thanos will pay dearly for this.

“But you have grown, Loki,” his father continued, ”You throw your anger at me when you have cause to admire your own strength. You admit that you have loved and lost. You found happiness and sadness. You craved more than the selfish ends of power and recognition; you gave others your trust and held compassion in your heart for your beloved. Do not forsake your experiences and the feelings they cause, my son. They make us who we are, and we must accept them and move on if we are to grow.”

True though Odin’s words were, Loki did not hear them. He could not, would not, take Rowan’s death in stride. With his hatred tightly controlled and centered, he accepted the path he would take—the path of vengeance.

Loki stared at his father for a long moment, noticing how old Odin now looked. Odin would die one day, but he would not be the one to rule Asgard. It was no longer his desire. His only focus was defeating Thanos.

Loki’s voice was calm, collected, “If that is all you see of me—a lesson to be taught, a subject to be studied—then I am done here. Asgard holds nothing for me, and it would seem I have cause to meet with my own fate.” Loki stalked from the room with cold determination and no intention to return.

Rowan...your death shall be avenged.

“And you eschew your growth to spite me,” Odin mused to himself. He did not attempt to stop his son. “You are still a child after all, I see. So be it.”


A voice of logic sought to remind him of words he once spoke to Rowan: Failure can happen. Learn from it and move on. Move on to what? He had everything he wanted in his hands, and it was taken from him. He would not play that game again. There was nothing to move on to, only business to take care of.

Rowan’s death was no failure—not some simple error to be righted. She had been murdered along with their future. Murdered in cold merciless blood.

After a quick stop at the library for information, Loki made his way across the palace toward the royal gardens. Just prior to the garden’s entryway, he heard Thor call his name cheerfully from behind him.


Loki could not understand his brother’s persistence to “rehabilitate” him into a proper Asgardian.

No doubt he will invite me to frolic off with him on some pointless outing full of no one I care to be around and nothing I care to do.

He exhaled in minor irritation, but upon second thought recognized an opportunity and turned to greet his brother.

“Yes?” He did his best to appear in a hurry.

“How wondrous that you are up and around! Come with me to visit with our friends. Their good spirits shall speed your recovery.”

So. Utterly. Predictable.

“They do not wish to see me, Thor. They are not my friends,” Loki replied flatly.

“You speak nonsense, brother. Come out with us. The fresh air shall do you well.”

“I cannot, Thor. I already have plans.” He motioned to the gardens. “But if you could grant me a favor...”

“Always, Loki. What is your wish?”

“Will you be visiting Earth soon?”

“I have been summoned to a meeting at the headquarters of S.H.I.E.L.D. in several day’s time.”

“Perfect. I need you to deliver a message to Director Fury. The message is for him alone to know. Do not involve any of his useless agents or your foolish comrades who play at being heroes.”

Thor’s brow furrowed. “Come now, brother. You could show some respect for the men and women who risk their lives to preserve humanity. You were a part of that once.”

“True, I could show respect, but not today. I have a more personal cause to champion.”

Thor conceded in the interest of avoiding conflict with his recovering brother. “Tell me your message and be done, then.”

“You must repeat this phrase to him exactly....” Loki shared the message and asked Thor to repeat it back to him to prove his retention.

After Thor repeated the message three times, he was satisfied that his brother might not screw it up. He sent Thor on his way then resumed his walk to a particular corner of the royal gardens. It was not as trimmed and ornately decorated as the majority of the hedges and fountains it held, so it was often free of visitors. As a youth he had frequently retreated there to study or read when he wanted to remain totally undisturbed. There was an area between the hedges that was easily overlooked by servants who came looking for him. His father always scolded him for disappearing at inopportune times—he would hide there to avoid boring social engagements that should not have required his attendance. Thor had been the aspiring ambitious warrior, a worthy discussion piece for his family while he seemed to wither in his brother’s shadow as the knowledge-hungry scholar.

Once he reached the hedge-lined corner he sat upon its old stone bench and stared through the hedges, lost in thought.

The hollowness in my life—the one she patched up so easily with her love and patience—is now torn open anew leaving my sincerity and patience and happiness to bleed out of me. What dressing could staunch such a shocking wound?

The whole of my past year’s joy destroyed.

My mortal life with her, my Rowan, and the long dream we shared is a nightmare to me now. Memories that once brought comfort bring only pain. A pain so sharp it hurts to breath, to speak, to think of her at all. But I must endure this pain. This is my punishment for sharing my trust.

The only way I will survive is to set my pain alight and push it into every dark corner of my being—a blazing beacon to fuel my revenge. I cannot change the past, but I cannot move forward until the power responsible is punished by my hand.

Odin claims I have grown, but I was a fool to think I could trust another and avoid the pain of loss. Her comfort was ripped away from me prematurely. I loathe her grievous fate to the core of my being. How is that for compassion, father?

Fate has wronged both of us, my beloved. And the power responsible for your death shall pay in kind should I die a thousand times to exact it. I will not fail. I have finally found my conviction, Rowan—it was you.

After hours of contemplation, his plan was ready. He arose patiently and created a gateway to an unknown world cloaked in the suffocating darkness of nightfall.

And so his mission of revenge began.

Author's note:
There's still a little more closure coming in the epilogue...