- *No Site Warnings Apply
- Canon Divergent
Tony woke with a migraine. It started behind his eyes and traveled up back to his spine where it seemed to take up residence at the base of his skull. There was a soft beep of a heart monitor nearby. He could hear a reporter speaking from a monitor farther away.
“Reports are coming in from all over the globe,” the woman was saying. “Dozens if not hundreds of men and women who previously had been designated as latent are suddenly coming online and sentinels and guides. The Sentinel Guide World Council had yet to make any sort of statement, but this reporter has been told by members of the SGWC that their care and training facilities have been overwhelmed by the sudden influx of cases.
Many have speculated that the events in New York City was the triggering factor,” she continued. “But since it appears that they threat is over, what would this sudden mass emergence even accomplish. One expert speculated that this may be a harbinger of things to come.”
“Thank you, Martha, and now the weather.”
“Jarvis, turn that off,” Tony muttered.
“Tony! Oh my god,” Pepper gasped. “You’re awake.”
“Shhh,” Tony said putting his finger to his lips. “Not so loud.”
“Right, sorry,” Pepper said more quietly. “Jarvis said you were having sensory problems. You never said…”
“I was latent,” Tony said rubbing his eyes, trying to ease the pain. “I figured, if Afghanistan didn’t trigger me, nothing would.”
“You’re not the only one,” Pepper said. “People are coming online all over the world. I’ve been trying to get a hold of the SGWC branch here in New York, but the phones are overwhelmed.”
“Don’t bother,” Tony sighed. “There isn’t anything they can do for me.”
“Wha-what do you mean?” Pepper asked. “They can put a search together, find you a guide. That’s what they’re their for.”
“Its not that simple, Pep,” Tony said. Tony pulled himself into a sitting position, his head throbbed at the action. “Jarvis, start a search for a secret society of magic wielders. Top priority.”
“Right away, Sir,” Jarvis replied. One of the many monitors began scrolling data too fast for a normal person to read.
“Tony what are you talking about?” Pepper demanded, her voice rising. “Why are you searching for people with magic, instead of looking for a guide?”
“I know who my guide it,” Tony said, wincing at her voice. It had always been something he’d loved about her. Now though, with his hearing so sensitive, it grated on his nerves. “Considering who it is, I think its for the best that you want to call it off.”
“Call what off?” Pepper blinked and her expression grew mournful as she figured it out. “Oh, right. Bonded pairs tend to have intimate relationships.” She covered her face with her hands. “I guess it’s lucky you know them already.” She paced the room. “This is all happening so fast.” She turned to look at him. “Who is she?”
“He,” Tony corrected.
“He?” Pepper’s eyes widened. She took a deep breath. “Right. I guess I should start preparing for the headlines.”
“Pepper,” Tony sighed. “This is going to be messy. My guide is far away right now, and if I don’t find a way to get to him or get him back here, I’m going slowly lose my mind.”
“I’ve heard of bond strain,” Pepper said. “But, you’re Ironman, you can just fly to wherever they are, can’t you?”
“Not when they aren’t on the same planet,” Tony replied.
“Are you trying to tell me that Thor is your guide?” Pepper asked, incredulously.
“Wrong brother,” Tony said softly.
“Wrong broth- Are you out of you mind!” Pepper shrieked. “The guy that just tried to take over the planet! You’re saying he is your guide.”
“Yes, Pepper,” Tony shouted back, ignoring the spike in his headache. “You think I don’t know how completely fucked up this is? You think I haven’t questioned myself every second since I realized it?” He ran his fingers through his messy hair. “I felt it, the second when made skin contact. It was like touching a live wire.”
“That was why you passed out after Thor and Loki left,” Pepper said slowly. “Bond strain?”
“Yeah,” Tony admitted. “A couple hundred thousand light-years worth. The only good thing is that apparently the branches of Yggdrasil seem to be giving us some leeway.”
“The what?” Pepper stared at him.
“Never mind,” Tony waved her off. “I’ll explain later. Right now, I need to find a way to get to Asgard. Loki gave me a clue, but we were cut off before he could tell me everything.”
“How can you trust him?” Pepper demanded. “After everything that happened.”
“I know you’re not going to believe me,” Tony said. “But Loki wasn’t the one ultimately behind the invasion. He was coerced into doing it by someone else.”
“Did he tell you that?” Pepper asked skeptically.
“He didn’t need to,” Tony said. “I saw it. Felt it. What you saw in the footage, isn’t the real Loki.”
“So you’re saying he’s innocent?” Pepper asked.
“No, far from it,” Tony replied. “But he isn’t evil.” He sighed. “He might have a thousand years more practice, but I’m pretty sure I have as much, if not more, blood on my hands than he does.”
Pepper covered her mouth with her hand, her eyes wide. “You can’t mean that.”
“I do,” Tony replied. “I’m doing the right thing now. I’m defending the people, I’m destroying my father’s legacy of weapons manufacturing. That doesn’t negate the years I spent partying at the with the money I made.”
“You were doing what you thought was right,” Pepper retorted.
“Don’t,” Tony held up a hand. “I know what I was like. I didn’t care, not really. I never checked to make sure that the company was following its own mandate. I assumed all was well. It took staring death in the face, watching those soldiers get mowed down with my weapons to open my eyes to the truth.”
“You’re determined to do this aren’t you,” Pepper sighed.
“I am,” Tony replied.
“Alright,” Pepper nodded. “I’ll contact our lawyers about a defense for him, for when you bring him back here.” She turned and headed out of the workshop, her face carefully blank.
“Thank you, Pepper,” Tony called, even as he felt his stomach drop. He didn’t say anything, but he knew there was a chance that, assuming he could even get to Loki, the chances of bringing him back to Earth were slim. He waited until she left before he turned back to the keyboard on the work station. “Jarvis, time to update my will.”
“Of course, Sir,” Jarvis replied, his tone a lower register, indicating he was not happy.
It hadn’t taken long, mere hours really, for Loki to be deemed recovered enough to stand before the All-Father. He was taken from the healers hall, in chains, surrounded by half a dozen of Asgard’s elite warriors. He nearly laughed as the disregard and disgust he could feel pouring off of them in waves. Eir had objected of course, but women were rarely listened to when it came to matters of state. Even the lauded Eir, royal healer, only had so much power when compared to the king of the gods.
The doors to the great hall opened and the guard in front yanked on the chains causing Loki to stumble at the threshold. It was an old trick, used to humiliate the one coming before the All-Father. Make them stumble, even better if they fall to their knees. Show the court how week this enemy of the people really was in the face of Asgard’s greatness.
Loki may have stumbled, but he would not show weakness here, not before the noble lords. Not before the Warriors Three and Sif, who stood close to the dais, in a place of honor. Not in front of Queen Frigga, though she looked as close to tears as he’s ever seen her. Certainly not in front of Odin, in all his gold regalia.
Chained as he was, bands of Uru around his neck, wrists, and ankles, he could barely move, but he was not muzzled, which meant they expected him to speak. A grin spread across his face, even as he narrowed his eyes at the king of Asgard. If they wanted him to speak, he would not disappoint.
“Loki, Prince of Asgard,” Odin said and his stood before the crowd. “You stand accused of treason, of attempting to usurp the throne, and the attempted genocide of an entire planet. What do you have to say in your defense?”
“Am I allowed to speak freely,” Loki asked. “Or is there a script you wish me to follow?”
“Loki,” Frigga said in a soft pleading voice. “Don’t.”
“Don’t? My Queen?” Loki asked with a short bow. “Don’t what? Make things worse?”
“Have a care how you speak,” Sif snarled her hand going to her sword.
“Let me answer the All-Father’s accusations one at a time, shall I?” Loki stared at Odin. “To the first, treason against Asgard. Assume you refer to the Jotun that entered the treasure vault during Thor’s coronation ceremony? Oh, I freely admit I did that.” The crowd muttered behind him. “And look what happened, Thor threw a temper tantrum and nearly started a war, all because of his wounded pride. It is ironic that our gatekeeper was not punished for allowing him use the BiFrost. Thor would not have been able get himself and his best friends nearly killed without him looking the other way.”
“To the second,” Loki spoke over the growing din. “Attempt to usurp the throne? I was the rightful regent, Frigga herself gave me Gungir when the All-Father feel into his Odin-Sleep. Thor was banished and had not yet earned the right to return. If anyone is guilty of anything during my, admittedly short reign, it is the Warriors Three and Sif. They swore their loyalty to the throne and yet at the first opportunity, they betrayed it, by running to Midgard, determined to bring Thor back and replace me, by force if necessary.”
“As to the last,” Loki shook his head. “I admit to my attempt to destroy Jotunhiem with the power of the BiFrost. That I do regret doing and I will carry the weight of those lives I took with me the rest of my life. But I was regent at the time, I had every right to punish them for their attempted assassination of the All-Father.”
Waves of confusion ran through the audience at his words. He winced at the anger pointed at him, for how dare he try to justify his actions.
“How were my actions then any sort of attack against Asgard?” Loki demanded. “If anything I should be sent to Jotunhiem to face their wrath for killing their king and kin. But perhaps you fear that I would not be punished at all. After all, I am not and Odinson. Not by blood.”
“Loki,” Frigga took a step forward, her eyes widened. “Don’t.”
“Don’t what, Queen Frigga?” Loki smiled tightly. “Don’t tell the truth that you have hidden from everyone for over a thousand year?”
“Silence!” Odin roared.
“I will not,” Loki roared back. “You took me from my home, from my people. You never once let anyone suspect who and what I was. Hiding the secret like it was something to be ashamed of. Teaching me form as far back as I remember that the Jotun were monsters that devoured children if they misbehaved.”
He channeled his natural shape-shifted ability making his skin return to its natural blue, his eyes bleeding from green to red. The chains could not keep him from doing this much at least.
“I am the son of King Laufey of Jotenhiem. I killed my own flesh and blood trying to prove my worth to you all. What did it get me? Nothing. I am as reviled now as the day before Thor’s coronation. Now they have justification for their hatred. What is worse is that I despise the very flesh on my body.”
Frigga covered her mouth with her hand, her eyes bright with tears, yet she said nothing. Thor stared in open horror. His hand gripping his hammer tight enough to make his knuckles white.
“You should be grateful that I brought took you,” Odin shouted. “You had been abandoned. you would have died had I not.”
“You took me from my home,” Loki shouted back. “From a temple of the ancestors. Not left to die in the wilderness.”
“You can not know what they intended,” Odin said back.
“Neither can you,” Loki shot back. “You claimed to love me, yet you never once thought that I might benefit from knowing the truth.” Loki looked at his mother and cackled in realization. “Was I another hostage then? Like Frey and Frigga had been all those centuries past. Taken from their home by your father Bor, forced into roles created for them. You force with both Vanahiem and Alfhiem by making Frey as a puppet king and Frigga as your wife.”
“How dare you,” Odin shouted. He slammed Gungin into the ground. “You will be silent.”
“I will not!” Loki shouted back. “Because while you were conquering the Nine Realms to appears your blood-lust, the greatest enemy the Nine has ever faced has been building his forces. The Mad Titan Thanos is coming and his forces are in the hundreds of thousands. He will paint Midgard red with blood and then he will come for you.”
“You lie,” Odin grated out.
“Who do you think pulled me from the Void?” Loki asked. “He is coming for Asgard and when he is done, he will set his sights on the rest of the universe.”
“Guards,” Odin shouted. “Take him to a cell, he shall be given time to contemplate the error of his ways.”
“That’s right, All-Father,” Loki sneered. “Deny my words, pretend your house of cards is not crumbling at its very foundation. I expect nothing less from a man who had lied to everyone for thousands of years.”
Loki only put up a token resistance until he was out of sight. He left them drag him to a cell in the dungeon and allowed himself to finally collapse once he was securely inside. He slide down the inside wall, chuckling mirthlessly.
Tony stepped off the jet at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Nepal. He had done a lot of discrete inquiries into the nature of the secrete society of mystics that called Kamar-Taj their home. He had been worried that he was going to end up dealing with people that abandoned all technology. It was with a great deal of relief that Jarvis was able to not only find their WiFi network, but a database that while simple by his standards was out of date by only a couple years.
He had Jarvis send an email to the leader of the group, someone called The Ancient One, requesting an audience. He had been pleasantly surprised to receive a reply less than an hour later agreeing to the meeting.
Tony had decided to dress down for the meeting, only wearing a gray silk business suit and the new MK-10 suit on standby inside the jet. It was his latest design and it was the only suit with an exo-system designed to handle the vacuum of space. He didn’t know if he would need it, but he wasn’t going to take any chances after seeing in person the other side of the wormhole.
He was met at the private terminal by two men in robes.
“Welcome, Mr Stark,” the taller of the two said. “I am Mordo, and this is Kaecilius.” Both men bowed.
“Thank you for meeting me,” Tony replied. “I wasn’t sure what my reception would be.”
“The Ancient One was intrigued by your request,” Kaecilius replied. “As am I. I was unaware we were so easily discovered.” He motioned for Tony to follow them as he pulled out a two fingered ring.
“The only reason I even knew to look is that I was given a clue by someone with a lot of knowledge on the subject,” Tony shook his head. “My AI Jarvis was able to find you pretty quickly, but only because he has unfettered access to every database on the planet.”
“That is quite a boast, Mr. Stark,” Mordo replied. “I’m not sure I’m all that comfortable with a computer that is that powerful.”
“Not to sound skeptical,” Kaecilius said. “But is it wise to allow an artificial intelligence that kind of power?” He made a spinning gesture with his hands and a ring of sparks appeared in front of them.
“Jarvis is both proud and offended to be compared to Skynet,” Tony said. His eyes grew wide as he saw a stone courtyard that was completely different architecture than their current location.
Mordo turned to him. “It is perfectly safe.”
“Right,” Tony huffed. “I’ve just recently had a bad experience with a wormhole. You’ll for give my hesitance.”
“Of course,” Mordo replied. “Please allow me to demonstrate.” He stepped through and held out a hand to Tony.
“Thank you,” Tony sighed as he stepped. He actually felt his ears pop from the change of air pressure. He took a moment to deal with the changes of smell and the complete lack of city noise in this new place. “Wow.”
“It is but one of many mysteries of Kamar-Taj,” Kaecilius said as he stepped through behind them and closed the portal with a simple gesture. “Please follow us.”
Tony walked through the courtyard that had about a dozen people of varying ethnicity. Though a elegant looking stone garden to a low roofed building that smelled of sandalwood and myrrh. There sitting in front of a small table was a woman in gold robes reading a text.
“Ancient One,” Tony bowed. “Thank you for agreeing to speak with me.”
“Your message intrigued me,” she said with a small smile. “You claim to be a sentinel, newly awoken and desperate to find a way to your guide.”
“That is true,” Tony replied. He wasn’t sure if he should try to sit or kneel or stay standing. The Ancient One stood, negating the need to make that choice.
“I would look at you,” she said coming around the table to stand mere inches away.
“Okay,” Tony said. “Whatever you need, I’m game.”
She touched his forehead with her thumb as she also touched his temple with her index finger on her right hand. They stared into each others eyes and Tony felt the tiniest hint of the vast amount of power that the woman held. Then she let go and turned away, walking back to her small table and kneeling before it, the book opened before her.
“Mr. Stark,” She began looking immensely tired. “You are the most fortunate of unfortunate men.”
“Um, thank you?” Tony said, uncertainly.
“You have seen the best and worst of humanity,” she said. “You have been through the fires and come out cleansed. Reforged into the Ironman. Now you have been awoken to the legacy of your bloodline after seeing a threat, not just to humanity, but to all of existence. As Sorcerer Supreme, I understand the burden you now carry.”
She turned the page on the book in front of her to show a nearly prefect illustration of a golden structure that could have been a castle. Ages ago, when I was but a young student, my teacher showed me the limits of one of our greatest tools, the sling ring.” She reached into her robes and pulled out a ring similar to the one that Kaecilius had used. “He took me to a world beyond my imagination. It was only for a moment, but I can get you to Asgard. From there you will have to find your princely guide on your own.”
“Thank you.” Tony said, relief so great he felt like he might faint. “I’m not sure how to repay you for this.”
“A new computer network wouldn’t hurt,” someone said behind them.
Tony didn’t bother turning. “Hey, I’ll put the order in right now if you’d like, just let me know where you want it delivered.”
“If you send it to 177a Bleeker Street in Greenwich Village,” the man said coming to stand in his line of sight. “I’m Master Wong, I’m the closest we have to an IT specialist at the moment.”
“You can work out the details later,” The Ancient One said. “Prepare yourself for your journey, Mr. Stark. When you are ready, I will send you on your way.”
end part 3