?

Log in

No account? Create an account
 
 
15 November 2018 @ 04:32 pm
The Ice Demon and the Red Skull 6  
Part Six



The helicarrier was impressive, certainly the biggest ship in the water that Steve had ever seen, as it filled the cockpit window on their approach. After landing, it felt oddly familiar to Steve, too. But it wasn't until another jet took off the flight deck that he realized why-- this was battle. Not the creeping spy stuff of the mission to find Braun, these were war planes and soldiers. He glanced at Lukas, but he was tense with anger over Red Skull and anxiety over a possible Shield betrayal, surrounded by strangers as they were.

So Steve stuck close to him, glad when Natasha came up to greet them. "You should've been in DC yesterday," she said, arms folded, eyebrows up in a question for explanation.

Lukas shrugged. "I wanted to see the city. I trust it's you who came up with the idea of jumping out of a moving aircraft?"

"You did tell me that you had no problem with heights," she retorted, eyes glinting, but then shook her head. "No, it was Coulson's plan, I just said I thought you could do it."

"At least I know who to thank," Steve said but couldn't quite finish as a slight, curly-headed man came up to them, looking all around.

"Doctor Banner," Natasha introduced, "Steve Rogers. Lukas Onsdag."

"Oh, um, good to meet you," Banner said, holding out his hand to shake Steve's and then peering at Lukas curiously. "I hear you're not from this planet? Is that true?"

"I hear you're going to help us find the tesseract, and you gave your psychiatrist superpowers," Lukas responded dryly. "I think you win."

Bruce chuckled, sounding uncomfortable. "Well, I don't know if it's winning, exactly. And you know about Doc Samson, so you know..."

He trailed off, and Steve was planning to say something polite about only caring about Banner's results, not his Hulk persona, but Lukas jumped in, "That you can turn into a powerful green monster? Yes, we know. Welcome to the club. Steven and I have meetings every Tuesday, we hope you can join us."

Banner blinked at him, looking flabbergasted, and Steve smacked his shoulder. "We like not being the only ones, Doc."

Natasha cleared her throat. "Gentlemen, we should move this inside. It's gonna get a little hard to breathe."

Confused, Steve exchanged a glance with Lukas, who shrugged. The announcement came over the intercom to secure the flight deck, as people scurried about and ducked inside the hatches.

Natasha headed for the door, and Lukas followed her, but Steve headed for teh side as a tremendously loud clanking noises from the side told him something else was happening.

Steve remembered what May had said about it being special and turned in disbelief. "Is this a submarine?"

Banner chuckled a little in disbelief. "Really, they want me in a submerged pressurized metal container?"

But Steve saw the giant propellers beneath them begin to spin, sucking the air downward, and his mouth dropped open as the impossible came true.

With a lurch, the carrier lifted into the air.

He heard Banner mutter, "Oh no, this is much worse."

Behind them Lukas laughed, amused that he was on yet another flying machine.








The first indication that something was wrong was the armed police officers appearing on the second level and swarming down the balcony. They shouted commands for silence and raised their guns and night-sticks in threatening display, while the revelers in their finery stirred in confusion. The musicians stopped playing, leaving a strange nervous silence.

The police continued down the staircase, ordering everyone into a group, as they looked around and their questions about what was going on were left unanswered.

"Why are their eyes so blue?" one woman asked.

All of these new police had blue eyes, and not the blue eyes of a northern european but strangely cobalt-tinged irises, regardless of their race.

Everyone realized something was wrong about them, and with that realization, thought maybe they weren't police at all, and started pushing for the exits. But they found 'police' at the doors, keeping them inside with gun barrels pointed at them.

Someone screamed, a thin wail of terror, and like magic, there was movement on the upper balcony. A black-clad figure appeared, and the police snapped to attention with a frightening simultaneous thump.

A couple of horrified gasps announced the recognition of the scarlet skin and the mal-formed demonic visage.

He held out his hands as if to quell wild applause. "Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Yes, I have returned. I bear glad tidings. I have seen the truth, and I come to bring it to you. Kneel!"

There was confused milling about until the police drew nearer and started to force the people to kneel. One by one they all did, until there was only one old man in the center who refused.

"You will not kneel, old man?"

"I remember you," the old man spat. "Red Skull. Schmidt. I will never kneel to your kind."

Schmidt leveled the glowing scepter in his hand at the man and fired. He was thrown backward, dead before he hit the floor, amid the sound of screams. But they all knelt down, huddled together in terror.

"Find me Schafer," Schmidt commanded and began to saunter down the steps as the police sorted through the prisoners.

A man in a suit was thrust forward, stumbling and bewildered. "What-- what is it you want from me?" he asked as Schmidt walked up to him.

"I admire other scientists," Schmidt said. "Will you join me, Herr Doktor Schafer?"

"Join you?" Schafer stuttered, shaking with fear. "In what? What is it you want? How are you back?"

"I was torn apart, professor. Such agony, you will never understand. But then I was reborn, in a dark part of the galaxy. Remade. And sent back to take my rightful place atop this world."

Schafer shook his head in incomprehension and fear, but Schmidt took it as a denial. "Ah, well, no matter. You have something I need, Professor."

"What?"

Schmidt's grin was like Satan smiling at the sinful. "Your eye." He grabbed Schafer by the necktie and hurled him to the surface of the marble funerary stone.

*


"Approaching the museum," Natasha reported. "There's a strong power signature inside, and-- damn it -- a crowd. Intel confirms a charity ball in progress."

A party full of innocent people. Just great.

"Ready to drop in five."

"You ready?" Steve asked Lukas who gave him a grim baring of teeth..

"Ready."

"GO!" Natasha ordered and they jumped.

The cold air rushed across his skin as he fell. He put the shield beneath him as he crashed through the skylight, Lukas just behind him.

Marble floors, of course. Does no one believe in wood anymore? he thought, as he smashed down into the bare floor and rolled amid the debris falling around him.

He was immediately under fire - high velocity rounds, and held up his shield to fend them off before seeing who it was.

Police. Well, shit. "Hey, Captain America here to see to your Red Skull--" he shouted, but they fired at him and he had to duck behind the shield.

"They're ensorcelled, Steven," Lukas called into a sudden silence. Steve peeked around his shield to watch.

Lukas straightened, drawing himself tall, without a shield. Steve tensed and then had to stare, as bullets slammed into him without effect. He did something with his hands and the ammunition inside the guns exploded in their hands, and even the most brainwashed had to drop his weapon.

"Ah, meinen Daimon, you have returned to witness my moment of triumpth!" A familiar horrfying voice and Steve looke up to see Schmidt off to the left, behind some sort of stone table.

Lukas was staring at him, his face colorless and eyes so wide Steve thought he wasn't seeing the museum at all. Whatever he'd said, he wasn't ready for this, not at all.

"Lukas! I've got him, you--"

Schmidt leveled the glowing jewel of the scepter at Lukas and before Steve could hurl the shield in the way, fired. Lukas was hurled through the air into the opposite wall.

"NO!" Steve yelled, then relieved to see Lukas stir. Two guards were on him then, with batons, and he had to take them down before whirling to see where Schmidt was.

"Could really use back up!" Steve hollered over the comm and vaulted the statue of the crouching lion in his way and went after Schmidt, while the party-goers scattered.

"Landing in the square," Natasha reported over the comm, and Steve grimaced. It might be too late by the time she got here.

Steve threw the shield to bank off the wall and ricochet into Schmidt's back, making him stagger from the unexpected direction. But then Steve was leaping on him, fists ready.

But Schmidt was powerful, using the scepter as a short bo staff right into Steve's midsection and he had to retreat, diving for the shield. Rolling, he was on his back, as Schmidt slammed the scepter on the shield and the force of it thew himself back.

That gave Steve space to flip himself up to his feet, keeping a bit of space between them. Schmidt was powerful, and Steve was wary of the glowing jewel at the end. And all he had to do was kill time for Lukas to get up and help.

"You will never defeat me, Captain," Schmidt said. "For I am a god."

"I know a god, and you're not him," Steve shot back. That infuriated Schmidt, who tried to stab him with the pointy end of the scepter and Steve barely managed to duck as he abruptly whirled it over to try to take off Steve's head.

Damn, he was fast.

But the shield saved him again, and Steve then used it as a bludgeon, forcing him back, until Schmidt bound it and wrenched it away to smash into a stone pedestal and send the bronze atop it to the floor. Steve picked up the cherub and threw it at Schmidt like a baseball, just to keep him back as he went for the shield.

He wondered where Lukas was, then Schmidt fired a blast from the scepter again at him. Steve braced, and the blast was deflected.

The shout "Go! Go now!" was Lukas' voice, but not to him and he glanced beneath the shield to see Lukas was ushering the crowd outside. He'd taken down some of the ensorcelled police, enough to clear the way, for the party-goers to rush toward the foyer.

Then Schmidt was on him again and Steve had to grab the haft of the scepter in both hands as it struck toward his neck. Jaw clenched, he held it back, even as Schmidt tried to force it closer.

The glare of the stone dazzled his eyes, and he felt some strange weakness flutter through his muscles, a temptation to give up, to surrender, to let go....

Yeah, I don't think so, asshole.

He let himself fall backward, abruptly relaxing, yanking on the scepter so Schmidt was pulled right off his feet, as they crashed to the floor. They rolled apart, and Steve looked for the shield, frantically. Or a gun, or something. Damn it, would this guy never go down?

Which was when the sound started, a heavy bass thrumming. Was that music?

"We've got company!" Natasha warned, only a few seconds before something golden crashed through the broken skylight and pulled up on a flash of energy blasts from boots and hands to hover in mid-air.

"Make a move, Tomatohead," the amplified voice warned over the music.

Schmidt, who hadn't managed to get to his feet, froze and lifted both hands in surrender. Steve didn't like that he seemed altogether too willing. He was over-matched now, and knew it, but still... it didn't sit right.

From his left, Lukas called, "Stark?"

Steve looked up, raising a hand, realizing this was Howard's kid. The metal suit covered him entirely like a second skin, but clearly was made with something very modern that glowed in the middle of his chest and in the rockets in each boot and gauntlet.

"Scraped another one off your boot, Onsdag?" Stark told him.

"I did," Lukas agreed, lips twisting in disgust. Walking nearer, he flipped the scepter with his foot into his hand. Then before Steve could stop him, he flipped the scepter and struck Schmidt across the face. The blow was forceful enought to send him to the floor.

"Lukas!" Steve exclaimed in shock. "He surrendered!"

But Lukas glared down at Schmidt unrepentant. "When we've squeezed you dry, your life is mine, you creature. You will regret that you came back to Midgard."

Steve couldn't disagree with that. "Let's go."








On the quinjet, Loki's hand clutched the scepter tightly and he glared at Schmidt, wishing his eyes were lasers to burn holes right through his foul flesh and murder him where he stood.

He wanted desperately to puncture that smug self-possession. Why was Schmidt so confident, heading off to be imprisoned and interrogated by his enemies? Even if he thought Shield was too soft to really hurt him, he should be concerned for Loki's revenge.

Unless... of course, he thought his Hydra pals were going to come to his rescue.

Loki’s lips lited in a smile and he chuckled to himself. “I see it now. You thought Hydra would come scurrying out of the walls like the cockroaches they are to carry you to conquest and victory. You expected they’d have bred to vast numbers in secret, awaiting your arrival. You didn’t know, you’re too late. I already drew out what few pathetic followers were around and crushed them. No one is coming, Schmidt. You’ve lost.”

“Lost, my demon?” Schmidt returned, not apparently bothered by either Loki’s words or the manacles around his hands. “I think not. Do I not have the strength of a god? I drunk of your power--”

Loki’s eyes sparked with rage, and he lunged for Schmidt, dagger suddenly in his hand.

“No!” Steve grabbed him by the arms and held on while he struggled, trying to get to Schmidt. “No, stop it, Don’t let him do this to you, stop it.” He shoved Loki back against the opposite bulkhead and held him, feeling his shake with fury, lips peeled back, and eyes still alight as he fought with his desire to kill Schmidt where he sat. “Lukas, no, not now. Don’t kill him. We need him alive.”

Behind, Tony said, “Alive isn’t really the same as unhurt, though.” Alarmed by the tone of his voice, Steve looked over his shoulder, not letting go of Lukas, to see Tony holding the repulsor of his suit in Schmidt’s face. “I think you can tank this and survive. It might even make you better looking. So you wanna try, or do you want to shut up?”

“Tony…"

“Spangles, let the m--,” Tony deliberately paused for ‘man’ and said instead, “freak answer. What’s it going to be, Tomatohead? Shutting the hell up or facial rearrangement?”

Schmidt didn’t really answer, but leaned back in his seat, lifting his bound hands in mute surrender.

Steve returned his attention to Loki’s face. He was glaring at Schmidt, chest still rising in deliberate deep breaths through his clenched teeth, but he gestured and the dagger vanished again. Steve gave him a last squeeze and let him go. “Hang in there,” he murmured. “Not much longer.”

Loki nodded and seemed to relax, but Steve didn’t quite trust that, moving with him as he went to sit as far forward, and away from Schmidt as he could, and held himself rigidly straight in the chair, as if to keep himslef from curling up. Steve glared at Schmidt, sorry that he was still sitting there untouched. It didn’t seem right, even if he agreed with all the reasons for it.

Tony didn’t move, remaining an armored deterrent near Schmidt.

Moments later, Loki’s head snapped upward, just as a bright flash lit the cabin through the front windows and a tremendous roar of thunder rattled the jet. Steve grabbed for one of the bulkhead bars to steady himself, and noticed Loki’s brow was furrowed. Steve tried to distract him from his fear of flying, teasing, “Not worried about some lightning are you?”

Remarkably, Loki’s lips curved in a smirk, “Not at all. Just annoyed by what comes after.”

A heavy thump on the roof sent the jet down, and Natasha shouted, “oH hell!”

The back ramp opened, cold air swirling in, followed by… a big guy, bare arms, long blond hair, a red cape billowing behind him, and a big metal hammer in one hand.

His gaze went straight to Loki first. “Brother, I’m here to assist you!” he called. Calling Loki his brother meant this was Thor. Somehow. THor was here.

He was impressive enough, armor-like shirt across shoulders and a chest that made Steve feel suddenly twelve and skinny again. “Man of Iron! Lady Natasha!” he bellowed at her. “Well met again!” But then his gaze found Schmidt, and his face transformed with rage. “And you - creature of darkness. You will suffer the wrath--” In two steps he had a big hand wrapped around Schmidt’s throat. “Why do you have this creature yet alive?” he demanded furiously. “You who tormented my brother, did you think you would not pay for that offense to the sons of Odin, you bildgesnipe?”

“Thor, no, wait--” Steve blurted, but Thor glared at him dismissively, hustled Schmidt out the back and dropped from the plane.

Tony glanced at Loki afterward and mocked lightly, “No, Thor. Don’t.’ Thanks for the help. I’m going after them -- at least some of us are interested in saving the planet.” He snapped the face shield down and in a blast of repulsors, was gone.

“Natasha, swing around, we’ll drop on them,” Steve called up front. “C’mon, Lukas, we can jump wherever they end up. Your brother seemed intent on killing him.”

Loki didn’t stand up. “I see no reason to save him. Let Thor do as he will against Schmidt. Better late than never,” he added bitterly.

“Lukas!” Natasha snapped. “He knows where Clint is. We’re going after them. I have Stark on lidar, ready to go in twenty.”

“Come on, buddy,” Steve held out his arm. “You know it’s the right thing to do.”

Loki looked back, eyes cold. “He dies, Steven. I will not let him escape again.”

“Understood.”

Loki clasped his arm and they hurried to the ramp, waiting for Natasha’s go ahead.

He held Steve’s arm as they jumped, and at first Steve didn’t understand why, but the air rippled and his sense of falling shifted. They fell, but strangely, without feeling the ground rushing up to them, almost as if there was a parachute slowing their descent.

But they weren’t high so the ground came up fast, and Steve spotted the flash of Stark’s suit to the left.

“What are they doing?” Loki demanded.

They were fighting, obviously. Stark was trying to stop Thor from killing Schmidt. Steve ripped out of Loki’s grip and went back into normal falling pulling out th shield to break his fall.

Tumbling past some tree branches, he rolled on the landing, coming up with shield in hand and started running toward the fight.

Thor got a good grip and hurled Tony into a the trees with a crash, but just as he launched his hammer, Steve threw the shield to intercept.

The bang was tremendous, as the two smashed together -- the shockwave put even Thor and Schmidt both on their ass, and Steve stumbled back, hand up to sheild his eyes.

Lukas touched down in the aftermath, light as a feather, and put the point of the scepter against Schmidt's throat. "Don't move," he warned. The gem in the end glowed with dire threat. Without taking his eyes from Schmidt, he said, "Thor, if you are quite finished, we have work that you interrupted."

"Loki," Thor got to his feet, dusted himself off, and approached. He seemed remarkably untouched by having taken the full blast of Tony's gauntlet. "Why would you save this... creature?"

"Well, that's a question you should have asked before you tried to kill him, isn't it?" Loki responded coldly.

Steve retrieved the shield and gave Tony a hand to help him back to his feet. Groaning, Tony said, "You hit like a ton of bricks, Goldilocks."

Thor ignored him. "Brother --"

Loki narrowed his eyes. "What are you doing here?"

"Heimdall spied this creature with his allies," Thor tilted a head at Schmidt. "Father sent me to assist you."

Steve smiled, happy to hear that Loki's family was taking steps to meet with him again, remembering how bitter Loki had been about their abandonment during the war.

"Did he?" Loki was not impressed. "How good of him to notice this time. But I have no need of your help." He poked the tip of the scepter into Schmidt's throat, causing him to flinch, and that finally won a satisfied smirk from him. "Get up. I trust the quinjet is near? Steven, if you and Tony would guard him? I find myself entirely too tempted to take his head off."

"Loki--" Thor tried again as Tony held out his repulsors in threat at Schmidt, and the quinjet circled for a landing to the west.

When Loki ignored him, Thor put a hand on his shoulder, which Loki promptly dislodged.

Thor looked hurt and confused. "I -- came to help you, brother, why--"


“What are you doing?” Loki demanded furiously. “Why are you even here?”

“We thought to help--”

“I didn’t ask for your help!” Loki retorted and spun on his heel to stalk several paces away, chest heaving while he tried to control his temper.

“Heimdall saw the portal,” Thor explained behind him. “Mother saw that villain. He is allied with the Chitauri, Loki, and others no one can see.”

Loki glanced back over his shoulder, sneering in contempt. “So you thought to kill him with that question unanswered. Brilliant as usual.”

“That cretin harmed you--”

“Yes, I know that. I was there. You were not.” He conjured a blade and hurled at the boulder to Thor’s left where it shattered. “You have no right to take my vengeance from me!”

Thor flinched violently as if he’d thought the blade was sent at him, but after a moment, his shoulders relaxed and he said, his voice more thoughtful, “No, I do not. You’re right. I reacted to his presence, when I should not have.”

Loki listened to the little speech, more than a little surprised. Where had this new Thor come from? A reluctant smile flickered on Loki’s lips. “You just said I’m right. It may be a miracle.”

“You are the one who never agrees I’m right,” Thor objected.

“Because you never are.” But Loki’s lightened mood passsed and he sighed. “Let’s go back and leave Schmidt to me.”

Thor clasped his shoulder. “Before that, I would have you know that Father sent me to your aid. They want to make amends.”

The mention made his chest tighten, that chill rage rising again. Loki twisted free. “Is that what they want?” he asked, voice cold. "Were you bid to retrieve me, or the tesseract?"

Thor’s inability to lieserved as enough confirmation as Loki walked away, and a bitter smile flashed. Of course All-Father wanted the tesseract back. “Helping Loki” was Thor’s reasoning, not Odin’s. Odin had stopped caring about his adopted son long ago, if he ever had in the first place. The child of his enemy, a freak of foreign blood, a hostage against Laufey and Jotunheim, and a weapon against his enemies, yes, that was allowed, but son? No, Thor held that place, and Loki was done trying to find a way to fit.

Walking back the short distance to where Steven and Stark had Schmidt between them, let him calm down. Thor followed, noticeably walking himself rather than using Mjolnir, though whether that was because he was himself too upset to bother or in some sort of misdirected penance, Loki didn’t know and didn’t especially care.

They all piled on the plane, with Schmidt eyeing Thor with a pleasing wariness. Thor folded his arms, Mjolnir hanging ready, and glowered at Schmidt.

Loki passed through to the cockpit where he took the co-pilot seat next to Natasha. “We’re aboard.”

She glanced at him as the engined warmed. “You good to go?”

He shrugged. “The sooner we get him to interrogation the better.” He glanced aft, and murmured, “He’s a little too comfortable with all this.”

“You think this is part of a plan?”

"Oh, I know it's a part of his plan," Loki said. "But what it gains him to be our prisoner I can only guess."

"Distraction?" she asked, tilting her head thoughtfully. "We have him, not the tesseract. It's with Doctor Selvig and Barton."

She said the name evenly but he touched her shoulder. "We will get him back, Natalya."

"Yes, we will." Her voice was stone-cold promise, but her fingers brushed his to thank him for the reassurance.



In the carrier, they watched as Fury escorted Schmidt to the cell with a platoon of well-armed guards on the screen set into the conference table in the control deck.

"He seems charming," Banner said with dry sarcasm.

"He should be dead," Steve said. "Of anyone from that time I'd like to be alive, he's at the bottom of the list."

"Rats will find a way," Lukas said. He wasn't watching the screen, but looking at the scepter in his hand with an intensity Steve had only seen when he'd been with Wanda.

"What is it?" Natasha asked him. "Have you seen it before?"

"I have not," Lukas answered. "Thor?"

"If you have not, how should I?" Thor asked. He folded his arms and glared at the image on the screen as Fury sealed Schmidt into the cylinder.

"It was a foolish question, yes," Lukas said, but absently. "I want to know where this came from. It is a powerful artifact, with a signature beyond nearly everything I have ever seen before."

Fury and Schmidt exchanged barbs and when Fury left, Banner turned off the monitor.

"He's going to drag this out," Steve said. "What's his play?"

"He has an army, the Chitauri, not of this world or of Asgard," Thor said. "He intends, it seems, to rule this world in exchange, I think, for the tesseract."

Lukas' fingers of his free hand hovered over the stone without touching it.. "Chitauri," he murmured. "HIve mind, if I recall. Foot soldiers."

Steve folded his arms. "An army, from outer space." That was just great. A chill slipped down his spine, recalling that Lukas had said something dark was coming. He had known.

"So, he's building another portal," Banner pointed out. "That's what he needs Selvig for."

Thor turned on him. "Erik Selvig? What has Schmidt done with him?"

"Put him, and Barton under--" Natasha started.

"Thrall," Lukas interrupted. "Which is quite startling as Schmidt had the magical training of a rock when last I saw him. So he learned how to utilize this," he laid a finger on the stone, the light brightening and glinting in his eyes eerily, "to strip away their will in some fashion."

"Can you undo it?" Natasha asked.

Lukas gave a dry laugh. "I think the question is what I cannot do with this, Natalya."

"Can you tell us what he's planning?" Steve asked. "Beause he let us take him."

"Give me ten minutes with him, and I will," Lukas promised.

Hill shook her head, arms folded. "This is too personal to you. I get it, I do, but you'll hurt him."

"He deserves as much," Thor objected.

"He does, but that's not who we are," she insisted.

Lukas glanced at her, eyes narrowed in irritation. "Your traitors learned it somewhere, Commander, so I would not be so certain of that if i were you."

She grimaced, but didn't argue. Banner interjected, "Isn't the important part the iridium? That's what he attacked Schafer to get, we know that now. But what is that for?"

"Stabilizing the reaction," a voice behind them announced, and Steve turned to see Coulson walk in with Tony Stark. Stark was in civilian clothes now, not his Iron Man suit, and Steve could see a little resemblance to Howard especially in the way he prowled around the deck and made a nuisance of himself. But Steve lost the thread of the conversation in the physics discussion; at least Banner had a science friend. It reminded him of Lukas teaching Bucky science in a bar with toothpicks and olives.

Stark sidled up beside Lukas. "C'mon, then."

Lukas seemed startled to be included. "Me? I know little of your science, Stark."

"Maybe, but you know the glowstick. So let's get to work."

Lukas hesitated, glancing with a set jaw at the now-empty viewing screen, perhaps thinking of someone he would rather be interrogating. But then he looked up, flashing a smile as he twirled the scepter. "Yes. Let us end this farce as soon as possible."

* * *

to part seven