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15 November 2018 @ 04:56 pm
The Ice Demon and the Red Skull 8  
Part eight




He froze. His muscles locked up and he couldn’t move, only stare at Schmidt.

… The electric prod held against his flesh, again and again, to weaken him, needles and blades, fingers touching him worse because they carried no pain only humiliation…

His heart was thudding in his chest, as if it was trying to escape, but he still couldn’t move.

Time slowed… a strange light fell upon everything and between one heart beat and the next, the Norns parted Time for him and showed him what they had only shown him a sliver of before...


The strangely curved spear slams right into his upper abdomen, stopping breath and heart for the shock of it.

No, no, no, not like this, you gutter roach, not like this,

From inches, Schmidt bared his teeth in a terrifying triumphant grin, while Loki wanted to hit him, use a dagger, something, and couldn’t move anythnig.

“You lose, my demon. You will always lose.”

A sudden tremendous roar shook the floor, and Loki forced his gaze up as Hulk crashed through the back side wall. Big blue eyes found Schmidt and Loki, and he roared again, somehow seeming to grow even larger, bounding toward them.

Schmidt yanked the scepter out, the agony blinding, running through Loki’s whole body like white flame.

Awareness returned and he found himself on the floor, Hulk looking down at him, alarmed.

“Get him,” Loki whispered and that didnt’ even seem to cross his lips. He tried to find a better breath. “Get him, Bruce.”

HUlk roared again and leaped away, smashing the rest of the glass of the window as he went after Schmidt.

That left Loki on the floor, alone. Bleeding out, dying…

But he could see what would follow… If Loki died here, Schmidt would continue to victory as the Chitauri advanced.

He sees the military counter-attack to little avail as the giant beasts tear the city apart.

He sees Natasha fall, exhausted from fighting to her last breath. He sees Clint plummet as a building crumbles beneath him and no one is there to catch him. He sees Steve wounded, dragged before Schmidt who touches him with the scepter to make him a slave.

Thor tries to call in help from Asgard and is cut down by a blast to the head, and when only Hulk is left, another giant being, this one of blue armor and heavy step, comes through the portal and takes the tesseract in his gauntleted fist. As Hulk burns, the world burns with it, Wanda and Pietro, and Erik, and Arendelle, turn to ash. The gardens of Asgard turn to dust and blow away while the dead lay in uncounted rows, side by side, in horrifying tapestry.

His soul shrinks away from this revelation, he tries to turn away, not see it, but the vision is merciless. This is what is to come; this is the future awaiting the universe on this path.

And in the silence he shouts: “What is it you want of me? What must I do?”

But he knows the answer already as he now understands what they meant to show him at the pool, clumsy as they had been.

They didn't want evil from him. Not darkness. But change. They wanted him to take this doom and alter it. He was the only one who could.

But first, fight.

Time returned, the light shifted back to normal. Loki raised his face to Red Skull, as old fear lifted away from him.

His clothing shifted with his mood, armor and helm forming. Schmidt’s eyes widened as, for the first time, he started to understand the power now against him.

He wrapped one bare hand around the blade at his chest, tighter, the edge cut into his flesh but he ignored the pain to tighten his grip around the stone within.

The power rushed through him, and he saw what lay within the glow. A tiny yellow stone.

Oh....

Oh yes.

Schmidt had some training to use the scepter, but he was no sorcerer. He didn't have centuries of instruction by the queen of Asgard and the eldest dragon in the Nine Realms.

"NO!" Panic flared in his eyes, and Loki rejoiced to see it, at last. It gave him strength to push harder. Schmidt resisted, but the barrier to try to keep Loki out burned like paper and was gone.

In an instant, he was in Schmidt's mind, an unstoppable wave of fire.

He saw... a childhood of cruelty, tormenter and tormented. A towering intelligence twisted by an insatiable appetite for control, for power.

He saw flashes of his own torture by Schmidt's hands, felt his glee at this prey he'd trapped.

Not this... Loki pushed again, searching. Show me your master, show me who pulls your strings, puppet.

It was locked behind another wall, but Loki tore it down.

"Do you give yourself to Thanos?"

"You will long for something as sweet as pain..."

Schmidt screaming and screaming, pleading 'end it!"

So Loki did.

Schmidt fell, dead before he hit the ground.

Loki held the scepter in his good hand, the other dripping with blood, and looked down at the body. STrange, revenge should be more satisfying.

But it was done. even if by some miracle Schmidt were to come back to life, his mind had been scoured clean. There was nothing left.

Red Skull was, finally, dead.

*

After that, it was a relatively simple matter of using the scepter and the gem within it, to break the forcefield around the tesseract and shut down the portal.

Once the portal was closed, Loki realized the scepter was all that remained to control the Chitauri and he ended the link so they all stopped and dropped dead. The others took care of the last leviathan, Hulk and Thor tearing it open and Iron Man planting several explosives inside.

It blew up over Central Park and Loki did not envy the clean up crew as alien biohazard rained down.

The elevator door opened and quick familiar footsteps came across the floor. She paused at the sight of Red Skull's corpse, then joined him at the balcony.

"Hey," she murmured.

He glanced at her and smiled. "Hey."

"We won. Didnt' we?"


He cast his gaze out to the wreckage, hearing the sirens down below, and for a moment had to wonder. He thought about what the gem in his grasp represented, and a future that still might happen if he didn't prevent it. But still, today? He nodded. "We won."

"Are you hurt? You're bleeding." She lifted his right hand in hers to examine his palm. He grimaced a bit as she touched the wound that was still healing.

"That's what happens cutting yourself to the bone. Not recommended," he added dryly. "It'll be healed in a few more minutes."

"Should we go down and help?" she asked.

"Probably," he answered, but didn't move. "This wasn't the darkness. Schmidt was but an emissary of the one beyond him."

She blinked but otherwise did not react; she was probably not surprised at all. At his glance, she gave a shrug. "There's always a bigger fish."

He caught the reference and had to smile. "Indeed there is. We will not be unprepared. But, I suppose it isn't going to happen today, so we should do our duty. Help. Be seen and offer reassurance that this battle is over."

"Be seen?" she echoes. "I'm a spy."

His smile was warm. "Not today, Natalya. Today you've become an Avenger. No more shadows for you."

"Damn it," she muttered, and he laughed.

"Let's go find Steven. I'm sure he has three news people at his feet already."

That made her laugh. Neither of them looked at the corpse on the floor as they headed back to the elevator.

In the lobby of Stark Tower, he saw the others: Steven, Thor, Iron Man, Barton... even the Hulk was there, watching the journalists gather.

Loki thought about changing his armor, but then decided to stay as he was. The Ice Demon was back, and it was time all of Midgard knew it.


the end.