Rating: T (adult language)
Heads up!: This fiction contains adult language, all things sciency, witty banter, and possibly some slash (but not for some time...I think) so if this offends you, turn away. Now.
I mean it.
Warnings: For this chapter; none.
I would like to start with a shout out to the amazing, talented, magnificent, exquisite, lovely, charming, delightful, winsome, divine being known as avengurl. She has been nothing but a huge helping hand in the making of this story through the process of rants, character studies, half-ass brainstorming and editing. You are all, and more, of the aforementioned traits, and I cannot express my thankfulness in words.
It had been fated since the beginning of time. All would witness the change of allegiance and forgery of treatises, for the bringer of the end is o'er the horizon. Such had been fated since the beginning of time.
Those of the living would turn against their kin; the skies would turn to dark and the ground to fire. Yggradsil would burn to sulfurous ash and there would be nothing.
Yet, it would begin anew.
Ginnungagap would spew forth a new tree from its darkest depths and beings would be created once more; man following giants, elves and gods. The balance of magic would be restored, distributed equally throughout the realms: dark and light, and the countless wars calling for the pecking order to be established would commence as they did an eon ago. Kingdoms forged and felled, blood spilled and life created. Mindless slaughter and gainful manipulation would take place the eerie stillness of initial creation, writing out the next prophecy to be carried forth. The Norns would weave away tirelessly, keeping time with the expansion of life. Snipping and knotting and tying and burning, they would control and create all for nothing was possible without the hand of fate and the guidance of destiny.
It was the way things happened, much like Newton's Law of Inertia. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. And much like Murphy's law, anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Just like said laws, the impossible is possible and when it happens all that can go wrong will. And just like any other rule, there are exceptions. When Odin held the Jotun babe in his hands, he knew just how wrong things could go. He knew how this small babe could grow up to be a monster just like his father; how he could accidentally awaken the delicate powers deep within him, unleashing the powers of creation and destruction; the power of chaos.
When Frigga gave unto her youngest son the most ancient tomb of magic the realm had to offer and the instruction of herself, she knew how horrible of a turn Loki's life could take. She knew how he could be ridiculed, how he might have to construct a mask of perfect indifference and adapt a frighteningly aloof persona. How he might be sought after by all the wrong beings in search for such a young male sorcerer with such potential; something that was so rare and so him. She knew her youngest son might find the chaos within himself and lose his mind to the void.
When Loki broke the barrier within his mind, the shock to his core was beyond comprehension. Stumbling ungracefully to his washroom, he gazed at his haggard appearance. The full length mirror gave him privy to his bare chest and linen shorts. He dared not think of the state of his long hair, let alone gaze and take note. Studying the ancient art of seidr into the late hours of the morning had that effect. But no, this time was different. The gleam in his eyes was different, the color of his irises a new vibrant green, an unnatural green.
With a potent push of curiosity, he let his magic flow freely and smiled happily, eyes closed as the pressure within his chest dissipated. Only when his eyes open did he register the fact that this potent plasma was indeed much more potent than it ought to be. It had graduated from a simple, dull forest green, to a vibrant, near poisonous emerald. How curious, he thought with excitement yet slight worry, I must inform Mother. Perhaps I have finally perfected my charm incantations.
Exiting the ivory clad room, the green-eyed boy tugged a cream tunic over his head, leaving a halo of raven hair in its wake. Not once did he stop to analyze the feeling of destruction his 'graduation' of magic had induced. Nor did he analyze the increased desire of creation and mischief within himself. Even the feeling of completeness was left unmentioned, acknowledgment stopping at a simple smile.
"Urd, my dear, the young Prince is awake. Chaos is aware. It is only a matter of time." "I know, my sweet, Ragnarok will be upon us once more. This time, it will be glorious. Our savior has been chosen; our bringer is here."
As a genius, Tony Stark had a thirst for knowledge that was unparalleled. So when he stumbled across some interesting information before the invasion occurred that could potentially reverse all negative human waste, consequentially "saving the world" (god, how he hated that blasted phrase), his curiosity was more than piqued. It was bursting through the roof of his penthouse apartment in StarkTower. Not only that, he was pissed the hell off. How had something of the sort managed to evade his radar for so long? Especially with Jarvis analyzing every god damn action taken via computer, online or not.
That's beside the point though.
This information was a file on a certain cube, one that guaranteed a clean energy source. A cube that made cold fusion possible and opened countless doors; why, the possibilities were limitless! But, this cube was no longer within Tony's reach. It was held down by a bunch of idiotic half-brained Cambridge graduates that couldn't help but stick their brown noses where they didn't belong. Not to mention that said graduates happened to be employed by SHIELD. Oh, and the fact that the World Security Counsel had given Colonel Nick Fury the green light to use this other worldly artifact on anything he saw fit (i.e: weapons of mass destruction that Tony refused to create).
Let it not be mistaken, Tony Stark wasn't exactly a man to be trusted, or even a good one for that matter. SHIELD had the right idea when they booted him off the Avengers Initiative. He didn't work well with others, he was a right asshole, and he had a tendency of behaving like a spoilt child. Big fucking deal, everyone had problems right? Well, not like Stark. Not everyone displayed evidence of mild narcissism and sociopathic behaviors or extreme PTSD. Nor did they express interest in volatile sources of power that could knock a chunk of Earth out of the Milky Way or would do whatever they had to get their hands on such power.
So yeah, if one had access to the world's largest security organization, which in turn knew all the dirty secrets on everyone and everything, it would be best to leave Tony Stark out of their sphere of interest. It was quite the shame that Nick hadn't known that.
But enough of a tangent. Back to the cube.
(Or the block of mystical mojo shit as Tony liked to call it.)
Tony found out of such an object when he was doing a routine sift through Jarvis's hardware. He was checking for any sign of any bugs and just general fuckery (as it wasn't uncommon for a ballsy MIT grad to try and worm their way around his impenetrable firewalls. It was kind of cute though; Jarvis said it even tickled when they tried so hard to get to Tony's data.) What was found during the sift was an unopened file. Inconspicuous as shit, it was something that Tony had never seen before and the genius was positive that it hadn't ever been there.
"Jarv, I'm actually seeing this right?" Tony had asked unsurely, scratching at his goatee. He swiveled slightly from side to side in his stiff office chair (if he got too comfortable, he'd fall asleep and who the hell needed that?), ACDC shirt stained with last night's (at least he thought it was last night) failed attempt at making a mocha venti (thank Dum-E) while baggy sweats hung low on his hips, his brows quirked in uncertainty. Uncertainty was a very rare expression on the normally cock sure face and it felt weird to wear such an expression.
"If your inquiry is pertaining to the unopened file deep within my hard drive riddled with an obscene amount of encryptions reminiscent to those preferred by your father, you are indeed making an accurate observation." The crisp, slightly snooty British lilt colored the room with an air of company, one that Tony was thankful for constantly.
"No need to be such a thorough bastard, just open the damned thing." Tony grumbled under his breath and turned his head to an adjacent holo screen, this one focusing on schematics for a suit that could endure the atmosphere (or lack of) in space.
"As you wish. Should I also neglect to inform you when one of your many running programs is due to have a catastrophic run in with SHIELD Runner?"
"Don't be a smartass, I will reprogram you."
Tony had briefly forgotten about the newest technological advance SHIELD had made. It was a handy dandy virus they dubbed Runner; a stream of binary hell that would ransack any computer or smart device for all information it held-without the owners' knowledge of course. It was useful for hacking HYDRA bases and what have you, but was definitely a destructive force when unleashed on Tony's private server, as proxy servers could only get one so far.
The brunette recalled when he'd first gotten word of Runner as he absentmindedly stroked Dum-E's alloyed head and Jarvis opened the mysterious Howard Stark like encrypted file. It was just after he had gotten over the Palladium poisoning and SHIELD had been desperate to figure out why he'd lashed out and what made him calm again. Dum-E had been acting quite strangely and so Tony had asked Jarvis to run a scan on his Motherboard and hard drive. He had been infected by the god forsaken thing, and it had taken some vigorous cyber battling before Tony could drive it out. Back then, Runner had been hot off the press and in need of many modifications. SHIELD had simply written it off as superior encoding on his part and left him alone.
Needless to say, Tony was scared shitless for a while. Now, he took his annual 'Jarvis Sifts' much more seriously. Without so much as a warning, the holo screen directly in front of his face had sprung to life, displaying quite the interesting info. SHIELD called this cube the Tesseract, and it was a cube of limitless power; clean energy for the entire world could be supplied by this thing, and Dear Old Daddy Stark knew it. It explained why he spent the second half of his life searching for it. Oh, and Captain America too, but that was beside the point.
The point was, SHIELD had something that Tony wanted, something he wanted that was worth far more than the simple minded monkeys could ever hope to understand. The Tesseract had origins far beyond the comprehension of a normal genius intellect, no matter how hard they tried to decipher the complexities of the device, and SHIELD was going to use it for some stupid ass reason like manufacturing weapons for a war that hadn't even begun yet and probably never would. Maybe this cube could enlighten Tony on some brand connection between quantum physics and gravity, like so many others theorize.
Staring at the holo before him, Tony felt a pang of something reverberate through his chest cavity. His father had been such a brilliant man and though Tony was loathe to admit, SHIELD thought the same way too. The entire file on this Tesseract had to do with its' theorized properties and uses. Apparently, it created shortages when stabilized 100%, as all known technology in the 1940's was in capable of hosting such a mass of energy. What made it all the more interesting and worth his time was the efficiency of the device.
According to the very little research unearthed by Johan Strauss, it had a .002% waste energy average, which was roughly 6 billion joules. That was above the average amount of energy in a fucking lightning bolt. But what made the Tesseract even more exciting was that such data was unearthed from just the kinetic side of the spectrum. The 8x8 inch cube held an estimated 1.7 duodecillion potential btu (1) and a combined spectral and radiant intensity of 786 trintillion watts per cm^3. Tony had a sneaking suspicion that damn thing was near sentiment, as numbers so large as the ones presented should have killed anyone near the Tesseract, or at the very least make it humanly impossible to study. It was indeed possible to study though, and that just sweetened the deal of getting access to the device. Tony could have the whole world eating out of the palm of his hand, begging for this invention and that invention; they would praise him, not SHIELD or some other lowly organization, for ridding the atmosphere of CO2 and supplying the world with not only clean energy, but the mass production of affordable clean energy aides.
Fuck SHIELD, and HYDRA, and even The World Security Counsel, he would have complete control over all the damn finances and emotions in the world. Talk about power play! The bottom line was, Tony needed the Tesseract because if anyone was going to be in possession of a potentially world-ending artifact, it had to be Tony, no doubt about it.
Apparently SHIELD agreed.
Tony had been hanging about with Pepper when a text from Jarvis came—something along the lines of having an intruder on his way up to the pent house—and suddenly, he was being escorted to a SHIELD helicopter by Agent Agent, brief case and suit in hand.
Sure the stay in the Helicarrier back during the invasion had been almost enjoyable. Bruce had been-dare he say it-fun to speak with and Steve had been too fun to annoy. The Captain had been just like the comics painted him: loyal, honest, strong, muscular, handsome and he stank of an air of unadulterated good, which pissed Tony off to no end. Then, the whole apprehension of Loki happened, quickly followed by the loss of Loki, which again, pissed Tony off to no end. The only person on the damned boat-ship who had the slightest idea of what the Tesseract was capable of, aside from him, was gone. It just added to the already festering anger that he hadn't been able to stop the Tesseract, or at least get a chance to ask a few questions. It was well worth it, but Tony wouldn't know that for sometime.
As Loki was escorted to Central Park in a muzzle and shackles, courtesy of Agent Agent (who was, much to Tony's anger, alive, because one just didn't lie about things like that), the Avengers waited the departure anxiously. Well, all except for Tony, who hated the reality that the most precious sources of power he'd ever been lucky enough to come across, was leaving him forever.
Life was all blur after that. Reconstruction, working with Bruce on a number of projects with more security than Black Widow's file, endless PR stunts dealing with the rabid beings known as the press, and appeasing Pepper by becoming the unofficial speaker of the Avengers dominated a good portion of the following 2 years after the invasion. The team, if you could even call it that, was always separated. Birdy and Widow were doing who-knew-what for SHIELD day and night and Steve was working with Fury to promote America's image in third world countries by giving health aid and construction projects. It was working exceptionally well, except for the fact that this was Nick Fury, the man who would undoubtedly expect something, no matter how small, in return for the American charity. Tony couldn't blame him, politics were just like that.
Bruce, on the other hand, bounced around NYC, especially the impoverished neighborhoods, giving free medical attention to those in need. Sometimes, he stopped into the tower for a hello and access to the state of the art chemistry labs Tony had, but that was alright. Big Green was always a phone call away.
Rodney, Pepper and Happy continued their life as always, just like the rest of the New Yorkers. It amazed the middle aged genius how resilient the city was. Only two years later and one couldn't tell that there had been an alien invasion, the birth of a superhero group, multiple religious riots and countless protests.
Tony had finally succeeded in creating a 'space proof' suit and had even created an anti-virus for Runner. It was capable of stalling the virus for approximately 24 hours by throwing tons of volcano walls, advanced commands, and worms into SHIELDS enterprise server; untraceable and without notice of course. Of course, after the 24 hours were up, not only would Tony's private server be in jeopardy, but the Stark Industries enterprise server and the seldom used mega-drive that held some of the most well guarded formulae created by the prodigy chemists in R&D. The keys of the kingdom of you will.
So yeah, life was pretty darn good.
And then Loki returned, and true to his name, he caused quite a bit of chaos. It began small and Tony didn't know it was Loki at first. Unsolved equations laying about unprotected in Tony's StarkPad would solve themselves, and formulae would be improved at random. The little tid-bits of information caused Tony no small amount of panic, for all he knew SHIELD could have developed some out-of-this-world tech and some arrogant techie decided to fuck around. But even he knew that that was disgustingly outlandish.
In a short time-period, the phantom equation solver had moved on to bigger and better things like leaving mysterious books on magic and otherworldly theories that destroyed the foundation of most of Tony's thought processes. Seriously, these books described magic in such a detail that it actually annoyed him. Why couldn't science texts be so clean cut? From what he had gathered Magicks of the Old was merely a beginner's text, like Physics one, but god damn did it have a shit-ton of complicated rules and laws. Not to mention the many origin chapters which went into a kind of obscene detail on where all magic came from and all the different brands. Half of it he couldn't understand, much to his shame.
Thinking he could handle it, Tony cracked open The Theorem of Chaotic Happenings. He wished he hadn't, hell, he wished he hadn't touched any of the magic books. Despite the many tests ran on them, and Jarvis telling him it was safe, he should have left the godforsaken tomes alone. So, Tony reverted to his failsafe; mumbling his concerns and doubts to Jarvis and in a way explaining his thought process to himself.
"Jarv, am I understanding this right?" Tony spoke aloud with the thick text of Magicks of the Old in hand. "It says everyone has the capability to summon energy from a huge mythical-or not so mythical-tree in Asgard. Like, what the fuck? Does that mean I can create some magic thingamabob? That makes no fucking sense! And when it says 'different mediums of magic' what the hell does that even mean? Maybe it has something to do with the different types of magic about. You know, different magics might need different mediums in which to work. It could explain why we Earthlings can't channel this Yggradssil magic because we lack the right mojo. So then, why can't we use Ginnungagap based magics? What—"
"Why indeed, Stark." That was not the British accent he expected to reply.
Quick as bat out of hell, Tony whipped around in his stiff office chair, cracking his back painfully. There he was, the bastardized God of Mischief.
Loki of Asgard.
Here the god was in Tony's private work space in the sub-basement of StarkTower, donned in full battle regalia sans horned helmet, with his arms crossed, head tilted to the side and that infuriating smirk on his handsome face.
"What the hell are you doing here, Rock of Ages?" Tony questioned with little fucks to be given. "Aren't you supposed to be serving time in Asgard? You know, you do look like the type to just wait for some ponce to drop the soap. Like a prison peeper."
Why the hell was he not signaling for Jarvis to alert the boyband (as far as Tony was concerned, Natasha was an honorary dude)? Instead, he was rambling like an idiot. Rambling like an idiot to the insane bastard that tried to subjugate the Earth and would most likely easily and happily kill Tony if he said the wrong words.
Loki rolled his eyes, the vibrant green orbs focusing back on Tony with "I have come to parlay, Man of Iron."
(1) BTU- The British thermal unit (BTU or Btu) is a traditional unit of energy equal to about 1055 joules. I is the amount of energy needed to heat or cool one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.
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