Hello Beautiful People, this is my first story of this type, as typically I have my wonderful co-author Irmo at my side to provide inspiration and amusing commentary. With out Irmo's little sparkle of humor, you should be aware that this will be a fairly quick and intense story, though it will be broken up into short chapters to accommodate my hectic schedule.

Now with out further ado, read, enjoy, and have beautiful lives.

Loki blinked lazily up at the light glimmering through the trees. For a moment he struggled to remember where he was. That probably wasn't a good sign. He squinted up at the darkening leaves above his head, searching for some clue. The rustling foliage waved placidly back, giving him no context to work with whatsoever. Stupid trees. Carefully, he assessed his situation. He felt largely numb, he was cold, and likely concussed if his current processing speed was any indication. Something warm ran across his chest, tickling his collar bone. If he were to hazard a guess he would say it was blood, but he was having a hard enough time just keeping his eyes open, it seemed a waste of energy to check. The thought alerted him to the fact that his mutinous eyes had drifted closed once more. With considerable effort, he forced his glue-like eyelids apart, only for his sight be instantly dazzled by a dagger of sunlight that the facetious maples had failed to block.

Instinctively, he raised a hand to block the offending light, only to let out a strangled scream as something strained and snapped in his chest. Desperately, he pulled in a ragged gasp, only for that same foreign something to rasp against his lungs, splintering and tearing at his every breath. Suddenly, the trees seemed less important. Patting gently at his chest with what was apparently his one mobile hand, he found what felt like a dead limb, perhaps three centimeters in diameter protruding from just right of his sternum, where his fourth rib should have been. He struggled to draw another, breath, noting the wet gurgling that accompanied it. Where his lung should have been. He blinked once more, the frost on his lashes sticking his eyes closed for a moment before he forced them open again, trying to ban the encroaching fuzziness from his vision.

He remembered now. The bridge, the fall, the emptiness, and the deeper, crueler cold which made this unknown realm seem almost sweet. He remembered his anger, now all but spent. He remembered two faces staring down at him, one in desperation, one in disappointment. "No Loki."

Resignedly, he finally allowed his eyes to drift closed. Perhaps this was his end, perhaps, it was not, but if the void itself refused to free him, this frozen forest would be no more generous.

Later, he had no way of knowing how long, voices woke him. Deep, guttural, but unmistakably Midgardian. The irony. The First Prince of Asgard at the mercy of the mortal race that once worshipped his kind. He snorted in amusement, the motion hitching as his flooded lungs seized. Shuddering, he choked on a mouthful of thick, salty liquid as his lungs floundered under the relentless waves that his stubborn heart insisted on pumping through his mangled chest.

Forcing himself to focus on the sounds that woke him, Loki listened to the cadence of male voices, straining to hear words over the rushing in his ears. It took a moment for his muddled mind to recognize the conglomeration of sounds as language, Midgardian Russian if he was not mistaken. Thank the Norns for the All Speak.

"He lives."

"Impossible! He's got a branch sticking through him!"

Loki took a moment to wonder at the imbecility of the speaker before the words sank in. That would explain his difficulty breathing. And the blood, he realized belatedly. How had he forgotten about the branch? Suddenly the branch proved its existence as it first shifted then tore through his battered chest, catching and splintering as it was ripped from his body. With a scream, Loki lashed out with his atrophied magic, flinging it out blindly in an almost feral attempt to defend himself. With a bubbling gasp, he pulled his weakened power back to himself, relying on his seidr to struggle to his feet, wrapping it around his emaciated frame like a protective cocoon. Staggering shakily away from the bloody pool where he must have originally landed, he surveyed what remained of his surroundings. All of the trees within a thirty meters radius of him were flattened and partially burnt. Several bodies littered the ground, some were beginning to stir, others lay ominously still.

He stumbled back a step, trying to control his sudden vertigo. He didn't have much time, and already one of the mortals was scrabbling frantically at what appeared to be some sort of detonating device. With a vindictive wave of energy Loki hurled the remaining mortals back several meters, already knowing it was too late, the device was enabled.

For a moment all he knew was that he had to get out of here immediately. The release of death had spurned him once, he would not allow it to claim him now against his will. He was Loki, son of none, heir to all, and he alone would decide his fate. Ruthlessly fighting against the darkness encroaching on his vision, he pulled his unwieldy magic to himself one last time to form a hastily woven shield. Honestly, he should have known he wasn't strong enough for that. The grenade exploded moments before his shields locked into place, throwing him backward, his back crashing against rough bark and frozen sap.

The last thing he registered before the blinding white faded to black oblivion, was a man with a black mask and a silver arm standing over him.

A/N 2:

Hello all, hope you enjoyed that, odd though it was. I have been losing the fervor to write, because things are less fun when you get graded for them. This is just a fun little project to get my creative juices flowing, so chapters will be short, but fairly regular. Let me know what you think, and I will love you forever. Not begging for reviews, but, yeah, feedback is a good thing.

Not to mention, all of your reviews will fill Irmo's inbox, so by leaving feedback, positive or negative, you are joining the worthy cause of helping me troll my erstwhile co-author. You're service is always appreciated.

Until next time,