A short fill for a prompt on Avengerkink. Penguins in zoos all over the world suddenly vanish. The Avengers are sent to investigate.
*~* Loki and the Penguin Liberation Front *~*
"It's the penguins," Nick Fury said, as he paced the room.
"Penguins?" Tony asked. "You brought me here to discuss Penguins?"
"Orders from on high," Fury said with a shrug. "Every Zoo in the world lost all its penguins last night. No signs of break in or intruders. It can only be some kind of super natural or extra terrestrial event. They want us to investigate, or more specifically they want you to investigate."
"Are you sure they didn't just fly away?" Tony asked, with a smirk, and then he waited for Fury to launch into one of his trademark tirades, but he was to be disappointed.
"Positive," Fury said, plainly. "We checked the CCTV. They just vanished into thin air."
"Oh," Tony replied.
"I want you and Steve down at Central park zoo today," Fury said. "They lost 65 penguins last night."
"I see news travels fast," Steve said, as he skirted round the placard waving animal rights group.
"What do we want?" a woman shouted through a megaphone, and the crowd shouted, "Freedom for animals!"
"They look like they want a good rare steak to me," Tony said, as they passed the protesters, and entered the zoo where a man met them.
"Mr Stark," he said, holding his hand out. "It's an honour to have you here. Mr Rogers."
"Thank you," Steve said, shaking the mans hand.
"I'm Mr Cross, I'm the director here," he said. "It's such a sad day for us. Our penguins are one of our most popular exhibits."
"Can we see where they were housed?" Steve asked.
"Of course, I'll take you straight there."
"What's that?" Steve asked, as Tony wandered round the empty penguin enclosure, waving what looked like a futuristic cell phone.
"It analyses the environment, looking for traces, energy signatures," Tony said, and then the machine beeped. "Ah ha! Looks like Fury might have been right, and this isn't just a wild penguin chase."
"What did it pick up?"
Tony held the device up so Steve could see the picture of the grinning Norse god on the screen.
"I thought penguins lived at the South Pole?" Steve asked Tony, who was safely tucked away inside his centrally heated Iron Man suit, while he had to make do with SHIELD issue Arctic gear.
"I guess no one told a certain bird thieving psychopath that Penguins and polar bears don't mix," Tony replied.
They reached the edge of the vast group of penguins, all different species, Emperor, Gentoo, King, Rockhopper, all mingling together, even though they came from different parts of the world. At the centre of the birds a dozen 3 foot tall emperor penguins were gathered around something, their beaks turned inwards, almost touching, as if forming a shelter, or a barrier around something that lay within.
"Do you think Loki is here?" Steve asked.
"The magic trace was too weak, and there was nothing on thermal imaging. If I thought he was here I'd have brought a really big bomb, or Natasha, same thing, really." Tony said, and then he moved his foot to nudge a penguin out of the way, but was surprised when the bird padded to the side without being touched. "I guess we go this way."
They moved stealthily through the group of penguins, which parted to allow them a path through, until they were stood before the group of Emperor penguins, who started to make a strange honking sound. The birds moved, waddling to the side to reveal a familiar, dark haired figure, sitting cross-legged on the ice, leaning over, with his shoulders hunched.
"Crap," Tony said.
Loki slowly raised his head and smiled twisted evil grin, "Have you come to defeat me while I am in a weakened state? I can assure you, you will most disappointed if you have."
"Move away from the penguins, Loki," Steve said. "We don't want them to get hurt."
Loki cocked his head to one side, and said, "And why exactly would they get hurt?"
"If you make a move, or do anything wacky, we will take you down," Tony said.
"Ohhhh…" Loki replied. "My subjects will not allow that."
"They aren't your subjects. These Penguins need to go home."
"They are home," Loki snapped, his eyes flashing with anger.
"They were captive bred," Steve said. "They aren't meant to be in the wild. They'll die out here."
"Really?" Loki said, looking around. "Do you see anyone who looks sickly? Do you see corpses? Or do you see sleek, well fed birds, who appear to be adapting quite well to their new found freedom?"
"You've brought them to the North pole, you idiot," Tony said. "They'll get wiped out by polar bears the second you turn your back."
Loki snorted and said, "I'd like to see one of those lumbering creatures try."
"Really? Penguins?" Tony said, as he pushed his faceplate up. "What the hell are you up to?"
"My waddle and I-"
"Waddle?" Tony interrupted.
"A group of penguins is called a waddle. Did you not know?" Loki said, sarcastically.
"Sorry to break it to you mister I'm so super smart, I know everything, but a group of penguins is called a colony."
"That is what you humans call it, yes."
"Hold up... you can speak Penguin?"
"You mean you can't?" Loki said, holding his hand to his chest, and feigning shock. "And I was lead to believe you were the smart one, Stark."
"Well, why don't you explain to them that it's not safe out here for them, and then you can get them shipped back to where they came from."
Loki turned to the nearest penguin, a tall Emperor with glossy black feathers, and said, "They said it's not safe for you, and wish for you to return to your cage. They say polar bears may attack you."
The penguin looked from Loki, to Steve and Tony, and then let out a repeated honking sound, while shaking it's head.
"Did that bird just laugh?" Steve asked, and Tony shrugged.
"You have your answer," Loki said. "My subjects wish to remain here with me, so I suggest you leave, now, before this day turns to violence."
"No can do, I'm afraid," Tony said. "I guess we'll just have to beat your ass into the ground, as usual, then take them ourselves."
"I suspect that would be an unwise choice," Loki said, raising one arm, and gesturing towards the flock of birds that stood watching them, thousands of beady black eyes, observing their every move with interest. "As you can see, I have an army."
Steve looked around, and said, "An army of penguins? Seriously?"
"No ordinary penguins, Captain," Loki said, proudly. "They are battle penguins."
"Ooooo battle penguins! I'm terrified," Tony said, mockingly. "Are they going to attack us with fishy stink breath? Are they going to shuffle towards us very, very slowly and attack? I suppose if they could fly they could crap on us from the sky, but they can't even do that."
Loki scoffed and replied, "Which ably demonstrates just how little you mortals actually know at the creatures that inhabit this realm."
"I've had enough of this," Tony said, then he leaned forward to pick up the nearest penguin, and noticed something fluffy sitting between Loki's crossed legs.
"What the hell is that thing?" Tony asked, standing back up straight.
"I can't stay here all the time to guard my new found minions," Loki said, and then he picked up the chick that was nestled between his legs, and hugged it to his chest. "Gentlemen, this is Sphen."
It was a penguin like no other. It was bottom heavy, like the rest of them, and covered in fluffy down, but instead of grey feathers, they were blue, and it observed them calmly with blood red eyes.
"Yes. I birthed a prince to rule my flock, when I have other business to attend to, such as throwing you through various windows."
"You… had sex…" Steve stammered, "with a penguin?"
"Well, I was also a penguin at the time, and do not fear, Captain. I can assure you it was completely consensual," Loki said as he draped an arm around the Emperor penguin that sat by his side, and gave it an affectionate smile, "And Oswald here is quite the gentle lover too."
The penguin lay its head on Loki's shoulder, then Steve put his hand to his mouth, and said, "I think I'm gonna throw up."
"Enough with the inter species flirting already. We're done here," Tony said, then he leant down and grabbed Loki by the collar.
"I would not do that, if I were you," Loki said, then all around them the penguins held their wings out, raised their heads to the sky, and began calling in unison. The strange sound echoed across the silence of the Arctic, it left Steve feeling unnerved, and Tony slammed his faceplate down.
The birds began to shuffle forward, surrounding them, pecking in droves at Steve's ankles, driving their needle sharp beaks through the material of his ski trousers, and drawing blood from the skin below.
They pecked at the Iron Man armor, chipping its paint, leaping over each other, and throwing themselves at Tony until he lost his balance and toppled to the ground. Once Tony was down another group of birds started launching themselves at Steve, knocking him to the ice, and then they swarmed over his body, pecking at any exposed skin they could find.
In sheer desperation to halt the attack Tony grabbed the nearest penguin by the neck and raised his hand, aiming a repulsor right in its face.
Loki quickly, and gracefully, moved to his feet, and shouted, "Stop!"
The penguins ended their attack abruptly. They bowed their heads, and moved to the side to allow Loki and Sphen a path through their ranks.
"I should remind you that you are on camera, Tin Man," Loki said, looking towards the brow of an ice flow where several nature documentary crews were filming one of natures greatest miracles. "I can't imagine it would go down well with the public if Earths mightiest heroes were seen deliberately hurting animals. You know how people love penguins and their funny little antics."
"We need to get out of here," Steve said, wiping a streak of blood from his pecked eyebrow.
"Good plan," Tony replied.
"An excellent plan," Loki said. "Begone, and tell the world that the penguins are loyal to me now. They will not be returning to their cages. Tell them to prepare to be ruled."
Tony and Steve climbed to their feet, and moved back towards the Quinjet, past a snaking line of beady eyes and pointy beaks, as Loki laughed in the distance.
"It's the penguins," Nick Fury said, as he opened a manila file and held it out towards Tony.
"I thought Loki already had all the zoo penguins?"
Fury rubbed at his temples and snapped the file shut, "He does. Now he has the rest too."
"All the penguins in Antarctica have vanished," Fury said. "The ones from South Africa, gone. New Zealand, Australia, the Falklands, gone. We can only surmise that Loki has taken them."
"Wait, so now he has every single penguin in the world holed up with him at the North Pole?"
"We need to find out what the hell he is planning to do with them," Fury said, and then an siren started blaring.
"I have a feeling we're about to find out," Tony said. "That's the magic sensor alarm."
Tony suited up, and they made their way out onto the roof of the building, where Loki stood waiting for them with his horned helmet gleaming in the sun.
"You've come a long way to get your ass kicked," Tony said, as Fury edged out with his gun drawn.
"I can assure you I will not be the one tasting defeat today," Loki said with a new air of confidence and purpose about him that Tony had not seen before. Then he pointed to the skies and said, "Behold the method of your demise!"
A black shape appeared on the horizon, miles wide, and headed straight for Stark Tower. A dark, pulsing cloud, that engulfed the tops of the skyscrapers as it moved slowly and majestically across the city.
"What the hell is that?" Tony asked.
"I told you I had an army, did I not?" Loki said, with a cruel smile.
"Call everyone in," Fury shouted down his radio. "We have a level one situation, I repeat, a level one situation. The city is under attack! The city is under attack!"
"What the hell have you done?" Tony asked, and Loki laughed as the wings of a hundred million battle penguins blotted out the sun.
AUTHORS NOTE: Due to the surprising amount of people pointing out that "Penguins can't fly" in reviews I would like to say that, yes, I know Penguins can't fly, but Loki's magically enhanced battle penguins can...