Walking on Sunshine
Tony Stark had not slept in thirty-six hours. He didn't care. The only thing that mattered was the Project, because if he though about anything other than the Project, he might just collapse, and he couldn't afford a breakdown. Not now.
The last piece was welded into place.
"Diagnostics. Run diagnostic, Ja-" His broken voice trailed off. Jarvis was gone. Erased, deleted, the backups destroyed by fierce green sparks of magic the day after Loki had decided it would be funny to unleash EMPs on the entire planet. Just as if to add insult to the injury.
"I'll start the diagnostics, Tony," filled in the appropriate gentle voice, as Bruce Banner turned and started up the hodge-podged desktop.
Bruce Banner, once the Incredible Hulk. Now poisoned with a chemical cocktail that would kill him the moment the "other guy" showed up. Hawkeye, blind. Natasha, dead. Fury, blind then dead. Thor, chained in some deep dungeon, unheard of for years. The Captain, frozen. Loki almost seemed to have a macabre sense of humor.
Gunshots ricocheted off the metal walls of their little bunker, and screams pierced the otherwise-silent air. Neither of the men flinched. It was scary how quickly they had become used to living in this dystopia. Surviving day-in and day-out. The Before and the After, with the Coronation burned into their minds as the Day Everything Went Wrong.
The day the people turned against their heroes.
The day the world started to burn.
Sometimes he wondered if Loki were right. If humans really didn't want freedom. The 99.99% of the planet who took to the serum-glowing blue, glowing like the staff, like the portal, promising something but only bringing death, that horrible blue-they seemed relatively happy. Not that they seemed to notice anything. The few normal exceptions, and he had never been so glad to be normal, they just...lived normally. Well. While trying not to be hunted down by the King's forces. And, of course, the other 0.008% (a fairly substantial number, considering the population of earth...and how quickly they had spread...)
Well, let's just say it wouldn't be a proper post-apocalyptic world without Zombies.
Three years ago, when the Captain and Natasha had still been with them, and Hawkeye was just learning how to feel his way around blind, that was when they had passed the Point of No Return. Where enough of the population had been converted, according to Tony's estimates, at least, that humanity as a race would not survive.
Not that Loki cared. Zombies made just as good brainless soldiers as live humans did. And Tony got the feeling that he liked the chaos that ensued, especially when a particularly large horde fell upon an isolated, unprotected town...
(The reason he didn't notice the screams anymore was because they frequented his nightmares so often that they had become background noise. That, and the low, melodious chuckle, the-)
Tony's head jerked up. "It's ready. It's not ready. Wait, what?" The progress bar showed coordinates only halfway loaded.
"Put the helmet on! You need to be sealed in!" Banner spoke low and soft, but the anxiety was palpable all the same. Tony nodded, and clumsily lifted his arms to seal himself into the patchwork suit. He *should* be safe from any abnormally painful and drawn-out...effects. But no one had ever attempted anything like this before, so he had no clue. Was he going to need to breathe? Or would it be...done...before that? Not that this suit was even airtight at all. Actually, if anything, this was a horribly desperate, horribly-
Wait that was towards the door, he couldn't-
He cleared his throat. "Banner. Where are you going?"
The fellow scientist, the one person smart enough to communicate with, the one who had kept him sane through all the years turned around. "Isn't it obvious? This was the plan all along."
"But what if-"
"If you fail? There's nothing left living for here. And if you succeed, we're gone regardless."
Tony swallowed back tears. He hadn't really thought about it that way.
As if following his line of thinking, Banner cracked a grin. "If it makes you feel any better, you're not surviving, either, remember? Quite frankly, I stand by what I first said in that this is just a complicated excuse at a suicide attempt. You don't think you get to have all the fun, do you? But your programming may. Survive, I mean. And gods help us, the message must."
Tony nodded. "Yeah. Glorified R2D2 here."
"I'll buy you some time."
"I'll give it back to you."
"For all our sakes, I hope so."
Then Banner released his anger, the anger at all the hate and pain and destruction, and the frustration, and his flesh exploded into massive green muscles, the "other guy," the Hulk. And even as he felt his heart failing, he careered towards the door, ignoring it as it exploded inward, sweeping aside zombie and Loki's hit team as the blackness began to settle upon him.
There was a huge flash of light and a boom, and it felt as if some massive hand had picked him up and thrown him against a wall. Not that he could feel a wall. Or his legs. Or anything, really, other than a constant, pulsating pain.
His vision grew fuzzy. The world looked like it was dissolving. Probably was dissolving. At least, he hoped it was. Then maybe they would win.
Then everything went black.
Tony Stark was dead within thirty seconds. After all, he was only a glorified battery. It was a part of the plan, all a part of the plan.
The last thing that he saw was the whirling and swirling of the walls of the vortex, the same horrible blue, blue, blue-but not blue.
He could have sworn that he saw a hint of green.
Loki sat upon the Throne. He smiled, then he frowned. He had everything. He had nothing. This was perfect, what he wanted, not enough not enough he hated them all those stupid puny-
Like he had gone blind. Or rather, like a part of the world had disappeared. And for some reason, more and more of it seemed to be following.
And this was his Realm. He was its King. They were Linked, Linked in strange, inexplicable ways, so much that the Realm reflected who he Was, and having a piece ripped away felt akin to looking down and realizing his left hand was simply...gone.
He scowled, closed his eyes, and followed the anomaly with his mind.
Not such a good idea after all, perhaps.
Then everything disappeared.
I decided to put the author's note down here, because I didn't want to spoil anything for anyone.
Title: Walking on Sunshine
Summary: Time travel and a redemption arc. Mostly because a lot of other versions have been played out already. I'm redeeming Loki *before* he turns evil. ...GAH now I have plotbunnies for a Dr. Who crossover.
Ah well. Normal time travel for this one.
AU I suppose? Because whenever you mess with timelines, you branch off into alternate universes? I have a Whovian view of time, but a Homestuckian view of timelines, if that makes any sense to anyone, whatsoever. Also, if anyone can follow my logic enough to figure out where the title came from, then congratulations, Wayfolk, you've found my fanfiction account, and I will come up with a suitable revenge if you reveal my identity to the world, etc, etc.
Yadda yadda, I own nothing, I really shouldn't be writing this, don't have the time, but everyone else was playing with the Avengers and I wanted to have fun, too.