Please note: there are major spoilers in the reviews. This is *especially* true of the reviews on *this* chapter (because sometimes people accidentally leave their review for like Ch. 103 on the first chapter) - you will spoil several plot reveals that are meant to be surprises many many chapters from now if you read the reviews for this chapter. I don't think there are major spoilers for later chapters on other chapters' reviews (e.g., Ch. 3 reviews don't spoil stuff in Ch. 103). I'd strongly recommend avoiding reading others' reviews at least for this prologue (labled "Chapter 1" by the website), at least until you're caught up in the story, unless you're totally cool with spoilers. On the other hand, please don't let all my review "warnings" stop you from *writing* a review! Every writer loves getting reviews, and I'm no different, no matter how high that review count goes. (That number is mostly because this story is a million or so chapters long.)

The please-nobody-sue-me part: I have no claims to anything in the Marvel universe...whether mentioned in this prologue or not. I make no profit off this. I am grateful to all those who gave us Thor and The Avengers which provide such an amazing canvas on which we can paint our own imaginations.



Not so long ago, barely an eyeblink ago in the rather grand scheme of things, he had been a king.

Fists pressed to hearts and knees touched the floor when he entered, or passed by, or exited. His friends – his brother's friends – had done the same, despite their obvious distaste at his presence on the throne. His own mother had addressed him as "my king." The staff, the symbol and indeed source of so much power, had been handed to him by one of his father's – his! – guards, and he had wielded it effectively, with knowledge of its power and with confidence in his ability to control it.

He had been so close to achieving an evolution in the order of the realms that would have left his father in awe, when and if he awoke from his deep sleep. His father would have returned to rule a realm far more powerful than the one he'd left, and to a son who had erased all thoughts of him being an unworthy distant second to the other. Or, had his father not awoken, he would have already launched a reign that would outlast and outshine the previous.

He'd thought he had all the time in the world, either way.

For a brief moment he permitted himself to indulge in a fantasy, imagined himself walking down that grand hall, while the citizenry cheered him on. He would never degrade himself by egging them on as if he were at some sporting event being watched by mead-swilling fans, but would instead stride solemnly toward the throne, his back straight as a rod, his head held high and helmet gleaming. He would drop to his knees, set the helmet aside, and bow his head in reverence for his father and for the event about to take place. His father would look down at him tenderly, then stand, clang his staff on the marble floor to command everyone's attention, and say in a stern but proud voice, "My beloved son. You have proven yourself worthy. I regret that I did not recognize this sooner. I am sorry that I failed to appreciate you and saw you only as a shadow of-"

He gritted his teeth. Enough fantasy. He had to deal with reality, and that was a different matter entirely.

Never had the expression "so close, and yet so far" felt more appropriate.

He was a master strategist, but somewhere, somehow, he'd made a mistake. Failed to anticipate all possible outcomes, or take into account all variables. He wasn't sure how it happened, or at what precise point events had begun to spiral out of his control. Everything had been developing perfectly, in fact, far more perfectly than he'd ever imagined. Perhaps he'd simply moved too quickly, been too eager to take advantage of unexpected opportunities without thinking them through, grabbed for things he should have reached out carefully for. Yes, he'd grown eager, impatient, intoxicated by his own success. He had acted too quickly to sufficiently plan and analyze. And he'd paid a heavy price.

Not so long ago he'd been a king.

Today he was a prisoner.

I deliberately left the prologue devoid of "proper noun" references because I'm really into the universality of the relationship themes in Thor; I wanted to try to strip it down a little. Chapter 1 "Prison" brings us more straightforwardly to proper nouns, including Asgard, where Loki is not a happy camper.

A little teaser from a later chapter:

[Loki] looked at himself in the mirror, only his eyes visible through the goggles and everything else hidden from view. At least he didn't have to be concerned about anyone recognizing him like this. Over his shoulder in the reflection he saw Jane was repacking her clothing. He turned and approached her.

"How do I look?" he asked.

[...] Jane glanced up at him quickly. "Pretty much like everybody else here," she said.

"I suppose so," he agreed. Appearances can deceive, he thought. They had no idea they were letting a monster into their midst, and dressing it up to look just like them.