mjolnir_retriever: Thor covered in mud and rain, staring despairingly at Mjolnir lodged in rock (rainscene of muscular despair)
Thor, son of Odin ([personal profile] mjolnir_retriever) wrote2012-06-03 07:45 pm
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Thor's estimate was right. They don't reach Mjolnir's resting place until long after sunset. By then, clouds cover the moon and stars, turning the night sky into a featureless black arch.

The air smells ionized and heavy, familiar as a homecoming. Rain is coming, a storm's worth of it.

The darkness makes it far easier to creep up on the crater's rim unobserved, and study the bustling installation of flimsy above-ground tunnels and other temporary structures down in the crater's heart. There's a fence around the compound, and vehicles full of guards. If this government has any sense, there will be alarms, and other mechanisms to detect and track intruders.

They've reckoned without the skills of a real Asgardian warrior, though. Thor can see that just from gazing down upon their structures, and he finds himself grinning down at the crater. He's been wanting a proper fight.

Jane, beside him, doesn't notice. She's stretched flat on her stomach -- more cautious than she needs to be, but it's better to be that way, for a non-warrior -- and gazing through a simple far-seeing device she calls binoculars. "That's no satellite crash!" she hisses. True enough; Mjolnir has never orbited Earth. "They would have hauled the wreckage away, they wouldn't have built a city around it!"

Not just a storm, Thor thinks with gladness, but a thunderstorm soon. The clouds have a heavy looming weight, towering ponderous over the desert. It's right that he should regain Mjolnir this night.

He shucks his jacket and drapes it over Jane's shoulders, gently settling its warm weight around her. "You're going to need this," he tells her. She's not dressed for rain on a chilly night. And a jacket will only get in his way where he's going.

Jane sputters questions at him, but Thor's only half-listening. It's discourteous of him, especially for a lady whose sharp mind and fierce quest for truth he respects, but he can't help it. Lightning arcs from cloud to cloud and thunder rumbles through the sky. It's his storm, his night and his triumph, and he can't help but feel Mjolnir is calling this weather in welcome. "Stay here," he tells her. "Once I have Mjolnir, I will return the items they have stolen from you." He tilts his head, and echoes her word from this morning, the one humans seem to use now to seal a bargain of oaths given. "Deal?"

"No!" Jane snaps, and Thor blinks at her. "Look what's down there!" She gestures downwards in tiny, sharp motions. "You think you're just going to walk in, grab our stuff, and walk out?"

Of course; she thinks as a scientist of a peaceful realm. She's trying, of all things, to be protective. It's futile, but strangely endearing.

He has no way to persuade her except to show her, and little patience left for delay. "No," he says, grinning at her again. "I'm going to fly out."

Whatever Jane's reaction is, it's silent, and Thor doesn't see it. He's already dropped over the crater's rim and is making his way down, crouched low and moving in rapid silence.

It's the work of a few moments to detach the bottom of the metal-weave fence and belly-crawl under it. The masters of this place will be alerted, almost certainly, but that doesn't matter. Thor's intent here is a spear-strike, like one of Sif's: to overwhelm their defenses with surprise and speed and skill, and claim his prize before they can mobilize enough numbers to matter against him. Stealth was never going to last long.

Indeed, two guards come in a little putting conveyance. Thor rises from the darkness and overwhelms them. Leaving them stunned and gasping -- a battle like this is not worth killing, not against opponents who don't know who they face -- he wrests the poncho from one and pulls it on.

It's a strange and flimsy garment, but it will buy him another few moments of concealment and surprise. He tugs the hood up over his hair and dashes forward. There's plenty of cover in this yard, with all the vehicles and boxes and outbuildings it contains. He darts from one to another. When alarm-lights begin to flash and sirens to shriek, the place erupts like a jostled beehive, but Thor slips behind their lines as easily as before.

How long has it been since he struck out solo like this, crouching in shadows, no hammer in his hand and no friends behind him? This past day has been lonely, but now he has a purpose he understands and work his body knows well, and he feels like a child again, in the games his father's armsmasters set. He wants to laugh aloud for fierce joy.

Thunder crashes again, on the heels of lightning that lights up the sky brighter than any of these distress-lights of mortal alarm, and he nearly does.

The army has built itself a spiral of tunnels surrounding Mjolnir, translucent plastic sheeting stretched over wide hoops and a floor of metal grating, tall enough for Thor to stand straight in. He darts into the first door he finds, and hurries through, heading ever inwards.

There are guards, of course. They fight him. He punches and kicks and bulls through, leaving his encumbering poncho with the first he defeats, and none of them slow him for long. There's someone up high, a watcher or a sniper, but that's what moving swiftly is for.

He comes out onto a high balcony, and sees Mjolnir lodged in the ground yards below, waiting. Thor strides forward, satisfaction swelling inside him -- and meets his first truly worthy opponent, in the form of a burly arm slamming into his throat and knocking him flat. The balcony extends sideways enough for this black-armored warrior to wait in concealment.

Thor's grinning as he pushes himself up and into a hard punch. "Fought bigger," he tells the other warrior, who absorbs the punch and hits back without a word, and the fight is on.

Were Thor at his full strength, this would be no kind of contest. But as it is, fighting these humans is like fighting other Asgardians: Thor's still stronger, but the outcome's not certain, and it's enough of a challenge to be fun. They tumble out into the rain and slick mud, grappling and punching and elbowing, and Thor's blood thrums with battle-joy. This is what he loves, the hard inexorable truth of strength against strength and skill against skill, the clarity of bruises and leverage, adrenaline pounding through his veins like the rain hitting the mud.

The other warrior fights ferociously. If they met later, Thor would toast him with mead and call him friend. But this is now, on the battlefield, not later in a mead-hall. Thor wins the upper hand at length, and follows up on it, until the other warrior is stretched groaning in the mud. Thor waits long enough to make sure he's truly downed and won't rise until it's too late to impede him further.

It was a good fight. All of this is a good fight. His breath is heaving in his chest, and rain and mud plaster hair to his face and drench his thin Midgardian clothing. His face is tingling from a few of those blows; it's pure fierce exhilaration. Thor wipes off his chin, which mostly smears more mud across it, and flings back his wet hair, and sets forth to claim Mjolnir.

He goes through the wall instead of up again to that balcony. He's at the base of the crater now, and inside the improvised room around Mjolnir the floor dishes down. It takes some tugging to get the wall panel open with merely mortal strength, but it pops open soon enough.

And then it's just Thor, and his hammer Mjolnir, and an empty room full of rain and thunder. Thor gazes upon it with satisfaction a warm glow inside him, and reaches forward to grasp the familiar leather-wrapped handle and lift.

...Except it doesn't lift. Mjolnir doesn't budge.

Thor tries again. Nothing. He wraps both hands around the handle and tugs; puts his whole weight into it, all the strength of his arms and his back, to no avail. Red rage drowns his vision and he bellows, pitting all his muscles against the rock imprisoning Mjolnir.

Nothing. Nothing. It's as if he's anyone else. It's as if he isn't Mjolnir's wielder.

No. He isn't Mjolnir's wielder. Not now.

Mjolnir chooses who's worthy to bear it, and Mjolnir is rejecting his hand.

You are not worthy! Odin Allfather snarls in his memory, and Thor tips his head to the bucketing skies and roars inarticulate rage and frustration to Heimdall, to Odin, to the hammer and the skies and himself.

All that answers him is rain.

The rage drains, leaving nothing in its place but emptiness. He never had any other plan than this, no other goal, and now -- now what does he have? Now what does he do? What does it matter?

Thor falls to his knees in the cold mud, bowed and despairing. No one alive could cause him to bend his head so -- even to his father the king, he kneels with proud honor in salute -- but despair has cast him down and struck him low.

When the humans wrestle him to his feet and drag him away from Mjolnir, he doesn't resist them.