mjolnir_retriever: Thor in t-shirt and plaid and jeans, walking forward on a devastated street (showdown at the OK corral)
Thor, son of Odin ([personal profile] mjolnir_retriever) wrote2012-09-20 05:47 pm

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Since long before Thor was born, the Destroyer has lain hidden in Asgard's treasure vault. It can be sent out at need, and has been, but mostly it remains behind its screening wall there. It's both one of the great treasures of the realm and a last protection for the rest, under normal circumstances. A great figure of hollow metal and sorcery, shaped like a man but twice as tall as an Asgardian, it has no true brain nor personality. But the magic in it will follow simple orders.

Protect.

Destroy.

Find this target.

It doesn't think, but it walks, and it tracks, and its featureless face opens to reveal the superheated furnace within. None but a creature of Muspelheim can withstand its full blast, and few enough of those.

Only the bearer of the king's spear Gungnir can command it. But Odin lies asleep, and Loki rules in his stead.

So it can only be by Loki's will that the Destroyer has come to Puente Antiguo.






They chivvy and hurry and convince, Thor and his human friends. Every minute counts, and every moment the danger rises. Erik rushes through the diner, flapping his arms to shoo patrons from their tables; Darcy hurries through the streets; Thor and Jane carry children, and he passes them up into truckbeds full of their family. None of the humans of Puente Antiguo know what's coming, but the strange sky scares them. They're confused, but they follow orders; they gather their friends and their belongings and crowd into trucks and vans, and their eyes keep returning to the stormcloud spiral of the Bifrost.

Thor doesn't bother to explain that the Bifrost is nothing to fear; the trouble is what's come through it. There's no time to explain, and even if there were it wouldn't matter. Let them believe what they like, so long as it gets them clear of the battleground.

It's not quick enough. The Destroyer takes its first slow, inexorable stride between Puente Antiguo's flimsy buildings while there are still far too many people around.

The first fire blast explodes into a storefront, and the storefront is gone.

(Loki isn't just playing -- though admittedly it's hard not to destroy buildings like this with a good blow, so it's possible that he just intends a bruising fight and a lot of collateral damage. But the Destroyer isn't just here for intimidation. That's not what it's made for.

Loki means vengeance.)

Townsfolk are running, screaming, scattering in a dozen directions. Some of them are fleeing sensibly, and some are just panicking.

Fight well, my friends Thor thinks with a small smile, knowing they will. He asked for time, and they'll win it for him.

He turns back to his work.






The good news is that the arrival of a vast metal man-shape blasting fire has made clear what the sky alone did not. Humans are fleeing town in a great chaotic outpouring, roaring and bumping their vehicles away in every direction but north. They wouldn't be out of reach if the Destroyer and its king had a mind to follow them, but Loki isn't even thinking about them. Thor knows that, to his shame, because only days ago it wouldn't have occurred to him to care about this damage either.

The bad news, of course, is that the humans may be fleeing, but the Destroyer is still here. And it's a match for even Sif and the Warriors Three, if Loki is employing its full powers. Whether he is...

Thor tucks himself behind a pillar for cover, watching intently, as Volstagg is backhanded into a car. Jane and Darcy and Erik, sensibly, skid into the lee of the nearby building, for little view but much better cover. (The pillar in front of Thor is covered in bits of paper held on by tiny strips and spikes of metal. Humans are very strange sometimes.) The car crumples beneath Volstagg, and even he looks a little woozy. It was a solid blow. But a deliberate risk, Thor knows. And yes, there's Sif, leaping off the highest building nearby while the Destroyer is focused on Volstagg. Their old trick. She slams her spear fully through the back of the Destroyer's head, impaling it to the ground yards below, quenching the fire that burns inside it.

She grins, crouched on the back of the Destroyer's neck, her face all fierce triumph. Thor does not.

Because -- yes. There it is.

The fire reignites, like a match touched to gas, and the Destroyer's hands begin to swivel and rotate. Then its feet, and its knees, and the segments of its metal body all the way up towards its face.

He'd really hoped it wasn't going to do that.

"Fall back!" Sif yelps, flinging herself off the Destroyer just in time to avoid a fireball large enough to kill her. Hogun and Fandral grab Volstagg, and they all sprint for cover. They make it -- but barely, and the Warriors Three are flung into Isabella's ruin of a diner by the backblast of a beam that strikes entirely too near them.

Loki isn't playing at all. Whether he meant this all along or has lost sight of all sense in his anger, Thor knows not, but he means to kill.

"Go!" he snaps to the humans cowering nearby, his friends and not a warrior among them. He's not sure if they even see the window of opportunity he does, but it's a short one. "Now! Run!"

They run. Thor follows, to shield and to guide. These dusty smoking streets are flimsy to Thor, let alone to the Destroyer; any moment the terrain of this battle might change.

The anger building in Thor's heart is the worse for being helpless. Yesterday he broke a mug belonging to Isabella, but today Loki has made her whole diner a smoldering wreck. Like a bilgesnipe swatting aside a sapling tree, Loki has caused ruin and destruction, and he won't even notice, and he wouldn't care if he did. Thor and his brother are much alike in some ways.

And it's Thor's fault all of this has come to Puente Antiguo. Its citizens have done nothing to anger Asgard. This generous, welcoming, peaceable town is rubble because of him.

A window blows out in a cloud of shrapnel, and the scientists skid to a shrieking halt, ducking and hiding within their jackets. Thor has to falter in self-protection too, but he's the first to recover. He ascertains that none of them are seriously hurt, and hurries them on.

Volstagg slams upside-down into a wall behind him. Hogun is upright, but battered. Thor can't see Sif or Fandral.

He can protect the humans. But he can't protect his other friends. He can only get in their way.






He gets the humans to a better area -- not safe, but beyond the perimeter of current attacks, and shielded by one of the more solid buildings of this town. He can see Sif now. She's crouched behind a car, armed only with a dagger, ferocious and beautiful and, he can clearly see, ready to attack even if it kills her. And it will.

Thor and his friends have faced death a hundred times, but something in him rebels now.

He will not lose more loved ones to his stupidity. He will not let Loki kill their dearest friends. He will not let an Odinson's anger destroy more than it already has.

"Stay here until you can flee," he commands Jane and Erik and Darcy, and then he's running through the street, ducking and skidding and dodging the flames sputtering all over town. He skids into a crouch next to Sif, behind the same much-abused car. She doesn't look back, but he grabs her shoulders and pulls her around. (He's weaker than Sif by far, right now, but he barely notices and she doesn't either. He's her friend and her commander, and she turns at his tug.)

"Sif," he says urgently, hands clasped hard on her shoulders, willing her to listen. "Sif, you've done all you can."

Sif shakes her head. "No," she chokes out. Death and life are both in her eyes: fury and betrayal, and an Asgardian warrior's acceptance of death in battle, and an Asgardian warrior's ferocious striving to win even at the last. Thor has known since childhood that anyone who scoffed at Sif's right to battle was a fool. "I will die a warrior's death. Stories will be told of this day."

They will, but --

Thor clasps the side of her neck, the old gesture of urgent affection to all his dearest friends. "Live," he commands her, low-voiced, "and tell those stories yourself."

Sif hears the affection and the command both, and her face crumples. She curls a hand around Thor's wrist, answering both, and he brushes a comradely thumb against her cheek. "Now go!" He pulls her upright. Sif could resist -- he's still human, still weak -- but for all her reluctance, she follows his lead even now. She lets him pull her to her feet, and she lets him shove her towards the sidewalk as he surges and rolls the other direction, and the Destroyer's blast destroys the car that was their shelter. They run towards the Warriors Three, who are regrouping near the humans. Volstagg is sorely injured by now; he's in no mortal danger, but Hogun and Fandral are supporting him, and it looks to be truly needed.

Understanding has been creeping into Thor's mind, and as he runs with Sif the knowledge flowers fully in his heart. What he can do to stop all this. What he has to do. He turns the thought over in his mind, and finds only more certainty. All this running and dodging does nothing but string out the destruction; Thor needs to stop this battle now.

His friends will be furious, of course. But they'll be alive to be.

And Thor owes this to the town of Puente Antiguo. They took him in, they fed and taught and rescued and sheltered him with all the generosity guest-right could ask. And what has he given them in return? A little paltry gratitude, a little knowledge that Jane was halfway to understanding already, and trouble after trouble brought to their doorstep. A guest may join his strength to the defenses of his host, and Thor owes them all he can offer.

He owes this, too, to Loki. His brother and his dearest friend of all, in spite of whatever trouble has festered between them and led to this.

But what he owes to Loki and what he owes to Asgard aren't quite the same. It's what Odin kept trying to tell Thor: Asgard deserves better than a king lost in the madness of his own rage. Fortunately (always fortunately), he has friends.

Thor's reached the Warriors Three by now. He presses a palm briefly to Volstagg's chest, meeting all their eyes in turn. "You must return to Asgard," he tells them. "You have to stop Loki."

It's Fandral, visibly troubled, who asks, "What about you?"

Thor smiles, and it's real. He loves them all, all his loyal valiant comrades. "Do not worry about me, my friends. I have a plan."

Fandral returns the smile, his worry washed away by trust. "Come on," he urges Hogun, and all three of them turn to hurry down the street as fast as they can collectively limp. Sif is already ahead, gathering Jane and Erik and Darcy under her direction.

Thor turns away from them. He knows what his task is.

One last glance at his friends -- old and new, all brave and valiant, all dear to him, some since childhood and some only in these last days of Midgardian strangeness -- and then he goes to finish this.