|ɑgɛɳt ɱѳɓiuร (jetskiing) wrote in avengers_logs,|
@ 2021-08-24 08:27:00
|Entry tags:||-complete, loki laufeyson, mobius, stephen strange, sylvie, tony stark|
WHO: Mobius, Dr. Strange, Tony, Loki, and Sylvie - almost a whole baseball team??
WHAT: A field trip to the TVA! Finding some answers!
WHERE: Through a Timedoor, TVA Headquarters
WHEN: A day or so after The Big Move
|The aesthetics of the Time Variance Authority weren’t exactly - impressive, shall we say?|
It was a drab building, chock-full of retro-futuristic tech that presumably never caught on and its overall design could be considered to be infused with nostalgia. A 1950s and 1960s palette, orange and gray and even some chartreuse; the cityscape outside the windows was otherworldly, though in the past Mobius had never really considered what lay beyond the boundaries of the TVA.
Looking at it now, he saw all the dissonance and recognized it for what it was - the receiving room featured beautiful warm wooden brown shades and bright orange Saarinen-inspired furniture, but then all of the doors looked the same. It was a labyrinth you couldn’t get out of, you were trapped. The time theater was there too - massive concrete columns and orange doors, a contradiction in the way the TVA seemed to be fond of.
It felt dirty now - soiled, in a sense. Because he knew what sinister bullshit lurked beneath the surface here - that everything was fake and brittle; he remembered how the Minutemen used their batons to prune their garbage like it was nothing. He remembered new variants that were brought in, scared and three seconds away from wetting their pants - then they too were gone. Just - poof. To the Void with them. Everything made Mobius uncomfortable and that was an understatement - but he was here for a reason, and he’d push through it.
“I’m aiming to not keep us here long,” he said to his, uh, guests? Folks he was giving a tour to - with a juiced up, charged TemPad they’d managed to make a Timedoor that led them to TVA headquarters, but he didn’t have all the details about who was in charge now (Hunter B-15 likely informed the other Minutemen of their unfortunate mindwiped status, however) and didn’t want to rock the boat too much. It was likely this TVA wouldn’t be as tyrannical now that He Who Remains had perished, but Mobius wasn’t going to push it. “And we can probably skip the sampling of the cafeteria food. Spoiler? It’s not great.”
He paused by the monitor which detected countless branches past red line status - formerly, it was monitoring the Sacred Timeline but now Mobius wanted to see if he could get a lock on the pocket dimension they’d come from. “If there are any other questions or observations though, let me know before I potentially blow something up here looking for our particular timeline.”
Loki walked alongside Sylvie, staying close as they trailed behind the others. Before they entered the TVA, he did his part to help them blend in, conjuring new clothes for each person. Drab brown suits and ties for the men, and a faded blue linen dress with a rust-colored cardigan for Sylvie. It had to be difficult for her to be in this place again. For all of them, really. That's why he was lingering by her side like he was quietly offering his reassurance. Quiet for now, at least. They would likely have a lot to discuss if there were any findings.
The place felt so familiar. Loki guessed he was a variant of a Mobius and Sylvie's variant, a faded photocopy. He was here through a connection that he couldn't fathom but hoped they soon would glean a greater understanding of. He trusted Mobius implicitly, and he knew the others would come to do so as well.
Standing on either side of Mobius were Tony and Stephen. They looked up at the monitor, both of them with a somewhat similar squint. Tony was from looking at things from the mind of an engineer. Stephen from a profoundly mystical standpoint.
"So there was only one timeline before," Stephen said slowly. "I've traveled to different dimensions, and the multiverse..."
"Was a theory," Tony interjected. "That's all it ever was. Theoretical. Until now. Totally different from dimensions, which are like layers around one thing. This is..." Tony wagged a finger up at the monitor. "This is a lot."
"It's still unfolding," Stephen noted, not at all bothered by Tony cutting in for the first time. That alone lent weight to the gravity of this situation. He looked to Mobius for answers. In some ways, the Ancient One's lessons about letting go of his ego and learning some humility were lessons he was still learning. "There's no way for your TVA to keep this in check anymore, much less monitor...this many branches. Some of which are being created as we speak."
Sylvie was not in any mood to step into the TVA again. Ever. She'd killed He Who Remains hoping to end its reign. Despite it, it lived on. Discussing the idea of coming here to answer questions had dredged up a world of bad memories.
Of questions she had never gotten answered: what exactly was the reason she was brought here instead of left to be pruned with the rest of the timeline she had been in? Renslayer had claimed she didn't remember. Sylvie didn't believe her.
Blue eyes hardened the moment they set foot inside. Loki giving her a dress and cardigan only made her skin crawl and having to look like one of them grated on her nerves. She walked with him, keeping everything carefully under wraps. She wouldn't falter. Seeking physical contact, her fingers brushed against Loki's for a moment as she looked at the monitor.
Her fault. Every one of those branches.
She tried not to breathe too heavily. She could do this, keep control of herself like it was a new mission. Her eyes flicked over to look at Strange and Stark. She hated the former and didn't know the latter.
Mobius could feel the distress rolling off of Sylvie - it was nearly tangible. Maybe he was just really attuned to Loki variants, or maybe he just felt a certain kinship with her too - but this? He didn’t blame her for this. He wanted her to know that - he wanted her to know that she was right, about everything. That, like he told Loki, something better would emerge from the chaos - they just had to work through it, because it was the only way forward.
And Mobius had been right when he told Renslayer that there was nothing necessary about the Void - nothing necessary about enduring something so vicious, a hardscrabble existence of foraging for food and avoiding cannibalistic pirates (who were willing to go the long pork route when it came to survival); even the cloud monster had been a victim of He Who Remains, experimented on until reaching the final terrible form.
But he could save that conversation for another time. “There’s no way to contain a multiverse, no,” he agreed with Dr. Strange’s observation. “Layers around one thing is a good way to put it, when it comes to the Sacred Timeline - that was easy to monitor, because He Who Remains already had it written, every law of the universe and event and happening and we just followed the course. We could see what branched off and pruned it as it was necessary. Even the Avengers dabbling with time was written, so they got away with it.”
He didn’t really want to think about that, however - and while it was endlessly fascinating that Tony had been pulled to this pocket dimension before his death occurred, there was still a version out there that had perished saving the galaxies. “Somehow, our ‘bubble’ fits into this,” he motioned at the screen. “Its creation wasn’t an accident - and, Dr. Strange, I don’t think it was entirely on you either. We’re about to find out what it actually is.”
Hearing those words was a relief to Stephen. It lifted a weight he had been bearing since the first moment he sensed the disturbance and sought out Tony. He spent years monitoring the anomaly, concerned if the universe would collapse. Years spent on the astral plane. He listened as the edges of the bubble sounded like fragile glacial ice. Jagged edges scraping together as time edged ever forward, second by second.
Still, despite his relief, Mobius needed information. And that could help Mobius find some answers.
"It happened after I fought Dormammu and Ragnarok," Stephen told them. "Early January of twenty-eighteen. That's when everyone was drawn into this bubble. Or, at least, the three of us were. Tony, Loki, and myself. Several others have come and gone."
"Right, that's when he came to me taking the blame for it. And weird things kept happening ever since then. Off the wall stuff, like Sharknados and Pokemon and Minecraft and giant mega monsters." Tony pointed at Strange while looking at Mobius. "Still? He dissed my ice cream. Are you sure we can't blame him? Not that I mind being here because not dead is good."
Taking hold of Sylvie's hand to reassure her, Loki politely coughed to get their attention. There was something he had to relay that he didn't let others know about. He hadn't disclosed this to Strange or Stark before.
"You should all know, I'm not that same self," Loki said. "When that other Loki escaped capture with the Tesseract? I became him. My older self, his memories, even the scars he bore...all wiped out of existence. And that amplified after I remembered the TVA. Like a variant being pruned and replaced." Loki looked over at Mobius and then Sylvie. "If we three are faded photocopies? Then it's likely you and Mobius are your true selves."
Her eyes darted to Mobius as if she could feel what he was thinking. She couldn't, of course, but she was hyper-vigilant right now, and she hated being here. Even the smell of the place made her angry.
Too many memories.
Her fingers threaded through Loki's as he took her hand, though she stayed quiet, not volunteering information until she was asked. That they were just variants of variants was difficult to wrap her head around. But it was likely the truth. The science, or magic, or both, behind it was enough to give her a headache.
Her chosen steps after she killed He Who Remains could have resulted in an infinite amount of variations and she was just one. She looked around as they spoke, keeping tabs on everyone and everything. Blue eyes looked hard as she looked back at them, she nodded slightly at Loki's words.
“Putting aside the fact that I’m not even sure who my true self is,” Mobius smirked tiredly. That was also a story for another time, one he’d have to get with Sylvie about because for so long his ‘true self’ had been a cog in a machine, given life and purpose by omnipotent beings who wrote the rules of the universe. Apparently. Allegedly (they had not). “...yes. Though I’ll save the pep talks about how no one is reduced to being a mere photocopy for later on.”
He adjusted some of the settings on the monitor - and the TemPad, since he could pick up on the frequencies and files, as well as make recordings. Playback often left much to be desired but he mostly just wanted to have a record of what they’d observed here. It’d be easier, when he studied everything later. “Okay, let’s see here - “
On the screen, one particular golden branch lit up like a Roman candle - it didn’t go anywhere else, it didn’t move. It simply stayed where it was. “This is us,” Mobius pointed out, excited that they’d been able to lock in on their happy little home. “It’s not registering the same readings that indicate it’s set to branch, it’s not a bomb waiting to go off in that regard - but instead look at the activity within. It’s all happening so damn quick - like all the pieces are just being moved around rapidly.”
While everyone else in the tour group stayed their ground, Tony squinted and moved in for a closer look. Whatever he was seeing, he didn't share yet.
"It's definitely different from the others," Loki noted, gently squeezing Sylvie's hand. "Since it already existed, it's still set apart from what happened after He Who Remains died. Temporarily, that is."
"Temporarily," Stephen said, looking back at Sylvie. It wasn't a condemning look but a thoughtful one. "So there's no mystical component to it and the anomalies..."
"They aren't exactly anomalies," Tony chimed in as he watched the changes in real-time. He turned to look at them. "It's like a self-perpetuating system, an algorithm. Like a chess game running on its own set parameters. If that's the case, then what caused the rando stuff that kept happening before?"
"We had a long period of quiet," Stephen pointed out, his stare still honed in on Sylvie. "Loki, you mentioned that He Who Remains temporarily perished..."
Sensing trouble brewing - and having heard nothing nice about Dr. Strange from the last Thor - Loki stepped in front of Sylvie.
"Oh no," the God of Mischief warned, "Thor told me what you were capable of. You can't send her through one of those thirty minutes of falling abysses. Magic doesn't work here."
"I didn't say I was going to do that, asshole," Stephen intoned. "She spent time with the corpse. Did he come back before she left?"
Tony stepped closer to Mobius and said under his breath in a way that everyone could still hear, "I need popcorn. Do you guys have popcorn? I feel like I should've brought some."
Sylvie looked at Strange with her lips in a firm line, her blue eyes dangerously sharp. Her fingers squeezed Loki's as she tilted her head defiantly. She didn't stop Loki from stepping in front of her. "I've been in one of those. I'm not a fan and have zero desire to fall again." She murmured to Loki before she stepped around him enough to look at the rest of them.
The Goddess of Mischief didn't shy away from the topic, though she hated it nonetheless. She was a Goddess. She was tough, she was confident; she could handle this. Even if inside she was spiraling down. "I spent time with his corpse. He did not reappear before me while I was there."
Her eyes darted to Tony. If looks were daggers, she'd have him pinned to the wall. He was not endearing himself to her in any sense of the word.
She looked at Mobius, then Loki, then back to Strange. "I realized what I had done and took off to find Loki as soon as I gathered myself to do so. I did not see him return, and hadn't run into him in the timelines that I traversed to get here."
The popcorn quip earned Tony a fondly exasperated look - like Mobius was trying not to laugh. He kept his place close to him for now, and didn’t attempt to jump into the would-be fray to separate Doctor Strange from Sylvie. If this turned into a brawl it would no doubt attract attention they were not looking to receive, but he didn’t think it’d devolve into that. Probably.
“The TVA operates outside of time and space - there’s no calendar, there’s no date, we’re technically in a void of our own,” Mobius said - he’d attempt to diffuse this situation from here though, because remaining even-tempered in the face of calamity brought to his proverbial doorstep was kind of his MO. There were situations that he’d handled cruelly (which he still felt guilty about) when it came to Loki - but he was overall not a cruel sort of man, and the thing was, he probably wouldn’t have gotten through to Loki initially if he hadn’t been brutal. “So the period of calm could be when Sylvie took out He Who Remains. But after? He could have come back.”
Never trust anything to stay dead, was his point.
He glanced at Sylvie then, gaze softening. Mobius wanted to reassure her, and now was as good of a time as any. “It’s not on any of us to tell you that what you did was wrong - not after everything the TVA did to you. For the record though? I don’t think you were wrong. What’s happening with our ‘bubble’ universe is still beyond our control - but at least we have an idea of who is moving the chess pieces around now.” Knowledge was power - and he was also able to remove some of the burden from Doctor Strange too - because it wasn’t fair that he shoulder it all, while a mad genius with knowledge of events so far beyond any concept of time continued to orchestrate everything from the shadows, hiding behind a monster composed of every tear in time imaginable.
Sylvie was trying to keep her calm. She wasn't exactly known to be the person most in control of their temper. But she was trying because the last thing she wanted was to get into a fight here and find out if the Void was still, well, Voidy.
"I think it likely the period of calm is the moments after. It would take time for him to return, I would imagine," she said carefully, looking at Mobius, giving him a less sharp look.
Then her gaze softened a hair. She inclined her head to him, "Thank you."
She glanced at the others. Mobius and Loki knew what she'd gone through. Strange to some extent, had some idea, but she'd not told him or Tony. She wondered if they'd ask her.
Loki stepped aside again, very slowly, keeping an eye on Strange like he had better not dare do anything once they left this place. The sorcerer didn't look like he was threatened in the least, which was typical. Despite that, all of them were listening to what Mobius was saying.
Even Tony, who chimed in with, "She looks like she's been through a lot." He pointed at Sylvie. "Let's not tangle with her right now. If looks could kill are real, and we already have someone using us as chess pieces. To get this straight, you all think it's this He Who Remains guy, right?"
"I'm gathering it is," Stephen said, "since I had the nagging sense that things were being moved by an unseen hand. But I never had any proof. Not even a hypothesis. Until now."
Feeling more than a little protective, Loki kept close to Sylvie as he spoke. So close, their arms were touching.
"He's profoundly manipulative," Loki told everyone. "He tried to set us against one another, insidiously. He's also a mad genius, more so if he created the entire TVA, it's technology, and could win a multidimensional war. If he's returned and made these changes, perhaps he needs to be killed again."
Tony rolled his eyes and made a time out T with both hands. "Oh hell no. And have more stuff messed up if he comes back again? Great plan, Rock of Ages and Xena. Can't wait for the encore. If this guy's like some all-powerful god, then sorry but not sorry? Maybe killing him isn't the way to go. Shit's not perfect, and everyone's pissed off. I get that. But I kind of like us being alive for a while longer. So ixnay on the urder-may, and maybe the video game he's playing with us won't go into god-mode."
Because Tony was standing next to his dim sum date night buddy. And he'd kind of like to make that date, thanks.
Opposite of them, Loki mostly looked squinty and confused, as though Stark wasn't using a language covered by All-speak.
Admittedly, even Mobius was kind of kerflummoxed by everything from Rock of Ages and onward, but he liked to think that he got the general gist. “I agree,” he said, referring to Tony’s...all of that. “It’s not an easy thing to digest, but we can’t follow that thread to its potentially murderous conclusion - I think it’ll cause more problems for us, and we already have plenty of those.”
So knowing more would have to be enough. For now, anyway. And sure - the hard part would be trying to explain to everyone else how their pocket bubble was really just them being manipulated at the whims of a mad tyrant, but Mobius would come up with something; he’d try to put it delicately.
“Hopefully I’m able to come back to the TVA too, to keep tabs on things or research whatever I can, using the TemPad - now that we have a way to charge it in our timeline, it shouldn’t be too much of an issue.” The battery life left a lot to be desired, but they wouldn’t need to find an apocalypse to give the damn thing a jumpstart.