Who: Team Forge! Thor, Jane, Val, Rocket & Groot (NPCs). What: vignettes, the journey to Nidavellir to create Stormbreaker When: the very early morning of 8/19 (pre-dusting) Warning/Rating: Green
---------the king & his valkyrie---------
There was a surprising amount of things to bring. For once, Thor had to admit: it was better safe than sorry. They didn't know what they were walking into, and a part of him was expecting the worst.
It was why he wanted Val there, as his back up and second-in-command. Although bridges had been mended with Loki, the sight of Loki's dead body (actually dead this time) still haunted his dreams. In Thor's mind, if Loki avoided space, maybe he would avoid death.
Since he knew Val had never explored much of SI yet, he waited outside for her. It was early for New York, but people still walked, traffic was still flowing, and the sun was starting to peek through.
He hoped the jovial mood would continue.
It had been a rough night for Val. To say the least.
Between the brain invasion from Loki trying to help her sleep and save her from her nightmares, to the strange goings on with dream him and real him, to Darcy asking for her loyalty? She wished she could truly sleep just to recharge. But after a power nap thanks to the Benadryl she'd been given, she was ready to go when Thor asked it of her. Even if they needed to have a conversation.
After stopping to get herself her favorite energy drink, she was there in no time. Her eyes caught his large frame overhead of everyone else and she let her fond face show momentarily before steeling herself. "We need to talk." She said as she reached him, taking a long drink before looking up at him. "Loki and I've had a falling out and my place here is in question. I need you right now." I've needed you for two days, she itched to say. But it was not her place to request him, let alone ruin the happiness he had finally found in his home with Jane.
Thor was surprised by what she said, but without hesitation he reached out and pulled her into a reassuring hug. "Here I was teasing you about being a poor friend when in truth it was I," he murmured before pulling back. "You have only just arrived and yet I have barely been around to welcome you and show you the lay of the land."
He gave her a wry smile. "My apologies, brave Valkyrie. I will not fail in my duty again."
Would she ever be prepared for these sorts of moments? Probably not. The reunion hug had been pure elation, to know that the ones she cared about had not only lived but were reunited with her.
She felt herself being pressed against him and for a moment she hesitated, the anger and resentment from the night before still pouring off of her in waves. But... this was Thor. So her arms wrapped around him, tucking her face against his chest momentarily before they parted. "Thank you." She said simply, sincerely. "I fear I have been spending too much time with Loki and Darcy. I... I almost took my leave of this realm last night." She took a deep breath, saying the words to Thor himself made her feel ashamed. She nodded towards the building, letting him lead her inside. Keeping her voice low, she stayed glued to his side, sword hand at the ready should any threat appear.
"Loki... came into my dream. It was fine until things started to go wrong, I'm not sure what was happening but dream Loki told me you both conspired to not tell me about his demise to protect me." She frowned, pressing her lips together before looking back up at him. "And in my exhausted state, I was incredibly wounded." She breathed deeply again. "Darcy... got me to stay. Despite some very... interesting words." She shook her head, doing her best to avoid telling Thor exactly what Darcy had tried to ask of her. "Loki told me it was his idea, and that you just went along with it." She looked up at him, concerned. "I need to know I can trust you both. Truly. No secrets from me, please. Not when I am so..." A moment's hesitation. "I am willing to die for you, or anyone you love, at a moment's notice. I just want to know that I can trust you as much as I've always believed I could."
At her words, Thor could almost feel his expression harden. Just when he thought his brother had outgrown such childish things....and Darcy....He sighed. A talk with Loki was far overdue. If Darcy continued to impose herself in these ways....well, it wouldn't do. And he'd been on the tail end of those pressing conversations, where Darcy didn't notice how frustrated or annoyed he was with the topic at hand.
"I apologize. I told you everyone died, but I wasn't specific. Loki is, understandably, touchy about the thought of his own demise. It was not my place to divulge such information, but believe me when I say it was not to hide any truths from you. You have my word that you can trust me, now and forever. And I meant it -- I do not expect you to do anything you would be uncomfortable with. I would hope you also feel able to speak your mind as you seem to always have."
It was as if the hours of frustration and strange betrayal were erased instantly. "Thank you." She said again softly. "I do trust you. In truth, the thought that you would hide something from me caused me a great deal of distress." She pressed her lips together tightly before nodding. "There are other matters we will need to speak on but they can wait for another day." She smiled up at him warmly, nudging his arm. "I missed you, Thor."
"And I you. This trip will do us all some good." It was also an excellent 'help, I forgot my girlfriend's birthday' present, but he wasn't going to get into that.
"Now onward. You're the last one to arrive. Jane is already busy with some calculations, and you won't believe it: finally, some use for the Groot language we had to learn in our lessons."
---------the star gazer & the valkyrie---------
It wasn’t often that Val felt nervous. Hardly ever in fact. But Jane Foster managed to make her so. It wasn’t as if she was scared of her, not that. But Val had never wanted someone’s approval before. Not in over two thousand years had she cared that much about what someone else thought of her. But her future queen? If Jane did not like her for some reason… the very unstable home she had managed to find herself would be gone. There would be no serving a king without the approval of his queen. So, after her talk with Thor… and after spending a solid ten minutes staring at the talking animal and tree… Val moved to sit next to her. “Jane,” She said, voice soft, “I am glad we could finally meet.”
Jane set her pen between the pages of her journal and turned to the other woman. It was a new experience to be invited along on one of Thor’s adventures. The last time wasn’t exactly an adventure but a mission of desperation with a slight hint of treason. Jane was a little nervous about having to make conversation with the Asgardian. At least she already knew Sif and the Warriors.
“Hi.” She tucked her hair behind her ears. “Sorry it wasn’t sooner. Things have been… I guess things have just been a little unsettled lately.”
Val chuckled, nodding. “Seems like things have been settling pretty alright to me. Haven’t seen the big guy home to stay in… a long while.” She tried not to seem overly bummed about it. “I am happy that you have found your ways back to each other. Love is not something to be wasted, especially in the short times it is available to us.” She spoke sincerely, smiling softly. A hint of wistful memory on her face before she looked back at Rocket scolding Groot. “They are odd.”
Jane looked sheepish though not regretful. She was happy and that was hard to hide. “Thank you. It was a surprise, having all this happen again. We’ll try to be better.” Thor couldn’t just stay with her, Jane knew that. He had responsibilities.
She looked over at Rocket and Groot. “Everytime I think I know something about the universe, it just gets more and more fascinating.”
Val turned her gaze back to Jane, cocking her head to one side. “You have done nothing wrong. It is good he is happy. You are very important to him, and that is what matters right now.” She smirked, nodding to Groot. “Did Thor tell you his language was a class? I am pretty sure I slept through nearly all of them. I have a terrible feeling I’m going to mistranslate and embarrass myself.” She smirked, at Jane again, leaning back in her seat to relax.
Jane offered half a shrug and a smile. “It’s all groot to me.”
Val paused, turning her head slowly to look at Jane before erupting into laughter. “I-” She didn’t even have any words. All she could do was bury her face in her hands for a few moments before calming down and looking back over at Jane. “You had the chance and you took it.” She grinned, hoping this could expand into a very sweet friendship.
---------a new perspective---------
Although Thor had never met the friendly rabbit in this reality, he still retained the feelings of goodwill towards him. Besides -- in that other place, that horrible reality, he had literally no one. This time around, he had everyone but his father. Not a bad trade off.
"Rabbit," he said, walking up to the captain's chair. "We have not spoken yet, nor have we met here. Do you remember me from before?"
"Nope. Should I?" Rocket replied, and he was being one of the following things:
1.) Truthful 2.) Wary 3.) An asshole 4.) All of the above
With a sigh, the little raccoon turned his captain's chair around to look up at the Asgardian with beady but inquisitive eyes.
"Clearly, somethin's gnawin' at ya. Wanna just spit it out so you can go back to oogling the brains over there? Pretty sure her brain's not what you're oogling though."
One of those beady eyes winked. And it kept winking. Hint. Hint. Hint hint hint hint HINT.
Thor hesitated slightly before just shaking his head with a smile. Obviously the rabbit could read his mind as well. Perhaps this was a leporine thing. He wasn’t too sure. He’d never really spent that much time with talking animals before.
Instead, he gave a good-hearted smile and held out a hand. “Please sir. I believe you have something that belongs to me... or should I say, belonged to me in a past life.” Oddly enough, he’d never once thought to look out for a false eye. He knew they existed on Midgard, he’d seen them before, but there hadn’t been a need or a desire for one … not until he saw Rocket. It was as if it triggered a dormant memory, and explained why he’d always put it out of mind.
Since the Rocket of this universe hadn't had any dreams about being split off from another alternate version of himself, he was blissfully ignorant of what it was that this big lug wanted. With a guffaw, he slapped a paw down into the palm of Thor's hand, like he was giving him five.
"I got somethin' for you? That's rich! I have lotsa stuff. What're ya looking for? I got some bombs in the back of this thing I'm workin' on. Wanna bomb? I can whip one up real quick."
Thor would actually like a bomb if only because bombs were fun, but that wasn’t what he wanted. Instead, he sat down in the seat behind the rabbit, and leaned back, his legs stretched out in front of him, his fingers crossed across his seat. “I believe we are speaking of different things. I had a dream of you once, you see. And in it, you gave me something I needed. An eye,” he said bluntly, raising his eyebrows. “To replace the one that is so obviously missing. So. There you go.”
"An eye. Yeah, I gotta eye. What're ya gonna give me for it?"
This was missing an essential component. Sympathy. Which, with Rocket, was sometimes like trying to squeeze water out of a rock. Luckily for Thor, the 'rabbit' found another avenue of guesswork to scamper down.
"Wait, is it so you can impress your broad? She dunnit like that gaping eyehole, I bet. Yeah, I get it. I'll help you score, since you're taking me with on this craptacular adventure. Here." He reached into a pocket and took out an eye, tossing it into the air toward Thor. "Might wanna wipe that off first. It's been places."
Dark, dark places. Darker than the forge of Nidavellir.
Thor happily accepted the eye and wiped it clean. He wasn’t too worried about germs or anything -- his Asgardian physiology practically guaranteed he’d never get sick. Without any hesitation, he popped it in and blinked a few times until it felt normal. Well. As normal as the blindness still was.
“Thank you, kind rabbit. My vanity is grateful.” He wondered how Jane would like it.
"Yeah, yeah. Go impress your girl," the furry creature said with the dismissive wave of a paw, not even bothering to correct the big guy about him not being a rabbit. If he kept doing that, he'd get annoyed and his tail would be super poofy all day.
---------The Dying Star---------
As far as amenities went, the pod was about as comfortable flying coach but Jane spent it it craning her neck to see the controls, staring in wonder out the window, and alternately making notes in her journal and referring to a handheld scanner. As birthdays went, spending it hurtling through space beat all. Since Nidavellir was under the protection of Asgard, it actually wasn’t that far out from Earth. Which is why, after a time passed and it seemed like they should be getting, Jane looked down at her scanner and frowned. “Something’s wrong. We’re close right? It should be throwing off all kinds of radiation. Infrared, gamma… There’s nothing.”
It was dark. Damnit. "The forge is out..." Thor cursed the Norns. He'd hoped that maybe they would have been faster this time, got there before Thanos but it appeared to not be the case. Loki was right -- things were happening in all universes at the same time. This was an eventuality and not simply an aberration like Thor had thought.
From the helm, Rocket could clearly see that it looked like the forge of his dreams was out of commission. "Well no shit, asshole! I gave you another eye so you could see, not be stupid."
"I am Groot," the teenaged tree agreed with his dad, from the far back of the ship, twigs punching buttons on the handheld video game.
The trash panda at the helm was grumbling a lot, his mood soured that the forge was out of commission.
Upon landing, Thor strode into the deserted workspace and felt a lump in his throat. Too late. Too late. That’s all he kept thinking. And then he heard the loud sound of boots and felt a little hope.
“Who goes there?” came a booming voice.
“Eitri...old friend,” Thor looked up and sighed. There was no shock, only sad acceptance on his face as he took in the figure in front of him. “Thanos beat me here.”
Eitri nodded. He didn’t look surprised to see that Thor knew what had happened. “I cannot help you. The Norns have cursed me with a fate worse than death, all for the vain thought that I could save everyone.” He hung his head down.
Thor shook his head. “No, the Norns had nothing to do with this. Thanos has the stones. He is creating his own reality now. Please, I need a weapon. I need Stormbreaker.”
“The forge is out. Even you cannot fix this.”
There was a twinkle in his eye. “Never say never.”
---------sassy salad spinner---------
Thanks to his pro piloting skills? Hey, they made it to Nidavellir! It was massive, huge metal rings around a dead star. Everything Rocket dreamed a mythical weapons forge would look like, although dwarves (or the last one left) were a metric shit ton taller than he imagined dwarves would be. It was a little disappointing that it looked like they closed up shop, and more disappointing when he found out that the dwarves were dead, except for their king. And that guy's fists didn't look like he was gonna be having much fun with himself any time soon.
At least it was fixable. Simple. Restart a star. No problem!
Only it was a problem, because that angel pirate whatever he was...king jackass...was using his pod to restart the star, while his paws were clinging onto the controls. This, after he gave that fancy talking a-hole a free eyeball that he smuggled up his butt outta Contraxia? Well, gee. That was one helluva crappy trade-off.
The pod was spinning and spinning around, while Groot played his stupid video game inside the stupid Dwarf forge that his stupid self wanted to stupidly see. Because weapons. Major let down.
"...kinda not worth it!" a thoroughly nauseated Rocket Racoon was howling into the com channel. He fired off the boosters as they gained enough momentum, kickstarting the rings back into rotation and reigniting the star to restart the forge.
Everything was going smoothly until that aperture busted.
Dwarf-made shit? Overrated.
"Coulda skipped today," Rocket grumbled to himself, "but nope? I had to roll outta bed like a dumbass."
Eitri was right. The forge had to be re-started manually.
That did not make this any more enjoyable. The first time Thor did this, well, he hadn’t had much choice. He needed the weapon, he needed the forge, and he needed it to work. This time, he brought one of the smartest minds in the universe, and he still had to do the same thing. Life was hard. He was ashamed to admit that it took him a few moments of deep breaths and quiet contemplation to stand at the opening of the forge. The level of pain was indescribable, and doing it the second time only made it worse, but it had to be done.
Summoning all of his powers, he let out a loud scream as he willed his arms to open the forge and keep it open as he took on the direct heat and radiation from the star. The sounds of his skin sizzling was something that would haunt his dreams later, but for now, he gritted his teeth and took the pain. The unbelievable pain. He tried to remember exactly how long he needed to do this, but every second felt like an eternity against the unrelenting heat. Still, his jaw clenched, he held on as long as he could, his entire body struggling against the assault before he could hold it no longer.
The forge snapped shut and Thor fell tumbling into space, saved only by Rocket’s pod.
When Thor went to open the forge, Eitri looked at Val. “You will have to be my hands, girl. Once the star heats up the metal, we need the mold and we need the handle. We have seconds to complete this work, for if we do not, I highly doubt the King will be able to do a repeat performance, do you hear me?” He motioned to the set up. “Now get to work.”
Rocket all but crash landed the pod into the forge, sending a cripsy fried Thor landing with a tumble on the floor, as Eitri and Valkyrie set to work.
Groot, meanwhile, had been playing his video game. It was what every teen Groot wanted to do, besides worry about more facial sap spots cropping up. Every so often the young tree looked up, then it was right back to screen held between his twigs.
For the duration of this trip, the only thing he seemed to be interested in was that video game. Up until he looked over at the space angel man that was laying there, injured. Finally, the tree was more on what was going on around him.
Val did not like the way things were going. Firstly, sending Thor off to get fried was the last instinct she had. But it took one look from him to quell her concerns. He had this. And she would not question him. She didn’t have a doubt he could do it but the amount of agony he would be in… it felt wrong to just let it happen.
Eitri was a pain but she understood his concern. If her hands had been taken away from her, she would probably be a little rough around the edges. Okay a lot rough around the edges. Any other day, she would have put her sword to the throat of a stranger ordering her around, this time though, she obeyed.
The sound of Thor screaming felt like knives dragging down her back, even so far away her ears picked up the very distinct sound. She realized in that moment she never ever wanted to hear it again. Every single instinct she had told her to find him and fix it. To take it from him like she should. But she stayed, eyes trained on the blocks they were intending to melt, only flicking up as she saw the fire coming toward her, indicating things were going as planned before she shoved her shoulder under the gear and pushed.. “Allfathers, give him strength.”
Finally, she shoved the full mold to the ground, wincing as the heat danced across her skin, hammering at the block with her sword as EItri did the same with his hands. “Thor?” She said, eyes dancing to his crisp form and Jane at his side. “Keep speaking to him Jane!” He was dying, she could feel it. Like every battlefield she had danced across to pick the souls which she would claim and leave be. “Do not stop talking to him! Keep your voice in his head!” Panic was setting in as she realized the handle was missing. “The handle! Eitri!” She gestured up at him as she finally kicked the second mold completely free. “He needs the handle!” Eitri vanished around the corner as she looked around bewildered until she saw Groot stand, shockingly engaged in the action around him. “We need the handle, Groot.”
Groot was standing, the tree looking down at the blades of the axe, and then around at their surroundings. There was no handle to be seen. Time was of the essence, and the tree held out its left arm, the branches moving to bring the two pieces of metal together, winding around and twirling until his arm became the handle itself. With his right arm, Groot broke off the left, which would regrow, even though it hurt to do it.
"I am Groot," he said.
Unlike some of the others, Jane hadn’t told Thor it was crazy to hold open the forge. She knew better. This is what he did. The impossible thing. Took the pain onto himself because he could. Jane had seen Thor do a lot of brave things and this might be the bravest. Jane stared out Thor, silhouetted against the power of the star, his voice screaming in her ears, and her knuckles were white against the railing she was gripping. Neutron stars burn at approximately 1,000,000 degrees Kelvin, roughly 200 times hotter than the sun. The density is 10^17kg/mg^3, resulting in gravity 10^11 times stronger than Earth’s. Gravitational pull causes lensing. When binary neutron stars merge, they emit short duration gamma ray radio bursts…
He was falling, the pod practically crashing to catch him. “Thor!” Jane threw herself onto her knees beside him. Her hand hovered over him, unsure where to touch. His skin was black in some areas and his chestplate was steaming. Valkyrie was urging her to keep talking, which Jane registered almost distantly. “Hey. You’re okay. You’re okay, okay? You’re fine. I’m here. But you have to get up. Thor, you have get up.”
With much effort, a one-armed Groot dragged Stormbreaker over so that the handle touched Thor's hand.