Warnings: bad grammar and multiple mistakes
Disclaimer: most of the characters are not mine, but all the mistakes are.
Loki was captivated by the austere beauty of the ship.
She was incredible, primitive by the Aesir point of view and yet- sturdy and dependable.
The prince wondered why was he so impressed by the tour, why he enjoyed every second being inside the ship in her tight and narrow corridors, listening to the sound of ocean waves beating on the hull from outside and feeling the walls vibrate with the steady hum of the ship's engine. He even took a second and put his palm on the wall, feeling the low almost imperceptible sound of her heart under his skin.
Humans had long abandoned the belief that world around them was alive and sentient, a regretful mistake from Loki's perspective, because each time a question crossed his mind and he addressed her, he could feel the ship responding to his polite inquiries. It was never words or sentences, more like feelings and undercurrents, but Loki could sense every single halftone of the ship's mood, her curiosity, her solemn promise to protect those inside her, and a warm welcome to the prince.
However inconceivable it might have seemed, the war ship was genuinely trying to be as hospitable to the newcomers as she could.
And for that Loki was enormously grateful.
His brother, though, was equally disappointed, bored and infuriated as Loki was captivated.
The elder Aesir didn't care to display any interest in the ship whatsoever, most likely because the technology was so outmatched by the Asgardians. His derogatory assumptions of Midgardian inferiority had gotten their physical evidence and Thor didn't have any motive to be even politely attentive.
Perhaps though it was also caused by the fact that he had a hard time navigating through the ship's passages. They were rather narrow even for smaller-framed humans, and Thor was more massive then most of them. He kept constantly bumping into the walls or hitting his head on the low-rise door frames and that made him angrier with each time.
Loki wondered if this was an elegant and very discrete revenge from the Captain Iceman for Thor's earlier arrogance- surely the crew could have chosen another, easier and more ...spacious route for their guests.
Instead the Chief Executive Officer, a young pleasantly looking man whom Iceman delegated to assist Jay in entertaining the princes, was leading them through passage ways so meandering and tight Loki wondered if he should have stocked some of the weapon lube he saw seamen using on ordnance to squeeze himself easier through the halls.
When the procession finally emerged back to the surface on the flying deck, Loki's knees almost buckled under the feeling that rushed over him. It might have been the light, blinding and incapacitating after a long time in the darkness, or perhaps a gush of ocean breeze, filling his lungs with fresh air, making his head spin with the taste of freedom it brought.
The US Navy Carrier Victoria was heading to the open ocean on full throttle, slicing the bottomless waves with her mighty body, only slightly holding back to let the other two convoy ships catch up with her.
Those were a cruiser US Monterrey, which primary designation was reconnaissance and tactical support of the exercise, and smaller but faster heavily armed destroyer US Santa Ana, tasked with providing cover fire and amphibious support to the carrier.
Loki could quote all the technical details about all three ships, their weight in tons, speed capacity and armament they carried on board- not because he was so interested in data so specific, but because he knew he would be the one to report to the All Father upon their return to Asgard. So he was obliged to memorize everything, no matter how insignificant it might have seemed.
To speak truthfully though, Loki was much more interested in airplanes.
Those little birds nesting on the carrier's aircraft platform were captivating- the way they operated was pretty simple, and yet those birds were capable of rather astonishing performance.
Thor would never understand Loki's fascination with the metal that made a man soar in the skies like an eagle, but how could he- he already had his own means of flying, the rest was unworthy of his attention.
Loki on the other hand dreamed every night of being able to fly so freely among the clouds, far from the boundaries of earth, defying gravity and leaving behind all the burdens and judgments.
Loki could appear in the skies by himself if he chose to, but it was teleporting- jumping continuously from one place in space to another by the means of magic, it was only for practical purposes and never for pleasure.
He would ask Thor to carry him, like the did so often when they were children, but that time was long gone and that childish request was unbefitted for a true warrior. He would not give Thor another reason to think of him as a weakling.
The younger Aesir sighed, it would be lovely to find something...or someone who could take him flying again...but that was only a dream, a means of recuperating for a tired mind, and he should think nothing more of it.
The prince had to shake his head a bit to get rid of those obsessive idea.
He had more important things to concentrate on.
For example, how to prevent Thor and Iceman going after each other the second they meet again.
Iceman clearly wasn't planning to go easy on Thor, and Loki's brilliant brother was too bull headed to maneuver out of the tricky situations. Of course, the fight between them would be short, but Loki seriously doubted the rest of the crew would take the demise of their captain lightly, especially that group of assassins who were impersonating the officers at the moment.
Loki wished agent Coulson was with them so he wouldn't have to deal with those two all by himself, but the bastard excused himself from the exercise a night before, justifying it with some sort of emergency in Latin America he had to be present at. He promised to be back in time for the main show, but as the ship carried the Aesir further and further away from the shore, the agent's promise became more and more improbable to fulfill.
While the younger Aesir was musing on the important life questions, the group ended up on the Vultures row- a small platform above the flying deck, designated solely as a observation point.
The officer motioned to the crew beneath them and Loki's heart beat faster when two Raptors started their engines, crawled lazily on the runway and took off to the skies with deafening roar.
“As the fighters reach the maximum speed they will drop the altitude and return to show us some of their best maneuvering capabilities...” Officer didn't bother to hide the pride in his voice, which made Thor huff with disdain.
“So proud of your puny weapons, is this the best you can do?”
“I can assure you our planes are among the best in the world...”
“You speak loud of your technological development and yet had not offered us anything worthy to challenge Aesir's magic.”
“Sir, I understand that your technology is much more advanced then ours, but...”
“It will last not even a second in a combat shall there be one between you and another realm.”
Loki wished at that moment he could throw Thor off the deck and be done with the uncomfortable situations for the rest of the time on Earth, but on the other hand...falling onto his head wont do Thor any harm, just piss him off more.
So he instead kept his mouth shut for a moment and watched the officer's reaction.
The man must've learned the art of the “Poker face” from agent Coulson because his features betrayed nothing, and only the eyes were storming with anger.
“Permission to inquire, how old is your civilization?”
Thor automatically straightened up, voice booming with pride. “As old as the universe itself.”
“Well, our is only 3 thousand years, which kinda puts us in disadvantage position here.”
Thor glared at the officer gloomily, “That does not explain why you shy away from the battle. A real warrior seeks his foe face to face, and all you do is hide behind your machines.”
“And a smart warrior finishes the battle from afar to avoid casualties.”
And a supreme warrior wins a war without fighting.
Loki thought of revealing his intake on the matter, but was stopped by Thor's growl of anger, as the Thunderer didn't take kindly a disrespectful remark.
Though something else made Loki a bit more tense- movement behind his back, where Steve was shifting in frustration, deep frown on his face betraying internal turmoil.
The least thing Loki needed right now is for Steve to get involved in the argument.
Loki reached out and caught Rogers' arm but failed to to stop the man from interfering.
“Have you ever seen our men fight? How can you even think of an accusation like that if...”
Steve's indignant inquiry was interrupted by Thor's grunt of displeasure,
“The men are only as good as their leader and your leader chose to hide away from me like a witless coward.”
“He is not hiding, he has a ship to run...”
“And here I thought you wouldn't miss me.”
The Captain Iceman's calm voice cut the air from behind and Loki felt as the temperature around them fell for at least several degrees. He suddenly had an urge to hide behind the Chief Officer's back, but it was impossible because Jay was already hiding there.
Thor barely restrained a sneer of fury at the sight of the Captain.
“I warn you human, I will not allow you to disrespect me.”
“I'm merely treating you as you treat us. If you don't like it...well, you'll have to reconsider you behavior.”
“You dare lecturing me? I am Thor, the prince of Asgard!”
“But you are not on Asgard, and we are not your servants! Let me remind you we did not ask you to come here, you invited yourself. So do me a favor and behave how you are supposed to – as a guest.”
Thor advanced at the captain, eyes stormy and teeth grinding, ready to strike any moment,
“You certain you want to challenge my power?”
Iceman instead of stepping back lazily strolled forward, obviously confusing Thor with the lack of fear,
“I don't doubt your qualifications as a warrior. It is your lack of diplomatic talent that worries me.”
Now their noses were almost touching and Loki aside from feeling very much uncomfortable felt a sting of jealousy for the Captain Iceman, because the officer stood face to face with a raging God of Thunder and didn't even flinch.
For a second Loki was grateful Iceman was a mere human, otherwise he would be very worried for his brother.
“I'm well suited for diplomacy, you simply are too blind to see that.”
Iceman quirked an eyebrow at Thor, and Loki realized suddenly he was not the only one holding his breath on the deck.
“Oh, am I? All right then, prove it, and I will fall to my knees and praise you.”
Thor grinned, he was always up to the challenge.
Iceman grinned back and Loki felt his stomach sink.
“How many people are on this ship?”
Thor stared at him in utter shock.
“What's the ship's fastest speed?”
Iceman sighed, “Fine, I'll go easy on you. What's the name of the ship you standing on, the Prince of Asgard?”
The question was so easy it was insulting, but what was even more ridiculous that Thor just stood there, face distorted by attempt to think, and didn't give any intelligent answer whatsoever. The realization must have hit him too, because the shock and anger morphed into frustration and something resembling shame, but then it was gone, replaced by the fury.
“How dare you...”
“How dare I?” Iceman never raised his voice, but nevertheless let others feel his anger as his words vibrated with rage and reprimand.
“My men here just spent two hours telling you everything about the ship and you can't even remember her name. You know what it means?”
Iceman leaned even closer and stared into Thor's eyes, unblinking. “That you are nothing, but a failure.”
Loki closed his eyes for a second. That was it. That was Thor's breaking point, and no words in the universe could stop Thor from attacking the Captain...
The scene was interrupted by the loud announcement over the ship's intercom.
“This is an emergency. Captain Iceman, your presence is requested on the bridge immediately. I repeat, this is an emergency.”
The Captain frowned and threw a confused look at his Chief Officer, who just shrugged in return.
What could have happened over those 5 minutes the Captain was absent from the bridge?
The Universe itself decided to give him an answer, as the grave cry sounded off from the Forward Watch Standard, “Incoming!!!”
The men only had time to look up at the skies and notice huge trails of fire going their direction when the world around them turned into burning inferno.
The first thing Loki realized was that he was pinned down to the floor by a heavy weight that obviously belonged to a person since that person's hair was annoyingly sticking into Loki's eyes. The mop of blond tresses looked suspiciously like Roger's and when Loki's eyes came back to focus, the suspicion turned out to be correct.
The human grunted in pain and slowly raised his face from Loki's chest, “Are you alright?”
A lot of questions flashed through Loki's mind, differing from “what had just happened?”
to “what the hell were you thinking shielding me with your own body, you brave idiot!”, but the prince just nodded and helped his friend get up from a rather compromising position.
Around them was chaos.
The air burned with heat, heavy black smoke and smell of melting metal, and there were fire flies everywhere, and screeching of the ropes, and moaning of the abused hull, and screams.
Loki searched for his brother immediately, and found him to his left, unharmed, along with the Chief commanding officer and Captain Iceman who looked equally surprised and murderous. He couldn't find Jay though, and a jolt of fear ran cold through his veins when a moan came from underneath the debris behind them.
Steve rushed forward and lifted what was left of a heavy door like it was a sheet of paper, and Loki was there to pull Jay back to his feet. The smaller human was hurt- apparently the explosion greased him, scorching right side of his face and almost completely burning away his eyelashes and eyebrows, making the skin bright red and covered in blisters.
That wouldn't kill, Loki was assured of it, but it could hurt as hell, and it obviously did as Jay's muttered “Thanks” escaped through his clenched teeth, his dark eyes full of tears betraying his pain.
Loki wasn't good at healing injuries of others as he could only assist himself, but at least he could ease the suffering. And so, the Aesir reached for his silken scarf, muttering spells of acquiring water to make it wet, of summoning cold to keep it cool, and of conjuring an ointment to sooth the pain and promote healing.
When the satin fabric touched Jay's cheek he winced and shot a questioning look at Loki, trying to push his hand away, but the prince just tightened the hold, giving magic a moment to flow from his fingers into the burnt human skin and repair it.
As the pain retreated under the sparks of the spells and Jay's features relaxed, Loki withdrew his hand and turned to another urgent matter- identifying the attacker.
The problem was, there was none. The prince looked around the deck for remnants of armaments or shells or pieces of weaponry used by assaulter, but there were only shatters of melted rock, still sizzling from the impact.
Very interesting rocks, actually.
Loki stepped closer to the fence and strained his eyes to get a better look at the debris- he could see those stones shining here and there among the devastation, glistening through the smoke. Different in size, but all alike- dark, metallic matrix with bright yellow crystals suspended inside.
They were beautiful in their unexpected way and definitely alien to Midgard.
At least, to its surface.
They might have been igneous from a blast of an active volcano, but in that case Loki would've felt the shock wave from explosion...
And since he didn't, it left only one plausible source – the outer space.
Meteorites? How weird is that.
Loki looked up at the skies and involuntarily stepped back in fear.
The skies were dark, heavy storm clouds casting shadows on the seething ocean all the way to the horizon, sliced from time to time not by the lightning, but by the fire trails of meteorites burning in the atmosphere as they made their way to the ground- majestic and horrifying scenery to the eyes of the beholder.
That wasn't however a reason for Loki's dismay- a burning F-22 Raptor on a straight collision course with the carrier's flying deck was.
Apparently, one of the birds that earlier took off decided to come home but was hit by a fireball in midair, loosing one of the engines and maneuverability in the process.
As the machine twisted and turned, responding to the pilot's desperate attempts to stir it away from the ship, Loki thought that perhaps it was a good time for Thor to wake up and call upon Mjolnir, summoning the lightning or take any other action, not just stay there, looking pretty.
The pilot must've realized he couldn't do anything and ejected- and that very moment a round of fire burst from behind Loki's back and hit the fighter, blowing it up moments from hitting the ship and showering all the men beneath it with a hail of splinters.
Loki shielded his face from the blast and whirled on his heels just in time to see a black helicopter rising slowly from behind the masts, casually shooting down incoming meteorites big enough to cause damage to the carrier.
It was big and black with a big stylized eagle emblem on the side- just like the one that got Loki and Thor to the base a day before.
I see, the Son of Coul kept his promise after all.
Loki smiled as the helicopter hovered almost perfectly still right above the flying deck and Agent Coulson jumped out of the open door and charged towards the Vultures Row, calm and elegant among the waste, motioning the pilot to take off.
Iceman extended his hand and helped the agent up as the latter short cut his way up the levels.
“Captain, we have a situation.”
“Yeah, I can see that.”
“I suggest we come inside and discuss it.”
The agent turned around to look into Steve's eyes, “Yes, Mr. Rogers?”
“Were those things...meteorites?”
“Indeed they were, we just hit the asteroid belt, captain. Now come inside, we need to plan a defensive strategy.”
The agent's face looked grim, “Because we haven't entered the main impact zone yet.”
"Red Alert! Red Alert! All men in hand to general quarters! This is not a drill! All men in hand to general quarters!"
The itercom echoed through the chaos and Loki watched for a second as people aboard jerked their heads up, as if coming out of a trance, or more likely shock, and started moving, faster and faster, in all directions, hurrying to their battle stations.
He heard a sound of volley and realized the US Santa Ana had opened fire on the bolides, shielding the carrier from the impacts with a veil of fire.
A firm grip fixed on Loki's elbow and he didn't get a time to protest as Steve dragged him inside.