A blur of green fabric and blonde hair flew down a metal hallway, boots slamming the grated floor with each step, as an orchestra of sirens wailed like hundreds of screaming children. The blonde-haired man held another man tightly in his arms. This man’s head flopped just outside of the first’s grip, a wave of long, black strands trailing behind it. He was out cold, his already pale face bleached of life.
The first man, Thor, wore the dark green and black uniform of the SHIELD military. The man in his arms, Loki, his brother, sported a shapeless, grey jumpsuit with a black, six-digit number stamped on the back. Lights flashed, dyeing the halls red, and the screeching that could scrape eardrums raw refused to relent. It blared long enough at the same continuous pitch that it began to blend into the background as if it had always been there.
Thor kept glancing over his shoulder, running as fast as he could manage while bearing the weight of his brother. A stampede of approaching soldiers thundered against the vented metal in their chase. Thor only ran harder, as capture wasn’t even considered an option in his mind.
The arduous hours of effort and planning he put into the rescue of his brother were to ensure failure wouldn’t happen. SHIELD had taken him a year and a half before and the signs were evident. His wrists were raw and bloody from where he’d been bound and struggled against it, the skin around his eyes was a deep purple from being denied sleep for days, and there was pinprick of a hole in his forehead that reached all the way to his brain. He’d been experimented on and now that Thor had him back, he wasn’t about to let him go. He could hear the storm of soldiers gaining speed, clamoring into view behind him.
“Keep running,” he told himself under his breath. “It will be okay, brother. We’re almost out.”
He drove himself even harder, pushing off the ground with more force so that he almost launched through the air with every step. He managed to extend the gap between himself and the soldiers before skidding to a stop at a four-way intersection of halls. There was only a moment of hesitation before he turned right down an identical hall.
Thor began to feel the ache setting into his arms as Loki seemed heavier with every passing second. He could feel him slipping, sliding down his grip into an uncomfortable position for the both of them. It slowed his momentum and caused his pace to waver. He tried to adjust his brother but attempting to do it while running set him off balance. He wobbled on the heels of his feet before falling, his brother skidding a few feet from his grasp like a limp, lifeless doll.
The air was knocked from his lungs on contact. He gasped for breath as he scrambled to his hands and knees, the crisscrossed metal digging sharply into his palms. He crawled toward Loki, reaching out for him as the soldiers drew closer. His outstretched fingers just brushed his brother’s arm when several strong pairs of hands yanked him away by his feet.
“NO!” he shouted, shoving his fingers into the grating to stop himself.
He gritted his teeth as blood welled up and spilled down his fingertips from the wounds it made. He dislodged his hand to grab the grate further away, to pull himself forward, but another tug dragged him from his brother.
He looked like a part of the crowd as he was lifted onto his feet and surrounded by soldiers. A mob of them held his arms and torso, keeping him from moving anywhere, as another group circled Loki’s unconscious form. Thor struggled hard, the veins in his arms and neck bulging, but there were too many people holding him. He watched helplessly as they picked his brother up off of the floor.
“LOKI!’ he cried, refusing to give up in his fight “BROTHER, WAKE UP! PLEASE! I NEED YOU!”
The soldiers held his body up by the arms, carelessly letting his feet drag as they started to walk. His words seemed to have no affect on him. Thor almost crumpled in the soldiers’ grip, losing hope like blood. They dragged him past Thor, letting him watch as they kidnapped his brother again, when he noticed his brother’s eyelids flutter as if trying to open.
At the sound of his name, his eyelids shot open, revealing a pair of scared green eyes. He looked down at the hands holding his arms and his expression morphed to that of pure terror. He screamed, loud and long enough to rival the shrieks of the siren. He fought hard, whipping his limbs like striking snakes in an attempt to free them. His whole body was trapped in a fear spiked frenzy, adrenaline pumping through him to keep him fighting. More soldiers flowed in to try and control him but he had already loosened the soldiers’ hold enough to break free.
Once unrestrained, he wasn’t completely sure what to do with himself. His screaming ceased as he stood on the defensive, turning to see he was blocked on all sides by a sea of SHIELD operatives. Panic and confusion were clearly expressed in his features as he flexed his fingers instinctively. This seemingly insignificant gesture appeared to set the soldiers on edge. They tensed; a few even stole a step backward. Loki frantically searched for a way out when he heard a familiar voice.
“Brother!” Thor called.
Loki didn’t register the word but his head swiveled to track the source of the sound. He looked with blank eyes at the scruffy, beat up, blonde man that was his brother. He stared hard at him and Thor stared back, praying for some sort of recognition to register. After a few seconds, Loki’s expression sparked to life, finally realizing what was said.
“Thor?” His realization morphed into sickening fear. “No. No no no no. What are you doing here? You should not be here.”
He talked expressively, waving his arms and startling the soldiers around him.
“I came to free you, brother. I’m afraid I failed,” he said with a sad smile.
Loki looked at the men and women holding his brother and his brow creased in anger. His jaw set from gritted teeth and he curled his hands into fists. The tension in the hallway was thick as seconds ticked on like minutes.
In one fluid movement, Loki drew back his right hand, as if were about to backhand someone, and plucked a handful of glowing throwing knives from the air. With deadly grace and precision, he sliced through the air with his arm, letting the knives fly like lethal doves. He didn’t have to watch to know they hit their marks. They always did. The thuds of five bodies dropping were only a confirmation.
Five less people holding onto him allowed Thor to wrench free of his captors, joining his brother in the middle of the swarm. He grabbed Loki’s arm and pulled him, charging at the wall of soldiers in the direction he needed to go. The men and women toppled over like bowling pins as Thor hit them with all the force he could muster and he kept running without looking back.
“Where are we going?” Loki asked, still being dragged like a rag doll.
“Don’t talk, just run.”
They barreled down the hall and took a sharp right where Thor stopped abruptly. The hallway looked like all of the others with the exception of five identical doors lining each wall. Thor ran to the first one and punched a code into the keypad beside it. There was an audible click as the door unlocked, allowing Thor to open it and push Loki inside. He followed quickly after, slamming the door shut.
He exhaled as if he’d been holding his breath the whole time but still didn’t seem to relax. The room they walked into was dark with the exception of a circular button that gave off a red light. Thor pressed it without hesitation and lights started to turn on. As they did, a second door slid out in front of the first and sealed itself shut with a hiss. It was then that Thor seemed to loosen up. A smile even crossed his face.
Loki looked around him at the steel casing he stood in. It was a small space with little standing room, two chairs, and a control panel. A thick, rectangular glass shield was set just above the panel, allowing them to see a narrow runway.
“An escape pod.”
“An escape pod!” Thor repeated excitedly.
He quickly pulled his brother into an embrace, holding him there for a few more seconds than was comfortable for him.
“You’re finally back.”
He let Loki go and held him at arm’s length so he could truly look at him for the first time in almost two years.
“I… They did things.”
“Horrible things… to me.”
“You don’t know. No. You can’t,” he shook his head violently, wrapping his arms around himself.
“It doesn’t matter anymore. You’re safe now. I will not let them get to you again.” Thor drew him into another hug and he was a little less reluctant the second time. “Come, brother. We should leave this ship before they break in.”
Thor released Loki and sat in the black, leather pilot’s chair, gesturing for his brother to sit in the twin co-pilot’s chair. Loki complied, watching as he reached up and flipped a few switches on the ceiling to start the tiny pod’s engine. It flared up, rumbling the whole body. Once the vessel was ready, he gripped the steering mechanism and moved it forward, flying out of the massive ship and into the blackness of space.
“Where are we headed?” Loki asked, staring out of the glass at the stars in the distance.
“Somewhere we can hide the pod and ourselves. Maybe even find a ride with another ship,” Thor replied, concentrating on the controls.
“It’s going to be a while, Loki. Why don’t you rest until we get there? You need it.”
Loki nodded in response even though his brother hadn’t been looking. He curled up in his chair, compacting himself into as tight of a ball as he could manage. It didn’t take him long to drift off. He hadn’t slept in days.