There was a soft knock at the door. “Loki, it’s time.”
“I’ll be along in a minute,” Loki called back, blinking sleep out of his eyes. Softly, Hogun left, and Loki fell back onto the down-stuffed mattress, groaning softly. Thrym’s arms curled around him, warm and pale. Loki’s Jotun husband, who looked as Aesir as Loki himself.
Loki found himself preferring his husband’s natural form. No doubt his comrades would count this a step in the right direction. “Time to face the day,” Loki said resignedly.
“Urrgh,” Thrym groaned.
“Morning sickness?” Loki asked, twisting around in concern.
Thrym snorted. “Something like. Your get is very active.”
“It’s only been six months,” Loki frowned.
“Jotuns come to term more quickly than Aesir. But I still have a good while. Come, you should make ready for battle.”
Yes. Battle. Loki’s mouth set in a grim line. Quickly he dressed, massaging his left leg before pulling on his breeches. It seemed fine. If he hadn’t known better, he’d have said the leg was his own.
“Leg feeling stiff?”
“No. But perhaps I should have the Vanir medic take one last look at it. Wouldn’t do to have it go out from under me today.”
“..and end that spell, you look ridiculous.”
Thrym grinned, but let the spell fall away. He now matched the scale of the room, and instead of being of a height with Loki, was a good three feet taller.
“I will never understand why Laufey insisted on our marriage to cement the alliance.” Loki mused as he tugged on his boots. “Not,” he glanced up, “that I regret it.”
Thrym shrugged. He didn’t know why Laufey had seemed so shocked by the Aesir prince, it had been common knowledge by that time that Loki was in truth a Jotun, after all. But his king had stared at the sorcerer, long and hard, going so far as to descend from the throne and circle the foreign prince. And then, had pledged the full and unconditional support of Jotunheim (what remained of it after Thor) on the single condition that Loki bear a child with Thrym.
Thrym was not Laufey’s offspring, he was a general, trusted and competent, whom Laufey had appointed to inherit the throne, as both Helblindi and Byleistr had perished in Thor’s first attack.
“Good politics? Good breeding?” Those were the only theories Thrym had. “We don’t have so many sorcerers that we can afford to waste them. And as I am appointed heir, a magically talented child would only strengthen my line, as my talent with magic is meagre at best.”
Loki mused over this as he walked down the cold stone corridor. The hallways were empty, echoing. It had felt intensely unnatural at first, settling into a deserted Jotun castle as their main base of resistance. Now, the over-large architecture felt normal, even comfortable.
And the castle had areas large enough for the Vanir. That had been a surprise. Vanaheim had been razed by civil war long before Loki had even been born. Before Odin’s time, even. Their source of power had been lost, and was rumored to have been destroyed utterly, leaving the immortal Vanir to wither and rage in their death throes, fighting each other to the last.
Discovering a small handful of them on Midgard had saved Loki, Thrym, and Hogun’s lives, and the Vanir (or Cybertronians, as they called themselves) had joined their small group of rebels. Of course, some few had joined Thor as well, for the pure joy of destruction, it seemed.
“Ratchet?” Loki called as he reached the hall. The Vanir medic looked up from an intricate piece of machinery.
“Ah, Loki. Come in, come in.” Ratchet said as he stood up, and up, towering over even Thrym, who stood at Loki’s side. “Let’s have a look at that leg of yours.”
Loki submitted to the gruff attentions of the Vanir as Ratchet ran a scanner over Loki’s left leg. Unlike Odin, who’d lost an eye at the end of a successful campaign, Loki had been unlucky enough to lose part of his leg at the start of the rebellion. Ratchet and Loki had worked together to design a prosthetic for him. It integrated Vanir technology with Aesir magic, resulting in a smooth fusion between metal, energon, and synthetic material on the one side, and blood, bone, and muscle on the other. It even shifted into his Jotun form with him.
“Looks fine. Let me just calibrate this… there. Good as new. Better, even. Try not to get it damaged too badly,” Ratchet glowered.
“Of course.” Loki hid a grin. It was still odd, how little people here feared or distrusted him. Respected, yes. Cared about, that too. Believed in. He found that the hardest to fathom.
“Hogun will be waiting,” Thrym reminded.
Heading towards the war room where Hogun waited, Loki made a detour into a large room. A Vanir, Ironhide, sat with several metal plates removed from his frame as a human studied the intricate workings within. The human, Tony Stark, sat back frowning in concentration. Loki nodded to Ironhide.
“Making progress?” Loki asked.
“Yes,” Stark replied absently, arc generator glowing to match the Vanir’s eyes, “I’ll have the new prototype armour ready in in six days, and enough of them manufactured to outfit an entire damn company of marines within the month. That should give us a leg up with the damn Vikings,” he scowled.
Loki clapped Tony Stark on the back. “I’m glad you’re on our side,” was all he said.
Moving on, they came to the war room. Inside stood Hogun and King Youko of the Svartálfar. The Svartálfar, along with the Jotuns, were the backbone of the rebellion, though all rallied around Loki’s leadership. But the Jotuns had been defeated twice now, once by Odin, once by Thor. The Svartálfar were good warriors, but not numerous, nothing compared to the forces of Asgard and Alfheim combined.
The humans were too weak to make any real difference, although with Stark’s help and the availability of Vanir technology, that might change soon. As long as Thor did not split his attention between Svartálfaheim and Midgard to destroy Midgard in a preemptive strike.
Loki had tried to prevent the war with the Jotuns, not out of any feeling for them, but simply because Thor was doing it for the wrong reasons. He’d failed. And Thor’s thirst for violence had grown. “They must learn to fear me,” was a phrase that Loki learned to dread, prefacing as it did Thor’s more violent excesses.
When Jotunheim lay defeated, Loki had hoped that Thor would be satisfied, and for a while it seemed he was. But then Thor started to rumble about slights and insults from Alfheim, which turned to diatribes against the Alfar. In the end, Thor had set his sights on Alfheim. After all, they must learn to fear him, or they might try to attack Asgard. Loki had tried to talk him down, tried to get him to see reason. It seemed to work, and the situation calmed down.
At that time, there had been Jotun prisoners in Asgard, novelty slaves to amuse the conquerors.
That was when Loki had met Thrym. It was sad, in a twisted way, that Loki had recognized something in the unbowed back of the bloody, beaten Jotun that reminded him of all the good in Thor – the stubbornness, the strength, and when Loki’s heritage came to light, the understanding, the empathy. Thrym had even tried to talk Loki out of his raging fit, taking the vile insults Loki leveled at him with equanimity. Then, Loki had struck Thrym, a telling blow. The sight of Thrym’s blood on the floor had made him falter. Thrym had gotten back up, stood ready for the next strike. Loki had had no more blows to give.
In the end, Loki had gone to his father seeking answers. Odin, who was still weak, barely recovering even after his Odinsleep, had not been shocked when Loki revealed his Jotun form. Loki had waited while Odin gathered his strength, ready for the truth.
Then Thor had barged in.
Loki remembered vaguely trying to defend himself, but Thor must have gotten in the first blow. He recalled his father standing, blocking Thor’s way. He had a vivid flash of Odin crumpled against a wall. More fighting. Guards. Hogun. Then nothing, until he woke up on Midgard, Thor hot on his trail.
There had been a battle, Thor fighting in earnest, Loki trying to survive. Loki would have died, had it not been for Thrym and Hogun. Then the Vanir had come, and the full force of the Midgard’s military, tilting the odds in favour of Loki’s group. Barely.
Odin was dead. Loki was named murderer, traitor, and exile.
Thor declared war on Alfheim not a week later.