Chapter 1: Take My Paw, Loki
Loki was bored.
He was stupendously,
He had lost count
of how long he had been
in prison this time,
largely because he was
busy trying to reassemble his magic.
It was urgent that he succeed
in freeing himself
before the Chitauri
managed to track him down.
They would not be happy
about the loss of the Tesseract.
A white cat slipped into his cell,
seeming not to notice
the stone walls and magical wards.
"Now how did you do that?"
Loki wondered aloud,
regarding the possible ally.
Cats were sometimes master
of stranger mysteries.
"I go where I want,"
the cat replied.
"That's quite a gift," said Loki,
who was a sorcerer himself.
"What brings you here?"
"Take my paw, Loki,
and I will bring you to the Tesseract,"
the cat offered.
Loki took his paw.
The cell ceased to contain them.
Loki and the cat
walked the branches of
Yggdrasil the World Tree,
high in the solar winds
where the Bifrost had never gone.
It was terrible and beautiful.
Loki could not help remembering
how he had once fallen
through the empty spaces
that reached all around them.
Yet the branch beneath his feet
remained solid, and the white cat
shone like a beacon ahead of him.
For once in his life, Loki followed willingly.
"Why are you doing this?"
"Let's say I share your interest
in the Tesseract," said the cat.
"There may be some small difficulty
in liberating it from its current location."
"Isn't there always," Loki said,
trying and failing not to think of Thor.
"Let me guess: evil twin?"
"Good twin, actually," said the cat.
"I myself am the evil one of us,
although it's a matter of quantum mechanics
rather than concurrent birth."
"Won't this be fun,"
Presently they came to a world,
and within the world, a desert.
After some thought, Loki recognized it
as Midgard, but not the Midgard that he knew.
Somehow they had come to a different one.
"Welcome to Texas, watch your step,"
the cat said to Loki as they settled
into the soft red-gold sand.
The air was hot and dry.
The landscape was full of warm colors --
tawny or chocolate rocks,
yellow and orange wildflowers --
cooled only by green grass and trees.
It looked nothing like the frozen realm of Jotunheim.
Loki liked Texas.
Texas did not like Loki.
Guess who has the bigger bag of cats.
Meanwhile, in a compound not far away,
Bruce Banner was experiencing a probability failure.
This was the only way the poor scientist's brain
could define what seemed to be happening to him.
Specifically, he had turned into a cat:
quite a large and handsome cat,
with shaggy brown fur striped in black,
wide triangular ears with tufts at the tip,
and a magnificent flume of tail.
"Will you look at that," Ash said casually,
"Bruce is a Maine Coon."
Bruce stalked forward,
lashing his long splendid tail.
He placed himself nose-to-nose with Alex,
whose fault this doubtless was,
and leaned into her.
Alex was, at the moment,
not a tall blonde woman
and a very capable fellow scientist
but a cream-furred and rather small cat
who had somehow managed to blow up reality --
again -- without so much as a puff of smoke.
"Alex ... turn me back,"
Bruce said to her. "NOW."
Chapter 2: Some Kind of Incursion
Bruce learns the joys of being a cat. Then Loki arrives, and everyone's day gets a lot less relaxing.
"I'm sorry Bruce," said Alex.
"I can't do that yet.
There's been some kind of incursion
and it caused this as a side effect.
It will take me a while to sort out.
Just relax and enjoy yourself."
"This is not relaxing,"
Bruce said. "I need to stay calm.
Bad things happen otherwise."
Ash stroked her hand down his back.
Bruce arched into the touch.
"Oh," he said. "Oh, that feels so good.
Do that some morrrre ..."
His voice trailed off into a purr,
and he flopped down on Ash's lap.
Ash said smugly.
Bruce kneaded her thigh
with just a hint of claw.
"I think we may need some backup,"
said Kay, and put in a call
to Dusty and her mercenaries.
The rest of the morning passed quietly, though,
and Bruce was astonished at how much
he enjoyed being a cat.
Then the Teflon Tesseract
began to do something new and stranger.
It went from being the size of a county
to the size of a Rubik's cube.
Bruce stared in dismay
at the small mirrored block,
seeing himself reflected in it.
"I am Loki of Asgard," said a sly voice,
"and I come burdened with glorious purpose.
Give me the Tesseract."
Bruce put his paws on it. "Loki ..."
This is not the Tesseract you're looking for.
The silvery cube
did look different than the one
he remembered seeing before.
Perhaps it was not the object
that he sought after all.
He opened his mind
and searched for the mystical signature.
It was ... everywhere ...
spread out like fog
in long looping tracks
across the countryside.
Loki sighed, and began
to search on foot.
Surely he would come to
something that looked more familiar.
What he found instead
was his new ally
perched atop a cube
of plain beige fabric.
The mystical signature in the room
was doing things that Loki
had never imagined, let alone seen,
and he said so in a rather plaintive tone.
"Loki, this is a tesseract.
Quit blithering and help me program it,"
said the white cat.
Cats purr for many reasons. It can be voluntary or involuntary. In this series, I'm taking advantage of the tremendously hedonistic nature of cats to render the characters vulnerable to sheer physical pleasure in ways that they aren't while in human form. Shapeshifting can be very disconcerting that way.
Kneading is a carryover from nursing as kittens. Some cats are always gentle or always rough with it. Particularly savvy cats may be gentle when pleased, but use claws when annoyed.
Bruce's remark about the Tesseract is paraphrased from Star Wars. I tend to write Bruce as a geek.
Obi-Wan: "These aren't the droids you're looking for."
The quote has made it into everyday language use as seen in the Urban Dictionary reference.
Chapter 3: An Occupational Hazard
Loki and Evil!Schrodinger struggle with the Tesseract. Alex, Kay, and Bruce interrupt them.
Honestly he did.
The Tesseract --
or at least this version of it --
utterly defied him.
"Perhaps I should have made
a more thorough examination of Tony Stark
before heaving him out a window,"
Loki grumbled as he worked.
"Yes, I've had quite similar thoughts
said the white cat.
"It's an occupational hazard, I think.
I've heard the same from
many of my villain friends."
"You know, you're right.
Victor says exactly the same thing
about Mr. Fantastic.
Just between you and me,
I think there's some ... history there."
"Usually is," his ally agreed.
"Here, hold this." He hooked his claws
into the air and pulled out
what looked like a bit of string.
It took Loki three tries to grab hold,
and even then it writhed and burned in his grasp
like a live wire, sparking with power.
Then somebody shot at them,
and Loki dropped the thing,
causing magic to spatter everywhere.
"Alex, watch out," shouted Kay.
"Evil!Schrodinger is back in the compound!"
The Tesseract folded itself away into thin air
as the white cat yowled a protest
and ran out of the room,
abandoning Loki to his fate.
It wasn't as if Loki
would have done anything different
if their positions had been reversed.
He dodged the gunfire
and fled for his life.
The green grass and scrubland
provided meager cover
but Loki was accustomed
to making do with less.
He was quite proud of his progress
sneaking across the compound
until Bruce abruptly blocked his path.
"Don't make me angry," said Bruce,
warm breeze ruffling his shaggy fur.
"You wouldn't like me when I'm angry."
"I am actually aware of that,"
Loki said in a sour tone.
"You made that quite clear
the last time we met."
"I've never seen you before in my life,"
Bruce said. "I'm quite sure I'd remember.
You smell crazy and you look even worse."
"Fine words from someone
who can't even control his own shape,"
Loki shot back. "It's a poor berserker
that loses his grip on himself
off the field of battle."
Bruce flinched and looked away.
That was all the chance Loki needed
to dart past him and escape,
using his long legs to good advantage.
Soon he made his way
back inside the building,
following his magic-sense
to another nexus of power.
The Tesseract had rematerialized.
Loki stared at it in horror.
This time it took the form
of a red-and-green cube
made of some springy cloth.
He poked at it.
Threads of magic
curled away into the air.
Evil!Schrodinger was nowhere to be seen.
Loki would just have to try on his own.
He cast a nice solid shielding spell
and then settled down to meditate
on the proper sequence of runes
to harness the power before him.
Some undetermined time later,
Loki opened his eyes
to a hammering headache
and a small cream cat saying gently,
"Loki, sweetie, you need quantum physics
to understand a tesseract."
Loki's defenestration of Tony Stark appears in The Avengers.
Good!Schrodinger and evil!Schrodinger have kind of an odd relationship. It's what my desertfolk call "best enemies." Among enertainment tropes it touches on Enemy Mine, Worthy Opponent, and Friendly Enemy. Some of this also applies to Loki and Thor, or Loki and the Avengers. Then there's FoeYay, love between enemies, and of course I ship good!Schrodinger/evil!Schrodinger. Troll romance divides relationships into quadrants, in which hate between two equals is called kismesissitude; this is particularly apt for the early stages of good!Schrodginer/evil!Schrodinger.
Cosmic string is a topological defect of space, sometimes appearing in quantum science fiction -- and science fantasy or fantasy featuring cats. This overlaps the concepts of cat's cradle, a type of string figure game. Learn how to play cat's cradle.
Villains typically flee from danger, abandoning their allies if necessary or even using them as a meat shield. They may not even consider this a form of betrayal, as they never trusted each other in the first place, just working together as long as it was convenient.
Bruce's quote "Don't make me angry" is a classic, which has evolved into the trope You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry. You can see the original television clip online. Yes, I've been a Bruce-and-Hulk fan for ages, enjoying them across many iterations.
Loki's references to meeting Hulk, and Bruce's description of Loki smelling crazy, come from The Avengers.
Berserkers also appear in Norse mythology -- interestingly with the observation that fire and blades don't affect them, but hammers do. They were supposed to get het up in battle, but doing so off the field was frowned upon as it tended to end in wasteful death and destruction.
Chapter 4: In the Possession of an Adversary
Loki skulks around the compound in search of the Tesseract. Then he tangles with Dusty. This is not really the best idea Loki has ever had.
Loki missed Eric Selvig
with a sudden, bitter pang.
Surely he would have known
what to do with this benighted device.
He had made the other one
sit up and dance.
It was humiliating
that Loki had to flee again,
leaving the Tesseract
temporarily in the possession
of an adversary.
No sooner did he turn his back
to make a judicious retreat, though,
than he felt reality unravel again
as the Tesseract phased away.
As Loki ran through the compound,
he wondered glumly if
he would be able to hold onto the Tesseract
even if he managed to get his hands on it.
He was starting to suspect not.
The man out of time had teased him
about that on their interminable plane ride,
saying that he'd seen the thing
melt somebody once.
Well, that much power
could certainly do as it pleased.
Loki slunk through the brush,
gritting his teeth as some kind of
spiky seedpod pricked its way
right through his leather pants.
Texas still didn't like him.
He began to understand
the warning he'd been given.
Loki could hear the opposing team
yelling at each other as he crept past them.
They were disturbingly more organized
than the Avengers had been.
Finally Loki felt the squeeze and punch
of power coalescing onto the material plane.
He followed it through the long halls of the building.
The Tesseract was cloth again,
this time blue with ridiculous red trim.
Hastily Loki cast his spell
and began trying to reconstruct
the rune sequence that he had
been working on earlier.
Reality faded away,
and then back as he finalized
the bindrune at the end of the set.
There remained only the minor effort
of carving and casting ...
From inside the Tesseract,
Loki heard the sound of
a Phase Two gun activating
as alter!Dusty took aim.
This time, he would not bear
the humiliation of defeat!
Loki punched her in the face
and grabbed the gun.
The dark-masked beige cat
tried to claw his arm off.
Loki howled and waved his arm
frantically to shake her off.
She took a substantial amount
of skin with her when she went.
Naturally that was when
the Tesseract dematerialized.
Loki swore in seventeen different languages.
He looked at the empty space,
and then at the gun in his hand.
Blood dripped down his pale skin
as he trudged out of the room.
Alter!Bruce was lying on the couch
in the next room, utterly unfazed
by the appearance of Loki.
"I see you have a gun,"
said the brown-striped cat.
"I have a Nobel Prize and a Hulk."
The Avengers contains references to Loki and Selvig, Steve teasing Loki, the Phase Two guns, and having a Hulk.
Runes are used in Norse magic and spirituality. They are simple in concept, subtle and powerful in application.
Chapter 5: When Faced with an Unstoppable Force
Loki deals with Hulk ... not very well.
Loki wished that he had an army this time,
even the inferior formation
that the Chitauri had proven to be.
Instead he had a Phase Two gun
that might or might not fire properly
if he pulled the trigger,
his strength, his magic,
and his wits.
Never let it be said
that Loki of Asgard
came unarmed to any fight.
Loki shot at alter!Bruce.
Alter!Bruce ... somehow managed
to be elsewhere at the time.
insofar as Loki could tell.
Loki used his gun,
and his fists and his feet,
and quite a wide assortment of spells,
without connecting once.
With grudging admiration,
Loki recognized the dodging skills
of a fellow victim.
That at least gave him an idea.
"What kind of a coward is it
who abandons his teammates
and his entire world
to take a vacation in a desert resort?"
On the top of the bookcase,
Bruce's eyes glinted green.
Hulk-out in 3 ... 2 ... 1 ...
The bookcase emitted
an ominous groan.
There was really an unreasonable amount
of space between Loki and the door.
The next minute,
a rather confused tiger
in a vivid shade of lime green
was perched on the remains of the bookcase
and a pile of slippery paperbacks.
A magnificent bit of flyting
blossomed in Loki's mind
and fell out of his mouth
before he could stop himself:
"Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the desert of the night
What bouquet of handsome lies
Made you think that you were wise?"
With a massive snarl,
the green tiger pounced.
Loki realized that teasing alter!Hulk
was still a terrible, horrible idea.
Loki squirmed free.
He had, after all,
grown up wrestling with Thor.
He knew how to cope
when faced with an unstoppable force.
At least the Hulk
couldn't throw him out of an airplane.
The green tiger did, however,
swiftly catch up to Loki
and pin him to the ground again.
Loki broke loose -- barely --
and this time took the precaution
of filling the room with false images.
The damn cat didn't even slow down.
He was, somehow, smarter than Thor
even in this brutish form.
Loki winced as the Hulk
tackled him yet again.
Hot, damp breath blew against his face.
Loki felt the fabric of reality
buckle and twist around him.
Desperate, he snatched at the power
and flung it full force at the Hulk.
Then the spell backfired and ...
It was the most humiliating setback of all.
There he was, a tiny white cat
with a dark mask and paws,
long fluffy fur, and horns.
Worst of all, Loki could tell
from the way everything looked
that his eyes had reverted
to their natural Jotun red,
though why that should happen
he had no idea.
The woman Ash picked him up.
Loki tensed, waiting for her
to throw him into another cage.
Instead she cradled him in her arms,
one hand steady under his feet,
the other gently prodding at him.
Checking him for injuries,
he realized dumbly,
although the scratches had healed
in the transformation.
Satisfied with her findings,
Ash rubbed his head between the horns
and then stroked down his back.
Oh. Oh, that was like
nothing Loki had ever felt before.
It was torture, yes it was,
made of pleasure instead of pain.
I must resist this enchantment,
he told himself. I must.
Altogether against his will,
Loki began to purr.
that the Tesseract
hat resumed its normal shape,
which in this world was apparently
an enormous ring of which the compound
was only a small part.
By then, evil!Schrodinger
was doubtless long gone
and so was the green tiger,
reverted back to fuzzy brown Bruce
sprawled on the rug
with his paws over his nose.
After hulking out,
alter!Bruce slept for a day ...
just like any cat.
The Avengers shows Thor throwing Loki out of a plane, and the arrival of the Chitauri army assigned to Loki.
Loki has poor impulse control.
Cats really do sleep most of the day. Being a cat is very relaxing. Bruce needs to unwind more.
See the images that helped inspired this poem in my "Hello, Lokitty" scrapbook.