"Almighty Thanos, I... Loki... Prince of Asgard... Odinson... The rightful King of Jotunheim... God of Mischief... do hereby pledge to you, my undying fidelity."
Loki stabbed upwards, and Thor held his breath.
But his knife never found its way into Thanos's throat.
Blue light shrouded him from his blade down to his arm, and no matter how much force and willpower Loki put into it, his knife never found its target.
Thanos smirked. "You got gall, I'm impressed."
"Maw," he said, and strips of iron bound Loki tightly.
Forced to his knees in front of Thanos, Loki looked up spitefully at him.
Thanos stepped forward towards him. "I thought I had been mistaken in seeing potential in you when you lost to those mortals," he smirked, "but I'm never wrong am I?"
He lifted the gauntlet, and the ship erupted in purple flames.
Thanos, the Black Order and Loki disappeared in a bout of blue.
Thor blacked out as the ship exploded around him.
"Thank you for your kind hospitality," Thor lifted his bowl of soup in point, "but I have to leave immediately. If you could so kindly provide me with a pod-"
"Woah woah woah, leave?" Peter said. "You literally just survived a mass murder."
Thor flinched. He does not want to think about it, of how his people had died, how Heimdall had died.
Loki is still out there somewhere, he reminded himself, and that thought alone brought along a flare of hope.
When he got Loki back things would be alright, he told himself reassuringly. And then he would reconcile with what had happened. But not now, not when Loki needed him.
Peter rocked back on his heels, realizing he has not asked the most important question. "Who did it by the way?"
"Thanos?!" Peter spluttered.
"You know of him? Excellent, if you can point me in the right direction-"
"You won't stand a chance against Thanos." Gamora said calmly.
"He took my brother, I have to get him back."
"Thor, it's madness." Gamora said. "If he has any of the infinity stones on hand-"
"He already has two."
The ship went silent.
"Let me tell you about Thanos and what he plans to do with the stones before you decide to go after him." Gamora said quietly.
"....So we need to stop Thanos. Which means we have to find out where he is going next."
"Knowhere." Thor replied immediately. "Because for years, the Reality Stone has been safely stored, there with a man we call the Collector."
"If it's with the Collector, then it's not safe. Only an idiot would give that man a stone." Peter scoffed.
"Or a genius." Thor quipped back.
He stopped in his tracks. It had not been Father who had placed it there after the battle with Malekith like he thought after all.
His chest ached, Loki had been trying to stop Thanos from getting the stones for years. And what had Thor done? Nothing.
Not only that, he had called Loki the worst brother for taking the Tesseract when leaving it in the destruction of Asgard with no one to protect it would have been a guaranteed win for Thanos.
But the truth was, at that moment of time he had been more angry that Loki had not told him about it. They could have built their defenses better, be prepared for Thanos somehow, and maybe, maybe the remaining Asgardians would have survived.
The train of thought was irrational, Thor knew now, to even defend themselves against Thanos with nothing but the Grandmaster's entertainment vessel filled with refugees that had never fought once in their entire lives. And Loki knew they would not stand a chance.
And the first thing Thor had done when he knew was to criticize him, even though Loki had changed so much for the better.
It also meant that Loki had been prepared to face Thanos alone, even though he knew how powerful he was firsthand. And he never told Thor, never asked for his help against such a formidable foe, taking the burden all for himself, was he planning to sacrifice himself, leave Thor all alone again-
Tears pricked his eyes. He prayed to the Norns that Loki is still alive, that Thor could get to him on time. And when Thor finally got him back, he would make it all up to him.
He was the only thing Thor had left after all.
"Are you alright?" Peter said. "Getting a little..." he gestured over his own face, "misty there."
Thor mustered a smile. "I'm alright. I was just thinking about Loki." He added on hastily in explanation, "my brother."
"Loki's your brother?" Gamora said in surprise.
"You know Loki?" Thor asked.
"I...." she paused, clenching her jaw. "Don't...don't attack me for what I'm going to say, alright?" She stepped back, creating distance between them as she moved towards the far end of the ship. "Do I have your word?"
Thor frowned in confusion. "Yes, you have my word."
Gamora exhaled slowly. "It was a few years back. Loki seemed to have fallen out of the sky when he landed in Sanctuary, Thanos's domain. Thanos was curious, and he...he thought Loki could be useful." She closed her eyes momentarily, "and he ordered me to torture him."
Thor saw red.
He only came to himself when he realized that Peter and Drax had been trying to stop his advance, but instead were being pushed backwards towards Gamora.
Thor stopped, stumbling backwards, his fists shaking as he tried to restrain himself.
"Learn to calm down big guy! Sheesh!" The talking rabbit said.
Mantis hovered near Thor at a safe distance. "Do you need me to..."
Peter shook his head at her.
Turning back to Thor, he said sadly, "Gamora had no choice."
"It does not excuse her actions!" Thor roared.
"No it does not," Gamora agreed firmly, her body still positioned for a fight.
"What else," he gritted out. "What else was done to him?!"
Loki had only told Banner and him that Thanos had sent him to Earth, suggesting the notion that Thanos had only been an ally in Loki's invasion, not that he had been tortured into submission.
He thought back on Loki's invasion, how confused Thor had been then that Loki, who played harmless tricks in jest in his free time, would have wanted to conquer Midgard.
Father had explained Loki's drastic difference away with how the Void had changed him, that Loki was not the brother Thor knew anymore, and he had accepted it easily.
Why had Loki not said anything about it? Thor could feel his anger bubbling up again.
Loki had so many chances to do so. If he could not have done it on Midgard, he could have done so when facing Father, or even when Thor broke him out of his cell to fight Malekith. Hel, even on Sakaar.
But would Thor have believed him? When he had so easily accepted what Father said?
Would Father? Who had said Loki was no more the brother he knew?
"You should know that when we fought each other in the past, I did so with the glimmer of hope that my brother was still in there somewhere. That hope no longer exists to protect you. You betray me and I will kill you."
Thor felt like his heart was ripped open, and he deserved it. If only he had attempted to figure out why Loki had turned to evil all of a sudden, cared more, listened to him more, had more faith in him, maybe he would not have been kidnapped by Thanos now.
He thought he had changed for the better after his exile to Midgard, and maybe he did, but he certainly did not change the way he had treated his brother.
Gamora nudged Peter and Drax aside gently, and they stepped away warily, staring closely at Thor still in case he tried to attack her again.
"I know saying sorry would not make up for all the things I have done." She shook her head. "But for whatever it's worth, I am sorry Thor."
She curled her arms around herself, shame and remorse evident on her face, and that took out a little of Thor's anger.
Thor nodded stiffly, "I have given my word not to harm you, and I will not break my oath. That does not mean I forgive your actions."
Gamora nodded in understanding.
"I was not the only one," she continued. "There were many, even Thanos himself. He had scoured through Loki's mind..." Thor flinched back, "and knew that the Bifrost was broken, and that Loki knew secret pathways into Asgard from Earth."
"So he planned for Loki to conquer Earth and obtain the space stone, and use it to invade Asgard as well. It was the perfect time when Asgard was crippled without the Bifrost."
"In the case Loki thought he was going to lose, he was instructed to let Thanos's servant, the Other know, and he would enter Earth and invade Asgard first using one of the pathways and after taking over Asgard, take over Earth again from there. But thankfully none of that happened."
She looked up at Thor, "Your brother was very strong. Trust me, few could have resisted Thanos's torture for so long. He had to use the mind stone on Loki multiple times before he would even listen to him. I suspect he had broken away from the influence of the mind stone again when he was on Earth, and lost intentionally without contacting the Other."
She shivered, "If it wasn't for Loki, Thanos would have won by now."
"But if he took Loki back, it means he has found a use for him, so you don't have to worry about Thanos killing him. But if I was you," she looked Thor in the eye, "I would have preferred if he was already dead."
"....... Alright ," Peter said, clapping his hands together and breaking the silence.
"Very dark and dramatic history there," he pointed between Thor and Gamora. Gamora glared at him, and he looked away quickly. "Glad it's all settled-"
Drax frowned, "It is bright here."
"-What are we going to do now?" Peter looked at everyone except Drax.
"You guys head to Knowhere and prevent Thanos from getting the reality stone." Thor said, moving towards their pod. "I'll go to Nidavellir to get a weapon that can kill Thanos."
He clenched his fist. "He will pay for what he has done."
Eitri tells Thor that Stormbreaker is "a king's weapon, meant to be the greatest in Asgard" and "could even summon the Bifrost", the kind of weapon that can only be afforded by the King of Asgard.
But Father had always said that Mjolnir's power had no equal, and the only other person who has acted as the Allfather was...
Thor had to excuse himself. He found a dark corner among the debris and let himself cry.
Spread eagle on a metal table, Loki's arms and legs were bound tightly by thick metal cuffs that damped his seidr. Stripped of his suit, he lay naked against the cool surface.
Loki was not new to torture, especially the Thanos kind. This was one of Thanos's tactics, to utilize humiliation to show his dominance and the lack of power his prisoner had in order to break his will.
And the torture that Thanos was about to subject him to was one that was more painful without any layer of clothing to protect him.
He clenched his jaw tight, determined not to show show any signs of defeat. Not to Thanos, never again.
Footsteps clanged heavily against the metal grail floor.
Loki did not bother to look up. "Came to do it yourself? I'm honored." he said.
"Still masking false bravado?" Thanos smirked, standing next to the table. "No matter, it will be gone in time."
"I know all your tricks now." Loki smirked back at him. "You won't win."
"This time would be different." He leaned forward to whisper into Loki's ear. "You forgot I have seen everything there is in your mind, your weaknesses, your fears..."
Loki kept his gaze steady. "You don't even have the mind stone, you can't do anything to me."
"You're strong, I admit as much." Thanos pulled back. "A fighter, like all of my children. And that's why I have not killed you yet."
Loki went cold. He barked out a strained laugh. "Don't tell me you actually mean-"
"When you landed in Sanctuary it was fate." Thanos flicked a switch on, " Destiny."
The table hummed to life and it begin to vibrate under Loki.
"You're mad," Loki hissed, "As if I will ever serve you."
The table was getting hotter, and Loki shifted uncomfortably.
"You forget you did, once. And you won't just serve me once I'm done with you. No," Thanos grabbed his chin, a grin on his face. "You would be happy to serve."
Loki spat in his face. "Never."
Thanos slammed his head back against the table, and Loki's vision went black for a moment, before the burning heat against his back brought him back to consciousness.
"I wonder." Loki lurched up violently as he tried to reduce skin contact with the scorching heat of the table.
"How long will it take." He was on fire, but he will not scream, he will not give Thanos the pleasure-
"For you to see me." He convulsed against the table. He could smell his skin burning and he imagined them burning off like flakes again.
"As your father?" He cannot think, cannot breathe, the fire, the pain. He hears himself scream.