What Othar finds, when he investigates the crash site in the Wastelands, is a ship.
It looks like a vehicle that doesn’t use wheels, so it’s probably an airship of some sort, especially given the angle of the dirt sprayed away from the furrow of the crash.
Perhaps a new villain?
Othar approaches it carefully, searching for the entrance. There are scorch marks across the surface, and even a handful of holes that look like the clean puncture of a narrow death ray. Parts of it are still smoking in a way he knows he needs to keep an eye on. He can’t see the entrance, so he settles for making one.
He’s just jury-rigged himself a lovely little laser longsword, when a door slams outward at unexpected speeds, followed by two bodies that are engaged in a high-velocity throwdown.
Othar follows, of course.
They’re yelling in a language he doesn’t know, and there are some very impressive death rays on their person. Why, one of them even burned the tree behind him to a crisp with an errant beam! Absolutely wonderful.
There’s one that looks almost like Othar himself, if only due to the muscled build and snow-white hair. He’s quite fast, and the way he snaps the trunk of a tree and uses it to slam the green-skinned construct across a field and into a stone cliff is something Othar wouldn’t even expect of a Jäger.
The young man finishes the fight up quickly and then pulls something from a space Othar doesn’t see and does—something? The construct is gone.
Oh dear. A spark, perhaps?
“Ho there!” he calls at the top of his lungs. The young man doesn’t startle, so he at least was aware of Othar’s presence. That could be a good thing. Or a bad one. Depends. “What manner of creature was that, and why were you fighting it?”
He glances up, brow quirked. “I’m afraid I don’t understand you.”
An Englishman! How queer. Othar repeats himself in English, standing grand on a boulder nearby.
“That was a skrull,” the young man says. He fiddles with the device in his hands, lip wrinkled and brow furrowed as he does so. He’s certainly not happy about it. “She was trying to kill me.”
“What is it that you did to her?” Othar probes.
“Pocket battlefield, reversed to provide time-stopped storage space for enemies,” the young man rattles off. He places the device into something strapped to his hip and turns. “Standard issue procedure in case of prisoners I don’t want to kill but can’t risk keeping awake and alert.”
Standard issue? Well, that means he probably didn’t make it himself! Not a spark, then.
“You are a military man, then? One of Albia’s?”
“Former 18th Kree Diplomatic Gestalt,” he says. He crosses his arms, narrows his eyes, and sniffs.
“Something the matter?”
“Who are you?” The young man asks. His eyes are darting about in the way of the hunted, and the tension crossing his shoulders isn’t anything to envy. “Where are we?”
“Why, I am Othar Tryggvassen, Gentleman Adventurer!”
The young man blinks, and while there isn’t any recognition in his eyes, there is endless wariness. Perhaps he’s simply heard of some of the less classy of Othar’s adventures?
“And who might you be?” Othar demands, dropping his pose and then to the ground. “You fight well, but I can’t say I’ve heard of your army! Of course, you’ve heard of me.”
“…Noh-Varr, and I haven’t,” he says. His frown deepens. “This is… I have a suspicion of what is going on, but… tell me, does the name Steve Rogers mean anything to you?”
“No, I can’t say it does.”
“Tony Stark? Charles Xavier? Medusalith Amaquelin? Reed Richards?” He rattles off the names with efficiency that speaks of his experience as a military man. “Carol Danvers? Jean Grey?”
Othar shakes his head.
Noh-Varr visibly clenches his jaw. “That means… well, I don’t suppose this planet has had any experience with extraterrestrial visitors?”
“Pah! If it has, then the information has no doubt been stifled by the Baron in all his wickedness, and—”
“But the Norse mythos of Thor and Loki and all the rest exist?” Noh-Varr interrupts.
Othar decides to let it slide. After all, the boy is looking quite upset.
“Of course! Why, I myself grew up on those stories! The Other himself couldn’t crush my people’s culture!”
Noh-Varr breathes out slowly, like he’s trying to control a very specific reaction, and then jumps back to his ship.
The ship is some sixty meters away. Noh-Varr lands less than two away from it. It’s an impressive jump.
It’s… certainly not human, and even most constructs would have trouble achieving that while still looking human.
Othar follows, because this is turning into quite the mystery, and he’s not sure how he feels about it.
He’s let into the ship this time, the metal rippling like water to let him in. It’s larger on the inside, and his stomach twists with the inherent rage of encountering sparkwork.
Except the boy had said standard issue. He was controlled and calm and held himself with a bearing that did not speak of a spark’s grand ambitions and dramatic tendencies.
“This is Noh-Varr to SWORD, come in. Noh-Varr to SWORD, come in, please.” A swear in a language unknown to Othar. A twist of a dial. “Noh-Varr to Stark Industries, come in.” Another swear, a click to change frequencies. “Hawkeye?” Click. “New Attilan, this is Marvel Boy reporting, come in.” Click. “Baxter Tower, come in.” Click. “SHIELD, this is—hell, just get me to Agent Hill, she knows I wouldn’t come to her if I wasn’t desperate, I… hello? Is anyone there?” Click. “Chavez?” Click.
“…Loki, I swear, if this interdimensional cell service thing doesn’t come through the one time I try to use it…”
He clenches dangerously at the controls, and then lets go with the deliberate, careful movements of someone who doesn’t want to risk breaking his own property and only way home in a fit of anger.
Noh-Varr’s head drops into his hands, and Othar can see the shudder that works its way up his spine.
There’s a small noise that he only barely hears, something that sounds suspiciously like “Not again…”
His heart twists, and he comes closer. He puts a hand on Noh-Varr’s shoulder, and there is no reaction.
He waits, and waits, and then gives up. “These things are sometimes for the better.”
Noh-Varr’s head snaps up, and the death glare he sends Othar’s way is… well, it isn’t the worst Othar’s ever gotten, but it’s certainly not a nice expression.
“It is not,” the young man hisses, and a set of white, translucent eyelids flick shut sideways over his eyes. Nictitating membrane. Nice. “It’s happened before and it’s happened again and I am sick of it.”
He turns in his seat and starts pushing buttons and screens flicker to live before them. Othar’s fingers itch to figure out how and what is causing such projections, but he doesn’t have time to think on it.
“This is your chance to get out,” Noh-Varr says.
“Before you do what?” Othar asks.
Noh-Varr looks at him sidelong, and snaps something shut over his chest. A belt of some sort. Protective gear?
“This,” Noh-Varr says, and pulls a lever.
The entire thing jerks forward.
Othar clutches at the seat before him, and then makes the executive decision to get into it and close the belt over his own chest. “Where are you going?”
“Depends on the Kirby engines.” There’s a low hum coming from the vehicle, the walls shimmering and warping. “Do me a favor and don’t imagine anything breaking.”
“Because they’re powered by belief,” Noh-Varr says. His lip curls. “And that sometimes matters, and sometimes doesn’t, but with only two people inside and the crash just now, it’s going to matter a lot.”
Othar doesn’t know how to react to that, but he knows how to have confidence, and that’s basically belief, really. He’s survived all manner of circumstances; he can survive this as well.
“There we go,” Noh-Varr says, and the craft jerks forward again, and once more, and then starts—and this is really the only word for it—zooming.
It lifts, and Othar watches with interest as the trees are left behind and below. It’s fast and it’s bumpy, not quite the smooth ascent he’s used to from airships as the air takes them. Rivers and rolling forests flash below, and his heart catches in his throat as he realizes just how high they’ve gotten in such a short amount of time.
The craft jolts.
“Don’t question it!” Noh-Varr says, his grip on the wheel deathly white. “We’re in the air and we’re going to stay here!”
Othar wonders what the boy means to do, and then watches as more screens pop up.
“Plex! Start scanning for all frequencies. Terrestrial, deep-space, anything at all!”
“I will do so, Noh-Varr. Please remember not to push the Marvel too hard. We do not want a repeat of your previous crashes.”
“Just get me where I need to be,” Noh-Varr hisses to the voice from the walls, and Othar can’t help but gasp as they leave behind the forests and start crossing the ocean.
They’d been just a few dozen miles outside of Bratislava.
There was no way—
“Stop doubting!” Noh-Varr yells, and Othar wonders just how often he’s had to do this. Wonders when his own confidence got so easily shaken, or if it really is quite so different from belief that “I will survive” and “I will stay in the air” are so easily separated.
There’s a shudder, and a jerk, and suddenly they go faster.
Noh-Varr is saying something under his breath, measure and even enough that he’s probably counting, and then they—
“Activating artificial gravity,” says the voice that is probably Plex.
“We’re in low orbit,” Noh-Varr says, like this is normal. He unbuckles himself and stands, and the screens of light spread to accommodate him. His working space is suddenly three times as large as when he was sitting. “Plex, anything useful?”
“Negative,” the voice says. “There are no recognizable frequencies detected. I believe I have found several shadows of distant signals, but they are old and from quite far away; the civilizations to produce them were not projecting in any way that would go faster than light. They are unlikely to be advanced enough to help, especially as I do not have any record of similar codes in my records.”
Noh-Varr clenches his jaw. He clenches his hands. He seems rather tense overall, actually, and Othar wonders if maybe he needs a massage or something.
“Try Doctor Strange.”
“Negative; the transponder provided by William Kaplan is inactive.”
The boy swears and punches a wall, and Othar looks away. He probably needs some space.
Which is ironic, because that’s where the two of them are.
The ship twists over itself, and sometimes it faces the deep, black infinity of speckled stars, and sometimes it’s in the part of its roll where Othar’s field of vision is filled with a planet he’s never, ever expected to see from such a vantage point.
The maps are skewed, he thinks. Norway and Sweden aren’t quite so large as he thought.
“What happened to England?”
Othar turns and sees Noh-Varr, standing on the ceiling and peering out the window.
“It started to sink three hundred years ago,” Othar tells him. “Not even Albia herself has been able to stop it.”
Noh-Varr’s brow furrows. “The landmass there in the southern Atlantic?”
He nods, slow and careful, eyes tracking all over. They start to pass over the dark side of the planet, and Othar can’t help but stare in wonder at the number of bright, bright lights that must be cities.
How wondrous, that humans have—
“What year is it?”
“What year is it?” Noh-Varr repeats, and his stare at the planet below is no less panicked than his earlier reaction to not having his distress call answered.
Noh-Varr closes his eyes. He takes a deep breath.
“That would explain why there’s so few cities, then,” he says quietly, and Othar finds that a little intimidating in its own way. “Plex, anything I’m missing with my own eyes?”
“There is a barrier of unknown origin between the Americas and the rest of the world, strongest between Europe and the East Coasts of Canada and the US,” the voice stated. “Performing analysis as we speak. Early results suggest similarity to Asgardian pre-Stark safety measures.”
Noh breathes out slowly, and nods. “Okay. I can… sure. Whatever.”
He walks back to his seat.
“So,” he says, turning to Othar. “You want to tell me a bit about yourself, or should I drop you off where I found you? I’m apparently stuck here for a while.”
Othar is great at talking about himself.