‘Seriously, CB, stop kicking the crap out of my building.’ Tony said as he grabbed a bottle of sports drink from the fridge.
‘Sorry, I don’t know my own strength.’ She shrugged. Loki had made them both sandwiches and they were seated at the table in the common area.
‘Maybe you two should spar in Banner’s cell as well.’ He half heartedly suggested.
‘Nowhere near enough room, Anthony.’ Loki pointed out.
‘Maybe we need to make a bigger one.’
‘A double cell, how cute.’ Sigyn smiled and Tony narrowed his eyes at her.
‘Something’s different, Red. What’s going on?’
‘Rediscovering myself.’ She smiled confidently.
‘Is that a good thing?’
‘As long as you don’t mind sarcasm.’
‘Please, I thrive on sarcasm. But does this newfound confidence mean no more blushes?’
‘Oh no, I still do that.’ She promised.
While they spoke Loki had looked over the bandages on Sigyn's hands. He wanted to test his power to see if he had enough to heal her, but he could wait for them to be in Banner's cell when he had full access to his magic for that. He could see the bruising around the edges of the neat bandages Nat had applied, some of her fingers swollen slightly, and he couldn't wait to ease her from what was evidently paining her despite her smile and lack of complaining. He should also have realised Tony would not drop the line of questioning at the state of the wall.
'I hope your hands are from what you did to the wall.' He put his bottle down in the table opposite them. 'Or maybe I don't, because if that's the case no way in hell I'm going hand to hand with you without a suit.'
She hooked a thumb towards Loki. 'I knocked him into the wall, the knuckles are from me pummelling the...hi, Steve.' She stopped herself as Rogers came into the room, still in his jeans and long sleeved Henley, looking distracted and serious.
'Considering you say you pummelled him you look to be the only injured one. Again.' Tony said as Steve approached.
'Who's injured?' Steve asked.
Sigyn held up her hand. ’Punching Asgardians repeatedly hurts when you aren't one but your body forgets because you used to be.'
'And you spent most of yesterday immersed in memories of Asgard.' Loki reminded her.
'Hel of a day.' She nodded, remembering.
'You two want to share what went on when Chuck was here?'
'No.' They said together.
'God, you two are no fun.’ Tony complained before turning to Steve. 'What's happening, Cap?'
‘Hill wants you to check the readings on something? Fluctuations in…’
‘Okay, don’t hurt yourself.’ Tony interrupted. ‘She in her office?’
‘Great, let’s go.’ He picked up his drink and winked at Sigyn. ‘Don’t do anything kinky in the cell until I get there.’
‘Surrounded by perverts.’ She muttered, realising Steve was blushing almost as much as she was.
‘There’s the blush!’ Tony yelled as he left.
‘It’s pretty, sweet, don’t worry.’ Loki assured her.
‘Not worried, just irritating that he knows he can do that.’ She tilted her head to look at him. ‘One day I’m going to get you to blush.’
He laughed. ‘Yes, very good luck, love.’
‘I will, eventually.’ She shrugged. ‘By the way, you make a good sandwich.’
‘Putting fillings between two slices of bread is hardly taxing.’
‘No, but matching fillings that give me a foodgasm is pretty impressive.’ Loki coughed on his sandwich. Whatever reply he had been expecting that wasn’t it. She looked at him properly, and his cheeks had flushed but she couldn’t be sure that wasn’t from the coughing. ‘Blushing or choking?’
‘Choking.’ He said once he swallowed with a smile. ‘I forgot how much I missed you, Sig.’ He took her hand in his but she flinched. ‘And I’m healing those as soon as we are in Banner’s cell.’
Banner’s cell was where they found themselves half an hour later, Thor was disabling Loki’s cuff while Nat fitted Sigyn with the heart monitor again.
‘You know, Darcy is already setting up for girls night?’ She commented as she enabled the band.
‘This is a big thing, isn’t it?’ Sigyn looked at her seriously.
‘For Darcy. She keeps creating ships for each of the team members, sometimes with people we know, sometimes with those we don’t. She hadn’t figured one out for Loki. You stepped up and ticked every box she didn’t know needed ticking, then added the reincarnation story, you’re like a walking romance novel for her.’
‘Shipping as in relationships? Like the kids do online?’ She narrowed her eyes.
‘You aren’t that old.’ Nat gave her a sideways smile.
‘I feel it. Now that I remember more. Plus, being a teacher, the slang and things, I try to keep up but it just made me feel older.’
‘Kids will do that.’
Thor came out of the cell, the door closing behind him. ‘We’re ready.’ He said as he joined them. ‘Do you know what you are going to attempt today?’
‘Not passing out would be a start.’ She smiled and he regarded her curiously.
‘What did you learn yesterday that changed things for you? You have an air of calm about you I have not seen.’
‘I learnt a lot, or relived a lot. Remember the solstice ball where you paired Loki with that terrible woman?’
‘To make Father realise things could be worse.’ He nodded with a grin. ‘It did not exactly work, did it?’
‘Not long term.’
‘Wasn’t that the night you and I fed Volstagg copious amounts of cinnamon?’
‘I think that was you, I just ordered the drinks.’
He laughed loudly. ‘Good times, little sister.’
‘Not so much.’ She reminded him she hadn't exactly had the best of nights.
‘But we did have them.’
‘I’m hoping you will share some of those good times tonight.’ Nat said. ‘Darcy has a list of prompts she wants you to fill the gaps in for.’
‘I’m sure she does. Maybe I’ll hope for passing out after all.’ She quirked a smile at Thor.
‘Lady Maia.’ He admonished and she shook her head.
‘Okay, no passing out, but I changed my mind. I’m Sigyn, I think. No point in denying who I am, and yesterday just made it more real.’
‘You want to be called Sigyn?’ Nat asked.
‘I think so. Loki’s a bit possessive about the use of it but he knows how I feel.’
‘He is such a child.’ Thor shook his head. ‘When it comes to that which is his at least.’
‘Most men are children, no matter what.’ Nat pointed out.
‘So very true. What time tonight?’
‘I’ll come by your place on the way. Six?’
‘Darcy likes to ensure we maximise our time.’
‘I’m really not surprised.’ She smiled as she walked towards the cell which Loki had already half filled with giant cushions.
‘Are you in no rush, dearest?’ He asked as the cell door opened for her.
‘Working out girls night.’ She smiled as the door hissed behind her as it sealed. ‘So, what are we going to try today, my prince?’
‘I could make us invisible and we could see just how much of your power I can draw out of you with your screams.’ He suggested, offering her his hand.
‘The entire place would panic that you’d escaped.’ She reminded him.
‘Pity.’ He said as she took his hand. ‘Another time.’
‘In that case why don’t we try something from your repertoire?’
‘We’ve tested energy, heat, flame and cold. That just leaves us with air manipulation.’
‘Could be useful, in the right circumstances.’ He shrugged as he sank into the pillows, drawing her with him. ‘However I meant your repertoire, Sigyn love, not Maia’s.’
‘So which part?’
‘Illusion, perhaps? Telekinesis?’
‘Would you like me to drop books on you again?’
‘Oh no, sweet, no dropping anything on me, no shoe throwing, and definitely no throwing me down the stairs.’
‘I didn’t throw you, I tripped you.’ She clarified.
‘All the same, none of that, or despite your reservations I shall have you right here for all to see.’ Her cheeks, and other places, flooded with heat, which drew a smug smile to his lips. ‘And I can see the idea has quite an effect on you. I shall remember that.’
‘Let’s just get to work.’ She poked him in the chest and he laughed softly.
‘As my lady wishes, but first we repair your poor damaged hands.’
Loki succeeded in coaxing her to telekinetically move one of the smaller pillows, just to levitate about an inch and to the side but it was an improvement on nothing. Sigyn hadn’t even realised she could still do this and it came as something of a surprise. It was tiring but worth it.
‘Let’s try raising it higher, dove.’ He guided her hand with his but added no power of his own, letting her have full control. ‘Feel the weight lift from it, raise it up, as light as a feather.’
She slowly lifted her hand and the cushion wobbled before elevating slightly. She blinked heavily as her eyes went out of focus and she shook her head, the cushion wavering in the air. ‘It’s getting harder to concentrate.’ She said quietly.
‘We’ll just finish this exercise, sunbeam, then we’ll stop. I promise.’ He murmured against her hair and she nodded.
The lights flickered in the cell and in the room beyond. ‘Was that me?’
‘I don’t think so.’ Loki looked up at the camera in the corner, hoping for some kind of response but not getting one, then the alarms started going off. ‘Okay, sweet, something is definitely going on. Close down for now.’ He said as he got to his feet. Sigyn did as he suggested and took a moment to take some deep breaths. Loki in the meantime checked the seal on the door. ‘Still locked, so not a code green.’ He looked up at the camera again. ‘Is anyone there? Status report?’ There was no answer and he looked back at Sigyn who was carefully getting to her feet. ‘Stay seated, love, rest a little. We aren’t going anywhere, it seems.’
‘And to think I thought Xavier’s bad for alarms. You have ten times as many.’ She sat in the cushions again and lay back, closing her eyes.
‘We’ve certainly had more since you arrived than I recall over a similar period.’
‘Maybe I’m a jinx.’
‘Anything but.’ He said as he examined the door further, hoping it had released. If there was some sort of emergency they were certainly safe inside however if the door released and Sigyn were weak it could put her at risk. ‘Okay, dearest, here’s what we’re going to do.’ He came back to her and knelt on the cushions. ‘As far as I can see we are stuck here unless someone releases the door, and as we can’t guarantee that that someone will be on our side we need to be ready in case we have a fight on our hands.’
‘Oh shit, really?’ She tried to sit up again but he put his hand on her shoulder, holding her still.
‘Really, but you are in no fit state to fight. I need to change that.’ Power radiated through his hand and into her shoulder. ‘Just a little healing magic, pet. Let’s get you back up to full health.’
Sigyn’s vision cleared as the sirens continued to scream all around them and the tiredness left her, the heaviness she was beginning to associate with use of her power lifting as though drawn from her like a blanket. After a moment Loki took back his hand and she sat up.
‘Much.’ She nodded. ‘We should do that more.’
‘Alas, with the cuff I cannot.’ He smiled sadly as he pulled out his phone. ‘I will see if we can get an update from anyone, as our watchers appear to be silent.’
She got up and went to the edge, pushing her hand on the glass although she knew it to be a sealed unit. ‘Do you think you could break out, if you needed to?’
‘Perhaps. Thor was able to, with some effort, however he and I, as you know, have a different skill set.’
‘We could superheat it then freeze it.’
‘Not a bad idea, if we need to.’ He pressed the phone to his ear. ‘This number should be a central one to allow us to communicate through the comm system.’
‘Can you summon up an earpiece?’ She looked back at him.
‘Perhaps not one that will work on our system, but a handsfree unit, certainly. You are quite full of ideas this afternoon, sunbeam.’
‘Someone just supercharged me.’ She smiled at him.
‘I should do so more often.’ He created a handsfree unit and slipped it into his ear. ‘Status report, anyone?’
‘Is that Loki?’ Wanda’s voice came over the comms, not who he was expecting but she may know what was happening.
‘Good. Stay in your cell, no matter what happens, for now. I am on my way to you.’
‘What do we have?’
‘We lost communication with those watching over you just after a huge energy surge similar to what came after you last week. No one can trace the source other than it seems to be internal.’
‘The power got inside?’ He asked worriedly, glancing at Sigyn who came towards him with a concerned look on her face.
‘Perhaps. Readings are fluctuating randomly. Tony, Bruce and Jane are working on the system but keep being kicked out as soon as they get close.’
‘Tell Jane to try similar to the system she saw on Asgard. It may be working on a comparable band. More a combination of magic and science.’
‘I’ll tell her.’ Tony’s voice joined the conversation, confirming for Loki that this was an open line. ‘I’ll put her on with you if she needs help.’
‘Very well. Can you turn the alarms off? It is quite deafening here.’
Tony tapped on his screen and examined the security system. ‘Give me a minute. Looks like yours is the main area effected by the surge.’
‘If this area is the centre of the attack I suggest you do not send Wanda alone, just in case.’
‘Vision is with me.’ Wanda added.
‘That should help, but please be wary.’
‘Your concern is noted, Loki.’ Vision’s British accent said.
‘I will keep our line open.’ Loki said getting to his feet to stand beside Sigyn. ‘The attack is centralised on this area. Wanda and Vision are on their way here and Anthony is…’ The alarms stopped although the lights continued to flash. ‘Doing that. Thank you.’
‘The attack seems to have the same energy signature as the power that sought me out on our shopping trip. Please try not to deplete yourself as you did then. We should be safe within the cell.’ He said as his armour appeared over his body, then a similarly styled dress, pants and knee length boots appeared on Sigyn.
‘At least you have your full powers this time…you do, right? They haven’t reactivated the cuff?’
‘Still inactive.’ He confirmed.
‘That’s a bonus.’
‘Indeed.’ He waved his hand and the cushions disappeared, giving them a clear area to move in.
‘What do we do in the meantime?’
‘We wait.’ He said, gazing intently at the camera in the ceiling nearest the door as though he could feel someone or something watching them.
Sigyn swallowed, she couldn’t help it. She had been into battle with Loki before, many times, but knowing this threat was here for him and there was little she could do filled her with dread. Certainly he had his powers this time but she would rather they were both able to be of use.
The door into the room housing the cell shimmered, like a heat haze, as something passed through it.
‘Loki.’ She said and she nodded towards it as he turned his attention. The haze gained a vaguely humanoid shape as it emerged but floated rather than walked across the floor. He stepped ahead of her and matched it pace for pace until it reached the side of cell that had been nearest to Sigyn.
‘Well now, what do we have here?’ Loki asked.
‘What do we have?’ Steve’s voice came over the comm but Loki ignored him.
‘A manifestation of power, an incorporeal body, or a little of both?’ The shape ignored him and slipped sideways, circling the cell and Loki let it, watching it with narrow eyes. The cell stopped him feeling much of what was happening on the other side but the touch of another powerful entity was obvious. Something of this magnitude after him limited the playing field of potential enemies considerably. As he watched it drew level with Sigyn and stopped, hovering in front of the glass as though examining what lay before it. It floated further forward, then hit the glass and stopped as though it were a solid thing and couldn’t pass through it as it had the door. It bumped into it a few more times like a bee against a window, before it stopped and just hovered there.
‘Sig.’ Loki said quietly but she couldn't tear her eyes from whatever this thing was, the eyeless scrutiny almost painful. He reached out to take her hand and the being flashed, as though a pulse ran through it, the body dissipating into a cloud before reforming as he lowered his hand. ‘That’s interesting. Move back, love, just a few steps.’ She did as he suggested and the mass followed her, staying to the closest edge as though drawn by her. ‘Looks like it’s you it’s following. And it certainly dislikes me.’ Loki stepped closer to her and the pulse ran through the thing again, fainter but increasing the closer he got, and when he reached her it was an angry buzzing mass, no longer a shape of any distinguishing kind. He put his hands on her shoulders and pulled her back against him. The thing went nuts. Sigyn flinched as it slammed itself against the glass, the sound reverberating through the room violently until all the bulbs except the flashing emergency ones blew out, casting the room into a eery darkness that rhythmically flickered red.
It continued to slam itself into the glass, the reverberations getting louder and more violent as it lost its form entirely.
'Back up again.' She told Loki and he did as she asked, the cloud lessening its attack until he was far enough away that it returned to a humanoid shape. She swallowed her fear and took a step towards it, gauging it as she did.
'Easy, love.' Loki murmured and she nodded but continued. The mass stood as tall as Loki but broader, wider, power sparking around it by almost a foot, making it foreboding, but she didn't hesitate. The form slid up to the glass as she raised her hand, fingers forming to match hers, only bigger, and when she pressed her hand to the glass it felt like electricity ran through it, tingling against her palm, making her frown.
'I can feel it humming through the glass.' She said as she backed up again, lowering her arm as it pressed its phantom limb to the glass until it spread into an unnatural shape.
'What does it feel like?' She made sure she stopped before she reached Loki in case she enraged it again but Loki had not such qualms. He came to her and the mist form slammed itself into the glass then, as though realising it was getting nowhere, it condensed itself, shrunk until it darkened in colour, then slammed against the glass again, this time the glass split, the tiniest fracture, but Loki pulled Sigyn to him, backing them up.
'Anthony, open this cell!'
'No can do, we're locked out.'
'Damn well get back in! This thing is coming through the glass!' His back hit the side behind them, his arm around her waist.
At that moment Wanda and Vision burst through the door and Wanda pressed her hands together before rapidly drawing them apart, red power developing in a ball between her hands before she blasted it into the mass.
Vision pushed his hand through the cell and grabbed Loki’s shoulder, turning them both intangible and dragging them through the glass as Wanda continued her attack. The mass spasmed at her power then shifted, its colour tainting the same as Wanda’s own before expanding.
‘That didn’t work!’ Sigyn yelled as they all backed towards the door.
‘Apparently not!’ Vision said, rushing at the mass. ‘All of you should leave.’
‘And go where?’ Wanda asked as he fired a beam from the mind stone. ‘The cell is supposed to be the most secure place in the compound!’
‘We can’t run from it, it needs stopping!’ Sigyn yelled as Loki all but dragged her to the door with Wanda following.
‘It just absorbed Wanda’s energy into itself, we can’t stop that!’ Loki replied.
‘We can!’ She argued. ‘It feels like electricity, we need to ground it!’
‘Or drain it.’ Loki said as they hit the hallway. ‘Thor! Where in the realms are you?’
‘He’s en route from the store.’ Came Tony’s voice.
‘Tell him to drop the Poptarts and fly himself here as a damn priority!’
‘What do we need?’
‘Electrical grounding and that idiot happens to be the God of Thunder!’
‘I have the answer to that.’ Tony’s voice gained an excited edge.
‘Could you bring the answer to us, quickly for preference?’
‘On it! FRIDAY, suit me up!’
‘Where do we go?’ Wanda asked through the comms as zapping sounds came from the room they had just left and the static in the air went up considerably.
‘Towards the training room, big open space. More room to manoeuvre.’
‘Okay, let’s go.’ Loki encouraged them both into a run as Vision came through the wall but tangibly, taking the brickwork with him.
‘Tony’s not going to be happy.’ Sigyn murmured as Loki slipped his hand into hers, encouraging her along.
‘He’ll survive, love.’ He said with a glance over his shoulder which showed the power had taken on a humanoid form again and was floating towards them down the hallway as Vision picked himself back up.
‘We need that solution, Stark!’ Loki snapped. ‘We won’t make it to the training area!’
‘I’ve got it!’ Sigyn tried to stop but Loki wouldn’t have it.
‘I will carry you if you don’t run!’ He glared at her.
‘Can you make a lightning rod?’
‘What?’ Loki knew what she was speaking of but not what she wanted it for.
‘I treated it like darkness before, gave it light to defeat it. It’s acting like electricity so we need to ground it. The building will be grounded we just need, theoretically, to hit it with the rod while it’s touching the floor.’
‘Worth a try.’ Loki admitted. ‘But you leave.’
‘Not without you, Mischief.’
He curved his hand in the air and a long metal pole appeared in his hand. ‘I really think you ladies should go.’
‘Let Vis do it.’ Wanda said as The Avenger in question went through a wall behind the mass. ‘It wants you, Loki, you should go too.’
‘It only wants to harm me, I have no idea what it plans on doing to Sigyn!’
‘Then we all go, if Vision is happy to do it.’ Wanda said reasonably.
‘You require my assistance?’ Vision appeared out of the wall ahead of them, making them all jump.
‘Vis, see if the lightning rod will ground it to the building.’ Wanda said as Loki passed him the rod.
‘It is as good a plan as any. May I suggest you continue to seek cover somewhere far from here?’
‘Done.’ Wanda nodded and, grabbing Sigyn’s wrist, she led them to a staircase.
They arrived at the training area just after Tony, who was fully suited. ‘Where is it?’
‘Vision was trying to ground it.’ Wanda explained as Steve and Nat came in the far door.
‘Good plan.’ He nodded. ‘How’s that working out, Vision?’
‘It appears to be resisting.’
‘Unintentional.’ He replied. ‘It did seem to weaken the being momentarily but it has since passed through the floor. I will attempt to follow.’
The lights in the training room flickered and Loki pulled Sigyn closer to him. ‘I think it’s already here.’ She murmured.
‘Any luck with Thor?’ Loki asked.
‘Literally incoming.’ Steve replied as he took up a defensive position on Loki and Sigyn’s other side.
‘If the rod didn’t work my idea might not be any better.’ Tony said as the mass appeared through the ceiling, lightbulbs exploding near it.
‘What is your idea?’ Loki asked.
‘Trap it and use it like a battery.’ He indicated to the four cornered metal device he had laid out on the floor.
‘That sounds like a terrible idea.’ Loki shook his head in disbelief as the dark cloud descended.
‘Hey, you have a better one?’
‘No, but I do.’ Thor strode in from the hangar doors, Mjölnir in his hand.
‘It is about time you got here.’
‘You are so impatient, brother.’ Thor smiled slightly as he began to swing Mjölnir, the air in the room picking up as he did so. ‘This thing thinks like electricity, you say?’
‘That’s how it feels, like extreme static.’ Sigyn hadn’t taken her eyes off the shape as it came towards them, Loki trying to put her behind him protectively but she wouldn’t move.
‘I have it.’ Thor rose into the air and swung Mjölnir towards it, and when the two met there was a huge crack of energy, throwing out a shockwave that knocked everyone off their feet. When Loki looked up again Thor was descending and the energy was gone.
‘What happened?’ Tony asked, opening his mask as they all got up.
‘I drained it of its energy. It was, indeed, electrical in nature.’
‘It’s adapting.’ Sigyn said quietly.
‘What’s that, love?’ Loki looked down at her.
‘It’s adapting.’ She repeated. ‘We stopped it with light so it knew not to come after you as darkness again. Providing it was linked to the drake attack it knew we could stop heat and physical attacks, now electricity, and it was meant to be an internal attack? That’s how it got in, through the electrical system. That wouldn’t leave a trace or trigger an alarm.’
‘Genius.’ Tony nodded. ‘It wouldn’t even show up as a cyberattack as it wasn’t attacking, just travelling.’
‘It’s either really smart or really good at instinctively integrating.’
‘Neither is a good thing.’
‘I need to see the security footage, if it is unaffected.’ Loki said. ‘It was acting…not as an energy should.’
‘Janey, check to see if the security feed was damaged.’ Tony said and Jane replied she would.
Steve spoke up. ‘Until then, we need to increase all security. If we’ve shown it we’re not vulnerable to electrical attacks it might not try this again. We have to be prepared for anything.’
‘We thought we were.’ He turned to Loki. ‘You any closer to figuring out what this thing is or who sent it?’
‘I have a thought, although it doesn’t give us an answer.’
‘Care to share with the class?’
‘Something that powerful, with the ability to control and mask the presence of a drake traversing realms, is very rare.’
‘You think it’s another sorcerer.’ Sigyn realised what he meant.
He looked down at her. ‘Don’t you?’
She shook her head. ‘I still don’t feel everything I used to. I’ll take your word for it, plus, like you said, it’s unusual. I can’t think of any other beings that could do what it’s doing.’
‘So we’re looking for a sorcerer with a grudge?’ Steve frowned, not quite sure what he was hearing.
‘Let me make a call.’ Tony said as he began to walk away.
‘You know a sorcerer?’
He quirked a smile. ‘I know a lot of people.’
‘What now?’ Thor asked Loki as he came towards him.
‘Now you reactivate my cuff, then I believe the girls have their evening planned.’
Sigyn looked at him in surprise, as did everyone else. ‘You are reminding me to remove your power, brother?’
‘What good would it be if I risked the trust we are building?’ He held his wrist out. ‘When you all decide I can access my full powers, outside of the cell and emergencies, I will welcome it, but I have gained too much to risk it now.’ He squeezed Sigyn’s hand to let her know she was what he referred to and she smiled.
‘You’re a good man, my prince.’ She went up on tiptoes and kissed his cheek.
‘And you’re a terrible influence.’ He smiled at her. ‘Honestly, I haven’t threatened to throw Tony from a window for days.’