Chapter 85 - Epilogue 13 - In at the deep end
‘Sorry to throw you in at the deep end.’ Steve explained as they ran to the Quinjet hanger.
‘Hey, that’s what makes it an emergency, right?’ Sigyn adjusted the cuff on her armour, knowing Loki was already at the jet along with most of the team. Steve and Sigyn had been going over some old mission reports, showing her just what she could expect to have to complete whenever she got her first mission…which was now.
‘True, and this isn’t as big as it could have been, it’s on our doorstep, but we need to be fast.’
She didn’t reply, simply nodded. The call had come in three minutes ago, four now, that a small passenger plane had gone down in Upper Bay, clipping a couple of buildings on the way down. The Avengers were going to help with the evac. They would get more details when they hit the scene from the emergency services.
‘Ready, sweet?’ Loki called from the open door on the jet where he was already wearing his armour.
‘As I’ll ever be.’ She replied as they reached him, the rest of the team already strapping in as the engines began to come to life.
‘You’ll be perfect.’ He promised her, kissing her knuckles after taking her hand then leading her to the seats, ensuring she began strapping herself in.
‘Ready for this, CB?’ Tony called back from the cockpit.
‘Bring it on, Stark.’ She smiled even though he wasn’t looking at her. She was nervous, she had to admit, even if just to herself. She had been through emergencies at X Manor but never on a public scale, knowing this was effectively outing her as a new member of the team. Loki knew how she felt but as she didn’t mention it neither did he, allowing her to keep it to herself. He squeezed her hand reassuringly as the door began to close and the jet took off.
Loki and Sigyn were part of ground operations with Wanda, Clint, Natasha, and a plethora of SHIELD agents helping the emergency services evacuate and aid the injured, possibly less risky than entering the buildings themselves which was taken by others who were enhanced or, like Tony, had equipment to aid them. The coastguard were overseeing the evacuation of the aircraft which seemed to be as good as complete, the bay within sight of where they were situated.
The team split off to aid at various locations around the area, Loki and Sigyn able to use their sorcery to clear larger pieces of debris, allowing access both by road and on foot to more emergency crews, Clint and Nat helping the confused and injured as they left the buildings.
‘Structural issues on the north side.’ Stark’s voice came over the comms. ‘Wanda, can you strengthen it?’
‘I can get one side.’ She replied. ‘Loki, can you help?’
‘Just show me where.’ Came his reply, glancing at where Sigyn was moving a car aside.
‘Go, Mischief.’ She seemed to realise he was reluctant to leave her.
‘I shan’t be far, petal.’ He promised, blowing her a kiss.
She shook her head as he went, not wanting him to worry about her. There was no direct conflict and he knew she had seen a lot more action in her previous life. The setting was much different, the built up area rather than the more rustic ancient settings of the other realms, the air filled with dust from the debris and rubble, but it was so much calmer than she had expected her first mission to be. Until one of the police officers ran over to her.
‘You’re with The Avengers, right?’ He said, out of breath.
‘Yes.’ She steadied him with her hand on his arm, something obviously desperately wrong. ‘What is it?’
‘The plane’s starting to go down, we’re still evacuating.’
‘Shit.’ She spun her head and found Clint the closest. ‘Clint!’ She yelled, beckoning to him before she turned back to the officer. ‘Take us.’
‘What is it?’ Clint caught them up as they ran towards the edge of the dock.
‘Plane’s going down, not sure everyone is off it.’ Sigyn explained as they ran.
‘How many left?’
‘One of the stewards has the manifest, we’re checking them off, but not fast enough.’ The cop wheezed and Sigyn gave Clint an alarmed look.
‘Can you hold something as big as a plane?’ Clint asked her as they hit the edge where they could see the inflatable slide from the side of the aircraft floating as the last few passengers wearing life vests swam to the lower dock before climbing up the ladder to the side.
‘We’re going to find out.’ Sigyn jumped down onto the lower dock and swallowed. She threw her arms out as she called her power, wrapping it around the fuselage in an amber wave with everything she had, hoping to keep it afloat long enough to finish the evac.
Clint nodded, more to himself than anything else, knowing from their sparring sessions she would need to concentrate. ‘How many are left?’ Clint asked the steward, a young, slender man, dripping wet and pale, standing to the side on the upper level.
‘All the passengers accounted for.’
He looked down at the damp list. ‘I don’t know. I think so.’
‘No.’ One of the crew climbed onto the dock. ‘Jack, the pilot, he’s still on board.’
‘Where was he?’ Sigyn asked through gritted teeth.
‘Cockpit, he was unconscious.’
‘Sigyn, don’t!’ Clint said warningly but it was too late. Sigyn redirected her powers to remove her armour, leaving her in her leather pants and soft black tunic, before diving head first into the water. ‘Shit!’
‘What did she do?’ Loki’s voice came over the comms desperately, only having heard part of the conversation.
‘She’s jumped into the bay.’ Clint sighed. ‘I’m going in after her.’ He dropped down onto the lower dock then into the water.
Loki’s concentration stuttered as he realised what Sigyn was doing, or trying to do. Wanda spun her head to look at him across the street from her, helping support the other side of the building. She knew he was torn but there was nothing he could do.
‘Loki, concentrate!’ Wanda yelled and he returned his focus to the building. ‘Sigyn knows what she is doing!’ He nodded, not trusting his voice, hoping she was right. His every instinct made him want to race over there, to ensure she was okay, to help her, but she needed this independence, this chance to prove herself to not only the team but herself.
‘Be careful, Sig.’ He murmured.
Sigyn resurfaced just feet from the inflatable slide and swam towards it, pulling herself along the edge to the door where she could get better purchase on the metal of the plane. As she pulled herself out of the water she felt the entire thing move under her, a sudden lurch that was echoed in her stomach in fear.
‘Sig, back up!’ Clint yelled as he swam towards her. ‘That thing is going to go down!’
‘But the pilot!’ She replied, pulling herself the rest of the way into the door. ‘I can get to him, Clint, I have to try!’
He groaned and bit back a retort about stubborn women on this team. ‘Make it fast!’
Sigyn flashed him a quick grateful smile before guiding herself through the chaos inside the aircraft, bags and belongings strewn in the slanting interior where the lights flickered on and off eerily, the sound of running and lapping water echoing everywhere. The carpet underfoot was definitely damp from water sloshing through the doorway, but as yet flooding didn’t seem to be an issue. Faint alarms could be heard, a shrill beeping of equipment no doubt coming from the cockpit, and it just added to the rate her heart was running at, the urgency of the situation.
She had definitely never experienced anything like this either as Sigyn or Maia before. Holding her weight with her hands on the backs of the seats she made careful progress towards the front of the plane, the floor slanting at about a twenty-five degree angle, making it difficult not to slip or rush forward, but she was afraid her momentum might just be enough to add too much movement to the already precarious position the aircraft was in.
Ahead of her the door to the cockpit stood open, and in the faint lights she could see the slumped figure of the pilot in his seat, headphones still attached, equipment beeping and flashing, causing the darkened interior to echo sinisterly, the shadowed depths enhancing the red warning lights’ glow as it flickered menacingly. Water lapped at the windscreen and it was more obvious here that it was slowly edging downwards, but gradually, not the sudden slip she had experienced when she first pulled herself onboard, but it spurred her on and she pressed her fingers to the throat of the pilot.
‘How’s it going?’ Clint’s voice came through her earpiece.
‘Found him, still breathing, but out cold.’ She confirmed as she finished checking him. ‘Should be able to move him without too much trouble.’ She glanced around and spotted the lifejackets in an open cabinet, grabbing one and pulling it over his head, tying it around him as best she could. She unclipped his belt and was just pulling him over her shoulder, grateful for her Asgardian strength, when the entire plane shifted and she lost her footing, toppling back into the console and dragging the limp man on top of her. He was at least six foot and heavy set, making it awkward to push him back off her, but more distracting than that was the screaming Clint was doing in her ear and the water suddenly rushing in up through the equipment as though there were a hole somewhere beneath her, passing her knees alarmingly quickly.
‘I hear you! Coming out now!’ She said quickly as she positioned the unconscious man over her shoulder and started to pull her way back out of the cockpit. There was another door to her right but it was still closed and she wasn’t sure with the water pressure if it would open easily, but the floor was starting to slant more, making it an almost vertical climb, the water now rushing towards her where the doorway she had entered through was now part submerged. A glance back showed the water now filled the cockpit where she had stood just moments ago, bubbling up impossibly dark in a rush that soon lapped around her ankles.
The plane gave a metallic moan and dropped suddenly, all the lights going out, and it was only her quick thinking that had her put her feet on the wall beside the doorway, stopping her from falling back into the cockpit, and the rush of adrenaline it gave her made her acknowledge she couldn’t get out the way she came in. The drop made the water rush faster and it was to her hips in seconds, the movement beneath her feet so unnerving it caused the nervous butterflies she had to race through her in terror, her body trembling with it. She swallowed, more to push back the sharp taste of fear than anything else, but it also steeled her nerves somewhat, and she was able gain a little clarity.
Lifting the man back off her shoulder she tugged the toggle to inflate his life vest, pulled his back against her chest, wrapped an arm under one of his and across his torso, as she had learned for water rescue training back at X Manor, the cold river now around her waist, and she dragged him to the closed door. Glancing up at the water was rushing in through the open door higher up she thought she had perhaps a minute before she would be fully submerged, and she shoved at the handle, releasing the airtight seal, but pressure kept it in place, water slowly trickling around the edges. She pushed her free hand against the door and called her sorcery, forcing the door with it while she leant into it with all her body weight, the groaning metal joining the other cacophony of sounds that had fallen into background static as she concentrated, her pulse in her ears. The door gave slightly but it became apparent, as the water rushed around her, that this wouldn’t work, it was too slow. She needed to push it out in one big hit. One big hit she wasn’t sure if she was capable of any more, or yet. She hoped she was. Taking a few sharp breaths she focused, drawing on what was inside her, pushing it down yet gathering it at the same time, taking one long, deep breath, then puffing it out rapidly as she screamed, throwing her power at the door.
Clint had had to swim back from the plane as it sank, yelling for Sigyn over the comms and receiving no response, until she suddenly seemed to cry out, and there was a bright amber flash in the water, creating waves and a small explosion of water and bubbles.
‘What’s going on? Clint?’ Loki shouted desperately, now running towards the dock as Tony had shored up the side of the building and he was no longer needed.
‘I don’t know!’ Clint sputtered as the wave pushed him back into the lower dock, one of the emergency workers encouraging him to get out of the bay but he refused.
‘There!’ One of the coastguard officers pointed to a disturbance in the water, a moment later the now conscious pilot sputtering to the surface.
‘C’mon, Sig.’ Clint murmured, his eyes scanning the water even as he swam out to meet the pilot to see if he needed help.
‘Where is she?’ Loki’s voice came not only over the comms but from the dock behind him, however Clint didn’t spare him a glance back.
‘She was on the plane.’ One of the emergency workers told him just in time for Loki to see the tail disappear into the water.
Loki took a step towards the edge, fully intent on going in after her, when her head broke the surface and she gasped for air, taking in a gulp of water as she sunk again before resurfacing once more.
‘I got you!’ Clint grabbed her, hauling her towards him, knowing the pilot was already making his way to shore.
‘I’m good!’ She replied breathily, followed by a small cough as she cleared her lungs of what she had swallowed.
‘Sure?’ He asked, keeping an arm around her but she nodded, albeit a little faster than normal.
‘Good.’ He let out a relieved sigh and together they started back towards the dock.
‘Holy Valhalla, Sig, you scared me.’ Loki lifted her effortlessly from the water where she gave an almighty shiver as the air hit her, her linen tunic clinging to her.
‘Scared myself a little.’ She admitted as he created a large towel and wrapped it around her before pulling her into his arms.
‘That was incredible.’ One of the emergency workers said as he passed Clint a blanket. ‘Didn’t think you were going to make it back out.’
‘Yeah, she’s something special alright.’ Clint remarked.
‘I don’t know how to thank you.’ The pilot came over and offered her his hand which she took, allowing him to shake it. ‘Who are you?’
‘Sigyn.’ She replied simply.
‘Newest member of The Avengers.’ Clint pointed out.
‘And my beautiful bride to be.’ Loki added proudly.
‘Well, you’re my hero.’ The pilot smiled warmly at her and she felt a blush scorch her.
‘It was nothing.’ She said as she realised there were press assembled as they started calling questions at them, mostly about what Loki had said.
‘You’re far too modest, petal. You’re an Avenger now. You have to take the adoration with the job, I’m afraid.’
‘This is why fictional heroes wear masks.’ She muttered as Steve pushed his way through the assembled crowd.
‘A little soggy, but we’ll live.’ Clint called up as Loki encouraged Sigyn up the ladder ahead of him, Steve helping her the last few rungs as she was trembling with a combination of cold and adrenaline.
‘Are the buildings clear?’ She asked through chattering teeth as Steve positioned himself between her and the press while Loki clambered up.
‘They are, but you don’t need to worry about that. Get back to The Tower and dried off, ready for debriefing.’ He gave her a small smile. ‘You did good today.’
‘I did what I’m meant to.’ She said dismissively.
‘Take her home.’ Steve nodded to Loki. ‘We’ll finish off here.’
‘I can still help.’ She argued.
‘There’s enough of us for the clean up. Get gone.’
‘Captain’s orders.’ Loki bowed his head to him before taking him at his word, curving his arms around Sigyn and teleporting them both back to their room in The Tower.
‘We could have done more.’ She said as he rubbed her with the towel. ‘I could have changed my outfit for a dry one and carried on with the clean up.’
‘You’ve done enough.’ He said firmly. ‘For a first mission, that was supposed to be relatively simple, you certainly made quite an impression.’
‘I didn’t do anything the rest of the team wouldn’t have done.’ She argued as he wrung out the end of her braid.
‘I doubt the rest of the team could have made quite such a magical pulse as you did, sunbeam. You virtually lit up the area, for those of us able to spot it.’
‘I just did what I had to.’ She muttered.
‘You were amazing. You are recovering your control over your abilities astonishingly, and I am so very proud of you.’
She finally smiled, her blush, which had been a permanent fixture since she climbed from the bay, fading. ‘That means more than anything else.’
He wiped a drip of water from her cheek then bent at the knee, throwing her over his shoulder.
‘Wait, what are you doing?’ She asked in surprise, her arms pinned in the towel he had wrapped her in.
‘I am going to join you in a celebratory shower, and then perhaps some of Tony’s wine is in order.’
‘I can’t argue with that.’ She grinned to herself, knowing full well what was coming, and not minding one little bit.