Where is Loki?
Disclaimer: I don't own either the Buffy verse or the Marvel verse. See previous disclaimers.
I would like to thank my Betas MissE and Tammin
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Thanks again to everyone. Your reviews have inspired me to go beyond the movie.
Xander and Clint raced, silently over the dark icy fields. Overhead Thor was 'talking' with the Air Elementals. The blizzard had died down, mostly. It was still snowing.
Xander could see the Greater Air Elementals. They looked like giant deformed soap bubbles, except all jagged-y; angles instead of curves. They also had more color than he was expecting. To his eyes and he was sure that Clint could see the same things himself when he looked up from the tracks once in a while, that the bigger the Elemental, the more color it had. Xander knew what that meant. Their power was leaking through to a spectrum he could see, or sense. As Willow explained it, that was how his mind interpreted what it was sensing. As far as the two were concerned the sky was lit up with color.
"Yeppers. The same way an atomic explosion can be considered pretty. If you ignore the destruction that it leaves in its wake." Xander went back to following the tracks.
"What? Those things?"
"Clint think about it. Think about the energy output that goes into the making of a blizzard of that size and intensity. Granted there are a lot of them, but the storm has been going on for a good while. The big ones by my estimate are equal to flying out of control nukes."
Clint knew a thing or two about wind. You did not become an archer of his caliber if you didn't study wind and its effect on ballistics, any object that could be projected through the medium had to factor in the power of wind currents and how they could affect the path and vectors from point a to point b.
"I see your point. How come the colors?"
"According to my best bud Willow, that's their power level. If you see a rainbow attacking, duck and cover is so not gonna help."
Clint grinned but kept quiet. He signed silent running from this point on, and Xander agreed with his suggestion. The two men ran together like wolves on the trail of elusive prey. In essence this was exactly what they were doing. Following the tracks and Loki's scent over the icy terrain.
JARVIS was laid on a table in the make shift lab. The other AI stood guard.
"I really don't like how they got through the firewalls so fast. Will you look at the time stamp. It wasn't even a gradual takeover. He went from nothing to hacked in less than a micro-second."
Bruce hummed his agreement. "I've never seen a thing like it." he admitted.
"I would love to get my hands on what they used. Although the copy of JARVIS in the armor was fine, but not on the android version. I wonder why? They both have the same protections."
Dawn saw that Stark was getting more frustrated by the minute. "Mind if I take a look at the source code?"
Tony knew she was decent with languages, all languages in fact. So he opened a few holographic screens for her to work on without making a comment.
Betty moved closer to Dawn's station. She smiled at the younger woman, and Dawn smiled back. Together they went quietly through the code. Dawn's magical reserves were slowly filling back up. She concentrated into tapping the rich ambient energy. She touched the same field that Xander, Faith and Natasha generated when they connected with Gungnir. The energy started to refill at a faster pace. While that was progressing on its own, she gave most of her attention back to helping Betty go through the code.
Outside the lab Gungnir felt Dawn tap into his communications field. At first he did nothing. He evaluated the user. He decided that she wasn't being malicious and let her tap into the field. After a while he saw that she was taking in more and more energy as time went by. Instead of letting her destabilize the network, he decided to fill up her reserves. He established an active connection with her and scanned her thoroughly. What he found stunned him. For the first time since he was created he was at a loss with what to do with the information. This was no mere Asgard/Human hybrid. This was a facet of the universe. This was the KEY in biological form. *SHE COULD SUCK ME DRY!* he thought. In self defense he decided to flood her human shell with the energy she needed, before she consciously, or unconsciously drained him. He opened the channel wider and flooded her with the energy she was using.
"Whoa!" Dawn was glowing. Betty was taken by surprise. "Do you normally glow like that from time to time?" she asked.
Dawn was speechless. She was having a hard time coping with the sudden influx of energy. This was no longer an ambient energy field. She was connected to a power source, like a plug into an outlet, and then someone turned up the tap. When she was just shy of her current maximum capacity, she dropped the connection, before she lost consciousness. "What a rush!"
Everyone was looking at her.
"Sorry about that. For some reason the spear decided to refill my depleted energy reserves. He almost burned me up. I wonder what's up with that?" she frowned, "I'll ask later. This is much too important to leave unresolved."
"Are you sure? I you need to..."
"No Tony. I'm fine. I'll talk to Natasha later."
Tony dropped it. She was right. He depended too much on the AIs to leave them vulnerable to attack like this.
"The scent stops here." Xander looked around and found tracks, a lot of tracks. They led in a different direction.
The sky was clear now and Thor was dropping down on them like a guided missile. Neither man moved. They knew that Thor had total control over the Hammer's flight ability.
"Why have you stopped?"
"These tracks don't make sense." Xander frowned as he knelt in front of a particular patch of ice. Loki's scent was strongest over this patch.
He looked at Clint and the other man nodded. He let Xander handle Thor while he looked around.
"How so?" he noticed the archer continue his pursuit of the tracks. He let him be. Xander was the combat leader of the group. He had fought beside him like a brother and he had acquitted himself quite well. Until there was a doubt of his capabilities faltering he would follow his lead. He was a puzzle to Thor. He was a mix of Balder in his trust and ability to inspire and lead his people, in and out of battle. He was able to see to the heart of things like Heimdall. He knew that this was a gift from Gaea his mother as one of her champions and defenders.
Xander pointed at the patch, "What do you see?" he asked.
Thor looked at the icy patch of ground. There were tracks, he looked closer still. The impression left behind by Loki's unconscious body was there, as well as tracks from a smaller ice giant. Slender tracks, he looked up and asked, "Female?"
"You noticed that did you. I think she's the one who got Loki in the first place."
"These were the tracks Clint and I followed from where they started. I didn't know the difference, because let's face it, I've never met ice giants before. They looked big I just assumed, but when you compare them to the other tracks all over this area, you can see the difference. Not just a smaller version of the big guys, but from the shape you can tell that it's female or feminized, you see what I mean?"
Thor nodded. He had a bit of familiarity with ice giants and he knew what the Black Knight was talking about. He was also impressed with his tracking and analytical skills. His respect grew yet again. "What else?"
"The what else is Loki himself. See the impression?" he again directed Thor's attention to the same spot.
"I see it..." he pointed at Loki's imprint, "Loki..." he moved his index finger again, "The female..." and he moved it a third time, "and another."
"Physically you're right on the money."
"What am I missing Knight?"
"Xander. Just Xander."
"You have earned this title in my presence. Why do you seek to deny it?"
"Bad memories. Someone called me a White Knight once..."
"Then it's not an empty title..."
"Not really. He meant it as an insult. Anyway, water under the bridge and all that crap that flows with it. Back to the important stuff. Your brother."
Thor agreed. Now was not the time for telling tales. He would get to the heart of this matter later during the journey. "My brother..."
"Where did he go from here?"
"What do you mean? Did you loose his tracks? He was obviously carried away."
"No he wasn't." Xander was sure of that.
"Explain!" Thor demanded.
"No scent. It ends on that spot. Hers as well."
"Sorcery?" Thor asked.
"Gotta be, or something close to it. Nothing else makes sense."
"Then Loki is lost." his temper began to rise."
Xander saw that, and continued, "Not entirely. See those tracks there?" he pointed to the other set of tracks, beside the female tracks..
"The male." Xander confirmed.
"Then all is lost. Loki is no longer within our reach." Thor's voice rose in anger.
"Not all." Xander told him calmly.
Thor willed his anger to stop. He looked at the Black Knight and saw that he was not giving up the chase. Could he a scion of Asgard do any less?
"What next, Knight?"
"Xander. There's no Knight."
"It's just Xander. Not Knight, or Black Knight, or any kind of Knight for that matter."
"How so? I have with mine own eyes saw you earn that noble title. Tis truly earned and deserved."
"Not really. I was called the White Knight as an insult by a deadly enemy. He wanted to rub my nose in my weakness and show me how helpless I was. I'm not a Knight. I'll admit to being a fighter, who's had a good run so far, and hope to continue for sometime to come, but not as a Knight. There's nothing noble about this. It's death, destruction and bloodshed. It's always about the blood." Xander explained.
Thor saw how this conflict was waged in the warrior's heart. He was a true knight in his own eyes, but he saw that the title did not matter to the Knight, it was the struggle against the darkness that drove him. No! Not Knight! Xander. From this day forth he would call him Xander as he requested. In time he hoped his new friend would rise above this conflict and see his true worth. For now he was a friend of Thor and let none dare say nay."What then friend Xander?"
Xander smiled and pointed to Clint, "What did you find?" he asked.
"The tracks, keep going, but no Loki."
"Our friend with them?" he pointed to the shaman's tracks.
"Then what are we waiting for? We've got ourselves a chase. Let's nab these suckers Dano." He told Clint.
"Don't call me Dano." warned Clint.
"How about Jed. You look like a Jed."
"I'm telling Tasha." Clint threatened.
"Tasha's boy..." Xander avoided the swipe, "Yikes! Kidding. Sheesh, some guys can't take a joke."
"Your not that funny. Find a working sense of humor and then we'll talk."
Thor's heart lightened. He laughed as his comrades made light of this bleak situation. He would do no less.