As the Queen's birthday approaches Jane Foster and Darcy Lewis are making plans to return to the USA, Thor and Captain America are expected in London to attend the Trooping of the Colours, and weird things are stirring on Alderney, one of the Channel Islands...
Previous part here: http://archiveofourown.org/works/3334724
by Marcus L. Rowland
London: Wednesday AM
Darcy peered out of the window of Jane's office and spotted a familiar-looking van parked across the road from the college car park. "We were tailed on the way in."
"Are you sure?" Ian joined her at the window.
"Positive. The white van, it followed us home yesterday too."
Jane looked up from her computer. "Someone must have noticed that Thor's out of town. What do you suggest we do?"
"I've already made some arrangements. We just need to wait a bit, then I'll take care of things."
Bath: Wednesday AM
Rupert Giles rubbed his eyes tiredly and stared at the computer screen. Xander looked out at him, and said "So we figured the best thing to do was get some photos, send them to you, and talk to you before we did anything too stupid."
"And nobody felt any urge to touch the eye, or do anything with it?" Giles tried to avoid glancing at Xander's eye patch.
"I'm feeling an urge to put it in, but Andrew and I have both played D&D, we've run into the Eye of Vecna."
"D&D magic item, gives you powers like seeing in the dark, seeing through illusions, disintegrating your enemies, that sort of thing. You have to cut out your own eye and put it into the socket and it's evil, you only get the cool powers if you hurt people with them."
"If you think that's bad," Andrew said from off-screen, "there's the Hand of Vecna and the Head. That one's just sick."
"I'll take your word for it," Giles said hastily. "So, to recap, the raven tossed the bag towards you, but Caridad actually caught it, and the raven flew off without giving you any instructions. Anything else?"
"Languages." Caridad was honing a sword inside the tent, but like all slayers had excellent hearing.
"Yeah, I nearly forgot," said Xander. "When we compared notes we realised that Andrew and I heard it talking English, but Caridad thought it was fluent Spanish. Not only that; I thought it had a Bronx accent, Andrew thought it sounded like Michael Caine. We think there were minor differences in the phrasing we heard, but nobody was taking notes so we're not a hundred percent sure."
"A translation spell, I suppose."
"Maybe," said Andrew. Xander turned his laptop so that the camera pointed at him. "When I saw it was a raven that carries an eye, the mythology that came to mind was the Norse gods. Odin sends his eye out with his ravens Hugin and Mugin so that he knows what's happening in the world. We know that Thor's real, and Asgardians speak that weird language that everyone seems to understand, maybe the ravens do too. It could be that."
"It's called Allspeak," said Giles. "The thought crossed my mind as soon as Xander told me about the raven, but I didn't want to bias you."
"Vi said you've met Thor; can we get him in on this?"
"Perhaps, but he isn't in Britain at the moment, it might take a few days, and as I understand it his friends are a little busy today. I'm due to meet him at the weekend, if it could wait until then?"
"If Odin wants us to have that eye, I'm guessing there's a good reason." Xander lifted the bag and stared at it with his good eye. "It might be something that can't wait until the weekend. Maybe I should…"
"No way," Andrew interrupted. "Even if we're right and it's Odin's eye, he's a fracking god and you aren't. It could fry your brain."
Giles smiled. "I must say it's always refreshing to hear you as the voice of caution."
"Yeah, well, you misuse a little magic, kill your best friend because you trust one of the powers of ultimate darkness, nearly end the world a few times, it sours you on messing with stuff you don't really understand."
"Okay," said Xander. "Nobody puts it in their eye socket. What the hell do we do with it then?"
"I know an expert on Norse mythology." Giles flicked through his address book, and added "a Doctor Randolph, he comes highly recommended. I'll send him the photographs and ask his opinion, maybe he'll have some suggestions."
London, Wednesday Afternoon
"Lewis is on the move," murmured Reg Bates, standing by a notice board and pretending to read a flyer issued by the college debating society. "Dark hair, knitted cap and a big coat, she's just come out of Foster's office."
"You sure it's her?" His brother Brian was waiting outside in their van.
"Who else would it be?" He waited for her to pass then followed her down the corridor at a discreet distance. "Who else dresses like that in warm weather?"
Darcy stopped at the receptionist's desk. "Joanne, I'm going out to Starbucks, want anything?"
"No thanks, Darcy, I'm headed for lunch soon. Did you hear about that Doctor Silvers?"
"Kristin? What about her?"
"She's got another tattoo. Sometimes I just don't know where to look…"
Reg strolled past and waited by the lifts. "It's her all right, the receptionist just called her Darcy."
"Right you are then. I'll get the van started, we'll get her as soon as she comes out."
Reg followed Darcy into the lift, and the receptionist waited until it had gone then rang an internal number. "He's followed her out." Thirty seconds later Jane Foster left her office, followed by Ian Boothby, and headed along a corridor towards one of the other exits. The receptionist switched her computer screen to display feeds from cameras in the car park, and sat back to enjoy the show.
Brian opened the rear doors of the van, whistling innocently, just as Darcy came out, with Reg close behind. This was going to be easy money.
"Hey buddy, got a light?"
Startled, he turned to see another woman, a redhead in her thirties wearing Kevlar biker gear. "Don't smoke."
"Neither do I." She punched him in the stomach, hard enough to bend him double, then grabbed him by the neck and pressed fingers to his carotid arteries. In moments he was unconscious, and she lifted him effortlessly and heaved him into the van. "All right, Darcy?"
"Sure, Vi." Darcy finished with Reg and pocketed her illegal Taser, and Vi loaded him into the van. Darcy climbed inside, secured them with the cable ties they'd intended to use on her, then stabbed each of them with a hypodermic.
"What's that stuff?"
"Some sort of tranquilizer, that guy was going to stick me with it when I nailed him. I guess it was supposed to knock me out for a few hours. Found four more syringes in his pocket."
"Scotland Yard." They slammed the rear doors and Darcy got into the driver's seat, while Vi went back to her bike. They drove off towards Victoria.
"Giles has some great contacts." Vi helped herself to a second bowl of chilli and a handful of crackers, and added some hot sauce. "I thought we'd be answering questions for a week; they took one look at those guys and told us to leave the rest to them."
"Apparently they're rent-a-thugs, not Hydra agents," said Darcy, "one whiff of being charged with terrorism and they'll spill their guts. I guess that Hydra must be scraping the bottom of the barrel."
"Or they don't want to risk their own personnel anywhere near Thor."
"But that confirms that there's still someone out there paying the bills, someone who wants to kidnap you or Jane." Ian was worried, and it showed.
"They think Darcy's the weak link," said Jane. "Which shows how stupid they are. She spotted them before I'd even noticed we were being watched."
"Yeah. They haven't figured out it's you, Ian." Darcy chewed and swallowed. "You're the one who's out alone on a canal boat most nights. You're low-hanging fruit."
"The police are leaking a story that they were taken down by Black Widow," said Vi, "I don't look anything like her apart from the hair, but it ought to be a deterrent."
"And Thor will be back in London on Friday," said Jane, "they'd have to be really dumb to try anything."
"Not just Thor," said Darcy, "He's got Steve Rogers in tow. Reminds me, Vi, I was going to ask last night but I got distracted. Do you want to meet him? Maybe come to dinner with us?"
"Meet Captain America? Awesome!"
Sighing, Darcy reached for the money box.
Alderney, Wednesday Afternoon
"Okay," Xander reeled in a tape measure and added the latest measurement to the plan he was sketching. "I think we have the layout of the tunnels figured out now. Has anyone noticed anything odd? Feelings of evil, ghostly presences, anything like that?"
Andrew shone his LED lantern around the walls again. "The whole place is creepy, but I guess that's because we know the sort of things they did here. But to be honest, it looks a lot less weird than I expected."
"I think there's more to this place than we're seeing." Caridad stood with her eyes closed and her hands slightly raised, as though feeling the air. "Maybe concealed tunnels, maybe some sort of portal. Hydra were into that stuff."
"Maybe we should try the eye." For the third time that afternoon Xander found himself reaching for the leather bag, and forced himself to stop. "Crap, whatever that thing is, it really wants me to wear it."
"I think we're all agreed it's probably a spectacularly bad idea." Andrew made an odd gesture, and a glittering symbol appeared in the air and faded; as it vanished, Xander felt the compulsion ebb.
"Why does it have to be Xander?" Caridad opened her eyes, and went to her backpack.
"Xander's missing an eye, he could put it into the socket easily. If it wasn't a stupid risk."
Caridad found what she was looking for, an old Nikon D50 SLR camera. "Maybe you just have to look though it. Xander could do that, but maybe a camera can too. Could we fix it to the front of the lens, take photos through it?"
Andrew thought for a second. "It's not far off being a really thick lens shape. If we put it in front of a normal lens it'll be like an extreme close-up lens, if the refractive index is anything like glass or sapphire you'd only be able to take pictures of things an inch or so from the camera."
"That's no good." Xander gestured at the plan. "There's thousands of square feet of walls and floors here, we couldn't scan it an inch at a time."
Caridad grinned. "So why not try the eye instead of a normal lens? We've got a spare body cap in the bag, if we make a hole in it we could tape the eye to that and put it on the camera. Like those guys who deliberately use crappy lenses so that it's art instead of technology."
"Lomography?" Andrew looked intrigued. "I know people who are into that, but I don't know much about it. If we use a fairly small hole it might work like a pinhole camera. It could be worth a try. What you think, Xander?"
"Make it so, Number Two."
"Number Two was the guy with the eye patch in the Austin Powers movies. Riker was Number One!" Andrew found the body cap and a lighter-sized butane blowtorch he usually used for soldering, burned a small neat hole through the middle of the body cap, then dug out a roll of adhesive plaster and a pair of scissors from their first aid kit, and cut a strip with a hole in it to hold the eye on the cap.
"McGyver strikes again."
Caridad shook her head. "McGyver would have better tools and a roll of duct tape."
"I forgot to pack it." Andrew put a clean sheet of paper on the floor, and put the body cap down at one end of it. "Caridad, take the bag and very carefully get it open and tip the eye onto this paper. Don't touch it the eye itself, we don't know what it might do."
"Why Caridad? Why not me?"
"Caridad isn't feeling any compulsion to stick it into her head."
"Okay, good point." Xander reluctantly handed the bag to Caridad, who carefully tipped the eye out onto the paper.
Andrew nervously nudged the eye with a pencil until the iris, a ring of darker material inside the main body of the eye, was uppermost. He peeled the protective backing from the plaster then moved it so that the hole was directly above the pupil. "Here goes nothing." He lowered the plaster until it was touching the eye, pressed it down slightly, then lifted. The eye came with it, and he cautiously moved it onto the body cap and pressed the tape down until it was sticking to the cap, then used more strips of tape to fix it a little more securely.
"Don't get the sticky under the cap or it won't fit properly."
"I know that." Andrew trimmed off the ends of the tape and carefully put the cap onto the camera.
"Okay." Caridad took the camera and switched it on. "This has to be the worst possible camera for this job, it doesn't even meter or let you use the flash without a compatible lens fitted, and there's no preview screen." She looked through the viewfinder, and shook her head. "This is just a dark blurry mess."
"Try taking some photos. Wait a second… Andrew, do something magical that doesn't show up visually, while Caridad takes a picture."
"Okay, I'll set it for an eighth of a second, shine the lantern at him and we'll see what we get. When you're ready, Andrew."
Andrew raised his hand in a Vulcan salute. "Dif-tor heh smusma. Live long and prosper."
The shutter clicked and Caridad looked at the screen on the back of the camera. "Okay, we got something, I think, I can just about make him out and his hand's glowing purple."
"Really?" Andrew and Xander crowded round to look.
"'Live long and prosper' in Vulcan is a spell?"
"I used it as a blessing, Xander, don't knock it."
"O…kay. Caridad, you're the shutter-bug here, start taking pictures all round, Andrew can hold the light and I'll plot the positions on the chart. Don't forget the floor and ceiling. And have a think about what sort of cameras we should have the next time we do something like this, I'll talk Giles into buying them."
Seville, Wednesday Evening
Doctor Elliot Randolph stared at the pictures of the eye. There was no doubt in his mind that it belonged to Odin; he'd seen it a few times many centuries ago, before he'd deserted from Asgard's army. Giles didn't know that he wasn't human, which meant that he'd have to dig out a few historical and mythological references to back up his "opinion."
He poured himself a stiff drink and started to check airline booking sites. If there was any chance that Odin was coming to Midgard, he wanted to stay at a safe distance. Since there wasn't any way to get off-world inconspicuously, he'd have to settle for somewhere like Australia…
Wikipedia can tell you about the Eye, Hand, and Head of Vecna. The story of the Head is well worth a look.
Dr Elliot Randolph is an Asgardian deserter, first seen in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
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