Comments are in [brackets and bold text]
This is primarily an Avengers / Ghostbusters crossover, but also references, Thor, Hellboy, Sorcerer's Apprentice, the Buffyverse, Randall and Hopkirk Deceased, Sherlock, Torchwood, Doctor Who, Fantastic Four, Spiderman, and probably others I've forgotten. Needless to say I own none of the characters etc., they belong to various creators and megacorporations, and there is no intent to infringe on copyright in the original works. This story may not be distributed on a profit-making basis. [Yeah, because that's going to happen... Obvious note before this begins, everything has been completely Jossed by Agents of SHIELD (can't be arsed to put in the dots)]
Marcus L. Rowland
[There ought to be title music here - I think some sort of heavy metal version of the Ghostbusters theme would do nicely. In case it isn't obvious, the opening scene is set aboard the SHIELD helicarrier after Loki escapes with the sceptre]
"Well, this sucks," said Phil Coulson, watching the futile attempts to revive his body. "That was a new suit too." [you can imagine people walking through him etc. if you like - he's a ghost and invisible and intangible]
"It happens to everyone sooner or later," said the woman who was suddenly standing by his side; "Especially if they mess with my father."
Phil looked her over, noting that one side of her face was beautiful, the other rotting. "Your father?"
"Loki. Sorry, I should have said; I'm Hela of the Asgard. I look after some of the dead."
"Nope. You died a hero so you won't end up in my realm. I was in the neighbourhood keeping an eye on dad and uncle Thor, I thought I'd keep you company until the Valkyries come for you."
"That's odd... I'm sure I know you from somewhere." [Agent Coulson is VERY observant in my head canon]
"I probably just remind you of someone," she said cautiously.
"I really don't think so. I'm pretty good at recognizing people from their voices and body language... Miss Lewis. Or do you prefer Darcy?"
"Crap." Hela shrugged her shoulders and morphed into the short busty brunette Coulson remembered. "That's better. Best thing about Midgard, I don't have to show my true face." [See the end notes - for some reason several people have written this character as Hel/Hela in disguise, and hundreds more as other sorts of supernatural creature, etc., she seems to be the go-to character for this sort of treatment. Who am I to argue?]
"It's not really a look that suits anyone, I think. So what brings you to Earth... sorry, Midgard?"
"Do you know how boring the dead are?" she said petulantly. "Sorry, nothing personal, but I don't get the interesting ones, the heroes, they go to Valhalla. Grandfather gave me Niffelheim, all I get is senile old farts and people who died of horrible diseases. Anyway, I duck out as often as I can. A lot of the time I visit Midgard, where you can get decent pizza and music and you're not watching fucking dead guys wander around in the fog." [Well, I'd be fed up if it was me, it seems reasonable...]
"And you're watching Loki and Thor?"
"A couple of years back Odin sent me a raven that told me to get my ass to New Mexico and keep an eye on Thor. He isn't exactly the sharpest pencil in the box. I lucked into a job with Jane, the rest you know. Watching Dad is more of a 'what the fuck will that asshole do next?' thing."
"So what happens now?"
"Like I said, you've been killed by one of us and you died a hero so the Valkyries should turn up any time now."
"What if I don't want to go with them? Is it compulsory?"
"Nope. You go to whatever version of afterlife you prefer, I guess. Or reincarnate, vanish in a puff of atheist logic, [obvious Douglas Adams reference] whatever. Valhalla is one of the better options, trust me on that."
"What if I want to haunt the Helicarrier?"
"I don't recommend it. Most people won't be able to see or hear you, and ghosts slowly fade, eventually there'd be nothing left for the Valkyries, me, or anyone else to salvage." [It seemed like a good idea to have some limits on this]
"Could I give it a try for a few days?"
"I get it... you think you can make woo woo noises at Fury and tip him off to what Dad is up to!"
"I don't know what Loki's doing, so how could I do that?"
"If you don't know, you don't know. But just to be on the safe side..." She raised a hand, and he was bathed in the eerie blue light he'd come to associate with the Asgardians. "Don't worry, I'm not cursing you, it's just a geas. You just won't be able to tell anyone who I am."
"And no talking to Fury or the Avengers, or my uncle! So mote it be!" [because that would make it too easy] She clapped her hands together.
"How long have I got?"
"Oh, we'll make it twenty-four hours, that ought to give you enough time to realise how dumb an idea this is. I'll tell the Valkyries they should come looking for you this time tomorrow, you can decide then what you want to do."
"Thank you, that's very helpful."
"I can't be helpful, I'm not allowed to take sides." For a second Coulson thought she winked at him. "I think Odin expects that whatever happens here will settle things between Thor and Dad once and for all. Which kinda sucks for everyone around them, but hey, really not my problem."
"I've got to go. Things to do and people to see."
"Anything special coming up?" asked Phil.
"Loki, of course, he doesn't think small. See you soon." She vanished as abruptly as she'd appeared.
"Okay," Phil said to himself. "If I was Loki where would I be?"
There were vague impressions in his memory, perhaps Loki's weapon had left them. Visions of a portal opening, centred on… "Stark Tower. Wonderful… Now how do I stop him?"
He reached out to touch the nearest wall; his hand sank into it without noticeable resistance. "No dialling a phone; nobody would hear me anyway. No banging on walls or rattling chains. She said most people couldn't see or hear me. But that means some can. Now then, in New York…"
He thought of the city, and willed himself to be there, hoping that he wasn't confined to the Helicarrier. And suddenly he was standing on the street in the plaza in front of the building. [Stark Tower, and I really should have said so] Someone walked into him… through him… without noticing anything. He thought about going inside and trying to attract someone's attention, but guessed that the odds of finding a psychic there were too low to be worth considering. There were better options, and one of them was four miles away, an old fire-house near the entrance to the Holland Tunnel [Thank you Google!]. He concentrated again, and imagined himself walking through their doors.
Janine Melnitz [These are the original Ghostbusters, obviously, since I wrote this long before the remake] was typing an invoice when the hairs on the back of her neck began to tingle, and the arms of the PKE meter on her desk rose and began to flash. Without hesitation she took her hand off the mouse and slammed it down on the emergency alarm button next to the meter. A loud insistent buzzer began to sound, and thirty seconds later a sleepy Egon Spengler slid down the pole into the main garage, followed by Winston Zeddemore.
"Where's the problem?" asked Egon.
"Right here," said Janine, pointing at the PHE meter; "It just went crazy. I think maybe the containment thingy sprung a leak." [Janine knows exactly what the containment grid is called, she just likes messing with Egon]
Egon picked up the meter and headed towards the stairs; the arms fell, and the lights dimmed, as he moved away from the desk. "It isn't the basement. Janine, sit quite still and try not to manifest any poltergeist activity." He moved back towards her and the arms rose again, then subsided a little as he got closer to the desk. "It isn't you either."
"Something in the room," said Winston, "about where that chair is."
"Janine," said Egon. "Would you mind sitting in that chair for a moment and letting your mind go blank?"
"In your dreams, Spengler. [Janine runs the company, for all practical purposes. She isn't stupid] I'm not going near it."
Winston shook his head. "Get real." [Ditto, most of the time.]
"Okay… I think we've got some sort of disembodied entity here, maybe a class one or two manifestation. Pretty harmless, it was probably just drawn in by the containment field. We ought to be able to capture it easily enough. Goggles on."
Winston and Egon put on their bulky ecto-goggles and looked around the room.
"There it is," said Winston. There was a shadowy figure sitting in the chair. It raised a hand and waved at him.
"That's definitely class two at least," said Egon. "It's aware of us."
Winston grinned as it raised a single finger. [Phil's getting a little impatient] "I think that's a given. I think it's a guy."
"Humanoid," said Egon. "Must be recently dead, or have a strong self-image. Normally they deteriorate towards formlessness pretty quickly." He lifted his goggles and looked at the read-out. "Okay, whoever this is, his body's probably not even cold yet."
"The hell you say. That right, mister ghost?" It nodded. "Must want to pass on a message or something, tell someone how he died." It nodded again.
"I hate that," said Egon. "I had to spend two days giving evidence the last time it happened, and the jury didn't even believe me." [Would you?]
"Don't be so callous," said Janine.
"Okay," said Winston. "I'll try to communicate, you take notes. Egon… well, think happy thoughts or something." He turned to the ghost and said "Okay, what can we do for you?" It moved its hands rapidly. "What the hell was that?"
"Sign language, I think," said Egon.
"Damned if I understand it. How about you?"
"Give me the goggles," said Janine, "I know a little, my aunt's deaf."
There was a short pause, while Egon and Winston waited for the other to give her the goggles, then Winston said "You'd better take notes, you type faster than me."
"I guess." Egon reluctantly gave Janine his goggles. She took a notepad and pen, and moved to a seat facing the ghost. [she doesn't trust Egon to type that fast]
"Okay," said Winston. "Do you understand me?"
The ghost signed, and Janine said "Yes."
"Who are you?"
"Agent C..o.. Coulson."
"Agent? FBI? CIA?"
"S dot H dot… That's SHIELD, with a dot after each letter, whatever the hell that is."
"Never heard of it," said Egon, typing it into Google.
"Me neither," said Winston.
The ghost gestured again, and Janine began took notes, eventually saying "He says you're not cleared for that information, and that there's an emergency; something about a door opening."
"A door?" asked Winston.
"This could be bad," said Egon, clicking from one window to another to another. "Every conspiracy site in the country has questions about SHIELD, and nobody's even sure what the letters stand for. It's a black hole for tax money."
"You're saying he's like those guys in 'Men in Black'" asked Janine
"I don't know what that means."
"You have got to get out more," said Winston; "Catch a few more movies. [I deliberately made the Men in Black fictional in this setting because they're too well equipped for alien invaders] Okay, this door; what is it?"
Janine watched. "He says it's a something portal. Demonic? No, dimensional. Something's coming, something bad."
"Crud. On a scale of one to ten, with one being an angry puppy and ten Gozer the Gozerian, how bad are we talking?"
The ghost held up ten fingers, clenched its hands then held them up again, and again.
"Damn it, I thought this was gonna be a quiet weekend. When and where?"
Janine watched again, "Stark Industries Tower. He doesn't know when, but soon."
"How soon? Hours? Days? Weeks?"
"And it gets better and better. Okay, last question. Who's doing it?"
"Look… no, low key? Oh, got it… he says Loki."
"Loki? The Norse god?"
"How bad is that?" asked Winston.
"I don't know," said Egon. "He's generally considered to be a trickster, doesn't sound so bad."
Coulson signed something else, and Janine said "Like Puente Antiguo but worst. Guys, that was a town in New Mexico that was pretty much torn apart by some sort of fire-breathing robot monster a few months ago. It was supposed to be a military experiment that went wrong, but nobody knows where it came from, everyone denied responsibility. Oh, Coulson is nodding." [A bit of an info-dump, but I want them to take things seriously]
"Okay. See if you can find out more, and call Peter and Ray in, I think we'll need all our fire-power."
"Ray went out to get breakfast, he should be back soon. Peter's at Dana's place, I'll call them." When Janine turned back to Coulson he was gone. She shrugged, and turned to the phone.
BPRD [Cue the first of many additional crossovers - Hellboy; BPRD is the organization that Hellboy works for] TELEPHONE INTERCEPT 254366 - 10.27 AM
FROM - JANINE MELNITZ (GHOSTBUSTERS STAFF)
TO - PETER VENKMAN (GHOSTBUSTERS STAFF)
JM: Peter, get your ass back here
JM: You heard. We've got big problems.
PV: Fuck! Okay, gimme the details.
FEMALE VOICE: What's happening, Peter?
PV: Got some trouble at the office.
JM: We just had a walk-in, a ghost that wanted to give us a heads-up.
PV: Not again... Okay, what did it want?
JM: It said there's a portal opening in Stark Industries Tower.
PV: A portal? What sort of portal?
JM: He said it's Loki that's opening it, the Norse god, and that it would be worse than Gozer.
PV: Load the Ectomobile, I'm coming in
[CALL ENDS 10.31 AM]
[AUTOMATED YELLOW ALERT CALL SEQUENCE ACTIVATED BY WATCH OFFICER 10.33 AM]
[PHONE TREE (ALLIED ORGANIZATIONS AND INDIVIDUALS) AUTHORIZATION REQUESTED 10.34 AM - GRANTED 10.47 AM]
"Doctor Richards, this is BPRD control, authentication foxtrot-alpha-zulu. We have a yellow alert, suspected immanent dimensional incursion at Stark Tower..." [And the second - Fantastic Four]
"Red? This is Abe. There's trouble, I think you and Elizabeth should come in..." [Calling Hellboy himself]
"Herr Blake, this is Johann Krauss with the BPRD..." [A more obscure crossover - Balthazar Blake, from The Sorcerer's Apprentice]
Phil found himself back aboard the Helicarrier and cursed. His body was gone, probably moved to the morgue, and the engines sounded rough, as though the carrier was barely staying airborne. He tried to imagine himself back in New York, but nothing happened. "I'm bending the rules," he thought. "She wants to stop me from interfering more. Or maybe she just doesn't want it to be too blatant. Okay..." There was an odd story he'd heard on his last trip to Britain, a detective with an unusual partner. He'd never believed it, but there wasn't much to lose.
Jeff Randall was pouring a beer when Marty Hopkirk appeared in his office [Another crossover - Randall and Hopkirk, Deceased], saying "Ever heard of something called SHIELD?"
"Doesn't ring any bells. What about it?"
"Just ran into a bloke called Coulson, says he used to be one of their agents."
"Used to be?"
"Before he was killed. He's a ghost like me. Says that there's going to be big trouble in New York, some time in the next few hours."
"New York? What the hell can I do about that?"
"Pass it on, I suppose. There has to be someone you know that has contacts out there."
"I suppose so. Give me the details..."
"Doctor Giles, this is Jeff Randall... yes, with the ghost... [Rupert Giles, from Buffy]
"Mister Holmes, this is Rupert Giles..." [Giles calling Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock]
"Harkness? Mycroft Holmes..." [Mycroft calling Jack Harkness, Torchwood]
"Martha, this is a weird one..." [And Jack calling Martha Jones, Doctor Who (after her time as a Companion)]
"Director Fury," said Agent Hill, "We're monitoring a huge increase in telecommunications traffic mentioning SHIELD, mostly in the New York Area. We've also got a big spike on the word 'Loki,' also centred on the city. And... just a second... the Mayor's office just issued an amber alert. It's going out live on TV channels now."
"Put it on my screen."
"...immanent dimensional incursion similar to the Central Park West incident and the attacks by Gozer the Gozerian and the Sta-Puft Marshmallow Man in the eighties. This is purely a precautionary measure, but until any threat has been assessed and neutralized citizens are advised to stay off the streets and cooperate in any evacuation that might be necessary. Thank you. There will be no questions at this time."
Fury muted the sound. "What the hell does he know that we don't? We're not even sure that Loki plans to attack New York."
"I don't know, but it sounds like he's had some sort of warning from the Ghostbusters; Gozer was their first big operation."
"Get me a line to them, and warn Stark and the others to expect civilian interference..."
The Ectomobile picked up a police escort and started to make good time when it hit Broadway, and was soon a half mile or so from the tower. "Looks like the Mayor took us seriously," said Peter. [Think of the big motorcade that accompanied the Ectomobile in the first Ghostbusters film, then double the size]
"We'd better hope it isn't a false alarm," said Egon.
"I don't think so!" Winston pointed ahead. The top of Stark Tower was glowing, and a stream of bright blue energy rose vertically into the sky. A circle of blue flame opened, with a dark centre, and hundreds of metallic dots appeared and began to dive toward the streets, getting bigger by the second. [The similarities between this scene and the "Gozer opens the portal" scene in Ghostbusters are what gave me the idea for this story] To one side a car was hit by an energy beam and burst into flames.
"We're too late," said Ray.
"Then we'd better get as close as we can then start kicking ass," said Peter, hitting the gas pedal and swerving to avoid one of the flying chariot-things as it strafed traffic. Ray rummaged in the glove compartment and pulled out a bulky flare pistol, leaned out of the window, and took a shot at the next one he saw. [No, I have no idea why they have a flare gun - it makes no sense whatever. So sue me...] It missed, but the flier swerved to avoid it and crashed into a neon movie theatre sign. A silvery-grey alien crashed to the ground, then came up carrying a huge gun, and was promptly run down by one of the police cars. The flare burst high overhead, and a dozen bolts of energy went through the cloud of bright smoke and hit one of the office buildings.
"Keep going," said Egon; "We need to be at ground zero if we're going to do anything useful."
There was a dome of shimmering lightning over Greenwich Village, zapping any of the fliers that ventured that way. Tony Stark's sensors scanned the area and showed him a couple of people who looked like students atop one of the NYU science buildings, operating a big Tesla coil. [more Sorcerer's Apprentice characters] He made a mental note to find out who they were and give them a research grant as he flew back towards the tower.
At ground level the Chitauri weren't having things entirely their own way. Something that looked like a red-skinned trench-coated version of the Hulk, armed with the biggest revolver he'd ever seen and a fist like a pile-driver, was smashing its way through a large group, nearby an angry-looking brunette woman with flames coming from her hands stood in the centre of a circle of burned alien corpses, throwing fireballs at outlying aliens. JARVIS added the designation "Hellboy" to the walking pile-driver on his targeting display. "You're fucking kidding me," said Tony. "Hellboy?"
"He matches previous sightings."
"I guess a lot of crazies have come out of the woodwork." He fired a cluster of micro-missiles at nearby aliens, taking care to avoid Hellboy and the woman.
Natasha Romanov, Steve Rogers and Clint Barton stood in their own circle of dead aliens, as another onslaught poured towards them. Something dark swooped down from above, a giant iron eagle, smashing several aliens with its wings and claws, and impaling another with its beak. There was a long-haired man in a leather duster and a tall hat riding on its back; he threw some sort of energy ball at some of the surviving aliens, tipped his hat towards Clint and Natasha, and took off again, looking for more targets. [Balthazar Blake in action]
"Now there's something you don't see every day," said Clint, shooting another alien from its flyer, "must be Harry fucking Dresden." [Because there are certain similarities which would probably get a smaller company than Disney sued...]
"Who?" asked Steve, taking out another Chitauri with his shield.
"Fictional character," said Natasha, shooting down another alien. "Maybe another wizard."
"Stephen Strange?" Clint stabbed a Chitauri in the eye with the sharpened end of his bow, and swung back to fire at another.
"Wrong costume," said Steve, "I've met him."
"Don't be silly..." [Yes, they are somehow having this discussion in the middle of a pitched battle. Must be good at multitasking]
"I'm sorry, mister Fury," said Janine, "I'm not authorized to give out their cell numbers, and it might be dangerous to disturb them while they're working. If you'd like to leave a message I'll give them the details if they check in, they can call you back once things are a little quieter." [I have no idea why Fury doesn't have dossiers that include everything about the Ghostbusters including their phone numbers, but maybe the computer on the Helicarrier is on the blink.]
"I just wanted to know how you knew the invasion was coming."
"A ghost tipped us off, of course. Guy called Coulson, he said he worked for you. Hello? Hello??"
"Hulk smash!" The dragon-thing collapsed onto Broadway, the aliens that had been riding it dazed and confused. Hulk didn't give them time to recover, smashing them with his fists and the mangled wreckage of a car he'd picked up somewhere.
"Leave some for me, buddy!" An orange giant with rocky skin, wearing blue shorts, leaped down from a flying car and began to smash Chitauri heads together, [Enter the Fantastic Four] "It's clobbering time!"
A burning man flew overhead, engulfing one flyer after another in rings of flame. Screaming aliens and debris rained down from the sky, some of them bouncing from a dome of force that surrounded a blonde girl who was trying to get some children to safety.
"Hulk clobber!" [I have no idea if this line has ever been used in the comics, but it should be] Together they smashed more Chitauri.
Pursued by a dozen aliens, Peter Parker swung from one building to the next, snagging the aliens with webs and sticky lines, and tricking them into flying into buildings, street lights, and other obstructions. [cue Spiderman theme] Suddenly the remaining pursuers discovered that their guns and fliers no longer worked; those that survived the crash-landing ran towards the most visible targets, a group of women and girls carrying an odd assortment of archaic weapons, who were making good time towards Stark Tower. Some Chitauri went down to arrows and spears, those that got closer were sliced and diced by axes and swords, and a red scythe that had no trouble cutting through their armour. In their midst a red-headed woman levitated a foot or so above the ground, her eyes and hair occasionally darkening as she nullified the energy from the alien weapons. "Hell of a party, Willow," shouted the woman with the scythe. [Wouldn't be a party without some Buffyverse characters - I started out in this fandom, I wasn't going to omit it.]
"Kinda busy, Faith."
Peter swung back overhead, dodging a couple of arrows, and waved before heading back into the fight.
"Okay. Rona, stop looting the bodies, we can't use their weapons anyway! Vi, don't shoot Spiderman, he's on our side! Keep heading towards that building directly under the Hellmouth; we need to stop them as they hit the ground. Willow, think you can shut it down?"
"Don't know... not sure it's magical, not my type of magic anyway." An energy beam narrowly missed her head, and she hastily turned her attention back to their defences.
Another of the dragon-whales emerged from the portal, and turned towards the largest target it could see, a huge flying bulk approaching from the mouth of the Hudson. As soon as the dragon was over the river green lights flashed at five nodes under the approaching vessel's hull, then a coruscating beam of green energy sliced the dragon in two along its length. Aliens and debris rained into the water, where most of the Chitauri sank under the weight of their weapons and armour. A handful survived, dumped their equipment, and began to swim to shore.
"SHIELD, this is UNIT carrier Valiant," said Martha Jones. "We are engaging targets of opportunity. Let us know if you need us for anything more specific." [Don't ask me why UNIT got a giant disintegrator ray and the SHIELD helicarrier ended up with machine guns and other conventional weapons, but both are cannon... canon... whatever. I'm sort of ignoring the fact that the Daleks destroyed the Valiant in 2009. Maybe that was another timeline or something.]
"SHIELD acknowledging. No specific targets at this time, but we're sending in a team to take out the portal generator; if they don't make it we may need you to destroy Stark Tower."
"Acknowledged. Stark Tower is currently obscured, we will need to manoeuvre for a clear shot. I'll advise you when we have line of sight." [think Death Star tactics - a BFG to take out any target if you can get an unobstructed shot]
"What idiot shut down the elevators?" Peter panted as they passed the fifty-seventh floor, weighed down by their proton packs, ghost traps, and other equipment.
"Be happy they didn't do it sooner," said Winston. "We made it most of the way before they stopped, there's only another nine stories to the roof. It could be a lot worse."
"We could be trapped in the elevators," Egon said helpfully.
"Think of it as aerobics," said Ray.
"Only eight stories to go..."
The building shook for the fourth or fifth time, and they heard an explosion somewhere above. "Sounds like the party might end before we even get through the door," said Peter.
"Hope so. Come on, we need to get up to the roof and kick ass."
Someone shouted, a couple of floors above, and fired a machine gun down the stairs. They ducked as bullets ricocheted around them.
"Okay," said Peter, "arm proton packs."
"I think that's humans up there, not ghosts or aliens," said Ray as he went through the arming sequence.
There was another burst of fire, and Egon cursed as a ricochet clipped his arm.
"You all right?" asked Winston.
"It'll need stitches, but I don't think it hit anything vital."
"Good." Winston shouted "Eat proton death, motherfuckers!" [This was inspired by the famous Space Marine battle cry, "Eat hot plutonium death you disgusting alien weirdos", from 2000AD's D.R. and Quinch] and ran up the stairs, screaming and firing proton bursts as he went. The others cursed and followed him.
The fight on the observation deck was winding down as Hulk pounded Loki to unconsciousness. On the roof Natasha and Selvig were trying to find Loki's spear, the only thing that could penetrate the force-field around the portal generator. Eventually she spotted it on a ledge several stories below, its gem shattered by the fall, [How was I supposed to know it was an Infinity Stone and pretty much indestructible?] and said "That is not good."
"How in hell do we close the portal now?"
"Afternoon, miss. Anyone else possessed up here?" They turned to see the grey-overalled Ghostbusters emerge onto the roof. Peter added "It turns out a proton burst breaks the spell. No? Anything else we can do?"
"How are you at closing dimensional portals?" asked Selvig.
"Funny you should say that," said Peter. "If this is anything like Gozer, we might be able to help."
"Not yet," said Natasha. "Iron Man needs to do something first."
They waited tensely as Iron Man flew towards the tower, guiding a missile into the portal. Ten seconds passed, and Natasha said "Close it."
"Follow my lead," said Egon, "but don't cross the streams!"
Natasha pulled Selvig aside and dived for cover as four coruscating energy beams impacted the force field around Selvig's machine and began to sap its energy. It held out for a few seconds that seemed endless, then collapsed in on itself.
"Stop," shouted Selvig, "I can get at the controls." He rolled under Egon's final blast and started to type commands into the machine, and the portal began to shrink. Overhead there was a sudden glare as the portal was almost closed, and Natasha guessed the missile had detonated. On the ground and in the air the remaining Chitauri dropped lifelessly. There was a dark dot in the glare and she spotted Stark, falling uncontrolled from the portal. He was only a hundred feet or so above the roof when a flying shape hurtled in from one side, and an impossibly long arm caught him and began to slow him like a bungee cord. Eventually he was lowered gently to the roof, the FantastiCar landing beside him. Reed Richards climbed out and began to pull in his arm, while Natasha radioed the good news to the rest of the Avengers.
Loki woke groggily, struggled to sit up, and looked up at the weapons pointed at him, from Clint Barton's bow to guns, Thor's hammer and proton packs. There was something by his head, a box with yellow and black stripes lying on its side. He began to say "If it's all the same to you-"
The box clicked open, engulfing him in a cone of blinding white light, and clicked closed again.
"Where is my brother?" asked Thor.
Peter picked up the ghost trap. "Contained, at least for a few hours. Wasn't sure that would work..." [Not even going to try and explain this one]
"A pretty piece of work, a trap for a god." Thor didn't sound pleased.
"It's nothing personal," Egon said nervously.
"How do I get him out?"
"I'll give you instructions before you go," said Peter. "You guys have magnetic containment vessels and particle accelerators, don't you?"
Down on the streets rescue work was beginning; dozens of superheroes, mystic warriors, wizards, witches, and mutants with enhanced strength and other useful powers helped considerably. Across town J. Jonah Jameson was already dictating an editorial blaming the entire incident on Spiderman. Valiant was hoisting one of the alien sky-whales off the building it was crushing, another was being sliced into usefully-sized chunks by Cyclops. The Avengers, Ghostbusters, and Fantastic Four were headed out to get some food then help with the clean-up.
Hela found Coulson on the roof of Stark Tower, looking down at the wreckage that littered the city, and said "Time for you to leave, I think."
"I guess so."
A steel eagle flapped back to the Chrysler building, landed on a ledge, laboriously climbed back into a niche at the corner of the tower, and froze to immobility. [Canon for Sorcerer's Apprentice]
"That's something you don't see every day." [I seem to use this line a little too often - it's in several of my other stories]
"I could stay," said Coulson. "Haunt Stark and the rest of them."
"You could," said Hela, "but you're already starting to fade a little, and the Valkyries will be really disappointed if you can't be salvaged. A hero who carries on saving lives after he dies has to be the excuse for one hell of a party."
"Just one question," said Coulson. "Why did you let me do it?"
"You'll think I'm a bad person."
"It's all about numbers. You stopped a lot of people from getting killed today. If they'd died in battle, especially with Loki responsible for their deaths, some of them would have ended up in Valhalla. As things are most of those people will die naturally, and some of them will end up in my realm. Most of the others will die in ways that don't attract Valkyries. Overall, that makes Helheim stronger and Valhalla weaker, which suits me very nicely."
"That doesn't make you bad; a little calculating, maybe, but you came down on the side of helping people. That's okay with me."
"And if Loki had spread a plague instead of starting a war?"
"Oh... you wouldn't have done anything to stop him?"
"Still think it's okay?"
"Would you have spread the plague yourself?"
"That's not so bad."
"If you say so," said Hela. "Ready to leave?"
Only Hela and Coulson saw or heard the Valkyries arrive, four winged horses that seemed to glow with an inner light, and their beautiful riders. They levelled their spears at Hela and gestured for Coulson to mount behind one of them.
"So where are you going to go?" asked Hela.
"I figure I'll give Valhalla a try," said Coulson. "Maybe I can transfer somewhere else if it doesn't suit me."
"Tell them you beat Loki, they'll love that."
"Don't be a stranger. If you're ever in Valhalla drop by for a beer, it'll be on me." The Valkyries stared at him, but didn't say anything.
"I wouldn't be welcome, but if you need a break swing by Helheim, we may not have mead halls but at least it's quiet there." [I deliberately didn't want this to be a "fix-it" for Coulson. He died heroically, most of the ways he was bought back in fanfic prior to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. didn't do his sacrifice justice.]
Coulson climbed aboard one of the flying horses, behind one of the Valkyries, and they took off again, singing as they left. She wondered if Coulson had been expecting Wagner, and hoped that he wouldn't be too disappointed by their current interest in punk rock. She waved good-bye, watched them vanish into the void between dimensions, and decided that she needed a night off. Amanda Palmer was performing in LA, and with any luck the news from New York should mean that there would be some cancelled tickets. And what the hell... she was a goddess, it would be easy enough to use a little magic to get into the show if it was still sold out. She changed her costume to something more suitable, concentrated, and was gone.
Notes for the perplexed: There's a fanfic meme that Darcy Lewis (Thor etc.) is actually the Norse goddess Hel/Hela in disguise. I came across it just after starting the story; originally I was going to use the Sandman version of Death, but this seemed more appropriate. [the story I especially recommend for the Darcy/Hel meme is the first of this series, http://archiveofourown.org/series/24232 ]
The BPRD (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense) monitors supernatural threats to the human race. It seems likely that it will have links to others with similar interests; Doctor Richards is Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four; Red is Hellboy; Herr Blake is Balthazar Blake (Sorcerer's Apprentice), one of the most powerful sorcerers in the world - his apprentice is on the college roof with the Tesla coil. For some reason they didn't call Stephen Strange, but he's probably around somewhere.
Jeff Randall is from the TV series Randall and Hopkirk: Deceased; his partner, Mike Hopkirk, is a ghost. He contacted Rupert Giles (Buffy) who contacted Mycroft Holmes (Sherlock) who passed on word to Captain Jack Harkness (Torchwood) who in turn gave the word to Martha Jones, aboard the UNIT version of a Helicarrier, the Valiant.
Faith, Vi, Willow, Rona etc. are from Buffy. Peter Parker is Spider-Man (Duuuuh!).
And if you like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Chuck Norris, the Punisher and John McLane kicked ass in there somewhere off camera, but you can imagine those scenes for yourself... [Fade out to happy ending, and SHIELD digging up Coulson for nefarious reanimation purposes]
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