02.0 War Approaches

Thor tilted his head back and breathed in the earthy evening air. The last glow of the sun was fading over the hills. Mist was gathering over the meadows. All was in restful shadows. Crickets chirped in the darkness. A little chill in the soft breeze meant autumn was coming on. In his bones, deep inside somewhere, Thor knew that a different kind of winter was approaching. His warrior’s heart knew well the distant thunder of impending war. But he knew not when it would come, and the enemy was hidden from him.

Inside, in another room, Jane could be heard on the phone, discussing a calculation. She had graciously taken a brief moment to sit on the patio with him and enjoy the ribs he had grilled for them. But she was overwhelmed with her work at the moment, and every waking moment was spent on it, it seemed.

Thor was restless waiting for the hammer to fall. Would that his hammer could land the first blow!

Arms crossed, he stared up at the sky, full of millions of stars. Sometimes he longed for the halls of his people. Life on earth felt … hmmm … tedious. And yet, there was something so very peaceful and wholesome about the crickets, and the yawning cat, and the warm light of the kitchen spilling out of the sliding door. Home meant peace of soul.

As he stood pondering thus, presently he heard the crunch of tires on the gravel drive. Since Jane was on the phone, he walked around the house to greet the visitor. The chariot was a sleek, smooth silver beast that purred as it crawled up the driveway – a highly-unusual vehicle in this rural region.

The car turned off, and after a moment, the door opened and a man emerged. The light on the garage showed that he was tall, slender, had dark hair, and wore an overcoat with a tall collar. Something about the fluid motion of his hand as he shut the door, and the spring in his step, revealed the visitor’s identity. But only Thor, who had had many years of practice, would have been able to so readily identify his brother in his artful disguises.

“Greetings, Brother!” Loki said with a flash of a smile, sitting on the nose of his technological dragon.

“Loki! It is not safe for you to come here like this!”

“I would not have troubled to come and disturb your domestic tranquility unless it was of the utmost importance.” Loki emphasized the “domestic” with a mocking curl of his lip and twinkle in his eye.

Thor only glared at Loki as he continued.

“A visitor called last evening. Apparently there is truth in Father’s tales.” Loki’s eyes darted about warily.

“And?” Thor looked at his brother askance.

“Calypso, the Shape-shifter,” Loki replied.

“Indeed! How can you be certain?”

“She dropped this as she left,” said Loki, holding out the pendant.

Thor gazed in wonder at the glowing stone.

“She is real then! We had feared that we might meet resistance from her, if indeed she was real. Given how long I have dwelt here, I marvel that she has not confronted me!”

“Or perhaps she has,” Loki said with an arched eyebrow.

“Nay, Brother, I would have known. What did she seek that she came so boldly to speak to Odin?”

“It was not to Odin that she came to speak.” Loki paused, watching his brother’s reaction. “She is very powerful. She saw through the illusion.” He paused again, and studying Thor’s face, he said, “and she wants Asgard to leave Earth.”

Thor’s brow furrowed and he stood in thought for a moment.

“This puts us at a great disadvantage,” Thor said, still deep in thought. Loki said nothing, but continued to watch his brother’s face intently.

“Loki,” he said at last, quietly, “I am prepared to fight, and even die if necessary, to remain with Jane.” He looked at Loki with resolution, and said, “If that means protecting your throne, I will do my part.”

Loki, gazing fondly at Thor for a moment, said, “It is good to see you again, Brother.” They each extended their right hands and grasped each other’s forearms and leaned toward one another in a half-embrace.

As Loki turned to leave, Thor said, “What shall I tell Jane if she asks who called? You know I have never been good at lying.”

Loki paused for a moment with the door of his chariot open before him. He tilted his head, a wry smile playing on his lips. After a moment’s thought and that mischievous twinkle in his eye, with a flourish of his hand he said, “Tell her that I was a lost soul looking for directions.” And he laughed at his own joke that he made at his own expense.

As Thor stood gazing after Loki’s taillights, the front door opened behind him.

“Who was that?” Jane asked.

Thor repeated what Loki had instructed him to say.

Jane frowned and looked at Thor askance. “That poor man!” she exclaimed. “Asking you for directions?! You get lost trying to find the garage!”

“That is not a fair judgment!” Thor exclaimed hotly. “Your earthly dwellings are strange and complex to the likes of myself!”

But then he saw that Jane was smiling from ear to ear and now laughing.

“It was a joke, Thor,” she said gently, wrapping her arm around his. “In all seriousness, I am very grateful for the effort you have made to acclimate to my world.”

They both smiled at each other, and Thor, marveling at her beauty, could not help but lean down to kiss this creature who had stolen his heart!

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