114 Clean-up On Aisle Five
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It's so great to get back to writing! Here's another 3,630 words for you.

The battle was a complete massacre.

With supremely overwhelming firepower on the side of the heroes, Loki could only watch in despair as the seemingly endless army of aliens was pruned expertly and every single one of them that had passed through the portal was disabled or killed. Even the troop transports were gutted and left in piles along the main avenues to be harvested later.

Loki didn't bother trying to fight anymore when one of the heroes that he didn't know flew up into the portal and started attacking the alien mothership directly with another hero he didn't know in an armor suit flew up with her to fight off the defending aliens. Loki didn't bother asking why they had known that if they attacked and destroyed the mother ship, it deactivated the electronics that controlled the animated minions.

It didn't matter, because he had lost. Utterly and completely lost. Loki's dream of ruling one of the nine realms was crushed ruthlessly and he didn't try to escape as Thor and Captain America placed power restraining cuffs on his wrists. He also didn't speak a protest when his mouth was also covered to stop him from uttering a spell or casual insults.

Loki heard a very loud metal rending sound and looked up to see the artificial man that had first punched him as he cut through parts of the alien mothership and they were brought through the portal. They were deposited in the large green space in clear areas and the helicarrier flew over to guard it and to send down several unarmed Quinjets full of scientists.

A laugh bubbled in Loki's throat as more blue uniformed agents seemed to appear out of every nook and cranny to gather up the alien rifles, skimmers, and bodies to load into large containers. The armed Quinjets would hook cables up to them when they were full and then they flew the containers over to the helicarrier to deposit the contents.

It was all very efficient, almost as if they had planned to do exactly what they were doing...

It was at that moment that Loki realized he had been played and had been allowed to do his tricks before he opened the portal. The Midgardians had been fully prepared for him and the army he lead to their doorstep and they would reap as much benefit from the invasion as possible.

The weapons would be a huge boon for the Earth defense forces, especially since they were keeping the mothership mostly intact and would probably learn to make the weapons themselves. The exotic metals alone were worth several fortunes, even on Asgard... and the laugh Loki had been trying to suppress escaped. The mostly muffled laughter went completely unnoticed by the celebrating heroes.


While everyone else was celebrating our monumental win over the invaders, I flew back down to where the portal machine was.

“You can't turn it off.” Dr. Selvig said as I landed near the energy shielded machine. “It's self-sustaining and there's no power on Earth that can penetrate that solid energy barrier.”

I smiled at him and my helmet reflected it. “Then we should all be glad that I have access to something that's not from this Earth.” I said and opened my gauntlet to take out the shrunken sceptre. I returned it to its normal size and closed my eyes to concentrate on the Mind Stone in the glowing head of the staff.

I filled my mind with the desire to safely close the portal and to turn off the outer casing of the Space Stone called the tesseract. With my mind set with determination, I braced myself and eased the end of the sceptre through the energy barrier as if it didn't exist and then lightly touched the tip of the spear to the tesseract.

Instead of the sky beam cutting off and the portal becoming unstable and collapsing in upon itself like in the movie, the portal shrank and shrank in a reversal of it opening and then the beam slowly decreased in size as the tesseract powered down. The protective energy shield around the machine faded away with no fuss whatsoever.

Dr. Selvig stared at me, probably because he fully expected some kind of explosion. I didn't, because I didn't want one to happen. My mind was fully encompassed with completing my task and the glow of the tesseract dimmed to the point that it was almost inert. When it was safe to handle, I used the small device Hank gave me and shrunk the tesseract down to the size of a dime.

“What are you doing?” Dr. Selvig asked me.

“Taking care of another problem.” I said and used a focused laser like from my laser watch and carved a small square out of the sceptre's outer shaft near the handle. Since it had been designed to control the power from an Infinity Stone, I had calculated that it would be sturdy enough to add another one to it. Temporarily, anyway.

“You can't do that!” Dr. Selvig gasped and lunged for me.

My auto shield deployed and his head made a nice clang sound as he rammed into it. I was fine with that, since it would knock some sense into him. I had intended to use the sceptre to undo the mind control and he just beat me to it.

I chuckled and quickly carved a cube shape out of the inside of the shaft and slipped the shrunken tesseract into the carved opening before I welded the outer piece back into place. It was quick and dirty; but, I had every reason to believe that it would work, thanks to the Mind Stone's power.

I wasn't surprised when the green glow of the sceptre was altered slightly as the tesseract's blue glow joined it and it became a nice cyan color, almost turquoise. I actually felt the two energies as they flowed together in harmony and the weld part that I had made seemed to fade away as the sceptre repaired itself.

My auto shield reduced back to become a bracelet once more and I saw Dr. Selvig roll slightly on the roof as he groaned. The sight was a mental kick that reminded me of the other captives, so I deactivated the cloaking technology that hid part of the roof and walked over to the tied up technicians. I didn't have to touch them individually, though. That was Loki's mental limitation, not mine.

I knew exactly what I was doing and waved the sceptre at the group and concentrated on removing any previous external influence caused by the Mind Stone. Once I felt that energy as it seemed to return to the Mind Stone and the technicians fell unconscious, I also felt the other people Loki had influenced with the same type of energy. That was probably because of the side effect of having the Space Stone attached and I didn't question it.

I closed my eyes and concentrated on that energy and where it was. I felt it was in multiple locations and didn't see the small portals open up in front of me as I held the sceptre in front of me and used the Mind Stone to remove the influence it had from the targets. I heard everyone collapse and felt the energy return to the Mind Stone.

With that done, I ended the effect and opened my eyes to see several small portals close. I looked over at the portal machine and chuckled, because it had been an extra step that didn't seem to be necessary, except to make the portal huge. Then again, perhaps it just needed the right person or mind to make it into reality.

“Ben? Are you there?” Shuri asked over our dedicated comm signal. “Why aren't you down here celebrating with everyone?”

“You know why.” I said and she let out a sigh.

“You can't keep holding that against them. It's not healthy.” Shuri said. “Believe me, I know.”

“I know.” I said and walked over to the helipad. “Do you mind if I borrow your sting ship? I need to make a quick trip before everyone realizes they just saved the entire world and really start to party.”

“What's mine is yours.” Shuri said with a purr and a moment later, her ship flew over to the Stark Tower helipad and the ramp dropped down.

“Thank you, sithandwa.” I said and Shuri moaned a little. “I'll be back as soon as I can.”

“Hurry back.” Shuri said and ended the communication as I walked up the ramp.

“Royal Consort.” The female pilot said and saluted me with crossed arms.

“I formally request an oath of silence about what you will see on this trip.” I said and the woman's eyes widened. “Or you can depart and I will travel alone.”

“I humbly give...” She started to say and I held a hand up to interrupt her.

“This could have universe ending consequences if anyone found out about it, Libula.” I cautioned her.

“You know my name?” Libula asked, clearly shocked.

“You are Shuri's pilot and one of her guards when she leaves the castle.” I said and she nodded. “I also know the names of the rest of the palace guards that have been entrusted with the lives of the royal family.”

“You truly are worthy to be a consort.” Libula whispered.

“I don't think memorizing your names makes me worthy for that honor.”

“No, it's that you took the time to actually learn our names instead of just dismissing us as simply bodyguards.” Libula said and smiled. “I will fully accept and make a vow of silence for anything I see, do, or hear during this journey with you, Royal Consort.”

I retracted my helmet and let her see my actual smile. “Thank you.”

“I made the same vow for when I am in the royal chambers listening to the policy and law makers as they squabble and bicker over the tiniest things.” Libula said and closed the loading ramp.

“Saying that doesn't violate the vow?” I asked.

“I'm not discussing what I heard.” Libula said with a knowing smile.

“Oh, sneaky.” I said and she nodded before she turned on the Faraday Cage inside the ship. She gave me the vow and modified it so that she couldn't talk about talking about it, either. When she was done, I leaned over and kissed her hard enough to bruise her lips, which made her moan.

Libula gave me a pointed look for distracting her like that. “Secure yourself.”

I grinned at her and buckled the five point harness. I took out my cell phone and brought up the map coordinates. “We need to go here as quickly as possible. I can't be gone for too long or everyone will wonder what I've been doing.”

Libula entered the information into the ship's computers and she added power to the engines and turned on the cloaking system. When we rose up enough to clear the building, she poured power into the ship's main boosters and we shot off like a rocket.

“I should have said 'as quickly as possible while also keeping me intact'.” I said with a laugh and she smiled.

We were soon flying over the mid-west and slowed down before we landed in the woods behind a fast food restaurant. Thanks to the Mind Stone, I easily detected the foreign presence nearby and left Libula in the ship. The plant was not of Earth and almost felt hostile with flowing energy. The way it glowed looked ominous as well.

I pointed the sceptre at the thing and concentrated on the plant and its roots. Since the presence was foreign to Earth, it was easy to follow the various tendrils with the Mind Stone's power that the plant had dug deep into the soil. Thankfully, the plant's growth had not progressed very far and I used the Space Stone with the Mind Stone to encompass it.

With it contained and isolated, especially from the connection with Ego, the planet-sized alien that had planted the thing, I flew up into the air and lifted it out of the ground. Hundreds of feet of roots were pulled free and the plant tried to struggle and hold onto the dirt and rocks. I added some of them to the containment field as well, just so the plant would have something to hold onto.

“You are not getting that onto the ship.” Libula said over the external speakers of the sting ship.

“Oh, ye of little faith.” I said and used Hank's device to shrink the thing down to the size of a house plant.

“Why doesn't our princess have that device?” Libula asked, almost angrily.

“International law and common sense.” I said and she glared at me as I boarded the ship. “It's under the same kind of restrictions we've placed the Shurinium arc reactors under, only for another person and not her highness.”

Libula opened her mouth to respond, then closed it with a nod. She knew if the technology ever got out into the general population, the whole world would change. “Where to now?”

“A volcano in the middle of the Indian ocean.” I said and she gave me a confused look. “You'll understand when we reach there.”

Libula nodded and we took off once more to head to the next destination. It took significantly longer to travel that far, even under boost, and we eventually came to rest near the volcano. It wasn't active at the moment, so we were relatively safe. I walked down the boarding ramp and flew in my suit with the shrunk down Ego seed plant, partway out to sea, before I came to a stop and hovered just above the water on my suit's thrusters.

“What are you doing now?” Libula asked over the comm system.

“Making a big enough hole to work.” I said and unshrunk the plant before I pointed the sceptre straight down. I concentrated on what I need to happen and a space started to expand inside the water. I let it expand into a little bigger than the plant's full size and then I floated us down into the hole.

“Royal Consort!” Libula gasped.

“It's okay, I got this.” I said and floated down and moved the space with me. I kept moving and the water split around me until we reached the sea bed, then the ground split and moved aside as well. Since I was actually creating space where there wasn't space before, it didn't actually damage the ground and just expanded it to accommodate my passage.

It didn't take long to reach the right depth and the top of the Celestial's head was soon revealed. Using the Mind Stone, I placed the plant directly onto Tiamut the Communicator's head. The plant reacted immediately and let its rocks and dirt go before it grabbed onto the head. The glow of the plant increased and I used the Mind Stone to pull out the mind inside the sleeping Celestial to shove it into the plant.

The plant was eager to accept any energy fed into it, since its purpose was to feed and grow. The problem it had was that it didn't have a brain of its own and didn't realize what it was actually consuming: The will and purpose of the Celestial that would eventually wake and destroy the planet Earth as it gave birth to it in 2023.

Well, it would have, if it still had any neurons left in its brain to tell it what to do. It didn't take long for the plant to finish consuming the mind of the dormant Celestial and left it as a mindless and empty husk. It would never wake and would never become a danger to the Earth or its inhabitants.

I used the Mind and Space Stones to yank the plant off of the Celestial power source that was pretty much the heart of the planet, and I shrunk it before I flew us up into the air and closed the space behind us as we rose back to the surface.

The plant was vibrating with all of the energy it had consumed and I had to keep a tight rein on it to stop it from grabbing onto something to secure itself. I needed it starved for the next part of my task and sweat started to bead on my forehead. Libula gave both myself and the plant a concerned look before she powered the engines up and we took off once more.

“Where to?” Libula asked.

“Kathmandu, Nepal.” I said and she looked surprised. “It's where the masters of the mystical arts are trained in this dimension. A place called Kamar-Taj.”

Libula seemed to shake herself and set course for the right country. “You are as crazy as the rumors say.”

I could do nothing else but nod in agreement as I concentrated against the plant trying to fight against my control. I really was crazy for what I was about to do.


The Ancient One sat in her inner sanctum, one that was never disturbed while she was meditating, except for a dire emergency. Nothing less than a world ending emergency would gain her guard's attention, which he would pass on to her if necessary. It was almost never necessary.

Until today.

The Ancient One's eyes shot open and the blood vessels in them almost popped as she saw a vision of what was going to happen if she didn't stand up and open her door within the next ten seconds. She stood with all of her years of grace and calmness that she had earned over the years, then she stepped forward and opened her door as she waved to her guard.

“Stand aside. Let him through.” The Ancient One ordered.

The guard looked shocked for only a second before he deactivated several security wards and spells, then he stepped exactly two steps to the side and came to attention.

The wall across from them exploded and hundreds of thin plant roots whipped around like crazy as a young man that wore heavy armor floated it in front of him. His exposed face was sweating profusely and he had a look of utter concentration on his face.

“I apologize for the walls.” The young man said with a strained voice. “I'll just be a minute and we can get started.”

The Ancient One nodded and waved him forward.

“Thank you.” He said and walked by her and the guard, down a hallway, and right into the secured library.

The Ancient One followed and waved away the library's caretaker as he charged an attack spell. She stood there and waited as the young man went to a specific shelf and picked up a book and tucked it under his arm. The chain that held it was snapped with an armored hand and the young man walked back over to her, and the plant constantly whipped around to try and grab something.

The young man walked by her and she and the guard followed him down another hallway and into the storage area where the Eye of Agamotto was kept. He pointed to it and The Ancient One put it on without comment. The three of them then entered a ritual room that was used for meditation by the new recruits.

“You might want to not involve anyone else for this part.” The young man said and put the book down to flip it open with his sole free hand.

“I know.” The Ancient One said and waved her guard out of the room and shut the door. She charged the containment spells and wards, then did another series of hand gestures and the room was engulfed in the telltale signs of the Mirror Dimension.

“Good idea.” The young man said and turned the book around to show her the right ritual and spell to cast.

“This is not going to be a good experience for you, Ben.” The Ancient One said and sat down in a lotus position and quickly started to lay out the things needed for the ritual or to cast the spells to summon them.

“I know.” Ben said, his voice strained even more. “It has to be done.”

The Ancient One nodded as she finished her preparations and cast the necessary spell. It opened a portal into a specific dimension and hellfire and brimstone immediately filled the room. The young man took her hand and nodded. The Ancient One did as she had foreseen just as the room was torn apart.

Who dares to enter MY DIMENSION?!?” A deeply evil voice yelled.

“Dormammu!” Ben said with as much authority as he could. “I have come to bargain!”

Both he and The Ancient One were crushed under a giant hand the size of a building.

Everything paused and then rewound to the point when the room was destroyed.

Who dares to enter MY DIMENSION?!?” A deeply evil voice yelled and then seemed to pause.

“Dormammu!” Ben said with as much authority as he could once more. “I have come to bargain!”

They were immediately killed by being torn apart by a hundred demons.

Everything paused and then rewound to the point when the room was destroyed.

Who dares to enter MY... WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!?” A deeply evil voice yelled and they were blown apart by hundreds of fireballs.

This happened a dozen more times before everything reset again to when the room was torn apart.

What do you want?” Dormammu asked, clearly angry and unable to do anything about it.

“Let's talk.” Ben said with a knowing smile.