“Cough, cough … where … what in Helheim? Cough, cough.” Loki voiced mostly to himself as he tried to figure out what had gone wrong.
Everything had been according to plan until a few minutes earlier. He had expected to find some resistance from the miners and the scattered guards of that level, but he hadn´t expected anything like this. He tried unsuccessfully to wriggle out of the rubble that pinned him down from the lower half of his torso all the way down his shins, or at least that´s what he thought he couldn´t see his feet but he didn´t felt any weight on them.
“Nothing…” He thought concerned as he stretched as far as he could to get a better view of the collapse that had trapped him forming a small cave. He couldn´t hear or see anyone else around. “Maybe that´s a good thing.” He wryly told himself before coughing again.
The three of them had arrived to the mine through the shaft´s elevator. He had disguised themselves as miners with an illusion to walk pass the guards undisturbed. Their plan included turning off the water pumps that prevented the cave from flooding as well as sabotage the area ground support. Wrecking the water stopcock to expedite the flooding should also complicate the reopening of the mine.
Sandman had been more than reticent about that part of the plan and was glad to be in charge of sabotage the support structures that held the mine ceiling in place.
Loki growled frustrated and let his head hang back for a couple of seconds before the cough made him lean forward.
“Dammit!” He spat out loud as he saw his hand covered in blood. With the painful weight of the debris crushing him down he hadn’t noticed he was injured; being immobilized prevented him from finding out just how serious his wounds were.
Fury had been in charge of messing with the ventilation system; they had to make sure no one could survive down there after they collapse the shaft. Loki wondered now if that had been a good idea.
“I can´t die here.” He protested mentally as he tried once more to push the rubble without success. He grunted in frustration and pain at his failure.
Turning on the water stopcock turned out to be the most dangerous part of their mission due to its location. Placed right in the middle of an open field in the mining level it left no place to hide.
Even after nightfall there were miners working everywhere. Okanjo had established too twelve hours shifts to ensure the vibranium extraction never stopped. Because of the properties of the mineral itself the extraction process was done the old way; with pickaxes and chisels. Explosives were banned from the mine; even a small explosion in the wrong place could bring all the cave down instantly. For the same reason their plan didn´t contemplated explosives except for the shaft itself; their plan was to weaken the structure everyway they could and let gravity do the rest.
Reaching the water stopcock wasn´t a problem, no one was actually guarding it. But once Loki opened it the sound of running water altered all the miners and guards of the vicinity something was happening. With one swift move from his spear he broke the valve; for a second he smirked satisfied, they wouldn´t be able to close it.
“Cough, cough” Once more his memories were interrupted by his current predicament. “Where are they?” He inquired worryingly. They wouldn’t just abandon him there, wouldn’t they?
When the first miner arrived and tried to impale him through the back with his pickaxe Loki successfully blocked his attack with his spear turning around unexpectedly. It had been a good thing Steve had convinced him to spar with him a couple of times, he knew just what to expect from the super soldier’s strength and speed. The miner and him exchange a couple of blows more before Loki crossed him with his spear.
Within seconds he was surrounded by twelve more miners. Using both magic blasts and his lance he took care of them; but more miners were arriving to take the place of their fallen comrades.
“Thor would probably stay and fight.” The thought unexpectedly pop in his mind. In a split second he evaluated his options, he had only minor cuts and bruises and he could probably take a couple dozen more miners. “Yes, he would.” Loki thought to himself. “But then I don´t have me to bail myself out when things get out of control.” Next he ran to a scaffold nearby, moving to higher ground seemed like a good idea at the time. If things got too messy he hoped to reach the elevator shaft just as Fury and Sandman did after finishing their own tasks.
As pain intensified on his left side he complained loudly as eh shut his eyes closed instinctively. Carefully he tried to slid his hand under the rocks and twisted steel tubes from the scaffold. He couldn´t reach under then, though he wasn’t sure what good could it done if he had been able too. He still had no idea of what his injuries were, healing himself with a chunk of rock or piece of steal embedded in his body was the epitome of a bad idea.
“I need to get out.” He anxiously gazed at his surroundings again. Trying to blast himself out magically would only cave everything down over him and teleporting was as bad an idea as healing himself. “This can´t be happening.” He could feel his breathing becoming agitated as his options slimed down. He closed his eyes fighting hard to withhold the tears he could already feel stinging his eyes as he mentally pleaded. “Please Norns … don´t … don´t let this be the end. Not here, not like this … not now.”
He still didn´t knew what had caused the explosion that provoked the landslide that had brought the mining scaffold down along with a good size of the wall. The guards had begun to shoot at him when he reached the top levels of the scaffold; maybe they had hit a vibranium deposit.
“If the water reaches me …” Suddenly he remembered the open stopcock. Once again he tried to release himself from the rubble over his torso unsuccessfully when a sound made him turn left. For a moment he held his breath terrified of the possibility that the water had finally reached him.
“Sand…” He let out a small laugh. “Thank you Norns.” He thought grateful his time wasn´t over yet.
Within a few minutes Sandman had removed all the debrief that formed the ceiling of Loki´s small cave.
“There you are.” Nick Fury´s voice greeted him. “For a moment we thought we had lost you.” Next he knelt beside Sandman to help him release Loki from the rocks that covered his body. “Shit!” He suddenly spat as he removed a big rock from Loki´s left side.
Loki looked down worryingly; there was a steel tube coming out of his abdomen just below the waist. “Dammit!” He spat in return before leaning up to get a hold of it.
“What the hell do you think you´re doing?” Fury grabbed the tube himself trying to stop him.
“I´m getting it out.” Loki asseverated.
“You don´t know if it got though an artery. Remove it and you could bleed to death.” Fury added somberly.
Loki smirked weakly, his face was covered in dust, bruises and blood. “Don´t tell me you´re worried about me.”
“No, I couldn´t care less about your sorry butt.” Nick lied as he smirked. “But a certain someone would kill me if you didn´t make it.”
Loki looked at him puzzled for a couple of seconds before he realized he was talking about Leah. “Oh! Right.”
Then Fury added to keep Sandman from asking anything. “Yes, your big brother would kill me If I didn’t get you back.”
Loki smirked again. “Don´t worry. I don´t intend on dying here.” He reassured Fury as he got a better hold of the pipe; frowning he took a couple of breaths before forcible pulling it out with a painful growl. Panting he placed his hands over the now open wound as his aura lit. Within a few seconds the only proof of his wound was a small hole in his armour and quite some blood.
As he laboriously sat up he asked. “What happened?”
“One of those stupid mother fucker guards hit an acetylene tank. They nearly did our work for us; you are lucky this part of the mine is in high ground or we wouldn´t had been able to pull you out” fury explained.
“Speaking of that. We should get moving.” Sandman interrupted them. “All that water is making me nervous.”
“You are right. We should get going. Are you ready for more action?” Fury inquired trying not to sound worried. Even if Loki looked all right using all that magic to heal himself should have a cost.
Loki dusted himself before answering. “Yes. Let´s get the hell out of here. I´ve had more than my share of mines already.“ Next he took a look around it looked deserted.
“We took care of those who didn´t die in the explosion.” Nick answered Loki unasked question. “That´s what took us so long.”
Without any further comment they directed themselves to the shaft´s elevator. In their way fury picked up a couple of acetylene tanks, when both Loki and Sandman looked at him questioningly he told them with a grin. “They make a nice explosion.”
When they reached the elevator they wired the lift with explosives before starting their way up. Once in the second level Fury set the timer before sending the elevator back down.
“Let´s get out of here.” He quickly added. The second level was a battlefield by now. Doom, Rhino and Octopus has succeeded in driving all the troops deployed outside into the base.
“Octopus report.” Fury ordered in the comlink.
“All the troops are in and the base is sealed.” Octopus replied sharply.
“Elektro?” He asked next.
“Moving to the officer´s level. Mysterio´s gas worked like a charm. Too bad it didn´t lasted long … and FYI … I´m a bit scared of Venom right now.” Venom´s mad laugh could be overheard.
“Mysterio, what´s your status?” Fury finally asked.
“Umm, we´ve disable all the weapons, but … I think you need to come down here.” Mysterio sounded nervous.
“What´s the problem?” Fury asked irritated.
“You´d better see it for yourself.” Chameleon answered.
“Fuck!” Fury coursed out loud before motioning Loki and Sandman to follow him. “Can you get us to the labs?” He quickly asked Loki.
“Sure.” Loki smiled as he pulled out a card from his clothes.
Suddenly a big explosion shockwave could be felt right behind them. When Loki turned back he couldn´t believe his eyes. One of the tanks had fired upon them but Doom had shielded the unsuspecting trio from the explosion. His armour looked a bit scorched.
Loki couldn’t understand what had drove Doom to protect them. Fury and Sandman were thinking probably the same thing because none of them moved looking open mouthed at Doom who suddenly looked back and yelled. “Move it fools!”
That snapped them out of their trance.
“To the elevator.” Fury ordered.