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if you're gonna play the game, boy, you gotta learn to play it right

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It is mildly traumatising, to say the least, to discover one day that you are not, in fact, one of the universe’s metaphorical giant predators of the deep; instead, you are, and always have been, a medium-sized fish in a small pond.

That first day at the Time Variance Authority isn’t just a series of metaphorical shocks, though; for the staff of an infinitely-powerful and hitherto unknown puppetmaster of the multiverse, they sure do like to wield their sticks. Which is not to say that Loki has any objection, beyond of course the natural regard for his own skin; he freely admits he has been known to wield a stick or two himself in his time.

But—not the point. He digresses. He merely wishes to point out that it came as a surprise to find out that his entire life—free will or not—had secretly been being guided along a narrow path by the universe’s horticulturists, trimming off all of nature’s untidy, unwanted branches.

It continues to be a surprise, somewhat, but if pressed he is willing to concede—

*

He doesn’t like hurting people, exactly.

Or: he grew up in a warrior culture that venerated warfare and violence, and he—

—or—

—look, he’s stabbed people in the back, pulled out people’s eyes, forced them to kneel before him, transformed himself into a snake just to transform back and stab his own brother, set people up for failure, made himself a god—

—allegedly been the cause of his own mother’s death; allegedly impersonated his father and put on a play venerating his own death; died; escaped from jail—

allegedly

But, yeah, the chap with the eye: worth it.

*

There is a tightrope of excuses and Loki has made a lifestyle out of walking it. He has seen his share of falls.

It goes like this:

  1. One day on Jotenheim, a king placed his son on an altar, allegedly to die, and another king took him away
  2. The second king raised the child as his own
  3. At some point, the child finds out that he was adopted and that he is, in fact, of another species altogether
  4. Blah blah blah glorious purpose
  5. Murder? Probably murder.
  6. His choices are his own and he does what he wants.
  7. Profit.

Item 6., in particular, has been shown to be in need of clarification and should read:

6. Within an unknown set of parameters chosen and controlled by a previously unknown force, his choices are his own and he does what he wants.

Fine, then.

*

As pointed out by Mobius M Mobius, none of this was particularly mischievous.

*

As confirmed by Mobius M Mobius, he cannot go back.

*

Item 7. has, thus far, proven elusive.

*

If all creation is regularly being trimmed like an ornamental hedge, and the people doing the trimming are the only people who even know there’s a hedge to be trimmed, and they knowingly follow the orders of perhaps the greatest power in the universe (multiverse? Loki will establish the correct terminology at a later date), then are those staff members the only people in the universe who actually have something resembling free will?

Imagine all they can do. A glorious purpose, indeed.

Loki’s definitely going to try to take the tesseract when he gets to leave.