Dust still hung in the air about Mount Washington, but the large crater marring the mountainside was visible even through that haze. The low-kiloton explosion that had destroyed the SHIELD facility had sent alarms through the national security structure of the Untied States, coming as it did on the heels of the firefight over Washington DC.
SHIELD was being blamed. Having seen their chance to take down a hated rival, the American military services were deploying to those few SHIELD facilities that survived Hydra’s assaults. In some cases, they took out the Hydra forces only to arrest and imprison the beleaguered SHIELD remnants. Hydra and SHIELD were being conflated in the media, and Nick Fury’s secret agency would never recover.
But here on the New Hampshire mountains, that struggle remained distant… for the moment.
“You have my thanks for the rescue,” said Loki, “But I expect you want something more than that. Name it, and if it is within reason, it is yours.”
“All I want is for you to hear me out,” his strange companion replied. “Think on this: you control Asgard, but even all of its power will not help you prevail against Thanos should he turn his attention your way, and he will do that eventually. The Mad Titan does not forgive failure.”
“I suppose you think you can help protect me?” Loki mocked.
“Oh no,” was the answer. "No, not as we are now. But Earth is an… untapped resource of great power. Read what Odin has no doubt written in his archives. He was not protecting Earth by repelling invasions of it… he was protecting Asgard. You see, humans respond to threats by manifesting power. The greater the threat, the greater the power.
“My leader intends to harness this. Even now, the Gifted, as the humans call them, are increasing in number and power. With the fall of SHIELD and Hydra, the governments of Earth have lost their ability to control the Gifted.”
“I suppose you lot have a plan to do so.”
“Indeed. And when Thanos turns his sight towards you, you will have an ally. A powerful one. One that joined with Asgard will give even Thanos pause.”
“So, what is the price of this aid?”
“Join us. Aid our plan, and in return Taurus pledges our aid against Thanos.”
Loki mulled over the options for a few silent moments.
“Alright, I agree to your terms.”
“Welcome to the Zodiac… Gemini.”.