I remember playing the original God of War games on the PS2, specifically the first two games. Extremely violent, with a very dark protagonist and an unflinching look at the darker sides of Greco-Roman mythology, I found it enjoyable enough, though the gameplay was at times ridiculously hard. I only recently got the fourth game (prequels and interquels aside), and started playing it, and I have to admit, it's a better game overall than its predecessors.
It's such a solemn and sombre game, a far cry from the more hotblooded games presumably influenced by the likes of 300. It's beautiful, not just in terms of graphics, but in the story, where Kratos and Atreus' relationship is slowly developed, albeit with a LOT of stumbling blocks in the way. But Kratos, while he cares about Atreus, is NOT a good father by any means. Hell, he's not a good person either, as anyone who played the previous games will tell you. He's a monster who was only marginally better than the very gods he slaughtered, if even that.
And then, I had a wicked thought: what if Loki from the Marvel universe came across his alternate self, and saw how Kratos raised him? This is what resulted.
Anyway, time for the usual disclaimers. Firstly, there will be spoilers for both God of War and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Major spoilers especially for the former.
Secondly, there will be heavy annotations, as is usual for my works. You have been warned.
Thirdly, this is an M-Rated work. There will be coarse language, violence, and horror. Again, you have been warned.
Fourthly, this fic has some Kratos-bashing.
Finally, the following is a fan-written work. God of War and the MCU are the properties of their respective owners. Please support the official release. Otherwise, Kratos will rip you in half with his bare hands…
Once upon a time, there was a monster, a monster who thought himself great because he trampled the weak. And like all such monsters, when a bigger and stronger monster came about, he quailed in fear, selling his soul to the devil…well, an even bigger monster, only this one was a god. Said god wanted to make his new pet monster into a ruthless killing machine, more than he was already, and so, had him slaughter the family he didn't deserve in a rage. And the pet monster had the gall to be angry. He didn't value his family, at least not until their blood was on their hands.
He thus bound himself in servitude to other gods, ones who were also monsters. They promised him release from his self-inflicted agonies if he did their bidding. But one should never put stock in the promises of gods. Even as this monster destroyed the one who made him his pet, the gods reneged on their deal, but offered a most generous offer of their own: to join their ranks.
But this pet monster's fury and ambition could not be quelled, and his father, one of the very gods he served, feared that his son and pet would be the one to overthrow him. And so it proved, though the monster's father proved hasty in his actions, accelerating the very fate he sought to thwart. The monster fell, only to rise once more, defying fate and the Fates, and freeing the gods' enemies, other gods, the Titans, to work as allies, only for these allies to betray him when it suited them. That was a mistake.
Betrayal and revenge and sheer unmitigated violence followed. The twilight of the gods fell across their ravaged land. The monster survived, albeit barely, after an act of what he thought would be redemption. In truth, no amount of redemption would ever wipe his ledger, so dripping with crimson, clean. And he knew it.
Instead, he slunk off like a wounded animal to distant lands. There, he found a peace he didn't earn, a love he didn't deserve, and a family he didn't care about. This monster, this Ghost of Sparta, tried to live a normal, peaceful life, trying to hope that time and tide would scrub his ledger clean.
More fool him…
"That is a severed head. In an ice block," the dark-haired woman, a paragon of beauty, said in a flat tone.
"Your powers of observation do you credit, Freya," the dark-haired man with lean features said.
"And what does this have to do with the fact that I have a sleeping boy, one who is part-Giant and part-Olympian, in my house? What did you do?"
"The first thing you have to remember is that I was minding my own business…" Freya's raised eyebrow expressed her scepticism far more than any shouted expletive would have, and her companion protested, "I was!"
"And what was happening when you were minding your own business?" she asked sceptically.
"Your son happened. You know, the one you cursed to a torture of near-sensory deprivation out of paranoia that he'd die, only he swore eternal vengeance on you because he can't feel pain, nausea, or pleasure, carnal or otherwise? It'd be a fun curse to inflict temporarily, and I intend to use it on half of Asgard…my Asgard, when we get back there." Freya grimaced at the reminder of her greatest failure, but indicated for him to continue. "Anyway, I was keeping an eye on these two, ever since she died. I am…not impressed with his parenting skills. Odin…my Odin, for all his faults, was a better father to me than this fool."
Freya nodded. "From what you told me, he was better than my Odin. I must confess I am jealous of your version of me, Frigga…unless she is a figurehead, a replacement for the real me in your world."
"If so, Frigga is a formidable woman, just like you. In truth, I daresay the pair of you would get along swimmingly. Now, where was I? Oh yes, I watched as this fool took his son, my counterpart, hunting. Don't misunderstand me, this fool tries his hardest to be what he believes to be a good father, but…I could do better. In fact, I intend to do so. In any case, my counterpart, whom he calls Atreus, lost his temper after a battle with a troll, and this fool decided that he could not take him where they intended to. To scatter his wife's ashes from the nearby peak. Then, once they got home, your son intervened. Your former husband sent Baldur here to get information, presumably about Faye and her brood, but Baldur…he wanted a fight with a legendary godslayer, hoping it would bypass the curse. Even if he didn't die, he could still feel, he hoped."
"Fool," Freya said softly, looking away, her eyes glistening with tears, for her son, and in self-reproach at her own folly. "And the outcome of the fight?"
"This one won, albeit after much hardship. For one who brought down the majority of the Greek pantheon, he's lost his edge. He snapped Baldur's neck and tossed him into a ravine. That's when I thought it prudent to intervene myself. I froze him with the magic I absorbed from the Casket of Eternal Winters, shattered his body, and kept the head. I don't want him dying, and the ice will prevent his soul from going into the afterlife yet. According to that rather tenacious ghost that follows him like a bad smell, he's clawed his way out of Hades more than once. Helheim would be little more than a minor inconvenience."
"Yes, that so-called goddess of wisdom has spoken at great length about this one. And as much as she has a point about him, she's a monster much like he is, a revenant whispering poison into our ears. And what then?"
"I approached the boy, ensuring I concealed his father's remains. He was, understandably, hysterical, but I eventually calmed him, and promised him safe passage to scatter his mother's ashes, now that both of his parents are dead. I then used a sleeping spell on him."
"You lied to him about his father's fate."
"Indeed. But…that man is no father. He is little more than a monster who found that shedding his skin does not wipe away his sins. True, in that much, we are alike…but I am striving to be better."
"…I know you are, Loki," Freya said, walking over, and gently placing a hand on his cheek, her soulful eyes peering into his own. "When you first arrived here, I wondered if you were friend or foe. But…in the end, you are neither. Redemption, especially for crimes such as your own, is a road that may never end. But it's a road you do not need to walk alone. Still, do you see yourself in the boy?"
"The boy is this man's path to redemption. You seek to rob him of it?"
Loki shot Freya a glare, but he couldn't bring himself to be truly angry at her. She had been so kind and understanding. And while there was something maternal about her, over these past months, he could feel their bond growing into something more.
It was strange, really. Loki was aware of the myth of Oedipus, the man who unknowingly murdered his father, and unknowingly married his own mother. Freya, this Freya, was not his mother. True, she had her maternal air, but their relationship was not of mother and son: he'd had enough of that from Frigga, and for all his pain at the lies she told him about his parentage, he felt her love perhaps had been genuine, in hindsight.
With Freya, however, he felt something like a friendship, something based on mutual understanding. Even though she despised his darker impulses, she understood him. He even felt desire, something that he recently found was mutual, and their courtship, though in its early stages, was developing. A strange Oedipal love, and yet, it was there.
"By giving this boy a childhood, one hopefully free of fear of dealing with Ragnarok. Faye, she was the one who did all the actual parenting. This man, if you can call someone like this a man, did little to show any love. At best, the boy is like a beloved pet to him. At worst, he is a burden, one whom he hurt with blunt words and cold, loveless tones. Either way, I intend to…punish him before we go. Hence my bringing him back to you. I want you to do the same to him as you did to Mimir."
Freya looked at the frozen head on the table, and then at Loki. "…And then what?"
"Well, I considered feeding him to the World Serpent, but I don't want to give the poor child a stomach-ache. As it was, I commissioned those two Dwarves to create a sealed casket, one which I have bound our ornery spirit to. Without his body, he will be forever impotent. Without death, he will be forever pained. And without his child, he will be forever tormented. His fellow prisoner, a so-called goddess of wisdom, will be his cellmate and his jailer both."
Freya seemed to debate with herself. Loki knew his dark side disturbed her. Eventually, she said, "Very well. But if Atreus ever finds out…"
"I am well aware he will in all likelihood despise me for this. Let us save that for a future time, yes?"
In a deep, dark cave, Loki made the final touches to the casket that would contain not only the head of Kratos, but also the bound spirit of Athena, the late and unlamented goddess of wisdom from the Greek pantheon. The spectral woman glared at him, her admittedly beautiful form outlined in sickly light. "You will not get away with this," she said.
"As far as you and your cellmate are concerned, yes, I will. Perhaps Atreus, my alternate self, will hate me for what I have done, should he ever find out, but the truth is a more powerful weapon than any lie. I will simply tell him what his father was."
Athena's spirit sneered. "And you are any better, Loki of Asgard? You consider yourself burdened with so-called glorious purpose, and yet, here you are, robbing the boy of his father."
"He is a poor father. I intend to do better. Perhaps I will not succeed…but I will have failed doing something right for a change. I see his potential for greatness stifled by being here. With his mother gone, there is nothing left for him in this realm. I have removed Odin's curse on Freya. It took considerable doing, but I did so. She is free to leave, and we have been investigating means of heading back to my realm. Maybe not back to Asgard, but certainly to the Midgard of that world. The humans there are interesting."
"I shudder to think of what child you would raise would be like," Athena said.
"Like you are one to talk of such things. Chaste though you were, you had many mortals under your aegis. Did you protect your worshippers when Kratos and his maddened followers slaughtered them? Did you punish Poseidon for raping your priestess Medusa, turning her into the Gorgon her sisters had already become? No…for someone supposedly so wise, you would think you would see the wisdom of protecting others."
"You are a hypocrite, Loki. You betrayed your brother, your family, and your home, all out of spite towards your heritage. You slaughtered the Frost Giants, your kin, out of a misplaced desire for respect and recognition you would never get."
Loki's face contorted in a brief paroxysm of rage, before he said, "True…but which of us is still alive and capable of fixing their mistakes? Maybe I will never redeem myself, but I am trying to be better. In any case, Athena, I thought you would be glad of my gift to you."
"Gift? You call this prison, this tomb, a gift?!" the Greek goddess snapped angrily.
"But of course. You are trapped, true…but you are trapped with the very person who murdered you and your kin. He is unable to move, unable to die, unable to do anything but voice his pathetic rebuttals to your torment. You can torment him to your heart's content to the end of days." Loki shrugged. "Or maybe it will be torment for you, knowing you cannot harm anyone else. I suppose it depends on your perspective. However, before I leave you two to get reacquainted, I ask for a single boon, though you will grant it anyway."
"And what is that?"
"You'll tell him who I am, what I have done, and that I will be a better father to his child, to my other self, than he ever will be. That will be his ultimate failure."
"I would have done so anyway. But you will not do this, Loki of Asgard. I…"
"Be silent," Loki said, before shutting the lid. He'd placed the head of Kratos, now enchanted to live for a very long time, longer than even his demigod lifespan would allow, into the casket earlier. The sleeping spell would only dispel once he was far away.
And with that, Loki headed off. Perhaps he would fail as a father like Kratos or Odin did. But he felt he owed it to his other self, this Atreus, to try.
Besides, he had just worked off a lot of anger towards his actual father by doing this. True, it was all very Oedipal, but Loki didn't care. Now, he was a little more at peace…
So, Kratos has been ganked by Loki, who has adopted his own alternate self. Oh, and he's banging an alternate version of his adoptive mother.
Now, before you get out the torches and pitchforks, let me point something out. I enjoy Kratos as a badass videogame character. I just think he's an absolute piece of shit as a human being. He's entirely self-centred during the original trilogy, his dead family and Pandora aside. He is a monster with a big bodycount whose main saving grace is that his opponents were debatably worse.
The PS4 God of War game did a good job of showing Kratos trying to regain his humanity. This is not up for debate. But I don't think much of the way he treats Atreus, aka young Loki. In fact, I would not be surprised if Atreus decides to commit patricide in the sequel. Yes, Kratos love his son in his own way, and he is trying to prepare Atreus for a harsh, unforgiving world, but there are better ways to doing that, and Kratos knows it.
Of course, it should be said that Loki is being a massive hypocrite here. While he hasn't committed the mass slaughter he has done in The Avengers, he already killed a number of Frost Giants shortly before he ended up in the God of War world, to say nothing of betraying his family and Asgard. But my sympathies are with him, the nerd bullied by a whole race of jocks. And he will be a better father than Kratos to Atreus. Hell, Loki even recognises that Odin, despite all the lies, was a better father to him than Kratos was.
Anyway, this was more of a oneshot exploring an idea. I'm not intending to do a full story or a continuation. But I did post a challenge along similar lines in the forums of DZ2, whitetigerwolf, and Gabriel Herrol, so feel free to check it out and even write up a story based on it.
No numbered annotations this time.