Jörmungandr, the World Serpent

Writing Prompt: The alien looks over your tattoos “I have only heard legends of people like this, our civilization lost them long ago. Please come with me, only a warrior like you can save us now.”

They were known to us as Vikings. A word that to the wider universe translated quite literally as Gods of War. They had come to Earth to spread their seed among us, all too aware of their imminent demise.

Earth was as a safe an incubator as the Viking Hordes could find, the only life-sustaining planet in an insignificant corner of the universe known plainly as the Milky Way.

Here the Vikings’ seeds would be left undisturbed, hidden from the threats that lurked deep within the stars, until such a time as they were needed.

That time was now.

**

“Legends, that’s all I’ve heard of your kind.” Kharun took hold of Ragnar’s arm, lifting the pale limb so that he could better inspect the interwoven curls of ink.

There were faces drawn within those curls, the faces of Old Norse Gods, nothing more than Myths and Legends, though Ragnar was being to doubt that they were myths at all.

“Vikings, the true warriors of eternal space.” Kharun shook his head, awestruck by the artwork printed upon Ragnar’s skin, “They commanded the most savage armies our universe has ever seen. Their generals were herald as Gods among us mortal beings, capable of the most incredible feats of science. Odin, he was the father of the Vikings, they thought him mad, but…”

Ragnar pulled away, his skin crawling under the prickling touch of Kharun’s fingers.

Kharun himself was over eleven foot in height, with broad set shoulders that split at the seams to provide leverage for four, muscular arms. His face was flat, eyes set back into his skull, no lips nor hair to speak of. But Ragnar wasn’t fearful of this creature, far from it, he was… curious.

“What does this have to do with me?” Ragnar asked, rubbing his arm.

Kharun’s eyes sank deeper, “We need you.” he tilted his head, looking up at the ceiling of Ragnar’s humble abode, “We need warriors like you. Descendants of the Vikings.”

“I’m no warrior.” Ragnar shook his head resolutely, “Never have been.”

“It is not a question of what you are, Ragnar. You bare the marks of a Viking, you bare their brand. It is a sign of what you could become.”

“A brand? No, it’s just a sleeve. I chose the designs myself. I have Nordic roots, that’s all.” Ragnar shrugged in apology, “I’m not the man you’re looking for.”

“Oh, but you are.”

It is worth noting that Kharun did not speak native English, but was in fact communicating by way of a translator embedded within his neck. He took a step forward, and as he did Ragnar backed away.

“You may not know it yet, you may not believe it yet, but you are the descendant of the Viking species, Ragnar, the blood of your ancestors is not of this world, not of Earth.” Kharun took another step forward, now looming over Ragnar as the man stumbled back again, “Your marks were not of your choosing, they were chosen by the subconscious design of your predecessors. Any who carry down the genetic disposition of the Viking will have sought to mark themselves with similar designs. It is in their blood, in your blood.” Kharun smiled, his face a foul tapestry beneath the waning light of the room, “It’s genius, really, to use genetic engineering to influence the mind of an entire generation. A generation diding in plain sight.” this time when Kharun stepped forward Ragnar fell back into the reaches of an armchair, his mouth agape.

“None of this makes any sense.” Ragnar floundered. Still no fear instilled itself within him, only confusion amidst the curiosity.

“It will, given time.” Kharun reached out and took Ragnar unwillingly by the arm, “And I dare say it’s time for us to go.”

Before Ragnar could offer any sort of protest the ceiling of his home began to fade away. A glass orb sauntered down through the now vacant space above, first popping itself open, then swallowing the pair before snapping itself shut and disappearing back through the hole in Ragnar’s roof.

Once the orb had vanished into the far distance of the night sky, the ceiling re-materialised. A home left untarnished, a home that Ragnar would never again set his gaze upon.

**

Jörmungandr, the World Serpent.

Jörmungandr was a warship, the last of its kind, built long ago on the Vikings’ home planet of Valhalla.

Jörmungandr’s outer shell bore the look of an enormous serpent, each segment of hull capable of slithering through the very pockets of space and time. Jörmungandr boasted incomprehensible speeds of travel, and it was through the distortion of time that the ship was able to arrive before its journey had ever begun.

The ship’s command deck was built within the serpent’s skull, around which jaws were formed to hold a collective of immense tenticular arms (or tongues) that could reach out and entrap or retrieve all manor of things regardless of size, or of weight, or of distance.

Across the ship’s body a thousand spiked antenna protruded from each and every segment, some meant for sending and receiving communications, others meant as scanners, yet more as generators for the ship’s shields and disruption fields, and yet many more still meant as the ship’s armoury; photon lasers, plasma beams, nuclear blasters.

Jörmungandr.

The World Serpent.

**

Kharun was of Vypryn descent, a distant cousin of the Viking species. An off-breed, as he’d tried to explain to Ragnar.

It was well documented that the Viking Hordes had impregnated their fair share of galaxies, though it was the galaxies omitted from these documents that were of crucial importance, now more so than ever.

The Milky Way was one such galaxy.

Kharun was a lone agent in an innumerable team tasked with collecting the remnants of the Viking bloodline, the seeds they’d sewn in memory. In hope. Earth had proven a bountiful harvest, as slowly the ranks of what would become the modern Viking army were amassed.

**

“Where am I?” Ragnar came too with a sudden sea sickness that muddied his mind. He was lost, in a place he neither recognised nor cared to be. “Where in the hell am I?” his gaze settled on Kharun, “This… this is really happening?”

Kahrun nodded, “There is no choice, Earthling. There are no others out there that can stop them.”

Ragnar was lying on a flat bed. There was no mattress, just dull and purposeful metal, though he couldn’t name what metal it might have been. He was in a small, square container, with circular lights brimming overhead, a porthole window to the back that for the time was sealed shut by a curtain made of its own bizarre metal. There sat a pot plant in the corner, meant firstly for the production of oxygen, and secondly to provide some small comfort to the Earthling in his newfound environment.

“Who are they?” Ragnar asked, rubbing his temples as he sat himself upright.

“They…” Kahrun sighed, he scratched uneasily at his neck staring up at the ceiling, “They are a threat, for now that’s all you need to know.”

“That’s all?” Ragnar balled his hands into fists, “That’s all?” he stood to face off against the towering body of Kahrun, his eyes barely meeting with Kharun’s chest, “You abduct me from my home,” his voice rose steady from his throat, “enlist me in a war I want no part of, and now you ask me to blindly fight against an enemy that you label as a threat and nothing more? I won’t. I can’t. This is madness.”

Kharun’s eyes turned to the ceiling once more, then settled back upon the Earthling, “Madness?” Kharun grunted, “Madness is to know your home, Earthling, will be little more than so many stray particles of rock to the wind if the enemy prevails. Your home was a breeding ground for the Vikings, it acts a beacon, a reminder of what was. If you need a reason to fight then let it be this; to protect your home, and the billions who shared it with you.”

Ragnar realised then that there was no escaping his fate, no returning to his home.

His heart sank, he simply nodded to Kharun.

“Good.” Kharun sighed, “Good.” he turned to the cell’s door, it slipped open and let him through, “I will introduce you to your Raiding Party shortly. You’ll be allowed forty eight hours to train before first blood. They’re sending you to retake Vanaheim, the hope is that a base can be established in time for the skirmish on Yggdrasil.”

Ragnar’s stomach folded over itself in knots, a dullness consuming his being, “When do we arrive?”

Kharun turned his back to Ragnar, and just before the cell door slipped gently to a close behind him he said, “We are already here.”

Copyright © K R Perry 2019

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