A Tour and a Tale

The Pu arrives in Trondheim early in the morning. It's a small city, but not too quiet. It glows quite nicely in the rising sunlight. Veronica parks near the Nidelva and powers down.

"Okay, we're here," she says. "Doc, you wanna help me unload the Jeep?"

"Sure thing," he replies.

Veronica flips a series of switches. The cargo bay doors can be heard whining open. "Go back and release the magnetic tie-downs and I'll get the cargo arms ready."

Doc heads back into the cargo bay. Fresh air hits him as he opens the hatch. It's a pleasant 70 degrees or so out. The warm breeze caries the refreshing yet slightly fishy scent of sea mist.

He disconnects the magnetic tie-downs that held the Jeep steady through their space flight. As he does so, a pair of robotic arms unfold themselves from along the seam of the cargo bay doors. At the end of each arm is a robotic claw padded with thick layers of silicon. They stretch and flex synchronously as they go through their system tests.

"All the ties are loose," Doc calls back through the hatch.

"Okay, stand back," Veronica responds. She stares blankly at the controls, her mind now integrated with the ship. The robotic arms reach steadily down and grip the Jeep in the front and back.

Doc breaths sharply as the connect, but they don't warp the side panels at all. As they begin to lift it out, Doc can see that the fingers are lifting by the frame at the bottom. They carry the Jeep forwards and place it gently down just in front of the Pu where Mark and Thunderhorse scramble to get out of the way.

Doc heads out to join them while Veronica puts away the cargo arms and closes the shuttle's doors.

A passerby stops to comment, "That's a fine old antique."

"Thank you. I've had it for years."

"It has tires and everything. Fuel cell generator?"

"No, internal combustion."

"Wow, that is old. Does it still run?"

"We'll find out," Doc replies. He pulls the keys from his pocket. He hops in the driver's seat and turns it over. The engine bursts to life with ease.

"Impressive," says the old man. "Well, enjoy your morning!" He continues on his walk.

Veronica calls in on the com system as Mark and Thunderhorse climb into the Jeep. "I'm taking off, now. I'll see you guys in a thousand years."

The Pu lifts off again and rips into the sky.

Doc checks the time bomb. They've got a couple hours to kill. He puts the Jeep in gear and starts cruising around the old roads of the city. Hover cars dodge and weave around them, some jumping over the roof. Doc takes it easy and continues his leisurely tour of the city.

"So, Thunderhorse," Doc calls to the back seat. "Why do you speak German when you come from Norway?"

Thunderhorse is quiet for a moment. "I do not know what you are talking about."

Doc tries to rephrase. "You speak an old German dialect yet we're here in Norway to visit your past. Why don't you speak Norse?"

Thunderhorse looks at him quizically through the rear-view mirror, partially because of this linguistic confusion, and partially because mirrors are foreign to him. "German? I do not understand this."

"You know, the land of the Eider river? The Danube? The Rhine? Anything familiar?"

"Rhine? Rhinelanders? Yes, my grandfather's father's father was a Rhinelander. He moved his family north to the Winterlands when the wizards came."


"Yes. They came to his village carrying golden crosses. He was told to bow down before their evil god and pay homage to him, but he, like many others, refused. The wizards summoned armies from the south and burned down the village. My grandfather's father's father fled north to escape. They settled a new village in the Winterlands."

"So you continued speaking German without any Norse influence even this far north?"

"Norse? I think you speak of the other tribes near our village. They do speak another language, though I never learned it. Our village does not trust outsiders. We will trade with them, but do not allow them to stay. Fortunately, the wizards go no where without the banner of their god. We have killed many of the grand wizard Haakon's soldiers miles before they arrived."

"Wait," Doc thinks, remembering his European history. "King Haakon? Haakon the Good?"

"Ha! Is that how he is known among your people? To us, he is Haakon the Wizard.
"Haakon the Good. Hah. Time remembers fondly those who destroy their enemies."

"Boy, you said somethin' there," Mark says.

"But, he ruled a hundred years before your time," Doc continues.

"Yes. He never died. He is a wizard. Look, there is one of his temples, now!" Thunderhorse smashes his face into the window.

They drive past the Nidaros Cathedral.

"That's not a temple, ya' savage. That's a fuckin' church!" Mark chastises the viking. "Wizards, hell, are you talkin' about Christians? What kinda stupid fuckin'-"

Doc shuts him up with a look.

"I know this place," Thunderhorse says, face pressed firmly against the glass. "I know this place!" he shouts.

Doc pulls over and they all get out of the car to admire the scenery. It's quite a nice Gothic cathedral, although it's been a Lutheran church for hundreds of years.

"The way the river bends here. I know this. This is Nidaros! This is the site where the Great King Harald III was brought after he fell battling the Saxons! My village and Nathan's tower will be to the north of here."

"Who is this Nathan, anyway?"

"Nathan the Pickled. He calls himself King of these lands. Our village do not recognize him. He is just another acolyte of the ancient wizard Haakon. Neither do we recognize Harald's son Olaf, for he surrendered to the Saxons. We claim no king."

Doc checks his sunglasses, doing a quick internet search. "There doesn't seem to be any record of him."

"Hah. Then if time remembers only the victors, that means we shall be victorious this day."

Doc smiles at this. He checks the clock. One hour to go.

1 comment:

Doc said...

See if we can find a bookstore or a library where we can find a local history book to get some info.