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APH - Fara í Víking - Ch. 1

Title: Fara í Víking
Characters: Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Sealand. Cameos by Estonia, Latvia, Netherlands
Pairing: Sweden/Finland, Denmark/Norway
Rating: R
Warning: Alternate universe, sexual situations, violence, language, abuse of mythology references.
Summary: Space: the final frontier. And like any frontier filled with outlaws and criminals. A crew of space piratesvikings learns of a mythical treasure hidden amidst the ruins of the long-dead civilization on Asgard and head out on an epic journey through many trials; from the ice-locked planet of Niflheim to the volcanic Muspellheim and running out of alcohol light years from any trading post. But it's all worth it for picked fish and, of course, more gold and glory than five men know what to do with.
Notes: This was my 2010 NaNoWriMo novel. The planning, and a large portion of the prose, was written before I decided to turn it fanfic, so it also reads like an original work.
Non-Canon Names: Denmark - Mathias Andersen, Norway - Aleksander Nilsen, Iceland - Eiríkur Nilsen.

Fara í Víking
Chapter I - Hófvarpnir


Taking up with pirates, he decided, probably had not been the best career choice.  But stabbing one’s commanding officer in the shoulder while in a drunken rage rather destroyed one’s hopes of furthering a career in the military.

 That was how Tino Väinämöinen found himself here, the newest member of a crew of pirates and working under the obviously made-up title of “Gun Manager”, or at least that was what they were calling him today, but it had a tendency to change.  Tino had lived aboard this vessel with its strange rag-tag crew for nearly a year now.  He still was not used to it, and he was not certain he ever would be.  His fellow crewmembers were very strange. There was the captain, Mathias Andersen, a man who was always smiling even when putting his fist through another man’s face.  Mathias was overconfident and brash, a braggart and a heavy drinker.  Danish, and proud of it, though in this day and age nationality was judged more often by language than by anything else, which meant he could have been born on any number of colonized worlds who spoke Danish as their primary language. Although, Mathias certainly looked like he could claim true heritage; with wild ash-blond hair and bright blue eyes that, if you looked closely, belayed a wisdom and pain otherwise hidden by his ever-present smile. He intimidated Tino a bit, with his loud voice and fondness for bladed weapons, but Tino suspected it was mostly bravado.

 The ship’s navigator and pilot was a completely different sort of man.  Almost the exact opposite of their captain, Aleksander Nilsen was quiet, subdued, and showed few of his emotions.  His face was always void of emotion, his deep blue eyes uninterested in all he stared at.  Only two things were able to bring emotion to that face.  The first was the captain, whose loud voice and penchant for physical displays of affection annoyed him to no end, but at the same time Tino had seen him emerge from Mathias’ room rumpled and half asleep on more than a few mornings.  The other thing was his younger brother, Eiríkur, who had never spent more than a few hours away from his brother’s side his entire life.  Aleksander was quite protective of his brother, who was still a teenager and should have been in school. Tino did not ask why he was not. The pair spoke Icelandic to each other as though it was some secret code they had devised as children for keeping secrets from their parents.

 Lastly, there was the engineer. Tino was honestly frightened of this man.  Tall as a tree, broad shouldered and strong; his face, it seemed to Tino, was frozen in an ever-present glare behind the wire rims of his glasses.  He barely spoke a word, but when he did his voice was gruff and mumbled.  Berwald Oxenstierna was what he had been introduced as; Mathias simply called him ‘the Swede’ and rarely addressed him by name, even to his face.  He rarely came up from the engine room except to eat and sleep, which Tino was grateful for because he was not sure he could handle spending too much time around the man.

 Hófvarpnir, just Hofvar for short but more often simply ‘the ship’, was an old craft; Karvi class, something that was not built anymore.  Mathias had found it in a junk yard, broken but intact, salvageable but not worth the effort by its previous owner, whom he assumed to have been a merchant of some kind.  The overeager Dane had bought the wreck off the junkyard owner for the entire contents of his pockets, which was more lint and bottle caps than cash. Then Mathias had unceremoniously dumped his purchase on Berwald, drafting the other man to perform the necessary repairs to make the vessel functional.

 It had taken Berwald months to get the ship flight worthy.  But, of course, neither he nor the supposed captain, Mathias, knew how to pilot the vessel.  That did not stop Mathias from trying, however.  The flight was disastrous, only a few hours in the sky before crash landing in a thankfully empty field on the other side of the city.  It had taken Berwald another few weeks to repair the damages from the crash, after which he demanded Mathias find someone who actually knew how to fly before he let it off the ground again. 

 It was a long and narrow thing, every room accessible by one single corridor that ran down the backbone of the vessel.  Two levels: above the four rooms of the crew’s quarters, the bridge fore and the galley astern, below was the engine room and cargo hold. It was not fancy; built for function, not beauty, all sheet metal and exposed piping.  From the outside it looked only slightly more impressive than from within.  The metal siding burnished silver, the name emblazoned on the side in bold strokes.  On either side of the prow was painted the head of a dragon.  It was tight quarters, and living in the cramped space took getting used to.

 With only four bedrooms the two brothers, Eiríkur and Aleksander, shared quarters, except on the nights Aleksander spent in Mathias’ berth, which was not nearly regular enough for them to consider Aleksander moving.  Although, Mathias had been quick to suggest that Berwald just sleep in the engine room since he spent all his time there anyway.  This idea had been quickly shot down with disapproval from all four of his crewmembers.

 -------

 Berwald still remembered the first day the new weapons specialist had stepped aboard their vessel.  He remembered the shock; this could not possibly be the highly trained sniper he had heard about, the man discharged from the military for assaulting a superior officer.  And he remembered that strange other feeling that had welled up inside him.  He had never believed in love at first sight.  Now he did.  Tino was perfect.  That golden-blond hair, his petite body, the violet eyes that spoke of an ancestor who had dabbled in genetic engineering; he was the most beautiful thing Berwald had ever seen. 

 And, of course, he was absolutely terrified of Berwald. 

 The engineer was used to that, actually.  He knew what affect his appearance usually had on people and Mathias never hesitated to remind him of what a ‘scary bastard’ he was.  It had never bothered him before, but now it did.  He hated how those beautiful eyes only looked at him with trepidation. And he hated himself for not being able to do anything to fix the situation.  Because every time Tino looked at him Berwald lost what little speaking ability he had.

 Tino had been understandably nervous when he met the other members of his new crew; men he would be spending an indefinite amount of time with.  Before stepping aboard Tino had only met Mathias. If not for the captain’s pure strength of personality and Tino’s rather helpless life situation at that moment he probably would not have taken up with them. 

 “This is Tino Väinäm… Väin… I can’t say it right,” Mathias eventually gave up with a shrug as he introduced Tino to the rest of his new crewmates.

 “Tino Väinämöinen,” the short man confirmed with a smile that did not belong on the face of someone with his sort of training, “Pleased to meet you.”

 “Right!” Mathias grinned and took up the introductions again. “Aleksander Nilsen, our pilot and navigator,” he said, indicating the thin blond man with bored eyes and a pin holding his shaggy blond hair out of his face. “And Eiríkur, his brother. He doesn’t do much of anything.” This earned the captain a punch in the arm from Aleksander while Tino turned his attention to the teen. The two were obviously related; they had the same elegant features, like nobility, and pale blond hair.  Eiríkur’s hair was so light as to be almost white.

 Tino met Aleksander and Eiríkur peacefully enough, with a nervous but cheerful smile for each of them as he shook their hands. But when he came to Berwald that smile faded.  “Berwald’s the engineer. He keeps us up in the sky and not stranded on some rock. You probably won’t see much of him,” Mathias introduced, but Tino was only half listening. He stared up at the engineer with his lavender eyes wide, Berwald was a full head taller than him, there had to be at least a ten centimeter difference.  Those lavender eyes turned from nervous to genuinely frightened in only a few moments, but Berwald was to busy staring in amazement at the beauty before him to do anything to reassure him. 

 So began Berwald’s hopelessly unrequited crush on the little gunman.

 ---------

 While Hófvarpnir floated leisurely through the emptiness of space on autopilot the five members of her crew spent a lot of their spare time lounging about in the galley, which had been converted into a make shift sitting room. The metal benches that had once been bolted the floor around the table in the center of the room had been removed and replaced with more comfortable seating.  A sofa sat along one wall, its upholstery had at one point born intricate patterns of flowers and vines in bright colors; it had probably been a hideous thing in its prime, but the colors had faded to browns and grey-greens that made the now threadbare fabric actually bearable.

 Three more chairs sat closer to the table, one a comfortable if bland grey desk chair, the others a pair of mismatched armchairs, one overstuffed and faded red cotton, the other leather that had been mended a few too many times.  Mathias always commandeered the red chair, proclaiming it his captain's chair and evicting anyone he saw sitting in it even if he himself had not been planning on sitting down at that particular moment. All the other seats were first come first served and the latest member of the crew either had to choose the less comfortable desk chair or squeeze in on the sofa with two others.  More often than not Berwald ended up in this chair.  

 A calendar hung on a nail in the wall that was three years out of date and on the wrong month.  But the picture was a beautiful landscape of mountains running down to the ocean at the mouth of a fjord.  No one had the heart to change it. 

 They whole crew sat around the table now.  Aleksander and Eiríkur lounging on the sofa, the former nursing a cup of pathetically weak coffee.  Mathias, as usual, took up his seat of honor and made himself comfortable with his feet propped up on the metal table despite Aleksander's protests that he was getting it dirty.  Tino had managed to get there in time to steal the leather chair for himself, but he always felt bad whenever Berwald showed up last and had to take the least favorable position.  Being stuck in the engine room, Berwald always took longer to get to the impromptu crew meetings that Mathias called.  It simply took him longer to abandon his post and climb up the ladder to the main deck of the ship.  But he never looked put out by his situation.

 "So what are we here for?" Eiríkur asked once they were all settled.

 "We need a job," Mathias replied simply.

 Silence fell over the small group for a moment as the others waited to see if he would elaborate. The captain did not. "Did you have anything in mind?" Aleksander asked over the rim of his coffee cup.

 "Not really," Mathias shrugged, and played with a lock of hair that had fallen over his forehead, twisting and pulling at it until it stood up again with the rest of his out of control mane. "There are no politicians or rich merchants coming to this side of the galaxy for ages. But we're running low on supplies so we need something at least to trade with. If we stock up we can head over to the beta quad where there will be more work."

 "So what? You want to just pick off the next ship we come across?" Aleksander asked.

 "Might as well," Mathias replied. "Every ship has a few things on it worth trading. Even if we have to strip it for parts."

 "We can't do that, it would leave them stranded," Tino argued. While he did not mind stealing, that was one thing he never wanted to do.

 "We're pirates, what do we care?" Mathias asked, but sighed. "Though I guess we don't want little Tino feeling guilty about strangers he'll never see again anyway."

 Tino flushed in embarrassment and looked down at his lap, pouting slightly. It was not the first time he felt like he was the only person on this ship with a conscious or morals. But these were pirates, he reminded himself. And Tino was not a pirate. Tino was a soldier who just happened to work for pirates now.

 “Anyway,” Mathias continued. “There’s nothing of interest here, so we might as well head to beta quad. We can get what we need on the way if we have to, but one good hit should give us enough to trade for some real supplies.”

 “Fine by me,” Aleksander replied.

 “And me,” Eiríkur nodded in agreement.

 “Right then,” Mathias grinned and swung his feet back to the ground. His heavy boots thumped on the metal flooring and he hopped to his feet. “Set course, Aleks! And keep an eye out for any decent sized or nice looking ships.”


----------
Endnotes:
 
"Fara í Víking" is a phrase taken from Old Norse runic inscriptions. It means "to go on an expedition". In Icelanding sagas the phrase "to go víking" implies going on raids or piracy.

 Hófvarpnir is the flying and “sea-treading” horse of Gná, a goddess who ran errands for Frigg in Norse mythology.

 

 Karvi are the smallest vessel to be considered a longboat. Up to 23 meters in length, “general use” vessels usually used for fishing or trade, but occasionally commissioned for military use.

 



Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
xglass
12th Jul, 2011 02:18 (UTC)
LOVE. I'm rereading and it's totally worth it. <3

My favorite thing in this chapter is the segment from Berwald's POV, and how you describe Tino's eyes as moving from nervous to frightened.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )