PYRAMID POWER – snippet 37:
“I’ve left Thjalfi as much detail as I can,” said Agent Bott.
“Well, we hope he’s as good as his word. He’s certainly got the ear of the powers that be in this place,” said Agent Stephens.
“Yeah. Do you think we should try and lose these guys? Stay here?”
“How?” asked Bott. “They’d find us here. That wolf-thing could smell us out. And it’s snowing outside—hard enough for us to get lost and not fast enough to fill in the tracks. We should have gone last night.”
“We weren’t even sure of which direction,” said Stephens, picking up a helmet with an utterly useless sealed GPS unit in it. All that there was now, was a piece of parchment. He’d love to know how the hell the switch had been pulled. It must have been back in the van, on the way into the pyramid zone. He’d been next to that big paratrooper. The son of a bitch must have done it somehow. “And when did we really get a chance to get out from under the eyes of those monsters?”
“If there is one thing I really like about them, it’s that you and I are not monsters in their eyes,” said Jörmungand. “You’ve got to admit it, brother. It makes a change. Loki and Sigyn were always good to us. Thor… well, he was so far down the slide to being a stumble-bum he didn’t care any more. He wanted company to drink with. He only took the sword out of your mouth because he was blind drunk and wanted to sell it for more booze.”
“He admitted that, yes,” said Fenrir. “And I used to get on with Tyr. But these people are still mortals, Sis. Whether Loki admits it or not, Ragnarok is coming. I don’t even know if he can stop it if he chooses. And in Ragnarok all mortals will die, and we’ll stand beside our father in battle against the Æsir.”
“Hmph. You’re not even full grown yet, Fenrir. Ragnarok isn’t due for centuries. If things can change that much, we can change them some more. Besides, I like having a girl for a friend. There’s all sort of woman talk that I never had a chance to do before.”
It was Fenrir’s chance to snort. “Soppy stuff. But, fair enough, I like Liz too. And the kids have brought out a big brother side I never knew I had. But there’s no sense in getting sentimental about it. Ragnarok will end all things.”
“So this is where you two are,” said Liz, coming through the door. “Time for us to get going.”
She looked faintly guilty. “We’re going to need a hand to get the half boat out. I didn’t think of that.”
“Hands are something I’m a little short of,” said Fenrir.
Liz found getting the half-boat out was an easier task to accomplish than she’d thought. Actually, it displayed the kind of thinking she wished she’d employed in her various house-moves. Do not fight the queen-sized bed-base around corners and up the stairs. Just have the world’s biggest snake swing its tail once at the wall, and push the thing straight through the new hole. Easy really, if not the sort of action that pleased landlords—or Thrúd.
“You should treat Bilskríner with some respect!” she said, as Jörmungand pushed the half-boat through the hole.
“Why?” asked Jörmungand.
“Because it is home of the god Thor,” said Thrúd.
“It’s a house. Big and badly built. It can be fixed. It’s not exactly an architectural treasure, Thrúd. And in the last little while he hasn’t actually spent much time here. I know because I spent most of the time drinking with him.”
“You should respect it because he has lived here,” said Thrúd, stiffly.
“Oh?” said Jörmungand skeptically. “I’m inclined to respect people, not things. But I live in the ocean, mostly. Call that my home. I’ll thank the Ás and the Midgarders for not making water into it.”
Thrúd found something else that needed doing, and Liz had to grin to herself. She was not a bad kid, but was obviously used to being the strongest female around—which you could believe if you’d seen her carrying a few “essentials,” like a metal mirror that must have weighed a hundred and fifty pounds. She had her father’s strength, but packed into a smaller female body. Mixing with Jörmungand would do her the world of good.
Jörmungand slid herself into the rope and strut harness that Liz and Lamont had constructed. She had a good look at herself in Thrúd’s mirror and arched her neck up proudly. “All aboard.”
The mythworld-skidoo moved fairly slowly at first, very sinuously and with enough lateral sway for Liz to wonder if Jerry would have been sea-sick on this craft too.
“Chariot goes faster,” grumbled Thor. It was still snowing, but not with the force it had had the night before. The snow lay about four feet thick and was still loose and powdery. Perhaps Thor’s goats could have coped with it. But the Mythworld skidoo was accelerating as they hit a slight downhill, with their back-track straightening out and the half-boat rising onto its keel instead of digging its way through the snow. Now they went fast… and then still faster.
Straight toward a party of warriors struggling their way through the thick snow. “Weeeeeee!” shrieked Jörmungand. “This is fun!”
By the way Odin’s Einherjar were diving into drifts they didn’t think so. Just because you’re a Valkyrie-chosen brave warrior does not mean that you want to be flattened by a half-boat moving at least forty miles an hour, by Liz’s estimate. It went on accelerating, spraying powder snow and racing ever faster on the downhill toward the gates of Asgard.
“Thor had better be right,” Liz yelled, “because if those bloody gates are closed we’ll be jam at this speed!”
An arrow winged over her head, and skittered off Jörmungand’s scales. The gates were open—but Heimdall and a dozen others were trying to close them.
“Faster!” yelled Liz in Jörmungand’s ear. “And the rest of you get down!”
But Loki and Thrúd had already taken up bows, and were shooting at the frantic gate team. Another black-fletched arrow sprouted in the boat-timbers, as Jörmungand churned the snow behind them. Through the snow-arch Liz could see that the gate-closers had run away. But the gap was a narrow one. Liz just hoped that Jörmungand was keen sighted. It wasn’t a major reptile trait.
Sure enough, they hit the gate edge with a shriek of splintering wood because Jörmungand aim was not that good. But at least they were through.
And then Jörmungand was turning. Was she taking them back? Was she crazy? Best not to ask.
The entire half-boat lifted—all twenty feet of solid oak—and Jörmungand turned across the gateway she’d been racing straight towards. The half-boat slid sideways, a good seventy feet. A sheet of snow, several tons of it, sprayed straight at the Einherjar. One moment there were thirty warriors with swords, battleaxes and spears, bracing themselves. Archers ready to fire.
And the next there were only snow-men, and Jörmungand was turning again, racing across the flat and away.
“I’ve done that at sea, but it’s even more fun on the snow!” said Jörmungand happily. “Swamped a few longboats like that, I have.”
Liz could well believe it. She was just very glad that she hadn’t been on the longboats, or standing in the snow.
They were away from Asgard.
But they had left a trail that even a blind man could follow, if he didn’t mind getting his knees wet.