Three hundred years have passed since half of Earth froze, and the human race has settled other planets under the supervision and control of a military contractor that harnessed the powers of the higher mind. But when the daughter of a warrior clan who made her fortune in the contractor’s service discovers a dark secret beneath their dominion, she must learn to fight like the old gods.
This short story is woven into the Norse myth of Odin, the one-eyed, all-seeing god of war, magic and wisdom. He is a complex figure, associated with poetry and inspiration, madness and battle fury. He is also a shapeshifter and considered fickle, not to be trusted.
No one knows whose side he’s on.
Violet Scott took a deep, uneasy breath as the gray-green orb of Asgard, the home of Odin Systems, appeared in the sentient darkness of space like a gaze. To calm herself, she mentally recited a tale that her grandfather, a professor of ancient Earth religions, had taught her as a child, about a Norse god who had sacrificed an eye to gain the wisdom of ages.
He is warrior, he is poet, he is mad. He is Odin, the Wanderer.
The lavender light behind her eyes turned incandescent white as she entered orbit. A gray shadow crossed it, a raven moving over a twilit cliff face. She brushed it off with a chill on her heart that crept down into her womb like a spider.
The center of the hexagram in her mind shimmered as a clairaudient voice filled the space around her. “Odin Systems Ministry, calling Fenrir One. Identify.”
“Valkyrie Scott,” she responded, carving her thought with a focused knife. “Warden of the Nightshade Outpost. Requesting permission to land.”
She held her mind in a state of receptivity, a controlled opening surrounded by a steely network of supposition. Sprays of stars arced over her ship, a Fenrir fighter, glistening and fell in the emptiness between worlds. The soft, warm interior of the hull surrounded her body like the guts of a wolf that had consumed her.
A long silence caused her to realize she had just unthinkingly given them the title of Valkyrie, which was no longer hers.
“Request authorized,” came the response finally, devoid of emotion. “Report to the Hall of Gladsheim.”
Violet eased back in her seat, spinning complex webs of geometry, the equations of a landing. She closed her eyes as the forces of entry gripped the hull and streamed over her mind in streaks of red, orange and nonlinear questions. A prickle raced up the right side of her spine.
He rules over his great Council of Twelve, in his Hall of Gladsheim.
Gladsheim. Not Valhalla, the hall in the east where the warriors were housed and trained; not Valaskjalf, the hall in the west that coldly ensconced the Systems Controls Tower. Not a good sign.
She focused on the Light with an iron hand. Light fueled her ship; Light from every sun, color and tree; Light, the foundation of the cosmos. She gazed through the center of the star, spiraling in as darkness closed a fist around her.
But she would not look into the Void. Not here, in sight of the Judges.
Short Story, 20 pages
Originally published in Aoife’s Kiss, Issue 35, December 2010
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© F.T. McKinstry 2016. All Rights Reserved.
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