Heroes of Metal and Bone

So when the end of the world started, it wasn’t exactly like those guys on street corners holding signs in New York would have you believe. (not that there are street corners in New York any more, but that’s another story) It wasn’t Armageddon. The dead haven’t risen, and the skies never opened up. It wasn’t the Apocalypse. There aren’t dire horsemen spreading disease and famine. (though the Jotnar and the Destroyers have done a good job of that) Nobody expected what it really was. Ragnarok.

Tsunamis used to be… almost fairy tales. You used them to scare coastal kids into eating vegetables. They were so few and far between. Early this century, they got worse. More earthquakes. More tidal waves. Indian Ocean 2004. Samoa 2009. Tohoku 2011. Fukushima 2013. Seattle 2014. Chile 2015. Portugal 2016. Ivory Coast 2016. And so on. Between that and the slowly melting ice caps… the sea started swallowing the coast.

But that wasn’t the least of our problems. The quakes opened up great fissures in the ground, deep enough that scientists were astounded they didn’t spew forth magma. Instead… the Jotnar climbed out. Giants. Each Jotunn strong enough to crush tanks, tall enough to swat fighter jets, and mean and angry enough to keep doing just that. The UN had to mobilize to save countries that couldn’t fight these things by themselves. They were killed. Tagged. Dissected. Studied.

It took us a while to realize they were intelligent, and used a language. Ancient Norse as it turned out. That’s when we started calling them the Jotnar. And when the pieces started clicking together. The earthquakes. The rising of the seas. The giants. People started wondering if ancient Norse gods were making battle somewhere. Ragnarok.

The flow of Jotnar from the fissures slowed, then ceased. And yet they went deeper still. In one day, nine quakes hit across the globe. Nine fissures billowed flame and smoke. Nine Destroyers burst forth, unassailable and massive. They marched upon our largest cities, destroying everything in their paths. The world’s military engines were completely unprepared for this new catastrophe. Each Destroyer emerged with an electric pulse defense that – depending on which Destroyer is using it – shuts down, explodes, implodes, or dominates any electronic devices that approaches too close.

After having secured control of the nine cities, the Destroyers revealed that they were piloted by none other than actual, deep-dwelling, dwarfs. (don’t call them “dwarves” – evidently not fans of Tolkien) They took over industrial centers to make more, smaller, mini-destroyers. These scour the Earth, looking for humans not under their rule.

That’s… the bad. And there’s a lot of it. Is there good? I mean, we’ve got far less land than we used to. The seas are filled with the detritus from all the coastal cities. Earthquakes are a fact of life everywhere. Monstrous giants attacked us from beneath the crust, and then even larger metal behemoths ran us out of our major population centers. And now the dwarfs are doing a good job of enslaving the human race. What can we look forward to?

Well, guess what. We’re changing. We’re getting better. Ever since the Jotnar showed up, so did the Runes. A little Uruz on your ear, or maybe a big Teiwaz on your back. I’ve got a wolfsangel on my wrist. Makes me a Wolf. Quite literally, if it comes right down to it. A really big one too, so, uh, conservation of mass and energy be damned, I guess. There are Ravens and Wolves and Bears and Dragons, and a bunch of others.

Even though the governments of the world have fallen, we still have leaders. Even though the destroyers chase us to the ends of the Earth, we evade them. They’ve taken our cities, but we have each other. We stick together in groups we call (despite the necessary mobility) Holdfasts. Not quite sure why that name stuck, but I guess it comes from the same place as the Jotnar and the dwarfs. We have allies in the cities, among the slaves and even the sycophants.

And now we have something else. Something new, made out of something old. A scientist and spiritual leader in Scandinavia, one Loptr Laufeyson, has developed a way to use the bodies of the Jotnar against the Destroyers. Somehow, a volunteer is bound – through spirit, science, technology, and force of will – to the bones of a Jotunn. All the strength and power and speed of a Destroyer, without anything electronic for the Destroyers to capitalize on.

We may win this yet.

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