lady_ragnell: (roses)
lady_ragnell ([personal profile] lady_ragnell) wrote2013-04-01 05:28 pm

Hear Their Clockwork Hearts Work

Title: Hear Their Clockwork Hearts Work
Wordcount: ~1600
Warnings: non-graphic violence and off-screen minor character death, certainly less blood than canon
Summary: Ragnar finds an interesting treasure while raiding the airship Lindisfarne.
A/N: Dipping my toes into a new fandom, and filling the "au: steampunk" square on my Trope Bingo card while I'm at it! This is a re-working of the Lindisfarne raid with bonus Lagertha and airships, basically. Not tagging it so as not to get anyone's hopes up for kisses/porn, but it is pre-Athelstan/Lagertha/Ragnar. Title from "Robot Ponies" by Laura Barrett, because I have been looking for an excuse to use this line for a steampunk story for ages.
Disclaimer: I do not own Vikings.

Ragnar is the one to shout the order to board when they tether themselves to the other airship, but Lagertha is the first to jump across the gap, a leap that is worth the smug smile she throws over her shoulder at him when he waits with the other men for the vessels to drift a few handspans closer together. By the time Ragnar lands on the deck, she already has her knife in the throat of one of the few men offering any resistance, and Ragnar laughs as he moves on to find other prey.

The boat is a treasure already, and ripe for the picking. Haraldson doesn’t allow raids to the West, not when other jarls have made the mistake of letting their men bait the ships of England and had their own ships chased down and outpaced for their troubles. Floki, though, has made one beyond the imaginings of men, light and strong enough to weather the cold Northern winds, and this first encounter is of a ship that must be passenger transport, the Lindisfarne. They won’t take it in tow and slow themselves down, but it’s heavy enough that Ragnar has hopes of the plunder.

“Go belowdecks, they can’t offer us a fight up here,” snaps Lagertha, and he blows her a kiss as he jogs towards the hold, Rollo falling into step with him as he goes.

Belowdecks, there is a teeming sea of men, all in brown hooded gowns with oddly shaved hair, squawking like a flock of little birds, none of them fighting back. They scatter away from Ragnar’s axe, and he doesn’t bother inflicting more injury than he has to as he shoves through them towards the places they seem to be protecting more. Rollo follows in his wake, dealing more harm. Others of the men will come soon, once the struggle on the deck is finished. Lagertha will be pleased at his choice, at the plunder and that no one will dare jump to the Beloved of Thor to attack those left on board.

Ragnar hacks his way through a door at the center of the ship, near the engine room, and shouts for Rollo a second later, eyes already wide at the glints of silver and gold, shaped into goblets and ornaments and crosses like the one that is carved next to the name of their ship (a sign of their god, he is told), some set with jewels. There are machines of kinds that Ragnar has never seen, strange in design, shining brass gears to fill purposes he can only guess at—Floki will like those, and Ragnar plans to sail slow enough back to the jarl that Floki will have his leisure to take apart whatever he wishes to inspect. Each land has its own way of building things, and England’s machines are known for their quickness. These are pretty specimens, some as decorate as the jewelry and all well-made and shining with polish. It all sits there, glittering and unused and his for the taking, and Ragnar wastes no time in sending Rollo for more men, and for boxes to hold it all.

As Rollo leaves and others of Ragnar’s crew pour in, Ragnar hears the boards creak behind a machine of some sort, one that is connected by pipes through the wall to the engine room as it hums away doing something. He doesn’t hesitate, just lunges for the sound and finds one of the men, clutching something against his chest. “What did you think to hide from me?” he asks, more of himself than the strange man—he is as skinny and weak as the rest of them, with dark hair and the wide eyes of an innocent but his mouth set in a stubborn line.

The man’s grip is stronger than he expects, but no match for Ragnar, and he wrests the thing from his hands to find—a book. A book in no language Ragnar speaks, with no maps, no illustration beyond the occasional lettering. Now that it is away from him, the man closes his eyes like he expects the taste of Ragnar’s axe. He whispers something, lips moving.

“Useless,” he scoffs, tossing the book to the floor and backing the man into the wall. Their languages may not be the same, but an axe does as well as a word to get information. Sure enough, the man’s pulse beats at his throat like his heart may try to get free. “What treasures does the book contain, then? A key to more of what is in this room, or nothing at all? I should kill you for wasting my time.”

“Please.” The unexpected sound of a word he recognizes stays his hand. “It’s our holy book, that is all.”

“Gold and silver, and you choose a holy book?” Ragnar scoffs, then narrows his eyes. “How do you speak our language?”

“I have traveled, to bring the word of God to other lands. Our holy orders often do so.” His chin sterns. “Entrance into heaven is more important than riches.”

“Ragnar,” says Rollo from the doorway of the room, looking on as some of the men stuff the treasure into bags and chests. There’s the sound of screams from the hold, and the man Ragnar holds flinches with each one. “The deck is taken. We should hurry, we are not far from England’s shores and they could have sent a signal. What are you doing with that one? Kill him.”

Ragnar trusts his instincts, and everything in him tells him to spare this man, this priest, and take him on board the Beloved of Thor. He speaks their language, and may well know of other ships like this, sailing through the skies around England, ripe for the plucking. “We’ll take him.”

“To do what?”

“Chores, perhaps. Or to teach my errant son his letters.” He kicks lightly at the book, his only bargaining chip with this priest, and watches the way he winces. “He knows his letters, you see? And he knows our language.”

“The jarl won’t be happy that you’re wasting weight on a priest he can’t even ransom.”

Ragnar shrugs. “Then he’s my portion of the spoils. The jarl can’t argue with that.” The priest’s chest is heaving, and he is wary as he looks between them, but Ragnar grabs his hood and pulls him out of the room, past the men packing up the room’s spoils. “What’s your name, priest?” he asks as they walk, stepping over the body of a man who’s fallen and jerking his arm when the priest seems inclined to linger.

“Athelstan.” When Ragnar looks, he’s still bright-eyed, perhaps even angry, but he’s following along under his own power.

“Well, Athelstan, welcome to my service and to my ship.” The halls of the Lindisfarne are empty, now, but they still echo with the sounds of fighting as his men look for spoils that weren’t hidden in the chamber Ragnar discovered.

He meets Lagertha as he reaches the ladder to climb back to the ship’s deck. Her face betrays no surprise when she sees that he has a man in tow. “You have found the treasure you promised, then? Or do you just wish to throw this one from the side?”

It would not be the first time, when a crewman of a ship they were boarding fought him unnecessarily and he wished to show others not to do the same. “No, this one we are keeping. Take what jewels you will, there are some very fetching rubies, but the priest comes with me.”

When she looks at Athelstan, her gaze is openly appraising from his sandaled feet to the shaved patch of his skull. “He is pretty enough,” she allows, and Ragnar wants to laugh at the way Athelstan stiffens, recognizing the words. “You do not think you’ll tire of him and want a different piece of treasure?”

“You’re all the treasure I need,” he says, kissing her, hand still wrapped in the priest’s hood. Now that she’s mentioned the thought of bringing him to their bed, it has his blood up. It isn’t his first reason for taking him, but the thought of spoiling the innocence in him is an appealing one. Ragnar thinks he would be the sort to be surprised by his own pleasure, and at the pleasure two other bodies could give to him. It would be good to see his eyes glassy with lust rather than terror. There’s no reason it shouldn’t happen, if Lagertha wishes it and he can only get Athelstan to agree—he will not force that from anyone. He will have to try it, once he has learned what he can about the movements of other ships like this one and the places they come from. “This one has his other uses.”

This time, she peers into Athelstan’s face, as if looking for what Ragnar saw that she cannot. “I suppose I will trust you,” she says at last, grudgingly.

“And so you should. I will take him back to the Beloved of Thor, and let Floki know what kind of weight we’ll be taking on so we can adjust the power. You find your own spoils, and leave me to mine.”

“For now,” she says. “I expect you to share your winnings with me just as I with you. What’s the point of being married otherwise?”

Ragnar feels Athelstan’s breath catch again, and wonders what his face looks like when he starts whispering strange words again. “Pick a good treasure, then,” he challenges her. “I have great faith in mine.”

Lagertha brushes past him, towards the sound of their men shouting and loading up their own treasures. “I look forward to seeing its value,” she calls over her shoulder, and Ragnar laughs as he prods Athelstan up the ladder and towards his ship.

[identity profile] 2013-04-04 02:53 am (UTC)(link)
I am not quite sure how I feel about 'au: steampunk' (*must research steampunk*), but I do know how I feel about Vikings and about this - so, so good! *loves on*

Very well written and those characters? Spot on! I cannot truly express to you how well done this is except to say "well done"! *lol*