Commissioned art by the wonderful wintersoul
Four sketches of Mjolnirs and accompanying stories.
Four Mjolnirs, four vignettes
The Ibizan anthro hounds of Kopno are descendants of interstellar space travelers from Sol. Among one of the traditions taken from Earth is the Mjolnir. A hammer shaped pendant made of metal or stone, worn around the neck. The center having a unique engraved or carved design. The origin of the Mjolnir has been lost from Earth's deep past.
Kopno denizens treat it as both an emblem of recognition by one's peers and a good luck charm to convey safe travel through the void of Space or upon Kopno's ocean.
By tradition, a Mjolnir is made and bestowed upon the wearer by their peers or community for a noteworthy deed or action. The Mjolnir is never sold or given away, but remains with the bearer until they die. And then it's destroyed.
The seaside cliffs north of Kupina were a favorite haunt for local students from the University to curl up upon mats in mid summer afternoon and savor the scenery of the Western Sea.
A graduate sight hound, wearing shorts clad upon a slim built, brown and white pelted body with a long tail, sat upright on a woven mat. Long ears forward, brown and white muzzle snout pointed up at the hazy blue sky instead of gazing at the line of waves foaming against the unseen cobblestone beach below. Eyes fixed upon a large, gibbous Kurjak. Picking out daylight visible bands in the gas giant ruling their world.
Duenner turned, tail wagging at the approaching sight hound student, mostly white with a few brown patches. Dawn Layton strode up to Duenner's patch of ground, wearing only a red silk summer skirt. She held a kerchief bundled like a small sack, weighted down with something.
She smiled down at him, "Last week, I was going through that little chest of yours and found that pendant!"
"Oh that," Duenner replied. Shoulders shrugging, "I haven't worn it since the strap broke several years ago."
Though bestowed when he was thirteen seasons old, the Mjolnir no longer seemed important to his now young adult self. Even a bit embarrassing.
Dawn stood over him, tail hooked upright, staring intently at her Beau. "I think it's wonderful. The Second Ship commander bestowed this for all the legendary things done by the crew!"
The inside of Duenner's ears flushed, "I was just a minor crew member, a mere pup."
"All those risks you and they took to bring colonists here!"
"I'm not some space hero. Just did my job."
Dawn slowly knelt, tail curling upwards. Her muzzled face staring into Duenner's eyes. A heart melting gaze freezing his. Her long fingers undid the kerchief, revealing a mjolnir made of alloy. Truss patterned with five, four pointed stars in the center. It possessed a new, finely crafted neck strap made of woven metal strands.
"Dawn, you shouldn't have!"
Dawn held up the neck strap, opening it wide.. "I'm not looking for a superhero or fairy tale spacer."
Gracefully, she looped the Mjolnir over Duenner's long eared head. "I'm bestowing it once again. Upon someone I can turn to, somebody I can miss. Someone like you."
She took his clawed hands into hers. Snout hovering just in front of his. "Are you willing to take a risk with me?"
In a hut by the Tempest river, a weathered, long eared canid packed for yet another expedition into the nearby Pampas. He stood by a bed in a tan colored room of hand finished plaster, a small armoire along one wall and dresser at the other. Above the dresser, hung a portrait. Done up in black stippled points was an image of a young Ibizan hound lady. Elegant of muzzle, long white ears and brown snout. Eyes radiating both a happy and mischievous expression.
In what became a ceremony before every trip, he stared at the portrait, commissioned a few years after they moved here; just before her demise. He fingered the Mjolnir around his neck, worn every waking day since she re-bestowed it.
"It was worth the risks," Duenner wistfully said to the portrait.
Someone he truly missed.
"It's better to rally colleagues around an idea and launch a project than to ask for permission," Miriam Kell remarked to the student. Somewhat short for a sight hound, the white, elderly Ibizan strolled briskly down the corridor from a lab to a lecture hall. Her student assistant for the day, puzzling over a sack she was carrying for the academic. A sack filled with old copper wires.
"What's a bunch of wires have to do with programming?" The brown colored student asked the binary mistress of A.I.
The pair paused, while the elderly sight hound pawed through the sack, withdrawing a wire as long as her forearm. "This represents how long an electrical signal travels in a copper wire in one billionth of a second. A nanosecond."
Her long ears perked up at the student, "Time is of the essence when programming."
Miriam then yanked out the biggest item, a heavy loop of copper wiring wound multiple times. She held it like a collar.
"Roughly 300 meters of wire wound in a loop. About a microsecond it takes for a signal to traverse that. I recommend wearing it around your neck. And when you're writing a mere interface driver, dismissing the squandering of computing resources as a pittance, remember how many microseconds you're wasting!"
The student looked at the Mjolnir upon a beaded chain draped around Miriam's neck. Lying in the center of the upside down arrow shaped object was an embossed celtic knot of Turing tape with ones and zeros. Bestowed upon Miriam by her peers.
"Is this how one achieves a goal?"
"Not quite," Miram replied with a toothy grin, "It's Passion that fuels the creative fire."
Talbin busied himself cleaning out the storage locker on the dock belonging to the family clan. Tail still sagging from last week's arrival in Kupina from a storm that almost sunk the clan's scow, the [i]Website[/i]. Failed academic studies had forced him into working the fishing trade. Marrying a former University student bound him to that fishing clan. Lilian was a most wonderful spouse and two adorable pups; Sal and infant Trish
Lilian's older brothers; Hicks, Tal and Grir were a formidable trio of in-laws. He felt their penetrating stares upon his backside, be it working on the boats or on the docks. No doubt, he thought to himself, judging him as an outsider of questionable and inadequate credentials.
An impression reinforced during that stormy voyage offshore, 60 kilometers north of Kupina. Under a broad side gale, clad in oilskins and having just trimmed the storm fore sail, Talbin had spotted something dark in their path; a rock or some object in the water! He had galloped across the deck, into the cockpit, barging Hicks aside and taking control of the tiller.
Only Grir saw that thing in the water as the wave tossed [i]Website[/i] swept by it. The tip of an uncharted rock.
Grir had said nothing about it to Hicks, the boat's captain. Hicks was not amused and rounded on Talbin's insubordination all the way back to Kupina.
Talbin had just closed the locker door when he spotted the Cerberus trio approaching. As one, they halted, a forearm's length in front of him. Silent, ears forward. Tails hooked upwards.
Tal spoke first, "Talbin, we need to talk."
"It's something that needs to be said." Hicks said aloud.
"Long overdue," added Tal.
Grir, the third brother acknowledged the words in a silent nod.
Talbin stood stunned. What did he do?
In a smooth motion, Hicks came forth. The brindle pelted sight hound in a woven sweater stood in front of Talbin, holding up a Mjolnir strung on a leather thong. Made of jade stone with carved triangular meshed lines like lightning bolts and a sailor's knot in the center. Silently he raised his arms and draped it around the Talbin's neck.
Talbin felt his chest compress as Hicks hugged him briefly, followed by Tal.
Finally, silent Grir stepped in front and parted his long snout, "Talbin, you're our honored Kin and always will be. Thank you."
Hicks growled, "And to celebrate, we're taking you to the Pub to get smashed. Drinks are on me!"
The nap became that once again dream upon Apeak. Behind closed eyes, the surviving wounded sheltering in a shallow rock cove. Beset by a monstrous gale roaring in the waxing evening, blasting old snow like sand upon his hooded form. Tev had taken up the exposed position, persistently bearing the brunt of the storm. Muzzle and ears bloodily scarred by a rockfall. Cold and moisture seeping through torn insulated overalls from the same rock slide that had claimed half the party descending from their successful summit of Apeak.
His view through the coat hood that of a tunnel mouth fading as twilight bled into night. Mouthing a song, shaking his legs, then arms in a periodic rhythm to keep blood flowing through them. Perception enveloped by a devouring howl shaking that tunnel of hood framing blackness. Persistently sending out a distress signal on the portable comm device kept in an inner pocket to prevent the battery from freezing.
*Though he had long lost sensation in his feet and ankles, he periodically shook arms and slowly responding legs in stubborn persistence. Time passed. Passed again and again. Perception of something different in the blackness, slowly ebbing away into a faint patch of light that became a brighter red. Dawn. The wind expired, leaving behind a dead silence and chill. The stillborn Dawn suddenly shattered by a noisy machine with it's dual eyes of painful light. A pulsating gale of whomps generated by the Synchropter, operating at the limit of it's hovering ceiling, touching down on a solitary patch of flat near the rocky cove...salvation... *
...The prone sight hound shook himself awake. The cryogenic cold of Apeak replaced by the afternoon sun splashing warmth upon the central open courtyard of a medical clinic in Kupina. The noise of the dream continued. He sat up just as the clinic's fabricator came out to observe the source of the aerial noise.
A low overflying Synchropter with dual intermeshing, blurred rotors. The craft headed towards the hills. Silence returned.
"I'm sorry that woke you up from your nap," the fabricator said as he came up to Tev.
"On the contrary, that sound is most welcoming to my heart." Tev replied as he sat up.
The fabricator sat on an adjacent bench, examining his handiwork. "How are the new legs doing?"
Tev Prestone flexed his lower 'legs' and 'feet'. He bounded upright with a springy step and stood tall. Fiber prosthetic feet apart, ankle leaf springs flexing under his weight. Well anchored and strapped to his knees. His right eye studying the craft work as the scarred canine lithely danced sideways, hopping first on the right artificial foot, then upon the other.
Tev's left eye was permanently shut. His left, half intact ear flickered to the rhyme of the improve dance. The right ear was only a sharp scarred stub. He panted in toothy delight. Had he a tail, it would have been wagging. That appendage and lower legs had been amputated after that ordeal on Apeak.
"This fits much better than the last."
The fabricator stood and bowed, "Thank you." His thin, long tail wagging.
He gazed at the Mjolnir strung on a beaded chain around Tev's neck, then humbly splayed his ears, "Tev, may I ask a question?"
Tev ceased his joyful jig. "Certainly."
"Did the rescue crew give a reason for bestowing that upon you?" The fabricator asked, pointing to the Mjolnir with it's distinct embossed outline of the triangular mountain of Apeak, Kopno's highest mountain.
Tev Prestone raised his three fingered right hand, rubbing a clawed digit over the Mjolnir given to him by the Synchroptor pilots who had successfully triangulated upon that faint distress signal.
"Persistence," came the reply.