A small town is transported to an alien world
"How do I arrange the funeral for Bjorn?" Monday asked Ragnar, as they stood surveying the preparations for departure, "Does he go on a burning long ship or something like that?
Ragnar looked at him with a lost expression then finally replied. "Simply throw his stinking cadaver in the river, no one could care otherwise."
"But I thought great chiefs or lords were buried with honor and dignity," Monday replied.
"Bjorn was no king," stated Ragnar, "and only kings are given such a burial and only then if they've been king for a long time and have gained the respect of the people, few make it."
"Well, at least put him on a small boat, set it afire, and push it out into the river," Monday replied, another one of his favorite Viking traditions shot to hell. He hoped these Vikings were not representative of the ones he'd read about in his history books. They seemed to lack all the romantic and adventurous traits he attributed to the historical Northmen. Then again, perhaps he'd been swayed too much by cinematic representation.
"As you order, Top," Ragnar replied, hurrying to do Monday's bidding.
"How is it you've been here less than a full day and you own half these people in one way or another, and second in power only to their King?" Dom asked, standing next to Monday, shaking his head in disbelief.
"The fortunes of war, or in this case, I beat the second biggest kid on the block," Monday replied. "A lot of ancient civilizations put their faith behind the strongest and often meanest warrior. Look at David and Goliath, King Solomon, Octavian, Attila, Gengis Khan, and so many more. Their fortunes in life were assured by being ruthless or by being the best. You would be in my shoes if Bjorn had challenged you."
"No way, that giant sucker would have chopped me into little bitty pieces."
"I chose the path to being a soldier; you chose to be something more important, a man of knowledge. I used my path to make things straight with Thongar."
"Then you're saying, if I understand you," Dom replied, "the way you persuaded Thongar to go along with you and Heinreich was to threaten him?"
"He knew he had no chance against me in the circle," Monday replied, smiling at Dom, "so he decided to keep his status of King by making a little side agreement."
The entire village was in a turmoil of work. The Vikings had listened to Ragnar and Chief Kendricks as they he explained the American way of life, and to the surprise of many, a large number of them actually liked the concept, so much so that over a thousand of them had elected to go to the American settlement and see if they could live up to the standards which Monday and the Americans set. Ragnar had been asked to lead the remainder of the Viking volunteers to the American settlement along with Monday's family, to which he readily agreed, his status in life having changed drastically overnight. He was now the new chief warrior of Lord Monday, and a and highly respected leader. The only problem was the question of slavery. Several warriors flatly refused to give up their slaves, wherein Monday stepped in and told them either to free the slaves or forget about living among the Americans. Most did, a few changed their minds and decided to stay among the Vikings.
The highest ranking warriors were casting lots to see who would be among the dozen or so to accompany the expedition to the east. This was considered the greatest quest in the memory of most of them and they desperately wanted to be among the few warriors to champion this cause. A few serious fights had broken out settling the question for a number of them who had been severely wounded.
Heinreich and Major Dienst were busy preparing the German troops for the trip to the settlement. Heinreich had spent hours talking to them about the American way of life, explaining in detail that each man must decide for himself whether to go and live by the American's laws or to remain with the Vikings. To his relief every man decided to head for the American settlement. He hadn't realized that his men looked upon him more as a father and political leader than as a commander. They knew he had selected each one of them personally and protected them from the hard-corps SS officers who would have ordered them to commit crimes against humanity and Germany.
"When you get back Dom, I want you to explain everything that's happened here in minute detail," Monday said. "Pay particular attention to how I won or inherited the family of Bjorn."
"I get your point," Dom replied, "It'll be hard for Karen and Tanitha to understand how you left on a rescue mission and unexpectedly send back a new wife, with kids and all."
"Hard isn't the right word, they'll both crucify me in absentia, or by proxy," Monday replied, looking sideways at Dom who finally understood his meaning.
"Hell, I ain't no proxy, they don't have any reason to scalp me."
"Then it seems to me like you need to do one hell of a good job of explaining, right buddy?"
Dom regarded him with a - why me look - then said. "I know you had no choice in what you did and I'm sure the ladies will understand it too if they give me half a chance to explain."
"Good," Monday replied. "Another thing, I have no doubt the Germans will be able to adjust to our American laws, Major Dienst will see to that, and God only knows we desperately need more men to balance out the excess women we have, but I have a lot of reservations about the Vikings. I intend to entrust Ragnar with all the power I can but it's going to be a rocky road for the first few weeks and he'll need all the support he can get. Especially when they realize they'll have to live in a clean environment, send their kids to school, learn English, treat their families like people instead of slaves, and so on. They don't really know what they're in for. Make sure Mayor Staples and General Ashton and the others take him under their wing and support him."
"You know they will Top."
"I'm sending Chief Kendricks back with you also Dom. I think it's time he led an expedition back across the mountains to locate and recover the helicopter. Ordinarily I would personally undertake such an important mission, however, I'm worried about the flying machines these enemies of the Vikings have and we need something to counter them with. I've already discussed this with the Chief and he has a plan for recovering the fuel bladders we hid in the caves along with the books and other things. We desperately need those books. He'll need a strong lieutenant so I recommend you send both Colonel Bear, our engineer, and Tribune Marius."
Marius Seutonius was once a Tyberian Centurion until Monday promoted him, so he knew the territory well and could pull the wool over the eyes of any Tyberians sneaking around in the mountains."
"How're you going to get word to us of where you're at and what you're up to?"
"I'm taking Dhar and the Ionar scouts and I still have my nephews Gary and Chris who're almost as good as the Ionar, hell, they spend most of their time with them. If I need to send a message back I know I can depend on them."
"It's going to be one hell of a story to tell."
"You might start by telling Doctor Kennedy and Davidson about this crazy time shift we've encountered and see if they can explain how Heinreich and his Nazis got here after us, but left almost fifty years before us."
Dom looked at him with a nod of his head.
Try as he may it took the remainder of that day and half the next to prepare for both the departure of the people to the American settlement and to get the scouting party ready to go. Most of Monday's possessions, which were considerable and which Daria refused to leave behind, were loaded onto the long ship Thunnar. Daria had used the family slaves for this hard work which Monday did not object too as it had to be done, yet, he told Daria that once they arrived in the American settlement the slaves would be set free and they would be paid for the labor they had put forth in this effort. He ensured that Ragnar fully understood this and would abide by his decision.
He had pretended urgent work when Daria had come to his quarters during the intervening night. Actually, he didn't have to pretend, he was burdened by urgent decisions which had to be made, last minute instructions to Dom and Chief Kendricks, planning for the scouting mission into enemy territory, and a wide host of other duties which could not be put off. He apologized to her for being unable to fulfill his conjugal obligations, at which she was again shocked. She had never met a man who placed duty over sex, at least not among the Vikings. It was new to her, yet, the very thought of it made her want Monday more than any man she'd ever wanted in her entire life. He had explained to her the new American custom of having more than one wife and the reasons why that custom had been adopted and she knew he had two wives back in the American settlement. She was determined to become his number one wife. There was no way she would give up such a new status in life, wife to the supreme leader of a people much more powerful than the Norse landers. Not only that, his strange gentle manner, combined with the iron in his voice as he gave a command, made her realize he was very different than the men she was accustomed to, and she liked that difference, liked it very much.
Finally on the afternoon of the next day everything was ready. Monday watched as his new long ship, the Thunnar, pulled out into the current of the river heading upstream. Ragnar was standing on the bow waving to him in company with Dom, Chief Kendricks, and Daria. The Germans were marching in double file up the right side of the river bank followed by the hundreds of Vikings who had chosen to resettle with the Americans.
He looked at the party which would accompany him on the mission to find the enemies of the Vikings. Colonel Doenitz, whom he'd come to call Henri, stood to his right with five tough looking German soldiers, a senior sergeant and several privates. Hemdall, leader of the Viking contingent which would accompany him, stood beyond Henri in a mob of ten huge and rough looking warriors. His own party consisted of Himself, General Zanik, his two nephews Gary and Chris, Dhar and the other two Ionar, Tom Thumb, and Appius. In addition, much to his dismay, he had been approached by the eldest son of Bjorn early in the morning, a youth of about nineteen, with a hopeful request that he be able to accompany the mission. Throwar, as he was called, had told him that he had despised his father Bjorn and wished to accompany his new father on the mission to prove his worth as both a new son and his manhood. Monday had adamantly refused until both Daria and Gary had jumped to the defense of Throwar. After a heated argument lasting only a few minutes, he reluctantly agreed to let the youth go.
The exploratory party consisted then of a total of twenty six men, and boys.
He watched as Thongar approached them in a swaggering and imperious manner, stopped, then addressed the Vikings standing to the right in a loud voice.
"He's telling them that you are the selected champion of this expedition," Henri said, "and they will listen to and obey your every command. He states that should any of them die in this great quest his family and children will be taken care of by the grace of himself, the King. He further states that should any of them fail you in any command he will make certain their families are sold into slavery and the bridge to Valhalla will be barred to them."
"Pretty tough assignment," Monday replied. "Nothing like giving the troops a warm rousing morale speech before they tangle with the unknown."
Henri smiled at him. "You know, I'm beginning to like you," he stated. "I don't know if it's your strange American way of putting things or your lovable personality."
"Let's don't get too mushy on me Colonel; I can't help it if I won the most likable award in the High School year book."
"It may seem like an odd question at an odd time," Henri replied, "but I'm curious, you tell colonels and generals and tribunes what to do, what rank were you in the American Army, Field Marshall?"
"I was the man with the plan, the big cheese, top of the heap," Monday replied, emphasizing the word top. I was a Sergeant Major."
Henri looked at him with a complete loss for words.