There is a deal of ruin in a nation. And while the capital has great sentimental and propaganda value, in the end it’s just another city, with its industries awkwardly sandwiched in between mountains that make them hard to supply. Bergen is gone, and Norway with it; but the Ynglings fight on.
January 3rd, 1950
Haakonsvern naval base, Bergen
The drizzle cut to the bone. It was probably stupid for Vidkun to insist on being the last man aboard, there was planning he could be doing instead of standing around in a cold rain waiting for the last piles of paper to be loaded onto Djerv, but having gone for the symbolic gesture he was stuck with it. He hummed absent-mindedly; the old song had gotten stuck in his head while he was hearing reports about the fighting around Ulriken, and he’d been unable to dislodge it for the three frantic days of the evacuation. By now it was an old friend. Eg tok min nystemte / Citar i hende…” No cithars on Ulriken today, and no poets either; only beardless boys and the rattle of 8-millimeter Krag-Jørgensen rifles. …Tenkte på bauner / om de skulle brenne / og byde mannskap / mot fienden opp. But the beacons had burned, and the city had risen against its foes; and it had not been enough. There were just not enough Ynglings to be strong everywhere; and the buekorps, the old men, the strils armed in desperation and promised freedom if they fought well – they had done their best, and with the mountains at their back they had gotten a high price for the city, but in the end a hundred thousand hastily-drafted militia were no match for a quarter million regular troops of the Ejército de Tierra. There would be fighting in the streets for another few days, guerrilla action for months and years to come, but as a serious military factor Bergen was finished.
Vidkun closed his eyes in pain at the thought; Bergen, cradle of the empire, had not seen enemy troops in five hundred years; the Belgians had been held in the Jotunheim. And now the Spaniards, of all people, were invading it on his watch. Out here in the rain, with noone to see, he could consider whether he’d done the right thing. After all, when you came down to it, his vision of the nuclear war to end wars was only that, a vision. Even the more extreme fringes of the Radical party might be reluctant to sacrifice all of Norway to a radioactive Triumph of their Will. Or perhaps some defense could be found; or it might even be possible to re-enter the war, use Chinese ambitions of hegemony against Belgian, gain some advantage… And then again, perhaps the horse would learn to sing. He could feel the old gods whispering in his head, and knew it for a fatigue-induced hallucination; but still it comforted him, to hear Odin say that it was right to strive to delay the Twilight of the Gods, to hear Thor laugh that he would face the Midgard Worm in his own good time, and needed no help from humans. And behind them Olaf the Saint spoke of the cross he had painted on Norway in his own blood, and of the nuclear fire that would burn it off; and Halkjell chimed in from his rest under Dovre, that he was not waiting for Norway’s darkest hour merely so a Law-Speaker could sign away Siberia. And when the time came to leave, Vidkun walked up the gangway to Djerv with the firm stride of a man who believes he is doing the right; and he did not look back at his city.
Here’s the Spanish attack going on, and the I Ynglinga Hird marching desperately to the rescue. Too late! Those militia defending Bergen will hang on until early January, but by then the Ynglinga Hird has been repulsed – I retake Oslo, but can’t make any headway into the mountains, the weather is just too nasty.