He'd brought her back a trophy from his last raid. It was a beautiful thing, some blown-glass machine part wrapped carefully by his hands in copper wire. She loved it because he'd made it, and more because he'd won it. For her.
Ingrid cradled the precious thing in her hands. She had no idea what it had once done, nor what it could do again, simply that it had been raided from the Machines of the so-called Civilization that decried her people, and forced them to live as raiders. The Civilization whose cities were gradually encroaching on their lands.
She had no love for the Raiders, having seen the destruction of the Airborn Longships that the crews brought to bear on their enemies. But such enemies. She had never seen their Cities, only heard stories from those who had travelled their. But such stories! Buildings stretching into the sky, smog that swept around the streets in smothering clouds, machines that could do anything and everything. The People were civilized, they embraced the ways of Elektricity, the ways of smoke and lightning. But they kept it in its place, serving the people, not being served like an infernal master.
There was a sound at the door. Ingrid's hand went to her galvanic rifle. Another relic of the raids.
Then the door flew open and all she could see was him, showering her in a flood of metal chains, clinking glass, and beautiful things.
It was a long time before they spoke. Then he began to tell his tale, low at first, voice rising and falling in hypnotic rhythm.
“We took a city this time,” he said, pride suffusing his voice. “a proper one. No more cut and run. The Captain brought us straight down on top of them. They never saw it coming. They sent their machines after us, the ones that walk like men, and are so hard to topple. But Alrik found their weakness, the spot where a single elektrik blast would take them out. They came at us with sonics and tesla weaponry, but the Captain stood firm, and we did not shrink from their onslaught. We fought them down in their own streets, and capture what we wanted, leaving them shivering from the loss. Look!” he raised a fist filled with glittering metal and glass. “Look what I brought to you, my wife, as trophy of our victory!”
She smiled, then, and hung around her neck the hard-fought, hard-one things, each more precious than a jewel, because he had won them, and won them for her.
Story by S.M Smith. Read more by S.M. Smith here.