Standard Inner sphere battle armor, painted black and covered in Futhark runes painted on in blazing orange. A cannon shell with items that link him with his past and with what he had lost…
Jairn is a large man, six feet and six inches tall, broadly built but lacking any trace of fat, with a surprisingly youthful face - he is often mistaken for younger, until one looks into his eyes. The fact is enhanced by his rather long red hair, woven into braids on the sides of his head. He wears a beard trimmed short. There is a thing peculiar about him - his canines are quite long.
The pale complexion shows a plethora of scars all over his body - burn marks, cuts and bullet wounds, scratches and bite marks.
He carries himself straight, some would say stiff, and stands completely still when inactive.
In private, he will dress comfortably - jeans and a shirt, or a jumpsuit. If danger abounds, he will wear his armor painted with runes.
If you look at Ymir V from above, you will see a great orb, azure blue, with a large streak of emerald green across it, and several more sparks of land strewn over its otherwise flawless countenance. The valkyries ride the clouds across the skies, chasing them and whipping them up into frenzied tempests, and certainly, my homeworld can offer some of the fiercest storms in existence. Thus, a space traveler will see their storm-steeds in fronts charging hence and forth, restless and wild.
The planet is rich in minerals; metals, uranium and oil can be found in abundance. Is this why the Clans have chosen us to unleash their wrath upon? Possible. Hard rains swept across the land when the first pods rained from the skies, releasing metal behemoths. My father, a technician in the local factories, raced to bring the machines on line, but the last shipment of engines of war had just departed, and only a few tanks and ‘Mechs were ready to move, if you would call it that - armor plates still unattached in places, the wiring of the cannons still protruding and many a magazine unloaded.
My father gave me a plush wolf back there, intended for Christmas, but it is good he did so, for the Zeus he was working on and that now carried him into battle soon fell, but a mesh of slack and molten metal when it hit the ground. I was to stay home with my siblings, but my older brother took a rifle and stormed outside, and the newborn twins, well, I had enough of their bawling, and was curious to see mother and father defeat the invaders. My mother was a pilot after all, braving the stormy skies in a mighty Slayer fighter.
When I ran up the hill, parka held tight close to me as to preserve what little heat it could, but most of all to keep Fiur, my plushie, dry, I saw the very same Slayer, the shark custom paint job unmistakable, plunge out of the sky, wings burned and engines trailing smoke, and crash into the roof of what I had called home.
Back then, I thought all that happened because I had disobeyed my parents, and ran off, crying, into the night, lit by flashes of laser beams and the skies raining thunder and lightning, freezing sleet and whipping rain.
The storms will exhaust anyone, more so a child of five years. I lost consciousness, and awoke to the sound of two voices - upon opening my eyes I saw two men, true giants, clad in mud-stained armor towering over me. They opened their visors and looked at me, faces grim and strict. One finally meant: "Let us take it along. It looks healthy, it will work." The other man looked thoughtfully up, then turned around, and his face exploded, the same fate befalling his buddy a blink of an eye later. From the trees, armed men emerged, my brother amongst them, cheering loudly at their victory.
Standing over the burnt remains of what had been my father’s work, his engine of war and now was his coffin - or rather urn, I picked up an auto-cannon shell, the only container handy, and picked up his watch, miraculously only partially molten, the gold mixed with blood, and put it inside, then, I tossed in Fiur as well.
The clan invasion I spent with the guerillas along with my brother, but I he did not make it - a volley of cannon shells ripped him apart, leaving but a puddle of something that looked like strawberry jam behind. His glasses are the only thing that was left of him, miraculously undamaged. I kept them, for what else should I do?
The war vent on and on, but I felt safe in the care of the unit’s major, Hanse Sjoergen. He was strict, some might even say harsh, and the life of a kid in the midst of a war wasn’t easy, either - we stayed on the move for months to escape pursuers, and times came when rations were short.
After the last shots were fired, the major continued taking care of me - I was sort of adopted, though I never called him father, for he would not want it that way. Instead, I called him Major, it was a private joke of sorts.
Even with the war over, I did not have an easy life - while an officer, he was not wealthy, and aided the families of his two dead brothers. As a substitution of sorts, he spent a lot of time with me, teaching me at home instead of sending me to school, and not only math and grammar, but also how to take care of oneself. Sure, I collected bruises and shiners when we got carried away, but it was hell of a fun. Even today, I see brawling as fun rather than as a fight.
When I was ten, the major asked in a favor and got me a subvention for a place in a military school. It was not what I expected at first - lots of pointless lessons, and not enough of the "real action", or so I thought at that time. When not messing around with computers or reading, mythology and fantasy mostly, I was causing mayhem - getting into brawls, then, as soon as puberty made my voice deep enough, singing in the both youngest and worst metal band I’ve ever come across, or hot-wiring and stealing scout cars, as I and my best buddy Starke did in the last year of school. I only managed to trash mine, but his was still hooked to the gas tank, and when he stepped on the gas, tires screeching and fuel spraying, a spark ignited it all. All I got to remind me of my friend was an original Conan book I had borrowed the day before. I still have it, in my cannon shell right there on the shelf.
As one would have expected, all hell broke loose, and the problems took no end. The Major had to step in, and instead of being kicked from school, I would only be bereft of a huge chunk of my salaries to come - paid those off already, but every credit hurt like hell.
Hell does not hurt as much as losing Major, though, which happened on the day after he came in, kicked my deserving ass, beat me up and settled my troubles - I put up a fight, but the only result was that I felt very bone not for two, but three weeks to come. Getting beaten up in a fair fight by someone who just happens to be better is no insult, rather an honor - as long as you survive to return the punch one day.
Major was just leaving in his jeep - he said he never could drive some sissy car - when a Marik terrorist, intent on disposing of an officer who was visiting on the same day, mistook the cars and fired an inferno at him. A second missile he could not launch, as the guards and their lasers made burger meat out of him, but one sure was enough to set Major’s car ablaze. Only his hand has outside the car at the time, tapping at the door, and only that hand was not charred to cinders. I did not sob then, I just held the hand, and took the wedding band he always wore - I think he would have wanted it that way.
That was the first time I saw a Valkyrie - not the ‘Mech, but a half-naked maiden on a horse, descending out of the sky. Then, I have dismissed it as a hallucination, caused by shock and too high a testosterone level, but today I know better.
Anyway, I continued the military career, as Major would have wanted me. As father and mother would. And Thor as well - not the ‘Mech, the god.
Don’t let yourself be fooled - military education is meant to store up anger in you, so that you are more than ready to vent it when presented with a suitable target - like that nice squishy enemy right in front of you. To distract myself from the endless pages of military protocol, technical readouts and military history, I delved into computer programming, and even more into things concerning mythology and the runes, and into the secrets of women. Guess which the most mysterious one is.
Infantry and armored infantry training were a wholly different matter though, and the four years passed like a single summer. Time flies when you are having fun, and it passes even faster when there is someone to share the fun with - in my case Thera Janski, an enthusiastically loud, foolishly reckless and illegally cute lass who happened to be a member of my team. We brawled, we raced, played darts, fooled around with guns, books and made love in the most impossible places. We exchanged tresses of hair, got a tattoo of each other on our butts and certainly were too jolly for the years of warfare that were to be our lives. My life, for she had been spared this by her demise, a foolish one at that - during combat training she pushed a damaged vehicle too hard, in a true speed frenzy to surpass a few boys who had insulted her and teach them a well-deserved lesson, and, taking a short-cut through a starport, she could not control it well enough to stay clear off the path of a landing dropship. The auburn tresses I keep in my shell are the only thing left of her.
That evening, I wandered off, into the woods, no-one noticing. I walked up to the edge of a cliff, uncertain what to do, looked down - and saw the end times, gods and giants battling it out on frozen plains, and the world ablaze, sky lit with fire and brimstone. I stood there, without motion and stared, the waves of the sea, tipped with ice floes heaving where a valley should be, heaving beneath me. I watched, the time flew by but I did not notice. A day later, I was found, and brought back to camp, eyes wide, stiff as a brick.
I recovered, and finished the rest of the training, with machine-like fervor, not distracted, but while training and pushing myself to my limits, I thought about the significance of what had come to pass, and about what I had seen - it seemed too real to be mistaken for a hallucination.
Having finished my army training, standing on the airport, clad in my shining plate, I thought - where to now? Nothing held me anywhere, and I stood there, staring at the dropship, its spherical form occluding the sun disk setting behind it, a bright halo surrounding the mass of steel.
Someone tapped my shoulder pad, a deep alto asking: "Jairn Stiorlen? I have a proposal for you." I turned around, slowly, not truly caring. There stood a woman, perhaps five feet tall, yet with a self-confident bearing, air trimmed to a length of perhaps six inches, raven black, the eyes two charcoal nuggets, clad in black and silver, a leather cloak and high boots, a saber by the side. I raised an eyebrow, intending to dismiss her with a snub. She grinned, the smile cute but wicked, and meant: "You can go interesting places, meet interesting people, kill them" and continued smiling at me, while producing the secret service badge from her pocket. Now I know it was Loki who whispered a "yes" in my ear, but then, I thought to escape the familiar surroundings and perhaps gain the chance for a new future, the sorrows forgotten. Why I still keep going on is to spite Loki who is trying to break me, but the harder he tries, the firmer I am in my conviction. Then, I just nodded, and said: "Tell me more".
Working for the safety of others and the death of enemies, the integrity of the Rasalhague Republic and the doom of House Steiner. No alley too dark, no assignment too dangerous and no questions asked, these were my hallmarks. They called me "brave". I may be. Perhaps I have already seen all a man can fear. Or I was too detached to taste and smell the fear I should have. It no longer matters. Often, I worked with the woman who recruited me, Valyra Armaud. Her playful way and delight in the missions we undertook were in fierce contrast with my way of not caring - when she spied, she grinned to herself all the time, white pearl-like teeth flashing, when she shot someone there was a flicker of pleasure in her eyes, her breath heavy and irregular, and when we flew home from an assignment, her smile flared up whenever she could step on the gas. I observed, and studied the runes, their simple power obvious, their layout emanating the will of the gods, and still they were silent to me. Then, on an assignment, a simple one - shoot some poor sod - they were stained with his blood when he bled to death on the pouch containing the stones I carved myself. And everything changed - they finally spoke when cast upon black cloth, revealing the future, or a future, and I saw things inside. Their voice called out that I should not lock myself in, play dead to the world. Their song called out, that I should get involved. Walk around with open eyes, a bright heart, and care.
So I cared. In my free time, I started a free self-defense course for youngsters, taught several neighborhood kids when their parents had no time, and enacted a few (very bad) plays about the Norse mythology. Valyra too noticed the change, and started to take interest in me, with her typical grin a steak of white across her face she pressed me against a wall and declared us a couple. At first, I adopted the guise of an iceberg, untouched by her attempts, nothing able to get through my armor, but sure she knew how to find the cracks when she wanted. There was no denying that she was sweet, in her own sinful way, a black fairy, and finally I agreed - after all, my curse had not affected any of the children I spent time with, they are were well.
The relationship was secret and irrational, chaotic and playful - Valyra tempted, cajoled, provoked and had a fair share of fun trying to change my stubborn course, most often without success, but the times she achieved victory were thus even more pleasing to her. I knew the affair was not meant to last, but I surely did not expect it to end so soon. It was I who ended the relationship, in a most unconventional way - I found out that Valyra was a double agent, spying both for and on us, when, after an afternoon of mad love (I think I still carry the bite and scratch marks, or the burns of her kisses) I felt her stirring beside me, and heard her dressing. One eyelid slightly raised, I saw her picking up the case with blueprints we successfully "retrieved" from a scientific installation, and leaving our room. For a moment, I was undecided whether to follow her, and then I snuck after her, a shadow’s shadow. With swift strides she hurried towards the hangar, a new hover-car parked there. My gun aimed, I called out to her: "Come back. This is wrong, and absolutely unnecessary, and you know it." She swerved around, her beloved leather cloak flowing, and the grin flashing on her face, the excitement she felt almost tangible. "You don’t understand, do you? With the cash I get for this, I can go wherever I want, and do whatever I want!" "That does not make it any less wrong. Come back, and I will act as if nothing had happened. You know I will have to shoot you otherwise." She flashed me a childish smile, eyes twinkling: "My dear, your too kind to shoot a kid like me, least of all in the back. Farewell!" she blew me a kiss and turned around, unlocked the car, and tossed the case in. I pulled the trigger. The explosive bullets ripped into her, even one of them too much to be endured by such a small body. The burst transformed her into a carmine mist, settling on all surfaces around like morbid snow lit by fires from Fenris’ blazing eyes. I picked up the case and went. On top of my cannon shell, there were panties of her, those she wore the day before - placed there on intent as a goodbye, or thrown there in the heat of passion? I will never know. But what I know is that Loki’s laughter filled my mind for weeks thereafter.
Back at the headquarters, I asked for a more combat-like assignment. All knew what had come to pass, and no questions were asked. I donned the suit, and went off to battle.
The skies rained fire, the seas ran red with blood, and skulls rose man-high at the foot of the throne of War. I killed, and not Loki, but Thor spoke to me, a like his hammer, my armored fist and searing laser have smitten what stood against us. For years, I have seen but red - the crimson of the setting sun before an assault, reddish desert burned to crisp by a carmine sun and the blood, seas of blood like Valyra’s lips when she had bitten them in ecstasy. I killed so that others may remain innocent, I stood vigilant so that others may sleep, and I bled so that others may remain unscathed.
Solace have I found in the arms of a fellow trooper of my unit - Henriette Sorensen. Silent was she, but of what use are words when the thunder of cannons drowns out whispers of affection. A large woman was she, taller than me and with muscles where they don’t belong on a lady, but I held her with such strength, I needed to hold her with such strength, that I would have crushed a lesser woman. Filled with pain from the past was she, but where two such pains meet, they can be put aside as the other one knows and understands, and you don’t have to tell. You are, you live, and every heartbeat echoes in the other chest. And that is what counts. You need but one person, and no words.
The Marik troops were in disarray, after four years of incessant battle the Eagle was being pushed back, and the victory was within our grasp. Like demons risen from hell did we fight, and scorched metal mixes with blood stood knee-high. Then the day of the main assault came, the last Marik fortress around a starport surrounded like a cliff in the raging sea, slowly being ground to dust. Our battle armor teams cut a swathe through the enemy infantry and fortifications, the trenches behind us bereft of all life. Then, we were ambushed, having charged too far forward from the main force, enemy troopers pressing hard from all sides. When I saw Henrietta next to me go down, hit by an armor-piercing shell, I snapped. All time seemed to slow down, flowing by me like honey, the foes, clutching their guns, frozen in place. I roared at the top of my lungs, the howl further amplified by the speakers of my armor, and charged, blade in one hand, the solar fury of the laser in the other. They seemed to stand still as I struck them, the bullets moving at the speed of snails through the fluid air. When the red haze lifted, the enemy soldiers lay all dead around me, ripped to pieces, dozens of them.
From a heap of bodies, I dragged Henriette’s tattered armor, lifeblood leaking from the cracks. Even as the enemy raised the white flag, I saw the light in her eyes fade away, the words "take care of my daughter" dying on her pale lips. And I heard Loki laugh, but I snarled at him, and he fled, even as the Valkyries came and carried Henriette forth.
Many were amazed at my fury, but one of my comrades spoke to me alone, when the celebrations after the battle calmed down: "Jairn, I saw something, when you raged. It seemed as if, overlapping, there stood both man and wolf, the beast’s fur the same black like your armor, both thirsting for blood." I looked at him, and answered, canines bared: "Yes", then turned around, grasping Henriette’s Cross of Valor tight, and strode away into the darkness.
Here I am. Still I shall not yield. And if I should find Loki, I swear I will rip his throat out with my own teeth.
Certainly not the most social type, but neither is he uncongenial - though he keeps his distance unless totally unable to. Rarely will he laugh, most of the time a smile will emerge on his lips instead. If he deems someone to be a friend, he will be fiercely loyal and obsessively protective, unless he deems the course of action to be wrong, in which case will he make it plainly clear. Stubborn as hell, his opinion is hard to sway, which might pose a problem at times due to his tendency to classify things as "right" or "wrong".
He’s quite straight in his behavior - he will not betray, and cheat or lie only when it is necessary, like on a secret mission. Unwittingly, most people assume him to be honest and simple when they look at his bulk, which is far from true; often, the face which tends to hide emotion, misleads people into thinking that a lack of motion outside means a lack of motion inside.
There is another thing of which he is fanatically protective - the cannon shell that holds all the memories, a lid custom-fitted so that the contents are safe. Should someone open it without his permission, Jairn might even frenzy.
He has not given up the habit of reading and programming, and still trains kids and spends time with them whenever he can - with no family on his own, he tries to take part on the families of others from a distant orbit, but not close enough to get actually attached.
Yes, and of course he talks to the gods - in his head when others are watching, aloud when casting the runes. So will Loki come to mock him, or chuckle behind the scenes when someone tries to fool Jairn; Thor will appear in times of war and during thunderstorms; Heimdall will deliver cryptic advice, and at times, Jairn will realize a stranger he just talked to was Odin testing him. Freya appears truly rarely - when his heart is at peace. Should he fall in love again, Jairn is sure to see her again.
If he should become convince someone is Odin, he will try to make him reveal himself, but behave with respect.
Should he meet Loki in person, then some chaos is sure to ensue.