Chapter 1: Induction
Chapter 1: Induction
Chapter 1: Induction

13th Aug 2012, 11:27 AM

by inhonoredglory

A blast careened him in the saddle. Hiccup yelped at the thrill as Toothless swung up and into a dizzying cartwheel, the fireball he spat out roaring horizontally below him and into the wide bottom of the great volcano. "Yeah, baby!" Hiccup yelled, breathless at the wild loss of gravity and the swirl of wind, his eyes catching glimpses of Toothless' blue fire gnawing at the rocky foundation, the boulders crashing down, boring a hole into the mountain. A cheer went up from below, as hundreds of Vikings streamed into the newly-bored hole, picks and shovels and huge lumbering baskets in their big hulking hands. Hiccup smiled, leveled off in the bright gray sky.

This is my tribe. And that--

Toothless turned his head up, tried to see him.

That is my best friend. His name's Toothless, and I discovered him a while back, quite eventfully as it turned out. There's no one more happy than I am that the war between us and dragons is long over.

He patted Toothless and the dragon shook his head in delight. A sudden swoosh of wings went by him, blue and red and green. "Hey, nice one, Hiccup!" screamed Snotlout as he rode by on his flaming red Monstrous Nightmare. "Maybe a stunt like that'll get you points at Induction!"

Hiccup rolled his eyes, shouted back with a smile, "You better get back at what you're supposed to do!"

"Hey, I can take a joy ride once in a while, can't I?" the burly teen retorted, flapping away.

That's Snotlout. Don't pay attention to what he says. It's usually sarcastic.

A two-headed Zippleback swept by, carrying two arguing teens.

That's Ruffnut and Tuffnut, the twins. I think they really love each other. It just doesn't look like it offhand, so don't tell them you know.

Toothless suddenly got it into his mind to chase them. "Whoa!" Hiccup squealed, laughing as Toothless veered along behind the wily Zippleback. The twins looked back, shared a naughty eye together and drove their ride downward.

"All right, Toothless, you better hold off. Don't want to irk Ruff and Tuff." Toothless glanced back at him, jerked his head with a smile and sailed up. After they had raced each other that last time, Tuffnut promised to even the score. Hiccup glanced down, saw them swoop over the volcano's rocky shore. Yeah, he didn't exactly feel like winning again today.

A bulky round Gronkle zipped under them suddenly, ridden by an equally round teen, who waved up at Hiccup with a gleeful smile. Hiccup waved back.

That's Fishlegs. We call him the dragon encyclopedia. Most of us would get bored by all that geekiness, but not me. He's actually a lot of fun.

"Kids!" called a voice from below. "Get back to your jobs!" Hiccup looked down, saw the huge Viking, his yellow braided beard flapping in exasperation and his hook hand punching the sky. "I'm not a babysitter!"

Hiccup laughed.

That's Gobber, the blacksmith with interchangeable hands. You remember him. He's the best, except when he's got you not going at things properly. That's when you better watch out.

The twins rolled their eyes, Snotlout pouted, as they descended to their chores. It always made his heart warm to see the dragons help so happily with the village tasks. There were couriers and climbers, loaders and lifters. A lot of hard work. He watched Fishlegs balance precariously on his dragon (affectionately named Meatlug) as they hauled rocks on the shore. Hiccup patted Toothless, pleased. At least all he had to do was blast the mountainside with Toothless' awesome firepower. He smiled.

Yeah... my job is so much cooler.

I just had to say that.

Hiccup swung around, met a colorful blue dragon that squawked at the near collision. "Astrid!" he exclaimed, smiling at the slender girl mounted on her.

"Hey, Hiccup!" She smiled, winking at him.

That's Astrid. On Stormfly.

Astrid...

He watched her small figure swoop low towards the busy quarrying, her braided hair trailing her, her thin arms firm against her Deadly Nadder.

Ah. Astrid.

Toothless jerked suddenly. Hiccup turned and looked ahead, saw a huge rock pillar in front of him. "Gah!" He pulled up, sent Toothless into a vertical soar, exhaled sharply. Toothless slapped him with his ear flaps. "Sorry, buddy," he said, his cheeks stinging.

Toothless shook his head, sailed flat again. He clicked his tongue, eyed Hiccup from the corner of his big green eyes. Hiccup pushed Toothless' head away. "Okay, I get it." He smiled, looked back at Stormfly, now firing the smelter, and up ahead again. He turned Toothless and swooped down towards the shore. Toothless spread his wings, wide and black around him, swept over the Viking ships, past Fishlegs heaving stones to and fro on Meatlug, past Snotlout scaling the cliffsides on Hookfang, past the twins ferrying Vikings between ships, shore, and caves, past the structure where Gobber eyed small pieces by hand, a tiny magnifying glass attached to his arm, past the innumerable crowds clanging at rocks and tiptoeing around hot metal.

Yup, this is my tribe. We're mining out Dragon Island, if you haven't noticed. My dad, Chief of the tribe, he's the one there telling everybody what to do--

A huge Viking swung his red beard and shouted at the streams of people heaving rocks to and fro. He looked up and waved at his son soaring by. Hiccup nodded his head.

Yeah, he thought it would be a great idea to see what undiscovered boulders might be inside the volcano. One of those Quests, you know, that we get on once in a while. Well, it's a good thing the mountain didn't blow -- yet. I'd hate to see all of us riding lava flows. Of course now we're really going to have to hold our breaths on that, because a few months ago, I just had to go build some new ship based on the new lightweight metal he found. Aaaand now we're all back finding more metal. I think he wants to build a whole fleet of them. I really should keep my sketchbook shut.

Hiccup eyed the volcano.

Yeah, I'm holding my breath on that one.

Toothless swept lower. Hiccup veered him to the ground, landed next to Gobber and the little portable structure with the leather umbrella over it. Hiccup jumped off Toothless, went to talk to Gobber a bit. The wind caught one of the umbrella's panels, pushing down just as Hiccup got there. He pushed it up, wondered if the thing was going to snap one of these days. "Hey, Gobber, how are things going?"

Gobber jumped, his tall Viking helmet bobbing on his head. "Hiccup! Don't I have enough surprises today?"

"What, I surprised you?"

Gobber rolled his eyes, flipped a tiny glimmering stone behind him.

"Hey, what was that?" Hiccup stepped towards it.

"Nothing, Hiccup, worthless junk."

Hiccup picked it off the dust-laden ground.

"You'd better quit the naturalism a bit, Hiccup." Gobber's voice was getting louder, as sharp rock-splitting exploded in the air. "All them rocks and trees ain't goin' to help at Induction or your future."

Hiccup sighed, tumbled the glittering crystal in his hand. What was it, only three days from now? Induction. That was the one thing about being the Chief's son. Everyone wanted to make you Chief. Well, Induction was a part of that. His eighteenth birthday, the whole ceremony thing, test of responsibilities. He didn't exactly look forward to chairing a seat on his dad's Council of pillaging warriors and advisors, but what could he do?

Gobber went back to chipping at the rocks on his table. Hiccup rolled the faceted black pebble in his palm, walked up to Gobber. The wind changed suddenly. Gobber looked up. "Storm's coming. I guess that means we'll have a short work day."

"Hm," Hiccup hummed. He looked up at the growing storm clouds, the sharpness in the wind hitting him. The horizon suddenly lighted with a faint, ethereal glow. The horizon grew dotted with black shapes. He could sense Gobber stiffen. Hiccup stood taller on his toes, noticed the darker shapes forming on the edge of the sea, their black sails vibrating. There was an odd glow under them this time. He never saw that before.

He felt a heavy presence behind him. He turned, saw his father, gazing out at the sea. "Son," his father laid a hand on him, his eyes still analyzing the ships so far away. "I think they're ready for you on the east side of the mountain. Go do that."

"But Dad, it won't take that long." He gestured frantically. "One quick fly over to check on them and I'd be back."

His father looked down at him, sternly.

"I mean, shouldn't we do something?" They'd been through this conversation beforeā€¦

"No, son," his father said firmly. "There's something bad about those ships, I can feel it in my bones."

Hiccup slumped. Fourth time, same answer. What was he waiting for?

His father sighed. "And I don't want you going near them." He let his hand off Hiccup. "That's final, you understand?"

Hiccup stared at the gravel under his feet. "Sure, Dad," he said quietly.

"Now, you run along and help the others. These ships are our job."

Hiccup slipped out from under the umbrella, graveled along until he found Toothless and mounted him.

So much for pre-Chief responsibilities...

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