Tales from the Nordic Troll - #1: Fight Night (part 2)
Saturday, February 23, 2013

Sometimes you don't know what you've stepped in until you're up to your belt in it...


Heather Marshall, known as “Doc” to the Nordic Troll’s crew, stepped out of the ship’s makeshift medical bay and approached the waiting captain. “Multiple concussions to the head, two cracked ribs, abrasions on both hands. Whoever this guy was, he was in one hell of a fight”.

“You think he died from a fight?”, Gerrin asked.

Doc replied “He died because someone beat the crap out of him”.

“Yeah, I could tell that. The question is, who beat the crap out of him and why?”

Doc looked puzzled. “Whatever it is, it has nothing to do with us. Why the concern?”

Gerrin answered “This is something that could be put back on us. Some of these places like to pin these kinds of things on ships that pass through. They figure they can get hush money out of the crew to keep them from screaming murder to the nearest authorities”.

Doc returned “But this man showed up to work in this condition before we ever even touched down”.

Gerrin took a breath. “Maybe, but I’m still going to ask around and see if someone with a nasty grudge had it in for this guy”.

As he turned to leave, Doc asked “Don’t you think you’re being a little paranoid about this?”

“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you”, Gerrin shot back.

Doc sighed. As the captain left, two men from the local magistrate’s office came down the passageway. “He’s in here”, Doc said, leading the men into the med bay.

Gerrin found the Dockmaster who supervised unloading the Troll in his office. Gerrin closed the door behind him as he entered and sat down in front of the worn gray desk in the corner of the room where the man was working. “My medic just checked out your man and it looks like he died from someone beating the crap out of him”.

As the man sighed, Gerrin continued, “Is there anyone out there who might have had it in for this guy?”

The dockmaster, a man named Rodriguez, drew a breath. “He’s been in the ring more than he should have lately. His buddies told him he needs to take a break from fighting for a week or two, but he said he needed the money”.

Gerrin’s eyes narrowed slightly. “What kind of fighting are we talking about?”

“Most of these guys don’t make enough working the docks, so they pick up extra money fighting in the ring once or twice a week.”

“What, is this some kind of amateur circuit or something?”

Rodriguez shook his head. “They show up on fight night, sign up, they get matched up by weight and size, and when their number’s called, they go in and fight. The audience bets on one fighter or the other.”

“What about the fighters themselves? What do they get?”

Rodriguez continued “The crowd places their bets with a banker who holds on to the bets until the fight’s over, then the banker pays out the winners, and the winning fighter gets a percentage of the take.”

“Your man out there must not have been one of the winners, then.” Gerrin mused. “He was beat pretty bad”.

“Oh, he won more often than he lost. He just went in there way too often”.

Gerrin thought about this for a couple of seconds, then finally asked “Well, if this guy needed money so bad, why didn’t he just take a second job? It would certainly be less dangerous”.

Rodriguez snorted. ”There are no ‘second’ jobs around here. The local authorities own everything: the buildings, the equipment, all of it, and the rest of us either work their way or we don’t eat.”

“So these guys have no choice but to work for peanuts and then have to perform in the ring to make enough to survive, is that it?”

Rodriguez nodded “That’s it”.

“And I’m guessing that the local authorities do everything they can to keep this going?”

Rodriguez nodded again. “Welcome to Verbena.”

Gerrin sighed as he stood up. “Well, I can see your problem here. Wish I could help, but I just don’t see a way”.

“This isn’t your problem”, Rodriguez replied. ”Though you might get a couple of people begging for a ride off this rock. If you do, best to get out fast and keep it quiet. The authorities around here like to charge you with kidnapping, and it’s never good for you or the riders if that happens.”

Gerrin nodded and turned to leave. “Thanks for your time”, he said. “I’ll keep in mind what you said”.

“Okay. Take it easy”, Rodriguez replied.

Gerrin left the office and headed back toward the Troll. Jamie Reilly was waiting at the cargo bay door and came toward Gerrin as he approached. “I checked the bank and it’s secure enough”, Reilly said, “as long as there are no real thieves around here”. He looked back towards the dockmaster’s office. “What was that about?”

Gerrin looked back toward the office. “One of their workers died offloading the cargo”, he said, turning back to Reilly. ”Turns out people here don’t get paid enough to survive, so to make ends meet, they go to an amateur fight night in town to try to make enough money to feed their families. Our guy just went a little too often”.

“This doesn’t exactly sound like something the Alliance would approve of”, Reilly commented wryly as they turned back toward the ship.

Gerrin said grimly “The Alliance doesn’t give a good gorram as long as they get their take”.

Reilly looked at him after a second. “Are you thinking of intervening?”

Gerrin shook his head. “We’ve got problems of our own”.

After a couple of seconds, Reilly remarked “It could be done”.

“A lot of things could be done, Jamie. What are you thinking?”

Reilly continued “I’m thinking the bank is secure enough from common burglars, but a real thief will have little trouble breaking in and cleaning them out”.

"Really?" Gerrin stopped and stared at him skeptically. “And how does our robbing the bank help these people out?”

“Most of the take can go back to the town. We’ll just keep a percentage for ourselves”.

“And what’s to stop the authorities from going after the townspeople after we’re gone?”

Reilly said easily “Some of the money is undoubtedly tax revenue for the Alliance. We take that, and the local barons will cover it with their own money. They’ll want to hush up the whole affair to avoid the Allliance looking too closely at their other affairs”.

Gerrin thought about it for a second, then shook his head again. “No. It sounds like fun, but we don’t have the time and we don’t have the manpower for it”. Gerrin turned and started for the door.

Loomie came running out the small cargo bay passenger door, almost colliding with Gerrin. “Captain!” she panted “We’ve got a problem. The locals put a land lock on us. We can’t go anywhere!”

“Why have they put a land lock on my ship?” Gerrin demanded.

“They said we never paid our holding fees and we can’t go until we do”.

“What kind of 'holding fees'?”

Loomie continued “They say there’s a holding fee for the space where we put the cargo and we can’t leave until we pay them. They also said something about entry and exit fees for the docks, but I didn’t want to get into that.”

Reilly commented “They probably have some kind of 'special fee' for breathing the air around here”.

Gerrin snapped “Tough! We’re not sitting on this rock for some NIOU-se (cow dung) scam. Loomie, prep the ship with Aldous. As soon as I get back, we’re gone”. Gerrin turned and started toward the town.

Loomie looked taken aback from the captain’s outburst. Reilly mused “We’re together almost a year and he still barks like we’re military”.

Loomie said defensively “He’s just got a lot on his mind”.

..........To Be Continued.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014 9:04 PM


I like your decision here to stagger the introduction of your core crew. The short length of the fic certainly gives it an episodic feel! This keeps me engaged and interested.


You must log in to post comments.



Tales From the Nordic Troll #9: WIld Cards (part 6)
“Gentlemen, or – whatever”, Nick Gerrin announced, “Game’s over. Your boss split. Took all his money and vamoosed outta here. Some kind of Alliance trouble, I heard”. He paused before continuing, “Stand down. You ain’t gettin’ paid today. My friends and I got the high ground and you’ve been left high and dry”.

Tales From the Nordic Troll - #9: Wild Cards (part 5)
“We ain’t gonna hold ‘em back, there’s too many”, Roy cried. - - - “Then it should be harder for you to miss!” Aldous shot back. - - - “I think we might need to get outta here”, Roy protested. - - - “Gorram it”, Aldous snapped, “just keep shooting!” As he finished loading and turned to fire he muttered to himself “Gos-se! This must be what it feels like to be Nick”.

Tales From the Nordic Troll - #9: Wild Cards (part 4)
“People”, Gerrin continued, “we got things set in motion, we got a plan that’ll work, but we’re not going out there alone. Now, are you in or are you out?” - - - - The assembled farmers looked at each other. Five raised their hands. “I’m in”, they proclaimed one at a time. - - - - “What about the rest of you?” Gerrin demanded. - - - - The rest sat there, silent. - - - - Gerrin eyed them contemptuously. “Envy the country that has heroes, huh?” he growled. As he turned and stormed toward the door he added “Pity the land that needs ‘em”.

Tales From the Nordic Troll - #9: Wild Cards (part 3)
The leader whipped out his gun and aimed toward Reilly. “Where’s my men?” He snapped. - - - Reilly looked around him. “Swallowed by darkness?” he offered. - - - “Gettin’ smart, huh?” The leader cocked the hammer on his weapon. “Well, I still got you now, don’t I?” - - - “Only two problems”. Reilly raised his hands holding the rope he’d been bound with. “I’m untied”. - - - The leader stiffened and cocked his head. “What’s the other one?” - - - Reilly gestured. “They’re here”.

Tales From the Nordic Troll - #9: Wild Cards (part 2)
“Gentlemen“, Shepherd McGarrity started, “this won’t-“ . . . . “Shut it, preacher”, the leader snapped, turning his gun toward McGarrity. “Your services ain’t needed...” He raised his weapon. “…yet”. . . . . “Oh, that just won’t do”, Gerrin chided as he cocked his head. “I suggest you apologize to the Shepherd and take your leave before something bad happens to you”. . . . . “Take ‘em!” the leader roared as he whipped his pistol toward Gerrin and fired.

Tales From the Nordic Troll - #9: Wild Cards (part 1)
“Don’t worry, captain”, McGarrity called back, gesturing to the man beside him. “I think this gentleman might have something a little more in line with your crew’s particular set of skills”.

Tales From the Nordic Troll - #8: Business as Usual (part 6)
Both ships were close enough to be clearly seen in the pilot’s window. “Might be a good time to turn”, Reilly commented nervously.

Tales From the Nordic Troll - #8: Business as Usual (part 5)
Bullets bounced off the hood and sides of the truck as Gerrin sped toward the far end of the building. Wilkins, perched on her stomach in the bed, maneuvered a small 10-liter plastic barrel with a fuse in the end toward the lowered cargo gate in back of the bed. Pulling out a lighter, she lit the fuse as Gerrin, firing from the driver’s seat, suddenly swerved away from the building.

Tales From the Nordic Troll - # 8: Business as Usual (part 4)
Whump! - - -
Reilly fought to keep from uttering a sound as the fist of one of Reznor’s men struck him in the stomach again. Reilly raised his eyes toward his captor and sneered “Trying to torture me or tease me?”

Tales From the Nordic Troll - #8: Business as Usual (part 3)
Jacko slowly withdrew his hand from the box, producing a cigar, his eyes never leaving Gerrin’s. Placing the cigar in his mouth, he reached down and picked up a small, gaudy-looking lighter, which he also made a show of displaying for his unwelcome visitors. Producing a flame under the cigar, he puffed several times. Finally satisfied, Jacko leaned back in his chair and remarked to Gerrin “You don’t take instructions well, do you?”