Tales From the Nordic Troll #4: Man-Made Monsters (part 5)
Thursday, October 24, 2013

Suddenly the door burst open, slamming into the crates in front of it and slowly pushing them back. Several monstrous-looking forms poured into the opening roaring like animals and firing on the crew. The crew immediately returned fire on their attackers.


The night dragged on forever for the crew of the Troll and their two assisting visitors. Twice Simon and Doc tried to bring Irina out of the induced coma, and twice she had remained coherent for a few seconds before descending back into savagery.

The first time, after Gerrin returned from the cargo bay, Simon’s Amytropylene injection had partially roused her for a few seconds with the same results as the first time: she murmured a warning to run and then thrashed in every direction, screaming, straining at the restraints and trying to attack everyone in the med bay at once. Simon moved forward to try to sedate her again, but accidently got too close to her. Irina sunk her teeth into his arm. Simon yelped in pain and grabbed her face, trying to push her back as Doc quickly injected her with another sedative. Irina slowly went limp, releasing Simon and sinking to the bed. Doc immediately grabbed a bottle of antiseptic and a roll of gauze and tended to Simon’s wounds.

After two hour’s discussion and deliberation Simon used a slightly different combination of medicines which produced slightly different results: as she came to Irina twisted her head back and forth, arguing with herself over whether to kill everyone, including her brother. Suddenly she lunged drunkenly for Doc, emitting something between a loud moan and a scream, grabbing her by the wrist and trying to pull her forward. Doc pulled back as Simon injected Irina with a strong sedative. Several seconds passed before she sank into unconsciousness once again.

As the night passed the rest of the crew took turns sleeping in the walk-in weapons locker that night: no one wanted to be caught off guard if the captain’s sister broke loose and attacked everyone she could find. Aldous, Anna and Lewis curled up on the cramped deck first, pistols by their heads, while Reilly, Loomie and River stood guard by the door with rifles. Toward the middle of the night they traded places. During each shift Irina’s screams woke the sleeping crewmembers, and each time they remained awake for some time afterwards.

As the sun rose over the town and the two ships the crew and their guests sat at the mess decks pull-out tables. Everyone was tired, especially Gerrin, Doc and Simon, who fought their fatigue by downing cups of strong coffee as they all discussed their situation.

“No change?” Loomie asked.

Doc fought down her coffee and shook her head. “No change”.

Aldous rubbed his forehead. “You know, this ain’t working out. We’re gonna have to leave her behind”.

Gerrin, exhausted and frustrated, stated flatly “She stays where she is”.

“You all have tried everything you could to save her, and nothing’s worked”, Reilly countered. “It’s time to let her go”.

“We’re not done yet”.

Simon looked up from the blood-stained sleeve containing his bandaged arm and joined in. “Captain, I don’t know what else to try. Your sister has had long-term exposure to a drug that causes permanent damage to the brain, and even if we were in a real hospital, it’s unlikely anything can be done to reverse the damage”.

Gerrin looked at him sideways. “Then try harder”.

“Try harder? There’s nothing left to try”.

“Wait a-“ Doc started.

“Find something!” Gerrin snapped.

“Find what?!” Reilly exploded. “It’s done! The doctor called it right! Whatever she and the others were before, man-made monsters is all that’s left!”

“That’s still Irina in there, and we’re gonna get her fixed!” Gerrin shouted.

“Listen-“ Doc tried again.

“Fixed?” Aldous was incredulous. “Sometimes things get broken to the point they can’t be fixed!”

“She stays and we keep trying!” Gerrin pointed down the passageway. “You don’t like it, get off my ship!”

"NEEmen de bizui (Everybody shut the hell up)!” Doc shouted. After a second, she asked “Does anyone hear that?”

The crew listened. Now they heard it: a metallic banging that seemed to come from the cargo bay. “What the Hell is that?” Aldous blurted.

Gerrin reached for the intercom. Pushing the button that accessed the area in front of the cargo bay door, they all heard the pounding and inhuman roars outside the door. River had sat listening, silent until now. Now her eyes widened and she whispered “Reavers”.

Loomie turned pale beneath her dark skin. "RUNtse de FWOtzoo, ching baoYO wuomun... (Oh merciful Buddha protect us...)", she whispered.

“Damn!” Gerrin turned to his crew. “Everyone get to the cargo bay, get a weapon, find cover and get ready to fire! Aldous, Loomie, get us in the air! Doctor, you stay with your patient!” Gerrin launched himself into the passageway as Loomie and Aldous jumped for the cockpit and engine room. All who were left leapt from their seats to follow` Gerrin.

Gerrin and Reilly slid down the handrail as the others scrambled down the ladder to the cargo bay. Reaching the deck they all rushed across the cargo bay and started dragging crates in front of the door as the monsters on the other side continued pounding. Once the crates were stacked waist-high, they all fell back to the weapons locker, grabbing rifles, shotguns and pistols and taking cover behind the remaining crates across the bay from the door. They loaded their weapons as the Reavers pounded on the door while somehow working the door mechanism open. “Don’t let ’em in the door”, Gerrin called out. “Bunch ‘em up and take ‘em down!” The crew waited with their weapons pointed at the door as the pounding continued. The seconds seemed like minutes.

Suddenly the door burst open, slamming into the crates in front of it and slowly pushing them back. Several ravaged-looking human forms poured into the opening roaring like animals and firing on the crew. The crew immediately returned fire on their attackers. The first three Reavers fell as soon as they entered the door. The ones who followed fired at the crew from behind the crates at the door. Bullets and spiked projectiles slammed into the crates shielding the crew as the crew fired at their attackers, popping up to fire from behind the shielding crates and ducking for cover as the intruders fired back. The firefight raged on.

Gerrin’s rifle fell silent: he was out of ammunition. Gerrin bent low behind his crate and yanked the spent magazine from his weapon. He did not have to see the Reaver spring from the door toward his position to know it was coming. As he jammed a fresh magazine into his weapon, he felt himself pushed toward the deck as something heavy vaulted over his back. He looked up in time to see his sister swing a box at the head of his attacker. As Irina battered her target, another rushed at Irina. Gerrin shot and killed it. As Irina’s Reaver fell back, she hit it again, directly over the head. The Reaver went limp. Finished with her prey, Irina leapt for the door, grabbing two in the doorway and slamming them into the bulkheads before pushing them back. “Irina!” Gerrin shouted and sprang from behind his crate. Before he could reach the door, a bullet struck him in the shoulder. Gerrin stumbled but still charged toward the door as Doc and Reilly sprang from their positions and tackled Gerrin, pinning him to the deck just short of the door. “Get off me!” Gerrin roared at his crewmates as he struggled to reach the door. “Somebody close that gorram door!” Reilly shouted as he fought to keep his captain pinned. Anna jumped to the door, pushing it closed with all her strength. “Irina!! NO!!!” Gerrin screamed as the door clanged shut, blocking out the inhuman noises coming from his sister and her fellow Reavers outside. Gerrin, paralyzed with horror, stared at the closed door even after Reilly and Doc climbed off him. Reilly looked at Gerrin, then turned to the intercom and punched the button, yelling “Loomie! Aldous! Get us in the air, quick!” A scant minute later, the Troll’s engines roared to life as Aldous hammered the intercom in the engine room and shouted “Loomie! You got it! Go!” In the cockpit Loomie pulled back on the controls and the ship lurched into the air.

Within minutes Loomie’s voice came over the intercom: she sounded frantic. “We’ve got a problem. There’s a ship coming in, and they’re running without containment on the reactors.”

Reilly looked back at Gerrin, still on his hands and knees. “Yeah, why not?” He growled. Racing to the bulkhead, he hit the intercom button. “Keep as much distance between us as you can. Take us through the mountains, I’ll be in the aft gun pod”. Reilly hit the com button and lurched up the ladder. Well, this isn’t going to work out well, he thought as he bounded up the ladder and raced down the passageway toward the pod.

As the Troll raced over the mountainous landscape, a second ship closed behind them, black smoke billowing from its engines. The ship looked like something out of a nightmare: it lacked parts in some areas, had jagged parts attached in others. It slowly closed on the Troll.

Reilly pulled open the hatch to the aft gun pod, only to find River Tam seated in the gunner’s saddle wearing the gunner’s headset. “What? Move. I gotta get in there”, Reilly ordered.

Looking back at him, she said “I got this”. Returning her attention to the approaching ship, she spoke into the headset. “Loomie? Get us closer to the rocks”.


“Trust me”, River assured her. “I know what I’m doing”.

Loomie hesitated, then rolled the ship down toward the mountains below. The ship behind them matched their maneuver and fired on the Troll. River returned fire, squeezing off a few short bursts. Once she finished, she instructed Loomie “Now, fly between the mountains. Do this for one minute. Then, call down here as you straighten her out”.

“What do you think you’re doing?” Reilly demanded.

“What I was made to do”, River answered him.

Loomie slalomed among the mountains as instructed. Once she found a large open area, she straightened the ship and called to River “Okay, we’re going straight in four…three...”

River closed her eyes and whispered to herself “Don’t look, don’t look, don’t look”. As Loomie shouted “NOW!”, River squeezed and held the trigger. Again fire spat from the tail of the ship, streaking across the sky to strike the bridge of the pursuing ship. The Reaver ship’s bridge windows starred, then cracked, and finally flew off in shards as the ship dropped from behind the Troll, twisting sideways and sinking into the rocky terrain below. Striking a hill, the ship collapsed in on itself like a crushed can and exploded. River spoke into the headset. “Loomie?”

After a second, Loomie responded “I’m here.” She finished “They’re gone.”

River grinned “And no dragon fart”.

“Same thing”, Loomie retorted.

Reilly hit the intercom. “Doc, take care of the captain”. Releasing the intercom Reilly turned back to River and exclaimed "Not bad! Not bad at all! Where did you learn to shoot like that?”

River smiled ruefully and replied “It’s what I was made to do”. Her smile faded as she stared into space and repeated “It’s what I was made to do”.

……………To Be Concluded.



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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?”