Tales From the Nordic Troll - #5: Sidetracked (part 1)
Tuesday, January 7, 2014

"So, what’s the job?” “Cargo run” Reilly answered. “He’s looking to transport something offworld, fast, no Alliance red tape”. Gerrin grew suspicious. “The ‘no red tape’ part makes me cautious”.


A cold steady rain fell from a slate-gray sky onto the wood and sandstone buildings that made up the town of Greenbrier on the planet Jiangyin. Puddles had formed on the usually dusty unpaved streets that divided the buildings. The few pedestrians moved quickly along the streets going about their business. Few paid any notice to the hooded vagrant in worn clothing standing outside the local saloon panhandling for money. Those that did dismissed him with remarks such as “try gettin’ a job” or “find a shelter” as they continued on their way. As the pedestrians passed him by, somewhere inside the vagrant’s clothes, a comlink beeped.

Nick Gerrin lifted the comlink to his face. “Go ahead”, He said into the link.

Aldous Gavigan, the mechanic who kept Gerrin’s ship, the Nordic Troll, flying, responded “It’s me. Just checking in to see what’s up”.

“No news is no news, Aldous”, Gerrin answered curtly. “Did you get the smell out of my ship?”

“We left the cargo bay door open until the rain started coming in, had the blowers going, we got rid of most of it”.

“Most of it?”

Aldous’s tone became defensive. “I did what I could, but sometimes you can’t just open a window and let the air blow it out. Next stop maybe we can bring in some washdown equipment or something and hose out the inside”.

“All right”, Gerrin sighed. “I’ll call you when I got some news”.

“Okay, cap’n. Oh, wait, Loomie wants to talk to you”.

“Okay, but make it quick”.

Loomie’s irritated voice came across the link. “Cap’n, I got some things missing out of my room”.

“What things?”

“Just some personal stuff, nothing fancy, but they’re mine and they’re gone”.

“You didn’t misplace them?”

“No!” Loomie protested. “Those things never leave my room! Someone came in and took them”.

Gerrin thought for a moment. “All right, check the rest of the ship and see if anything else is missing. And close up the ship, don’t let anyone in we don’t know. We may have had some locals sneaking on board”.

“Right, but how do I get my things-“

Gerrin switched off the comlink. He continued scanning the street, ignoring the chill that came with wearing cold wet clothes and the disparaging comments from the occasional passerby. Another half hour passed in the cold rain when Gerrin felt a tug on his arm and heard a raspy voice say “I got a cigarette if you got a few bits”.

Gerrin turned as he heard the pass-phrase. He stared: something about the hooded bum in front of him looked familiar. After a second he said “Reilly?”

Jamie Reilly answered in his normal voice “I had to improvise”.

Reilly, Gerrin’s right hand on the Troll, had changed his appearance: his normally reddish-blond hair was now black, and his face was several shades darker than his normal tone. “What’s with the disguise?” Gerrin asked.

Reilly’s eyes panned across the street as he answered “I pulled a couple of jobs here a few years back that made me some enemies”.

“That was years ago”.

“Some of them have long memories”.

Gerrin shrugged it off. “Fine, but what are you doing out here?”

“Right now I’m taking you into this bar. We can talk there”. Reilly turned toward the door.

They stepped through the door into a dimly lit smoke-filled room. There were several rough-wood tables between the door and the bar, with only a handful of customers at three of them. Gerrin and Reilly sat down at an empty table in the middle of the room, with one empty table between them and the other customers. They waited until the waitress came by, Gerrin flashed two pieces of Alliance script he’d been handed on the street, and she took their order. Once she was gone they got down to business.

“Okay” Gerrin began, “I know you didn’t get all dressed up like this just to come out and distract me from meeting with a contact, so what’s the deal?”

“I took over for the contact” Reilly replied.

“You took over for the contact?”

Reilly nodded.

“Why did you take over for the contact?”

“After I picked up the lead and passed it on to you, I followed him down the street where he met with another couple of locals. From what I could hear of their conversation, they planned on bringing some friends to jump us and grab the ship and whatever’s on it. So I caught up to him afterward and talked him out of it”.

Gerrin cocked an eyebrow. “Talked?”

Reilly smiled. “I can be very persuasive”.

Gerrin shrugged. “So I’ve seen. So, what’s the job?”

“Cargo run” Reilly answered. “He’s looking to transport something offworld, fast, no Alliance red tape”.

Gerrin grew suspicious. “The ‘no red tape’ part makes me cautious”.

“It’s nothing sinister, I’m sure, considering the rock we’re on - they probably just want to get somewhere fast”.

“I’m still curious about the ‘why’”. Gerrin paused as the waitress returned with their drinks. When she departed, he continued “And who’s the ‘he’?”

“His name’s Baresh” Reilly answered. “He fancies himself an ‘arranger’ – the guy you go to with needs no one else wants to touch”.

Gerrin took a sip of his drink. “And you’ve dealt with him before?”

“No, he came along after the war ended. But from what I hear around here, he’s solid. Charges a lot but always comes through”.

“And what’s our cut, assuming we take the job?”

“Twenty percent of the customers’ fees”.

“We’ll do it for thirty”.

“Tell it to Baresh, We’ve got an hour to contact him if we want the job”.

Gerrin finished his drink in one swallow. “Let’s go, then”.

“Okay”. Reilly pushed his chair back and stood up. “Pay the tab and we’ll go”.

Gerrin looked up at him. “You take me to a saloon and I have to pay the tab?”

Reilly shrugged. “I found you the job”.

"Dahng ran (Of course)" Gerrin commented sourly, pushing his chair back and digging into his pocket. Pulling out his two pieces of Alliance script he laid them on the table and stood up. “I wonder if I should feel sorry for your dates?”

“You don’t have to go” Reilly answered as he turned back at the door. “You could always stay here and look for more livestock to transport”.

“Hey” Gerrin rebuked as they left the bar. “We were paid well for that job”.

. . . . . . To Be Continued.



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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?”

Tales From the Nordic Troll - #8: Business as Usual (part 2)
He felt something that could have been an electro-mechanical door bolt just as he became aware of a growing hum beneath the deck plates: a ship’s engines starting up. Okay, Reilly thought, this could be a problem…