Tales From the Nordic Troll - #6: Baggage (part 2)
Thursday, June 26, 2014

Her eyes growing cold, the doctor advanced slowly on Gerrin. As she reached him, she suddenly drew back her right arm and struck him across his face. Gerrin took the blow, regained his composure, and sighed “Yeah, I knew that was coming”.


Snow was beginning to fall from the darkening gray sky as Nick Gerrin and Jamie Reilly walked into the central courtyard of the makeshift complex in the spaceport of Novrodina. From the second story of each of the buildings, a spotlight flashed to life and a voice boomed “Stop. Wait right there ‘till we come for you”.

Gerrin and Reilly stopped in the middle of the square. “Oh, yeah, this is going to go well”, Reilly murmured.

Bizui (shut it)”, Gerrin shot back quietly. They both looked back at the Nordic Troll, parked a kilometer behind them, and turned back toward the glaring lights, shielding their eyes and surveying the compound they stood in: at each inner corner of the square, a two-story adobe brick building, with a guard emplacement on the balcony, stood watch over the compound. Several large cargo containers walled off the spaces between the buildings forming a large square, with one side open to the rest of the dockyard. Waist-high concrete barriers blocked off part of the open side. Gerrin and Reilly returned their attention to the two buildings.

Shortly two silhouettes approached from the building to the left. Gerrin and Reilly waited calmly, studying the silhouettes carefully: both were dressed for the weather and carrying some sort of automatic weapon.

The two guards stopped ten feet in front of Gerrin and Reilly, guns lowered but ready. “You carrying weapons?” the man on the right asked firmly.

“Will we need them?” Gerrin shot back in reply.

The lead man showed no reaction. “Lock your hands behind your head”, he ordered, raising his weapon.

Reilly remarked sarcastically “Oh, I can feel the warmth happening now”, as he and Gerrin stepped back quickly and drew their own weapons. “We like our weapons where they are”, Gerrin responded.

The guard’s face was stone. “Turn over your weapons or turn around and walk away”.

Gerrin replied “Why all this insecurity? You have all the firepower”.

“Besides”, Reilly jumped in, “What if one of yours gets a twitch? We could wind up dead over a muscle spasm”.

“We don’t know you. You want to do business? You do it our way. No guns for you”.

“Holstering ‘em is as far as we’ll go”, Gerrin replied evenly.

“How ‘bout we won’t shoot if you don’t?” Reilly added.

The guard stared at them for a second. Turning to his partner, he said “Call the boss”.

The partner called the boss as the one doing the talking kept his rifle aimed between the two of them. The partner spoke quietly into the radio, nodded twice, and turned to the other guard. “Boss says turn them back”.

Gerrin argued “I thought you had something you wanted to get to Beaumonde”.

“You don’t play by our rules, you don’t play”.

Gerrin shrugged “I’m just trying to do some business”.

The guard raised his weapon and started “You had your chance to-“

He paused as a short wide cargo vehicle drove into the compound. One of the guards turned his weapon toward the approaching vehicle as the other kept his weapon trained between Gerrin and Reilly. “Yours?” the guard asked.

Gerrin shrugged “Not one of mine”.

As the guards and the two men from the Troll watched, the vehicle came to a stop behind Gerrin and Reilly and two men climbed from the vehicle, guns drawn. “You owe us money”, the driver proclaimed.

“We paid you”, the guard snorted.

“Not enough”.

“You got your take”.

The driver snapped “Our take was forty. Sorak. Not this piddly thirty-five”. He cocked his weapon.

The guards raised their guns. “You think this will get it for you?”

“One way or another”, the man retorted.

Suddenly a shot rang out from one of the balconies. Gerrin and Reilly dove for the ground as shots rang out from behind them and the guard who wanted to take their weapons fell. One intruder shot at Reilly, missing. Gerrin’s hands closed around the fallen guard’s rifle and he twisted, firing at the intruder shooting at Reilly. The intruder fell as Reilly fired on the guards on the balcony. As Reilly covered the balcony, Gerrin scuttled behind the fallen intruders’ vehicle. Firing over the vehicles roof toward the balcony, Gerrin shouted “Reilly!”

Reilly rose from his knees and started backing around the vehicle. Standing behind the vehicle bed, he balanced his weapon on the frame and continued firing toward the balcony as bullets pinged off the vehicle body. ”Think you can drive this thing?” he yelled at Gerrin.

“Drive it where?” Gerrin shot back.

“How ‘bout back the way we came?”

Gerrin ducked as a bullet zinged two inches from his elbow. “Don’t think we’d make it far”.

It was Reilly’s turn to duck as a bullet sparked on the roof of the truck by his right hand. “You’d rather stay here with this?”

After a pause Gerrin let forth and animal growl of frustration and shouted “Cover me!”, shuffling sideways toward the passenger’s door. Reilly continued firing on the balcony as Gerrin yanked open the passenger door and slid on his belly toward the steering column. One incoming bullet crashed into the driver’s side window, knocking a hole in it and sending shards of glass onto Gerrin’s back. Gerrin searched for the ignition switch, finding it on the dashboard. Pulling himself into the vehicle by his arms, he yelled “Get in!”

As Reilly climbed into the vehicle they both suddenly noticed that the guards on the balconies and whoever was behind the barriers were now shooting only at each other. “What do you think?” Reilly demanded. “Use it!” Gerrin shot back as he started the vehicle and turned the wheel, sending the accelerator pedal into the floorboard. The truck swerved sharply around and screeched toward the breech in the barrier wall, throwing snow in the air as they turned. Charging toward the opening, something caught Gerrin’s eye: the Troll’s cargo loader, sitting on the left side of the barriers. “Great”, he grumbled to himself. Slamming on the brakes, he slid the truck through the compacted snow to just beyond the edge of the opening, rapidly cranking down the window and yelling to his mechanic “I told you to stay on the ship!”

“You’re welcome”, Aldous Gavigan snapped back as he fired on the balconies. “You ready to go?”

“Who’s with you?”

“Me, Loomie and Anna”.

Ta ma de! (Dammit!) Get ‘em in the back of the truck and grab the loader! We’re leaving!”

“Leave the loader!” Reilly shot back, “Let’s just go!”

“Grab the loader!” Gerrin shouted.

Aldous whistled between his fingers and waved the two women toward the truck. Anna and Loomie moved hurriedly toward them, crouching as they moved along the barriers, breaking into a run as they neared the truck. As soon as they were on, Gerrin floored the accelerator and turned toward the ship, passing between Aldous and the loader and the firing guards. Aldous jumped on the loader, turned the ignition switch and accelerated toward the Troll behind Gerrin. Bullets PINGed sporadically off the vehicles as they zigzagged erratically toward the ship. Aldous punched the comm button on the dashboard of the loader. “Doc!” he barked. “You there?”

“I got you”, Doc’s voice came back.

“Drop the door, quick! We’re coming in hot!”

“I’m on it!” Doc replied.

Both vehicles continued speeding toward the Troll’s cargo bay door as the door began to drop toward them. Aldous braced himself and prayed as the ship grew closer. Finally, the edge of the door clanked to the ground just as the captain and his commandeered vehicle reached the edge of the door. The truck bounced up the ramp and screeched to a halt well inside the cargo bay. Aldous skidded the loader to a stop behind the truck as the door began to close. As the door clanged shut, Gerrin climbed out of the stolen truck. “Everyone all right?”

Aldous, Reilly and Anna answered “Shi (Yeah)”.

Loomie didn’t answer. They looked at her. “Loomie?”

Loomie, dazed and pale, looked down at where her hand was covering her stomach. Moving her hand, she stared at a hole in her stomach where her hand had been and at the blood on her hand. “Ow”, she groaned blankly as she sank to the floor of the truck bed.

Loomie!” Aldous gasped in horror, climbing into the vehicle bed. “Nononononono”.

Doc grabbed for her, holding her head and shoulders off the bed of the truck. “Loomie, stay with me” she commanded.

Gerrin leaned over the side of the truck. “How bad?”

“Bad enough”.

“Can you fix her?” Aldous blurted in a near-panic.

“I can stop the bleeding for now, but someone’ gonna have to go in and get that bullet out”, Doc answered.

Gerrin thought furiously for several seconds. “All right”, he concluded, “Get the bleeding stopped and we’ll take her to Bryansk”.

“Why Bryansk?”

“I know where the hospital is there and I want to get her away from this mess”.

“Bryansk is thirty miles. She might not make it”, Doc protested.

“She won’t if you just stand here finjing”, Gerrin barked. “Now move”.

Grunting in frustration, Doc turned to the rest of the crew. “Anna, Jamie, Lewis, get to med bay and get the fold-up stretcher out of the floor cabinet by the door. Bandages are in the second drawer from the outside bulkhead, forward. Blankets are in the cabinet by the door. Move!”

As the rest of the crew scrambled to tend to Loomie, Gerrin darted to the cockpit and fired up the Troll’s engines. Once the engines were up to speed, he pulled back on the controls and the ship lurched into the air, turning westward toward Bryansk.

Twelve minutes later the Troll touched down, somewhat roughly, on the pad in Bryansk. Doc had taped a compression bandage over Loomie’s stomach wound and the crew had lifted her into the stretcher and onto the truck. Gerrin backed the truck out of the cargo bay and he and Doc bullied their way past the security guards controlling the gate to the pad.

Five minutes later the truck screeched to a halt in front of the Emergency Room. Gerrin and Doc carried the stretcher bearing Loomie through the entrance and into the sterile gray reception area as Aldous ran alongside. “We got a gunshot victim here, she needs help right away”, Doc announced.

The severe-looking attendant looked up from her desk. “What’s going on, here?”

Gerrin looked at Aldous and jerked his head. Aldous stepped forward and pulled the blanket off Loomie. “What’s going on here is a gunshot victim with a hole in her gut and she needs a doctor”, Gerrin answered sarcastically. “Now, go get one”.

“Ident card?” the attendant asked.

Whah? Why do you need an ident card now?" Gerrin asked.

“It’s necessary for insurance and accountability purposes” the attendant responded sternly.

Gerrin looked at Aldous, who shook his head.

“Okay, we can’t process her without some kind of identification and insurance waver or retainer or something”.

“We’re paying out of pocket”, Gerrin answered archly, reaching into his pocket and slamming the master key to the cargo door on the counter. “There’s my ship. You can use it as collateral, if you want. Now, can we get her cared for before her grandchildren die of old age?”

The attendant threw him a dirty look and reached for a button on her desk.

As the attendant called over the intercom for the duty physician, Gerrin and Doc carried the stretcher to a worn oversized waiting room couch lowered it to rest on the arms. Aldous pulled Gerrin aside as Doc stood beside Loomie’s stretcher. “You sure this is okay?” he asked in a low voice. “You’re not exactly gonna be popular if anybody recognizes you”.

“Don’t worry”, Gerrin assured him. “This’ll be fine”.

The doctor on duty emerged from the double doors beside the admittance desk. Gerrin’s eyes shifted toward the doctor, widening in recognition. “Oh, da tui shto (you gotta be kidding me)”, he groaned. “She should’ve been gone by now”.

Aldous looked at him. “Who?”

As the attendant gestured toward them, the doctor turned and started their way, freezing as her eyes widened in the same recognition.

“Hello, Nadia”, Gerrin said quietly.

Her eyes growing cold, the doctor advanced slowly on Gerrin. As she reached him, she suddenly drew back her right arm and struck him across his face. Gerrin took the blow, regained his composure, and sighed “Yeah, I knew that was coming”.

“What the hell‘s going on here?” Aldous demanded.

Gerrin looked at him with a pained expression on his face. “This is Nadia”. He paused a beat before adding “My wife”.

“Ex!” Nadia snapped.

Ex? Wife?” Aldous blurted incredulously. “Oh, juh jen sh guh kwai luh duh jean jan...(Oh, this is a happy development...)”

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


Friday, June 27, 2014 12:15 PM


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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?”