Tales From the Nordic Troll - #6: Baggage (part 6).
Friday, October 24, 2014

Turning to Gerrin Nadia announced gravely “I gotta get you out of here. Someone in the hospital tagged you”.


A blast of cold air rushed through the lobby as Gerrin, Anna and Lewis walked through the main doors to the hospital. Reilly rose from his chair as they approached. “Your ex-wife is checking her right now”, he said, glancing toward the door to the recovery area.

“Good”, Gerrin nodded. Looking around, he continued “Where’s Aldous?”

“In there with them. He hasn’t come out of that room since you left”.

“Okay, I’ll go see what I can find out”. Gerrin started toward the recovery area.

“What about us?” Lewis asked.

“You’ll know when I know”, Gerrin promised.

Gerrin walked through the crowded recovery area to a room in the rear corner. Pushing the door open gently he saw Nadia examining Loomie as she remained unconscious. She looked up as the door closed. “How’s she doing?” Gerrin asked.

“Everything looks good so far”, Nadia answered. “It’s just up to her when she wants to wake up”.

Gerrin looked over to where Aldous was asleep in a chair in the corner. “What about him?”

“He fell asleep about an hour ago”, she continued. “He wasn’t bothering anyone so no point in moving him”. Noticing Gerrin’s drooping lids and glassy eyes, she commented “You look kind of beat yourself. You want to sit down?”

“It’s been a busy couple of days”, Gerrin answered tiredly. “I have to go give my crew a heads-up”.

“They're outside?”

Gerrin nodded.

Nadia gently pushed him into a chair. “Rest for a couple of minutes. I’ll tell them”. She turned to leave.

“I’ll just-“ Gerrin started as he tried to push himself out of the chair. As the fatigue of the last two days hit him, he sank back into the chair “-sit here for a couple of minutes. Thanks”.

Nadia smiled slightly. “No problem”, she said as she pulled the door shut behind her.

Gerrin eased his head back and stared at the ceiling through vaguely unfocused eyes. Within two minutes he was asleep.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Loomie sat behind the controls in the cockpit staring out at the surrounding stars as Aldous reached the top of the ladder and entered. “That was pretty all right”, he grinned.

Loomie continued to focus on piloting the ship. “Not that different from what we came from, is it?”

“You haven’t seen the engine room”, Aldous snorted. After a moment he continued “Still, wouldn’t be a half-bad place to work”.

“Well, that’s good to know”, the captain’s voice sounded from behind him.

Aldous jumped at his voice. “I’m just sayin’-”, he began.

The captain waved him off. “Nothing I haven’t heard before, let it go”. Changing the subject, he continued “That was a nice piece of work back there. Lang said he didn’t even feel us lift off”.

Loomie shrugged “You just kinda get a feel for them, how they like to be handled and so forth”.

“Hmmmm”. The captain looked from one to the other. “You think you two would like to do this for awhile longer?”

Loomie and Aldous looked at each other, eyes widening slightly. “How long we talkin’ about?” Aldous finally asked.

“As long as you like. Until you find a better deal or we do”.

“Sure”, the siblings said in unison.

“Fine”, their new boss nodded. “Take us to Lazarus. We got cargo to transport and might be taking on a couple new crewmen”. As he turned to go, Aldous stopped him with “One thing, though”.

The captain turned. “What?”

Aldous fumbled with how to say it. “What do we call you?”

“The name’s Gerrin. Nick Gerrin. Or ‘captain’, whichever’s easiest”. Turning for the ladder he added. “Dinner’s in an hour. Just food packs tonight, so no need to dress”.

As they watched him go, Loomie commented “I think we’re gonna like it here”.

Aldous looked at his sister, noticing the way she stared after their new captain. “Don’t get any ideas”, he warned her. “We don’t know him that well”.

“Well, it’s been good so far”, she added. That’s what she had thought the first time…wait, that was two years ago…why’s everything so fuzzy………


………Loomie’s eyes opened slowly. The room she was in was a blur. She blinked to clear her eyes. As her senses focused she recognized the sterile white walls and spare furnishings of a hospital room. Looking to her side she saw her captain, Nick Gerrin, asleep in a chair by her bed, head back and snoring lightly. In the far corner she noticed Aldous, sprawled out in a second chair. She smiled as she reached out to squeeze Gerrin’s hand. Gerrin stirred, inhaling sharply. Looking around, he saw that his pilot was finally awake. “Hey, flygirl”, he smiled.

“Hey cap’n”, she murmured, smiling back.

“I was wondering if you were going to sleep in all day”, he continued, rising from his chair.

“You all stayed around for me?”

“Well”, Gerrin shrugged, “I kind of needed my pilot back”. Looking toward the door he continued “I got a feeling the others don’t care too much for my flying”.

Loomie observed him appraisingly. “Well, you are a little rough on the stick”.

“I’m getting better” Gerrin rebuked.

“Like a drunk bird”, Aldous, now awake, piped in.

Loomie smiled at Aldous as her brother stood and moved beside her captain. “How you feeling?” Aldous inquired.

“Kinda out of it, but I think I’m okay”, she murmured.

“That’s good”, her brother grinned at her.

“Ready to go back to work?” Gerrin asked, still holding her hand.

“Talk to the Doc”, she replied.

Nadia entered the room at that moment. “Good morning”, she greeted Loomie, “it’s good to see you awake”. Approaching the bed she asked “How are you feeling?”

“A little weak, and it hurts a little”, Loomie replied.

Nadia nodded “That’s a good sign”. Checking her eyes and pulse, Nadia added “You know, you may get to go back to your ship a little sooner than planned”.

Gerrin looked at her. “How’s that?”

Turning to Gerrin Nadia announced gravely “I gotta get you out of here. Someone in the hospital tagged you”.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

It was late afternoon as the ambulance moved steadily along the snow-covered road between Bryansk and Novrodina. Aldous drove while Nadia sat in the passenger’s seat. Loomie rode on a stretcher in the back while Gerrin sat beside her. Reilly had taken Anna and Lewis back to the ship in the cargo truck.

“Is this going to cause trouble for you?” Gerrin suddenly asked, leaning forward between the seats.

“Nah”, Nadia dismissed it. “We’re – what’s the word they use out there? ‘Shiny’. I’ll just write it up as some bigshot’s kid got hurt and I fixed him up. No one will ask any questions”.

“What about the ambulance?”

“Signed out as ‘official courtesy’. People will read that as ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’.

“Thanks. I really owe you big-time for this, Nadia”.

Nadia chuckled at that. She paused before saying “You always did take care of people, but not like this”.

Gerrin dismissed her remark with “She’s crew”.

“Right”. Nadia turned to look at him. “You have changed a bit”.

Gerrin raised an eyebrow. “You mean I’m not a monster any more?” he asked sardonically.

Nadia snorted “I never really believed you were”.

“Yeah”, Gerrin huffed, rubbing his jaw. “I could tell that by that greeting you gave me when I got here”.

“That was a cheap shot on my part”, she admitted. “I’m sorry, but I was angry: you honked someone off pretty bad back then, and some of the fallout fell on me”.

Gerrin looked at her quizzically.

“After your trial I was pretty much locked in here. No promotions, no one would hire me, I only held on to my position here because Andrei stood up for me”.

Gerrin shook his head “I still can’t see you with Andrei Koshkin”.

“He’s not that bad” Nadia scoffed. “He’s not you, but…” the sentence trailed off.

After a minute Gerrin commented “So, that’s it for you and me, then?”

She turned toward him. “I’m re-married, Nikoali. Granted, it all happened under false pretenses, but it’s done, and I’m happy. I’ll always care for you, that’ll never change, but we both have to get on with our lives. I have mine, and...” she looked at Loomie “you have yours, or at least you could”.

“We’ll talk about that”, Aldous broke in firmly.

Gerrin turned to Aldous, then back to her. “Why is everybody so on about me and my pilot?”

“Not everybody”, Aldous reminded him. “At least not yet”.

They both looked at him before Nadia continued “I know you, Nikolai, and so does your crew”. She paused for a moment. “By the way, why ‘Nick Gerrin’?”

“They couldn’t pronounce ‘Turgenyev’ in prison. Besides, no one from the old days would connect the two”.


“How’d you know about that, anyway?” Gerrin asked. “I never mentioned it”.

Aldous broke in “She and Reilly were talking during your last bathroom break”.

“We talked about a lot of things during your bathroom breaks”, Nadia admitted. Suddenly she broke into a grin. “By the way, do you have a capture of you in that dress?”

Aldous burst out laughing as Gerrin shot back “That was an improvised plan with limited resources. Besides, it worked, that’s what counts”.

“Right”, Nadia smirked. The next few minutes passed in near-silence.

As they approached the landing field Aldous turned the ambulance into the fenced area where the ships were parked. As the guard emerged from the shack, she flashed her hospital ident card at him and said “Got a patient going back to her ship. Ambulatory”.

Satisfied, the guard waved her through.

Aldous pulled the ambulance up to the Troll’s cargo bay door. Pulling out his comlink he announced “Doc? You in there? We got Loomie”.

The passenger door opened and Doc, Anna, Park and Wilkins stepped out. “We got it”, Doc announced as Aldous stepped to the rear of the ambulance and opened the door. Grasping the end of the stretcher bearing Loomie, Doc pulled the end out as Gerrin stepped out holding the other end. Park stepped up beside him and announced “I can take that for you, captain”.

Gerrin looked at him for a second before turning the handles over to him. “Be careful”, he advised.

“Hey, I’m good” Loomie said from the stretcher.

Gerrin stared at her. “I thought you were asleep”.

Loomie met his gaze. “Well, everyone keeps talking”.

Gerrin started for the door behind his crew as Nadia pulled him back. “Your best bet would be to get out of here now as quiet as you can. You don’t know how much time you have”.

“Don’t worry”, he assured her, “We’ve been in tighter scrapes”.

“No doubt, but be that as it may…” Nadia paused before continuing “you might want to think about trying to clear your name. Seriously. And think about letting your crew in on your life sometimes”.

“This is in reference to Loomie again, isn’t it?”

“Nikolai”, Nadia looked at him firmly, “Life can go sour on you without any warning at all, you’ve seen that, so why not take a chance on being happy, at least for awhile, while you can?”

Gerrin looked toward his ship. “I’ll think about it”, he answered shortly.

“Stop thinking and start doing”.

“We’ll see”. Gerrin stuck out his hand. “Tovarischi (Friends)?”

Nadia pulled him forward and put her arm around his shoulders. “Bolshe (More)”.

She held him for several seconds before releasing him. Gerrin stood back and said softly “Das vidanya”.

Das korova”, Nadia replied.

Gerrin turned to his ship and approached the passenger door. Turning the handle he looked back at Nadia one last time. She smiled and waved. Gerrin waved back, turned, and stepped through the open door, pulling it shut behind him. In the cargo bay his entire crew had gathered around his recovering pilot. Gerrin reluctantly broke up the reunion. “All right, she needs her rest. How about getting her up to med bay while I get us out of here?”

Lewis answered. “And try to do it softer than you got us here?”

Gerrin shot him a sideways look and turned to Aldous “Just get us ready to fly”.

Reilly remarked sarcastically “Yes, let’s take our fairy tale ship and get out of here”.

Loomie looked at Reilly. “What are you talking about?”

Aldous jumped in “Yeah, the Nordic Troll’s named after a fairy tale. Did you know that?”

Loomie turned her head toward her brother. “Yeah. So?”

“’Yeah’? ‘So’? You don’t mind?”

Loomie huffed “What’s to mind? A bunch of villagers and a big forest troll team up to fight off a bunch of bad soldiers picking on them both and watch each other’s backs? What’s wrong with that?”

The rest of the crew exchanged glances. “Well, maybe that’s not so bad”, Aldous surmised.

“All right let’s just get out of here”, Gerrin repeated. Turning to his visitors, he said “Well, Park, Wilkins, I guess this is goodbye again”. He held out his hand.

Looking at Gerrin’s hand, Park offered “Actually, captain, Wilkins and I were talking about that. We don’t have anything keeping us here, and no prospects for work, so we were kind of hoping you might need a couple of extra crewmen for now”.

“Yeah, captain”, Wilkins joined in. “Things are kinda lean here right now, so we thought maybe if you’re willing we could give it a try and see what happens”.

Gerrin eyed them for a few seconds. “You guys realize things get a little lean around here most of the time? And there’s no guarantee it’ll get better”.

Park and Wilkins looked at each other. “Nothing we’re not used to now”, Wilkins answered.

“Come on, cap’n”, Loomie chimed in. “You know they’re good”.

“Somebody get her to bed”, Gerrin commanded. Turning to his two prospective crewmen, he examined them both for several seconds before exhaling sharply. “Welcome aboard, and God help you. Stow your stuff in the lounge for now and we’ll get you set up with quarters after we leave atmo”.

“Aye, sir”, they both grinned, grabbing their backpacks and starting for the ladder.

Reilly stepped up to Gerrin and said in a low voice “More baggage? We can barely feed what we’ve got as is”.

Gerrin looked after his new crewmen. “We’ve had it worse and managed, and they’ve proven they can handle trouble”.

“And do they know the cause of that last trouble is still on this ship?” Reilly asked pointedly.

Gerrin considered Reilly’s statement thoughtfully. “Well, what they don’t know won’t hurt them, at least for now”. Starting for the ladder he finished with “Let’s get going”.

Outside the fenced-in landing area Nadia sat in the warm running ambulance and watched anxiously for several minutes as the Nordic Troll eventually came to life and lurched into the air. She smiled as she remembered Nikolai’s crew’s critique of his piloting skills. Continuing to watch as the ship disappeared into the waning light, she couldn’t shake the feeling she’d not seen the last of her former husband.



……….The End (for now)…



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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?”