Tales From the Nordic Troll - #8: Business as Usual (part 3)
Tuesday, December 1, 2015

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?”


“This must be the place”.

Gerrin, Aldous, Wilkins and Park strode slowly down the dimly lit corridor, their footsteps reverberating through the empty passageway, toward the two armed guards standing in front of a large imposing red metal door with what looked like two overly-bright streetlamps, one on either side. Both guards shifted their eyes toward the approaching intruders.

Gerrin sized them up as he and his crew continued toward the door. ”Weapons ready”, he murmured to his crew.

Aldous, Wilkins and Park grunted in acknowledgement.

The four of them stopped in front of the door and faced the guards. Gerrin announced “I need to speak with your boss”.

The second guard raised his weapon slightly. “You need to get your ass back down that passageway and out of our sight”, he growled.

Wilkins, Park and Aldous had their weapons up and ready with lightning speed. “Not gonna happen”, Gerrin continued. “Now, do we do this nice, or do we do it messy?”

The two guards and four Troll crewmen stood there with their weapons pointed at each other for what seemed like minutes. After what was probably only a few seconds, one of the guards sneered “I’ll see if he’s available”. He maneuvered sideways, feeling for a door latch. Finding it, he opened the door and backed through, closing the door in front of him.

The Troll crew waited with the remaining guard, weapons still at the ready, for what seemed like an hour. Two painfully long minutes later the door opened again and the guard stepped through. “You might need to get lost before our guys get here”, he drawled smugly.

Gerrin sighed, feigned a shrug, and turned to go. Suddenly, he and the rest of his crew lunged at the guards, knocking their weapons aside and pinning them against the wall before they could get off a single shot. “Wrong answer”, Gerrin growled as he snatched the rifle from one guard as Wilkins disarmed the other. Pulling his guard forward and twirling him around, Gerrin gestured “After you”.

The guard threw him a sideways glare as he reached down and turned the handle to the door. Gerrin and the rest followed as the guard stepped through the door into a short corridor of sorts, emerging several steps later into a room that appeared to be half office, half armory: horizontal gun racks lined the walls on either side of a desk sitting at the far side of the room. Two floor lamps stood in the near corners, while two lamps similar to the two illuminating the outside door hung on the wall behind the desk.

Aldous and Park stopped at the entrance to the room, gesturing to the two guards to continue. Gerrin came to a stop in front of the desk with Wilkins at his side. Wilkins covered the two guards retreating behind the desk while Gerrin examined the occupant, a thinnish man wearing an old-style cowboy hat, a brown undershirt with the sleeves removed, and a gold chain around his neck: this had to be “Jacko”. As Jacko reached into a box on the desk, Gerrin cocked his pistol at the man and stated firmly “No”.

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?”

“Well, I’m nurturing a rebellious nature”, Gerrin offered coldly. After a pause he continued “You have one of my men”.

“Nothin’ o’ yours here”, Jacko smirked dismissively as puffed on the cigar.

“Red-haired troublemaker named Jamie Reilly”.

Jacko snorted in amusement. “Not yours. Not anymore”.

“Now, that attitude’s not going to get us anywhere”, Wilkins chided.

Gerrin turned to look at Wilkins, then returned his attention to Jacko. “She’s got a point, you know?”

“Thank you”, Wilkins added.

Gerrin nodded. “Sure”.

Jacko huffed “I got men on the way”.

“We got you”.

“That supposed to scare me?”

Gerrin’s brow furrowed. “No”, he concluded, “You don’t look bright enough to be scared”.

Jacko grinned maliciously. “That one’s gonna cost you more”.

Suddenly the door burst open and four of the guards Jacko had bragged about poured through. Park and Aldous, just out of sight from the corridor, raised their weapons. As the guards reached the office, The Troll men rammed the butts of their weapons into the faces of the two forward guards, knocking them backward into the two following guards. All four fell backwards as Gerrin’s men swung their rifles around. The four men scrambled back to their feet, staring down the muzzles of two rifles. Unused to armed opponents who fought back, the men looked at their boss, who gestured for them to keep their weapons down. All four men lowered their weapons. Gerrin, his weapon still trained on Jacko, turned to look at his people, then turned back to Jacko and remarked “Yeah, that worked out real well for you, didn’t it?”

Jacko’s eyes shifted slowly from Gerrin to his men to Gerrin’s crew. Seeing no victory present, he returned his attention to Gerrin. “Well, you’re either very brave or very dumb”, he concluded.

“Yeah, life’s funny that way”, Gerrin remarked. “So, where’s my man?”

Jacko shifted his gaze from Gerrin to his crew to his own men standing disarmed. “Gone”, he finally conceded.


“Off the station. Some high-roller off Paquin had a standin’ bounty on his head. We got lucky”.

Gerrin shook his head. “Not so much”.

Jacko stared at Gerrin for several seconds. “Go get your man if you want”, he finally shrugged. “By the way, it might not be a good idea to show your face around here again”.

Gerrin motioned for his crew to withdraw. “Nah, too slow and sleepy around here for my tastes”. He started backing out slowly himself, adding “By the way, you might want to wait a few minutes before you set foot out this door”, as he produced what looked like a small grenade from his pocket. Stepping through the door and pulling the handle, he threw in “Tsay-jian”, pulling the door shut behind him.

* - - * - - *

Reilly probed carefully around what felt like the door lock. He’d managed to free his hands from the binders, but because of the total darkness he’d had a hard time of picking the lock. Stopping for a few moments, he contemplated who could be behind this snatch-and-grab operation. Who could want me that bad, he thought. Can’t be Gianotti – he went down in a turf war a few months back. Maclen? No, the Alliance pinched him for drug-running last year. Couldn’t be Chang: he was running too close to the badlands and got eaten by Reavers. Well, all this analysis ain’t helping . . . so back at it, he thought as he returned his attention to the lock.

* - - * - - *

“Where’d they go?” Gerrin demanded.

Gerrin, Anna, Doc and Lewis stood in front of the Troll’s cargo bay door, waiting for Park and Wilkins. The two newest members of the crew had excused themselves from Gerrin and Aldous at the entrance to the elevator, claiming they had to pick something up and it wouldn’t take but a few minutes. Now, fifteen minutes later, Gerrin stood impatiently waiting for their return.

“Aldous said they said they’d be back as soon as they were done”.

“They’d better do it fast, we’re about to button up and leave”. Gerrin reached for the intercom handset and announced “Loomie?”

“Aye, cap’n”.

“Call me when Port Control’s ready to detach us”.

“That’ll be about another ten minutes”.

. They waited five more minutes before Wilkins and Park came clamoring up the cargo bay ramp carrying several small brown packages. “Where’d you two disappear to?” Gerrin demanded irritably.

“We had to get some food”, Park offered as an explanation.

“What kind of food?” Gerrin stopped and sniffed suspiciously. “And what’s that smell?”

Wilkins grinned “We found a place selling meat”.

“What kind of meat?” Doc frowned.

“Not sure”, Park confessed, “but whatever it is, Wilkins tried it before we bought it. Seems okay”.

Anna wrinkled her nose. “Do you even know what kind of meat that is? Could be rat”.

Park and Wilkins hesitated at that. “Well”, Wilkins finally surmised, “whatever it is, tastes fine”.

“Yeah, it’s fine until little bugs start eating your guts”, Gerrin responded skeptically.

“Come on, cap’n, we haven’t had anything but protein packs for days”, Lewis protested.

Anna shot back “And until we know what that is, we’ll stick to those protein packs”.

“Let me see it”. Doc stepped forward and took one of the small packages from Wilkins. Opening it, she took a cautions sniff. Pulling at the brown meat protruding from the bread roll, she placed a morsel in her mouth and chewed slowly. After a couple of seconds, she shrugged and bit into the rolled meat.

The rest watched as Doc continued to consume the roll. “Fine”, Gerrin grumped skeptically. “Shiny. If that stuff doesn’t kill Doc in the next few minutes, take some to Loomie and Aldous”. Gerrin snatched one of the small packages from Park and stepped to the intercom. Picking up the handset he announced “Aldous, Loomie, we got ‘em. Get us ready to fly”.

* - - * - - *

As the Troll detached from and departed from Driftrock Station heading for Paquin, Reilly, still a prisoner on the unknown ship, continued to listen as he worked toward springing the lock to his dark compartment. As time rolled by he noticed he had begun to feel heavier, accompanied by the hushed roar of atmo thrusters. Obviously they were almost to wherever they were going.

Several minutes later he felt the gentle thump of the ship’s landing gear contacting ground. Reilly listened as the engines wound down. Shortly thereafter he heard the metallic clank of the door’s bolt being opened. The door swung open. Reilly squinted at the sudden change in light. Two captors grabbed him by the arms while a third one pulled a dark bag of some kind over his head. “What, no foreplay?” Reilly quipped. “This ain’t really my thing, ya-know?”

One of the captors cuffed him on the back of the head. Reilly felt himself being pulled forward. He started moving his feet to stay upright. Concentrating on the change in terrain, he counted the number of steps as they travelled through a short passageway, down a ramp, across open ground, and up a short flight of steps. Down another short passage and they stopped.

Reilly squinted as the bag was ripped off his head. Gradually his eyes became accustomed to the light. His body stiffened as he recognized the smirking face in front of him – the shoulder-length hair (thinner than it once was, and balding on top), the hawkish nose, and the cold steel-blue eyes.

“Well, well, well”, Reilly mused slowly and stonily. “How you doin’, Reznor?”


……….To Be Continued…



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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?”