Tales from the Nordic Troll - #1: Fight Night (part 3)
Sunday, February 24, 2013

At the end of the day, it always come to this: If you can't do something smart, do something right.


The sun was just above the horizon as Reilly and Doc walked along the sidewalk toward the building where the local port authorities regulated traffic in and out of the port. Reilly had filled Doc in about the problems with the authorities and the “special fees”. Doc continued with “So how does he plan to get us let go? Forfeit the payment? Turn over the cargo?”

“He was non-specific about how it was going to happen”, Reilly responded.

Doc shook her head. “This is why I was against taking this job. I’ve heard stories about this place.”

"Stories are just stories until they actually happen”, Reilly replied levelly.

“Well, it looks like the stories are actually happening, doesn’t it?”

The conversation stopped as they noticed Gerrin coming toward them looking annoyed. “Well?” Reilly asked as they met.

Gerrin looked at them. “I thought you were back on the ship”.

Doc replied “We thought we might have to come bail you out. So what happened?”

Gerrin was clearly annoyed. “According to the local authorities, we owe them a materials-holding fee for the cargo we dropped, a docking fee for landing here, and a facility usage fee for parking on the pad we’re sitting on. By the time we’re through paying these krovopiyitsa, we’ll be lucky to afford a bite of food”.

As they turned and started back to the ship, Reilly mused “So obviously you’re ticked”.

“What makes you think that?” Gerrin growled.

“You swear in Russian when you’re ticked, and neither of us knows what a ‘krovo-whatever’ is”.

Gerrin snorted “Bloodsuckers are bloodsuckers, no matter what language you use”.

Reilly continued after a second. “Perhaps you’d like to reconsider my earlier suggestion”.

Gerrin looked at him “Maybe, but not likely”.

Doc butted in “What suggestion was that?”

Gerrin looked around, then answered, almost under his breath “Reilly wants to rob the bank and give the take to the locals”.

“Most of the take” Reilly corrected him.

Doc looked at Reilly. “Really? And how does that help us get out of here?”

“Confusion. They’ll be going in two directions at once. I already have a plan”.

Gerrin broke in “Your last plan almost got us caught. This time we might not be so lucky.”

Reilly sighed “All right, I made a couple of mistakes on Boros, but it still worked out. Here, I’ve already worked out most of the plan and found some people to help. I’d be in the bank, you’d be in the ship waiting to lift me off”.

Doc responded “You’re forgetting the part where we’re landlocked.”

Gerrin continued “And you would still need some kind of distraction to keep “law enforcement” off your back while you break in”.

Reilly was not deterred. “I’m working on that part as well”.

They stopped as Loomie approached. “We’re ready to go, captain”, she said. “All we gotta do is get the landlock lifted and we can be outta here”.

Gerrin nodded “Good. Now I think we’d better get whatever provisions we can afford while we still have the money. Anyone notice any kind of store around here on the way through town?”

Loomie turned and pointed. “There’s one about halfway back down the next street”.

“Good. We’ll get whatever food supplies we need and anything else we can afford, then we can work on getting out of here”.

“What about that part Aldous needs?”

“That will have to wait for later”, Gerrin answered. “Right now we may have to figure out how to break into port control and lift that land lock ourselves”.

They turned and walked back toward the ship. Gerrin, still disgruntled about their current situation, was mostly quiet while the others talked. They turned the street corner and walked along a wide street leading back toward the docks. Halfway down the street they came upon the store. “This is the one”, Loomie indicated.

“Let’s go check it out”, Gerrin said.

They entered a rustic-looking store with rows of shoulder-high shelves. “Get only what we really need”, Gerrin reminded the rest as the four of them spread out among the aisles.

Most of the aisles were half-stocked with food: some with fresh vegetables, some with canned goods, some with different household utensils and tools. Because funds were tight, the crew stayed to the food aisles. Doc had been carefully surveying the canned goods when she looked up. “There’re a few things here we’ll want to get”, she announced. “Since most of its canned it’ll last longer”.

"The fresh stuff tastes better”, a young voice answered from the back of the shop.

They all looked at a dark-haired boy of about twelve standing behind the counter. “Just keep ‘em cold as possible without freezing”, he continued.

Gerrin approached the counter. “You off the new ship at the docks?” the boy asked.

“That’s us”, Gerrin answered. “You the proprietor of this shop?”

“This is my mom’s store, I just work here”, the boy answered.

“I see”, Gerrin nodded. “Well, at the moment we’re working with a tight budget so we have to stick with food that can keep for awhile. Do you carry any protein packs or food bars?”

The boy thought for a second. “We got some stuff coming in tomorrow. I can check on the cortex and see what time”. He turned to the door behind the counter. “MOM!”

“What?” came a woman’s voice from behind the open door.

“I gotta check the cortex and you’ve got customers”.

“What are you checking it for, Lewis?” The voice was stern.

“I’m trying to find out when tomorrow’s delivery’s coming”.

“Alright”. After a few seconds a plainly dressed woman came through the door behind the counter. She had dark hair, pinned up, and sharp dark eyes. She looked to be in her mid-thirties, worn but strong. “Go check the cortex”, she said to Lewis. To Gerrin she said “What can I help you with tonight?”

“We’re looking for food that’s going to keep for awhile”, Gerrin replied. “What kind of canned meats and vegetables do you carry?”

The woman pointed to the right. “Second aisle, halfway back. Vegetables, third aisle toward the front. Not much here now. Whatever we get in doesn’t stay on the shelves long after people get paid”.

“Yeah, I’ve heard you don’t make much money working around here. Has it always been like this?”

She considered the question. “No, we used to have a pretty good life here. Then one by one the old government went away and these new people started showing up. They just started taking over everything”.

“And when did the fight nights start?”

“About a year ago. The local leaders started promoting it as a sporting event, just something to do at night, but that was after they took over everything. By the way, you are…?”

“Name’s Nick Gerrin, these are my crew”, Gerrin looked over his shoulder. “We’re from the Nordic Troll, just in here for supplies before we ship out tomorrow. And you?”

“Anna Howard”. She offered her hand. “I run this establishment. The young one’s my son Lewis”.

They shook hands. “Good to meet you”, Gerrin said. “So, the government here’s not the best?”

“They take care of their own. Problem is, there’s not too many here they think of as their own”.

“Hell of a place to bring up a kid”.

“Well, I didn’t have much choice. My husband and I came out here looking for a better life. Then things started going south and he decided to get in the ring. In the end it got him killed and I was left with Lewis and the store. So, you make do with what you got and hope it’s enough”.

The more Gerrin heard, the less he liked it. “That’s a lot to have to carry”.

Anna shrugged resignedly “It’s what we’ve got.”

About this time they were distracted an argument between Loomie and Reilly over what to buy. Gerrin, still annoyed, turned and barked “LOOdee, davAI! (People, let’s go!)”.

Loomie protested “What did I do?”

“Both of you. We still have work to do. Argue later”.

They both went back to the shelves. Gerrin turned back to Anna, who inquired “St. Ekaterina?”

Gerrin was impressed. “Good call. Born and raised. I guess you get a few of us in here?”

“A couple from town are from there. They speak Russian now and then, that’s how I know it when I hear it”.

“Funny. Most of us like to stay close to home. I often wish I was back”.

“Well, they’re trying to get back but…” Anna’s voice trailed off.

The rest of the crew came forward with their arms partially loaded. “This should keep us for awhile” Doc commented.

“Okay. I guess we’re ready.” Turning to Anna, he said “Well I hope everything works out for you.”

“Thanks. And you as well” she responded as they paid her and thanked her, said goodbye, and left for the ship. After they had been gone for a minute, Anna called out “Lewis?”

“Yes, mom?” came his reply.

“Are you still on the cortex?”


“Dig around and find out what you can about a ship called the Nordic Troll”.

“Okay, mom”

Halfway back to the ship, Gerrin sighed hard and said “All right, Jaime. Let’s hear your plan”.

“What plan?” Loomie asked.

Doc interrupted “I thought you rejected this idea”.

Gerrin shrugged. “I might change my mind. These Gos se Dwai (shit piles) are bullying everyone around them, including us. It’s time they tasted their own stew.” To Reilly he said “So, what’s the plan?”

“Let’s discuss it back on the ship”, Reilly suggested.

“Done”, Gerrin replied. They walked the rest of the way to the Troll in silence.

They found the passenger hatch to the ship locked when they got there. Gerrin opened the keypad box that would let them enter the ship and punched in the keycode. The hatch clicked open and Reilly pulled the hatch open. From somewhere inside the ship, they could barely hear music. As they cautiously entered the cargo bay Gerrin opened a weapons locker and pulled out a gun. “Weapons out, just in case”, he said in a low voice, and proceeded deeper into the ship. Reilly and Doc drew weapons and followed Gerrin, with Loomie between Reilly and Doc. They all moved slowly and quietly.

As they approached the door to the engine room, the music grew louder. As they reached the door, they could see Aldous inside. He seemed to be fighting an invisible enemy as the music played. Doc and Reilly tried to suppress laughter as they watched Aldous act out his one-man scene. Loomie had a look of Oh, no, not again on her face. Gerrin watched, one eyebrow raised, then said “Aldous”.

Aldous continued fighting his invisible enemy. Gerrin raised his voice. “Aldous!”

Still he continued.


Aldous jumped as he suddenly realized he wasn’t alone. “Oh, hey”, he started. “I was just – I didn’t know you all were there and –“

Gerrin cut him off. “Never mind. Crew meeting. Mess area. NOW.” He and the others turned to go, Doc and Reilly bursting out in laughter. Loomie just looked at Aldous. “What?” he demanded.

His sister looked embarrassed “You couldn’t at least close the door?!?”

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


Tuesday, July 22, 2014 9:09 PM


You have some crisp pacing here -- I like how you keep the action going while salting in tasty bits of character development.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 6:21 PM


Little quirks make characters more believable.


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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…