Tales From the Nordic Troll - #1: Fight Night (part 4)
Sunday, February 24, 2013

The board is set, the pieces are ready to move...


The mess area was an open compartment with hinged shelves attached to the walls that served as tables. Most of the crew sat on stool seats that pivoted down from the tables. Gerrin stood at the front of the compartment. “So”, Gerrin said, “That’s the plan: I’ll go in the ring and keep their attention, Doc will go with me to make sure I stay alive. Aldous will go lift the landlock. As soon as he’s done, he’ll head back to the ship. Jaime and his crew will break into the bank and empty the boxes that belong to the Alliance. The locals won’t want to admit to a robbery, so they’ll try to cover the loss with their own money and keep it under the rug. Once we’re done, Loomie and Aldous will lift us all out in the Troll, then we’ll fly once around the planet under the radar and come back here to the contact point and drop off the town’s share. Any questions?”

Loomie was first. “Why do you have to go in the ring? We can find other ways of keeping them busy”.

Reilly answered “Because he’s going to be fighting for the money to pay for the landing fees. Also, he’s an outsider. Locals always like to see an outsider get beat up”.

Loomie protested “But that’s it. These guys do this all the time. We just move cargo. And-” She hesitated. “No offense- but these guys are a little younger and stronger than you”.

Doc spoke next “I have to agree with Loomie. This is potentially dangerous”.

“Hey”, Aldous joined in. “Nick’s just going in the ring. What’s gonna happen when these guys catch me breaking into their secure building and tampering with a landlock?”

“Maybe you’d rather go in his place and act out a movie for them?” Loomie retorted.

“Now wait a minute, everybody’s got hobbies they don’t talk about”, Aldous protested. “You didn’t complain about the still, did you?”

Gerrin put a stop to it. “Alright. We’re all agreed that this is dangerous. But this plan is sound, and I’m not exactly hobbling in there on a cane. As long as we stick to it, this will work.” Somehow he didn’t quite sound convinced.

Doc mused “Okay, so let’s assume everything goes as planned. How will they know when to pick all of us up?”

Reilly answered “The port control building is just across the landing area, so Aldous can hightail it back here as soon as he’s done, then he and Loomie can come pick the rest of us up. You, Aldous and I will have transmitters on us. Just key the transmitter as soon as you’re ready and they’ll come in with the ship and pick us up.”

Loomie frowned “I still don’t like it”.

Gerrin concluded “Well, you have until tomorrow to come up with something better. Now it’s late, I’m tired, and I’m going to bed.” Gerrin turned and left the mess compartment for his bunk.

Gerrin and Reilly met with the leader of Reilly’s recruited men the next morning during a work break. The meeting lasted ten minutes. Gerrin filled the man in, then wrapped it up, saying “Just remember, stick to the plan: go in, empty the boxes that belong to the Alliance, get out. Anything goes wrong, Reilly’s in charge here. Follow his lead.”

The leader of the hired group, a man named Simmons, demanded “What guarantee do we have that you’ll stick to your side of it?”

“Reilly’s going in with you”, Gerrin answered him. “That’s you guarantee. If you want, you can fly with us to the rendezvous point later”.

Simmons eyed him. “That’s all right. Just be there when we’re ready to pull out. We’ll see you then. Don’t be late.”

Reilly stayed with the hired crew while Gerrin headed back to the ship. Aldous and Loomie were waiting in the cargo bay when he arrived. “So, are we ready?” Aldous asked.

Gerrin nodded. “Reilly and his team are waiting at port control. Get whatever you need and get ready to-“ the *click* of a bolt being pulled back interrupted him. Gerrin growled “TA-ma-de (dammit), what now?”, and they all turned to see Anna Howard pointing a gun at Gerrin.

Anna’s voice was harsh. “You should learn to cover your tracks better, Major Turgenyev!” Moving cautiously closer, she continued “Now I have to wonder, what is The Butcher of Lotus Ridge doing in a place like this? Did you make some kind of deal with the local barons? Take out the troublemakers, maybe?”

“Anna, this is not what you think”, Loomie broke in.

“You have jumped to all the wrong conclusions, Anna. We’re not your enemies”, Gerrin countered evenly, moving slowly toward Anna.

TSWAY niou! (bullshit!). I had Lewis do some checking, it wasn’t hard. You massacred six hundred people with no way of fighting back! Not this time, hwun DAN (you bastard)!”

“You believe everything the Alliance tells you?” Gerrin kept his voice neutral. “They also said I’m dead. Died in prison, right?”

For a second doubt flashed across Anna’s face. By now Gerrin was within arm’s reach. He lashed out, grabbed the gun in Anna’s hand and twisted it backward, tearing it out of her hand. Anna froze in shock, expecting to die, but Gerrin disassembled the gun in one move and continued after a pause. “Our intelligence screwed up. They said Lotus Ridge was a guerilla outpost”. Gerrin looked old and somber as he spoke: the memory clearly bothered him. “We didn’t find out until after we blew the place to hell that it was all women and children. Imagine what that’s like: going in thinking you just took out an enemy stronghold, and when you get inside, you find nothing but unarmed civilians, all dead because of you.” The pain in his voice turned to scorn. “And instead of admitting they blew it, my own chain of command called it a massacre and pinned it on me. Innocent people died and I wound up in prison for six years because those wahg-ba DAN duh biao-tze (whores of sonsofbitches) put me through the engine for their screwup. Always good to know who you can trust, isn’t it?”

Anna stared at him for a second. “You’re telling me that you attacked a shelter because your generals said it was a fortress, then blamed you for the outcome?”

Gerrin reised his hands in a shrug. “Welcome to the Alliance.”

Anna was still very suspicious at this point “But…why do that? Why blame you and not just admit it was a mistake?”

“Politics. If they admitted a mistake like this, it would have given the independents something to rally behind. But if they pin it on one of their own and take him down, they look more honorable.”

Anna stared at him skeptically for a second. “How do I know you’re telling the truth?”

“You said at our last meeting that things here went south when a bunch of self-serving bureaucrats took over. You think this is the only place in the ‘verse that has that problem?”

“Can you prove any of this?”

“You’re still alive, aren’t you? Would a butcher leave you alive?” Gerrin turned to Aldous. “Get whatever you need, get Doc and let’s get going.” Turning back to Anna, he said “Anything else you want to know, Loomie knows most of it. The rest of us have to get going.” Gerrin stepped out of the cargo bay. Loomie followed him. “Captain! Wait a minute”.

Gerrin stopped outside the ship, looked at Reilly and Doc and cocked his head toward the control tower. Turning back to Loomie, he said in a low voice “Loomie, I don’t have time for this”.

“There has to be another way. You’re gonna get yourself killed if you go in that ring”, Loomie protested.

“I’m only staying in long enough for Jaime to do his job and get out of there”

“That’s long enough to get killed”, she countered.

Gerrin became a little tense. “This isn’t my first fight, so I think I know what I’m doing.”

“Nick, don’t do this!” she pleaded.

“Loomie”, Gerrin started sternly, then thought twice about it, and stepped forward taking her by the shoulders. “I’ll be fine.” he finally said softly. “I’ll keep them busy for awhile, Jaime and his crew will do their thing, and as soon as they’re done we’ll all be out of here. Promise.” He then let her go and started toward where Doc and Aldous were waiting. Loomie watched him go, clearly worried. Finally she called out “Wait!” Gerrin turned back.

She started to protest again, realized it was useless, and simply said “Ju ni hao yun (good luck)”.

Gerrin nodded and he and Doc turned to leave. Aldous paused for a second “What about me?” he called back.

“Just don’t do anything stupid” Loomie admonished her brother.

“Oh, that’s just cold”, Aldous groaned as he turned toward town. “I haven’t got you killed, have I?”

“Yet” Loomie shot back.

“Nice”. Aldous shot her a sour look, then turned and double-paced to catch up with Gerrin and Doc. As he caught up, he heard Doc say to Gerrin “You know how she feels about you”.

“She’s just acting on a lack of options.” Gerrin replied.

“Not really”. After a moment Doc continued “Do you ever intend to reciprocate?”

“No”, Aldous butted in.

Gerrin looked back at Aldous. “You’re talking about my sister” Aldous countered.

Gerrin turned forward and continued “Wayloo Marie Gavigan is a treasure, and there’s no doubt about that. But shipboard romances cause conflicts of interest, and right now, I’m just trying to keep us all alive.”

“That sounds more like trust issues to me”, Doc observed.

“Doc, playing psychiatrist doesn’t suit you.”

“I agree with the captain” Aldous broke in again.

Doc continued, “You know we could be living like this for a long time.”

“Then let’s get on with it.” Gerrin concluded.

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


Wednesday, July 23, 2014 1:12 PM


You have nice pacing and nice action here, but Anna's lack of solid motivation for taking such a risk sort of threw me -- she's the widow with a kid, from the previous chapter, right? If Pol Pot walked through the door of my business, I wouldn't follow him and pull a gun on him when he's chatting with his mooks -- certainly not if I had a kid at home who would be orphaned if those killers took me out first. I'd report him to the local authorities, even if I didn't trust them. After all, there might be some sort of Alliance reward (and once the Alliance showed up, maybe they might be encouraged to do something about the local authorities as well, considering media attention being drawn here by the capture of a wanted war ciminal/fugitive...) I understand Anna's actions here were necessary for Gerrin's backstory revelation, but it just struck me as exposition driven, rather than true to the NPC. But that quibble aside (and it's a minor quibble), you continue to hold my attention and leave me wanting to come back for the next episode!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 6:25 PM


Anna lives on Verbenna in a town where you can't always rely on the "authorities" to do the right thing (remember Jayne on Ariel?). Lots of people take matters into their own hands for odd reasons: thoughts of reward, and inflamed sense of righteousness, desire to avenge loved ones. Plus, she could have been wrong. After all, Nikolai Turgenyev was dead, according to Alliance records, so she might have just been making a fool of herself.


You must log in to post comments.



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…

Tales From the Nordic Troll - #8: Business as Usual (part 1)
Reilly struggled ferociously to break free. As he jerked and pulled against his attackers, he felt the sharp prick of a needle entering his neck. Reilly’s muscles began to feel numb and heavy. The hallway started to spin. Through a growing fog he could hear the contact admonish him loudly “It’ll only be worse if you fight it”. . . . . .

Reilly’s arms grew heavier. His eyes started to cloud over. "Tah mah duh hwoon dahn (Mother humping son of a bitch)", he slurred angrily. "Huogai daomei (You deserve whatever’s coming to you)”. . . . . . .

“It ain’t me”, the contact apologized. “It’s just good business”.