Tales From the Nordic Troll - #3: Shanghai'd (part 5)
Sunday, June 30, 2013

Gerrin thought for The better part of a minute. Finally he turned toward Anna. “Okay, here’s the plan”. Anna listened as Gerrin explained his plan. When he finished, she simply said “You’ve got to be out of your mind.”


“We’re looking for a couple new people. A woman and her kid. Seen ‘em?”

Gerrin had repeated that question to several people that afternoon, usually resulting in the same answer: “I don’t know nothin’”. With no way to track their missing crewmembers, he, Reilly and Doc had no choice but to keep asking. The process was getting tedious. Finally, after questioning a dozen people, one man responded. “Yeah. They took off this morning into the thickets. Looked like they were heading for the hills”.

“Just ran?” Doc asked.

“Yup. Happens now and then, but I didn’t say nothin’”.

“Thanks”. Turning back to Doc and Reilly, Gerrin said “Well, now we know which way they were heading.”

“And you think we’ll be able to find them with just that?”

“It’s a start”. Gerrin looked toward the low-lying hills and pulled out a small two-way radio, pressing the “talk” button. “Loomie, you there?”

Loomie’s voice came back “Right here, cap’n. Whatcha need?”

“Do a quick heat scan on the hills to the west and see if you pick up anything unusual.”

“Right. Give me a couple minutes”. The line went dead. As they waited Reilly voiced his thoughts. “All right, suppose Loomie can track them. What then?”

“Then we get to them ASAP”, Gerrin answered.

“Just like that?”

Gerrin nodded “Just like that”.

“They may have company”, Doc mused.

“That’s why you have the bag and we have the guns”.

Gerrin’s comm unit beeped. “I got something” Loomie chimed. “Looks like several contacts, northwest of your position, 285 degrees, maybe five clicks”.

“Got it. Good work.” Gerrin checked his compass and turned in the direction quoted him. “Let’s go. We’re burning daylight”. He started toward the hills.

Reilly and Doc looked at each other. Gerrin turned toward them. “Move” he ordered.

Doc raised an eyebrow. “Move?”

Gerrin rolled his eyes. “Move, please”, he offered.

Doc stared at him for a second before shrugging “Well, that’ll do”.

* * * * *

The sun was growing low in the sky as Anna and Lewis huffed their way up the hill, staying just a few hundred feet ahead of the Canton guards pursuing them. They moved as quickly and quietly as possible among the gnarled bush-like trees, stopping every few minutes to listen for the guards. During one such stop, Lewis panted “I don’t hear them any more”.

Anna held up one hand to quiet him, listening intently. “Alright, we're near the top, let’s get there and see if we can figure out where the Nordic Troll is”. She turned and started up the hill again.

A gunshot rang out, followed by two more in rapid succession. Anna cried out in pain after the first shot and fell, grabbing her right leg. Lewis, alarmed, raced to his mother, bending down and pushing her pants leg up as far as he could. He found a bleeding gash across the back of her leg, just below the knee. “it’s bleeding, but not bad”, he informed her.

“It’s just a scratch”, she gasped.

Lewis was worried. “Can you walk?”

Anna gingerly felt her leg. “I think so. Wait”. She looked down at the dried mud on her dress, searching for a strip that was clean enough to wrap around the wound. Finding no area long enough, she reached up and ripped off one of her sleeves. She carefully but quickly examined the sleeve, finding it clean for the most part where her elbow had been. “Hold my pants leg up”, she said to Lewis as she bent down with the makeshift bandage. Lewis held the leg of her trousers above her knee as she tied the sleeve tightly around the wound. “Okay, that should do”, she announced. “Now, let go”. As Lewis released the pants leg he was holding and stood beck, Anna stood up. The pain burned through her leg but didn’t prevent her from standing. “Let’s get out of here”. She started limping slowly up the hill, with Lewis supporting her as she moved. Suddenly, Lewis stopped. “What is it?” Anna asked. Then she heard it, too: voices, not far behind. Anna looked around until she found a suitable hiding place: two trees with a large boulder lodged between them. “Here”, she said, moving down to the trees. “Hide here, I’ll draw them off”.

“No way”, Lewis refused. “You hide, I’ll draw them off”.

“Do you even know what you’re doing?” Anna demanded.

“I’m gonna cut up through the woods and make a lot of noise, then I’m gonna come back a different way and be quiet”.

Anna looked up the path, then at Lewis. After a few seconds she ordered “Get behind this rock”. “Fine’ Lewis sighed. He helped Anna hide herself behind the rock, then darted off up the path making as much noise as possible. Anna shouted “Lewis!” but he was gone. Anna sat, angrily but quietly, listening for Lewis and for anyone else. After a minute Lewis had gone beyond hearing range. Anna kept listening for his return.

Suddenly a hand grabbed her from behind. Anna gasped as she was roughly dragged to her feet. She whirled around to see one of the guards. “You done ruined my afternoon off, missy”, he growled. “I’m gonna remember that when I get you back to work. Now come on”. She fell as he shoved her roughly down the trail. As he bent down to grab her again, he fell over himself as Lewis landed on his back with his hands over the guard’s face. He struggled to get up, twisting viciously, but Lewis wasn’t letting go. Almost to his feet, the guard tripped and fell forward, hitting his head on a rock protruding from the ground. The guard’s body went limp, with Lewis still holding on. Climbing off, Lewis turned to help his mother. “The other one’s still down the hill”, he panted. “Let’s go while we still can”.

“Right”. Anna smacked Lewis hard on the behind. He looked at her as if she’d lost her mind as she said “Next time you do as you’re told”. With that, she held Lewis’s arm for support as they both moved further up the hill.

* * * * *

Gerrin, Reilly and Doc continued into the woods. Doc was mostly quiet as Reilly and Gerrin discussed Gerrin’s actions to locate and retrieve Anna and Lewis. Reilly continued “At some point you have to let this go.”

Gerrin dismissed his assessment with “You look after your own.”

“They’re not going to be your own for much longer”, Reilly observed.

“They are now”. Gerrin wasn’t going to argue. “Change the subject”.

Reilly hesitated before relenting. “Okay”. After a moment he continued “When you get up in the morning and put your pants on, do you button first or zip?”

Gerrin turned his head toward Reilly. “What?”

Reilly elaborated “I got up this morning and put on my pants and didn’t know which to do first, button or zip”.

“And how is this relevant?”

Reilly retorted “You’re the one who said change the subject”.

“How is that even a subject?”

Reilly smiled “Perhaps we should talk about your blossoming relationship with our adept and beautiful pilot?”

“There is no relationship”, Gerrin stated flatly, “and are you way too involved with my personal life out of-“

Gunshots interrupted their conversation. “That wasn’t too far off” Doc announced.

“Pick up the pace”, Gerrin ordered, breaking into a jog himself.

* * * * *

Anna and Lewis moved to the top of the hills, Lewis supporting Anna, who limped painfully along the crest of the hills. As they reached a spot where the trees parted to grant a clear view on the plains below, Anna stopped to squint toward the setting sun, searching for the scrapyard and the Troll on the plain below. “Can you tell where they are?” she asked Lewis.

Lewis looked to the horizon. “I can’t tell”, he finally answered.

Anna scanned the horizon once more herself. Dissatisfied, she said “Let’s keep moving”, and moved along the ridge, assisted by Lewis. “Do we even know where we’re going?”

“We try to get a bearing on the junkyard and if – “ Anna corrected herself “ - when – we find it, we get there as fast as we can”.

“It’s going to get cold out here soon”.

“Well, then, like the captain says, ‘Let’s get on with it’”. They continued moving along the ridge, Lewis grumbling “I wish we’d brought our jackets”.

* * * * *

Gerrin, Reilly and Doc covered the distance up the hill at a quick pace, stopping only for another position check from Loomie. Panting as they stormed up the hill, they soon stumbled upon the guard Lewis had grappled with lying unconscious in front of their crewmates’ former hiding place. Doc bent down to check for a pulse. Looking up, she nodded. “Check him for weapons and fix him up, if you can, and then let’s get on with it”, Gerrin ordered.

Doc checked the man’s eyes and reached into her bag. Pulling out a syringe, she said “This’ll bring him around in a few minutes”.

Gerrin waited as Doc injected the man and removed his gun. Once she was done, Gerrin reached under his arms and dragged him to the nearest tree. Propping him up in a sitting position, Gerrin straightened up. “We’re done here”.

Doc returned the syringe to her bag and pondered “Where to now?”

Gerrin stood up and surmised “If it were me, I’d follow the ridge. That would be the best way to find their way back to the shipyard”.

“We’re not at the shipyard”, she reminded him.

“They don’t know that”, Gerrin rebuked.

Doc and Reilly stared at Gerrin for a second. “Well,” Reilly sighed resignedly, “if we’re going to do this, let’s get it done”.

“Right”. Gerrin turned back up the hill as Doc and Reilly fell in behind him.

* * * * *

Anna and Lewis moved along the top of the ridge, pausing every few minutes to scan the plain below. The sun had sunk to the horizon by now, making observation difficult. “I can’t even see the shipyard now”, Anna sighed.

Lewis looked around. “We need to find the road we came in on. That's our best way back”.

Anna looked back the way they came and turned slowly toward the setting sun. “There”, she finally said, pointing to a winding ribbon running north from the town. ”If we follow the ridgeline we can-“

She paused as a glint of light caught her attention from the corner of her eye. Turning toward it she noticed a second flicker and yelled “Get down!” just as a gunshot shattered the silence. A second and third shot rang through the air as they hit the dirt, followed shortly by a fourth. Anna and Lewis lay there as the hills fell silent once more, holding their breath for what seemed like several minutes listening for another break in the calm. Anna painfully massaged her damaged leg as Lewis looked around frantically. Spotting what he was looking for, he pulled his mother’s remaining sleeve and pointed toward a group of low-lying bushes. Anna nodded and together they crawled toward the bushes, Reaching the bushes, they crawled around and crouched on the other side, waiting silently. After several minutes of silence, Lewis asked “You think it’s safe?”

“I don’t know”, Anna murmured.

“One way to find out”. Lewis stood up and looked around.

“Lewis!” Anna exclaimed.

After five seconds of searching Lewis announced “Clear".

“Stop doing that! You’re gonna get yourself shot!” Anna hissed sharply through her teeth as Lewis helped her to her feet. “Wait a minute”, she stopped him as he started along the ridge. Reaching down she pulled up her pants leg to examine the makeshift bandage around her leg. Where the bandage covered the gash in her leg a small blood stain had formed, roughly the size of a small coin. Making a sour face she grabbed her remaining sleeve and pulled downward, ripping the sleeve off at the shoulder. “Hold this”, she said, handing the detached sleeve to Lewis. She reached down and undid the soiled cloth covering the wound, gingerly inspecting the gash left by the guard’s stray bullet. A small amount of fresh blood still oozed slowly from the opening. Anna reached over and took the remaining sleeve from Lewis, tying it tightly around her leg over the wound. Satisfied, she pulled her pants leg down and reached for Lewis, who grabbed on to her hand and helped her to her feet. “Okay”, she announced, “let’s go”, and they continued along the ridge toward the road.

* * * * *

Gerrin re-holstered his weapon as he, Reilly and Doc approached the prison guard Gerrin had just shot. Reaching down, Gerrin grabbed the man. “That was my people you were shooting at. Where were they? Tell me and we just might fix that bleeding hole”.

The guard gasped “Top of the ridge by the break in the bushes”.

Gerrin reached further down to remove the man’s sidearm. Looking at Doc, he gestured toward the man. Handing the gun to Reilly, he said “Cover me from here. I’m going up”.

“Just don’t do anything stupid” Reilly admonished him.

“Who, me?” Gerrin shot back as he trotted up the hill.

* * * * *

Anna and Lewis were still moving as quickly and cautiously as possible along the ridge line when they heard the approach of another guard. “How many of these guys are there?” Lewis exclaimed in exasperation.

“Just get down” Anna ordered.

“Wait. There”. Lewis pointed to a recently fallen shrub-like tree. Anna nodded and they moved behind the tree. As soon as they were out of the line of sight of the makeshift path, Lewis said “I’m going to draw him off”, and ran down the path.

“Lewis!” Anna rasped.

“I’ll be back” he called.

Anna hissed in exasperation “Why does he keep DOING that?” and waited. Minutes passed in silence. She watched the sun drop behind the horizon through the trees and bushes. Still nothing. She started to step from behind the tree when she heard the approach of footsteps. Too slow and heavy for Lewis, she thought. Reaching down and feeling around her, she found a rock larger than her fist. Grasping it, she crouched down and shifted her weight to her good foot. She waited until the footsteps stopped on the other side of the tree. Bracing herself, she leapt from behind the tree with a feral roar, swinging the rock at her assailant. Gerrin caught her arm and said “I’d appreciate it if you didn’t”.

Anna realized it was Gerrin and sagged toward him, propping herself up with one hand on the tree. “Am I glad to see you!”

“No doubt. Now, you ready to get out of here?”. Gerrin asked as he propped her up and turned to go.

“No, wait”, Anna grabbed him. “Lewis is still out there”.

“No, he’s not”, Gerrin answered. “I got to him before the guard did. He’s with Doc and Reilly right now”.

“What about the guard?”

Gerrin looked up the path. “Still out there”.

Anna looked worried. “He won’t give up. And he’s probably not alone”.

“I know”. Gerrin thought for most of a minute Finally he turned toward Anna. “Okay, here’s the plan”.

Anna listened as Gerrin explained his plan. When he finished, she simply said “You’ve got to be out of your mind.”

..........To Be Concluded.



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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…