Tales From the Nordic Troll - #3: Shanghai'd (Part 6)
Friday, July 12, 2013

Anna examined Gerrin carefully for a few seconds. “I can’t figure you out” she said at last. “You don’t let anyone get too close, but you’d put your own life on the line to protect people you barely know.” She added “And sometimes in really crazy ways”.


Emil Watson had worked at the mud factory for five years and never lost a worker, and he wasn’t about to start now. Besides, the boss had been very specific: bring ‘em back, dead or alive. So, one way or another, they were coming back.

He knew the woman was wounded, so she should be easy to catch. Jensen had winged her. Of course, he hadn’t seen Jensen since before the sun went down. Maybe it hadn’t been such a good idea to split up. Oh, well…

He moved up to the ridge, scanning every which way for his targets. Nothing up here. Maybe they headed for the road. If he brought ‘em back himself he’d look real good to the boss. He started moving toward the road three kilometers off to the left and below him.

Watson prowled along the path toward the road. So far, nothing. He didn’t think they could’ve got down the hill that fast. They couldn’t have doubled back, he’d have seen ‘em. Maybe they – wait! What’s that? Moving between two bushes thirty meters in front of him he could just see something that looked like the dress-thing the woman was wearing. Watson crept toward his quarry, as quickly and quietly as he could manage. It didn’t seem to be moving too quickly, so he guessed that he was quiet enough. Quiet, now. He slinked to within ten feet of whatever it was. It stopped. Now or never, he decided. He leapt forward, grabbing for the individual in front of him. It turned, grabbed his left arm, at the wrist and elbow, and flung him past it to land on his stomach. He twisted around to see a man in the dress-thing. “That’s not nice”, Gerrin chided him.

Watson recovered from his surprise and swung at Gerrin. Gerrin blocked and punched toward Watson’s stomach. Watson caught the blow and knocked Gerrin’s fist away, swinging with his other fist toward Gerrin’s temple. Gerrin blocked and swung completely around, bringing his foot up and across Watson’s face. The kick was enough to knock Watson to the ground unconscious. Gerrin stepped back, panting. As he regained his breath Reilly came down the hill carrying a small hand-held portable lantern. Observing the unconscious Watson in front of Gerrin, Reilly commented “Well, that still worked, in spite of itself”.

Gerrin stared at Reilly, panting “I thought you were going to drop him if he got too close”.

Reilly chuckled “With all the noise he was making, you could’ve heard him coming if you were unconscious”.

“Okay” Gerrin huffed “Could’ve been worse”. Looking around, he continued “Anyone else out there?”

“After Doc patched the other guard he volunteered that the three we took out were the only ones out here”.

“You believe him?”

Reilly looked around. “We haven’t seen any more”.

“Fair enough”. Gerrin examined the borrowed dress he wore, noticing a large tear along one side. “I think I owe Anna a dress”, he said ruefully.

Reilly smiled “Well, it is a bit tight on you. Let her know when you get back to the ship”.

Gerrin started. “They went back to the ship?”

Reilly nodded.

Gerrin stared at him. “What are they doing back at the ship? We had a rendezvous point”.

“Doc took Anna and Lewis back to the ship half an hour ago. She wanted to get Anna’s leg looked at”.

Gerrin’s eyes hardened. “And I’m supposed to walk back like this?”

Reilly smirked. “Don’t worry, it’s only four kilometers or so, and it’s dark, so I’m sure no one in town will even notice”.

Gerrin glared at him. “I hope for your sake you like cleaning toilets”.

Gerrin and Reilly made the trip back in an hour and a half, with Gerrin still in Anna’s dress. Marching stoically through town, Gerrin ignored the perplexed double-takes from the townsfolk in the streets, while Reilly continuously ribbed him about it. “What a nice night for a stroll through town with your favorite girl, eh?”

Gerrin’s face remained serene. “Excuse me, were you hoping for a ride off this rock?”

“Now, dear, why do you have to be like that?” Reilly smiled. “You’re not going sly on me, are you?”

“Ramble on, son, ramble on. You just keep stepping in it and see what it gets you”, Gerrin replied levelly as they continued toward the ship.

The rest of the crew kept their comments to themselves when Gerrin and Reilly arrived. Aldous simply locked his eyes on Gerrin’s and said “Good job, cap’n”, while biting at the corners of his mouth.

“Yeah”, Gerrin commented, “That went really well”.

Loomie fought to suppress giggles as Gerrin retired quickly to his quarters and changed into his one of his own shirts, after which he met with her and Aldous in the mess area. Aldous handed him a small jar full of liquid as he arrived. Gerrin looked at the jar. “What is this?”

“The first batch”, Aldous grinned. “I got the still fixed”.

Gerrin sniffed and sipped cautiously. The liquid tasted slightly brackish, but had the bite of a decent liquor. “Not bad, Aldous”, he commented.

“Wait, there’s more. Follow me”.

Gerrin and Loomie followed Aldous down to the cargo bay where Aldous pulled a cloth cover off two objects laying on the deck. Both were rectangular on one end, cylindrical on the other. Gerrin examined the objects. “Where did you find them?”

“The scrap yard. McGowan let me have them for a few odd chores”.

“And when are we ever going to need large caliber mounted guns?”

Aldous responded “Well, after what happened our last trip out, you never know. So, just in case…”

Gerrin considered this for a moment. “Where do they go?”

“The tail pod”, Loomie broke in. “It’s still air-tight, and they fit the existing mounts. I’ve been hanging out there when I want some private time”.


“A hundred rounds each, for now. We can pick up more later”, Aldous finished.

Gerrin nodded slowly. “Okay, but don’t make them obvious. Most places we stop get nervous about armed transport ships”.

“Got it”, Aldous nodded.

“We’ll get them installed at our next stop. Right now we need to get going. This administrator is not going to be happy about his guards going missing. Loomie, contact port control and get us in the air. Aldous, get ready on the engines.”

“Aye, cap’n”, they chimed in unison. They headed for the cargo bay ladder.

The Nordic Troll lifted off the pad on Higgins’ Moon quickly and quietly within the hour. Twenty minutes later they were back in space. Gerrin found Anna sitting in the mess area, her damaged leg freshly bandaged, drinking a cup of coffee. Standing in the doorway, he said “Guess that one could’ve gone better”.

Anna smiled at him. “It only cost me a dress. I guess going off on my own wasn’t such a good idea”.

“Sorry about the dress. It was kinda tight, though".

“I always thought it was a bit baggy”, she responded.

"Well, at least you got your jackets back. Next time just let me or Reilly or Aldous know and one of us’ll go with you”.


“He can hold his own”. Gerrin hesitated before adding “more or less”.

“Hmmm…”. Anna examined Gerrin carefully for a few seconds. “I can’t figure you out”, she said at last. “You don’t let anyone get too close, but you’d put your own life on the line to protect people you barely know.” She added “And sometimes in really crazy ways”.

Gerrin smiled at that. “Like what you did on Verbena? You wanted to take me in, then you wound up helping me and my crew”.

“That was different”, Anna rebuked. “I was just trying to figure out the right thing and do it back there. I believe you call it ‘following your gut’?”

Gerrin nodded, considering her answer and her assessment of him. “So what does your gut tell you now?”

She responded quietly “That whatever happened at Lotus Ridge, it wasn’t you who caused it. You’re no monster.”

“Thanks”, Gerrin replied. “So, I guess this means you’ll be hanging around for awhile?”

“At least until something better comes along”, Anna concluded.

“Good enough”. As Gerrin turned to leave, Anna added “But you still owe me a dress.”

The End (for now…)



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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”.