Tales From the Nordic Troll #4: Man-Made Monsters (part 2)
Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Gerrin stepped out to meet them. “Ah, good afternoon. Are you the ship that called for a doctor?” the man asked. Gerrin nodded. “Nick Gerrin, captain of the Nordic Troll”. The man introduced himself. “I’m doctor Tam – Simon”. Indicating the woman, he continued “This is my sister, River”.


12-year-old Lewis Howard sat behind the locked passenger door positioned in the cargo bay door of the Nordic Troll, waiting for the crew to return. Mom had been very clear: keep the door locked and don’t open it until she or the captain called him. So there he sat, for two hours, waiting for someone to call or something. He was starting to get a little anxious: what if something happened? What if there were still Reavers out there and they all got eaten? That’s it, he decided. I’ll give them fifteen more minutes and then…..well, then I’ll wait a little longer. But they’d better hurry up, either way.

Ten minutes later he jumped as someone suddenly pounded on the door. The intercom crackled to life. “Lewis!” his mother shouted over the speaker. “Lewis, where are you?”

Lewis pounded the button. “Right here, mom”.

“Open the small door and stand back behind it”.


“Do as I say!” Anna sounded agitated. Lewis released the mechanical bolt to the door, pulled hard on the manual handle and wrestled it open. As the heavy door slowly swung open, the rest of the crew squeezed through the door carrying something bound in a tarpaulin and cargo straps. Lewis crept around the door to get a peek at what they were carrying. “What’s that?” When he saw the scarred face protruding from the tarp, he jumped back. “Woah!” he exclaimed. “What the hell you guys doing with a Reaver?!?”

“Watch your mouth”, Anna and Doc remanded him in unison.

“He’s right”, Reilly said to Gerrin. “I think the thin air’s gotten to you”.

“Deal with it, Reilly”, Gerrin grunted.

“How do you even know it’s her?” Loomie broke in.

“This is how!” Gerrin snapped, letting go of the bundle and pulling up his right sleeve to reveal a faded tattoo. The tattoo matched the scarred markings they had seen on the Reaver’s arm. “We designed it ourselves. Got ‘em the day after we graduated upper school. You think there’s two sets of people out there who could come up with the exact same design?”

“Okay, let’s say it is her”, Reilly continued. “What are you going to do? Take her with us while you try to get her fixed?”

“I’m not leaving her behind!” Gerrin roared. “You got a problem with that, you can grab your stuff and go”.

“There’s no ‘her’ left to leave behind!” Reilly shot back. “She’s a Reaver, now”.

“Hey!” Aldous broke in. “Whatever we’re gonna do, can we do it fast? I’m a little unsettled here”.

“Are we just gonna lock her in med bay?” Loomie exclaimed, horrified.

“No one’s just getting locked in med bay”, Doc retorted.

“Just get her to med bay, we’ll restrain her there”, Gerrin commanded. Turning to Doc, he said in a lowered voice that was half ordering, half pleading “Do what you can for her, Doc. She’s my sister”.

Doc stared at him for several seconds before saying to the others “Get her to med bay”. Returning to Gerrin, she added “You know this could most likely be entirely fruitless”.

Gerrin’s voice was strained. “Just try. That’s all I ask”.

She sighed “I can’t promise anything”. Noticing the crew hadn’t moved, she said “Well?” Pointing to the ladder, she continued “Med bay’s that way”.

Gerrin, Aldous, Loomie and Doc carried Irina from the cargo bay up the ladder to the crew deck and down the passageway to med bay while Anna held on to Lewis. Reilly hung back and closed the cargo bay door, locking the latch for good measure.

The crew laid Irina on the bed in med bay, where Doc tied her wrists, ankles and torso to the bed. Loomie and Aldous drew back to the hatch once they were done, while Doc and Gerrin remained. Gerrin was still clearly worried. “What’re you going to try first?”

“I still have to figure out what’s wrong with her, first”, Doc muttered.

“You know what’s wrong with her. That Pax gas from the- ”.

“G-32 Paxilon Hydroclorate, added to the processors on Miranda. I saw the broadwave, too”, Doc reminded him.

“So – can’t you just purge it from her system?”

“It’s not that easy, captain”, she said. “She’s been exposed to it for years, so it’s likely the damage is irreversible”.

“Doc, this is my sister, so just saying ‘it is what it is’ just won’t do. Now, there’s got to be something you can try”.

“What?” Doc demanded. “I’m open to suggestions”.

On the table Irina groaned. Doc and Gerrin both snapped around to look at her. “Bring her out of it”, Gerrin ordered. “Maybe she can tell us something”.

Doc looked at him. “Not all the way. I can’t guarantee what’s going to happen as is”.

“I know”, Gerrin conceded. “Bring her out of it”.

Doc opened a drawer and pulled out a syringe and a small vial. Drawing liquid from the vial, she injected Irina with the liquid. After a minute Irina stirred. Gerrin leaned close to her. “Irina”, he said softly. “Irina, eta Nikolai. Tui menya panimayesh? (can you understand me?)”

Irina turned her head, her clouded eyes opening just barely. “Nikoali?” Her voice was a slurred whisper. “Nikolai”, she repeated. “Go”, she whispered. “Run”. “…monsters…made us……” Her voice became louder and more agitated with every word. “Food…wear… run…kill… open up…cut…eat…” Her voice had risen almost to a shout. “Run! NOW!” Suddenly she erupted into a blood-curdling, inhuman scream and arched her body upward to the limit the restraints would allow. She continued screaming and reaching for Gerrin until Doc sedated her again. Her screams subsided and she sank back to the table, descending back into unconsciousness. Gerrin, shocked, stared at her limp body as Doc examined her for any damage she might have caused herself. Turning to Gerrin, she ordered “Alright, out. There’s nothing more can be done here”.

“What are you going to do?” Gerrin demanded.

Doc threw up her hands. “I don’t know. I’m still just a medic. I can treat the physical scars, but I have no idea what to do about what’s in her head, if anything can even be done. This is going to require a real doctor, and even then it’s a long shot”.

“Then get with Loomie and get on the horn and try to find us a real doctor”.

“And what do I tell whoever we find?”

Gerrin thought for a moment. “Tell them we have a casualty”, he finally responded. “Head injuries, maybe more. Tell them it’s urgent”.

“And hope they don’t figure out the truth?”

Gerrin was losing patience. “Just – get - someone – here!”

Doc sighed “Okay”. Pushing Gerrin out of the med bay, she stepped out herself and closed and locked the door. Turning and heading up the passageway she muttered “Juhguh JEE HUA jun kuhPAH (There's nothing about this plan that isn't horrific)”.

Gerrin moved down the passageway toward the ladder to the cargo bay. Entering the mess area, he encountered Anna. “So, how long is that thing going to be occupying the med bay?” she asked.

“THAT THING - “ Gerrin started loudly, then regained his composure “- is my sister, and she stays there until we can find a way to fix her”.

“She’s a Reaver”, Anna insisted. “She stopped being your sister a long time ago. Look”. Anna drew a breath and continued. “I know what it’s like to lose someone you love to something you can’t control. But she’s been one of them for a long time. When did you last see her?”

Gerrin eyes became almost glazed as he remembered. “About ten years ago. She saw me off when I shipped out to the academy. She was all excited about a deal she’d made to go to Miranda: work there for five years and she’d get a deal on a place of her own. It was a better offer than she and her boyfriend could’ve gotten at home”.

Anna’s voice softened. “They were going to get married?”

Gerrin nodded. “She was crazy about him, couldn’t stand to be without him”.

“That was a long time ago…”, Anna reminded him. “…before she went off to space, got exposed to that gas that was supposed to make her a good little robot and it had the opposite effect. Now, she’s been under the effects of that luh-suh (garbage) for at least ten years, and it’s not looking too good that she can ever come back from that”.

“Maybe”, Gerrin admitted. “But if it was one of your family – if it was Lewis – could you just let it go?”

Anna looked at him, shocked. As his words sank in, she said “You know I couldn’t”. She nodded. “Do what you have to do…” She turned to leave, but turned back. “But if she comes anywhere near Lewis…” She pulled her shirt up just far enough to reveal the holstered gun strapped to her waist.

“It won’t come to that”, Gerrin reassured her.

Doc sat across from Loomie in the Troll’s four-man cockpit. Loomie broadwaved the distress call again: “Any and all ships in range of this wave, this is the commercial transport Nordic Troll, requesting medical assistance. Please respond”.

As Loomie lowered the handset to listen for a response, Doc commented “I’m not really holding out a lot of hope for this plan”.

Loomie turned toward her. “Well, so far I haven’t mentioned where we are or what the ‘emergency’ is, so we might get lucky”.

“Lucky?” Doc snorted. “We’re sitting on a moon that’s a Reaver hunting ground, with one of them tied up in my med bay. That’s not an overwhelming reason to feel ‘lucky’”.

“Well, it’s his sister”, Loomie said defensively. “Any one of us would do the same for family”.

“Yeah”, Doc admitted reluctantly. “I suppose so”. Doc sat up straight in her seat “But that doesn’t make it any less unnerving”.

“I know”, Loomie’s hand went to the holster strapped to her leg. “That’s why I’m still wearing this”.

“Just don’t hesitate to use it”. Gesturing to the control console, Doc continued “Give it another try”.

Loomie picked up the handset and announced again “Any and all ships in range of this wave, this is the commercial transport Nordic Troll, requesting medical assistance. Please respond”.

Two hours later, Aldous and Gerrin sat in the mess compartment discussing their scavenging mission: Aldous was doing most of the talking. “Okay, if we’re taking any tools, I’ll need to look at them first”.

“Right” Gerrin said distractedly.

Aldous looked at him carefully. “Because if the Alliance attacks, I might have to bite a cannonball in half”.

“Okay”. Suddenly the words registered and Gerrin looked up. “Huh?”

“I was saying I want to look at the tools before we get them on board”. Aldous paused before continuing. “You know, if you want, we could always work this out later”.

“No,” Gerrin answered. “We got work to do, and I could use the distraction. Go on”.

“Well, as far as-“ Aldous was interrupted by the intercom. “Captain,” Loomie chirped. “We got a response. A doctor on another transport. He can be here in four hours”.

Gerrin smacked the intercom box. “Good work, you two! Get him here!”

Three hours later a shuttle landed fifty meters from the Troll, kicking up dust all around it. As the Troll’s crew watched from the cockpit, the engines shut down, the hatch popped open and a man and a woman emerged from the shuttle. they walked across the distance. When they were close enough the crew ventured down to the cargo bay with Gerrin in the lead, opening the cargo bay door as the couple approached the door. Gerrin stepped out to meet them. “Ah, good afternoon. Are you the ship that called for a doctor?” the man asked.

Gerrin nodded. “Nick Gerrin, captain of the Nordic Troll”.

The man introduced himself. “I’m doctor Tam – Simon”. Indicating the woman, he continued “This is my sister, River”.

…to be continued.



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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”.