Tales From the Nordic Troll #4: Man-Made Monsters (part 3)
Friday, September 20, 2013

“Are you insane?” Simon demanded from the med bay door, looking back at Doc and Gerrin. “Do you know what you have strapped to that table?”


“We were on our way to Athens to pick up a cargo run when we got your message” Simon explained as they walked through the cargo bay. “Our ship will be laid over for the next two days and our captain had nothing happening that required our presence, so we were happy to offer our services”.

“And your sister?” Gerrin asked.

“I’m his pilot”, River broke in.

“His pilot?”

She looked at her brother critically. “He can’t fly a kite”.

“That’s not true!” her brother protested, turning toward her. “I’ve flown before!”

She snorted “Model sky planes, years ago”.

Gerrin broke it up. “I’m sure your piloting skills are fine, doctor, but right now, we need your medical expertise”.

“Oh, yes. Of course”. Turning toward the ladder, he addressed Doc. “Doctor, if you’ll show me to your medical bay-”.

“I’m not a doctor”, Doc informed him. “I’m a medic. ‘Doc’ is just what they call me”.

“Oh”. Simon thought about how to recover before saying “Well, I’m – I’m sure you do an excellent job of taking care of your crew”.

“You’ll find few better”, Gerrin responded.

“It’s all right, doctor. This way”. Doc started up the ladder, followed by Simon, River and Gerrin. Halfway up the ladder River stopped. Her face blank, she said “There’s something dark up there. It wants out”.

“Something dark?” Gerrin asked.

Simon turned. “She sometimes picks up on things most people miss. She’s extremely perceptive”. Turning back, he said “Come on, River, let’s go upstairs so we can examine our patient”.

“No”, she shook her head. “It’s hungry…angry. She can’t hold it back”.

Simon looked from River to Gerrin. “I’m sorry, she’s not usually like this. There was an ‘incident’ when she was at school-“

“That’s all right”, Gerrin said. “If your sister wants, she can wait down here with Anna and the crew”.

Simon looked at Gerrin, then at River. “River, do you want to stay down here?”

River returned his gaze. “We all should”, she answered.

Gerrin stepped down the ladder and gestured to Anna. “Anna, will you look after our guest?”

Anna nodded “Sure”. Stepping up to the ladder, she said “Uh – River, is it? Would you like to stay down here and have a cup of coffee or something? I think we could scrape something up”.

River looked at her. “I’m fine”, she said. Looking up the ladder, she added “She’s not”.

Taking her by the arm, Anna answered “Yes, well, let’s let your brother see if he can fix that”. Turning down the ladder, she said to Lewis “Lewis, why don’t you keep this lady company while I check the mess decks?”

“I’ll go with you”, Aldous piped in.

“Fine. Let’s go”. Anna started for the ladder, followed by Aldous.

Lewis and Loomie stayed in to cargo bay with River. Mostly they just stared at each other, smiling. Lewis leaned close to Loomie and whispered “Why is she wearing combat boots and a dress?”

“They fit”, River responded in a normal voice.

“Oh”, Lewis commented. “That makes sense”. He gave Loomie a look that said what?

Simon followed Doc up the passageway to med bay, followed by Gerrin. “So, what were the initial symptoms?”

“Concussion, cuts, bruises, delirium”, Doc answered.

“Has there been any change in the last two hours?”

Doc paused before saying “We’ve had her sedated for the most part”.

“Sedated?” Simon repeated as they stopped in front of the med bay door. “You can’t monitor her responsiveness and behavior if you have her sedated”.

“There’s a bit more to it”, Doc continued as she unlocked and opened the door.

“Whatever the ‘more’ is, whenever you have a trauma patient in a state of-“ Simon began as he stepped through the door. As he saw the patient, he jumped back, startled. “Wuh de tyen, ah (Dear god in heaven)!” he gasped.

In the cargo bay River’s eyes widened as she whispered “Reaver”.

“Are you insane?” Simon demanded from the med bay door, looking back at Doc and Gerrin. “Do you know what you have strapped to that table?”

Doc stopped him. “We know she’s a Reaver, doctor, but she’s the captain’s sister”.

“The captain’s…” Simon worked to find the words. “With…she’s…how can you know that?”

Gerrin pulled up his sleeve. “Look on her arm and you’ll see this”, he indicated the tattoo. “We designed them ourselves”.

Simon hesitated for a second before continuing. ”Even if you’re right and that - ‘person’ in there is your sister, her mind has been altered by a psychotropic drug that was supposed to eradicate all aggressive impulses in her. Unfortunately it had the opposite effect and turned her into a man-made monster”.

“It messed her up, for sure”, Gerrin protested, “but the last time we tried to bring her out of it, she had a few coherent seconds where we reached Irina instead of the monster”.

Simon’s brow furrowed. “She responded coherently?”

Gerrin nodded. “She tried to get us to run, tried to tell us what had happened to her”.

“Well, that is an interesting reaction for a Reaver, but it still changes nothing: long-term exposure to a depressant like Paxilon Hydroclorate can cause irreparable damage”. Looking at Irina, he added “I don’t know that I can do anything for this – patient. Really, I am sorry”.

“I’m only asking that you look at her. Something broke her, and if she can be broken, maybe she can be fixed”.

“That’s not very likely, captain. I’ve seen for myself what exposure to Pax can do to a human being. It’s not very attractive and it’s not something you can replace or remove like a ruptured appendix”.

“Doctor,” Gerrin stepped forward. “That is my sister in there. Family. I can’t just let her go back to those animals and I can’t put her down. Think about it. If she were your sister, could you do it? Could you just throw her out the hatch like a bad part and live with yourself?”

Simon stared at him. Finally he sighed “I’ll look at her. But you need to understand that there may be nothing I can do. Even if I had the proper medical facilities, she’s been under the influence of a mind-altering drug for years. It’s even possible that she’s developed a dependency on it”.

“Understood. Anything you can do will be appreciated, doctor”, Gerrin reassured him.

Simon looked at him, then after a few seconds, conceded “I’ll do what I can”. He added “Whatever that turns out to be”.

Gerrin nodded. “Thank you”.

Stepping into med bay, Simon rolled up his sleeves. “All right, the first thing I want to do is take a blood sample to see if her blood will give us any clues as to how to treat her”. Turning to Doc he asked “Do you have a microscope?”

Doc pointed to a cabinet. “Left side, strapped to the back”. She pulled Gerrin through the door and shepherded him to a stool. “While he’s doing that, take a seat: I want to look at those wounds of yours”.

In the cargo bay Anna and Aldous had returned with a large canister of hot tea. Loomie coerced Reilly to help her tip a crate on it’s end to use as a table. Aldous produced several homemade cups from a bag he had slung across his shoulder, and Anna began pouring the tea. Loomie handed the first cup to River, who looked at her and said “Thank you”. Lewis and Aldous helped themselves. Picking up a cup of her own, Loomie sat down on a crate with Aldous. Anna sat down on the crate next to theirs with River. Aldous was the first to speak: “Well, this whole day sure went sideways”.

“Drop it, Aldous”, Loomie said sharply. “No one could’ve seen this coming”.

“Hey, I’m just sayin’-”

“Say it somewhere else”.

“Do you two really think this is the time for a family quarrel?” Reilly interjected.

“Hey, all I’m saying is that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to come here in the first place”, Aldous shot back.

“As much as I’d like to agree with you on that, you were right when you said we still needed parts and food”, Reilly reminded him. “And like it or not, this was our best available option”.

“They were close”, River interrupted, staring into nothing.

The others looked at her. “You can tell”, she added, meeting their gaze.

“She’s right” Anna joined in. “I had a talk with him earlier. They were close. That tattoo on his arm? They came up with it together after upper school, remember? She also saw him off when he left for the academy, before she and her boyfriend went to Miranda. They were getting ready to start their life together”.

Loomie looked at her. “He told you all this?”

Anna nodded.

“Damn”, Loomie mused. “He must be upset. He never lets that much out about himself”. Her eyebrows bunching up, she thought aloud “At least not to me”.

Anna put her hand on Loomie’s shoulder. “He just spilled to the first person he came across, that’s all. It could just as easily have been you”.

“I’m just trying to look after my own, like he does”, Loomie said defensively.

“He knows”, River interjected.

Loomie and Anna looked at River, then each other. “You’re doing it”, Anna reassured her.

Aldous butted in. “Are you sure you want to get involved with someone like that? I mean, I know he’s our captain and all, and he’s a good man, but clearly he’s got his own baggage to deal with”.

Loomie stared at him sternly. “You’d be shook up if that was me strapped to that bed, wouldn’t you?”

Aldous looked uncomfortable. “Well, yeah, of course”.

“So leave him alone, he’s going through enough hell as is”.

“Yeah”, Aldous grunted. “If his sister gets loose, she’s gonna dish out some of that hell to all of us”.

...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”.