Tales From the Nordic Troll - #5: Sidetracked (part 4)
Thursday, February 20, 2014

Peering carefully he recognized the Troll’s captain and engineer moving out from behind a large fern-like plant. Gerrin motioned to them to keep the guards’ attention toward them. McGarrity nodded slightly, indicating he understood, then pushed as if to move the tree. Bracing himself once more, he pushed with Park, grunting loudly so neither of their captors would hear Gerrin and Aldous creeping up behind them.


Gerrin, Aldous and Inabran worked their way through the sweltering jungle followed by their two pirate guards, searching for an object which might or might not have fallen on the jungle floor as the Troll had leveled its descent. Inabran spent more time complaining and swatting at insects than she did searching for something that didn’t belong there, but then she also made it a point to remind everyone in her party every other minute that she didn’t belong there either.

The pirates had split the crew up in order to cover more ground. Gerrin had no idea which of his crew were where. None of them had any idea what they were actually looking for: some kind of package, that was their only clue. They continued, sweating, through the jungle.

Aldous pushed another large leafy plant out of his way, peering at the ground beyond. “Hey!” he yelled toward the two pirates herding them on. “Do either of you even know what this package is supposed to look like?”

The two guards looked at each other. “You’ll know it when you see it. Keep looking”, one responded.

“Yeah”, Aldous muttered under his breath. “I know an idiot when I see one...and I got two here”.

Several minutes passed when Gerrin, stepping over a fallen tree, yelled “Hey! We’ve been at this for three hours. How about a bathroom break?”

One of the guards waved his muzzle toward Gerrin. “Do what you need to do and get back to looking”.

“What? With you two watching?” Gerrin shook his head. “I need a little privacy”.

“This is all the privacy you’re gonna get”, the guard responded harshly.

“Oh, do I really have to see this?” Inabran groaned loudly. “Let him go behind a tree”.

Everyone turned to look at her. Gerrin continued “You gotta at least turn your heads”. He paused for a second before adding “You’re not sly, are you?”

Cocking his weapon, the guard ordered “If you have something to do, do it now”.

Gerrin sighed. Gesturing to Aldous, he said “Aldous, come stand between us”.

Aldous stepped over behind Gerrin and turned his back. Gerrin unzipped his pants and squeezed his stomach inward. As he urinated loudly he leaned back toward Aldous. “Any idea where the others are?” he asked in a low voice.

“No clue”, Aldous murmured, barely moving his lips.

“What about Lewis? He wasn’t in the cargo bay”.

Aldous shrugged slightly. “I had him up early cleaning a reclaimator. Haven’t seen him since”.

“Dirty job” Gerrin commented.

“That’s what he gets for stealing my things”.

Drained, Gerrin zipped his pants and turned around. “I haven’t even seen anything that was ours”, he continued.

Aldous caught on. “Well, it’s not gonna blow in our ears, we have to look for it”, he commented, meaning he guessed Lewis might be hiding in the ship’s ventilation system.

“All right, back to looking”, the guard waved them on with his gun.

“What about me?” Inabran demanded. “I have as much right to tend to personal business as he does, and I’ve been out in this nasty jungle for just as long”.

Both pirates grinned. “Do whatever you have to do”, one answered, “but do it here”.


“Fine”, the pirate smirked. “Hold it in”.

Shooting holes in both men’s heads with her eyes, Inabran faced them, lowered her black silk pants and squatted down. Gerrin and Aldous turned their backs, Gerrin thinking to himself she should be glad they let her put on pants before they dragged her out here. He and Aldous stood quietly, ignoring her as she finished what she had to do. After she finished, she struggled to pull her pants up while revealing as little of herself as possible.

“Done?” the guard asked.

Her only response was to glare at him.

“Then move on”. He waved his rifle in the direction they had been travelling as they resumed their search.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Doc picked carefully through the garbage collected in the ship’s refuse collection tank. Adjusting the glove on her hand, she commented “Do they even know what this thing we’re looking for looks like?”

Loomie, searching the other side of the tank and looking thoroughly disgusted, snorted “’A package’. I don’t think they have a clue”.

Both women were hunched over in the shallow tank, wearing headband lamps they had removed from two of the ship’s space suits. Loomie had not ejected the contents of the tank as they had entered atmo, as she usually did, so there was still a fair amount of refuse clinging to the sides and grating on the bottom of the tank. The smell was only just bearable.

After a few seconds Loomie commented “I haven’t seen Lewis”.

Doc looked toward the access hatch. “Plenty of places on here for him to hide”, she mused.

“Yeah, maybe”. Loomie stopped to look at her own gloved hands. “Sorry about your gloves”.

“Don’t worry”, Doc glanced at the once-sterile blue latex covers on her own hands. “I still have a couple pair left. Fortunately this crew has managed to avoid getting shot these past few weeks”.

Their conversation was interrupted by someone pounding on the side of tank. Loomie and Doc glared in the general direction of the pounding and resumed searching.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

An hour passed with no sign of their goal. Gerrin was fairly certain they had been moving away from the ship, but were nowhere close to the others.

As he continued pushing through the overgrown plants he heard one of the pirates talking on the radio. He couldn’t make out the conversation in Spanish, but he knew it had something to do with what they were looking for.

Wiping the sweat from his forehead, Gerrin tested his theory. “So, what? Did they find what you’re looking for?”

The pirate guarding them stared at him. “No, they didn’t, so you get to keep looking”.

“Have you even figured out what this thing looks like?”

Jeffe says it’s a pouch”, the man answered him. “A big-ish blue pouch”.

“What’s in the pouch?”

“Something the Alliance doesn’t want anyone to know about”.

“Alliance?” Aldous jumped in. “You’re doing dirty work for the Alliance?”

The guard laughed. “We work for ourselves, amigo, and why do you need to know?”

Gerrin huffed “Well, we’re good as dead, anyway. We can’t know why we got to die?”

“We got another buyer”, his captor answered. “He’s offering twice what the Alliance guy offered”.

“And you don’t even know what it is?”

“Just that it’s in a biggish blue pouch and all sealed up”.

Inabran exploded “Oh I’ve had ENOUGH of this! You drag me out in the middle of this smelly sweaty dirty jungle and you don’t even know what you’re LOOKING FOR?!? ENOUGH!! Take me back to that flying piece of luh-suh (garbage) RIGHT NOW and get me in the air! I have friends who are going to make your life a living HELL if you don’t get me out of here NOW!!!

Gerrin and the quiet pirate turned toward her angrily, but the pirate spoke first. “Shut up and get back to looking or we’ll shoot you right now!” The man pointed his rifle at her.

Gerrin feigned outrage. “Hey! Why do you get to shoot her? She’s been running down my ship ever since she got on it! If anyone gets to shoot her it should be ME!”

Aldous countered “Hey, wait a minute! I’m the one who keeps that ‘flying piece of luh-suh’ in the air! She comes in there and says I’m not doing MY job? Says I don’t take care of MY ship? She insulted me first! I should get first shot at her!”

The first pirate raised his weapon. “Both of you knock it off!”


Aldous turned on Gerrin. “YOUR ship wouldn’t even get in the air if not for me!”

Losing patience, the two pirates stormed toward Gerrin and Aldous, raising their weapons. The first shouted “Both of you shut up right-“

Gerrin grabbed the first pirate by the rifle, yanked the rifle toward him and rammed it back into the pirate’s face. Pulling it back rapidly he repeated the motion. The pirate fell over backwards. Gerrin pounced on the man and hit him twice more, knocking the man unconscious.

Gerrin looked up to where Aldous was still struggling with his captor. Aldous had managed to get the pirate’s rifle from him and was swinging it like a stick, hitting the man with the buttstock, then with the barrel. Finally he pulled the weapon back, rammed the man in the stomach, then in the head. The man went down, unconscious. Aldous stood over his enemy, panting, and looked at Gerrin. “You couldn’t just jump in and help, could you?” Aldous huffed sourly.

“You got through with yours a few seconds after I finished mine” Gerrin replied, panting less heavily. “You’re getting better at this”.

“Yeah, right”, Aldous grumped.

Gerrin looked around. “Any guesses as to where the ship is?”

Aldous shook his head as he wiped his hands. “Best just go back the way we came and listen for the others”.

“Let’s do it then. We’ll tie these two up and get on with it”.

“Wait a minute!” Inabran stopped them. “I have somewhere important to be! Take me back to that thing you call a ship RIGHT NOW!

Gerrin stepped toward her, stopping inches from her face. “You want to get back to the ship?” he said quietly. “Start working with us. If you don’t want to do that, we can leave you here. You’ve already been more trouble than you’re worth”.

“Maybe we should just tie her up with them”, Aldous suggested as he tore one of the pirate’s shirts for bindings.

“I’m thinking about it”, Gerrin admitted.

Inabran looked at both of them, outraged, but remained silent as Gerrin and Aldous tied the two pirates together on the ground back-to-back. Finished, Gerrin said “Let’s go” and started back the way they came. Inabran, falling in between Gerrin and Aldous, made a face at Gerrin’s back, but continued on, complaining at a barely audible volume.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Doc and Loomie climbed out of the access hatch in the Troll’s refuse collection tank, their clothes covered in some of the contents of the tank. “Whatever it is, it’s not in there”, Loomie informed the guards coldly.

The guard sighed. “Fine. We’re hungry. Clean up and go make us some food”.

Loomie stared at him. “What?”

Doc gestured toward her soiled clothing. “It’s going to take awhile to get cleaned up”.

“You have ten minutes”.

Loomie started “We’re not going to-“

The guard grabbed Loomie by her shoulder-length hair and yanked her head backwards. “I’ve had enough of your attitude, bitch”, he hissed as Loomie cried out, struggling painfully.

“Hey!” Doc started.

“Let her go, José”, his partner said. “Jeffe doesn’t want ‘em damaged just yet”.

Doc put up her hands. “Let her go and we’ll get you something to eat”, she offered.

José looked at Doc, then his partner, then shrugged and released Loomie, who fell to her knees. “Fine”. Bending down on his victim, he grinned “But you and me gonna have some fun, later”.

Doc bent down and helped a wincing Loomie to her feet. Leading her toward the mess area, Doc said in a low voice “Just play along for now. It’s all we can do”.

Rubbing her neck, Loomie protested “But we can’t just give in to everything they want. You know they’re not gonna let us go”.

“Don’t worry”, Doc assured her. “I have a plan of my own”.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Anna, the Shepherd and the soldier named Park moved through the jungle, sweeping aside the large plant leaves as they went, their guards barely fifteen feet behind them.

Park looked around as he came upon a fallen tree. Shifting his gaze to the tree, he called out “Shepherd, help me move this tree, there’s something underneath it”.

“That tree’s been there for awhile, son”, McGarrity answered. “I don’t think you’ll find anything underneath there”.

“I see something partway under it”, Park responded. “Just help me move it a little”.

McGarrity stepped forward, brushing a fern out of the way and bracing himself against the trunk.

As they both pushed, Park murmured “Look over there, by that short tree that looks like a palm”.

McGarrity rolled over, putting his shoulders against the tree and giving him a chance to look where Park indicated. Peering carefully he recognized the Troll’s captain and engineer moving out from behind a large fern-like plant. Gerrin motioned to them to keep the guards’ attention toward them. McGarrity nodded slightly, indicating he understood, then pushed as if to move the tree. Bracing himself once more, he pushed with Park, grunting loudly so neither of their captors would hear Gerrin and Aldous creeping up behind them. Only when it was too late did the guards turn to see the two crewmates from the Troll charging toward them. They tried to raise their weapons, but Gerrin and Aldous were on them, knocking them to the ground. Gerrin finished his with a blow to the jaw, while Aldous struggled with his. Gerrin looked up from his to see Shepherd McGarrity intervene with Aldous and his pirate. McGarrity grabbed the guard by the wrist, bending it outward. Twisting the pirate’s arm around his back, McGarrity pinned the man until the pirate twisted and landed a fist on the shepherd’s face. McGarrity took the blow and staggered back. The pirate came at him again, and this time as the thug swung toward him, he swung his own arm in an arc, deflecting the incoming fist and travelling down the thug’s arm until McGarrity could grab his wrist. He swung the trapped arm and shoulder into and through the pirate’s chest, throwing his upper body down as his feet came up and over his head. As the pirate hit the ground, Aldous was back on top of him, landing two blows which knocked the thug out.

Gerrin stood up from his opponent, eyeing the scene. “Everyone all right?” he asked.

Everyone nodded but Aldous. “We gonna have to do much more of this?” he huffed.

“Just a bit”, Gerrin assured him, regaining his own breath. Turning his eyes to McGarrity he remarked “Pretty good fighting, shepherd”.

“Martial Arts”, McGarrity smiled. “It’s a hobby of mine back at home”.

“I thought religious types frowned on violence”.

“I like to think of it as neutralizing violence”.

Inabran stepped down from her hiding place. “Oh, you’re all savages” she groused.

“Be glad”, Anna said to her as she came up beside Gerrin. “How’d you guys get loose?”

Gerrin gestured toward the companion. “Thank Inabran: she honked everybody off and that distracted the guards and gave us our chance”.

Aldous smiled smugly “Yeah, she’s real good at honking people off”.

"BUN tyen-shung duh ee-DWAY-RO (Stupid inbred stack of meat)!” Inabran snapped at both Aldous and Gerrin.

Oooohh, such common language!” Aldous mocked her.

“All right, all right, that’s enough from both of you”. Gerrin picked up one of the pirates’ guns and handed it to Anna. “Here”, he said. "Take this and cover our six. We have to find the others”.

Park stepped forward. “I can do that, sir”.

Gerrin turned to him. “I have something else for you to do, you and Aldous”.

“Okay”, Park conceded. Looking from Anna to Gerrin, he asked quietly “Can she handle that?”

“Better than you know”, Gerrin assured him. Turning to McGarrity, he asked “Shepherd, how would you feel about neutralizing a little more violence?”

“Only insofar as keeping them from harming our people”, McGarrity answered.

“Good. Because we need to move while our luck is still holding. Now, here's the plan…”

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



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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…