Tales From the Nordic Troll - #6: Baggage (part 4)
Friday, August 22, 2014

Aldous took her arm and turned toward the nearest buildings, pretending to point to one. As they turned and walked toward the building Aldous murmured under his breath “Look back the way we were heading. Don’t turn your head”. - - - - - Loomie looked out of the corner of her eye. One of the enforcers who took their old crew was making his way among the pedestrians, looking as if he was searching for something or someone. “What do we do?” she whispered.


Nadia listened as Gerrin recounted everything from the debacle at Lotus Ridge forward: the faulty intelligence, the attack, the horrible discovery of how wrong they’d been, how his superiors pinned it all on him, his five years of prison time, how he and Reilly were dumped on Whitefall for Reavers to dispose of, his time on past ships, and his more recent adventures. When Gerrin had finished, Nadia sat silently, her face pale with disbelief. “That’s-“ she fought to get the words out. “That’s a lot to have to swallow… all of it”.

“It all happened”, Gerrin assured her.

“And Irina?” Her voice echoed the shock on her face. “I…I just can’t believe it”.

“Want to talk to Reilly?” Gerrin asked darkly. “He was there for it”.

“I don’t need to talk to ‘Reilly’, whoever that is”.

“That would be me”, Reilly responded, who had slid in beside the couch unseen.

Nadia and Gerrin both jumped at his response. “What’re you doing here?” Gerrin asked. “Where’s Doc?”

“Doc came back to the Troll a half hour ago”.

“And you came in her place? How come?”

Reilly gestured with his hands. “This affects me, too”.

“What’s the Troll?” Nadia broke in.

Before Gerrin could respond, Reilly answered “Our ship. The Nordic Troll”.

“That’s your ship?” Nadia’s eyebrows raised slowly “You’re telling me-”, she began, slowly turning toward Gerrin, “you named your ship - after a fairy tale?!?"

Gerrin winced, his face sinking into the palm of his hand as Reilly huffed “Huh?”

“What’s named after a fairy tale?” Aldous piped in, approaching from across the room.

"Apparently, our ship”, Reilly frowned. “I always wondered why you chose that name”.

“All right”, Gerrin addressed Nadia in a lowered voice, “they didn’t need to know that right now”. Raising his voice for Reilly and Aldous, he rebuked defensively “It was relevant at the time, and the other names were taken”. Standing and facing Aldous, he asked “How you feeling?”

“Never mind that”, Aldous said, “why’d you name our ship after a fairy tale?”

“It fit”, Gerrin declared. “Let it go”.

“So, what’s the fairy tale?”

Gerrin eyed him. “You’re really worried about that with all that’s going on?” Changing the subject, he asked “What’s the latest on Loomie?”

“But what’s the-“

“Aldous”, Gerrin commanded firmly. “Loomie”.

“Oh”. Aldous hesitated before continuing. “She’s not awake yet”, he finally answered. “She’s looking kinda pale”.

“That sometimes happens when a patient is sedated for surgery”, Nadia assured him. “She’ll be fine when she wakes up”.

“If she wakes up”, Aldous answered worriedly.

Nadia paused. “The surgery went fine, so I’m optimistic. She was hurt pretty bad, so it’s going to take some time before she comes to, but you have no reason to expect the worst”.

Aldous looked at her doubtfully. “We’re all we’ve got. It’s been that way for most of our lives”.

“Things changed”, Gerrin broke in firmly. “You’re on a crew that takes care of its own, now”.

“That’s right”, Reilly admitted.

They both looked at him. “Well, you had to turn me into a do-gooder!” Reilly glowered at Gerrin.

“Nobody made you do it”, Gerrin rebuked.

Reilly scowled “Yeah, but you get used to someone having your back and you having theirs, and you start to like it, and it gets like an addiction: you keep wanting it”. Staring at Gerrin accusingly, he continued “I was fine on my own until you came along and talked me into being part of a crew. Now it’s sunk in and I can’t get rid of it”.

“Sounds like you got a heart after all”, Aldous smiled smugly.

Reilly stared at him stonily. “Keep it up, wrench-turner”.

Gerrin broke it up. “All right, Loomie’s fine for now, so let’s hold onto why we’re here”. Turning to Nadia, he asked “Is there anything we can do?”

Nadia shook her head. “Just wait”, she answered him.

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

Aldous and Loomie continued to search through Freeport for work. Five days of scouring the streets for gainful employment in sweltering heat while living in a covered alleyway had left them both a little haggard. “Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea”, Loomie commented as they trudged through a large dusty square among pedestrians who ignored them.

Aldous didn’t even look back. “We just need to keep looking, that’s all”.

Loomie frowned “Nine ships in five days, and the best we can do is an offer to clean their refuse tanks?”

“It’ll get better”.

“And we’re living in an alley?”

“Well, look at the bright side: it can’t get much worse”.

Loomie rubbed her stomach. ”I’m hungry”, she complained. “One meal every other day just ain’t gonna get it. We need food and we need work”.

“We’ll get both. Have I ever let you down?”

“Uh-“ Loomie waved her hands around the street where they were walking.

“Hey! You still got me, don’t you?”

“Okay”, she relented, “you’re one up on daddy”.

Aldous turned toward her. “Don’t you think it’s time to let that go?” he said gently.

“Why?” she snorted bitterly. “He let us go. Took off and never came back”.

“Could mean anything”.

“And it could be he just dumped us in that shelter and just took off on his merry, just like I thought, no goodbye, no nothing”.

“Kinda the point”, Aldous looked back at her. “We don’t know what happened”.

“We know he’s gone”, Loomie frowned darkly. “That’s enough”.

Aldous stopped. “We need to leave”, he announced suddenly.

“What do you mean?”

Aldous took her arm and turned toward the nearest buildings, pretending to point to one. As they turned and walked toward the building Aldous murmured under his breath “Look back the way we were heading. Don’t turn your head”.

Loomie looked out of the corner of her eye. One of the enforcers who took their old crew was making his way among the pedestrians, looking as if he was searching for something or someone. “What do we do?” she whispered.

“Just keep walking natural”, her brother answered.

They both walked as casually as possible toward a dull green container-building that advertised a store on the inside. As they stepped inside, Aldous waited until the door closed behind them to turn and peer outside. Scanning the street for a few seconds, he finally announced “Doesn’t look like he saw us”.

They both pretended to browse through the small shop for several minutes. Loomie enjoyed the relative comfort of the shop, at least ten degrees cooler thanks to a semi-functional air conditioning, while Aldous kept one eye on the door, half expecting to see the enforcer strolling in at any moment. When after several minutes no one came through the door, Aldous stepped to the door and peered out, scanning the square for the enforcer. “All clear”, he announced.

They returned to the street. After a minute Loomie began half-sarcastically “So, what were you saying about our wonderfully absent father?”

Let it go”, Aldous insisted.

“Fine”, Loomie sighed. “What are we gonna do about work?”

Aldous stopped and looked around. His eyes locked on a ship rising in the near distance above the rectangular metal buildings on the other side of the square, with another settling toward the ground nearby. “Let’s check the dockmaster’s office. Maybe they got something”.

“Yeah”, Loomie sighed, “why not?” as they turned toward the rising and settling ships.

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

Reilly stepped to the window to look outside as Gerrin and Nadia continued talking. The sky was becoming a lighter shade of gray, tinged with red close to the horizon. He turned toward them. “Not to butt in”, he addressed Gerrin, “but you do remember we have to get the ship off that pad?”

Gerrin looked toward him, then shifted his gaze toward the window. “Right”, he commented. Standing up, he looked toward the couch where Aldous was sleeping. Gerrin walked over to his sleeping mechanic, bent down, and gently shook him by the shoulder. “Aldous”, he began.

Aldous stirred slowly. “What the…?” As his senses sharpened he sat up and looked around. “What’s happening?”

Gerrin straightened. “We have to move the ship. Come on. I’ll send Anna and Lewis to stay with Loomie. This won’t take long”.

Aldous replied flatly “I’m not going anywhere until she wakes up”.

“Aldous, we have work to do”.

“My sister comes first”, Aldous stated quietly but defiantly, with worry in his eyes.

Gerrin opened his mouth to argue, thought better of it, and responded “Okay. I’ll take care of it”.

“Okay”, Aldous nodded more calmly. “I don’t mean to be difficult”.

“I know”, Gerrin conceded. Looking toward the double doors that led to the operating room, he commented “Funny how family always know how to get through your armor, ain’t it?”

Aldous nodded. “That’s no lie”.

Gerrin returned to the subject at hand. “Does Lewis know enough to get us in the air?”

“Sure”, Aldous answered. “We had everything set for remote operation from the cockpit, and you’re just jumping pads anyway, so no problem”.

“Okay”. Gerrin turned toward the door. “Come on, Reilly, we got work to do”.

“I’ll stay with him”, Reilly gestured toward Aldous. “We’ll wait for you here”.

Gerrin showed mild surprise: his mechanic and his sometimes right-hand didn’t get along that well at times. “You sure?”

“No problem”, Reilly responded. “Just come back when you’re done”.

“Okay”. Gerrin turned toward the door. “Sit tight, we’ll be back shortly”.

Ju nee hao yun (Good luck)”, Aldous called after him.

“To all of us”, Gerrin called back over his shoulder as the door closed behind him.

……….To Be Continued.


Saturday, August 23, 2014 11:37 AM


Great! Thanx


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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”.