Tales From the Nordic Troll - #8: Business as Usual (part 1)
Wednesday, September 23, 2015

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”.


Driftrock Station was what the rest of the ‘Verse called a “scab” station. A low-budget independent project stuck in geosynchronous orbit around the sparsely populated moon Anvil, it catered mostly to migrants, scavengers and smugglers who didn’t want to call attention to their business. And while Alliance vessels who normally patrolled the sector randomly made unannounced visits, the traffic control radar required on all space stations gave the station’s inhabitants plenty of advance warning to cover up any activities Alliance officials might frown upon before their arrival.

The station itself was basically a big round wheel spinning around the center of a long axle. Because it was a “budget” station, there was no artificial gravity: the wheel spun to provide gravity. Ships docking with the station would induce a spin equal to that of the station and latch on to a docking clamp mounted at either end of the axle on a mobile boom: the boom would then swing the ship out to a docking ring where the ship would then lock on to the ring and couple to an airlock for unloading. To reach the rest of the station they would climb a ramp to the axle and transit the axle to elevators inside the shafts connecting the axle to the rim - little more than lighted cages on cables.

The Nordic Troll had docked with the station several hours ago after eleven days in space. Gerrin, Reilly, Wilkins, Park, Anna and Lewis had ventured through the spindle and down the elevator to the wheel which served as the main trading post. While Gerrin, Reilly and Wilkins disappeared to settle up with representatives of their current clients and arrange to offload cargo, Park, Anna and Lewis set about procuring food stores to replenish the dwindling supply in the Troll’s pantry.

Two hours later Park, Anna and Lewis stood around a metal mesh table in an open area roughly the size of the Troll’s cargo bay which served as one of the stations open bazaars. Park and Anna had each deposited a bag of newly-acquired supplies on the rust-brown table. Lewis allowed his smaller bag to rest on the deck as the three of them watched a well-worn viewscreen bolted to the near wall. The screen displayed a broadcast of a “public opinion” commentary about the continuing state of lawlessness in the outlying planets.

“So”, the well-dressed, well-rounded commentator continued indignantly, “despite the benevolent guidance and peaceful enlightened order gifted to them by our generous benefactors in parliament, causeless amoral parasites and sociopathic cultists continue to spit upon the very fabric of an Alliance that protects them, nurtures them, and encourages them to become more than they already are”. He turned and gestured toward a screen behind him as he continued. “This is the image of the lawlessness they would have us embrace”.

The screen behind him changed from a promotional preview of the program to a video of what looked like a combat zone. Park and Anna stiffened as they recognized smoldering buildings from the town they had just helped defend eleven days ago. The view originated from a squad formation of soldiers advancing on their captain and their medic, Heather “Doc” Marshall, standing in front of a ship: their own Nordic Troll.

Ni gan shenme ne? (What the hell’s that?)” Park blurted out.

“He’s making us the bad guys in that little to-do we came from”, Anna huffed in disgust.

“How?” Lewis wondered aloud. “And how the hell’d they sneak a capture in there?”

“Watch your mouth, young man”, his mother commanded sharply. Returning her attention to the screen, she commented “Someone on that squad must’ve brought it for procedure”.

“Who brought what?”

The three of them jumped as Gerrin, Wilkins and Reilly suddenly appeared beside them in the dim light. Park recovered first. “It’s nothing, sir”.

“Park”, Gerrin addressed him, “You don’t have to call me ‘sir’ every time you see me. I’m only captain because I own the boat”.

Who owns the boat?” Reilly stared at him.

We own the boat”, Gerrin conceded irritably, “technically”.

Reilly nodded. “Remember that”.

Anna eyed them both. “What’s got you two going on? Did we settle?”

“Finally”, Gerrin answered her. “They weren’t happy about losing some of the cargo, but they saw reason”.

“Yeah”, Wilkins snorted. “Didn’t matter that we had a pack of punks tryin’ to kill us and a security squad sniffin’ up our butts”.

“You saw me tell them”, Reilly sniffed. “Twice. They weren’t sympathetic either time”.

“They settled”, Gerrin reminded them all, continuing “after Reilly insinuated we might sell them out for bounty”.

“They’dve done the same to us”, Reilly shrugged. “It’s just good business”.

Gerrin eyed him sternly. “And you don’t think they’ll take it personally?”

“We’ll be gone before they can”, Reilly reminded him.

Anna leaned in to the table. “What about the other thing?” she asked in a lowered voice.

Gerrin quickly scanned the area to insure no one was eavesdropping: most of the surrounding passersby were involved in their own affairs. “We’re getting ready to take care of that”. Turning to Reilly, he asked “you still going alone?”

“They don’t like strangers”, Reilly nodded and started away. “Don’t worry. This is what I do, remember?”

Gerrin watched him leave. “Only too well”, he murmured as he turned his attention to the bags on the table. “What about you guys?”

“Shiny”, Anna replied as she reached to open her bag. “A lot of its protein stores and food bars, but we managed to scrape up a few cans of de-hydrated vegetables as well”.

Gerrin leaned in to inspect the contents of the bag. Satisfied, he announced “Okay, get this stuff back to the ship. Wilkins and I will hang out here and wait for Reilly”.

“We wanted to look around a bit”, Lewis piped in.

Gerrin turned and slowly and carefully looked over their surroundings: an open space barely larger than his ship’s cargo hold, with just enough functioning light fixtures to cut through the thin haze of smoke and reveal the raggedly-dressed passersby. Between the passing pedestrians he could make out small kiosks under improvised lights on the left and right walls containing everything from second-hand mechanical parts to used clothing to a few unidentifiable objects. Turning further, he noticed three suggestively-clad females watching them intently from a makeshift bar: one of them seemed interested in Lewis. Turning to the boy, he remarked “I think you’ve seen everything, Lewis”.

“Figures”, Lewis grumped as his mother and Park picked up their bags and started away. “Come on, Lewis”, Anna ordered, “maybe next stop”.

“Yeah, right”, Lewis grumped as he picked up his bag and started after his mother and Park.

- - - - -

Reilly’s nose wrinkled as he moved quietly along a dimly lit passage, carefully scanning the path ahead of him. More than half the light fixtures were out in the dingy corridor and rust was beginning to show in spots along the thinly painted walls. For a moment he wondered who the hell put this place together and what kind of tape kept it from flying apart.


Reilly froze as something small and blunt poked into his back.

“Raise ‘em”.

Reilly slowly raised his hands. He felt an unseen hand reach into his pockets and probe his pants legs. He remembered the passphrase: “You weren’t this skittish on Silverhold”.

“Silverhold was a long time ago”, his would-be abductor answered, stepping back. “And as I recollect, you ran like a thief”.

“I thought you sounded familiar”, Reilly remarked. “And seeing as we had the law right on our heels, it seemed like the thing to do at the time”. He turned. “Now, do you have an intention to do some business?”

The other man eyed him. “The people I’m workin’ for do”. He looked around. “Follow me”.

Reilly fell in just behind the other man, glancing around the dilapidated passageway. “Well”, he commented, “you appear to be moving up in the world”.

“Work’s work”, the other man grunted. Turning his head to glance at Reilly, he added “You don’t appear to be doing much better. Why you here, anyway?”.

“My crew and I are sitting on some unusually hot merchandise we need decoded”.

“You don’t know what it is?”

Reilly continued “I just want to see if your employer knew someone who could hack the codes for the files. If it’s good, we might even split the profits from it. Could be a good cut”.

“He got what he wants”, the other man replied.

Suddenly, two men sprang from the shadows, grabbing Reilly. 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”.



……….To Be Continued…


Thursday, September 24, 2015 2:08 PM


Thanks! you always bring us the best "adventure n violence"


You must log in to post comments.



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…