BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

MIKEBROOME

Tales From the Nordic Troll - #8: Business as Usual (part 5)
Wednesday, March 16, 2016

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.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1816    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

“What do you make of it?”

Gerrin squinted through his well-worn optical binoculars from their position crouched behind a rust-red boulder on a hill overlooking a plain containing the compound. “Adobe buildings and Quonset huts, one small tower, maybe six boats on the field. Couple of big tanks by the tower, probably for fuel. Homemade razor wire all around”.

They had landed the Troll on Paquin outside of a small town to minimize attention. They questioned several locals, whose only responses were either “I don’ know nothin’”, or “Giddouttahere!” in English or Chinese. Obviously they were afraid of Reznor. Eventually Gerrin had had to grease the right palm.

“Yeah, if your guy’s been grabbed, most likely it’s Reznor”, the scruffy young man had told them.

“And where do we find ‘Reznor’?” Gerrin had asked.

The man pointed. “Follow that road, ‘bout forty clicks out of town, just past the mountains, you’ll see it”.

“Good enough”. Gerrin handed the man a twenty credit note.

“Hey!” the man exclaimed. “Where’s the rest?”

Gerrin looked around. “Be in front of that building in two hours. If you data’s good, you get the rest”. Gerrin turned and boarded the truck.

“Who’s Reznor?” Wilkins had asked as they boarded the truck to head for the compound.

”Reilly’s first boss”, Gerrin answered. “Trained him up, then wanted him to take from the local peasants. Reilly disagreed, so he robbed the people, then robbed Reznor and gave it back. Reznor wasn’t happy, so he set Reilly up for prison. That’s where we met”.

“Boy, you guys just know all the right people”, Park had commented.

“Occupational hazard”, Gerrin responded as they drove away.

-

An hour later they crouched behind the rocks across a plain from Reznor’s compound, scanning the buildings and the field in front of them. Gerin swung his well-worn field binoculars slowly from one end of the compound to the other, commenting as he went: “Looks like two guards out by the gate, probably more walking the perimeter. Five small craft . . .” observing three with broad wings, short flat fuselages, and two tail fins with a cockpit in between: “Three Foxbat-class, outdated from the looks of ‘em . . .” two with flat cone-shaped fuselages with delta wings and thrusters sticking out back “ . . . two Arrowhead-class-“

“Piece of fei-oo (junk)”, Aldous grunted.

Gerin paused to shoot a sideways glance at his mechanic, then returned to his observation. “That big one – “ he gestured toward a large box-shaped craft with a smaller box on top and engines sticking out of the sides “ Komodo-class . . . looks gunned up . . . probably what they brought him in . . .”

Komodo?” Aldous perked up. “That might have that regulator I need…maybe a few other parts, too”.

“You may get your chance”, Gerrin grunted. As they all pulled back behind the rock Gerrin continued “We’re gonna need to take those birds out. No way Loomie can swoop in and do a snatch-and-grab with them in the way”. Turning to his mechanic, he asked “Aldous, how long will it take you to pull that part?”

Aldous thought for a second. “Well, assuming they got some tools in there, should only take two minutes, unless I find something else I need. Why? You got a plan?”

“More than one”, Gerrin replied.

“Plans you work up alone don’t always work that great, y’know?”

“That’s why I have more than one”, Gerrin replied firmly.

“Sounds like Reilly”, Park murmured, mostly to Wilkins.

“Just get in the truck”, Gerrin answered, turning and starting toward the truck in a crouched walk.

“Wher’re we going?” Aldous asked.

“I need those two fuel drums we have left and whatever’s in ‘em”.

“For what?”

“You’ll see”.

They made the hour-long trip back in just under fifty minutes. Gerrin immediately jogged into the cargo bay and pried the top off of the first of two fifty gallon fuel drums they had left from their last job, one which hadn’t gone so well. Peering into the bottom, he commented “All right, we’re gonna need some more fuel…” scanning the cargo bay his eyes fell on two smaller drums lashed to the bulkhead. “Get those two barrels and start filling them with thruster fuel. One of you grab a barrel and come with me”.

Park stepped up. “Wher’re we going?”

“Fertilizer”.

Huh?

“You’ll see”. Gerrin bear-hugged one of the large empty barrels and carried it toward the ship’s two-man cargo loader, with Park hefting the other behind him.

Arriving in town it took them twenty minutes to find what they needed. The gentleman who sold them the fertilizer looked at them like they were crazy but was happy to take their money. Gerrin and Park filled each of the two barrels with as much dry fertilizer as they could afford and drove the loader back to the ship, where the rest of the crew mixed the contents of both the larger and smaller barrels to Gerrin’s specifications and transferred the results to the truck.

They returned to their former perch outside the compound three hours later. Gerrin scanned the area once more. Returning to the matter at hand, he said “Concentrate on the part you need. If you get extra time, go for the rest”. He concluded, “Get in the truck. Wilkins, you and I will drive her in, Park, you and Aldous will be in the back under the tarp. We’ll go in pretending to want to sell it, when he looks in the back, have your guns ready. We’ll take him as quiet as possible. Once we’re in, Aldous, you’ll take Park and see if you can ground those birds. Wilkins and I’ll go after Reilly”.

“What about the other guards?”

“Keep a sharp eye out”. Walking toward the truck in a slight crouch, Gerrin said “Let’s go”.

The guard at the gate yawned. He’d been on watch for hours and, as usual, nothing had happened. He’d be glad to get off and . . . wait a minute, what’s that? Looked like some sort of small cargo truck coming at him from the hills. He watched as the truck grew closer. Two people in the cab, didn’t seem to be in much of a hurry. He readied his rifle, just in case. The truck slowed as it approached the gate. Rolling to a stop in front of the guard, the man and woman in the cab opened the doors and got out. “Hi there”, the man grinned. “How y’all doin?”

“Somethin’ you want?” the guard demanded in a surly tone.

“Couple guys in town said there’s some people out here might be interested in buyin’ a truck”.

“Who you talk to?”

Gerrin gestured with his hands. “’Bout yay high, curly hair, wears an old cowhide coat, said you needed some cargo-movin’ vehicles”.

The guard cocked his rifle. “Don’ know no one like that, an’ no one here’s buyin’ a truck”. The guard waved the muzzle in Gerrin’s direction. “Now git on outta here”.

Wilkins feigned a sigh, holding her hands halfway up. “Told you they weren’t interested”, she chided Gerrin.

“Now, wait a minute”, Gerrin protested, his own hands raised. “Before you say no, take a good look at her”. Stepping sideways toward the driver’s side Gerrin turned and made his way around to the back of the truck. “She’s built tough”, he continued, “good on the go-juice, and she’s got this”, he continued, slapping the tarpaulin in the rear bed.

The guard followed him. “Huh? What’s that?”

The guard leaned over to get a look at what it was Gerrin was talking about. As Gerrin pulled back the tarp Aldous and Park sprang up with guns raised. The guard froze and Gerrin relieved him of his rifle. “Now”, Gerrin commanded, “You and yours have one of mine around here. Where is he?”

“Jamie Reilly?”

Gerrin nodded.

“Y’ain’t gonna get him back that easy”, the guard sneered. “More of ours be out here any minute”.

“We’ll see”, Gerrin replied, turning to Wilkins. “Wilkins, tie him up on that gate. Aldous, Park, do a quick sweep and see if you can find that other guard”.

A shot rang out, bouncing off the hood of the truck with a loud PING!. Gerrin, his crew and their prisoner all instinctively ducked. “I think he found us!” Aldous exclaimed.

The guard, seeing his chance, took off across the open field. Gerrin crouched behind the truck, followed by Park, Aldous and Wilkins. Shots continued to ping off of the truck and kick up dirt around the ends as Gerrin reached over and yanked the handle on the passenger side door. “When I turn the truck, get in!” he yelled as he half-crawled across the seat to the driver’s side.

Gerrin cranked the wheel and the truck lurched forward between the crew and the hostile fire. Wilkins jumped in the passenger’s side as Park and Aldous dove into the back of the truck. Spitting dirt and sand from the rear tires, the truck took off toward the large transport parked on the field, bullets bouncing from the side. Gerrin skidded to a halt behind the Komodo. “Get in there, we’ll cover you!” Gerrin yelled to Aldous and Park as he drew his pistol. Firing two shots, he grabbed for the comlink. “Loomie, get in the air! Things are getting real frantic real fast!”

“On my way”, Loomie responded.

Ping! Another bullet ricocheted off the hood of the truck. Gerrin shot back. “How many do you count?”

“Four! Two by that main door, two from the windows next to it!” Wilkins yelled.

Crack! Wilkins saw one of the shooters from the windows fall back inside. Looking around she saw Park in the doorway of theKomodo, rifle in hand. As Park looked toward Wilkins, she gave him a thumbs up. Park returned the gesture and continued shooting.

Looking from the transport to the shooters in the building, Gerrin ordered “When I pull the truck around, hop in the back and get one of the little bombs ready”.

“Right”, Wilkins responded.

Gerrin turned the truck just enough to block incoming fire from the building on the passenger door of the truck and the bed in the back. Wilkins immediately sprang from the door and dove into the truck bed while Gerrn fired on the shooters in the building. As Wilkins hit the floor of the bed she shouted “I’m in! Go! Go! Go!”

Gerrin stomped on the gas pedal and the truck lurched forward, spewing dirt and gravel from the rear tires. Gerrin turned toward the building, charging it at an angle. “Get ready!” he shouted to Wilkins”.

“Shiny!” Wilkins answered.

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. Grunting, she shoved the barrel as hard as she could off the cargo gate. The barrel bounced twice, then rolled up to the building beneath the windows on the far side of the closing main door. Seconds later the barrel exploded with a resounding BOOM, blasting out the windows and part of the frame behind a cloud of black smoke.

Wilkins rose up to her hands and knees to look at the damage and let out a loud “WHOOT!” followed by a harsh “Ching-wah tsao duh liou mahng (Frog-humping son of a bitch)”.

Gerrin twisted in the driver’s seat to look through the window. “Now, that’s shiny”, he called back. Turning back to the wheel, Gerrin noticed steam coming out from under the hood. “Dyermah (shit)!” he spat out. He cranked the ignition switch twice, with no response from the engine. “We’re humped!” he shouted toward the back end of the truck. “Get around in front!” Gerrin squirmed to the passenger’s side and continued firing.

Everyone was too busy firing at each other to notice a figure crawling slowly from a pit some fifty yards out from the building. Collapsing on the ground, Reilly looked toward the building: windows busted out of the near side, with fresh blast marks on the near side of the large door. Two muzzle flashes spitting out from the left side, one from the right. And all of them aimed at a smoking utility truck thirty yards out in the field behind which crouched Gerrin and Wilkins. Returning his attention to the building, Reilly lurched to his feet and started running unsteadily toward the near side of the building.

Gerrin and Wilkins continued firing. Wilkins drew back behind the truck to reload. Slamming a cartridge into her pistol, she rose to fire. That’s when she noticed that muzzle flash was only coming from the left side of the building. Squinting, she stared at the right side. Inside the window she could barely see what looked like two figures struggling. The struggling stopped and a figure popped out of the window and waved: Reilly.

“Look!” Wilkins blurted, pulling at Gerrin’s sleeve.

Following Wilkin’s gesture toward the building, Gerrin stared at his partner in the window. “Well, how ‘bout that?” he blurted. “Let’s go get him”, he ordered as he started toward the building, firing at the remaining shooters as he went.

Reilly turned his fire toward the windows on the far side of the main door. No shots answered his. Reilly looked frantically around the cluttered room: the only thing he saw sufficient to hide behind was a large metal cabinet against the wall adjacent to the door. Reilly skirted over to the cabinet and grabbed the top, rocking it outward from the wall. After the fourth try the cabinet tottered forward and fell to the floor, nearly pinning Reilly beneath it. Reilly managed to twist sideways as the cabinet came down between himself and the door. Snatching the fallen guard’s rifle, he pulled himself behind the cabinet and leveled the weapon at the door. Almost instantly the two guards from the other side of the building appeared in the doorway. Reilly fired one shot, catching the first guard in the shoulder. The man fell back as the other dove behind the door frame, twisting into the open door to fire. Reilly crouched behind the fallen cabinet as bullets impacted the far side of the cabinet. Two more shots rang out, followed by silence. Reilly paused, then slowly peeked over the cabinet toward the door as a familiar voice said “You done here?”

Reilly’s head whipped around toward the window to see Gerrin and Wilkins, guns drawn and pointed toward the door. “Pretty much”, he replied, jumping to help Gerrin through the broken window. “’Bout time you got here”, he huffed loudly.

Gerrin ignored the remark. “Wher’re the rest of his boys?”

“Don’t’ worry, they’ll be here soon”. Reilly fired two shots. “You got a plan?”

“Loomie’s coming for a snatch-and-grab”.

“I don’t think we have time”. Gesturing out the window toward the Komodo, he added “What about that transport?”

“Aldous and Park are busy shutting it down”.

“Have ‘em un-shut it down”.

“Right”, Gerrin snapped. “And how do you suggest I get there?”

“Don’t you ever have a backup plan?” Reilly exploded.

Gerrin looked back through the window: one of the Foxbat fighters stood parked on the field thirty meters in front of him. “Well, screw it, you gotta die of something”, he growled, springing toward the door. “I do now. Get ready to run”, he threw back over his shoulder.

Reilly and Wilkins watched, caught off guard for a second, then darted to the window to fire on Reznor’s men on the other end of the building. Their eyes darted back and forth between the enemy and the field as Gerrin darted from behind the building across the field, firing on Reznor’s men as he went.

"Kwong-juh duh (nuts)”, Wilkins snorted.

“Yeah, he’s a special kind of genius”, Reilly conceded.

Reaching the fighter sitting nearest the building he squeezed into the half-open hatch to the fighter. An eternity later Reilly and Wilkins heard the crescendo hum of the fighter’s engines revving up. Turning, they watched as the fighter lurched into the air, turning and advancing on the building. Fire belched from the fighter’s weapons as Gerrin attacked the building.

Reilly smacked Wilkins on the arm. “All right, let’s go!” he shouted, starting for the Komodo. Wilkins bounded behind him toward the transport, ninety meters across the field from them. Gerrin continued to fire on the building while Park covered their flight from the hatch to the transport. Reilly and Wilkins sprinted across the open ground as fast as they could, ignoring the occasional puff of dirt kicked up around their feet by an incoming bullet.

Bounding up the ramp, Wilkins turned and started firing with Park, while Reilly paced quickly through the ship, recounting his steps to where he’d been held, to try to find the engine room and Aldous.

Reilly found him squeezing out of the tiny engine room just down the passageway from where he’d been held, holding a large part under one arm. “Aldous!”

Aldous looked up blankly. “Welcome back, man”.

Reilly grabbed his shoulder, holding himself up as he paused to catch his breath. “Fix this ship, quick”.

Huh?

Reilly gestured around him. “This is our ride outta here”.

“Oh, Tai-kong suo-yo duh shing-chiou sai-jin wuh duh pee-goo (All the planets in space flushed into my butt), I just got it put down!”

"Well, put it back up! Nick’s out there holding Reznor’s flunkies off and we gotta get outta here! Like right now!”

Aldous snarled something incoherent and turned to crawl back through the hatch. “And there’s one other thing”, Reilly added.

Aldous turned to glare at him.

From the doorway of the transport Park and Wilkins fired on Reznor’s henchmen in the building. Gerrin, flitting from side to side of the building like a drunken wasp, fired on the doorway and windows from the sky.

“How you doin’?” Wilkins shouted.

“Half a mag left, maybe!” Park responded as a bullet pinged loudly off the door support beside him. “I’m going to single shot!”

Gerrin continued to fire from above and in front of the building. Glancing at the heads-up display every few seconds he watched his supplies of ammunition and fuel. He guessed he had five more minutes before he would have to set down or fall out of the sky.

-

“You want to do what?” Lewis demanded on the screen.

“You heard me”, Reilly responded from the pilot’s seat of the Komodo. Lewis Howard was on the other end of the vidlink. “I need to blow a fuel tank from a distance”.

“Well, blowing it is easy enough, but doing it from somewhere else, that could be tricky”, Lewis said doubtfully.

“Well, you’re not gonna get here quick enough, so I have to slow these guys down”.

Lewis thought for a second. “Okay, get Aldous on the line”.

“Right here”, Aldous leaned into Lewis’s view.

-

As bullets pinged off the hull of Gerrin’s commandeered Foxbat fighter, an alarm beeped loudly on the pilot’s console. Gerrin stared at the small weapons status board: 200 rounds of ammunition left. Shifting his eyes, Gerrin scanned the fuel gage for the thrusters: the needle was almost at red line. Well,he thought, here goes everything. Squeezing the trigger he pulled back on the thruster control and pointed the nose of the craft toward the doors of the building, emptying his guns as the low fuel shutdown alarm sounded. Gerrin pressed himself into the seat and braced himself against the console, riding the Foxbat as it dove straight into the doors. He felt himself being thrown forward against the console as the fighter crashed into the doors with a loud crunch. His eyes blurred, his ears buzzed, but he stayed conscious. Shaking his head to clear it, Gerrin pulled on the release levers for the cockpit canopy: nothing happened. Drawing his gun, he fired three closely-spaced shots into the canopy. Ramming his fist into the canopy between the holes, he managed to break open a hole just big enough to squeeze through.

Gerrin popped his head through the hole and scanned the field: Reilly and Aldous were sprinting across the field to the nearest Arrowhead fighter. Gerrin wriggled through the hole he had made, slid along the canopy and dropped to the ground, firing at Reznor’s reinforcements as he followed them to the fighter. As Gerrin ducked behind the fighter, Reilly remarked “That was the worst landing I’ve ever seen”.

“You’d rather have your buddies back?” Gerrin huffed. “What’s happening?”

“I’m rigging a bye-bye present for Reznor”, Reilly replied.

“Oh, yeah, so why am I the one in the pilot’s seat?” Aldous shot back.

“Just do your thing”, Reilly snapped, waving at the console.

“Done”. Aldous launched himself out of the pilot’s seat. “You do yours”, he shot back.

Reilly dropped into the seat as Aldous turned to Gerrin. “I need to get that truck and those bombs up against those fuel tanks. Will it still roll?”

“Should”, Gerrin replied. “How you plan on getting to it?”

“Run like hell, push like hell, move those bombs to the fuel tanks”. Reilly held up a comlink with two bare wires, roughly three inches long, protruding from the top. “I can set of the bombs with this”, he continued hurriedly, “the bombs’ll set off the fuel tanks, and we’re outta here”.

“And you bitch about my plans”, Gerrin grumped.

“You coming?” Reilly demanded as he headed for the hatch.

Gerrin and Aldous fell in behind him as they all sprinted toward the disabled truck. Positioning themselves in front of the hood, Gerrin and Reilly ground their feet into the dirt and pushed as hard as they could while Aldous steered. The truck resisted, then slowly started rolling, an occasional shot kicking up dirt around the tires. Reznor’s men fired sporadically in their direction, but concentrated mostly on Park and Wilkins, still firing from the Komodo. As they approached the fuel tanks, Reilly moved from the front of the truck to the rear side, keeping the truck between himself and the firing guards. Reaching into the bed he pulled the last of the small barrels toward himself, yanking the fuse out of the top. “Just do it like I told you”, Aldous commanded.

“Yes, professor Gavigan”, Reilly called out in a high, sarcastic voice.

As Aldous reached up to smack him, a bullet bounced off the side of the truck, inches from his other hand. Aldous ducked. Gerrin pulled his weapon and returned fire as Aldous moved toward the front and drew his weapon.

They continued to cover Reilly for several painfully long seconds. Aldous became anxious. “What’s taking so long?” he yelled. “I coulda done TWO of these by now!”

“One second”, Reilly called back.

Gerrin fired another shot, trying to weigh his options if Reilly failed. Could they make it back to the transport from here? Could they keep from getting shot? Wilkins and Park had to be running out of ammo. And if they got to the transport, could he outrun those fighters? Not likely.

“DONE!” Reilly barked. “Let’s get out of here!” he rolled over the side of the truck and the three of them started moving in a rapid leap-frog from the tanks to the Arrowhead to the door of theKomodo one at a time, while the other two fired on Reznor’s guards in the building. Gerrin watched as Reilly, then Aldous, dashed across the open field and into the transport’s hatch. Gerrin made the mad dash into the hatch as Park and Wilkins covered him from the hatch. Jumping through the hatch, Gerrin shouted “Aldous! Engine Room!”

“Already there”, Aldous called back as Wilkins and Park closed the hatch.

Gerrin climbed into the transport’s cockpit and dropped into the pilot’s seat. He flipped half a dozen switches and the engine hummed to life. Grabbing a headset, he called out “Everybody brace for takeoff”.

Reilly, Park and Wilkins grabbed on to a bulkhead support as the Komodo lurched into the air and took off over the hills they’d come from.

As theKomodo receded into the distance, two men, Reznor and one henchman, squirmed through the hatch of the nearest Arrowhead, the henchman plopping in the pilot’s seat with Reznor wedging himself in behind him. “Get us up there an’ get us after him”, Reznor barked.

The henchman flipped several switches and pushed several buttons. Flipping the ignition switch, he paused, waiting for the crescendo hum of the engines. Silence.

“GET US AFTER HIM!!!” Reznor roared.

As Reznor’s henchman frantically flipped the switch again and again the video screen flashed to life revealing a glaring Reilly, informing them icily “Now you find out what happens when you cross me in three…two…”

The last thing Reznor, the pilot and the men on the field were aware of in life was a bright, blinding light, searing heat and a deafening BOOM as the bombs in the truck exploded, setting off the tanks and engulfing the entire near end of the field in a massive fireball.

. . . . . . . . . . To Be Concluded. . .

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