BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

MIKEBROOME

Tales From the Nordic Troll - #9: Wild Cards (part 5)
Saturday, February 16, 2019

“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”.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1859    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

The late afternoon sun grew close to the horizon. Along the fence enclosing the farm, farm hands crouched in hastily dug shallow trenches behind earthen berms, nervously clutching rifles and shotguns. The air was tensely quiet, save for an occasional murmur from one of the trenches.

In several trees along the nearby treeline, lookouts perched on braches, scanning the wooded areas leading up to the farm. The only sounds were an occasional bird or a faint murmur.

Crouched in a trench, Aldous yawned heavily. “Hey”, Reilly shook his shoulder, “wake up”.

“I’m good”.

“You get any sleep?”

“Couple hours”. Aldous pushed himself into a sitting position with his rifle. “Spent most of the night showing these guys how to rig traps”.

“They get it?”

Aldous stifled another yawn. “Some”.

Reilly nodded. “Where’d you learn how to set traps like that anyway?”

“Phan”, Aldous shrugged. “The little guy on Di-Yu, remember?”

Reilly snorted “Only thing I remember about Di-Yu is the job was more trouble than it was worth”.

“Like this one?”

“Well, we have to do this one”, Reilly huffed mockingly, “’cause if we don’t we’ll go the same special hell as people who don’t clean up after their dogs in the park”.

Aldous fought back a laugh. “That’s only for core planets”. He added seriously “But, yeah, I hear ya”.

In a nearby foxhole Gerrin crouched beside Auntie waiting for the imminent attack. “These guys sure are slow”, he mused.

“Well, they’re not too long on brains”, Auntie surmised.

“Hmph”, Gerrin huffed, brushing away a fly. After a few seconds he continued “You know, you don’t have to be out here – you could help run this thing just as easy from the house”.

“Nope”, Auntie stopped him, nodding toward the nearby foxholes, “if they’re out here, I’m out here”.

“Well”, Gerrin sniffed, “I have to say, you’re my kind of stupid-”.

“Dung ee hwar (hold on a second)”, Auntie cut him off. “Listen”.

Gerrin froze. There it was: the bird whistle from the trees they’d all agreed upon for the signal. “Here we go”, he blurted quietly as he checked the pistol he had pulled from his belt. Satisfied, he raised the rifle by his side to a firing position. To himself he whispered “Moye schastvye sevodnia blagoppriyastvuyet nam (may fortune favor us today)”.

“Huh?”

“Nothing”.

They waited. A handful of stray shots popped in the air before several men, the lookouts, finally burst out of the treeline on horseback. Two horses carried a second rider, wounded.

“Ready Rifles!” Gerrin commanded loudly.

Rifle barrels popped up over the berms, some slower than others.

“Remember, if they’re on horseback, shoot the rider, not the horse!”

A dozen heads turned to look at Gerrin, then turned back toward the trees.

Seconds passed, seeming more like minutes. Suddenly the defenders saw movement in the trees. The farmers raised their weapons to sight in the approaching attackers. “Wait for it”, Gerrin commanded.

Suddenly, men with rifles, on foot and on horseback, came charging out of the treeline, yelling and screaming. A shot from the defenders’ side rang out. “WAIT!” Gerrin bellowed, but the thugs had already started returning fire. “Oh, what the hell…” he grunted and sighted in his weapon. “FIRE!”

Shots rang out from both sides as the invaders advanced. Puffs of dirt popped up from the dirt mounds protecting the farmers, while several attackers fell to the ground. The remaining attackers scrambled toward the high grass on either side of the road. “Go, Aldous!” Gerrin bellowed.

“Cover me”, Aldous barked to his trenchmates as he lit the small torch lying beside him. As Reilly and the farmer in their trench fired toward the grass Aldous stood and tossed the torch toward the grass as a bullet whizzed past his shoulder. The torch spun and arced through the air, landing well inside the thick weeds. Flames exploded from the grass, billowing out in a half circle deeper into the grass.

“Nice shot”, Reilly commented loudly as he continued firing.

“Yeah, but I don’t like wastin’ all that booze”, Aldous shot back, picking up his rifle and firing.

“Wasn’t that good”, Reilly continued as he fired another shot, “I tried it”.

-

On the back edge of the farm a creek cut a shallow gorge through a grove of trees. In the waning light of the setting sun five men crept down the bank of the creek with weapons drawn. The lead man waded across, scanning the area beyond the creek. Climbing up the far bank, he announced “Okay, it’s clear. Git on up here”.

Behind one of the trees out of their line of sight, a hand reached up out of the bushes and yanked on a rope dangling from the branches above. Immediately several large rocks fell from the trees, crashing into the men in the creek. The man in the lead turned toward his men, then looked up toward the dangling tarp in the trees. “Cao”, he hissed to himself. “Git up an’ git movin!” he bellowed at his fallen men twisting in the creek. He turned just in time to see the log swing down from the trees into his face. The leader dropped like a fallen tree.

From behind the nearby bushes two farm hands rose up to peer at the fallen attackers. “Dang if that didn’t work!” one exclaimed.

“Told ya”, the other chided.

.

Shots continued to ring out from both sides as the fighting in front of the farm raged on. On both sides fighters lay dead or wounded.

Dirt kicked into the air beside Gerrin as he squeezed off another shot. Twisting deeper behind the dirt embankment he yanked his comlink off his belt. “Lewis!” he barked, “anything on Reilly’s bugs?”

“Nothing” Lewis’s voice crackled back. “I think they’re gone”.

Gerrin peered toward the sliver of sun still visible above the horizon. “Ten more minutes”, he commanded. Shoving the link back onto his belt he turned onto his stomach and took aim. “Almost ready”, he called to Auntie.

“I hope you know what you’re doin’”, Auntie replied tersely.

“Most of the time”, Gerrin replied, squeezing off a shot. “Look, everything’s in place, just play it like we planned it”.

The battle raged on in the last of the daylight. Gerrin, Auntie and their people continued trading shots with the invading thugs. Fires set in strategic spots prevented the attackers from hopping the fence and entering the farm.

Gerrin yanked at his comlink. “Lewis!” he barked. “Anything?”

“Nothing”, Lewis came back. “You sure this thing works?”

“You tested it, didn’t you?”

“Three days ago” Lewis hesitated. “I guess they’re all outta there, then”.

“Shiny”. Gerrin ducked as a bullet hit the dirt by his shoulder. “Allright, stay on ‘em and call me if anything happens”.

“Got it”.

Shoving the comlink onto his belt, Gerrin bellowed “REILLY! PARK! LET’S GO!”

Reilly shifted his weapon to his shoulder and announced “Take my place, I gotta go!”

“You can’t hold it in?” Aldous quipped.

Bizui, Aldous!”

-

Back at the makeshift landing field outside Shepherd McGarrity’s farm village Loomie and Wilkins had re-installed the Troll’s two rear-mounted large-caliber guns with the help of some of McGarrity’s people. Finished, Loomie plopped into the pilot’s seat in the cockpit and started flipping switches. After a second she hit the comm button and said “Lizzie, you there?”

“Yeah, engineroom’s manned”, Wilkins’s voice came back over the speaker.

“How’s our new recruits?”

“All six in position and ready to go”.

”Great. Let’s – oh, wait, I’m getting a red light on number two’s coolant flow sensor”.

“Yeah, the valve was failing so we took the valve out and cobbled out a gasket and sealed it up. Jumpered the wires together, too”.

“I wish Aldous had told me that”, Loomie snorted.

“Yeah, well he said just ignore the alarm for now, and he left me a checklist for the rest for just in case”.

“Well”, Loomie sighed, “okay. Let’s finish up preflight, then”. She started back to work before tapping the comm again. “By the way, where’s Doc?”

“She’s in med bay, choking down some really skanky coffee”, Wilkins replied.

“Okay . . . let’s do this”. Loomie returned to flipping switches.

-

Outside in the farm yard Aldous reloaded his rifle as shots whizzed back and forth across the field. Just then he noticed the farm hand beside him, one named “Roy”, had stopped shooting. “Just keep shooting”, he shouted, “you’ve got ‘em stopped”.

“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”.

-

Gerrin, Reilly and Park, on horseback, slowly and cautiously approached the gate where Reilly had been escorted out of the compound two nights earlier.

“So far, so good”, Reilly commented as he dismounted, hoping no one inside had discovered the tampered lock.

“All right, check the lock”, Gerrin replied in a low voice as he looked over the surrounding area.

Reilly reached in his pocket and pulled out a match. Stepping up to the patchwork rock wall he cautiously struck the match to the rocks. Once a flame sputtered forth and shed light on the gate handle he reached down and pulled on the catch: the gate swung open easily. “Just like I left it”, he confirmed smugly.

“Okay, move in . . . quietly”, Gerrin said in a hushed voice.

The three of them crept through the gate, scanning the area inside the wall as they went. Cautiously but hastily they snuck up the dark path that lead to the side of the main house, with Reilly in the lead. The compound appeared empty, save for a handful of women inside tending to scattered campfires and menial chores.

As they approached the house Reilly led them through the shadows to the corner, just out of sight of the main entrance. Leaning slowly around the side they surveyed the front door: two guards leaning against the wall on either side. “So, what’s the plan?” Park murmured.

Reilly looked from Park to Gerrin to one of the female drudges entering a nearby hut. “Want to borrow a dress?” he asked Gerrin.

“Drop it”, Gerrin growled. “It’s been a year”.

“Huh?” Park huffed.

“Later”, Gerrin stopped him. Turning back to the door, he mused “Let’s see if the same trick works twice: one of us gets them away from the door and the other two take ‘em out”.

“And who’s the bait?” Reilly asked stonily.

Gerrin and Park stared passively at him.

“I like the dress better”, Reilly commented sourly as he turned toward the door. “Okay”, he muttered, pushing himself forward. “Here we go”.

The two guards jerked upright and raised their weapons as Reilly scurried toward the steps frantically. “Hey, boy, why ain’t you out at that farm?” one of them drawled.

Reilly looked panicky. “Someone just come in the gate out back! I think they coming for us!”

The other guard squinted at Reilly. “Where I seen you before, boy?”

“I been here awhile”, Reilly feigned annoyance, “now, you gonna sound the alarm or what, fool?”

“No, you ain’t”, the first guard sneered, “you that horse scrub they brought to see the boss two nights back”.

“Well, in that case…” Reilly turned and bolted in the direction he came from. The two guards sprang from the porch in hot pursuit. Reilly disappeared around the corner, followed three steps behind by the guards. As they rounded the corner the guards were tackled by Gerrin and Park. Reilly stopped, turned, and jumped on the guard Park was struggling with.

Gerrin finished his man with two blows to the head. Reilly and Park finished theirs a few seconds later. Park looked around. “Think anybody heard that?”

Reilly and Gerrin looked around. “Naw”, Reilly responded, “they’d have been out here by now if they had”. Then Reilly noticed the dark stain on Park’s arm. “What’s that?”

Park looked down and felt the wet spot on his arm, wincing slightly. “He must’ve got me”.

Gerin noticed and reached for Park’s arm. The sleeve fabric was torn roughly at the site where blood oozed from his arm. “Looks like a knife wound”. Reaching down he tore one of the sleeves from the nearest guard’s shirt. Raising it to his nose, he sniffed. “Well, not the worst in the world”. Reaching around Park’s arm he tied the sleeve over the wound. “That should do for now, now let’s get this done and get out of here”.

“Right”. Reilly led them all around the corner to the stairs and up to the heavy wooden door, where he knelt down and pulled gently on the handle: locked.

“Can you work it?”

“Watch me”. Reilly pulled two small instruments from his shirt and began to probe the lock. “Hmmm…” he mused. “Mechanical…shouldn’t be too hard”. After several seconds he looked up. “Hold these, just like that”, he directed Gerrin. “I’ll pull, and the door should open. Just whatever you do, don’t move ‘em”.

Gerrin took the ends of the probes between his thumb and forefinger as Reilly pulled a small strip of metal from his pocket and inserted it between the door and the jam beside the lock plate. Grasping the handle with one hand, he pressed the catch and slowly pushed the door forward, inserting the metal strip deeper as he opened the door. The door swung slowly open as Reilly peered at the wood beneath the strip. “Huh”, he huffed, “not even an alarm system. This guy’s either cocky or stupid”.

“Or both”. Gerrin quickly scanned the entryway: electric lights, some tacky furniture that might impress lesser border world barons, a somewhat worn rug on the floor, but no surveillance system or guards. Satisfied, he said “Good. Now let’s go find this boss’s goodie stash”.

“What do we do when we find them?” Park asked.

“We remove his means of causing trouble”, Gerrin answered as the three of them moved into the house.

-

The fighting at the farm continued to rage into the night. Firing from both sides had lightened slightly as ammunition began to run low and casualties on both sides mounted. Among those defending the farm several of the women had taken the places of farmers who had either been hurt or had run off.

Aldous reloaded as something dropped to the ground beside him. He looked at the farm girl who picked up the rifle “Roy” had been handling. “What happened to Roy?” he asked.

“He took off in a trail of yellow”, the woman answered.

“Figures”, Aldous snorted. “You know him?”

“Yeah”, the woman replied, “Cousin”.

“Sorry ‘bout that”, Aldous grunted as he levelled his rifle to take another shot. Less than a minute passed when something hit the mound beside him. Startled, he turned, muttering “Ai-ya, tyen-ah- (Merciless Hell) –what now?” His eyes landed on five shooters he didn’t recognize, coming through the fields behind them shooting at the defenders.

Turning to the farmer who had not run, he demanded “How’d they get past that trap I had you lay?”

“I dunno”, the farmer wailed, “I laid it jus’ like you told me!”

“Did you cover up the wires?”

The farmer’s face went blank. “I think I did”.

“Alliance officer material, you are”, Aldous grunted as he turned and aimed at the new attackers. “Get ‘em!’ he snapped as he squeezed the trigger. Checking his ammo bag, he added “And you might wanna find us some rocks to throw”.

-

Gerrin, Reilly and Park found a room upstairs that they determined was the boss’s private room - half office, half bordello, from the looks of things, with a desk in front of a bookshelf on one side and a large unmade bed with the heads of two animals hanging above and to the side of each headboard post. Reilly went straight for the desk and the weathered computer screen on top while Gerrin checked Park’s makeshift bandage. Once Gerrin was satisfied it had not leaked and left some telltale sign of their presence, he said “Okay, you’re good. Watch the door for now”.

Park looked at him. “You think we have company coming, sir?”

SHHH”, Gerrin silenced him. “Probably not, but knock off the ‘sir’s. Either way, there won’t be many left here”.

“How do you know?”

Gerrin looked toward Reilly. “We bugged the place last time”.

“Bugged? How?”

“The hard way”, Reilly grunted, adjusting his pants as he thought about how, during his last visit, he’d jerked just right to cause a small round listening device to drop down his pants leg from his midregion each time one of his would-be captors shoved him.

Gerrin slid up beside Reilly. “You in yet?”

“Nearly”. Jerking his head toward the walls, Reilly said “Check the walls for a hidden safe”.

Gerrin began probing the walls for loose boards and exposed joints, the telltale signs of hidden treasures, while Reilly felt along the wires from the keyboard, working his way back to the main unit. The wires disappeared into the desk. Reilly looked along the side of the desk: two drawers with locks. Pulling two small probes from his pocket he went to work on the top drawer, springing the lock in seconds. Opening it he peered inside: just junk and a small box with coins. Closing the drawer he repeated the process with the lower drawer. The drawer too a little longer to spring, but once it was open he pulled the drawer outward and checked: there it was, a case the size of a boot box with blinking lights.

Pulling a small flat box with wires from the bag with one hand he felt along the back panel of the computer with the other until he found the port he wanted. Setting the box on top of the case, he plugged the wires into the port. Pulling out a comlink and setting it on the desk, he pushed two buttons and called “Lewis, you there?”

“I got you”, Lewis crackled across the speaker.

“The scrounger’s plugged in and running, so do your thing”.

“Sit tight”. Silence followed as lights started blinking rapidly on the “scrounger” box plugged into the computer.

“Well?” Gerrin turned from a bookshelf he was feeling for any kind of button or release catch.

“You can’t eat the meal until it’s been cooked”, Reilly chided. “Wait for it”.

“Just cook it before the family gets back”, Park broke in nervously from the door.

Reilly pointed at both of them for silence as the lights on the scrounger continued to flicker. Suddenly the main computer let out a starting whirrrrr and lights began to blink. “You’re in”, Lewis crackled over the comlink.

“Okay, I’m going to work. Stay online in case I need you”.

“I’m here”, Lewis answered as Reilly sat at the desk and his fingers began to dance on the keyboard.

-

The battle at the farm continued deeper into the night, though shooting was becoming more sporadic from the farmers’ side. The attackers from the rear had been subdued, but three defending farmers had been taken out of the fight in the process. The remaining resistors began to run low on ammunition.

The woman fighting beside Aldous thumped him on the shoulder. “You have any more ammo?”

Aldous dug into a sack at his side and pulled forth a clip. “Here”, he answered, “make ‘em count”. Once she took the clip, he returned to firing. Something better happen for us real fast, he thought grimly.

Two minutes – it seemed like more – had passed when Aldous heard shots coming from somewhere to the right of the gate. “Gorram it, what now?” he growled. Jabbing his head up over the embankment he squinted toward the enemy lines. Now it looked like they were shooting at some unseen enemy along their left flank. Maybe that’s that help Anna went after, he mused to himself. Either way, enemy of my enemy and all – Aldous crouched down and resumed firing.

-

Reilly stopped typing and leaned back with a satisfied look on his face. “Masterful appropriation, if I do say so myself”, he mused smugly.

Gerrin turned from the hidden wall safe he had just emptied. “Was it enough?”

“More than”, Reilly commented. “All involved are good”. After a second he gestured toward the screen “’cept for him”.

“What’d you do?” Park asked.

“With a little help from Lewis, I hacked into this guy’s financials, drained his accounts – which he had several of, our boy’s been busy – sent some to an account I’d set up for the farm, sent some to one for us, and put some of his Alliance backing into a dummy account they shouldn’t have too much trouble finding”.

Gerrin closed the now-empty safe and the panel that hid it. “And it’ll look like he just scooped and ran?”

“Of course”, Reilly feigned shock as he reached down and detached the scrounger. “Who do you think you have working for you?”

“What, was he trying to scam the Alliance, too?” Park wanted to know.

Reilly looked him in the eye. “My boy”, he began, “greed is a lot like alcohol: a little now and then can be great fun, but if it gets away from you it turns you into a real shA-gua (dumbass)”. As he packed up the scrounger, he continued “Our boy had an account set up for something called ‘official expenses’, probably some kind of payoff, but only half of what went in came back out”. Noticing a box in Gerrin’s hands, he asked “What’s that?”

Gerrin held the box forward. “Looks like a detachable hard drive of some sort”.

“Give it to me”. Reilly took the box and stuffed it into the bag as he continued “Encryption on this one was a little hard to crack. He kept inflating his ‘expenses’ while he must’ve been betting they wouldn’t be too interested in knowing exactly what he was doing”.

“They’ll know now, right?” Park asked.

Reilly stood up. “I dropped some red flags around in there, and simplified the encryption a bit. All they have to do is start digging”.

“All right. If we’re done here, let’s go”. Gerrin started toward the door. “All clear?” he asked Park.

Park turned slowly, hands floating upward, his face twisted with grim disappointment. “Not exactly”, he responded with exasperation.

Gerrin and Reilly started forward as Park stepped toward them, followed by a short, armed fat man with two taller lankier men, guns drawn, on his sides.

Gerrin and Reilly backed into the center of the room, hands raised. “Dink”, the fat man announced, “search ‘em”.

”Right, boss”. The guard on the fat man’s right, “Dink”, moved forward as he placed his gun in its holster. He snatched the bag from Reilly’s hand and dropped it on the desk as he whirled Reilly around and forcibly bent him over the desk. “That’ll cost you extra, bud”, Reilly sneered. Dink ignored him and started patting him down, working from the shoulders to the ankles as Boss covered them and the other guard covered Gerrin.

Boss chuckled “You boys ain’t a whole lot brighter than the rest of your friends on that farm, are you?” Shaking his head he continued “You thought you’d just walk in here and take what’s mine?”

“Seems to work for you”, Gerrin retorted as Dink grabbed him and forced him around to the desk.

“I know who to take from”, Boss responded as Dink groped Gerrin. “Check the bag”, boss commanded.

“Only three of you?” Gerrin drawled sarcastically.

“Didn’t think anybody’d be as stupid as you three”, Boss chortled.

Dink rummaged through the bag, pulling out the scrounger, followed by the box from the safe. “They got this, boss”.

Boss stepped forward and took the box from Dink. Turning to Gerrin, he said mockingly “Awww, now you boys just committed a new kind of stupid, takin’ this”. Holding the box, Boss worked his way around the desk as he continued “This is gonna have some permanent consequences”. Reaching around the computer screen for the on/off switch he gestured with his gun. “Take ‘em out back and shoot ‘em”.

“That might not work as well as you think”, Reilly interrupted as the other guard waved him toward the door.

Boss looked up. “Why’s that?”

“That ain’t your stuff in that box”.

Bewildered, Boss opened the box. Peering inside he saw a round object slightly larger than a fist. Horror dawning on his face, he tried to toss the box to the opposite side of the room as Gerrin, Riley and Park dropped to the floor. The grenade exploded, sending sparks into the air and emitting a series of flashes and a shrieking whistle. Boss, Dink and the other guard stumbled backwards, falling to the floor. Gerrin was immediately up and moving, grabbing Boss and pulling him over the desk, while Reilly grabbed Dink and Park set upon the other guard. The fight lasted less than a minute, with Gerrin knocking out his opponent and turning to aid the struggling Park while Reilly continued to pummel Dink.

Gerrin finally yanked Reilly off his fallen combatant. “HEY!” he shouted. “You’re DONE!

Reilly stopped flailing and looked at the fallen Dink. “Oh”, he commented. “Just making sure”.

“We need to have a talk, you and I”, Gerrin admonished him.

“Maybe later”. Reilly pulled himself loose. “You two figured that one out pretty quickly” he remarked, brushing off his pants.

“I know you”, Gerrin retorted sternly. “And how do you manage to have a wizz-bang we’re out of?”

“I held a couple back”, Reilly answered nonchalantly.

“That’s something else we need to talk about: your resource management”. Recovering his confiscated comlink from the desk he pressed the button and called “Loomie, you ready?”

Loomie’s voice sounded flat and even. “I’m here”.

“Bring the Troll on in here, and dust the camp if you see anything moving besides us”.

“Got it”, she responded curtly.

Gerrin stuffed the comlink into his pocket. “She still mad at you?” Reilly inquired.

Gerrin shrugged “She’ll get over it”. Reaching for the bag he ordered “Grab what’s ours and let’s go”.

“What do we do with them?” Park gestured toward the unconscious men.

Gerrin thought for a second. “Tie them up”, he waved toward the two guards, “he’ll ride with us”, he pointed at Boss.

-

-

-

* * * * * * * To Be Concluded… * * * * * * * *

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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…