Dukk cross the street to the drink stand as instructed.
The moment he reached it, the street lights came back on again.
Dukk looked around. At the end of the street in the direction he had come, stood two sentinels. They paused for a moment and then moved on.
“Interesting,” thought Dukk turning back towards the drink stand.
The barista was holding out a beverage, smiling sheepishly.
Dukk paid for and took the drink. He smelt it. Strong coffee.
“I need a stiff drink, but this will have to do!” he declared to himself as he took a sip.
Dukk made his way to the end of the street.
The entrance to JL’S Sanctuary was nothing out of the ordinary. The sign and door were very typical of a port bar.
The place was busy. All the tables appeared to be occupied as were the seats at the bar. People were also standing in small groups, drinking, and chatting.
“Keepers and hauliers,” thought Dukk.
He even thought he recognised one or two.
Dukk made his way across to the bar. He noticed an elderly man behind the bar tracking his approach.
“What can I get you?” the barman said.
“Directions. I am here to meet Wallace,” Dukk replied.
“Isn’t everybody. He is on the balcony, at his usual table. Last one on the right. You’ll know which one when you get there,” replied the barman dismissively as he pointed towards the stairs.
Dukk found Wallace straight away. The table was positioned in a corner, slightly away from the others. Clearly Wallace had influence.
Wallace sat at the table with his back to the corner. Hovering nearby were the two goons that grabbed Dukk in the street.
The two men stepped forward as Dukk approached the table.
“Can we help you?” said one of the men.
Dukk sighed, but decided to play along.
“I hear I’d find Wallace in this corner.”
“What is he to you?” continued the rough and burly looking man.
“I understand he is looking for a haulier. An urgent beef contract. So, do you want to get out of my way and allow us grown-ups to get down to business,” Dukk said firmly holding his gaze.
The goons stepped forward.
“What do you go by?” came a voice from behind them.
“You can call me Dukk.”
“Never heard of you,” replied Wallace playing his part well.
The two goon step back.
“I am the new captain of the Dinatha. I served under Rachelle for a number of years,” said Dukk stepping towards the table.
“Ah, yes. Dukk, second in charge to the no nonsense Rachelle. That now rings a bell. But! I heard she just retired. She got quite a send-off from what I hear. How is it that you were her second and yet you are here before me, not in bed doing your best to take the edge off a hangover?” Wallace enquired.
Dukk was tiring of the game. He simply stared back with a sarcastic grin.
“Not in the mood for small talk, I appreciate that. Take a seat,” Wallace continued.
Dukk sat down opposite him.
“Here is the deal. Three shipments of beef. It will load tomorrow. Destination is a local system. Must be sequential. No side excursions will be tolerated. 750,000 EUs on top of costs.”
“That’s a generous deal. What is the catch?”
“No catch, except that you need to fulfil all three loads before I release your fee, and the first load must be in the air tomorrow.”
“That is a little aggressive, but doable. There must be something else! Wait! Thumpol had this deal before. Is there a mark on the deal?” Dukk reflected out loud realising the predicament as he spoke.
“You are perceptive, young captain. You will go far. Yes, taking this deal may create some bad blood with the Kuedia black market king!” Wallace conceded.
“And, come to think about it, I don’t see a queue of other captains lining up here tonight!” Dukk observed.
“You are getting ahead of yourself young pup! Not all those that want this deal need to find me in a pub! Perhaps this deal isn’t for you, after all!” Wallace said firmly.
Dukk held Wallace’s gaze and said nothing. Dukk was struggling to hold things together. The reality of the risks he was facing were starting to weigh on him.
”You have a lot of spunk. I like that. And, now you’ve got me thinking. The Dinatha is marked as one of Thumpol’s rigs. Giving you this deal will really annoy him. And annoying that dirt bag makes me happy. That might be fun,” Wallace concluded.
“Tell you what. You have a think about it. Meanwhile, I’ll run some checks on your situation. Let’s chat again in an hour and I’ll let you know my decision,” Wallace added.
With that, Wallace waved at the two goons. They moved to Dukk’s side. It was clear the conversation was over.
(to be continued...)
[Uplift, Double Take, Chapter 5 - The first meeting (Passage 4 of 5)]
All Rights Reserved. Copyright © 2021 BJ Allen
Chapter 1 - A routine descent
Chapter 2 - Perspective
Chapter 3 - Grounding
Chapter 4 - Cause and effect
Chapter 5 - The first meeting
Chapter 6 - Staying goodbye
Chapter 7- Instability
Chapter 8 - Orientation
(Stay tuned for further chapters)
"Let's go Mentor, we've only got an hour to get everything we need ready for the next 3 weeks. The supplies are in the clearance hold with the load, but we’ve got to get them secure. The passengers will be here shortly and they’ll need briefing. Let's start with your travel lockers. We'll bring them through the nose door and to make light work of it, we'll use the vertical conveyor in the forward ladder shaft," Annee shared as she got up from the table.
"Show the way, and I am not afraid of hard work," replied Mentor as he followed her to the airlock door that lead back to the passenger accommodation.
"Don't worry, I have plenty of hard work in mind to satisfy that need."
"By the look of you, I am pretty sure you can satisfy my needs, bring it on, Annee," Mentor replied in a provocative tone.
Annee laughed briefly saying, “you’d be so lucky, old timer”, and smiled cheekily back at him and the others as she disappeared through the door.
Mentor laughed loudly as he headed into the corridor....
"Right, let me welcome you all and I hope this is the start of something real,” Dukk said as he sat down.
“We have a big challenge ahead of us and on top of that we don't know each other. And, some of you are new to this game. So, let me start with a few non negotiables. Number one, no heroes. Your own safety comes first. As they say, attend to your own air supply first before helping others with theirs. Second, everyone has the obligation to challenge things that you don't understand or that don’t look right. If I, or anyone else, overlooks something or makes a poor decision out there, we all may die. So we all must be prepared to be challenged. And we must all challenge. And, finally, we leave no one behind, no matter the designation, privilege or whatever. Clear?"
Nods and smiles all round.
“Great. So, on this rig we operate in pairs, or buddies. You’ll cover the same areas of responsibility. You’ll be on watch together. You’ll eat at the same time. You’ll sleep at ...
The convergence of two key events gave rise to this space. The first being frustration over the madness of the world and the cliff we are all charging towards. The second being the realisation that time was getting on and I’d better get the stuff out of my head before it was too late. So, I created this community on Locals.com. My plan is to experiment with this format as an alternative to the traditional book publishing path. My plan is to publish stories as they evolve, probably a chapter at a time. The first piece of writing that will unfold here is a story that I am calling Uplift, Double Take. This piece explores life 200 odd years from now, based on the trajectory of the current madness.
Your financial support would be greatly appreciated, but not needed to read the book.
This is because, I am publishing the book one passage at a time via normal posts within my Locals community.
You simply need to join the community and you’ll get book passages delivered directly to you as ...