Dukk return to the bar and ordered a drink.
“Did you get everything you were after?” the barman asked casually as he served the drink.
“Nearly. I am also looking for some new crew,” Dukk replied.
“And JL’S Sanctuary shall provide,” the old man stated as he beckoned a server.
“This young captain is looking for crew, find him a table and ask around,” the owner instructed the server.
Dukk followed the server to an empty table in a darkish corner. Dukk was sure there were no free tables when he arrived. He could see no other free table in the place.
“What good fortune!” Dukk said sceptically as he got seated.
The server ignored him and headed off in the direction of the bar.
Dukk didn’t have to wait long for the first decoy.
He reviewed the experienced haulier’s track record and asked her a few questions about her interests. As instructed, Dukk exchanged details and promised to get back to her later in the evening.
Next was a young woman. She was of average height, with dark hair and eyes that matched her complexion. She looked slim, but strong. She had a curious energy about her.
She was at the upper end of the typical apprentice age, but her eagerness balanced that.
The third applicant was also a woman. She was of average height and medium build. She had olive complexion, dark hair, and light blue eyes.
Dukk was slightly distracted by her beauty. It was in her eyes. Knowledgeable and a little melancholy, but kind.
Dukk had to collect himself.
Calling herself Marr, she had technical qualifications beyond belief and planet side pilot certificates, but no space time. Her skills would be useful, but he really needed a strong co-pilot who could handle the demands of space , not another apprentice.
Dukk interviewed the forth candidate quickly as he was losing his patience.
The last of the dictated new hires was tall, muscular and of dark complexion. He had dark brown eyes and short black hair with wisps of grey.
This guy had plenty of experience on the rigs and medical qualifications, but his age and dubious past was alarming. He had completed the observer education and spent time as an observer before being deprivileged. The details weren’t clear. After that he had taken on many different labour roles.
Going by the name of Mentor, he spoke very little and his gaze was somewhat intimidating. It had a similar feel to that of the 3rd candidate. And, there was something familiar about him.
“All so disconcerting! How could I ever trust people like these,” Dukk thought as he promised to get back to him later.
Dukk felt spooked, on top of the building anger.
At that moment he spotted Wallace at the bar. He was sitting there with an empty seat next to him.
Dukk was fuming. He grabbed his drink and marched over, activating his bracelet on approach.
Wallace noticed Dukk’s approach, stood his ground, but activated his bracelet too. Once at the bar, Dukk raised his stein to cover his mouth.
“What are you playing at! Those crew options are rubbish and possibly dangerous!”
Wallace smiled, lifted his drink and said “I’ll sweeten the deal. I’ll match the EUs with crypto.”
Dukk was stunned. It took a moment to grasp this. His anger turned to disbelief. Was this all a big joke. He was all for making money under the table, but that was a huge amount. It was absurd, unrealistic, and downright lethal.
“What am I going to do with that much crypto here. I’d be picked up by sentinels the minute the crypto got anywhere near my wrist wrap. For sure, I’d never be heard of again. Well, yes I could buy stuff in other systems, but I’d never get it back here!” Dukk replied,
“Buy another drink,” Wallace replied in a manner which sounded like both a challenge and a threat.
Dukk ordered another drink. When he did, Wallace tilted his head slightly at the barman.
The barman returned a moment later with a full stein. It looked identical to the one Dukk had nearly finished. The barman scanned Dukk as normal and Dukk observed his EU credits deducted for the appropriate amount.
“Drink some,” Wallace said.
Dukk went to lift the stein and was momentarily caught off guard. This stein was much heavier. On closer inspection Dukk noticed the thick wall he was used to seeing was much thinner. And the mug looked deeper. He took a swig. It tasted the same. Just lots more of it in the same outwardly appearing stein.
As he put the drink back on the bar, Wallace turned to the barman and said “Selfie?”
Wallace then took a selfie of himself and the barman. When done, Wallace flicked the image across to the barman’s wrist wrap.
“There, I just bought you the other half of your drink, enjoy,” Wallace said smiling, adding “Get hold of the picture app by Antiw, it will be useful when we close this deal.”
Dukk stared ahead, dumfounded.
It wasn’t enough that, in less than 24 hours, Dukk had learnt of tech that could prevent the overlords from hearing his every word. But, now he had been shown a way to move currency under their very noses. What more was in store?
Wallace waved his hand over his bracelet. Dukk followed suit.
“You checked out. It’s yours. I decided the entertainment value outweigh the risks of using a rooky like you. I’ll even cover your fuel costs getting your rig over here for the loading. You in?” Wallace shared confidently.
“Yep, I’ll take it,” Dukk replied cautiously.
“Excellent, my people will send you the contracts and pad clearance. The load will be ready for your arrival. Don’t mess about.”
Wallace paused for a moment before continuing.
“Feel free to use my corner table. I am sure you have some things to organise before returning to Kuedia to collect your rig. Oh, and it will serve you to avoid any further interactions with Thumpol for the next twenty hours. I suggest until you are airborne out of Kuedia, you keep this news to only those you fully trust. I will also keep it out of the media until I know you are clear. Good luck, Dukk,” Wallace concluded as he nodded at the publican, swung himself off the chair and headed for the door.
A server was standing behind Dukk beckoning Dukk towards the stairs. Dukk grabbed his drink and headed up.
(to be continued...in the next chapter)
[Rule of Twelve, Double Take, Chapter 5 - The first meeting (Passage 5 of 5)]
All Rights Reserved. Copyright © 2021 BJ Allen
If you are looking to catch-up by reading entire chapters, find them on ThinkSpot.
Passages will appear here in Locals first, but I can’t put the entire chapter here because of post size limitations. So, I am publishing the chapters via ThinkSpot. You don’t need an account to read the chapters. Just follow the link and scroll down.
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
Rule of Twelve, Double Take - Ch15 (Passage 5/5)
“Hi,” came Luna’s voice as she bounced into the suit locker.
Dukk turned around.
“Are you alright? You are all flushed?”
“Yes, I am fine. I was practicing some yoga in zero-G. I lost track of time. Quite challenging and not what I expected.” Luna replied.
“Yoga?” Marr mouthed silently at Luna from behind Dukk.
Luna smiled cheekily.
Marr held her hands up and looked away as if to say ‘I don't want to know’.
Dukk laughed. He’d been an apprentice too once. He knew what was on his mind the first time he was in zero-g. And, he could tell an intentional lie.
“Are you sure you want to try this now? I can go alone and you can get back to your ‘yoga’?” Dukk asked in gest emphasising the last word.
“Nope, I’m good. Let’s do this.”
Thirty five minutes later, Luna stood at the port outer doorway. She was in awe.
Dukk and Luna had completed the same process Bazzer and Marr had done earlier. Marr, with ...
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