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 GU 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 24 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)
[Uplift, Double Take, Chapter 5 - The first meeting (Passage 5 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 ...