Clapping and cheering greeted Dukk as he entered the pad. He had just come through the security door that gave him access to the port pad that temporarily housed the Dinatha.
Rachelle stood in front of the small crowd dwarfed by the Dinatha behind them. Beside her stood Annee, Larinette and Bazzer. Many familiar faces made up the rest of the crowd.
“Welcome, Dukk, Captain of the Dinatha,” Rachelle announced.
The clapping and cheering started up again.
A huge smile erupted across Dukk’s face. The seriousness of the moment could wait.
“Thank you, Rachelle, I am truly honoured,” he said as he joined the crowd.
“How does it feel, cap,” Annee blurted out.
“For a moment we were worried you’d got cold feet. No one has seen you since you slipped out of my party, last night,” Rachelle added.
“Not a chance, Rachelle. Besides, it was your night and I had plans to make.”
“Always on the job, is Dukk! Good luck with it all, not that you’ll need it. You are more of a captain than I ever was,” Rachelle reflected out loud.
Everyone stopped. Silence.
“You are too kind. But full of shit. Rachelle, now how about you get on with your retirement and let me get this old rig loaded and paying its way again,” Dukk shared to lighten the mood.
“Right you are, Dukk. Take care,” Rachelle concluded.
With that she gave Dukk a deep but quick hug, before making her way to the security door.
The others in the crowd followed suit, congratulating Dukk as they left.
“Good luck, Dukk, it has been an adventure,” Larinette said when it was her turn.
Dukk, still smiling, held her gaze briefly before drawing her in for a final kiss and hug.
“You take care of yourself, Larinette. You will always have a place on my crew, if you ever are in the need,” Dukk added when they broke apart.
With a final smile, she turned and left in the direction of the exit.
Clearly she had already cleared her things, Dukk reflected as he watched her go.
“That just leaves us three,” said Bazzer from behind Dukk.
Dukk turned around and paused for a moment to look at Bazzer and Annee.
“Yes, it does, Bazzer. Now down to work. Change of plan,” Dukk shared as he looked around the pad for anyone else remaining.
With confidence that they were alone, he continued.
“I have secured our first contract. However, the pickup is in Utopiam in ten hours, so I want this rig in the air immediately.”
Bazzer and Annee stared. Stunned.
“Lucrative?” Annee ventured.
“More than you can ever imagine.”
“Risky?” Bazzer asked.
“Of course! You in?”
They both smiled.
“Definitely, captain,” Bazzer and Annee said in unison.
“Great. Bazzer, engine room and start the system checks. Annee, external. I’ll get into the cockpit and start loading the navigation,” Dukk said as they made their way to the stairs.
“Fuel?” Bazzer enquired as he reached the stairs.
“Check it, but we should have plenty to get us to Utopiam. And, time is tight, so I want to run light and fast. We’ll refuel proper from there.”
“What about crew?” Annee called as she watched Dukk and Bazzer climbing the access stairs.
“That is covered too,” shouted Dukk.
Bazzer stopped and looked back.
“Us three will be well able to handle this inter-citadel hop. Then, three new crew will join us in Utopiam when we load. I’ve got lots to share. Once we are airborne.”
“Observer?” questioned Bazzer as he started the climb again.
“Any minute now. And, I have requested that the ground crew get the hanger barricades open, stairs retracted and us moving towards the launch zone the moment the observer is seated.”
A commotion at the pad doors stopped their progress once more.
“Two lockers for an overnight inter-citadel hop! Clearly a noob being trialled on this short journey. I’ve never seen a noob on their own. They say it is a bad omen,” Bazzer shared in jest as they watched the observer and two assistance stumble through the door into the hanger.
Each assistant was carrying a large locker that was similar in size to the two units that Dukk allowed each of his crew to have on the rig.
“Leave the lockers there, I will have my crew bring them aboard. Please lock the pad door behind your assistants and come aboard,” Dukk shouted down at the observer and the entourage.
“Ann, I’ll open the nose cargo door. Will you lob those lockers into the forward hold. We’ll get them to the passenger cabins once airborne,” Dukk said quietly into his comms.
The moment the pad door was locked by the observer, orange lights started to flash in the hanger ceiling. And, a warning siren started up.
The lights and noise startled the observer, who then immediately bolted for the stairs.
When Dukk reached the hatch, he turned, and waited for the observer to hurry up the stairs.
Only when the observer reached the top, puffing and clearly distressed, did Dukk say, “Relax, it’ll be 10-15 minutes before the hanger barricades open and we get underway. Let me show you to your seat. Follow me.”
The observer stared back at him.
Dukk smiled and tilted his head, trying to hide the glee of getting one over on his authoritarian rulers.
Bazzer could be heard laughing uncontrollably as he made his way down to the engine room.
With the observer seated and settled, Dukk headed into the Cockpit.
He sat at the navigation station and was about to start loading the details when his comms alerted him to an incoming call.
Dukk answered it without thinking.
“Dukk, wonderful of you to take my call. I had hoped to hear from you before now.”
“Who is this? Oh, Thumpol, hi!” Dukk replied wishing he’d checked the caller ID first.
“I was in the area and thought I would drop by and congratulate you on becoming the new Captain of the Dinatha. And, the strangest thing happened. I get to the pad door and it’s locked. And, it appears an operator up here in the console room is preparing to move a rig out to the launch zone,” Thumpol shared.
Dukk climbed over to the cockpit windshield and peered up at the control room in the side of the pad wall. An operator could be seen sitting at a console behind the glass . The operator was looking down at the rig. In the observation room next to it, Dukk could see Thumpol and some goons, looking down on the rig.
Dukk put the call on hold and dialled the operator.
“Operator,” was the response.
“Dukk, captain of the Dinatha requesting a status update.”
“Departure clearance received. Low loaders are started and ready. Barricades are ready to be lowered. Path to the launch zone is clear. Give me the word, and I will remove the stairs and start the low loaders rolling. Standing by.“
“Thank you, I’ll be back to you shortly. Out,” said Dukk as he returned to Thumpol’s call.
“Sorry, Thumpol, I can’t talk right now. I am kind of busy,” Dukk said as he ended the call.
“Annee and Bazzer, I am switching to proximity mode on the comms. I suggest you do the same. We can open up comms again to the outside world once we are airborne. A little heat might be coming our way. I’ll explain when we are all up here in the cockpit,” Dukk announced on his comms link to his crew.
“I gather Thumpol’s influence isn’t sufficient or else he would have been in that control room, not locked outside of it. Hopefully, that situation doesn’t change until we are airborne,” Dukk thought to himself as he returned to loading the navigation details.
(to be continued...)
[Rule of Twelve, Double Take, Chapter 6 - Saying goodbye (Passage 2 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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