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October 13, 2021
Rule of Twelve, Double Take - Ch7 (Passage 3/5)

(… continuing)

Dukk checked his breathing. He slowed it down. He cleared his mind.
“Sorry, Annee, for my tone. Are we good?” Dukk asked looking over to his co-pilot.
“Yep, we’re good, Dukk. Let’s do this,” came a calm response from Annee next to him.
“All set,” added Bazzer on the comms.
“Commencing the approach now,” Dukk shared as he dropped the nose of the rig.
Annee adjusted the thrusters and airbrakes to keep the velocity aligned.
They both focused intently on the instruments in front of them, stayed silent and ignored the scene out the front windshield.
Had they been looking out; they would have seen the ocean racing towards them. At the point where the water met the shore, there was a thin silver line stretching inland and over the horizon. This silver line was their target. It was the start of the maglev track they needed to pair with. It would take them to the citadel port. They needed to bring the rig down to just above sea level, race towards the track holding a precise speed and altitude. And they needed to be dead on. Any variation and the citadel defences would automatically send missiles in their direction.
For the next few minutes, Annee and Dukk made constant and miniscule adjustments.
The rig creaked slightly with each bit of turbulence.
The concentration was taking its toll. Sweat had started to accumulate on their foreheads.
“Breathe,” Dukk repeated to himself as he focused on the next waypoint.
“Levelling out now,” Dukk announced at the precise moment he brought the nose back up.
The rig gave an almighty groan as the forces came into play.
They were now just above sea level, and they were still alive.

Holding things firm and steady, Dukk and Annee brought the rig over the beach and in line with the maglev track. An awesome feat given the rig was still travelling at over nine hundred kilometres per hour. The wake behind them smashed against the shoreline.
Alarms sounded. The maglev track was aligned. The rig was now flying at speed just above the track.
Dukk clicked the manual controls to lower the attachments from the belly of the rig. He held his breath.
A thump indicated the maglev cradle was down and a chime told them that the connection was made.
“Still alive,” he thought as he started to breathe again.
“Ann, you can kill the thrusters.”
“On it,” Annee replied.
“Bazzer, you can start the reactor shutdown protocol,” Dukk said into the comms.
Moments later the battery alarms sounded indicating they were now powering the rig.
Annee looked up.
“Citadel operations have acknowledged our landing and are requesting control,” Annee shared after listening to the message.
“Switching control over now,” Dukk responded as he interacted with the console.

The rig started to slow down.
Dukk and Annee sat deeply into their seats and removed their helmets.
Looking out the windshield for the first time since commencing descent, they could see Utopiam growing larger in the distance.
“If we weren’t turning this rig around immediately, it would be drinks on me,” Dukk shared into the comms.
“Rain check,” Annee added as she smiled over at Dukk.
“Awesome job, you two. I couldn’t have done it better myself,” came the reply from Bazzer in the engine room.
“If you had been up here, we’d all be fish food by now,” Annee retorted.
“What do you mean by fish food? And can I get unbelted now. I need to use the bathroom,” came a voice on the comms.
It was the observer. In the effort to stay alive, Dukk had forgotten to isolate the observer from the cockpit comms.
They all laughed deeply.
“Hello?” came the voice again.

Dukk personally went out into the passenger seating area to attend to the observer.
Dukk didn’t like them, but he wasn’t keen on getting a bad report going through to the overlords for mistreating an observer.
“Yes, you can now unbelt and use the bathroom. Though, I suggest you return to your seat after. We are still moving fast and besides we’ll be on the pad within ten minutes, when we’ll get your lockers to the pad doors. You can leave whenever you like. Let me know if there is anything I can help you with,” Dukk shared warmly, smiling.
“Can I ask you something?” the observer said.
“Of course.”
“Was that a typical landing? Because I had heard that it can be a bit rough, and this wasn’t the case.”
“Some landings are rougher than others. It is mostly weather related. You were just lucky today, I guess,” Dukk answered, doing his best to hide his amusement.
“Is that why you were laughing?” the observer added.
“Yes, absolutely. Mind you, we wouldn’t typically share the cockpit chatter as it can make passengers nervous if things get a little rough,” Dukk replied.
“Oh, good. And, by the way, I have been assigned to your outward journey too. I hope it goes as smoothly as this first leg. So, you can leave the lockers in my cabin, which by the way I found to be most comfortable.”
Dukk stared but tried to smile.
The observer continued, “It appears no one else wanted this assignment. I was the only one available. Which was a blessing as I have wanted to get assigned to an intergalactic freighter for years. And it gets better. My superiors have assigned me a subordinate. Imagine, me, being a formal mentor already. So, you will have the company of both of us for the rest of the journey,” shared the observer, smiling gleefully.
“Perfect,” Dukk replied, and then added, “By the way, I realised I hadn’t caught your name?”
“You didn’t ask. It’s Kimince.”
“Good to meet you, Kimince.”
“Two Noobs! Bad omens or what?” Dukk reflected to himself recalling the comment Bazzer made before departing Kuedia.
With the observer off to the head located near the stairs, Dukk returned to the cockpit.

(to be continued...)

[Rule of Twelve, Double Take, Chapter 7 - Instability (Passage 3 of 5)]

All Rights Reserved. Copyright © 2021 BJ Allen

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I will gradually move the content across to Articles. You can then navigate to "Content", "Articles" and read a whole chapter without any further following of links.


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The hunting game went as Dukk had anticipated. Dukk and Craig did a reasonable job of getting hits. Dukk’s flying skills complemented Craig’s skill with the air rifle. However, Marr’s shooting skills were far superior. She and Emeelie worked together to find a creature and get it moving. Then Marr simply pulled up, aimed, and took the shot. She didn’t miss. The women won five to two.


During one of the men’s turns, Marr and Emeelie were sitting on their scooters waiting for the flare.


“Last night we talked lots about keeping and hauling,” Marr said. “We didn’t talk much about anything else.”

   Emeelie nodded.

   “I am curious about what your story is,” Marr said.

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After a moment of staring at each other, Dukk took a half step backwards. He then crouched down while still holding her gaze. He collected the dress off the floor and stood up.

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“What is going on? What is so funny?” Marr asked as she joined Dukk in the corridor.

   “You know those formal clothes you found in the dressing room upstairs?” Dukk replied as he composed himself.

   “Yes. What about them?”

   “Fancy giving them an outing this evening?”

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