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 next few minutes, Annee and Dukk made constant and miniscule adjustments.
The rig creaked slightly with each bit of turbulence.
The concentration was taking it’s 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 feet given the rig was still travelling at over 900 kilometres per hour. The wake behind them smashed against the shore line.
Alarms sounded. The maglev track was aligned. The rig was now flying at speed just above the track.
Dukk clicked the manual controls to lowered the attachments from the belly of the rig. He held his breath.
A thump indicated the maglev cradle was down and a chime indicated 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 start the reactor shut 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 too. 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 10 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.
“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...)
[Uplift, Double Take, Chapter 7 - Instability (Passage 3 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 ...