Dukk opened up a video feed to the passenger seating and then selected the broadcast channel.
“Welcome to orbit. I hope you had an enjoyable launch,” Dukk announced as he watched the video feed. Annee and Mentor were amongst them helping them unhook from the g-juice. He continued.
“Our flight path to the Mayfield system will take us via the Teegarden, JR18, JR56, JR72 and Maple 12 systems. We’ll have a twenty four hour layover in Maple Tower before continuing on. The 2nd half of the trip taking in the Maple 15, Maple 18, Finch 2, Finch 12 and WZR22 systems. We will likely take a couple of intermediary inspections along the way. All going well, we should reach Mayfield within 9 days. The flight plan and progress is available within the rig information panels in your cabins and living spaces. We have just under twelve hours before our first traverse. I will be around later if you have any questions. To help you prepare, you’ll hear from me and my crew fifteen minutes prior to the first traverse. Enjoy your evening.”
Dukk switched off the broadcast and turned to Marr.
“How are you getting on? Any questions?”
“Loads, but they can wait. I am hungry,” she answered smiling.
“Me too. So, let’s move down to the crew mess. I’ll go first and open the console down there. You can follow the moment you see that happen. I’m going to go the long way using the forward ladder shaft, through the hold and up the aft shaft to avoid any interactions with passengers. I’d rather check in with them later when they are settled.”
Dukk made his way through the rig and popped out at the back of the crew mess.
After freshening up quickly, he headed over to the console and transferred control down from the cockpit. He then opened up his messages and retrieved the food orders. Annee and Mentor had made a good job of restocking the stores of rehydration packs. It didn’t take him long to locate the correct meals and put them into the rehydration unit in the kitchenette.
He was setting the table as Bazzer and Luna exited the aft ladder shaft.
They both headed for the bathrooms. Bazzer emerged first. He made a b-line over to Dukk in the kitchenette.
“Luna mentioned she had seen the second observer, Trence, on the news yesterday. That incident with the Bluilda. What is your take? Can it be simply a coincidence that Trence is now on the rig that got the contract instead of the Bluilda?” he asked Dukk.
“My take is that it is just a coincidence.”
“Coincidence or not, this will get back to Thumpol. That can’t be good for us?”
“I am led to believe, he had it in for us before all of this, so it can’t make it worse. Marked is marked as far as I am concerned. You are either alive or dead. There isn’t any grey area.”
“What about Trence? Is Trence safe to have around?”
“Hardly the type to be of any threat. You’ve met Trence, right? I doubt Trence has the capability. It would take specialist knowledge to trigger that Sentinel like that, without taking out the entire rig. No, I feel that those behind this are very sophisticated. Not the type that Trence would be associated with. It is a setup. It looks to me that Trence was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Perhaps a scape goat. I see the whole situation as turf wars. The usual. Besides, I get the sense that Wallace is connected to those that did it. And I’d rather be on the right side of those capable of pulling off that stunt.”
“What stunt? Need any help?” Luna announced as she arrived at the doorway.
“Just ranting, let’s sit down. Dukk has it well in hand as usual,” Bazzer answered.
After sitting down, Bazzer reached into the projection in the middle of the table.
He zoomed the flight plan so that just the Sun and Teegarden systems were in focus. Then he opened up the map legend and checked on ‘Show DMD Activity’.
A count down in hours, minutes and seconds appeared at the top of the projection. Then a red line shot out of the Sun towards Teegarden, but missed it wildly. Then another. And another. As more lines appeared, the initial red lines faded. The resulting image was spectacular.
“What is that?” Luna asked mesmerised by the image before her.
“The DMD dance.”
“What do you mean?”
“The DMD is sharing its attempts to find the path we’ll use in the traverse. We give it the target exoplanet. It then attempts to find a safe path and resulting orbit. It shares each failed attempt. The map here simply displays the results. Red means it is a long way off. It gets closer with every attempt. The countdown is based on its calculated probability of how long it will be before it gets it right.”
“What happens when it gets it right?”
“Like in that instant?”
“Yep, without warning, unless we take it offline and start over.”
“How accurate is the count down, like does it ever get lucky and go early?”
“Not to my knowledge. The A.I. is not known to get things wrong. The countdown may speed up or slow down occasionally, but the change is more like a millisecond every so often, so for our purposes it is highly accurate.”
“You said red indicates it is still a long way off? Does the colour change?”
“The colour of the line changes as per the visible light spectrum as it gets closer to success. Starting at bright red, then orange, yellow and so on.”
“What colour indicates the DMD succeeded?”
“The final line will be the brightest and most vibrant violet, I am told.”
“Why ‘told’? Haven’t you ever seen it at the end?”
“Nope, I’m doped up on g-juice by that time, thankfully”.
(to be continued...)
[Rule of Twelve, Double Take, Chapter 11 - Orbit (Passage 2 of 5)]
All Rights Reserved. Copyright © 2021 BJ Allen
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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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