It didn’t take long for Dukk to get the tensioning tool and return to the lounge.
On his return, Dukk found that Joantyi was no longer alone. The two observers were sitting together on a couch. Joantyi looked bored.
“We’ve been studying the public record on hauler traditions. There are some fascinating things,” Trence could be heard saying.
“How interesting,” Joantyi replied sarcastically.
“We also found the material somewhat confusing. Like for example, it says that hauliers typically try to eat together once per day and do a ritual called ‘Giving Thanks’. We don’t understand what the ritual is for,” Kimince added.
“Haulier traditions and rituals aren’t my forte. Perhaps the Captain here might be able to help you out?” Joantyi said as she watched Dukk working on the door hinge.
“Oh, yes, of course. Captain, can you help us understand why hauliers do this ‘Giving Thanks’ thing at meals?” Trence asked politely.
Dukk looked up. Joantyi smiled sheepishly back at Dukk.
“This is a risky business. We may not be around this time tomorrow,” Dukk replied.
“Well isn’t that a bit morbid. And how does the ‘Giving Thanks’ fit in?” Kimince asked.
“It is a prayer. A prayer to express our gratitude for still being alive,” Dukk offered.
“A prayer. Well that now makes sense. Prayers were done before we were awakened. It is part of The Test. The test ensures only those who have what it takes to evolve efficiently will go forward. Hauliers, like all less evolved, fail the test,” Kimince said in a snobbish tone.
“Is that true? Don’t some in labour roles pass the Test?” Trence argued.
“Well it is not perfect. Some do get through and have to be deprivileged later,” Kimince replied.
Dukk sighed. “Your definition of ‘evolved’, as far as I can see, simply means you’ve lost the ability to truly think for yourself,” Dukk thought to himself. He felt he saw the same response from Joantyi.
“I’d better get this door fixed. I’ll leave you to it,” Dukk said out loud. Kimince and Trence barely noticed Dukk’s response. They just kept talking at each other.
Dukk fixed the door, put the tool back in the engine room, and then headed back upstairs.
“What ever you did, it worked. The pressure consistency alarm has gone off,” Marr commented as Dukk entered the cockpit.
“A door hinge had loose bolts. I tensioned them again,” Dukk replied.
“Interesting, does that happen often?”
“First time for me.”
“Yes it is. I think it was intentional. It is hard to imagine the bolts just loosening themselves.”
“What would have been the impact if it hadn’t been fixed ahead of the traverse.”
“None really. Even if we got a breech in that space and couldn’t seal the room off, it would just take longer to make the repairs. It would be more of an inconvenience rather than a risk.”
“Why do it then?”
“Boredom maybe. Perhaps to get attention. Perhaps to test how thoroughly we were monitoring the rig’s systems.”
“A mystery to solve?”
“Yes, it is.”
Dukk fell silent and gazed out at the planet racing below them.
“Is there something else?” Marr asked.
Dukk turned and looked at Marr.
“After dinner last night, you said you had skills not typical for a haulier.”
“I did. So?”
“Would Mentor share those skills too?”
“And would he have other skills, that you don’t have?”
“Probably. He has been around for a lot longer. Why, are you suggesting he, or even I had something to do with the lose bolts?
“No, I am pretty sure Joantyi loosened the bolts.”
“She was in the lounge. Next to nothing on again. I get the feeling that she mostly gets what she wants. Perhaps she didn’t appreciate the knock back earlier today.”
“I can see how you could get there. But what then, does this have to do with Mentor’s skills? What else happen downstairs?”
Dukk paused. He wanted to trust her. But he was less sure now. He had an idea.
“The observers were in the lounge. They were confused about the ritual of ‘Giving Thanks’. It reminded me of dinner last night. You and Luna followed suit as if it was normal. I only learnt it after becoming a haulier. Did Mentor teach you that too?”
“No, that is a tradition you hauliers share with keepers.”
“Oh. What other traditions do we share, I wonder.”
“Time will tell,” Marr answered with a smile.
Dukk smiled back. He softened his expression.
Marr looked relieved.
“I’d better keep the rest to myself for now,” Dukk thought to himself.
“You don’t want to share more yet. That might be a good thing. I’m not sure I can lie to you, Dukk. Tread carefully,” Marr thought to herself as she reflected on her own behaviour. She had used the video feeds of the corridors to watch and listen in on his movements during the whole lounge encounter.
With that, they both returned their attention to the consoles.
(to be continued...)
[Rule of Twelve, Double Take, Chapter 14 - Troubleshooting (Passage 3 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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