Dukk now returned to the pre-descent checklist. He had already accepted the approach offer from the port authority and shared the access codes he got from the observer.
Having the observer on board was a necessary evil. No-one he knew, liked either their presence or what they represented, but it was the only way he knew of getting into and out of the Citadels. And that was where hauliers picked up their contracts. Putting up with the observer was far better than the alternatives, which included working in the labour camps at the Citadels or playing lackey to one of the odd creatures in any of the other systems.
At least here on the Dinatha there were boundaries. Some concessions. The observer had to stay within the passenger areas and wasn’t allowed into the cockpit, storage areas or engine room. “Operational safety always comes first” is what Dukk and the crew would say if the observer tried to push their privilege.
It was true that the observer held the power to make changes on a whim, but the crew had to be totally free to run the rig.
Dukk checked the allocated pad number and entered the coordinates into the Nav. He knew this pad well. It wasn’t too far from the bars that would give him both access to downtime and his first contract as captain.
His mind wandered to the moment they cleared control. The moment his identity chip was read, vitals scanned for and cleared of contagions, he would be off to secure a new contract. The others would be well able to unload the passengers and cargo.
His thoughts were interrupted by a squawk in the comms, the multi-channel communications implant located just behind his left ear.
“Heat shield locks, four and five are not going green.”
It was Bazzer, the Dinatha’s main engineer. He was a stout and fit man in his late forties. Fair complexion, dark green eyes and unkept long red hair that was often secured in a low ponytail.
Whilst older than Dukk, Bazzer had no desire for his own command. Interested instead in the technical workings of these grand old birds.
Dukk had known Bazzer since his first job and there wasn’t anyone else in the galaxy he trusted more.
Bazzer was at his usual pre-descent station deep in the rig’s inners. He was at the engine controls overseeing both the starting of the 2nd reactor and the positioning of the heat shields for re-entry into the atmosphere. Monitoring the starting of the reactor was his priority.
Dukk could see from the dial before him that it wasn’t fully spun up yet. Bazzer would be stuck at the console for at least another couple of minutes.
The heat shields had been acting as counterbalances to the solar panels, while they ran the gravity emulator. They deployed the solar panels on emerging from deep space. Using solar energy to power the rig’s essential systems was cumbersome but saved precious hard fuel. It made sense to use them in the dead time, like orbiting a planet waiting for a docking slot. As the solar panels were retracted back into the body of the rig, the heat shields needed to be moved back into position and locked into place. Unfortunately, space debris could get lodged into the tracks and stop the shields from locking neatly. That would generally result in a sudden and fiery end to the descent. An eventuality everyone was keen to avoid.
Dukk responded, “Larinette, how is it going?”
Larinette was also in the engine room, monitoring the retraction of the solar panels. She was using the inspection cameras, scouring for any damage to the flimsy surfaces.
A lifted panel might clip the compartment doors as the panels slid down the inside of the rig. If the compartment doors didn’t seal properly, a fate similar to malfunctioning heat shields would await them as they raced through the outer atmosphere.
“Two more minutes,” Larinette replied.
Whilst momentarily distracted by her silky voice and the thought of time together when they were planet side, Dukk had to focus on the problem at hand. Two minutes was too long. He had already committed the Dinatha to the descent. Altering the plan now would prevent him from making the docking window.
(to be continued...)
[Rule of Twelve, Double Take, Chapter 1 - A routine descent (Passage 3 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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