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 onboard 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 being 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...)
[Uplift, Double Take, Chapter 1 - A routine descent (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 ...