Dukk was already unbelted, up and moving. Before leaving the cockpit, he grabbed his cuffs from their docks. He cringed as the standard announcement echoed through his head, “Remember to keep your Rule of Twelve sanctioned wrist wrap devices charged to above twenty percent at all times. Your devices are currently near sixty percent.”
Instead of making his way back through the passenger seating area, Dukk headed for the hatch in the floor at the back of the cockpit. Whilst not the fastest route, using the floor hatch meant his absence from the cockpit wouldn’t be noticed by the already anxious passengers.
Having no one at the helm as they commenced descent wasn’t ideal. However, with Rachelle taking it handy in her cabin, Chuk’s no-show before leaving Drafuse and the rest of the crew occupied, Dukk felt he had little option. The window was too tight. He was well aware of the scarcity of descent slots. He knew there were at least a dozen other rigs eagerly waiting and willing to take his slot if there were any delays.
The hatch gave him access to the forward airlock compartment, which served as the main airlock for bringing cargo on and off the rig. This compartment also served as the storage for miscellaneous tools and spares.
Solving this problem fast would need plenty of strength to propel himself through the guts of the rig. The g-suit wasn’t helping either. While fitted, it was bulky and could catch latches and handles. However, wearing the g-suit was essential for survival if there was a sudden depressurizing. Besides, it also kept his muscles strong which he needed if he wanted to walk the moment, he was planet side.
To complicate it further, he was sensing his own odour. He tried to change his inner layers daily, however he hadn’t factored in the extra hours waiting in orbit for port clearance. Sweat had accumulated and the exertion was amplifying it. The image of a powerful long shower on the planet he was born, came to mind as he opened the hatch to the hold.
The main hold gave him access to the starboard storage hold. This hold mirrored the one on the port side. It housed the various fuels, oxygen, water, and other supplies. The superstructure that housed the storage spaces also acted as crude wings that made flight possible within atmospheres.
Along the forward wall of the space were the massive pump handles needed to manually lock the heat shield panels in place. The age of the rig meant these handles were used more than they should be, but what could you do with margins so tight and competition for loads so high. Comprehensive maintenance wasn’t a viable option at the moment.
The warning lights on locks 4 and 5 were blinking an angry red. Dukk first pumped the handle on lock 4. A faint pop and the light blinked green. Next, he pumped the handle on lock 5. Nothing. He waited a moment before pumping it again. A pause, then a faint pop.
Just as the second light went green there was a massive shutter. The rig groaned. It was a sound that would likely bring more anxiety to the folks strapping themselves into their seats. However, Dukk smiled. He knew this rig well and knew the message he would be hearing in his comms a moment later.
“Solar panels secure,” Larinette announced from her position at the engine room console.
She had just shut the doors which closed off the solar panel bays. Dukk could hear Bazzer next to her confirming the heat shield locks were all in place and reactor 2 was stable.
It was time to return to the cockpit.
As Dukk stepped through the starboard storage hold hatch he saw Bazzer and Larinette accessing the stairs to the mezzanine and then accommodation level. Dukk retraced his path swiftly, closing hatches as he went.
He was just closing the clasp on his harness as Annee, Larinette and Bazzer entered the cockpit from the passenger cabin. As he winked back at them, he caught a glimpse of the passengers harnessed in and peering around, trying to get a glimpse of the cockpit, and looking anxious. And rightly so, they now faced the riskiest stage of their descent.
(to be continued...)
[Rule of Twelve, Double Take, Chapter 1 - A routine descent (Passage 4 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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