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 12 sanctioned wrist wrap devices charged to above 20% at all times. Your devices are currently near 60%.”
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...)
[Uplift, Double Take, Chapter 1 - A routine descent (Passage 4 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 ...