Dukk made his way down to street level and then into the labyrinth of alleys and passageways that gave access to the many bars that flanked the port.
He made his way to one of the bars Rachelle had mentioned. Dukk was aware that all jobs had to be listed on the public contract boards, however he also knew that was just a formality. The tendering process was just a cover. Deals were actually done across tables in dark and grotty pubs.
Just as he crossed the threshold, he was nearly knocked flat by a Sentinel Squad. They had been just behind him. He stumbled aside and watched as they spread out through the crowded bar.
Everyone mostly ignored them, which whilst a behaviour Dukk was familiar with, it was a behaviour that he was still not accustomed to. He found Sentinels frightening and also fascinating.
As well as being nearly 7 foot tall, clad in black and heavily armed, they wore fully enclosed helmets. Instead of a face, one was confronted with a black mask. There was no hint of eyes, nose, or mouth. Just a black void. And they rarely spoke and when they did it was unemotional and harsh. Also, they were fast, strong, and deadly accurate with their weapons. And they would even blow themselves up if there was the slightest possibility of being overrun. Dukk wasn’t sure, but he felt they were mostly human.
Within minutes, and as expected by Dukk, a man in the corner of the bar screamed out and flung his hands over his ears. He bent over in complete agony. The hands over his ears were in vain as the noise was being produced by the man’s communications implant.
Immediately, the Sentinels closed in on the man. Two of them lifted him off the ground and made for the door. All the while, the man was still screaming in agony.
The remaining Sentinels followed them to the door.
As the last one of the squad reach the door, it turned and spoke to the disinterested crowd, “Being in the possession of or using crypto in anyway is a punishable offence.”
The sound bellowed through the bar like if amplified. The volume caused everyone to stop speaking, but they didn’t look around or even seem bothered. Dukk knew also, it wasn’t an infrequent occurrence.
With the message delivered, the remaining Sentinel disappeared through the door and into the alley. Immediately, the conversation returned as if nothing had happened.
Dukk approached the bar. Eventually the owner came over to take his order.
“What can I get you?”
“Information,” Dukk replied.
“Like what?” the owner said dismissively.
“I’m looking for a broker that needs a fine rig to fulfil their orders,” Dukk said with a little too much confidence that clearly showed it was a rehearsed line.
The owner saw right through it.
“Who are you?” he said.
“The new Captain of the Dinatha,” Dukk replied.
“What happened to Rachelle?”
“Well new Captain of the fine rig called Dinatha, you need to find Thumpol!” said the owner.
“Great!” thought Dukk, “That thug is the last person I want to talk to.”
Duck had known the short round man since his days learning the ropes after the Test. Thumpol was a bully and a thug. Always had been. His greasy hair and beady eyes had helped with that. And he was seemingly lacking in decency of any kind. A trait that had helped him rise to the top of the black market that operated in the Citadel. That had also given him some access to the privileged. Which opened the way for access to those doing trade deals. That gave him early visibility of hauling contracts. And he used that information to his advantage. Dukk felt he would make a natural EO and considered that perhaps his lack of height was the only attribute holding him back.
“There must be other brokers working contracts around here?” Dukk suggested.
“There are, but I am telling you that Thumpol is the only broker you want to be speaking with at this moment,” insisted the owner as he headed to the other side of the bar to take another order.
“Odd,” thought Dukk as he headed for the door.
Dukk found another bar not far away that also had been mentioned by Rachelle as good for ad hoc contracts. Once more, he made his way to the bar. He took in the scene as he waited.
The place was already filling up. Clearly, the day shift was ending, and the night shift would have got underway. Dukk could tell from the tan lines, that the crowd included some keepers.
Just as he was about to turn back to the bar to attract the owner’s attention, he noticed two men entering from the street. He recognised them immediately.
They were two of Thumpol’s goons. He’d known them since his days in the labour rotation. Dukk had also seen them about more recently when Rachelle took work from Thumpol’s clients.
“It can’t be a coincidence. Not good!” thought Dukk.
They spotted him before Dukk could hide his face. As they made a b-line in his direction, Dukk slid off his stool and used the crowd to mask his retreat and exit.
Dukk tried two further bars and got the same cold and unhelpful instruction from the owners. He also made a quick exit of two further joints when he noticed more of Thumpol’s goons milling around.
“All roads appeared to be leading back to Thumpol’s clutches,” Dukk said to himself as he continued the search.
The 7th place he tried, looked clear so he sat up at the bar and ordered a drink. He decided a different tact was required. The drink tasted good, so Dukk relaxed a little and enjoyed the moment. That moment didn’t last long.
As he was about to take a 2nd drag of the drink, two men sat down at the bar. One on either side. On his left was one of Thumpol’s goons from the first place. On his right was Thumpol.
(to be continued...)
[Uplift, Double Take, Chapter 3 - 3rd (Passage 2 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 ...