Deep within the Citadel, at a console in the monitoring centre, an Observer was in a state of panic.
The explosion some 30 minutes prior needed an explanation. It appeared that a Sentinel had exploded causing minor damage to the nose of a rig. That rig was in the care of the Sentinels and the crew would soon find out. They would be looking for answers. As would the Observer’s superiors.
The Sentinel control system showed no evidence of any malfunction. Also, the recordings showed that other than the Sentinel Squad, there was no one else in the dock at the time.
The Observer feared the worst. It was definitely a career limiting situation to have been present during a successful attack by the radicals. The Observer’s only hope was to have evidence of what actually happened and have the basis of the narrative prepared before the superiors got involved and the news channels came looking for instructions.
The Observer had already triple checked the Citadel defence scanners and counter measure systems. Nothing appeared to be out of order.
The system was designed to detect and react to any missiles and even bullets sent towards the walls. The laser-controlled guns would intercept any projectile before it got close enough to cause any damage. All systems were fully operational and hadn’t picked up anything unusual.
An alert sounded on the console. The satellite thermal imaging algorithms had found something. The Observer loaded up the alert and maps. The algorithm had highlighted an anomaly on an outcrop to the west of the Citadel.
The anomaly was small. And there was no evidence of people or even animals near the small heat signal. The duration of the heat signature and size matched that of a muzzle flash.
“A sniper!” the Observer exclaimed.
The algorithm also identified activity 5 km west of the flash, earlier in the morning. The logs showed a maintenance vehicle landing and spending 15 minutes in the location doing routine inspections of the fence monitoring equipment. It then returned to base. It was well gone before the flash. A quick check of the surveillance cameras in the hanger and from the vehicle showed nothing unusual. It couldn’t be them.
“Perhaps stowaways?” questioned the Observer out loud.
The Observer loaded up the other footage of the hanger and buildings within the hanger. There wasn’t any sign of others in the vicinity of the craft prior to departure.
The Observer reversed the recordings. The only other activity was 10 minutes prior to departure. Two other keepers had entered the hanger. They crossed to the offices at the back of the hanger. The Observer checked the footages from the cameras in the offices. The recordings showed that the two keepers had entered the control room in the back and sat at desks. Fast forwarding showed the keepers hadn’t moved and were still there.
A check of the personal logs confirmed all keepers assigned to this location were where they should be.
“Dead end,” concluded the Observer.
“The perpetrator must have come from somewhere else. Perhaps they are still there or at least trying to sneak away,” the Observer said quietly.
The Observer opened up the Sentinel command console and dispatched the coordinates to a mobile unit.
“We’ll have answers soon!” thought the Observer.
Back in the wild, Luna continued her reflection.
A lift had been organised. A fence maintenance crew were to be despatched to the requested location.
Luna and Marr had then made their way to their crew room. Within, they got into fresh fatigues, swapped their power cells, and restocked their kit with fresh water and rations. Luna had also checked her rifle and made sure she was carrying the correct ammunition for today’s task.
From the crew room, they had return back along the passageways, towards the hanger.
However, instead of ascending the ladder to the dummy office, they had taken another passage that led to a different ladder with a hatch at the top. There they had waited.
In the hanger, the maintenance crew had appeared from the offices and headed over to their two person quadcopter. They had got it warmed up and ready for departure.
Once ready, one of the crew headed to the small cargo bay at the back of the vehicle. Before closing the two doors, she had stamped her foot hard on the floor just below the doors.
On hearing the signal, Marr and Luna ascended the ladder, went through the hatch, and had climbed quickly into the back of the small quadcopter. The space was tight, but sufficient. The doors had shut behind them.
The journey to the drop off point had been uneventful.
The crew had landed in a known surveillance blind spot. Marr and Luna had let themselves out of the cargo bay, slipped under the fence and moved quickly into the bush.
They had used the dust whipped up by the quadcopter to cover their exit in the unlikelihood that someone was watching. And the special qualities of their fatigues would obscure them from any satellite images.
“All typical and nothing to be concerned with, thus far,” Luna reflected as she continued to sweep the ground as she walked.
(to be continued...)
[Uplift, Double Take, Chapter 4 - Cause and effect (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 ...