Waist of Space, part one of the Unlikelihood series, followed Commanders Tarquin Stuart-Lane and Meredith Winstanley; hapless heroes of the Royal Space Regiment; who were sent on a mission to the Moon from which they were not expected to return. There they met with a group of aliens who had forged a living under the surface of the moon, and whose forbears
were testing a new kind of spacegoing vessel that had the ability to be in many places at the same time.
Part two, FLATUS, follows our dynamic duo as they help the aliens build their own multi-locatable craft (and the RSR to build one, too). Will the ships be built and if so, will the drives work? What are the possible effects of having potentially three such vessels in finite space at one time? Will the ineptitude of key personnel result in disaster, or avert it?
FLATUS — Fantastically Large Assembly for Travel at Unbelievable Speeds. The most unlikely spacecraft never built?
FLATUS. Chapter three, scene one
“Put me through to Rear Admiral Farquharson, please,” Meredith said, calling from the car on the way back to HQ.
“Farquharson,” came the response.
“Winstanley here, Admiral.”
“What do you want, Commodore? I’m a busy man, you know.”
“I know you are, Admiral, and I’m sorry to bother you in the middle of… whatever you’re doing—”
“Using my dictaphone!”
“Whatever floats your boat, Sir.”
“Nothing, Sir. Listen. I have some information that may well please you, Admiral.”
“Well, don’t dither, man—”
“I’m a woman, Sir. You just called me man.”
“Just an expression.”
“What information do you have for me?”
“I was talking with Chief Marshgass—”
“He the clown chappie?”
“He is, Sir.”
“Bloody silly, if you ask me.”
“Sir, we spoke yesterday about not judging the aliens by our standards, didn’t we?”
“Get on with it. What were you talking about with Coco the Clown?”
“I was admiring their translator technology, Sir—”
“I should jolly-well think so. Brilliant. How’s it work?”
“That’s just it, Admiral. I asked if I could borrow one, intending that our chaps could look at it and figure out what makes it tick.”
“And? Did he agree? I’ll bet he didn’t.”
“No, Sir, he didn’t—”
“Dashed-well knew it. Can’t trust Johnny-alien, rum cove, eh? Keep their secrets to themselves. Can’t say I blame them, though; I’d do the same if I had any secrets.”
“You have many secrets, Admiral.”
“Not ones I can remember, though, eh what?”
“So. He wouldn’t lend me one, but he offered to have his scientists build us one.”
“So we can peek into it and see how it works for them, then see if we can’t make it work for us?”
“Not quite, Sir. He has offered to provide me—”
“You mean us…”
“No, Sir. me. He’s offered to provide me with one that will translate any language into English and back again.”
“Any language, Sir.”
“Does he know we’d need more than twenty just to speak to most nations?”
“He knows that there are almost 7000 languages spoken on earth, although less than 500 will cover the vast majority.”
“And his device will speak all 7000?”
“That’s what he implied.”
“Is it, Sir? Remember that they produced something that understands English after spending a small amount of time with Tarquin and me.”
“You think they’re that clever?”
“Wouldn’t surprise me, Admiral.”
“Okay, well done. Carry on Commodore.”
“Thank you, Sir. Goodbye,” Meredith said to what was, by then, a dead phone.
“Sounded interesting,” Tarquin said to her.
“Reggie doesn’t believe they can do it.”
“I wonder sometimes how he came to be Rear Admiral. There’s not much to him, is there— Ouch. What was that for?”
“No-one touched you, Tarquin. That’s you knowing you deserved it.”
Patsy started pouting. “Does that mean I can’t hit him anymore?”
Meredith couldn’t answer Patsy. She seemed to be fully occupied with something else. Whatever it was, she was making multiple appeals to her favourite deity.
“What’s with the Commodore?” Patsy asked, albeit with an exceedingly guilty look about her.
“I think you know, Patsy,” Tarquin said with a wink.
“Am I missing something?” Joan Weinberg asked.
“I rather think you are,” Patsy replied, then started to make some strange movements with her hands and fingers. It looked like a cut-down version of classical Indian dance.
When she had finished, Joan started moaning, too, and looking at Meredith with a strange, inscrutable, enigmatic smile that spoke more volumes than all the editions of Encyclopedia Britannica from its formation until the day it stopped publishing on paper put together.
Tarquin looked confused although, in fairness, this was nothing new for him. “Do I want to know what’s going on here?”
“Maybe you do, maybe you don’t,” she replied, “as far as I’m concerned, I’m just starting to line up my next promotion. I think I’ll go for a commission next time.”
“Well, good luck with that,” Tarquin said, “You seem to be having a lot more luck giving pleasure to the ladies than I’ve ever managed.”
Meredith and Joan came down from their relative highs and each made a steady, three-point landing. They looked at each other with a new-found appreciation, then at Patsy with a new-found trepidation. Whatever this enhanced post-hypnotic suggestion stuff was, it seemed to have the ability to change dramatically the balance of power in this little group.