FLATUS 7.3

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 forbearswere 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 seven, scene three

The following morning, much to the confusion of everyone in the office, apart from Meredith and Joan, Andy turned up dressed and made up like the woman she was.

“Is that you, Andy?” Patsy asked.

“Yes, Patsy. It’s me, Andrea, but Andy is fine.”

“Meredith… I mean the Admiral told me last night, but… my God, you’re gorgeous.”

“Thanks, Patsy. Sorry I misled you and everyone else earlier, but how do you work out the best time to tell people something like this?”

“Don’t worry, Andy. Actually, no-one suspected, but thinking about it, your voice is somewhat soft and high-pitched for a man. Still, you wouldn’t have been alone in that. There seem to be more and more David Beckhams and fewer and fewer James Earl Joneses every year.”

“Come on in, Andy,” Meredith called from her office. When she entered, Andy saw that Joan was already there, and still dressed in the same uniform as she had worn the previous day. “Anything?”

“I looked at what Dad had yesterday, but it’s too soon, really. The way these things work, I’d expect at least a couple of weeks between the Admiral talking to the Minister and something appearing in committee.”

“How can we make that quicker?” Meredith asked.

“Actually,” Andy answered, “there may be a way. An earlier meeting noted that the Royal Space Regiment’s expenditure profile was rising at an unusually high rate and that it would be looked at again in three months. That was about three months ago. If you ask Tarquin, he can have his father raise a question through his Minister, and have her link it to the request from the Admiral.”

“How quickly can we do that, Andy?” Meredith asked.

“Tomorrow, I should think. Tarq’s dad can easily find out if the Admiral has spoken with the Minister. If not, Tarq’s dad can have the Minister’s office call the Admiral in for an urgent meeting.”

“The only problem is going to be getting Tarquin on board that quickly,” Joan said.

“Is he in today?” Andy asked.

“Let me see…” Joan looked at the attendance screen on her computer, “yes. Shall I call him in?”

“Please,” Meredith said.

Joan had an announcement put out for Commander Stuart-Lane to report to the Rear Admiral’s office immediately. Seconds later, there was a rap on the door.

“Enter,” Meredith called out.

“You called me?” Tarquin asked.

“Yes, Tarquin. Do you recognise this young woman?” she asked, pointing to Andy.

“Oh, Ding Dong. Don’t think so, but we should get acquainted, eh what?”

“It’s me, Tarquin. Andy,” she said.

“Who said that? I saw your lips move, but Andy spoke. Hang on. Without the makeup. Golly gee, cripes. Andy, why have you made yourself look like a woman. A jolly… phwoar… but… why?”

“I haven’t made myself look like a woman, Tarquin, I just haven’t made myself look like a man.”

“Watch his face as he tries to process that, Andy,” Joan whispered to her.

“Yah. Well. Wow. Okay. Right,” Tarquin blustered, “Don’t get it. You haven’t made yourself look like a woman because you haven’t made yourself look like a man? Doesn’t make sense.”

“You’d best explain it is simpler terms, Andy. Small words and short sentences,” Meredith suggested.

“Tarquin. I am a woman. This is me. I made myself look like a man because my career wasn’t moving as a woman. I don’t need to do that anymore. I can be myself.”

“Well, that’s jolly unfair.”

“What?”

“Having to pretend you’re something you’re not just to get a decent job.”

“Well, Tarquin,” Meredith offered, “you pretend not to be stupid.”

“Yah. Different thing.”

“Anyway, Tarquin,” Andy said, “I need you to do me a favour.”

“Oh, cripes. I should say. What?”

Andy outlined what it was she wanted him to have his father do.

“Gosh, yah, right-o. Straight away,” Tarquin said, blushing with primitive excitement.

“Go on then,” Meredith said.

“Gone,” Tarquin said, rushing out of the office.

“Putty in your hands,” Meredith remarked, “putty in your hands.”

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