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 spacecraft.
In part two, FLATUS, our dynamic duo help the aliens (and the RSR) build their own multi-locatable craft. Will the ships be built and if so, will the drives work? What are the possible effects of having three such craft in space at one time?
FLATUS — Fantastically Large Assembly for Travel at Unbelievable Speeds. The most unlikely spacecraft never built?
Part three follows the preparation and development of the Gap Travel Initiative (code named GTI) and the developing relationships among and between species, races and genders. Will humankind achieve the nirvana of limitless travel and if so, at what cost. Stick with Tarquin and Meredith as they navigate their route through an uncertain future.
GTI. Chapter one, scene three
An hour later, Arty knocked on the door.
“Who is it?” Andrea said, her tone falling somewhere between deeply, deeply sad and downright livid.
“Arty,” came the truthful reply.
“Come on in.”
“I’m reading your emotional state as either unhappy or angry,” Arty suggested, “and where’s Tarquin?”
“I’m both,” she replied, “and he’s over there.” Andrea pointed to the crumpled pile in the corner that was Tarquin.
“My fault, my fault entirely. I didn’t allow for his fragility. I just started unzipping my suit without any warning or preparation.”
“And he fainted.”
“He doesn’t usually stay out for long, though.”
“He doesn’t usually bash his head on a protruding solid object.”
“How did he manage that? There are only a few chairs in the room.”
“You have to understand, Arty, that Tarquin is a complicated soul. When I started to pull the zip down, he started to swoon. Now that’s not something that upset me; I think it’s rather nice when the very thought of seeing my undressed form is enough to overwhelm a man. Trouble is, he felt the need to apologise, and you know what that means…”
“A virtual slap across the face?”
“Exactly. Only this must have been a big apology because the slap knocked him off his already shaky feet and caused his head to make contact with the edge of the table.”
“But surely, at moon gravity, that shouldn’t have been too hard.”
“You didn’t see the force of his slap, Arty. It was a hard contact.”
“Does he need help?”
“Yes, he does. But not for the knock on his head. I’ve checked him over and he seems okay. I’ll just let him sleep it off.”
“Andrea, I assume you know that Tarquin has a history.”
“I know quite a lot about him, but if you have anything new…”
“When he and Meredith were staying with us—”
“As your pets—”
“Sadly, yes. But we wanted to see if they would breed.”
“I know, but we didn’t know anything about humans at the time. Anyway, it was plain to us that Tarquin was extremely keen to perform for us, but Meredith wasn’t interested. At one point, Tarquin had a fall and knocked himself out. When he came around, he had lost his interest in breeding but had become … I suppose you would say normal.”
“Normal as in?”
“What happened to make him as he is now?”
“Another bash on the head, I imagine.”
“So you think that when he comes around now, he may have lost his interest in me as a woman, and become, what?”
“Clever, erudite, articulate.”
“But that’s terrible,” Andrea wailed.
“If I’d wanted an able colleague up here, I’d have brought a scientist or an engineer, or even a diplomat. But I didn’t, so I didn’t. I need someone to help me with my non-task-related needs.”
“I think you know what I mean, Arty.”
“I wish I could help,” Arty said.
“I know. But sadly, you can’t.”
“I’m sure we could design you a—”
“Don’t even go there, Arty.”
“But it would—”
“Whatever it would do, it wouldn’t worship me, it wouldn’t adore me, it wouldn’t faint at the prospect of—”
“I understand. Should we wait till he comes around to give him his extra bash, or should we do it now, while he’s unconscious and won’t feel it.”
Andrea didn’t bother responding. She simply grabbed the nearest solid object, a vase, which she proceeded to demolish over the head of her unconscious friend (hopefully, later, with benefits).
“Bugger,” she said, “it broke. Now what?”
“Spanner?” Arty asked.
“Spanner,” Andrea replied. Arty handed her a 24/26mm double-ended ring spanner that he just happened to have in his suit. She applied it to Tarquin’s skull.
“If it’s not a silly question, Arty,” she said, “why are you carrying such a large spanner?”
“I didn’t know I was,” he replied, “I just found it pressing into my proterbium.”
“Into your what?”
“Proterbium. It’s a part of our structure that has no equivalence in human anatomy.”
“You know what this means, though, don’t you?”
“Yes, it means we’re built differently.”
“Not the proterbium, dummy, the spanner.”
“I think so. I think it means that elements of the drive are still being tested here—”
“Contrary to Meredith’s direct orders.”
“What do you suggest we do?”
“Your decision, Arty; you’re Project Manager here. If it were my job, I’d find out who is running the tests, why and where, and see to it that they stop. Immediately.”
“Of course. What are you going to do in the meantime?”
“I have some unfinished business with my support staff, and I seem, miraculously and unexpectedly, to have a bottle of smelling salts in my hand.”
“Before you go, Arty, are you up to speed on EPHS?”
“Enhanced post-hypnotic suggestion? Yes. We all are.”
“Can you give me a quick tutorial?”
“Of course, but why?”
“Let me put this as delicately as I can. I want Tarquin to remain conscious so we can both enjoy the benefits of our friendship.”
“Okay, but you must promise me that you won’t use it for any other purpose.”
“Oh, I absolutely promise,” Andrea said, the index and middle fingers (that’s the pointing and swearing fingers, if you’re not sure) of both hands firmly crossed behind her back. Happily, Arty didn’t notice, or if he did, he didn’t know what it meant, or if he did, he didn’t care, and went on to give her a quick run-through anyway.