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 three, scene three
After her refresher course in enhanced post-hypnotic suggestion, Patsy returned to the regimental headquarters, escorting Tarquin as her prisoner. She handed him over to Meredith in her new office, on the top floor of the regiment building.
“Thank goodness,” he said to Meredith, “someone who understands me at last. Thought I was being handed over to Joan.”
“Sorry. Commodore Weinberg.”
“Rear Admiral Weinberg, I think you mean“
“Bloody hell. Another promotion? And I’m still Captain.”
“Be thankful you’re that. Joan is busy elsewhere this afternoon, so you have me, I’m afraid.”
“Listen, Merry old thing—”
“What did you call me, Captain Stuart-Lane?”
“Merry – well, that’s your name, isn’t it?”
“It may have been when you and I were enforced shipmates aboard the Waist of Space, but that was a million years ago. For now, you will address me as Admiral Winstanley, or Ma’am. Clear?”
“Yes, Ma’am,” he muttered.
“Are we clear, Captain?” she yelled.
“Good. Now, Tarquin. I hear that you’ve been upsetting our friends on the moon.”
“I’ve heard their side of the story. Pray tell me yours.”
“All of it, Ma’am?”
“All of it.”
“Well. Andy; that is Commodore Smithson—”
“Rear Admiral Smithson, Captain,” Meredith corrected him.
“Of course, Ma’am. Rear Admiral Smithson told me she was coming to see you, Ma’am, and that she was leaving me in charge. Well, you know, Ma’am that And… the Rear Admiral and I have an arrangement—”
“I am aware that the Rear Admiral has some needs that she feels you are tolerably qualified to meet, yes.”
“Well, Ma’am, I thought she would appreciate a demonstration that there’s more to me than … you-know.”
“I’m not sure I do know, Captain. Please enlighten me.” Then, as an aside to Patsy, who was still in the room, she said, “Watch him squirm at this.”
Tarquin’s face became the colour of a ripening loganberry as his tongue seemed to him to swell beyond the bounds of his oral cavity.
“Well,” he started, “I…”
“Bring him round, Patsy, there’s a dear. Here. Use these,” she handed Patsy an ancient bottle of smelling salts, “Worked for my great-grandmother in the 1950s and have been in the family ever since.”
Patsy took the container, removed the cap, sniffed and immediately regretting sniffing its contents and held the bottle under Tarquin’s nose.
“Yah. Right. Ahm. Okay,” Tarquin mumbled.
“You were saying, Captain?”
“Yah. Sorry, Admiral, Ma’am. Right-oh. What was I saying?”
“You were about to explain why the borborygmi were threatening to lynch you, I believe.”
“Right, yah. Well, Ma’am. I wanted to show … erm … Rear Admiral Smithson that I could make a good fist of running things in her absence, and so I …” he trailed off unintelligibly.
“So you what, Captain?”
“So I instituted reveille and inspection at oh-six-hundred followed by mandatory exercise – toughen them up, build up their core strength sort of thing.”
“And that upset them?”
“Not too much. They seemed okay with that. Well; okay-ish, Ma’am”
“Then what did upset them?”
“I’m not quite sure, truth be told.”
“Stab a guess, please.”
“I suppose, Ma’am, if I were forced to hazard a guess…”
“Proceed on the assumption that you have been.”
“They didn’t seem too happy with the eighteen-hundred curfew, Ma’am.”
Suppressing a laugh and trying her very best to remain cool, calm and professional, Meredith asked, “And what form did this curfew take, pray?”
“Back to quarters, lights out and lockdown, Ma’am. All standard stuff.”
“For a prison camp, yes. For a training camp, maybe not so much. For a working, civilian outpost that’s been there for more than five hundred years, NO! What were you thinking, man?”
“Just trying to impress my boss, Ma’am,” he replied sheepishly.
“And how did that go?”
“Not well, Ma’am.”
“Not well, Ma’am. You’re bloody right, not well. You treated them like slaves, like prisoners of war. These are our allies, our friends. They are the first civilisation we humans have contacted. Are you trying to start an inter-galactic war?”
“I can’t tell you how relieved I am to hear that.” Meredith became very serious and Admiral-like. “Captain Tarquin Stuart-Lane. You will be escorted to secure quarters where you will stay, under guard, until you are transferred to an appropriate educational establishment. There you will learn some of the things that are seriously lacking in your makeup: cultural sensitivity, racial awareness and management methodologies for starters. With a bit of luck, they may include common sense in the syllabus.” She pressed a button on her desk. A large and well-armed member of the headquarters security detachment entered the room.
“Ma’am?” he said.
“Escort Captain Stuart-Lane to a holding cell for the night, please. Tomorrow morning, he’s to be transferred to training. Liaise with HR to firm up the details.”
“Ma’am,” he said. He took Tarquin by the arm and the two marched out. Patsy, at Meredith’s suggestion, looked out of the door that she had partly reopened, to make sure Tarquin and his escort had left the floor.
As soon as Patsy confirmed to Meredith that they had cleared the area, Meredith released the laughter she had been holding back since Patsy brought Tarquin in. Once she’d settled, she turned to Patsy again. “That’ll do for today,” she said, “any plans for this evening?”
“Not me, no,” Patsy replied.
“You do now,” Meredith said, “walk with me.”