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 four, scene two
The following morning, Meredith and Joan were discussing upcoming activities when Patsy came in. Knowing that Jason Strangename was due in less than an hour, Meredith asked Patsy to explain her plan to Joan in the Rear Admiral’s office. The two ambled, hand in hand, as far as Meredith’s office door, where they separated, straightened up and stepped out in a more businesslike manner.
“Congrats on the Commander spot, Patsy,” Joan said when they arrived in her office, “the rank looks good on you.”
“Thanks, Joan,” Patsy said, “right back at you.”
“So. This plan of yours…”
Patsy started to explain her plan in detail.
Meanwhile, back in the Admiral’s office, Captain Algernon Pippington, Meredith’s outgoing PA, reported that Jason Strangename had arrived.
“Show the Commodore in, Pipsqueak,” Meredith said.
“It’s Captain, Ma’am,” he said on entering his boss’s office.
“I beg your pardon?”
“It’s Captain Strangename, Ma’am, not Commodore.”
“Do you want that command I offered you yesterday?”
“Yes, Ma’am, very much so. I’ve looked forward to seeing my name on the captain’s ready room door for a long time.”
“And whom are you showing in?”
“Commodore Strangename, Ma’am.”
“That’ll be all, Captain Pippington.”
Jason Strangename marched smartly towards Meredith’s desk, halted and saluted.
“Good morning, Jason. Take a seat, please.” Jason sat rigidly in the chair facing the admiral and placed his briefcase on the floor beside him. “For goodness’ sake, relax, man,” Meredith said, “this isn’t an interview. You’ve got the job and the rank that goes with it. You’re a member of my senior staff now, and as such, I encourage, nay expect you to be comfortable in my presence.”
“Yes, Ma’am,” Jason said, relaxing a little.
Meredith called her PA. “Pipsqueak, can you organise coffee and biscuits for the Commodore and me, please?”
“Of course, Ma’am.”
“Put one on for yourself. I want you in on some of this.”
“Just do it!” she barked. Turning back to Jason, she said, “I hope his replacement is someone with a bit more gumption.”
“Talk in the regiment is that Captain Pippington was marked out as an exceptional officer in his early days, Ma’am; tipped as a future candidate for top rank.”
“What happened to him? I mean; look at him now.”
“Wardroom chatter says it was the Waist of Space thing that did for him, Admiral.”
“I was one of the two officers on that mission. Didn’t do me any harm.”
“Wow. Sorry, Ma’am. I never connected the name. You were… wow!”
“Yes, Jason, I was and am she.”
“Seems Captain Pippington took most of the flak for that… erm… operation, Ma’am. As far as I can gather, it wasn’t down to him—”
“No. It was Farquharson’s thing really.”
“That’s my understanding, too, but Pippington became Farquharson’s fall guy.”
“Where did you get that from?”
“You know, don’t you, that the guy appointed as XO on the Sir Prijs – against my wishes, I have to say—”
“Postlethwaite, wasn’t it?”
“That’s right, Ma’am. Jacob Postlethwaite—”
“Met him once. Staff car driver. Pretty mediocre at that, as I recall.”
“Mediocre is one of the terms I would use to describe him generally…”
“The other being?”
“Indeed. That’s how he came to be my XO.”
“So he’s the source of your information about Pippington. Accurate, do you think?”
“Well, Ma’am, the lad was somewhat – as they say in Game of Thrones – ‘in his cups’; the worse for wear after an impromptu wardroom party, and I had my MO introduce something into his drink that would loosen his tongue even more and render him incapable of saying anything untrue.”
“Surely that’s strictly against regulations?”
“Very much so, Ma’am.”
“I think you had better give me a full report on that matter before I confirm your promotion, don’t you?”
“As you wish, Admiral.”
“And make sure it includes full technical details about this substance your MO introduced into the drink: formulation, dosage… everything.”
“Because you want to…”
“I do indeed, Jason. I do indeed. Ah, here comes Pippington. We’ll talk more about this later.”
“Your tray, Admiral.”
“Thanks, Pipsqueak. Commodore, can you give the Captain a brief rundown on the operational aspects of the Sir Prijs?”
“No need, Ma’am,” Jason said, extracting a folder from his briefcase, “I’ve prepared a briefing document.” He handed a file to Meredith.
Meredith proffered it to Captain Pippington (she probably preferred it to him as well, but the context demands proffered) and said, “Take this and your coffee. Study this and we’ll talk later.”
“Can I take some biscuits, too, Ma’am?”
“Three. No more.”
The captain took three biscuits, his coffee and the briefing document, and left Meredith’s office.
“Did you read the project brief, Jason?” she asked.
“I understand most of it, Admiral, but I still have no idea what you want of me.”
“Give me back the document.”
“Not you, too. Look. Give me back the one I gave you yesterday and I’ll replace it with one that has no redactions.”
“My clearance came through?”
“No, I just thought knickers to the rules, I’ll give it to him anyway. Of course your bloody clearance came through. Now, take this away and read it. Go to Joan… Rear Admiral Weinberg’s office where you’ll find Commander Pratt—”
“Patsy Pratt the preposterously post-pubescent, pouting, preternaturally pugilistic preparer of puff pastry, pies and pasties?”
“And flans. Yes, that Patsy Pratt.”
“Oh, no reason, Ma’am. This is some regiment, where even a humble galley-maid can get three bars.”
“It is, isn’t it? Anyway, talk to her. She’ll fill you in on a job I have her doing. Your first job for me will be to add gravitas to her efforts with One Dimension.”
“You mean I’m to be her muscle? Is that it?”
“Seriously, Jason. Do you think Patsy needs a man to back her up?”
“Not if her reputation is anything to go by.”
“Exactly. This is all about perception. I’ll let her explain it to you. Suffice to say, your initial role will be as a diplomat – one that One Dimension will see as a strong, senior, not-to-be-trifled-with presence. It’ll also give you an opportunity to think through your part in the project. Now go and find Patsy. Dismissed.”
Jason picked up his briefcase and extracted the briefing. He handed it to Meredith and accepted her replacement. He stood smartly to attention, saluted, turned and marched out of her office.