GTI 4.4

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 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 four

Having explained the detail of her plan, Patsy organised a tray of tea and, you guessed it, a selection of her trademark Danish whilst Joan and Jason read through and consolidated their understanding of her proposal. She reentered some minutes later with the tray.

“Danish, anyone?” she asked.

“Apricot,” Joan blurted out before Jason could get his mouth open.

“What else do you have, Patsy?” Jason asked.

“Raspberry and dark chocolate or apple and cinnamon,” she said.

“Ooh! Can I have the apple and cinnamon, please?” Jason asked. Joan muttered something, but neither of the others could understand what she had said, as it was spoken through a mouthful of apricot Danish and a volley of crumbs.

“Suits me,” said Patsy, “I prefer the tartness of raspberry tempered by the smoothness of the darkest chocolate.”

“What chocolate do you use?” Jason asked.

“When I can get it, 99%.”

“And if you can’t?”

“I’ll settle for 95%. It’s not the same, though. This one,” she said, poking a chunk past her lips and into her mouth, “is 99%.”

“So,” Jason said, suffering from the same vocalising disability as Joan and Patsy, “I can see how this EPHS works, but you haven’t said how you will make sure that all the group members are brought into line.”

“You’ll see, Jason. And I think you’ll be impressed.”

“I’d like to know before you meet them,” Joan said.

“Is this office clean, Ma’am?” Jason asked.

“Of course it is.”

“When was it last swept.”

“It isn’t swept. For God’s sake, this isn’t the twentieth, you know. We do have cleanerbots in HQ.”

“Not swept with a broom, Admiral. I know how office maintenance works. I mean swept for bugs.”

“Oh, scanned. We don’t call it swept any more, it’s scanned.”

“Semantics, Ma’am.”

“No, McAfee.”

“What?”

“We don’t use Symantec, the regiment has a contract with McAfee.”

“Not Symantec, semantics. Oh, never mind. When was your office last scanned?”

“It always gets done on the first of the month.”

“So nearly three weeks ago.”

“Yes.”

“And can you personally vouch that no-one has been alone in here, at any time of day or night, since then?”

“Well, there’s me, of course.”

“Apart from you.”

“Of course, I can’t absolutely swear to it. I’m only here during office hours.”

“Then I suggest Patsy gives you the details after the event. We wouldn’t want that kind of information getting into the wrong hands, would we?”

“Are you suggesting that someone has been in here and installed listening devices?”

“I’m suggesting, Ma’am, that we can’t be completely confident that it couldn’t have happened.”

“Look at the logs, Jason.”

“Yes, very nice, Ma’am, and I’m sure that they’ll come in handy in the winter months, but we hardly need a fire now, do we? And, apart from that, what has the firewood to do with the matter in hand?”

“Not those logs. The access log files. Everyone who comes into this block is logged in and out.”

“Twenty-four seven?”

“No, eight till six.”

“So fourteen hours every day aren’t monitored.”

“And weekends,” Patsy said, helpfully.

“Okay,” Joan conceded, “tell me about it when it’s done. Meanwhile, I’ll have security come in to do a full scan.”

“Good idea, Admiral,” Jason said.

“Okay, dismissed.”

Jason and Patsy rose to leave.

“Oh, and Jason,” Joan called.

“Ma’am?”

“Don’t gloat. It’s most unbecoming.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it, Rear-Admiral Weinberg,” he said with a self-satisfied smirk as he passed through the doorway.

Jason and Patsy made their way back to Meredith’s office. On arrival, they were, of course, met by Captain Pippington.

“The Admiral is busy,” he said brusquely.

“I have an apricot Danish in my bag,” Patsy offered.

“For me?”

“That depends, doesn’t it?”

“On what?”

“On whether the Admiral is really busy, or if you’re just being… well… you.”

“Before we think about that,” Jason said, “when was the Admiral’s suite last scanned for listening devices?”

“You mean swept for bugs?”

“If you wish.”

“Well, unlike the Rear-Admiral’s office, this suite is swept every day at oh-six-hundred.”

“Excellent. How often is the Rear-Admiral’s office checked?”

“Like she told you, first of every month.”

“How do you know what she told us?”

“Well. I imagine that’s what she’d have said to you.”

“And why would she volunteer that information?”

“She would if you asked her, Sir.”

“But you said she told us. How could you possibly know that?”

“Pure conjecture, Sir.”

“Okay. Let the Admiral know we’re here, please.”

Captain Pippington keyed his intercom and spoke with Meredith. Meanwhile…

“You recording this, Patsy?” Jason whispered.

Patsy nodded, looked down and lightly touched the slight protrusion on her left breast.

Thinking the protrusion to be… well, certainly not a microphone, Jason simply raised his eyebrows in an expression of approval and, as Patsy tapped her left rear pocket, where the recorder was secreted, Jason gently touched the right one in what you may choose to believe to be an act of solidarity, or support, or something other than what it probably was.

“You can go through, Sirs,” Pippington said as Patsy softly brushed Jason’s hand away.

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