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 five
Jason and Patsy entered Meredith’s office. Patsy approached Meredith (without, it has to be said, springing smartly to attention, saluting or any of the respectful moves that protocol requires and expects) and whispered into her ear. Meredith pressed a button under her desk.
“We’re secure,” she said.
“You need to listen to this, Admiral,” Jason said as Patsy respectfully brushed her commanding officer’s hand from her rear pocket, extracted the recorder and placed it on Meredith’s desk.
“What is it?”
“It’s a digital recorder, but that’s not important right now. Just listen.” Patsy located the recording at the point where Jason was asking Joan about the security of her office and pressed the play button. She stopped the playback at the point where Jason asked if she was recording.
“Is it my imagination, or is Joan sounding a bit, how can I put this, less Joan than usual?”
“A little vague, do you mean?” Jason asked.
“Yes. That’s exactly what I mean.”
“That may be my fault,” Patsy said.
“How so?” Meredith asked then, looking at the expression on Patsy’s face, she added, “Oh. Yes. I see.”
Jason had that look on his face again. The one he had after looking through the fluted glass.
“This recording. What are you saying?” Meredith asked.
“I’m saying nothing,” Jason answered, “I’m merely wondering how Pippington can have known that Joan had mentioned the first of the month. Unless he had been listening, of course.”
“So you think Pipsqueak has bugged some of our offices?”
“Is he ever in here alone?”
“He’s always here when I arrive and he never leaves before me, so I suppose he is, yes.”
“And is this office swept at oh-six-hundred every day?”
“So they say, but I’m never here to see it. Let me get them in now.”
“Can you do that without tipping Pippington off?”
“I have a direct line and a side door, so yes, I can.” She called security and requested an immediate sweep. Less than five minutes later, two NCOs appeared at her side door and identified themselves as Warrant Officer Bligh and Chief Petty Officer Fletcher. Their sweep revealed three devices, thankfully all rendered ineffective by the electronic security zone Meredith had activated. The CPO deactivated and removed the bugs.
“You might like to check a few other senior officer’s offices,” she said, “starting with Rear Admiral Weinberg’s. Meanwhile, you may well find that my PA knows something about this.”
“Do you have any evidence of that, Ma’am?” WO Bligh asked. Meredith connected Patsy’s recorder to her computer, uploaded the conversation file and dropped it onto a memory stick which she handed to him.
“It’s largely circumstantial, gentlemen, but I think you’ll find this informative,” she said. Disconnecting the secure field, she called Pippington in. “Captain Pippington, go with these gentlemen, please.”
“Where to, and what for?” he asked.
“Just want to have a little chat, Sir,” CPO Fletcher said grabbing him by the arm and gently persuading him to walk between them.
“What made you ask Joan about her security?” Meredith asked Jason.
“Gut feeling, Ma’am.”
“Well done, anyway. Good call. Trouble is, I don’t have anyone to replace you on the Sir Prijs.”
“You can’t send me back there, Admiral. Ship’s establishment calls for a Captain to command, not a Commodore. Unless you plan on cancelling my promotion.”
“Not my intention. Do you have a suggestion for your replacement?”
“Whoever it is will have to be capable of doing the XO’s job as well, unless they can get rid of Postlethwaite.”
“That’s not a problem. Farquharson’s out of the picture now, so the lad has no-one to fight his corner any longer.”
“In that case, Ma’am, I’d recommend Ishmael Al-Kawazi for the job. He’s been chief engineer on Sir Prijs for a good few years and done a stand-up job. Probably overdue for a promotion. His deputy can be made up to chief and then let the promotions trickle down.”
“That will leave a gap—”
“For a youngster to step in at engineer third class level.”
“Good idea. So, the chief engineer’s job will go to Al-Kawazi’s deputy—”
“Inigo Montoya, Ma’am.”
“That name rings a bell.”
“Named after a character in a film, they say.”
“I meant his surname.”
“I gather his father worked here as a driver until—”
“That’s right. Juan-Pablo. I remember him. Good man as I recall. Left to go indy, didn’t he? How about his son – is he any good?”
“He’s been number two in engineering for as long as I’ve been aboard. Wouldn’t have lasted long if he weren’t.”
“Can you have HR set all that up, Pats? And while you’re at it, chase up Pipsqueak’s replacement.”
“Sure thing, Ma’am,” Patsy replied.
“Great,” Meredith said, “I think we’re getting somewhere. You both ready to meet the group?”
“Can’t wait,” Patsy said.
“We’re ready, Admiral.”
“Okay. I’ll set it up for ten-hundred tomorrow. What’ll you need?”
“Three adjoining rooms.”
“Let’s call them reception, treatment and consolidation.”
“Like a production line.”
“Okay, Patsy. Are you happy with that, Jason?”
“Good. Dismissed. See you tomorrow, in here, oh-nine-thirty.”
Jason and Patsy stood, saluted, turned and left. They walked together to HR where Patsy passed on Meredith’s instructions and Jason chased up his promotion paperwork.