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 five, scene one
The following morning, after a brief meeting with Meredith, Jason and Patsy – both in full dress uniform – entered the first of the three rooms. Seated around the central table were the ten most senior members of One Dimension, the group that was so vehemently opposed to the GTI project.
Jason spoke first. “Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen, and thank you all for coming to see us today. The Royal Space Regiment is aware of your reservations—” He was interrupted by a muttering of ten people all talking at the same time, that quickly rose to a crescendo. “We are aware of your reservations about our work,” he repeated, loudly and forcefully, “and we are keen to do what we can to allay your concerns.”
The ten people looked around and at each other. The atmosphere was not one you would call affable.
“Thank you, Commodore,” Patsy continued, “My name is Patsy Pratt and I am a commander in the Royal Space Regiment. Don’t worry; I’m not here to roll out our standard sales patter. It’s not what you need and it’s not what you deserve.”
“That’s right,” Jason continued, “and it wouldn’t show the proper respect for your deeply-held concerns. What we want with you is a dialogue; one-on-one by preference—”
“Why can’t you talk to us all together? Divide and conquer, is that your plan?” one of the group shouted out. The rest joined in.
“We’re not trying to divide you,” Jason replied, “we are determined to show each and every one of you the respect that your positions deserve. Your questions must and will be heard, and they will be answered. Very possibly you all have different questions. Similar, but not identical. As well as being members of a campaigning group, you are all individuals with particular doubts, reservations and worries. We want to address those doubts, reservations and worries and we feel that we can do that better individually than collectively. So, are you ready to hear how we are planning to do that?”
Grunts, nods and assorted reluctantly affirmative noises came from the group.
Patsy tapped the table and continued, “Here’s how we’re planning to handle this. You will start here as a group. I will call you, one by one, into the room next door,” she pointed to the door at the end of the room, “In there, you will see a brief presentation of our project, its aims and objectives. I will then speak to each of you in there and listen to your concerns. I expect it to take no more than five minutes, but we have to be flexible. Whether I affect your viewpoint or not, at the end of the chat, you will pass through to a third room, where Commodore Jason Strangename will be on hand for any group discussion you may want. He will also offer refreshments. Whilst you are waiting to be called, you won’t be left alone. Members of our technical teams will come in and answer any questions you may have that fall within their discipline. You will need to remember, though, that these are technicians, not policy-makers. They will be able to talk to you about such issues as operations, safety and security. I will address matters of policy after which Jason will be available to discuss anything that you wish. Is everybody happy with that?”
More grunts, nods and affirmative noises.
“At your request,” Jason said, “we aim to respect that, for the purpose of this session and only for the purpose of this session, we see you not as individuals but as representatives of a large group of people. For that reason, and again at your request, we shall refer to you by the letter on your badge, not by your name. We will start with Mr A. If you could go through with Commander Pratt, please. I shall remain here until Ms B is called, at which time I will go through to the third room and signal our first technician to come in here. He will bring coffee and biscuits with him.”
“Why can’t we come back in here after we’ve been done?” Mr I asked.
“We thought long and hard about that,” Jason replied as Patsy and Mr A passed through into the interview room, “but finally decided that it would be better if each of you enters the one-on-one stage in the same condition, without anyone else’s take on the chat. We are trying to be fair, as well as respectful. We know that what we are doing represents a major step for the entire human race. Like all big moves forward there are physical and metaphysical risks and there are people with serious concerns. Let’s see how we all feel on the other side, okay?”
In the soundproofed interview room, Patsy was preparing Mr A. He had wanted to be the first through because he saw himself as the leader. Deal with the largest ego first, and the rest should be easier was the strategy agreed by Meredith, Jason and Patsy. On a large screen opposite his seat, Mr A watched a brief promotional film that introduced the borborygmi, the FLATUS and Ubiquitron drives and the reasons for scrapping them. Of course, the incidental music and the subliminal images and messages worked to prepare the subject for the final onslaught of EPHS. Most of the conditioning was delivered through another film that introduced the Jinthae and gap travel. Again, the pictures and descriptive soundtrack were incidental to the message of the film which came courtesy of less obvious media. By the time he was halfway through the second film, Mr A was oblivious to the steel-drum music, and to Patsy’s hand movements both in the air and on his person. [Stop it! No inappropriate touching took place. Application of EPHS includes lightly touching various pressure-points in non-contentious parts of the subject’s body. I’m really disappointed that you could think otherwise]
When the film finished, Mr A sat back, his face flushed. He looked at Patsy with a broad smile and said, “Why couldn’t you have explained it like that in the first place? I can see now why you have to do it. You’d be doing a massive disservice to humanity if you didn’t follow through on this tremendous opportunity. Thank you. Thank you all.” He stood, shook Patsy’s hand and walked through to the departure lounge.
Patsy called for Ms B who came in with Jason. For his part, Jason continued through the room and joined Mr A in the departure area.