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 forebears 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 ten, scene one.
“My God! You scared the living daylights out of me,” Meredith said when Jinnis Keet, Kala Kodash and Kitara Navilli materialised in front of her without as much as a ‘by your leave’, “You can’t just be arriving unannounced like that. I might have been—”
At that precise moment, her intercom buzzed. The button on her desk took the full force of her shock and anger at the sudden appearance of the group she referred to as ‘the three must get ears’. “What?” she yelled.
“Sorry,” Nigel Swann said, “Patsy; I mean Commander Pratt told me to expect three visitors but I assumed—”
“Assumed? ASSUMED? I don’t pay you to assume!”
“I should think you would be sorry. Tell me something, Swann…”
“Do you like working here, Swann? Are you happy working for me?”
“Of course, Ma’am.”
“Then do your bloody job!” she practically screamed before thumping the button to break the connection.
Patsy poked her head around the door and said, “Don’t take it out on Nigel, Admiral. He didn’t know they would appear in your office. He just assumed—”
“I don’t pay him to assume. It’s not his place to assume anything.”
“I know, Admiral, but…”
“But what, Patsy?”
“But you’ve not allowed him to be privy to information about your guests.”
“Of course not, he doesn’t have the necessary clearance.”
“Then how was he supposed to know the Jinthae – good morning, by the way, Jinnis, Kala, Kitara – how was he supposed to know how they’d arrive?”
“Okay, I’ll grant you that.”
“I think you should apologise to him, Meredith.”
“Why? Since when does a full admiral apologise to a sub-lieutenant?”
“I think if the admiral makes the sub-lieutenant cry without just cause, perhaps an apology would be in order.”
“I mean; crying, weeping, sobbing?”
“Okay, Patsy. Get on the line to HR.”
“To arrange an official apology?”
“No, to arrange a replacement. I won’t have cry-babies on my team. Sack him.”
“Sack him? For crying?”
“Yes, for crying.”
“You do know, don’t you, Ma’am, that Sub-Lieutenant Swann is a veteran of numerous campaigns and the holder of a Charles Cross awarded for conspicuous gallantry under fire?”
“And yet he cries when given a ticking off by a woman. Sack him.”
“Patsy. Sack him. I want his replacement in post by oh-nine-hundred tomorrow and you can induct him for me.”
“HR may send a woman.”
“Whoever they send, make sure he—”
“Or she has the security clearance appropriate for working in my office. Dismissed.”
Patsy backed through the door and closed it behind her.
“Sorry about that,” Meredith said to the three Jinthae, all of whom had flushed turquoise with embarrassment, “office politics, eh? So. What can I do for you?”
“We are here in response to your request.”
“I didn’t ask you to come.”
The three Jinthae looked at each other with expressions of – okay, with expressionless faces. Meredith assumed they were deep in conversation but, of course, their communications would have been inaudible to her as she wasn’t included in the discussion.
“Looks like there was an error of comprehension, Meredith,” she heard Jinnis Keet say inside her head, “It’s Andrea and Artivon who wanted to see us, so we’ll be off – unless there’s anything you want to talk with us about?”
“No, but I’d love to know whose fault this cock-up was.”
The three Jinthae looked at each other expressionlessly for a moment. “We don’t register the ‘fault’ concept,” Kitara said.
“You surprise me. Fault speaks to responsibility. Who was responsible for this error?”
“We were, of course.”
“You three specifically?”
“Goodness, no. We, the Jinthae bear collective responsibility.”
“What, the entire race of you?”
“I don’t get it—”
“If I may explain,” Jinnis said, “we Jinthae share everything. Tell me, when you watch a shoal of fish swimming as one, or a group of birds—”
“If I understand the concept then, yes. When you see these things, do you try to identify which individual has the task of planning and coordinating the activity?”
“Well, no, but—”
“So it is with us.”
“So you’re like the Borg?”
“We know nothing of this Borg of which you speak.”
“You have a hive mind?”
“Not exactly, but something like.”
“Your voice claims understanding but your mind is not in accord, it seems,” Kala offered.
“I’ll get there, I just need some time to think about it.”
“Very well,” Jinnis said, “we’ll go and see what Andrea wants.”
“You’ll come back afterwards?”
“Of course. And we know how precious your time is, so we’ll be back very soon.”
“We’re back. Now, where were we?”