Sunday serialisation – Andrea 3.1

Andrea cover300

Andrea – in search of space, picks up where Making Merry left off.

Fresh from her work on Project Prodigialis, Rear Admiral Andrea Smithson takes command of the Terra II project.

The largest in-system luxury cruise liner had been refitted and recommissioned in the Royal Space Regiment fleet as HMDSV Colin Pillinger. Its mission? To identify, locate and survey a habitable but uninhabited planet which can be populated over time to take pressure off Earth and its resources.

For the cast of characters at the start of the project, click here

For a brief list of acronyms and initialisms used, click here

 

Andrea – in search of space. Chapter three, part one.

Over the following months, the MTS pods started coming off the production line and the team were installing them at a rate approaching the target of one per month. Kala Kodash, the lead Jinthate MTS technician, was booked to visit to inspect, test and commission the first five pods and to give an update on progress of the other projects: the MTS pads and development of the MTS generator for Shuttle 1 and C-pill. Although Kala’s brief didn’t extend to the CAG project, Andrea and Jason both hoped that it would be able to give them some level of update, especially given the criticality of their planned relocation to the overall project.

Kala arrived with Kitara Navilli and its sibling Willi, the two most senior Jinthate trainers. Kala examined the R&D paperwork (the regiment still calls it paperwork even though there is no physical paper involved – it’s all held in the computer databanks) and expressed its satisfaction with that aspect of the project. It then went on to inspect the manufacturing facilities both for the MTS pods and for the protective suits. All its tests yielded positive results and approval was granted to the suits and the pods. The control system needed some detailed modifications to bring it to the standards the Jinthate council required and, once that was done and approved, and the pods commissioned, Kitara Navilli sent Willi back to Grintsk in one of the pods to collect the relevant certificates. They then delivered competence training to Captain Al-Kawazi and authorised him to certify the rest of the pods and suits, and to Commander Tanimoto to operate the MTS control panel. The three Jinthae returned to Grintsk satisfied that their technologies were being used in a way that wouldn’t bring discredit to their civilisation.

This was all arranged without reference to Packway and so Meredith was more than surprised when Andrea appeared right in front of her in her office.

“Hello, Meredith,” Andrea said sweetly. Meredith swooned, knocking a freshly-made cup of coffee off her desk and making a frightful racket. Nigel Swann rushed in to see what the noise was, briefly acknowledged Andrea and helped his boss back into her seat.

When she fully came round, Meredith asked Swann if he had shown Andrea in. He confirmed that he hadn’t. “Where did you come from?” she asked.

“C-pill, Ma’am,” Andrea replied, maintaining her sweetness-and-light attitude.

“How?”

“Oh, sorry, Admiral,” she said with feigned regret that bordered on sarcasm, “Did I forget to tell you we have MTS capability on board now?”

“The pads?”

“Not yet. These are standard MTS pods. This is the first time they’ve been used in earnest.”

“And you decided to become the guinea-pig?”

“Not at all. There have been a number of transmissions. The first was Willi Navilli. It went back to Grintsk to collect the certificates confirming the pods were up to standard. Since then, we’ve carried out a programme of controlled testing before this, our first ‘live’ transmission.”

“And who was the first human test subject?”

“Tarquin, of course. He insisted that you had promised he would be.”

“Mmm. So I did. And he came back okay?”

“Of course.” She had already decided not to tell Meredith about Tarquin’s vomiting problem. [Oh, haven’t I told you about it, either? Read on, and I will. Eventually.]

“Pity. So, how come you have the pods there and we don’t have them here?”

“We built them ourselves. And the protective suits.”

“Did I authorise this?”

“Indirectly, yes. You authorised the R&D and manufacturing capability that we would need to achieve self-sufficiency.”

“I don’t want to talk about this now,” Meredith said dismissively, “I have work to do. Dismissed.”

“Okay, Ma’am,” Andrea said with a smile. She gave the agreed signal for Shinshuu to press the ‘undo’ button to return her to her ship, whereupon she disappeared from Meredith’s presence as instantly as she had earlier appeared.

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