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 four, part one.
Eleven and a half months after their first discussions, Kala Kodash and a team of technicians from Grintsk arrived to certify and commission the MTS pads that the engineering department had built on-site. At the same time, another team descended on Packway to install the pads that had been constructed there. The Packway set had been built by a firm of contractors connected with the cousin of a friend of the public works minister. They followed the blueprints but had no idea what they were building, so the Jinthae had not been given the opportunity to gauge the progress as they had with the ship-board set. Unfortunately, substantial remedial work was needed before they could be certified and commissioned. This delayed their coming into service by around three weeks, but eventually, the day came.
Meredith had taken a personal interest in this development, and so it came as no surprise when the first person to step off the pads and onto the Colin Pillinger was … that’s right, it was Nigel Swann bearing a letter from Admiral Winstanley officially inaugurating the service. Andrea sent Swann back with a thank-you note after he’d had a short period to recover from the initial transfer.
Things were moving on apace. All that remained was for the ship and her cruiser to be fitted with the CAG drive enhancement so they could make the journey out to high orbit. However, on Kala Kodash’s next visit, it conveyed some very important news.
“Our technicians have been testing a new development, Andrea,” it said, “They have been able to modify the spatial delimiter parameters of a basic MTS engine such that it can extend its perimeter sufficiently to take in your entire ship.”
“That’s impressive, Kala,” Andrea said, “but what about the weight?”
“Mass is irrelevant. Once converted to energy, the mass no longer appears to exist. We can send the entire body of the ship to the nearest stable Lagrangian point and bounce it to where you want it to come out.”
“Isn’t there a risk to the integrity of the individuals on board?”
“Don’t ask me to explain the technicalities, Andrea, but I’m assured there isn’t.”
“So that means we can move straight to our main mission?”
“Not yet. We haven’t proven this particular piece of technology beyond in-system transits, but it will put you to high orbit. It is a prototype and we shall need to take it back with us after use to evaluate its performance. If we fit it to your Sir Prijs as well, will you need the CAG?”
“Maybe not, but I’d like to have it as backup. I also have a feeling it will become useful later on.”
Kala’s team fitted the technology to Shuttle 1, and oversaw a few tests to prove it. Once they and Andrea’s people were satisfied with that, it was fitted to Sir Prijs and tested successfully. Finally it was fitted to C-pill and the craft was ready to cut ties with Earth.
Andrea called Admiral Winstanley.
“What news, Andrea?”
“We’d like to invite you to come aboard to witness our transfer to high orbit, Admiral. You can use the pads to come up here, if you wish then, once we’re in high orbit, use the pads to get back to Packway again.”
“Hang on. You’re telling me you’re ready to move a quarter of a billion kilometres into space?”
“And you expect me to agree to be broken down into my base molecules and squirted up to your ship to see this?”
“Indeed, Admiral. It’s perfectly safe.”
“And then you want me to fly with you to somewhere between Mars and the Asteroid Belt, then go through the whole procedure to come back again?”
“And you want to do this when?”
“We’re ready now, Admiral. We can go at any time with about an hour’s notice.”
“I’m too busy. I’ll send Swann.”
“With respect, Admiral, I think something of this nature deserves more than a sub-lieutenant to witness it.”
“Okay, Andrea. I’m far too busy at present. I’ll send Joan and Patsy. They’ll be with you tomorrow at ten hundred.”
The line dropped.
So did Andrea’s jaw.
So did Jason’s. He was in the room with Andrea and Kala Kodash.
Kala’s jaw didn’t drop. Being deficient one in the mouth division, Jinthae don’t have a jaw to drop. It did, however, send out some very interesting concepts and constructs for Andrea’s and Jason’s primary auditory cortices to unravel and make sense of.
Andrea received it as lack of moral fibre. Jason’s mind was more direct and rendered the expression as coward preceded by a reference to human procreation. He laughed. Andrea didn’t.
“I suppose that’s that then,” Jason said.
“She is the admiral. If she says she’s too busy and doesn’t suggest an alternative time, I suppose we’ll have no choice but to accept it.”