Category: GTI

GTI 12.1

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 twelve, scene one.

“You’ve been there and back?” Meredith asked.

“We have.”

She raised her eyebrows. “And?”

“And the Borborygmi want to go home.”

“What do you mean, they want to go home?”

“Just that. They’ve learnt that the gene pool on Borbor is weakened by their absence. Theirs and the other sections of the diaspora. And before you say anything, the science is good and we believe they’re right. Their species is in decline and reincorporation of some of the diaspora populations should strengthen it.”

“How will that affect what we’re doing?”

“We don’t expect much difference. We saw the work with the Borborygmi as a separate project to the work with you.”

“When and how will they go? Surely they’re not planning to fly back conventionally; it took thousands of years for them to reach here.”

“We have a team working towards accelerating the work with the Borborygmi so as to transport them all to their home planet within one of your years.”

“All of them?”

“Yes.”

“Do you know how many there are?”

“Five hundred and thirty-seven.”

“Exactly?”

“As of this morning, yes.”

“And you can be ready to transport that many after only one year?”

“Yes. It’s a one-way trip, don’t forget. The most complex part of the pod design is the undo and redo functionalities – getting the travellers back and re-sending them. Also, the error checking is more straightforward and the redundancy requirements are less onerous because we are looking at a one-way operation, not a round trip.”

“And the people who will be working on it—”

“Will be drawn from the group currently working on the Borbor home-world and on your Borborygmi colleagues’ project. So no impact on your work.”

“Okay.”

“So you support this, Meredith?”

“Not necessarily. I only said okay to signify that I had understood what you said. I’ll need to discuss it with Joan and Andrea – we three are the command team – and I’ll let you know. Oh, before you go, can I have this in—” Jinnis looked at Kala, who handed him a substantial file of papers, which he passed to Meredith. “Impressive,” she said, flicking through the pages, “and this is—”

“Not only a full statement of the new Borbor project, fully detailed and costed, of course, but also a restatement of your project taking account of the revised workload.”

“I thought you said there would be no impact on our work.”

“I did, and that is substantially true.”

“Substantially?”

“There is no negative impact. However—”

“I knew there’d be a catch. Go on,” Meredith said, a note of resignation in her voice.

“However, if we can, as we project, finish this in one year, it will free up engineers and scientists to work on your tasks.”

“The nett effects of which will be?”

“A slight change in the wording of the overview. Instead of ‘which we hope to complete within three elapsed earth years’ it now says ‘which we predict we can complete within three elapsed earth years’.”

“That’s a very fine distinction.”

“Is it? From aspiration to intention, from hope to plan, from an ambition to a realisable objective.”

“Point taken.”

“When can you let me know if your colleagues agree with your approval of the scheme?”

Meredith pressed the call button on her intercom. Patsy answered.

“Were Joan and Andrea in on that?”

“Of course. I can’t ignore the signal, can I? They’ve both responded affirmatively.”

“You mean they said yes.”

“Precisely.”

“There’s your answer gentle… peop…”

“Doesn’t matter what you call us, Meredith, as long as we’re all clear it’s us you’re addressing.”

“Okay. We have a green light.”

“Excellent. We’ll be back in a few days.” And with that, the three Jinthae blinked out of existence.

GTI 11.1

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 eleven, scene one.

In the conference facility on Moon Base Alpha, three figures materialised directly in front of the table where were seated Andrea, Jason and Tarquin representing the human species, and Arty, Norman the Nameless and his sister Norma, representing the Borborygmi.

“You wanted to see us?” Jinnis asked.

“Yes,” Andrea replied, “it is at the request of my friend Arty. Thank you for coming so quickly.”

“It’s what we do. What do you want to talk about?”

Turning to Arty, Andrea said, “You have the floor, Arty.”

“Thank you, Andrea,” Arty said. Looking at the three Jinthae, he asked, “Do you mind if I stand and walk about a bit? I find I can think more clearly that way.”

“Yah. I can vouch for that,” Tarquin interjected helpfully, “don’t let him do it outside, though – you’ll never keep up with him.” Tarquin guffawed. So amused was he by his little quip that he slipped off the side of the chair in his mirth and was again grateful for the lower gravity on the moon as he landed in a manner that was at best unceremonious, at worst highly unbecoming.

“Go ahead,” Jinnis said after looking expressionlessly at his colleagues for the briefest of intervals.

Arty raised himself to his feet, stood proudly at his full height of very nearly three-and-a-half metres and started pacing the room. “As you all know, this is not our true home. Although every Borborygmus alive today, and in fact for more than twenty generations, has known no other. However, we instinctively know that we are, as it were, strangers on a strange world—”

Arty was interrupted by loud applause and cries of ‘bravo’ from an ecstatic Tarquin.

“Turn your translator on, there’s a good boy,” Andrea said condescendingly.

“Oh, yah. Sorry. Turning it on now.”

“So what was the applause for?”

“Nicely themed medley,” he said, “First ‘Strangers on the Shore’ by that clarinet bloke—”

“Acker Bilk?” Jason offered.

“Yah. That’s him. Then ‘Strangers in the Night’—”

“Frank Sinatra—”

“And finishing up with ‘Stranger in a Strange Land’—”

“Iron Maiden! Yes! Ten out of ten.” Jason was clearly pleased with himself.

“Well, actually, three out of three, Jason.”

“That’ll be Commodore to you, Captain,” Jason replied with an attitude of one whose parade had just suffered an unexpected deluge, whose bonfire had just been treated to… but we don’t need to go there, do we?

“May I continue?” Arty asked.

“Actually—”

“Shut up, Tarquin,” said just about everyone present (excepting, of course, Tarquin himself, although few would have been surprised had he joined the chorus).

“Please,” Jinnis said.

“Thank you. The thing is, we’ve had a team taking apart and analysing the dump that we took from the Unlikelihood all those years ago [Flatus, chapter 2, scene 5]—”

“Why?” Jason asked.

“Partly because we hoped to glean more information about the state of our home planet, but mostly because we could. We have a team of forensic data analysts who’ve never really been tested. Anyway, they have found evidence that the gene pool on Borbor has been significantly weakened by the removal of large swathes of its population.”

“How so?” Andrea asked.

“Imagine if you removed from the human population everyone with red hair—”

“Jolly good thing, if you ask me,” Tarquin said.

“Shut up, Tarquin,” just about everyone responded.

“Carry on.”

“And everyone with a genetic predisposition to various mental conditions, mild or severe; and everyone with markers for conditions that are deemed uncomfortable for society.”

“But that was more than twenty generations ago.”

“And those traits have been absent from the gene pool for all that time. How many of the important people in your past and present have been borderline psychotic, paranoid, schizophrenic, autistic, narcissistic etc, etc?”

“Most of them, I should think,” Andrea agreed.

“And redheads, some of them,” Tarquin said – I don’t need to tell you what happened next, do I? Okay, if you insist

“Shut up, Tarquin,” just about everyone responded.

“Thing is,” Arty continued, “ Take them away, as well as the filthy rich, the privately educated and priveleged, the poorest and least empowered and what do you end up with? Mediocrity, and that’s what Borbor has now. We firmly believe that Borbor needs us. We don’t know for sure, but it’s possible we may be the only exploring team to have survived. I accept that we on your moon are considerably inbred but that’s the nature of Borborygmi society anyway, and our tribal genetic make-up; that is the parts that we have in common; has noticeable deviations from that of the homeworld. Our geneticists and our computer fundis have worked together to model the effect of merging the two strands—”

“And?” Andrea asked, almost (but not quite) excitedly.

“And the result was a halting and reversal of the decline in our race’s mental and physical condition.”

“We had no idea you were doing this work,” Andrea said.

“I apologise, but that was deliberate. It started as something of a vanity project, maybe even a make-work enterprise, but once it became clear which way things were going, we took it to the council and particularly to Chief Marshgass, who ordered us to keep it in-house and not to reveal it to our human or Jinthate partners until we had a solid conclusion. That we now have.”

“So,” Jinnis said, “what do you see happening next?”

“We want to go home,” Arty replied.

An eerie silence filled the room. From outside the building, a faint, high-pitched whistling sound was heard. The eerie silence jumped up and ran out to its owner, passing right through the walls of the building.

“What was that?” Kitara Navilli asked.

“It happens,” Jason said nonchalantly, “it’s not a thing.”

“Some of us have pets,” Norman said, “Totally harmless and great companions.”

“Back to the matter in hand,” Jinnis said, “when you say you want to go home…?”

“As soon as the technology allows, we want to go to our ancestral home: Borbor.”

“So you can refresh the gene pool?”

“Amongst other things.”

“All five hundred of you?”

“And thirty-seven.”

“Not with you.”

“There are five hundred and thirty-seven of us as of today.”

“Okay. My colleagues and I will discuss this with Admiral Winstanley and her people and we’ll get back to you.”

“When?” Arty asked, at which point he thought he detected just the slightest shimmer in all three of the Jinthae.

“Now,” Jinnis replied.

 

 

GTI 10.1

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!”

“Sorry, Ma’am.”

“I should think you would be sorry. Tell me something, Swann…”

“Ma’am?”

“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.”

“He’s crying?”

“Yes.”

“I mean; crying, weeping, sobbing?”

“Blubbering, Meredith.”

“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.”

“But, Meredith—”

“Patsy. Sack him. I want his replacement in post by oh-nine-hundred tomorrow and you can induct him for me.”

“Or her.”

“What?”

“HR may send a woman.”

“Whoever they send, make sure he—”

“Or she.”

“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?”

“Of course.”

“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—”

“A murmuration?”

“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.”

“I see…”

“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.”

“How long?”

“We’re back. Now, where were we?”