Category: GTI

GTI 1.3

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 forbearswere 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 one, scene three

An hour later, Arty knocked on the door.

“Who is it?” Andrea said, her tone falling somewhere between deeply, deeply sad and downright livid.

“Arty,” came the truthful reply.

“Come on in.”

“I’m reading your emotional state as either unhappy or angry,” Arty suggested, “and where’s Tarquin?”

“I’m both,” she replied, “and he’s over there.” Andrea pointed to the crumpled pile in the corner that was Tarquin.

“What happened?”

“My fault, my fault entirely. I didn’t allow for his fragility. I just started unzipping my suit without any warning or preparation.”

“And?”

“And he fainted.”

“He doesn’t usually stay out for long, though.”

“He doesn’t usually bash his head on a protruding solid object.”

“How did he manage that? There are only a few chairs in the room.”

“You have to understand, Arty, that Tarquin is a complicated soul. When I started to pull the zip down, he started to swoon. Now that’s not something that upset me; I think it’s rather nice when the very thought of seeing my undressed form is enough to overwhelm a man. Trouble is, he felt the need to apologise, and you know what that means…”

“A virtual slap across the face?”

“Exactly. Only this must have been a big apology because the slap knocked him off his already shaky feet and caused his head to make contact with the edge of the table.”

“But surely, at moon gravity, that shouldn’t have been too hard.”

“You didn’t see the force of his slap, Arty. It was a hard contact.”

“Does he need help?”

“Yes, he does. But not for the knock on his head. I’ve checked him over and he seems okay. I’ll just let him sleep it off.”

“Andrea, I assume you know that Tarquin has a history.”

“I know quite a lot about him, but if you have anything new…”

“When he and Meredith were staying with us—”

“As your pets—”

“Sadly, yes. But we wanted to see if they would breed.”

“What?”

“I know, but we didn’t know anything about humans at the time. Anyway, it was plain to us that Tarquin was extremely keen to perform for us, but Meredith wasn’t interested. At one point, Tarquin had a fall and knocked himself out. When he came around, he had lost his interest in breeding but had become … I suppose you would say normal.”

“Normal as in?”

“Not stupid.”

“Tarquin?”

“Yes.”

“Not stupid?”

“Yes.”

“What happened to make him as he is now?”

“Another bash on the head, I imagine.”

“So you think that when he comes around now, he may have lost his interest in me as a woman, and become, what?”

“Clever, erudite, articulate.”

“But that’s terrible,” Andrea wailed.

“Why?”

“If I’d wanted an able colleague up here, I’d have brought a scientist or an engineer, or even a diplomat. But I didn’t, so I didn’t. I need someone to help me with my non-task-related needs.”

“You mean…”

“I think you know what I mean, Arty.”

“I wish I could help,” Arty said.

“I know. But sadly, you can’t.”

“I’m sure we could design you a—”

“Don’t even go there, Arty.”

“But it would—”

“Whatever it would do, it wouldn’t worship me, it wouldn’t adore me, it wouldn’t faint at the prospect of—”

“I understand. Should we wait till he comes around to give him his extra bash, or should we do it now, while he’s unconscious and won’t feel it.”

Andrea didn’t bother responding. She simply grabbed the nearest solid object, a vase, which she proceeded to demolish over the head of her unconscious friend (hopefully, later, with benefits).

“Bugger,” she said, “it broke. Now what?”

“Spanner?” Arty asked.

“Spanner,” Andrea replied. Arty handed her a 24/26mm double-ended ring spanner that he just happened to have in his suit. She applied it to Tarquin’s skull.

“If it’s not a silly question, Arty,” she said, “why are you carrying such a large spanner?”

“I didn’t know I was,” he replied, “I just found it pressing into my proterbium.”

“Into your what?”

“Proterbium. It’s a part of our structure that has no equivalence in human anatomy.”

“You know what this means, though, don’t you?”

“Yes, it means we’re built differently.”

“Not the proterbium, dummy, the spanner.”

“I think so. I think it means that elements of the drive are still being tested here—”

“Contrary to Meredith’s direct orders.”

“What do you suggest we do?”

“Your decision, Arty; you’re Project Manager here. If it were my job, I’d find out who is running the tests, why and where, and see to it that they stop. Immediately.”

“Of course. What are you going to do in the meantime?”

“I have some unfinished business with my support staff, and I seem, miraculously and unexpectedly, to have a bottle of smelling salts in my hand.”

“Okay.”

“Before you go, Arty, are you up to speed on EPHS?”

“Enhanced post-hypnotic suggestion? Yes. We all are.”

“Can you give me a quick tutorial?”

“Of course, but why?”

“Let me put this as delicately as I can. I want Tarquin to remain conscious so we can both enjoy the benefits of our friendship.”

“Okay, but you must promise me that you won’t use it for any other purpose.”

“Oh, I absolutely promise,” Andrea said, the index and middle fingers (that’s the pointing and swearing fingers, if you’re not sure) of both hands firmly crossed behind her back. Happily, Arty didn’t notice, or if he did, he didn’t know what it meant, or if he did, he didn’t care, and went on to give her a quick run-through anyway.

 

GTI 1.2

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 forbearswere 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 one, scene two

During the hour or so of enforced absence from Arty and the Angel Andrea, Tarquin wandered about the area, avoiding the enormous lift they had forced him to take to reach the main part of the complex, where he had first faced Chief Marshgass III; the taller-than-average borborygmus whose ceremonial dress so resembled that of a clown that it had sent Tarquin into total panic. About twenty minutes into his exploration, a smile crossed his lips. Quite close behind, a steel band was playing Smokie’s ‘Livin’ Next Door to Alice’. The smile was because, in his mind, Tarquin heard the live version – the one with audience participation. The music behind him became louder, more strident, somehow more insistent until Tarquin remembered and turned his translator on and looked around at the impressively tall borborygmus now standing directly behind him.

“… in here, human,” the translated voice said.

“Sorry,” Tarquin replied, “didn’t catch that. Say again?”

“I said, this area is restricted while we make preparations for the feast and the elevation. You cannot be in here, human.”

“Do you know who I am?”

“Why, have you forgotten?”

“Of course not. I am Captain Tarquin Stuart-Lane, the Royal Space Regiment’s official Liaison with the Borborygmi.”

“I don’t care if you’re Vice Admiral Winstanley herself. This area is off-limits to all. And that includes you.”

“On whose authority, may one ask?”

“On my authority.”

“And you are?”

“I most certainly am.”

“Let me try again. Who are you?”

“I am Malodor Skatole, Chief of Staff to the late Chief Borborygmus Marshgass III and Head of Mission to Chief-elect Marshgass IV.”

“Okay, got you. Perhaps best if you and I start again. We need to be on good terms to do our jobs.”

“Don’t see why. Your rôle is mostly ceremonial – chairing meetings and making inane remarks from what I’ve heard. As Chief of Staff to the Chief—”

“I thought you said you were Head of Mission.”

“That’s only until the elevation. I shall become Chief of Staff immediately Marshgass IV dons the ceremonial headgear. Tell you what, why don’t we make it your ceremonial duty to place the crown on his head?”

Tarquin blanched at the thought. “Oh, God,” he said, turning and running away. He switched off his translator and escaped to the strains of Dvorak’s Humoresque. By a process of trial and error, he found his way back to the room where his companions were. He burst in without knocking and found Arty and Andrea disturbingly close together.

“Nice time?” he asked.

“Very,” Andrea purred, looking up into Arty’s eyes. Arty played Ravel’s Bolero. Tarquin turned his translator back on.

“Sorry, didn’t catch that, Arty – translator not on,” Tarquin said, his voice tinged with annoyance.

“I said, you’re back too soon, but we’ve achieved what we set out to do, so it’s okay.”

“And what, may I ask,” he said, looking at the two alternately, “did you set out to achieve?”

“What we wanted,” Andrea purred, “was a coming together—”

“I bloody knew it,” Tarquin yelled, “that’s why you sent me away, isn’t it? How stupid do you think I am?”

“Very,” Andrea said, “As I was trying to say before you so rudely interrupted me, we achieved a coming together of minds. You may not realise it, and I know from what Arty told me, you didn’t get off to a very good start – he being very young when you first met – but Artivon Grumpblast is, by our standards, something of a genius. His grasp of mathematics, astrophysics and low-gravity engineering is more than a match for mine. In some areas, there are things he can teach me. Anyway, what got you so riled? What did you think we’d been doing?”

“I thought you might have… you-know.”

“No, I don’t know, Tarquin. Neither of us does. Enlighten us, please.”

“You know, benefits, if you get my drift.”

“You thought we’d had sex? Is that what you’re suggesting?”

Andrea looked at Arty. “Nothing personal, Arty, but per-lease!”

“Andrea,” Arty said reassuringly, “our species are not physically compatible. Even if we both felt sexual desire—”

“Which we don’t,” Andrea jumped in.

“Which we don’t,” Arty agreed, “but if we did, it wouldn’t work.”

“Can’t see why not,” Tarquin sulked.

“Let’s just leave it that we are differently structured, shall we? Now, come on, Tarquin. You and I are old friends. Let’s not spoil it over an imagined situation that never arose, that never could arise.”

Tarquin dropped into a chair, cupped his face in his hands and wept.

“Whatever’s the matter?” Andrea asked, putting her arm around Tarquin’s shoulders.

“They want me to crown the new chief,” Tarquin sobbed.

“That is a great honour,” Arty said, “it is normally done by one of the new chief’s closest friends or advisors.”

“Have you forgotten what happened when I first met the old chief?”

“What happened,” Andrea asked.

“I froze in fear. You see, I suffer from coulrophobia.” Tarquin resumed his sobbing.

“Not heard of that,” Andrea said.

“Fear of clowns,” Arty told her, “and yes, I remember. He has a bad case of it.”

“Yes,” Tarquin added, “and it may be called coulrophobia, but let me tell you, it isn’t cool. A long way from it.”

“Not a problem,” she said.

“Not a problem?” Tarquin blustered, “Not a problem? It’s easy for you to say that; you don’t have it.”

“No, but we do have a Patsy.”

“How does that help?”

“I imagine the usual dignitaries will come up for the … what’s it called?”

“Elevation,” Tarquin and Arty said in unison.

“Well, the admiral is bound to bring Patsy.”

“Again. How will that help?”

“Enhanced post-hypnotic suggestion.”

“Not with you.”

“If she can make you believe you’ve been slapped simply by you knowing you deserve it, she must be able to repress your … whatever it’s called.”

“Coulrophobia,” Tarquin and Arty chorused.

“Yeah, that. Don’t you think?”

“Well, perhaps you’re right.”

“Arty,” Andrea purred – really, this time. It wasn’t Tarquin’s imagination, she really did purr. “Can you leave us, please? I think it’s Tarquin’s turn for some quality time.”

GTI 1.1

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 forbearswere 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 one, scene one

“Gosh,” Captain Tarquin Stuart-Lane of the Royal Space Regiment said to his colleague Commodore Andrea Smithson and moon-resident Borborygmus Artivon Grumpblast as they made their way from the lander that had brought them from the shuttle Sir Prijs to the lunar surface, “these 3mm suits are a jolly sight more comfy than the suits we had to wear on the Waist of Space. Pity we didn’t know about Jinnis and his lot before, I should say.”

“I never tried the other suits, Tarq, but I expect you’re right,” Andrea said. Tarquin, on hearing her voice, did what Tarquin always did when hearing Andrea’s voice – fell to pieces with that heady mixture of adoration and desire that so affects new, star-crossed lovers in the early stages of a relationship – and Tarquin at any time.

For new readers, it is probably as well to explain that Andrea Smithson, an accomplished mathematician, physicist and, more latterly, engineer had entered the Royal Space Regiment disguised as a man. She did this because as a disarmingly and possibly dangerously gorgeous blond-haired woman, her career was going nowhere. When she came out, as it were, Tarquin, whose shallowness could make a saucer of water look like the Mariana Trench, by comparison, fell totally under her spell. This came as somewhat of a relief to Tarquin’s erstwhile companion, now his boss, Vice Admiral Meredith Winstanley, who had been in the unenviable position of having to fend off his amorous approaches for many a year. As for Borborygmus Artivon Grumpblast, Explorer Grade III with the Sol 3A exploring team of the Borbor Expeditionary Diaspora, as well as its Head Anemologist and the Project Manager of project FLATUS; you really need to go back to parts one (Waist of Space) and two (FLATUS) to get a real appreciation of his role – oh yes, and that of the Jinthae, too. And to understand what’s behind Tarquin’s next comment.

“These suits are even better than ours,” Artivon added, “I so wish Dad were still here – I know he’d be well impressed.”

“You have my sympathy, Arty,” Tarquin said, “the loss of your father wasn’t easy for you to digest, was it?”

Andrea cringed.

“No,” Artivon said, “he was a big borborygmus.”

“In every respect,” Tarquin said morosely.

“Can we get inside?” Andrea asked, pushing her knees together, “I have some, er, physical needs to take care of?”

Andrea was referring to the call of the little girls’ room, though Tarquin, being Tarquin, thought she meant something totally different and was overcome with excitement. Literally. He fainted.

“Arty,” Andrea called, “can you be a dear and pick Tarquin up, please? We’ll be stuck out here all day if we wait for him, and I need to go. Badly.”

“Sure thing,” Artivon said, gathering Tarquin into his arms and carrying him into the tall, red buildings as a groom carrying his bride over the threshold of their new home. Andrea, having already been given explicit directions by Artivon, ran ahead and attended to her immediate emergency.

When she joined the others in the lobby, Tarquin had just regained his composure. “Sorry, Andrea,” he said, immediately falling to the ground again under the force of an unseen thwack.

“Oh, no. Does it work all the way up here?” Andrea asked.

“Jolly-well looks like it,” he replied, “I had hoped – but hey-ho. Thing is, did I miss anything?”

“No.”

“Pity.”

“Pity that you didn’t miss anything?”

“No. Pity there was nothing to miss.”

“Have a little patience, dear boy. I will call on you.”

“For… you-know?”

“Yes.”

“When?”

“One day. Quite soon, I should think.”

“Promise?”

“Probably.”

“You can’t probably promise. Either you promise or you don’t; there’s no room for probably.”

“Would you prefer probably not?”

“Probably’s fine,” he said with a bit of a sulk.

“You know your way around here, don’t you, Tarquin?” Artivon asked him.

“Fairly well.”

“Jolly good. Go and do something.”

“What?”

“Something,” Andrea said, “that takes you away from us for an hour or so.”

“Yes,” Artivon added, “your superior officer and I wish to exchange cultural information.”

“Hmmph,” Tarquin said, walking away, “not what I had in mind to exchange with her.”

“Did you say something, Captain?”

“No, Ma’am. Just that I’d be keen to find out what he exchanged with you.”

“To what end, pray?”

“To increase my knowledge and understanding of our wonderful and fascinating partners, of course.”

“Okay. Tell you what. Go and familiarise yourself with the layout of the production facility.”

“It’s not built yet.”

“Then go and familiarise yourself with what it will be like when it’s built.”

“How am I supposed to do that?”

“Are you familiar with the concept of drawings?”

“Of course. It’s how I get money from my trust fund.”

“Just go, Tarquin.”

“Where should I go, Andrea?”

“GO!”

He went; for the better part of an hour, by his estimation. True, he wore a radio-controlled, solar-powered, solid gold, jewel-encrusted quartz digital wrist watch, but it had gone into a tail-spin by the time they landed on the moon. This was, in part, because it provided no manual means of changing its time-zone and it was too far from any of the time-controlling stations to pick up a signal. His watch was, therefore, stuck on British Summer Time – or, at least, it would have been, except that, when in the open, it had to be worn under whatever protective clothing was used to shield its wearer from extreme cold, almost total vacuum and potentially deadly radiation. That clothing also prevented the watch from receiving any of the radiation it needed to maintain its charge. That’s right, Tarquin’s highly expensive watch had become no more than a flashy bracelet.

Perhaps this is a good time to explain how time works on our moon. By human convention, the moon runs an earth-style 24-hour clock based on either Universal Standard Time, Moscow Standard Time or China Standard Time, depending on whose flag one flies. By Borborygmi convention it runs on the basis of the rate of decay of an exotic element brought from Borbor some twenty-three and a half thousand years earlier; an element that has a theoretical half-life of little more than one thousand years (see where this is going?), thus rendering measurement of the passage of time more than a little problematical.