Category: GTI

GTI 7.2

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 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 seven, scene two

“Have I understood this correctly?” Jason asked once the meeting was underway the following morning, “The pod never actually goes anywhere?”

“That’s right,” Kada Kolash replied, “its function is to prepare and convert what is to transport through the gap and present it, in the form of pure data, at the first transfer point.”

“Like the transporter room in Star Trek?”

“It is analogous, Jason. But don’t forget, Star Trek is fiction. This is real.”

“How does the transfer point know where to send the data?”

“It works in the same way your communications on Earth work. The data are presented in discrete packets. The header of each packet includes the IDs of the packet itself, the one before it and the one after it. That’s so that it can be reassembled at the other end. It also contains information about the source and destination, so the entire system knows where to send it.”

“Okay. What about getting someone back again? It is a two-way thing, after all.”

“That’s the easy part. Once you’ve set someone or something up for transport, you press the green ‘send’ button. To get them back, press the red ‘undo’ button. The orange ‘redo’ button repeats the last send.”

“So when Jinnis Keet was shot at on his first visit—”

“Undo followed by redo. The same when it came back to take pictures.”

“But Jinnis’s return wasn’t immediate then,” Meredith said, “Taking the pictures must have taken time, but Jinnis seemed to have returned the same time it left.”

“That’s because the default for ‘redo’ is to return the subject at the instant it left. In practice, there’s an element of latency in the system – about twenty milliseconds as you measure time. It’s not perfect, but it’s good enough for us.”

“In that case,” Arty asked, “why do we need these special suits?”

“Two reasons,” Kitara Navilli said, “firstly to contain and delimit your body during the encoding and decoding, but equally importantly to make sure you have the support and protection your body needs to survive at your destination.”

The Right Honourable (and Learned) Kayleigh Marsden PC, QC, MP fidgeted in her seat and looked around the table at the human, Borborygmi and Jinthate delegates around it. “I hope all this means something to some of you,” she said, “what I hear you people saying and what I seem to think I hear the little chubby ones saying although their lips aren’t moving or wouldn’t be if they had lips in the first place; anyway all that is clearly the King’s English or something approaching it, although it means absolutely nothing to me. But the tall ones – well, all I hear is steel band music!”

“Switch your translator on, Ma’am,” Ben Hussain whispered to her.

“What? Speak up, Ben, for goodness’ sake. If you’ve got something to say, say it. And don’t mumble!”

Ben spoke more loudly. “Switch your translator on, Ma’am,” he practically shouted, much to the amusement of everyone, particularly the Borborygmi. The Secretary of State for Alien Affairs opened and closed her mouth a few times in a passable imitation of a goldfish, before hissing at her assistant in an accusatory manner, “Isn’t it your job to do that for me?”

“Yes, Ma’am,” Ben said apologetically. Not that his boss could possibly have heard him above the laughter coming from all the other delegates.

The Secretary of State slapped the table as hard as she was able and shouted, “Order!” When that had no effect she added, “Quiet, please! NOW!” The room went quiet. “I have something to say. As the person responsible to the Prime Minister herself…” she inexplicably bowed her head and muttered something that was totally incomprehensible but that had the tone and rhythm of an incantation about it, “…it is incumbent on me, for the full, proper and timely discharge of my duties—”

“What Madam Secretary is trying to say,” Ben interrupted, “is that she doesn’t understand what is going on, but feels that she needs to.”

“Leave this to me,” Patsy said, rising from her seat and walking around the table. When she arrived behind Secretary Marsden, she whispered to the Secretary, did something with her hands that no-one else was able to see,  and returned to her seat.

“Alright,” the Secretary of State announced, “Okay. Finally. All understood. Carry on.”

The humans present reacted with facial expressions and fidgeting that betrayed their confusion (except Patsy, who was predictably sanguine about the whole thing), the Jinthae are incapable of facial expression and so looked the way they always look and the Borborygmi… let’s just say that their linguistic expression sounded eerily similar to Led Zeppelin’s ‘Dazed and Confused’ played on steel drums.

Patsy looked at the Secretary and made a sweeping movement with her right hand.

“Your mind tricks won’t work on the Secretary,” Ben said. Patsy produced her most angelic smile and demonstrated that she was still able to use a longbow.

Secretary Marsden stood, cleared her throat and said, “If there’s no other business…” she paused for a response, received none and so continued, “Very well. I now declare this meeting closed. Ben, get up; we’re going.”

The two government officials nodded to the group and, with no more ceremony than was necessary, they left. Okay, as he did on their arrival, Ben walked in front of his boss, sweeping the floor with his official broom so she didn’t get any dirt on the soles of her designer wellies.

“That was fun,” Meredith said, “Are we all okay with the pods now?” Andrea and Jason, Arty and Norman, Joan and Patsy, Kala and Kitara all nodded. “Good,” she said, “let’s just get on with it now, shall we?”

The remote links closed, the Jinthae returned to their home planet and the three officers… well, we don’t need to go into what Meredith, Joan and Patsy did next, do we?

GTI 7.1

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 seven, scene one

Life on the moon base quickly returned to what passed locally for normal. Freed from the majority of her administrative and supervisory responsibilities, Andrea was able to devote her waking hours to the science and maths at which she so excelled and which gave her such a great deal of pleasure and satisfaction. [To avoid any possible ambiguity, I should point out that the pleasure and satisfaction mentioned were, shall we say, non-corporeal in nature; and when I say ‘waking hours’, I exclude those that are, not to put too fine a point on it, horizontally aligned. Emphatically so. There. Clear? Good.]

The Borborygmi had completed the manufacture of the Jinthae-designed suits, and no member of either species, human or Borborygmi, was wearing cumbersome pressure-suits. Meanwhile, the main part of the project – the GTI pods themselves – was still very much on the drawing board. Despite numerous visits and conference calls, neither the human nor the Borborygmi team was anywhere near putting driver to screw or spanner to nut.

Back at regimental HQ, Admiral Meredith Winstanley had convened a virtual conference attended by virtually everyone who was anyone on the project – virtually. The Right Honourable (and Learned) Kayleigh Marsden PC, QC, MP was both Secretary of State for Alien Affairs and Chair of the Alien Affairs Oversight Committee and so was in the unenviable position of having to hold herself to account; a task she undertook assiduously and conscientiously. Indeed, she is on the record as the only inner-circle cabinet-member in the history of parliamentary endeavour not only to have chastised herself, but also to have tabled a motion of no confidence in herself (the motion failed, having been declared by the speaker to be possibly unconstitutional, probably vexatious and most certainly unimaginably silly). The Secretary of State lent to the meeting the weight of her presence – about 125 Kg – and pretty much nothing else, she being an accomplished administrator who still thought the designation GTI related to a small German motor car from the internal combustion era. By contrast, her private secretary and senior adviser, Ben Hussain, was as knowledgeable as anyone (which wasn’t very) and added some much-needed gravitas to the proceedings… speaking of which, Warrant Officer Duncan de Sauderley had by then been transferred back to RHQ and placed in charge of fitness training, discipline and morale (other ranks). There being no members of the other ranks beyond galley-staff and a handful of low-level administrative operatives, his was not an onerous post. You will recall that Gravit Ass had expressed a preference for the heat of battle and will therefore be less than surprised to learn that his latest posting left him as frustrated as a prize bull languishing alone in a field separated by an invisible but impenetrable force-field from an adjacent one containing a score or so of the world’s most receptive of cows.

In addition to the political hacks and senior military officers (Meredith, Joan Weinberg and Patsy Pratt), the meeting was remotely attended by Andrea Smithson and Jason Strangename representing the human contingent on the moon, as well as by Artivon Grumpblast and Norman the Nameless representing the Borborygmi. Kala Kodash and Kitara Navilli were physically present on behalf of the Jinthae.

Once recognised as chair, the Secretary of State called the meeting to order and under direction from Patsy, albeit unwittingly, she asked for reports on status and progress on the pod construction from Joan and Artivon. The two had spoken on the previous day to compare and synchronise their accounts, and had agreed that Joan should initially speak for them both.

“Progress is slow, Madam Secretary,” she admitted, “This is mostly because although we have the detailed specifications, we lack an overview.”

“An overview?” the Secretary of State said channelling, as she so often did, Oscar Wilde’s Lady Augusta Bracknell (Dame Edith Evans’ portrayal, of course), “explain yourself, child.”

“With respect, Madam Secretary,” Meredith said, “I think it inappropriate to address a Rear Admiral in the Royal Space Regiment as ‘child’.”

Suitably admonished [don’t you just love EPHS?] the Secretary of State continued, “Tell me about this overview you lack, if you please, Rear Admiral.”

“Gladly, Ma’am. Imagine, if you will, being given detailed plans for the construction of the engine and drive systems for a personal land transport vehicle—”

“A GTI? I knew it. You’re making a motor car again. Good for you.”

“We’re not, but never mind. Let me try something closer to home. Imagine you have been given a file of detailed clauses and amendments for a new Act of Parliament—”

“What’s the Act for? What does it do?”

“Precisely. You need the overview, the context. You need the preamble, the summary that lays out what the Act is for and what it’s supposed to do.”

“Of course.”

“Thank you, Madam Secretary.” She turned to the Jinthae. “We know in detail how to build all the systems and subsystems, and even how to integrate them. We have test schedules for each component. But we don’t know what the final result should do. We don’t even know how the Human or Borborygmi interface is supposed to work.”

Kala Kodash stood to its full height of 118 centimetres. “That’s my failing, and I accept full responsibility,” it said, “We had intended to include that in your packages. Wait small.” It shimmered and suddenly held a pile of papers in its hands. The Secretary of State for Alien Affairs fainted. Simultaneously, the attendees on the moon came into possession of copies of the overview specifications, from the hand of Kitara’s sibling, Willy Navilli.

Secretary Marsden responded well to Patsy’s smelling salts, sat bolt upright and asked, “What just happened?”

“Apologies, Secretary,” Kala Kodash said, “My colleague went to get the papers that were missing. It can be disconcerting if you aren’t used to it.”

“But he didn’t go anywhere. One minute he was standing there, then suddenly he had a load of papers. What trickery is this?”

“This is what I was telling you about, Ma’am,” Ben Hussain said softly to her, “The Jinthate travelled to its home planet, twenty-three light years away, and returned with the papers.”

“Bah! Impossible. Some sort of magick [I think the way she spells that is enough to give a sense of how up-to-date the Secretary of State is in her thinking] or sleight of hand, I’ll be bound!”

“Clarke’s Third Law, Ma’am, ‘Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic’. What you have witnessed in action is the GTI technology we are seeking to develop.”

“Why didn’t you tell me that before we came here?”

“I did, Ma’am.”

“When?”

“Before we came here, Ma’am.”

“Well. Make it clearer next time.”

“If I may suggest, Madam Secretary…” Meredith said.

“What is it, girl … I mean Admiral?”

“It would be useful to give our people the rest of the day to study this new information. I propose we adjourn now and reconvene tomorrow morning.”

 

 

GTI 6.3

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 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 six, scene three

“I’ve got page eighteen here, Jason,” Andrea said, “we must be almost there now.”

“Three pages to go: six, twenty-seven and forty-three. Is that them under the desk?”

Andrea picked up the three pieces of paper from the floor and held them under the black light. “Twenty-seven, forty-three and… six. Yup. That’s them,” she said.

“Who would have thought that putting a D6E file back together would be so difficult,”

“Perhaps we should have cleared the desk in a more controlled manner.”

“Water under the bridge, Andrea.”

“Or paper under the desk,” she chuckled.

“Do you have a way of converting this lot to normal, readable print?”

“Not that I know of, but I’m sure if I talk to Arty he can have his people modify a scanner. Perhaps he can replace the normal lamp with a black-light source and scan it. Once it’s done, we should be able to play about with it to make it printable.”

“Good. You can keep the original on file here, but I want one I can read in bed. There’s a lot of detail in there and I can’t take it all in with just one sitting.”

“Especially when you have other things on your mind…”

“What, you mean—”

“No, the whole gay thing. Did you think I didn’t sense that you weren’t committed to reading your briefing?”

“Yeah. Sorry about that. But we’re okay now?”

“Oh, yes,” she said with what, on any other face, would be called a leer.

“Okay, I’ll read this tonight, if you can get me a copy in time.”

They left the lab and indicated to the technicians that they could go back in. Walking back towards her office, Jason said, “We should probably deal with Tarquin now.”

“I suppose so, but I have to admit to being less keen than I was earlier.”

“How will you deal with that after… you know.”

“Leave it with me, Jason. Will you sit in?”

“If you want me to.”

“Please.”

In her office, Andrea called security and had them bring Tarquin back.

Flanked by two burly marines, Tarquin entered Andrea’s office. The two marines saluted, turned and bounced out again.

“Welcome back, Captain,” Andrea said.

“Some welcome,” Tarquin mumbled in reply.

“You have something to say to the Rear Admiral, Captain?” Jason asked sternly.

“No, Sir. Thank you, Ma’am.”

Andrea got up from her desk, walked across and seated herself on one of the two three-seater sofas that faced each other across a coffee table. Looking at Jason, she patted the seat beside her. Extending her arm towards the opposite sofa, she indicated that Tarquin should sit there.

“Tarquin,” she said, “we all have new orders. Well, most of us do. Your job as Human/Borborygmi liaison is unchanged.”

“To make sure they have everything they need—”

“And nothing they want,” she interrupted, “precisely. You will report to Commodore Strangename, who will report to me.”

“May one be permitted to enquire as to the nature of the Commodore’s job?”

“Of course,” Jason said, “I have three jobs: one is to supervise you, making sure you have everything you need—”

“And nothing I want?”

“Don’t interrupt me, please, Captain. My second job is to act as Human/Jinthae liaison, a job that the Rear Admiral has had under her wing until now. That will free her to do the technical, scientific and mathematical work at which she excels.”

“And what’s your third job, Sir?”

“Above your pay grade, Captain.”

“You mean if you tell me, you’ll have to kill me?” Tarquin said, laughing.

“Yes,” Jason replied – not laughing.

Tarquin stopped laughing.

“Ready to meet Arty?” Andrea asked Tarquin.

“I suppose I have to do this,”

“You do. I’ll page him on the Tannoy.”

Andrea activated the public address system and called, “Head Anemologist Artivon Grumpblast to Command office, please.”

“You call yourself Command now?” Jason asked.

“Shorter than Rear Admiral Smithson.”

Tarquin laughed. “Didn’t think anyone was shorter than Rear Admiral Smithson,” he guffawed.

“Thin ice, Tarquin,” Jason said, “thin ice.”

“So— ouch!” Tarquin fell off the sofa and held his cheek.

“Get up, Tarquin,” Andrea said as Arty ducked through the door and took a seat beside Tarquin who, by now, was more sore-faced than sour-faced.

“How can I help you, Andrea?” Arty asked.

“Couple of things. First, do you have a scanner that emits black light?”

“No. Do you need one?”

“Yes. I have a fifty-page D6E dossier that I want to scan and store.”

“No problem. D6E is easy to read. Let me take it and I’ll have it scanned for you.”

“It’s a top-security document set, Artivon. The three of us are the only officials on the moon with clearance to see it.”

“Three of us?” Arty asked, “there are four of us here.”

“Oh, I’m not allowed to see it,” Tarquin said, “I’m just a Captain; Far too lowly—” the assumed impact sent him careening towards Arty with such force he almost knocked him off the sofa, too.

“I’ll go with you,” Jason said, “can we scan it directly to my laptop?”

“We’ll find a way. What was the other thing?”

Andrea nodded towards Tarquin.

“Right. Okay. Ahm. Listen; Arty. Ahm. You remember when I was—”

“Standing in for your Rear Admiral? Yes, I do, Tarquin. Only too well.”

“Yah. Look. Can you hold on to me, please?” Arty held Tarquin’s shoulders in a firm grip.

“I’m… that is I…”

“Just say it, man,” Jason said.

“I’m so— ouch. I’m so— ouch. It’s no good. I can’t say it. What I did was wrong and I shouldn’t have done it. I promise I’ll never do it again, if—”

“You won’t do it again because I’ll never leave you in charge again,” Andrea said, “Arty, are you happy with that or shall we make him apologise publicly to all your people?”

“On behalf of all the borborygmi on the moon, Tarquin, I accept your apology. Can we draw a line under it now? We quite like having Tarquin around and, in a funny kind of way, we’ve missed him.”

“You’ve missed him?” Jason asked, “How?”

“We’ve not had a good laugh for months!”