Category: GTI

GTI 5.4

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 five, scene four

Captain Ishmael Al-Kawazi had donned his full bridge uniform; it was not as posh as his dress uniform but it was significantly smarter than the fatigues that were his preferred apparel when working. He dressed up (and insisted all the bridge crew did likewise) because he was about to welcome a full Commodore on board – and not just any Commodore, no Sir, he was prepared to receive none other than Jason Strangename; the man who had been the commanding officer of the Sir Prijs and who had been the driving force behind his own promotion from the engineering department to command of the shuttle.

“Ishmael, old chap!” Tarquin shouted once he and Jason had made their way to the bridge after boarding the Sir Prijs.

“Do I know you, Captain?”

“I should jolly-well say so. We met whilst Merry and I were—”

“Prisoners. Yes, I remember now. Hello.”

“Is that all you have for me? Hello?” Tarquin asked.

“Yup,” Ishmael replied then, turning to Jason, he said, “Welcome aboard, Sir. It’ll be an honour to transport you to the lunar base.”

“Have all the staff changes been actioned, Captain?”

“Yes, Sir. As soon as I received the list from HR with the Admiral’s authorisation codes I saw to it straight away. The paperwork and insignia came aboard as we were preparing to leave, Sir.”

“You know who the Admiral is, don’t you, Ishmael?” Tarquin asked.

“Firstly, Captain Stuart-Lane, I’d prefer it if you refer to me as Captain. We are not on first name terms and, as your senior officer, I believe I am due that mark of respect.”

“Senior officer? We both have the same rank.”

“On paper, yes. But I am master and commander on my ship and as such, while on board, I outrank anyone who does not outrank me. Now, what were you asking?”

“If you insist. I was about to tell you, Captain, that the Admiral who authorised your promotion, is—”

“I’m well aware who Admiral Winstanley is, Captain, and I have a great deal of respect for her and for her accomplishments. She came out of the Waist of Space fiasco a strong, determined and capable officer.”

“As did I, Captain,” Tarquin said defiantly. Ishmael and Jason thought this was the funniest thing they’d heard in a long time and it took them some time to compose themselves, though Tarquin’s expression betrayed his inability to see the humour in it.
Ishmael pressed the intercom button on the arm of his chair. “Set a course for the moon, helm. Best speed.”

The navigation officer confirmed that the course had been laid in, whereupon Ishmael shouted, “Engage!”

As the shuttle accelerated gently to its optimal cruising speed, Ishmael invited Jason and Tarquin into his ready room.

“I like what you’ve done with the place,” Jason observed.

“I haven’t done anything,” Ishmael replied.

“Exactly. I liked it as it was and I’m glad you haven’t changed it.”

“I’ve only been in command for three days, Commodore; no time to do anything yet.”

“Are you planning to?”

“Too early to say, really.”

“Not on this trip though, eh?”

“As you wish, Commodore.”

“Tarquin,” Jason said, “tell me what you’re planning to do when we arrive on lunar base.”

“Okay, right, yah. First job is to report to Rear Admiral Smithson for a thorough de-briefing, Sir. Know what I mean? Nudge-nudge, wink-wink.”

“Before that.”

“I should think there’d be nothing before that. Sir.”

“Think again, Captain.”

“Oh, cripes. I suppose I have to make my peace with the blasted borborygmi, Sir.”

“You do. How do you plan to do that?”

“I expect I’ll be eating a large helping of humble pie.”

“I imagine you will. Let’s practice, shall we? Bit of role-playing. Ishmael and I are borborygmi, you are you. Go.”

“Haven’t actually worked out yet what I’ll say, Sir.”

“How long before we disembark, Ishmael?” Jason asked.

Ishmael consulted the monitor on his desk. “Six hours, thirteen minutes to launch of the Sub-Orbital Personal Transport.”

“Good. Tarquin, you’ll be ready before we board the SOPT. Well before. I’ll want you to run through what you’re planning to say before then. Dismissed.”

Tarquin stood and left the room. Jason and Ishmael relaxed and chatted for most of the flight. Although Ishmael had served on the shuttle as chief engineer for some time, he had no command experience and was grateful for the few hours he and his predecessor could spend together. By the time Tarquin knocked on the door, Ishmael was probably as well prepared to carry out his command functions as anyone who had come up through the conventional route to the job.

“Enter,” Ishmael responded to Tarquin’s knock.

“Well?” Jason asked, “Are you ready?”

“Well, yah. That is, erm, not really but I’m probably as near ready as I’ll ever be.”

“Okay, Captain Stuart-Lane, wow us.”

“Wow you? Not sure I understand.”

“What are you planning to say to the borborygmi?”

“Okay, yah, that. Ummm. Right. Listen, chaps. Can I call the aliens chaps, Sir?”

“Just go with it.”

“Yah. Listen, chaps. Afraid I might have overdone it a bit before. You know, when I was standing in for the angel – I mean Commodore Smithson—”

“Rear Admiral, Captain.”

“What?”

“It’s Rear Admiral Smithson, not Commodore.”

“Okay. But she was Commodore when I made the chaps angry.”

“Irrelevant.”

“Okay. Rear Admiral Smithson. Thing is, I was so keen to show her what a good officer I was, that I didn’t think about the effect on you chaps… and chapesses, of course… and little chaplings.”

“Get on with it.”

“Okay, yah. Right-o. So, the thing is, ahm, I shouldn’t have been like that.”

“You’re missing a key word, Captain.”

“Okay. I sincerely regret my actions. How’s that?”

“And what do we normally say, when we regret taking actions that have annoyed, upset or inconvenienced others?”

“Not with you.”

“Sorry.”

“I said I’m not with you. Sir.”

“No, idiot. That’s what you need to say. Tell them you’re sorry.”

“Must I?”

“Yes, Captain Stuart-Lane, you must.”

“Okay.”

“Now go off and practice in front of a mirror.”

GTI 5.3

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 five, scene three

“Who’s the new man?” Joan asked when she entered Meredith’s office, “and where’s Pippington?”

“Nigel Swann, Sub Lieutenant. He’s my new PA. Captain Pippington,” Meredith almost spat his name, “has been bugging some people’s offices; yours and mine we know about and no doubt we’ll find out about more later. He has gone off with a security team to assist in their enquiries.”

“Not Bill and Norman, I hope.”

“He left in the company of my personal security detail, Warrant Officer Bligh and Chief Petty Officer Fletcher.”

“Poor Algie. Those two have a bit of a reputation for being—”

“Thorough?” Meredith asked.

“I was going to say something stronger, but thorough will do.”

“Thing is, though, Pipsqueak clearly doesn’t reciprocate the respect and consideration you show him. Listen to this.” She played Patsy’s recording.

Joan was visibly shaken. “Honestly,” she said, “I don’t know who I can trust these days.”

“Let me give you a few clues: me as your boss and friend – yes, Patsy as your friend – yes, Jason as the new guy – let you know later, Tarquin the useful idiot – not in a month of Sundays.”

“Speaking of Tarquin,” Patsy said.

“Why?”

“You started it. You mentioned his name.”

“Only to say he couldn’t be trusted.”

“Be that as it may, you mentioned him which leaves the door open for me to ask how his retraining is going.”

“That’s one of the things I wanted to talk to you about.”

“I’m beginning to feel like a gooseberry,” Jason said.

“We don’t have any,” Patsy replied, “you’ll have to make do with a chocolate digestive.”

Jason shrugged his shoulders and took the last of the biscuits, earning reproachful looks from Meredith and Joan, both of whom had had their eyes on it for some time.

Meredith pressed the button on her intercom. “Bring in another packet of chocolate digestives, please, Swann. There’s a good chap.”

Joan asked Meredith, “Did you have a reason for calling me in or did you just want to make up a four for coffee?”

“I did,” Meredith said. She then went on to detail her thoughts on the next phase of the programme. Some of it she had to repeat – more than once – as no-one present could make out what she was saying whilst she insisted on talking through a mouthful of chocolate biscuits.

The essence of it was that Jason would take on the role of Human/Jinthae liaison, complementing and supervising Tarquin’s work as Human/Borborygmi liaison. His main task was to project manage the work on both sets of equipment and ensure they remained in step with the schedules provided by the jinthae. At least, that was the official version. Much as Tarquin’s job of looking after Hotay, the donkey that was the regimental mascot, was a front to his liaison work, Jason’s official role hid a job, details of which were still under wraps. Jason was to travel to the moon with Tarquin to be introduced to the borborygmi and to brief Andrea – but don’t tell Tarquin that, you know how delicate a soul he is.

Once she had completed the briefing, Meredith handed each of her officers a document outlining the entire project and detailing their individual roles. She then dismissed Jason and Joan, asking Patsy to remain behind for what she termed further and deeper discussions.

“Have you met Tarquin yet?” Joan asked Jason as they left Meredith’s office.

“I’ve seen him on the Sir Prijs a couple of times, but haven’t really interacted with him.”

“What’s your impression so far?”

“He seems to be a prime contender for ‘upper-class twit of the year’ if you ask me.”

“I’d say that’s a fair appraisal. Let’s go see him now. Do you have any of that stuff with you?”

“What stuff?” Jason asked, feigning innocence.

“The stuff you put into people’s drink to loosen their tongues and render them incapable of saying anything untrue.”

“Oh, that stuff. One small phial. About 5cc.”

“Is that enough to—”

“More than enough.”

They walked together to the suite where Tarquin was receiving his final session, knocked on the door and entered. Tarquin was seated across a desk from an elderly, bearded man identified by his desk plaque as George Robson, professor of behavioural psychology. A balding man apparently in his mid to late sixties, the professor wore a white lab-coat over two-thirds of a mid-brown glen check suit. The third part, his jacket, was hanging from a hook on the hat-stand in the corner of the room. When he saw them enter his office, the professor looked at them over the rims of his half-moon glasses and raised his eyebrows.

“Sorry to disturb you, Professor. Rear Admiral Weinberg and Commodore Strangename,” Joan said.

“Ah yes. I was told to expect you,” Professor Robson said, “We’re about finished here. Just going through young Stuart-Lane’s course appraisal. Somewhat surprisingly, he’s scored me at five.”

“Out of?” Joan asked.

“Five.”

“Had to, Prof. You’re a decent chap and I’m sure you’ve helped me absolument oodles.”

The professor proffered a patronising smile.

“Ready, Tarquin?” Jason asked, “we’ve come to take you back to work.”

“On the moon?”

“Of course. That’s where your work is.”

“That’s where Andrea is, too,” he said with obvious relish.

Joan looked at Tarquin and pointed to her mouth.

“What?” he asked.

“On your top lip, left hand side. Chutney or something.”

Tarquin wiped his lip clean.

“Can I offer you tea or coffee before you go?” Professor Robson asked.

“That’d be great,” Joan said, winking towards Jason.

Jason tipped his head towards the professor and shook it gently. “No time,” he said.

“You’re right, Commodore. We’ll bid you farewell, Professor, and thank you for the work you have done with Captain Stuart-Lane.”

“I’ll send my report to HR by the end of the week,” he said.

Once they’d left the education block, Tarquin asked, “Is everything alright now? Can I go back to work as normal?”

“Almost,” Joan said, “there’s just one thing you need to do when you get back to the moon. You need to make it right with the borborygmi.”

“How do I do that?”

“You recant.”

“I say, that’s a bit rum, isn’t it? I know you don’t like me much after I upset those chaps, but… come on.”

“What?”

“You just called me a—”

“I told you to recant; tell them you no longer believe the things you were saying to them.”

“Oh. Sorr— ouch!” Tarquin fell to the floor between them, holding his right cheek. “I thought you called me a—”

“I can imagine what you thought the Rear Admiral called you, Captain,” Jason said, “and in my view, she would have been justified in doing so, but let’s get one thing clear. She didn’t. Okay?”

“Sir,” Tarquin said, regaining his feet.

“Good. Now get smartened up and report to us in Rear Admiral Weinberg’s office at oh-eight-thirty tomorrow for a briefing. You and I will join the Sir Prijs at ten hundred and leave for the moon base.”

“Are you still captain of the shuttle?” Tarquin asked.

“I am not. My duties, like yours are on the moon base. Captain Al-Kawazi has command.”

 

 

GTI 5.2

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 five, scene two

The rest of the group passed through Patsy’s hands in a similar vein. Two of the twelve showed a little more resistance than the rest but were both of the same mind as their colleagues by the time they passed into Jason’s care.

Once they had all been through, Patsy entered the third room and nodded towards Jason. Jason tapped a table and coughed for attention. The room was silent.

“Now you’ve all seen what the project entails, how do you feel about it?”

A rising hubbub signalled they were all happy. Mr A, who you will recall felt himself to be the group’s de facto leader, said, “I think I can say on behalf of all of us that we support what you are doing. One hundred per cent.”

Patsy sent a warm feeling around the group.

“But you thought it was awful,” Patsy said.

“I know. Can’t for the life of me understand why. I can only assume we were delusional; either that or we’d been relying on incorrect or at least incomplete information.”

Another warm feeling.

“What worries me now,” Jason said, “is the large number of followers of One Dimension who are still opposed to our work.”

“Don’t worry about them,” Mr A said, “we’ll soon bring them around to the right way of thinking.”

Warm? Practically sizzling!

The meeting broke up and the twelve left, each of them vigorously shaking hands with both Jason and Patsy, promising to keep in touch and thanking them effusively for correcting their unfortunate early impressions.

“Patsy, that was absolutely brilliant,” Jason said after the last of them had gone.

“Thank the borborygmi,” she replied.

“I wish I could.”

“Be careful what you wish for,” Patsy admonished him as they walked back towards Meredith’s office.

Arriving in the Admiral’s ante-room, they were met by a young officer who looked as though he’d have been more at home in a school uniform than in that of the regiment. Standing no more than 150cm in his white dress uniform, he was slight of build with a pasty complexion topped by a mop of the brightest ginger hair that either of the officers facing him had ever seen.

“Can I help you, Sirs?” he asked.

“Yes,” Patsy said, “you can let us pass so we can see Admiral Winstanley.”

“Is the admiral expecting you, Ma’am?” he asked, firmly but respectfully blocking their way.

“Probably not, but as we’re here… be a good chap…”

“Who should I say wants to see the admiral?”

“Very well,” Patsy sighed, “Commodore Strangename and Commander Pratt.”

As the young man pressed his intercom button, Patsy whispered to Jason, “Honestly – have you ever seen anyone look more like a Swan Vesta?”

Jason giggled.

“You can go through, Sirs,” the young man said.

“What’s so funny?” Meredith asked as the two walked into her office laughing.

“Is that the new Pipsqueak?” Patsy asked.

“Sub-Lieutenant Swann—” They laughed even harder. “What?”

Being the more familiar with the admiral and thus feeling freer to be, shall we say, less conscious and certainly less in awe of her boss’s rank, Patsy ventured, “We were just saying how, with his ginger top, pale face and white uniform, he could easily pass as a Swan Vesta.”

“And he’s called Swan!” Jason blurted.

“Not Swan, Swann. And if it’s any easier, you can call him by his given name – Nigel.”

“Never met a Nigel who’s not a prat,” Jason said morosely.

“Oy!”

“Sorry, Patsy. Perhaps I should say dimwit instead.”

“Only kidding. Pratt by name only, me. Not by nature.”

Meredith frowned. “I have a cousin called Nigel,” she said.

“Is he a prat?”

“Not exactly, but something like.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Patsy asked.

“Well… yes, I suppose he is, truth be told.”

“Thank you,” Jason said, smugly.

Meredith put her serious face on, looked at herself in the mirror beside her desk, decided she didn’t like it so took it off and put the silly one back on instead. “How did it go?” she asked.

Jason and Patsy both looked crestfallen, eyes down and heads drooped.

“Oh,” Meredith said, “that bad?”

“GOTCHA!” the two officers shouted in unison.

“Seriously?”

“Not with that face on,” Patsy said.

Meredith decided that the needs of the job should outweigh her personal vanity and put her serious face back on. “Seriously?”

“No. It was brilliant,” Patsy said.

“You were brilliant,” Jason corrected her, “I had practically nothing to do with it.”

“Either way,” Patsy continued, “it worked better than we could have hoped. And now, every time any of them says something nice about our project, they will be bathed in a warm, cosy feeling of well-being.”

“And if they say something negative about us?” Meredith asked.

“They won’t,” Jason said.

“They can’t,” Patsy corrected, “but what they can do and what they will do is pass the good word around their unenlightened, deluded followers.”

“So we’re in the clear?”

“I reckon.”

“Swann!” Meredith shouted, “Three coffees, stat.”

“And some biscuits?” Jason asked.

“And some biscuits,” Meredith added.  Turning back to Jason and Patsy, she said, “Now, whilst waiting for refreshments, let’s talk about where we go from here.”

Picking up her handset she called Rear Admiral Weinberg’s office. “Joan, Jason and Patsy are with me. Care to join?”

“Be right there,” Joan replied.

Meredith used the intercom to speak to her man, “Make that four please, Nigel,” she said.