Category: GTI

GTI 9.5

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 nine, scene five.

“That’s right,” Meredith said to Joan and Patsy as well as to Andrea, Jason, Tarquin and Artivon who were present from Moonbase Alpha by way of the experimental holo-conferencing system the RSR was currently trialling, “we made the video feed available to the DPP and the four men are in police custody awaiting trial.”

“So this is being treated as a purely civil matter, then?” Joan asked.

“Not entirely. the police counter-terrorism group is controlling the enquiry but first, the four men were handed to the security services where they were robustly questioned.”

“And by robustly questioned, you mean…” an eerily translucent Andrea asked.

“Robustly questioned. No more, no less.” Meredith paused, put on her most serious face before continuing, “Of more concern to me now is what this represents. We know that there is a group, CNUT, which has as its sole aim to prevent us, human and Borborygmi, from pushing our project forward. We had just tasked two gentlemen with passing false information to this group, at the same time collecting useful intelligence for us. Double-agents, if you like. They met their end as soon as they left this building. The four men who came in here with murderous intent admitted to the killings.”

Tarquin blanched. “Cripes!” was the extent of his contribution.

“Is there any danger to us?” Artivon asked, “I ask for those of us on the two Moon bases.”

“So far, we don’t know,” Meredith said, “The security services and counter-terrorism police are still looking into that. We do know that Lady Newton has been called to appear before the House of Lords conduct and disciplinary committee to explain her involvement—”

“Another toothless bunch,” Jason Strangename sneered. Tarquin looked as though he was about to say something but changed his mind. [If only he would do that more often…]

“Not according to our ultimate boss, the First Space Lord. He chairs the committee.”

Tarquin turned to face Jason and silently mouthed the words ‘Daddy’s boss‘ before drawing an index finger across his lips in a zipping motion.

“And you have his ear?” Andrea asked.

“I can neither confirm nor deny that,” Meredith replied with a wink.

“So, where do we go from here?” Joan asked.

“We press on. I’m requesting additional security at all sites: Swindon, the moon bases and here at HQ, but I still expect our work to continue uninterrupted. If anything, I’d like to see the pace of work increased. Can we aim for the first in-system test journeys in … shall we say three years?”

“Might be ambitious for us,” Artivon said, “is your work ahead of ours?”

“Not by much,” Joan said, “we’re projecting four years now, but I’m sure we could cut it back. Might push the cost up, though.”

“Leave me to worry about the money, Jason,” Meredith said, “So we’re all happy, then?” No-one argued but, then again, no-one agreed either. Her question was met with silence apart from a few grunts and raised eyebrows. “Good. I’ll close this meeting then. Andrea – how soon can you come down and join us here?”

“What is it today?”

“Tuesday.”

“Okay; Thursday pm. Hopefully, I’ll be able to do it instantaneously in a few years.”

“That’s the plan, Rear Admiral. See you next Thursday.”

“What did I do to deserve that?”

“Deserve what?”

“What you just called me,” Andrea said, with a wink and a grin. At Meredith’s signal, Nigel Swann ended the connection to Moonbase Alpha and turned to face Meredith.

“Coffee, Ma’am?” he asked.

“Sure,” Meredith said, “for three, please.”

“There are some of my apricot danish in the salad crisper in the fridge,” Patsy said. Nigel looked at her with an expression that looked almost as though he was pleading for something. That’s probably because he was. “Don’t worry,” Patsy said, “I brought four. I knew you’d want one.” Nigel’s face lit up and he left the office with a definite spring in his step.

“You spoil that lad, Patsy,” Meredith said.

“I prefer to think of it as cultivating him.”

“You sure you don’t mean grooming,” Joan suggested.

“Ewwww!” Patsy replied, to the evident amusement of her two superior officers.

After the three women had devoured the confections that Nigel had brought, Joan turned to Meredith and became most serious.

“Are you sure you’re okay with this?” she asked.

“How do you mean?”

“Your life was in danger, and if it weren’t for Patsy, here, it may have turned out very differently.”

“I know,” Meredith replied soberly, “it wasn’t easy,” then, more brightly, “I think I handled it okay, though.”

“You handled it spectacularly well,” Patsy said, “you were calm, resolute and so strong. It really turned me on. I very nearly—”

”We don’t need to know what you very nearly did, Commander,” Joan said haughtily, “The thing is, though, Meredith, you could so easily have been killed. Do you need to talk to someone?”

“I’m talking to you two now. You are my friends and confidantes.”

“So talk, already.”

“Fair enough. I was scared. I don’t think I’ve ever been more scared. But I knew that I had to take control of the situation and when I saw Patsy out of the corner of my eye… That’s a point. Patsy, were you – you know – helping me?”

Patsy inclined her head down and looked up at her chief. “I’m sorry, Admiral. I was just trying to help.”

“Patsy, I have one thing to say to you, and I want you to listen carefully and take it on board…”

“Ma’am?”

“Thank you, Patsy. You probably – no, not probably, you did – you saved my life.”

“Just doing my job, Ma’am.”

“Well, just keep doing it, in that case. Listen, I’d like to keep you closer. I can’t have you permanently in this office, but how do you feel about sharing with Swann?”

“As long as it’s clear that he is sharing my office, not the other way round;”

“Of course. You outrank him, anyway.”

“Yes, I do, don’t I?” Patsy said with a grin of questionable provenance.

GTI 9.4

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 nine, scene four.

No more than five minutes after Forbes and Finlay had indeed left the building, the intercom from Nigel Swann’s office buzzed on Meredith’s desk. Meredith had joined Patsy in the corner of the office to talk through her plans for her new double-agents. She stood, walked over to her desk and pressed the intercom button.

“Speak!” Meredith barked.

“Begging your pardon, Admiral, but there’s some … erm … gentlemen saying they need to see you.”

“I’m busy. Tell them they’ll have to make an appointment.”

“For when, Ma’am?”

“Ooh, let me think. How does never sound?”

There came from Meredith’s ante-room the sound of a report, and not of the kind one is wont to find on paper – oh, no!

“I th-think they would prefer to see you right now, Ma’am.” There was a peculiar timbre to the Sub-Lieutenant’s voice that Meredith hadn’t noticed before. She looked quizzically at Patsy. Patsy shrugged in a manner that couldn’t have been improved even by a striped shirt, beret and string of onions.

“You nervous, Swann?”

“Yes’m. Can I sh-show them in? Please?”

“Very well.”

The connecting door opened, and four swarthy men wearing black military fatigues and a menacing look. Or perhaps not, as they all wore balaclavas that obscured their faces. If she could have seen them uncovered, Meredith would doubtless have noted that their aspect was, indeed, menacing. Each man carried a recent-model, rapid-fire assault rifle.

Meredith put down her natural reaction and steeled herself, inwardly chanting the mantra that she knew she could rely on to keep up the appearance she desired – you are a full Admiral in the Royal Space Regiment, a strong woman; you have no fears, you can do this. She stood to her full height of one point four metres and stared the men down.

“Lower your weapons, gentlemen, and tell me who you are and what business you have here.” she demanded.

The man who appeared to be their leader stepped forward and rested his firearm on Meredith’s desk, its business end pointed straight towards her navel. “We are officers in the PTO—”

“PTO? Hmm. Nope – never heard of it. Means please turn over, doesn’t it?”

“Planetary Travel Only. You know how some organisations describe themselves as the political wing of a paramilitary group?”

“I am aware of these things.”

“You could say that CNUT is the political wing of PTO.”

“That would explain your paramilitary appearance. Well, you’ve cleared up who you are, for which I thank you – although I’m still baffled as to why you choose to hide your faces behind those garments – but we’re no closer to discovering your purpose in coming here.”

“You recently hosted the late Lord Arblington and his companion, the late Dr Robertson.”

“I did, but they weren’t late. They were bang on time, as it happens—”

“They’re late now.”

“For?”

“Not with you.”

“What are they late for?”

“Let me put it another way. You remember the old TV detective series, Randall and Hopkirk (deceased)?”

“Yes, I do. One of them was dead.”

“Now imagine both your recent visitors were called Hopkirk.”

“Ooh, I love riddles. Okay. They’d both be…” Meredeth paused, frowned then continued with alarm in her voice, “Are you saying what I think you’re saying?”

“That rather depends on what you think I’m saying, doesn’t it?” the man said, lifting his weapon and priming it for action.

“You’ve killed them both…”

“Who, me? No. Not my style.”

“I got his Lordship,” one of the other men said.

“An’ I dun for ‘is doctor friend,” said another.

“But that’s terrible,” Meredith said, looking up to the leader with a mixture of concern, fear, hatred, hunger (it was past time for her elevenses) and lust (the four men were, as the youngsters would have it, well fit).

“You know, there’s one thing PTO hates more than spies?”

“And what might that be?” Meredith asked.

“Well, truth be told, there’s two things: double agents and,” he paused to cock his weapon.

“Oy!” Patsy shouted, “Leave the Admiral be.”

“It’s alright, Patsy,” Meredith replied showing a level of cool and composure that she didn’t feel, “they’re not about to do anything.”

“I know,” Patsy said quietly. All four men were looking at her but none had the slightest inkling what her hand-movements meant. They did, however, put their weapons down and sit cross-legged facing her. Patsy looked at her boss and smiled, nodding her head towards the men’s firearms. Meredith took the cue and retrieved the guns just as the four men started singing campfire songs.

Meredith went through the door to Nigel Swann’s office and had him call a full security team. The eight-man group arrived within a few minutes, secured the assault-rifles and proceeded to take the four men into custody. The PTO crew were still singing as they passed out of earshot on their way to their new, secure quarters.

“Well done, Swann,” Meredith said at last, “have security look after His Lordship and the doctor, please; then package the CCTV footage for me to pass to the DPP, will you?”

“Of course, Ma’am.”

Still shaking, Meredith said, “Patsy, you’re a star. Lunch and a nap?”

“You bet, Ma’am.”

 

 

GTI 9.3

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 nine, scene three.

“Can you really see those two as double-agents?” Patsy asked.

“I can’t, but it’ll be an awful lot of fun watching them try. Are they likely to be amenable to your special talents?”

“Do they need it? Forbes is a politician – he’s trained to lie and everyone expects it. As for the other guy, he has such a strong tell, there’s no point in him lying.”

“I’d like him to be able to.”

“Well, I don’t want to do that.”

“Why ever not?”

“Firstly because he will act as a foil to His Lordship, and secondly because his inability to lie is so… well, charming. I find it very attractive.”

“Let’s compromise, shall we? Can you just fix him so he won’t blush, fidget or stammer when Forbes lies?”

“I can do that.”

Meredith pressed the speak button on her intercom “Swann? Put out an announcement, please. I want the Earl of Arblington and Dr Robertson back in my office. Stat.”

Meredith’s PA made the announcement. Three minutes later, Forbes and Finlay were back in her office.

“What is it this time, Meredith?” Forbes asked tetchily, “I thought you wanted to be rid of us until you had something to say.”

“Maybe I have something to say now,” she replied, all sweetness and light, “Sit down here, please. Finlay, can you go over to Patsy in the far corner?”

Finlay walked to the corner where Patsy was seated. Patsy moved the two chairs so both she and he were facing the corner.

“Whilst the Admiral is explaining the new situation to His Lordship, I’d like to offer you some stratagems to help you deal with those times when what His Lordship is telling the people from CNUT is, shall we say, not necessarily the full, unvarnished truth.”

“You mean when he’s lying?”

“You may very well think that, Doctor, I couldn’t possibly comment.”

“How do you do that?”

“What?”

“Lie without lying?”

“That’s what I’m going to teach you, Doctor.”

“Please, call me Finlay. So, what do I do?”

“Just sit back and relax. We’ll start with a gentle, relaxing back and shoulder massage.”

Finlay did as he was told, and Patsy did what Patsy does. Some minutes later, Finlay awoke and asked, “Have you started? Did I miss it?”

“Finlay,” Patsy said in her most reassuring manner, “I’ve finished. You missed nothing.”

“But I don’t remember anything.”

“That’s right.”

“You used hypnotism?”

“Not exactly, but something like. Wanna test it?”

Finlay agreed, and Patsy made a pre-arranged signal towards Meredith. She and Forbes approached Finlay.

“Forbes,” Meredith said, “have you had dealings with a woman called Niamh Newton?”

“Name doesn’t ring a bell,” Forbes replied, matter-of-factly, “can’t say I’ve ever heard of the dear lady.”

“What say you, Finlay?” Meredith asked.

“If Forbes says he doesn’t know her, then it cannot be otherwise,” he replied with, to his own surprise, no trace of a blush, a fidget or a stammer, “it is universally acknowledged that Lord Arblington is an honourable man.”

“A Right Honourable one,” Patsy suggested.

“Quite,” Finlay agreed.

“Very well,” Meredith said, “you have your brief, Forbes. Go get ‘em.”

“Come on, Fin,” Forbes said, “we have work to do. Ta-ta old gal.”

Forbes and Finlay left the building.