Category: GTI

GTI 3.3

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 three, scene three

After her refresher course in enhanced post-hypnotic suggestion, Patsy returned to the regimental headquarters, escorting Tarquin as her prisoner. She handed him over to Meredith in her new office, on the top floor of the regiment building.

“Thank goodness,” he said to Meredith, “someone who understands me at last. Thought I was being handed over to Joan.”

“Who?”

“Sorry. Commodore Weinberg.”

“Rear Admiral Weinberg, I think you mean“

“Bloody hell. Another promotion? And I’m still Captain.”

“Be thankful you’re that. Joan is busy elsewhere this afternoon, so you have me, I’m afraid.”

“Listen, Merry old thing—”

“What did you call me, Captain Stuart-Lane?”

“Merry – well, that’s your name, isn’t it?”

“It may have been when you and I were enforced shipmates aboard the Waist of Space, but that was a million years ago. For now, you will address me as Admiral Winstanley, or Ma’am. Clear?”

“Yes, Ma’am,” he muttered.

“Are we clear, Captain?” she yelled.

“Crystal. Ma’am.”

“Good. Now, Tarquin. I hear that you’ve been upsetting our friends on the moon.”

“Mis-understanding, Ma’am.”

“I’ve heard their side of the story. Pray tell me yours.”

“All of it, Ma’am?”

“All of it.”

“Well. Andy; that is Commodore Smithson—”

“Rear Admiral Smithson, Captain,” Meredith corrected him.

“Of course, Ma’am. Rear Admiral Smithson told me she was coming to see you, Ma’am, and that she was leaving me in charge. Well, you know, Ma’am that And… the Rear Admiral and I have an arrangement—”

“I am aware that the Rear Admiral has some needs that she feels you are tolerably qualified to meet, yes.”

“Well, Ma’am, I thought she would appreciate a demonstration that there’s more to me than … you-know.”

“I’m not sure I do know, Captain. Please enlighten me.” Then, as an aside to Patsy, who was still in the room, she said, “Watch him squirm at this.”

Tarquin’s face became the colour of a ripening loganberry as his tongue seemed to him to swell beyond the bounds of his oral cavity.

“Well,” he started, “I…”

He fainted.

“Bring him round, Patsy, there’s a dear. Here. Use these,” she handed Patsy an ancient bottle of smelling salts, “Worked for my great-grandmother in the 1950s and have been in the family ever since.”

Patsy took the container, removed the cap, sniffed and immediately regretting sniffing its contents and held the bottle under Tarquin’s nose.

“Yah. Right. Ahm. Okay,” Tarquin mumbled.

“You were saying, Captain?”

“Yah. Sorry, Admiral, Ma’am. Right-oh. What was I saying?”

“You were about to explain why the borborygmi were threatening to lynch you, I believe.”

“Right, yah. Well, Ma’am. I wanted to show … erm … Rear Admiral Smithson that I could make a good fist of running things in her absence, and so I …” he trailed off unintelligibly.

“So you what, Captain?”

“So I instituted reveille and inspection at oh-six-hundred followed by mandatory exercise – toughen them up, build up their core strength sort of thing.”

“And that upset them?”

“Not too much. They seemed okay with that. Well; okay-ish, Ma’am”

“Then what did upset them?”

“I’m not quite sure, truth be told.”

“Stab a guess, please.”

“I suppose, Ma’am, if I were forced to hazard a guess…”

“Proceed on the assumption that you have been.”

“They didn’t seem too happy with the eighteen-hundred curfew, Ma’am.”

Suppressing a laugh and trying her very best to remain cool, calm and professional, Meredith asked, “And what form did this curfew take, pray?”

“Back to quarters, lights out and lockdown, Ma’am. All standard stuff.”

“For a prison camp, yes. For a training camp, maybe not so much. For a working, civilian outpost that’s been there for more than five hundred years, NO! What were you thinking, man?”

“Just trying to impress my boss, Ma’am,” he replied sheepishly.

“And how did that go?”

“Not well, Ma’am.”

“Not well, Ma’am. You’re bloody right, not well. You treated them like slaves, like prisoners of war. These are our allies, our friends. They are the first civilisation we humans have contacted. Are you trying to start an inter-galactic war?”

“No, Ma’am.”

“I can’t tell you how relieved I am to hear that.” Meredith became very serious and Admiral-like. “Captain Tarquin Stuart-Lane. You will be escorted to secure quarters where you will stay, under guard, until you are transferred to an appropriate educational establishment. There you will learn some of the things that are seriously lacking in your makeup: cultural sensitivity, racial awareness and management methodologies for starters. With a bit of luck, they may include common sense in the syllabus.” She pressed a button on her desk. A large and well-armed member of the headquarters security detachment entered the room.

“Ma’am?” he said.

“Escort Captain Stuart-Lane to a holding cell for the night, please. Tomorrow morning, he’s to be transferred to training. Liaise with HR to firm up the details.”

“Ma’am,” he said. He took Tarquin by the arm and the two marched out. Patsy, at Meredith’s suggestion, looked out of the door that she had partly reopened, to make sure Tarquin and his escort had left the floor.

As soon as Patsy confirmed to Meredith that they had cleared the area, Meredith released the laughter she had been holding back since Patsy brought Tarquin in. Once she’d settled, she turned to Patsy again. “That’ll do for today,” she said, “any plans for this evening?”

“Not me, no,” Patsy replied.

“You do now,” Meredith said, “walk with me.”

GTI 3.2

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 three, scene two

Arty returned to his quarters. Andrea told Patsy to wait while she went through to the comms room and called Meredith.

“You don’t look all that happy, Sweets,” Meredith said on seeing Andrea.

“No, I’m not,” Andy replied.

“What’s up?”

“We arrived to a near-riot.”

“What? Why?”

“Tarquin had taken it upon himself to adopt the role of plantation owner…”

“Don’t tell me. He was trying to impress you by what he no doubt referred to as ‘running a tight ship’?”

“Exactly.”

“So, where are we now?”

“The borborygmi hierarchy is happy to have him continue as liaison—”

“That sounds generous. How did you manage that?”

“They agreed to my suggestion that he should undergo a period of re-education.”

“In?”

“Cultural sensitivity, racial awareness and management methodologies, that sort of thing.”

“Wow. Will he be happy to do that?”

“I told him he couldn’t return to the moon until he had.”

“If I ever had any doubt, Andy, I now know you are all woman.”

“How so?”

“You used womankind’s greatest and most potent weapon.”

“Not with you.”

“Withdrawing sexual favours is the one thing against which a mere man has no defence!”

“I hadn’t thought of it like that.”

“More proof. You did it instinctively. So, what now?”

“Tarquin is confined to quarters here until the end of the week when Patsy has finished the training she needs. She will escort him back to HQ and hand him over to Joan.”

“Okay. I’ll brief her and have her set up his re-education.”

“In a secure facility?”

“Is that strictly necessary?”

“No, but I want him to be aware throughout the training that he should see it as punishment.”

“Oh, you’re good. Look. I have establishment for two Rear Admirals. I’ve already put Joan’s name forward, how do you feel about being the other one?”

“This is all rather sudden, Ma’am. How did you come by the extra slots?”

“I just had my promotion to full Admiral confirmed. I didn’t want to say anything before, because—”

“Counting your chickens before they’ve hatched often results in egg on your face.”

“Precisely. So, what do you think?”

“Who will be the new Vice?”

“I can’t pull that one off without something rather special. Leave that on hold for a while. Rear?”

“Of course.”

“Congratulations, Rear Admiral Smithson. Your paperwork will be with you before the end of the day, and you can collect your insignia on your next visit.”

“Thank you, Admiral.”

“Oh, I do like the sound of that. Who would have thought, when Tarquin and I were shipped off on the Waist of Space, that I’d end up full Admiral?”

“While Tarquin has fallen prey to the Peter principle at the rank of Captain.”

“In fairness, Andy, he should have been stopped at least two ranks lower, but—”

“He has his uses.”

“Quite. How will you manage, by the way?”

“I’ll cope, Meredith. I did without for a long time, you know. A few months will be no hardship.”

“A few months? Do you expect his re-training to take that long?”

“If it doesn’t, at least it will seem like it to him.”

“How so?”

“I aim to video-call him at least every other day.”

“He’ll go mad.”

“But he’ll be so, shall we say, compliant when he cames back.”

“Andrea Smithson, you’re as evil as I am.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment.”

“Do,” Meredith said, closing the call down.

Andrea skipped back to the room where Patsy was waiting for her.

“Ask me what you should call me,” she said excitedly.

“You said I should call you Andy.”

“No. When we’re working and being formal.”

“Ma’am?”

“Not that.”

“Commodore Smithson?”

“Not any longer. Only Rear bloody Admiral Smithson!”

“You got a promotion?”

“Sure did. Meredith’s now full Admiral.”

“Wow. Do you reckon there could be another stripe in it for me?”

“What, Lieutenant Commander?”

“Why not?”

“You’ll have to work on her for that.”

“Oh, I will, Rear Admiral. I will.”

GTI 3.1

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 three, scene one

Returning to the moon on the Sir Prijs, Patsy went immediately to her old domain, the galley, and started training the current crop of chefs, sous-chefs and pastry chefs with a view to making them almost, though not quite one hundred per cent as good as she is. Her aim, she explained earlier to Andrea, was to make sure that the quality of produce the crew enjoyed was high enough for her not to be ashamed of the galley crew, but not so high that she would cease to be held in the highest esteem and awe.

Andrea, meantime, spent more time with Jason Strangename, examining and becoming familiar with the theory and practicalities of the SEP generator. During a tea-break, Jason asked Andrea if she’d heard anything more about his possible promotion and reassignment.

“Not really,” she said, “last time I spoke with the admiral, she said that she had a job in mind for you, but I couldn’t draw her on what it was.”

“Not even a hint?”

“No. All I know is that you will lose your command of the Sir Prijs. Are you okay with that?”

“I should say. I didn’t join the Regiment to run a shuttle. If I’d wanted to do that, I’d have stayed on Earth and become a mass transit driver.”

“I take your point, Jason. We’ll both just have to wait and see what the admiral has in mind. One question, though: what about Postlethwaite?”

“SEP, Ma’am.”

“Steady on old chap! That’s a bit excessive, isn’t it?”

“What?”

“You plan to feed him into the energy shield?”

“No, Ma’am. The original SEP field, as envisaged by Doug Adams, wasn’t Shielded Energy Porosity, it was Somebody Else’s Problem.”

“And that’s what Postlethwaite will be…”

“Precisely, Ma’am. Although, in fairness to my successor, getting him transferred off this ship would be more of a kindness.”

“To your successor, if not to Postlethwaite himself.”

“Quite so, Commodore.”

“We’ll talk more on the return journey, Jason,” Andrea said, rising from her comfy chair and heading out of the Captain’s ready room.

The Sir Prijs having reached the transit coordinates, Andrea and Patsy boarded the SOPT and travelled down to the Moon.

They experienced an unexpected situation when trying to land on the SOPT’s allocated spot – the entire area was packed out with borborygmi – except for a small patch in the centre of the crowd that seemed to be occupied by a solitary human.

“Oh, God,” Patsy said, “what’s Tarquin done now?”

“Let’s find out, shall we?” Andrea replied, making a rapid descent to the landing pad, and causing a large number of borborygmi to make a hasty relocation to a less contentious space.

Tarquin came rushing up as the two women were climbing out of the transport.

“Thank goodness you’re back,” he exclaimed.

Andrea looked around and sensed the mood of the gathered crowd. Whatever it was, friendly wasn’t an accurate descriptor to use for it. She moved towards Tarquin and rested her hand … well, you don’t need to know exactly where she rested it, but I believe that if I tell you the effect it had, you’ll guess.

Tarquin fainted.

“Do you want to carry him in, Pats?” she asked, “It looks like the borborygmi aren’t too well disposed towards him just at the moment, and I don’t want to risk him being hurt.”

“Not until we’ve found out what this is all about, anyway, eh?”

“Precisely.”

Patsy picked Tarquin up from the ground and put him into a fireman’s lift to carry him through to the humans’ work area.

“Who is the senior Borborygmus here?” Andrea asked.

“I suppose I am,” Artivon said from the back of the crowd.

“No, that’d be me.” Andrea didn’t recognise the voice.

“And you are?”

“I most certainly am,” he replied, “Malodor Skatole, Chief of Staff to Chief Borborygmus Marshgass IV.”

“You’d better come with me, then, please. And you, Arty.”

“I think you’ll find that, as the Chief’s right-hand man, I deserve more respect than to be ordered around by a human.” The look on Arty’s face was one of pure embarrassment.

“And I think you’ll find,” Patsy said, making small movements with her hands, “that as chief representative not only of the Royal Space Regiment but also of the Earth authorities who, you may recall, are funding everything you are doing here, Commodore Smithson has the authority to make that request and to expect you to carry it out.”

“You’re right,” Maladore Skatole said in a tone of utter resignation, “I apologise.”

“Way to go, Patsy,” Andrea said quietly.

“Two-nil,” Patsy replied.

“Not with you.”

“I’ll explain one day.”

Inside their area, Patsy administered smelling salts to Tarquin while the two borborygmi waited in the ante-room.

“Oh, Andy,” Tarquin said.

“That’s Commodore Smithson to you, Captain,” Andrea said sternly. Tarquin started to cry. “Pull yourself together, man!”

“Yes, Ma’am. Sorry, Ma—”

Tarquin reeled from the hefty thwack across the face that he knew he deserved and which, by virtue of enhanced post-hypnotic suggestion, he truly believed he’d received.

“Report!” Andrea bellowed.

“What?”

“I leave you here, unsupervised, for four days, and come back to find the borborygmi in open revolt – and you at the centre of it. You’re supposed to be Human/Borborygmi Liaison; now tell me: what the hell has happened here?”

“It’s a long story,” Tarquin stammered.

“Give me the executive summary.”

“Ma’am?”

“The short version, idiot.”

“They wouldn’t accept my authority.”

“I’m not surprised. You don’t have any. What were you trying to do?”

“I just went into their labs to inspect them—”

“To what?”

“Inspect them. Listen: my Daddy had lots of chaps from other parts working for him, and he always made it clear how I should treat them.”

“And that is?”

“Iron fist. Not kid gloves.”

“So you went in there like a slave-owner and started lording it over them? I’m not surprised they objected. Look; I’m going to hate myself for doing this, but you will be confined to quarters for the rest of this week. When Patsy returns to Earth, you will go with her—”

“But—”

“But nothing. You will return with her and you will receive appropriate re-training. You will remain on-planet until I see fit to call you back. Patsy, can you escort Captain Stuart-Lane to his quarters, please?”

“My pleasure, Ma’am.”

Accompanied by what sounded like the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah rendered on steel drums, Patsy frog-marched Tarquin through the ante-room and across the complex to his quarters where she deposited him. She then set a security over-ride code on his door, effectively locking him in.

On her return, she found Andrea speaking calmly with the two borborygmi.

“Ma’am?” she asked.

“Stupid boy. Believing he’d been left in charge, he tried to impress me by playing the big I am. Naturally enough, the guys here weren’t impressed. I think I’ve stopped them from lynching him, though.”

“I think we understand,” the Chief’s man said, “that he wasn’t being evil, just stupid.”

“I prefer misguided,” Andrea said.

“Either way, we’ll be happy to have him back here after a period of … re-education. We could have a lot worse – he is mostly a harmless idiot, and he does have his uses.”

“Sometimes,” Andrea offered.

“Yes, sometimes,” the borborygmus agreed.

“Now, before you go,” Andrea said, signalling that she expected them to go, “can you book Patsy in for a refresher course in EPHS, please?”

“But she’s already beyond most of us,” Artivon Grumpblast said.

“I know, but we have a job for her that will require the highest level of proficiency that she can attain.”

“Can we ask what it is?”

“I’m afraid I can’t tell you any details. I can tell you that it involves the benign persuasion of a large group of people around to our way of thinking.”

“Benign to whom? To them?”

“Heavens, no. Benign to us. Mostly harmless to them. It’s about calming a developing situation and making sure it doesn’t escalate.”

“So more like Jedi mind tricks than actual persuasion, then?”

“Look. If we don’t do this, the future of this project could well be in grave doubt.”

“Okay. Nine o’clock tomorrow morning okay?” Arty said to Patsy.

“Whose time?”

“Yours.”

“Okay.”