Tales of the Nineteen Galaxies #10


So, another saturday, another Tale!

This one’s a bit of a weird one as it’s not set in the contemporary 41st Century or anywhere near, although it’s directly related.  It’s set way back at the beginning of humanity’s first steps into space.  Kind of.  Anyway, read it, see what you think!

 

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IRON HORSE

 

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Commander James Macgregor had been called to Downing Street.  Nobody had told him for what reason, or even whom he was supposed to be meeting –which his CO, Commodore Thorpe, had taken a perverse pleasure in seeing his reaction.  He marched in full dress uniform to the obsidian door, ignoring the spiked cast-iron fencing, and stood in front of the PC currently on duty.

It was a rather dismal day weather-wise, and there were fewer people than usual on the streets clamouring to see the residences of the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer.

The Constable let him through without a word, nodding a grudging respect for the uniform as the naval officer stepped through into 10 Downing Street.  He was guided through several halls and corridors that were lined with painted portraits and photographs of previous Prime Ministers.

The young aide opened a heavy red door, and gestured for Macgregor to enter.

The Prime Minister sat behind a large mahogany desk that wouldn’t have been out of place in a Victorian manor house.  The premier was older than Macgregor remembered from the Prime Minister’s tour of Plymouth’s naval yard; the stress of the job had prematurely aged him.

Not that Macgregor was all that different: he was just the right side of forty, taller than Mr. Cameron, though his short, cropped black hair was flecked at the temples with bits of grey.  He was still fighting fit -his uniform fit him even after twenty years in the Royal Navy.

“Commander Macgregor,” the PM smiled.  He pushed his paperwork aside, and gestured for him to stand in front of the desk.  Macgregor removed his officer’s peaked cap and tucked under his arm as he stood to attention.

“You’ve had quite a career as I understand it.”

“It’s certainly been a unique one,” he nodded.

“You’re a submarine skipper, yes?  The HMS Triumph.”

“Yes, sir, she’s in dry-dock in Plymouth at the moment; we’re still waiting for deployment orders from the MoD.”

“You will not be receiving orders to re-deploy the Triumph, Commander.”

Macgregor frowned, thoughts of being discharged from the service, or being assigned to a Navy Air Squadron base flashed through his panicking mind.  He had spent the last ten years on submarines, and couldn’t think of anything else he wanted to do.  He enjoyed the independence and freedom of being under the waves too much.

“In fact,” the PM continued, “you’ll be receiving a promotion to captain, and working in a new field.  Or at least new for Britain.”

“Sir?”

The Prime Minister leaned towards Macgregor across the big wooden desk, as if this were some kind of childish conspiracy.

“Tell me… Captain, have you ever heard of the Icarus and Iron Horse projects?  Or Dr. Polly Jenkins?”

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