Settling down for a natter with Bongo Tranter - Ace Rimmer's boss.

Name: Admiral Sir James 'Bongo' Tranter Admiral Sir James Bongo Tranter
Occupation: Space Corps Test Base Commander, Admiral of the Fleet
Qualifications: Able to kiss ass with the best of them. And the worst of them. And those guys in the middle
Distinguishing Marks: Hummus residue under armpits, between toes and in buttock crevice
Ace's Notes: I was willing to test pilot the light ship. I was willing to leave home never to return. I was willing to risk my life in an untested ship. But sorry Bongo, I wasn't willing to spend a night with you and your selection of condiments and sauces

Good morning Bongo - would you like some toast?

Not while I'm on duty, thank you.

Bongo Tranter

So, what's going on?

Interesting you should ask. We've just achieved the impossible. You'll be astounded, it's beyond all human comprehension. What we've done... well you have no idea. It's inconceivable.

You built a ship that could break the speed of reality.

We built a ship that could break the speed of... Oh. Yes. Then we -

Bongo Tranter

You sent your best pilot off on the mission to explore new dimensions.

Yes, we did, that's quite right - though I should say that since Commander Rimmer's departure, there has been a certain amount of controversy about that particular mission.

What kind of controversy?

The top brass had something to say about the selection of Ace Rimmer for the Dimension Jump mission.

Surely he was the perfect man for the job?!

From our point of view, yes. The only downside to my sending Ace away was the effect it had on the female officers. When we left the hangar there was a 400-strong protest going on outside. 400 angry women with unsatisfied sexual urges, each wielding a popular brand of nutcracker. They were not best pleased with my decision.

Bongo Tranter

No, the real problem was that Ace was a poster-boy for the Space Corps. He'd received so much media coverage by that time that they'd had to grant him his own station. There's more footage of Ace helping starving orphans than there is time left in the universe. Apparently there's a tribe of nomads on one of the Venusian moons that worship him as a god.

Probably started by those nutcracker women...

They also weren't keen on us sending a vessel worth $£147 trillion out into a new dimension when we already knew that it couldn't be retrieved. They spent an awful lot of money, and from their point of view the level of achievement amounted to no more than the sight of tail fire blinking out of existence. What they got for 147 trillion was a large but mostly-unimpressive firework display.

But the sheer weight of discovery! Surely your names will go down in history!

They already have - we're listed in The Guinness Book of Records for the most expensive waste of time in the history of science.


You see, it's easy to say this now, but in retrospect I wish we'd built a spare Dimension Drive, rather than sending Ace off with the prototype. It's hardly an excuse, but to be fair, our mechanic is a guy who doesn't own a spare pair of underpants, either.

This would be 'Spanners' Lister?

That's the chap. A brilliant creative mind, amazing technician... but the personal hygiene of a Kinitawowi GELF who's really let himself go since his GELF bride left him for a wartier male.

Bongo Tranter

Spanners was involved with the development of the Dimension Drive, and in fact it was his wife Kristine who actually plotted Ace's first - and only - course. They make for a hell of a team, those two. I wish we had a dozen more like them, but we don't have enough broom closets for them all to make out in between shifts.

You have quite a number of interesting personnel at the Mimas Test Base, actually - including the Padré...

Father Cat? Now there's a remarkable guy. Passes for human incredibly well, doesn't he? I mean, you occasionally find him scratching at his dog-collar with his foot, but generally speaking he's indistinguishable from the rest of the guys.

Bongo Tranter

The Padré was part of an experiment the boffins had been working on, something to do with hyper-evolution. I don't know the science stuff - I'm the guy who wrote to the TV networks asking them to ban documentaries during prime time - but they were working on Darwinian logics and came up with a theory that, over time and given the correct surrounds, almost any life-form will evolve into humanoid form.

They hadn't met Lister, then?

Wrong. They eventually moved to full animal testing and Lister volunteered a cat he'd rescued on Titan. They shoved the moggy into an accelerated-time environment - kinda the opposite of a stasis booth - and the Padré was the first successful result. His religion's a little quirky - it's not really Christianity, but has something to do with, I don't know, some promised holy land and an ancient star map. Crazy stuff, but he's a top guy, great for morale - except when he sheds on the furniture.

That's quite the science project!

Their eco-acceleration work is astounding. They've developed quite a reputation among retailers - manufacturing terraforming devices for dead planets, accelerator rockets. In fact it's sales from there that's allowing them to fund their first deep-space mission. They're taking the SSS Esperanto out to uncharted ocean moons to see if they can hyper-accelerate undersea growth from scratch. It's very exciting.

What about your secretary, Mellie?

Now, you do pick interesting cases. Mellie is a Model 101-type android.

You're kidding!

Not at all. Tenth generation, AI. Quite brilliant. And she's programmed to be the ideal secretary. Never misses a call, never forgets a message, and only flirts within certain operational parameters. I've got her set at low-level - just enough that I don't feel guilty. But you can crank her up to full-blown 'affair that the wife will never discover' if you choose. It's up to the user.

Bongo Tranter

But you have her set low?

That's right. She attends the company fundraisers and so on, and I can't have her making embarrassing innuendoes in front of the brass.

Bongo Tranter

Odd, because she seems to be set a little... higher for Commander Rimmer.

That's Ace. He just has that effect on mechanicals. His on-board computer used to drive us crazy trying to call him whenever he wasn't at work, sending him love-emails...

Well, I think that's probably quite enough of that. Anything you'd like to say before we finish?

Well, I do have a fantastic recipe for taramasalata...

Thank you, Bongo. One final question - would you like some toast?