The Omicron Matter – A Parley Request Delivered – The Train Ride Back

A new entry in the Omicron Matter – A Parley Request Deliver. Alfred and Winfred have left the Isle of Skilly and are returning to London to deliver a message to Millicent Morgaine.  The message is simply a meeting time and location for John Smith and Morgaine to meet.  Winifred is learning to better control her new clock work hand, but feels she is being ignored by Smith.  Alfred explains matters as he sees them.

Look for more tomorrow

For those who are new to The Omicron Matter. The home page is a good place to start

The Train Ride Back

The train car swayed and rumbled as the countryside faded into city. Alfred watched Winifred go through her finger exercises. To all appearances, Winifred was simply stretching and twiddling her fingers.  But under a glove, no one watching would know the fingers were a clock work capable of crushing a brass rail. Winfred focused at the movement with a steady eye and said, “I haven’t broken a glass since we came ashore.”

Alfred, dressed in his usual plaid suit vest and plaid pants, licked his finger and carefully turned the page of his book and said, “It will save a bit of money and I am sure Neville and Findley will appreciate your greater control.”

She lifted the crystal glass and sipped the wine as the outer apartments of London started to roll by. She asked, “Did Smith say when we needed to be back at that horrid island?”

Alfred carefully slipped a ribbon book mark in place and closed the book.  He rubbed his stiff leg. Healing was progressing or so he was told. He took regular walks and did his stretches. He and Winifred had coordinated their exercises so they could work out together.  Alfred responded to the question, “Smith said we should be back at Cardiff no later than a month after we left.”

She crossed her arms and scowled out into the passing tenements and hissed, “I shouldn’t have to ask my servant for my schedule.” There was a hint of a stress on the glass and she set it back down. The glass was intact save a scratch. Winifred took a deep breath.

Alfred looked at the glass, still unbroken. He remarked, “Your control is definitely better. You would have shattered that last week. “ He looked up at her and said, “I am your butler. Lots of folk ask their butlers for their schedules.”

Winifred snapped back at him, “Don’t patronize me. You know what I mean.”

He leaned back, smiling, and said, “You weren’t fully aware after the fight. When your senses had returned, you have been occupied. Smith and I took time to get acquainted and he folded me into his strategy.”

She pouted her lip in a manner he hadn’t seen in five years saying, “and I have been folded out. Why? Why? I ask.”

Alfred pursed his lips and said, “He questions your judgment.”

Winifred turned to face him, her eyes wide as she snarled, “How dare…” She stopped in mid-sentence when she saw Alfred’s calm expression as he picked his nails with a previously hidden knife. She took three deep breaths and then asked in a strained voice, “Did Mr. Smith say why he questions my judgment?”

Alfred looked at her and said, “Can we agree not to kill the messenger?”

Winifred eyed the knife and said, “I suspect you would be hard to kill in the first place. But I understand you are merely relaying information.”

Alfred smiled at the comment and pulled a honing stone out of his pocket and sharpened the knife.  He said, “I do so hate unnecessary arguments.”

Winifred rolled her eyes and said, “What does he say? I won’t blame you even if you agree.”

Alfred chuckled and said, “I knew progress was being made.  Here is what we have discussed. Mr. Smith has noted that a) you have a bit of a temper; b) we are about to engage with Morgaine’s crew who have upset you a bit, “ he pointed with his knife at the robotic hand.  She flexed it into a fist.  He narrowed his eyes and said, “and c), I’ll be blunt Miss Stanhope, Smith has said your …enthusiasm with Miss Woodson has tainted the well.” Alfred watched her response. She tensed at the comment, but took several more breaths. She then, using her robotic arm, took a sip of wine.  Alfred thought she is finally learning self-control.

She said calmly, “I wasn’t aware I needed to be…delicate.  And as I recall, you had your part in her experience as well.”

Alfred shrugged and said, “Smith laid no rules and he said he wanted your interests put to good use. I follow your lead on such matters.  Findley and Neville hardly needed encouragement. But Eleanor Woodson was not one of our street urchins.  She and Simone Campbell are now with Morgaine.”

Winifred completed the thought, “And now we go to their door with an olive branch? We’ll be lucky if we walk away with all of our remaining limbs.”

Alfred scratched his chin and said, “I thought that as well. But Smith says our delivery will be a ‘statement’.  I have no frigging idea about what, but we deliver a message and get a response. He is very confident that we will be left unharmed. If we were harmed that would damage Morgaine’s reputation and she has precious little else. At least that is what John Smith believes.”

Winifred drank some more wine and looked at the glass, “How intriguing. Millicent Morgaine with limits. Perhaps this meeting will be more satisfying than I thought. Do they know we are coming?”

Alfred said, “No. Smith felt surprise would move the negotiations in his direction.”

Winifred smiled broadly and said, “Tomorrow will be an interesting day indeed and I have not had one of those in weeks.”


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