A new entry in the Omicron Matter – Knowledge Discovered. Millicent takes tea with Liam and discusses her decision to meet with John Smith. Liam doesn’t understand why she has to meet with him. She provides an explanation on how her race works. Liam isn’t entirely satisfied, but that is not Millicent’s concern. She can’t ignore him. So it is better to deal with him.
For those who are new to the Omicron Matter, the home page is a good place to start.
Look for more tomorrow
Millicent discusses how her race of traders work and how Smith is well obligated to meet his side of the agreement. Millicent and Smith are closely tied together as will become clear in later chapters. I have made some allusions to the earlier book. I have linked to the post where she proposes to meet with Smith and the circumstances. The back link is a long posting, but it explains why she is willing to meet with John Smith.
On a side note, I have finished writing the next chapter (which starts a new section in the book). Thanks for your support.
Millicent – Justifying Negotiations
It was a short walk to the tea house. A fine spread was laid out. Liam O’Hannigan was the perfect, if scruffy, gentleman. While he might hold the cup like mug while drinking his tea, he didn’t slurp and he took small bites of the sweets and savories. After starting a second cup he asked, “Why are we dealing with Smith?”
Millicent finished her sip, dabbed her lips with a lacy napkin and said, “Because I promised I would. Rachael’s back was broken. Felicity’s face was severely burned. Jason was concussed. Smith could have leveled the house on us. He did not. Camille’s drones could have attacked before Charles could send any aid. She did not because I returned his notebook and I promised to negotiate some likely new technology with him.”
Liam snorted and said, “ You promised? That’s it? I wasn’t sure before the raid that he was the monster you said. But I’ve talked to Eleanor and Simone and I’ve decided he’s worse. ‘I promised’ feels pretty weak to me.”
Millicent looked at the ceiling in annoyance and then back at Liam and said, “Yes, ‘I promised’ is enough for me. Smith and I are from the same culture. I find his practices loathsome. But I will keep my promises as hard as that is to believe. I also believe he will keep his to me. “
“He lied to Simone, Neville Carter-Fraser, and Edward Wayland. Why won’t he lie to you?”
“Technically he didn’t lie. He just didn’t tell the whole truth. That is one reason I find Smith’s practice appalling. It is one of the Guild’s darker practices. Some of my fellow finders act like Smith; they will bend the truth into a pretzel, but they don’t quite break it. However, I am not some neophyte full of eager trust. If he tried such prevarication with me while we negotiated, I would know it. He would lose access to technology he desperately wants and a handsome profit to go with it.”
Liam said, “I still don’t get why the promise is so binding.”
Millicent said, “What’s left of my race are traders. The rest of the Galaxy hates doing business with us for good reason – we are very good at making a profit. Despite that dislike, they don’t have much choice. We have the best goods and services for trade.” She took a sip of tea. “As harsh as we are in trading, we are honest. The penalties for lying – breaking a contract as we say – are severe.”
Liam raised his eyebrow in question, “Severe?”
Millicent said, “The equivalent of bondage in Australia. I would lose what wealth I had and be left on a backwater planet to fend for myself. If they were feeling generous, they might leave me with tools by which I could make my own weapons or find food. Banishment, but no lovely castle to write letters from like Napoleon.”
Liam waved his hands up and said, “Fine. Severe. But slavery is ok. Torture and rape are acceptable. Murder?”
Millicent blew air out between her cheeks and said, “Since not all our trading partners have restrictions on these matters, some of trader and finders have no compunctions about them. Some of us complain. Others fume. And still others fill the void left by traders who won’t deal in such matters.”
Liam bit a cucumber sandwich fiercely not having a good reply. Then he got a quizzical look in his eye and he asked, “What if your patron broke his contract?”
Millicent said, “We control all the best goods and services and are honest brokers. And we protect our own. If someone broke a contract with me, no one would trade with such a person – not even Smith. The risk is too great that there would be a repeat performance in dishonesty. I wouldn’t likely trade with someone who had broken a contract. A few years of isolation usually fixes the matter.”
Liam looked shocked, “You’re a bloody cartel!”
Millicent smelled the tea and said, “Such a harsh word. A mutual benefits society…let’s say. Besides your East India Tea Company was little better. Regardless, Smith and I play by the same rules in negotiations.”
Liam said, “Still seems to me like you have the goods and he has nothing.”
Millicent said, “Not so. He already granted safe passage. As far as I am concerned the notebook and an agreement to talk paid for that but that will be an item of negotiation. I have people and plans or at least most of the people. I am willing to bet he has the mineral resources and we will need Camille’s help if I am right about what is in those notebooks.”
Liam was quiet for a while and then said, “You’re dealing like your weak.”
Millicent said, “He also holds the key to the collars on Simone, Neville, and Edward. I want them.”
Liam pursed his lips, then said, “So you deal with the devil. Don’t give away the store.”
Millicent smiled, said, “I never have,” and took a sip of tea.