A new entry in the Omicron Matter. Conflicts of Interest starts a new chapter. Smith and his group are traveling from Bristol to Southampton. In Southampton, Smith will meet Millicent Morgaine and begin negotiations for licenses to the Omicron devices. The rest of the team is wondering why Smith is going to the trouble. Smith reveals that the Guild is planning to take over the Earth and he will be bringing this news to Millicent Morgaine.
Look for more tomorrow.
For those who are new to the Omicron Matter, the book home page is a good place to start.
This starts a new chapter and a new section. Somehow the two teams will have to work together. This isn’t going to be easy for them or for me. However, it has proven to be interesting to write. This is a far shorter chapter than the last one. Also note the cool artwork for John Smith.
Smith and Others On the Train to South Hampton
John Smith sat in the train carriage rumbling from Bristol to Southampton looking at the snow covered countryside passing by. He and the remaining contractors joined Alfred Redman and Winifred Stanhope in Bristol. They had found suitable lodging for the entire group.
Smith flew the ship to Bristol. He and Camille used a forgotten warehouse on the wharf to hide the ship. Camille would run diagnostics while they were gone. Smith had also procured iron, coal and some other metals so that she could replenish her depleted arsenal of drones. After the affair in Paddington, there were precious few left.
Winifred was displaying significantly more control of her hand and her temper. Enough so that he and Camille showed her the additional features on her hand. After some practice, she was able to open the knife discreetly and not burn herself with the hand warmer.
All six sat in the same carriage. It was crowded, but it allowed free conversation and he could keep an eye on Edward Wayland in case Mr. Wayland still harbored any delusions of freedom. They had been on the train two hours and probably had another three before arriving at South Hampton, when Neville Carter-Frasier, surprisingly, said, “Sir, I have a question.” Smith nodded and Neville continued, “Why do you need to meet with Morgaine? Surely those miscreants have nothing we want.”
Smith gave Neville a small reward through the collar and Neville closed his eyes briefly. Smith answered, “Good question Neville. Those ‘miscreants’, as you call them, managed to rescue Eleanor Woodson, drove us out of a very nice house, and currently hold Simone Campbell. And Miss Campbell is alive despite my or Miss Stanhope’s efforts. So those ‘miscreants’ should not be dismissed lightly.” He looked around and saw he had nearly everyone’s attention save Edward Wayland. Smith delivered a small jolt, Wayland jerked and then faced the group. His eyes had dark circles underneath. Smith continued, “Second, Morgaine possesses some knowledge I want. And, if it is what I think it is, we will need those miscreants to help build the device.” Smith looked at his nails and said, “And I want Miss Campbell back or compensation.”
Winifred’s eyes flashed, “So we will be getting her back?”
Smith said in a tired voice, “Doubtful. I will put in a pro forma demand. But Morgaine objects to my control devices.” Edward snorted. Smith glared at him and Edward flinched. Smith decided to do nothing this time and continued, “She objects to my control methods so I expect she will offer to buy Miss Campbell’s contract out.”
Winifred leaned back, clearly disappointed, and said, “Why bother? They seemed to have neutralized its effects.”
Smith said, “I doubt her solution is permanent. Plus Morgaine will find she needs to get back the Guild and plead her case. If she is going to meet with them, she needs everything in order back here. And if I lodge a complaint about interference, her pleas for… forbearance on other matters will be ignored. ”
Findley Brown asked, “Why do you think she needs to see the Guild?”
Smith said, “Because the Guild is planning to take over the Earth.”
Neville said excitedly, “Then you’ve won!” Wayland’s eyes flashed darkly and his fists clinched, but he said nothing. Findley Brown’s and Winifred Stanhope’s eyes narrowed speculatively.
Smith looked at Neville and said, “Morgaine was right. I probably never needed to put a collar on you Neville.” Smith provided another slightly larger reward and Neville sighed a bit. Wayland rolled his eyes but said nothing. Smith added, “But I find the collar far more reliable. In any case, Neville jumped to a wrong conclusion. However, I do appreciate that you ventured to think it out.”
Alfred Redman cleared his throat and said, “I am afraid I jumped to the same conclusion. If Morgaine has to return to the Guild, then you will have free reign here.”
Smith leaned back and said, “If the Guild takes over, they will distribute resources across multiple finders. I will certainly profit, but there will be all sorts of odious restrictions. So in this, Morgaine and I are on the same side. You are far more valuable without Guild over sight. Our reasons might be different, but neither of us wants outside control of Earth.
Edward asked quietly, “What does Guild control mean?”
Smith smiled darkly at Edward Wayland, “No relief for you.” Then to the rest of the group, “I suppose you could think of India and the British Empire. They’ll set up a bit of local control and the finders will sell your resources and goods at a handsome profit.”
Redman asked, “Resources like coal or iron?”
Smith said, “Hardly. Those are more valuable to use here setting up factories and transportation. There are a few odd minerals, some odd flora and fauna. The real value is the working bodies. You have plenty of those. And you should be very glad you already have a contract. Those that aren’t sent to the rest of the galaxy as pets or slaves will be working very hard to produce something for somewhere else.