A new entry in the Omicron Matter – Negotiations Begin. Positions stated, Millicent demands to know what Smith is really after. His activities and actions don’t make sense. He tells her – the Guild is coming and they both know from experience what that means.
For those of you who are new to the Omicron Matter, the book home page is a good place to start.
Look for more tomorrow.
The Heart of the Matter
Millicent bowed slightly at the comment and then poured herself and Smith another cup of tea. She prepared hers, took a sip and then asked, “Why did you come here? My claim to this planet is long established. The people you picked up, while admirable for here are hardly noteworthy for your typical clientele.”
Smith shrugged then raised his hands and said, “I could be branching out looking at patrons with anthropological interests. I’ll trade you some black market connections for a couple of lonely professors.”
Millicent hissed, “You use collars to control them. Hardly ideal subjects.”
Smith said, “I could disagree. I find collars speed up acclimation. Regardless, Neville is coming along nicely.”
Millicent pursed her lips and then asked, “and Edward?”
Smith pursed his own lips and said, “I am finding him more challenging. I suspect he will be in the negotiations.”
Millicent leaned in and whispered loudly, “This isn’t about Simone or Edward or even about Earth. WHY are you here?”
Smith looked at her and then stood up, went to the window and looked out at the wharf. He said, “You offer me two Omicron devices that your former contractors made. You were not the first to tell me about them. The Guild got wind of those devices and cleaned up the matter 20 years ago. However, after meeting with the scofflaws, the Guild decided further action was necessary. That is why I am here. When they questioned the McNeills they became concerned. The Guild wants this planet controlled.” He turned around and faced her and continued, “The Guild wants everything documented and filed even if the locals are ignorant. You have the rights to this planet so the Guild will discuss how control is to be implemented, but it will be done. I am here to negotiate your rights to the planet and proper compensation.”
Millicent’s mouth was suddenly very dry. She said, “It will be the same as our planet.”
Smith returned to staring out the window and said, “I have no doubt. The locals don’t even know about the Guild. Can you imagine what will happen when giant ships park themselves in low orbit? Let alone when galactic ambassadors march out of the shuttles in full battle gear. I expect whole new religions will form overnight.”
Millicent reached for her tea cup but her hand shook rattling the cup. She whispered, “All of this will disappear.”
Smith said harshly, “Do you remember the Galeid Art Museum? I think every school on the planet must have visited. My class went there right before the takeover.”
Millicent felt her tongue get thick as she said, “I think I went a couple of years before. I was all of 7.” Her eyes misted a little. “I remember they had the best sweets.”
Smith fingered a lace curtain and said in a low voice, “I was a bit older. They let us interact with some of the art. I was awestruck. I decided I would be an artist.”
Millicent snorted and dabbed her eyes, “I suppose there is a market for horror.”
Smith stayed silent for a moment, “I ran into some older folk years later and asked about it. I was told it was an early target.” Millicent gasped even though she knew the museum was gone. She had always assumed it was an unintended casualty. Smith looked out over the ships in the sleet and rain and said, “Apparently the Guild wanted the planet to know nothing would be left.” Smith turned around and continued, “I explored here a bit before I started work. I ran into a most remarkable painter in Paris – Claude Monet. His was the first truly imaginative representation I had seen here. He will revolutionize how these barbarians visualize life. One can almost see art helping science in his work.”
Millicent said quietly, “If he is that good, he’ll find a commission.”
Smith said harshly, “or he’ll be consigned to a factory to make some widget for a species he can’t imagine. The Guild doesn’t really have much use for anyone over the age of 15.”
Millicent whispered hoarsely, “I know, dammit. I lost my home and family too.”
Smith leaned down on the table and said, “Your contractors? Mine? Off to a dark planet never to see the light of day. Keeping the galaxy safe from subversive thoughts. Quite the future they have.”
Millicent slammed her fist down, “Enough!”
He smiled a bit and leaned back up. Millicent could hear him putting on his coat as she stared at the table gripping it. She looked up and saw him put on his hat. He said in a measured tone, “There are choices, Morgaine, but you need me now. If you want this little island of creativity to persist, you need me one way or another.” He moved to leave the room, but stooped down to say quietly in her ear, “I will see you tomorrow to continue.”
Millicent threw her napkin on the table and said, “Damn them.” And she wasn’t sure which party she was cursing.