The Omicron Matter – Under Flag of Parley – At the Duke of Wellington (pt2)

A new entry in the Omicron Matter – Under Flag of Parley. Rachael has delivered her message to Alfred Redman. He was surprised but still maintained negotiations. He is seeking to bring the contractors together in a working fashion. Rachael suspects there is more. Redman says only that the contractors better be united if they have to face the Guild because the consequences of failure scare even him.

Look for more on Saturday. Tomorrow will be a book review.

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

Author’s note

I took some advice from my first reader on this section. She felt that my chapter on Alfred with Winifred was pitch perfect. She wanted to see more of that caginess here.  He was already a bit cunning in the chapter. I needed to touch up one section of dialog to make him less direct. I am curious what regular readers think of his character. Edward is there but I didn’t do much with him. I will need to work on that in later chapters.

The Duke of Wellington (part 2)

Redman pursed his lips and then said, “Neville’s right. You are miscreants.”

The waitress arrived and asked, “Will there be trouble? Take it elsewhere if there is.”

Rachael looked up, “Nay lass. I was setting some boundaries. Isn’t that so, Alfred?”

Alfred looked at Rachael and then at the waitress and said, “There will be no trouble from me.” He pointed to Rachael, “She’s buying the next round.” The waitress scanned the table of people holding strained smiles and then started taking drink orders. Redman finished what was left in his mug and then asked, “So was Morgaine pleased with the negotiations?”

Rachael said, “She came back. Blessed my meeting with you and then locked herself in her room. So I don’t think things went well.”

Alfred leaned back and said through a tight smile, “Pity…and I think I mean that. Do you know what she was going to negotiate?”

John said, “I think she was planning on sharing the technology Rachael, Jason, and Simone have been working on.”

Rachael said, “Jason’s parents disappeared and left him with some notebooks. Apparently they were able to create some amazing things. Amazing enough that the elders are talking.”

Redman said, “I’d like to know more about those amazing things. But did Morgaine mention the Guild?”

John said, “They sound like a cartel and a damned aristocracy all rolled into one. Only with planets and ours is working class apparently.” Redman smiled at the comment.

Rachael continued in the same voice, “Apparently these amazing things that Jason’s parents did crossed the Guild somehow and they are now gone. Millicent is worried that the Guild will come here next.”

The waitress arrived with drinks and distributed them. Rachael paid for them and the girl left. Redman raised his glass and said, “To cats with dogs” Rachael and John paused and then raised their glasses.  Edward added his to the three and said, “cats with dogs.”

Redman said, “Morgaine is right to be worried. Smith has been tasked by the Guild to tell her its coming.”

John slammed his drink down and snarled, “He’s selling us out!”

Redman motioned his hands in a calming motion, “I didn’t say that.”

Rachael smiled without warmth and asked, “Then what are you saying?”

Redman paused and said, “I am not sure other than passing information. I’ve heard a bit and asked a bit. When the Guild takes over, it is fairly brutal to the locals.”

Edward rolled his eyes and said, “Now there’s irony.”

Rachael said, “Edward has a point, Redman. You calling the Guild brutal is the kettle calling the pot black.”

Redman ran his fingers through his hair and then said, “Fine…Fine! I know that my method of delivering messages lacks polish. Can we set my character flaws aside for just a moment to look at the bigger picture here.”  He sat forward, “Smith never spoke of his planet before. When he finally did, it was in the past tense.”  He poked the table to make his point, “Say what you will about my past behavior, but this is something different.” He waved his hands around the room, “Look around mates. They all will be wearing Edward’s new decoration from the sounds of it.”

Rachael’s tone got harsher and quieter saying, “And Smith is helping this happen?”

Redman groaned, “You still aren’t getting it. John Smith loathes the Guild, its rules and that it destroyed his home and family. I don’t think he has any great affection for here, but I don’t think he is just here to be the Guild’s messenger boy.”

It was quiet for a bit and then John asked, “So you really aren’t sure what he is up to?”

Redman said, “That he is up to something, I am sure. But I don’t know what. And in uncertain times, one needs to consider all possibilities.”

Edward leaned forward and asked, “What does this device do?”

Rachael said, “I can’t say I really understand. Jason’s done the math and it has him scratching his head.  It seems to create some field that blocks out everything: energy, matter, gravity and even time.”

Edward leaned back and said, “That seems impossible.”

John said, “We’ve learned to stop using that word. The second device harnesses some unlimited source of energy to power the first device.”

Redman sat back and scratched his face and said, “We could rule the world with those.” Redman looked at the others who were frowning severely and said defensively, “Just considering the possibilities.”

John said sharply, “I think that is the Guild’s problem with the devices and us.”

Rachael leaned back and said, “What is your angle, Redman?”

Redman put his hand to heart and said, “Wanting to repair our historically poor relations isn’t enough?”

Rachael and John said together, “No”.

Edward chuckled. Redman pursed his lips and then took a drink. He looked at the mug and said, “Two reasons. We are going to have to work together so this is a legitimate effort to make that easier.  We need to figure out who can play with whom.”

Rachael nodded, but she could see John cross his arms skeptically.  She looked at Redman and asked, “The second reason?”

Redman said, “Smith and Morgaine are the grand outsiders here to help and lift us up. Now we find out some far off power has had past disagreements with both and will soon becoming here to smash us. I don’t trust them.”

Edward said, “Certainly can’t trust Smith.”

John said, “Millicent has been honest with us.”

But Rachael remained quiet. Redman leaned forward and looked at her and said, “Do you really think you’ve been told everything? That you are all headed to a worker’s paradise?”

Rachael leaned back and narrowed her eyes, saying, “We haven’t been told everything. There are times when Millicent and Charles are infuriatingly vague.  We only found out about this Guild and its animosity when it appears she is going to lose control.”

Redman smiled broadly and said, “Now you’re thinking.” He leaned back and said, “I strongly doubt Winifred would have beaten you without that nasty fall.”

John said, “Winifred didn’t win. She lost.”

Redman said, “Against five or six to one. Neville hardly counts. One on one with Miss Weiz here at her peak and I would only bet on Winifred out of loyalty.  The odds would be too close.”

Rachael snorted and said, “Stop planning our grudge match and don’t assume my statement means I don’t trust Millicent. But you are right – we aren’t being told everything.”

Redman waved expansively, “So Morgaine and Smith are negotiating the fate of the world. Why exactly do we not have a spot at the table?”

There was quiet. John said, “I am not sure I want to answer that.”

Rachael slowly said, “Other than trying to sow dissension, what do you propose we do to get a place at the table?”

Redman pulled out his watch and looked at it and said, “Oh my goodness. Look at the time.” He put the watch back and said, “I suspect we all have different answers to that question. But I propose we meet tomorrow to figure out what we would say if we had that place.” Redman quickly rose and looked at Edward Wayland and snapped his fingers. Wayland quickly rose and headed toward the door. Redman said as he departed, “You don’t have to like me. But if we do have to face The Guild or Smith and Morgaine, we better be looking in the same direction.”


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