A new entry in the Omicron Matter – A Working Agreement. Millicent has returned from her second round of negotiations with Smith and seems preoccupied. She tells Rachael that the groups will inevitably be working together so the talks with Redman are all the more important. But Eleanor, Simone and Felicity are still not pleased. Rachael agrees they won’t have to work with anyone on Smith’s team, but that some level of cooperation will be necessary. The rest of the team comes in and they discuss what are some of the things that need to be brought up with Smith and Millicent.
Look for more tomorrow
For those who are new to the Omicron Matter, the book home page is a good place to start.
My editor has made it clear that Eleanor and Simone should never work with the other side. And they won’t, but it is a conflict that will continue to exist. It is difficult to imagine similar circumstances in history but there are precedents. Decades after World War II, the Chinese and the Korean’s asked for reparations and an apology from Japan for its abominable behavior during its occupation. Koreans and Chinese business folk continued to do business with Japan as it recovered from the war but I doubt any of the women subjected to the brutalities of the occupying force would have worked closely with any of the Japanese. Bitterness remains even as time takes its natural toll on both sides.
At the Hotel
When Millicent came back, she met with Rachael immediately and told her, “You working with Redman has become dramatically more important.”
Rachael asked, “Then you and Smith have reached an agreement?”
Millicent folded her arms and then tapped a finger and said, “Not exactly. I need to talk with Liam before I tell you all. I…Smith has offered something unexpected…and I need to think about it. Regardless, it is inevitable that the two teams will be working together.”
Rachael crossed her own arms and glared back, “I suppose ‘vague with a promise of clarity’ is better than just ‘vague’. You put me and John at a disadvantage when Redman knows more.”
Millicent said, “I’ve done a few negotiations in my time. I’m not blind to the issues of constraint. But telling you without considering would be a risk to you and others. However, as I said, Smith has presented an unexpected option. It’s implications are serious. Now, if you will excuse me.” Then Millicent grabbed a wide eyed Liam O’Hannigan and marched out the door. Rachael gave a low whistle as they left.
Rachael sat at the table and reviewed her notes from the previous night’s meeting and her own thoughts. Eleanor, Simone and Felicity came in. Rachael stared at them from the desk and said, “I’m going back tonight. I know all the reasons I shouldn’t. It will not change my belief that I need to go.”
They sat in chairs. Simone said in a quiet voice, “John told us about the meeting.”
Eleanor said with a lighter tone, “He enjoyed your opening play. He sounded like a little boy describing your slap…’boom… the fat arse fell on his chair.’”
Rachael remained quiet.
Felicity said, “I was rather tickled about your comment ‘If I wasn’t serious, I would have let John hit you.’ Did you really say that?”
Rachael squirmed in bit and said, “I don’t blame any of you for being angry with me. I just don’t see a choice.” She sat up a bit and then said, “I needed to let him know all is not forgotten.”
Simone said through tight lips, “I won’t work with any of them.”
Rachael said, “Can’t ask you to, but some of us will have to.” Rachael looked at them for a second, blinked a couple of times and said, “I expect Winifred has said something just about the same.”
John, Michael and Jason came into the room when the laughter had stopped. John said, “Rachael and I are going back. We will be trying to come up with answers to this question – If we were in the room with Millicent and Smith or in front of the Guild, what would we ask for?”
Michael spoke first, “It seems everyone else is planning our fate. I frankly think one of us ought to be at the table if they are talking about us.” The others nodded in agreement.
Jason added, “If we are supposed to work with these sots, there needs to be some rules in place. I spent four years being insulted by Brown and Wayland and I took this job to get away from that.”
Rachael smiled thinly back at Jason saying, “Can’t argue with you. But remember rules on politeness cut both ways, Mr. McNeill.” Jason looked startled. He glanced at John who was staring at him. Jason said, “Won’t say I’ll be perfect. But I’ll take my stripes when they’re due.”
Michael said in a soto voice, “With Winifred and Findley, that might be literal as well as metaphoric.” There was strained laughter at that. Michael continued, “We need to decide how any new ideas will be managed. Jason, Rachael and Simone protested. Michael raised his hands in a calming gesture and said, “I’m not talking about the notebooks. Although frankly, you all are just doing what Jason’s parents did. But if we are doing something original, we need to establish how that is going to be divided.”
Felicity hit him on the shoulder and said, “The worlds coming to an end and you’re worried about profits?!”
Eleanor said, “Michael’s right. We’ve already signed away our patent rights to Millicent. What happens if the two groups come up with something jointly? I know it sounds harsh, but that is the world we are entering.”
John looked at his fingernails and said, “I have to agree. The Guild circles around profits. We need to take a page from them.”
Felicity crossed her arms as Michael rubbed his shoulder. She said, “Can’t say I agree, but the first two points are enough to make me feel better about tonight’s meeting.”
Rachael asked, “So what would we say to the Guild?”
Jason said, “Stuff yourselves?”
Rachael wrote in her notes while saying, “Jason is not to be at the Guild meeting.”
Eleanor said, “I don’t know at this point except ‘please don’t take over our planet.’”
People started leaving the room. Rachael watched Simone and Eleanor leave. The two turned back and looked at her, nodded briefly and then left. Rachael felt a bit of weight leave her shoulders. Whatever the outcome, she could still look Eleanor and Simone in the eyes.