The Omicron Matter – A Working Vacation – Business in Prague

A new entry in The Omicron Matter – A Working Vacation.  While Millicent, Rachael, John, Michael and Felicity were taking in the sights of Old Prague, the remainder of the group was doing actual business. Simone, Eleanor, Liam and Jason visited various gem shops until they found one that had a very specialized substance.  The Omicron devices require large amounts Yttrium, a rare earth element. This shop has a mineral with high concentrations of of this odd metal.

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

Author’s note

Finally, eight years of geology and geochemistry start to pay off.  Yes, I yes I had fun finding the minerals and their common locations. I was a bit surprised to find a mineral rich in Yttrium. But then geologists are notoriously vain and will name minerals at the drop of a hat based on small (and in my mind, meaningless) variations in concentration of different elements. I am more than willing to take advantage of some 19th century field geologist who found a variation of a phosphate mineral in a pegmatite running through one set of mountains in Eastern Europe.

This was a long section and I have divided it again to make it easier on my readers and to stretch things out a bit.  Look for more on Monday.

Thanks for your support

Business in Prague

Jason, Eleanor, Simone and Liam road in the carriage along the cobbled streets. Liam grumbled continually that they could be going in circles and he wouldn’t know. Simone was certain west based on the sun and those road markers she could understand. She wouldn’t guarantee that the driver was taking the most efficient route, but they were headed in the right direction.  She had a device in her ear that helped with translation of what she heard.  It didn’t help her speaking, but an appropriate phrase would show up the notebooks that went with the ear pieces.  In the end, everyone could function in a foreign country albeit with odd looks from the locals.  Charles had promised a better and more permanent solution, but the wondrous notebooks would have to do for today.

They arrived at the small gemologist shop and the four riders climbed out of the carriage and stretched. Liam tried his hand at negotiating with the driver as Simone and the others headed to the door.  The outside was non-descript save for bars over the windows and a wood shingle with an image of a gold nugget and a geologic pick.  Entering the store a bell tinkled indicating their entry.  The shop was dusty by any measure save for Eleanor’s wood shop flow.  The shelves were filled with bins of rough cut rocks of various colors. Hints of the wonders showed on the edges in the form of color or crystals, but the wonders were still hidden awaiting a skilled worker to remove the tailing from the gem.

A grizzled woman came out to the counter. She wore a leather apron and safety goggles and was cleaning her hands with a towel. She glanced at them and said, “Ein bisschen weit für Touristen[1].”

Simone asked in carefully worded slow German, “Sind Sie Adele Maly?”[2]

The woman’s eyes narrowed and returned, “Vielleicht. Wer will das wissen?”[3]

Simone whispered thanks for the translation and then said,  “Verstehst du Englisch?, Meine Deutche nicht sehr gut.” She had studied the phrase carefully and practiced it multiple times today.  This time she got a hopeful answer.

The old woman set the cloth on the counter and said in a lightly accented voice, “and your Czech will be worse. I do business in London. Who are you?”

Simone breathed a sigh of relief and said, “Danke. I am grateful as that will make this easier.” Simone set her satchel on the counter. Straightened her hat and then said, “Your name was given to use by Professor Henry Dean.”

The woman’s eyes brightened and then narrowed a bit and she asked , “And how is his wife, Amanda?”

Jason said, “Maybe we have the wrong location. Dorothy is doing well. The last I talked to her, she was planning her spring garden.”

The woman smiled at Jason and said, “Ah one forgets after so much time. And there was all those stouts.”

Liam spoke next and said, “He’s Dean now and doing right well, but I remember him drinking lagers during those dart games.” He smiled and said, “Not nearly as good as yours, mind you. How many more of these will we be going through?”

The woman bowed and said, “It is enough for now. Henry was fine man, but one needs to be cautious in my business. You still haven’t told me who you are?”

Eleanor eyed her and said, “We are people who would like to make a significant purchase. A geologist needs to be cautious?”

The woman said, “I hunt for gems and exotic minerals. Such business attracts…questionable clients.  And I still await a name.”

Simone said, “As I said, Henry Mill recommended you. My name is Simone Campbell. I represent a small business you’ve never heard of that wants to make a large purchase of xenotime[4]. “

Adele Maly  raised her eyebrows and said, “That is a rather rare mineral and hardly something that makes lovely jewelry.”

Simone started, “It has…” but Liam interrupted her and said, “Our needs are our problem. Can you find the stuff?”

The woman looked at Liam and then said, “As I said, questionable characters. I have some samples in the back.” She walked through a set of doors.

[1]  A bit far for tourists

[2] Are you Adele Maly

[3] Maybe – Who wants to know?

[4] Xenotime – a brown to brown yellow mineral with a formula of YPO4. It is found in pegmatites and not particularly “pretty” . Our team will be wanting it as a source of Yttrium – a rare earth element used for superconducting. Interestingly, Y is found in higher concentrations on the moon.


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