The Omicron Matter – Arranging a Demonstration – Exchanges


A new entry in the Omicron Matter  – Arranging a Demonstration. The passengers from Smith’s ship have arrived, but Sioubus At refuses to get off. Abu Silverbeam stays to offer help and listens to some of Millicent’s ideas.  He is not thrilled by all of them.

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

Author’s Note

New Year’s Day was busy and it was tough to get to the computer.  Hopefully this entry will make up for the wait.   This is a long section. It actually was just one combined with the previous section and it seemed too long.

Quoting Wikipedia “Historically, the boundary between pirate and privateer was subjective. ” Britain used it extensively to get its share of the New World gold from Spain in the 1600 and 1700s.  Some of America’s most famous pirates started as privateers and decided not to share with Mother England.  Millicent is simply proposing a similar arrangement for Silverbeam.

Exchanges

The tall Millicent and much shorter Silverbeam made an odd pair as they entered the shuttle. The short man said, “I know you Uycarrans put so much into formality.  But if we are joining forces, I prefer Abu. We Tymbrimi are hardly formal.”

Millicent stopped in the bulkhead door and said, “You’ve decided already?”

The short man scratched an ear and said, “Smith made a convincing case. Besides, from my point of view, you are just coming to your senses.” He leaned against the wall, crossed his arms and said, “Some of us found your loyalty to your oppressors…odd, confusing. Perhaps a bit of time away from the Guild Hall gave you time to find a new history.”

Millicent stared at the wall ahead of her and said, “They raised me. Is loyalty so odd?” She looked out of the shuttle door to her ship and said, “I’ve grown attached to Earth.  Earthlings have humor and a certain earnestness that wasn’t in the Guild.” She looked back at Silverbeam and she said harshly, “Now, the Guild will destroy them and it has the temerity to demand my complicity.” She leaned back in on the wall and said, “And call me Millicent. When we are in transit, the crew does.”

Abu smiled and said, “So Millicent Morgaine’s eyes have cleared enough to align with pirates and slave traders?”

She squinted at him and then said, “I suppose that is the crux of the matter.” She looked down the hall where Sioubos At must be moving back and forth. She turned back to him and said, “England has this marvelous concept called ‘privateer’.  The crown hires a private ship to attack and pillage rival country ships. It asks for a tax in return.  Few questions are asked as long as the tax is paid and the right ships are attacked.”

Silverbeam said, “I like this planet of yours even more.”  He crossed his arms and squinted at her saying,  “But so we are clear…you’ve rationalized me. I just have to pay a fee – which I didn’t pay before.”

Millicent added with a wink, “And limit your attacks to Guild traffic.”

Silverbeam rolled his eyes then said, “We will have to get approval for which ships to attack?” He waved away the question,  “And the loot I give away…the taxes?” He made a face at the last word.

Millicent shrugged, “Ships and weapons will need to be upgraded. We may need to aid planets or stations.”

Silverbeam squinted at her and said, “Will you and Tuireann pay the same …taxes?”

Millicent laughed, “Oh it might be called something else, like commerce tax, but we will be paying all the same.”

Abu smiled, “You may find opposition to your thinking to that even among your kin.”

Millicent flashed anger saying, “What have you people been doing for the last hundred years? Having tea parties and Xerin matches?  We are talking about yet another planet set for destruction. Saving it doesn’t come cheap in money or in lives.”

Silverbeam leaned in and said quietly, “You may be Uycarran royalty but do not presume to lecture me.  You are the newcomer here. Starting an unwanted tax system and saying who and how we can profit is not going sway those of us who have been building support for decades.”  He leaned back and said, “So I become a ‘privateer’ being selective in who I chose to attack. How do you plan to square Sioubos At and his empire of planets?”

She leaned back and closed her eyes and said, “Nothing changes. I am hardly in a position to ask for Guild assistance in ending slave trading.”

Silverbeam said, “Will he be allowed to trade freely?”

Millicent said sharply, “Planets that have abolished slavery should have the right to exclude him and his services.”

Silverbeam said, “I doubt he does much business with them anyway.” He eyed her and said, “What about Earth?”

Millicent eyes snapped open and she clenched her fists.  Then she leaned back and said, “Sioubos At should honor trading with the registered finder of the planet until it declares. “

Silverbeam waved a hand and said, “And that is you.”

Millicent rubbed her eyes, “It is me and John Smith. He has the rights to certain continents on the planet.” She shook her head and said, “One of which is dominated by a country that still has slave trade – although a war is being fought over that now.”

Silverbeam leaned back whistled and said quietly, “You are desperate.”

She turned and looked out the door. “The potential is so great, they will be teaching us soon.  You’ve seen the engines. You’ve talked with the Guild.  The Guild will stifle it to preserve their places.”

Silverbeam shrugged and said, “They crushed the Uycarran for the same reason.”

Millicent turned and snapped, “Yes they did.  And if we Uycarrans can stop a second genocide maybe the first won’t feel so pointless.”  There was quiet and then Millicent straightened her shoulders and said, “Let’s figure out how I can placate the pertinacious  Sioubos At and convince him of my bad intentions. If I can’t do that, it seems we will be continuing to wait.”

Silverbeam put up and hand and stepped up. “Wait Millicent. Let me talk with him a bit. I may be able to grease the gears. “

Millicent squinted at him and said, “I’ll take what help comes. Where ever it comes from, Abu.” She waved her hand at the hallway and said, “Go…work your magic.”  Silverbeam strode up the hallway. Millicent resumed leaning against the wall.  She considered the passage, “?  ‘For what does it profit man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?’[1]”  Smith had made these choices carefully. Abu Silverbeam might be friendly enough, but he was driven by profit first and foremost.  But it was Sioubos At, the slave trader, that was truly challenging. The Guild’s failure to shut down slave trade had frustrated her for decades.  He and his network of planets had annoyed the Guild for years. His acceptance would be integral to an overthrow of Guild domination.

Sioubos At came gliding down the hall towards her followed by a grinning Abu Silverbeam.  Sioubos At glanced at her as he left the ship saying, “Silverbeam says you are willing to compromise.”

Millicent looked at the ceiling and said, “Smith controls two continents on Earth. Whatever deals you make with him, I will not contest.”  She then stared at him and said, “But if you interfere with my territories I will destroy you and your ships.”

Sioubos At paused at the door and said, “I will sign a deal with Smith. If you two bring down the Guild, that is to my advantage.”

Millicent nodded as Sioubus At continued his glide towards the main ship deck. Abu paused beside her and said, “I think we’re off to a good start.”

Millicent watched the receding monopede turn the corner at the door and then said, “What in the five galaxy arms did you tell him?”

Silverbeam looked at his fingernails and said, “I let him know I was interested in doing business with you and that you would prod Ciom Olo and the other timid players into action.  I also let him know how many ships me and my extended family has at our disposal  – all to be equipped with these marvelous drives.  And that I would hate for this little rebellion to interfere with his business.”

Millicent laughed.  Silverbeam said, “I may have forgotten to mention that whole ‘privateer’ discussion of ours.”

[1] Matthew 16:26

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