A new entry in the Omicron Matter – Changes in Plans and New Courses. As Alfred Redman walked the hallways, Findley Brown managed to escape his cell and land at Alfred’s feet. Alfred is now forced to make a choice he has been avoiding for months.
For those who are new to the Omicron Matter, the book home page is a good place to start.
Alfred has become a more complex character in “The Omicron Matter.” I am old enough to remember the old Dungeons and Dragons game. Characters held alignments that created balance between “Order and Chaos”, “Good and Evil”. In that dual axis consideration, Alfred, in the Recruiting Matter, would have been Order and leaning to Evil. He had no qualms killing for convenience. Alfred, in the Omicron Matter, has been forced to find a conscience. He is still fundamentally Ordered (working for the libertine Winifred Stanhope is his cross to bear). But he has shifted from “Evil” to neutral (between Evil and Good). Confronted with a force willing to destroy all he knows in the name of rules (the Guild), he has adjusted his moral compass (somewhat). Findley Brown probably finds Alfred maddeningly uncommitted. In truth, Alfred is acting in an environment of conflicting pulls. His response is naturally conflicted until the end.
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Alfred leaned against the wall as the two doors began to work their way open. He supposed he should admire the persistence and ingenuity of the man. But it was hard to get past the idiocy inspired by desperation. Smith had remained on the bridge when Alfred excused himself. As he was returning to his quarters he noticed the crack in Findley’s door and the chair leg wiggling a bigger opening. This was leaving Alfred a sizable conundrum as Findley Brown spilled out onto the floor at his feet.
The young man stared at Alfred for a moment and tried bluster, “Dammit, Alfred help me up” and raised his hand. Alfred pursed his lips and wrinkled his nose at the outstretched hand as if it had something distasteful in it. He smiled and said, “No.” A throwing knife appeared next to Findley’s shoulder. Alfred said, “If you address me in such a fashion again, I will kill you in your sleep.” Alfred leaned down and pulled up his knife and said, “I assist Miss Stanhope – not you.”
Findley sneered, “So you are going to turn me in.”
Alfred returned the knife to an unseen hilt and said, “No.” He shrugged as he settled the knife place and said, “Your disposition is of no concern to me. “ He stared back at Findley.
Findley groaned and worked his way out the door and pulled his bag through the opening of the doors. He moved to Winifred’s door and said, “At least help me open Winifred’s door.”
Alfred quirked his smile and said slowly, “No.” He put his arms behind his back and faced towards the door and said, “Do it yourself. I am not convinced Winifred’s escape is in her long term best interest.”
Findley narrowed his eyes, “So you are just going to stand there and do nothing.”
Alfred rocked on his feet, looked at the ceiling and said, “If you get her out, she will need assistance and I will help at that point. “ He then stared at Findley and said, “and if you leave her there, I will report that to her.”
Findley Brown shook his head at a loss for Alfred’s conflicted loyalties and began to take the door control panel off. He turned to Alfred and said, “At least give me a decent knife to work with. “ Silently Alfred flipped a knife in his hand and presented the knife hilt first. Findley nodded and said harshly, “Thank you.” Alfred kept his face impassive but felt the weight of the moment arriving. He could not blame Winifred, or even Findley Brown, for using their considerable intellect and ingenuity to avoid an unpleasant fate. Alfred might know that it was temporary; it was unlikely they did. But it was her measureless ambitions that had put herself and Findley in this position. And, in this case, her ambitions were definitely unseemly. He had, through the years, accommodated her unusual tastes. He had, through the years, cleaned up awkward situations created by her without regard to consequences. This time the scale of her ambitions, of her lust for power had shaken him to the core. This was not some lost London trollop who would receive more money than she had seen in her life for an unpleasant week or two.
Brown’s exclamation of triumph roused Alfred. Brown had reconnected wires in the door control and the doors started to open. Only to stop opening after a crack of two inches. Brown muttered, “Blast” and began to push. He called, “Alfred…Mr. Redman help me push this door.”
From behind the door, Alfred heard Winifred Stanhope say with an unexpected catch in her voice, “Alfred are you there?” Alfred took a deep breath, looked at the floor briefly, and then straightened up and said, “One moment, Miss. We’ll have you out shortly.” And he joined Findley Brown in pushing the doors wider.