Millicent finds out her contractors have been involved in a brawl and she is not happy.
When my long suffering editor read this chapter, she said this part did not have a purpose and it went on too long. She is probably right on both counts. So I am pulling it out of the main story and sticking in my short story section. I had fun with the dialog and the twist so I wasn’t ready to discard it completely. It will take a couple of days to post the whole story.
Thanks for your support. Look for more on Monday.
Breakfast with Exasperation
Millicent spent an hour pacing the ship’s halls fuming and ranting. She in a delicate dance with others in the coalition and she needed their support for defending Earth. To have this brawl with the crews would simply complicate matters more and played into the notion that humans were ill-mannered and barbaric. This was the worst possible thing that could happen at this point. Thankfully, Liam was not involved. He was listening but she found him far from helpful. She stopped her pacing and wagged a finger, “I cannot believe you are condoning such…such… childish behavior.” She crossed her arms and continued pacing, “That is an insult to their parents. I will bet they did not act like that when they were children.”
Liam said mildly but with a small smirk, “Don’t be so sure. Rachael and John had their scrapes. It was that kind of neighborhood. Can’t speak to the others. Millicent…I am just saying this might not be as bad as you think.”
She practically screamed, “They assaulted people who are supposed to be our allies. How can that not be bad?”
Liam put his hands up and pleaded “I’ve heard that part…make sure you hear the whole story before you really hurt them.”
Charles spoke up, “This IS his area of expertise, Millicent: brawls and childish behavior.”
Millicent scowled a bit and Liam glared at the ceiling saying, “And as expert of brawls, I say we go to the station, pay their bail and figure out what to do after we hear the whole story.”
Millicent stood up straight and put her hands behind her back and said, “Very well, expert on brawls and childish behavior, I will keep my plans to myself. But know that suitable punishments will be dispensed.”
Liam shrugged, “Didn’t say they shouldn’t have consequences. Just making sure we have the right perspectives here.” He moved to the galley stove and said, “Now since we can’t do anything until the security office is open and Felicity is not available to cook a savory breakfast. Care to try the vittles from a London Taxi man?”
Millicent sat at the long table and said, “Fine, might as well.” She leaned forward and smiled a bit, “I’ve been wondering what breakfast from you would be like. What on the menu?”
Liam coughed a bit and blushed and then recovered, “Bangers, mash and eggs. And a fine pot of tea.”
Charles muttered, “Of course, the English haven’t yet discovered fresh fruit.”
A Walk to the Office
About an hour later, Millicent kept up a brisk pace walking to the security office. The combined groups had spent the night in holding cells to sober up and cool down according to the desk sergeant. John Smith joined them as they exited the hanger holding Millicent’s ship. Millicent glanced at him and asked, “Neville too?”
Smith turned to Liam and said, “Mr. O’Hannigan, Mr. Redman would normally serve me in this exercise. Can I prevail upon you in this matter?”
Liam rolled his eyes and then said, “Aye…I’ll see to it.”
Smith shrugged, “They may have participated in a local tradition for new arrivals.”
Millicent stopped and the two caught up with her. She hissed, “Local tradition?”
Smith smiled and nodded to the two Tymbrimi waiting at the security station, “They will explain.”
Millicent looked ahead and saw Abu Silverbeam and Iti Greeneyes at the base of the ramp and stairs leading to the security office. They waved warmly. Millicent continued her fast pace and reached the office stairs. Silverbeam smiled and bowed, “Good morning! A fine spring morning it is too.”
Millicent breathed a little easier as the small man seemed as friendly as ever. Then she began her rehearsed speech, “Abu, I am terribly sorry about this matter. I assure you it will be dealt with appropriately.” Greeneyes coughed into her hand.
Silverbeam’s eyes twinkled a little as he said, “Iti will handle the cousins and I expect you will be having your group doing drills for a few days. But Millicent…Welcome to the family!” and then he hugged her in a friendly fashion. The difference in height was such that his head hit her at about her chest and more than one pat was on her bum.
Millicent awkwardly patted Silverbeam and then leaned down and whispered in his ear, “Pat my ass one more time, and you will find out what a Ucyrannan can do with her bare hands. Iti will need a bag for your parts.”
Silverbeam quickly released her and brushed himself off. Millicent crossed her arms, “Explain.”
Silverbeam straitened his unisuit and said, “Oh, I will be suitably stern in front of my crew, but your team has just welcomed to the fold.” He clapped Millicent on the shoulder. She glared at the hand and Silverbeem pulled it away quickly. He said brightly, “Nothing like a good bar fight and a night in the brig to build the bonds of camaraderie”.”
She heard Liam mutter, “Felt like a Bull and Cow meets a Giraffe”
She was not sure of his meaning but she had an idea. He tipped his cap at her while keeping a straight face and said more loudly, “But it ain’t right.” She glared at him.
Greeneyes said, “Is he speaking English? My translator could not parse that.”
Smith smiled, “The words were all there. But making sense can be hard.”
[“Bull and Cow” – Row or fight.
“Giraffe” – Laugh]
There is a book on everything
Millicent snapped, “Enough…Dare I ask who started it?”
Silverbeam and Smith looked at Iti Greeneyes. She shrugged, “Don’t know for sure. We have to talk to the desk sergeant to get the final say. The book makers are favoring Bloodbone baiting Rachael.”
Abu Silverbeam scratched his head, “I put mine on Giggledust Glowfeather and Jason.”
Liam said brightly, “That is where my money is!”
Smith took off his hat and cleaned it a bit and said, “Mine was on Giggledust and Dhipin starting the row with Mrs Richards and Carter-Frasier.”
Silverbeam hit Smith on the lapels with the back of hand, “Now there is a long shot. That was never going to happen. Glad to take your money.”
Smith frowned at his lapel and cleaned it off saying, “We’ll see.” He returned the hat back to his head.
Millicent pinched the bridge of her nose and said in a slow voice, “Am I to believe there is an organized betting pool on this …this brawl?”
Liam suddenly became interested in the details of the upper portions of the building. Greeneyes chuckled. Silverbeam said in a friendly tone, “Millicent…Millicent Morgaine. There is a book on everything. I’ve been told by my financial manager that the book on this one is quite high.”
She groaned and closed her eyes, “I am in new territory here.” She waved her hands and looked at Greeneyes, “What will your cousins be doing after they are released?”
Greeneyes grinned sharply, “Those that are fit, will be polishing ship fixtures for the next week. Those that aren’t will be tended to and then clean storage areas.” She said in a low voice, “I don’t care for malingering.” She looked at Millicent and Smith together, “Traditionally the captains of the crews cover the damages.” She shrugged, “It happens enough that bars in that area hide the expensive booze and glasses and shift chairs out on special nights. The bill shouldn’t be too bad.”
Millicent shook her head, “Books on the fight. Bars that prepare.” She glared at Smith and Silverbeam, “You did not tell me about this.”
Smith said dryly, “And spoil the surprise? Besides, you would have influenced the outcome. I plan on doing some refitting on my winnings.”
Silverbeam laughed, “You wish with your bet.”
Millicent pointed at the doors, “Can we finish this?” She looked at Greeneyes and said, “I’ll follow your lead. The ships will be shining brightly by weeks end.” She glared at Liam and said, “If I see a hint of grin out of you, I will have Charles design your punishment.” Liam paled and put on a straight face.
Paying the Bill
At the desk, a Hoon in a dark uniform with insignias and chevrons on his arms looked up, “They are all waiting for you. Big group. They took up most of the brig.” He looked at Greeneyes and said, “I got half the bet right. Heard your niece, Giggledust was in the party. Had to pick her. But nobody would have guessed the humans.”
Smith smiled thinly, “One rarely can. I have found that out the hard way.”
Millicent stared at Silverbeam, “Your security bets on fights?!”
Silverbeam shrugged, “It was a big event. I am gracious employer. As long as they don’t influence the fight, their credit is good.” He nodded to the desk sergeant, “Show us the bill.”
Millicent looked at the bail bond with Silverbeam and shook her head. At the top of the list was Neville Carter-Frasier. She pointed to the name and turned to Smith saying, “He is yours.”
Smith shrugged, “Do you mind covering the expense?” He grinned thinly at Silverbeam saying, “I am sure I can pay it back after I collect my winnings.”
Millicent bit her tongue and forwarded the credits to the security office. Silverbeam paid his crew’s portion. He eyed Greeneyes from the side and said, “It seems your niece is fitting in nicely. She and Bloodbone were quite the pair last night.”
Greeneyes looked forward stiffly, “She and Bloodbone will be cleaning exhaust ports, sir. Separate exhaust ports.” Silverbeam scanned the list and then groaned, “Good. Her choice of targets cost me a bundle.” He handed the list back to the sergeant and leaned close to Greeneyes and hissed, “Those exhaust ports better shine enough for me to comb my hair if she hopes to make up for this.” He nodded to the sergeant, “Send the mob out.” The sergeant chuckled as he pressed a button saying, “The captains are here. Both groups have been bailed out. Send them out.”
The groups came from the back intermixed. Michael had one arm in a sling and the other around Felicity. Felicity was talking to a Tymbrimi with bright blue hair. John was between a Kaum Legit and a Menanggung and all three were gesturing wildly over some conversation that involved the dualistic nature of energy. Eleanor, Jason, and two Hoons were helping Rachael out. Simone followed talking to another pair of Tymbrimi. She was holding an ice pack to her eye. Surveying the lot, both groups were about equally damaged. The crowd came to a halt in front of Silverbeam, Smith and Millicent. All three captains had suitable scowls at this point. Neville came forward and stood before Smith, “I…I started it. They insulted Felicity…Mrs. Richards and I got carried away.” Felicity came up quickly to Millicent and said, “They were horribly rude to poor Neville and…and words were exchanged…and…”
Millicent almost shook as she spoke, “I am appalled. You could have ignored the comments. You weren’t trapped. You could have found another bar. This just promotes the idea that you’re mindless barbarians. You simply didn’t have to …”
At this point Rachael rolled up in her chair, “Beggin your pardon ma’am. But I disagree. It was something we were required to do.” She waved at the groups ”…these people don’t have the measure of us…or didn’t.” She held up a thumb, “Now they know we’re loyal.” She held up a finger, “They know we won’t just roll over,” and a second finger, ”They know we fight to win.” There were some hoots and cheers from both groups until scowls from Liam and Greeneyes silenced them. Rachael shrugged, “I’ve got a good idea what my future looks like. God knows Da’ had me cleaning the shop more than a few times growing up. But I ain’t going to say I was wrong.”
Millicent turned to Liam who was staring straight ahead and asked, “Did any of that make sense to you?”
Liam kept his eyes focused on the far wall and said, “All of it – perfect sense.”
Millicent waved her hands and shouted, “Fine. Back to the ship. The lot of you. When you aren’t working your shifts, you will be cleaning the ship. Those that are able will be getting double training sessions with me.” That elicited groans from her crew. She smiled thinly and waved at Silverbeam’s crew, “Too many of them are standing. Apparently I need to stop holding back.”
Jason put his hand up weakly and asked, “You were holding back?”
Millicent grinned at him, “You get to be first for asking that question.”
Silverbeam eyed her oddly until Smith came up to him and said, “Here is my chit for the pool.”
Silverbeam looked at the ticket and paled. Then he consulted his wrist for data and said, “Gods unfortunate. The payout is over 300 to 1 for those two. How could you know? How did you…”
Smith turned and headed out the door following Neville Carter-Frasier, “I take credit or trade…your choice.”