Chapter 3 – Recuperating in Skilly


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Conversation by the fire

John Smith nursed a drink near the fire of the cottage inn. Wind and rain lashed the thin windows of the building. Smith and Camille had taken the group to the Island of Gugh in the Skilly archipelago off Cornwall.  He wanted remote and this place was about as remote as one could get and still be habitable. Heath bogs surrounded the inn’s complex of buildings.  So far as Smith could tell, the primary industry was smuggling between Cornwall and Cork with the odd fishing trip or kelp harvest to legitimize the boats. As such the folk knew how to keep secrets and he was paying well enough for the hosts of the inn to look the other way.  Camille’s ship was a very large secret stowed in a nearby barn.

The group had spent the last two weeks healing in one fashion or another.  Alfred Redman’s knee was repaired,  his leg was braced and the nanotechnology was hard at work replacing the ligaments and cartilage Jason McNeill had so callously torn.  Findley Brown had recovered from his concussion and his dislocated shoulder was nearly mended.   Winifred Stanhope’s recuperation would take considerably longer.  Camille had provided a robotic hand as a replacement for Winifred’s lost hand. Smith and Camille had spent hours in surgery getting the device properly connected.  At this point, it was up to Winifred to master controlling the device. Patience wasn’t her strong suit but she was doing the exercises while planning her revenge. Whatever worked for her was fine with Smith.

The London location had been so badly compromised, leaving was a requirement as annoying as it was. Reducing the building to rubble had also been a logical decision. There was too much information and equipment that would have raised too many questions with the local authorities. Camille was still angry with him for letting Morgaine and her crew escape.  But Smith had been sent to work with Morgaine.  And, if she really did have plans to the Omicron, keeping her and her crew alive could be quite lucrative. He would provide upgrades to the ship and Camille’s peripherals to appease her and if that didn’t console her, she could just crunch the numbers until it did.

Alfred Redman hobbled in with his cane and plopped down by the fire. A server came up and he ordered an Irish whiskey. Smith asked, “And how is Winifred?”

Redman replied, “She and Findley are entertaining themselves with Neville.”

Smith shook his head and took a drink and said, “I would have thought they were bored of that by now.”

The server arrived with the drink, Redman nodded and took a sip. He said, “Winifred is, but Mr. Wayland is unsatisfying and there are no alternatives for her special tastes.” Redman glanced at Smith meaningfully. He had made requests for Stanhope’s entertainment earlier in the week. Smith had summarily said no.

Smith swirled his drink and smiled saying, “Winifred will have to persevere in her deprivation.” He raised his glass towards Redman and said, “This is not London.  Local boys and girls gone missing will be noticed  and we are the visitors. We need to keep a low profile.”

Redman leaned back and stared into the fire and said, “I understand and I completely agree, Mr. Smith. But Miss Stanhope does tend to tire of her…toys quickly.”

Smith snorted and took a sip. He asked, “And what of yourself, Mr. Redman?”

Redman smiled, “Camille has been showing me some of your sample inventory in weapons. I shall have a grand time when we return to civilization. And as my leg allows I have been walking the paths around our inn.”

Smith raised his eyebrows, “Lonely walks on the heath in the fog and rain? I didn’t pick you as contemplative, Mr. Redman.  I am impressed.”

Redman shrugged, “Tain’t been out of London except to manage the Stanhope’s young Miss. We didn’t visit the country and I was busy regardless. When I do get a chance to appreciate the local scenery, I try to avail myself. And on this matter, I was also seeing what security issues might arise. I was remiss in our previous location.”

A parley is planned

Smith grimaced, “Not your fault. You were new to that location and Morgaine’s crew was damnably inventive with a basement entry. “

They watched the fire in silence for a while. A door closed upstairs and two sets of feet could be heard retreating to other rooms. Redman asked, “Pardon me for asking, but how long will be we be residing on this rock?”

Smith sighed, “I expect several weeks. Although, depending on my negotiations with Morgaine, we may move to more cosmopolitan surroundings. In the meantime, we recuperate and Winifred learns to use her new hand. She doesn’t have full control of her new hand and there are some capabilities Camille has added that she will need to master before we set her loose in the world.  Everyone does strength training. Camille has repairs to complete on her own and I had hoped that Mr. Wayland would be more pliable by now.

Redman sighed and said, “I had suspected it would be some time. Winifred…Miss Stanhope is becoming more …restless in the quietude of this place. She is doing Camille’s practice routines but I fear Mr. Carter-Fraser may suffer permanent damage in her boredom. “ He paused and looked over at Smith, “You mentioned additional capabilities?”

Smith smiled at him darkly and said, “I don’t trust Winifred’s self-restraint. Tell her about these and I will leave you to Camille’s magical punishments.” Alfred’s face remained blank, but he took a larger than normal sip of his drink and nodded assent. “Then we are understood. The features have not been enabled yet, but there are a set of weapons and useful tools in Winifred’s hand.” Smith opened a notebook at his side and said, “Camille, please let Mr. Redman know what capabilities you have added to Miss Stanhope’s hand.”

Camille’s rich English accent came through the notebook, “Your pardon, sir. Given Mr. Redman’s relationship with Miss Stanhope…”

Smith replied, “I understand your concern and share my own reservations. However, he has dealt with her moods far longer than I and he will be better able to work with her…”

Camille continued her protest, “She can barely hold a wine glass right now…”

Smith added conciliation to his tone, “Mr. Redman may be able to motivate better. And I have let him know that you will deal with him firmly if Miss Stanhope should find out about these enhancements early.”

There was a pause and Camille said, “While I might take some frustration out on Redman’s body, it will hardly matter if Miss Stanhope stabs herself by accident.”

Smith noticed Redman flinch and pale at Camille’s words and he smiled a bit. But Redman would work better knowing more and Camille was getting far too independent in her thinking. Smith took a firmer tone, “Then inventory…Now, Camille.”

Camille paused and then provided a list sounding every bit like a pouty girl, “Stiletto, a two shot pistol, a small lock picking device, electric torch, communications device and a hand warmer.”

Redman’s eyes got wide, “Bloody hell. All that in one hand?”

Smith answered, “Our mechanical devices are much smaller than yours.”

Camille added, “The weapons modules are all small caliber. I have several other modules that can be switched in and out as needed for her activities.”

Redman considered all that and then his eye brow went up, “A hand warmer on a clock work hand?”

Camille almost sniffed as she answered, “Her remaining hand is flesh and blood. My understanding of English weather is that it cold and rainy followed by rainy and cold.  Such a device should be welcome especially by a woman of athletic build who typically has less insulation. “

Redman laughed heartily at the response and then said, “Ok…Ok… Winifred has the British Fifth Dragoons in her hand. Why all the secrecy?”

Camille said severely, “She can’t control the simple finger mechanisms right now.  She has managed the motions well enough but hasn’t mastered strength.  At severe cost to our inn hosts she has finally managed to hold mugs and steins and the occasional wine glass. I shudder to think of the damage bill we have incurred. But that control isn’t second nature and Mr. Wayland, Mr. Carter-Fraser and Mr. Brown have the bruises to prove it. “

Smith continued for Camille, “Now imagine letting her know that she has a pistol in her left index finger or a hand warmer.  You would have to wear armor around her until she controlled the pistol. Or she might brand herself rather than warming her hand.”

Redman muttered quietly, “She might brand someone else intentionally.”

Camille responded, “Just so. Until her mechanical control is better, those devices remain dormant and secret. She is inventive enough to crack them on her own if she became aware of their existence.”

Redman waved acceptance and said, “Fine… Fine, we don’t tell Miss Stanhope about her new toys.  But She is bored. If we don’t provide a better distraction soon, we will have problems. Trust me on this. She is getting better with age and she has found a bit of focus on exacting some revenge, but she is used to London and this,” waving his hand around the room, ”is not London.”

Smith sipped his drink and looked at the fire and said, “I may have a solution. I need to pass a message to Morgaine. A human courier will hold more significance.” The notebook harrumphed. “Besides, if I have Camille contact Charles, there is likely to be a round of electronic warfare and I want negotiations right now.”

The notebook whined quietly, “Spoilsport…”

Smith continued talking to Alfred, “Deliver the message…”

“Killjoy…”

Smith rolled his eyes and said, “Take Winifred with you, if you think you can slake her baser interests without alerting the local constabulary…”

“Wet Blanket…”

Smith said, “Enough Camille. If you can avoid a shooting match with Morgaine’s rabble, more’s the better.”

Redman raised his glass in Smith’s direction, “Your understanding is appreciated.”

Smith said, “Winifred is a valuable asset to me, but she needs to learn control and self-discipline or she will lose value. I can beat control into Findley Brown.  Doing that to Winifred Stanhope…well one might as well fetter a fine race horse. Pardon my analogy.”

Redman took a drink of the whiskey, “No offense taken. We are in agreement and have the same goals. I’ll deliver your message and have a bit of a holiday with Miss Stanhope.”

Smith stood and stretched and said, “You are a most accommodating and valuable man, Alfred Redman.”

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2 thoughts on “Chapter 3 – Recuperating in Skilly

  1. Pingback: The Omicron Matter – Recuperating on Skilly | The Finder's Saga

  2. Pingback: The Omicron Matter – Recuperating on Skilly – A parley is planned | The Finder's Saga

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