Chapter 11 – Negotiations Begin

Waiting in The Cold

Millicent arrived at the hotel in Southampton with Liam. Liam wore a long coat and a flat hat in the chilly wet weather. He also was wearing his bullet proof vest and a revolver. He was unusually silent on the walk from their inn a few blocks away. Finally Millicent said, “I won’t be giving away the store.”

Liam said tersely, “Still don’t have to like it.”

Millicent said, “True, but you make a tense situation more tense. You will make no aggressive moves towards whoever is there.”

Liam grumbled but nodded yes as they came around the corner. Alfred Redman was in front of the hotel wearing a bright colored vest, his own long coat and a bowler. As they arrived he tipped his bowler to the pair and said, “Miss Morgaine and Mr. O’Hannigan. Precisely on time as expected.”

Millicent eyed the man and said, “I prefer to start these things with basic decorum such as arriving promptly.”

Redman smiled broadly, “Of course you do. Mr. Smith is waiting in the dining room inside. He said to remind you that you would be arriving alone.” He shifted his gaze briefly to Liam.

Liam protested, “Now see here…”

Millicent said sharply, “Mr. O’Hannigan, quiet. That was understood.” To Redman she said, “I presume you will be staying out here as well.”

Redmand said, “Mr. Smith was quite clear.”

Millicent turned to Liam and said, “I don’t know how long this will be. It could be quick. It could be long. It is senseless to stand out in this cold. Wait in the pub across the way.”

Liam straightened and said defiantly, “I’ll stay here as long as his dandiness stays.”

Millicent shook her head and then leaned in as if to straighten a collar and whispered, “you have some warming device from Charles, don’t you.” Liam flashed the faintest of grins and Millicent whispered, “Good show.” Then she said louder, “Suit yourself,” and proceeded up the stairs to the lobby. A bell hop stood in the front of the room. When he noticed her, he came forward and presented the note.  It read, “Meet me in the dining room. Soaked Peaches are out of season, but I’ve ordered Cherries Jubilee and champagne.  I have been told the service is better here.” Millicent smirked at the reference and to the bell hop she said, “Lead on.”

Tea and Positions

The young uniformed lad parted a pathway through other patrons and they arrived at an open dining area similar to the Savoy back in London. The Maître’d nodded to the bell hop. Millicent handed the boy a coin and he tipped his hand to his pill box cap.  The Maître’d led her to a booth next to a window overlooking the street and wharf.

Smith was at the table reading a paper. He rose to her arrival and bowed. Both the maître d and Smith pointed to a seat opposite his. The maître d gestured to the booth, she sat and he left.  She took off her hat glanced out at the sleet now coming down and then asked “Are we really going to have Cherries Jubliee?”

Smith replied with a smile and said, “Later. Perhaps if things go poorly.” He looked at his vest and then scowled back at Millicent and said, “That little episode ruined my best working vest.”

Millicent said, “Camille couldn’t clean it?”

Smith said with a pained look, “I couldn’t get back to the ship and those excuses for maids ruined it trying to get it clean. “ He then pasted a smile on and  said, “In its stead, I have ordered a tea service and selected sweets and savories. I find the weather a bit chilly for champagne.”

Millicent said, “I do need to return to the Savoy and thank Alfred soon. That really was an excellent distraction for me to slip out.”

Smith replied tersely, “I found you two days later returning to pay your bill.”

Millicent smiled warmly, “But it was a very busy two days.”

The tea service arrived and Smith said, “I have no doubt. I’ve ordered a Black Oolong.  I find it a bit more exotic and lighter than some of the other blends.” The waiter poured cups for both.  Millicent prepared her tea and had a sweet fruit tart.  The tea was dark, a bit smoky but fully flavored. Smith set his cup down and said, “You have plans to an Omicron device?”

Millicent set her own cup down and said, “Two actually. We haven’t scaled either up yet, but there are two.  One manages ‘Faster Than Light’ travel by encasing the ship in an energy and matter warp of some sort. The second provides the energy for that little bit of magic by harnessing dark energy.”

Smith raised his eyebrows in surprise and sputtered, “They managed that? Here? With local technology? They are barely smarter than the simians they evolved from.”

“You continue to underestimate them.  There are some questions about how they managed to refine large enough quantities of some specialty metals, but I’ve seen nothing that couldn’t have been done local means.”

Smith tapped his fingers on the table and then said, “I’ll need to see the plans and confer with Camille. The Guild already has FTL.  This is hardly new.”

Millicent lifted her cup and said, “Please spare me such postures. The Guild has its version and it has no interest in anyone else producing their own.  You and I both know it is horribly expensive as far as energy. Sean’s and Martha’s is probably faster and has a cheaper source of energy.”

Smith sighed dramatically, “Fine…let us assume this technology is new and better. Its distribution and sale will be problematic.” He looked at her and said, “Thinking of moving into the black market? I have some excellent connections.”

Millicent rolled her eyes and said, “I’m sure your do.” She leaned forward and said,  “This technology has huge advantages. I will be meeting with them to get a bit of relaxation in their policy. If it changes policy – such issues won’t be a problem.”

Smith laughed heartily. Annoyed as she was, she understood. He recovered and said, “The Guild change policy? They haven’t changed their shorts in a thousand years.”

Millicent took a drink of tea to hide her annoyance. She looked at the cup as she said, “True. But I hope to make some arguments in that matter.”

Smith chuckled and said, “ Your family was always naïve. Let me know how that works out for you.”  He flapped his hand and leaned back in his chair and said, “But I’ll play the game…so you are offering me a license to sell to others.”

Millicent tapped her fingers on the table and then said,  “25%  ownership rights, patronizing bastard.”

Smith crossed his arms and narrowed his gaze responded, “50%”

“Not going to happen.”

“Then I hold Simone Campbells’ contract.”

Millicent winced a little. She had hoped to get to that later, but Smith knew what she valued. She replied, “30% and I buy Simone’s, Edward Wayland and Neville Carter-Fraser’s contracts.”

Smith rolled his eyes and said, “your words…not going to happen.” Smith steepled his fingers  and then said, “What of Earth and its license?”

“You leave for a portion of the Omicron device licenses.”

Smith with quirk in his mouth said, “Let me see if I have your position correct. For 30% ownership of an illegal technology, I hand over my contractors (I will need replacements) and cede you all of Earth. Have I left anything out?”

Millicent leaned forward and said, “You have no claim on Earth to start with so there is nothing for you to cede here.” She leaned back and said, “Let’s see if I have your position correct. I give you 50% ownership rights to technologies that will be obscenely profitable. I also hand back Simone. I hold the technology and Simone now. Why should I do any of that at all?”

Smith continued, “Simone’s contract is with me. You can’t keep her and face the Guild with such an outrageous proposal.  If we meet agreeable terms, I will be very supportive of your efforts to legalize our obscenely profitable technologies and I will avoid mentioning all that messy interference with my contractors.”

Millicent ate a savory, wiped her hands with a napkin and dabbed her face and put the napkin down.  She smirked, “I think we have both left considerable room for negotiation.”

Smith also smirked, “And I was told you had no sense of understated humor.”

The Heart of the Matter

Millicent bowed slightly at the comment and then poured herself and Smith another cup of tea.  She prepared hers, took a sip and then asked, “Why did you come here? My claim to this planet is long established. The people you picked up, while admirable for here are hardly noteworthy for your typical clientele.”

Smith shrugged then raised his hands and said, “I could be branching out looking at patrons with anthropological interests. I’ll trade you some black market connections for a couple of lonely professors.”

Millicent hissed, “You use collars to control them.  Hardly ideal subjects.”

Smith said, “I could disagree. I find collars speed up acclimation. Regardless, Neville is coming along nicely.”

Millicent pursed her lips and then asked, “and Edward?”

Smith pursed his own lips and said, “I am finding him more challenging. I suspect he will be in the negotiations.”

Millicent leaned in and whispered loudly, “This isn’t about Simone or Edward or even about Earth. WHY are you here?”

Smith looked at her and then stood up, went to the window and looked out at the wharf. He said, “You offer me two Omicron devices that your former contractors made. You were not the first to tell me about them.  The Guild got wind of those devices and cleaned up the matter 20 years ago. However, after meeting with the scofflaws, the Guild decided further action was necessary. That is why I am here. When they questioned the McNeills they became concerned. The Guild wants this planet controlled.” He turned around and faced her and continued, “The Guild wants everything documented and filed even if the locals are ignorant. You have the rights to this planet so the Guild will discuss how control is to be implemented, but it will be done. I am here to negotiate your rights to the planet and proper compensation.”

Millicent’s mouth was suddenly very dry. She said, “It will be the same as our planet.”

Smith returned to staring out the window and said, “I have no doubt. The locals don’t even know about the Guild. Can you imagine what will happen when giant ships park themselves in low orbit? Let alone when galactic ambassadors march out of the shuttles in full battle gear. I expect whole new religions will form overnight.”

Millicent reached for her tea cup but her hand shook rattling the cup. She whispered, “All of this will disappear.”

Smith said harshly, “Do you remember the Galeid Art Museum? I think every school on the planet must have visited.  My class went there right before the takeover.”

Millicent felt her tongue get thick as she said, “I think I went a couple of years before. I was all of 7.” Her eyes misted a little. “I remember they had the best sweets.”

Smith fingered a lace curtain and said in a low voice, “I was a bit older. They let us interact with some of the art. I was awestruck. I decided I would be an artist.”

Millicent snorted and dabbed her eyes, “I suppose there is a market for horror.”

Smith stayed silent for a moment, “I ran into some older folk years later and asked about it. I was told it was an early target.” Millicent gasped even though she knew the museum was gone. She had always assumed it was an unintended casualty. Smith looked out over the ships in the sleet and rain and said, “Apparently the Guild wanted the planet to know nothing would be left.” Smith turned around and continued, “I explored here a bit before I started work. I ran into a most remarkable painter in Paris – Claude Monet. His was the first truly imaginative representation I had seen here. He will revolutionize how these barbarians visualize life. One can almost see art helping science in his work.”

Millicent said quietly, “If he is that good, he’ll find a commission.”

Smith said harshly, “or he’ll be consigned to a factory to make some widget for a species he can’t imagine. The Guild doesn’t really have much use for anyone over the age of 15.”

Millicent whispered hoarsely, “I know, dammit. I lost my home and family too.”

Smith leaned down on the table and said, “Your contractors? Mine? Off to a dark planet never to see the light of day. Keeping the galaxy safe from subversive thoughts. Quite the future they have.”

Millicent slammed her fist down, “Enough!”

He smiled a bit and leaned back up. Millicent could hear him putting on his coat as she stared at the table gripping it.  She looked up and saw him put on his hat.  He said in a measured tone, “There are choices, Morgaine, but you need me now.  If you want this little island of creativity to persist, you need me one way or another.”  He moved to leave the room, but stooped down to say quietly in her ear, “I will see you tomorrow to continue.”

Millicent threw her napkin on the table and said, “Damn them.” And she wasn’t sure which party she was cursing.

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3 thoughts on “Chapter 11 – Negotiations Begin

  1. Pingback: The Omicron Matter – Negotiations Begin – Waiting in the Cold | The Finder's Saga

  2. Pingback: The Omicron Matter – Negotiations Begin – Tea and Postions | The Finder's Saga

  3. Pingback: The Omicron Matter – Negotiations Begin – The Heart of the Matter | The Finder's Saga

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