Chapter 12 Under Flag of Parley


At the Ship Leonard Hotel

John Smith came out of the inn before Millicent Morgaine. Alfred could not read his features other than he was relaxed. Smith told him, “Come along, Mr. Redman.” Smith nodded to the glowering Liam O’Hannigan and said “The first round of negotiations has finished and we both need to consider our positions.”

Alfred said, “Certainly, sir.  A moment though. I need to speak with Mr. O’Hannigan.”  Smith looked annoyed but waved him on.  O’Hannigan looked surprised. Alfred pulled an envelope out of his coat and said, “I have a note for Miss Weiz.”

O’Hannigan snarled, “Why would she take anything from you?”

Alfred grinned and leaned in and said quietly, “Because she said she would. I think a meeting of the children is in order whilst the adults discuss bigger issues. I suggested a time and place for tonight – herself and a guest. I will be accompanied as well.” Alfred leaned back.

O’Hannigan said, “I don’t trust you.”

Alfred straightened his coat and replied, “We’ve shot each other. Battered each other and worse.  You and I might have worked on different sides of the river, O’Hannigan. But we both know the underside of London. You shouldn’t trust me. I wouldn’t trust you in a dark alley.” He held the envelope out. “This isn’t a dark alley. It is a respectable pub in a nice district of Southampton. We’ll be working together. Might as well start building a bridge. I suspect Miss Weiz understands that.”

O’Hannigan snatched the note and said, “She’ll be armed.”

Alfred held his lapels and said, “As will I. It’s a dangerous world.”  And he turned back to Smith who said, “What the hell was that about?”

Alfred looked at him and said, “I’ve invited Rachael Weiz to a pub crawl.”

Smith turned to stare at Alfred and then burst out laughing, “Winifred will be livid.”

Alfred remained expressionless, “Miss Stanhope will not be going and she and I have discussed the matter already.” Alfred rubbed his chin, “She was not happy, but she never did like to take her medicine. I suspect some level of cooperation is in our interest.”

Smith gestured down the walkway with his cane and said brightly, “Mr. Redman you are wasted in this world.  Will you be going alone?”

Alfred  scratched his neck and said, “This is the tricky part. I think the best person is…” and made his suggestion. Smith snapped “no” and said Alfred was crazy. Alfred explained further as they walked. Smith finally relented waved his hands saying, “Fine…take whoever you want. But you pay for damages and loss.”

Alfred smiled and said, “I always have.”

At Millicent’s Hotel

Liam shouted at Millicent, “You can’t be serious about letting them go!”

Millicent studied her notebook and replied calmly, “Rachael explained it well. Redman is right. The teams will have to cooperate. And John is a fine strapping young lad, who when properly motivated, could throw Redman across the room.”

John looked up and coughed into his hand, “Don’t know about that.”

Rachael smiled beatifically and said out of the side of her mouth, “I’ve seen you shift engines that weigh more the Redman.”

John said back out the side of his mouth, “Engines don’t fight back.”

Millicent continued to Liam and said, “And in a pinch he can throw Rachael over his shoulder and bull his way out of trouble.”

John said brightly, “Now that I can do.”

Rachael hissed , “If he does that…”

Liam countered, “The man is a monster. He killed Eleanor’s brother and took turns with Eleanor and Simone.” He looked in the direction of Eleanor and Simone and shrugged helplessly, “Sorry misses”

Eleanor shrugged and Simone’s eyes burned but neither said anything.

Millicent looked up at him and said, “All this Rachael and John know and Mr. Redman knows they know. Unpleasant. Distasteful. Nevertheless, he is the only person on the other side who is willing and , I dare say, capable of meeting with us.  Felicity damaged his charge and Winifred Stanhope only stays in check because of Smith and Redman.  Mr. Brown can’t stand the sight of any of you for existing.” She looked around the staring group.  “And Redman sees that we will need to cooperate.”

Liam sputtered and walked away. The rest of the group stared at Millicent, Rachael and John. Rachael looked at Eleanor and Simone and said, “I won’t forget what he did. But someone besides Millicent and Smith have to talk. There is too much at stake now.” Simone hurried away dabbing her eyes. Felicity and Michael followed. Rachael felt a lump in her throat but said nothing more.

Eleanor came over and said in a tight voice, “I can agree and still think it is wrong.” She turned to John and said, “I want to hear every word he says. I’d say kill him if you could. But that would upset Millicent’s talks and probably just make things worse for the rest of us. I can see the stakes are too high,  but let him know I haven’t forgotten.”

Rachael smiled darkly, “Oh I have that planned already”

At the Duke of Wellington

Rachael and John arrived at the Duke of Wellington and John maneuvered her into the pub past the ubiquitous stairs. At least the door was wide enough for the chair to pass and she could be worked up the stairs while still sitting.

Inside, she and John looked around. John spotted the dapper Alfred Redman first. He  waved them over. People parted for her chair moving towards Redman. Once or twice John asked, in as polite a fashion as someone 6’ 3” and 16 stone of solid muscle could, ignorant souls if they would move.  When they arrived, Rachael found the table a practical height: low enough she didn’t feel like a child and high enough that her chair could slip under conveniently.

Redman greeted them warmly saying “Miss Weiz,  I knew you would take me up on the offer. And Mr. O’Malley! This will promise to be an interesting evening. Mr. O’Malley, surely you remember Edward Wayland?” Redman gestured to the seated man at the table who now struggled to get up. He seemed bent with age even though he was no older than Rachael or John.

Edward Wayland waved half barely raising his hand saying, “Hello John. Seems you came up roses.”

John stiffened and said, “No thanks to you.”

Wayland sighed and looked away, saying, “No…no thanks to me. I’ve come to regret that. But, all things considered, perhaps it was for the best.”

John looked at Edward’s neck where the mostly hidden collar was hidden by a tie. John said quietly, “It’s hard to tell where alternate paths would go. I can’t argue with that statement. This job is working out nicely. I’m not sure it would have been available …otherwise.”

Alfred Redman said, “Well, perhaps we can reminisce later. I’ll buy the first round.”

Rachael said, “You arranged this little party. I’ll buy the first round – I insist.”  She looked around for a waitress but could not been seen. Rachael returned to Redman and said, “There is one matter. A private one – Mr. Redman.” Rachael waved her hand to indicate he should get closer so she could whisper. When he had leaned over, Rachael grabbed his lapel with one hand. With the strength of pushing herself around for months, she smacked him. She snarled “Simone and Eleanor send their regards.” She threw him into his chair. She turned to John and said, “See if you can get a waitress’ attention, I need a drink.”

John suppressed a smile and said, “You have the entire pub’s attention at this point.” He raised his hand at a leery waitress indicating drinks were wanted.

Redman rubbed his chin and straightened his collar. He attended his sleeves and said, “I had hoped for better from you, Miss Weiz.”

Rachael said, “I am buying your drinks. Simone and Eleanor are barely speaking to me and I can’t say I blame them.”

Wayland raised his nearly empty glass to Rachael and took a drink. Redman looked at him darkly and Wayland quickly lowered his glass.  Rachael saw the interaction and said, “Mr. Redman. I agree we should talk. And I think it is simply marvelous that you’ve brought along Edward. I can’t fathom the thinking behind that. But I will now lay out my first condition. If you use that abominable device in my presence, all your good will is lost. I will leave.”

Redman stared at her for a moment, “You just smacked me and you talk of good will.”

Rachael smiled brightly, “I really do want to have this conversation. If I didn’t, I would have had John here hit you.” John leaned back and cracked his knuckles.

Part 2

Redman pursed his lips and then said, “Neville’s right. You are miscreants.”

The waitress arrived and asked, “Will there be trouble? Take it elsewhere if there is.”

Rachael looked up, “Nay lass. I was setting some boundaries. Isn’t that so, Alfred?”

Alfred looked at Rachael and then at the waitress and said, “There will be no trouble from me.” He pointed to Rachael, “She’s buying the next round.” The waitress scanned the table of people holding strained smiles and then started taking drink orders. Redman finished what was left in his mug and then asked, “So was Morgaine pleased with the negotiations?”

Rachael said, “She came back. Blessed my meeting with you and then locked herself in her room. So I don’t think things went well.”

Alfred leaned back and said through a tight smile, “Pity…and I think I mean that. Do you know what she was going to negotiate?”

John said, “I think she was planning on sharing the technology Rachael, Jason, and Simone have been working on.”

Rachael said, “Jason’s parents disappeared and left him with some notebooks. Apparently they were able to create some amazing things. Amazing enough that the elders are talking.”

Redman said, “I’d like to know more about those amazing things. But did Morgaine mention the Guild?”

John said, “They sound like a cartel and a damned aristocracy all rolled into one. Only with planets and ours is working class apparently.” Redman smiled at the comment.

Rachael continued in the same voice, “Apparently these amazing things that Jason’s parents did crossed the Guild somehow and they are now gone. Millicent is worried that the Guild will come here next.”

The waitress arrived with drinks and distributed them. Rachael paid for them and the girl left. Redman raised his glass and said, “To cats with dogs” Rachael and John paused and then raised their glasses.  Edward added his to the three and said, “cats with dogs.”

Redman said, “Morgaine is right to be worried. Smith has been tasked by the Guild to tell her its coming.”

John slammed his drink down and snarled, “He’s selling us out!”

Redman motioned his hands in a calming motion, “I didn’t say that.”

Rachael smiled without warmth and asked, “Then what are you saying?”

Redman paused and said, “I am not sure other than passing information. I’ve heard a bit and asked a bit. When the Guild takes over, it is fairly brutal to the locals.”

Edward rolled his eyes and said, “Now there’s irony.”

Rachael said, “Edward has a point, Redman. You calling the Guild brutal is the kettle calling the pot black.”

Redman ran his fingers through his hair and then said, “Fine…Fine! I know that my method of delivering messages lacks polish. Can we set my character flaws aside for just a moment to look at the bigger picture here.”  He sat forward, “Smith never spoke of his planet before. When he finally did, it was in the past tense.”  He poked the table to make his point, “Say what you will about my past behavior, but this is something different.” He waved his hands around the room, “Look around mates. They all will be wearing Edward’s new decoration from the sounds of it.”

Rachael’s tone got harsher and quieter saying, “And Smith is helping this happen?”

Redman groaned, “You still aren’t getting it. John Smith loathes the Guild, its rules and that it destroyed his home and family. I don’t think he has any great affection for here, but I don’t think he is just here to be the Guild’s messenger boy.”

It was quiet for a bit and then John asked, “So you really aren’t sure what he is up to?”

Redman said, “That he is up to something, I am sure. But I don’t know what. And in uncertain times, one needs to consider all possibilities.”

Edward leaned forward and asked, “What does this device do?”

Rachael said, “I can’t say I really understand. Jason’s done the math and it has him scratching his head.  It seems to create some field that blocks out everything: energy, matter, gravity and even time.”

Edward leaned back and said, “That seems impossible.”

John said, “We’ve learned to stop using that word. The second device harnesses some unlimited source of energy to power the first device.”

Redman sat back and scratched his face and said, “We could rule the world with those.” Redman looked at the others who were frowning severely and said defensively, “Just considering the possibilities.”

John said sharply, “I think that is the Guild’s problem with the devices and us.”

Rachael leaned back and said, “What is your angle, Redman?”

Redman put his hand to heart and said, “Wanting to repair our historically poor relations isn’t enough?”

Rachael and John said together, “No”.

Edward chuckled. Redman pursed his lips and then took a drink. He looked at the mug and said, “Two reasons. We are going to have to work together so this is a legitimate effort to make that easier.  We need to figure out who can play with whom.”

Rachael nodded, but she could see John cross his arms skeptically.  She looked at Redman and asked, “The second reason?”

Redman said, “Smith and Morgaine are the grand outsiders here to help and lift us up. Now we find out some far off power has had past disagreements with both and will soon becoming here to smash us. I don’t trust them.”

Edward said, “Certainly can’t trust Smith.”

John said, “Millicent has been honest with us.”

But Rachael remained quiet. Redman leaned forward and looked at her and said, “Do you really think you’ve been told everything? That you are all headed to a worker’s paradise?”

Rachael leaned back and narrowed her eyes, saying, “We haven’t been told everything. There are times when Millicent and Charles are infuriatingly vague.  We only found out about this Guild and its animosity when it appears she is going to lose control.”

Redman smiled broadly and said, “Now you’re thinking.” He leaned back and said, “I strongly doubt Winifred would have beaten you without that nasty fall.”

John said, “Winifred didn’t win. She lost.”

Redman said, “Against five or six to one. Neville hardly counts. One on one with Miss Weiz here at her peak and I would only bet on Winifred out of loyalty.  The odds would be too close.”

Rachael snorted and said, “Stop planning our grudge match and don’t assume my statement means I don’t trust Millicent. But you are right – we aren’t being told everything.”

Redman waved expansively, “So Morgaine and Smith are negotiating the fate of the world. Why exactly do we not have a spot at the table?”

There was quiet. John said, “I am not sure I want to answer that.”

Rachael slowly said, “Other than trying to sow dissension, what do you propose we do to get a place at the table?”

Redman pulled out his watch and looked at it and said, “Oh my goodness. Look at the time.” He put the watch back and said, “I suspect we all have different answers to that question. But I propose we meet tomorrow to figure out what we would say if we had that place.” Redman quickly rose and looked at Edward Wayland and snapped his fingers. Wayland quickly rose and headed toward the door. Redman said as he departed, “You don’t have to like me. But if we do have to face The Guild or Smith and Morgaine, we better be looking in the same direction.”

 

4 thoughts on “Chapter 12 Under Flag of Parley

  1. Pingback: The Omicron Matter – Under Flag of Parley – At the Ship Leonard Hotel | The Finder's Saga

  2. Pingback: The Omicron Matter – Under Flag of Parley – At Millicent’s Hotel | The Finder's Saga

  3. Pingback: The Omicron Matter – Under Flag of Parley – At the Duke of Wellington (pt1) | The Finder's Saga

  4. Pingback: The Omicron Matter – Under Flag of Parley – At the Duke of Wellington (pt2) | The Finder's Saga

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