Chapter 15 – Animus Possidendi


At the Pig in The Wall Hotel

Liam followed Millicent out of the hotel lobby. Millicent walked at a brisk pace. Her tall frame made it difficult for Liam to keep up.  They headed towards the quay and after a couple of blocks, Liam was huffing and puffing.  Between pants he asked, “Are we missing an appointment?”

Millicent said over her shoulder, “I need to have Charles add some endurance exercise to your regimen.”

Liam groaned and stepped up his pace. When they finally reached the waterside, she stopped by the docks edge. Liam leaned over to gather his breath. When he straightened he could see ships dotted the harbor near and far. Small skiffs moved goods, people and messages between the tall wooden ships. Southampton was also an airship station. To the south, a large hanger could be seen where the blimps were serviced and one or two air ships were above coming or going.  Liam pulled out a flask of water and drank it grimacing saying, “Can’t believe I am drinking this stuff.”

Millicent said without looking, “It is much better for you than the other flask.”

Liam stretched and then stood up and said, “Ok. We’re away from the kiddies. What aren’t they supposed to hear?”

Millicent glanced over her shoulder and said, “You aren’t much older than they are.”

Liam leaned against a post looking in the opposite direction of Millicent and said, “They’re babes compared to me. You know it.” He looked over his shoulder at the forest of masts and said, “I’ve been to Wales and Scotland in my roustabout days, though I’ve never left the island.”

Millicent smiled and said, “Soon. Soon enough, you can say you’ve left the Island.” She waved at the harbor and said, “This scene might have been my world.” She turned and said, “A bit before my time, mind you, but we started as sailors as well.”

Liam said, “I suppose a port in France would look the same. “ He looked at her and said, “I’d sooner see your home.”

Millicent sighed and said, “There’s not a whole lot to see anymore…” She turned to face Liam and said, “Smith offered a third option.”

Liam narrowed his eyes and said, “Me mum used to say, ‘beware Greeks bearing gifts’. Seems mighty convenient he has something else now.”

Millicent said, “Your mum was right. The Trojans paid for forgetting that. But, so far, this way is one I had not envisioned.” She crossed her arms and said, “I suppose I should be embarrassed I didn’t think of it. I could be mad about not being clued in on matters earlier. Right now I need to talk.” Liam stayed quiet.  Millicent said, “I am going to bring Charles in as well.”

Liam felt a small twinge but said, “Why should I be bothered when you’re talking to Charley.” He looked at her and said, “and I’m curious why you drug me out into the cold. We could have talked back at the hotel easier.”

Millicent said, “Because I don’t want the others to know just yet. Because you are a friend and I could use a friend who thinks straight and …well,  this involves my history and I am not sure can be totally clear headed. I think you two will know what I should tell others.” She opened the notebook and placed it on a wharf pier and asked, “Charles?”

The voice came through clear and bored, “Who were you expecting?”

Liam wondered how Millicent stood such talk, but Millicent simply chuckled and said, “Good to hear you. Smith has made a proposal and I want to consult with you and Liam.”

There was a pause before the notebook responded. Liam was certain Charles was coming up with an appropriate sarcastic comment when the notebook said, “Why do you need me? I’m sure you can evaluate the details with Mr. O’Hannigan.  He knows his way around the dark streets of London. They aren’t that much different than the dark streets of politics.”

Millicent smiled at Liam while Liam scratched the back of his head. She explained to Charles, “He doesn’t have your knowledge of my history and the geography of the galaxy.  But he has good ideas. I think you two will make very good advisors.”

Liam leaned on the post and said, “Fine, we’re your new advisors. You’ve not said anything about this offer.”

Millicent said, in a carefully measured voice, “It seems there is a significant coalition opposing the Guild. Smith is a part of it.”

Liam narrowed his eyes, but it was Charles who said, “There has always been a faction that opposes the Guild. That Smith is working with it should hardly be surprising.”

Millicent put her hands behind her back and said, “Smith showed me the membership. It is much larger and broader than I imagined. And, more importantly, it is economically strong.”

Liam now spoke, “But there is only a list.”

Millicent nodded and agreed, “I have only seen the list. And Smith, by his own admission, is hardly trustworthy.”

Liam looked at her for a moment and then said, “But there is more than to this list or we wouldn’t be talking.”

Millicent said quietly, “Everyone that I can remember, and probably a few more, from my planet is on that list. There weren’t many of us. Smith showed me the names and they are all there, if he is to be believed. That is a big question I grant, but the implications are important.”

There was quiet for a bit and then Charles said, “You still haven’t said what the proposal is, but I think I could guess it.”

Millicent laughed and shook her head and said, “Liam, here is a bit of news you didn’t have before. My parents were the head of the council of my planet when the Guild came in.”

Liam put his hand at the back his head and said, “Blimey, so you’re bloody royalty?”

Charles said, “Yes” while Millicent said, “No.”

Millicent said, “The position was elected and mostly honorary.”

Charles said, “Her parents held the position for more than three terms. Relatives on both sides of her family held that position going back centuries. When the Guild came, her parents led the rebellion after the council refused the Guild terms.”

Liam’s eyes widened and he stared at Millicent.

Millicent crossed her arms and said, “My family has always been successful in business and the rebellion only lasted a few months.”

Charles said, “Her great great grandfather pushed through universal emancipation and ended serfdom. Her great grandmother went a step further and granted the right to vote to anyone who paid taxes. Her great grandfather negotiated the treaties and economics that made the planet a space traveling world…”

Millicent snapped, “Enough, Liam doesn’t need to be bored by history…”

Liam said, “Blimey…sounds like royalty to me.”

Charles said, “Over the years, Smith’s family has been the loyal or not so loyal opposition to Millicent’s family. With the Guild, the families found a common enemy, albeit it was a bit of doomed alliance. The Smiths and Morgaines were quite effective in the rebellion but were eventually overwhelmed by superior numbers.” There was pause then Charles asked, “What exactly did he propose?”

Millicent straightened herself and said, “I join the coalition and let the Guild know they have a split.”

Liam whistled low. Then he scratched his chin and said, “But all you have is this list.”

Charles said, “We will need to verify some of the names and groups on the list before you make any commitments. Can you get Smith to have Camille forward it?”

Millicent said, “That is a given.”

Liam put his hands in his pockets and said, “What does Smith get if you join?”

Millicent leaned on a post and faced away from the boats and said, “The coalition doesn’t trust him. Apparently, it could trust me. Coalitions are tricky things…and this one is trickier than most with the diversity of groups. It might hold together long enough to break away, but it would have a tough time sticking together over the long haul. Over the long haul, I become his ticket to the government table.  In the short term, I become the rallying figure. “

Liam laughed and said, “Lordy…a Queen.”

Millicent said, “Bollocks! And I haven’t said yes.” She faced him and said, “I don’t want the rest of the group to know this. At least not until we get some verification. I’ll tell Smith nothing is decided until I talk to some of these people. And nothing is going to happen until I can sell some of these blasted devices Rachael and the others have figured out.  With the new FTL drives, I can check on these names quickly and as a plus, there will be a ready market for the Omicron devices. If this coalition exists, it will have speed and communication on its side.”

Liam folded his arms and then said, “No sense sharing a ‘Will O’ the Wisp’  so why tell me?”

Millicent smiled, “You and Alfred will have time while the negotiations are going on. Pump him for information. He will be doing the same to you. Avoid telling him about my conspicuous history and the coalition. No need to do Smith’s job for him.  Otherwise use your discretion.”

Liam frowned, “That’s it?”

Millicent said, “There will be more. Trust me.”

Outside the Ship Leonard

The next day Liam and Millicent arrived at the Duke of Wellington. Liam was in a sour mood after talking with Rachael.  She had drafted him neat and tidy into representing the group.  Then she told him that he ought to meet with Alfred Redman before he told Millicent. He fumed the entire walk but said nothing to Millicent questions other than to say, “you’ll see.”  Alfred Redman was there to greet them and looking neat as always.  He took off his hat and said, “Miss Morgaine. You are looking radiant this morning.”

Millicent snorted, “A fine tea and a brisk walk in the morning will add color to the cheeks. I would recommend it to Winifred if she is looking for something to do in the morning.”

Alfred replaced his hat and said, “Should I ever desire new employment, I shall pass your suggestion along. If I am feeling ill-disposed to you, I shall let her know it was your idea.” Millicent laughed as Redman said, “Mr. Smith is in the usual spot.”

Millicent turned to Liam, straightened his collar and said, “I trust you know what you need to do?”

Liam said, “Oh aye, and then some.”

Millicent nodded and headed into the hotel.

Redman put his hands in his coat and leaned against the rail and said, “I assume Miss Weiz talked to you about your new role.”

Liam sighed and looked out to the street and crossed his arms. He said, “Yes. She talked to me. Don’t rightly know why it’s us two or what we’ll be doing. As far as I can figure out,  we will just be poking our nose into the negotiations.”

Redman smiled and said, “I couldn’t have said it better myself. There was general agreement that we locals need a voice in the talks. However, it is important that you and I be united.  Did Rachael go over our demands?”

Liam snorted saying, “Fine word for negotiations.”

Redman waved a hand irritated saying, “Our needs then…”

Liam held up his own hand and raised three  fingers saying, “First, we get a place at the table when our planet is at stake.  We get a say in who or what is managing us. We’ll accept management if we have to, but we want a say. Second, Millicent and Smith will need to define work rules and how we are going to work together.  If there are disputes, you and I will work out a solution. Third,” Liam pulled out a paper and read with care, “the engineers need a contract for ‘jointly discovered knowledge’.” He said the last very slowly.

Redman smiled thinly and said, “Maybe I will handle that last one.  We aren’t to leave the table until they agree to our…needs. Ready?”

Liam puffed his cheeks and shook his head and said, “Don’t know if I can be ready for this, but let’s get it over with.”

Getting Into the Tea Room

The two men headed up the stairs. Inside the building, they slipped off their coats. Liam was aware of the staff staring at them as they walked about. Redman moved as if he was not aware.  He simply gestured Liam toward the tea room.

At the front of the room, the maître d stopped them and said, “I’m sorry …gentleman. We are booked for the morning.”

Redman frowned looking over the room with empty tables.  Liam addressed the officious man saying, “Seems to be plenty of seats.”

The maître smiled unctuously saying, “These are all reserved.”

Alfred shook his head and then straightened his sleeves and said, “No matter, sir. We’ll be joining two others already here.” He moved to walk into the room, but the maître d stepped in front of him and said, “If you’ll give me your names, I’ll see if you are expected.”

Liam saw Redman smile thinly. He also noticed one hand seemed to slip in his vest as he said, “We are really going for a bit of surprise.” Redman turned to Liam and said, “Mr. O’Hannigan. Are you as tired of this prig as I am?” Suddenly a he had a long knife out and was cleaning his nails.

Liam understood his role in this dance and leaned into the now shaking maître d and said, “Everyone thinks he’s the polite one what with his fancy dress and Southender accent. Just shows clothes don’t make the man. Ain’t that right, Alfred.” Alfred only smiled darkly at the maître. “Now me, I understand service and all the duties. You’re just doing your job keeping us waiting.  But now you’ve made Alfred impatient and gotten on his bad side.” Liam nodded to Alfred who narrowed his eyes and pretended to inspect a newly cleaned fingernail. Liam said, “So are you going to let us in to see our friends?  I can guarantee a nice tip…Or do I go outside for a bit and let me associate convince you?” Alfred stopped cleaning his nails and stared at the maître.

The maître gulped and pulled at his collar a bit and then said, “Most unusual. Most. Who are these people you want to see? I’ll take you to them, if only to correct this scandalous behavior.”

Liam put his arm around the discomfited maître d and smiled broadly at Redman saying, “Now see, Alfred. He’s trying to meet us half way. I told you he could see reason.”

Redman flicked his knife away quickly and said, “Mr. Smith and Miss Morgaine. As Liam, here said,  we’ve brought them here so we should be no big surprise.”

The maître nodded vigorously and looked a bit less nervous with the knife now gone. He turned a page and said, “Ah yes, the table by the window. Follow me.” The man slipped away from Liam and moved quickly and glanced back multiple times as Liam and Redman followed him through the tables. Other patrons stared at them, but Liam now longer cared. They turned a corner and arrived at a lone table next to the window with Smith and Millicent. Liam handed the man two crowns and then said, “Mr. Smith and Mr. Morgaine. These two demanded to see you. They were most insistent and in most uncouth terms.”

Smith and Millicent looked at the two and then at each other.  Smith pinched his brow and said, “I have no doubt you were forced in some fashion.”

Millicent stifled a smiled and then said, “Thank you for bringing them over. Mr. Smith and I will deal with them. Now if you will bring over a second tea service for these two, I will make sure the inconvenience won’t be too onerous.”

Liam put his hand on the maître d, who flinched at the touch and said quietly in his ear, “See? You’ll get another tip on top of that pound I just slipped you. It’s all good.”

The maître bowed to Smith and Millicent and said, “My apologies for this disruption. Please talk with these men about proper stations in life.” He turned on his heal and stormed off.

Liam shouted at his back loud enough for other patrons to here, “Oy! Chairs! For a pound, we ought to some fancy chairs.”

Millicent hissed, “Mr. O’Hannigan. A bit of decorum.”

Redman said in a friendly voice, “Mustn’t be too hard on Mr. O’Hannigan. To be honest, I had grown tired of that man’s delays and I took a …more direct approach. Mr. O’Hannigan was the soul of diplomacy by comparison. “

Millicent looked at Liam and then rolled her eyes.  Smith finally asked, “We expected some contact considering the meetings between you and Miss Weiz. However, I think we both expected a bit of notice.”

Liam shifted on his feet, but Redman stepped in and said, “Again, this is my initiative rather than O’Hannigan’s. The organizing group felt showing a bit of urgency and a unified front will make our…requests? Positions? Seem a bit more forceful.”

Millicent smiled behind the napkin and said, “And you two will be representing the joint group of contractors?”

Smith tapped his finger and said, “Winifred and Findley agreed to this?”

Redman frowned a bit, paused and then said, “After a bit of convincing, Winifred conceded that she might not be viewed favorably by Miss Morgaine’s group.  After this epiphany, she convinced or at least silenced Findley. I won’t say she was happy.  But she is relieved that Miss Morgaine’s group is not represented by Miss Weiz.“

Millicent rolled her eyes at the exchange and then looked at Liam, “You agreed to this,  Mr. O’Hannigan?”

Liam coughed into his hand and said, “Rachael and John were most insistent and no one else would take the position. “

Smith laughed as the second tea service and chairs arrived. Tea was served. Liam and Redman relaxed a bit as they sat down and prepared their cups.

Smith asked, “And what are your…requests?”

Liam set his cup down, squared his shoulders and said, “No more telling us what is going to happen. If you are deciding about Earth, we get consulted and get input. “

Redman added, “Until appropriate representation from Earth is determined.”

Millicent said, “And what decisions do you want to consult on?”

Redman said, “ The obvious one. What to do or how to respond to this Guild Sanction.”

Smith tapped his finger on his knee, pursed his lips and said, “What if the Guild refuses to speak with you?”

Liam said, “We’re the Biscuit and Cookies [1]here. We know you are the ones they’re gonna listen to. We gonna need you to convince them to listen to us. “

Millicent said, “There is another…”

Liam saw Smith make a quick hand signal and Millicent stopped and frowned, but said nothing more.  Smith continued for her, “Another complexity will be who we deal with when we get there and what you need to say.” He nodded said, “I see no problem with this request. We can discuss your roles before we get to the Guild complex. What else?”

Redman had seen the exchange and tilted his head in response. He paused for a moment straightened himself and held his lapels as he said, “Mr. O’Hannigan and myself get authority to resolve disputes between the groups. We need you two to say our word stands.”

Smith smirked a bit and said, “Again, you managed to get Winifred and Findley to agree to this?”

Millicent asked Liam, “Jason agreed to this?”

Liam shrugged and said, “I think it took some convincing on both sides. Practically speaking, if we are going to work together, there are going to be squabbles. Our group agreed to abide with rules.  Charles and Camille will assist.”

Smith said, “We’re going to need some agreement on what punishments are ‘adequate’, but that is one less headache for me.”

Millicent nodded her own assent.

Redman said, “I thought you’d agree. The last bit is more commercial in nature. We want some clarification on the contracts regarding jointly discovered patent profits.”

Smith smiled broadly and said, “You people have remarkable promise.”

Millicent said, “They have rarely disappointed me. “

Smith said, “I should think a 50/50 split between the groups.”

Liam said, “Begging your pardon, but we currently have 5 engineers plus Felicity and myself. Six if you count Simone.”

Smith said, “Simone signed away any patentable profits. As did Millicent’s, I might add.”

Millicent signaled for Liam to hush, but he continued on, “You have four in hand plus Mr. Redman here.  Simone wouldn’t have done any of that work if we hadn’t rescued her.” Smith frowned at that phrase. Liam leaned forward and said, “50/50 seems unfair.”

Smith glanced sideways at Millicent and said, “So Simone’s done significant work…that does overall negotiations a bit.” Millicent ground her teeth and stared and Liam. Liam looked back at Smith. Smith smiled at Millicent and said, “My contract will take precedence at the Guild and you know it.” Liam looked confused. Smith turned to Liam and said, “As it turns out Miss Morgaine and I were starting to hammer out the details surrounding our …membership at the moment. It seems  your input could be valuable. Don’t you agree, Millicent?”

Millicent folded her arms and said, “I am not sure. This is a discussion of trading resources and does not involve earth directly.”

Smith countered, “Just where you and I do our work.”

Millicent snapped, “Who does the work is of no concern?”

Liam and Redman watched the exchange like a badminton match with the comments flying back and forth.

At the last comment, Redman raised his hand and said, “Since the resources in question at the moment are the people we will be representing, I think we have a consultation role here.”

Smith said tightly, “Stop helping, Alfred.”

Redman glared back at Smith and said, “Strangely enough…John, I am doing my job and representing the group’s interests. Perhaps O’Hannigan and I can be more helpful, if we know all the arrangements on the table?”

Smith looked at Millicent and made a small nod. Millicent remained mute. Then Smith steepled his fingers and said, “Miss Morgaine and I were discussing the disposition of my contractors. She has expressed interest in assuming the contracts of some of my contractor. Campbell’s , Wayland’s  and Carter-Fraiser’s specifically. “

Redman smiled and said, “I’m not sure Neville will thank you for that.”

Millicent said, “I’ve been told as much.”

Smith smiled and nodded to Millicent, “Right now, Morgaine is offering 30% share in profits from the Omicron devices developed from Mr. McNeill’s notebooks in exchange for the contractors and support in front of the Guild, but no rights to work here. I am asking for 50% rights in the Omicron devices and rights to work on your planet in future, in exchange for Campbell and Wayland plus support in front of the Guild.  There are some other details of no consequence to be worked out, but that is the summary. “ Millicent’s eyebrows raised slightly at the last comment.

Liam eyed the two carefully and said, “Seems like you’ve plenty of room for negotiation.”

Smith smiled broadly saying, “My thoughts exactly.”

Millicent said quickly, “Mr. Smith. I think it might be valuable for the two of us to consult privately with the two representatives.”

Smith pursed his lips for a moment and then said with a smile, “An excellent idea. However, let’s make it interesting. I meet with O’Hannigan and you meet with Redman.”

Her eyes narrowed tightly, “I would really rather meet briefly with Mr. O’Hannigan first.”

Smith said, “Now he would hardly be considered an honest broker if you told him what to do.”

Liam gulped a bit. Millicent said slowly, “Very well. I’ll meet with Mr. Redman.  Liam, don’t you dare give away the house.”

Before Liam could respond, Smith said, “Excellent, then we should go discuss matters on the table.” Smith got up and signaled for Liam to do the same. He glanced at Millicent who merely nodded in Smith’s direction. She grimaced and said, “I look forward to Mr. Redman’s insights on an equitable split.” Redman glanced at Smith with narrowed eyes and said, “Any information that will help us move forward.”

Smith grabbed Liam’s elbow and said, “Mr. O’Hannigan come along. We can talk in the lobby.” Liam followed along as the tall man led him back through the tea room.

[1] Biscuit and Cookie – Rookie

In the Lobby

In the main lobby, Liam snarled, “What the hell is all this about? You’re hiding something and I think you’re hiding it from Redman. “

Smith said cheerfully, “Winifred and Findley have always underestimated the working class…Yes, Mr. O’Hannigan, I have not told everything to Mr. Redman. I suspect Morgaine has trusted you more. And I need you to keep that information secret from Mr. Redman for now.”

Liam crossed his arms and glared saying, “This is bollocks. He’s your own man.”

Smith said, “He was Stanhope’s first and there is too much at stake to trust her sense of loyalty. He does not know about the list. If you do not understand what I just said, do not ask.”

Liam stared at him for a moment and then said, “I know about your list. There will be some checking up to do before Millicent will agree to anything.”

Smith waved his hand once in a chopping motion and said, “I’ve no doubt. But you make no mention of it to Redman and keep this low if the rest don’t know.”

Liam clenched his hands and said, “Then what the hell will Redman and I be asking for? A tea party with the Guild?”

Smith said, “A chance to talk to the Guild and make your case.”

Liam said, “And this jolly coalition of yours?”

Smith hissed, “Forget it exists…at least for now.”

Liam said, “That’s a bit of a two and six mate because the coalition is the only good option for us.”

Smith said, “The ONLY way the coalition has a chance is in a surprise show of strength. If the Guild catches wind of it early, the Guild will start grinding away at it in pieces. I will not chance that. The coalition and your Morgaine will be crushed.”

Liam paced back and forth, “You’re a bastard to work with.”

Smith relaxed a bit and straightened his cuffs saying, “You are hardly the first to say that. Most of my clients say that and all of my contractors do.”

Liam stared at him and said, “You are a real tool. Redman will figure it out himself. He won’t hear it from me or the others. Millicent hasn’t told our entire group yet.  She wanted to verify it before she raised hopes.”

Smith said, “Then our purposes converge. Best keep it that way …for now. But, you are right. Redman will figure it out himself. That will be my problem.” He looked at his fingernails and said, “Now about these preposterous demands of your employer…”

Back in the tea room

Liam and Smith returned to the table. Alfred Redman looked impassive. Millicent was still frowning but was otherwise relaxed. Redman asked Liam, “Helpful conversation?”

Liam answered through tight lips, “Not sure.” Then to everyone else he said, “I think a bit of compromise is possible here. Millicent – how much work have you done in the Americas?”

Millicent said tightly, “We will be having a long conversation on the way back, Mr. O’Hannigan.”

Liam tried to remain impassive as he said, “I have no doubt. How much?”

Millicent tapped her fingers on her knee then looked at them as they drummed, “None…It is only developing now and I don’t have any contacts…yet.”

Smith smirked after she said this and she scowled at him. Liam ignored them both and looked at the table as he said, “Smith is willing to accept 35% licensing rights and rights to work in the Americas. In exchange, he will cede Simone Campbell’s and Edward Wayland’s contracts completely.  He will also support you in front of the Guild.”

Millicent snapped, “Liam, stay out of this. This is business between finders.”

Liam tensed but said back, “This involves locals who are being mistreated.” Smith stiffened but said nothing. Liam continued, “We need you two working on the same page in front of the Guild. If this gets you there quicker, then it’s our business.”

Millicent was silent for a bit but stared at Liam. Then she turned to Smith and asked, “Not Neville’s?”

Redman now spoke, “Miss Morgaine. Neville really has found a great deal of…reward with our group. I assure you, he is not interested in working with your group now.”

Smith pinched his nose and said, “Edward Wayland is proving more …stubborn than others have in my program. Given time, he would end up pliant. But as a goodwill gesture, I will let you assume his contract as a liability.”

Millicent snorted and then muttered, “Goodwill gesture my…damn blackmail…” Finally she turned to Liam and said, “I would not have to give away the Americas without your help.”

Liam leaned back, folded his arms and said, “Maybe. But it would be something close. We get Simone Campbell and Edward Wayland are freed in the deal.”

Millicent looked at the roof and said, “Maybe. Smith and I will need to review the terms to make sure. Regardless, they will be working with me which will be a damn sight better than now.”

Smith merely nodded.

Millicent said sharply, “If you are finished, Mr. O’Hannigan, I accept the terms as stated but we will need to work on the details. Now if you two will excuse us, there are matters that do not impact the groups.  We both will meet you outside the lobby.”

Redman stood and bowed to each and said, “Of course.” Liam stood up and said, “I promised the prig at the front a tip…”

Millicent waved him away, “It will be taken care of. A small cost compared to the rest of this morning.”

Liam winced and then turned to follow Alfred out of the tea room.

Waiting on landing

There was a drizzle outside and by mutual and silent agreement, they found a covered bench to wait for Smith and Millicent to emerge.    Redman said, “Smith is hiding something from me.”

Liam didn’t look at him as he said, “It was obvious.”

Redman asked, “Do you know what he is hiding?”

Liam licked his lips and then said, “Won’t lie. I suspect I know. Smith told me not to tell you.”

Redman put his hand behind his head and leaned back and said, “How very interesting.” He pursed his lips and said, “Best if you tell me nothing. Smith will know and it works better if you stay on his trusted side.”

Liam breathed a sigh of relief and said, “Watch your Union Jack, Alfred. Smith is playing some damn game.”

Redman smiled, “He always is, Liam. He always is.” He stretched and said, “Trust is a precious commodity, Liam O’Hannigan. We are a bit short of it on our side of the street.”

Liam snorted and said, “No shit. What did you and Millicent talk about?”

Redman replied, “Remarkably little of consequence. She asked about last night’s talk. I am guessing Rachael and John have not been fully forthright with her.

Liam stayed quiet for a bit and then asked, “Are we going to able to work together – the groups?”

Redman said, “Miss Weiz and I are in agreement. We have to. Smith will unload Edward Wayland. Neville will have to start producing. Winifred and Findley will have to swallow some pride.” Redman smiled tightly and said, “and I will have to figure out the great secret that Smith is keeping…and why. He might have a very good reason.”

Liam thought to say that Smith’s reason seemed pretty good but held his tongue. Redman stared at him for a moment and returned to staring at the hotel doors.  Redman said, “Something will slip out. It always does.”

Liam said, “Aye. It will. It always does.”

The walk back

After about an hour, Smith and Millicent emerged from the Duke of Wellington. Millicent looked a bit more relaxed, but she still scowled at Liam. Liam stuck his hands in his pockets, rolled his eyes and muttered to Redman, “Twill  be a long walk back.”

Redman said with a smile, “I expect we will both have interesting conversations.”  Redman turned to Liam and tipped his hat, “Mr. O’Hannigan, I will figure out what is being hidden. However, I know who the bastard is in this little three penny opera.” He winked at Liam and said, “And it’s not you despite you’re airs. You shall be hearing from me on a regular basis.”

Liam grumbled, “Can’t wait.”

Millicent arrived, nodded to Redman and then signaled to Liam that he should follow, but she said nothing. They walked for a block before she started, “That was a foolish and ill-considered interference in my negotiations, Mr. O’Hannigan.” The comment hit Liam like a blow to his stomach.

Liam stopped and stood quiet for almost a minute before he responded. In that minute, the sting of the words changed to anger. He continued walking and this time he set the pace. He replied sharply, “I’ll have you know I have had my fill of you…you foreigners for today. First, I am snared into this crazy negotiation team with Redman. Second, Smith tells me to keep my supposed co-negotiator in the dark about the coalition. Finally, Smith asks…asks I say…to consider a position that you probably would have reached after several more rounds of tea and biscuits.  Me saying it just cut the crap out of the way.”

Millicent said, “Don’t tell me how to negotiate. I was cutting deals while your mother was changing your nappies.”

Liam stopped, crossed his arms and said, “How much better was your deal going to be?  You control 65% of these cursed devices. You will control most of the trade between the planet and the galaxy – which is going to pick up if I can tell what’s what.  We got Simone and Edward Wayland.  How many more meetings was it going to take to get something better?  While you and Smith are pissing away the time some great foreign armada is coming to establish order and justice on our heathen shores. Or did I miss the whole vast goal of the Guild?

Millicent fumed, “We were not pissing away the time.”

“Could have fooled me.  So are we going to be working with Smith?”

Millicent hissed, “Yes. That’s why we agreed to talk to you two.”

Liam marched on toward their hotel, “Ye ain’t any better than Smith or this damn Guild.  You just put a pretty bow on it.” He put a hand up in the air to the trailing Millicent, “Agreed?  Agreed!  Can you sound any more ladylike?  Maybe we locals are just a bit more worried about the coming changes than your bloody profits.”

“My interests in this planet are not trivial. And I do not appreciate you undermining my position.”

Liam looked at the sky and muttered, “oh for the love of Jesus…” He stopped and faced her and said, “Smith was going to end up with a slice of your ‘interests’ no matter what you hoped for. You were going to get Simone and Edward Wayland and you were going to keep control of those devices despite his delusions. You two were quibbling over details.” He turned around and continued walking saying, “It’s cold. Redman makes my skin crawl and I want to go back to London.” Millicent followed in silence for the last blocks. They arrived at the Pig in the Wall. Liam looked up at the door and stopped.

Millicent arrived behind him and said, “Mr. O’Hannigan”

Liam closed his eyes and shook his head, “Miss Morgaine, you’re like a dog with a bone. Is what you’re going to say going to change matters? Cause if it ain’t I can summarize for you.”

Millicent snapped, “Mr. O’Hannigan!”

Liam said tiredly, “I am going to summarize…You could have done better. I stepped on your toes. You’re terribly upset and disappointed. Fine, your highness. If there is nothing else, I’ll be heading in.”

Millicent said sharply, “Mr. O’Hannigan will you shut up long enough for me to say something you haven’t thought of?”

“Fine…Fine…Tell me something new.”

“Mr. O’Hannigan, I could have done better than that deal…”

“Aw Christ,” he waved his hands at her and started up the stairs

She shouted after him, “But not by much.”

Liam stopped his march up the stairs and looked at her. She continued, “I am rather put out that you didn’t at least consult with me before.”

Liam crossed his arms and only stared at her.

She said, “It put me at a disadvantage. It may have been the deal we ended up at, but Smith used you and I found that annoying.”

Liam narrowed his eyes and said, “Can’t disagree with how you saw it.  Might happen again…”

Millicent said, “Could you at least consult me before you start?”

Liam said, “I’ll try, but I dint’ have much chance this time. And you have to recognize there’s three at the table now.”

Millicent pursed her lips and said, “I encouraged Rachael. I hadn’t expected it to backfire the way it did this afternoon. But…the negotiations are done for now. Edward Wayland will be joining us tonight. He will be bringing all the collar controls – at least Smith says he will be. Smith will have Camille forward the list of the coalition so we can start checking it.” She paused and then said, “I would appreciate you reviewing the list with me and Charles.”

Liam closed his eyes, “That will make my work with Redman harder. Smith isn’t telling him about this coalition. No honor among thieves I guess. He doesn’t trust Redman. But Redman knows something is being hidden and he is going to want information.”

Millicent said, “I guessed as much when I was talking to Mr. Redman. But I need you to see that list. When we get to a trading station, I want you to know the players. You are going to get to test that ability of yours to find information.” Millicent moved up the stairs towards the door and turned, “Mr. Redman will figure a great deal out when we dock at the trading station. That is Smith’s problem.”

Liam said, “That’s what he said.”

They stood for a moment on the landing. Then Millicent asked, “Inside to toast the close of a new deal?”

Liam said, “You’re buying the first round. Smith got almost nothing.”

Millicent smiled and headed to the doors, “Yes, I suppose you’re right. It wasn’t such a bad deal after all.”

 

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8 thoughts on “Chapter 15 – Animus Possidendi

  1. Pingback: The Omicron Matter – Animus Possidendi – At the Pig In The Wall Hotel | The Finder's Saga

  2. Pingback: The Omicron Matter – Animus Possidendi – Outside the Ship Leonard. | The Finder's Saga

  3. Pingback: The Omicron Matter – Animus Possidendi – Getting Into the Tea Room | The Finder's Saga

  4. Pingback: The Omicron Matter – Animus Possidendi – In the Lobby | The Finder's Saga

  5. Pingback: The Omicron Matter -Animus Possidendi – Back in the tea room | The Finder's Saga

  6. Pingback: The Omicron Matter -Animus Possidendi – Waiting on the Landing | The Finder's Saga

  7. Pingback: The Omicron Matter – Animus Possidendi – The Walk Back | The Finder's Saga

  8. Pingback: The Omicron Matter – Animus Possidendi – The Walk Back cont | The Finder's Saga

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