Chapter 24 – Arranging a Demonstration

Arranging a Demonstration

Uynack at Tuireann’s Ship

Millicent was accompanied by Rachael and Jason. Simone was still recovering from getting her translator and Eleanor would not leave her. The others had been sent to shop for supplies.  For this first customer, a smaller group was better. Besides, the chatter in the hall made Millicent nervous. People were giving them a wide berth. That made Rachael’s transit easier. The reason for the space was not for Rachael’s chair. Rachael and Jason’s heritage was being alternately feared and disparaged.  Such insults were never common before and that made it infuriating. The Guild had started a campaign to convince members that Earth was threatening.  All the more reason to get these first sales completed.

The first person was an old friend; a fellow exile from her lost planet. Her trio arrived at his docking station. Like all stations, it had a large airlock door that led to a landing next to the ship. A Menanggung, with its stout, cylindrical body covered in hair waited by the ship’s door. Millicent was greeted generously, “Mr. Tuireann is expecting you and your guest. He is most pleased to see you.”

Millicent bowed slightly and said, “Uynack…Uynack Vaxux. How is your den mate? You must have a cub by now.” Millicent could almost hear the groans from Rachael and Jason, but this was part of the sales transaction. Brian Tuireann would consult with Uynack and friendliness was the best sales tool of all.

Uynack wagged his hand and then displayed three digits, “We have three. He tapped his wrist and images of the three children appeared on Millicent’s screen.

Millicent viewed the various cubs. One had the signs of being close to puberty and she commented, “Your oldest will soon be a handful.”

Uynack sighed and said, “I am told she is already. At least she acts nice around me.”  He glanced at Rachael and Jason.

Millicent coughed and said, “My apologies.” She gestured to the Menanggung ,”Uynack Vaxux”  and to Jason and said, “Jason McNeill of Earth, chemist, theoretical physicist and apparently a decent shot.”

Uynack looked at Jason for a moment then to Millicent and asked, “Is he related?”

Millicent grinned a little and winked saying  “Oh yes…but let’s not discuss that now.” She then nodded to to Rachael, “Rachael Weiz of Earth. Clock maker, genius with small mechanics and physics and vicious in a darts game. “

Uynack’s eyes lit up as he turned to Rachael , “Even in that chair? We must visit a bar and play a round or two.”

Rachael breathed a bit easier saying, “Certainly Guv’, If you can find a pub that will serve us.”

Uynack’s lips got thin and he looked away. “Then you know…things aren’t very good right now.”

Rachael muttered, “No kidding.”

Uynack waved his hands and said, “The Guild started propaganda about a year ago…it has been getting worse.”

Millicent spoke up, “Yes…we heard. It’s subtle but we are finding out.”

Uynack furrowed his large brow saying, “Mr. Tuireann has been telling his associates to ignore those @%$# messages. More Guild crap, he says. Besides we all remember your last group.”  His eyes got narrow and said, “You are back awfully soon.”

Millicent smiled and put a finger on her lips and said, “Mums the word.” She pointed to the ship and said, “I think it is an excellent time to see Brian Tuireann.”  Uynack looked confused which was a feat for a Menanggung.  He pointed to the ship and the four moved out of docking area and towards the ship.

Meeting Brian Tuireann

In the ship, Uynack guided them to the environmental lab. A tall man sat in the head chair. He had spikey brown hair. He wore a bright blue suit and sat in a relaxed fashion.  He stood up as they walked in and greeted Millicent warmly in a hug and said, “Millicent Morgaine, I would say it is too long. But then it has only been a year.” He looked at her with his quirk in a smile and said, “Back so soon?”

Millicent leaned back and said, “Brian Tuireann, it is never too soon see you.” She settled into a chair. Brian waved to the others to sit.  She pointed to her contractors saying, “Allow me to introduce, Rachael Weiz  – clockmaker and small mechanics. And Jason McNeill.” Brian’s eyebrow went up.  Millicent said, “His father…we’ll discuss that later. He’s a chemist and  physicist with knowledge about electricity and other more interesting things.”

Brian shook hands and said, “This must be quiet an adjustment.”

Jason flushed, but Rachael said with a smile, “On some matters, yes. On others, life seems to be the same all over.”

Brian laughed loudly saying, “Well said, Miss Weiz. Well said.” He sat back at the head of the table and leaned on it. “You said you have an opportunity.”

Millicent leaned back and put her hands on her lap. “You and Uynack both have noted my early return and I bring two new recruits. You know where Earth is. What does that tell you?”

Brian leaned back and put his hands behind his head. He swiveled in the chair and smiled at her. Finally he said, “Millicent! It is unlike you to …take liberties.” He looked at Rachael and Jason and then back to her. “The Guild would say you should not be back yet.”

Millicent spread her arms and said, “And yet here I am.”

Brian put his hands on his lap and said, “You broke rules…rules the Guild values.”

Millicent waved her hands in the air as if a fly were passing. “An opportunity too good to pass up arose.” She leaned in and said, “I left Earth two months ago. And I am willing to sell the technology. And you can help me.”

Brian stayed leaning back with his hands on his lap and said, “The Guild will have something to say. They are very touchy about that. ”

Millicent smiled thinly and said, “Unless we don’t tell them and they don’t find out until it’s too late.” She leaned back and watched Brian’s expression change.

He stopped the small rock in his chair. His eyes got narrow. He looked at Uynack and said, “Go check the engines. They were running warm on the way in.”

Uynack looked Millicent, then at Jason and Rachael then back at Brian and said, “I don’t remember that.”

Brian snapped, “Well I do.  And you need to go check them now.” With a gentler tone he said, “We’ll discuss matters later, but please…friend…do this.”  Uynack got up and waggled his fingers at Millicent and then left the room. Brian said, “He has a family. Better he not be involved in this.” Brian jutted his chin in Rachael’s and Jason’s direction and said, “I am not sure they should hear this conversation either.”

A new drive

Jason protested, but Rachael grabbed his arm hard and he quieted. Millicent said, “Brian, what do you think will happen when they hear Sean’s son is travelling? Besides, they made the machines and they will be getting a share of the profit.”

Brian said softly, “They will pay a price.”

Rachael let go of Jason’s arm and leaned forward and said, “Seems to me, we were going to pay that price anyway guv’. My folk have a saying…’might as well hang for a sheep as a lamb.’ But then we’re barbarians with no culture, no sense of restraint, and no morals…or at least that’s what the newssheets and announcements are saying. “

Brian narrowed his eyes and said, “What precisely do you know?”

Millicent coughed into her hand and waved at Rachael and Jason to be quiet. She looked at Brian Tuireann and said, “Perhaps we can discuss that at length another time.  I have something to sell.  Something that could help you a great deal.” She leaned back and said, “I was considering letting you do some reselling…if you liked the product. But if you’re squeamish, I can find other buyers.”

Brian glared at her and then leaned back in his chair and waved, “Fine, you have a faster than light device. So does the Guild and they won’t care for competition. ”

Millicent shrugged and said, “I am hoping to change their minds. Regardless, the energy required by Guild drive is expensive. Our drive is very different. The energy cost is virtually nil.”  Brian smirked and leaned back. Millicent smiled back at him saying, “Jason actually says the drive uses no standard fuel. The only fuel used was intrasystem and ship operations.”

Brian waved his hands saying, “And what does the drive use? Fairy dust?”

Jason leaned in this time and said, “I believe you know it as ‘Dark Energy’.”

Brian’s head turned in Jason’s direction and said, “That’s impossible.”

Millicent spread her hands taking in the room and said, “and yet here we are. A bit over a year since we last met. New contractors. All fueled.” She put her finger on the table saying, “And the devices take less space than a Guild FTL engine.”

Jason smiled at him thinly.  Rachael licked a finger and marked the air saying, “Score one for the barbarians.”

Brian was quiet for a few moments. He looked at Jason and Rachael and said, “Remarkable. Nobody has harnessed dark energy before.”

Jason leaned back and said, “We’re still…” Rachael elbowed him hard.

Millicent interrupted him, “We’re still working on other uses. But our FTL drive is very efficient in its use.”

Brian narrowed his eyes Jason and Rachael.  Rachael leaned her chin on her hand and smiled broadly back. Millicent was sure Jason had a bruise on his ribs.

Brian turned back to Millicent and asked, “Do you have proof?”

Millicent held out her hands again taking in the room and said, “Beyond our presence?” She leaned on the table and said, “Nothing I am willing to bring onto the station. We are planning a small excursion. You are invited, of course. I’ll supply the victuals and drink. Bring a friend.  Two days from now at Dock 201.” Millicent got up and signaled to Jason and Rachael who also moved towards the door. She asked as they exited, “See you there?”

Brian Tuireann pursed his lips and said, “Wouldn’t miss it. Wait a moment.” He moved to a storage bin and pulled out a small device and tossed it to her. “Try this out…It lets you know if you have listeners.” He crossed his arms, “You might find it handy in conversation for the next few days.”

Millicent looked at the device and then bowed slightly. As they left, Brian said, “Watch yourself. I wouldn’t want to miss this demonstration.”

Arrival at Silverbeam’s Ship

John Smith led Neville Carter-Frasier and Alfred Redman through the corridors. Carter-Frazier was handling the transition remarkably well. Translating for the others probably stiffened his spine. Rachael Weiz was right: building his confidence with others was paying dividends.  Redman was as unperturbable as always.  The man showed less emotion than a Kaum Langit. At least with them, a skin color changed to fit a mood.

At a dock door that looked like every other there were two guards. On the left stood a relatively tall Hoon with blue scales for skin (he was almost as tall as Redman). He opened his mouth and smiled showing a large number of sharp teeth and flicked his tongue.  No ear lobes on either side and his eyes appeared to be independent of one another.  At his side was a light side arm. On the right stood a Tymbrimi,  a small statured woman with the same long hair as the bureaucratic customs agent. Her hair was bright blue.  The Tymbrimi asked, “John Smith, what brings you to our ship. I had heard you were running errands for the Guild.”

Smith smiled thinly saying, “Iti Greeneyes, we all take tasks we find distasteful if the money is right. Most of us try to work multiple jobs at once making such tasks less …onerous.  It pays the bills.”

The Hoon on the left said, “You Ucayranns have more money than some planets. Since when do you have to do favors for the Guild?”

Smith glared at the Hoon who closed his mouth at the look. Smith leaned forward and over the Hoon and placed a hand on the bulkhead next to the Hoon’s head and said, “I am planning an early retirement.  And I got the Guild to pay my expenses for a second more important job. Do you have a problem with my loyalties?”  He nodded to the door and said, “Silverbeam is expecting me. I am happy to discuss my current clients if you want, but you might want to check with your commander.”

The Hoon snapped his eyes forward and he stuttered, “NNOoo.. Sir. I …I was just making a joke.”

Greeneyes smiled and pulled out a communicator and said, “John Smith is here.” The large dock doors opened.  Greeneyes waved them forward and followed them in. She looked up at Smith and winked, “I’ll be joining the discussion.”

Smith smiled as they walked saying, “Promotion?”

Greeneyes said, “An opening developed and I applied.”  Smith looked down at the diminutive Greeneyes who looked up with a straight face “Silverbeam’s exec officer, Festle and I had a long discussion about my working hours and career path.  He made some suggestions for extra tasks he felt would advance my career path. I found his ideas …objectionable. ”

Smith snorted and said, “I remember him.  Thought himself a bit of a ladies man.”

She stopped at the portal door of the ship and said, “Sadly he developed breathing difficulties during the discussion and we never finished the conversation.” She opened the door for the group and said, “I applied for the position naturally.”

Smith smiled saying, “Naturally. You are far more adept than he was.”

Neville said from behind, “I don’t understand. Why did his breathing difficulties open a position?”

Smith said over his shoulder, “Because he couldn’t breathe in space.”

Neville gasped. Alfred eyed the portal door and said, “How very efficient.”

Smith bowed to Greeneyes  with a quirked smile and said, “Regardless, I am sure Silverbeam knew who was really doing the work.  And I am sure he’ll hardly notice it was his brother-in-law you spaced.”

Greeneyes smiled thinly back, “We discussed the family. Apparently, Silverbeam felt obliged to gift the position to Festle.“ She shook her head and said, “Strange family obligation. Said he didn’t even like that sister. He gave me a signing bonus.” Smith laughed, clapped Greeneyes on the shoulder and walked into the room.

Abu Silverbeam

Abu Silverbeam, also a Tymbrimi,  sat at the end of a long table looking at a screen and working.  On the walls were various pieces of art. Some were trifles – pretty with interesting ideas, but unknown artists.  Others were artists that Smith recognized. Smith moved to one and examined it.  He put his hands behind his back and viewed it. Finally Smith said, “I have always found Eir Verdandi moving. A scene by her has so many layers.” He pointed to the picture saying, “There is the party. But there is the expression of each person. Each character tells a story and then there is the subtext of the location of the party.”  He viewed it for a few moments and then said, “This one has been missing for a while.”

Abu Silverbeam  continued to work and spoke without looking up, “I almost feel good about stealing that one. I took it from a man who commissioned another theft. He and I had a disagreement over expenses. This made up for the difference.”  He looked up and considered the picture and said, “It fills a nice hole between two paintings by my children.”

Smith turned and smiled and said, “I think Verdandi would approve.” He moved to a different painting and said, “I don’t recognize this painter. Realism is so rare these days.”

Silverbeam closed the screen and leaned back in his chair saying, “A talented nephew. He is studying to be an artist or an investigator.”

Smith raised an eyebrow said, “That could end up awkward. Your family is full of complexities.”

Silverbeam shrugged, “So I am told. Yours had its share.” He gestured at a chair and said, “You said you have an opportunity.”

Smith pursed his lips and said, “So quick to business? When did we last have a conversation, Silverbeam?”

Silverbeam looked over at Neville and Alfred and then back at Smith who graced a smile. He said, “A bit over a year. You were poor at small talk then too.” His eyes narrowed and said, “Your associates are new. Where did you acquire them?”

Smith feigned shock and said, “How rude of me. This is Neville Carter-Frasier of London, England, Earth. An excellent electrician, decent physicist and he shows promise as a pilot. Next to him is Alfred Redman. Butler and major domo. He handles delicate tasks with discretion and a minimum of fuss. Also of London, England, Earth.

Silverbeam looked in Redman’s direction and said, ”You may wish to compare notes with Iti.  She seems to handle delicate tasks with discretion around here.” He leaned on the table and returned his gaze to Smith. “Such pleasantries from you rarely lack cause. Who did you acquire them from?”

Smith sat at the table opposite and put one arm on the table and waved Carter-Frasier and Redman to take a seat. They eyed Silverbeam, who frowned. They remained standing. Smith smiled and said, “No one. I got them from Earth…last year.”

Silverbeam leaned up and then laughed loudly and pounded the table hard, “Gods Fortunate, Smith. I don’t which is the opportunity.  How you got here or access to Morgaine’s pet planet?” He waved to seats and said, “Sit gentlemen. You’ve come far and, despite rumors of my disposition, I do have manners.”  Carter-Frasier sat as did Greeneyes. She eyed Redman as if assessing a competitor. Redman, to his credit, gave a small wink back, sat and placed two weapons on the table.

Smith said, “Which is the opportunity? Both really. At the moment, my partner and I will be giving an exclusive demonstration of the FTL drive in two days. You are invited.”

Silverbeam raised his eyebrows, “Your partner? Ucayranns work alone.  Hell, I’m not sure how you procreate.  Who could stand you?”

Smith pursed his lips looked at Carter-Frasier and Redman and shrugged saying, “Millicent Morgaine.”

Silverbeam had a coughing fit and gasped, “You’re joking.”

Smith sighed deeply, “There were compromises on both sides.” He leaned on the table facing Silverbeam saying, “Morgaine is finding herself out of favor. She and I have a working arrangement on a number of matters.”  He sat back and said, “Neville, explain to Mr. Silverbeam and Miss Greeneyes a bit about the devices.”

Carter-Frasier stumbled at first, “There…There are two devices really. One creates a field that isolates the inside from…the universe I suppose. The second device gathers energy and propels the ship at tremendous speeds. We traveled thousands of light years in a matter of weeks.”

Silverbeam looked at the ceiling saying, “FTL is not new. How is yours different?”

Carter-Frasier steadied his voice and continued, “McNeill could explain the physics and theory better. But ours is better for two reasons, if I understand …the archives correctly.” Smith smiled at Carter-Frasier’s euphemism for Camille. Carter-Frasier continued, “First, because we are outside the universe while we travel, the time we leave and arrive are virtually instantaneous relative to the end points.”

Smith added, “Our demonstration will prove that.”

Carter-Frasier leaned on the table now warming to his topic, “The second is energy. The device uses dark energy so there is no real energy cost to travel.”

Silverbeam and Greeneyes stared at Carter-Frasier, but said nothing.

Smith mused, “Interested?”

Silverbeam said, “You have no idea.”

Smith smiled saying, “Oh I think I do. We Ucayranns are very good at that. Then I’ll see you at our little excursion.”

Silverbeam leaned back and said, “It will be worth the time just to see a Smith and a Morgaine work together.  I might even buy something at the end.”

A Demonstration of Capabilities

Millicent on the Dock

Millicent paced outside Canynges’ Folly. She glanced over at John Smith and Uycarran Glory. Smith was motionless and Alfred Redman was positioned at his shoulder. Smith nodded to her and gave her a two finger salute. Millicent gritted her teeth and bowed back. Beside her, Liam O’Hannigan observed, “You sure you’ve done this before?”

Millicent stopped and turned to him and then moved to her own position next to Liam. She said, “Yes…just nothing so…under the counter.”

Liam continued to look straight forward said, “I found the trick to such dealings is to act is if they were perfectly normal. It looks less suspicious to the bobbies. And I always got better profits.”

Millicent eyed him narrowly saying, “That should make an interesting conversation.”

Liam said, “It will. Provided it’s in a bar and you’re buying. But our customers are arriving. Look lively!”

Millicent took a breath and calmed herself and strode towards the arriving parties.

Brian Tuireann arrived with Uynack Vaxux. Brian greeted Millicent with, “I expect this to be a most enlightening trip.” He looked over at Smith who was greeting his guests and said, “Who would have thought a Smith and a Morgaine working together?”

Smith over hearing his name said, “I know. I am shocked myself. Still…you know as well as we do, it has happened before.”

Brian quirked his smile, “So it has. I hope this collaboration ends better.”

Millicent blanched but Smith smiled saying, “The partnership is young…but that is the best time for investors to get in.”  Smith turned his attention to two the Tymbrimi.  Her suit screen told her it was Abu Silverbeam, a smuggler, arms dealer and other felonious pursuits. She assumed the other was his assistant.

Silverbeam turned to her and said, “There is a book on when this partnership breaks up.”

Millicent said, “I hope you took the long time.”

Silverbeam bowed saying, “I’m running the book. I get the pool if you last.”

Millicent greeted the Kaum Legit, Ciom Olo.   Liam greeted him as well saying “You weasel…I dinna know you were looking.”

Ciom Olo waggled his fingers, “Why should I be a long furry carnivore?  Regardless, this was set up at the same time as your appointment at the store. Not all business is done through a store front.”

Smith interjected, “I’ve been trying to convince her of that for a year.”

Millicent made introductions, “Ciom Olo of Kaum Legi, John Smith of Uycarra.

Smith bowed. Ciom Olo blinked once slowly and said, “So this is the infamous John Smith. Your reputation precedes you.”

Smith smiled thinly saying, “And one tries so hard to keep a low profile.”

Clio Olo blinked slowly again and said, “We have not dealt directly. You have a reputation for, “he paused and said, “Efficiency. But one should count the silver after you leave.”

Smith pouted his lips saying, “You wound me. Besides, there is little market for serving utensils.”

Everyone’s attention turned to a being coming into the docking area. It was 2 meters long, had no legs or torso. Two arms jutted out.  Thin eyes were above a large mouth.  He was covered by a brightly hued cape and was followed by a Hoon carrying a rifle. Brian and Ciao Olo shuffled feet or changed color but expressed no surprise at his presence.  Millicent hissed at Smith, “Gods Smith!, You invited him?”

Smith smiled at her saying, “His credit is quite good and he has little use for the Guild.” He eyed her and said, “Consider it a test. Win him over and the coalition will be a reality.”

Liam said, “Whose this slug?”

Millicent said, “That is Sioubos At.  He is the commerce head of the largest group of slave traders. No one can understand how Mollocots control anything  – plants seem to move faster. But they achieved space travel before their neighbors and proceeded to rule and generally enslave their neighbor cultures.”

Sioubos At glided up to the group and  greeted Smith saying, “I do business with you, not her.”

Smith crossed his arms and said, “I was clear. I have 35% and she has the rest.” Sioubos At grunted.  Smith continued, “Without her, you will have nothing.”

Millicent eyed Sioubos At but said nothing. Sioubos At spread his mouth in a wide smile and said, “You despise me as much as I despise you.”

Millicent said, ”At least we understand each other. Deals are made on less. Buy the product or not. But I am and will be the only source for these drives.”

Sioubos At closed his mouth and narrowed his large eyes and turned his back to her and moved towards Smith’s ship. Redman and Liam began herding the others towards the ships. Millicent was left with Smith. He clasped his hands together and rubbed them in mock glee, “Now that we have pleasantries out of the way…shall we make a profit?”

John Smith – Undocking from Tau Ceti

John Smith led Abu Silverbeam and Sioubos At and their partners into the bridge area. Neville Carter-Frasier was piloting the ship. John O’Malley was managing ship operations and Alfred Redman sat at communications.  Smith thanked all the Gods of the Pantheon of the galaxy that Felicity Richards was on the other side of communications.  Her disposition was becoming essential in keeping the crews working together.

Silverbeam sat in a chair next to the survey console. He looked over the unattended station with a small quirk in his smile and asked, “Perhaps I can send  Iti Greeneyes to visit the engine room and see these marvelous devices at work.” Sioubos At grunt his strong agreement and waved the unnamed Hoon next to Greeneyes.

Smith nodded saying, “Excellent idea, Abu. Miss Weiz was a chief designer of the devices and should be able to answer Miss Greeneyes and.” Smith glanced at the unnamed Hoon.

The Hoon bowed deeply, “Apologies. Unqong Oiksair. Chief engineer for Master Sioubos At.”

Smith nodded and said, “Mr. Oiksair’s questions with great detail. However they won’t be working until we are safe from surveys by Tau Ceti. I suggest we wait until are undocked and in transit before they go down.”

Silverbeam waved broadly and said, “Certainly, Smith. Certainly. But a visit to your engine room and a discussion with the creator of this wonder is necessary.”

Smith turned to Redman and said, “Tell Weiz to expect guests after we start acceleration.”

Millicent  – In Transit to the Gas Giant

Everyone was at their stations. With John on Smith’s ship, Jason was handling ship operations. Canynges’ Folly  and  Uycarran Glory left the station and planet orbit and poured on acceleration to the sixth planet in the system. It was a gas giant of huge proportions and had nearly a hundred moons.  Michael’s plan was to enter jump on the other side. Between the huge planet and the many moons, two ships disappearing for a few moments was unlikely to be detected by unfortunate chance.

The acceleration was nearly twice normal earth gravity.  Neither she nor Brian Tuireann were affected. Having having spent their childhood on a large planet, their physiology was adapted to such conditions. But her earthling crew was tiring and Ciom Olo amd his assistant could barely move.  Millicent offered an early view of the drives. Brian and Uynack accepted, but the two Kaum Legit declined and settled into the galley chairs. Liam followed them and made conversation with Uynack.

In the engine room, Simone sat in front of the console. She started to get up, but Millicent waved her down. “You can talk from there and we all need you fully rested for the transition.” Millicent pointed to the engineer and said, “This is Simone Campbell – one of the chief designers of the devices. She also was key in designing the factory that will build your drives.”

Uynack wasted no time, “How does this device work?”

Simone answered smoothly, “Jason is our theoretician, but my understanding is that one device creates a field that separates us from the Universe. A second device moves us forward at a high velocity.  What makes the trips faster is that we ‘take short cuts’.  According to Jason, the universe is not flat like a sheet of paper or smooth. We can jump from one place in the universe to another.”

Brian asked, “And how long does travel take?”

Simone shrugged, “It depends. It seems the farther we go, the faster the apparent speed. We are jumping to a star three light years away. It will take about three hours.”  She looked at her notebook and wrinkled her mouth, “It is difficult to know how much time has passed outside of our field. But all of our early tests indicate that it is effectively stopped.”

Brian wandered around the room looking at the ring assembly and then said, “What inspired such a device?”

Millicent coughed a little into her fist. Simone smile broadly saying, “Mr. Tuireann, that is what we call a ‘trade secret’. Suffice to say, we were given a germ of an idea and followed the trail to this end.”  There was a pause as translators dealt with idioms. Millicent breathed easier. Simone was careful not to reveal the extent of “inspiration” by the notebooks.  Patent standing was challenged on such matters and regardless of how the Guild viewed this technology, she wanted her group to have its rights.

Brian stared at the wall behind the rings and asked, “Where is the dark energy stored?”

Simone scratched her head and said, “Jason is the theoretician on these things and he can explain more exactly.” She pointed to the large metal cube next to the rings saying, “The cube holds a large super conducting coil.”

Brian raised his eyebrow and asked, “And you know about super conducting material?”

Simone squinted back and said, “As I said before, we followed clues and trails. I’ve found researching super conducting materials quite interesting in these past few months. “

Brian smirked at her and said, “You’ve learned remarkably fast.”

Simone leaned back and tapped the table with her fingers. Millicent was glad Rachael wasn’t here or she might unleashed some interesting new phrases.  Simone leaned forward she said, “Using Millicent’s …assistant, I’ve been conducting experiments on ideal alloys and ideal temperatures. Access to new…at least new to me…elements and working in space allowed me to enhance the common crystal matrix associated with super conductors. I’ve improved its performance, reduced the costs associated with its creation and found more efficient cooling mechanisms. ”  She smirked back at him saying, “I can speak slower and use smaller words if you think that is more becoming a barbarian.”

Liam hissed, “Atta girl.”

Brian stared back open mouthed. Uynack waggled his fingers and said, “Millicent did say they were very fast learners.”

Millicent shrugged and said, “I gave them access to my …library.”

Uynack’s mouth got big in a smile saying, “And we all know how very good Uycarran …libraries are.”

Brian bowed slightly saying, “I am sorry to have doubted Miss Campbell. Continue and I will interrupt no further.”

Liam muttered, “Damn straight, you won’t.” Millicent elbowed him hard and he gasped.

Simone nodded and waved the comment away, “I understand, Mr. Tuireann. Caveat Emptor and all that. I suppose it is always a surprise when the horse talks back. Anyway the device collects the dark matter in the spaces between the atoms. Or more precisely, the spaces between the electrons and the nucleus.  To me, that sounds like energy is behaving like matter and that doesn’t make sense to me. Jason says that is acceptable and he’s the theoretician.” She waved her hands at the box and said, “What I observe is that it works.”

Brian and Uynack stared at the metallic box. Millicent clapped her hands and said, “Simone will need to prepare for the transition. You will want to see the rings working. It is quite spectacular.  For now let’s return to the galley and keep our poor Kaum Legit company.”  Liam led the two guests out of the engine room. Millicent leaned in to Simone and said, “Well done, Miss Campbell. Watch those discussions about ‘inspiration’. Brian’s an old friend, but he will contest a patent if he thinks it will save money.”

Simone said, “Rachael would have thrown something at him. Cheeky bastard.”

Millicent sighed saying, “And thus I am grateful you were the one to answer.” She patted Simone on the shoulder and left.

Brian waited by the stairs. Liam and Uynack had taken the lift to avoid climbing in the high gravity.  Millicent waved him forward into the stairs. He said, “You and Charles helped considerably.”

Millicent gritted her teeth and said, “We gave them the tools they needed. They did the work.”

Brian shrugged and panted a little as they climbed, “That will bother the Guild even more than if you did the work.”

Millicent said, “Stop.” She pulled out the device he gave her two days ago and scanned for listeners.  She showed Brian it was clear. She then leaned into his face and said, “Maybe you haven’t heard. The Guild plans to destroy their planet.”

Brian protested, “Still…”

Millicent snapped and pointed down the stairs, “Still…nothing. They are trying to save their planet and that device will be key.” She looked around and said, “I think I’ve violated enough protocols in the last year for the Guild to lock me away for the rest of my life. So if I am wrong about this, I will have a very bleak future indeed.”

Brian smirked, “Wrong about what?”

“That you are part of a coalition opposed to the Guild. That all of our buyers on this trip are.” She waved around the ship and said, “Those drives are how the coalition can beat the Guild.”

Brian looked her, smiled and said, “You just made this trip more interesting. And I didn’t think that was possible.” He sped up the stairs.

Smith – Making a Jump

John Smith stood at the bridge as Carter-Frasier maneuvered the ship into orbit around the huge gas giant. Morgaine’s ship was nearby and on the same vector. Smith called, “Mr. O’Malley, fuel status.”

The large man called out, “95%. We went through a lot on the burn to get here.”

Smith turned to communications, “Mr. Redman, check to make sure Miss Weiz is ready for the jump.”

Redman relayed the message. Redman’s lips quirked and said, “In summary, Miss Weiz reports that she is ready for the jump. She also asks if there are any other tasks you wish to manage such as when she takes a shit. There was more and far more colorful. Shall I relay her entire message?”

Smith rolled his eyes muttering, “How does Morgaine stand it?” louder he said, “No, that won’t be necessary. Patch Miss Weiz through to Morgaine’s ship so she can coordinate.”  He turned to his group of customers saying, “When we get to the backside of this planet, we will begin a transit to the nearest star – 3 light years away. After we start transit, I’ll take you to the engine room.”

Unlike Morgaine, he had not provided any measures to counter the effects of the transit to his guests.  They might be angry, but they would be motivated to make a second purchase. Redman called out, “Jump in three, two, one…” The transition began and he felt the dullness fall over his senses and thinking. He could see the passengers wipe their eyes and shake their heads as if they were trying to wake up. The dullness seems to cross across all species.

Abu Silverbeam groaned, “How does anyone function? Is this normal?”

Smith could see O’Malley shake his head in disapproval. Smith smirked and said, “We have developed some counter-measures which remove most of the effects. Not all. It is a combination of stimulants and nanite programming.”

Sioubos At snarled, “And you didn’t think to give us any?”

Silverbeam rubbed his forehead saying, “Of course not, you simpleton.” He glared at Smith saying, “He’s going to sell us the damn cure to this hell.” He straightened up and stared at Smith, “That sale will be easier if we have a demonstration of its efficacy.” He phrased each word carefully.

O’Malley rolled his eyes, pursed his lips and turned to work on the console. No matter what he thought. Silverbeam was annoyed but understood the point of the demonstration.  Smith smiled saying, “If you will follow me, I will supply the stimulants. I would rather not wake Camille for that… Besides, your programming may vary.”  He moved towards the door and indicated they should follow.

Sioubos At muttered as he slid towards the door, “Damned Uycarran. Can’t see any travel being worth this.”

Smith shrugged,” You will. Mr. O’Malley, you marked local time?”

O’Malley glanced at notebook, “It was 13:05 local. Mr. Carter-Frasier and I will work out how long an orbit should be when we get back. As per your instructions, the score of the Xenoball match is 21-31 in the 2nd quarter, 6:21 to go to the half. We should be able to see the last quarter.”

Sioubos At stared at Smith and said, “You follow Xenoball?”

Smith laughed as he walked out the door, “No. But I know you do. And this is a marvelous way to prove the value of these machines. Now follow me so you have half a chance of understanding the singular and annoying Miss Weiz as she explains them.”

In the Engine Room

Smith led the party to the engine room after administering stimulants. Sioubos At still complained. Smith couldn’t tell if he hadn’t responded to the drugs or was just cantankerous.  Fortunately, the Hoon, Unqong Oiksair seemed to mostly recover from his disorientation. As they entered the engine room, Rachael Weiz was staring intently at the console.  She was dressed in working leathers. Her eyes had googles over them and she had covers over her ears. There was a low hum and the room was filled with blue light.  Smith knocked on the console; she looked up and then at the party.

Sioubos At pointed to her head and said, “Should we be wearing safety gear? Is this another sales opportunity?”

Weiz quirked her lips and said, “No guv’. However, Simone has found prolonged exposure to this light and noise hard on our eyes and ears. Our nanites were working overtime.  If your engineers stay, I’ll outfit them.” She looked at Smith and said, “But you shouldn’t need it for the short duration of a tour.”

Silverbeam frowned, “just a tour?”

Weiz shrugged, “Your engineer probably needs to know details.” She pointed to Smith, “But your business is with him assuming we meet our schedule and don’t blow up.”  She leaned forward grinning, “but everyone loves to see moving parts and flashing lights.”

Silverbeam stared at the apparently motionless rings and said, “They are moving?”

Weiz said, “just like us…faster than light…since we’re moving with them, they don’t look like they’re moving.”

Sioubos At said, “We should be falling apart. Guild ships have thick shells for protection.” He waved a short arm around saying,  “This ship has nothing like that.”

Weiz leaned back and tapped a stylus on the arm of her chair saying, “Ah, now there’s a trick. The field created is protecting us. We are in the lovely bubble of nether space, skipping across the universe.”  She looked at her notebook and said, “Jason and I have been considering some applications of that little fact. We are impervious in a battle because we don’t exist in the universe.”

Iti Greeneyes wandered around the rings and said, “But you can’t fire anything out of the bubble because you aren’t in the universe.”

Weiz smiled thinly and said, “True. But who says we can’t leave presents for our pursuers? And I’ve been studying your ships. They have a weak spot in the rear.” She put the stylus in front of her fist. “First we’re here.” She removed the stylus.  “Now, we’re not.”  She put the stylus on the other side of the fist saying, “And now we’re back sending little tokens of our appreciation.”  There was a pause as the translators caught up with her colloquialisms.

Sioubos At shook heavily with laughter and said, “I like her, Smith. What is her price?”

Smith looked at his fingernails, “She’s high maintenance in the long run and I try not to sell problems to friends.” Weiz frowned. Smith put his hands up and said, “Besides, I am borrowing her from Morgaine and you know how she feels about such things.” Sioubos At grumbled. Smith pointed at the seemingly stationary rings and said, “Miss Weiz, if you could explain what is happening now.”  Weiz moved around the room in her chair easily giving a description of the fields, the collector of dark energy and jumps in space.

Silverbeam looked at the field and then asked, “How small can you make the device?”

Weiz looked at the machine and said, “Simon… Miss Campbell and Mr. McNeill and I have been working on that. A device has been constructed that will fit in a standard drone.”  Smith wrinkled his nose in irritation at that memory. Weiz continued, “but we are still working on that. Your devices will be half the size of  this prototype and more efficient.”

Sioubos At asked, “And how big?”

Weiz shrugged, “Just need to make the rings bigger. But bigger rings need more superconductor. In theory, there is no limit…practically things start getting expensive. And kicking it off becomes a problem. The rings need momentum before they can gather dark energy. I’ve seen a catalog of ships and we could scale to all of them with no problems. But get any larger and there are challenges.”

Silverbeam looked her and said, “How big a field are you looking at?”

Rachael Weiz stared at the rings intently and then stared at Smith saying, “Damn hard to drop an asteroid on a planet if it isn’t there. Don’t you agree, Mr. Smith?”

Millicent – Arrival at Theta Ceti

The group stayed on the bridge as the ships came out of transition.   Brian Tuireann shook his head as it cleared saying, “Amazing. The dullness is gone like a switch. What is like without the stimulants?”

Millicent said in a light voice, “You can ask Abu Silverbeam or Sioubos At. Smith has different methods than I to make sales. Speaking of which.”

She looked at Felicity who said,  “Mr. Redman responds that all is well and they are following our vector in the system.”

Ciom Olo blinked once slowly and said, “How far have we travelled?”

Michael responded, “About over three light years. We are approaching the fourth planet of eight in the system. The star is an M-class red giant.  The planet is a standard gas giant with hydrogen and ammonia atmosphere.”  He paused and then said, “Gentleman welcome to Theta Ceti. “

Smith – Negotiations at Theta Ceti

Iti Greeneyes and Unqong Oiksair verified John O’Malley’s data with their own resources. They confirmed they were at the nearest star to Tau Ceti and that Morgaine’s ship was nearby.  Silverbeam turned to Smith smiling broadly, “You have my attention.  This technology exceeds my expectations.”

Smith put his hands behind his back, rocked on his heels  and said, “And you haven’t even seen the best part.”

Silverbeam muttered, “There’s more?” Sioubos At asked, “How many can you produce?”

Smith nodded to O’Malley who recited, “Four per week. The choke point will be installation. We can install one per week. We will train your staff so you can install your own.”

Smith said, “We’ll include the training free of charge if you buy more than four.”

Sioubos At eyed Unqong Oiksair and then said, “I can find smart…employees who want upgrades in status.”

Smith crossed his hands and waved a finger saying, “One other matter to discuss. I’m sure it is no surpise…my partner wants to join our common interest against the Guild.”

Sioubos At snapped immediately, “No…she cannot be trusted. Do you know how many of my operations she has shut down?” Silverbeam said nothing. He found a chair, sat and clasped his hands behind his head watching Smith and Sioubos At.

Smith nodded slightly in Silverbeam’s direction and then tried to calm Siobos At. “Her previous loyalties may not matter anymore. The Guild has decided to restrict her pet planet.”

Siobos At waved dismissively, “Why should I care? Hell, I get more business from that action.”

Redman coughed lightly.  O’Malley cracked his knuckles. Smith smiled thinly, “I wouldn’t say that too loudly here. Not all of these people are mine.  And I can’t vouch for the ones that are. Silverbeam might not be able to save you.”  He glanced at O’Malley who was rocking on his toes, “Mr. O’Malley could probably throw you in an air lock by himself…and he will have help.”

Siobos At grumbled but said nothing more and moved to a table.  Silverbeam tapped his finger on a counter and said, “Siobos At has a point, albeit crudely put.  She is late to the game. She has cost us all a great deal. And,” He nodded to O’Malley, “as regrettable as it would be to lose such talent, I do not find myself sufficiently motivated to help.”

Smith took his own seat at the table and leaned back, “Then take her on. Because  if you work with her, you get Turieann, Ciom Olo and all the others.”

Silverbeam smiled, “You seem very sure they will accept her and follow her.”

Smith steepled his fingers and said, “She’s a symbol. They will flock to her. She will draw the Uycarrans and our AIs in a way I can’t. The Kaum Legit and other free traders will follow. “  He put his hand up and said, “The Guild made two mistakes when they threatened Earth.”  He showed a finger and said, “First, they made Morgaine angry.” He waved his hands and paced the bridge, “Oh she believes in the system enough to plead her case, however hopeless.  Once the Guild threatened Earth, I just had to remind her of her own history. Before she shows up in the Guild Hall, she will have the Uycarrans breaking the Guild strangle hold on trade and just about everything else.”

Silverbeam raised his hands, “If she goes before the Guild, she will never leave. And then what?”

Smith held out his hands and said, “A martyr to the cause. Wars are won with such symbols.” He looked over a Sioubos At and said, “Which takes the teeth out of your concerns, Sioubos At, now doesn’t it.”

O’Malley hissed, “Smith, you bastard.”

Smith said over his shoulder, “Hush boy.” He thumbed over his shoulder at the large John O’Malley clenching his fists, “There is the Guild’s second mistake – it picked the wrong planet to bully.”   He waved at the star on the screen, “They’ve done wonders in the months I’ve known them and they haven’t even seen weapons yet.”  He looked at Sioubos At and said, “Miss Weiz battle plans for these devices will make the AI wars seem like a small distraction.”

Silverbeam frowned said, “That is why the Guild is acting in the first place. You’re throwing fuel on the fire.”

Smith laughed and got up and walked around, “You don’t get it…It’s too late. Morgaine has unleashed them and I’ve helped her. When we finish with sales, they will head back to Earth. “ He moved behind Redman and said, “I don’t know about you, but I want to be on the winning side. Morgaine has picked them and I think, for once, she’s right. The Guild is in for a very nasty surprise when they arrive at Earth.”  Sioubos At and Silverbeam stared at the three scowling humans on the bridge.

Finally Sioubus At, “Bah… doesn’t matter. She will never work with me.”

Smith smiled, looked at the ship chronometer and said, “You get to solve that problem shortly. Your ride to Morgaine’s ship will be here in about 10 minutes.”

Millicent  – New Passengers

Millicent stood by the shuttle bay door as a new set of passengers disembarked. Abu Silverbeam and Iti Greeneyes stepped on board and quickly headed towards Millicent.  Silverbeam nodded curtly to Millicent.  Greeneyes looked at Liam and said, “I have a message from Alfred Redman for Liam O’Hannigan.”

Liam rolled his eyes and waved her over. She leaned and whispered something in his ear.  Liam smiled briefly and said quietly, “After business is settled and you’ve ‘ad your tour, find me. I’ll break some out for the three of us.”  Greeneyes chuckled and slapped him on the shoulder and headed on.  Millicent raised an eyebrow in his direction. He looked forward and said, “Sailor bonding.”

Jason came out with the Hoon, Unqong Oiksair knitting his hands in distress.  Jason held up his hands and said, “The slug…Mr. Sioubus At  refuses to come out.” He looked at the ceiling saying, “He says our ship isn’t fit for our presence.”

Oiksair looked at his feet saying,  “I am sorry, Miss Morgaine. He was mad about leaving Mr. Smith’s ship and he won’t do anything when he is like this.”

Silverbeam smirked, “He really does not like you.”

Millicent pursed her lips saying, “The feeling is mutual.”  She looked at the shuttle and said, “Is it secure?”

Jason shrugged, “It’s locked down. The engine is cool. It is going to get cold in here.”

Millicent rubbed her eyebrows, “Mr. McNeill inform Miss Woodson our guests are on board and she is to start arranging transit.  Go to your station. Mr. O’Hannigan take our guests to the galley and make sure they have the stimulant drinks. Take any interested  to the engine room if they wish more information from Miss Campbell or wish to study the engine more.”

Silverbeam raised his hand, “If I might join you, Miss Morgaine. At least Sioubos At let me talk.”

Millicent eyed him and then blew breath out through her cheeks, “I’ll take aid where it comes, Mr. Silverbeam.  That is more true now than ever. I’ll take any that comes.  Go Mr. O’Hannigan. Get our guests settled.  With Mr. Silverbeam’s assistance I can hope to extract Sioubos At.  But Miss Woodson is not to wait.”

Liam saluted and headed to the group of people in the hall saying as he left, “Aye ma’am. But don’t go risking yourself for nought.”

Millicent said, “Not to worry, Liam. I never risk myself for nothing.”

Liam said in a low voice, “Not reassuring, Millicent. Not reassuring.”

The tall Millicent and much shorter Silverbeam made an odd pair as they entered the shuttle. The short man said, “I know you Uycarrans put so much into formality.  But if we are joining forces, I prefer Abu. We Tymbrimi are hardly formal.”

Millicent stopped in the bulkhead door and said, “You’ve decided already?”

The short man scratched an ear and said, “Smith made a convincing case. Besides, from my point of view, you are just coming to your senses.” He leaned against the wall, crossed his arms and said, “Some of us found your loyalty to your oppressors…odd, confusing. Perhaps a bit of time away from the Guild Hall gave you time to find a new history.”

Millicent stared at the wall ahead of her and said, “They raised me. Is loyalty so odd?” She looked out of the shuttle door to her ship and said, “I’ve grown attached to Earth.  Earthlings have humor and a certain earnestness that wasn’t in the Guild.” She looked back at Silverbeam and she said harshly, “Now, the Guild will destroy them and it has the temerity to demand my complicity.” She leaned back in on the wall and said, “And call me Millicent. When we are in transit, the crew does.”

Abu smiled and said, “So Millicent Morgaine’s eyes have cleared enough to align with pirates and slave traders?”

She squinted at him and then said, “I suppose that is the crux of the matter.” She looked down the hall where Sioubos At must be moving back and forth. She turned back to him and said, “England has this marvelous concept called ‘privateer’.  The crown hires a private ship to attack and pillage rival country ships. It asks for a tax in return.  Few questions are asked as long as the tax is paid and the right ships are attacked.”

Silverbeam said, “I like this planet of yours even more.”  He crossed his arms and squinted at her saying,  “But so we are clear…you’ve rationalized me. I just have to pay a fee – which I didn’t pay before.”

Millicent added with a wink, “And limit your attacks to Guild traffic.”

Silverbeam rolled his eyes then said, “We will have to get approval for which ships to attack?” He waved away the question,  “And the loot I give away…the taxes?” He made a face at the last word.

Millicent shrugged, “Ships and weapons will need to be upgraded. We may need to aid planets or stations.”

Silverbeam squinted at her and said, “Will you and Tuireann pay the same …taxes?”

Millicent laughed, “Oh it might be called something else, like commerce tax, but we will be paying all the same.”

Abu smiled, “You may find opposition to your thinking to that even among your kin.”

Millicent flashed anger saying, “What have you people been doing for the last hundred years? Having tea parties and Xerin matches?  We are talking about yet another planet set for destruction. Saving it doesn’t come cheap in money or in lives.”

Silverbeam leaned in and said quietly, “You may be Uycarran royalty but do not presume to lecture me.  You are the newcomer here. Starting an unwanted tax system and saying who and how we can profit is not going sway those of us who have been building support for decades.”  He leaned back and said, “So I become a ‘privateer’ being selective in who I chose to attack. How do you plan to square Sioubos At and his empire of planets?”

She leaned back and closed her eyes and said, “Nothing changes. I am hardly in a position to ask for Guild assistance in ending slave trading.”

Silverbeam said, “Will he be allowed to trade freely?”

Millicent said sharply, “Planets that have abolished slavery should have the right to exclude him and his services.”

Silverbeam said, “I doubt he does much business with them anyway.” He eyed her and said, “What about Earth?”

Millicent eyes snapped open and she clenched her fists.  Then she leaned back and said, “Sioubos At should honor trading with the registered finder of the planet until it declares. “

Silverbeam waved a hand and said, “And that is you.”

Millicent rubbed her eyes, “It is me and John Smith. He has the rights to certain continents on the planet.” She shook her head and said, “One of which is dominated by a country that still has slave trade – although a war is being fought over that now.”

Silverbeam leaned back whistled and said quietly, “You are desperate.”

She turned and looked out the door. “The potential is so great, they will be teaching us soon.  You’ve seen the engines. You’ve talked with the Guild.  The Guild will stifle it to preserve their places.”

Silverbeam shrugged and said, “They crushed the Uycarran for the same reason.”

Millicent turned and snapped, “Yes they did.  And if we Uycarrans can stop a second genocide maybe the first won’t feel so pointless.”  There was quiet and then Millicent straightened her shoulders and said, “Let’s figure out how I can placate the pertinacious  Sioubos At and convince him of my bad intentions. If I can’t do that, it seems we will be continuing to wait.”

Silverbeam put up and hand and stepped up. “Wait Millicent. Let me talk with him a bit. I may be able to grease the gears. “

Millicent squinted at him and said, “I’ll take what help comes. Where ever it comes from, Abu.” She waved her hand at the hallway and said, “Go…work your magic.”  Silverbeam strode up the hallway. Millicent resumed leaning against the wall.  She considered the passage, “?  ‘For what does it profit man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?’[1]”  Smith had made these choices carefully. Abu Silverbeam might be friendly enough, but he was driven by profit first and foremost.  But it was Sioubos At, the slave trader, that was truly challenging. The Guild’s failure to shut down slave trade had frustrated her for decades.  He and his network of planets had annoyed the Guild for years. His acceptance would be integral to an overthrow of Guild domination.

Sioubos At came gliding down the hall towards her followed by a grinning Abu Silverbeam.  Sioubos At glanced at her as he left the ship saying, “Silverbeam says you are willing to compromise.”

Millicent looked at the ceiling and said, “Smith controls two continents on Earth. Whatever deals you make with him, I will not contest.”  She then stared at him and said, “But if you interfere with my territories I will destroy you and your ships.”

Sioubos At paused at the door and said, “I will sign a deal with Smith. If you two bring down the Guild, that is to my advantage.”

Millicent nodded as Sioubus At continued his glide towards the main ship deck. Abu paused beside her and said, “I think we’re off to a good start.”

Millicent watched the receding monopede turn the corner at the door and then said, “What in the five galaxy arms did you tell him?”

Silverbeam looked at his fingernails and said, “I let him know I was interested in doing business with you and that you would prod Ciom Olo and the other timid players into action.  I also let him know how many ships me and my extended family has at our disposal  – all to be equipped with this marvelous drives.  And that I would hate for this little rebellion to interfere with his business.”

Millicent laughed.  Silverbeam said, “I may have forgotten to mention that whole ‘privateer’ discussion of ours.”

Return to Tau Ceti

Millicent listened as Eleanor took over the piloting of the ship.  She called out commands to Jason and Michael.  The dullness disappeared immediately.  Sioubos At groaned, “There must be a better solution.”

Millicent replied, “We can have you work with Charles and Camille to tune your nanites.  Simone Campbell is working on a permanent solution but we are going to need more data.”

Sioubos At grumbled, “Which you Uycarrans will profit from?”

Millicent smiled and said, “It is what we do. However, I can imagine early adopters of the drives getting a significant discount and a chance at early prototypes. “ Sioubos At just grunted.  Millicent said,  “Miss Richards, please contact the station and arrange our arrival. Also ask what the score of the Xenoball match.”

Felicity communicated the message and then came back “The Titans are ahead 48-21 in the third quarter. I can have Mr. McNeill relay the match to the galley if you would like …Mr. At.”

Sioubos At eyes went wide. Silverbeam pursed his lips and said, “I had a significant stake on the Swap Lizards.”  Millicent saw Greeneyes smile widely and lean over saying something to Liam who stifled a laughed.

Sioubos At gaped and then said, “How?”

Jason McNeill said, “We were outside of the universe…so it was stopped…to us. So we just took a trip to a neighboring star and came back. The time elapsed was the time we spent in normal space. “

Silverbeam smiled and said, “I think this will be quite useful to us, Millicent Morgaine. Welcome to the coalition.”

[1] Matthew 16:26