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The Ambassador, Chapter 15

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  • The Ambassador, Chapter 15

    The interview process was interesting in some respects. I've never done and interview before where the two folks doing it took turns going out and checking on a dog. We'd very intelligently scheduled both of the folks who watched Miss Rover to be somewhere that we couldn't take her along.

    It worked out. The temperatures were only in the middle 70's, and I managed to find a shady spot to park the truck. I left the windows about a third of the way down, and we took turns going out and checking on her. There was a nice breeze and it wasn't any warmer inside the truck than ambient air temperature.

    The interview itself went fine. The young woman was quite competent, had a decent sense of humor, and didn't appear to be terribly exciteable. She was also profoundly annoyed with her current employers, who had cut her back to 28 hours a week at the first of the year. I inquired about her needing to give them any notice, and she replied that when they had cut her hours, they eliminated that from her consideration. Part time help, in her opinion, was not required to give any notice. I couldn't see much to disagree with in that statement.

    She'd been making a flat $10/hour. I explained that we would be putting her on salary, which meant that there may be some times that she'd get to work a few extra hours beyond the normal 40, but that there would probably be ample compensation for that. I suggested a starting salary of $900/week and thought once again that I was going to get hugged on. We settled on that, and she indicated that she knew where we were located, and would show up there at seven in the morning.

    Heather and I went back to the shop, and Heather loaded up and went home. Allan and Ian were still at it, and Ian noted that Don was out back. I wandered out there to see what was happening before I got back into my stack of messages.

    Don's entire Security crew was out there with him. I got introduced around, and now had names to go with the faces, most of which I'd seen already. Don cautioned everyone that I was going to be a hard person to provide security for, because I thought of myself as a part of the Security force rather than the person being secured. I shuffled my feet, looked down at them, and announced “I'm a bad boy. I don't follow instructions very well sometimes.”

    Don commented that it wasn't that I didn't follow instructions well, but that I tended to follow the wrong ones. He added that when he told his people to spread out and cover, he didn't expect me to be joining in on the venture.

    We got off into discussing handguns, and someone inquired about my EAA. I offered to show it to him and asked where the clearing barrel was. He pointed me toward the back personnel door and I spotted it. I went over, unloaded, and came back. There were some looks being exchanged among the group. I handed the Witness over for inspection.

    Don made another announcement. “There you go, guys. You who were worrying about someone you were protecting being behind you with a handgun, think about what just happened there. He is careful, but don't start thinking of him as part of the crew. I made that mistake, and it got me fired.”

    I dryly noted that it had also gotten him re-hired before the firing could happen, so he was looking at a wash on that one. I added “For the record, Gentlemen. I will do my best to work with you while you do your job, but I do not default to hiding behind another person if the shooting starts. If it hits the fan, I'm going to react just like you guys do, although perhaps a bit more slowly. That means that I'll probably behind something solid with the safety off and returning fire if I have a clear field to do so in. I do promise that I won't shoot anyone on our side in the back.”

    Don was shaking his head again. “This is what I have to deal with. At least the rest of them are normal.”

    “Hold on there, my man. Keep in mind that you are running our internal Corporate security. We will still be hiring an external Security force. Before we hired you, who was doing internal security?”

    “You didn't have anyone. Except..........” He stopped right there.

    “Exactly. And I arranged for us to hire someone more competent than I am the first chance I got, now didn't I?”

    Don made a shooing gesture at me with the backs of his hands. “You ain't right.”

    “It has been previously remarked. But somehow, I persevere.”

    With that, we went back to comparing handguns for a while, then I reloaded and went back up front, spent an hour running down the message stack until I had it cleared out, took Rover for one last run, and headed back to the Motel.

    I got up Wednesday morning with that whole thing with the Lawyer nagging at me. I kept telling myself that he probably didn't have any connections with the Justice Department in the first place, and that even if he did, he couldn't get anything stirred up within the next couple of days. The more I kept telling myself that, the more worried about it I got.

    Rover was getting her run out in front of the shop when Allan and Ian pulled in. We went back inside with them and I tossed out a question. “How are we looking relative to the schedule?”

    Allan replied that we were doing good. We might in fact be a day ahead of the plan. Ian concurred with that, so I tossed my grenade in among them.

    “I really think that we need to move our departure up by 24 hours, and do it tomorrow instead of Friday.”

    They both said “Why” at almost exactly the same time.

    “Because Jefferson is a paranoid old fool. Alternately, it's because I can't quite manage to convince myself that that idiot lawyer can't possibly stir something up that would have the FBI or someone of that nature coming down on us in the next couple of days. I can't see it being a good chance that it'll happen, but I cannot convince myself that it's not a possibility. It would mess our plans over quite badly if it were to happen, so I figure that we play it safe and get out of here as soon as we can. I'd actually prefer today, but I don't think that we can swing that one.”

    Allan noted that he'd taken it to be hyperbole.

    “I'm trying my best to do just that, and can't quite get there. He'd clearly done some research. I'm not sure exactly how you guys are laundering our funds, but I know they are being laundered in some way, because we have all sorts of money. That means that you are selling something, probably gold or other metals, somewhere. That is going to leave a footprint, and I don't see the Feds believing me if I tell them it came from outer space. They might believe you guys, but it's still going to toss the whole plan into the crapper.”

    Ian and Allan exchanged a look, and Allan noted that they'd get back to me in an hour or so. I had a serious suspicion that there were going to be some AI's getting a serious workout in the meantime.

    Heather and her new replacement showed up about 30 seconds apart right then, and I introduced her to Allan, Ian, and Rover. Heather was cheerfully showing her the ropes, and I went and parked myself in the small conference room and worked down my messages while pretending to use my laptop.

    I'd been at that for about twenty minutes when Ian stuck his head in the door and announced that he needed to talk to Allan and I at once. We went into his office, and he said “Twenty three percent.”

    That went by me. “Twenty three percent what?”

    “Those are the odds that the AI's have assigned to us being visited by one or another of your Federal criminal agencies within the next 72 hours. The odds for today are less than one percent, but tomorrow goes up to nine. Assuming that that individual does in fact contact your authorities, the odds are better than even that we will be visited within a week from today.”

    “I was afraid of that. So, how soon do we leave?”

    “I've got the pick-up scheduled for about 9 this evening.”

    “Yeah. We best tell Heather and Don. I hope he's got the three guys he was going to bring along at least warned that they'll be taking a trip, because it's coming a bit sooner than we planned. I'll go get them.”

    There wasn't much going and getting involved. I opened the door to Ian's office and saw Don out talking to Heather and Kayla. I collected Heather and Don, and ushered them into Ian's office.

    Ian explained the situation, and blamed me for figuring out what was probably going to go on. Don said that he'd briefed his three daytime guys for a trip, and could reschedule it in about two minutes, but there was the question of how we were going to stuff them into a UFO if we didn't warn them first. Ian allowed that that would be handled before we left.

    I offered that everyone should pack for a week to ten days, although there would surely be laundry available if they ran short of clothing. Human type necessities other than clothing would perhaps be thin on the ground up there, though, and they should plan for that accordingly. We were probably not going to find OTC meds, personal hygiene stuff, or properly fitting shoes or hats, just for instance.

    Don sallied forth to prepare his people for an earlier than planned departure. Heather was simply delighted, and bounced out of Ian's office happily announcing that we were going to San Francisco. That was our cover destination, and I was pleased that she'd remembered it, and not said that we were going to Boston or somewhere.

    I meditated on the situation for about ten minutes, and announced that I was going to town to check out of the motel and pick some things up. I asked if anyone else needed anything. Heather started to say that she did, and then stopped and said she'd just go herself.

    I broke out laughing at that, because it was obvious what she needed, just from the way she approached it.
    Last edited by jefferson101; July 24, 2014, 21:01.
    Alle Kunst ist umsunst Wenn ein Engel auf das Zundloch brunzet (All skill is in vain if an angel pisses down the touch-hole of your musket.) Old German Folk Wisdom.

  • #2
    Re: The Ambassador, Chapter 15

    “Heather, make me a list. I've been married for 44 years, and buying feminine hygiene supplies doesn't bother me any more than buying toothpaste does. Just specify exactly what brand and style you need, and I've got it covered.”

    She did give me a list. The poor girl turned about three shades of red, but I was right.

    I did leave Miss Rover with Heather. I hate leaving her in the vehicle in the summer, even if it's not terribly hot. I don't want to give my doggie heat stroke. When forced, I've been known to leave the vehicle running and the A/C on for her. Every once in a while, someone questions me about that, wondering if I'm just asking to have my vehicle stolen. My reply is usually that I'll put her in the vehicle and start it up. If they can drive off in it, it's theirs. I had one guy go up to the door, but he decided that he didn't want to open it when he saw what he was going to get tied up with when he did.

    I ran by the motel, loaded my stuff up and checked out. Then I made a pass through the local Wal-Mart, just because I knew I could get everything I needed in one place, including some new socks. I went in, bought stuff, and left. I did grab another 200 rounds of .45 ACP and 100 of 9mm Parabellum, just because I could. I also had a burst of foresight and grabbed a Bunn coffeemaker, a half a dozen large cans of coffee, and several hundred filters.

    Arriving back at the shop at about a quarter to eleven, I noticed a strange vehicle in the parking lot. It was a blue Chevy Impala about five years old, so my alarms didn't go off regarding it being the law, but I was curious. We usually didn't get visitors out there.

    I quickly discovered what was going on. It was Heather's ex GFs' mother. She had only beat me in there by about two minutes, and was in the process of waxing indignant at Heather about having her daughter and her son both “Beaten up and arrested.” I poked Mike, and told him to message all our Security people to get to the front office, RFN. Heather had Miss Rover by the collar, and the dog seemed fairly interested in seeing what that particular woman tasted like.

    I yelled at her to shut up right in the middle of her going on about “....picking on a poor little old lady.” That set her back enough that I got ahead of her, and pointed out that I was an old man, and I didn't want to hear any more crap about her age, since she had never apparently developed mentally beyond about twelve or thirteen. I elaborated from there ad lib, since I really didn't care what I was saying or if I made any sense. I was just taking the wind out of her sails. I was really getting into it, though, and was still going on about the level of intelligence her children exhibited, and apples not falling far from the tree, and so on and so forth when Don and one of his help blew in through the back door and grabbed her by one arm each.

    She squawked and screamed vigorously, but she was about 5'5” and 200 pounds. Either of the guys outweighed her, and had at least eight or nine inches in height on her. They just lifted her up by her arms and removed her purse. Don handcuffed her, and the other guy opened the purse and announced “Gun”.

    Don looked at me questioningly, and I just jerked my thumb at the door and mouthed “Get rid of her”.

    She was winding up, but Don wound her back down. “Hey, look at this. A Hi-Point 9mm pistol! Wow. I'll bet we have a felon in possession of a firearm here. I think someone should call the Cops and have them come get her.”

    She started back in. “I didn't never sell no drugs. It was a bum rap, both times. They planted them on me.”

    I looked at her. “You have two choices, and you get to pick right now, and it's forever. You can leave here and never come back. You can never bother Heather again. If you will do that, we won't call the law. Otherwise, you can tell it all to the Judge and see if he's feeling sorry for you that day. Want to take the chance?”

    She noted that I couldn't threaten her. I replied that I was not threatening anyone, I was just stating the facts. I turned to Kayla at the desk and asked her if she would please call 911 and have the County come pick her up.

    She started screaming. “No. Don't. I'll leave.”

    I picked up her purse, took the Hi-Point out of it, and asked Don to uncuff her. He did. I handed her the purse and said “Go away. Do not ever come back, or else.”

    “You are stealing my gun!! You can't do that.”

    “Fine. I'll call the Law and they can get it. Or you can call them and tell them I stole it from you, if you want to. You are not getting it back, either way. Your call, lady. Or, on the other hand, you could have just sold it to me.” I dug out my wallet and stuck my last $100 bill into her purse.

    She called me several names, but she stomped out, got into her vehicle, and left.

    Don was stumbling over himself apologizing for not watching the front closer. He'd been prepping his people for the trip, and didn't have anyone on the cameras. They'd missed her coming in.

    I offered “There was no harm and no foul, but we could add it to the “Lessons Learned” column. Next time, have the meeting in the camera room, right?” He made a face and agreed. I offered that we all had stuff to get done, and that we might as well get cracking on it.

    The rest of the day and evening was uneventful. We got as many things lined out as we could, and sent Kayla home at 5 PM. I commented before she left that she had simple instructions for the next week or so. We'd gone to San Francisco for some Corporate things, and would be back in about a week. If anyone asked about anything else, she'd just started yesterday, and knew nothing. In case of visits by the News Media, the Law, or Lawyers or any other parasites, she should feel free to just stay home until we contacted her and told her it was safe, or when we came back. I put that in writing for her.
    Last edited by jefferson101; July 24, 2014, 21:07.
    Alle Kunst ist umsunst Wenn ein Engel auf das Zundloch brunzet (All skill is in vain if an angel pisses down the touch-hole of your musket.) Old German Folk Wisdom.


    • #3
      Re: The Ambassador, Chapter 15

      As soon as Kayla left, we had a little meeting with Don's selected security guys, and they got the word about the Karn.

      I didn't ask, but concluded that Don had qualms about someone, because he was standing behind his three guys when we assembled in the conference room. I took that as a hint, and parked myself and Miss Rover in the doorway.

      Don had it read right. Isiah just about went into panic mode. He was coming out of his chair and looking to clear the area when Don lit on his shoulders and shoved him back down into his chair. Don said very little. He told Isiah to focus, and deal with reality. That ended the problem. I'm glad he didn't get to the door, because he is bigger than I am, and way younger. Stopping him would have hurt.

      Isiah was announcing “I'm Ok, man, I'm Ok. You know you can't spring stuff like that on me. I can deal with most things, but don't pop a snake out of a can at me. You know that.”

      From there, all was well, and we set out to catch the last plane out.

      I wondered aloud what we were going to do with the vehicles this time, and got the answer that we were going to leave them right there for the time being. We'd get them later next week, when it was safe to do so. That worked for me.

      The swing shift and night shift Security guys had pretty much the same instructions Kayla did. Cover the place as best you can with five people, and if someone in authority intrudes, go home and hide. You are the night shift and you know nothing.

      We got everyone loaded in short order once we got to the shuttle. There were no bears around this time. Don and I were in his vehicle, behind everyone else, and we pulled right up to the end of the ramp. We ushered them all inside the shuttle, and strapped them into the seats in the conference room. I hit a seat when everyone else was strapped down and announced: "Well, this isn't the first time I've left town just ahead of the Cops. And we are good. Go, Go, Go.”

      We went.

      There was no notable bounce this time. Just a “click”, and there we were, looking down at a fairly small blue marble. They had turned a big monitor screen on in the Conference room, and we could see the Earth. We've all seen pictures, but just knowing that you were there? Heather was in awe. Don was doing just what I had done the last time, and taking it all in and taking it for what it was worth.

      Isiah, on the other hand, was asking if he could see a real window. Since I knew we had over an hour before we headed for the ship, I poked Mike and asked for a layout of the shuttle that included windows. They did have them, and I collected Isiah, and everyone else, escorted them to look out of one.

      I was kidding Isiah when we got there. “Here you go, Sir. No video, just a window. This isn't being Photoshopped.”

      He replied “I see it. But I fear the power of Satan, who can make me see what is not there.”

      I had to stick an oar in there. “Isiah, my brother in Christ, I believe that I know what you fear, and I fear the same things, but I've been here before, and I can find no evil in these people. They are like us, and all they want to do is live their lives and make a living. They have some things we don't, but they are not sent from Satan. I'm sure of that. Remember that Our Lord moves in mysterious ways, and always remember Jesus, and everything will work out fine. That's what I've been doing, and it's all been good for me. Pray for us, as I am, and do your job. We know Him, and He will keep us safe.”

      Most days, telling the truth is way better than not. It proved to be so this time too. Isiah first wanted to know if I was really a Christian.

      “If you call a Missionary Baptist a Christian, I am one.”

      I then discovered that Isiah had been raised in a Missionary Baptist Church. I probably wouldn't recognize a lot of the standard Service in his Church, any more that he would in mine, but I suspect that we have a whole lot of basic things in common. We talked about it for about a half hour, and he made note that he'd come a long way since Don had pushed him down into his chair a few hours and a hundred thousand miles and some spare change ago back in Wyoming. He also me feel a whole lot better about some things. I also felt a bit worse about some other ones, but that's not unusual for me. Jesus is still working on me, and he's not done yet.

      I felt fairly sure I'd made Isiah feel better. He announced that he was just going to Praise the Lord and do his job, which he was being sent to do by Jesus and his Angels. He actually seemed happy now, for the first time since we'd boarded, based on my observations.

      Once we got through that, I spent about ten minutes examining everything I'd said, and couldn't find anything in it that I'd take back or that I had reservations about, so I decided that I was also good to go. Besides that, I had a dog nudging me. I'd been ignoring her, and she was getting tired of it.

      I messed with the dog until the alarms sounded for the next transition, and strapped her in before I secured myself. One of the things I'd bought at Walmart this morning was a dog-restraint system for in a car. I figured that it'd work equally on a space ship, although so far we'd had extremely smooth transitions. I wasn't going to take chances with my puppy.
      Last edited by jefferson101; July 24, 2014, 21:16.
      Alle Kunst ist umsunst Wenn ein Engel auf das Zundloch brunzet (All skill is in vain if an angel pisses down the touch-hole of your musket.) Old German Folk Wisdom.


      • #4
        Re: The Ambassador, Chapter 15

        And there we were, on the ship. Being the only human being who had been there before, I was the reference person for the rest of our group. I wasn't sure that I was comfortable with that part, but I did know which end wagged and which end bit, and that was mostly what everyone else was looking for.

        We got through the airlocks, and found that we had a reception committee present. Someone's AI (Mike. You are a craphead, and I'm going to go back to calling you Hal!) had been feeding our adventures onto the public viewing bands. He'd not only succeeded in showing that the average Human member of their Board of Directors was not violent in any way that mattered, but that I had some profound insight into our culture and Government. It looked a whole lot like selective editing to me, and I have a thing about the Media being biased, even when it's biased my way, but there it was, and it made me look like I was actually competent, at a minimum.

        The only part I cared to see again was the one where Don and I went into Heather's house. It was a POV shot from me, and showed me pivoting about 30 degrees to keep my muzzle from crossing Don's back when we went inside. The recording clearly shows that I still had the safety on, but I still wasn't taking any chances. That meant something to me. The rest of it seemed to me to be depending on selective editing. I was there when it happened, and it looked a lot better as a recording than it did at the time.

        They dragged me up to a lectern, with Miss Rover at heel on her leash , and asked me to give a statement to the Stockholders. I split the difference between “noblesse obligue, and a demurral. I introduced myself and Miss Rover. I noted that I was glad that things were working out well. Then I pointed out Allan and Ian behind me, and went into some serious detail about them being the ones who had made it all happen. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. Those were the guys who had spent the best part of a year down there among the barbarians, and made everything go properly. They did it. Don't worry about me, because I just got started on all this stuff. They are the real Heroes here.

        It worked. Mike informed me about ten minutes later that my little address was a hit, but Allan and Ian were going viral. Everyone on the ship was checking them out.

        At least I got the right people the spotlight. My work for today was done.

        I escaped the lectern, anyway. I got back among the human group, and was getting a whole lot of questions. They didn't speak Karn, any more than I did, and they didn't yet have AI's to translate for them. All they knew is that I got up there and talked, and the crowd went wild.

        I couldn't say anything. I got Mike to message for some translation pads, and gave one to each of them, along with an earphone, so they could hear what went on. Our group listened to that while Ian and Allan were speaking, and giving a couple of encores each.

        Don came up for air first, and announced that I really scared him now. “What did you do to these people?”

        “I acted like myself. They apparently appreciate authentic grouches. Be it noted, though. I didn't have anything to do with being selected for my job. Their AI's did that part. I'm not going to pretend that it's a result of clean living and right thinking, but for whatever reason, they wanted a Human who thought like they did, and I was the number that popped up when they rolled their dice, or stirred up a random number, or however they did it.”

        Don announced that he didn't get it. Heather said that she didn't either, but she did think I was fairly together, for a man. Isiah raised a finger toward me, then waived it off. I looked at him and replied. “Yeah. They knew what they were getting as far as my beliefs, too, because I'm not terribly bashful about that part of my mindset, either. So much for Demons.”

        Isiah nodded. “You are making me feel better about it.”

        Heather wanted to know what we were talking about, and I grinned at her and said “It's guy stuff.” and left it at that.

        After the grand reception, we all got hauled off into a briefing/debriefing session. The consensus among the rest of the Board was that at this point, we were dragging our feet, and should just go ahead and go right and announce ourselves immediately, but they were deferring to the judgment of the folks on the ground, which really meant that the call was going to come from Allan, Ian, and myself.

        The three of us got our heads together. No. That's not correct. The three of us got our AI's together, and kicked it around. Ian was ready to go. I didn't see any reason to wait much longer, but was not going to say that someone who had a reason couldn't convince me otherwise. Allan was wanting two more days, for various reasons involving real estate and stock options, and I couldn't see any fault in waiting another 51 (Earth) hours, or two Karn days, before we blew the whistle on ourselves. I still had to go back down one more time anyway.

        This one was going to be difficult. I had to go to a United States Consulate or Embassy somewhere and turn in my Passport and renounce my Citizenship. That one was bugging me badly. I knew it was necessary, and I had no serious reasons not to do it, but it just hit me hard in a lot of spots that I seldom realized that I had. Being an American was about as much a part of my concept of my Self as my name was, and now I had to change that. It made good sense, but I still had moments when I wanted to go bang my head against a wall and get the whole idea to go away.

        That was my gut, though. My brain knew exactly what we were going to do. Tomorrow at about Noon, ship time, I was going to load up on a shuttle, and we were going to land outside Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

        We had done a lot of research on where was the best place. I say “we”, but I mean that the AI's had done it. We needed somewhere that we could land a shuttle out in the sticks, but with access to roads and transportation to get to a Consulate. Massive traffic was out, because we were going to keep the shuttle on the ground until I got back, and we had to be able to reasonably arrange ground transportation to and from the shuttle to the Consulate.

        Anyway, after Rush Hour on a weekday, Calgary looked the best, so that's where we were going. Everything was set up and ready, with residual back up transportation for all five legs of the trip. The trip had gone from two legs to five when it became apparent that the Feds might be looking for us. I was changing vehicles from a private car to a Taxi at a stoplight in the middle of Calgary, and doing it again on the way back.

        My passport even had a Canadian entry stamp on it, dated today. We were ready to go, and I'd written a letter to go with it, because I wasn't too sure I'd be able to come right out and say what I was doing. I would just hand that in and leave. Close enough for Government work, I figured.

        I was looking forward to getting some sleep, but was going to have to settle for a quick nap. Between the time difference and the transit time, it was morning here on the ship. I'd thought there was a bit of a large turnout for our reception, and it finally registered that it wasn't the middle of the night for anyone but us.
        Last edited by jefferson101; July 24, 2014, 21:25.
        Alle Kunst ist umsunst Wenn ein Engel auf das Zundloch brunzet (All skill is in vain if an angel pisses down the touch-hole of your musket.) Old German Folk Wisdom.


        • #5
          Re: The Ambassador, Chapter 15

          Some of Ian's people came and collected up the new arrivals. They were going to take them and our luggage and get everyone else settled in so they could get a few hours rest, and they'd get processed through Medical and get their AI's later this afternoon or early evening.

          I wasn't going to get off that easily. We had a Board meeting scheduled in an hour and a half, and Medical wanted to run me through a scan before I went to that, so that they could make sure that everything they planned to do to everyone else would work right.

          I handed Rover off to Heather, and noted that I'd catch up to them at some point today, but I wasn't sure when just yet. They loaded me up at the same time they did everyone else, and hauled me off in the opposite direction from a chance to get any sleep. I spent about 40 minutes getting scanned and getting another transfusion of micro-bots, then accompanied the Director back to the Board meeting.

          There were no formalities this time. We got there about the same time that Allan and Ian arrived, and there was a lot of happy back slapping and suchlike for a couple minutes, then the Chairman requested that the Board please assume their seats and come to order. We went through about two minutes more doing the Karn equivalent of waiving the reading of the previous meeting's minutes and passing on any old business before the Chairman asked Allan if he had a report for the Board.

          Allan noted that a lot of things were actually running ahead of schedule, and there were not any notable issues. He named off two or three things that needed some extra attention, in his opinion, but all of them were things that needed to be done from the ship end. He then announced that he thought we were running according to plan, and that he didn't have anything else.

          The Chairman then asked Ian for a report. Ian took about two minutes to note that he could see no threats that would preclude our moving to the L5 point as soon as we had made contact and let everyone know we were coming. I assumed I'd be up next, and I was right.

          I was called on, and noted that the groundwork that we were setting in place to begin trade with Earth was well ahead of schedule. (Thanks, Mike. I asked and was answered, so I didn't have to hedge or just make things up.) I noted that our plans for establishing relations with various Earth Governments was pretty well formed, but that it was of necessity just an outline, and would surely have a lot of changes made on the fly as it progressed. I tossed out a question to the Board about how they wanted to handle the first direct contact, and requested that they designate which Board members would be involved, and wound it up at that. I got the equivalent of a big thumbs-up from both Allan and Ian through Mike when I wound up, so I assumed I'd done it right.

          It took the rest of them about ten minutes of discussion to officially appoint Allan, Ian, and I as the official representatives for the first official Karn landing on Earth. Having gotten that over with, we were given a couple of things to take under advisement for the next meeting, and we adjourned. We went through another round of being congratulated individually by the other Board members, and started drifting toward the door.

          Ian snagged me on the way out, and noted that I'd nailed it with the motion to have the Board appoint which of the members would be the official delegation. He and Allan had been chosen a good while back, but I had never been officially selected, and I had not just assumed that it was my place, but officially requested the Board to act. I didn't even nominate myself for a position.

          I noted that I thought it was just common courtesy. If we were a team, I was going to be a team player. The Chief Engineer had sneaked up behind me while Ian and I were talking, and heard enough of it to know what we were talking about. He stuck himself between Ian and I, and announced that he was happy to note once more that they'd made a good choice when they picked me.

          I thanked him, and he headed on. Ian pointed me to a sled when we got through the door, and told me that it was my ride to my quarters. He speculated that I probably needed some rest, noted that he did too, and said that he'd see me again around evening. I agreed, and went over to the sled he'd indicated and inquired if it was my ride. The driver confirmed that it was, so I got on and off we went.

          We drove into a vehicle elevator and ran up through eight cubes, if my count was right. We then drove off and ran level through four more cubes, then rode another elevator up through five more, and stopped on the first level of the sixth one.

          The driver informed me that this was one of the cubes they were preparing for Human residence, and that everyone else had been placed in their quarters. He pulled up in front of a fairly impressive large building and announced that this was my residence. I inquired if everyone else was in there, since I assumed it was a transient quarters or some such, and he pointed out the buildings that everyone else was in. This one was my personal residence.

          I walked up to the door, and when I got about 10 feet from it, it opened. I quickly discovered that I had a two person Karn staff who would be there for cooking, cleaning, maintenance, and just whatever else I might think I needed. I was given a tour of the place, and found that they'd planted me in something of a mansion. It had three levels, which totaled about 9000 square feet, by my estimate. Mike picked up on that and informed me that it was actually 9840 square feet. The front faced the perimeter road , and the cube had no buildings in it other than around the outside of the road. The interior area was grass and trees, with roads or trails wandering around through it. The back of my building opened into a flipping formal Garden, with a fountain, trees, and flower beds. At least they hadn't put any statues in there. It was about 100 yards square, and I figured it'd be enough room to run the dog in, and then some.

          I inquired of Mike where Heather had been quartered. He did an excellent imitation of a GPS, and directed me to her front door. I knocked, and a Karn answered. I inquired if Miss Collins was still up and about. As it developed, she was, but before her Butler, or Maid, or whatever could announce me, Miss Rover noted my arrival, and came barreling out to see me.

          I talked with Heather for about ten minutes. She was still grinning hugely, and completely in awe of where she was. I was enjoying seeing that much happiness in one place, but I noted that she had a trip to Medical scheduled for later today, I had appointments later, and we all needed some rest. I took my leave and went back to my new home, accompanied by the dog.

          Rover got busy checking the place out, and seemed impressed. For whatever reason, she didn't pay much of any attention to the Karn. They apparently didn't register to her as any kind of threat, and she was content to go her way and let them go theirs. I told them that she could be a bit touchy on occasion, and that it would be best if they just let her do whatever she chose to do. If she did anything that was damaging or destructive they should contact me, but otherwise just leave her be. They agreed, and I headed for a bedroom.

          There was one that I'd identified as such simply because it had a human style bed in it. I went in, and noted that my luggage had been deposited in there, so I'd guessed right. I ushered Rover inside, closed the door, and set my alarm AI for a three hour nap.

          Once more, Rover beat Mike to the punch by about a quarter of an hour. There was something going on that she didn't like, and she wanted me to wake up and check it out. She has ways of getting me to wake up, and they include standing on my chest and licking my face between barks, if it comes to that. There will be no sleeping until the dog is appeased, and given that she normally is not inclined to get worked up over just anything, I don't do much to discourage her from getting my attention if she wants to do so.

          This one was a false alarm caused by being in a strange place, and having the help moving some furniture on the next floor up from us. I could barely hear it when I woke up, but it was a strange sound, and Rover didn't know what it was, so her job was to make me aware of it, and she did her job. For that matter, she was not only in a strange place, but was not used to upper floors. I suspect that she was interpreting the sound as being on the roof.

          Since I was awake anyway, I took her and a tennis ball out back and ran her for twenty minutes or so. We got that out of the way, then went back into the kitchen. I rooted around and managed to find something that resembled sandwich meat, and something else that looked to be close enough to bread to serve. I put together a very basic sandwich and ate it. The meat was closer to venison than it was to beef, but it was quite edible. The bread had a strange texture and tasted like sunflower seeds, but it worked well enough that I put a second sandwich together. About that time, one of the help came in and announced that he would be pleased to fix me something if I would only ask.

          I apologized for not asking, and noted that I'd just wanted a quick couple of bites anyway. I then went upstairs to the bedroom and brought the bag with Rover's food, treats, and toys back down to the kitchen. I had her dishes in there also, so I proceeded to feed and water her.

          I got interrogated about how to handle the dog's dishes. I noted that the food dish could be washed when it got empty, which would be in about three or four minutes, and that the water dish should be kept full and washed every couple of days.
          Alle Kunst ist umsunst Wenn ein Engel auf das Zundloch brunzet (All skill is in vain if an angel pisses down the touch-hole of your musket.) Old German Folk Wisdom.


          • #6
            Re: The Ambassador, Chapter 15

            I sat down at the table, which was also human style. It was round, and was probably the first circular object, other than wheels, that I'd ever seen on the ship. Everything from dishes and glasses on down the line was square or rectangular. I got to musing on that and Mike picked up on it and filled me in. It was a ship thing, and pretty much involved all spacegoing vessels. Square or rectangular things were easier to stack and store without wasted space back when room had been an issue, and the traditions had been kept alive. It wasn't some kind of rule or anything, but it was a serious habit.

            I got to doing stuff out of my message queue, and was wandering around while doing it. I realized that I'd like a cup of coffee, and I probably had the only coffee and coffeemaker on the ship, so I got it all out and staged it up in the kitchen. The only problem was power. I had an adapter/converter thing stuffed in one of my bags, but I didn't think it had any plugs on it that would adapt to Karn standards. I dug it out and proved myself correct. I inquired of Mike, and was informed that their domestic power supplies were either run from batteries via transmission through the air, or involved about 140 volt DC current. It didn't seem as if I was going to get the Bunn plugged in.

            I inquired of my staff how one went about working the stove. It was obviously a cooktop, and had a door that clearly contained an electric oven underneath it, but I didn't know how the switches worked. Rather than ask Mike and hurt someone's feelings, I asked them, and let them boil me up about a quart and a half of water.

            I took the pot off of the Bunn, removed the plastic top from it, and put the filter basket onto the top of the pot. I put coffee in a filter in the basket, and poured the water through it. Presto, coffee. I was furnished with a square mug without a handle, but I could deal with that part, and the coffee was exactly what I needed.

            While working on my second cup, I took the dog back out for another run. When I got back inside, there was a third Karn there. My domestic staff had called engineering and told them I needed an electrical connection for some strange human device. He was looking at my adapter/converter when I came back in.

            We discussed what wattage and voltages the adapter would handle, and I told him what the output should be for the coffeemaker. Mike helpfully converted all the numbers to Karn standard at first, and the Tech's AI got it all researched in about two minutes, and he announced that he was going to get it all connected up.

            I offered that I would appreciate him getting it right the first time, because that was the only coffeemaker within several million miles, and I didn't want him to let the magic smoke out of it. Mike blipped me on the word “magic”. He could only give me a 60% match in translation. I told him to call it scientific smoke, then.

            That went right by the engineering guy, which I should have expected, but it allowed me to explain the Scientific Smoke theory of electronic equipment function to him.

            I explained that it was an old Earth legend that when electrical equipment was built, it contained a volume of scientific smoke, which circulated around inside the wiring and circuitry, and that it was what made the whole thing work. If something went wrong, and the smoke escaped, the electronic stuff would never work again.

            I guess he liked it. He laughed a fair amount, anyway. He assured me that the scientific smoke in the Bunn would be safe, and proceeded to plug it in. I filled it with water, and nothing acted strangely, so I had high hopes that we were good to go. He got his equipment back together and went on.

            I sat down and had another cup of coffee while beating through more of my messages. After about an hour, Mike informed that Heather was headed my direction. I went out the front door and met her on my front walk. Rover came along, although I did leash her before we got out the door. She was just checking in. She had an appointment with Medical in about an hour, but that was only supposed to last about an hour and a half, and she wanted to know when I would need her to take back over with Miss Rover. We were standing there talking when Don came up. He was in the next building on the other side of me.

            It developed that he had an appointment with Medical in an hour also. I asked Mike, and confirmed that they all did. They were going to run them all through simultaneously. I noted that when they got their AI's installed, contact would be a lot easier, also.

            We continued to discuss this and that, and over the next fifteen minutes, Isiah and the other two guys drifted up. The conversation mostly concerned how impressed they were with the ship and the accommodations, but somewhere along the line someone regretted the lack of coffee.

            I explained that I had that part under control, and immediately had five people invite themselves to come see me as soon as they got through at Medical. The consensus was that they would be coming to see me tomorrow morning for breakfast, also.

            Their transportation showed up about then, and they were off. I noted that I'd have coffee made when they got back, and that they were to just get off here and come on up. I ran some numbers, and decided that ten plus pounds of coffee would hold five people for a week to ten days without any issues, and concluded that I was either going to be hosting everyone a lot or would have to give the coffeemaker away. Occasionally, foresight is it's own punishment, or would be if I ever got to the point where I didn't want to be bothered first thing in the morning.

            I got a message from Allan about then. He and Ian would appreciate it if I would join them for dinner before the Board meeting this evening. I had Mike reply that I would gladly do so. That would be in about another two hours, so I went back inside and got showered and shaved. I laid a suit out for dinner and the Board meeting, and about then it occurred to me that there was one thing I needed to do for the rest of the humans. I arranged for the delivery of Karn beer and a selection of minatures of some of their liquors to each residence, along with a note from me saying that they might want to try some of these while we were having a little down time.

            I took the dog for another run, which should be enough for her for the day. She'd always do more if given the chance too, but I figured that if Heather wasn't into running the dog much this evening, the dog would at least not be bouncing off the walls with excess energy. We wandered around the back yard in the course of events, and I discovered that I was wrong in my earlier presumption. In the center of an arc of some kind of flowering shrubs I found a sculpture. Then again, I remembered distinctly thinking “statues”, not “sculpture”, so maybe I hadn't been wrong. This was modern Art stuff. Three loops of polished stone, all interconnected like a small set of Olympic rings, but deformed at the top and sides. The stone had a yellow-green hue which didn't connect as any kind of rock I'd ever seen. It was about five feet high at the center, which was the highest point.

            I've seen worse. I could live with it. I wasn't sure how my wife was going to take it, though. I'm never sure how my wife is going to take some things. I'd expected a massive amount of grief over getting her stashed in a Company owned house over in Utah, but she'd taken that part fairly well.

            I use the term “house” loosely in regard to that place. It's not quite a mansion, and it's on a working Ranch, with a staff of five people, but three of them do Ranch stuff, and the other two are staff for the “big house”. I haven't gotten any major complaints yet, but I'd not talked with her in a day and a half.
            Last edited by jefferson101; July 24, 2014, 21:56.
            Alle Kunst ist umsunst Wenn ein Engel auf das Zundloch brunzet (All skill is in vain if an angel pisses down the touch-hole of your musket.) Old German Folk Wisdom.