No announcement yet.

The Ambassador, Chapter 19

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • The Ambassador, Chapter 19

    My canine alarm system went off at about 0400. She was having the same time change issues that the rest of us were, although hers' were mitigated by the fact that she wasn't above taking naps whenever the opportunity presented itself. Her system, on the other hand, was still more or less on ship time, and she was making it very clear that she was due and somewhat overdue to go visit a patch of grass.

    I got dressed and sallied forth to confront the day.

    Downstairs, it was pleasant to find out that our Security people on the night shift had coffee made. It was even a fresh pot. All we had were styrofoam cups, but the refrigerator had an icemaker in it, and it was functioning, so I threw a cube into the coffee to get it down to drinking temperature.

    While the dog attended to her dog stuff, I started making a list. We needed to get some serious shopping done. First off, food. My first instinct when installing someone in an apartment with a kitchenette would be that they would be on their own as far as feeding themselves went, but I was a Karn now, and basic meals and housing were included if you were a member of the Corporation, so I'd have to set up some kind of cafeteria.

    Another good idea would be to get some foodstuffs shipped down for them. Having spent about a week trying to live on their food, I knew that it would keep you nourished and all that, but it wasn't what I had been used to, and there were some things that I was really starting to miss even after a week. Experiments with new food is great once in a while, but doing it all the time starts wearing thin fairly fast. So, not only lay in stocks of food, but get Karn food down from the ship.

    We needed everything. Bedding. Pillows. Dishes, utensils, and cookware. Towels and washcloths. TP seemed to be kind of thin on the ground, too. I needed to look into a laundry service, too. And a janitorial service. We really needed designated cooks, or to hire someone for that job also. And so on, and on.

    By the time I'd finished my coffee and the dog got ready to go back inside, I had a substantial list. About the time we got back inside, I had another one of my moments of clarity. I realized that I was thinking like a grunt again, instead of like a Manager.

    While pouring another cup of coffee, I asked Mike if any of the Karn who were assigned here were supposed to fill any of those positions. Naturally, over half of them were. They were just waiting for some to tell them what to do, and provide the stuff with which to do it. Just like that, I had half the battle already won.

    As far as the second half, I requested that Mike do some research for me, and find out how all the other Embassies in NYC got their larders replenished. I know full well that most of them didn't do their own shopping. They got deliveries, so someone was surely in the business of doing that sort of thing. Mike filled me in about a minute later. There were indeed businesses who handled that sort of thing, and he had their telephone numbers. This was getting easier all the time.

    The next step was to find out who was in charge of the staff people that we had in hand. Mike informed me, and I sent him a message, to be delivered at his normal start time for work. I wanted to get with him and discuss getting all this lined out. I had a list all made up for him to start on.

    We also needed to hire a human for him to delegate about three quarters of this sort of thing to in the future, but that one was on me, or our UN Ambassador, or whoever. I was still trying to figure out why we hadn't just brought him along when we came back here from the UN Building, but we hadn't. I asked Mike, and was informed that he'd gone back to the ship so as to be unavailable for a few days, just to avoid all the nusances who would be descending on him until we could get him a staff set up to run his office at the UN Building.

    That made sense to me, although I wondered why I hadn't taken the same route. I also found that we'd already hired a Building manager and a Food Service supervisor. The food service woman was supposed to arrive at work at 0800 this morning, and the Building manager (Maintenance, Janitorial, Laundry, and Grounds.) would be starting next Monday.
    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 19

    That left me down to the issue of what we were going to feed everyone this morning. We had human breakfast foods, and could easily get more, but in my experience, the one area where human and Karn tastes were not at least reasonably compatible was in the area of breakfast foods. Mike clued me in again. The Karn had brought about a week's supply of their version of MRE's for everyone. At least I was not going to face an angry mob wondering where their food was this morning.

    While I'd been doing all those mental exercises, I'd managed to wander back up to my apartment and get cleaned up and dressed. I needed to get some more clothing, but I figured someone would sell me some. I was about to get Mike to scare me up some addresses when it hit me that I didn't know if we had any transportation available here. It turned out that we did not have any vehicles yet. I spent a minute or so griping at myself about overlooking that one when I had another one of those moments of clarity.

    I said to myself. “Dude! This is New York City. They have Taxicabs here and everything.” You can take the boy out of the country, but it sometimes takes a while to get the country out of the boy.

    Rover and I had made our way back downstairs and I was sampling a fresh pot of coffee when Don showed up. I inquired how we were looking for Security people, adding that I thought we'd be needing some as quickly as we could have them available.

    He wanted to know why, so I explained that we were going to be getting the best part of a shuttle full of stuff down from the ship as soon as I could get the list together of what they needed to be sending. I figured on having the list to them by the end of the day today, and that I hoped to get it all brought down tomorrow. We'd be wanting some Security folks around for all of that.

    He told me to talk to Isiah, because he was in charge of transportation security. I corrected him on that part. “No. Isiah works for you. You tell him to get with me, and we have stayed inside the chain of command. You don't want me giving your people instructions. Completely apart from anything else, if something does fall into the pot when we're both present, you don't want them confused about who they are supposed to be listening to, now do you?”

    He flipped me off, and then grudgingly admitted that I was right. “The problem is, I'm not sure they wouldn't listen to you anyway.”

    “That's 'cause I got that charisma thing going for me. Hopefully, I'll retain enough sense not to be giving instructions anyway, but one can never be sure until it happens, right?”

    He just shook his head and tasted his coffee.

    I changed the subject, and suggested that he could assist me with getting a list of foodstuffs together, because we had our new Cafeteria supervisor coming in at 0800, and I was wanting to give her a list of our preferences. We were only going to be feeding two dozen humans or so here, as opposed to several times that many Karn, so I figured on giving out some guidelines regarding our menu preferences.

    I also noted that anything else he needed he should get listed out, because we were going on an acquisition spree for the next four or five days until we got the place properly equipped. I asked if he needed any more vehicles.

    He replied “We'll need a couple. I could use one, but I've already got it, if I ever get back to Wyoming to pick it up.”

    “I'm going to get mine either hauled or driven out here as soon as I can get around to it. We'll get yours at the same time. Heather's also, if she wants it. Some folks get a bit nervous about driving around these parts.”

    Don noted “I get nervous driving here too, but I can deal with it.”

    “I can't say that I ever have driven in New York, but I've done Houston, LA, San Francisco, and DC. It can't be any worse than those are as long as you stay out of the big old middle of it all. I am not driving into Manhattan unless I really seriously have to.”

    We went on for a couple of minutes comparing notes on bad traffic. He claimed that the 5 was the worst, and I maintained that it had nothing on the Katy on a bad day. I got interrupted by Mike. The Chief Cook and Bottle Washer for the Karn contingent was up and about, and going on duty, and he was receiving my message. He replied immediately that he was on his way. I looked outside the kitchen area, found the first available office, and appropriated it. I messaged him to meet me there. I excused myself from Don, and went into the office and sat down. Rover decided that she wanted to be under the desk.
    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 19

      The Staff Supervisor arrived. I got him seated, and explained what I was trying to get organized as far as getting the supplies in hand to get this place functioning properly. I asked that he get up a list of things he needed to get his job done. I also asked that he make a list of foodstuffs that he and the rest of the Karn here would be wanting. I noted that while we wanted to subsist off of the local economy as much as possible, there were going to be things that everyone would miss that we could not obtain here, and we'd be getting that sort of thing sent down from the ship on a relatively regular basis.

      He agreed that Earth type foodstuffs had some positives, but that he didn't want to try to live on it all the time. He also agreed that there were a lot of things we needed.

      “Yeah. Everything. When you are making your list, don't forget to ask for the proper equipment for your people. You will need your own kitchen implements and tools, as well as dishes, glasses, cups, mugs, utensils, and suchlike. I'm sure human mops and brooms and suchlike aren't going to fit you really well. Furniture, also. Ours isn't quite right for you, any more than yours is right for me. You'll want your own couches instead of human type beds. That's probably not half of it, but you get the idea. Get me your initial list this afternoon some time, and I'll try to get it onto a shuttle and down here tomorrow.”

      We discussed it all some more, but he had an assignment now, and was happy. He assured me that he would message me his list before 1500 today.

      I was on a roll. I had designs on summoning up the Consular staff and putting them to work, but I stepped out to get some more coffee first, and was informed that breakfast was going to be served in about three minutes. Heather and Isiah were there, and the latest unofficial meeting of the unofficial Square Cup Coffee Club was unofficially called to order.

      Scott and Curly had either volunteered to cook or had been drafted. We had hash browns, bacon, and huevos rancheros. Real toast. They were distributing Orange Juice, but I don't drink that stuff, so I had to make do with coffee.

      Isiah noted that Don had told him that he needed to get with me about some shipment we had coming in, so I explained that we were going to get a shuttle full of stuff as soon as I could arrange for it. I also noted that I wasn't sure when it was going to be arriving, since I hadn't requested anything yet, but I was shooting for tomorrow sometime, and it'd probably involve several Semi trucks full of stuff, if I had my way. I added that I'd keep him posted on how much we had coming, and how many vehicles it was going to take to move all of it.

      He wanted to know what all would be arriving, so I elaborated.

      “Mostly furniture, probably. Food, dishes, cookware. Household goods, primarily, but we are going to be getting some sensitive stuff too. Electronics, security stuff we can't get here, and a powerplant, for starters. The power plant is going to weigh about eight tons. Shielding equipment to cover the whole building, which is a big reason I want the power plant in here on the first shipment. There will be a fair amount of stuff that we'll want real security for, and not just to keep someone from stealing our silverware.”

      Isiah replied “Got'cha covered. Let me know when.”

      I asked Heather if she could wrangle the dog for a while, because I was planning on calling a staff meeting here just shortly, and the dog didn't need to attend. She suspected that she could handle that part, so when we finished breakfast and got the normal morning visiting over with, she took Miss Rover along with her.

      After tracking down a conference room, I had Mike summon the Consular Staff. There were no chairs or table in the Conference Room, but I didn't plan on this taking all that long, so I went ahead and held a stand-up meeting. All eleven of them arrived within three minutes.

      We first went through what they were working on now. Other than a couple of them who were in contact with the UN regarding office space there and suchlike stuff, the basic answer was “not much”, so I put them to work. I wanted them to get into contact with the State Department or Foreign Ministry of the five UN Veto powers, plus Germany. I wanted them to arrange further consultation to discuss the exchange of Diplomatic Recognition, and I wanted them to make it clear that representatives of the Karn, probably including myself, would be arranging to visit them to finalize everything when we had the basic framework in place.
      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 19

        I cautioned that this was not some kind of rush project. I did not want to be flying off to a half dozen countries next week. They were to take their time. If there seemed to be any particular questions or issues, they were to arrange for some of our Diplomats to go and sit down with their people to work them out, or conversely anyone who wanted to do so could send their people here. We just needed to get things moving in the right direction, because I wanted the various Governments to see something happening. They were impatient, and movement would settle them down. We got that lined out and I sent them back to work.

        I wandered back into the kitchen just in time to observe the entrance of our new Food Service supervisor. Her Karn opposite number was escorting her, and she was in the middle of throwing a moderate fit.

        “...and look at this. Cheap pans like that will wind up scratching the cook-top. Nobody wiped it down, there are dirty dishes in the sink, and I'm sure those spots on the counter are raw egg. That's unsanitary, and I won't have it in my kitchen. Someone left that package of paper plates out, too. And plastic utensils? If that's what we are using around here, I probably better go somewhere else, because I can't abide this.”

        I don't think she'd heard me come in, but she saw me when I wandered over to the coffee pot and poured myself a cup. She started right back in on me.

        “Are you responsible for this mess? If you are, we have to get some things straight. I won't have people wandering into my kitchen and messing it up.”

        I looked her straight in the eye and said “I'm going to make a couple of comments here, and then you might want to consider backing up and starting over. I'll let you do that. Once.

        First off, yes. I'm as much responsible for this mess as anyone is. We walked in here last night and there was nothing. No cookware, no food, no dishes or silverware, no flipping nothing. We're feeding six humans right now, which would be myself, four of our senior Security staff, and one secretary. None of us are the Cook, either. We have other jobs. We made do. I was given to understand that you were hired on Tuesday. Where exactly have you been since then? It's obvious you haven't been here.

        Second, and for the record, it's not your kitchen. It's our kitchen. We've hired you to run it for us, but if that's somehow a problem for you we can conclude that we've made a mistake and find someone else.”

        She started to get really swollen up about that, and thought better of it. She just asked “Who might you be?”

        “I might be the guy in charge. Ask anybody.”

        She did that. She turned to the Karn and asked “Who is this guy?”

        The Karn was holding a tablet, which was doing his translating for him. He spoke, and the tablet translated “This is our Director of External Affairs. He is the person in charge, truly.”

        She started backing and filling at high speed. I had her pegged now. She was one of those who will abuse the help when she thinks she can get away with it. I really wanted to have her escorted back out onto the street and send her on her way, but we did need someone to handle the kitchen, and she came fairly highly recommended. I decided to wait a while and see how things fell out.

        I stopped her again. “I told you we'd start over. We are now going to do that. There is a cleaning crew scheduled to be through here in a short while. Beyond that, we obviously need a whole lot of stuff to outfit this kitchen, and I was hoping that you could recommend the proper things. Keep in mind that we are starting from scratch here, so we'll need everything from dishrags to Stock Pots, and anything in between there. If you can get a list together and give it to him, (I gestured toward the Karn Chief Cook), we'll try to have it in here by this afternoon. You might want to go with a basic list for starters, and expand out from there over the next couple of days. We're only feeding six human type folks right now, but that will probably increase over the next week or two. The Karn will be needing to use the facilities also, but I'm not sure what that involves either. You two will need to get that part worked out between yourselves.”

        I left it with them at that point, and stomped off to the office I'd expropriated and shut the door.

        I yanked Mike's chain, and started finding out who was doing our hiring. I got their number, and then lobbed off a message to my Staff on the ship. I wanted “Name” who was my Chief of Staff on the ship, down here on the next shuttle headed this way, and he was to bring about four reliable folks with him. I was not going to get myself bogged down in the personnel issues of every Embassy we opened, and I was going to hand the job off to someone who could either do it himself or delegate it to his help. Then I pulled up our new Cafeteria supervisor's resume.

        I had been fairly suspicious, but my suspicions were confirmed. She was highly recommended, all right. Highly recommended by people who approved of her “healthy locavore” menu. I could see how well this was going to go over with the group she was supposed to be feeding by tonight. I concluded that I'd let that one play out as it would and go from there, since I had said we'd start over, but I figured I'd have a smoking gun tonight at dinner time.
        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 19

          I then called the employment agency we'd been using. I explained who I was, and asked to talk to their boss. I was informed that he was unavailable, but if I'd leave a number, they would call back..I gave them a number that would reach Mike, and asked about when I could expect a return call. They couldn't possibly say. OK. That's strike 1.

          I messaged the Chief Cook, and was halfway through dictating my question when he messaged me with the answer. I hadn't even sent the question yet. He had contacted one of the services that handled provisioning and suchlike for a fair number of the Embassies in town. They were quite willing to take us on, but needed someone to come down and sign some papers and arrange payment. I messaged him back and told him that I was on the case, and called them to tell them I was coming. I then summoned a cab, and went over there.

          They seemed like decent people. Their markup was ludicrous, and they tacked delivery charges on top of it, but they did provide 24/7 service. If I ran out of Champagne at 2300 on New Year's Eve, they'd be there with more before Midnight. I signed off on their basic contract, gave them my credit card and told them to bill AmEx for whatever we got, and then started in giving them a list, since I was there anyway. I got good steaks, and good ham, and good chops and pork loin. I got some hamburger too, and bread, rolls and buns. I got fresh and frozen veggies of various sorts, some fruits, salad fixings, dressings, lunch meats, potatoes, and pretty much whatever went through my head, including a couple of boxes of breakfast cereal, just in case someone wanted some. I tossed on some coffees, teas, and a case of hot chocolate, just in case. I added some creamers, and flavored creamers, all from real cream, mind you. I noted that I'd be arranging to get fresh bread deliveries made on an everyday basis, and probably some milk. Most everything else could come in weekly unless we did a special order.

          I asked if the had glassware, plates, utensils and such. They didn't, but they had a catalog and could pick it up on the way with the food. They had another catalog for linens and suchlike that included bedding and pillows. I ordered a service for 24 of your basic diner style white china, including glasses, coffee mugs, and flatware to go with it all. I ordered sheets, pillowcases, and bedspreads. I topped the order off with ten cases of good beers and two cases of assorted liquors and a couple of dozen bottles of wine. I then apologized for bothering them with such a small order, but noted that we were just getting moved in. I speculated that things would be picking up in the fairly near future.

          I thought I was finished and started to leave, then it hit me that I didn't have any coke on the list, so I added two cases each of Coke, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, and 7-Up. I then beat feet out of there before I thought of anything more, and caught a cab back to the Embassy.

          There were three cop cars and an FDNY ambulance in front of the place when we got there, so I got out a block up the street and walked back. A cop tried to stop me about halfway there, I waved my Karn “Passport” at him and announced that he was keeping me from access to my Embassy. He looked at me, looked again, and apparently recognized me, because he said he was sorry, proclaimed “Right this way, Sir!” and escorted me up to the door.

          Someone had figured out where we were at. Four people, three men and a woman had come up the street waving signs protesting the evil Aliens. When they got about 50 feet from the corner of the building, one of them had pulled out a Molotov cocktail and was in the process of lighting it when our outside Security, which had been Curly, had come over and knocked it out of his hand. He dropped his Zippo when he dropped the Molotov, and it went up in a fireball which included him. Curly had been trying to put the burning guy out when the other three jumped on him. Scott had gotten out the door and arrived about the same time they did. The end result of it all was that they were loading two of them (The burned one and one with a broken arm) into the ambulance. The other two were in handcuffs on the sidewalk, and both looked somewhat the worse for wear. The female looked to have a broken nose.

          Curly was annoyed. “I feel bad. I really do. I didn't know it was a girl when she jumped on my back. I just reached back and whacked her in the face. If I'd known it was a girl, I'd have just peeled her off and put her down somewhere. I didn't set out to hit a girl.”

          I swatted him on the back. “It ain't no thing. You couldn't tell. It could have happened to anyone.”

          Don looked annoyed, and he particularly looked annoyed at the Cop he was talking to, I wandered over and stuck my big nose right in the middle of it. “What's up, Officer? Don?”

          They both started to tell me, but Don stopped and let the Cop keep going. The word was apparently out as to who I was, because he just answered me without any bluster about why I wanted to know. “It goes like this. It's a clean case, but I've got a problem with these private Security folks you are using. They tend to get carried away, and it'd be a shame if I had to bust some of them for doing that.”

          I smiled at the Cop. “I was afraid it would come to something like that eventually. I held out for just bringing along a couple of platoons of Karn Marines, but I got outvoted. They don't do hand to hand combat, but they would be Embassy Staff and have Diplomatic immunity, so if they shot someone who was attacking the Embassy it wouldn't be a big deal, right? Have you seen the guns they use. Look at this.”

          I pulled my tablet out and had Mike display a picture of a Karn wire gun while I pretended to poke some buttons. I turned the tablet to the Cop so he could see the picture. “These shoot a .315” diameter chunk of that wire you see on the coil there. It's about an inch long per shot, and they tend to tumble. They make some big holes, I can assure you. I've got to tell you, Sergeant, the Karn are pretty serious law-and-order types, and they also have a strong cultural mindset about the whole “Castle Doctrine” thing. If you attack their home, you are going to have a fight on your hands from them, and as I noted, they don't believe in hand-to-hand combat.”

          He sputtered. I let him have it again.

          “What I'm telling you, Sergeant, is that if you don't play nice with my Security people, I may just decide to get really difficult, and I may start by explaining the same thing to your Superiors that I just did to you. These gentlemen play nice. If we have to replace them, their replacements not only won't play nice, they won't even have your concepts of playing in mind when something like this happens again. Would you like me to call your Precinct Captain or the Chief of Police and go over that for them, or are we going let my Security people do their jobs?”

          By the time I got through with that, the ambulance was leaving, and the cops were loading the other two idiots into the back of their cars. The Sergeant stomped off.

          We went back inside, with Curly still protesting that he didn't know it was a girl. Curly and Don followed me into the kitchen. I was looking for coffee, and they thought it was a good idea, so I started handing cups out. Scott came in about a minute behind us, and announced that he had three of the new guys posted, and Isiah was watching them.

          Don asked Scott “Did you have to break his arm?”

          “He was pulling out a can of pepper spray. I've got this shortage of clean clothing right now, and I didn't want my eyes burning all day. It was the only way to be sure.”

          Don glared at him for a little bit, then grinned. “It probably was. I'll give you that one. Oh, and by the way, guys, he (he jerked his thumb at me) really does like us. You should have heard what he told that Cop.”

          I started laughing. “Sheesh, did I ever lay it on thick? Karn Marines? The Karn have about as many Marines as I do pet flying pigs. I think it worked, though. I'm very tempted to call the Police Commissioner or someone at that level just to make sure I got through, but I think he got the message.”

          Don offered that he thought the message had gotten through. “I am going to recommend, though, that anyone on our Security staff who feels the need to go out partying should do so out of town. Like let's say Miami or New Orleans or somewhere well out of that guy's range. He won't forget this.”
          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 19

            I noted that I wouldn't either, and that I had his name, badge number, and Precinct number. He was on my watch list.

            Scott and Curly left, and Don and I wandered over into my office. Don wanted to know what had set me off on the Cop. He added “You are not hugely diplomatic, but you usually at least try to smooth things over before you go for the throat. You didn't even pause before you jumped square in the middle of him.”

            “It's been a bad day. I've been having to deal with stupid all day long, and it keeps swarming on me when I least expect it. He had the misfortune of yanking my chain at the wrong time, mostly.”

            Don observed that he really thought that he should refrain from yanking my chain if it looked as if I was having a bad day. “When you pulled that tablet out, I thought for a minute you were going to start calling his bosses. So did he, I suspect.”

            “I wasn't that angry. By the way, are you using (I named the employment agency) to hire people?”

            “No. Why?”

            “Because I'm angry at them, too. They are fixing to get fired. I asked them to call me back two hours ago, and they haven't. I know we've been getting about half our help through them so far, and they don't seem too concerned when we try to get in touch with them. I've got issues with their selections, and they don't even know it because they can't be bothered to talk to us.”

            Heather came in looking for something for lunch, and there was of course nothing here. The locavore lady was standing over by the stove glaring as if she just dared anyone to try to get into her refrigerators. I suggested that we call out for Pizza, and the suggestion passed unanimously.

            I'd been expecting an explosion over Miss Rover being in the dining area, but I got the impression that someone had already had that discussion and lost the argument, because we kept getting glared at, but nothing was said.

            Heather asked if I'd been watching the news today. I replied that I'd been far too busy. She said that I might want to check in when I got the chance. “They are going nuts trying to figure you out. They tracked down some people who knew you up North in the 1970's or so, but they are still trying to figure out where you went from there.”

            “They'll get there, and probably today. I'm surprised that the Media haven't been browbeating every Karn they talk to for information on me, though.”

            “Oh, they have. The Karn have issued your official statistics. They give them your name, in the Karn language. They give them your Date of Birth, the date that you were enrolled as a member of the Karn Corporation, and the date that you were elected to be the Director of External Affairs. It's got a really flattering picture of you with it, too.”

            I found that funny. “Ha. If they do ask for a translation of my Karn name into English, it's going to come out as “First Human member of the Corporation', if I'm remembering correctly.”

            “They have. It's 'First Human member of the Karn Corporation', though.”

            “Don't tell anyone that I can't remember my own name, please. I'd be embarrassed.”

            About then, the Pizza arrived. One of the Security guys brought it in, and I asked how he'd paid for it. He said that he'd used Don's credit card. I looked at Don and raised one eyebrow questioningly.

            He had an expression that could have been take as an “Oops” statement. He then shrugged, and said “I figured we'd be getting deliveries now and again, so I left it out there for the guys to use to pay for stuff.”

            “Is that your personal card?”

            “Yeah. I'll file an expense report.”

            I swore under my breath. We really needed to get some folks some Corporate cards now. Today would be good. I interrogated Mike, and sent off some messages that should make that happen. They'd only have to be delivered from here in town.

            While we were eating, the delivery from the Supply outfit arrived. Two humans and a steady stream of Karn carried in bags and boxes, and several handcarts full of boxes were rolled in. It all made an impressive pile when they were done.

            I announced to our Kitchen Supervisor that I'd gotten some basic stuff together so we had food and nobody had to eat off of paper plates any more. She stomped out from behind the counter and started examining things with a look of disdain. She turned back to me and said “What am I supposed to do with this?”

            “I think that cooking it is the generally accepted practice in most cases.”

            “I can't possibly work with this stuff.”

            “Fine. Your services are no longer required. You may leave now.”

            She squawked. Literally squawked, like a chicken. “You can't do that. I've got a contract.”

            “With who? The Employment Agency faxed me one, but I haven't even read it yet, and I sure haven't signed anything. If I haven't signed and approved it, you don't have a contract. Now get out of here.”

            I turned to Don “Would you have one of your people escort her out, please?”

            He could, and delegated Curly to do the honors. Curly took her by one arm and led her off, she was still ranting all the way out of hearing range.

            Curly came back about 90 seconds later and announced “She says I'm getting sued big time. You too.”

            I laughed, again. “Don't sweat it. We've got lots of liability coverage.”
            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.


            • #7
              Re: The Ambassador, Chapter 19

              Don tapped me on the shoulder. “Excuse me, Sir. I'm not sure I should ask, since you seem not to be taking any prisoners among people who annoy you today, but should I have my people keep everyone away from you for the rest of the day, or do you want to continue the massacres?”

              “Hey. I left my sense of humor in my other suit. Seriously though, no. You don't need to keep everyone away from me. I'm not going berserk here. It's been a bad day, but we seem to be getting swarmed by fools, and I can't abide that many of them in quick succession. I promise not to pull my gun on anyone who isn't armed and threatening us, and I won't tell Miss Rover to attack either.”

              “You sure came down on that woman quickly.”

              “You were not around for our conversation this morning. I talked myself out of running her off then, and I try not to make the same mistakes twice.”

              “So, who is doing the cooking?”

              “I'm going to get to work on that here just shortly. Unless, that is, anyone knows of a decent cook that might want to work in an asylum like we seem to be organizing here.” No one offered any potential candidates, so I went back to my office and had Mike call our Employment Agency again. They were all out to lunch this time. Strike two.

              I had Mike do some checking around for clothing stores. I needed something to wear other than one suit. I decided to kill two birds with the same stone, and just go by the Employment Agent's offices at the same time I went to get clothing.

              I asked Mike to summon a Taxi, and was headed for the door to meet it when Scott popped up next to me. “Going out?” he asked.

              “I need to go get some new clothing, and I need to see what I can do about getting someone to get me some reliable help around here.”

              He nodded. “I'm coming with 'ya.”

              “I don't recall issuing an invitation.”

              “You didn't, but Don did. He about blew a seal because we let you get out of here this morning without someone going along. I don't want to be responsible for his blood pressure if it happens again.”

              That got me to doing the eye-roll thing, but I could see that resistance was going to be futile. I guess I was the ranking guy they were supposed to be protecting, so it sort of made sense. “I don't see how anyone is going to know I'm coming. I don't even know what my schedule is, so anyone else trying to predict it is wasting their time.”

              “There's always the Archduke Franz Ferdinand effect, though. You may have summoned the Taxi driven by the head of the Death to Aliens and Their Collaborators Strike Team.”

              “I'll bet you I could take him. I've got this bulletproof shield thing, you know.”

              “But it looks a lot better on the News if your bodyguard takes him. You don't get yourself a bad reputation that way.”

              “Bah. Humbug!”

              We went out the door and got into a Taxi. We first stopped at a Gentlemans' Store, and I ordered up five suits, a dozen shirts, and about six ties. They got my measurements and announced that they would have them properly fitted and would deliver them to the Embassy. I asked them to expedite the first one, and deliver it as soon as it was done, preferably today. They agreed, boxed up the remainder of my stuff, and we went out. Scott flagged us another Cab, and we proceeded to find a store that sold socks and underwear. Then I had to find another one that sold jeans, and a shoe store for extra shoes. We were through by 1500, and my head was slightly spinning. I'd just spent what would have been about five month's pay not that long ago.

              We got to the Employment Agency at about 1530. I walked up to the receptionist's desk, handed her one of my Universal Distributing cards, and requested to speak to the guy in charge. She looked at the card, looked at me for a few seconds, and asked me to please be seated. Scott had already parked himself. I sat down also. The receptionist was on the telephone. She hung up, announced that they'd be ready for us in just a couple of minutes. Her telephone rang about a minute and a half later, and she asked if “we” would come this way please.

              Scott announced that he'd wait right where he was, and I went that way. She ushered me into the boss's office. I wasn't sure which one of them was in charge, because there were four of them in there. I got introduced around, and asked if I would sit down. I declined to. “I may not be here that long anyway. To put it as simply as I can, gentlemen, we have something of a problem here. I'm hopeful that we can get it corrected, but I'm not a really patient man at this stage of the game.”

              I got about a two minute apology at that point. It seemed sincere enough, but I still wasn't sure that we were all operating on the same wavelength, so I decided to make sure that they had my frequency dialed in really well.

              “The incident with that woman this morning is water over the dam, as long as it doesn't happen again. I don't know whose cousin, or whatever, she is, and I don't care.” (I lied through my teeth about not knowing. I did know, because Mike has the ultimate google-fu. She was a sister in law to one of them. I honestly didn't care, though.)
              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.


              • #8
                Re: The Ambassador, Chapter 19

                I'd paused for about five seconds to let that soak in well, then continued. “I was given to understand that we'd made our requirements on that front fairly clear, but apparently something got lost in translation, so I'm going to go through it again.”

                I then proceed to explain that the majority of the Embassy staff would be Karn, and that we did not need a Human cook for them. I also explained that under the Karn system, Contract employees were provided with housing and food as a part of their compensation. I noted that very little of the hiring for Embassy help would be Contract, but that we would have human Contract people on the Embassy premises all the time, and that was who we primarily needed a Cook to feed. I noted that we were not feeding the upper class, and that any meals that involved Arugula, Tofu, or Baby Lamb Chops the size of my thumb smothered in sauces would probably not be well received. I wanted good food, but it needed to be centered around standard American fare. I inquired if we could locate someone who could handle that.

                Everyone stumbled all over themselves assuring me that they could do that, so I decided that I'd give them a chance to prove it. “All right, gentlemen. But I'm going to need four of those folks, because we're going to be feeding our Security staff also, and they are on a 24/7 schedule, so I want someone on duty for at least 18 hours a day, seven days a week. The graveyard shift can get a hot meal at the start and/or end of their shift and make do with sandwiches and stuff in the middle of it, but other that that, I'll want someone on duty all the time. You might as well get them an assistant each while we're about it. And, by the way, we need them as soon as is humanly possible. ”

                One of them went out announcing that he'd get started on it immediately. The other three were assuring me that it would all be taken care of. I gestured them to silence. “Things happen, but as long as it gets fixed now, we're going to be OK here. I do hope, though, that the guy we got for Building maintenance and janitorial and what not is competent. I don't want to have this discussion again on Monday.”

                I was repeatedly assured that he had immaculate references, and that he'd been hired away from a job doing basically the same things for a 128 unit apartment complex. I once more reflected that we were overpaying people, and decided that I didn't care, as long as they were competent.

                “Very good, gentlemen. Oh, one more thing. Could someone explain to me why nobody returned my call this morning?”

                The boss fessed up. “That was entirely my fault. I didn't recognize your name, and you gave your Title as External Affairs Director of the Karn Embassy. We've been doing business with you folks under the Universal Distributing name, and it just didn't register until you came in a while ago and handed over your Universal Distributing card.”

                “I see. And I do understand how it could happen. Well, I thank you gentlemen for your time, and I really have to get moving. If I were triplets, I'd ask you to go track down the other two of me and hire them, because I could use the help. Speaking of which, if you can track me down a Secretary who has the skills and potential to become an Office Manager in the fairly near future, I could probably use one of those, too. I'll try to get a summary of more exactly what I'm looking for over to you sometime Monday. I'll probably just email it.”

                I walked over and shook everyone's hands, and headed for the door. They accompanied me, babbling. Scott stood up when I came out and opened the door and stepped out into the hallway ahead of me. I turned around, thanked everyone once more, and we got out of there.

                Scott announced that he was disappointed.


                “Don said you'd mentioned firing, and he wasn't sure if you meant firing them, or firing at them. That was all fairly peaceful.”

                “Ladies and gentlemen: Conan the Barbarian is leaving the building. Crom interceded for them, so I spared them.”

                We got out the door onto the street and Scott started to hail a Cab, but I stopped him. There was an ATM right there, and I wanted some cash. That black card proved to be good for something. The ATM had a sign right by the screen stating that the limit on withdrawals was $500, but when I stuffed the card in, keyed in my PIN and asked for $1000, it spit it right out. I started to get another thousand, but decided that it'd be a better idea to go to a Bank and trade off the almost $3000 Canadian I was still lugging around.

                We got a Cab and got back to the Embassy by just after 1700.

                The Karn kitchen staff had put everything up where it belonged, with a couple of forgivable exceptions. The fresh potatoes and onions were in the refrigerators, and for whatever reason, the Broccoli was in the freezer. I'd score that a 9.9, given that they had no particular idea of what any of it was.
                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.


                • #9
                  Re: The Ambassador, Chapter 19

                  I drafted a salad chef, which happened to be Isiah, being as he was there when we walked in, and put one of the Karn to slicing and buttering a couple of loaves of French Bread for garlic toast. In reviewing our purchases, I'd spotted a container of lovely looking steaks. I'd have called them Kansas City strips, but I suspected that they were not labeled that way in New York. Be that as it may, there were about a dozen of them in the package, and they looked to be about a pound each. I tracked those down and went into cooking mode.

                  We had baked potatoes or fries, depending on the preferences involved. Having an AI is useful, because you can get dinner orders as easily as asking, even if the folks in question are somewhere else. We (Actually, the Salad Chef) cut fries by hand and I cooked them. We had steak, salad, garlic bread, and the 'taters to order. I whomped up a cheese and fruit dessert with some of the things of that sort that I found available. Nobody seemed too upset that I drew the line at making melon balls for them. I served a nice Burgundy with the main course and an Asti Spumanti with dessert.

                  Nobody sent their steak back because it was cooked wrong, either. I don't know if that was because I did it right or because nobody was going to volunteer to cook tomorrow if we still had to do it ourselves, but either way, it seemed to work out. We all got well fed, and there were steaks left for the night shift Security guys when they got there. I'd given some training to the Karn folks, and suspected that they wouldn't ruin them in the cooking process.

                  I was not paying enough attention during dinner, though. Miss Rover got about a pound of steak trimmings down before I noticed and called a halt to that. I figured I'd be lucky if she didn't have me up walking her at about 0200 in the morning.

                  As it turned out, I didn't get to walk the dog at 0200. I got to walk the dog at 0030, and at 0300, She went for the trifecta at 0500 and I gave up and just stayed up. The accommodations here did not lend themselves to that sort of thing, either. It took me longer to get ready to get the dog outside than it did for her to solve the issue once we got there. I had to get dressed every time.

                  While I got caffeinated and functional I reviewed the schedule for the day. We had shuttles coming in. Not one, but two. One would be personnel and some various stuff, and the other would be a cargo shuttle with some bigger stuff, including a power plant for the Embassy.

                  I got halfway through reviewing everyone's preparations for handling all of this, I stopped and mentally kicked myself square in the backside a couple of times. The guys doing Security for this knew what they were doing. The Karn were traders, and had cargo handling down to a science. I'd reviewed the arrangements for the trucks, and didn't see any problems there. I'd also reviewed where we were bringing the shuttles in and saw no problems there.

                  We'd found a warehouse complex along the East River that was in bankruptcy. It had started out to be a container ship handling facility, and had a reasonable amount of paved open space that was empty. We'd rented the use of the space from the Trustees handling the bankruptcy. The personnel shuttle would only be down for about a half hour, and the Karn estimated it'd take an hour to an hour and a half to get all of the stuff off the cargo shuttle, so that was all the time we needed. I didn't figure we'd draw too much of a crowd in that length of time at 0630 on a Sunday morning.

                  The only holdup in the whole procedure was on the Embassy end. We could only get one truck at a time inside the Basement garage to unload it. Someone had thought of that part also, though, and we had a crew of Karn stevedores emptying them out at about fifteen minute intervals. They left the powerplant for last, and it took about twenty minutes for them to get it offloaded and in place.

                  I was monitoring our progress on setting up the initial contacts and discussions regarding the exchange of Diplomatic Recognition with the folks we were talking to. Things were progressing nicely, and I had people in hand now that I could send to do some face to face stuff starting early next week. We had the United States scheduled for 0900 Monday, and were dispatching people to Russia and Great Britain this evening. We had chartered aircraft so they didn't have to fly commercial. I expected that we'd have someone headed for China some time tomorrow. The French and Germans were lagging just a bit behind for whatever reason, but Tuesday seemed likely for both of them.

                  At about 1000 I kicked a summary of our progress on the Diplomatic front together and lobbed it off to the Board. A half hour later, I got a message back from the Chairman. Everyone was pleased with the progress we were making, but was I monitoring the Earth media? I had to confess that I was not, and was informed that perhaps I should. I took that as a hint, and had Mike throw me some summaries while I channel surfed.

                  I should have expected it. I had expected it, actually, but I figured that in the greater scheme of things, they would still be occupied enough with the whole Karn thing to leave my role in the whole thing as a fifteen minute side issue. I'd called that one totally wrong. I was the favorite topic of the day. I had been the favorite topic since sometime yesterday, and all evidence indicated that they were going to continue speculating in the absence of any solid evidence for the foreseeable future.

                  They had managed to figure out who I was and where I was from, but I didn't have a huge record for them to work from, and most of the folks who I associated with on a regular basis were not inclined to talk to the media anyway, so they were getting very little there. My “public” records were awfully thin on the ground. My encounters with Law Enforcement consisted of three traffic tickets over the space of 40 odd years, and they'd missed the first one of those, so other than the fact that I was known to exceed posted speed limits by eleven or twelve miles an hour at about ten year intervals, they had nothing to report on. The rest of my family had equally minimal interaction with Law Enforcement.
                  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.


                  • #10
                    Re: The Ambassador, Chapter 19

                    This lack of a footprint made them crazy, so they had to speculate. It was suggested that I'd been an Agent of the Karn for lo, these many years. What the point of having an agent who didn't do anything but go to work and mess around with his hobbies at home never seemed to come up. The American media seemed to think I might be some sort of traitor or fifth-columnist. The rest of the world thought that since I'd been an American, I was going to be favoring the United States at every turn and would abuse them all every chance I got.

                    The speculation was snowballing. They were now trying to figure out if my parents might have also been agents of the Aliens. This needed to all be nipped in the bud, and it needed to be nipped right now. I was going to have to hold myself a press conference. Today. Oh joy, Oh rapture!

                    I informed Miss Rover that she was going to get to attend the press conference, because I might decide to have her eat some reporters before it was all over with.
                    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.