Even after the doors closed behind him, Chairman Charles Rockwell couldn't make himself relax. Making a beeline for the bar he found his hands shook too much to pour a drink. Then hefting the decanter in both hands he brought it to his lips taking a long pull of Rum and Somethin'.
It was all over now. The empire crumbled, Rome was falling but void damn it he would not go down with it. He had to pack and leave, let Adjutant Akande sort all this out. Only last he heard she was gone. So much for throwing her under the proverbial bus.
Crossing the room Rockwell frowned. His chair was backwards facing the window. What inconsiderate dolt had left his office anything but pristine?
The chair twirled around, the slow creak the only sound in the otherwise silent room.
Rockwell dropped the decanter and barely heard it crash. "Y-you!" he stammered.
Welles' little helper lounging in his chair like she owned the place.
Rockwell wasn't a violent man by any means but hand to the void if he could get his hands around her throat and choke the life out of her, he would. But her neck was too small and his hands were fat. He'd have to use a rope or something.
But he froze, like when the teacher calls on you in class when you weren't paying attention and had been huffing model glue all morning. Rockwell stood stock still as though she were a venomous reptile and any sudden movement would be her cue to strike.
She stared at him placid as a woolly cow. "Sorry I didn't make an appointment. I've been waiting for you."
Trying desperately to regain his composure Rockwell played it cool, hoping the fear wasn't plain on his face. And that he didn't wet his pants. "Are you here to kill me?"
Then that wretched spacer put her dirty boots on his desk crossing her ankles negligently. "If I was going to I'd have done it back at the Labyrinth."
Rockwell gulped. Perspiration trickled down his forehead. "Are you here to seduce me?"
Her mouth twisted into a scowl. "No!"
"More's the pity." Rockwell tried putting on a husky tone. She was fetching, and how delicious the tabloids would be around Byzantium. Dressed in black with only a splash of red makeup around her eyes and was that a ring in her nose- she looked like a dissident but more a seductive villainess in a serial. The kind of woman who would break your heart- or your cranium.
"Shut up and listen." She said letting her feet drop off the desk and hit the floor with a thump. Then she began playing with the various things on his desk. "I'm here to bargain. You remember our deal." Taking an antique fountain pen she pointed at him. "You know Dr. Welles was right all along about the Hope. I'll put it simply. You keep your position- you run Halcyon to the best of your abilities. But from this day onward Phineas V. Welles is a free man, understand? You will lift the bounty off him and dismiss all charges."
Rockwell frowned "What the hell am I supposed to tell the citizenry? 'Oh the man we've been after so long is actually good' you think they'll buy it?"
"Hey, the Board's been sweeping things under the rug for decades. You tell me. You said you could make a good citizen out of him and make everyone buy it."
Rising, she passed him to browse his liquor collection. Opening a bottle of Spectrum Violet she poured two shot glasses. "There's no need to cause a panic. You can slowly implement changes, right?" She sighed impatiently "Listen, I'm not here to scare you or blackmail you or whatever. I want to help the colony. Let's be honest, the Lifetime Employment was shortsighted, it was a cop out. The people would find out you betrayed them."
Rockwell snorted. "The people." He laughed shortly. "What makes you think I give a flying fuck about 'the people'?"
"You give a good impression. But I know better-" she wagged a finger at him. "I also know you're a lily livered coward who would do anything to save your own ass. Tell me, what are you going to do now that support from Earth is gone?"
He didn't have an answer. "If you hadn't ruined everything-"
"If I hadn't ruined everything, you'd ruin it yourself. Earth has gone dark I know you know that."
He narrowed his eyes."Who told you?"
"Dr. Welles told me."
Rockwell scoffed. "Welles, that crazy-"
She pointed at him. "Utter one more syllable and you'll be shitting teeth for the next couple of days."
The chairman shut his mouth with a pop.
"Dr. Welles is working on reviving more colonists as we speak." Rounding the bar she handed one of the glasses to Rockwell and he took it stupidly. "I think the four of us -you, me, Welles and Clarke- can do a lot of good. Only if Dr. Welles is a free man. By the way I think you have some work to do on that score."
"The bounty, right." Rockwell stammered.
"Shall we drink on it?" She raised her glass. "To Halcyon."
When he was certain he was not about to be poisoned, Rockwell muttered "To Halcyon." and drank.
A few more drinks in, they fell to talking and Rockwell got into a horrible confessional mood.
"I'm just a figurehead, I can't make decisions for myself! It was all Akande's doing and she's gone!" He burbled and let his head drop onto the Captain's shoulder.
"Uh," she said uncertainly "There there, Chairman. We'll get by. Clarke just needs time to figure some things out."
Lifting his head he said "Oh, please call me Charles."
"Fine, Charles. I do wonder where the adjutant went. Guess it doesn't matter. But I must be going. I have to see what Dr. Welles needs."
"Well allow me to escort you to your ship." He said smoothly.
She held up a hand. "I can find it, thanks. I think you have an arrest warrant to dismiss. I'll be in touch."