“The Foys are requesting our further assistance in providing a facilities manager for their embassy,” the First Mother announced over breakfast to the Second and Third Mum. “What are your thoughts on that?”
“I wish the Badgers had done so,” the Third Mother said. “I’d like some eyes and ears on the inside there to know about any problems early on.”
“The Badgers and Bills left a lot more staff for their embassy, and Queen Heather just sent the Foys. I do wonder why they didn’t send any support people?” the Second Mother said. “I think we are getting off cheaply to support them, compared to what it would cost us to mount a system defense. Haven’t the Badgers hired any local help?”
“They have three, a Derf gardener who is doing a lot of their landscaping in native plants. They have a Derf handyman who is familiar with Derf construction and electrical systems, and a Derfhome born human who is interesting. He is supposed to help them with Derf and English usage, how to deal with the differences between Clan and city Derf, aspects of human culture here that differ from the Earth Humans, and make sure they don’t get taken advantage of in dealing with local merchants for things like groceries. He said that in Derf he is called a local expert, and in Badger he is a facilitator, and in English he’s a cultural advisor, but said Gofer would be closer to the truth. Somebody who runs errands and just does whatever is needed.”
“You’ve met this person?” the First Mother asked.
“They use the same staples grocer we do. I was going over standing orders and negotiating with them over spices and happened to be there at the same time.”
“I’m too many years older to believe in coincidence,” the First Mother said.
“Well, I was interested in who works for them, and it didn’t take any extraordinary effort to be there at the same time, but thinking the Human would be more interesting was an error. He’s a bit beyond my ability to understand deeply, because he seems a mish-mash of cultures. I mean… the man tells dirty jokes in Derf that embarrass me. I did give him my comm code and said the embassy and Talker were of special importance to us, and if he ever needed to, feel free to call. He just said that he knew that and thanked me. I don’t think I’ll ever get any inside information from him.”
“Fascinating,” the First Mother said, propping her chin in a true hand. “I had no idea you had this inclination to dabble in spy craft. What of the Derf employees? Have you contrived to meet either of them? If they are town Derf with no Clan loyalties are they given to talking too freely? Have you thought or planned on this?”
“That would seem unfriendly to me, if they ever found out. I’d rather, as I said, have our own people in there, but the Badgers already have a reputation for paying well and being easy going. I doubt either of them will leave voluntarily on their own any time soon. But if we hear they decide they need more help I’d sure like to send one of our own to apply.” The way the Third Mother was looking at them made it a question.
“I have no objection to that. Do you?” the First Mother asked the Second.
“Certainly not, I wish I’d thought of it first.” The Second Mother said.
“Do however, tell us if you supply them with such an employee,” the First Mother insisted. “I wouldn’t give them any special instructions about being observant or reporting back to you. Otherwise they are liable to expose themselves by displaying too much interest in things by simple guile. It’s not like we have any trained spies to send. Just make sure you send them a very bright young person and allow loyalty and native intelligence to motivate them to inform us if they hear something we should know. An occasional neutral inquiry if they are still happy in the position should be more than enough to trigger them to discuss it if they have seen anything irregular. Even that shouldn’t be repeated too often or too regularly, lest they think you are fishing for something.”
The Third Mother smiled and assumed the same chin in hand pose to tease the First Mum. She could only do that because they both liked each other. “Neither did I ever think you’d ever have such detailed advice for me on how to handle an agent.”
“I’ll be another fifty years teaching you all the hats you’ll need to wear before you even get stuck with being Second,” she warned.
“I’ve given up planning much of anything about my life until we see if Gordon and Lee get this life extension tech they are talking about to work for Derf,” the Third Mother said. “I suspect that would turn our world upside down in ways I can’t predict.”
The other Mothers said nothing. It was horrible having something they both wanted and dreaded so badly at the same time.