Author: Verity Granger
Date: 08-31-09 01:04
"A disclosure agreement?" Max said, more than a hint of disbelief in his voice. He took the document and pen from Sam, but it was on Omar that his gaze remained fixed. "Why in the world would we need to sign this? What have you found that's so important that you need to keep it secret? Another Tutankhamen’s tomb?"
Being well accustomed to the need to keep his own business to himself, Omar did not bat an eye at the exclamation. “We have reason to suspect others are also attempting to seek what we will be seeking. As in all such recoveries the first to arrive is usually the one to whom the spoils go. In addition it was determined there were a number of safety concerns for those who will go on this endeavor. So to minimize the delicate information from accidentally getting into the hands of those less scrupulous ‘treasure hunters’ the disclosure agreement seemed a prudent precaution.” Omar paused as much for effect as to allow his guests the moment to assimilate all he said. “Now, Mr. Granger? I believe? If my precautions do not meet with your approval now is the correct time to speak up as well as decide if you wish to continue with us.” Omar’s voice never wavered or changed pitch. The words were plainly stated with calm deliberation while he kept eye contact with the man.
Gavin was momentarily distracted, his dark eyes meeting Elena's across the room. The corner of his mouth quirked with mischief, an obvious invitation to join him, before his gaze returned to Omar and Max. The Spaniard had no problem signing anything – as long as he got to read the fine print first.
Ah, a pig, Elena thought to herself as Mr. Schleppes merely nodded and carried along. No gentleman at all. What the old gentry would sniff at and call nouveaux riche perhaps. Or just poorly mannered. Elena dismissed Omar as he had dismissed her, outwardly. In the meanwhile she caught Gavin’s eyes and arched one dark eyebrow at him before seating herself beside him. Now it was time to read it seemed, and she wasn’t thrilled with what she saw. Ah... a "recovery"... very nice, she thought, ready to sign.
Max opened his mouth to speak, but fell silent as Verity touched his arm with her hand. His cousin read through the document carefully and then lifted her head. There was a surprisingly shrewd gleam in her flint-grey eyes.
"You use the word treasure, Mr Schleppes. May I assume that is deliberate?" she asked.
“Miss Granger? I assume?” he replied evidence of her kinship to Max Granger, one he had invited. He also was surmising that she was the one guest each had been permitted to accompany them from his invitation. “Yes, I did say ‘treasure hunters’. Although, what each of you actually takes home with you, at the conclusion of our quest, is yet to be decided, each of you will be given your choice of certain artifacts recovered or cash pay out. Does that answer your question?” he concluded as he watched the group before him for any reactions. He was particularly curious about a certain person there who seemed oddly familiar yet not. Once again his thoughts piqued on the missing Prof. Quartermaine.
Alison sat quietly listening to the conversation between Mr. Schleppes and the one called Granger. Mentally she ran through the list of names she had found in her grandfathers safe. The name of Granger has been there.
Wakanada frowned at the pretentious opulence of the rooms. Things that would have better served the world in life or where they had been were ornaments on the walls. She noted a few items and the word "grave robbers" entered her mind. She shuddered and turned her attention to the food. There her impression changed. She was not one to pass up a free meal and she loaded her plate silently. At no point in time did she show any dainty delicacy. When it came to acquiring and eating food, Wakanada was no fragile nibbler. She ate quietly and quickly, with a skill born out of frustration and starvation.
She could hear the conversation over her own chewing. She noted the words "Safety Concerns" and "Treasure".
Treasure to people such as these, who put buffalo heads on the wall and the burial headdresses of dead ancestors in cases for display, probably meant theft.
When the papers came to her, she put down her plate and studied them carefully, glancing up occasionally to see reactions all around.
Alison continued to watch as the group read the papers and finally they came to her. She read through everything, carefully and then wrote out her name. Alison Quartermaine. They she looked up straight at Mr. Schleppes totally aware he had no idea who she was.
Omar raised a hand slightly to get Sam’s attention, while his guests were eating and reading or signing. He had not missed the Spanish beauty that had come in late or the look of dismissal she saw fit to return to him as she caught the eye of the other man he had invited, Gavin Santos. Omar suspected the lady now sitting with him was his choice as guest. There would be time for proper introductions later.
Shrewd eyes scanned the others; Mr. Durban, Mr. Quicksilver, Mr. Kincade and the oriental woman who he guessed was the geologist Prof. Collins had sent per his offer to recommend someone. Certainly the woman was not shy about food. It made a small smile turn the corners of Omar’s mouth. His musings ended as Sam addressed him. “You wanted something, Sir?” asked Sam.
“Yes, Sam. Please get me a bit of food and some more coffee.” Omar asked the butler softly. Addressing those present once more, “Are there any more questions at this point? If everyone has signed the documents please give them back to Sam as he passes by you.” Omar then sat back to eat and drink more coffee while he waited for more questions or the moment to proceed..
Wakanada finished reading and looked up at the ...person in charge....
"So you get whatever it is we are going hunting for and IF we survive we get whatever is left. Is that a correct assumption?"
She said gathering the papers back together on her knee with a sharp thump. She passed them to the next person unsigned and returned to her meal. Whether or not she signed them depended on ... Mr. Schleppes's was it?... answer.
Omar turned his attention to the interesting oriental now addressing him. An eyebrow quirked up slightly, he made note of her general disdain of their prospects. “Miss? Please share with us your name as I regret it was not done so previously. As for your concerns, be assured that ‘leftovers’ is not what will be the lot from which you can choose. However certain selected items are the reason I have gathered this company for expedition and the reason I have funded it. Those items for which I seek are not open as compensation. Be assured though there will be a satisfying collection of additional artifacts which will be open for you to choose provided our company is successful. In the event we do not recover as expected I have already stated you will not go away empty handed but I will indeed see to it you are financially compensated. Additionally anyone who wishes may also make contingency arrangements for next of kin to receive your share in the unlikely event of some unforeseen tragedy. I am as I have stated doing what I can to provide as much security as a quest such as this is possible to expect. The agreement is only a portion of the precautions set in place. Before we can continue we must have your decision and agreement. I must ask that anyone who does not feel comfortable with this arrangement will be free to go and I thank you for coming at my invitation.”
Omar lifted his cup and sipped his coffee several times before adding his last words. “Now if there are no further questions those who do not wish to sign may go and we will then continue on to what it is I have called you here for.” Omar nodded at Sam and the butler began moving about the guests so he could collect the documents that had been signed.
Having listened carefully to the questions posed by the various members of the company and the answers provided by Mr. Schleppes, Zack flipped through the documents a final time. He didn't have any questions that hadn't already been discussed in the preceding few minutes. Eager to learn more about the venture, Zack signed in the places indicated and handed the sheaf of papers to the butler when he came round. Then he settled back into his seat and watched Mr. Schleppes surveying the company, wondering what the man would next reveal.