When last we left off, the team had to leave behind a stash in an old pharmacy out in the wastes. Now it was time to bring that in. They had repaired the broken robot Dr. Klunk and decided to raise some money in between, by selling a data-stick they had earned to the gang “Street Cats” – the data on the stick pertained their interests, so they were most interested in it.
In the meantime we thought about investing in a car or a van, but the price was pretty steep, many thousands of gold pieces, and that before repairs and power-ups like armoring the frame and getting full rubber tyres to make it safe for the bad roads. Too much, and too risky.
So now Wispa, Snips, and Wyndham assembled the troops again to sell the data stick to the “Street Cats” and then retrieve the stash. Phan had levelled up to becom PHAN-tastic the Ronin. Jack had levelled up to be Jalecktronics the Tech Wiz. Wispa brought Ace Hole and Johnny Big Nuts. Wyndham brought Remus the Ronin and a new Tech Wiz called Willis, and steered a freshly repaired Dr. Klunk. These were already 9 people and a robot — a whole platoon. But Snips felt they needed more language talent (Phan had been unable to talk to a “Street Cat”), so she hired Randy, a Tagalog speaker. She offered him a flat 100 gold, because she figured that a half share of the stash would be too much for a newb like him who had not done the work yet.
The team did not have much experience in dealing with street gangs, so they just went to their territory to ask to speak with a higher-up. That turned out difficult, as they met bot-drone-enforcers first who were rather thick in the head. Finally it was possible to convince them to call humans.
The humans were primitive ruffians who blustered and played the big men, but had no clue. Even basic communication was a problem, until Ace Hole channelled his inner Tong and managed to hit on the right language. They demanded that we hand over the datastick right away, and they would think about paying us later. No way — we gave them only a tiny taste to allow them to gauge the worth, and lied that we didn’t have the real data with us, yet. We wanted higher-ups, and they didn’t want that, feared that we were some kind of suicide squad out to kill one of their bosses.
We wanted to negotiate a good price and rights of free transfer through Street Cats territories. But that was impossible to discuss with low-level grunts.
Finally they understood that shouting at us and waving shotguns in our faces would not yield any results, so they actually called one of the big shots, someone with brains. The big shot came with a car (A Car!!! He could afford it!)
By now, with more and more Street Cats flooding in, we were finally outnumbered, and the boss man demanded the stick itself. We handed it over. Snips was ready to discuss prices — but the boss just said okay and climbed back into his car. One of his goons took a sack full of whatever and placed it down on the streets in front of us. Without another word, they turned around and drove off. And the foot soldiers told us to get lost.
The pay was good, actually: Easily transportable platinum and useful items like landmines. We were okay with that. The Big Cat had delivered. We looked for more opportunities on the way regardless, but no success. We returned home, the sun sank already, and Snips offered Randy to stay on for the rest of the mission, but he said no. He took his 100 to blow them on spirits and hookers.
Snips paid him and looked around. Her eyes settled on another promising guy. His name was Monroe and he saw Randy dance off happily. “See that happy face?” asked Snips. “Join us for a quarter share and tomorrow you will be just as happy as he.” “Yes, yes, yes!” said Monroe, signing up with a loyalty bonus.
Going off again the next day with 10 people and 1 robot, the party ran right into three cops.
They tried to shuffle past them heads bent down demurely, little hopeless non-threats. Of course they came over to pick a fight. They asked what we were up to, and Wyndham told them we were looking for scrap metal and broken refuse to sift for reusables and sell. “Stealing, eh? Grabbing things that are not yours, eh?” They gave us a lip, told us that our time would soon end, and they would restore order to the Wastes. Soon all would be back under control and the punks would be off the streets for good.
“Yes, great, we will get jobs then”, said Wispa. The female cop flew off the handle: “And what kind of job will someone like you ever have, eh? You know nothing except stealing and murder. You will have no place in an ordered society!”
Wyndham calmed them down slowly, stressed that apologized and was about to move on. But then Wispa told them that she was sorry too, all was fine, and once we’d come back with collected scraps the cops could take a cut.
The woman cop exploded again: “Are you trying to bribe me? The gall! Are you insinuating I was corrupt? I took an oath! I am here to protect this city and its people, from scum like you! To serve and to protect, that is what we are here for, and that is what we will do.”
“Sorry, but usually your kind takes a pick of what we find, and that’s fine, really, you deserve it for your hard work,” Wispa added fuel to the fire with a misplaced wink.
The woman cop was ready to strangle the little waster right then and there for blemishing the honor of the uniform, but thankfully Wyndham deescalated again with many sorries and pointing out that Wispa was young and dumb and had no clue, Snips did not want to be noticed, but she egged PHAN-tastic on, so he stepped forward, smiled nicely, and dragged Wispa off before she could say another word.
The team quickly shuffled off under the firy gazes of the angry copper and her colleagues.
Along the way they also met other wasters, a hardened team of pros, seven strong. We were both sides careful, but we managed to talk and compare experiences, managed to dodge questions about our goals, and learned from them about military bots in the east, and told them about the three angry and honest coppers in the west. Then we said our goodbyes and split in peace. Wispa was sure that they would prepare an ambush and wait for us on the way back, while Snips thought they would not … although it was hardly relevant as we really did not want to take the same way back: We had been so simple-minded once, and more than half the team had paid that mistake with their lives.
We dodged some wild dogs thanks to some rations and got to the pharmacy again. And D was still there!
Wyndham gave him 21 rations to aid him living well out here, because D had not changed his mind: We was going to stay here and not return to the safe zone with us, and he still had zero interest in worldly gain, profits, gold, or other valuables. D was Zen.
We climbed up to the top floor and found or stash, fine and proper. We divvied it up and found out that we would not be able to bring it all back home and still move at 20′, so we discarded things — first the weed, because if we did not need one thing it was more hassle with cops, and also, what the fuck should we do with the stuff? Smoke it and lose our edge? Sell it like common criminals and fulfill all the preconceived notions of cop-girl? No. Despite the GM dangling the weed in front of us at least half a dozen times, we remained adamant and the shit stayed here, together with the least valuable other stuff until we had our load down to carrying capacity.
We spent the night, said goodbye to D, and moved off.
On the way back some arguments broke out if it was not wiser yet to DO take the same way back yet… if the cops would not have moved off? Because it just was the best way. It surely was, but Snips was not about to take that chance. But while arguing, the team saw 4 cops – guarding the area where the team had seen them guard a secret stash of whatever, so these were obviously dirty cops. And they had seen the group.
Snips wanted to move north, to fresh territories, away from any cops. But the others insisted to try to go around the cops the long way inside the block. Snips sighed and followed. But it did not work out. The cops moved to intercept. Then Snips had it and enforced her choice to move north. And thus we left the cops behind, as they were ready to ambush us, but were not ready to follow us and leave their stash unguarded.
Moving north they got into the area where Messy had blown up half a building, and turned west. They crossed through other known places and bought off hungry orphaned feral kids with more rations. Although the sight drove home that the cop-girl had some point about these wastes having to go sooner or later; rather sooner than later.
They met another group of wasters, paranoid guys with whom they negotiated right of way in a tense standoff. Again it was Wyndham’s easy-going temperament that calmed tempers and made it possible to part ways in a friendly manner.
Then they got to a place that belonged to the Street Cats.
Dogs and Enforcers
We had not managed to get to an understanding about safe passage, and they had told us to get lost. So what now?
However, they had told us to get lost yesterday, and not to stay away forever. So it was probably fine?
Moving in, the team soon encountered a small strike team of Street Cats, aggressively strolling around in an area and checking things. Exactly what we did not need. Even more, their leader held tight the leashes of three slavering combat dogs. We quickly pre-meditated the possible battle and envisioned that we would lose three men minimum. Maybe five. We were not prepared to do that. So we evaded them, going south again, and then west through another block.
The Street Cats did not hunt us .. but we met another one of them. A high level enforcer guarding the block, armed up and looking like he could easily take on five on his own. We hesitated, but then decided to risk going past him. We went up and greeted him with respect and deference, and told him a little half-truth: That we had done a deal with his top level guys and were just on our way home. Both statements true, even if not exactly connected.
Luck! He waved us through and let us go, keeping hard eyes trained on us the whole way.
And so we made it home — without firing a single shot all through these three days!
The payout was big again – and Snips got up to Level 5, a status that she had never dreamed of, back at their humble beginnings.
Monroe had not contributed much more than his two hands to carry loot, but he had been loyal and brave at least, so Snips was happy to have him stay. PHAN-tastic levelled up to L2, a big jump — possibly the first retainer ever to get that far before either dying or taking off to find greener pastures.
He made his loyalty roll and stayed on the team. And why the heck not? These missions with Snips had catapulted him from no-name Level zero loser to 2nd level PHAN-tastic Ronin. She had kept her promises. And she was ready to continue in that vein.
Snips, Wispa, and Wyndham also decided to start chipping in to invest into Club Lavender and make the Club bigger and better. To become partners. And Messy decided to chip in as well. They were going to make the world more stable with their moneys — like the cops in their way, and the Street Cats in their own, partially different way.
More Lavender for a better future.
Snips 1 – Fighting Dogs
Snips 2 – Fighting Robots
Snips 3 – Fighting Swordsmen
Snips 4 – Fighting Kids
Snips 5 – Fighting Dreadnoughts
Snips 6 –
Fighting Running from the Boss
Snips 7 – Fighting Cops
Snips 8 – Fighting in the Pharmacy
Snips 9 – Fighting Cats
Snips 10 – Fighting Lions
Snips 11 – Fighting Code
Image: Jorge Barreto / Pexels