Snips and Wyndham got D’s datastick decrypted, as well as the data store that got recovered from the Haywire block. This one held data that was important for the Butch Killers gang, with an estimated value of 24.000 $ from them, or 12.000 $ from others. As it turned out, the unknown stash from D’s data was also in a Butch Killers’ territory. So Wyndham and Snips decided to go and mop up two deals in one: Find the unknown stash D gave us, and sell the data to the gang.
Snips and her team were otherwise occupied and missed parts of clearing the block. In her absence, a new guy had joined the team, a Fixer, a Dealer, a Negotiator — or so he styled himself — called Cash Zone. A negotiator: Just what was needed for selling data to a gang, thought Snips, remembering the difficult standoff with the Street Cats.
Snips brought Monroe and McBeth, and Wyndham brought Villiers, to have one pilot for Dr. Klunk and one for Henry.
Snips plotted a course through the Wastes, mostly safe zone and Threat Level 1 areas, to dive into Threat Level 2 areas like the Butch Killers’ territory only at the very end.
Cut and Measure
But right as they stepped into the first Threat Level 1 zone the team got attacked by retail bots: crazy machines that tried to strangle them with scarfs or crush them in too-tight clothes. Cash Zone threw a bottle of booze their way, then cowered behind the retainers. Dr. Klunk struck down one bot, Monroe popped one with a carbine shot. Snips went into melee with her hatchet, but whenever she lined a foe up for a strike, someone took it out – first Dr. Klunk, then Villiers.
The broken tech was worth something, so the team stashed them right around the corner in the safe zone, to collect them on the way back.
A bit further on, the group got ambushed by a bunch of knife-wielding thugs bent on robbery. Furious stabbing with drunken druggies ensued, people got nicked by knife blades. Snips remembered well that a similar encounter had cost Mad Mac and Susan their lives, so she went in to hack them apart mercilessly. Once again, Cash Zone did his best to hide, and Snips began to entertain doubts about his value in the wastes … but then she remembered that he was here to negotiate, not to fight. His time to shine would come.
Finally they reached the Butch Killer territory and began to do some recon. They avoided a guardbot with a shotgun and sneaked around, only to find that there was exactly one building in the block that was intact and functional. Surely this must be the place where the Butch Killers had their headquarters — and also the place where the unknown stash was to be found. Tough luck!
At that moment, they were spotted by the guard bot. He suspected them to plan an attack, because they were sneaking around instead of just walking up. But the team argued with the danger of wild animals, cops, and enemy gangs, and promised to be friends who wanted to trade.
The bot found this above his paygrade. He demanded we lay down our weapons — which we did, but close to our feet — and called for a human gang member. One came, half leading, half dragged by three vicious bloodhounds.
He too was very paranoid and suggested that it might be best to just kill the group.
Negotiator from Hell
The team laid the negotiations into the hands of the professional: Cash Zone. But he shocked the team by almost pissing away the valuable data for free. He told the Butch Killer that we were prepared to give them the valuable data because it might be very interesting for them, and the only compensation we were asking was the right of way to seek out D’s unknown stash.
Wyndham and Snips were staggered by the sudden threat of bringing the valuable data, that had cost lives to obtain, all the way out here just to give it away without tangible profit. They protested and tried to explain things to Cash Zone, but with the Butch Killers present and listening that was a tightrope act.
Cash Zone told the Butch Killers not to listen to “these clowns”. He told them he didn’t even know the rest of the party, they were just idiots who followed him around because he was such a stellar guy. “Don’t even listen to them, they got no clue.” But as he kept offering the valuable data for “higher” values than mere cash, the others had to reign him in, or risk getting out of this whole trainwreck without gain.
So the Butch Killers now knew that there was a stash here in their territory and figured if it was here, it was their property, and we were sneaking around because we wanted to steal from them.
Wyndham and Snips managed to explain that the stash was older than the Butch Killer taking of the territory, and over the course of this debate Cash Zones low price got forgotten. Cash Zone was still of the opinion that good relations with the Butch Killers were much more valuable than mountains of gold. “A web of contacts”, he called it, and spun a tale of knowing the right people in all the places, so Snips elbowed her way in front and straight up demanded 26.000 $ for the data.
Money or Bullets
The Butch Killers demanded that we hand over the data first and get a to be determined amount of cash later, and given the already tight situation we figured to risk that. Snips quickly added that this was the first of many deals to be done … just to make sure they would not just shoot us rather than pay us, now that they already had the goods.
An agonizing hour later, all the time closely watched by the guard bot, the team heard someone coming: It was a Butch Killer boss who drove up with a little convoy of Taliban-style pickups.
He was quite happy with the data that we gave them, and actually did pay up the sum that Snips had asked for: 520 platinums, or 26.000 $, in a mix of various currencies, hardware, and jewels.
“We wondered if we should pay or just off you”, he casually admitted. But they had decided to pay, as they saw no use in “starting a war”. Indeed, thought Snips, they had judged the group, or her, at least, right. Had they attacked instead of paying, she would have made sure to get out alive and return, with Messy and his grenades, to clean the slate, so the dismembered idiot could be useful for once. That was where Messy’s value lay: He did not fear risk.
Now they wanted to talk about D’s stash. They strongly felt that since it was in their territory, it belonged to them. Wyndham offered that we would give them the info for a finder’s fee: 20% of the value of the stash — unknown to both them and us, so that could be a lot or a little. A gamble.
Cash Zone began talking again and confused everybody by speaking of us giving them “a cut”. Again the situation got tight. But Wyndham was able to clarify and defuse the situation.
We spent the night in one of the ruins, while the Butch Killers looked for the stash in their HQ. They found it too. The next day, boss man returned Taliban style and showed what he had found: A multi-shot grenade launcher, fit for shooting gas grenades. “We have a problem,” boss man said, “about that 20% cut.”
“You know what,” said Cash Zone: “Keep it. It is yours. Our present for you. Enjoy!”
“Friend” of the Gang
Cash Zone fast-talked the Butch Killer boss and tried to worm a promise out of him: A promise that in the future, he would be recognized as a friend of the Butch Killers. “Yeah, sure,” offered the boss man, stroking his new grenade launcher. “I can’t promise you that the members will know you when they see you, though.”
“That is perfectly understandable,” smiled Cash Zone, wishing the Butch Killers lots of success in all their operations.
Snips was now pretty miffed with this guy. A little chicken who hides behind everyone else in each fight and gives away every piece of value to make “friends” while talking big game. So-called “friends”, who will not remember our group next week, if even tomorrow, judging by the common level of trustworthiness she had witnessed among gangs.
She quickly ushered the party back out of the Butch Killer territory the same way they had come, to make sure Cash Zone got no fresh opportunity to speak with any gang members. On the way back they collected the stashed retail bots and shared the profit. Even Cash Zone got his full share of the money he had been readily prepared to forego. Snips hoped he would appreciate it, but she did not really believe he was the appreciative type.
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
Snips 12 – Fighting Chaos
Snips 13 – Fighting Words
Image: Harry Ellis from Die Hard, Negotiator Extraordinaire