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Uncaring Stars

May 14th, 2077, Worms, ADL

The old bunker structure groaned as the echo of the last shaped charge died down. Over a hundred kilo of the strongest explosives, and the bulwark still resisted. And yet the collapse had already begun. First with little pebbles dropping from the ceiling. Then one by one bigger pieces broke loose and tumbled down and only an instant later, the whole hill sagged inwards, forming a new crater, burrying all the evidence and equipment below.
<<Eliza, mission accomplished. Location is clear. My team... they didn't make it. Extraction... oh drek... [Connection Lost]>>

May 15th, 2077, the skys above Worms, ADL
The situation was bad. All primary assets were gone now. Either dead, captured or too seriously hurt.
<<Eliza, I need a new team - experienced runners. Combat experience.>>
<<You realize that this will be expensive.>>
<<I don't care. The alternative would be even more expensive. The lodge must be stopped.>>
<<I know a group that fits the profile. I worked with them a while ago. I will ask them, but there will be full disclosure. Should I continue?>>
<<Yes, damn it. Time is of the essence. Land this thing and get your crew. And get the bull as well.>>
<<As you wish.>>

May 16th, 2077, Europe

bnc, Sharkboy, Anna and Nova received a high priority text with the sender identifying as Eliza, their remote hacker/rigger that had watched over the team during their last engagement. It read:
<<If you are free at the moment, a client of mine has need of your unique services. Please find attached coordinates for a meeting as well as a 5000 advance - you can keep the money regardless if you accept or not, as long as you show up tomorrow at noon in Worms. Consider the money as travel expenses. Ideally bring your gear as well.>>

Taurus received a slightly different message from his earstwhile employer:
<<A friend of a friend has requested your service. I agreed to facilitate contact between him and you. Could be a bug hunt, but the organizer is paying you handsomely just to show up for their pitch (Attachement. 5000). Coordinates follow. High Noon tomorrow. Anyway, good luck.>>
The last three months...

Has it really been three months? Time had flown by so quick, it's still like everything happened last week. Thanks to the extensive connections of her team-mates and their employer, they got a nice amount of Nuyen for their trouble, and there has been plenty of that. It was very appreciated, Nova was not quite so well-connected, yet, and most of her contacts were in the area. Still, it was good to see Dr. Novotny again. She had done most of the work on the cyber lady and there was more to do. Some adjustments, some small surgery, some gene therapy. A trip to Berlin, where Nacl could allow them to get some more expensive and less invasive 'ware, followed for a small procedure. The doctors showed her some plans of what they could do with her augmentations, but Nova couldn't afford a complete overhaul, even if she wanted. It had to remain a goal for the future.

May 16th, 2077, AGS, Munich

Then Eliza called.

<< Hey Eliza! Good to hear from you again. I will be there. I know you're good for it. >>

Looking the destination up, Nova decided, that it might be better to get there the same day, in case there were any holdups. It was a few hour drive after all.

<< @Eliza: Can you recommend a secure place to stay, and where I can leave the hardware? Overnight, at least, maybe longer, if the job is in the area. >>

Around afternoon, she had her stuff packed. A huge backpack and some side bags for her bike. Traffic was fairly light. About four hours later, she arrived in Worms when the sun was about to set. There was still some time to take a long walk and acquaint herself with the surroundings a bit, maybe hit a club.

May 17th, 2077, AGS, Worms

After only a few hours sleep, thanks to her new sleep regulator, Nova enjoyed a quiet breakfast, before making her way to the meeting point on her white Mirage. Dressed in sharp business attire, Zo designer suit with black gloves and heeled boots, the woman looked more businesswoman than runner. The blonde hair was worn long and open, and her eyes covered by chic orange sunglasses. She carried herself with the usual composure and confidence. About mid-twenty, she had those attractive features of slavic women. While she was not tall, her build and her lithe moves suggested, that she kept herself fit. There was a fairly large messenger bag with the strap over one shoulder and slung across her slender body, that mostly contained a sturdy case, from the looks of it.
Since we last saw our favorite half-shark half-amazing wrestler

Christoph had been busy the past three months. A hefty paycheck meant he had the rare freedom to turn down some drek jobs while spent time as a vatjob at some Berlin clinic doc salt recommended. After the rehab required when people augment your bones, and gave him a second set of eyelids to complete the whole "shark-man" thing he was going for, he finished learning those Muay Thai techniques he'd been interested in.

Tiger-Shark Knee, Mother-Fucker!

He'd finished editing together footage of that chopper dive, his promo, and whatever else his cameras and gear had picked up. Now staying in Frankfurt, Christoph was in good health, he was faster to react, slower to lose control, better trained than ever before, and most importantly he was low on cash, so it was time to get back to work.

The WWWF's European Tour had been over for at least a month, which mean Kennedy Vincent wasn't interested in his behavior for the time being. Tim Haber probably was, though.

<<@Tim <Hey Tim, your favorite vampire-killing shark man's rehab is all done. You saw the jump from the chopper, right? What kind of spot you got for me on the card. I know you've got one, now.>>

Sooner than expected, Christoph received a priority text. Didn't expect a reply so quick- oh frag.. Christoph threw on his mask again, and the Sharkboy that Eliza last remembered speaking with sent his reply.

<@Eliza <Good to hear from you again. You're sending not me after someone's dear family being hunted by vampires again, are you? If this isn't our previous client, am I right to assume I also won't be working with the same drug abuser and Ms Black, again?>>

Even as Sharkboy repeated the mantra "just the two hot girls" in his head over and over, he recognized that he wasn't turning down over a months rent for just taking an hour train ride to hear from some panicking Johnson.
Eliza replied immediately to Nova:
<<I have a secure accomodation for you and the rest of the team. Same location as the meeting. I can't go into detail at the moment, but I'm very happy to have you on board.>>

Sharkboy received the following:
<<No, this is not a contract from the "family" as you say. But depending on her reply, you might meet her again. Sorry. But you are the most qualified and available operators I know. Rest assured, the compensation will be commensurate.>>
The last three months

After what happened, bnc had to sort out a lot of things. Primarily, of course, her relationship to Kerstin. But she also had to deal with Wraith and another, more sombre, ghost of her past: Dmeyk. Mostly, though, herself. As bnc slowly reaches adulthood, she becomes more and more self-aware - and self-conscious. Thus it happened that despite herself she never called Anna. When Anna texted her, she replied something along the lines "sure! Let's meet. I should be free at ... uhm, I'll call you!" But whether it was lack of will or time or priority or psychic stability or all of these Anna never knew. bnc never managed to meet her.

bnc and Kerstin picked a flat in Freistadt, very close to the borders of the Czech republic where they could enjoy relative peace and freedom. Both of them could recover, both physically and mentally, and bnc had some space to tinker with James and roam the mountains. Both of them had some intense surgery going on. While Kerstin tried to restore her humanity as well as she could, bnc did the opposite. Further augmentations of the powerhouse inside her skull moved her another couple of inches away from her human self and towards an ice-cold machine. From time to time, it made her shiver. But then, the less human she was, the easier it became to shrug these shivers away. With moving, spending their money, training, tinkering and licking her wounds, the three months passed in an instant.
And so did her money.

May 16th

bnc eagerly opened the message, her heart racing. Oh frag. 5k in advance, even if I don't take the job? That sounds desperate. Also urgent. Also deadly.
Also the only thing that pays my rent paid and stockpile of parenteral nutritional products.

<@Eliza <i'm in>> she texts to Eliza, then enters RL, gets up and walks out to Kerstin's shooting range. "Sis!", she calls out. "I have a job."
Her voice doesn't carry any excitement. bnc has no illusions about the dangers of a job this size. She'd spend a night of quality time with her older sister, knowing it might be their last.

But first, business.
bnc gets back into her VR chair and checks out the meeting point. Where it is, what people say about it. She'd enter the host and take a look at it. If it's a restaurant, she might attempt to hack the host and take a look at the guest list. If there are any cameras on site, she might want to intercept them. If there are maps to be found, she'll find them. Satellite recordings, gossip - whatever she can find on short notice.
<@Eliza <I guess I'll find out when I pack up all my stuff, and hitch a ride down there. Don't worry, you had me at the meet once you offered 5k to take a day trip>>

Sharkboy looked around his room at the Sofitel Opera Frankfurt and groaned, not expecting to start packing for a couple more weeks. Traveling wasn't that hard for him. He really on had hide some explosive arrows and grenades, which wasn't that hard in the grand scheme of things. The rest of his stuff was legal, licensed, or a prop for a promo-shoot. Rent-a-cops usually didn't mess with the tin-man wearing a suit and a ballistic mask, anyway.

The morning of the meet, he informed the front desk that he wasn't checking out, expecting to return later that afternoon. He spent most of the train ride thinking about how to make a good entrance with all his luggage.
bnc frowns, swallowing a curse. Then her mood lightens a bit. Just one more thing to check before going.

<@Eliza <two short questions:
a) who m i gonna work with?
b) If you add some salt to red crystals, what will happen to those crystals?>>

While James packs her stuff, bnc takes care of the most important things. She had, of course, been the one to take care of financials, contracts and all the "brain stuff". The last couple weeks, her recordings and systems had been a chaotic mess of folders and tables, incomprehensible to all but the one who'd written all of it. She spent some time to arrange all this data into machine-comprehensible structures. That done, she initiates a delayed order of an agent system designed to take care of all things in case bnc should not return. The timer is set for 14 days. If bnc wouldn't abort the purchase, the agent would auto-download itself and support Kerstin after bnc's disappearance.
To her, she doesn't say anything about it. Instead, after taking care that all drones are charged, she spends an evening of drinking and laughing and probably crying with Kerstin. One they go to bed, however, bnc goes online, letting her sleep regulator take care of her fatigue. She sets up a last will and takes care of all the problems she can anticipate for Kerstin when living alone: transferring ownerships and permissions, writing tutorials, and so on. She books two tickets for those fancy high-speed trains they do in the ADL and a driverless cab for the route Freistadt-Linz and one from Worms to the desgnated location. Then she jumps into James, checks if he had packed everything according to her desire and takes a look at satellite images of the meeting point.

Once everything is set, she still can't sleep. Then she remembers that that's what she bought the regulator for, and switches herself off.
The anticlimatic feeling rushing from the high of a job well done to the depressing routine of being on her own in a foreign country. Splliterbruch helped ease that time, and the two were spending a lot of their spare time together. Anna's spare time was scarce, and she had plenty of money. More than she possibly needed for her modest lifestyle, and she had real motivation to establish herself as a mage. Binding the power focus was a start, and afterward, nothing felt the same again.

Doing magic became easy, and her intuitive understanding of it improved. That realization led to a fundamental change in her appreciation for magic. She started as the all-natural mage - but then she never imagined owning such a useful power focus. With it, the young mage spent months studying spell after spell and dramatically expanding her knowledge in multiple fields of magic. When Eliza makes the call, Anna has stopped for a moment to think if she needs a break.

Money was still enough, and there were a lot more things to accomplish. "I need the connections though," she finally said. With no much to notify, she settles for a text to Splitterbruch.

">> Eliza, thanks for keeping me in mind. I'll be there to hear the proposal.

">>Working, I'll call if I can meet."

She takes her shadow beg, adds reagents, and tells her bound spirit Sophie. "There is work; it should be an opportunity for you to get a few services marked."
Eliza replied to bnc's inquiry:
<<Your potential colleagues are mostly who you worked with last time. Anna, Nova, Sharkboy. We have another potential heavy weight that might join.
As to your second question: I'm not sure what you mean. The Salt causes blood crystal development. Adding more Salt will likely do nothing or increase the development rate.>>

To Anna she replied:
<<I'm happy to hear that and look forward to working with you again.>>
bnc replies <@Eliza <awesome. the fishman. all good honey. just wanted 2 check whether u r the real thing conidering how dis looks an awful lot like a trap. actually with salt i meant natriumchloride but u pretty much got the point nonetheless. cu hon ... or not, really>>

So this is the real thing. I ... I do feel thrilled about it, I think.

Once the job is confirmed, bnc sends a request to Singularity to relaunch the abo she cancelled after finishing the last job.

Next day, James, her and some luggage went high-speed to Worms. On her way, she texts Anna <@Anna <u on the way 2 worms hon?>>

There, they change into the driverless cab or rental car - which is basically the same - she booked for the rest of the evening. This brings her to a street some two or three kilometers from the site. Before visiting it, bnc sets her Munin drone loose to get some decent intel before she arrives at the place and checks the matrix for any icons (silent or not). When everything seems to be clear, bnc prepares her emergency gear - cereprax in her auto-injector, couple of booster clouds and more drugs at hand - and jumps into James. Depending on how late she is, he strolls or jogs to the side. bnc times his speed to arrive precisely at 12.00.

[ Spoiler ]
Anna actually makes the ride on her new Suzuki mirage. Her driving skills are rudimentary and she upgraded the autopilot as much as money afforded.

>> Driving hon... can't chat. she thinks a reply with her trodes. She shouldn't divide her attention like that, but driving is exciting and is considerably more enjoyable than taking the train. The open-air - and the (completely legal) speed makes her feel a tad of rush, one she fears would wear out as soon as she is skilled enough to really test her bike. She'll arrive a bit early, and allow herself a few minutes to make sure she is presentable before the meet.
Sharkboy rode the train and arrived by foot a couple hours early. He (probably conspicuously) scoped out the area the meeting would take place. He was looking for a couple of things. A place to avoid police and put down his bags without being bothered. More importantly he needed to find the right direction from which to make an official arrival.
Getting close to the location, you notice, that the meeting spot is not inside the city, but instead a good distance in the wild. From the nearest dirt road it is still five minutes on foot through dense forrest. You reach a clearing - but something is wrong with it: Despite there being no trees around, you can still see a dense canopy of greenery above.
In the center of the clearing you can see a funny looking house: Their isn't one angle on it, that is 90 the walls look like glazed gingerbread and from it's likewise gingerbread textured roof a thin black mist seems to radiate upwards into the canopy.
A single, open door is visible, but no windows.

[ Spoiler ]
When Nova was close to the destination, she stopped the bike on some dirt road next to the forest. The coordinates would send her right through the green.

<< @Eliza: I am nearby. One question. Am I supposed to go through the woods or around it? And what with the bike? >>

After getting the rest of the route confirmed, and that there is no actual road towards it, Nova drives / pushes the bike through the forest and into the clearing. Occasionally, she had to get some undergrowth out of the way first.

And how would you get your luggage here, if you needed a car? she thought to herself, wondering.
Before entering the clearing, bnc parks James somewhere nearby and jumps into her Munin to inspect the strange greenery and the house closer, inspecting it for possible surprises. If she finds nothing of particular interest, she lets the dove-shaped drone roam the area on auto-pilot, allowing the clever system to move the drone around the way a real dove would.

[ Spoiler ]

Then she jumps back into James. The handsome young man enters the clearing 12.00 sharp. The tan skin and wavy hear gives him a somewhat beachboyish look despite the fact that his hair is darkbrown. Intricate maoro/tribal style tattoes cover the right cheek and neck. His eyes are ochre but with a fascinating pattern of the slimmest gold lines inlayed, giving it a quite natural and realistic appearance from a couple meters distance, but revealing it to be cybereyes when close up. James is about six feet tall and well-built, though not bulky at all. It's rather a climber's figure than a wrestler's. The right arm is a polished chrome-cyberarm with a mat tan polish. He's wearing an elegant Sleeping Tiger suit but no obvious arms.

[ Spoiler ]

When he sees Nova, Sharkboy and Anna, he raises an arm to wave towards them. The same instant, you see an ARO requesting you to join a new group voice channel.
Ugh, the 'great' outdoors again.

Sharkboy does not enjoy his walk through the woods, getting lost a couple of times before finally arriving at the clearing. He finds no joy when he actually reaches the clearing and sees the structure waiting for them.

What fresh hell is this?

Still, he doesn't waste his early arrival. Sharkboy does a walk around the perimeter, reaching out with all his senses to look for any electronic devices or watchers who think they can hide from him. He does a couple of loops around the clearing before ending on the side of the clearing opposite of the house door. He waits to hear someone arrive before making his presence known. It's not the best choice, as he can't exactly tailor his entrance to an audience he can't see. He simply comes around the side of the house, arms held out above his head, yelling out a loud "What took you so long, eh?"

Once the first arrives, Sharkboy stays out with them in front of the house, but doesn't engage in any conversation beyond introductory pleasantries. Professional as he might be, his greeting make it quite clear how he feels about them.

"Nova! I'm sure it will be a pleasure to work together again,"offering a handshake with one hand as the other clasped her shoulder.

"Ms. Black, glad you could make it," a handshake and a head nod.

"bnc," with no further acknowledgement beyond turning his head to say such.

Sharkboy intercepts the bull when he arriving. Parking himself in front of the mintoaur with crossed arms and a wide stance as he surveys the newcomer, he doesn't say anything for an awkward length of time. Finally he breaks the silence and offers a hand with a casual but confident, "Yeah, I could take you. Call me Sharkboy."

[ Spoiler ]
*I hope it is not a trap* she thinks as the GPS navigator brings her through the woods. Her bike is not planned for off-road driving and she takes it slow and steady. Anna is a bit suspicious when she arrives, so she takes her gun out of the trunk, the ruthenium coated piece quickly disguises itself on her short dress. She considers if she wants the intuition spell if it is a trap or prefers the charisma spell for negotiation - but decides to trust humanity enough for the charisma spell.

She asseneses her surrounding before she approaches natural biomes are a pleasurable sight and are distracting, and still she tries to locate possible threats.

[ Spoiler ]

She greets Nova, and Shark warmly, "Nova, Shark!" she adds "Really good to meet you again." She restraints her enthusiasm somewhat to Shark's polite handshake. Though, Anna is genuinely happy to meet familiar faces. When bnc arrives, Anna waves at her and then her smile widens as she sees James "You fixed him!" she says with astonishment. Addressing the realistic (but obviously robot) drone she says "Looking sleek James!".

Sharkboy's senses reveal, that there is quite a lot of electronics inside the small structure - but only while he walks past the open door. Once he lost line of sight to that, no more signals registered.

Anna found the nature here surprisingly alive and active. The background count was high and aspected towards plants and living beings - perfect for druidic magic, less so for chaos. She even spots a few low level elemental spirits, predominantly water and earth that have their home here.
A well dressed, and well built, minotaur walks into the clearing, clearly confused and a little annoyed.

"Hello, I was told to be here. Are one of you the Johnson?" he says in German with a strong Mediterranean accent.
Nova has already been there, when the rest arrived, as she came in the night before. Unless there is some kind of garage hidden in or under the building, her bike is parked outside on the clearing.

She is happy to see every single one of them, knowing that they are all competent in their respective fields, and greets them as friends.

"It is good to see you again. I hope you have been well during the last months."

When she notices a certain coolness between some of them, especially Sharkboy and bnc, which was to be expected, she says:

"I hope you had enough time to cool off and are ready for a new beginning. There is enough drama on the trid. Especially those spanish channels. They are wild."

When the minotaur arrives, the russian woman nods to him.

"Welcome then, big boy. I'm Nova. And no, noone here is the Johnson. We are about to meet at noon."
"Hello Nova, you can call me Taurus. I realize it is a bit on the nose, so to speak, but I am fairly new to all of this." the minotaur will cautiously offer a handshake to her. "Has your group worked together, or all we all meeting for the first time?"
Nova shakes Taurus' hand. Her grip is remarkably strong for her tiny size and slender built (especially compared to him), obviously not quite his level, but fairly high-end for a human.

"We know each other, yes."
(Sorry I missed this earlier. -Crossbow)

QUOTE (SquirrelDude @ Jun 6 2020, 10:00 AM) *
Sharkboy intercepts the bull when he arriving. Parking himself in front of the mintoaur with crossed arms and a wide stance as he surveys the newcomer, he doesn't say anything for an awkward length of time. Finally he breaks the silence and offers a hand with a casual but confident, "Yeah, I could take you. Call me Sharkboy."

"Sharkboy? Like the guy on trid? Guess we will have to see sometime, call me Taurus." he will say, taking the hand.
A minotaur that wants to be called Taurus? I feel racist already... The imposing figure looks built for destruction. "I wonder why they did not call Wraith." she thinks. While more comfortable in English, "Anna" she presents herself. "I am a mage" she adds plainly in German with noticeable English accent.
"I haven't worked with many of those. What kind of spellcasting do you do?" he says, curiously.
Eliza pinged the group: <<If you don't mind, I left the door open so you could come in. The boss isn't as nimble as she was.>>

The inside of the structure reveal a very different aesthetic: Chrome finish and blinking lights welcome you. There is a small kitchen with food synthesizer and microwave, six VR chairs and a small bathroom.
The rest of the place is mainly lockers and electronics.

Behind a kind of desk, an old woman in a hightech wheel chair sits. Her long white hair is bound into a complicated shape that reminds you of pretzels. Her skin almost completely brown from age spots and her hands look thin and fragile. Nonetheless, her eyes are of a piercing blue and her gaze sharp. Her riggid posture and stern expression reminds you of an oldtimey headmaster.

Behind her on a large trid-screen, Eliza's face smiles at you.
QUOTE (Crossbow @ Jun 6 2020, 01:40 PM) *
"Sharkboy? Like the guy on trid? Guess we will have to see sometime, call me Taurus." he will say, taking the hand.
"The one and only."

Sharkboy waits for others to enter the witch's hut before taking in the chrome interior for himself.

"So what's the job so important that we're being paid to interview for it?"
Taurus will walk in first, once he has assessed a lack of immediate threat he will stand aside, letting the rest enter.
The voice of the old woman is clear and sharp: "Good day, Sharkboy. You are here, because I am in need of people who are prepared to set things right by any means necessary. I recently lost an other team to my opposition. I need you to visit their last mission grounds and recover a data storage device. If you can do that successfully I have a series of other jobs around Europe that I need your help with.
You can call me Muhme. For the retreival job, I'm prepared to pay each of you 10000€ - provided you can get the data back within the next 24 hours and leave no copies behind."
Anna replies "I specialize in spell defense, but I also do sorcery and conjuring. Utility spells mainly, I use a pistol for self-defense. So no fireballs like in the movies." She leave her bag in the bike, and heads in after Nova. The chromed woman has some relaxing atmosphere to her, perhaps because chrome dulls out strong emotions, or perhaps because Nova is one stable woman.

Nova moved straight to one of the chairs. There was a really large backpack and a couple other bags put on the ground near the lockers, where she had deposited her stuff over night.

She nodded towards the elder woman. "Ma'am."
"by lost you mean... that they died?" Anna says with a painful look on her face, and genuine concern in her voice "Do you know what happened there?"
"Unfortunately, not. The last transmission was interrupted, but the background sound indicates gunfire. The team was sent to a secure data center, capture a certain file and destroy the center."
Eliza cut in:
<<I have scoured the police channels: There was no mention of them arresting anyone at the site after the explosion. Since the bunker the data center was housed in allows no transmissions to the outside, the surviving runner must have been outside when his call was terminated.>>

"The question is now: Are you prepared to take this mission or not. I don't have time to waste and the trails grow cold while we speak. You receive further details once you agree."

Nova just let that stand there.

"I, for one, am willing to hear more."

We can still negotiate then...
Anna feels as if she is about to reject the job. There is simply not enough information to agree, and there is a team of already dead runners. With vogue references to explosions, and a pay which while generous is not that exciting to take an extreme risk to her personal health. Trying to keep it professional she asks "What kind of resistance are we expected to face?"
"You are up against dangerous people. The good news is, they hate attention and usually try to get things done by proxy - either through local law enforcement or bribed gangers and some of the more unsavory polyclubs. On occassion they also hire mercenaries. Dragging their business into the light is my business."
Muhme replied.
Sharkboy rolled his eyes at the offer.
This is some bullshit

"You want people willing to do 'anything' to get this device. You want us to retrieve this gear within 24 hours, leaving no time to engage with contacts, no time to find a subtle way to gain access, and no time to realistically get specific tools. We're provoking some kind of well-funded secret organization, who will probably be ready for our raid, and probably ready to follow us personally when the job is done.

"10k and "future jobs" doesn't cut it. It don't even come close."
James approached and, at the sight of Nova, hugged the woman in a strong, yet not rough embrace. "So good to see you, Nova. I'm glad you're here."
Then he turns to Anna, cracking a smile. "Nice to see you, too. Sorry for having been an - sorry for being an asshole, really." He hugs Anna, too, trailing his hand down her back.
Then he nods curtly to Sharkboy. "Sharkboy.
"I wonder why Wraith didn't come."

Ignoring Nova's remark on drama, she turns to the horned hulk. "A minotaur called Taurus, eh? Figure it musta been hell for your mom to tell her kids apart. Name's bnc. I'm the lot's decker. Pleasant."

Trailing in between the others, James takes in the surroundings with a frown. Something's profoundly weird about this woman. He nods toward her, saying "Tach auch" with a somewhat ironic voice as Mrs. Johnson didn't even bother to greet them. After taking place, he doesn't say anything, letting the others do the haggling. She's never been good at that part anyway.
QUOTE (SquirrelDude @ Jun 7 2020, 02:47 PM) *
Sharkboy rolled his eyes at the offer.
This is some bullshit

"You want people willing to do 'anything' to get this device. You want us to retrieve this gear within 24 hours, leaving no time to engage with contacts, no time to find a subtle way to gain access, and no time to realistically get specific tools. We're provoking some kind of well-funded secret organization, who will probably be ready for our raid, and probably ready to follow us personally when the job is done.

"10k and "future jobs" doesn't cut it. It don't even come close."

The English Muhme speaks is accented German, but very clear and precise: "That is what I am offering. What do you have to offer? 24 hours is not the precise time you have - but the longer you take, the harder it will be for you to ensure there are no other copies of the data floating around. What do you think your service is worth?"
James shoots a glance at Sharkboy.
"I'm in, for fuck's sake. Could you kindly give me a full disclosure while Living Sushi pretends to haggle badly? I could use some creds. Just send me the files or invite me to a mark."
Of fucking course she does. Sharkboy is already distracted. He looks at James, but it clears to others who he is speaking to.

"You can't even wait till we're on a job to undermine what we're trying to do, huh?"
"I don't know who you mean by "we". You're free to negotiate while I siphon through the data. That's what deckers do. Take your time. I'll just use mine in the meanwhile."
Sharkboy shakes his head and frustration, and then refocus on James, looking past him while speaking. "Oh! Is bicentennial man here a decker a too, now? For a minute I thought you just were insulting me from behind a robot toys like always."
James just cocks an eyebrow at Sharkboy and turns his attention back on Muhme.
"That is quite enough. You will receive all the information I have shortly. But I am not negotiating single contracts.
The travel expenses I granted you were more than generous, Sharkboy. It was clear from the start that this would be a rush job. And if you were afraid of danger, you certainly wouldn't have jumped from a helicopter into a moving vehicle with armed men inside.
Eliza can vouche for me and the veracity of my offer. I am an old woman and haven't got time to waste otherwise: So tell me: What is your price for taking on this run?"

The stern voice shows more than a bit of annoyance, but maybe that too is just a negotiation trick.
Sharkboy huffs, but is able to regain his composure.

"30k. 10k up front on top of the 5k for this meeting. 10k Bonus if we get it done in 24 hours. 10k Bonus if we can prove we wiped other copies of the data. I'm not incurring medical fees, not getting paid, and getting roped into more work because your Illuminati already moved some copy across the country.

"Also, an expense account to cover travel, board, and any gear we need during the job. Ideally someone you trust to run these rush orders for us, and also let you know what we're buying. Don't want you to think we're taking advantage of you, but I hate worrying about whether I can afford to do a job."

"You are getting 20k in total and no bonus. The next job will be 10k + a bonus if I'm satisfied with your performance. The whole operation hinges on the fact that I have the data and the opposition doesn't.
I am taking care of your travel and living arrangements. Should you get hurt, I'll throw in an Aspirin.
And if you are done wasting time, Eliza can give you the details while you get back on the road."

By now a definite edge had crept into her voice and somehow she appeared taller in her wheelchair than a person in a wheelchair reasonably should look.
Anna's face are serious and she nods in agreement trying to support Shark. She is uncertain how skilled he is in negotiations, but since he took the lead she remains silent and quietly supports him. She feels that Sharkboy is a bit too confrontational, and does not want a good deal exploding for egos. Yet, he does score a higher pay so she remains silent. Perhpas taking some negotiation notes form the Shark.
Sharkboy recognized this was a little risky for a first meeting with someone looking to employ them in the future, but he couldn't help but feel they had her over a barrel here. And well, carny gonna carny. He kept his tone firm, and tried his best to confront her with another counter-offer without being confrontational.

"Ma'am, the mission, 'your' mission, hinges on being able to hire us to find the data people already died trying to retrieve.

"20k with 5k up front and 10k of potential bonuses. 5k for completing it in 24 hours, and 5k for evidence of a total data wipe. Guarantee of payment even if a copy of the data was transported before we arrive on site.

"Reimbursement for rush orders to get gear we deem necessary to complete the job, pending your or Eliza's approval."
"You overestimate your value. It is true that I have little time, but the overarching mission will not benefit if I squander my funds now, when the main work is yet to be done and financed. My offer is more than generous. Quite frankly spoken: Take this offer, or leave now, so we can get to the details of this operation."
The woman is now clearly annoyed and her piercing stare quite unnerving.
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