tagSci-Fi & FantasyA Lazy Mage Quests (Un)EZ Creds Ch. 08

A Lazy Mage Quests (Un)EZ Creds Ch. 08

bytisoz©

The story is set in an Urban Fantasy Dystopian Future decades after a War of the Worlds type Alien encounter on Earth. Nations and traditional governments fell due to the war and targeting by aliens. Corporations reacted first in the aftermath and usurped power and became "governments". Not only did our native viruses and bacteria kill the invaders, but the invaders brought their own viruses, technology, and specimens that devastated our world. Among the biggest was activation of dormant genes giving about 10% of the population some form of "magical" abilities. Another was changing about 50% of the population into various races resembling those from fantasy such as elves, dwarfs, orks and trolls. Their technology was amassed from across the galaxy and stolen without knowing all the consequences of its use or having paid the price to learn it. Nano technology seems to have been in common use by the aliens. The corporations and even a few individuals who first explored the alien ships after the war leveraged discovered loot into power and position. The gap between rich and poor widened considerably, with the rich becoming bigger and better exploiters while the exploited did anything to try to survive.

They got busy. Skid prepared the vehicles, checking to see if the tracking was disabled on all of the vehicles, and subscribing the ones with rigger remote controls to his deck. Knuckles and his guys loaded some of the bikes into other vehicles and the drones into sufficient trunk or cargo space in any of the vehicles. They also searched through the vehicles for loot. One of the ork gangers was bragging, giving a running tally of the loose change he was finding under the seats. Going through the motions of searching, Spector erased astral signatures, hoping to minimize the job he planned to finish after delivering vehicles and returning.

Manhandling one particularly unwieldy drone, the gang leader said, "Come on girls, put some funny bone lubricant into it."

As they prepped and checked vehicles, Knuckles asked, "How did you come up with the plan to hit the chop shop?"

Spector wondered if he should tell and decided it probably didn't matter. "I didn't really plan it. I came into a few vehicles last night after a bit of a ruckus and got a lead about a few places to unload them. This was one of the closest. When I got here, they decided they didn't like me and took everything I had including arms and armor. That sort of pissed me off. So I came back to get my stuff and decided to make it worth my while."

Knuckles looked at Spector in an entirely new light. This guy took all of them down after being disarmed - pretty much on the spur of the moment?!

The vehicles formerly belonging to the men now in the office contained a trove of articles useful to Skid Mark. Spector had little to no clue outside of the weapons what most of them were, but when Knuckles had Skid come over to check them out he looked like a kid on Christmas morning.

"This will make things a lot simpler and speed it all up," Skid said as he collected the morphing license plates clearly marked with the same color tape and alphanumeric code as some small chip cases, which Skid guessed, and upon a bit of investigation verified, were transponder libraries. One of the cars contained a remote control deck. Skid checked the deck, found two vehicles and two drones already linked to it and smiled as his work got that much easier. Skid took the morphing plates and instructed Spector to put them on the most valuable vehicles as Skid connected the corresponding transponder to the vehicle circuitry.

One of the watchers Spector had put on patrol outside the building alerted him. "Got some visitor approaching."

Just what we need Spector thought. I knew this was taking forever.

A knock sounded on the man size door. Spector and Skid looked at each other.

"I'll see what it is," Skid offered. Spector let him.

Skid went outside, returning a few moments later.

Grinning, Skid asked Spector, "Want to buy a car?"

"I think we have enough as it is," Spector said, playing the straight man and seeing where this was going.

"Oh, but this is a car missing from our grocery list of cars. If we buy it, the worst we should do is make a little cred. And buying it and sending the guy on his way may avoid raising any alarms. The guy said something about it being one of the ones he was to keep an eye out for."

Spector asked how much, got an answer, went to the credcards he'd found, rummaged through and found one with the amount he needed and passed it over to Skid. Skid completed the purchase and the visitor left.

"Can we get going before anyone else drops in?" Spector asked.

"Let me program the autonavs," Skid said. Spector gave the Tacoma address.

Skid recognized the address. "You know Teflon Joey?" he asked.

"Not really," Spector said. "I just got a tip he was in the business, and stopped by astrally to see if he was interested. He said to come on by. Or I guess it was him. It was the guy in charge. Or at least the guy in an office behind a desk."

"If you don't mind," Skid said, "I can do the talking. I've dealt with him before and kind of have a feel for the guy. I know they hate these guys," Skid nodded toward the office, "so probably don't have a problem with where the stuff came from. I can handle the whole transaction if you want."

Spector didn't take long to consider the offer. "Sounds good to me. Are we going to tell them about the buyers already lined up for the consignment?"

"We may as well," Skid said. "If the vehicles bring the prices listed in the mag, and we asked for half of that, we would be getting more than they usually bring on spec."

"Why not just contact the buyer directly and make the sale?" Spector asked.

"We could," Skid said, "but that means holding on to what vehicles are already here and then getting the rest of the ones on the list. If we offer up only the ones we have, they are going to wonder why we have them and not the fellows on the floor. So then you have to decide what to do with the fellows on the floor while assembling the rest of the order. If you thought what we did so far was tough, moving and keeping these," Skid indicated the surrounding vehicles, "and dealing with the fellows on the floor, then acquiring the remainder of the vehicles in a timely manner without the expertise to do so is going to seem like a huge task. I'm not saying it can't be done, but I don't think you are the guy to do it. Teflon Joey is. Besides, if we can get half of the prices listed in the centerfold, you are going to be ahead of what you would have gotten just selling them to Joey in the first place."

Spector didn't think about it too long. This had already turned into a much more complicated endeavor than he had anticipated. To think it all started with trying to sell a couple bikes and a van. Now it was stealing a building full of stolen vehicles and a murder. Spector just wanted to get it finished. "You are more than welcome to negotiate the deal with Joey," Spector said.

"Ok. Then I'd also like to program the autonavs to go to within a few blocks or so of Joey's shop. If we show up with a ton of stuff, he may start thinking volume discount. When we have a ballpark figure we agree on, or if he is interested in completing the list, we can always call and set the 'navs to bring them on in," Skid said.

At last, it looked like they were ready to get rolling. The ork gangers each chose a motorcycle to ride. Knuckles picked a nice BMW motorcycle. Spector got in a modified Mustang which had it's autonav removed. Skid got in the Prairie cat, needing something that could drive itself while he kept watch over the rigged vehicles.

Skid let everyone know to keep chill if any LEOs took an interest in them; he would send a chase car in to distract any attention. He hated losing a rigger slot but decided it was too important to have a drone airborne and providing overwatch for the operation. Spector called up as many watchers as possible and assigned one to Skids, one to Knuckles, One to the gang leader and then as many gang members as possible with instructions to follow their assignment, figuring if anyone strayed, he could track them down through the spirit before the spirit's time of service ended.

"Saddle up, boys," Skid said over a loudspeaker, "time to make like horse drek and hit the trail." In a moment it was hard to hear as half a dozen motorcycles roared to life. Vehicles filed out the building's overhead door and formed a convoy down to the first intersection. At that point, a vehicle turned right, the next left, the third going straight as the vehicles tried to look less like an actual convoy and more like normal traffic.

Damon's phone rang and he fished it out. "Hello."

"Yeah, this is Skid. I think we should each tag along with one of the groups, sort of just in case. You can go with the group going straight ahead, I'll have Knuckles and the bikers go with the ones taking the right and I'll go left which should get me to Joey's first."

"Sounds fine," Spector said. I'm going to hang back and see that everyone gets out ok. I'm glad I put spirits tails on as many as possible. Then he commanded one of his watery spirits to spray down the interior of the garage and try to obliterate anywhere he may have touched in any way. It didn't take long for the spirit to do the job, then Spector went to work erasing its astral signature.

Skid relayed the plan to Knuckles and got busy looking after all the rigged vehicles and the overwatch drone...which may have already spotted trouble. Skid repositioned the drone to eavesdrop.

At the first red light, the gang leader pulled up beside Knuckles. "Why don't we just ditch this flake, keep these wheels and circle back and strip that place? Lots of great stuff still there."

Knuckles paused as long as he judged the light would allow, then said, "Those guys you want to finish ripping off are in the spot they're in because they decided to try to steal from the guy you want to rip off. I think I'll do the deal we agreed to."

The light changed and Knuckles sped off. The gang leader let it sink in and followed.

A block further along, the leader spoke into the commlink hooked to his phone. "House," he spoke and the phone dialed. When the call was answered he said, "Get everyone and as much carrying capacity as possible. We have a chop shop to loot." He went on to quickly issue his orders.

Skid called his vehicle parked at The Hole Story and sent it to their destination so he could load his new drone after making the deal with Teflon Joey.

The convoys eventually made it to their destination, coming to stops in three groups.

Skid called Spector to let him know he was going in and to get any final instructions. Spector had none. Skid said, "Ok then. On with the show. By the way, you might consider giving Knuckles a bonus. I overheard him dissuade the rest of the gang from slipping away with the goods." Skid ended the call and went to meet Teflon Joey.

Surprised by the news, Spector was relieved no further double cross transpired. Spector shifted his perception to the astral plane, saw no threats, then shifted his essence to the plane. He quickly caught up to Skid and followed him to the meeting, unseen on the astral.

As Spector returned to his meat body, he was relieved the meeting had gone off almost without a hitch. At least no gunfire had been exchanged. Skid had somehow put together an actual presentation.

After getting Teflon Joey's permission, Skid hooked his pocket computer to Joey's video screen, then pulled up the list of vehicles from the PlayOrk®. Skid explained they were part of a consignment being put together for a buyer. The last party holding them had decided to pass the deal on to Skid and his associates. The next screen added prices to the list of vehicles, the prices listed in the magazine. Teflon Joey pointed out all the prices were very generous, to which Skid agreed, then went to the next screen which added the remaining to be acquired vehicles accompanied by their generous prices. Then Skid made the offer: he would tell Joey who the buyer was, Joey could keep ten percent of the proceeds for the vehicles he and his associates were delivering for brokering the deal and Joey could acquire the rest of the vehicles and keep all of the proceeds from them. Teflon Joey sarcastically said how nice of Skid to let him keep all the proceeds from the yet to be acquired vehicles since he would need to do all the work to acquire them. To which Skid replied true, but he was supplying the name of the generous buyer who had already requested them.

Joey asked what happened if the buyer backed out of the deal due to a new supplier, to which Skid pulled up another screen listing all the drones and vehicles on hand accompanied by their current market value. They negotiated for a percentage of the market value payable in certified cred upon delivery. If the deal with the buyer was completed, Joey would pay an additional amount which would bring the total close to 85% of the magazine prices. Not a 10% brokerage fee but more like 15%, but still substantially above what they would normally bring.

On his way back to his set of vehicles, Skid Mark called Knuckles and Rev letting them know it was ok to start bringing the vehicles to Joey and to let Joey's crew know it was part of the Skid Mark deal. Mark parked his own vehicle where it had line of sight to Teflon Joey's place and tasked a camera to record the vehicles entering the building. Then he programmed an aerial drone to patrol over the building and record what transpired below. Satisfied he could produce proof of delivery, Skid Mark went to work on the drone he was keeping as payment.

Rev parked the Mustang near where Skid Mark was transferring the Iron Tiger™. "I have a few more vehicles I could use your help with," Rev said. "And are you interested in this one at all? I don't know rigger vehicles that much, but this seems to have been heavily modified to go fast."

Continuing what he was doing with the drone, Mark said, "It isn't all about going fast." Then he laughed. "But it usually helps. Where are these other vehicles, what needs done and exactly what and how many are there?"

"The airport and the arcology. Same thing as these others needed, I think. A van, a Porche, and 4 bikes, 2 Suzuki, a Yamaha and a BMW," Rev said.

"You want me to check them for tracking and disable any I find and put transponder libraries and morphing plates on them?" Skid asked.

"Definitely. What else would one need if one or two were to be kept?" Rev asked. "Say the van or Porche."

"You'd want papers for it. A title, registration so you don't run into trouble trying to register it. To do it right, you'd want a clean VIN and matching title. That is something more along what Joey does," Skid said.

"How much does that run?" Rev asked

"Maybe 5K. Maybe more depending on the vehicle. Usually, I think they take a wreck of similar model and switch the actual VINs on the car. The wreck gets parted out like wrecks do. So the VIN is sort of gravy," Skid said. "So the van and bikes are likely more disposable, you could go buy a legit used one for less than it would cost to make a stolen one legit. So you are left with the Porche, and unless it is some rare model, it should run around 5K," Skid said. "Have you thought about keeping that rollback shop truck? That could come in handy if you keep having these vehicles fall in your lap. Or even if you wanted to run a part time or small business. Towing. Repo work. Hire some of that crowd of Knuckles's pretty cheap."

"You almost had me considering it," Rev said, "until the part about Knuckles's crowd. My luck, there'd be a daily shooting and as the legit owner I'd be in jail or civil court by the end of the week sued for every dime I'd ever see."

Laughing, Skid said, "True. That was not the best example of cheap employees. I know several mechanics, so I can probably drum up some steady business. You have control of the vehicle. Want to go into business?"

"I'd have to think about it a bit more," Rev said, meaning it.

"Want to hold it out of the deal for the time being while you think about it? If you are serious about thinking about it, some of these drones could come in handy for part of the business model I have in mind. Holding them back a little while wouldn't hurt," Skid said. "Maybe at least until we are done messing with your other vehicles. It looks like we might be returning with a Porche in a bit."

"So you aren't really interested in this 'Stang?" Rev asked.

"Nope. That's a toy, a luxury. And by the looks of it a rich or foolish man's toy. I'm not in a position to afford things like that yet, but this rollback, it'd pay its keep and I'm guessing, plenty more," Skid said.

"Ok, let's hold back the ones you think are worth holding back and I'll think about it as we get this stuff done," Rev said.

Knuckles's recruits turned over their consignment of bikes and came to Rev and the rollback to collect their pay.

As Rev made a pretence of searching credcards for the correct amount, he casually asked, "Would you guys be interested in taking this bike as payment?" He nodded toward the Suzuki still loaded on the rollback.

After a quick quiet conference, they took Rev up on the offer, got the bike off loaded, and two were shortly speeding away on it with their three comrades following after at a walk.

"Nice trade," said Skid. "You cut our unloading by one vehicle, both of you probably got what you'd rather have - you the cred and them a nice bike, and now you don't need to even see if running them back to where you picked them up was implied as part of the deal. Especially that smelly one," Mark said with a smile. "You seem to have a knack for wheeling and dealing. You'd probably do pretty good as a small business owner."

Knuckles stuck around to help them get everything delivered, then covered the entrance as Rev and Mark met with Teflon Joey to finalize things and get paid. Things were going along smoothly until a disagreement came up about the vehicle count. Joey said one hadn't been logged as arriving. Asking for permission to hook into the vid screen, Skid brought up the feed from the overhead drone, quickly scanned back the video of the vehicle entering the building, then fast forwarded through the feed to the end.

Pulling out his phone, Skid placed a call. "Knuckles, wave to us," Skid said and they watch on screen as a person outside the building waved. "So it looks like the vehicle entered the building and nothing left the building since then. I'm sure we could help you find it if you want. The mage guy who set this up could probably put a spirit or two on the job and find it in no time... if you want," Skid let the offer hang.

Relief flooded Rev as Joey said, "Probably one of my guys trying to make it disappear and keep it for himself. I'll find it. Really can't blame the guy for trying, that was a lot of inventory you delivered. Nice payday, too."

"You want to make some of it back?" Skid asked

"I'm always interested in making some money. What've you got needing done?"

"We might need VINs and papers on two or three more," Skid said. "A Ford 450 and a Porche, maybe a BMW bike."

"I could probably do that," Teflon Joey said, "say 5k for the car and truck and 2k for the bike."

"Sounds fair, but we need to finalize plans. If we decide not to keep them, are you interested in buying them?" Skid asked.

"Sure, if they are in as good of shape as these are. Nice bunch of inventory you brought in," Teflon Joey said. He paid what they agreed on up to this point in certified cred cards, pointing out that two cards contained 5k each and a third was good for 2k. Just in case you come back may as well make it as quick and simple as possible. They agreed to get back in touch in two days to allow Joey time to contact the buyer and set up a new deal. Then Skid and Rev exited.

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