There is a huuuuuuuuuuuuuge market for scrap of all kinds. And mostly that market is in Dogwood. Dogwood’s factories are eager to take all the tech that the prospectors in Vanished Point can dig up. But they’re also eager to take kind of anything. If it can be melted down and reused to feed the churning factories of the Kingdom, Dogwood wants it.
A lot of that scrap flows to Vesper, though, because Vesper is slightly more attractive to certain kinds of prospector than Dogwood. This is why the Guild Families have turned to the Transporters with a simple offer. Bring them scrap and they’ll pay for it. No questions asked.
And fortunately for a certain technomancer, word of a ‘garbage day’ at the edge of town has gotten out.
Stella Bridger is one of the transporters completely willing to carry scrap. It’s an easy paycheck, as she only has to invest her time and travel and getting it to Vesper is a breeze since no highwaymen are likely to try to steal any of it. And, because she’s been at this for as long as she has, she managed to get her truck’s bed filled with the smaller sortings of scrap — the bits and pieces that are usually overlooked by the factories as too small to bother with melting down or comprised of mixtures of materials that make them more appealing to the Vesper crowd than the Dogwood buyers. She figures the brightly colored bits that resemble oddly light weight glass or gemstone might draw the most attention.
Parked toward the middle of the ‘scrap meet’, haggling with a buyer over a ceramic plate covered in bright yellow bits of material while said buyer continues to shuffle through the scrap to find more of the same color.
And said technomancer is geared for a haul and out in force. Dressed in his scavenging clothes and favorite maroon cloak, Sterling arrives on the scene with Gertrude. The pair seem to be fitted with numerous bags, but more importantly they are both wearing loose, concealing clothing. When the buyers are hiring transporters with “no questions asked” that means a little blood could get spilled at the drop of a hat.
Sterling looks to Gertrude his lower face concealed by his cloak, “We missed the last shipment; I don’t intend to have a repeat.”
Gertrude nods, “I believe the rules for your Earth’s early rituals for ‘Black Friday’ apply”.
Sterling looks to the transporters’ haul, “Find what we want and get out quickly. Luckily I have the scanner repaired for this occasion.”
Lounging against the edge of the truck is a certain redheaded mystic, hood of her cloak drawn up over her head. As Bridges haggling peters off for a moment, she turns her green eyes to the transporter. “Our visitor is comfortable, stayin’ in one of my places.” She’s referring of course to the girl they picked up on the Dogwood border “Gettin’ her connected with those that can help her. Hearin’ rumours that the Dogwood authorities are sayin’ she was kidnapped.”Indeed there //was// a visitor from Dogwood. Well more like a permanent visitor. Slaine and Stella both know the story better than anyone else but those who have been listening to the rumors know that the daughter of a Knightly family along the Vesper border has apparently been abducted. That’s the official line anyway.
Through the crowd stalks a large six legged feline figure, one known to Sterling, Stella and Slaine alike. One peering curiously at the contents of the various trucks. What does a dragon cat need with scrap anyway?
The creature stops near Slaine and peers into Stella’s truck bed. Wait… wasn’t Sterling looking for a length of tritanium tubing just about that size?
//Hello Slaine. Miss Bridger. Unless I mistake my guess you’re about to have company.//
Stella Bridger turns to Slaine while the buyer keeps rummaging for yellow bits. “They can say what they want. Doesn’t make it true.” She glances at Ghost as the feline stops near them, and ALMOST manages to not flinch at the mind-talking. She just gives the dragon-cat a look before turning her attention back to the buyer so he can pay for his pile of yellow bits. It might seem like a pittance, but enough people buying and she’ll have recouped the cost of fueling her truck for this run by about four times over. So, worth it.
It’s as if Ghost and Sterling’s scanner share the same brain. The scanner begins showing a blip on the screen, which gives Sterling cause to smile. In short order the words ‘Jackpot’ and sudden thrusts of magic-based propulsion from Sterling’s boots interrupt the din of the crowd. Landing by Stella’s haul Sterling snatches the pipe just before three other men could reach for it.
Muscling her way through the crowd, Gertrude gets to about 10 yards of the truck throws a hand up. Sterling throws his scanner to the gurgoyle who begins to visit different trucks for different materials. Shouting to Gertrude “Prioritize the red blips if you can!”. Shouting back with a snarky tone, “I’m old not deaf you ungrateful child.”
“No, it doesn’t” Slaine murmurs to Bridge “But I came out this way to let ye know. They might be interested in you.” She gives a shrug and turns as Ghost stops nearby “Hello Ghost, who do you thin—” That’s when Sterling appears. “Oh, you mean Sterling?”
She sighs heavily as he snatches the pipe and shakes her head. “Sorry Bridge. I thought he was politer ‘n that.”//I did yes.// Ghost’s mind voice is quieter. He remembers a little bit that Stella does not like telepathy. Sometimes it’s hard to keep track. The dragon cat watches Sterling grab the pipe like it’s made of solid gold and chuckles a little.
//Hello Sterling.// He says and glances over to Slaine almost speculatively. //Nice find you’ve got there. Nice to see you.// There’s a short pause and the Dragon Cat looks sidelong to Stella now. //Are you and Slaine a thing now? I’ve been hearing things about certain purchases.//
Apparently someone’s got a big mouth.
Stella Bridger levels a VERY unimpressed stare at Sterling when he goes full Black Friday behavior. “Four potential buyers for that tubing. I’m thinking a little auctioning might be in order.” Price you pay for being so boorish, Sterling. But at least her words seem to chase off two of the other potential buyers. She lifts her chin at buyer #3. “How much are you willing to pay for that piece?” She then looks at Sterling, expecting him to reply as well.
Ghost’s continued chitchat is difficult to ignore, and the comment about her and Slaine actually makes her hesitate. But, she’s not known for being lacking in the sharp wit department. “And if we are it’s not your business, Cat. Go be smug somewhere else.”
She’s still waiting for bids from Sterling and the other buyer.
After giving the other competing prospector the push-your-luck-and-I-will-blast-you-with-magic glare, Sterling replies “I am very polite, liebchen, but only in business matters”. Looking at the pipe, “This is personal.”
In the distance Gertrude is periodically looking down at the scanner grabbing several pieces of scrap followed up with strong-arm diplomacy with the sellers. Back to Sterling “I have a project nearing completion which requires final components. Speaking of which what will this cost (addressing Stella)?”
“What?” Slaine looks at Ghost and nearly facepalms “No… we’re not … ” she sighs and her green eyes narrow “ye been speaking to Aiden, haven’cha?” And then Stella gets it all confused and the mystic sighs, thankful for the deep cowl of cloak. She colours a little “No, Bridge. He’s talkin’ about Sterling… and … me.”
Pushing the cloak back from her face, just a little, Half Pint stares daggers at the Dragoncat before turning her attention to Sterling “And why is this personal, you’re here and it looks like business to me.” Hopefully Gertrude hasn’t heard those rumours, otherwise Slaines likely in for a lecture.Ghost just looks at Stella. Now she and Sterling are a thing? He’d heard it was Slaine and Sterling. Maybe it’s both.
//Wait. You and Sterling? Is Slaine okay with that?//
The biggest problem with Ghost’s mindspeak is that it broadcasts to a general area. Someone else may well hear him. Someone else probably has, comes to that.
And now they’re going to be making assumptions.
Lucky for Bridge that she honestly could not care less about Ghost’s misunderstanding what she misunderstood, making the whole confused mess even more convoluted. Whatever.
To Sterling and the other buyer Stella quotes a price, a bit higher than the usual scrap rates for titanium but fair enough. “I won’t take any less than that, and whoever’s willing to pay more gets the pipe.” She again levels a flat stare at Sterling while yanking the contested piece out of his hand with her left. “And /I/ don’t fall for intimidation tactics so this will be a FAIR haggle.”
Gertrude finishes her business with the other vendors and walks over to Stella’s truck. She notices the bargaining in progress and stands directly behind Sterling. Not even waiting for the other competitor to speak, Sterling states, “Thrice your rate or my finest rifle. Your pick.”
Whatever Sterling needs that pipe for he’s most certainly willing to purchase it. Even if he offers a rifle worth much more than the pipe, he most certainly can showcase his work and gain a potential customer.
Slaine sighs again and just //stares// at Ghost and shakes her head “An’ here I was thinkin’ you were smart. Ye should know better than to listen to rumour…” She squints at the dragon cat, considering him. “I’ll leave them to sort that out. What brings you out this way?”
Sterlings negotiations draws her attention for the moment and she looks at Gertrude “What does he need the pipe for? I thought he knew how to bargain …” She’ll not interfere with the bidding though. All power to Bridge and all that.
“Anyway, Bridge. As I was sayin’. Be alert, more than ye usually are, I reckon the Dogwood authorities will try to get even for their missing citizen…”Seeing Stella with a TW rifle would certainly be interesting. Of course Sterling could probably design it to run off life force or ambient ley energies but… well, the man’s an armorer. He can figure it out. Even if he winds up binding an elemental into it.
//They are. The news is that someone abudcted her.// The dragon cat pauses and looks over at Stella and Slaine curiously. He’s telepathic and even if he’s not probing with his gift he can tell certain things.
//You two know something about it don’t you?// Even Sterling will have heard of that one.
Bridge just stares at Sterling for a moment before looking at the other buyer who holds up his hands and steps away. Clearly, Sterling REALLY wants that piece of titanium. If he wants it that bad, he’ll pay for it.
Eyeing Gertrude for a moment and deciding she’s with Sterling and not another buyer, she returns her attention to the arrogant man. “Let me see the rifle.”
Stella’s eyes cut sidelong toward Ghost and even though she doesn’t move, the cat probably gets the impression that she really wants to use the titanium pipe as a baseball bat right about now.
Gertrude sighs, “He can bargain, but this is not an occasion making a mistake. Kaspar is finishing his prototype armor and needs a handful of items to finish it.”
Leaning in to whisper “I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s trying to trade the rifle. Transporters often see danger in their line of work and are a good source of clientele for Sterling.” Her face grows more stern, “But more importantly, when did you little lady start being a THING with my boy?” Yes Ghost’s voice certainly was audible for Gertrude to hear that part of the conversation. Also the part about the abduction from Dogwood.
Sterling smiles turns to Gertrude who takes one of the overly large packages off her back and unwraps it in front of Stella. The gun’s stock is made of a wood resembling Rose Wood decorated with gold relays for magic to flow. The barrel is long and made of a lustrous, silver-colored alloy topped with a sniper’s scope towards the back end of the rifle near the stock. While there doesn’t appear to be a clip of any kind, any gun-nut can tell that the caliber that this gun can handle is large.
Sterling smiles, “My rifle is designed to be used by non-magic users by incorporating the magic into the bullets. I have to custom make the bullets but I can tailor them to have different affects depending on your needs.” He hands Stella the rifle for her to examine.
“I see….” Slaine glances over to Kaspar as he makes an offer that is way more than is needed and lets Stella deal with it. “I know how much danger Transporters see, Gertrude …” the diminutive redhead just blinks at the Gurgoyle “We.are.//not//.a.THING. A … friend was just teasing me.” Somehow she expects this will haunt her for months.
Next Ghost gets a look from the mystic, a look of consternation flashing across her face as she glances around “A bit. Yeah. This girl approached us when we were picking up fruit on the border of Dogwood” Both Getrude and Ghost will know that’s … dangerous … “said she needed help getting out because she was psychic.” Looking back up at Ghost and folding her arms “She’s the right age and it’s not unknown for that to happen. I’ve been careful though …”//I think you were too careful.// Ghost murmurs. //If she really is a psychic, they can’t admit she ran away because they can’t admit why she ran away. They’d loose social standing. So they’ve put out the word she’s abducted. That means investigators from the Crown will come out to try to figure out who and they will lock down the Vesper border. And the longer they don’t find her the nastier this is going to get until they’re given a reason to stop looking.//
The dragon cat looks away. He doesn’t like relaying this news. It’s bad news.
Sterling cocks his head in Slaine’s direction. “Then why did you buy lingerie to wear for me, liebchen” he says teasingly. After letting the embarrassment sink in Sterling laughs, “But in all seriousness, the girl is not the first case to run away from Dogwood. Certainly she’s from a prominent family which complicates the matter, but ultimately she’ll need to stop running. She may need a change of identity or some trickery to fool the authorities that she has passed on.”
Gertrude adds, “Or a place where the authorities can’t touch her without incurring the wrath of say, a dragon.”
Stella Bridger takes the rifle and can practically SMELL the magic on the thing. That’s immediately off-putting to her. She looks over the weapon’s mechanisms regardless before offering it back to Sterling. “Four times my starting price.”
“I didn’t buy lingerie. Aiden bought me lingerie.” Slaine ommits //why// Aiden bought it. She’s also hard to embarrass.
It might be the first time that Slaine’s been accused of being too careful and she snorts, a little derisively, at Ghost. “Well that would be a first…” she shakes her head and pulls the hood back down over her face, pushing herself straight. “They would’ve said that anyway. She came to us. If they’d caught her then, we woul’ve been toast.”
Not to mention that they shouldn’t have been where they were and that Slaine as a mystic in Dogwood was … problematic.
“Not goin’ to ask her to go back. But I could see if she’ll go public.” Sterling and Gertrude can hear it in her voice, Ghost can likely sense it – she doesn’t think that’s going to happen soon.
Gertrude gets a look from the mystic “She’s already in Vesper. She’s safe in that regards. It’s Stella that I’m a bit concerned for.”//So long as she remains in the city she’s likely safe enough. Whomever took her though… well, the Authorities will be looking for them. I don’t know what kind of clues they left behind but the Agents of the Crown can be very… persistent.//
Ghost turns to go. //Or so I hear. Nice seeing you all.// And with that the great cat stalks off.
Sterling gives a sad smile when Stella offers the gun back. Everyone’s a critic. “Four times it is” and he offers her a heavy sack of currency. Gertrude wraps the gun back up and slings it over her back and the pair walk off towards the shop to put the finishing touches on the Mark I power armor.
'Garbage Day' on the outskirts of Vesper brings out all the scavengers and transporters. It's also a place for people to swap information - like the fact that a daughter of a Dogwood Knight has been abducted (though some know better). (Ghost emitted by Aiden)
November 29, 2409