George took another drag on the hookah sitting on the table between them. "What did I tell you - this is some great stuff. One of the advantages of being mobile like me."
"It is, but I do need you to do more than to learn the finer points of drug consumption."
George dropped the hose, clutched his hands to his chest, and drooped back in the chair "You... wound me. My name and reputation is on the line! If I thought the group was nothing more than drug abusing reprobates, I wouldn't have the courage to face you. Or at least, not the clarity of mind."
"Melodramatic much? Care to cut the theatrics and talk like an adult?"
"But people do so love the dramatics!" replied George, sweeping his hands about now, People want to believe their in the "big-time" with some quirky don like in the moves, or else want to see themselves as the the. LAST. Bastion. of civility and do enjoy knocking on the odd criminal types."
That bit of honesty always seemed to stop them in their tracks. They would need to stop and evaluate just how smart, how read the negotiator was, and in turn what might be required of the deal. Success still wasn't anywhere near guaranteed, but they understood that this wasn't the case of city state with all the supplies they needed holding out some scraps to made dogs. It was a business with codes of conduct, parts to be played, and real logistics.
As it stood, George wasn't in a bad situation. He mentally ticked off the categories again.
- People - subdivided into general followers (varying talent at maintaining things - but nothing too sell-able in this case), Troops, and Veterans. Good on the first, Ok on the second, and just enough of the last to give opponents a second thought.
- Equipment - Rifles, body armor, transports, and military gear. No PA, no tanks, but enough storm tubes and missiles to put a serious dent in something.
- Locations - Defense, Situation, and Resources.
"If this is all about theatrics now - how much would you play up a convoy raid?"
"You don't raid convoys. Moving targets - and sometimes the trucks you might have to disable are the most valuable part. You block the road and demand a toll."
"How much would I have to pay for no survivors?"
"Mister Bell - we are on a very, very different level here. What goes around comes around in the zone - and to survive you need to realize that. Assassinate a specific person, blow up a truck discreetly - that is an expensive job. Mass murder - unless you're going to give us a yearly tithe to make up for the equipment we expend trying to stay a step ahead of every bounty-hunter and contract we can't make with honest people- Name a different job and a reasonable offer, and I'll forget you said anything of the sort. Don't, and I'm walking out, and the quality of help you'll be able to hire will take a sharp drop."
"We've spotted fires about ten kilometers up the road, people squatting in the old apartment complex. The last thing we need is more disease ridden vagrants and smoke attracting undesirables. A recon drone picked up some of those alien armors north of here, and we don't want that kind of trouble."
"You don't need outside help for a simple eviction."
"You want a new truck to drive them out of here?"
"So just push them away, or do I need to get a waxed mustache to twirl and mutter something about back rent first?"