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Kail
Freelance Reploids: Up For Sale (part 3)
Tue Nov 10, 2009 10:21pm
68.89.232.200

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

The sun set over the Stomping Grounds, transforming every cloud into pink cotton candy. It was appropriate, Axel thought, considering that the SG had become a circus. In the weeks since declaring bankruptcy a team of assessors had turned the compound upside down in order to inventory and appraise every possible asset right down to the rivets. And now on the day of the big auction it seemed that every enemy the Freelance Reploids had ever made was going to show up like some kind of grim freak show.

Aibatz.Co, Syndic-Tech, Frost Electronics Corporation, CyberGenetica, and a dozen other old adversaries had all sent representatives. This was in addition to scores of neutral companies and unaffiliated millionaires who just happened to be in the market for their own private army. And in the year 21XX, who wasn’t?

“Vultures.” Axel grumbled as he looked over the hundred or so eager-looking executives with their silk suits and Cheshire cat grins. “How'd it come to this?”

From beside him Giles answered “Staff salaries, equipment maintenance, utility bills… do you have any idea how much power just one of those training simulators uses?”

“Kail came back yesterday.” the Russian said, wanting to change the subject.

Giles sighed deeply. “Too little too late, I'm afraid. Although I doubt he would have been much help running this place even if he’d never left. You can’t fill out a form by threatening it's life, or whatever bully-boy tactics he would have employed.”

Somewhere in the crowd Axel spotted Timothy Lowe of Lowe-Tak Industries. That was at least one friendly face among the prospective buyers. He’d also heard a rumor that Dr. Pious of Dopplertown had sent a proxy on his behalf, not that it would make much difference. Someone like Marco Cygnus could outbid Pious a dozen times over if he wanted to.

“Would someone please go tell Auger that he’s not helping?” Axel asked.

The giant war machine was entertaining the crowd of bidders by describing to them his impressive offensive capabilities. He apparently wanted to let them know what kind of state-of-the-art equipment was up for auction.

"Hasn't this thing started yet?" an icy voice said from behind Axel and he turned to discover Kail standing there.

“Any minute.” Cossack answered. “Are you so eager to see this place get taken over?”

The assassin shrugged. “I doubt anyone could do a worse job running this place than we did.”

“What do you mean ‘we’?" Axel asked. "You were gone most of the time.”

“I had more important things to do than rescue cats out of trees, boyscout.”

The big Russian crossed his arms and looked down at Kail, saying “If you didn’t want to help run this place then you should have found someone else to take over your duties.”

“I did.” Kail replied. “You.”

Giles noted that Axel and Kail never exactly got along famously.

When the auction was called to order all of the bidders slowly took their seats. The function was being held outdoors on the Stomping Grounds’ quadrangle in the center of the compound. A representative of Delacroix Financial, the firm handling the sale, explained that after taking into account the organization’s liquid assets, the Freelance Reploids still had an outstanding debt of over 473,000 credits. Therefore the bidding would start at an even 500,000.

“Five hundred thousand!” someone yelled out from the crowd prematurely.

“We have an openning bid of five hundred thousand credits from the representative of ReploTech.” stated the auctioneer. “Do I hear six hundred thousand?”

“Six hundred!” Dr. Lowe shouted, but it was immediately followed by a bid of “Seven hundred thousand!” from the Aibatz.Co executive.

“One million.” the representative from Syndic Tech bid boldly, causing a wave of murmurs to ripple across the crowd.

Lexander Morningstar stood up and bid “Two million.”

Surprised by the crowd's enthusiasm, the auctioneer announced “We have a two million credit bid from Frost Electronics Corporation. Do I hear-”

Kail yelled “Two point five million.”

Axel looked at his counterpart, shocked. “You've got two and a half million credits?”

“When you kill as many people as I have for money, it adds up.”

“But…” the Russian faltered. “Why didn’t you ever spend any of it?”

Kail shrugged. “What would I spend it on?”

It was true, Kail never seemed to have many hobbies. From beside them Giles interjected “That money could have really come in handy. Why didn't you ever let us use it to pay some of our bills?”

The reploid looked over his shoulder at the Englishman and answered darkly “Because it’s mine.”

While dramatic, Kail's bid ultimately amounted to nothing as Raile Industries quickly nullified it with a 3,000,000 credit bid. The auction continued in that manner, spiraling higher and higher, finally topping out at a whopping 125 million from the unlikely upstart ReploTech.

Hoping to shut down all opposition, Lexander Morningstar stood again and announced “F.E.C. bids one hundred and seventy five million credits.” It was an impressive sum for one decaying desert compound, some obsolete equipment and an undisciplined pack of mercenaries that most legitimate militaries would dismiss as rabble.

Being no fans of Baroness Frost or her company, many of the mercs observing from the sidelines booed and jeered like the audience of a vaudeville melodrama. They probably would have resorted to violence to derail the whole proceedings if Giles hadn’t explained to them beforehand that killing any of the bidders would only make the situation worse.

Suddenly an aircraft roared across the sky overhead so low that many in the crowd fell over in their seats and others dropped to the ground for cover. By that time the sun had set and the glow of the vehicle’s engines made the dusk as bright as noon for the split second that it passed overhead.

Axel barked into his comm device “Who gave that transport authority to fly over?”

“Sorry, sir.” a rookie responded from the tower. “It had clearance. It broadcast an Alpha-level authorization code.”

“Alpha level?” the Russian thought aloud. “That’s impossible. No one has an Alpha-level code to this base. Do you have an Alpha code?”

His question was pointed at Kail who shook his head and replied “No one does.”

When the vehicle flew over a second time it approached much slower. Spotlights searched the quadrangle for an acceptable landing zone and upon finding a clearing it began to touch down.

“Great; more vultures.” Axel muttered. The aircraft was a modified SysCo Dropship Inc. BZ-7 model transport, more commonly known as a “Vulture” because the narrow umbilical connecting the cockpit to the vehicle’s body so closely resembled the thin neck of a buzzard.

Every onlooker was caught by surprise when the craft’s deployment ramp lowered and from the brightly lit interior strode an attractive girl in shapely blue armor. Some mercs recognized the dishy party crasher by her long comet's tail of golden blond hair, and others by the distinctive jewel embedded in her forehead. Maquestan Crasher had returned to the Stomping Grounds.

Very few, however, recognized the man who followed her. He wore a long trench coat with upturned, exaggerated collar and his eyes were concealed by dark sunglasses that were almost as large as goggles. Sarge, who had been standing very close to the transport’s landing zone, saluted as the mysterious figure passed, saying “Good to see you again, General. I always knew you’d come back, sir.”

“Damien.” Kail whispered, recognizing him from the old days. Neither he nor anyone else there knew if the return of this enigmatic human was a good thing or bad. It is true that Damien had been a co-founder of their organization, one of the two original Freelance Reploids, but legend had it that he was also some sort of necromancer. Some even called him the son of Satan himself. Kail had always dismissed such rumors as stories told to frighten rookies. Still, the assassin could only guess at where this mythic figure been for these long years, what he'd been doing all that time, and most importantly why he'd now come back.

“Gentlemen, please settle down.” yelled the auctioneer who was desperate to restore the proceedings to order. “We have a bid on the floor of one hundred and seventy five million from Frost Electronics Corp. Do I hear one hundred and eighty million?”

“I bid three hundred million credits...” Damien's voice rumbled as though amplified. "...in gold bullion."

Lexander Morningstar fumed. He’d only been authorized to bid a maximum of 250 million. Adding to his frustration was the fact that his optical scanners failed to tell him the identity of this mysterious stranger, or why he’d want to pay so much for a miserable rat hole in the desert.

The auctioneer smiled like a shark and announced “I have a bid of three hundred million from the gentleman in the long coat. Do I hear three hundred and ten million?”

Murmurs emanated from the audience, but no bids.

“I have three hundred million, going once!” shouted the auctioneer. “Three hundred million going twice!”

Dissatisfied with losing, the representative from ReploTech bellowed “This is an outrage! He never registered! You can’t just let anyone show up and bid!”

Out of the corner of his eye Axel saw a stooped figure in an unfastened straight jacket lope quickly down the Vulture’s ramp. It charged like an animal at the outspoken dissenter and delivered a savage Atomic Elbow to the man’s kidney. “Splah!” screamed the attacker, and after a moment of tussling on the ground the executive starting yelling something about a kid biting him.

The auctioneer ignored the scene in the back and continued his duties, shouting “Three hundred going one last time!”

When no more bids came, the magic word was finally spoken.

“SOLD!”

------------------------------------------------------------

NRP - So Damien (the character) is once again in charge of the Freelance Reploids. I discussed this with Damien (the player) years ago and he was fine with it. Basically his character is going to be an NPC, but maybe we'll be able to coax him into doing a post once in a while.

To get an idea of how long I've been planning this, check out this post I wrote three years ago: http://disc.yourwebapps.com/discussion.cgi?id=163916;article=3656

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