I’ve been out of work for about four months after being “let go” at the ship valet service. How was I supposed to know that button labeled “PB” wasn’t a parking-brake but a “Plenum Blade” — which apparently is a version of a warp drive? Needless to say, smashing through a parking lot of ships at warp speed, leaves quite the mess — and they of course blamed me — not the ship’s manufacturer like they should’ve for all the damage. Anyways, I’ve been out of work for a bit and I finally picked up a new job cleaning up the arena after Barge Fights. It is a nasty and smelly job, but the barge pays you — then they tell me, you get to take whatever weapons you find — sell them at D Mart — then whatever bio-matter you can scoop up from what’s left of the dead Helots — they say, you can sell back to the Gnoems. It’s not a way to get rich, but honestly — if you can stand the stench and ick — supposedly you can make a decent living off it.
My first week on the job was pretty horrible. There was a double-header Barge Fight three nights before and I guess there was no one to clean up the mess. So it sat there — exposed in the open for three days, just rotting away and liquefying. I was puking my guts out and just trying to breathe out of my mouth — but it didn’t help much. Even the guys who had been around for a while couldn’t help but gag at the smell. It took us four days of mopping and scooping to get to the point that you could even see the bottom of the arena. I personally only scooped up six barrels of bio-matter and only managed a couple of daggers and a weapon belt. The other guys fared much better — I guess with experience you figure out what things are the most valuable and pick them up first. I was too busy just trying not to vomit to even think about it much. My troubles didn’t stop at the disgusting mess I had to clean up, but also when I went to sell off my haul of weapons and bio-matter.
First, I headed to D Mart — the place where all the vendors sell weapons to the Lanistas. I show off my daggers and weapon belt and was quickly told to fuck off by everyone I ran across. I thought this was going to be easy — apparently not. After about two hours of walking around and getting called a dumb-ass, I decided to go to the bar and pour back a cold one. I’m sitting there drinking a beer and the guy next to me wrinkles his nose — I guess I still had the stench of the arena on me after I showered like five times. He leans over and says, “let me guess, clean up squad?” “Yea, first week on the job.” I answer, “I’m having problems selling these weapons I got to the D Mart vendors.” The guy bursts out in laughter. He says, “You are trying to sell used weapons back to the guys that sell new weapons? You are a special kind of dumb-ass.” Yay! Another person calling me a dumb-ass today! He goes on to explain to me that if I want to sell used weapons, there are guys that buy them, but they do so at a deeply discounted price — of course. He said he would be willing to introduce me to them if I bought his drinks the rest of the night — to which I agreed. Eventually, I would meet the right buyer and sell my daggers and weapon belt for a lot less than I originally thought they would go for — but I guess everyone needs to make a profit. That wasn’t the end of my headache though. I still had the bio-matter to sell back to the Gnoems.
I rent a hover-dolly and drag my six barrels of bio-matter all the way up to one of the Gnoem production areas. One of them glances up at me and slithers over — I shiver every time I see these guys. I tell him I have bio-matter to sell to him and then I have a weird feeling in my head — “I’ll take all your bio-matter” — the thought suddenly pops in my head. I hate it when they use that telepathy crap — it just feels creepy! I push the hover-dolly over to the area with all the other barrels and turn around and he is slithering away. “Uh, sir? What about my payment?” I ask. He turns back around to me and in my head I hear — “You have money to live on. You do not currently need money. You may leave now or you may join the other bio-matter in the barrels.” — What the fuck!? Somehow he knows I have some money and since I don’t “need” more money, he doesn’t pay me?? Damn-it I worked hard for those barrels of slop! I better get the fuck outta here — I think he was serious about wanting my bio-matter. Leaving with my tail between my legs — I figure there has to be a way to do this — back to the bar I go.
Here I am, a week later and back at the cheapest bar in the Nexus — it is less of a bar and more of a long square hole cut in the side of the barge with bar stools lined up next to it right in an alleyway. People are walking by — Blood.Stream is on the television showing some Barge Fight — I can’t even watch it without remembering the messes I’ve been cleaning up the last couple weeks. I can still almost smell it — wait.. I CAN smell it! I look at the guy to the right of me and ask “Cleanup crew?” He nods — holy shit, now I know what I smell like — gross. I’m drinking my beer and this odd looking creature walks up to me — he smells worse than the guy next to me — “C-cc-can you buy me a drink and possibly a bite to eat?” he says to me. “Get the fuck outta here! Can’t you see I’m having a drink!? You broke, begging fuck!” I yell. — he turns and slowly starts to walk away. I angrily take a swig of my beer –then it hits me. This poor homeless bastard might actually be of some use to me.
“Hey! Hey you! Come here, I got a little job for ya,” I tell him. He comes jogging back over to me happily. I buy him a beer and have him sit next to me. I reveal my plan to him — which I have to repeat several times — no wonder this dude is homeless — he’s an idiot! After about thirty minutes of explaining, he can finally repeat the plan back to me — and I send him off. About an hour goes by and he comes jogging back around the corner with big smiles on his face. “I d-dd-did it!” he stutters. “Oh my god, I can’t believe that worked!” I exclaim. — He hands me a wad of cash and I strip off a little of it and hand it back over to him. “Good job. Go tell a couple of your friends to meet me here every Friday and I’ll give you a part of their cut,” I tell him. Proud of myself — I lean back in my chair and take another swig of beer — I savor it and feel the bubbles pop on my tongue. Maybe the Gnoems aren’t so smart after all — and maybe those fucks at the ship valet service and the D Mart were wrong about me. I’m no dumb-fuck after all.
You see, I figured out that if the Gnoems can read minds and can tell if you “need” the money — why not hire a broke person to sell bio-matter to them? You pay them on the back end so they have no money to their broke-ass name at the time — and the Gnoems pay them top dollar. I give them a small cut — enough for them to live on for about a week — and I meet them the following week to do it all over again. The poor bastards can eat — and I get some extra coin in my pocket. I even worked out a deal with my coworkers where I buy their bio-matter from them and then have my broke-crew sell it at top dollar for me. Fuck the ship valet parking service and their parking-brake bullshit! I am bringing in some good money now! At this rate, in a couple turds, I’ll be a Lanista!