“As agreed, I have here your shipment.”
“And I have your gold.”
The business-suited vampiress looked at her opposite number, the green-robed alien cyborg or robot’s metallic features betraying nothing. It was frustrating not being able to read the Black Marketeer’s emotions and thoughts as she would a food-beast, but in a way she was intrigued by it. It was ALMOST like dealing with an equal.
The alien’s metal arm swept over the pallet of shiny alien equipment arrayed before them on the floor of the vampire-owned warehouse.
“Kittani weapons...an irony, no? The Splugorth so hate your kind. So delicious then to turn it against them, yes?”
The vampiress nodded at the firepower represented there. Cheap at the price; ‘Lord Damnation’s’ backers were proving as susceptible to the corruptions of gold as any flesh-and-blood.
They silently watched as their respective technical advisors ran their own quick tests, soon nodding to their respective superiors of both the functionality of the Kittani weaponry and the authenticity of the gold bullion.
“And I’ll take those two slaves...I promised my master to bring her back something special. She -hungers- so.” Lord Damnation gestured to the two bound slaves in the background that had watched the whole exchange in abject misery. That they were here at all, allowed to witness the business deal, spoke of a short immediate life expectancy.
“Those, I’m afraid, I had an eye on for my own dinner.”
“A pity, then. They’re of the sort my master particularly enjoys.”
“For your master? She? Well, in that case, I suppose I can let them go....for an extra incentive.”
“A plasma harness.” The alien brought something out of his voluminous robes and tossed it onto the table next to them. The vampiress’s eyes seemed to light up with unholy lust at the sight of the exotic alien device.
“Sold! May your master enjoy her...treat. B’tak, pack Lord Damnation’s new acquisitions for transport.” The vampiress’s hands were already caressing the plasma harness like a much sought-after fashion accessory.
Behind her, the hulking Brodkil grunted as he pushed the two slave-women across the warehouse, enjoying their screams as he forced them into transport drums. He’d been rather looking forward to the leftovers. He contented himself with drinking in their terror as the drums were sealed and the slave-beasts trapped in unknowing sensory-deprived misery. But Mistress's next meal, he vowed, wouldn't slip or be given away.
“A pleasure doing business with you, Lord Damnation.” The gold is chum-change. And you overpaid for your master’s little treat. I don’t expect you to last long if you continue to make exchanges like this, you metal-faced freak.
“Likewise,” the green-cowled cyberoid nodded in return, before turning to the modified Naruni hovertruck, already loaded with his new cargo. A pleasure knowing the equipment we just gave to you will lead our forces right to your stronghold, bloodsucker. The Hawkmoons and Wayfinders will enjoy using their new aerial units to bomb your minions to oblivion and should you actually try to use that harness on yourself....
(E)Shemarrians and the Black Market
Prior to the Shemarrian Civil War, Shemarrians had very little contact with the economies of the rest of the world. What little trade they conducted was with the smaller villages of the Eastern Seaboard, and was done mainly on a barter basis. Even the sales of their Hunting Rifle are done through these exchanges, which are done mostly for show. The most that the Shemarrians would do was the occasional trade caravan to the pirate kingdom of Montreal, and even then, the enterprise was choreographed to raise as many questions as answer any of them, or make any sort of profit. If ARCHIE-3 wanted anything from the Black Market, he did so through the laundering scheme known as Titan Works, or through agents such as A-51 Spybots. His Shemarrians were kept well clear of trade entanglements, as befitted the mystique of mysterious and proud alien warriors holding domain over the Eastern Seaboard.
That changed when the Ecotroz arrived and split the Shemarrians. Suddenly the rebels were in need of supplies, as they had cut themselves off from ARCHIE-3’s logistical support. Until they could establish protected high-tech production of their own, the EShemar were reliant on what they could steal or salvage, and that didn’t always keep up with demand. They turned to previously neglected outside trade in earnest to make up the differences.
To begin with, the EShemar relied heavily on Awakened A-51s and NeShemar. However, it soon became apparent that this was a less than satisfactory arrangement. The former didn’t always move in the required circles to get them what the EShemar wanted, and many of the NeShemar proved inexperienced at high-level negotiations, as they often came to the EShemar as a result of severe trauma, and their conversion indoctrination left them with few of their original experiences and skills that might prove useful in trading.
As traders, the EShemar tended to get the short end of the stick as they often had little of value to trade, at least initially. Most of what they acquired, they studiously recycled, or gave away to the villages of the East under their protection. What little they had left over often didn’t have much high value per item, and the EShemar were forced to trade in bulk to make a meaningful profit on the exchanges. The revolution might well have been doomed by the lack of the small, but important, flow of logistics from the outside markets.
Fortunately, EShemar ingenuity, the acquisitions of a number of technology assets within Shemarrian territory, and the contributions of some generous supporters, allowed the rebels to stabilize their logistical situation and even begin to compete, quality- and quantity-wise, with their enemy. However, the EShemar were determined to rectify their shortcomings with regards to outside trade, if only to cultivate useful allies and alternate sources of supply as contingency plans.
Post Civil War
Currently, most of the EShemarrian trade with the more civilized and advanced portions of the North America economy is conducted by the ‘civilian classes’ of the EShemar nation; A-51s, Acolyte/Pariahs, and the occasional Male, Spinster/Tinker, or Ne’R’Mar, continue to carry out business with outsiders. NeShemar with greater retention of their past ‘lives’ and social/business contacts also carry out business. More covertly, members of the Yurei class conduct infiltration and negotiation in the higher circles of the Black Market. Most business conducted is with La Marche Noir, and the Wayfinders have considerable contacts with the Immaterial Hand. To distribute and hide their dealings, however, agents and operatives of the Shemarrian Nation have made contacts within many smaller cartels and regional organizations.
Surprisingly, the Ghost Riders have emerged as the Black Market mercantile class of the new Shemarrian Nation. While they remain first and foremost a warrior Tribe like their sister Tribes, an increasing amount of their activity goes ‘unseen’; some of this covert activity is involved in the cultivation of outside contacts, in a manner that doesn’t connect the Shemarrians. Though not as perceptive and adroit at socializing and glad-handing as the empathic Ecotroz Shemar, the Ghost Riders have shown a chilling, but effective, grasp of business dealings and to-the-point negotiations. Especially after several traps set by organized crime (and reportedly a covert CS sting operation) went very badly for the would-be ambushers when the Ghost Rider operatives blasted their way out. The Ghost Riders’ operatives, those identified with individual identities, are earning a reputation as reliable, no-nonsense, if humorless, dealers it doesn’t pay to cross. The Ghost Riders have also been more careful and widespread in their infiltration efforts, cultivating contacts on the periphery of the Chicago Network and as far away as El Oculta.
The bulk of trade continues to be in items harvested from the wilds of North America (monster hide) or salvaged from the Horune and Splugorth (including second- and thirdhand loot acquired from them). However, with improvements and expansion of their industrial holdings, and turns of fortune in the Shemarrian Civil War, the EShemar have been able to spare an increasing amount of their capabilities to manufacturing goods (mainly electrical components and the like) for export-sale. The seizure of several of ARCHIE-3’s peripheral Titan Works facilities has also led to another potential source of income; legitimate knockoffs. During the height of the SCW, availability of Titan Works products plummeted, as ARCHIE-3 dedicated more time and resources to fighting the Shemarrian rebels. However, soon after this nadir new Titan Works goods began reappearing, just not through the regular contacts. The extremely acute business observers of North America have rightly surmised that at least some of Titan Works’ factories were located in the region affected by the troubles in the Shemarrian sphere, and have even speculated that the change in distribution may be due to internal business problems. What they are unaware of is that those factories are now run under Ghost Rider management, which is trying to wrest market-share away from the ‘legitimate’ A3-run puppet company. It is estimated that nearly 30% of current Titan Works sales are actually benefiting the Shemarrian Nation rather than ARCHIE-3. On top of all his other woes, ARCHIE-3 is not at all happy with this turn of events, frustrated that his own creations now seek to outdo him even in business. In retaliation, Argent Goodson has stepped up service-plan incentives and bounties on Titan Works’ products that were not bought directly from their outlets, but this has aroused more suspicions that something has gone wrong in the Titan Works stables, and many would-be customers are turning away or at least waiting to see what shakes out before committing themselves to buying Titan Works goods. This is working to drive down the price and could potentially hurt BOTH the ARCHIE-3 and EShemar Titan Works sales, and benefit other manufacturers such as Northern Gun and Naruni Enterprises.
Three Galaxy Black Markets
The same is true of the Three Galaxies’-based Shemarrian Star Nation, where the Ghost Riders conduct the majority of silent trade with the rest of the 3G power blocs, though many of the Tribes conduct legitimate trade (albeit through front companies and SSN-flagged small operators). There, however, with more advanced computerized communications nets, the Ghost Riders are even more free to play with automated distribution networks and infiltrate communications grids, making dealing with the galactic black markets even easier, and allowing for even more personally-removed arrangement of acquisition and delivery. There, too, their own heavily stealthed ships come into their own as effective smuggling craft and information gatherers.