The CO took a deep breath and went over his notes one more time. The whole team had discussed this and come to the conclusion that there were few choices left. If they wanted to consider themselves competitive in todays changing market then upgrades would be required. Being good was not enough, you had to be able to compete with the latest and greatest or be left behind . . . in the Dust.
They had worked too long and too hard to be considered old news or unskilled/unable to adapt. But keeping up with the times took a big investment, more than the team could put together. They had looked at the options but nobody wanted to become a corporate entity, answering to faceless bosses up some ‘suit’ chain of command. It had been Boomer, of all people, who suggested they ask their one previous hire who was NOT a corp.
So here he was, looking to ask one man to invest in his team when they had failed to keep him whole the last time they went out. Not the best bargaining position to start from. He sighed and went into the cafe where he had been told to meet. With a practiced eye he scanned the room for targets and or hazards. Most of the customers seemed mid level dock workers and minding their own business. They only glanced at him curiously. Mike sat at the counter with one other man sipping coffee. His counter mate laughed at something Mike had said and slapped him on the back. “OK, den. I fetch you a few fittins for the paper wrapped flashlight you wanna fly. Show dem to you later, hey?”
“Sounds good, Ev.” Mike nodded and then looked and caught the eye of the CO in the doorway. “And there is my next appointment.”
Ev looked at the man in the doorway with a measuring gaze and then looked about at a few others of the patrons. The CO recognized the way bodies shifted and knew that the man had just assigned duties and he was now under a lot more scrutiny. He looked back at Mike who smiled,waving him over, and wondered if the pilot even knew he had a body guard detail.
Mike stood as the officer approached and offered his hand. ‘I was sort of surprised when you asked to meet me. There some place you need me to fly your team, commander Walkins?”
The commander sat down and pushed across a comm chip. “This is our record over the last dozen missions. We are a solid team and have good ratios.”
Mike did not key in the chip but slid it back. “I know. I did my homework before I hired you for that last trip. But why are you bringing this to me? I haven’t any need for ground forces at the moment.”
“No, sir, that is not why I came.” The CO paused. “There is not an easy way to ask this but . . . we need a sponsor.”
It was a relief. He was listening, not just saying ‘no’.”Modern merc companies are undergoing a sea change. With newer tech and newer rebirthing facilities the hotspots look to be getting a lot hotter, soon. We have a good record but not enough of a war-chest to upgrade the men and equipment.”
Mike nodded. “That I can understand. When you mean upgrade you mean the Dust version of pod death and clones, don’t you?”
“Among other things, yes, that is a close approximation. We also need funding for a proper set of drop materials and the new weapons systems . . . ”
Mike held up a hand. “There is always a better gun but I prefer to bet based on the skill of the man on the other end. Your team did well by me and got out the scientists. I have to ask the questions, though. How much are we talking and what are the guarantees or rates you are thinking?”
Watkins sighed. This was a good sign that he was willing to talk numbers but these numbers had a lot of zeros in them. He opened up a file on his own b-comm and slid it across, pointing. “This is an itemized . . . ”
Mike snorted and flicked a finger scrolling to the proverbial bottom line. “Repayment?”
“Assuming we keep to our record we should be able to clear . . . ”
Again the finger flicked to the end of the file and Mike nodded. “Aggressive repayment scheme. You want to spend as little time in debt as possible, even if it means cutting corners in the company budget. No.”
Watkins stomach fell. “No?”
“Your repayment plan is a recipe for disaster. Cutting too close to the edge means one bad mission or heavy set of losses and you are deep in the red.” Mike keyed in some new numbers and frowned for a moment and then slid it back to Watkins. “Try that.”
Watkins was not the company bookkeeper but he could hum the tune. “You chopped the interest rate to almost nothing and extended the payment run to three years?”
“Gives you more day to day working capital. Now in exchange for this I want . . . ”
‘Here it comes’ Watkins thought.
“The right to ask you guys favours, iffen I need a ground force. You don’t work for me, you ain’t mine but as business folk and friends I ought ta be able ta call you up if needs arise.”
“Ayup. Your team got me and mine out of a tight spot. I figure I owe you right now. If the interest rate still looks too high . . . ”
“And you saw how much we need?”
“I learned to count the zeros a long while back. Been to Jita and everything. We can contact a bank lawyer and set stuff up right now, if you is in a rush. But there is one thing I’d like your men ta do. I gots this book written by the guy who first researched immortality. Issah. I’d like to know they have thought a bit about what they are getting into. Taint trying to convert their religion but they should think this ‘upgrade’ all the way through. If they choose not to read it, that is fine, deal goes through anyhow but if you would let them have a chance to see it?”
How much would it cost to sponsor a team of Dusties. Will it be something corps/alliances/ or even individuals can do?
A few people and I were discussing the definition of poor. As you go through the game the meaning changes. I know one guy who said that his wallet was way to light as he was almost down to 5 billion.
I told him I worry when I get down bellow 100 mill. We operate on different levels. But anything above what you spend on a day to day basis is just like a game score. I think Frfrmpukin said you might as well spin your ship in a hanger and call that your wallet balance, if you are just likeing to see numbers go up.
Given the chance, and assuming I have the financials to do so, yes GBA will sponsor Dusties, if only so we can say we do. ISK needs to be used, applied, to be worth anything more than a string of digits, like a spin counter.
I have a wolf, around here somewhere, comment and have a chance to make it fly and be used. I’ll draw within a week
fly it like you won it.