Week 12: Unrhetorical Answers, Part One [Unedited]

There was not enough time for Boyd's entire life to flash before his eyes, so he often settled on a portion of it as a consolation inquiry. Normally, those questions about 'How did he get into this?' or 'How would he make it out?' were brushed aside because the Enforcer chose this occupation and happened to be a professional when performing it. Thoughts to the contrary were rooted in self-doubt and often preceded an uneventful death. His soliloquy stemmed from a simple technique called continuous improvement which kept him asking 'What could he have done differently?' in seeking out the honest, personalized feedback that its answers provided.

This time around, it was only necessary to go back as far as Boyd's most previous mission on the unincorporated planet of Pasma Tam. The investor cover story and its expensive wardrobe were all intact, but his life had been placed in jeopardy much earlier on in the proceedings:

"Nothing happens on this planet without my knowing. Nada. All channels of commerce and government run through me at one point or another," Mexico Riguez explained from the passenger seat of a four-door vehicle. Actually, he was more of a full-time snitch who Boyd had done extensive homework on prior to that night's meeting, but calling him out was inadvisable from this position.

Boyd's position was directly diagonal to Mexico in the left backseat. But despite the darkened interior which came about from this nighttime drive, he realized that the trip was only slated to be one-way. It was not the fact that the Enforcer had to leave his trusty LUNC's behind at the behest of his shady host's 'no weapons' requirement for granting this meeting in the first place or the fact that the other two individuals in the car were the hardest of hardened killers - but a combination of both which provided a sadistically subtle hint of an impending demise.

Mexico elaborated on this very point, "See, I'm very much in the know on everything that happens here. Todo. So to my surprise, I learned that you were poking your head around la planeta. ¿Por qué, Señor Boyd?"

"You gotta break bread," Boyd cut straight to the point. He chose to meet the host's arrogance with a boldness of insanity, "You've got way too much exposure, and you're making way too much money to not cut me in...for your own sake." To the Enforcer's right sat Jocelin Vanaller and behind the wheel drove Corinna Esposto - Mexico's intendants and vicious personal guard concealed within a pair of pretty packages. He could only imagine how those weapons were occasionally used to net their boss the advancement to this plush lifestyle of an underworld leader.

"Protection," Mexico laughed. "Are you threatening me?"

That would come later, so Boyd focused the discussion, "I want in on the Indra Pallavan Trade Routes. Contacts, logistics, and the pricing tier which begins at cost plus one."

At this point, Mexico was considering Boyd to be either ambitious or stupid to be making such demands, but a person who he felt to be this outnumbered and outgunned while mouthing off in quite the fastidious manner could not have been unintelligent. His immediate wish was to see this conversation play out a little more, "My network is my net worth. You've already dictated to me your terms, but despite that, why else should I take you up on your offer? Explica."

"Because your percentage continues to drop the longer that you proceed to drag me out into the boondocks for the purposes of my quiet disposal," Boyd replied.

"Tu tienes cojones grandes," Mexico muttered while shaking his head in disbelief. And he was the only person who happened to be animated in response.

Corinna and Jocelin were stone cold. They desisted from displaying any outward body language or emotion in favor of a stalwart attention, so Boyd found it difficult to read them. Mexico was easy - a buffoon who hid behind the leverage of his various extortion-laden tactics and only liked to do his own dirt when it was a certainty that he could not get caught, similar to now.

Speaking cautiously with his hands so as to not cause Jocelin any undue concern, Boyd clarified, "It's not even that. The average gross terrestrial product for an unincorporated planet is estimated to be one-third of a Space Force-aligned planet. Translation: two-thirds of Galaxy Bloc is either doing without, making due with less, or starving.

Trading with yourself only goes so far in this universe, and with the financial pressure that the Space Force is applying to any potential trade partners to force them to think with their pocket eBooks rather than their charity, what Galaxy Bloc is attempting in secession isn't sustainable.

It also doesn't help that what little bit these unincorporated planets produce is being leeched off of by yourself and others like you who know how to sniff out financial arbitrage like vultures. The Indra Pallavan Trade Routes are a closed-circuit distribution chain which can only thrive with focus. Diverting the supply dilutes the demand. I'm no economist, but you're hastening their fall."

Boyd's analysis caused Mexico to turn around in the seat and face him for the purposes of eyeballing the response to this question, "Who do you work for?"

"I'm self-employed," Boyd lied with a straight face, "but savvy. Maybe I just have a big heart. Galaxy Bloc is in line for a self-inflicted humanitarian crisis that this universe has not seen since decades back when the richest nations of Earth just couldn't figure out how to assist entire impoverished regions."

"More like neglected, hombre," Mexico added.

With a nod of total agreement, Boyd stated, "Then you see what I'm saying."

The final request of this discussion unfairly yet purposely held Boyd's fate in conjunction with the validity of his forthcoming response, so Mexico probed, "Pretend that I don't and enlighten me."

"The inhabitants of the unincorporated planets are proud," Boyd answered, "but Galaxy Bloc leadership is like us - a bunch of bigger picture types. I've got the inventory and can continuously supply them. Nobody has to run back crying to the Space Force. Additionally, my surplus doesn't know where it comes from, and the normal everyday people don't need to know and won't find out either. To them, crops just happened to be exceptionally abundant this year, innovation is peaking across their tech sectors, and foreign entities have signed onto the Indra Pallavan Trade Routes as viable import/export partners.

You've got the connections that can make this happen. I've got your percentage. Right now, you're playing the part of a common thief, and your contacts are trying to make a quick profit with the idea of relocating when the unincorporated planets are eventually bled dry. And they're clearly aware, otherwise why would they be dealing with the likes of you for a piece of petty cash?

My solution is win-win. My supplier has the margins because we're dealing with volume. You're dealing with what - two planets, probably just started working on your third...at most? We'll lock up the entirety of Galaxy Bloc in time. I only need a warm transfer in order to make my pitch. Of course, you'd be paid a finder's feed seeing as though your chance at a residual disappeared when we passed ten miles outside the city limits."

"About that, amigo," Mexico said while pulling a previously concealed hand laser out and pointing it at Boyd's face, "I don't make any decisions before checking references."

Out the corner of Boyd's eye, he caught peripheral sight of a Seor Laser - an easily concealable handgun by its miniature size and not as powerful as a hand laser but inconsequentially lethal from this distance, pointed at his temple. With a snicker and not so much as a break in eye contact that he continued to hold with Mexico, the Enforcer quipped, "Well, references are always available upon request."

Mexico's play here was to try and cut out the middle-person by taking Boyd hostage and either forcing the supplier to deal directly with him or throwing this mystery logistics channel off the secretive trail of the Indra Pallavan Trade Routes entirely - altogether protecting the integrity of his assets. Meager - they most certainly were not as was mistakenly implied, so stubbornness came into play where greed could not be exploited.

Being tagged as a visionary in retaining his label of being open-minded from a business perspective still applied to Mexico since the imagined wealth was only relegated to the lain-away place in the back of his mind and not at all discarded outright by any stretch of that same imagination. But what would this look like if he allowed Boyd to just waltz onto his turf and barter him out of a consistent revenue stream with merely hollow guarantees in place of an established relationship...on a whim no less?

Who did this guy think that he was? Laserproof? Mexico had never heard of him. How much was his associated level of clout? What did his backbone (team support) consist of? Unarmed and isolated - this Enderbrook Boyd must have been crazy. The truth would soon be forthcoming.

Either that or Boyd's Class V Fighter could thunder across the front of the car and cause Corinna to swerve into an uncontrolled and unintended skid to the vehicle's left. And the Enforcer left the vehicle almost at the mercy of being flung outside its open door! His body tumbled to a painful, limp halt across the rough pavement of the road, and he looked like an inviting target, but his faithful ship doused the street with incoming laser fire which appeared from the passengers' (who were properly seat-belted down) to have originated out of various undetermined directions. The warning shots which dotted the ground surrounding them and a series of perceptibly rapid changes to the lasers' delivery angle were meant to simulate a multiple ship assault.

With only the unhelpful whir of the fighter's thrusters cluing Mexico in that whatever happened to be tracing the area - unleashing this assault which just slammed a pair of lasers into the now shot-open trunk was very much still present in the area. He motioned to Jocelin by shaking his head in a negative manner to conservatively table these negotiations for now. She leaned across the backseat and stretched against the impediment of her unrelenting seat belt in order to pull the rear left door closed as Corinna righted the tires and sped off, leaving Boyd to lie in a twisted crumple.

The uncannily intuitive fighter fired off a few more laser pulses in the direction of the fleeing car to make sure that none of its occupants got the bright idea of trying to back up or come back around to run Boyd over. Once the threat was sufficiently distanced from the immediate vicinity, the ship ceased firing and set down beside an Enforcer who appeared to be more embarrassed than wounded in choosing to remain on the ground - languishing over his battered pride.

In reminiscing, Boyd could now openly admit that his tact was not exactly the best back then. Okay, it was downright dumb.... But it was what he learned from the rest of this side story which would serve him well at present.

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