Location: Trader's Hall of Ghoekang Starport
Gvarokh and Kagfak arrive at the entrance to the Trader's Hall. While waiting
on line to get in, Gvarokh examines the place. There's a sunken floor that
measures 25 meters wide by 75 meters long. There are numerous booths
representing various brokerages, free traders, and local manufacturers. The
vargr on the floor are in various states of buying, selling and just plain
socializing. Around the periphery of the trading floor is a five meter viewing
area lined with tables, chairs and couches. There are several nooks where food
and beverages are sold. The ceiling is 20 meters high and dotted with skylights.
The walls feature very tall and thin windows interspersed with murals of vargr
engaged in trade throughout the planet's history. At the base of the windows,
running the perimeter of the room, is a digital ticker tape listing individual
stocks and commodities.
The place smells like commerce. And while Gvarokh notices some terse exchanges, at no point does he see violence break out.
The young adult male vargr at the door notices that Gvarokh and Kagfak aren't regulars. Regulars have ID badges and colorful vests to signify who they represent. The usher explains that Gvarokh can either rent a booth for 50 cr/day or just get an access pass for 15 cr/person.
Gvarokh asks him what the difference is.
With a measure of admiration in his voice, he answers, "With a booth, brokers and traders will come to you. Setting up a booth means you're serious about getting business done. With an access pass, you have to approach the brokers and traders at their booths. You'll have to go from booth to booth to see who will offer you the best price. But these guys are ruthless. Say you don't like the price the first broker gives you but it turns out to be the best. When you go back to him, he may not offer the same price. Depending on market conditions, or even his mood, he may drop his offer. And if the wolves are paying attention, they'll copy one another's low bids, like they're nipping you to weaken you.
"But if you've got a prize, they'll follow you around trying to court you away from the competition.
"They say corsairs are rough, but they've never seen traders here on the floor."
Gvarokh chooses an access pass for the two of them. He pays the 30 credits and the two walk onto the trading floor. The pair walk around observing the wheeling and dealing. Kagfak seems genuinely interested in the proceedings.
"It makes me wish I'd joined the merchant academy or gone off to business school instead of the path I chose."
Gvarokh says, "It is never too late for an old dog to learn a new trick. Once this effort is all over, you will have the chance to do just that!"
Kagfak wags his tail and smiles.
After some time, a female trader notices the pair walking around, sniffs the air, then waves them over to her firm's booth. To Gvarokh, she says, "I've seen you two walking around for an hour. Are you here to trade or just giving the young wolf a tour of the hall?" She adds a smile to let Gvarokh know that she isn't challenging him but rather "playfully nipping" at him.
Gvarokh replies, "It is more like both wolves are taking a tour of the hall. A predator should always survey his options before selecting his target." Gvarokh also smiles, showing this is said in jest, with no threat at all.
She smiles good-naturedly.
Gvarokh asks, "What type of goods do you work in?"
"Raw materials, primarily metals."
Gvarokh perks up a little and says, "Metals? You must have known when you flagged us down! We actually have some metals that need a new owner."
"Then I'd be happy to take them off your paws." She gestures to the commodities ticker. "Those are the current rates. We'll offer you a good price based on that." She smiles. "Just tell me which ones you have and how big a lot."
Gvarokh notes that aluminum is going for 1600 Confederation credits per ton and lead is going for 450 Confederation credits per ton. He paid 900 and 150 Imperial credits per ton respectively. Even with the exchange rates, he'd be making a sizable profit.
"We have 10 dton of aluminum and the same amount of lead." His voice is calm and doesn't betray his enthusiasm for the anticipated windfall.
"I'll give you 1650 a ton for the aluminum and 465 for the lead."
Gvarokh considers the offer for a minute or so. He pretends to consult his handcomp to sell the idea that he's pondering the deal. In reality, he's in no mood to haggle. "Agreed," he says.
"Excellent," the female trader replies. She does the scent sniffing ritual (the vargr equivalent of a handshake). "Ingtsafa. I'm with Ghoekang Commodities."
"Gvarokh. I'm an independent trader. Miishakaal is my ship."
"Well met, Gvarokh."
She leads you over to her booth and sits down at a computer to draft up the sale. Fortunately, it doesn't take too long as it's a standard bill of sale with the financial details fully disclosed. She prints it up and points to where Gvarokh needs to sign. She does likewise and gives him a copy. Gvarokh gives her the location of the ship at the starport and she writes him a check. He looks blankly at it.
"What's wrong?" she asks.
"I don't have a bank account on Ikhog."
"That's ok. On the check you'll see that the account is with Ghoekang First National Bank. You can cash it there or exchange it for Traveller's cheques."
Ingtsafa notices. With a smile, she asks, "Is there something else?"
"Yes, can you give me pointers on who is selling what? Just opinions and observations of the other traders here at the Hall."
"Tell you about our competitors?" she wryly asks. "Ha! I can do that." She leans in close to Gvarokh, giving him a heady dose of her scent. It's been too long.
She points each brokerage out as she discusses them, "Aedznirsnaenoghherae also works in raw material commodities. I don't like them. Back stabbing pompous wolves if you ask me.
"Akhoks Consumables deals with food and drink. They go for it all. They handle everyday items like olikslono bellies and high end liquors like Uekhfarsal.
"Gakhso Imports is a competitor of theirs though they prefer to grab offworld supplies as they come in.
"Kurroughznuengag goes for low end manufactured parts that get utilized in more complex products. Think computer chips and tires."
"Kudzharrgok is their fiercest rival.
"Adhok Industries think their a major player but can't really compete with either of them.
"Zedzoukouso competes with Akhoks and Gakhso. All three are pretty easy to deal with.
"Aethuetosaesgzouthgho dabbles in everything. They'll go for whatever they think will turn them a quick profit. They don't specialize. The one thing that Aedznirsnaenoghherae and we agree on is that these guys are unfocused and lack market discipline.
"Does that help?" She ends it with a smile.
Gvarokh says, "You have been a tremendous help. Thank you so much for being patient with an old wolf. If there is any way I can thank you, please let me know."
"Oh please. You are not old. But if you are serious about thanking me," she hands him her card, "take me out to dinner."
Gvarokh says with a big smile, "I will definitely do that." Needless to say, he graciously takes the card. Note to self: Call tonight, unless we are doing some kind of high-risk raid and all.
"Good. I look forward to it."
As Gvarokh and Kagfak head over to Akhoks Consumables, Gvarokh's comm chimes. He has a call from Lakir.
[...to be continued...]