"Well, first things first, I don't want to create a business deal with you purely because of your father, so please don't be offended by that. That is a part of the reason, but only a part," Big Bo explained as another banana found its way into his mouth.
Daz was intrigued. "Okay, then what's the other part?"
"A lot of the idiots clamouring over your father - the ones who signed a deal with him included - they don't know that something more substantial than interfering with the system has happened. In your very base, to boot." Big Bo had a very pleased grin strewn across his face.
Daz frowned lightly. "Stop tip-toeing around the subject. What are you getting at?"
"Patience, Daz, patience." Another bunch of enormous bananas appeared after Big Bo waved his hand. He grabbed one and began carefully peeling it. "Are you sure you don't want one? I can guarantee their flavour is out of this, or at very least, out of your world."
'Just how is he summoning these bananas? Magic? A skill? I bet he has some sort of inventory like what Fort Skip had before it became a castle-type base.' Big Bo took Daz's silence as denial.
"Well then, anyway, to answer your question," Big Bo said, regaining the reaper's attention. "No one else noticed it, but I did. The system sure did want to keep it hidden, but despite its power and grandness, my branch is still in your base. I'm lucky I was looking at Fort Skip when I was, to be completely honest."
Big Bo reached into one of the desk's many drawers and took out two sheets of paper. Looking at them, Daz got a distinct feeling that they were... alive.
"Can you tell me what these are, Daz?" Big Bo asked as he laid the pieces of paper out on the desk.
"Charts of some sort? Although, one had no data on it," Daz answered honestly.
Big Bo smiled. "Close. They are charts, but this one does have some data on it. That is if you know where to look. I doubt you can see it with your eyes, but it can't escape mine."
Big Bo then pointed at the chart that had some visible information on it. "This tracks all of the times from when the system first made contact with sentient species, and it shows how many times a person has, or has come close to, interfering with the system in any way, shape, or form."
Daz was shocked. There were thousands of blips in this chart showing that - assuming Big Bo's words were true - what his father had done wasn't as special as he had first suspected it was.
"Don't be fooled, Daz. This is a very small number." Big Bo saw the doubt on Daz's face, so he continued to elaborate. "Think about how old the system is. You must have at least a small idea by now considering the skill and item descriptions, all of the powerful beings under the system's control that you've encountered so far as well as the sheer scope of the system. No one quite knows how old the system is, but it's been around for far longer than any known civilisation has, that's for sure."
Daz was beginning to understand. "So basically, in all of that time, only a few thousand people have managed to interfere or almost interfere with the system?"
"Exactly! I'm glad you understand. That's why your father is the hottest topic no matter where I look nowadays. If only they knew..." Big Bo was just oozing a sense of schadenfreude.
"If only they knew what?" Daz asked.
Big Bo calmed down his excited emotions and coughed lightly. "Well... I'm going to tell you because I like you, so don't tell anyone else, okay? At least not until we've come to an agreement of some sort. I can guarantee that no one else can provide you with a better deal than I can, especially since not many people will even believe you. The system is far too good at hiding its tracks, you see."
Daz raised a cautious eyebrow. "So I can say no to your deal and still hear what you've been going on about? All so long as I don't blab to anyone? No strings?"
Big Bo nodded. "No strings. Goodwill is needed badly in this business, you'll see."
"Okay then, I'm all ears." Daz hardly had a choice.
Big Bo grinned from ear-to-ear. He pointed one of his sausage-like red fingers to the seemingly empty chart. "This, Daz, this is a chart showing all of the times that the system has shown interest in a person. Its something of an antique nowadays since there's never been anyone like that. The system has, as you can see, never once taken a particular liking to someone before... until now, at least."
"Okay, you're talking about me. I get it, but then why is the chart still empty? Does it have anything to do with the system 'covering its tracks' like you mentioned earlier?" Daz asked as he stroked his light stubble. It felt scratchy. He made a note to shave after this meeting. That would serve as a half-decent distraction to go off of after this.
"Exactly!" Big Bo found himself needing to eat another green-skinned fruit to calm his enthusiasm. "The system hid you very well. I suspect that it didn't want anyone to mess around with its plans for you since it's taken a fancy to you. Trust me, if I wasn't the only person to know, millions, if not billions of people just like myself would be hounding you day-in and day-out."
"Is getting the attention of the system really that... special?" Daz asked. He had his doubts about this whole situation.
"That's the point! Nobody knows! Is it special, or is it just the start of a new experiment that will become the norm in a few eras? We as a collective understand the system no more than our ancestors did." In his fervour, Big Bo had stood up and squashed Daz between the desk and his chair.
Coughing lightly, Big Bo adjusted his chair with one hand and the table with the other. "My apologies, Daz. As a Gritten, my emotions can often get the best of me if I'm not careful."
Daz straightened out his clothes and just lightly sighed. "It's fine. Anyway, what's your offer? I want to hear it now."
"Of course." Big Bo reached into another drawer of the desk and took out a stack of papers. "I'll summarise it for you now, but we will be going over this in detail shortly. In essence, I want exclusive rights to deal with you and your planet if you end up succeeding in the system's test. I can't say anything more on this subject due to system-set limitations. I'm sure you understand."
"Yeah. It happened to Altros too, so don't sweat it," Daz replied.
"Oh? Altros is involved in your test as well? He is such a whimsical man. I can't talk about him either, I'm afraid. Anyway, on to your benefits. I can upgrade your version of my branch of the bank to give you a daily interest rate of-... Hmm. You know what? It would probably be easier if I handled this through the system. It already knows that I'm aware of its link to you, so it's actually monitoring this conversation fairly heavily. Best to just be safe and let the system know I'm not trying to con you." Big Bo had an unfocused look in his eyes as if he was reading a system message.
"That was an option? Sure. Do that." Daz was immediately on board with the idea. The system had a tendency to simplify things a lot and answer any concerns he had, so with this, the young reaper could be sure that he wasn't getting the short end of the straw in this arrangement.
It was at that moment, that the system sent Daz a challenge in the form of a quest.
|Quest Title: Outsmarting An Ape|
|Ensure that you double what is given to you in the initial offer made to you by the host [Botund Relox].|
|Ensure that you triple what is given to you in the initial offer made to you by the host [Botund Relox].|
|[Negotiator's Ring] x 1.|
|200,000 merit points.|
|Optional Goal Reward|
|Three golden tickets for [The Grand System Auction] that will be held during the next resting cycle.|
'Well, that really is a challenge. This guy is a businessman who's been doing this kind of shit for God knows how long, maybe millions of years for all I know, and I'm supposed to con him out of everything he's got pretty much?' Daz licked his lips. 'I like it. Challenge accepted. This massive furball has been lying to me all night anyway, so I may as well return the favour with a bit of my own deception.'
A few seconds passed before Daz finally saw Big Bo's proposal.
|Botund Relox's Offer|
|What [Botund Relox] will give [Daz]|
|An increase of the daily interest rates of all stored merit points at the [Midechhe Travelling Bank] for all hosts under [Daz]'s protection from [2%] to [5%].|
|What [Daz] will give [Botund Relox]|
|The exclusive rights to trade and deal with [Earth] after [Earth]'s tests are successfully passed. (This only applies if Earth successfully passes its tests and if the host [Daz] survives and becomes its sole leader).|
Daz immediately frowned. "Is this some sort of joke?"
Big Bo put on an amiable smile. "I'm not quite sure what you mean, Daz..."
"Do you think I don't know what the value of making deals and trades with an entire planet is? Especially one where my father who almost interfered with the system is. I may be new to the system, but I'm not an idiot." Daz tapped his index finger onto the desk a few times. "Let's renegotiate."
Two full hours later, Daz was just a few moments away from showing Big Bo his last and final offer.
It had definitely not been easy. Knowing when Big Bo was lying at all times was unquestionably useful, as were his Legendary Gift of The Gab skill and that skill's ability to plant thought seeds.
"This is as far as I can go," Daz said as he waved his hand and asked the system to show his last proposal. "Any less than this, and it's not worth my time. I can find someone else to make a deal with if I need to."
|What [Botund Relox] will give [Daz]|
|An increase of the daily interest rates of all stored merit points at the [Midechhe Travelling Bank] for all hosts under [Daz]'s protection from [2%] to [20%].|
|1,000,000 merit points to [Daz].|
|100,000 merit points to all hosts under [Daz]'s rule. (This will apply to all current and all future hosts under [Daz]'s rule).|
|What [Daz] will give [Botund Relox]|
|The first rights to trade and deal with [Earth] after [Earth]'s tests are successfully passed. (This only applies if Earth successfully passes its tests and if the host [Daz] survives and becomes its sole leader).|
Big Bo rubbed his forehead and had a troubled look on his face. "You did agree to not go to anyone after this meeting of ours should the opportunity present itself, so can you really afford to be so demanding?"
Daz scoffed. "I only made a verbal agreement. I'm not bound to stick to it. I'll happily go back on my word if it means better conditions for me and my people. I'm sure there's someone out there who'll believe me. Maybe Altros?"
Big Bo frowned. Daz was right. He loathed the fact that he had to let Daz know what was going on or else he would face punishments from the system for tricking its new 'pet'. "Still, I can agree to all of this except the clause about gifting one-hundred thousand merit points to all of your subjects. It's regrettable about not getting exclusive trading rights, but I intended to negotiate that one down regardless if you refused at first."
Daz shrugged his shoulders. "I need to rule all of Earth for you to even get any returns out of this deal. It only makes sense that I need some sort of allure, an appeal of sorts, otherwise, what reason do the survivors of Earth have to join me and not someone stronger? I'm definitely up there, but there are still people who are stronger than me I'd wager."
Big Bo slowly nodded his head. "That does make sense... I suppose that also explains the ludicrous interest rate. Reel them in with an initial lump sum, and keep them with the far more profitable interest. A tried and true business model."
"Right? And to you, I'm sure that twenty-percent is nothing considering how many points you stand to earn in the long run once I can trade with you." The more Daz spoke, the more Big Bo found himself agreeing.
"Fine. Before I regret this, you have a deal. You'd better pass the tests and become Earth's ruler though. If you don't, you can guarantee that I'll be buying your soul from the system and putting it to work to pay me back for every last merit point that this is costing me," Big Bo threatened.
Daz just waved his hand dismissively. "Sure, whatever." He was very pleased to have gained so much from a simple and routine visit to the bank, that was for sure.
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