Headhunter (Part 9)

“Alright,” the head of finance says, “now that we’ve established the set amounts: matching archetypes, five to ten thousand Carnage Gold. Complementary archetypes, twenty-five hundred to five thousand Carnage Gold. Divine archetypes, twenty thousand Carnage Gold. Dark Archetypes, negative twenty thousand Carnage Gold. Combination archetypes, one thousand to ten thousand Carnage Gold. Two card wins, two thousand Carnage Gold. Five card wins, twenty-five thousand Carnage Gold. Ten card wins, one hundred thousand Carnage Gold.”

            “Alright,” Querrick says, “lets do it.”

            “Ah, always to the point.” The head of finance says, “very well, let’s get started. Three rounds.”

            The first round of the game is uneventful with Querrick only winning ten thousand Carnage Gold. The head of finance asks if he wants to cash out or DRIP (Dividend Reinvestment Program) or cash out. Querrick chooses to cash out. Presley takes the Carnage Gold off the table and leaves the room to put it in the stock market along with the thousand they initially wanted to invest. The process takes less than five minutes as Presley is aware of the shortcuts and how to strategically make the investment during a bull market without paying full price for the stock. Presley comes back in the room five minutes later and the head of finance shuffles the cards and the second round begins.

            This round brings a bit more promise as Querrick goes on a fifty thousand Carnage Gold streak with a couple complementary matches and even a divine match. Seems like lady luck is on his side; however, Querrick knows when he’s far enough ahead and decides to stop there and cash out on the fifty thousand. The head of finance nods in approval as Querrick is focused on the mission at hand and not lining his pockets.

            “A wise decision,” the head of finance says as he reveals what Querrick would’ve drawn had he gone on, “had you continued, you would’ve had a dark match and that fifty thousand would’ve been gone. Your perception has improved.”

            “Yeah, thanks to the financial missions you put me on during the wars.”

            “Ah, so you noticed.” The head of finance chuckles, “I expect no less from the Headhunter.”

            Presley takes the fifty thousand Carnage Gold and invests it in the stock market which brings it to a grand total of sixty-one thousand Carnage Gold invested during a bull market. The prices of Carnage Gold were rising by a good fifteen percent which means for every thousand invested made about one hundred fifty in dividends. If the dividends are DRIP’d (which they are), the true value of the currency would come out to one thousand on hundred fifty (exact math excluded); however, if the stock continues to rise at fifteen percent it’ll double within the next couple of days (days Presley may or may not have). Presley returns, the head of finance shuffles the cards and the third round begins.

            The third round is a bit turbulent as Querrick keeps getting in and out of debt. He draws some dark cards that put him twenty thousand in the hole, then he draws a couple divines and complementary matches that get him out the hole and put him twenty-five hundred ahead. Then he draws a dark card that nullifies that twenty-five hundred putting him back at zero. Querrick scoffs as he realizes that the head of finance has finally gotten serious.

            “Not that easy, is it?” the head of finance asks, “to conceal your strategy.”

            “what strategy?” Querrick plays coy with a stoic expression.

            “the Cash-Grab strategy,” the head of finance says, “for the last two rounds you’ve not exceeded fifty thousand Carnage Gold. You’ve quit while you were well ahead and quickly invested the money while the bull market is on the rise. And with Presley here, I’m betting he’s keeping a mental clock in his head as to when the stocks are going to drop. I suspect you two are going to generate one hundred thousand Carnage Gold through this game and investments then use illegal means to 10x your returns, then you’ll be back here in a couple days, reinvest that million and by the end of next week be up to your neck in Carnage Gold, all without a hitch.”

            Querrick can’t help but smirk, “well, I did learn it from you.”

            “So you did,” the head of finance draws a complementary match of air and fire giving him twenty-five hundred Carnage Gold, “but that doesn’t mean I’ll let you pull it off easily. You’ll have to work for the next thirty-nine thousand Carnage Gold if you want to make the investment in time.”

            “Oh,” the head of finance says, “and the cash-out options don’t roll over, so you only get one chance for this round.”

            “Of course,” Querrick says, “you tell me this now.”

            “It slipped my mind,” the head of finance chuckles, “can’t help that, now can I?”

            “You may be old but senile would be the last word I use to describe you.”

            “Flattery will get you nowhere here, Querrick.” The head of finance says, “now, draw your cards.”

            Querrick flips over the card from his hand and it’s a divine, just what Querrick needs. If Querrick gets an elemental, he gets fifteen thousand; if he gets another divine, he gets twenty thousand. Either one will work as the head of finance has got him in a bind and time is running out. Querrick calms his mind and tunes out the intense beating of his heart. He looks at the card on the table and thinks back to when the head of finance was shuffling the deck, the way his fingers moved, the way the cards slipped under one another and blended seamlessly, the cadence and rhythm of the cards as he put them down on the table and the way he placed them.

            It all came to Querrick.

            At least two of those cards are dark archetypes located in the center, three of those cards are elementals spaced out, two are divine, and the last one is either of the three. If Querrick knows the head of finance (which he does) then he knows that third card is a dark archetype. Which is why he draws the second to last card on the right for another divine, winning twenty thousand Carnage Gold. The head of finance smirks as Querrick immediately cashes out and Presley rushes to the stock market to make the investment. He manages to make it in the nick of time and rushes back to the room five minutes later.

            The head of finance chuckles, “excellent game Querrick, that was the most fun I’ve had in a while. Always a pleasure to play against someone who knows what they’re doing.”

            “Well,” Querrick says, “when they learn from the head of finance it’s kind of hard to be average.”

            “A true statement if I’ve ever heard one,” the head of finance snaps his fingers and a bag of Carnage Gold is rolled out on a cart, “a bonus for winning all three rounds without accruing any debt.”

            “Too late man,” Presley says, “the bull market maxed out.”

            “Don’t worry,” Querrick says, “pull the money we just put in, we’re going to make another investment.”

            Presley looks at Querrick, but the head of finance knows exactly what Querrick intends to do.

            “the black market?” the head of finance asks.

            “the black market.” Querrick confirms.

            “A dangerous field,” the head of finance says, “sure you can handle it.”

            “Eh, I’ve learned a thing or two,” Querrick says, “it may not be as sophisticated as the stock market, but it has its deceptions.”

            “As every market does,” the head of finance turns and walks into the shadows, “best of luck with your investment.”

            Querrick and Presley leave the room without another word, pull all the money from the stock market and have it sent to an untraceable account that acts as an intermediary between the stock market and the black market. Querrick and Presley go get Isabel and Lykas and they all head to an out of the way café called Mortana’s. They walk through the crowd, slip into the back and walk down old and creaky stairs into the black market under the city.

            “Now,” Querrick says to the kids, “this place is even wilder and more savage than up top. Down here, everyone is looking for a deal, a way to get something for nothing. People use all kinds of tricks and tactics you’ve never seen before. Now, how much you guys win?”

            Lykas grins, “twenty-five thousand Carnage Raw.”

            ‘Impressive,” Presley says, “that’s five thousand Carnage Gold.” He looks about their person, “where is it?”

            Isabel opens her coat to reveal all the coins neatly arranged to look as if she has nothing at all.

            “Very impressive.” Presley says, “you teach these kids?”

            “nope,” Querrick says, “they learned from the streets.”

            “Alright,” Lykas says, “I’m looking to double up.”

            “Are you?” Querrick asks, “you’re in the right place. However, I don’t think you’re sharp enough to swindle the swindlers here, kid.”

            “Wanna bet?”

            “How much?” Querrick asks.

            “You’re seriously about to bet him?” Presley asks, “we’re running an operation here!”

            “Calm down,” Querrick says, “nothing wrong with a little fun. Besides, the operation money isn’t being betted here. No, he wants something else.”

            “If I double up you teach me weapons.” Lykas says.

            “If you don’t double up you cleans the cabin for a month.”

            “Deal.”

            The two spit in their hands and shake on it.

            “You got an hour, kid. Good luck.”

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