48 Hours a Day
Chapter 156 - Information Broker
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
The little bearded man’s name was Hank, an information broker who had something of a reputation on the island. He was well acquainted with quite a few captains who frequented Nassau and, therefore, was able to amass a lot of information. Many pirates had bought tip-offs from him.
When Billy was on the Sea Lion, he had gone along with Orff to see the guy. It was also then that he came to know Hank. They even shared a few drinks together. Having a good relationship between them, Billy had elected to employ Hank’s services for the Jackdaw’s first voyage.
Although Hank may look unremarkable, he had his particular specialty, having done business on the island for such a long time.
He would assess the value of the prey, the information’s level of detail and credibility, then combine them to estimate the overall quality of the intelligence.
It was very much like the tip-off about the ship carrying perfume, which scored high in terms of value and source credibility. The information only lacked in minor details but was enough to be regarded as a high-quality tip-off.
This was also why Hank demanded such a high price–two Spanish gold coins. To ensure that the information would be reserved exclusively for the Jackdaw, Billy spent ten Spanish gold coins to buy out the information. The transaction meant that other than the Jackdaw, Hank could not sell the information to any other pirates.
After that, Hank confirmed that the Duffy, the tobacco ship, was also on the same route, which put Billy at ease. Having secured two leads, he was very confident about the Jackdaw’s first voyage.
However, everything that happened after went utterly unexpected. If it wasn’t for the female merchant Karina boarding the ship halfway, providing crucial information about the perfume vessel, what would have awaited Jackdaw would be the cruel reality of returning empty-handed.
While Bill was no wily old fox like Orff, he was no fool either. When the perfume ship was nowhere in sight, he was already suspicious. But then again, these things happened all too often. Even so, he could not immediately dismiss the second tip-off simply because the first one was fruitless. What would be the point of buying the backup piece of information then?
The direction in which the events developed confirmed his misgivings. With two tip-offs consecutively falling through, Billy realized that he had been duped. What he could not understand was that he had a pretty amicable relationship with Hank all these years, and the Jackdaw had no quarrel with him either. Why would the information broker do this to him then?
Today, the three had come to the Mermaid Restaurant to get to the bottom of this.
Hank immediately knew who was behind the door. Recently, Zhang Heng had become the most famous person on the whole island. When the Jackdaw first appeared on the banks of Nassau, Hank came running out to join the crowd too. As an information broker, expanding his network was an essential part of the job. So, he was no stranger to the Jackdaw or her new captain.
The information broker scrambled to his feet, not even bothering to wipe off the dirt on his shirt. The man clad in black stood in front of him, and smiled thinly.
Hank nervously blurted, “I was very clear when I sold the information to you. I cannot guarantee that every lead is absolutely valid. Even the most credible information could suffer unexpected outcomes. The target could divert its course halfway, encounters with other pirates, then there’s the weather… look, if you don’t believe me, you can ask your helmsman. I did reiterate about these risks, you know…”
Hank took in a deep breath and then continued, “Of course, I deeply regret your experience, but fortunately, you suffered no losses in the end, right? How about this. Let’s all take a step back; I’ll return your money, and this whole thing will just be water under the bridge, eh?”
Zhang Heng said nothing in reply. Just then, Anne and Billy came in from the back door of the tavern and cornered Hank in.
Seeing that the situation was not in his favor, the information broker quickly added, “Err… also, the next time you go out to sea, I can give you some valuable tip-offs for free. I guarantee that there will be no more accidents this time.”
Hank leaned against the cold stone wall, trying his best to remain calm. In the past, people had hounded him down because the information he provided was inaccurate, but he had always been shrewd enough to deal with the situation. While there were only a handful of information brokers on the island, and they usually competed against each other, they would also stick together if the need arose. Once, an information broker was killed, and when they discovered the murderer, no one sold any information to the pirate ship the murderer belonged to. In the end, the pirate ship was forced to change their captain.
Hank looked at Billy. He had been on the island for a long time, so there was no way he had never heard of that incident. As a helmsman by profession, he should be informing his own captain of the possible consequences of harming information brokers.
However, Billy did not respond, still staring daggers at him.
Then Hank saw the female redhead pirate drawing out the dagger on her waist. She smiled at him slyly.
The next thing he felt was a sharp coldness in his chest. When he looked down, he saw that his linen shirt had been torn open, and the dagger was deep inside his flesh, missing his heart by only two centimeters. The redhead only needed to push the blade a little deeper, and it would be the end of him.
Hank was really alarmed this time. He never expected this bunch to completely disregard the rules. The information broker’s voice cracked as he mumbled in pain, “You… how much do you want as compensation? At least give me a number.”
“We don’t want any compensation,” Zhang Heng finally spoke. “But we need you to answer a few questions. Truthfully, of course.”
“What do you want to know?” Hank asked wearily, his eyes squinting as blood dripped down his shirt.
An hour later, Zhang Heng and his companions left through the alley.
Anne sheathed her dagger as she frowned. “Malcolm. Anyone of you knows who this guy is? What’s his problem with us?”
“Malcolm is the second-best trader of the black-market alliance. This man comes from a rather powerful family in the New World,” explained Billy, who had a better knowledge of the island than the other two. “Do not underestimate him simply because of his background. Malcolm arrived in Nassau about four years ago. When he first came to the island, he had nothing, save a cargo ship. His family located far away in New York could only provide him easy passage through the customs, but when it came to the matters in Nassau, he was on his own. He practically started from scratch. Today, he has established good relations with at least a dozen pirate ships. Last year, Black Prince Sam even started to work with him, making him one of the more closely followed characters of the black-market alliance.”