After enjoying the restaurant and residence of the business magnate, Li Du spent the next two days searching the storage units.
He investigated the 25 units thoroughly. He found five that had significant value and diligently noted down their numbers.
In the middle of March, the Red Rock Storage Co. began the auction. The two rushed to the site in the early morning.
When they descended from the pickup, the treasure hunters who arrived before them turned their attention towards the two, many passionately greeting them.
"Hey Big Fox, China Li. Good morning, what a surprise to see you here."
"Any good stuff today? Let us in on some info, buddy. We havent had any good opportunities for two months."
"For the sake of God, Big Fox, dont take all the good stuff away."
Hans seemed to enjoy being the center of attention. However, he did not enjoy it for long, for a group of treasure hunters that came later brought a piece of news.
"Fred, why are you here? Did you rush over here from Phoenix?"
"Of course I had to come. The units this time have some excellent antique clocks, and I want to test my luck."
"What? Antique clocks? Where did you get that info?"
"Come on, guys, dont you know? Its all over the whole of Flagstaff. That guy Cocky was spreading the news yesterday."
When Li Du and Hans heard this, their hearts sank.
It was at this moment that Hanss phone rang. He saw who the caller was and gritted his teeth, saying, "D*mmit, its Andrew that b*stard!"
As expected, Andrews voice came out from the phone. "Enjoy your auction. A batch of antique clocksyou better get them! Good luck!"
"Damn you, you underhanded scum!" Hans growled.
Andrew asked indifferently, "When was I being underhanded? Didnt I tell you a valuable piece of information? I did tell you guys. Its just that I said it to many others also."
Indeed, the two had fallen for this trick. When they set up the bet, they did not ask for the other party to keep the information a secret.
Even if that agreement had been in place, Andrew could always spread the info by making use of someone elses mouth.
Feeling the rising tensions, Li Dus expression stiffened. "This situation isnt good."
Hans quickly decided what to do. "We need to form an alliancewe should choose those who are threatening, or else we might get burned trying to get a unit, and whats worse, we might fail to get the unit with the clocks."
"How do we form an alliance?"
"Let me do it. Tell me the quality of the units later." Hans waved his hand calmly, showing Li Du not to panic.
The auctioneer entered the site. He wore a microphone headset, with the speaker hanging at his waist; he had a rough appearance, which was an appropriate style for a mining town.
"Same old ruleseveryone should be familiar with the same old rules, no entering the units, no touching anything that doesnt belong to you, no fighting and no insults. Whatever else you do, I dont care. Alright, get in."
Because Andrew had leaked the info of the antique clocks, many people came to the auction. With about a hundred people, the auctioneer formed groups of four and brought them in group by group.
The first unit was unit 012. There was a large blast fan at the door. It looked aged, with some parts of the paint chipping off.
"Whats the price of this blast fan?" Li Du asked.
Hans pondered this for a moment, and said softly, "If this can still be used, it still has some demand. I think selling it for five, maybe six hundred should be no problem."
"Then lets set five hundred dollars for the base price of this unit?"
Red Rock was full of rubbish storage units. Old and run-down, with not much value, the starting bid was low. "Unit 012, 012 012, the starting bid is fifty bucks, anyone willing to go higher than fifty?"
"Alright someone has taken it for fifty, what about a hundred, a hundred, a hundred, anyone up for it?"
"Five hundred!" A bright voice rang across the crowd, surprising the treasure hunters.
Li Du turned his head and saw that the one who spoke was a huge man with a full beard. He had shades on and wore a stern expression, one like a bodyguard.
Hans looked, and said in a soft voice, "D*mmit, The President's Umbrella. That guy came too."
When he heard these words, Li Du was shocked. "Did I hear you right? That guy has connections with the President?"
Hans laughed. "Thats his nickname. See, hes always wearing some neatly-ironed suit, shades and a stern face. Doesnt he look like a bodyguard? Thats why we call him the Presidents Umbrella."
This guy was very wealthy and had a good eye. His well-calculated bid scared off almost all the treasure hunters.
Someone made another offer, but The President's Umbrella immediately shouted a bid of eight hundred dollars, successfully crushing the other treasure hunter, and claimed the first unit.
Seeing this, Hans nodded, and said, "Itll be him thenfollow me."
The two went to The President's Umbrella. "Hey, Rawls. How have you been doing? Looks like youve been earning well."
The President's Umbrella remained unsmiling. "Not too bad. I went to Florida for a while and made some spare change. Not as much as you guys."
"Theres not much time for small-talk, so Ill cut to the chase. How about we form an alliance today? Well split the profits from the antique clocks."
The President's Umbrella slowly scanned the two with a fastidious eye.
Just when Li Du thought there was no chance of cooperating, he suddenly said, "According to the info, there are many clocks here, but only two of them are antique. The rest are replicas. In fact, there were even more replicas, but those were sold off."
Li Du was shocked. The info that they had gotten was not as detailed as this!
Hans pulled him over without a change in expression. He nodded seriously. "Correct, only two are real antique clocks. But theres enough profit to split amongst us, isnt there?"
The President's Umbrella nodded. "Besides this, what else do you know?"
Clearly, reading between the lines, he meant that if what you guys know is the same as mine, then theres no need to cooperate.
Hans was stumped. They really did not know anything more. Andrew did not want them to earn from this auction.
Considering the situation at hand, Li Du smiled and said, "We know which unit!"
The President's Umbrella took off his shades and studied his expression. Eventually, he nodded. "Alright, write it down on paper. Were allies now."
Both parties high-fived. It was a somewhat successful alliance. With this, Hans heaved a sigh of relief and started explaining to Li Du the rules of alliances amongst treasure hunters.
Sometimes, when treasures appeared in units that one hunter could not handle by himself, or when two people with money had their eyes on the same unit, an alliance was necessary.
The strategy of an alliance was that, because there was always money to be made, both parties would end up in a mad bidding race without it, ending with both sides losing out. Thus, alliances were popular to keep costs lower.
However, most of the time, there were only two people in an alliance. More than that and the profits would have to be split even further, and the strategy would become pointless.
Li Du did not make any moves for the next four units. Except for the first one, the rest were all trash; buying them would not earn the trio a single cent.
When the sixth unit, which was unit 240, started being auctioned, he gave Hans a look. "This unit is a big one," he said quietly.
Hans nodded, and then gave The President's Umbrella a signal. The latter entered the crowd, declaring that he was taking part in the bid.