Li Du had to admit: Hans was charismatic. He really shouldn't have been a treasure hunter; he should have pursued a career in public relations instead. In the little bar, whether he was using flattery or telling a story, he could always keep the crowd's interest and raise the moods of Cylinder Head and his followers.
Cylinder Head wasn't a very social guy, but a man whose nickname was Rooster had more than enough personality to fill the space. After a couple of drinks and with Hans's flattering, he thought of Hans as his best friend.
As the mood reached a high point, Hans began to reveal his "fox tail" (his true intentions). "Hey buddy, I've heard that you guys are the street kings of Phoenix. I must say, I'm really envious of the network that you guys possess. You know, I'm not flattering you, I'm serious. Of course, I'm only talking about the racing circles and not other networks."
Hans used wit as a method to try and extract some useful information. Although it was done somewhat crudely, it was quite effective on these fellows who had lost their own wit after a few cups of alcohol.
"Yo buddy, I must tell you, you've got it wrong," replied Rooster. "Our network is very vast and doesn't simply revolve around the racing circle. Feel free to ask if you don't believe me,"
Although Hans nodded to show his agreement, he purposely displayed an expression full of reservation; this irritated Rooster, Ronald and the rest of the group. Even the quiet Cylinder Head frowned, "Big Fox, you don't believe us?"
"I believe you. But you guys aren't God; no one is related to everything," Hans said. "Alright, let me give you an example: I'm in the auction hunting profession, do you have a connection in that field? What I mean is are you able to get information that other treasure hunters aren't able to?"
"Of course!" Taking out his phone, Rooster made a couple of calls. During the second call, he spoke a few words before putting it on speaker.
"…when did you guys start to care about this? Alright, there's an awesome piece that might be put to auction soon. Next week, Cactus Storage Company will be auctioning a few warehouses, and there should be some interesting things in them."
"What kind of interesting things?"
"A Yamaha. There should also be a set of DW drums."
Li Du and Hans immediately exchanged an excited look. What an interesting piece of information!
After the call, Hans continued to compliment Cylinder Head and the group, raising the mood to another high after few more rounds of drinks.
In the end, Hans of course was the one who picked the bill. The good thing was that the drinks weren't very expensive. They spent several hours in the bar, and the tab only came out to a little over four hundred dollars.
After the bikers left, Li Du gave Hans a thumb up. "Nice one, Big Fox. You are good."
Hans only shrugged in response. "That's only a small trick. Next time I'll show you my real skills. Oh, and also, why aren't you drunk after so much alcohol?"
Li Du copied Hans's shrug. "I just don't get drunk."
Through this meeting, he found that as long as he used the little bug's ability, no matter what he ate or drank, he would never feel stuffed or get drunk; all the energy would be absorbed by his body after being drained by using the little bug.
Cactus Storage Company was located in Phoenix, the capital city of Arizona. The firm owned over 450 warehouses with storage units, and it hosted auctions almost every week.
Hans, Li Du, and Ah Meow drove to Phoenix two days before the auction, in the middle of February.
Although there were only 130 miles between Flagstaff and Phoenix, the temperature difference between the two made it seem as if they existed in two different seasons. While Flagstaff was still filled with the coolness of spring, Phoenix, situated in the middle of the desert, was already scorched by the sun.
Li Du was a classic nerd. During his time in America, he only focused on his studies and hadn't left Flagstaff. It was his first time in Phoenix, so he was caught unprepared by the weather's sudden change. He arrived in a coat and a sweater but had to take them off as soon as he stepped out of the truck.
"Are you planning on giving us a striptease?" a white man whose skin had already been scorched red by the sun chuckled. Li Du was able to sense his maliciousness; it was not a friendly teasing.
Hans seemed to be a regular in Phoenix, so he shook his head and complained, "The people here are like this terrible weather: wild, fierce, and without any manners. That's why when Mother America accepted Arizona into its embrace it was an act of generosity and kindness."
Although Uncle Sam had always drooled over Arizona's mineral reserves, out of US's lower 48 states it was the last to join.
As they walked across the parking lot towards Cactus Storage Company, Hans spoke about the city: "Phoenix has a lot of sports teams like the NBA Suns, the MLB's Diamondbacks, and the NHL's Coyotes. So I often obtain valuable sports gear from the auctions here. One thing you might not know is that although the people here don't seem to be very well-educated, the city itself and the museums here are first-rate. We might even be able to get some antiques if we are lucky. Of course, that's mostly a dream because the chances of getting valuable antiques from treasure hunting are pretty slim."
Carefully caressing Ah Meow, Li Du gave him a sly smile, "Really? I'm not too sure about that."
Cactus Storage Company matched its reputation. This time, there were eleven storage units for sale in the auction. Unlike the previous two companies, this one had very strict rules.
Treasure hunters were not allowed to enter when auctions weren't going on, and any action that violated this could get them banned for life.
Li Du and Hans snuck in by disguising Li Du as an Asian businessman who was looking to rent one of the storage units.
What made Li Du very depressed was the fact that those eleven units weren't in one place. Two of them were as far as a mile apart. There was no way that they could finish the investigation in one go.
As for the long-anticipated Yamaha, even though they went through the first five storage units on that day, Li Du didn't catch a glimpse of it.
He did find an ATV, but it was in the open where everyone could see it; this unit would probably be auctioned off at a very high price, leaving little to no room for profit.
What Li Du was aiming for were storage units with a high-profit margin; they didn't want to throw money away at just any unit. Therefore this one was instantly removed from his consideration.
Although he spent nearly all his energy searching, they weren't able to make much progress on the first day.
Afterwards, Hans took him to a Mexican restaurant for dinner.
Just as they stepped in, their path was blocked by two people. One stood more than six feet tall and immediately gave Hans a shove. "Hey look, who's this? Isn't it Miss Fox?" he mocked.
Frowning, Hans angrily retorted, "Crazy Lucas, you haven't gone to hell yet?"
Letting out a loud laugh, Lucas continued, "Of course not, otherwise wouldn't I be a spirit instead? I'm surprised that YOU are still alive though. Not only that, but you even have enough courage to step in here."
Letting out a cold smirk, Hans countered, "Why shouldn't I be here? This is a restaurant, right? I brought my buddy here for dinner. Where would I go if not here?"
"Inviting your buddy out for a drink? This skinny monkey? I didn't know that a monkey could also drink—would he be drinking monkey wine then?" Lucas pretended to ask in a very serious manner while his buddy let out an exaggerated howl.
"Monkey wine is a very strong spirit for girly guys like you. I'm not sure if you could handle one mouthful," Li Du said calmly.
"Then let me try it?" Lucas continued to provoke him.
"You don't have that qualification yet. How about this, let's compete to see who has a higher tolerance. If you can beat me, then I'll give you a bottle of monkey wine," Li Du challenged.