You figure this shouldn’t be too difficult – you’re just asking what they need, after all, so they’re unlikely to get too upset. You approach them as confidently as you can.
“You’re the new recruit, right?” one of them says as you get near. Judging by the fact that the others are hanging back and letting him do the talking, if you had to guess you’d say this is Squib.
“That’s me,” you say, sounding less confident than you hoped. “I’m just here on a job from the archives. I, ah, need to know if you’re short on any supplies. So we can order replacements.”
You hope that didn’t sound demanding. It probably didn’t, given your current mood.
Squib gives you a look-over, then grumbles and turns to one of the others.
“Clancy! Did the rats get anything of ours?”
“Nah, Squib, I checked our gear locker ten minutes ago, everything’s fine. But, uh. There was that business we had to take care of last night, during the infestation.”
“Oh. Right. What’d we end up using?”
Clancy looks nervous.
“Well, you may recall the rat chewed through one of our ropes, shit all over the tarp, and crashed into one of the water barrels. Y’know, the one we were still trying to figure out how the hell we were going to tell the officers about, because clean water’s kind of important.”
“Right,” Squib grumbles, giving Clancy a glare. He looks around to convince himself that no one else in the room heard. “So here’s the story, newmuck. What Clancy there just said? Doesn’t get told to the officers. You’re going to give them some other explanation about the barrel, and if you don’t, we’ll know about it. You understand?”
You understand him quite well.
“So, a rope, a tarp, and a story about a broken water barrel,” you say. “That’s what you want me to pass along.”
“You’re smart, newmuck. Hopefully smart enough to keep staying out of our way.”
You consider whether to confront them about the barrels, report it to an officer, or just go along with their intimidation. And if the last, what sort of story will you pass along?
You werent even there! You could probably just go with the easy half truth of sloppily telling the story with even fewer details than you already had, “Bad news, a water barrel got broken by a greatrat, so that needs replacing. And a rope and a tarp. Thats all!”
“Maybe you should consider staying out of MY way. Or an officer might just hear a story about how squib squad is hoarding a barrel of water for themselves.” They must have a shady rep if they pull this kind of shit, so turn it around at them.