Aldrich and Valera made their way to the Odinsons shop. It was a good walk away from the main 'streets' of the Settlement, taking up its own isolated territory. As he walked, he had the Evileye scout everything it could.
Their shop was a large, mobile trailer home that looked somewhat like a subway car or railcar. It was long and rectangular in shape, though sizable enough that it could reliably fit in twenty people to live rather comfortably.
Among mobile homes in the Settlements, this was one of the larger ones for sure, indicating that the Odinsons ranked quite highly among nomads in terms of wealth and power.
The home was decked out with modifications to survive traveling through the harsh environment of the Wastelands where sand storms, torrential storms, magnetic storms, and basically any storm one could think of blasted the land.
There were blinking green generators at the top of the home that likely projected force fields while auto-turrets rotated around, pointing directly at Aldrich and Valera as they approached. Two large cannon barrels were fitted into the front of the home, and bright, glowing white lines streaked on the cannons indicated they were energy weapons.
Twelve large power bikes were parked to the sides of the trailer home, attached by cables to sockets on the home to charge their electric engines. Once, gas and petroleum were used pretty often in the world, but that had phased out completely since the Monstering when rising climate temperatures and mass, sudden environmental instability forced cleaner energies to the forefront.
The home was armored in retractable layer of shingled black Durasteel like the scales on an armadillo, though since the home was anchored and open for business, the armor was fully retracted.
Aldrich counted eight Odinson members outside, though likely, there were just as many if not more inside the mobile home. Not bad, all things considered. He could get a general sense of power from the Odinsons, reading their levels.
They ranged from levels 1 to 5. Pathetically low, but expected. Nomads generally did not have amazing powers. If they did, then they would not be living like this out here. Hence the reliance on cybernetics and conventional firearms.
The only exception was wanted villains, but as far as Aldrich could tell, these guys were just low-level gangsters.
Then again, level ratings seemed to favor physical strength and destructive capability. Some of them might have had confusing or unique powers that made them more difficult to deal with.
Aldrich was still careful. He still took the time to formulate what to do. But he did know one thing, if things went bad, terribly bad, he would leave no survivors.
Aldrich and Valera walked up to the Odinsons base. Odinson members stood up from tables and tarps where they enjoyed the shade to talk or play cards or inspect tech and put their hands to their hips, thumbing Bolter pistols.
All of the Odinsons notably had an artificial blue left eye - a signature marking for their gang. Among this were tattoos that evoked the image of old Norse runes.
"What do you want, Mr. Mask?" An Odinson, a big guy, probably easily six foot two (~188cm), came up to Aldrich and Valera. He scratched his rough blonde beard with a mechanical hand and smiled at Valera. "Or are you here to sell her? Cause' if you are, I'd buy in a damn heartbeat. Promise I won't rough her up too much, either. Gotta make sure you can keep her fresh to put food on your table, right?"
A nerve became visible on Valera's forehead, and Aldrich immediately raised a hand in front of her as he sensed a lethal punch coming.
"No, I'm no pimp," said Aldrich. "I'm here to buy tech."
"Yeah?" said the Odinson. He looked disappointed before he waved others of his gang onward. "Boys, get them checked up."
Two Odinsons came by waving metal detecting sticks in front of Aldrich and Valera.
"Nothing on em but the clothes on their back," said one of them.
"Check AC count."
The inspecting Odinsons took out two scanners that fit over their eye like a shade. The scanners were red in color and projected a small web of holographic red light that washed over Aldrich and Valera.
"AC count…zero?" said the Odinsons in confusion.
"Zero? The fuck? Scan them again."
Another round of scanning commenced.
"Yeah, it's zero. No doubt about it."
"You two are Duds? While I'll be damned," said the bearded Odinson with the mechanical hand. "Haven't seen one in a long time. Thought your kind was extinct or some sh*t, heh. But guess you all won't pose any threat."
The Odinson turned around and talked into a radio transmitter in his hand. "Two clients, boss. Lookin' for tech. No weapons. Both Duds. Pretty sure they ain't cops or undercover heroes. You can see em' through the cameras, too."
He put his hand to his ear and heard commands from the other side. He smiled as he looked at Valera again. "Got it."
The Odinson nodded to Aldrich and Valera and waved them forward, suspiciously friendly now. "Go ahead. Look around and buy what you want if you got the creds for it."
The door to the mobile home slid open with a heavy click, and Aldrich and Valera stepped in while two Odinsons walked behind them, almost corralling them into the home. The insides were dimly lit with neon purples and dark blues like a night club. The walls were just bare, solid metal with zero concern for home decoration.
There were tables and chairs and furniture scattered around hap hazardly with Odinsons smoking up a drug-fueled storm, some passed out, some fondling half-dressed prostitutes in their laps, and others watching telescreen broadcasts.
The dank smell of Green, the newest and most concentrated strain of marijuana, wafted through the air as did the acrid smell of regular smoke.
The heavy sliding doors clicked closed behind Aldrich and Valera, and as they did, a silence descended on in the room.
All of them stared at Valera. A few whistles came out.
"Look what we have here," said one of the Odinsons as he eyed Valera up and down while sprawled out on a couch.
Valera just stared straight ahead, not meeting eyes with any of the Odinsons.
*Master, when can we bash their skulls in?* said Valera telepathically.
*Patience, Valera. Let's see how this plays out.*
Aldrich immediately mentally commanded his two Evil Eyes to scout this room and the others, getting a full read of the home's layout.
"Yeah, we got customers, Bjorn. Keep it in your pants for now," said the Odinson with the mechanical hand. "Brant here will lead you to the tech room. Have fun." He motioned to an Odinson that was heavily decked out with cybernetics.
His skull was completely chrome capped and both his arms were entirely mechanical.
Brant smiled at them and ushered them forwards with a head movement. Aldrich and Valera followed, but by now, Aldrich knew everything that was going to happen.
The mobile home was roughly split into to. Right now, they were in the living quarters. Deeper in, the other half of the home comprised of a tech room where a duo of goggle wearing technos moved about in rolling chairs, maintaining weapons, detached cybernetic parts, and, most importantly, creating forgeries.
They forged works of art and identification cards. They also checked the authenticity of various things the Odinsons had stolen from supply convoys or heists in walled cities using fake IDs.
Jewelry, mostly, for in today's society where consumerism still ran high to keep human morale high, useless and petty things like jewelry still had high value, especially in walled cities where there was enough wealth and stability for people to find something, anything, to prove they were richer and better than others.
But this was not all.
Behind the tech room, Aldrich saw five Odinsons with shock batons armed and ready. They had expectant, hungry smiles on their faces. It was obvious what they wanted to do.
They wanted to knock out Aldrich and Valera, especially Valera, and then do what they wanted. Probably kill Aldrich and force Valera into sexual servitude. They did this because they thought that Aldrich and Valera were Duds.
Completely and utterly powerless.
This was why they did not even care to ask Aldrich to remove his mask. They did not think he was any threat at all.
It made sense for these pieces of trash to do this. They had lived by the motto of stealing from the weak their entire lives.
Why would they change now?
When they saw two seemingly helpless prey stand right in front of them?
*Master, do you see what I am seeing?* said Valera.
*Well, yeah, you're seeing what I'm seeing* said Aldrich.
*Oh, right, I forgot, teehee. Sometimes I feel we are so close that your eyes are mine, and mine yours. Anyways, master, do I have permission to fight? To kill? To rip and tear?*
*Yeah* said Aldrich. *Just remember: no survivors.*
*My master, you do not have to tell me that. I know*