Aldrich kicked over the Odinson boss so that he faced upwards. He could not move on account of how tightly wrapped up he was in the brown tarp Valera had rolled him in, but his mouth was already moving.
"Anything you want, I'll tell you! You need something? I'll get it to you!" said the Odinson boss, his one biological eye so wide that it looked like it was damn near ready to pop out of his skull. "Just don't put me back to sleep! Not there, not back there, not the nightmares, god, no!"
"Well, that was easy," said Aldrich. He jotted down a mental note that [Horror Warp] was no longer just a simple ten second stun if it landed. Against those with no mental resistance, it locked them in a prison of nightmares for almost eight entire hours.
Regardless of how willing the boss was to talk, Aldrich still put his staff right on the man's throat, pressing into it with just enough pressure to let him know that at any given moment, the staff could pierce right through and end his miserable existence.
"The Trident. Everything you know about them. Tell me," said Aldrich. He spoke to the techno as well. "And you, listen to what he says and bring up any relevant info on his phone."
"You got it, boss," said the techno.
"Fisk, is that you?" said the boss, perplexed and betrayed. "You're working for him now?"
Aldrich allowed the techno, Fisk, his name was, to respond, curious as to whether there would be any recognition of his former boss.
"Uh, don't know who you are, but yeah, I'm workin' for him. But y'know, if you ask me, I think you ought to get talkin' instead of chattin' with me," said Fisk.
"You heard him," said Aldrich as he dug his staff deeper into the boss's throat, making him wheeze.
"O-okay," coughed the boss. "We started working with the Trident a year ago."
"In Haven?" Aldrich narrowed his eyes. "I've done my fair share of research on the Trident, and I was fairly certain they had no presence in Haven."
"Y-yeah, you're right," said the boss. "It wasn't in Haven. They got in touch with us for a heist. We had to snatch something from an Imugi convoy further down south. Around the S48 Highway.
After the Monstering, the United States highway and road system had been completely overhauled due to the threat of monsters and vast swathes of land rendered uninhabitable. Two sets of roads were developed.
'Secure' roads numbered from S1 to S50 that were reserved for transfer of crucial supplies and 'Commercial' roads numbered from C1 to C100 that mapped a web of traffic around the states.
The U.S. government managed the commercial roads, but the Panopticon - a multinational peacekeeping and technological development organization that worked with almost every world government and the Alterhuman Agency to fend against Variants - managed the secure roads.
Thus, S roads had a ton more security, surveillance, and hero presence.
"A ragtag, twenty or so member gang like the Odinsons managed to hijack an Imugi convoy? On a S road? Fucking ridiculous," said Aldrich as he began to press the staff into the boss's throat again, suffocating him.
Imugi was a mega-corporation based in Korea that stood at the absolute top of any military tech and development. ARMA was more commercial and widespread where Imugi was absolute razor cutting edge, creating top notch technology tailor made for select elite clients.
Any Imugi convoy would have been guarded heavily. No, heavily guarded was an understatement. There would have been absolute top of the line autonomous defense systems, battle drones, force fields, and probably high-end mercenaries guarding it.
This was on top of auto-turrets, cannons, and maybe even a hero or two that would have guarded a S-road.
"He's right," said Fisk as his red tinted visor flashed and glowed. "Got some comms and credit transfers that prove it."
"Hm," said Aldrich as he eased the pressure on his staff.
"You-you have to believe me," said the boss. "We didn't do it by ourselves. The Trident helped us. They sent out a guy to help us. Villain called the Vanisher. He helped us. He just sorta flew over the convoy and then anything that could shoot at us just disappeared.
It was real easy to just bust in and take what they needed after."
"And what did they need?"
"I don't know."
Aldrich glared at the boss.
"I really, really don't know!" said the boss, panicked. "They-they wouldn't tell us, and why would they? We're just nomad thugs. B-but I do know that it was a case of some kind. Real secure and fancy lookin', that case was. They made us transfer it, too."
"Where to?" said Aldrich.
"To Haven. We got a real strong presence in Haven, and we're reliable unlike them crazy ass Boltheads or Fiends, so I think that's why the Trident chose us to carry that package. We got it over to that nightclub, the one with real classy cocktail party theme, uh, the Red Circle!"
Aldrich thought about this for a moment.
It was true that the Trident had no real presence here in Haven. Their north American branch operated largely in Neo-York, the largest tier 1 walled city in the states, not in a tier 3 city like Haven.
It made some sense that if they wanted something delivered to Haven, they would hire local help.
It was not uncommon for larger criminal syndicates to hire nomads like the Odinsons or, as the boss mentioned other gangs like the Fiends or Boltheads, for dirtier work, especially where their influence was limited.
After all, nomads had no real citizenships, were largely untraceable, and could easily be abandoned when anything went wrong.
But why at Haven? Something as sensitive and important as a case from Imugi, too.
And to the Red Circle? A random nightclub?
"Any info on this?" Aldrich asked Fisk.
"Sorry, boss," said Fisk. "I got correspondence with a guy called 'Mr. X' that set this whole heist up, but after the heist was done, there's nothin' more."
"So that's it, hm?" Aldrich shook his head. "You Odinsons are just too low level to know anything useful. I've reached a dead end about the Trident with you.
It's time to find some answers at the Red Circle."
Aldrich raised his staff up, ready to pierce the boss's throat, but then he shouted. "Wait! Wait!"
"What?" said Aldrich, the staff still raised and ready to kill.
"Th-the guy, Mr. X, the guy that connected us to the Trident, he also told me to bring my boys to Haven as often as I could."
"Why is that?" said Aldrich.
"He-he wanted me to sell our drugs, especially the good and expensive sh*t like X, to a list of dealers he approved," said the boss. "Dealers that aren't nomads like us, y'know, classier guys that deal sh*t in the city, inside clubs or bars and stuff."
"And did you?" asked Aldrich.
"Y-yeah, it was a no-brainer. He paid us way more than it cost to get the X. I have no fuckin' idea why, but that's why we keep comin' back and back to the Settlements around Haven," said the boss.
Very, very interesting.
"Bring up that list of approved dealers if you can, Fisk," said Aldrich.
"Here." Fisk turned his laptop screen to Aldrich. He scrutinized a list of twenty names and did not recognize any of them except one.
The Blackwater technician and engineer that Aldrich had blackmailed for selling drugs to students. Aldrich knew that Davis sold drugs inside Haven when the A and B class students went out, but now he knew where this all happened: the Red Circle.
Aldrich began to realize there were threads tying together the Trident with not only the nomads, but Blackwater and its students.
The Trident was peddling drugs to Blackwater students indirectly through a supply chain comprising of the Odinsons and then select dealers in the city.
But why? He started to formulate thoughts and suspicions.
"Bring up info from Ghost's phone," said Aldrich. "Find any mentions for the nightclub called the 'Red Circle'."
"There's a sh*t ton of em', boss," said Fisk with a whistle. "Text messages, group chats, location tagged pictures, don't know where to start with this-"
"Any correspondence with a 'Davis Shane?'," said Aldrich.
"Yeah. Good amount. Looks like this 'Ghost' kid was a junkie. Real deep in it, too. Bought from Davis at the Red Circle every week," said Fisk.
"You know anything about this?" Aldrich asked the boss.
"No! N-nothing at all!" said the boss. "I just peddle the drugs; I don't actually deal em'! Don't know who they go to and never needed to!"
"I see." Aldrich looked down at the fearful boss's face and came to realize that the man would have no more useful information. He was just too low level for this. All he had been for the Trident was a mule to carry drugs and that one stolen case from Imugi.
"Well, looks like your usefulness has come to an end. Take a break down in Hell."
"W-wait-," began the boss before he choked on his words as Aldrich's staff tore through his throat, killing him.
[1x Odinson Soul (boss) obtained]
[1x Odinson Soul (boss) consumed]
[EXP Bar: 88/650 ] 100/650]
[Current Level: 9]
Aldrich kicked the boss's corpse over for Adam, Elaine, and the Alpha Striker to start tearing away at to sate their hunger for brains and flesh. Meanwhile, he sat behind Fisk.
"Show me all the correspondence you have from Ghost related to the Red Circle," said Aldrich.
"You sure, boss? That's a lotta stuff," said Ghost.
"I have time," said Aldrich as he made sure Valera's hunting party was doing well. They were doing excellently, ready to track down more natural Variants. Soon enough, he would hit level 10 and then access the first Tutorial Quest at which point he would gain a massive boost in power.