Nakota hitched his horse up at the edge of the market, clicking the dial on her face so her display went dark. He slung a saddlebag over his shoulder and flipped the fur poncho from his back to his front. You never wanted these sorts of folks to know exactly what you were carrying.
He sauntered past the outer tents with their electrified trinkets. No radio wave ward against a bad eye would spare him the looks he was getting right now. He was willing to shoulder their gazes of motor oil hustlers and chrome cattle rustlers because the traders here all had deep stocks, and the only questions they asked were “What are you willing to pay?” and “Do you want some more?”
He was clearly Nation, which wasn’t so strange here. But Nakota wasn’t any silver man’s bodyguard or escort. Here was a dark skinned man who was alone and imminently self assured about being so.
Near the back was a tent with just the combination Nakota was looking for. The woman rocking back and forth outside had leathery skin showing the steel underneath where it had worn away. She’d been sold to members of the Nation fresh off the factory line, and she’d learned enough during her time with his people.
“I’m looking for a storm. Might you be someone I should talk to?” he asked.
“I might, plains walker,” she intoned. “What have you to trade? Bone wrenches? Glass fuses?”
“Thought you might be more interested in this.” Nakota tossed her a canteen that sloshed almost imperceptibly.
Her eyes whirred, shutters widening. “Is this blood? Real blood?”
“First blood,” Nakota replied, and she froze for a moment.
When she regained motor function, the woman shuffled to the back, pulling a chest out from the bottom of a pile of furs. Her palm scan unlocked it, and she handed him a water skin that crackled at his touch. Nakota turned it in his palms, weighing the ionization.
“How’s that?” she asked, still clutching the canteen.
“That’ll do fine for my purposes. Thank you, ma’am,” Nakota said, touching his hat’s brim. He paced back to his mount, flipped her ignition, and rode away.