The Dresden Files: Portland

Changes: Part Four
Tabitha White

January 2, 2013 (Wednesday Afternoon)

“You okay, Nick?” Sabrina calls out as she drives. “You don’t look so good.”

“I’ll…I’ll be okay. I’m just tapped out. Gave myself a headache. Need some time to recover,” Nick says.

“What the hell were those guys?” Daymar says.

“I don’t know,” Sabrina says.

Yuriko is upset and shaking. “Those were people like us. People that the Fomor changed into their horrible foot soldiers. You heard them! They are planning to raise some sort of army and go after everyone who signed the Accords. The White Council, the Fae, the Vampire Courts!”

“You win Yuriko, when we get home, I’ll call Gordon. It just feels like trying to put out a fire with gasoline," Dillon says.

Yuriko shakes her head. “I don’t know what else to do. I can try to call Capstone, but I haven’t heard from her since the holidays. This is big if people have been disappearing from Seattle as well.”

January 2, 2013 (Wednesday, 5:30 pm)

Sabrina pulls up to Yuriko’s apartment and lets everyone out. Yuriko collects her baseball bat from the trunk.

Sabrina takes Dillon to the side. “I’m going to tell Tom what happened. I’m probably going to get in trouble for my illegal search, and nothing legally can come of it as a result of that, but he ought to know that trouble may be coming.”

Everyone else heads upstairs where Yuriko makes a pot of hot tea. She hands Nick a cup of tea (and offers him a couple of aspirin). She then gets Daymar settled on a couch and sets a cup in front of him as well. Yuriko curls up in a chair, still clearly shaken from the afternoon events. “Why are they after you, Daymar? How do they even know who you are?”

“I don’t know,” Daymar says. “I guess they found me the same way that mobster found me. Same way you guys found me. They asked around. As far as why, maybe its for what I do.”

“So maybe the Fomor are looking for very specific talents, including Divining. Daymar, are you the only practitioner in town that specializes in that magic?” Yuriko asks.

“I’m the only one I know of that specializes in it,” Daymar says.

“I have no contacts in the Paranet that specialize in it like Daymar does,” Nick says, “Though I do know a lady in Sellwood that has some minor precognition.”

Yuriko frowns. “Not to stir up panic, but maybe you need to get word out through the Paranet, Nick. So people can watch their backs. So we can hear if someone goes missing.”

Nick nods and says “I’ll call Kendria as soon as I leave here and start getting the word out for people to watch their backs. Go out with friends. Use the buddy system for a while until this gets sorted.”

Yuriko offers to try and pass along information to Capstone as well. “I’ll text her and see if she responds.” She continues, “If these guys are going after all members of the supernatural community, it may be hard to get to word out. Some groups aren’t as well connected as others.”

Meanwhile, Dillon has come into the apartment. Yuriko hands him a cup of Earl Grey. He calls Gordon. “Hello Gordo, it’s Dillon. I need some information about a group called the Fomor. What can you tell me?”

Gordon chuckles. “You are either extremely naïve or insanely insolent, mortal. Do you offer nothing in exchange for this information?”

“I believe I am owed a favor. Give me a thorough report including their weaknesses, specifically how to fight them and why they are kidnapping mortal practitioners, and we can call the debt settled,” Dillon says.

“That is quite a lot for a single boon,” Gordon says. “You will have to talk to the Envoy, as it is her boon to give. I will make the arrangements and get back to you.”

Sabrina gets off the phone and comes up to the apartment. She knocks on the door and waits for someone to answer before letting everyone know that she has to go into work. Tom wants to see her and she’s going to run some of these names from the IDs in the database and see what pops. Not sure what can be done with them, but at any rate it’s something she can do.

Dillon says to Sabrina: “Hey, if you get in trouble at work, just say you had to chase us in. As an officer of the law, you are obligated to protect the citizens of Portland. And watch your back, those guys know what we look like. They may decide hitting us individually will make grabbing Daymar easier.”

Back inside, Dillon says to the group, “They may be focusing on ‘Diviners’, in two encounters they completely focused on Daymar and never made a move on Nick, who clearly showed off that he was a practitioner of the arts. So, they’re purposeful, not just grabbing any and every wielder. Maybe we should make a trip to Sellwood and find this, ‘Precog’ lady, give her a heads up and watch her place. She may be a viable target for them.”

Yuriko nods. “I’ll also talk to those I know in the supernatural community that may not be connected to the Paranet. I can see if Aleister will spread the word as well.”

She turns to look at Daymar. “We need to keep you away from those goons. Can you continue to stay at the church with Dillon? Do have another safe place you’d rather be?”

Daymar shrugs. “I’ve got no other place to be, but for how long can we keep this up? I can’t stay at the church forever.”

January 2, 2013 (Wednesday, 6:45 pm)

Dillon, Nick, and Yuriko (Sabrina is still at work) head to the Sellwood neighborhood of Portland. There are lots of really “cute” houses and kitschy business along the main avenue. There are also several eateries and night spots.

On the way, Nick explains that the precog, whose name is Tabitha White, gets brief visions of the future or of somewhere else in the present. However, these visions are coupled with debilitating seizures. She has no control over when the visions come or what she sees. Sometimes they may be important to her—sometimes they can be mundane and useless.

Tabitha lives in an apartment above a record store. Nick leads the way up the stairs at the rear of the store that lead to the apartment. When he gets up to the door, he knocks. The three can hear movement beyond the door and then a door-chain being moved before the door is opened.

“Hi Nick. What’s going on?” Tabitha is an attractive woman of color, her heritage being hard to tell for certain.

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She’s dressed in yoga pants and a tank-top and her hair is up in a ponytail.

“May we come in? It’s pretty important,” Nick says.

She looks at Nick and company a little warily, with a more than a little skepticism, but says, “Yeah, all right.” She steps aside and lets every one come in.

Tabitha’s apartment is small, but neat. One unusual feature is a boxer’s long punching bag dangling from a strong chain in the corner of the unused breakfast nook.

“Have a seat,” she says, indicating the couch. She takes a nearby chair. “What brings you over to Sellwood?”

Nick starts by introducing everyone. “Tabitha, this is Yuriko and this is Dillon. They’re two of my closest friends. We’ve been dealing with some stuff that may affect members of the Paranet, but may also deal specifically with you.”

Tabitha cocks an eyebrow. “Me specifically? I keep to myself, you know that. What are you talking about?”

Yuriko leans forward slightly from her spot on the couch. "I don’t know if you’ve heard the rumors, but there have been some disappearances lately. People from the supernatural community turn up missing, and some weird fish-goons were involved. The reports were originally from Salem and Eugene, but we personally know that they’ve now shown up in Portland as well. They’ve been targeting a friend of ours, someone with a divination talent. We’re concerned that these goons may also be targeting anyone with similar abilities. "

“And naturally you thought of me,” Tabitha says, looking at Nick. “I appreciate the heads-up. Do you know why they want people like me?” she asks the room in general.

“We don’t know yet, it’s just a guess that they are targeting diviners, but we wanted to make contact and give you a heads up just in case," Dillon says.

Yuriko adds, "These goons are controlled by an old race called the Fomor. The Fomor are known to capture and magically alter people to be their slaves. It can’t be for any good reason.

Tabitha nods, “Well, like I said, I appreciate the heads—” Tabitha’s eyes roll back into her head and her muscles lock up. She starts shaking and slumps out of her seat onto the floor. Nick rushes over to her and picks up her head. She’s jerking in his arms. As suddenly as the fit began, it stops and Tabitha takes a deep breath. She looks up at Nick. “Did you say fish-goons? I think they’re on their way…”

Yuriko springs out of her chair. “We’ve got to get you out of here! Do you have a car?”

“I…I have a van. It’s parked in the street,” she says. Tabitha seems a little jittery from her seizure. “I’m not sure we have time. I saw them downstairs.”

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Yuriko speaks urgently, “We need to lock the door and put something heavy in front of it. Those creatures are strong. Tabitha, if you have anything you need to take with you, now’s the time to grab it.”

Tabitha runs into the bathroom and grabs a bottle of medication and shoves it in her pocket. She then runs into the bedroom and grabs her purse. Right about that time, there’s a hard rapping at the front door.

Yuriko runs to the window nearest the fire escape to see if there are any goons waiting outside for them. She sees none.

Dillon asks Nick, “Can we raise a magic circle in front of the door, will that slow them down? If not, let’s start barring the door with furniture!” Dillon makes a mental note to carry spray paint to make magic circles on the fly.

Nick says, “I’m not sure a magic circle will stop them. I think they’re mostly human, after all. But we can try both.” He asks Tabitha for a marker. She gets one out of a drawer in the kitchen and tosses it to him. He draws a circle around door on the wall and calls upon his will. You can feel a slight shifting of energies in the room when he’s done and then you start moving Tabitha’s furniture against the door as more pounding ensues.

Yuriko quietly opens the window by the fire escape and starts gesturing for everyone to sneak out.

As Yuriko makes her way down the fire escape, there is a loud BOOM as the goons try to crash in the front the door. As Tabitha makes her way down the fire escape, there is another loud BOOM as the goons try to breach the door. As Nick makes his way down the fire escape, there is a loud CRASH as the door is opened by goons. Dillon can see that the goons are not slowed by the magic circle scrawled on the door, but are being slowed by the furniture piled up in the entryway.

Dillon turns and shuts the door to the bedroom and locks it and makes his way down the fire escape to the join the others down below. From downstairs, they all hear the CRASH of Tabitha’s bedroom door being smashed open.

Tabitha leads the way to her van. It’s a VW microbus, powder blue. Everyone loads up inside and Tabitha takes off.

“I don’t know where I’m going!” Tabitha calls out.

Dillon suggests Yuriko’s apartment and Yuriko agrees. Directions are given and the microbus flies down the road.

They all arrive at Yuriko’s apartment and manage the shuffling of talismans needed to get Tabitha inside past the ward. Once inside, introductions are made to Daymar and to Hana.

Once everyone gets settled, Tabitha asks, “So now what? I can’t stay here indefinitely. I have a life I need to get back to.”

“I’m hiding at the church. You can come with me, if you want,” Daymar says.

“Hiding is not a plan,” Tabitha says.

“Is so,” Daymar says, a bit petulantly.

Dillon says, “We will lay low until we get more information. These guys are tough, every head on confrontation has ended with us running, they busted through your door, they’re strong. We’re waiting on some…friends…to get back to us, hopefully with details and weaknesses, that’s the best we’ve got so far.”

Yuriko chimes in that she will be contacting both the current and former Wardens so they can help spread the word about the danger for the supernatural community. They may have suggestions as well.

Although there’s not a lot of room, Yuriko also offers her apartment as a temporary place to stay. The wards may help.

“Look, I appreciate all this, I really do. But I’ve got to work. I’ve got a life. I can’t hole up in a stranger’s apartment for who knows how long,” Tabitha shakes her head. “I just don’t know if I can do this.”

Yuriko cocks her head at Tabitha. “If you don’t want to stay here, of course that’s up to you. But you need a safe place to be and that’s not your apartment. Do you have another friend you can stay with? Maybe someone else in the supernatural community who can have your back and help keep you safe?”

Her expression turns grim, “Because we’ve been up close and personal with those creatures. We’ve seen what the Fomor have done to them. It’s awful. There doesn’t appear to be anything left of the people they were before. If they get a hold of you, you won’t have your life anymore. You’ll have what they give you.”

Tabitha’s eyes flash at Yuriko. “I understand that. But I also have a job that isn’t going to go away because I tell them I have fish goons chasing me. I have responsibilities that don’t go away because of this. ‘Lying low’ is all well and good if I didn’t have a life that doesn’t accept the presence of fish goons.” She sighs. “Look, I don’t mean to snap. This is a lot to take in. I’ll stay here, if you’re still offering. But I can’t stay here forever. There’s got to be something to be done.”

Yuriko nods. “We’re trying to do something. None of us want you or Daymar … or anyone else for that matter … getting nabbed by these fish goons. The Fomor are up to no good and we need to find a way to stop them. However, before we can stop them, we need more information.”

She pauses slightly, then continues, “You can certainly still stay here for the time being. As for your job, can you take any time off for now? If the fish goons decide to target you at work, you may be putting other people in danger as well.”

Tabitha shakes her head. “I’m an actress. If I don’t show, I don’t get paid. If I don’t get paid, I lose my apartment.” She sighs. “But I suppose I got a bit tucked away for emergencies. For a little while. Alright. But let’s hope this information you get helps.”

Dillon’s phone rings—it’s Gordon’s number.

Dillon answers. “What’s the good word, Gordo?”

“The Envoy will be holding court at the Elysian Ballroom downtown tomorrow beginning at 8 am. There you may petition her for your boon,” Gordon says. “A bit of free of advice mortal, if you will listen. You will be in a court of Faerie. Your usual flippant manner will not do. Your words will matter.”

“Oh, of course Gordy, I’m only playful when talking to friends. Bye”

Yuriko and Dillon discuss whether or not he wants back on this meeting, as it is not on Accorded Neutral Ground.

“Hmmm, this whole thing is suspicious. Why am I having to petition her for a favor she spent most of a year reminding me she owed? She has also seemed quite annoyed that I haven’t collected. Now I have to ask permission to collect on the debt she owes? The whole thing smells like a set up. I just don’t know for what purpose.”

“I do want back up, but not in the Faerie Room Proper, just in the building or at least close enough to hear me scream. And, everybody pack iron, literally!”

“As far as 8 am, that’s when court starts, not when I’ll arrive. I believe the term is, fashionably late.”

Dillon intends to fill his pockets with iron shavings as a deterrent.

Yuriko does some research on the Elysian Ballroom. Words used to describe the Elysian Ballroom are “Delightful, Glorious, Blissful…”. The Elysian Ballroom is conveniently located on the corner of Southwest 9th and Yamhill streets across from Directors Park. Guests will enjoy convenient parking across the street at the Smart Park and is on the Max line and within blocks of most of downtown Portland’s major Hotels.

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There is a main ballroom, a lounge, and a staging area for the bride and the groom. How the Envoy is utilizing these areas is unknown.

The Elysian Ballroom facility appears to occupy the 5th floor of the building.

The 2nd floor is another ballroom, The Adrianna Hill ballroom. The other floors, I believe are the staging areas for the ballrooms and the offices for the management of the ballrooms.

The group plans for Dillon to arrive at noon and for Nick, Yuriko, and Sabrina to be ready in the nearby parking garage in case there is trouble.

Yuriko texts Warden Capstone “Agents of the Fomor are in Portland, targeting those with divination talents. We think they’re responsible for some recent disappearances. We’re spreading the word for people to watch their backs. The Fomor have a bigger plot in mind.”

Capstone texts back: AM OUT OF THE CITY. FOMOR ARE FORMIDABLE ENEMIES. POWERFUL SORCERERS. GOOD TO SPREAD WORD TO BE SAFE. WILL RETURN AS SOON AS ABLE.

Yuriko plans on visiting Aleister at Powell’s on the following day before heading to the ballroom.

View
Side Job: Kristallnacht (Part Three)
Karkana Chronicles: Twenty

August 29, 2013 (Thursday)

When Brianna contacts Loomis in late August, he tells her that Ezekiel is giving “the word” that the plan is going forward. Things will go into motion on August 30. People will be meeting at Ezekiel’s farmhouse. Loomis will bring Kevlar for Joey. Deandra will not be there as she will be performing her distractions.

Brianna and Joey pack up and get ready to drive to Seattle.

August 30, 2013 (Friday)

Brianna and Joey arrive at Ezekiel’s farmhouse outside of Seattle. Dexter is there, as are Ezekiel and Loomis. Also there is a very Goth-looking young woman introduced as Angelique. She shakes hands with Brianna.

Once everyone is gathered, Ezekiel gives Angelique a jade pendant and tells her to wear it all times. She says, “I know, I know,” and he cuts her off.

“I’m serious. All times.”

“Okay,” Angelique says and puts it on.

Ezekiel says, “We’ve gotten more information. The Baroness holds court every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. She travels from her home at sundown, to the club, and then from the club back to home at dusk in her limousine. On the other weeknights, she spends at home and has food brought to her from various points in the city.” Brianna looks disgusted.

Ezekiel continues, “In order to see through the pendant, I’m going to have to be in a semi-trance state. I can describe what I’m seeing.”

“How close can we be? I know we wanted to be close enough to be an extraction team,” Brianna says.

“Well, I have a panel wagon,” Ezekiel says. “So we can all be in it somewhat close. it’s old enough to where I can do a working in it and perhaps it won’t affect it.”

“Good,” Brianna says. “Let’s hope it won’t come to that.”

“Any questions? Last minute details?” Ezekiel asks.

“I don’t think so. Angelique just going to go in, talk to the Baroness, see what she can see, and get out, yes?” Brianna says.

“That’s the plan,” Ezekiel says.

“We’re just going to see her through this. We’re not leaving anything behind or anything,” Brianna says.

“Right,” Ezekiel says. “Loomis has given her some background information on a possible drug operation so she sounds like she knows what she’s talking about.”

“Do we have a basic layout of this club? If things go to shit and we have to get in there quickly, I want to know where the VIP room is,” Brianna says.

“We have a basic layout of the public areas, but not the private areas. Angelique will be in th private areas,” Ezekiel says.

“Then Ezekiel will have to describe what he’s seeing when it comes to that,” Brianna says.

They all load up in an old, 1940s-era panel wagon that Ezekiel has procured, Angelique will follow in her own vehicle. Dexter drives. Painted on the floor of the back of the panel wagon is a magic circle. Joey gets into the Kevlar vest that Loomis brought for him. Brianna is carrying her “veil” potion. Ezekiel raises an eyebrow and Brianna explains that she had it made for another mission and didn’t use it. “I know other magic people besides you, Ezekiel,” she says, playfully.

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Side Job: Kristallnacht (Part Two)
Karkana Chronicles: Twenty

July 28, 2013 (Sunday, Early Morning)

Brianna, Loomis, Dexter Quinn, and Ezekiel have regrouped at Ezekiel’s farmhouse after a series of spectre attacks and firebombings targeting those that killed the Margrave of Seattle several months past. Warden Deandra Charles has just arrived.

Deandra is an athletic African-American woman with short, salt-and-pepper hair. She is not in full Warden regalia, but carries herself as if she were. Brianna feels a strong supernatural vibe from her. She tries not to come off as jittery in front of the Warden, but doesn’t do a very good of it. Deandra nods at people she recognizes as she comes in, notes Brianna, narrows her eyes at Ezekiel and says, “Is this a guest of yours?”

Ezekiel says, “Yes, this is Brianna. She was also a victim of the bombings tonight and the spectres.”

Deandra looks at Brianna again and says, “Brianna.” Then she turns to Ezekiel and says, “Is there a reason why you have a hungry White Court vampire in your house tonight, Ezekiel?”

Brianna stiffens.

Ezekiel replies, “Brianna’s a friend. She’s been through a lot tonight. I don’t think we’re in any danger, are we Brianna?”

“No,” Brianna says flatly.

“Brianna is under my hospitality,” Ezekiel says.

Deandra says, “So why would this Baroness want to bring problems against the White Court?”

Ezekiel says, “I don’t think the Baroness has the White Court in mind, I think she has Brianna specifically in mind.”

Deandra furrows her brow and says, “Oh?”

Ezekiel says, “Yes. Brianna was there that night when the Margrave went down.”

“You failed to mention this,” Deandra says, angrily.

Ezekiel shrugs. “It didn’t seem important. Now it does.”

“We’ll talk later,” Deandra says. “So the Baroness has made her move tonight against those that stood against the Margrave, I take it.”

“Looks like it,” Brianna says, her voice still chilly.

“Is there anyone else that was there that night that she’s acted against that I should know about?” Deandra asks. She looks sidewise at Ezekiel.

“My partner was there,” Brianna tells her.

“Your partner?”

“My business partner. They tried to hit our place. Our apartment. He’s okay,” Brianna adds. “It was warded. They couldn’t get in.”

“It was warded,” Deandra repeats. She turns to Dexter. “What about your pack? Were any of them attacked?”

Dexter says, “Just me.”

“Well I wouldn’t be surprised if the four of you weren’t cooking up some next steps at this point. Am I wrong?” Deandra asks.

Brianna leans back in her chair. Everyone else is silent.

“My intelligence says this Baroness has been around a long time,” Deandra says.

“Do you know where she was before she came here?” Brianna asks.

“South America.”

“Is this is a promotion for her?”

“I don’t know. I know only that she’s old,” Deandra says. “She no longer holds court where the Margrave did. She holds court in the VIP lounge of a place called The War Room on Pike.”

“Does anyone know exactly how much housecleaning she did of the Margrave’s people? Besides Vanessa?” Brianna asks.

Ezekiel says, “Between me and Deandra, we figure she probably cut about 50% of his staff.”

“As in cut out like Vanessa?” Brianna asks.

“Yes,” Ezekiel says. “Which keeps the other 50% in line.”

“But has she bolstered those numbers or is she running at 50% capacity?”

“She has bolstered those numbers,” Ezekiel confirms.

“Has she brought in people from South America?”

“Some,” Ezekiel says.

“I don’t suppose she’s lairing where the Margrave laired?” Brianna asks the group.

“No,” Deandra says. “But she has a place in the Queen Anne district. That’s what we know so far.”

“Does anyone know what she looks like? With her flesh mask on, anyway,” Brianna asks.

“I’ve not seen her,” Deandra says.

“That makes things decidedly more tricky,” Brianna shakes her head. “Someone said something about the fact that she might be a necromancer?”

Ezekiel says, “If she sent these spectres. Either that, or she has one in her employ. If she’s as old as Deandra says, it’s possible she’s learned mortal magic.”

“That’s a singularly frightening thought,” Brianna replies.

“It sounds like we need more information and then we can move,” Dexter speaks up.

“We don’t even know what she looks like,” Brianna says. “Suggestions? It seems like she’s intimately familiar with everyone in this room. Getting close will be tricky. Especially if the bitch is going to continue to throw things at us.”

“We can’t just sit back and take it,” Dexter says through clenched teeth.

“I’m not suggesting we sit back and take it,” Brianna retorts hotly. “She’s attacked me and the people I care about. This War Room. VIP lounge. Is it a lounge? A club? What?”

“It’s a club,” Deandra says. “A lounge club.”

“What are everyone’s contacts in the city? Think we can get someone close enough to get a picture?” Brianna asks. “Does anyone know someone who might know?”

Dexter says, “I have my pack. I might know someone who could get close.”

Ezekiel says, “I don’t have a lot of people I would want to get that close except for those in this room.”

Deandra interrupts, “Say you were successful in this endeavor, have you considered the implications for the city? Last time you took out the Margrave, they brought in somebody more powerful. What happens this time?”

“And the alternative?” Brianna says flatly. “I guess we’re dead.”

“That’s not what I’m saying. That’s not what I’d rather have,” Deandra says.

“The Margrave was a blight on the city,” Brianna says. “I don’t imagine she’s going to be much better. I don’t pretend to understand how this fits into this larger war that going on.”

“I’m simply saying that these things need to be considered. Because there will be a power vacuum and something will fill it. Whether or not that’s something that’s manageable or something that’s not, that may be determined by our actions.”

Brianna’s voice raises slightly “Well if you can think of a way to neutralize her without making things turn to shit, please throw your ideas on the table. How much is the White Council involving themselves in this? Considering Ezekiel bore the brunt of it last time?”

“I haven’t made my report to the White Council yet, obviously. This is an ongoing situation,” Deandra says. “My duty in this time of war is to protect the people of Seattle from the Reds as much as possible.”

“That’s a good thing,” Brianna says. “What we saw in the Margrave’s house was horrible.”

“I’m sure,” Deandra says.

“What is the White Council’s end goal with this war? To stop the war?” Brianna asks.

“Excuse me if I don’t discuss White Council business with an outsider,” Deandra says pointedly.

“It would be lovely if our goals and the Council’s could align,” Brianna’s eyes flash.

“Well, just as you don’t speak for the White King, I don’t speak for the White Council,” Deandra retorts.

Ezekiel interrupts as the tension between the two women starts to build, “This isn’t getting us any closer to figuring out what to do next.”

Dexter says, “If we want somebody to go into that club, I could have one of the pack do it. Maybe Ezekiel could rig up some sort of scrying device?”

“That could be left there? Like a planted thing?” Brianna asks. “Or something being worn so we can see through their eyes?”

“Yeah, the latter,” Dexter says.

“It’s risky. Even scrying can be felt,” Ezekiel says. “But It’ll take time.”

“Unless you can come up with a very good disguise for us to get in, I think it’s our best option. But if she’s intimate enough with us to send spectres after us and send people after our homes and places of business, I’m afraid we’re going to get made as soon as we go in the door,” Brianna says. “However, if that’s what you’d rather us do than put someone from the pack in danger then I’ll do it.”

“I don’t think any of us know enough about disguise,” Ezekiel says.

“Sneaking around is not my thing,” Brianna confirms.

“You’re fairly distinctive,” Ezekiel says.

“You charmer,” Brianna says to him in mock flirtation.

“Subtlety is also not my strong suit,” Brianna continues. “So, we send the pack in, get some reconnaissance, get a picture of this lady.” She looks at Loomis, “I assume we can get floor plans of her house, get some layout. It’d be good if we can get her patterns, but I don’t know if we can get that close. Does anyone have contacts throughout the city? People talk. This is a big player. Somebody has seen something. She’s gotten rid of half her staff. These things make ripples in the supernatural community.”

Brianna adds, "If this bitch is going to continue to throw things at us, it going to make things more difficult. I don’t know if this is ‘I know who are and I saw what you did, and here’s my response’ or if this is the beginning of a larger assault. Because there is a chance a lot of mortals are going to be hit in the crossfire.

Deandra says, “The night you send this pack member, they’ll need a story. Why are they there? Why are they seeking out the Baroness?”

“Well that’s going to have to be a damn good story,” Brianna says, “And from someone who’s good at telling a good story.”

Dexter says, “I have someone in mind, if we have a story.”

“I can not even think of a story to tell this person,” Brianna says. “Why would you hold suit with the queen of vampires in town?” She pauses, thinking. “Has she taken over all of the Margrave’s activities? He was quite involved in most of the illegal elements in town wasn’t he?”

“Yes,” Ezekiel nods.

“If someone was going to start up a business of some sort would they need to go to her first?” Brianna asks.

“Probably,” Ezekiel says.

“Well, there’s the inklings of a story. Someone in the supernatural community especially would know to go talk with her,” Brianna says. She looks at Loomis. “What kind of new enterprising crime activities are up and coming?” She then turns to Dexter. “What do you think your person could sell? Drugs? Money laundering? Cock fighting?”

Loomis says, “Drugs would be the most likely.”

“Let’s not reinvent the wheel. Let’s make this likely,” Brianna states. “Do you know enough about the drug situation in this city from the narcotics department or whatever that you could pass on to this person? They’re going to need to know something about it.”

“I might can get them some background,” Loomis says. “Yeah.”

“Sounds like we have the beginnings of a plan,” Brianna says looking slightly pleased.

“The night of,” Deandra adds. “I can be active on a couple of fronts. It might provide a bit of a distraction.”

“That would be appreciated,” Brianna says. “Do we need to have an extraction team close by in case it all goes to shit?”

“I guess that’s where we come in,” Loomis says.

“Yeah,” Brianna says. “Joey and I will be there.”

“I’ll be there as well,” Loomis offers.

“I’ll be there, of course,” Dexter says.

Ezekiel nods, “I’ll be there.”

“Sounds like we have our plan. There’s just some pieces that need to fall together first,” Brianna says.

Ezekiel says, “Deandra, I need to get with you about this device.” Deandra nods. The two of them go into the living room to talk.

While the rest of them wait, Brianna starts being jittery again. Loomis continues to hold his head. Brianna goes to the kitchen and gets Loomis a glass of water. She reminds him to take his medication. He says thanks.

After about half an hour, the two wizards come back and Deandra bids everyone goodnight. She says that everyone will hear from her closer to the time for the plan and she makes her exit. Ezekiel looks relieved.

“I guess she’s not that awful,” Brianna says somewhat grudgingly after the Warden leaves.

“It could be worse,” Ezekiel says.

“I’ll take your word for that,” Brianna says wryly.

“So I’ll get some help with the scrying devices and some field help with distractions that night. I’ll help with the extraction team in case Dexter’s person gets into trouble. That’s that plan,” Ezekiel says.

“That’s the forward-thinking plan. The reality plan that we need to talk about is how we’re going to protect ourselves in case this is the beginning of an assault. I don’t what’s it’s going to take for a scrying device to be in place or this plan to be put in action. Loomis doesn’t have a home anymore. Dexter’s missing a shop. Everyone just needs to be really careful,” Brianna says.

“Other than being careful, I don’t know what else you expect us to do,” Loomis says.

“Where are you going to be staying? Please don’t tell me you’ll be staying in some little hotel with no threshold,” Brianna says.

“He can stay here,” Ezekiel offers.

Brianna looks at Dexter. “Is your house warded?”

“My shop was my house,” Dexter says, grimly.

“Oh. I guess that was problematic. There’s no way to ward that. Where are you going to be now?”

“I’ll be staying with one of my pack brothers.”

“Can you ward that?” Brianna asks Ezekiel.

Ezekiel looks at Dexter. “I’ll ask him,” Dexter says.

“I can’t imagine she’d be stupid enough to send gangbangers to the police station,” Brianna mutters.

“No, but I also know for a fact there’s dirty cops,” Loomis says.

Brianna starts pacing.

“I have some suspicions that the Baroness sent somebody to lift something off of me like hair. If that were the case and she used it to send the spectres, is that gone now? Do you think she has some permanent connection to me? Can she track me wherever?” Brianna asks Ezekiel.

“If she used the hair to send the spectre after you, it’s probably gone,” Ezekiel confirms.

“My friend who warded my house made me something to help against scrying. I don’t know if it worked or not. But if she made my home and she made my place where I work out, I don’t suppose I’m that hard to find, scrying or not,” Brianna says. She turns again to Loomis. “I have Joey to watch my back during the day. Do you have someone to watch yours? At work?”

“At work, generally,” Loomis says.

“I’m worried about a dirty cop coming for you,” Brianna says.

“I’m not that worried,” Loomis says.

“Okay,” Brianna says. “I’m assuming they’re expecting you to take some time off since your house just burned down.”

“Yeah,” Loomis says.

“How long are we talking for this device? Days? Weeks? Months?” Brianna asks.

“Weeks,” Ezekiel says.

“Well, I’ll take it that if there is anything else that I can help with that you gentlemen will let me know. Otherwise, my plan is to back to Portland and try to watch my back,” Brianna says.

“That’s all I’ve got. I’ll talk to my people. See if I can talk Angelique in to doing this,” Dexter says. He nods to each of them and heads out.

Ezekiel gets Brianna some bed things for the living room couch. He whispers to her, “Are you going to need to go out tonight?”

“It would be helpful, but I do not want to go out alone tonight in Seattle. It would not be safe for me at this juncture. And Loomis is in no condition to have my back. It’s livable. I’m not expecting anymore trouble tonight.”

“Okay,” Ezekiel says. As he’s making the bed on the couch, he looks from Brianna to Loomis, from Loomis to Brianna, and back again. Then he asks, “Should I be making you a bed in here?”

“Oh, no, this is fine.” Brianna flushes hotly, looking awkward. Ezekiel looks bemused.

Brianna goes to tell Loomis good night in the guest room that is prepared for him. “I’m planning on leaving early tomorrow. Will I see you in morning?”

“Yes,” Loomis says.

“Alright,” Brianna adds a bit wryly. “I guess, Happy Birthday,”

“Yeah.”

Brianna kisses him and goes back to the couch.

July 28, 2013 (Sunday)

Every gets up to the smell of freshly-brewed coffee as Ezekiel putters about in the farmhouse kitchen.

“How do you feel?” Brianna asks Loomis.

“LIke a truck hit me,” Loomis says.

“You going to stay home from work anyway because of your head?” Brianna asks.

“Probably,” Loomis says.

“Ezekiel, thank you for your hospitality, as always,” Brianna says when she finishes her coffee.

“You’re welcome. I’ll contact you when we start,” Ezekiel says.

“Okay. My schedule’s pretty flexible,” Brianna says. “A day’s notice is usually pretty good.”

Loomis walks her out of the farmhouse.

“I’ll be calling you more frequently for a while,” Brianna tells him, laying a hand on his arm.

“Okay,” Loomis says.

“Just in case it matters to you, I think Ezekiel suspects something’s going on between the two of us.”

“Is that okay?”

“It’s okay with me,” Brianna says, “He just asked if he should make up a bed on the couch for me or not. So, anyhow. I didn’t know if you were trying to keep it a secret.”

“I wasn’t trying to keep it a secret. I just try to keep to myself,” Loomis says.

“I understand that,” Brianna says. “I guess I’ll see you soon.”

The two say goodbye and Brianna texts Joey that she’s heading back to Portland.

Once back in Portland, Brianna turns in her rental car and then catches up with Joey, relating all that’s happened and the upcoming plan.

Before heading out in their car, they decide to check it out for any tampering. Sure enough, they find a small, blinking light under the car. Brianna takes a picture of it and texts it to Loomis with the message that she found it under her car. “Thoughts?”

Loomis calls her back immediately and says, “Don’t touch that.”

“Is it a bomb?” Brianna asks.

“I think so.”

“What should we do?”

“You should call the police,” Loomis says carefully.

“Well, that’ll be a great story,” Brianna says wryly. “I’ll think of something. You need to check your car. Pass that on to everyone else. This is not good.” After she gets off the phone with Loomis, she says, “Fuck, Joey, I guess we’re going to have to call the cops.”

Brianna dials up 911 and tells them that she thinks there’s a bomb under her car. They send out the bomb squad to clear it. She talks to a detective and he seems very skeptical about the story that Brianna puts across and makes her tell it over and over again. Her jitteriness due to Hunger isn’t helping either. The police decide to bring her in until “they can get the situation sorted out.” Brianna makes an angry scene as they arrest her. Joey isn’t being arrested and she tells him to call Loomis.

After about four hours, Brianna sees Loomis standing at the cell door. One of the guards comes up and lets her out of the cell. Brianna picks herself up and doesn’t say a word until she is out of the police station. Once they get out, all she says is “I’m sorry you had to drive all the way down here. It was a bomb.” She is still visibly tense and jittery.

“That’s what I hear,” Loomis says.

“Thank you for getting me out of there. I don’t do well in jail,” Brianna says.

“Not many people do,” Loomis says. “So, while I’m down here, you want to get something to drink?”

“Yes,” Brianna says. “I need a whiskey. I needed a whiskey yesterday. It’s been a crappy twenty-four hours. I need a whiskey and I am hungry as shit.”

They load up in Loomis’ truck where Joey is waiting for them and go to a local bar for drinks.

“They found one on my truck, too,” Loomis says, once drinks are served.

Brianna curses under her breath. “What about Ezekiel? Did they find one on his truck, too? Dexter, his?”

“Yeah. They all did,” Loomis says.

“Well, I’m glad we looked. Because if someone had gotten blown up, my plans would have changed a lot,” Brianna says. “Warden be damned.”

“Dexter had one on his that went off during the fire at his shop,” Loomis says. “Ezekiel actually shorted his out. It could have went either way with Ezekiel. He could have accidentally set his off or shorted it out.”

Brianna takes another drink.

“There were no charges filed against you. They were just holding you until they could sort things out. They were going to have to let you go in twenty-four hours anyway,” Loomis tells her.

“I’m a bad liar,” Brianna shakes her head. “Uncharacteristically of my Court, I’m a bad liar. Being Hungry didn’t help. I’m sure they thought I was on drugs.”

“That’s exactly what they thought,” Loomis says. “I actually had to assure them that it was the opposite problem. That you were, in fact, off of your drugs.”

“Huh.” Brianna laughs and has another whiskey.

“Like I said, no charges were filed,” Loomis says.

“Thank you for expediting the process,” Brianna says, adding “You’re welcome to stay the night, if you like. Unless you’re heading back.”

“Well, it’s a long drive and I’ve been drinking,” Loomis says, “So I may take you up on it.”

“I’m going to need to feed before I go home,” Brianna says, looking carefully at Loomis. “So there’s options. If you want, I can take you back to the apartment and Joey and I can go out. Unfortunately, with last night’s exertions, I’ll have to do something a bit more direct than I usually do.”

Loomis meets Brianna’s eyes and says, “I want to know.”

“Alright. This normally ends up in me getting in a fight of some sort. We may have to leave quickly,” Brianna warns him.

Joey just stares at the both of them, finishing his drink.

Loomis takes a deep breath and says “Okay.”

Brianna gets up and puts on her sunglasses. She wanders into the crowd and lightly bumps into a woman, who suddenly gets enraged and starts calling Brianna names and takes a swing at Brianna, who easily ducks. Bouncers throw both Brianna and the young woman out. Joey and Loomis follow closely on their heels. The woman continues to yell at Brianna, but she ignores her and the three walk away from the bar.

“My House is not a subtle House,” Brianna says with forced lightness as they walk away. Loomis puts his hand in hers. Brianna lets out a breath she didn’t know she was holding.

They all head back to Loomis’ truck and then to Brianna and Joey’s apartment. They order a pizza for dinner and the three stay up chatting and eating. Later, Brianna makes up the couch for Loomis. The two talk quietly.

“I’m glad that didn’t freak you out,” Brianna says. “Or at least completely.”

“I just think that’s a sad way to have to live,” Loomis says.

“I prefer to feed like you saw at the boxing event. That’s how I can sustain. If I do things that really call forth my powers, sometimes that won’t assuage it.”

“I understand,” Loomis says.

“Did you do research on White Court?” Brianna asks.

“Ezekiel told me a few things.”

“Did he tell you how we come into our power?” Brianna asks.

“How?” Loomis asks.

When we come into our power?” Brianna clarifies.

“Yeah,” Loomis says. “He said you have a demon in you that drives you to Hunger.”

“I came into my power before I knew what it was. I know what that demon is now. And I do what I can to keep it under control,” Brianna says.

“I understand that based on what you’ve shown me,” Loomis says.

“Well, I’m glad you can see it.”

Loomis puts his arm around her. She leans into him. “I like who I am. I don’t harbor any weird self-destruction tendencies, although with my temper and my anger some people might think I do. And I’ve done things I’m not proud of. I just try to do better.”

“I like who you are as well,” Loomis says.

“It’s not as simple as I make this out to be, I suppose, but if you can understand the need in me to keep this at bay, the need to feed the way that I do, you’ll understand a lot about me. A lot of who I’ve become stems from that,” Brianna says.

“I’m trying,” Loomis says.

“I appreciate that,” Brianna says. “I never thought someone would get this far.”

Brianna straightens slightly and says, “I take it your childhood was less tragic.”

“It wasn’t great,” Loomis says.

“We’re dealt the cards we’re dealt,” Brianna says.

“I pretty much raised myself on the Reservation,” Loomis says.

“Did you have anyone to explain to you what was happening?” Brianna asks.

“Some of the village elders,” Loomis says. “They thought I was something sacred. I knew better.”

“Is it genetic for you?” Brianna asks.

“I don’t know.”

“When did you leave the Reservation?” Brianna asks.

“When I was 18,” Loomis says. “Went and joined the police academy after causing enough trouble on the Reservation”

“Ever go back?” Brianna asks.

“Nah, I pretty much stayed in Seattle,” Loomis says.

“Ever miss it?” Brianna asks.

“The Reservation? Not really,” Loomis says.

“That’s a big move, to the Big City, at 18 to join the police force,” Brianna says.

“It’s what I wanted,” Loomis says. “I’m stubborn.”

Brianna laughs.“That’s not a bad trait,” She says.

The two sit in each other’s arms for a while.

July 29, 2013 (Monday)

Loomis heads back to Seattle. Joey gives Brianna lots of knowing glances. The two discuss Loomis’ witnessing of Brianna’s feeding. Joey observes that it was fortunate that no one got hurt or Loomis would’ve had a different reaction. Brianna reluctantly agrees.

Traveling around the city, Joey and Brianna stick close together and watch each other’s backs.

They also take Sydney Benning out to dinner as a thank you for her wards working around the apartment. She’s glad to hear they worked.

July-August 2013

Joey’s fights are going well. He wins more than he loses, which is good.

Brianna keeps her ear to the ground in the supernatural community. There have been some disappearances in the community, but none have been attributed to the Red Court activity.

Loomis’ wounds are healing nicely and he and Brianna keep up a phone dialog.

View
Side Job: Kristallnacht (Part One)
Karkana Chronicles: Twenty

June – July 2013

Brianna has fully healed from her fight against the werewolf in Romania. She has also made arrangements to go to Seattle in late July to treat Loomis to a Mariners game around the time of his birthday.

While working out at Sibley’s Gym one day, a woman, also working out at the gym, clumsily bumps into Brianna. Brianna checks herself. She isn’t missing anything like her wallet or keys. The woman is not a regular to the gym and just “bumped” into her on the way out.

Brianna attempts to follow her without being noticed and sees her get into a car and put something into an envelope. The car has Washington plates. Brianna takes a picture of the car, the woman, and the plates.

Brianna returns to the gym and finds Joey. She shows him the picture of the woman. “Did you notice this woman? Did she bump into you? Did you see her do anything weird?”

He noticed her, but he didn’t think anything of her. No, she didn’t bump into him. Brianna relates her encounter with the woman and what she saw her doing afterwards. “She has Washington plates. A lot of bad things come out of Washington,” Brianna remarks. “Shit, I wonder if she got some hair or something off of me.”

After the two finish working out, they go to Sidney’s apartment to ask her some questions. Regi is there and greets Brianna. “Hiya, lady!”

Brianna asks after the Fae folk of Forest Park and Regi says, “So far, so good.”

Brianna paces a bit, “So, hypothetically, if someone took something off of me like a piece of hair, what all can they do with that? I know little bits about sympathetic magic, how having a little piece can do stuff…but I just had a weird encounter today and I’m afraid they lifted something off of me of a personal nature.”

Sydney explains, “They can establish a magical connection to you, so that means they can track you. They could do you harm. They could send something toward you.”

“Those are all lovely,” Brianna says with disgust. “Hypothetically, is there a way to interfere with that process?”

“Cloak you?” Sidney asks.

“I guess. I mean, if they have a piece of my hair, are they going to have a hold on me for the rest of my life? Is this like voodoo? Or is this most likely going to be consumed by whatever they did?” Brianna asks.

“Depending on how powerful whatever they do is, it is likely that it will be consumed,” Sydney says.

“Cloaking me would change me, putting up some sort of block,” Brianna says.

“Yes, but a magic circle could cloak you to some extent,” Sydney offers.

“Yes, but I can’t live my life in a magic circle,” Brianna counters.

“I might be able to make a magical talisman that obscures you. That will take some time to do, though,” Sydney says.

“I’m going on a lot of assumptions, but it was really a weird transaction and I’ve got enough people mad at me that it doesn’t seem that far fetched,” Brianna says. “So, if they were trying to track me, this would help block that?”

“Yes, it would help. Nothing’s a hundred percent,” Sydney says.

“No, but it’s something.”

“I could try,” Sydney offers.

“I’d appreciate it if you could. I don’t know what else to do,” Brianna shakes her head. “Is there anything I can do to off-set the cost of this?”

“Well, you could buy the talisman if you wish,” Sydney replies.

So, Brianna buys a cuff bracelet of aluminum per Sydney’s instructions and brings it back to her.

That night, Brianna calls Loomis and lets him know of the strange encounter and that she’s taking counter-measures against it. She passes on the license plate information so that he can look into it.

She also asks about the latest with Ezekiel and the new Warden. Loomis says that the vamps are picking things back up. Ezekiel is still working with the pack. The new Warden isn’t as approving of the arrangement.

“Oh, does she think it’s only her job? Or is she one of these that thinks he should only hang out with his own kind?” Brianna’s voice takes on a frosty tone.

“I don’t think it’s like that,” Loomis says. “I think it’s just that she’s suspicious of outside interests.”

“God help us if we want to protect our friends,” Brianna mutters under her breath. “Let me know if I can do anything because I don’t trust her to do it.”

“Alright.”

Later, Loomis gets back to her about what he finds out about the lady who bumped into her—which isn’t much. Apparently, she’s a model citizen and Loomis doesn’t have much to go on.

A few weeks later, Regi lets Brianna know the bracelet is ready and she picks it up. Sigils are now engraved upon it.

July 27, 2013 (Saturday)

Briana heads up to Seattle to go the Mariners game with Loomis. The Mariners meet the Twins and lose, unfortunately. Nevertheless, the two seem to have a good time at the game. Loomis is pretty easy-going, even in the face of some bad calls and answers Brianna’s questions about the game in a non-condescending way. After the game is over, Loomis suggests they wait to head to the parking garage until it clears out a bit.

As they eventually make their way to the garage, both Loomis and Brianna suddenly hear an unearthly moan. Springing from between a couple of cars, a pair of translucent humanoid figures appear before them. The creatures are semi-corporeal, with pin-pricks for eyes, and come rushing toward the two of them.

Brianna vamps out and moves with inhuman speed toward her attacker and punches it, connecting with its ectoplasmic skin. The creature swings on Brianna and misses. The other creature tries to hit Loomis and misses and Loomis misses it in turn. Brianna connects with hers again, shattering its shell. The creatures then connect with both Brianna and Loomis. Loomis swings on his and hits. Brianna tears into hers mightily, taking advantage of its shattered state. Loomis swings on his attacker and shatters its shell. Brianna gets clocked and is dazed. Loomis gets hit and is dazed as well. Brianna misses her foe. Loomis swings at his foe and misses as well.

The creatures hit Brianna and clock Loomis, knocking him concussed. Brianna hits the creature again, giving it a tear in its ectoplasm, and shrugs off her dazed condition. Loomis misses his creature. The creatures miss. Brianna then hits her creature and it dissipates into a pool of ectoplasm. Loomis misses his creature. It swings and hits Loomis upside the head. Brianna snarls and punches Loomis’ creature hard, tearing it. Loomis takes advantage of the tear and knocks it hard. The creature hits Loomis hard in return. Brianna then finishes the creature off, reducing it to a pool of ectoplasm.

Loomis is holding his head and says that he probably needs to go to a hospital. Brianna’s Hunger is stirring after the fight, making her jittery.

Neither one of them know what those things were, though Brianna is pretty sure they were some sort of ectoplasmic constructs, as she’s encountered such things before.

As they load into Brianna’s car, Loomis gets a call on his cell phone. It’s apparently from a friend of his in the Fire Department. His home has been firebombed. Brianna lets out a steady stream of curse words. When she calms down, she insists that Loomis call Ezekiel.

Ezekiel was also attacked tonight. The “construct” was apparently a spectre. And two gangbangers tried to get into Ezekiel’s house but were fried by the former Warden’s wards. He didn’t mention anything about the pack.

Brianna calls Joey. Apparently, he was about to call her. Brianna tells Joey a bit of what has been happening in Seattle tonight. Joey relates that a couple of gangbangers tried to break into their apartment but were repelled by the “whatsit” that Sydney had erected around it. Joey was amused by their antics, but eventually the gangbangers gave up and went away.

“I’ve got to take Loomis to the hospital, they clocked him pretty hard,” Brianna says, her voice slightly shaking with anger. “Let me know if they come back.”

“Sure,” Joey agrees. “Whatever Sydney did, it worked pretty well.”

“I owe her three steak dinners,” Brianna says. “We should probably watch our car as well. Call me if anything else weird happens. I’ll call you when I leave Seattle. I don’t know if that’s going to be tonight.”

She turns to Loomis and tells him what happened in Portland. Loomis calls Dexter Quinn and after a brief conversation confirms that they firebombed his garage and that Quinn met up with a spectre as well. Brianna meets the news with more cussing.

“Ezekiel says that if she called them, we’re dealing with a Red Court that’s also a necromancer,” Loomis says.

“What? They can do that?” Brianna asks incredulously. “That doesn’t seem right!”

They pull up to the hospital and get Loomis seen by the emergency room staff. He tells the doctors a story about chasing down a mugger and getting hit with a 2×4. No one’s sure if they believe it, but he gets treated anyway. The doctors want to bring him in for observation, but Loomis talks them out of it. Brianna looms and paces and is generally unpleasant. He receives some prescriptions for the pain and they are dismissed.

Once they get back out to the car, Brianna turns to Loomis and asks, “Where do we go from here? They’re going to expect you at your house at some point.” She adds, “I think it might be a good idea to put you someplace that’s warded.”

“Ezekiel has offered to let me stay at his place,” Loomis says.

“That’s probably a good idea,” Brianna agrees. “Although it may not sound like it right now, I’m very sorry about your home. I’m just glad you were not in it.”

“Yeah.”

“My researches into weres didn’t actually say, but is there anything you need to help you recover faster?” Brianna asks.

“No,” Loomis replies. “Actually, I don’t really recover all that much faster. I’m supposed to be tougher and generally I’m tougher as a bear.”

“I see. Most of the books are fairly vague on the subject.”

“We’re all different,” Loomis says.

“Apparently.” An awkward silence follows, then Brianna speaks up again. “Well, I can take you by the house. I’m not leaving you alone until I get you to Ezekiel’s.”

“Alright. What about you? Do you need anything?” Loomis asks.

Brianna is silent for a moment. “Normally, this is where I’d go to a club, but I’m not going out by myself in Seattle. It’ll keep until I get home.”

“Alright,” Loomis says skeptically, but says nothing more.

“Unless there’s a real asshole at the scene of the crime, and then I may pick a fight,” she says and then laughs. Loomis smiles.

At Loomis’ residence, there are fire trucks and other emergency vehicles. It appears that the fire has pretty much died down and all that is left is the smoldering remains of the house. Brianna starts up a fresh string of cursing as they pull up.

Loomis goes to talk to some of the police and fire officials. He seems to know some of them. Brianna refuses to let him out of her sight. Preliminary investigations have begun, but it has already been determined that it was arson. Condolences are offered. No introductions are made for Brianna, who lurks in the background, being angry. They offer to let him walk through once the situation gets under control, but there’s not much to be done right now. Loomis says that he has some things that he has to take care of tonight. He gets several offers for a place to stay, but Loomis says that he has that taken care of.

Loomis and Brianna head back to the car and he says he’s ready to go to Ezekiel’s. By this point it’s probably after midnight. The two first stop at a twenty-four hour Walmart and get a change of clothes.

July 28, 2013 (1:00 am)

When they get to Ezekiel’s farmhouse, the former Warden invites them inside. Dexter Quinn is there as well. Ezekiel gets everyone a beer. Brianna can’t sit still and starts pacing the dining room.

Ezekiel says, “I was just telling Dexter that I think we’ve been sent a message tonight.”

Brianna says, “Umm-hmm” and continues to pace. “Yeah. The bitch went after my apartment, too. Well, tried. Joey said it was funny watching them bounce off wards, but still.” She looks at Dexter. “And Terry and the rest of the pack? Nobody was hurt?”

Dexter shakes his head. “They just got my garage. Sent one of those things after me.”

Brianna looks at Ezekiel. “Now will the Warden get off of her ass and do something?”

“Such as?” Ezekiel asks.

“I don’t know, but this seems fairly antagonistic,” Brianna says tightly. “Maybe she can offer a solution. Pick one.”

Dexter asks, “Are you suggesting that the woman fight our war for us?”

Brianna snorts derisively, “She won’t even get involved in the first place. First, this Margrave is allowed to go through Seattle, killing kids and whatever. We go against him, we do some good, but what happens? We basically get our asses handed to us by the White Council. I’m so sorry, we’re doing your job for you. Let’s kick out the Warden of Seattle, and put some bitch in his place!” Her voice grows louder and louder. “And then we’re just going to sit there and do nothing when we knew something like this was going to happen and still we’re just going to sit there? So, no, Dexter, I don’t think she’s going to fight our war for us because they couldn’t be bothered to begin with!”

Everyone stares at Brianna. Brianna stomps outside and sits down heavily on the porch swing. After a few minutes, Loomis comes out and joins her.

“So, I’ve been knocked in the head a couple of times and I’m a little confused. Do you want her to help or not?” Loomis asks.

Brianna stops swinging, mindful of his concussion. “I think we need all the help we can get. If some freaking necromantic Red Court marquise or whatever the fuck she is…”

“Baroness.”

“Sure. So, yes, I think we need her help if she’ll give it. This is me being angry because it’s going to take this kind of thing for her to maybe help out.”

Loomis sighs. “She’s been helping by fighting the vampires. Here and there. Taking out nests. That sort of thing. She hasn’t exactly been inactive. To be 100% fair.”

“I can accept that. It’s been an emotional night,” Brianna conceeds.

“Ezekiel’s going to let her know what happened,” Loomis says. “She’s going to want to know why you were involved. Which is going to make her wonder why you were involved. Which is something we’ve been leaving out.”

“Yes. Well. A lot of this came down to insults to my House. Well, insults to my Court and then insults to my House specifically,” Brianna says. “Think we could just let it be said they had a vendetta against me?”

Loomis shakes his head.

“Yeah, that’s what I thought,” Brianna says. “Well, it’s none of her business. It’s Court business. And I’m not telling the Warden about it.”

“But what about your involvement with the Margrave?” Loomis says. “And why you may have been targeted tonight?”

“Well, the truth being…well…he framed my cousin for murder? That’s true. I guess what really started it was Alyssa,” Brianna says.

“So you’re not going to have a problem with us saying you helped kill the Margrave? Which is why you were targeted tonight?” Loomis asks.

“Not really, no. It’s fine,” Brianna says. “I already told you my House knows I helped kill the Margrave and I have House approval on that. So I’m not really worried per se what she thinks. Should I be? I don’t really know why…”

“It’s just that we didn’t say anything before,” Loomis says. “So now you’re going to be on her radar.”

“Luckily, I don’t live in Seattle,” Brianna smiles slightly.

“True,” Loomis says.

“Okay. I don’t see what the alternative is.”

“I don’t see an alternative, either,” Loomis says.

“I’m not worried. There’s nothing to be done,” Brianna shrugs.

“Ezekiel said you can stay here tonight as well,” Loomis says.

“This time of night, that’s probably for the best as well. I’ll head back early in the morning. I can’t leave Joey trapped in the apartment forever. Oh god,” she sighs suddenly, “I’m wondering how crazy this person is. Do I need to talk to all my friends? Do I need to worry about my place of business? The ripple effects in this bother me.”

“Yeah,” Loomis says.

“I’m sorry this ended up being a very crappy birthday present,” Brianna says.

“It’s not your fault.”

Brianna takes his hand. “I’m still really, really pissed off, but I don’t think I’ll blow up at our friends any more.”

“Well, that’s something.”

“I’d hit you, but you’re injured,” Brianna retorts.

“I appreciate that,” Loomis deadpans.

Brianna leans in quickly and kisses him.

Brianna gets invited in again and apologizes to Ezekiel and Dexter for losing her temper. Dexter says, “No one was expecting to lose their homes and their livelihoods tonight.”

Ezekiel is giving Brianna an assessing look, a little wary, a little concerned. Brianna finally takes a seat at the table, purposefully far away from Dexter who seems to be radiating the most rage in the room.

“Regardless of what the new Warden is going to do about it, what are WE going to do about it?” Dexter asks.

“Do I have a plan at this moment? No. But she’s going after people that I care about. That’s got to stop,” Brianna says. “What if it’s not just our livelihoods and our homes next? What if it’s our friends?”

“Exactly,” Dexter says. “So what are we going to do?” Dexter is staring at Ezekiel.

“I don’t have a plan. Without a plan, people get killed,” Ezekiel says.

“Sometimes even with a plan, people get killed,” Brianna mutters under her breath. “We don’t even have enough information at this point to make a plan,” she says aloud to the group. “I mean, has she taken over all the Margrave’s places? What sort of court did she bring with her? These are the things we need to know.”

“Deandra has some of this information,” Ezekiel says.

“Have you already talked to her tonight?” Brianna asks.

“Briefly. She’s on her way,” Ezekiel says.

“Oh. I see,” Brianna says. Maybe that’s why Ezekiel looks concerned and wary, Brianna thinks. “Is she coming over tonight? Or tomorrow?”

“Tonight. She’s on her way.”

“Ezekiel, I promise to be on my best behavior. And I promise to not call her a bitch to her face,” Brianna tells him.

“That will be appreciated,” Ezekiel replies.

“If you’d rather me not be here, I can go away.”

“I didn’t say that,” Ezekiel says.

“Okay. You’re just giving me a look,” Brianna says somewhat testily. “If you don’t mind, I’m going to slip in the living room and call Joey to let him know I won’t be coming back tonight.”

“Sure,” Ezekiel says.

Brianna goes into the living room and calls Joey. She will be driving back in the morning. Joey reports that there have been no more attempts on the apartment.

After her phone call, Brianna returns to the dining room, suspecting all conversation to cease, but finding that it does not. There is a rap at the door and Ezekiel answers it. He invites Warden Deandra Charles into the farmhouse.

View
Changes: Part Three
Encounter at the Lake

January 2, 2013 (Wednesday)

Sabrina picks everyone up in her car that morning around 11:30 am. Yuriko provides freshly baked goods for breakfast and throws a baseball bat in the trunk of the car for good measure. The car is full to near bursting, but everyone fits inside: Nick, Daymar, Dillon, Yuriko , and Sabrina. Sabrina reserves “shotgun” for Dillon while the others are smushed in the back.

The drive out to Trillium Lake takes nearly an hour and half. A misty rain falls over a dreary, cold day. Mount Hood looms in the foreground as Sabrina makes her way toward the campground. Finally, Sabrina pulls up to a park checkpoint and a man in a park ranger’s uniform and heavy coat comes out of the kiosk to notify her that the campground is closed. She flashes her badge and tells him that she is here as part of an investigation and asks if she can park here and enter the campground.

Dillon and Yuriko note that something is definitely off about the guard. He seems a bit flummoxed by Sabrina’s badge, but repeats that the campground is closed and that they’ll have to turn back. Sabrina lets a bit of heat creep into her voice.

“Look, buddy. Like I said, this is part of an investigation. Don’t make me get a warrant and bunch of uniforms to have to traipse all the way up back up here. Then we’ll all be grumpy and in a piss-poor mood.” The guard just shakes his head and points back up the road.

Yuriko leans forward and touches Sabrina’s shoulder. “I think we should go back.” She looks hard at the park ranger through the open window. He doesn’t look familiar, but there’s something not right about him.

Sabrina backs up and pulls away from the gate to the campground. She drives about a mile back down the road they came down and then pulls over onto a old, narrow logging trail. Her car is not really meant for off-roading and it’s loaded down with passengers, so it’s a rough ride. She drives about another half mile before she stops, ignoring various protests from the back seat from Nick and Daymar. Once she stops the car, she pulls out her gun, checks the clip, and then zips up her coat.

“I’m going to check out this campground. Anyone coming with me?”

“Yes, but let’s be very careful, I think that ranger was one of the Fomor. He looked normal enough, which means he have to be cautious with everyone we see," Dillon says.

Yuriko agrees with Dillon’s assessment about the Park Ranger and urges caution. She offers the use of the baseball bat to whomever wants it. She also looks somewhat longingly at the bushes, but gives Daymar a sideways glance and gets out of the car with everyone else.

The five of them start hiking across the forest toward the campground. The tall evergreens form a bit of a canopy around them, shadowing them in darkness. It’s a cold, misty, and miserable hike. As they get closer to the actual campground, they come up to a tall, chain-link fence, demarking the property. Sabrina has to haul Dillon up over the top, but they all manage. Yuriko leaps over the top with ease. They are now officially in the campground area.

7681877768_b7e014f93c.jpg

They spend a good couple of hours traipsing through the campground, sniffing about, looking for signs of something odd, before hitting pay dirt. At one of the campsites near the lake itself, Dillon finds a older model car, probably the one that had pulled up along beside them the other night, hidden underneath a camouflage tarp. At the same campsite, in a waterproof bag buried in a hole beneath a large stone (that Sabrina has to lift), Yuriko finds 8 wallets with identification and cash and the keys to the car.

trillium-lake.jpg

“Evidence of their disguises, but no missing people,” Dillon says. Dillon asks Sabrina, “Are these IDs fake or stolen? If stolen, are any of these people reported missing?”

Sabrina is already copying name and ID numbers into her notebook. “No, these IDs are legit. Still, I recognize a couple of these names from the missing persons case files. I’m going the run the rest of these against the database back at headquarters as well. One thing that’s interesting though—they all seem to fit a profile. All male. All large—at least 6 feet and over 200 lbs.”

Yuriko makes “hmming” noises as she considers the IDs. After a moment, she turns to the group. “If some of these belong to missing people, then maybe those fish goons aren’t the Fomor at all. Maybe they are the people they’ve ‘changed.’ That could be why they all look the same and react so oddly.”

She casts her eyes to the lake. “My research said that the Fomor are underwater-dwellers. Maybe they’re actually in the water.”

Yuriko looks at Daymar and Nick. “If the Fomor changed these people with magic, can magic change them back?”

Nick says, “Theoretically? Maybe. But if they’re as changed as that we’re talking big power. Council-strength power.”

Yuriko looks around the shoreline and finds signs of heavy footprints coming both into, and out of, the water. It looks like the footprints have gone into the water relatively recently—probably within the past few hours. There are some faint signs of something being dragged into the water—but these are much older.

“Why are they after Daymar? He doesn’t fit the profile of the previously 8 grabbed, not based on their IDs," Dillon says.

“But it does fit with what I heard about going on in Salem and Eugene,” Nick says. “The disappearances of people of minor supernatural talent. Maybe they’re just getting started in Portland with what’s already begun in other places.”

Just then, Dillon, Sabrina, and Yuriko all notice bubbles and movement coming from waters of the lake near the shoreline…

Yuriko starts moving backwards, pointing. “Guys, I think that we need to leave now.”

“HIDE!” Dillon yells and puts words to action.

As all five take varying degrees of cover (and Nick just seems to blink out of existence), they see four nude men emerge slowly from the water of the lake. They have gills on their necks that flap open and closed as they shift from water to air. Their toes are webbed. Their skin is a sickly yellow-green hue. The stench of stale water and fish and just wrongness is strong.

They step out of the lake, onto the shore, and start making their way toward the car. One of them steps over toward the stone where the keys and wallets are buried. He makes eye contact with the not-very-well-hidden Daymar.

“Well, well,” he says, his voice a deep baritone. “Looks like our assignment just got easier, gentlemen.”

Sabrina fires her gun from her hiding place, narrowly missing the foot of the goon near Daymar. “Let’s not get hasty, buddy-boy. Otherwise things get messy,” she calls out.

Yuriko attempts to stealthily make her way behind the goon in front of Daymar. The goon’s head whips around and he eyes Yuriko warily, taking his attention away from Daymar.

Dillon attempts to sneak behind one of the other goons and is heard. He turns and attempts to backhand him. Dillon quickly speaks some words of devotion to distract the goon. Dillon’s words of devotion gives his attacker enough pause to allow him to get out of the way.

The goon that Yuriko tried to sneak up on tries to grab her. She manages to easily elude his grasp.

The remaining two goons run over and grab Daymar and start dragging him toward the lake.

Nick snarls out from the trees, “Pousser!” and a wave of force knocks the two goons dragging Daymar to the ground, releasing him. The two goons rub their sprained ankles.

Daymar scrambles back into the trees and attempts to hide again, but not very well.

Sabrina fires again at the goon near the rock and Yuriko, narrowly missing him. “Look! Call your guys off! I mean it!”

Yuriko back pedals away from the goon, attempting to keep his attention away from Daymar, but also trying to keep an eye on her friends.

Dillon makes his way around to the not-well-hidden Daymar and starts pulling him out of the campsite.

The “lead” goon, now watching Yuriko, and having been shot at twice, calls out, “Gentlemen, let’s hold back. No need for any of us to be shot today.”

The two goons that Nick knocked over pick themselves up move toward the center of the campsite and the goon by the car looms behind Yuriko and nods to the “lead” goon. Now Yuriko is surround by goons.

Nick calls out “Pousser!” from the trees and a wave of energy falls over the assembled goons…and Yuriko.

Yuriko makes a very “Yip”-like sound of surprise and dodges the wave of energy—barely. The goons are not so lucky. Two look like they’ve been concussed and are holding their heads. Two others have been knocked to the ground and have sprained ankles.

Daymar grips Dillon’s coat and says “Can we get out of here now?”

Sabrina has now joined Dillon and Daymar in the trees. “Will she make a run for it?” she asks Dillon. “I’ll cover her if she does.” Sabrina has her gun pointed downward at the moment, but is eyeballing the campsite.

Yuriko bolts towards the trees and away from the fish goons. “To the car!” she calls to her friends.

They all try to race to the fence—but Daymar is frankly too much of a hindrance to really get anywhere fast and no one wants to leave him behind.

The goons catch up quickly.

The five of them face off against the four goons. The goons stand there, alien, strange, naked, and not seeming to take notice of the cold.

Sabrina raises her gun and fires at the “lead” goon. The goon turns his body quickly and she misses. “Am I going to have to wing one you fuckers before you get the message? Back off!” Sabrina says.

Yuriko speaks to the leader, keeping her eyes flicking from goon to goon in case they make a sudden move. “Why are you after our friend? Who sent you?”

The “lead” goon says. “Changes are coming. Your friend will be the first in Portland. The Masters command it. Give him to us and the rest of you may go.”

“Who are your masters and what is the change?” Dillon asks.

The lead goon smiles, “The preternaturals will be remade like us, servants for the Masters, the Fomor. Then the Masters will rise above the signatories and rule.”

“Who are the signatories?” Dillon asks.

“Those who signed the Winter Queen’s accords.”

The goons fan out in a line before you, starting to surround you, but Nick calls out “Pousser!”. A wave of kinetic energy flies forth and two of the goons are taken out, knocked to the ground, unconscious. The other two are knocked silly, concussed, and are holding their heads. Nick is holding his head, but is otherwise fine.

Daymar grabs Dillon’s coat. “Are we running again?”

Sabrina walks over to the “lead” goon and pistol-whips him. He drops to his knees. “No one gets changed today. Tell that to your ‘Masters’.”

Yuriko grabs Daymar by the arm and starts pulling him away from the goons, back towards Sabrina’s car.

“Come on!” she tells her friends.

Yuriko makes sure everyone stays together as a group, but that they’re getting out of here while the fish goons are mostly incapacitated.

Everyone runs to the fence and starts climbing. Daymar has trouble climbing the fence, but Sabrina hauls him up using her inhuman strength. Finally, everyone gets to the other side. The concussed goons are on the other side of the fence, but they don’t seem to be climbing. They just stand there staring with their strange eyes as they run away toward the car.

When they get to the car, everyone piles inside and Sabrina pulls out quickly. Nick leans forward and holds his head in his hands as Sabrina drives.

View
Changes: Part Two
Plans and Preparations

December 31, 2012 (11:30 pm)

Nick, Daymar, Dillon, and Yuriko, are on the Tri-Met bus getting away from the strange men that were clearly trying to take Daymar. It’s late, and New Year’s Eve at that. There aren’t a lot of people on the bus. Daymar takes a seat and begins taking deep breaths. Nick takes a seat and rubs the bridge of his nose. Yuriko sits next to Daymar and pats his leg, trying to be comforting.

After looking around to make sure that no one else is close by, Yuriko speaks in a low voice. “So, Daymar, who were the fish guys?”

“I have no idea,” Daymar says, shaking his head. “I’ve never seen them before in my life.”

Yuriko describes the man with gills she saw in the back seat (and mention the chloroform). “Does anyone have an idea what they were?”

Nick shakes his head. Daymar says “There have been stories. Rumors, really. Of things from the deep places coming up. Mostly in the coastal cities. Don’t really know a lot about it.”

Yuriko looks at Daymar. “Whatever those things are, they were definitely after you. They also knew to look for you at Barry’s, which means they know where you like to hang out. I don’t think it’s safe for you to go back there right now.”

“Why don’t you come back to my place for now. Between me and some of the other Paranetters, we’ll find a you a safe place,” Nick says.

Dillon offers Daymar a cot at the church.

“Thanks for the help. And the offers. I think I’d like that cot. A church between me and whatever the hell—sorry, heck—those guys were might be good,” Daymar says.

The bus drops them off near Nick’s apartment. It’s about five minutes to midnight by the time they arrive.

As they walk to the apartment, Yuriko quietly asks Nick if he’s okay. Nick nods his head. “I’m fine. That fight took a bit out of me but I’m fine now.”

“Let’s hope that is the last gill-man attack of the year!” Dillon says and smiles.

“Ha!” Nick says. “No doubt. But seriously, what now?”

Yuriko shakes her head. “Well, I’m not sure what all of these stories are about. Things rising from the deep. But it doesn’t sound good.”

“Let’s eat chips & dip, watch the ball drop, play a round of Munchkin Apocalypse, then get to bed. There’s research to do at Powell’s, Nick can hit the Paranet, and I’ll call Sabrina and Tom for any weird reports and keep Daymar at the church for now.”

So everyone returns to the party. When midnight comes around, the group sees Nick kissing Kendria as the new year rolls in. Eventually, the party winds down and people start heading home and Dillon and Daymar head for the church.

January 1, 2013 (Tuesday)

Dillon

After getting a good night’s sleep, Dillon wakes up that afternoon and calls up Sabrina. After wishing her a happy New Year, her gets down to business, briefing her on the strange events of the night before, and asking her if this jives with any strange police reports that she or Tom may have been getting. Sabrina says that not heard about anything like Dillon describes, but that she’ll pass it along to Tom. Sabrina asks if Daymar wants to file a police report about his attempted kidnapping. If he does, then Special Crimes can look into it in an official capacity. Daymar says that he does so Sabrina says he needs to go to the Police Bureau and file the report.

Dillon and Sabrina allow firm up plans to go to “dinner” later that evening.

Dillon brings Daymar into the Police Bureau headquarters to file the paperwork on the attack and introduce him to Detective Sergeant Casing. Daymar seems really nervous…and he gets even more so as Dillon starts noticing cops checking their cell phones randomly around the office as Daymar goes by. Introductions are made and Tom gets him started on the paperwork. He also asks if Dillon wishes to submit a statement as a witness. He does.

Tom then takes Dillon aside and says, “I’d like to introduce you the team. They happen to all be here today for a meeting. Rare opportunity to get us all together at once.” He shuffles Dillon into a conference room with six other cops.

“You know Sabrina,” Tom says and Sabrina winks at Dillon behind her sunglasses.

Dillon is introduced to a older African-American gentleman who looks more like a professor than a cop. “This is Detective Aaron Penn from the Cold Case Homicide unit at the East Precinct.”

“This is Detective Patricia Henderson, also of the Cold Case Homicide unit but from the North Precinct.” Henderson is a middle aged, but fit woman with dark hair and eyes.

“This is Detective Damian Ramsey of the Behavioral Health unit here at the Central Precinct.” Ramsey is a jovial heavyset Hispanic man with a beard.

“Detective Jamie Nguyen of the Drugs and Vice Division, East Precinct.” Nguyen is an attractive Vietnamese woman with an iron grip.

“And finally, Detective Ron Emmerich from the Homicide Detail, North Precinct.” Emmerich is an older cop, with a thick mustache.

Dillon is introduced to the group as the “Consultant I’ve told you all about.” A lot of nods go around and Nguyen says, “So you helped out with the Lyst Cathers case? That was some odd stuff.”

“That what we’re here for—odd stuff,” Penn says. Everyone laughs good-naturedly.

Dillon nods and says, “Hello everybody.” He then takes Tom aside and asks, “Are all these officers aware of what ‘odd’ means?”

Tom says, “Not exactly. But there was oddness associated with the case that they are aware of. The strange disappearance of the suspect at the Government Island stakeout, for instance. So, yeah, oddness.”

Dillon says, “So, are any of these cops ready for goat-men to shoot at them or faeries to meddle? If a similar situation arises, as now with these fish-stankers, who am I able to report to with the details as they arise, knowing the full extent of the oddness that is to be expected?”

Tom sighs, “We’ve all seen some of that oddness. That’s why I picked these folks. That’s also why most of them have been on the force for as long as they have and haven’t been promoted. You can report this stuff to me. But the full bureau isn’t ready for this. Some of the truth, frankly, isn’t going to make it into the full reports. But we’re going to do the best we can to believe what folks have to say, no matter how weird, and follow up on it.”

Dillon and Daymar say their goodbyes and make their way out of the Police Bureau.

Yuriko

Yuriko heads down to Powells, which is fortunately open on New Year’s Day (though with reduced hours). She stops by the coffee shop to visit briefly with Aleister to see if he knows anything about things “rising from the deep” lately. He seems as mystified as Yuriko about it. So she hits the stacks.

After researching for the better part of the afternoon, Yuriko comes upon some old books that may have unlocked something of interest. In ancient Celtic mythology, there was a race known as the Fomorians, or the Fomor, that were underwater dwellers. They were adversaries in many of the stories dealing with the Tuatha de Danaan. They were known as formidable sorcerers, shapeshifters, and seers. They were also known to kidnap mortals and “change” them, twisting their flesh into different forms and conditioning them for servitude. Though they don’t often meddle in human affairs, they have no qualms about taking human slaves and meddling with their biology for their own, secret purposes.

The Tuatha de Dannan were a supernatural race in pre-Christian Gaelic Irish mythology. Because much of Irish mythology was recorded by monks, the Tuatha De’ were recorded as Kings and Queens, though some recorded them as fallen angels. Some acknowledged that they were worshiped as gods.

Some legends have them as having been consigned to live underground after their eventual defeat. Thus they became the bearers of the fairies of Ireland, consigned to the underworld where they became known as ‘Aes sidhe’ (the people of the mound – fairy mounds).

She also finds some information on the Trillium Lake campground. Trillium Lake is a man-made lake about 7.5 miles south-southwest of Mount Hood. It is 59.6 miles from Portland (approximately 1 hour 20 minutes). The campground is adjacent to the lake and is a popular weekend spot during the spring and summer months. It is currently closed. It is open from late may through early October.

She sends out texts to Nick and Dillon, hoping to set up a meeting at Nick’s place for this evening to discuss her discoveries.

Nick

Nick calls Dillon later that afternoon (and later, Yuriko) with the following information: “According to some of my contacts in the Paranet, there have been some disappearances lately in Salem and Eugene. These big ugly dudes in turtlenecks have been involved. There are rumors of some in Seattle as well, but with the Red Court problem being so prevalent there, no one is sure if its due to vampires or these guys. They seem to be going after members of the supernatural community. It’s been a fairly recent phenomenon, only in the past couple of weeks. No one knows who they are or where they come from. Only that they seem be aqautic creatures of some sort—with the water-stank and the gills. What their purpose is seems to be anybody’s guess. I’ve got contacts that are going to keep me posted on any changes there.”

January 1, 2013 (Tuesday Evening)

Nick’s Place

Dillon, Yuriko, Sabrina, Nick, and John Daymar are all gathered at Nick’s apartment for a discussion of what is to follow in the aftermath of his kidnapping attempt last night by a group of strange “fish-men”.

Yuriko begins by sharing the information she found at Powell’s. If these are truly the Fomor, then they’ve been around a long time. And they certainly had ill-intent when trying to nab Daymar.

She also mentions the campground sticker on the goonmobile. It seems like a good place to start investigating if there’s a possible group of them targeting Portland.

Yuriko adds that they seem to have a bad history with the Fae as well. Perhaps there’s some information or aid to be found with that angle…and she gives a sideways glance at Dillon.

“Is that a hint for me to call Gordon?” Dillon asks.

Yuriko nods, “Yep. I think you need to call Gordon. Maybe he’s heard of the Fomor. If those fish-men were enemies of the Fae, then perhaps the Fae also know their weak spots.”

Sabrina asks if the information about the campground was included in the police report. Nick asks if they’re sure they want to get entangled with the Fae again. Daymar just looks quietly overwhelmed.

Yuriko looks confused. “There was a police report about the fish-men?”

Dillon says, “Yes, Tom has started a task force to investigate ‘weird’ reports. I took Daymar in earlier today to make a report and meet the team.” To Sabrina he says, "We didn’t know about the sticker, so it was not in the report.”

To the group in general, Dillon says, “I’m with Nick, I am hesitant to involve fairies, they’re already breathing down my neck. I’d rather see what we can learn on our own, but, I’ll agree to a group vote, if the majority feel like fae is the way, I’ll call.”

Yuriko is clearly intrigued by the idea of a “weird” task force. “How is that going to work? Can Tom actually report that Ancient Fish Men are infiltrating Portland?” In regards to Trillium Lake in the police report, Yuriko shakes her head. “If we really think the Fomor are hanging out there, then I don’t want send a bunch of unsuspecting police officers out to investigate. These things are reportedly shape shifters and sorcerers and have a history of nabbing mortals. If we don’t want to get involved with the Fae yet, then let’s go check it out and see what we can. It could be a false lead, for all we know.”

Sabrina says, “The Special Crimes Task Force can’t actually report that Ancient Fish Men are infiltrating Portland—we’ll get our badges stripped. But we can take down information on unusual cases and look into them. Maybe believe people that other cops won’t believe. Some things aren’t going to make it into the reports—some might. But Tom wants to use his influence to help people and so do the rest of us. But I also agree with Yuriko—this could be something or it could be nothing. I’ve already told Tom that I can take lead on this case. So, I’ll look into it with you. Let’s look into it and see before we report it.”

Yuriko nods at Sabrina. "So you’re on this Task Force as well? Good. It seems best to have someone involved who’s intimately familiar with the weird here in Portland. " She cocks her head suddenly. “Are any of the other members part of the ‘community’?”

Sabrina shakes her head, “No, I don’t think so. Though it’s hard to be considered part of the ‘community’ when if anyone knows what I am they would go screaming into the night,” she says with a bitter smirk.

Yuriko puts her hands on her hips, indignant. “Well. You’re part of our community. And if anyone has a problem with you, then they have a problem with us.” She looks around, as if daring anyone to say differently. Then she goes back to the subject at hand. “So, it looks like a road trip is on the agenda for today. Who’s in?”

“Let’s go then," Dillon says.

Daymar has just been nervously listening to the back and forth of the conversation.

The meeting disperses with plans to reconvene with Sabrina in the morning around 11:30 am.

View
Changes: Part One
A Walk to Remember

December 31, 2012 (11:15 pm)

Nick is throwing a New Year’s Eve party. He’s invited Yuriko and Dillon and some of the Paranetters in the area to attend, including Angelica Underwood. Sabrina, unfortunately, has to work tonight. He’s also decided that since they owe the guy two favors, they should socialize with John Daymar more, and decides to invite the awkward diviner to the party.

He leaves Kendria in charge of the party and he, Dillon, and Yuriko head to [[Barry’s Drafthouse]] to find Daymar and bring him to the party. Sure enough, they find the diviner in his usual booth, moping into a beer, despite the festivities going on around him. After a bit of persuading, Dillon manages to talk him into coming with them over to Nick’s for the party.

The four are walking over to the nearest bus stop to catch a bus over to Nick’s neighborhood when a car pulls up beside them and stops. From a nearby alley way, four figures emerge and quickly approach the group.

The figures are large and smell wrong, a horrible combination of rotting fish and stagnant water. They are wearing bulky coats and turtlenecks and are moving with obvious hostile intent.

Yuriko cries out in alarm and leaps on top of the nearest man, knocking him off-balance. Dillon steps in front of the Nick and Daymar, between them and the on-coming strangers. One of the men grabs at Yuriko, but she manages to eel out of his grasp. Another of the men, pushes Dillon out of the way, hard, knocking him down. The other two men rush forward and grab at Daymar. Daymar manages to shift out of one of men’s grip, but the other grabs a hold of him and starts to shove him toward the car. Nick calls out, “Pousser!” and throws out a powerful amount of force energy at the goon dragging Daymar, rocking the man on his heels and twisting his wrist, allowing Daymar to wriggle free of his grasp. Daymar pulls out a small ritual dagger and calls out “Contego!” and a small, oblong, whirlwind of air erupts in front him, presumably to shield him from harm.

The back-passenger door of the car has opened. Yuriko rushes forward and slams the door shut. Before she does so, she gets a glimpse of another one of the strange men, this one with gills along his neck holding a dirty cloth and a bottle, presumably chloroform, in the back seat. She also sees a parking sticker in the windshield for Trillium Lake campground. Dillon attempts to kick one of the goons in the knee from the ground, but misses. Three of the goons attempt to grab Daymar, but his air-shield manages to repel them. The fourth, however, gets through and gets his arms around him and starts hauling him toward the car. “Sorry, John,” Nick says and then yells, “Pousser!” again as another blast of kinetic energy flows out and knocks both Daymar and the man holding him over, breaking the man’s hold on Daymar and knocking both him and Daymar on their backs. Daymar begins picking himself off of the ground.

Yuriko throws herself into the legs of one of the standing goons, knocking him prone. Dillon grabs Daymar and starts to run. Two of the goons begin to pursue them, overtaking them easily and grabbing Daymar in a firm grip once again. The two prone goons pick themselves off of the ground. Nick once again calls out “Pousser!” and a blast of kinetic energy shoots out from his outstretched hand toward one of the men holding Daymar, but it fails to dislodge him. Daymar calls out “Vertex!” and twirls his ritual dagger in a tight circle in front of him. A small whirlwind of air erupts around him and he manages to dislodge one, but not both, of his attackers. The man still on him is the one with the twisted wrist.

Yuriko runs forward to catch up to Daymar and tries to pry the man off of Daymar, but fails—his grip is just too strong. The goon starts to drag Daymar to the car, but Dillon shouts at him, “O let the evil of the wicked come to an end…” This seems to give the man pause, slowing him down. The other goon puts his hand on Daymar’s shoulder, but also seems unable to drag him to the car. The car and the two other goons have now advanced the two blocks and caught up to them all. Nick runs up, winds up, and yells “POUSSER!”, throwing out his hands. Kinetic energy spills out from him in a wave, knocking down all four goons. Nick blinks and holds his head for a moment after this display of power. Daymar starts running down the street toward the bus stop.

Yuriko calls out, “Run!” and follows Daymar. A bus is rounding the corner up ahead and heading toward the stop. Yuriko starts herding Daymar towards the bus. “Come on!” she yells to Nick and Dillon. Nick starts running for the bus. Dillon turns and faces the strange men and leaves them with "Put them in fear, O LORD ; Let the nations know that they are but men.” This display of devotion gives them pause in their pursuit. The men can see that their prey is going to make the bus and load up in the car and take off. Dillon turns, runs, and barely makes the bus himself before it takes off for the next stop.

View
Winter Interlude
A New Beginning

“Lucy”

Police reports were filed on the events of November 23, 2013, but according to Sabrina, most of the cops on the scene don’t like to talk about what they found that night at the Lan Su Chinese Gardens. It was too disturbing.

Sabrina says that Tom Casing got a hold of a suppressed medical examiner’s report. No dental records were found to match the body. No fingerprints on file. No name to track down or relatives to notify. Toxicology found no drugs and if you want to call the burnt ichor on the scene blood, then you can be the doctor’s guest. Further, tissue samples indicate that the woman’s body was clearly over a century old before it was burned. The fangs and other mutations indicate that whatever this old lady was, she wasn’t quite human. That ME is now spending some time in the state hospital down in Salem.

The new official report has an old Jane Doe being the victim of a gangland prank gone wrong. They dressed her up, beat her up, shot her up, and then set the body on fire. The official cause of death is listed as homicide. There are currently no suspects for the heinous crime.

News reports focus on the ongoing effort to identify “Lucy”, what the “Lan Su Woman’s” name has been shortened to. An artist’s sketch of an old Asian woman has been making the rounds, hoping to drum up interest. So far, Lucy’s identity has remained a mystery. Her death and the heinousness of the crime seems to have brought Chinatown together, at least for a time.

The 888 Tong

Sabrina reports that there has been an increase in violence along the waterfront. The Drug and Vice Unit report that the Tongs are being hit hard there by the traditional “organization”. Sabrina suspects that it’s Big Jim Butler’s operation. Apparently the Tongs are consolidating back into Chinatown and regrouping. It’s a turf war and the Tongs are losing territory outside of their own conclave.

Lau Hu can confirm that something has changed within Chinatown. Things are still tense, but there is a change. People are less fearful. He can also confirm that Wang Bai Hu no longer runs the 888 Tong. He has disappeared. No one knows where he has gone. Apparently, Dragon Tony runs the street operation now and the charitable organization is run by a businesswoman named Helen Chan. By all accounts, it was a peaceful transfer of power.

Thanksgiving

It’s a cool, rainy day when Nick, Dillon, Sabrina, Hana, and Yuriko gather for Thanksgiving dinner at Yuriko’s apartment. They have a modest, but tasty dinner and enjoy each other’s company. Dillon says grace over the dinner and every one digs in. Mostly, everyone enjoys the reprieve from danger and mayhem and take solace in one another.

Dillon

Dillon tries to keep an ear to the ground about Dragon Tony and his kid. It’s hard, they being primarily in Chinatown and all. Lau Hu helps. Apparently Dragon Tony and his kid are fine. Tony is the head of the street-level 888 Tongs. As far as turning his life around, it seems he’s still living a life of crime.

Dillon takes to working various odd-jobs around the parish for cash, doing chores for parishioners, and generally trying get more work. He’ll work if they can’t pay, but he won’t say no if they offer it. He wants to take the proceeds and buy Sabrina a Christmas present and take her out to a real movie.

That Christmas, he does manage to get Sabrina a nice gift and take her out. She’s impressed and says so. She gets him a gift as well—a nice scarf and leather glove set. After the date, she kisses him passionately and says, “Merry Christmas.”

Dillon sends out Christmas cards to John Daymar, Jim Butler, and Tom Casing. He also receives a card on the Winter Solstice:

fairy.jpg

Inside it says:

Happy Solstice to you, Mr. Krister. I hope it finds you well. I have a gift for you. A boon. I pray that it does not grow too cold. Please consider opening it soon. With love in this joyous season, Abby.

He goes to attend Yuriko’s Christmas party in a sour mood.

Yuriko

Yuriko spends much of her time at the florist shop, making her mom happy. At night, she and Hana run in Forest Park with the wolf pack and Lau Hu, refining her tracking and stealth skills. She also spends her time planning a big Christmas party for all of her friends.

She also works on goody baskets to deliver to Aleister at Powells, Tom Casing, Reverend Buxman, and Warden Capstone. She invites Aleister to her party, as well as Troy and the wolf pack. She also extends an invitation to any “plus-one” Nick may want to bring.

Finally, the big day gets here! All of Yuriko’s friends gathered in one place. She is so excited. Christmas music is playing. Food is out. Everyone is having a good time talking to one another. Nearly everyone showed up, though Dillon had a scowl on his face at first. He finally loosened up after a while. The party is a great success.

After everyone leaves, Yuriko plops on her couch, exhausted and happy, and munches a cookie. She glances over at the only unclaimed goody basket—that for Warden Capstone. She wonders where she’s been?

Angelica

Angelica uses this quiet time for meditation and concentration on her magical arts. She also does some shopping to enhance her sanctum and magical library. She continues to monitor her usual channels—both mundane and supernatural—to keep an eye on spiritual activity. Things are pretty peaceful at this time—at least, for a weird place like Portland. She also takes a trip to Chinatown to see if things have died down there specifically. All seems well. There are no more panicked spirits fleeing the 888 headquarters.

“The Spook Squad”

Right after Christmas, Dillon gets an invite to lunch from Tom Casing. The two meet at Darla’s Diner, a local cop hangout. After ordering some food, Tom gets right to business. “I’ve asked you here because I have a proposition. I’ve been promoted to Detective Sergeant. I’m putting together a task force over at the Bureau. We’re going to solve crimes that have been put away as unsolvable or unexplained or baffling. Cold cases, impossible stuff. Stuff that might run up your particular alley. My eyes have been opened to some new possibilities these past few months. And there are some others on the force that have seen things too. Most have been busted down to crappy desk jobs. I want to try and do something with what I’ve learned.”

“Are the other cops okay with what you’re doing?” Dillon asks.

“Most think its a joke. They call us ‘The Spook Squad’,” Casing admits. “My boss thinks I’m going to hang myself career-wise.”

Dillon just nods, expecting as much, or worse.

“I want to hire you on as a consultant from time to time. We can pay you. Not much, but we may need your expertise on some of these matters,” Casing says. “Sabrina is going to be on the task force as well. Are you in?”

View
Side Job: In the Spotlight
Karkana Chronicles: Nineteen

June 17, 2013 (Monday)

Brianna receives an unexpected phone call from Clive on Monday morning.

“Nerise needs to speak with you,” Clive says.

“Now or this evening?” Brianna asks.

“Now would be better,” Clive says curtly.

After hanging up with Nerise‘s right-hand, Brianna tells Joey, "Nerise wants to see me. I’ll be back."

“You want me to wait here?” Joey asks, incredulous.

“Why don’t you come, just in case,” Brianna agrees.

After changing into more professional attire, Brianna heads out to Nirvana to meet the head of the White Court in Portland.

After the usual ritual of meeting her hired guns outside her office and leaving Joey at the door, Brianna finds herself seated in front of Nerise’s desk with a drink in her hand and Nerise Patel seated across from her. The White Court vampire is all cool confidence and allure.

“One thing I appreciate about you is your bluntness, so I’ll come to my point quickly,” she tells Brianna. “You owe me a favor.”

“I do,” Brianna says.

“I wish to collect. Have you heard of Darby Crane?” Nerise asks.

Brianna has heard the name, but she’s not sure where and says so.

Nerise nods. “He’s a horror director. Directed the ‘Scarecrow’ series of films. I’m going to trust you with some information to help you succeed in carrying out the favor. This information stays with you and goes no further.”

“I take it you mean it doesn’t go to Joey either?” Brianna asks.

“No. Further.” Nerise says, a white hot glint in her eyes. “Darby’s real name is Madrigal Raith.” She waits for a reaction from Brianna, but gets none. She moves on. “Crane wishes to use some of my dancers in his next production.”

“He needs dancers in a horror flick?” Brianna asks.

“He needs beautiful bodies,” Nerise says. “I would like you to go as my proxy to keep an eye on things.”

“Are you expecting trouble?” Brianna asks.

“I want you to make sure the dancers don’t overindulge with the local population and make sure Madrigal behaves himself with the dancers,” Nerise continues.

“Then the dancers are in the family,” Brianna says.

“They are of the Court,” Nerise says. “I need to remind you that Madrigal is important in the Raith family and that you should tread carefully with him.”

“Does he have the same temperament as his sister?” Brianna asks.

“I, personally, have dealt more with Madeline than with Madrigal,” Nerise says.

“How many dancers?” Brianna asks.

“Ten,” Nerise says. “The film is being shot near the village of Sebes in Romania.”

Brianna’s eyes widen at that. “I don’t have a passport,” she finally says.

Nerise looks to Clive, who nods. He comes over with his phone and takes a picture of Brianna’s face. “We’ll make the arrangements,” he says.

“How long is the shoot?” Brianna asks.

“Darby says he’ll need the extras for a week,” Nerise says.

“Will we be lodging in the village or is there a city nearby?” Brianna asks.

“The nearest city is Sibiu. You’ll be staying there. All expenses will be paid by Crane’s production company,” Nerise says.

“The dancers you have in mind; are they generally well-behaved with the human population ore are they gluttonous? Is there anybody I have to watch out for?” Brianna asks.

Nerise smiles. “They are generally in control of themselves, but they are young.”

“Do I have your permission to do what I have to do to keep them in line?” Brianna asks.

“And what do you need to do?” Nerise asks.

“I’m not taking no sass,” Brianna says carefully.

“You have authorization to act on my behalf. They will be told this,” Nerise assures her.

“Will they be told who I am?” Brianna asks.

“Do you want me to?” Nerise asks.

“I want them to know who they’re dealing with, yes,” Brianna says.

“Then I will,” Nerise says.

“So to recap: Keep an eye on the dancers, make sure nothing harms them, keep an eye on Darby Crane. Get back on the plane and come back.” Brianna says.

Nerise nods.

“Alright,” Brianna says.

“He would like to get things rolling as soon as possible. How soon can you leave?” Nerise asks.

“Tomorrow. Or the next day,” Brianna says.

Nerise looks to Clive. Clive says, “The paperwork will be ready by Wednesday.”

“We’ll have a car pick you up,” Nerise says.

Brianna and Joey leave Nirvana and Brianna explains the situation to Joey on the car ride back to their apartment. Joey will hold down the fort at home while Brianna heads to Romania. Joey says he’ll think about going to the pit fights without Brianna.

That afternoon, Brianna picks up a Romanian dictionary from the bookstore. She gets her preliminary packing out of the way, including the veil potion that Sydney had previously made for her, and checks on the various details of traveling to a foreign country: the availability of cell service, her clothes situation, etc.

June 18, 2013 (Tuesday)

That evening, Brianna calls Loomis, as per her usual routine. She mentions that she has a job that will take her out of town for a week or so, so she may not be available.

“Do I need to worry?” Loomis asks.

“I don’t think so,” Brianna says. “I’m hoping this will be easy peasy. My life doesn’t usually go that way, but I don’t think you need to worry.”

“Well, good luck at whatever it is,” Loomis says.

“If anything major shifts in Seattle, if you can’t get me, get Joey,” Brianna says.

June 19, 2013 (Wednesday)

In the morning, a limousine comes by for Brianna. The driver hands her a bundle of papers—tickets, passport, vaccination papers, etc.—everything she needs for international travel. The car is full of people. Apparently she is the last to be picked up.

There are five men and five women in the car with her—the dancers from Nirvana. The ladies are Kris, Desire, Patrice, Saraia, and Juanita. The men are Doug, Thackery, LeBron, Mike, and Ramon. The car is full of excitement and giggling and jostling of young bodies.

Brianna settles in and announces: “Most of you have probably seen me around the club. I’m Brianna Karkana. I’m the one in charge of making sure this trip goes smoothly. So let’s make sure it does.”

An instant pall settles around the festivities.

Once the car pulls up at the airport, Brianna finds that keeping this group together is like herding cats—young, sexy cats, but cats nevertheless. Finally, after an exhausting two hours, she manages to get everyone on the plane and in their seats. She settles in for the long flight to Romania.

June 20, 2013 (Thursday)

After a sixteen-hour flight, the plane finally touches down on the tarmac of the Sibiu International Airport. It is 11 a.m. local time. They are met at the plane by a group of three SUVs and a luxury automobile. There is a handsome older man in a trimmed beard holding up a sign that says “Crane Productions” waiting by the plane. He introduces himself to Brianna as Cosmin Ionescu. She definitely gets the feeling that he is White Court of some House or another. And when she introduces herself as Brianna Karkana, he hesitates briefly to take her hand. He has the drivers load all of the luggage into the SUVs and explains that he is Darby Crane’s business partner here in Romania. He will take them to the shooting site. He offers to take Brianna there in his automobile, an offer she accepts. They all load up and head to the site.

As they drive, Cosmin asks Brianna, “Have you been to Romania before?”

“No. I know it’s a mountainous country,” Brianna says.

“Yes, the Carpathians,” Cosmin says, nodding.

“Have you lived here your whole life?” Brianna asks.

“Yes,” Cosmin says.

“Do you travel with Mr. Crane when he works his films? I know some have been made in the U. S.?” Brianna asks.

“This is our first partnership. We are trying something different,” Cosmin says.

“I did not ask Ms. Patel; is there a working title to this film?” Brianna asks.

“Yes. ‘Naked Velvet’,” Cosmin says, with pride.

Brianna blinks. “‘Naked Velvet?’ I take it it’s not a horror film?”

“Oh it is. But there are elements of the sensual. There is a fine line between the sensual and death,” Cosmin says with relish.

“My charges will be used as extras in the film?” Brianna asks.

“Unless they have that special spark, then we may use them more,” Cosmin says.

“But they’ll only be here a week,” Brianna says.

“We hope to finish in a week, yes,” Cosmin says.

They drive through the small, Germanic village of Sebes. On the outskirts are small signs directing people to the film set. Finally, the cars arrive at a small gravel lot outside the set.

Once the cars park, Cosmin alights from the car and says that he will go and fetch Mr. Crane. Brianna exits the car and looks around. A series of trailers sit outside a series of sets. Away from the sets is a large barn. All is nestled in the clearing of a thick wooded area with mountains looming in the distance. It is very picturesque.

Cosmin returns with a tall, angular, handsome man in a button-down shirt, sports jacket, and slacks—Darby Crane. He assess Brianna with an arrogant smirk. “Cosmin says Nerise sent you to herd my extras.”

“She did. Brianna Karkana,” Brianna extends her hand.

Crane smiles a brittle smile and takes her hand. “I’ve heard of you,” he says.

“Word of me reached all way to Romania. I’m flattered,” Brianna says.

“So who have you brought me?” Crane asks.

Brianna introduces the dancers. Crane shakes hands and introduces himself down the line. He seems to take a particular interest in Saraia and Thackery. He then addresses the assembled. “Okay, what we’re working on is an erotic werewolf movie. It’s a little different than what I usually work on. But sexy is where you folks come in…”

As Crane makes his speech, Brianna watches the crew. She sees them going about their business rather furtively. She also notes that there seems to be very few of them for a set this size.

“…We’ll get started tomorrow,” Crane says. “There will be a lot of waiting between scenes. Get used to that. We mostly need you for a party scene tomorrow. So get plenty of rest and do everything I say and you’ll be fine.” Everyone chuckles and takes that as a dismissal.

“Saraia, Thackery, could I see you for a moment?” Crane says and motions to them, pulling them from the crowd. He proceeds to have a private conversation with them. Brianna tries to position herself to eavesdrop on them. All she catches is a few words: “…bonus…think about it…chemistry…”

The dancers all load back up in the SUVs. Brianna approaches Crane and Cosmin. “Is there a number I can have in case I need to get a hold of you?”

“Here’s the number of my assistant,” Crane says and hands her a card for Deirdre Thomas.

“I notice you were impressed by Saraia and Thackery,” Brianna says.

“I think they have chemistry,” Crane says.

Brianna looks around. “Where’s the rest of your crew?”

“What do you mean?” Cosmin asks.

“This is a really big set. Not many people working. I just figured you had some crew missing,” Brianna says.

“There have been some issues with funding,” Crane says, tight-lipped.

Brianna raises an eyebrow, not buying it. “Really? Alright. Issues with funding.” She changes topics, “When are we getting picked up tomorrow?”

“Nine a.m.,” Crane says.

“Nine a.m. then,” Brianna says and heads for the car.

The SUVs and the car then drive back to Sibiu and drop everyone off at the hotel.

Brianna gets everyone checked into their rooms and gets settled into her own. She then decides to look up Cosmin Ionescu on the Internet. She doesn’t get very much. Instead, she decides to email Joey and let him know that she touched down okay and to set Roy Dale onto looking into Ionescu.

Each of the dancers are in individual rooms on the same floor. Brianna arranges for a meet-up with her charges. She wants all of their cell phone numbers and she makes sure that they have hers. She tells them no one is to go off by themselves. She’d rather they stay in the hotel, but if they go out, they are to go in groups and are to check in with her. She will arrange for a group dinner. She admonishes them all to get a good night’s sleep. They are representing Nerise and so need to be fresh for tomorrow’s performance.

Brianna returns to her room and takes a shower. She then goes to the concierge to arrange for a group dinner. She takes a seat in the lobby and watches the traffic of the hotel. As she’s watching, she gets an email from Joey: “I’m on it.”

Brianna notices Patrice making her way out of the hotel with a group of tourists. Brianna stealthily makes her way behind the young dancer. “Couldn’t find someone to go with you?” she asks her.

Patrice turns around and rolls her eyes. “I am a grown-ass woman.”

“I don’t fucking care. I am in charge of your safety. You will listen to me,” Brianna says, her eyes narrow.

“Whatever,” Patrice says and starts to walk out.

Brianna grabs her and slams her against a wall. The people in the lobby gasp and start to murmur and surround them.

“You bitch!” Patrice says. “Nerise is going to hear about this!”

“I’m sure she will. Now get your ass upstairs,” Brianna says.

A short, well-dressed man in a trimmed mustache comes over and demands to know what is going on.

“Just a misunderstanding,” Brianna says.

The man looks at Patrice. “Are you alright, young woman?”

“Yeah, I’m alright,” Patrice says, looking daggers at Brianna. She then stomps back to the elevators.

Brianna says, “I’m so sorry for the disturbance. That one is a handful.”

The man says. “See that it doesn’t happen again.”

The crowd begins to disperse at this point and Brianna regains her seat in the lobby. A little while later, a group of girls, sans Patrice, check in with Brianna to go sightseeing. The guys go out to find a bar. Everyone returns in time for dinner.

At dinner, everyone gathers, including Patrice, who is sullen. Saraia tells her to get the bug out of her ass. They start to argue, but Kris breaks it up. Based on the conversation around the table, Brianna gets the impression that this group of White Court are ignorant of her House.

June 21, 2013 (Friday)

At 9:00 am, the cars from Crane Productions come to pick up the troupe. Brianna rides with Cosmin.

“Who are the principles in the film?” Brianna asks.

“Sylvia Dianova and Piotr Ivanovich,” Cosmin says.

“Are they Romanian?” Brianna asks.

“Piotr is Russian,” Cosmin says.

“They’ve been here filming for a while and this is their last week of filming?” Brianna asks.

“This is the last week of filming,” Cosmin says, nodding. He then turns in his seat and puts up his hands like a frame. “Have you ever been in a film?” he asks Brianna.

“No, I have not,” Brianna says.

“You might consider. Your features are very striking.”

“Thank you for the compliment,” Brianna says.

The cars pull up to the set and deposit the group out into the parking lot. Patrice is in a better mood this morning and everyone is excited to get started. Crane meets them out there and asks them to follow him and they will get ready for the party scene.

“We have to get you into costume as it is a period piece,” Crane says. There are some oohs and ahs from the assembled dancers. They are taken to a costume trailer where they are all fitted for costumes for peasants straight off the cover of a bad medieval romance cover. Crane then leads them to the barn off of the beaten path of the other trailers. It is decorated for some sort of barn party. Once the entourage arrives, Crane looks perturbed.

“Where’s my band?” Crane asks.

“Where’s his band?” Cosmin echoes. “Where’s his band?”

A casually-dressed blonde woman with a clipboard and Bluetooth phone headset comes walking up. “I’m sorry, Mr. Crane. They are running late, but should be here any minute.”

“Deirdre. I need a band. How can I have a party without a band?” Crane asks, petulant.

“I understand that, sir. Fifteen minutes, tops.”

“Fine. We’ll just wait for the band. People, take five!” Crane announces to the room. He then comes up to Saraia and Thackery and takes them aside. Brianna does her best to eavesdrop again.

“Did you give any thought to my proposition?” Crane asks.

“Yes. I’m in,” Saraia says.

“Then I am, too,” Thackery says.

“Excellent,” Crane says. “I’ll have a set prepared this afternoon.”

Fifteen minutes later, the band arrives. It looks like they brought their own medieval costumes. They are apparently a local folk band specializing in medieval music. They play in various faires and celebrations and such. Crane is gracious, but visibly agitated. He gets the band set up in one of the hay lofts. He then gets the dancers set up at various points around the barn.

“First we’re going to do some establishing shots. The music is going to play and you’re going to have a good time. Act natural. Action!”

After the establishing shots, Crane shoots some close ups and a few dances.

“Now we have the big shots. Those will be with the principles. Those will be tomorrow. But you’ve done a good job today. I’ve seen what you can do. Let’s break. There’s a craft service van down at the main set,” Crane announces.

The set breaks up and people start heading down to the main set. Brianna introduces herself to Deirdre Thomas. The young woman gives off absolutely no supernatural vibe.

As Brianna makes her way down to the craft service van, she once again notices the very furtive crew. It’s clear that they do not want to speak to Brianna. Along the way, she notes the trailers for the stars, including a third for someone named Andrei Negrescu. Andrei gets out of his trailer and heads for craft services. He’s a huge man, with a partially shaven head and a lazy eye. The crew gives him a wide berth.

In the food line, Brianna approaches the big man, who holds himself like a fighter. “Are you Andrei?” she asks. She very much gets a supernatural vibe off of him.

“Yes,” he says in a thick Slavic accent.

“Have you filmed with Mr. Ionescu before? Or Mr. Crane?”

“This is my first film,” he says, eyeing Brianna up and down.

“You don’t strike me as the dancing in the barn sort,” Brianna says.

“You don’t strike me as the frolicking in the woods type,” Andrei says.

“Oh no. I’m looking after them. They’re under my protection.”

Andrei looks at the dancers. “Big job.”

“Yes,” Brianna says.

Andrei smiles. “What if it is too big?”

“I’m resourceful. I never admit something is too big,” Brianna says. “Is there something I need to know about?”

Andrei shrugs. “You are far from home, little girl. And Romania has many monsters.”

“So does America,” Brianna smiles, showing a lot of teeth. She gets her food and goes to the table. After she eats, she emails Joey the names of the actors to see if they are real actors, including Andrei Negrescu. She sees the principles come out of their trailers and join lunch. They introduce themselves to the extras and Brianna gets no supernatural vibe from them at all.

After lunch, Crane comes and fetches Saraia and Thackery and leads them away with Cosmin and Deidre. Brianna follows. They go into a building set and Cosmin turns to Brianna and puts up a hand. “I’m sorry, but this is a closed set.”

“I’ve been charged to keep an eye on the whole group. Even those that get singled out from the rest,” Brianna says.

Cosmin looks pained. “One moment.” He goes inside. After a moment, he reemerges and says “Okay,” motioning for Brianna to enter.

Brianna is lead inside the set. Crane, Deirdre, a small camera crew, and Cosmin are there watching as Saraia and Thackery disrobe in a small bedroom scene. Brianna stays out of the way as they film a very adult, very pornographic scene with Sariah and Thackery. When they are finished, Crane glances over at Brianna and smirks. Brianna glares at Crane, very uncomfortable with the situation. Crane hands the two dancers each an envelope.

Crane turns to Brianna. “Did you keep your eye on them the whole time?” he asks.

“Yes,” Brianna says with a growl and stalks off.

Crane chuckles.

“Fucking asshole,” Brianna mutters as she leaves the set.

Brianna checks on the others back at craft services. They’re just finishing up their break. Crane gathers them up for an announcement—there will be another scene shot tonight—a chase scene. He points at Patrice. “You’ll do,” he says. He says Patrice is to return at 8:00 pm that night. A car will be sent to the hotel to pick her up. The rest of them are dismissed.

As the group breaks up, Brianna asks Deidre for a copy of the script. Deidre provides her with one. They all load up in the cars and head back to the hotel.

That afternoon, in her hotel room, Brianna reads the script. There is, indeed, a chase scene. A townswoman is chased through the woods, but barely makes it to a tavern in time. The “twist ending” is that the werewolf slaughters the town in the end, including the principles. After reading it, she offers the script to any of the dancers that want to read it. LeBron takes it.

June 21, 2013 (Friday, 8:00 pm)

Patrice is very excited when they get to the set that evening. The forest around the set is lit up for an outdoor shoot. Crane, Cosmin, Deidre and a few crewmen are there. Brianna is there with Patrice. They get Patrice into costume as a villager and into position.

Crane comes up to Patrice and tells her, “Here’s what you’re going to do. You’re going to walk down the trail. You’re going to see a werewolf. I want you to react as if you’ve seen a werewolf. I want you run down the trail toward the tavern. Can you do that for me, Patrice? I want to see your fear. I want to feel your terror.”

Cosmin nods in agreement, seeming to get a chill from the emphasis Crane puts into the words.

“Yeah, I can do that,” Patrice says with a smile. Everyone backs away and Crane says, “Action!”

Patrice starts off down the trail. Crane and a cameraman follow on a trolley, watching through a lens. Brianna can hear heavy breathing coming from the trees and sees a large, shadowy form emerging from the trees. Suddenly a large wolf jumps out of the forest onto the trail behind Patrice. She screams, her terror very real—as realistic as the wolf—and she takes off down the trail at an inhumanly fast pace. The trolley races to keep up—as does the wolf.

Brianna looks at Deidre, who doesn’t seem to be phased by the proceedings—though she doesn’t seem to be enjoying them either. Patrice makes it to the tavern set and runs inside as the wolf takes off into the forest. Crane yells “Cut!”

Cosmin looks happy with the performance. Deidre goes to the set and knocks on the door. “It’s over,” she tells Patrice, gently. The dancer reemerges from the tavern, teary-eyed and angry. “What the hell was that?” she demands.

Crane says, “Movie magic, my dear. Movie magic.”

Brianna stands next to Patrice. The young woman seems a bit pacified and wipes her eyes. “Well, you got me pretty good.”

Crane nods. “Glad to hear it.” Deidre gives her an envelope.

“You all right?” Brianna asks Patrice.

“Yeah, I’m all right,” Patrice says, opening the envelope and smiling.

Brianna looks at Cosmin as she says, “They were wanting fear and terror and you were very good at it.”

“Yes my dear,” Cosmin says. “You were very good.”

Patrice and Brianna head back to the hotel. LeBron is still reading Brianna’s copy of the script. When Brianna gets back to her room, she discovers that she has an email from Joey. Apparently Roy was able to discover that Sylvia Dianova and Piotr Ivanovich are low budget porn stars from the Russian and Baltic states. He couldn’t find anything about Andrei Negrescu. He’s still working on Cosmin Ionescu.

June 22, 2013 (Saturday)

The cars come once again and pick up the troupe and head for the set. Brianna gets her copy of the script back from LeBron. Along the way, Brianna converses once again with Cosmin.

“So we’re on schedule for wrapping up within the week?” Brianna asks.

“Yes, we are on schedule,” Cosmin says.

“Have the three principles worked before with you? Are then known in this industry?” Brianna asks.

“Oh, they are very experienced,” Cosmin says, nodding.

Brianna can tell he is lying. “I would have assumed Andrei was in a different business,” she says.

Cosmin raises an eyebrow. “Such as?”

“He looks like a professional fighter,” Brianna says.

“He can handle himself, I’m sure,” Cosmin says.

“I’m sure he can,” Brianna says, and turns back to read the script.

Once they get to the set, Crane meets them once again and everyone is shuffled off for costuming. Then the troupe is arranged in the barn once again for the party scene. Crane explains the scene once again to the extras, how they are not to interact with the principles once they enter the scene.

Brianna speaks briefly with Deidre about the crew. Apparently Cosmin brought them in from his own contacts in the area. They stay in the village with the locals. Why are there no locals bothering them on the set? Cosmin’s assistants apparently have made it clear that they didn’t wish to be disturbed. Cosmin apparently works primarily out of Bucharest.

Crane blocks out the scene for the extras. The entire process is extremely dull for Brianna. They shoot—then reshoot—then shoot again. After a while, they take a break. Crane announces that they will be shooting the “big climax scene” later tonight. Brianna notices that LeBron looks at bit apprehensive.

“Have you gotten to that part in the script?” Brianna asks him.

“Yeah,” LeBron says.

“What’s it say?” Brianna asks.

“It’s a slaughter. The principles, everybody, gets attacked,” LeBron says.

“The werewolf?” Brianna asks.

“Werewolf,” LeBron says, nodding.

“The slaughter I guess is the horror part of the erotic horror,” Brianna points out.

“I guess so. I guess it just makes me jumpy. But one thing I noticed. There’s no special effects crew on this set,” LeBron says.

“This is a small crew,” Brianna says.

By this point, everyone has made their way out of the barn and toward craft services.

“When you guys were in costuming, did they go over any blood packs or anything like that?” Brianna asks.

LeBron shakes his head. The two catch up to the rest of the group. Brianna offers to share her script with any of the others. One of the other dancers offers to take it.

Apparently Crane and the rest of his crew have headed off into the forest to film another scene. Briana makes her way to the edge, then hears a scream come from deeper in the woods. Brianna follows the sound, stealthily making her way through the trees.

She comes upon a clearing where Cosmin is holding a camera filming a scene in which a large wolf is devouring a young peasant woman. Deidre is quietly throwing up off to the side while Darby Crane avidly watches the scene.

“What the fuck is this?” Brianna says as she emerges from the trees. “You’re filming snuff films?” Is that your idea of erotica?"

Crane smiles slightly. “You have such a limited view of human nature,” he says.

“I suppose that’s true,” Brianna says. “This is disgusting. Did Nerise know exact tenor of the film you’re making out here in the middle of nowhere?”

“I hardly need Nerise Patel’s approval for anything,” Crane says with contempt.

“When it comes to the safety of the ten people she sends out here in my care, then you fucking do,” Brianna says.

Crane reaches out to grip Brianna’s hand, but she dodges easily. Brianna punches him in the face.

“I am no one’s food. You asks Peregrine Raith what happens when you try that shit on me. I don’t care who you are. I will take you down,” Brianna whispers.

Crane blinks at her, at a loss for words.

“I don’t know what the hell you are doing, but I want assurances that my people are going to be safe. I’ve read your script and I know what happens tonight. You better have good special effects, because if this is what you have in mind,” she points at the wolf, “then were done,” Brianna says. She feels her phone buzz in her pocket.

Cosmin then reaches out and grabs her, and she feels his power reach toward her but she fights it off. She gets out of his grip and turns and runs through the forest. She can hear the wolf chasing after her.

After a short—too short—amount of time, the wolf catches up and she feels its jaws on her. She turns to face it and grips it, sending her own power through it. It goes crazed with rage. They exchange blows for a time, missing each other, testing each other’s prowess. Finally the wolf connects, making Brianna bleed. She drives the wolf berserk with rage. Then the wolf rips Brianna open, rupturing her gut. Brianna finally gets a hold of the wolf and drains it of psychic energy, killing the beast. Lying before her is the nude body of Andrei Negrescu.

A gunshot rings out in the forest. She holds her wounded abdomen and starts to run back toward the set. As she runs, she takes out her phone and dials Clive.

“This is Clive,” the calm voice on the other side of the line answers.

“This whole thing’s gone to shit. They’re filming snuff films out here. It’s not safe. We’re getting out of here,” Brianna says, breathless.

“You’re not making much sense, Ms. Karkana,” Clive says.

“We’re heading home!” Brianna yells.

“Very well,” Clive says.

“Can’t talk. They’re shooting at me,” Brianna says. She hangs up.

Brianna breaks out of the woods and onto the set. She makes her way to the troupe. They see her wound and gather around her, wanting to know what’s going on.

“This set is not safe. We’re going back to the hotel now,” Brianna says.

“We heard gun shots,” Kris says.

“Yes. This set is not safe. We’re going back to the hotel now,” Brianna says again.

They walk back to the parking lot where the drivers are leaning against the cars and smoking cigarettes.

“Take us back to the hotel. Now,” Brianna says.

The lead driver looks at her, takes drag off his cigarette and says, slowly, “We take our orders from Mr. Ionescu.”

“I don’t think so. You’re taking orders from me. You’re taking us back to the hotel now,” Brianna says with some heat.

The driver shifts his shoulders a bit, revealing a shoulder holster. “I take orders from Mr. Ionescu.”

“No, that’s not an acceptable answer, I’m afraid. I’m bitten, pissed off, and you’re in my way. Drive the damn car,” Brianna says.

He puts out his cigarette. “You Americans expect everything your way,” he says.

Brianna punches him in the face. “Get to it! Or get out of my way!”

He goes for his gun but Brianna grabs it first. “You clearly mistake me for someone who’s just fucking around. I’m not.”

“I will drive to the hotel,” the man says.

“Was that difficult?” Brianna asks.

The drivers call out to each other in Romanian.

“Don’t get stupid,” Brianna warns her driver. Everyone loads up and the cars start heading back to Sibiu. Brianna calls Clive back and speaks to him in Etruscan.

“We’re riding back to the hotel. This was not exactly what Nerise understood as far as the situation here,” she says. She then explains the situation as best she can.

“And you think this was what was in store for our dancers?” Clive asks.

“Quite a distinct possibility. Made more so that when confronted, they tried to kill me. Shit’s been weird from the beginning,” Brianna says.

“It is apparent that we’ll have to arrange for alternative transportation out of the country,” Clive says.

“I have ten dancers I have to get safely out of the country and they know where our hotel is. And they’re not happy. They shot at me. I don’t know what sort of damage control Nerise needs to do on her end. But I think the partner was Malvora,” Brianna says.

“Do you think you all can get to Bucharest?” Clive asks.

“I don’t think its that far,” Brianna says.

“But can you get there?” Clive asks.

“Yes, I can get us there,” Brianna says.

“Go to the Hotel Venezia. I will arrange a meeting with a contact named Zvetlana. She will provide transportation to the U. S.,” Clive says.

“I’ll call you when we get there,” Brianna says.

“Very well,” Clive says, and hangs up.

Brianna checks her email. Apparently Roy Dale finally found some information on Cosmin Ionescu. He is a purveyor of low budget schlock films in Romania and the Balkans. He finally hit upon the idea to make snuff films for a very “specialized” market. He is wanted in Prague on charges in relation to these films.

Brianna forwards this information on to Clive with the message “He’s a peach.”

She looks up to find that she’s riding in the car with Mike and Juanita. Mike demands to know what is going on.

“Have you read the script? They’re taking it more literal than I thought,” Brianna says dryly. “So we’re going to get pulled out. When we get back to the hotel, I need everyone to pack their shit and pack it fast.”

She opens her phone again and starts looking for a shuttle bus to rent. She finds a company on the cheap and rents a rattletrap bus, but it should do the trick.

The cars pull up to the hotel and deposit the troupe outside. After gathering everyone up, she tells them all to gather at Brianna’s room. While she changes clothes, she explains the situation. She also asks if anyone knows first aid. Patrice says that she does. So she has her administer aid to her wound.

“We’re done. I’ve talked to Clive. We’re getting pulled out now. We have to get to Bucharest. What I need for everyone to do is get packed in record speed. I’m going to get us a bus. Because when they come looking for us, I don’t want us to be here.”

Brianna takes the script and puts it in her duffle. She then calls the shuttle rental to confirm her transaction. As soon as she finishes with the shuttle company, her phone rings—it’s Deidre Thomas’ number. She answers and her’s Darby Crane’s voice on the other end. She also hears the sound of engines in the background.

“Ms. Karkana. I trust you dealt with Andrei.”

“I’m alive, no thanks to you,” Brianna says.

“That was nothing to do with me. I can’t be blamed for a wild animal,” Crane says.

“Really. If that’s all you have to say then our conversation’s done,” Brianna says.

“I trust the events in the woods today will be the subject of discretion,” Crane says.

“I’ve told my employer. I’ll guess we’ll see what she does with the information,” Brianna says.

“I’m referring to any authorities you may wish to inform,” Crane says.

“Any grievances I have are going through Nerise. Again, what she does with that information is up to her. However, if you ever come after me again, things may change,” Brianna says.

Crane chuckles. “You are spirited.”

“I’ve been told it’s one of my more charming aspects,” Brianna says.

“Then I have nothing else to say,” Crane says.

Brianna hangs up.

Everyone is packed up and ready to go. The shuttle bus comes and is ready to go. Brianna nominates one of the dancers to be her Google navigator and the troupe is on the road again. As they ramble down the road to Bucharest for the four hour drive, Brianna looks for tails. By nightfall, they finally arrive in the capital and the Hotel Venezia.

Brianna shuttles everyone inside the hotel. In the lobby, she spots and older woman with gunmetal gray hair in a severe bun smoking a cigarette at the bar watching her and her charges as they come inside. Brianna approaches her.

“I’m supposed to meet someone here. I’m wondering if it’s you,” Brianna says.

“You’re American?” the old woman says.

“Yes,” Brianna says.

“Then probably,” the old woman says. “You’re Brianna.”

“Yes,” Brianna says.

“I’m Zvetlana,” the old woman says.

“Lovely,” Brianna says with a sigh of relief. “Those are the people I’m protecting over there.”

Brianna feels no White Court vibe coming off of this seemingly human woman.

“I have arranged a flight for you at midnight,” Zvetlana says. “We will wait at the hotel until it is time to fly.”

Brianna explains about the rental bus. Zvetlana says that it can be left at the airport and that it can be taken care of.

Brianna texts Joey: THIS WAS GOOD INFO TO HAVE. THINGS WENT A LITTLE SQUIRRELLY. GOING HOME A BIT EARLIER THAN PLANNED.

After a couple of hours of boredom in the hotel lobby, Zvetlana announces that “It’s time.” They drive out to the airport, actually out onto the tarmac. A private jet awaits them.

“I take it we will go all the way home?” Brianna asks.

“You will go to New York and then on to Portland,” Zvetlana says.

The dancers and their things get loaded up and the plane takes off. Brianna sleeps the sleep of the justified.

June 24, 2013 (Monday, 6:00 am)

The jet finally touches down in PDX. Cars are waiting for them, sent by Nerise. Everyone is brought to Nirvana. Along the way, Brianna calls Joey to let him know that they touched down okay and that she’s in town.

At Nirvana, when everyone exits from the cars, they all say their goodbyes. Even Patrice says goodbye to Brianna. Brianna makes her way inside the club and heads up to Nerise’s office.

Nerise offers her a drink and a seat at her desk.

“Tell me everything,” she says. Brianna does.

Clive provides her with another drink when she’s done with the story.

Nerise is playing it close to the vest, but Brianna can tell that she is upset at Darby’s/Madrigal’s disrespect.

“You have completed your favor to me. Clive will arrange for a car to take you home.”

With that dismissal, Brianna takes her leave.

When Brianna gets home, she calls Loomis and lets him know that she’s back in town.

View
Scenario Nine: Blood Moon (Part Five)
Part Five

November 23, 2012 (Friday, 10:00 pm)

Lan Su Chinese Gardens

The gang has gathered in front of the Lan Su Chinese Gardens to meet with Dragon Tony and some of his “boys” in hopes of being led into the headquarters of the 888 Tong. This is the headquarters of the Shrouded One, the necromancer and Jade Court vampire that the group has been hunting these past few weeks.

Angelica notices the spirits fleeing the area from the gardens instead of the Tong headquarters building like they did before. She shares this information with the rest of the group. Dillon tells Angelica and Yuriko to watch the garden as Dragon Tony pulls up with his entourage.

“Why are we meeting here?” Dillon asks Tony as they come walking up.

“It was a landmark. I figured you knew where it was,” Tony says, nonplussed.

“Who all knows that you’re coming here?” Dillon asks.

“These guys,” Tony says, pointing to the six gangbangers he brought with him.

Angelica notices that one of the guys, not one of the two that came with Tony to the original meeting, is looking a bit nervous.

She points at him accusingly and says, “You told her!”

“Who the fuck is this?” the guy asks incredulously as all eyes turn to him.

“You told her, didn’t you?” She continues, relentless. “Yeah, he told her.”

“I didn’t tell anybody shit,” the guy says.

Dillon looks at Tony and says, “Look, I’ve known a lot and I’ve got ways of finding stuff out. She’s one of my ways. He ratted us out.”

“She’s in the garden,” Angelica says.

The other guys are staring at the singled out guy.

Dillon continues. “You need to at least bind him up because he’s going to turn on us when this goes down. He’s looking to jump ahead, I think. I don’t expect you to do anything drastic just based on my word, but he definitely needs to be wrangled.”

Angelica continues to watch the spirits. Yuriko watches the gardens. Dillon watches Dragon Tony, who watches the possible traitor in his midst.

Dragon Tony takes the gun out of the guy’s waistband. Dillon goes up to him and asks. “Is it just her or did she bring others? What kind of ambush is waiting?”

“I don’t even know what you people are talking about,” the guy insists.

Everyone begins to hear a steady drumbeat echoing off the partitions of the gardens. It’s a steady DOOM-DOOM-DOOM-DOOM-DOOM-DOOM.

Angelica points out that necromancers use drums to control the undead.

Dillon sends Yuriko ahead to get that drum. Weapons are checked and Dragon Tony is given a barbed bat.

“Now listen, I know it’s going to sound crazy, but listen. When her head separates from her body, and begins floating, use that bat on her entrails. Don’t freeze up when you see it, I have prepared you.”

“And that’s not the weirdest thing you’ll see tonight,” Angelica says wryly.

Yuriko finds a place to strip down and changes into fox-form and stealths in to find the drummer. The suspected gangbanger takes off running down the street. Dragon Tony lets him go. Everyone else enters the dark, shadowy gardens. Dillon takes the lead as he can see where he is going. Sabrina has a flashlight as well.

“Have you seen the critters that she uses,” Dillon asks Tony.

“No. I’ve heard rumors,” Tony says.

DOOM-DOOM-DOOM-DOOM-DOOM

“If a woman in a gray cloak and a sword shows up, she’s on our side,” Dillon says. “So don’t shoot her. She’s here to help. She’s running late.”

Yuriko rounds a corner and hears the crunch of footsteps over the DOOM-DOOM-DOOM of the drum. She looks up to see three shambling forms coming toward her. She skitters to a halt and turns and runs back toward the group.

Dillon rounds a corner and sees Yuriko running towards him and three shambling forms coming their way in the darkness. “Angelica, I think we need that light now,” he says.

Angelica draws upon her energy and lights up the area with her magic.

As the zombies shamble forward, Angelica remembers that taking the drum will make the creatures act unpredictably. The better way would be to cut off their magic with either running water or a magic circle. Unfortunately, there is only standing water nearby where she is in the garden and he zombies are moving too fast to move the into an area with running water. They can be hurt with enough brute force, however, if enough can be dealt out.

Angelica speculates on the possibility of creating a magic circle around the entire group so that she can cut off the magic animating the corpses.

The zombies close in and attack Nick and two of the gangbangers, missing them. Nick shoots a bolt of force into one of the zombies. Tony takes a shot at zombies with his gun, but misses. The gangbangers each take their shots, missing the zombies. Angelica creates a circle in the earth of the garden. She then closes the circle. The zombies then fall the ground, inert.

Meanwhile, Yuriko is heading for the drummer. She passes over some wooden bridges, some ponds, a waterfall. She sees a shadowy form standing atop a flat-topped structure at the back of the garden. The structure looks like a tea-room. The figure has a hand-held drum that looks like this:

pellet_drum-745290.jpg

She sees no way onto the roof that a fox to use to get up there very quietly. She approaches the tearoom quietly and suddenly the drumming stops.

Dillon and the others hear the drumming stop. As they make their way through the maze-like garden, they finally find themselves at the rear of the garden. They are facing a two-story, flat-topped structure that looks like a tearoom. Standing atop the structure is a shadowy figure.

Dillon tells Angelica to “Light it up.” Angelica gathers up her energy and casts her light spell, lighting up the area. They see a shrouded figure standing atop the structure and Yuriko at the base of the structure, looking surprised (for a fox).

“I guess Tony’s boys need to invite her down with some bullets,” Dillon says.

“Necromancer, your time is done,” Angelica calls out.

Tony and the boys all fire at her and it doesn’t seem to have much effect—it seems like one or two bullets get through, but not a lot.

Yuriko manages to leap onto the roof.

The figure cocks its head, and then the head pulls up, the hood pulls back, and the head detaches from the creature’s neck, pulling its entrails up from its body. The head is that of an otherwise beautiful Asian woman. Fangs grow out from its teeth and the tongue elongates. The head floats slowly down toward the group, the entrails whipping about as it flies.

Lau Hu and Yuriko are frightened by the horrible display of the creature.

Nick moves forward with a bat to engage with the creature, but misses. Angelica moves forward with a bat as well, but misses. Dillon tries to swing a bat at her as well, but it doesn’t affect her. Sabrina swings at her, but misses. Lau Hu changes into a tiger, ripping his clothing from his body. He attacks, but misses.

Yuriko shifts into her human form and runs over and attempts to push the headless body off the roof. It resists her, but Yuriko manages to push it off the roof. It drops the drum as it goes. The head’s fangs attack Dragon Tony, but he manages to hold her at bay as the entrails whip about. Nick hits her with a bat, but it seems to have no affect on her. The boys fire on her with limited affect. Angelica swings at her, with no effect. Dillon swings on her entrails and misses. Sabrina swings and managed to do a bit of damage. Lau Hu misses again.

Yuriko tries to find a way into the tearoom. She finds a trapdoor leading inside. Then the Jade vampire sinks her fangs into Dragon Tony. A spray of blood covers the area. She lets him go, but his scream echoes in throughout the garden. NIck misses again. The boys shoot at her again and do a bit of damage. Tony swings at her and misses. Angelica steps in front of Tony and activates her force-field ring. A shimmering field of force erupts in front of them. Dillon swings on her and damages her. Sabrina gets a good punch in. Lau Hu scratches the vampire across her face.

Yuriko searches the tearoom for cooking oil and matches. She finds some and rushes out to find the body. Meanwhile, the head shakes in the air and the cut that Lau Hu previously inflicted begins to close. She then attacks Angelica with her fangs, penetrating the force field biting the necromancer. The boys inflict a gaping gunshot wound on the head. Nick misses again. Dillon misses her. Sabrina manages to do some damage, causing her entrails to bleed. Lau Hu attacks viciously and brings the head to the ground, killing it.

Tony holds his neck. “What the fuck was that?”

“That, my friend, was a Jade Court vampire,” Dillon says.

Angelica staunches the bleeding on Tony’s wound, but he’s going to need hospital care. Dillon asks Angelica to confirm that the zombies are not going to get up again, that they are just dead bodies now. She confirms that this is the case.

Meanwhile, Yuriko covers the body in cooking oil and sets it on fire. She then changes into fox-form and catches back up with the others.

Dillon tosses the head onto the burning body. Yuriko brings the drum over to Dillon. Dillon puts his foot through it.

Yuriko goes and sits next to Lau Hu, who is still in tiger form.

Dillon says that they better get out there before the cops show up—there was a lot of gunfire and there is a burning body.

Yuriko runs over to her clothes and quickly begins to change. Lau Hu’s clothes are shredded. Angelica goes over to the gangbangers and observes that one of them has a duster on. Angelica asks to borrow it. They just look at each other until Dragon Tony snaps his fingers and the gangbanger gives up his coat to the ectomancer. She drapes it over Lau Hu who trots off to change.

Dillon shakes Dragon Tony’s hand. “Good luck to you. I don’t know what this means for you and her brother.”

“I’m not sure either,” Tony says.

“Well, keep me informed,” Dillon says.

“And if the brother is also practicing dark arts, that would be nice to know,” Angelica says.

“Yeah, do you have any idea about that?” Dillon asks.

“I haven’t heard anything along those lines,” Tony says.

Angelica rubs out her magic circle.

Everyone starts to hear distant sirens. As everyone is loading into cars, they see Warden Capstone hustling toward them.

Dillon throws open a car door and says, sarcastically, “Well hop in, Warden, we’re done here. Unless you want to explain things to the coppers.”

“Meet back at the old church,” Angelica says. “We’ll drive there. If there’s any debriefing that needs to happen, it can happen there.”

“Okay,” Capstone says.

“Fine,” Dillon says, clearly surly.

They all head to the Church of St. John the Revelator. Once there, Dillon continues to needle the Warden about why she wasn’t there.

“I was meeting with the White Council concerning Mr. Lonnie Chien,” Capstone says.

“Was that the necro-minion?” Dillon asks.

“Yes, the necro-minion. And about Sullivan McCrane,” Capstone says.

“The necro-minion. Did that give us anything new?” Dillon asks.

“He didn’t have a lot of information,” Capstone says. “Other than what you had gleaned from him previously.”

“So as far as we know, she was it?” Dillon says.

“As far as we know,” Capstone says.

“I was hoping to actually get in,” Angelica says, “She still has a page from the book, but I don’t know what was on it. Or if anyone else was going to be able to do anything with it.”

“I don’t know. Let’s keep in touch with Dragon Tony,” Dillon says. “Maybe he’s going to go for a full coup. He’s involved in a situation now. He just took her down. One of his henchmen ran off to report it. Maybe there’s going to be a power struggle and if he comes out on top, maybe we can go in there and snoop around.”

“It’d be good to know. If she had that, maybe she had other artifacts,” Angelica says. “I don’t know if what was on that page led her to the church or what. Alright. It was good working with you. I’m glad it was resolved. Let me know if there is any chance of anything getting reclaimed.”

“Alright,” Dillon says.

Angelica shakes everyone’s hand and she and Lau Hu take their leave.

“What about Sullivan? Is that on the up-and-up?” Dillon asks.

Capstone sighs.

“I didn’t think so,” Dillon says.

“The lycanthrope did kill a man in New Orleans. He was wanted by the Wardens. But his approach was questionable. He should have consulted me upon coming into Portland. He was reprimanded by the Regional Commander for his behavior and conduct.”

“We have evidence that he was guilty? It just seems weird…” Dillon asks.

“He was a fugitive of both the Wardens and mortal authorities,” Capstone says.

“Well, is that situation resolved?” Dillon asks.

“Yes, the lycanthrope was apprehended by Portland State Police,” Capstone says.

Good. That means a real trial. Dillon says under his breath.

“Whether or not they’ll be able to hold him once his…” Capstone begins.

“They get that powerful?” Dillon asks.

“They can, once the rage hits them during the moon phases,” Capstone says.

“Like enough to break bars?” Dillon asks.

“Some, depending on where they’re being held,” Capstone says.

“I’m assuming he’s being extradited back to New Orleans, then,” Yuriko says.

“Yes,” Capstone says.

“Alright, since you missed the fight, can you use whatever influence you have with the police department to make sure no forensics evidence come back to us?” Dillon asks. “There’s basically a decapitated body set on fire. We look pretty sick. No body going to believe the head came off and the entrails popped out. They’re just going to want to know what we did to this poor woman. What a bunch of freaks.”

“I’ll contact the White Council and get our people on it,” Capstone says.

“I would appreciate that. I don’t want to go to jail,” Dillon says.

“There’s a mess. There’s blood, bullets, goo, all kinds of things,” Yuriko says.

“No, we’ll do what we can to minimize things,” Capstone says. “So, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll go ahead and get started on that.”

And with that, the Warden leaves.

Yuriko sidles up to Nick. “So, do you think your friend still going to be at your house?”

Dillon calls Big Jim Butler. “I know it’s late but I thought you’d like to know. The information on the paper’s good. But, you can just add to it that they are pretty damn tough. And, I guess that leaves a situation in the Tongs since she was the head of their organization.”

“Was?” Butler says.

“Yeah, was. The information was good. We did what we had to do.” Dillon says.

“I see,” Butler says.

“But that still leaves her brother. But Dragon Tony, one of their lieutenants, is kind of on the outs, since he helped us get at her, since he was in over his head. That’s the information I’ve got. I don’t know how you can use it to your advantage or if it is just good to know,” Dillon says.

“This is good information. It is much appreciated,” Butler says.

“Oh your help is much appreciated. I look forward to being able to call on you again in the future,” Dillon says. “Goodnight, sir.”

Yuriko suggests that they should probably destroy the barbed gloves that they used to fight the vampire with. Dillon says that he can throw them in a hobo fire bin when he and Sabrina go out to “dinner” this evening.

Dillon calls Reverend Buxman and lets him know that its safe to come home and that the necromancer is dead and was a Jade Court vampire. He says that he does not celebrate the death of another, but is glad that “the object” will be safe.

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