The Dresden Files: Portland

Side Job: Kristallnacht (Part Four)

Karkana Chronicles: Twenty

September 16, 2013 (Monday)

Loomis calls Brianna to let her know that he’s finished his investigation of the Baroness and is going to present his findings to the group at Ezekiel’s farmhouse. Brianna says that she and Joey will come up to Seattle to hear him out.

She and Joey make the drive back up to Seattle and meet with the group that evening for a “War Council.” Deandra and Dexter are there as well.

Loomis lays out his findings. He unravels a street map of Seattle on the dining room table. “She travels in a motorcade of three: an Escalade, her limo, and then another Escalade. The limo contains a driver, a woman who I assume to be her, based on my surveillance, two bodyguards…”

“The two observed at the club?” Brianna asks.

“They’re definitely heavy muscle,” Loomis replies. “And another gentleman. He looked familiar, but I couldn’t quite place him.”

“He looked familiar to you?” Brianna asks. “Anyone you’ve seen working around?”

“I couldn’t place him,” Loomis repeats.

“It wasn’t the crazy guy we saw at the Margrave’s was it?” Brianna muses. “The guy we found in the basement? Magic user?”

“If it is, he cleans up real good.”

“Any idea who’s in the Escalades?” Brianna asks.

Loomis shakes his head. “Five people in each,” he says.

“Geez.” Brianna says.

“My guess? Probably members of the Court,” Loomis says.

“She’s not fucking around, is she?” Brianna comments. “That’s a lot of people.”

Loomis traces a finger along the map. “Based on the route, she comes down from Queen Anne, down to Pike. Probably the most vulnerable point is where the entourage turns off of 5th street. There’s a stop light there and that’s the easiest point where the entourage could be separated if enough of a lever was brought to bear.”

“Well, I guess we need to talk about whether we can bring enough leverage to separate her from the rest of the caravan. I don’t think going up against her bodyguards and the contents of two SUVs is going to be an easy task,” Brianna says.

“No,” Loomis agrees.

“Then there’s trying to do that much battle in a public street.”

“If we wanted to do it with the least amount of public reaction, it would be on the way back, closer to dawn,” Loomis says.

“She takes the same route back? Is that what you said?” Brianna asks.

“Yeah.”

“What buildings are around there?” Brianna asks, pointing to the area on the map.

“Some apartment buildings, some businesses. It’s primarily a business district.”

“Newer model Escalades?” Brianna asks.

“Yes,” Loomis confirms.

Brianna looks at Ezekiel. “Could you hex them?”

“Probably.” .

“If we can take out the two Escalades, what are the chances that she tries to make a break with the limo?” Brianna asks the group.

Ezekiel says, “I imagine if we’re doing this closer to dawn, she’s going to want to get to her home as quickly as possible.”

“Right, she’s not going to want to get caught outside. I’m trying to talk out any scenario in which she would voluntarily leave the two Escalades behind. I don’t really see us somehow taking the car over, leaping into it at a stop light and driving away. And if we incapacitate all three vehicles, chances are they would all pile out and we would see a damn big fight.” Brianna asks, “Has there been any more information on her since we last were here? Has she made a move against anyone?”

“No,” Loomis says, “But the Red Court in general has been very active.”

“Well, if that’s where we hit the Escalades, we need to figure out where the best place to encounter the Baroness by herself is,” Brianna says. “Is this the best location for a fight or where their group is the weakest?”

“Where their group is the weakest,” Loomis clarifies. “She’s going to be guarded for a while, so if we can catch her anywhere on the route, one’s as good as another.”

“So then, if one our group uses magic to hex the Escalades, he or she will have to move pretty damn quickly—or they could be left out of the battle,” Brianna says. “Unless they can do some sort of EMP hex from a distance.”

“That’ll also catch her,” Ezekiel says.

“Where do they park when they get to the club?” Brianna asks. “Is it in a controlled area?”

“It’s in a controlled, valet parking area,” Loomis says.

“The only other thing I can think of is planting something on them,” Brianna says.

“It’s not like a bomb,” Ezekiel tells her.

“So, someone is going to get left behind, then,” Brianna says. “Our group is not that big, I hate to split our forces like that when the big fight goes down.”

Deandra says, “I can hex the Escalades with the vampires in them, what you do with the limo with the Baroness inside, I can neither confirm nor deny.”

“Okay. Well, unless anyone has any big objections to that?” Brianna says.

No one objects.

Brianna confirms that Dexter is not bringing any of his pack-mates with him this time around.

“Well, once she gets far enough away from the rest of the group, then we hit her. Ezekiel can hex the limo. Or we do it in an old fashioned way—put cars in her path so she can’t get by,” Brianna thinks for a moment. “Will hexing make you less able to fight later?” she asks Ezekiel.

“It is mentally taxing. If it’s purposeful,” he says.

She asks Loomis if he can get a hold of any of those tire spikes that cops use to make a roadblock. He says that he can probably do that.

“What does everyone think of the plan so far?” Brianna asks.

“Now that you mention it, it probably was that guy from the basement cleaned up real good,” Loomis says, his face scrunched up in thought.

“Well, we know he’s some sort of sorcerous character. Ezekiel, you saw the kind of wards that were up around the Margrave’s place. Can you tell if he’s actually a wizard gone crazy or just some other sort of spellcaster?” Brianna asks.

“It’s hard to say,” Ezekiel says. “If he did the wards, then he’s probably a sorcerer.”

“Well, sorcerer not withstanding, there’s some very powerful people in that car,” Brianna says. “I think we need something to level the playing field a bit.”

“So,” she continues, “We hex the Escalades, and the limo continues down the street until it reaches here,” she indicates a place on the map selected to be a good choke-point, “where it hits the tire spikes. Four people jump out, including two ghouls, a Red Court noble, and, perhaps, a sorcerer. If they are ghouls, is there anything they are more sensitive to than brute force?”

Ezekiel says, “They’re affected by holy water. They’re not very bright.”

“Do we have access to such things?” Brianna shrugs, “I’m not church-going folk myself.”

Ezekiel nods, “I can probably get some.”

“It seems like that might help,” Brianna says. “Anyone have any ideas on how to incapacitate Crazy Wizard or Sorcerer? He just seemed broken last time we saw him.”

Ezekiel says, “As far as taking out the sorcerer, I can concentrate on him.”

“That was going to be my next question, who’s going to get who—assuming we get the luxury of being able to decide,” Brianna says. She volunteers to go after the Baroness.

“Then I have your back,” Joey says.

“It may not be that we get to choose,” Brianna says, “But I want Joey to have a lot of access to holy water, thank you.”

Dexter growls, “Then I’ll take a ghoul.”

“I’ll do the same,” Loomis says.

“I assume you gentlemen will be going in animal form,” Brianna says. Both men nod. “You may have to throw your holy water and then shift. We’ll also need our vehicles stashed somewhere in case things go crappy.”

“We can stash them on a side street,” Loomis says.

“When are we going to do this?” Dexter asks.

“Assuming Loomis can get the tire spikes and Ezekiel can get the holy water, I don’t see any reason to wait. It’s Monday. She does this routine on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, so I don’t think it matters what day. In general, as far as nightlife goes, Sunday may be quieter. It will give her a couple of days of feeling safe,” Brianna says.

“So Sunday then?” Loomis asks.

“Yes,” Brianna says. “Should we come up the night before or just that day?”

“I think everything is pretty straightforward,” Ezekiel says.

“Okay, I’ll come that day,” Brianna says.

The meeting disbands soon thereafter and Brianna and Joey drive back to Portland.

September 22, 2013 (Sunday)

Brianna and Joey head back up to Seattle. Brianna texts Loomis to have Kevlar available for Joey.

Everyone gathers at Ezekiel’s farmhouse. The mood is grim, although Loomis greets Brianna warmly. He has also brought the Kevlar and the tire spikes. Ezekiel has a milk crate with 15 ampules of holy water.

Brianna brings up the fact that Deandra doesn’t have a cell phone, so they need to get the timing right on this “caper” to make it go off without a hitch. So a timetable is worked out.

The ampules are distributed around to everyone who needs them and everyone (except Deandra) loads up into Ezekiel’s panel wagon to head into the city.

Ezekiel parks on a side street near 5th and everyone waits, watching the time, waiting for the appointed hour of attack. Brianna takes the time to stretch and prepare for the fight. A limo is suddenly seen speeding down 5th street. As everyone starts to pile out of the vehicle, Brianna tells Loomis “Good luck,” and gives him a passionate kiss.

With a loud noise, the car hits the tire spikes and is crippled by four blowouts. The car skids to a halt.

Brianna moves in, with Joey close behind with the milk crate. Loomis, Dexter, and Ezekiel move in as well, the two weres on either side of the vehicle.

The driver gets out of the car and reaches into his jacket. Brianna moves forward with blinding speed toward the man. She grabs his hand before it can close on the gun in the shoulder-holster beneath his jacket.

“You get out of here,” Brianna growls at the man, taking his gun.

“But the Mistress…” the man says, plaintively.

“Then you just sit down here and stay out of trouble,” Brianna says. She drags him away from the car. He resists, but cannot put up much resistance against Brianna’s preternatural strength.

“But the Mistress, the Mistress!” he cries as he’s being dragged away.

The two back doors of the limo open and two large individuals emerge. One is a man, the other is a woman, but they are both dressed in identical black slacks and black polo shirts. They shut the doors.

“Vaht do ve have here?” the large man says.

“Exactly what it looks like, asshole” Brianna retorts.

Two vials of holy water fly through the air. One hits the ground near the large man’s feet. The other hits the woman square in the chest. She screams in pain as the water begins to burn her. She transform into a strange hyena/jackal-like creature with long arms and sharp claws and teeth—a ghoul.

Brianna shoves the driver away and offers the gun to Joey, who takes it. She rushes forward to meet the large man.

Brianna goes to touch the large man and feed, but misses. Dexter springs into action, transforming and leaping into the fray, scoring a gaping belly wound on the man. The man takes a swipe at Dexter but misses. The woman takes a swipe at Loomis, but misses. Joey hucks another ampule of holy water at the woman and scores another burning hit. Loomis lumbers in and misses.

Brianna goes into to feed again, connecting with the man and driving him into crazed anger, before killing him. Dexter moves toward the other ghoul and strikes her. The ghoul then turns her attention to Dexter and attacks him, but to no avail—he nimbly jumps out of the way. Joey attempts to unleash more holy water on the ghoul but misses. Loomis misses the ghoul once again.

Brianna goes to the limo and attempts to open the door. It is locked. She tries to yank it open using her preternatural strength; it creaks and moans, but she fails. Dexter takes another swipe at the ghoul, but misses. The ghoul then attacks Dexter and opens up his belly. Joey throws more holy water and misses his target. Loomis mauls the ghoul, breaking her jaw.

Up through the sunroof of the limo pops a man in an expensive suit. It’s the sorcerer from beneath the Margrave’s mansion, but with his beard and hair neatly cut. He makes a gesture and suddenly the whole area is engulfed in a whirlwind. Joey and the ghoul are both knocked to the ground. The man laughs maniacally from the top of the car.

Brianna jumps onto the car, grabs the sorcerer, and attempts to pull him from the car, but fails to heave him out of the sunroof. Meanwhile, Dexter attacks and kills the other ghoul with a vicious bite. The sorcerer continues to laugh at Brianna, who’s in his face, and then he says, “Fuego!” A fireball erupts around Brianna and she barely manages to move out of the way. Her eyebrows are singed, but she loses her grip on the sorcerer.

Brianna, angry now, rushes the sorcerer again, grabs him, and tries to haul him out of the car. This time she manages to throw him to the ground. Joey picks himself up off the ground, as does the sorcerer. Ezekiel then emerges from the nearby alley and gestures towards the sorcerer. Suddenly the maniac is bound by bands of air. The spell seems to taken its toll on Ezekiel, however; he sags in fatigue.

Brianna drops off of the car onto the driver’s side and tries the driver’s door—it’s unlocked. She uses the door panel control to unlock the other doors of the car. Dexter approaches Brianna, looking a bit worn. There is a loud CLICK as the locks re-engage from the back seat of the car. The others seem to be waiting for Brianna to make a move.

Brianna hops back up to the top of the car and quickly drops in through the sunroof. As she drops down, a ball of saliva barely misses her as she lands in the seat of the car facing the Baroness. Brianna throws her ampule of holy water and the Baroness dodges it, her motions a blur. It smashes against the interior of the car. The Baroness hisses and Brianna hisses in return. Then the Baroness utters something in Spanish and makes a sweeping motion with her hand. Brianna feels supernatural force blow by her, but she manages to avoid the power. Brianna moves in to try and touch and feed on the Red Court noblewoman, but misses her. Then the Baroness attempts to strike Brianna and misses her. Brianna manages to touch the vampire and begins to feed, driving her into a rage. In her rage, she scratches away her flesh mask and her beastly aspects are now visible.

The newly bestial Baroness claws at Brianna and scratches her deep across the face. Brianna attempts to feed again, but misses touching the Baroness. The Red Court noble then claws Brianna again. Brianna finally connects again with the Baroness and tries to feed, but the Baroness manages to mentally fend her off. The Baroness claws at Brianna again, opening up a serious belly wound on her. Brianna tries to hit the Baroness again and misses her. The Baroness claws at Brianna—but misses. Brianna then tries to hit and feed on the Baroness again—she scores a hit and begins to feed. The Baroness becomes crazed with rage, thrashing about the interior of the car. She misses hitting Brianna by a narrow margin. Brianna grabs a hold of her and feeds again—making the vampire more enraged. The Baroness lashes out at Brianna and misses. Brianna reaches out to touch her again and feeds, but fails to take her out. The Baroness shudders and seems to regain some of her composure and attacks again. She connects with Brianna, opening up a severe bloody wound on her. Brianna goes in to feed again and finally succeeds—killing the Baroness by feeding on her life force. Brianna is able to heal herself to some extent, though she still has major injuries.

When the door to the limo opens, a very battered Brianna falls out. Joey and Loomis rush forward to check on her. “What the hell was going on? Where was everyone else?” she asks, breathlessly. Brianna’s expression twists in a mix of satisfaction and pain as she nods towards the limo and adds, “Got her.”

“Sorry, we couldn’t get in the car,” Joey says.

“How long did that take?”

“Minutes,” Loomis says.

“Ouch,” Brianna moans softly, holding her bloody abdomen as she slowly stands up with help from Loomis and Joey. “So, where do we go from here? We’ve got a dead vampire and we’ve got two dead ghouls. We don’t have a crew to take care of this. Do we throw them in the panel van or what?”

Brianna looks around; apparently the driver has run off. Ezekiel is still holding the sorcerer. Brianna asks Ezekiel if he has anybody that can take care of these bodies.

Loomis goes to the panel wagon to collect his clothes and then gathers up his tire spikes. Brianna starts to blush, just now realizing that he’s been naked all this time.

“Deandra’s going to meet us,” Ezekiel says. “She’s going to turn him over to the White Council as a sorcerer. As far as the rest, the White Council will take care of it.”

“Just walk away?” Brianna asks.

“Just walk away,” Ezekiel confirms.

The holy water that Joey was carrying is still intact despite the whirlwind he was caught up in—the milk crate seemed to protect the ampules. Everyone limps back to the van and heads back to Ezekiel’s farmhouse.

September 23, 2013 (Monday, early morning)

Ezekiel has a first aid kit that Brianna and Dexter can avail themselves of and Brianna takes a shower. By this time, the sun is starting to come up. Dexter leaves to get medical attention and Joey helps Brianna dress her wounds.

“She was a practitioner of some sort. I don’t know if she was a necromancer, but she tried to hit me with some kind of force,” Brianna tells Ezekiel after she joins everyone in the kitchen.

“Then we were lucky you had her confined to the car,” Ezekiel says.

“Yeah,” Brianna agrees. “It didn’t go horribly south.”

“Now we wait and see what happens,” Ezekiel says.

“Just keep us posted,” Brianna says.

Loomis takes Brianna aside and says quietly, “I’m glad you’re alright.”

“Me too.”

“I’m sorry we couldn’t get to you in there.”

“Next time, tell me not to go jumping into a confined space with a crazed vampire. Or not. I probably wouldn’t listen to you anyway,” Brianna smiles wryly. She lays a hand along his cheek. “I’m glad you’re alright. I wasn’t sure how that was going to go.”

“If you do a housewarming party for your new place, let me know,” Brianna says, changing the subject.

“I’m a guy; I don’t do housewarmings,” Loomis says, smiling.

“It was my subtle way of inviting myself to your place at some point,” Brianna grins.

“Ah,” Loomis says. “Alright then.”

Brianna shakes Ezekiel’s hand, gives Loomis a kiss, and she and Joey head back to Portland.

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