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. There is also a very Goth-looking young woman who is 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,” as if she’s already had this conversation a thousand times before, but he cuts her off.
“I’m serious. All times.” Ezekiel’s voice is deadly serious.
“Okay,” Angelique says, subdued, and puts it on.
Ezekiel addresses the group, “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. The other weeknights, she spends at home and has food brought to her from various points in the city.” Brianna looks disgusted at this.
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 near enough to also be an extraction team,” Brianna asks.
“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 is just going to go in, talk to the Baroness, see what she can see, and then get out, yes?” Brianna asks.
“That’s the plan.”
“And we’re just going to see through her eyes with this necklace? We’re not leaving anything behind?” Brianna clarifies once more.
“Right. 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.” .
“We have a basic layout of the public areas, but not the private areas. Angelique will be in the private areas,” Ezekiel says.
“Then you’ll have to describe what you’re seeing when it comes to that,” Brianna tells him.
They 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.
The convoy goes lurching into the city. Dexter parks the van on one of the side streets and Ezekiel clears everyone from the magic circle. He places a piece of jade at the circle’s center. Dexter gives Brianna clear instructions on how to get to the club from here. Ezekiel sits in the circle and runs his hand over the circle, closing it with an effort of will. Everyone feels the ripple of energy that closes as he does so. Ezekiel places his hand on the jade and begins to murmur to himself; it sounds like a Native American chant.
Ezekiel, still touching the jade, says, “She’s inside. There’s a crowd of people. People are lounging. Dancing. She’s going to the VIP concierge. She’s asking to be let in. She’s gotten on a list. She’s going to the bar to buy a drink. She’s waiting until they come to fetch her.”
No one interrupts Ezekiel as he makes his recitation, then they wait quietly for Ezekiel to report more. It seems like forever, but finally he says, “They’ve come for her.”
“She’s in. I see her. The Baroness. She has two bodyguards. They look large. I bet they’re not human. The Baroness, she has long, brown hair, up, long neck, beautiful. Spanish features. Classically beautiful. I’d recognize her if I saw her again. Angelique is talking. The Baroness is asking questions. Angelique is answering them. The Baroness seems pleased. The Baroness gives her permission to continue her operation and dismisses her. Angelique is making her way out. Everything seems fine.”
Ezekiel frowns suddenly at something no one else can see. “The Baroness stops her. The Baroness asks her who sent her. Angelique says that no one sent her, that she needed to ask her questions. The Baroness says that something is going on, that someone is watching her. Angelique says that she doesn’t know anything about that. That she just came to ask her questions and that she got her answers and that she is fine to leave. The Baroness is raising her hand and says ‘You may go.’ Angelique is making her way out.”
The tension in the panel wagon is palpable.
“Angelique is quickly making her way through the bar. She’s in her car. She’s driving.” Ezekiel lets go of the jade.
“In the end, was Angelique able to fool her? Or did the Baroness not believe her story but let her go anyway?” Brianna asks.
“I believe Angelique was able to talk her into letting her go,” Ezekiel says.
“Well, let’s go back, let’s not be in this alley,” Brianna says.
Dexter starts up the panel wagon and they drive back to Ezekiel’s farmhouse.
As they pull up toward the farmhouse, Brianna notices another car parked in the weeds near the house, partly hidden. Brianna tells Dexter to call and tell Angelique to stay in her car until they get there.
As they pass, the car just sits there. The panel wagon pulls up to the house and Ezekiel volunteers to get Angelique inside. Brianna, Joey, Dexter, and Loomis decide to go check out the car. After a brief discussion involving each of their relative stealth abilities, they agree to let Dexter take point. Loomis and Dexter begin to shuck out of their clothes and Brianna averts her eyes. The men each take on their bear and wolf forms, respectively, then they all start stealthily heading out to the car.
As Brianna approaches the car, she can see that there are two figures in the car watching Ezekiel’s house. Neither figure looks familiar. She also does not see Loomis or Dexter.
Brianna heads up to the driver’s side door and flings it open. She grabs the man inside and pulls him out. “Hey, fucker. This is private property. Mind telling me what you’re doing here?” she says as she pushes him against the side of the car.
“We’re just lookin’!” he protests.
Brianna thumps him up against the car, hard.
“I don’t think that was quite the correct answer. Let’s try that again,” Brianna says.
The guy in the passenger seat gets out of the car. Brianna snarls at him. “Don’t you get any bright ideas.” He backs off.
Loomis, in bear form, comes bounding out of the shadows, swiping at the guy from passenger seat, but misses him. Both figures from the car are clearly moving at preternatural speed.
“Look, you’ve made my friend angry. If he’s angry, he might eat your fucking head. Who sent you? Why are you looking at this house? Tell me!” Brianna demands.
“The Baroness sent us to watch the girl!” the man stammers.
“What girl?” Brianna says.
“The drug dealer,” the man says. “See where she went.”
Brianna starts patting the man down for a wallet. She finds one and discovers an ID. “Hello, Allen. And where are you going to tell the Baroness that the girl went? Think carefully, I now have your home address.”
“You don’t have nothing on her,” Allen says.
“You’d be surprised,” Brianna says. Loomis has been holding the other man at bay. Brianna walks over to the other man and collects his ID. His name is Titus.
“What, exactly, is the Baroness to you?” Brianna asks them.
“She is our mistress,” Allen says.
“Are you just her lackeys? Does she send you to do her dirty work?” Brianna asks.
The two men say nothing.
“Now, the question is what to do with the two of you,” Brianna muses out loud.
Suddenly, bounding out of the shadows, is Dexter Quinn in wolf form. He bites Allen, who vamps out as his flesh mask is torn away.
Brianna punches Allen in the stomach, bruising him. Dexter bites again, but misses. Titus claws at Dexter, scoring a hit. Loomis attacks Titus, scoring a hit. Joey misses Allen.
Brianna hits Allen again. Dexter bites again, scoring a hit. Allen misses Dexter and Titus misses Loomis. Joey manages to hit Allen, but scores no damage. Loomis misses Titus.
Brianna grabs a hold of Allen and begins to feed. The Red Court vampire becomes enraged and starts thrashing about in Brianna’s grip. Dexter bites Titus and opens an artery. Titus attacks and hits Loomis, who isn’t doing well. Allen manages to break Brianna’s grip on him and attacks Dexter. Joey attacks and misses. Loomis attacks and misses.
Brianna reaches out and touches Allen and feeds again. She pours all she has into her feeding and manages to break him mentally and kills him. Dexter attacks Titus and misses. Titus attacks Loomis and misses. Joey attacks Titus and misses. Loomis attacks Titus and hits.
Brianna moves to Titus and hits him with the intent to feed. She scores a hit, snarls and begins feeding. The vampire begins to go berserk with rage. Dexter attacks and misses. Titus, still berserk, attacks Brianna and claws her mightily. Joey attacks and misses. Loomis attacks and hits hard, finally taking the vampire out.
Brianna and Joey stand there panting as Dexter and Loomis spit out vampire flesh.
“Well, I guess the Baroness will know something is up when her goons don’t come back, but at least she can’t point the finger at Ezekiel,” Brianna says. “We have a car and bodies that will probably dissipate upon sunlight. I guess we can head back and decide what to do with them.”
Brianna tosses the vampire bodies into the trunk of the car. Then they head back to the farmhouse. Once there, Loomis and Dexter shift back into human form and get back into their clothes. Brianna reports to Ezekiel what happened.
“Well, it’s a good news, bad news situation. The bad news is they were the Baroness’, sent to follow Angelique to see where she went. The good news is they won’t be reporting back.”
Ezekiel raises his eyebrows at that pronouncement.
Dexter says, “I made an executive decision.”
Brianna just shrugs. “The Baroness was going to be suspicious either way. This way she’s suspicious but doesn’t know where they went,” Brianna adds, “I have a set of keys and two driver’s licenses I don’t want to keep forever, so we need to figure out what to do from here. If we’re going to do something with the car and the bodies, doing something more quickly than not would be good. I don’t know where you have your magical ‘dispose of Red Court bodies’ pile. Who you call when you have Red Court lying around.”
“The White Council sometimes has teams that take care of these things,” Ezekiel says.
“Do you have a team? Is this something that you can get worked out tonight?” Brianna asks.
“This is something I can get worked out,” Ezekiel says. Brianna gives him the keys and the IDs.
“So, she clearly was suspicious, but not enough to stop Angelique. She wanted to follow Angelique home,” Brianna comments.
Brianna discusses the possibility of Ezekiel and Angelique putting their impressions together to come up with a sketch of the Baroness as they are the only two to have seen her.
Ezekiel speculates that the Baroness has probably employed ghouls as her bodyguards.
Brianna and Ezekiel both agree that they still don’t have enough information for a “War Council.” They want to bring in the Warden for it and will also need reconnaissance of the Baroness’ grounds. “We probably want to know more going in, or we’ll pay the price for it,” Brianna says.
“Roy did,” Dexter brings up. “But we knew that going in.”
Brianna also wants to know ahead of time if the Baroness is a necromancer. Ezekiel points out that it would be awful hard to find out.
“How much of this do you want to do if you don’t have the backing of the Warden?” Brianna asks Ezekiel.
“We could use her help,” Ezekiel points out.
“True,” Brianna says. “And I have more of a chance of the backing of my House if this is a White Council-approved event. Not that it’s going to dissuade me one way or the other. But it’s nice to know if things don’t go smoothly, I’ll have some support from my family.”
“I’m willing to do this with or without Deandra’s support, but it would be nice to have it,” Ezekiel says.
“Then I guess our next plan of action is to see if she wants to be part of it,” Brianna says. “I don’t if she wants us to go to her with a full-fledged plan, or if we’re going to just sit around the kitchen table and hash something out.”
“I’ll give her a call,” Ezekiel says and heads into another room.
Brianna drags her duffle into the bathroom and gets cleaned up. When she returns, Ezekiel announces that the Warden is on her way.
Brianna turns to Joey and says, “I’ll try not to call her ‘douche-canoe’ to her face.”
“That’s your name for her, not mine,” Joey says.
After a while, a large truck—about the size of a moving van—pulls up to where the Red Court vampires’ car is parked. Ezekiel takes the keys and IDs out to the truck and speaks with the driver. After a short while, the car is loaded up and hauled away.
Soon after that, Deandra Charles arrives.
Deandra comes in and acknowledges everyone. She looks at Joey, then looks at Brianna. “Business partner?” Brianna nods. She introduces herself and shakes the big man’s hand.
“Ezekiel let me know what happened tonight at the club, as well as subsequent events,” she says.
“I take it your evening was also eventful?” Brianna asks.
“There are some Red Court that won’t be reporting back in tonight,” Deandra says.
“So, next steps?” Deandra asks.
“We know what she looks like. We know she has two supernaturally huge bodyguards. We know a little about her patterns as far as where she is and when she’s doing it. We know her vehicle of choice. We know the layout of her house. And that’s what we have,” Brianna says. “As far as intelligence, I don’t know how much more we can hope to gather. As far as whether or not she is a necromancer or just has a necromancer in her employ, we won’t know until we make a move. Unless you’ve been able to find out anything differently in the last month.”
“No,” Deandra says. “Although the rumors say that she’s a practitioner.”
“So, at least there’s a pretty good chance that she’s a necromancer. So many shades of not right,” Brianna shakes her head. “I guess the trick is now is to figure out a plan that doesn’t upset the apple cart, so to speak.”
“Whatever plan we come up with is going to upset the apple cart. That’s the point of the fucking plan is to upset the apple cart,” Dexter says with heat. “I don’t understand a plan that’s not going to.”
“I think the whole point was to figure out a solution that was permanent, that’s going to basically going to get her out of the way and out of our hair. The question is whether getting her out of the way causes a power vacuum and something comes in that’s even worse. If it’s going to be ‘Oh, you messed with her, and now we’re going to send something worse after you’,” Brianna retorts, matching his tone. “Otherwise, yes, this is an incredibly simple solution: we go in and kill her. Executing it may be challenging, but again…”
“What can I say, I like direct,” Dexter says.
“Do we have any sense if the Red Court is just determined to keep a presence here in Seattle? Is this just a challenge to them essentially?” Brianna asks.
Deandra answers, “The Red Court is determined to keep as much territory as they possibly can. They certainly don’t wish to lose Seattle. They’ve enjoyed a strong presence here for some time.”
Ezekiel speaks up, “Perhaps we don’t need to be worrying about what’s to come next.”
Deandra asks, “What about the devil you know?”
Ezekiel looks at her, “So you put up with the devil we know? That’s wrong.”
Brianna adds, “If we wanted to put up with the devil we know, we would have let the Margrave live a long time ago.”
“And not doing that is exactly what has gotten Ezekiel into the trouble he is in,” Deandra says.
Brianna looks at the Warden, her eyes narrowing slightly. “And the alternative was exactly what? Leaving him alone to eat on the people of the city? Ezekiel was already busting his ass trying to help people from an out of control Red Court. The Margrave eats one person too many and we’re just supposed to say ‘Oh it’s okay, it’s the devil we know?’ Let’s just let him eat all the people! It’ll be okay! It’ll be fine!” Her voice is caustic.
“No. I suppose not,” Deandra says. “But that is how the Council is going to see it.”
“Haven’t the Red Court totally broken the Accords anyway? Isn’t that what this war about?” Brianna asks.
“They have,” Deandra says, carefully.
“Well, I can understand not having the manpower to go around and drive them all out, but why does it matter what we did? I guess that’s what I don’t understand. If the Red Court have broken the Accords, and if there’s a war going on between them and the White Council, then why doesn’t the White Council support the actions of those carrying out that war? And doing a much more direct hit than some other people can claim!” Brianna’s voice starts to raise in frustration. “I don’t understand! Do they only want it to be their idea before someone goes out there and does something?”
“It is not the place of a Warden to explain the internal politics of the White Council to an outsider,” Deandra says, coldly.
“Fine.” Brianna spits out the words. “I’m not asking you to explain it. But do you understand why this sounds like crap to me?”
“I can understand,” Deandra replies.
Brianna stares quietly at her for a moment, some of the rising tension easing between the two women. “I guess that’s all the satisfaction I’m going to get. Because this really sounds like crap to me.” Brianna sighs heavily. “I’m still angry on behalf of my friend. That has nothing to do with you. I apologize. Let’s get back to the matter at hand.”
“Let’s,” Deandra says.
“If we make a move, if we take her out, are we on our own again?” Brianna asks. “Are you going to work against us? As a representative of the White Council?”
“No,” Deandra says.
“Okay,” Brianna says. “So then it comes down to a plan.”
Brianna wants confirmation from everyone else that they are for taking out the Baroness. She gets it. She looks at Deandra. “And you?”
Deandra says, “I cannot sanction a hit on a noble of the Red Court. That is not, as they say, in my pay grade.”
“Politics. All right. So you can’t support us, but you won’t interfere, then,” Brianna says.
“I will not interfere,” Deandra says.
“What does that mean exactly? You can’t sanction it, you won’t interfere, does that mean you’re going to help?” Brianna asks.
Deandra just looks at her.
“I guess it just comes down to planning,” Brianna says.
Brianna thinks that going after the car is a more viable option than going after the house. This will involve more surveillance and setting up patterns, which means more waiting. But “we don’t want to lose people like we did on the raid at the Margrave’s.”
Dexter chafes at the idea of waiting longer, but sees the reason behind it. Not going through her stronghold and going through her wards and traps and such. She’s probably more vulnerable on the move.
Loomis is selected to be the one to look into her patterns and investigate the Baroness’ movements and to formulate a plan. The “War Council” will meet again once more information is available.
Brianna and Joey prepare for their long drive back to Portland. They shake hands with the Warden. They say their goodbyes to everyone.
August 31, 2013 (Saturday)
Brianna and Joey arrive back in Portland after a long drive.