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?”
Ezekiel replies calmly, “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 tells the Warden.
Deandra asks, “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.
“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 flatly. 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.
“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 shakes her head.
“The Margrave was a blight on the city,” Brianna says. “I don’t imagine she’s going to be much better. Although 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 plant?” Brianna asks. “Or something 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 to 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 layouts. 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 in 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’s going to make things more difficult. I don’t know if this means ‘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?” 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 confirms.
“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 Seattle’s drug situation 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 getting jittery again. Loomis continues to hold his head. Brianna goes to the kitchen and gets him a glass of water. She reminds him to take his medication. Loomis says thanks.
After about half an hour, the two wizards come back and Deandra bids everyone goodnight. She says that they will hear from her closer to the time for the plan to go into action 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 point. 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,”
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 not 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 the White Court?” Brianna asks.
“Ezekiel told me a few things.”
“Did he tell you how we come into our power?”
“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 tells her.
“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-destructive 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 appreciate that,” Brianna says. “I never thought someone would get this far.”
Brianna straightens slightly and changes the topic, “I take it your childhood was less tragic.”
“It wasn’t great,” Loomis says.
“We’re dealt the cards we’re dealt,” Brianna observes.
“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. 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?”
“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 looks up at him.
“The Reservation? Not really,” he shrugs.
“That’s a big move, to the Big City, at 18 to join the police force.”
“It’s what I wanted,” Loomis says. “I’m stubborn.”
Brianna laughs.“That’s not a bad trait,” she says, leaning in closer.
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.
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.