The Dresden Files: Portland

Side Job: Redemption (Part Three)
Karkana Chronicles Twelve

April 2, 2013 (Tuesday, 12:30 pm)

Brianna and Joey are sitting in a café across the street from Derek Jacobs Financials in Tempe, Arizona, watching Charlotte Fleming enjoy her lunch and then head back into the building.

The two then go and get the car and drive around to the building’s parking garage. Does it have entrances to the interior? Yes. Is there only one way out and in to the garage? Yes. Joey finds a good surveillance point near the exit of the garage. They park wait to see if Fleming comes out.

At about 5:00 pm, cars start to leave. People with chipped badges run them across a sensor at the gate of the garage to be let out. There’s a bit of a jam. As Brianna and Joey watch, they see Charlotte Fleming behind the wheel of one of the cars. Brianna notes the make and model of the car. The woman seems nervous and is constantly looking around and behind her, but never in Brianna and Joey’s direction.

Brianna and Joey let the jam go by and pull out and pay for parking . By this time is close to five-thirty. They head out and grab a bite for Joey and then go back to the rattrap motel to compile information.

Breaking into the apartment will be difficulty—there’s security and cameras on the premises. The two of them can’t really go and rent and apartment. Can they use the veil potion and get the keys? Maybe. It’s still very risky. Nab her purse? If they fail, it puts her on alert.

Brianna checks the Derek Jacobs website. It’s mostly corporate-speak about mergers and acquisitions. They occupy ten floors of the building downtown. She then calls Fleming/Spivey’s work extension—getting Deborah Spivey’s voicemail saying that she is either away from her desk or on the other line and to please leave a message and she will get back to you soon as she can.

Another plan that comes up is using veil potion to enter the apartment as she leaves. Perhaps with Brianna’s preternatural speed, she could pull it off. Once again, extremely risky and there’s the security system to contend with.

Based on the security on their own apartment, police and residents are notified simultaneously in the event of a break-in. There is a two-minute delay between the time the alarm is broken and a code is called for.

Joey likes the idea of using the veil potion to the key within the office the best.

April 2, 2013 (San Marquis Apartments, 8:00 pm)

Brianna and Joey pull into the parking lot at the apartment building. They both note that the building is well-lit, but the stoops are kind of shady. They also note and recognize Charlotte Fleming’s car in the parking lot.

They wait and watch for a couple of hours. Finally, around ten, a Cadillac convertible pulls into the parking lot. It’s got longhorns on the front of its hood and sports Mexican license plates. A Hispanic male gets out of the car, kind of handsome, with a cowboy hat and boots with upturned toes. He goes upstairs and knocks on Charlotte’s door. He doesn’t go in. After a few moments, the two of them come downstairs.

Brianna doesn’t get the vibe that they are on a date. They are not holding hands or staying close to each other. She is not dressed up—she’s dressed in jeans and a men’s long-sleeved shirt. She’s carrying a handbag. She also notes a bulge at her ankle that indicates she is probably armed. The two get in his car and pull out of the parking lot.

Joey follows. Eventually, the car leaves Tempe and travels a couple of hours to the border town of Nogales. As the Cadillac gets in the line to cross the border over into Mexico, Joey pulls over into a truck stop on the US side to wait them out.

A little more than an hour later, Joey spots the Cadillac pulling back into the US. He follows, but obviously the driver has spotted him as he tries to evade Joey. Joey sticks to him like glue. Finally, Brianna tells Joey to back off, but the Cadillac spins around on the highway starts coming back toward them. Brianna tells Joey to pull over.

The Caddy pulls up and the driver gets out. Brianna and Joey get out of their car.

“You picked the wrong man to follow tonight, cabrón,” the man from the Cadillac says.

“I’m not impressed,” Brianna says.

“You always let your bitches talk for you?” he asks Joey.

Brianna gets in the Caddy driver’s face. “You have something to tell this bitch, tell it to me. Do not talk to him.”

“Were you the one doing the driving, bitch?”

“I’m the one in charge of this show,” Brianna says, intimidating, and the man visibly gulps.

The man takes a punch at Brianna, preternaturally fast, but misses her. She laughs at him. She takes a punch at him and misses as well.

“What the hell are you, punta?” His eyes are dark black pools. Brianna punches him in the stomach. The man hisses and reveals long fangs and claws tear away from the flesh on his hands. He claws at Brianna and misses. Brianna laughs, punching at him again, but missing. He claws again, and scores on Brianna, grinning. Brianna says, “Your meat-suit is slipping,” and punches him again. The vampire slashes at Brianna but misses. Brianna hits him again and the vampire slashes Brianna, scoring another wound on her.

Away from their fight, Brianna can hear a female voice say “Hold it right there, buster.” Concentrating on the matter at hand, she sweeps the vampire’s leg out from under him, knocking him off-balance. The vampire, for his part, takes advantage of Brianna’s slash to score another gash across her cheek, but she manages to shake it off. Brianna then grapples the Red Court vamp to the ground, incites him to rage, and feeds off of him, inducing a crazed fury in him. He curses her in Spanish as he thrashes beneath her, but he can’t seem to break her hold. She feeds some more, drawing in more of his life force, driving him to distraction. He still can’t seem to break her hold on him. She continues to suck at his life until he lies unconscious beneath her.

Brianna looks up, exhilarated, to see the woman with a gun trained on Joey with his hands up. She tells the woman “Interesting taste in friends.”

Charlotte glances at Brianna. “Based on his reaction, I’d say Karkana, right?”

“In the flesh. I’m not interested in him at all. He was just tasty.”

“I suspect not. Who sent you?”

“Someone who’s distressed at the theft of an object that belongs to them.”

“The VU has some interesting hiring practices these days.”

Brianna shrugs. “I guess they thought I could get your attention. Where’s the mirror?”

“Safe.”

“Then you’re not.”

Charlotte cocks the gun. “You’re fast, but not that fast.”

“You’ll get one shot and one shot only before I get to you.”

“I’d be thinking of your friend if I were you.”

“Interesting you’re working with the Red Court. Haven’t you heard they’re at war with the White Council?” Brianna asks.

“Thus the market for a counterspell.”

“You gave the Red Court vampires the mirror?” Brianna asks, incredulous.

“No. I’m selling it.”

“Got that far away from your roots, have you?”

“Don’t lecture me.”

“You’re the one that has to live with it. Right now, all I’ve been tasked with is returning with that mirror. It appears that they are willing to forget that you stole from them on the way out. However, news that you’re actively supporting the Red Court during these trying times might get a slightly different response. I’m confident I can persuade you to tell me where it is. I’m good at that. However, there’s a chance we may not have a good conversation and I don’t get what I want. But I will not be going back empty-handed. I’m going back with the mirror or I’m going back with you.”

Charlotte’s hands are shaking. “You make a move toward me, you may not go empty-handed, but you’ll be going alone!”

“Oh honey,” Brianna purrs, “Look at your hands. Do you think you can hit anything?” Then she yells “Put the gun down!”

“Don’t test me, vampire!”

“We can keep this up all night. At some point your friend here will turn into a pile of ashes. That won’t be good for your negotiations. Ah! You never introduced your friend!”

Brianna goes over to the unconscious vampire and starts going through his pockets. She finds a Mexican passport made out to a Freddie Fernandez, $200 in American bills, a switchblade, car keys to the Cadillac, and an older model cell phone.

“I don’t think Mr. Fernandez here is going to be having quite the evening he expected. Look, Ms. Fleming, I’m getting tired of this. I need you to put that gun down or I’m going to come get it away from you. If that happens, it won’t go well for you.”

Charlotte looks to Brianna and to Joey and finally puts the hammer down on the pistol and slowly lowers the weapon, and then sets it on the pavement. Joey steps forward and collects the gun.

“Why don’t you step away from the car,” Brianna suggests.

Charlotte does as is suggested. Brianna puts Freddie in the trunk of the Cadillac, but keeps his switchblade and cell phone. She throws his keys into the desert surrounding the highway. She then turns to Charlotte. “Where’s the mirror?”

“My place.”

“Let’s go get it.”

Brianna and Charlotte ride in the backseat of the car while Joey drives them back to Tempe. About halfway back, Brianna throws Freddie’s cell phone out of the car.

April 3, 2013 (San Marquis Apartments, 4:00 am)

Brianna leans over and places her hand on Charlotte’s shoulder. “We’re going to get out of this car. We’re going to get this mirror, and then we’re going to go away. Easy, peasy. I advise you don’t make this difficult.” To Joey she says, “Why don’t you wait in the car? Keep it running.”

The two women get out of the car. Brianna keeps contact with Charlotte at all times. They head upstairs and go inside. Charlotte hits the keypad and turns on the lights. She leads Brianna to the bedroom and to a cabinet. Inside the cabinet is a safe. From inside the safe, she pulls out a black velvet bag.

“Take whatever’s in there out,” Brianna says.

Charlotte does and it is a wooden hand mirror with runic symbols carved around the outside, just as the dossier described.

“Put it back in the bag,” Brianna says. Charlotte does.

The two women walk back to the living room. “I’m glad you saw reason. You won’t see me again,” Brianna says.

“Reason? I’ve signed my death sentence,” Charlotte shakes her head.

“How so?”

“Now I’ve crossed Vincenzo Silvestri. He won’t stand for that.”

“I guess you can honestly tell him that there were circumstances out of your control,” Brianna offers. Her offer is met with a dead-eyed stare. “I can take you back with me,” she says.

“I’ve burned that bridge,” Charlotte says, firmly.

“Then my advice to you is find the local Warden. I hope you have enough information about the Red Court that they might try and protect you.”

Brianna leaves the apartment with the mirror and gets in the car with Joey. The two drive away, swinging by the rattrap motel to get their things and check out and begin their long drive back to Portland.

April 4, 2013 (3:00 am)

Brianna and Joey arrive back in Portland, coming home and locking up after placing the mirror in the ventilation shaft of their apartment. Brianna then takes a shower and goes to bed.

At 8:00 am the next morning, Brianna and Joey take the mirror and drive to Mr. Rupert’s house. Brianna rings the doorbell and Rupert and answers the door.

“I have Smith’s object. Will you please set up a meeting?” Brianna says, impatient.

“Care to wait inside?” Rupert offers.

“Very good.”

Joey and Brianna wait in the very ordinary-looking living room while Rupert goes to the phone and dials. “Rupert here. Yes. Yes. She’s arrived. Says she has the object. Yes. Very well. Yes sir.”

He hangs up and turns to Joey and Brianna. “He can meet in two hours.”

“Where?”

“Same place as last time.”

“We’ll be there.”

Rupert then politely shows them out.

April 4, 2013 (12:00 noon)

The two drive around for awhile, grab some breakfast, before heading for the rendezvous spot at the abandoned storefront. When they arrive, the set up is much like before, with a stool set up before the silhouetted figure of Mr. Smith in the unlocked store.

“Mr. Smith,” Brianna says.

“Ms. Karkana. I understand you have our object. May I see it?”

“May I approach?”

“That won’t be necessary.” A guard emerges from the darkness surrounding the two of them and takes the mirror from Brianna and hands it to Mr. Smith.

“Very good,” Mr. Smith purrs, “And in record time.”

“Things went smoothly. Plus I have some talents at persuading people to see things my way.”

“Of that I have no doubt. But we had a bargain. I will be placing some calls to the Treasury Department. You should see some progress on your case.”

“That delights me to no end.”

“Well, if that is all then?”

“Just a few more things to relate about Ms. Fleming’s situation. If you have a moment.”

“Very well,” Smith says, warily.

“It was fortunate that you contracted me when you did. Ms. Fleming was in negotiations to sell this mirror to the Red Court. I was able to persuade her to give the mirror, obviously, but as I left Ms. Fleming, she mentioned that she signed her death sentence because she’s crossed Vincenzo Silvestri. I offered to bring her back, she said she’d burned her bridges. I suggested she call her local Warden with information on the Red Court. I don’t know if she followed up with my advice or not. I suppose that’s her business.”

“Silvestri is a powerful Margrave of the Red Court. If she has made an enemy of him, then she is in real danger,” Smith carefully observes.

“I could have been more persuasive to bring her back to Portland, but I wasn’t sure how much she had burned her bridges. I don’t know the circumstances of her leaving, but if Silvestri is a powerful Margrave of the Red Court, then perhaps there are some things they can do to protect her.”

“I will make some calls. We have operatives in the area,” Smith says.

“Good. You may already be aware of this info, but…” and Brianna hands over the information she and Joey gathered in a portfolio.

“Thank you,” Smith says.

“I have no love for the Red Court. I don’t want anyone to fall into their clutches. May I also trust that it will get back to the White Council that Silvestri is looking for such artifacts?”

“We provide the White Council with any information we deem important,” Smith says.

“Alright then,” Brianna stands. Thank you Mr. Smith. I’m glad the scales are balanced between us.

“As am I.”

Brianna turns and leaves. She gets in the car with Joey and as they drive away she relates to him what happened.

Later that afternoon, Brianna receives a call from an irritated Agent Roccelli. Apparently the information that they had been given is being retracted. They have no choice but to end the investigation and unlock her accounts. The US Treasury Department apologizes for any inconvenience.

Brianna hangs up with Roccelli and calls her bank. Good news—her accounts have been reinstated. She takes Joey out for drinks to celebrate.

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Side Job: Redemption (Part Two)
Karkana Chronicles Twelve

March 31, 2013 (Sydney Benning’s Apartment)

Sydney and Brianna are discussing making magical objects.

“I don’t have a few weeks, unfortunately,” Brianna says. “Thank you, for your time.” Brianna gets up to leave.

Before she and Joey go, though Sydney stops them. “If you’re looking for something temporary, there are potions,” she says.

Brianna says, “I’m not looking for something to last years but for something to give me an advantage in a business dealing I have. I won’t get into any details, but something has been stolen from a particular individual and I have been tasked with retrieving it. However, the person that stole it will probably not give it up very easily. I’m looking for things to even the playing field.”

“I may be able to concoct a potion to give you a temporary veil. That would only tke me a few hours to make.”

“That’s more along my time frame. I’m looking at leaving tomorrow. How temporary is the temporary veil?” Brianna asks.

“Seconds,” Sydney says.

“Actually, with my speed, that might be helpful, though. How much would I owe you for it? Things are tight right now. I assume there are costs in making this.”

Sydney shakes her head. “Consider it part of a debt owed.”

“We’ll leave you to it then. We’ll come back around seven or eight?”

“More like ten.”

“Ten. Very good then,” Brianna says. She and Joey head back to their apartment and pack. Clothes, tools, a flashlight: anything they think might be useful on this unusual job. They head back to Sydney’s around ten o’clock.

Sydney invites them in and Regi is there to greet Brianna with a “Hiya, lady.” Sydney hands Brianna a clear sports bottle with a clear liquid inside it. “Just drink it all down,” she says.

“Thank you, Sydney. Well, we’ll head out then. When we get back to town we’ll let you know how it worked.”

“Good luck on your endeavor,” Sydney says.

“I don’t really do item retrieval, but…” Brianna says and shrugs on their way out.

Joey and Brianna load up the car and take off for their twenty hour drive to Tempe, Arizona.

April 1, 2013 (Monday, 9:00 pm)

Brianna and Joey pull into Tempe and get an inexpensive, rattrap motel. Brianna takes a shower and goes out alone to feed. There’s a bar near the hotel. She provokes a fight with a female bar patron and sips from her rage. The bartender ends up kicking them both out and Brianna comes back to the hotel. Joey is watching crappy television.

Brianna tells Joey, “Tomorrow we need to start scoping her out. We need to be careful. Apparently her specialty was White Court vampires. I’ll need to watch to make sure she’s not particularly sensitive.”

She sets her alarm to get up in time to make office hours.

April 2, 2013 (Tuesday)

First they head out to the San Marquis apartment building to check out where Charlotte Fleming/Deborah Spivey lives. It’s a three-story building, very southwestern in flavor. Her apartment is a one bedroom and centrally located, according to the online floor plan.

Brianna and Joey scope out the security situation. They do see security stickers and signs about the campus and in the in the windows—including Charlotte Fleming’s window. They also see apartment maintenance staff wandering about the grounds.

As they are checking things out, they are approached by a man with name tag identifying him as Mr. Rodriguez, the manager. “Would you be interested in one of our brochures?” he asks.

“This looks like an active community,” Brianna observes.

Mr. Rodriguez agrees and genially takes them back to the central office where he produces the promised brochures. He offers them bottled water or a coke. Both take a water. Brianna notes a bank of monitors flickering between cameras. There are also other staff members in the office.

“So what are you two looking for in an apartment?” Mr. Rodriguez asks.

“Location,” Brianna says. “Affordable. Good community. Do you have anything open we could take a walk through?”

“As a matter of fact I do. I have one of our one bedroom models.”

“Well, if you have a few moments…”

“Not a problem. Come with me.” And Mr. Rodriguez gets up and unlocks one of the cabinets on the wall. Inside is a row of keys. They are numbered. He takes out a set, locks the cabinet back and beckons for them to follow.

He takes them to a nice little one-bedroom apartment. There is a security system—the keypad is by the door. The power box is in the utility room. After asking him about it, Mr. Rodriguez reveals that the security system is an on a subscription basis outside the normal rent with a third party. And yes, parking is assigned.

Afterwards, they thank Mr. Rodriguez, who gives them his card. As they come away from the leasing office, Brianna notes that there are security cameras around the office and that the leasing office apparently subscribes to security company, as there is a keypad by the door and a sign on the lawn.

Brianna and Joey head back to the car and compare notes. This is not going to be easy. It would be nice to get a key from that leasing office. Joey noticed that the groundskeepers and maintenance all wore polo shirts with a San Marquis logo on them. Impersonating one them without that gear won’t be easy, either.

They then decide to drive by her place of business, Derek Jacobs Financials. It resides in a skyscraper downtown. They can either park in the garage and get validation or park elsewhere and walk to the building. They decide on the latter.

The first floor of the building has a security desk, food kiosk, a directory, and elevators. There are security cameras in the lobby. Joey points out a good surveillance point outside the building at a nearby café. The two take up a position and watch, waiting to see Charlotte Fleming.

Finally, around noon, they spot her. She comes out with a throng of people from the building and heads to a food truck parked across the street from the building. She is dressed professionally in a business jacket and skirt. She takes a seat at a nearby table to eat. After finishing her meal alone, she heads back into the building.

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Side Job: Redemption (Part One)
Karkana Chronicles Twelve

March 30, 2013

After doing some training at a local fitness gym, Brianna and Joey spend some time at their apartment and then decide to go out and catch a minor league hockey game. The Snowhawks are playing at home tonight—maybe Brianna can sip some of the ambient violent rage.

During the game, Brianna notices that the players are quite strong and powerful—she wouldn’t be surprised if they were on something. She points this out to Joey, who’s just enjoying the game and the fights. As they leave, Joey points out a couple of nondescript delivery trucks and asks Brianna if they look familiar. They do—they’re from Gould’s warehouse.

As they approach, two guys come from around the front of the truck and ask if they can help.

“Just walking,” Brianna says.

“Keep walking,” one of the drivers says. Brianna recognizes him from the warehouse.

Brianna and Joey keep walking. “He’s definitely branching out,” Brianna says. “I wonder if he’s going this with any of the other sports teams in town?”

They turn a corner and then look back and find one of the drivers staring back at them. They quickly turn back and decide to head to the car. Brianna debates following the trucks.

“I’m not sure why you’re interested,” Joey says, “You told him to do it somewhere else. He’s doing it somewhere else.”

“That’s true. Let’s go home.”

Joey pulls out of the parking lot and starts to head home. Before too long, Brianna notices that they’re being followed by a nondescript sedan. She thinks they picked them up at the stadium. She recognizes the car, too—it’s Malcolm Rupert.

Joey manages to outmaneuver Rupert and pins the following car at a dead end. Brianna gets out of their car and Rupert gets out of his, his hands raised.

“Rupert, were you trying to get my attention?” Brianna says.

“As a matter of fact, I was.”

“I don’t like being chased all over Portland. What the hell do you want?”

“I want to set up a meeting with a superior.”

“A superior what?”

Rupert looks exasperated. “Of mine.”

“With him and I?” Brianna asks.

“Yes.”

“Is this someone else in the Venatori?”

Rupert blinks and then says, “Be careful how you throw that word around.”

Brianna shrugs, “Was that a yes or a no?”

“Will you meet?” Rupert asks.

“That depends on where the meeting is. I would like to set those terms.”

“No. The location has already been picked. You can follow me.”

“What is this meeting about?”

Rupert appears to grit his teeth. “Our stalemate.”

“Escalating up the food chain is it? Very well. We’ll follow you in our car.”

“Alright.”

Brianna and Joey return to their car while Rupert returns to his. “He’s mad,” Brianna says. “Someone’s been chewing him up one side and down the other. This will be interesting.”

They follow the operative to an abandoned storefront. Rupert gets out of his car and Brianna and Joey get out of theirs. Rupert puts up a hand. “The meeting is with Brianna, not Joey.”

Brianna shakes her head. “He watches my back.”

Rupert shakes his head.

“If I’m not out in a couple of hours, start making phone calls,” Brianna says.

“Alright,” Joey says, but doesn’t look pleased.

Rupert goes in side and Brianna follows. In the darkness, silhouetted in the dim streetlight, is a figure. Before him is a stool. The figure speaks, a man’s voice.

“That’s far enough. Thank you, Rupert.”

Brianna notes the stool but continues to stand. The figure continues to speak.

“Ms. Karkana. I am here to propose a truce to this ridiculous stalemate that you and Mr. Rupert have gotten yourselves into. Mr. Rupert has failed to achieve the desired results with his retaliations against you.”

“Mr. Rupert seems to have something against me. He’s not been particularly pleasant. I suspect he’s been working against me,” Brianna says.

“I see. You’re going to continue to be coy. Very well. I had hoped we could be frank with each other.”

“I will be perfectly frank with you. Mr. Rupert has insinuated himself into a personal business matter between myself and Gould. So whatever business he wants to conduct with Gould is on his own, but I grow tired with him interfering in mine.”

“And you still claim to know nothing of the device?” the voice says.

“Yes. I don’t know what it is he’s looking for, but I don’t have it. I watched Gould. There is no love lost between us. I make no secret of that. Rupert leaves his office with briefcases. I suppose that’s his own affair, but it strikes me as a bit odd.”

The figure sighs. “I have no doubt that the device is no longer in your possession. Semantics is actually a passion of mine, Ms. Karkana. Don’t attempt to play such games with me. However, that is why I’m here. These games are tiresome. Don’t you agree?”

“I’d say they are infuriating. I want to be left alone. But apparently that’s not going to happen.”

“We could continue to threaten and cajole you, but will that get the desired results? I think not. Round and round we’ll go, ad nauseum. Ms. Karkana, you’re making my bodyguards nervous. I suggest you take a seat.”

Brianna looks down to realize she’s moved forward. She sits on the stool.

“As I was saying,” the figure continues, “Perhaps we can come to a better understanding.”

“That’s interesting coming from someone who’s not even introduced themselves,” Brianna says.

“You may call me Smith,” the figure says.

“And what sort of understanding do you think we can come to, Smith?”

“We both know that you are responsible for the loss of an artifact,” Smith says. Brianna sighs as Smith continues. “Perhaps if you help us regain another, we can balance the books as it were.”

“I would like our dealings to be done. I’m also tired of this stalemate, as you call it,” Brianna says.

“Then are you amenable?”

“I’m amenable to hear more details.”

“I’m afraid without a commitment, many more details would not be available.”

“Then speak in generalities. I don’t know you and am fine with keeping it that way. I have a code and I can’t give you a blanket promise without knowing what you’re going to ask me to do.”

“One of our operatives has left our service, taking an artifact with them. We’d like you to retrieve that artifact.”

“So all I’m responsible for is returning the artifact, however I wish to do so?” Brianna asks.

“Yes.”

“I’m not an assassin.”

“We’re not monsters,” Smith says.

“Some people think I am.”

“Yes, they do.”

“I’m not. I just want to make sure we’re clear on that point,” Brianna says. “This sounds like something I might be able to do. If this will balance the scales between us then that will be a good thing.”

“One point,” Smith says, “This arrangement is between us, not Mr. Aragon.”

“I usually rely on Joey to watch my back. No many people do. Also, to be frank, since I don’t have access to my bank accounts, there’s little I can do on my own. So unless this mission has me penetrating the darkest jungles of Africa, I assume an ATM may be needed.”

“Very well. I’m sure he’s already been privy to enough secrets.”

“At what point do I get more details?” Brianna asks.

“Mr. Rupert?” Smith says and Rupert produces a folder for Brianna containing a dossier on a Ms. Charlotte Fleming. She apparently now goes under the name of “Deborah Spivey” and is staying in the San Marquis apartments in Tempe, Arizona. She works as an accounts manager for Derek Jacobs Financials there in Tempe. She left the “organization” three months ago and took a mirror with her that can apparently act as a counterspell. Photos of Fleming and the mirror in question are attached.

“Is there a danger to anyone who doesn’t cast spells in picking up this mirror?” Brianna asks.

“No,” Mr. Smith says.

“Is there anything else I need to know about Ms. Fleming?”

“She’s a martial artist. Her field of study was vampires. Vampires of the White Court, to be exact.”

“Is there a possibility that Ms. Fleming is aware that you know she has the mirror and may be looking for it?”

“Yes.”

“Obviously, I’d like the balance to be rectified as quickly as possible. Other than that, is there a timeline for this mission?”

“As quickly as possible. I felt you’d be motivated.”

“Do you feel she’s settled in Tempe permanently or is she a flight risk?”

“Our information has her settled.”

“Does she have any known associates in Tempe? She’s not married is she?” Brianna asks.

“No, she’s not married.”

“Once I get this mirror, how do I get in touch with you?”

“I think you can find Mr. Rupert. You found him once already,” Smith says wryly.

“I’ll let him know, then. I’d rather give it to you—Mr. Rupert tends to lose things.”

“I’m sure he can arrange a meeting.”

“Lovely. It sounds like we have a deal.” Brianna stands. “Hopefully I’ll see you soon then.”

Brianna leaves the storefront and meets Joey outside, whacking him with the dossier. “Looks like there might be an end to our troubles. We have some stuff to talk about.” As they drive home, Brianna explains the situation. At home, she lets Joey read the dossier.

“I’ve never been a burglar before,” Joey comments.

“Me neither,” Brianna says. “If we retrieve this mirror, all the shit between us and the shadow organization will be over and shit will go back to normal.”

March 31, 2013

Brianna texts Quincy, asking if he knows the White Court situation in Tempe, Arizona. She also asks if his trial is going okay. He texts back that House Malvora is big there, as far as he knows. And his trial is going fine.

Later that day they visit Roy Dale at the University of Portland to do some research for them. It takes a bit of persuading, but he eventually does it. He manages to find a phone number and address (including apartment number) for Deborah Spivey in Tempe, Arizona. He also finds floor plans for the apartments in the San Marquis development. They also have him find the hours and location of Derek Jacobs Financials in downtown Tempe.

After tipping Roy, they head over to Sydney’s place. She invites them in. Regi is out. Brianna gets right to business.

“I don’t know if such things are possible, or if they are something you can do, but I’m i the market for a magic item.”

“I see. What sort of item?”

“Well, at first I was hoping for an item that could detect the presence of magic or magical objects. In my head I was thinking of something like a metal detector or like the hot/cold game you played as children. It would glow or turn warm when it got around such things.”

Sydney ponders this for moment as Brianna continues.

“It wouldn’t have to be permanent but maybe work for a week or two or maybe a month.”

“The longevity is not the problem,” Sydney says. “It’s whether it can do it or not. Magic is very personal. It’s a belief not an energy you can just detect. Its not like electricity. It’s not the same for everyone.”

“Well, hell,” Brianna says.

“It’d be like detecting belief. Or the force of will.”

“That’s not going to work. Can magic be used to open locked things and can that magic be inserted in an object?”

Sydney says, “Well, magic could be used to force open a lock or to turn tumblers, but if you mean presto chango, without knowledge of how a lock works, is that what you mean?”

“Yes.”

“Well, there’s a bit of necromancy but I don’t do that.”

“I didn’t think it’d have to do with dead people,” Brianna says.

“It’s called the Hand of Glory and it’s nasty stuff.”

“When we broke into the school, you did something where we couldn’t see you.”

“Yes.”

“Is that something that could be bound into an object?”

“Maybe. Yeah.”

“Used once? Multiple times?”

“It depends on how powerful the object is. Most have to be recharged after they are used, but more powerful objects could be used multiple times without being recharged.”

“How long would this take to make?”

“It would take weeks to attune the object to the spell and the magical energies involved,” Sydney says.

View
Side Job: The Big Bad (Part Five)
Karkana Chronicles Eleven

March 29, 2013 (Midnight)

Brianna, Joey, and Regi watch as Sydney prepares to cast her divination. The rug in the apartment is pulled back to reveal her circle and the room smells heavily of incense. Sydney sits in the circle with an earthenware bowl before her, murmuring low chants and gazing into the water in the bowl. She places a small sample from the clump of hair that Regi procured into the bowl and her face is suddenly illuminated from below.

“I see the woods. He’s alone. He’s setting a circle. A ritual. He taking something out of a jar. A wing. I think he’s setting a ward. A trap.”

“How can a ward be a trap?” Brianna asks. “I thought they keep you out of things?”

“They can also keep you in.”

“What kind of wing? A bird wing? Or is this a pixie wing?”

“I think it’s a pixie wing.”

“That little shit,” Brianna exclaims. “Is this a trap to catch pixies?”

“Or a pixie.”

“That is not going to stand. Any landmarks. Is it near where we were yesterday?”

“There is a creek nearby,” Sydney says. “A large, cleft rock.”

“Are you going to be able to take that down?” Brianna asks.

“The ward?”

“Yes.”

“Probably.”

“Did he pull the jar out of his backpack or something?” Brianna asks.

“His pocket.”

“The question is whether he’s going to stick around,” Brianna says. “If we can’t find the ward, can you use the hair to find it?”

“No—I could use the hair to find him, but not the ward,” Sydney says.

“Has he been working on the ritual as we’ve been talking?”

“Yes.”

The light from the bowl fades away.

“Looks like it’s back to the park, then,” Brianna says.

Everyone loads up in Brianna’s car and leaves. They pack flashlights and Sydney brings a hand mirror. As Joey drives, Brianna asks Sydney, “He doesn’t have to stay with the ward? He could just leave it like a snare?”

“Yes.”

Brianna remembers seeing a cleft rock during their exploration of the park previously. When they get to Forest Park, Brianna leads the way toward that landmark, hoping that its the same cleft rock that Sydney saw in her divination. Regi rides on Sydney’s shoulder and everyone shines flashlights along Newton Creek. Sydney calls a halt, saying that the site where they’ve stopped looks familiar.

Regi starts to drift from Sydney’s shoulder. “Pretty…” he murmurs as he flies away. Brianna grabs him and turns around. The pixie struggles in her grasp. With her back turned, she hears Sydney utter some words in a language she doesn’t understand and feels a cold wind blow the back of her neck. Suddenly there’s a popping sound in the air and Regi renews his struggles saying “Let me go, lady!”

Brianna releases the indignant pixie and they all go over to where Sydney is standing. A circle has been traced in the earth and there, in the center, is a blackened wing.

Brianna, Joey, and Regi all turn as they hear movement behind the large, cleft rock. Brianna sprints around to the other side of the boulder and is brought up short by a figure dressed in black with a ski mask on. Brianna tackles the figure and knocks them down.

“Get off me, demon woman,” the figure says and hits Brianna. Brianna wrestles with the figure, trying to wrest its mask off.

“It’s easier to kill the Wee Folk, isn’t it, you little shit. It’s harder to kill someone your own size. Teaching murder at that prep school, are they?” Brianna taunts as she wrestles with the prone attacker.

By this time, the rest of the crew has gathered around. “Someone take off this fucking mask!” Brianna calls out, exasperated. Joey reaches down and pulls it off. Sure enough, the figure is Paul Whitlock.

“Paul Whitlock,” Brianna sneers and leans in close. “You’re really starting to get me really angry. I recommend you settle down.” Paul stops his struggling.

“What gives you leave to be killing and trapping the free fae folk?” Brianna demands. “At last count, you’ve murdered five people. That has consequences.”

Paul looks Brianna in the eye and says, “And I’ve seen the blood on your hands, demon woman.”

“Follow me around, have you?”

He shakes his head.

“You don’t know me,” Brianna says, slightly shaken.

“I’ve seen you. The demon within you. The blood on your hands. The rage.”

“Unfortunately for you, we’re not discussing my past sins. I’m trying to decide if you realize you’re a serial killer.”

Regi flies forward, chest out. “We saw what you did to Ariella. What about Corona, Higbee, Oona, and Shar?”

“Answer him,” Brianna says.

“The construct devoured them,” Paul says.

“Why in the hell would you do such a thing? Why are you doing this?” Brianna demands.

“To gather power. One at a time. Into the construct. To be released in my final spell.”

“Which is exactly what?”

“It doesn’t matter,” Paul shakes his head. “It’s over now.”

“It matters to me,” Brianna says.

“There’s this kid at school. He pushes me around,” He looks up at Brianna. “Like you. Sometimes the only way to react is to push back. Hard.”

“This is the way you thought you’d do that. By preying on those that were smaller than you. Sadly ironic don’t you think?” Brianna asks.

Regi flies by and spits on Paul.

“Any other questions we want to ask Paul?” Brianna inquires of the group.

“Are you aware of the Laws of Magic?” Sydney asks.

“No,” and the boy seems genuinely mystified.

“Then you have no idea the trouble you’re in,” Sydney says, and turns away.

Brianna asks Sydney, “Do I make a phone call at this point?”

“I don’t know what else to do.”

“I don’t either.”

Brianna turns to the still-prone Paul. “I’m getting up to make a phone call. I highly suggest you be good and sit here quietly. I’ve got someone here with much more magic than you do. I’ve got someone here who can knock your block off. I’ve got a pixie who’s already pissed at you. If you’ve seen my past you already know what I’m capable of. I suggest you don’t piss us off.” Brianna sits up and gets off the boy.

Paul says, “Can I sit up?”

“Yep.”

The boy sits up. Brianna gets out her phone an dials the Warden’s number.

“This is Capstone.”

“I called about a month ago about the lycanthrope problem.”

“Yes.”

“So we have a bit of a situation here. Me and a few of my friends have a young man. A sophomore in high school. He’s been killing the Wee Folk with magic. Says he doesn’t know the First Law of Magic. He seems to be sincere in that. We’re not sure what to do with him.”

“That’s a serious charge,” Capstone says, “Ignorance is not generally an excuse. Killing is killing, after all.”

“He sounds like he’s been pushed pretty hard. However, this is a situation that has nuances. Felt you should be aware of it.”

“Where are you?”

“Forest Park.” Brianna describes approximately where they are in the woods, giving landmarks and such.

“I’ll be there in forty minutes.” The Warden hangs up.

“She said she’d be here in forty,” Brianna announces.

“If I’m gone too long, my parents are going to get antsy,” Paul says.

“These little night trips of yours, you had their permission?” Brianna asks.

“No, but I’m smart about it.”

“Really? What does that mean exactly?”

“I’m out late, but not all night. I get back before I’m missed. Duh.”

Brianna turns to Sydney. “What’s the range on your hex? The area of effect?”

“It’s not that precise, but line of sight.”

They all settle in to wait for the Warden to arrive. Finally, a woman with longish brown hair, and stern features wearing a grey cloak and carrying a sword and a staff emerges from the nearby wood. Were it not for the grim determination in her gaze, she’d have the look of a reject from a Dungeons and Dragons movie.

Brianna steps forward. “This is Paul Whitlock.” She gives the Warden a summary of what’s been going on.

Capstone turns her stern gaze toward Paul and asks, “What were you gathering power for, boy?”

“Like she said,” Paul says, defiant. “Push back”.

“I am a Warden of the White Council. Do you know what that is?”

“No.”

“We enforce the Laws of Magic. Breaking those is a crime punishable by death.”

At this pronouncement, Paul looks swiftly up at the Warden. And at her sword.

“You will tell me what push back you had in mind. You will look me in the eye.”

Paul snorts in derision.

Brianna rushes up and gets in his face. “I don’t think you understand the gravity of the fucking situation, Paul. Answer the fucking question.”

“Fine.” He looks into Capstone’s eyes—and pales slightly in the moonlight. “I was gathering power to cast a ritual to kill Brad.”

Capstone nods. “I need you come with me, Paul. This can be hard or this can be easy. I’d prefer easy. But there are those to whom you need to answer.”

“You’re kidnapping me?”

“I’m apprehending you. As a warlock.”

“But I saw. You protect. The children. You protect them.”

Capstone’s gaze is implacable. “I am. Come with me.”

Paul goes to bolt. Brianna sweeps out a leg and knocks him prone again. Capstone utters a word and a wall of solid stone emerges from the earth to block his path, a split second after Brianna trips the boy. Capstone points her sword at the boy on the ground. “That was foolish. Don’t do that again.”

Paul raises his hands and Capstone lets him stand him. “Will you come with me willingly or do I subdue you?” she asks.

“Where are we going?”

“To visit with the White Council. They will deliver your fate.”

“I’ll go. Only because I’m curious,” Paul says.

“Then come along.” Capstone motions toward the trail with her sword. She turns to Brianna and says “Thank you”.

Brianna nods and says, “Needed to be done.”

“Ms. Benning,” Capstone says to Sydney, her tone flat.

“Warden,” Sydney says, her tone icy.

Capstone and Paul then exit the site down the trail.

Brianna picks up the burnt wing. “Regi, I’m sorry. This should probably go with you.” She offers the wing to him and he takes it. “I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m ready to get out of these woods.”

Everyone nods. They head out of the woods and get to the car. They take Regi to Mill Ends Park and drop him off. They then take Sydney home to her apartment. As they drive, Brianna talks to Sydney.

“Paul kept talking about seeing things. What the hell was that about?” Brianna asks.

“I think he was just trying to rattle you,” Sydney says.

“Well, it was unnerving.” Brianna looks at the sorceress through the rear-view mirror, but Sydney’s face is unreadable. “He did seem genuinely surprised that Capstone would do anything to him because she protects children…”

“Maybe he was trying to appeal to her feminine side,” Sydney says, evasive. Brianna gets the distinct impression that she’s hiding something, something she doesn’t want to talk about.

“You don’t want to talk about it. I get it. Some wizard thing I guess. Alright.” Brianna says.

Sydney sighs. “You have to promise not to freak out.”

“Alright. I promise.”

“Some practitioners have what is known as the Sight. A way of looking a people, places, and things. It gives you insights into the truth of things. If you can interpret it. He may have this Sight. So may Capstone. She may have soulgazed him. Those of us with training know better than to the use the Sight willy-nilly on everyone we meet. He obviously doesn’t know that kind of thing.”

“I suppose that’s good to know. It seems like an awfully personal thing, I suppose…”

“It is. It is intrusive and not done like he did.”

“I appreciate you telling me.”

They drop Sydney off at her apartment and head home.

Brianna says to Joey. “I hope that can bring some closure to Regi and the rest of the pixies. I’m hopeful that means no more stalking and killing Wee Folk in the forest.”

View
Side Job: The Big Bad (Part Four)
Karkana Chronicles Eleven

March 28, 2013 (Thursday)

Brianna and Joey decide to head to Powells and stake it out in hopes that Paul will show up after school—a habit he has, according to his Facebook check-ins.

During the stake out, Brianna spots Paul—and Paul notices Brianna staring at him. The young man leaves the store in a hurry. Brianna turns her back and calls Joey. “He’s spotted me. I don’t know if he’s spotted you. Do you think you could follow him?”

“I’ll try,” Joey says.

Brianna waits and gets a call from Joey. “The kids getting into a cab.”

“Get the cab information. See if you can get a taxi to follow that one, if that’s not cliche enough…”

“Okay.”

After a long while, Joey finally calls back. “I’m on my way back. He went to Irvington. I got an address.”

“Nice!” Now we have something to go on. Have the cab drop you off in Alberta and I’ll pick you up."

Brianna goes to pick up Joey and then the two head over to Sydney’s.

Sydney invites them in. Regi greets them. “Hiya lady!”

“How are you today, Regi?” Brianna says.

“My wing’s better.”

“That’s good to hear.”

Brianna explains the information they’ve gathered, including the boy’s online presence and now his address. Brianna has a sudden realization.

“Oh Lord! The kid was able to see out of the construct’s eyes to control it?”

“Possibly,” Sydney says.

“Ah, fuck me. That could be why when he spotted me, he left. Goddammit. I though he seemed pretty weasely to leave so quickly. Well, now what? Is there any possibility there’s a magic book telling him how to do this? How do we steal his power? He can’t be allowed to continue to do this.”

Sydney says, quietly, “Usually, this is where Wardens get involved.”

“I have her number,” Brianna says, noting the mix of emotions that roil over Sydney’s face at that exclamation. “I’ve never worked with the Warden in Portland. I’ve just tipper off about a thing. So we’ve not even met. Regardless of what everyone thinks about Wardens, this is a bit of a weird situation. I’m not agreeing we should get her involved, but the four of us are talking about making moves against a sophomore in high school.”

“Well, I brought it up,” Sydney says.

“Is there something that can be done to neutralize this kid? What he’s doing?” Brianna asks.

Sydney says, “From a magic point of view, not really.”

“Do you think this construct thing is something he could have thought up on his own?” Brianna asks.

“If he’s gifted enough, sure,” Sydney says.

“He’s been hanging around Powell’s a lot, apparently. I don’t know if they would have something about how to do what he did. Well I guess we need more information. All we have is circumstantial evidence. He imagines himself involved with the mystical arts but your spell never saw him do anything with the spell.”

“No, the granola wrapper wasn’t involved,” Sydney says wryly.

“Would he have anything more at the house that would be more involved with the spell? More incriminating?”

“He may have a focus item,” Sydney says.

“Could that be used in the spell to see if he used it?”

“It could be used in the divination, yes.”

“We need more definite evidence before we decide what we want to do. I’m pretty good at scaring the shit out of someone. I’m not sure that’s enough to make it stick.”

“The trick,” Sydney says, “is that a focus could be anything.”

“Is it something you carry on you?” Brianna asks.

“Yeah, it would be portable.”

“But it could be anything. Great.”

“He may have other occult paraphanelia. A lot of teenagers do,” Sydney says.

“I’m not going to know what’s real and what’s not,” Brianna says.

“As far as divination, something, anything, personal of his would be useful,” Sydney points out.

“Alright.”

“We can’t really see his past, but we could watch him,” Sydney says.

“Something like hair or like a shoe?”

“Hair would be great. It’s a part of him. The more personal the item the better.”

“I wonder how easy it’s going to be getting into his house? Is there a way to tell if there’s a ward or something before I run into it?” Brianna asks.

“You might be able to sense some energies, but probably not. That’s the point. Now actually making a construct and a ward are two different types of magic so he may not be versed in wards,” Sydney says.

“We can only be so lucky. Best time to explore his house is when he’s at school. We don’t knowhow else is in that house. You can bet they have security system if they’re in that neighborhood. I guess we’ll have to figure out the best way to do this,” Brianna says.

Joey says, “They probably have hired help.”

“I would agree. We can’t get close to him at school. He’s going to bolt. Physically holding him down will be fairly obvious. He’s taking taxis instead of public transportation—it’s not like we can sneak up to him on the bus, either.”

Regi says, “I can get in that house.”

“Are you going to be able to detect a ward? Or any magical traps he’s got laid?” Brianna asks.

Regi sniffs. “As good as you can.”

“If there’s a lot of people going in and out of that house, he’s probably not got a lot of traps. And the best place for him is in his bedroom, and as he uses it himself, it’s probably not warded. It makes me nervous, but it’s probably the best option,” Brianna says, resigned.

Joey looks up on his phone when school starts—it’s 8 am tomorrow morning.

Sydney is going to put a “non-descript” Aspect on the car with her Thaumaturgy so that people don’t notice that its out of place in the neighborhood while they all wait on Regi to finish his work in the house.

Regi is going to break in and get something person from Paul’s room.

They will meet at Sydney’s early the next morning and position themselves at Paul’s address by 7 am the next morning. Joey and Brianna bid Sydney and Regi goodbye and head out.

Before heading home, Brianna looks for a new club at which to feed. She finds one and starts a fight with one of the women there and gets thrown out by the bouncers. She manages to get fed in the process. But the whole thing depresses her as she realizes that she’s trolling clubs, just like her mother did. She misses her territory.

She and Joey head out for the fitness gym and do a vigorous workout before finally heading home.

At 2 am, Brianna gets a text from Clive: NERISE SENDS HER REGARDS. ALL IS WELL.

Brianna sends a return text: GOOD TO HEAR. PLEASE EXPRESS MY PLEASURE THAT THE MATTER HAS BEEN RESOLVED.

March 29, 2013 (Friday)

At 7am, Regi, Sydney, Brianna, and Joey are waiting in the car outside Paul Whitlock’s house. Regi flies out of the car and suddenly, no one can see anything but a shimmer in the air where he was. Sydney gets out of the car and draws a chalk circle around, murmuring to herself and then closes the circle, with her inside it. Brianna can feel an energy ripple around her and the car when the circle closes. The three inside sit, watch, and wait,

A car pulls out of the garage; a young man is sitting in the passenger seat, an older man driving the car. A few minutes, another car pulls out and heads the opposite direction. It’s difficult to see the driver of this car as a result.

Brianna notices a shimmering of the light outside her car window. She thinks it might be Regi. Suddenly there’s a knocking at the window and they let the pixie into the car. He’s holding a tuft of hair triumphantly.

“Great job, Regi!” Brianna says. “Get your ass in the car! Is this going to be enough, Sydney?”

“Yes,” Sydney says, smiling.

“Perfect. Let’s get back to your apartment.”

“I snooped around a bit,” the pixie says, “Found some weird notes I couldn’t read. Found a wand. Tucked under his mattress.”

“Were there other people in the house that you could tell?” Brianna asks.

“There was a cleaning lady and a guy in the kitchen.”

The four head back to Sydney’s house and talk about when how to watch Paul. They decide to conduct the ritual at midnight tonight at Sydney’s and see what the boy is up to.

View
Side Job: The Big Bad (Part Three)
Karkana Chronicles Eleven

March 27, 2013 (1:00 am: Sydney Benning’s Apartment)

“Who ever was controlling it had to be able to concentrate on it”, Sydney says.

“What do you mean? Someplace safe where they can sit and concentrate?” Brianna asks.

“Essentially, yes. Depending on how powerful they are, depends on how far away. This is clearly thaumaturgy, so they are having to pool a fair amount of power.”

“So I don’t know much about magic, what does this mean about stopping this. I’ve seen people throw fire, water, steam…” Brianna says.

“This isn’t that,” Sydney says.

“Okay.”

“This is slow, methodical, ritual magic. But its more powerful.”

“Great. Alright. The guy doing this, if he was going to bolt he would do it by now. If there were traces, is there a time limit? Do you need to do that tonight? If we need to do that tonight we can…”

“I can’t really trace the spell without a piece of it,” Sydney says.

“That ectoplasm disappeared really quickly,” Brianna observes.

“If there is a lair nearby, maybe there’s a clue there we could use,” Sydney says.

“Is that going to be time sensitive? Tomorrow will be easier to find a trail.”

“No, that will be fine.”

“My suggestion is to go at first light, go where the construct was facing, and use that as our starting point,” Brianna says.

“Okay,” Sydney says.

Sydney and Regi agree to be picked up slightly before dawn by Brianna and Joey and Brianna and Joey head back to their apartment.

As Brianna is getting ready to go to bed, she gets a phone call from a private number. She answers. It’s Clive.

“Hello Ms. Karkana.”

“Hello Clive. It’s fairly early in the morning. How can I help you?”

“My apologies. For us, it is late.”

“Ah. Truth be told, I’ve been up and around. You’re not catching me asleep.”

“Nerise would like to meet with you.”

“Tonight? I could be there in 20.”

“At your earliest convenience.”

“I have plans that will have me out very early in the morning, however I should be able to stop by tomorrow night. Should I try to stop by before the club opens?”

“How about 6 o’clock?”

“6 o’clock it is. I will see you tomorrow.” She hangs up and goes to share the conversation with Joey, She then takes a short shower and goes to bed.

March 27, 2013 (5:30 am)

Brianna and Joey get up early, stop at Peet’s Coffee along the way and pick up some coffee and breakfast along the way, and pick up Regi and Sydney before heading to Forest Park. They retrace their steps at Newton Creek to where they met the construct and to where the creature was slain and then to where the animal trail leads away from the creek.

Brianna asks Regi, “The construct’s been preying on the Week Folk for just the past week?”

“Two weeks.”

Sydney looks at the trail and thinks that its an older trail, older than the construct. The four fan out and track for one hour, looking for signs of a lair. Joey has the best luck. He finds a trail, branches pushed back indicating movement through the trail, that lead to a large mound with a cave in it.

Brianna approaches the mound carefully, listening, hearing only the trickling of water from within the cave. She uses her phone as a flashlight and goes inside.

Inside is a roundish, earthen chamber with water running into a stone pool. A circle is painted on the earthen floor. Otherwise, the room appears empty. Brianna calls the others forward.

“There’s some kind of circle painted on the ground there,” Brianna points out to Sydney.

“That might be where they control the construct,” the sorceress says.

“Well I guess we all look for clues,” Brianna says.

“Let me look first,” Sydney says. She goes inside and after a few moments, she re-emerges, saying that she saw no magical. traps inside or wards but that he has definitely broken the First Law, as far as she’s concerned.

“Remind me of the First Law again,” Brianna says.

“You do not kill with magic.”

“So it’s that obvious.”

“Only to the Sight.”

“So as far as looking for something sympathetic to link back to the person that did this…”

Sydney shakes her head. “I was only looking for mystical bad stuff.”

Brianna says, “Let’s go in and investigate. What about the circle? Is it going to hurt us?”

“No, it’s inert.”

They all go inside the cave and take a look around. The place is pretty bare except for the pool and the painted circle. However, Sydney finds a discarded granola bar wrapper wedged between some rocks. “It’s not much of a personal connection,” she says, “But I may be able to see where its been.”

“How long will that take?” Brianna asks.

“Tonight. I can do it tonight.”

“About what time? I have an engagement at six I can’t get out of.”

“8 o’clock.”

“Do we just meet back at your place? is that where you’ll have the results or where you’re doing this stuff?”

Sydney nods. “You can meet at my place. I’ll be ready to perform the divination by the. I’ll be able to see where this wrapper has been for the past day.”

“Map coordinates? That kind of thing?”

Sydney shakes her head. “No, just images.”

The group heads back to the car.

Brianna and Joey drive Regi and Sydney back home. After dropping them off, they drive around for a bit, speculating about Malcolm Rupert and whether or not he’s corrupt—or if they can make him look that way. Finally, they end up at Powells bookstore.

Brianna does some research on were creatures there. Were-bears are not terribly common, but have occurred. There is a difference between a lycanthrope—who does not shapeshift and is merely a vessel for a spirit of rage—and a were creature—who actually changes shape through a form of magic. Generally, were abilities are not transmissible through bites and such. It is an ability one is born with the potential to have. There is the exception of the Loup-Garou, which is the result of a hereditary curse. Many of the legends of the werewolf (silver bullets, full moons, etc.) have been conflated with vampires or the Loup-Garou. Also, many times, were creatures breed true (though not always).

After researching, she collects Joey and they head back to their apartment for a while before heading out to Nirvana. Once there, they are escorted up to Nerise’s office, which Joey waiting outside. Nerise offers Brianna a chair and Clive waits nearby.

“How are you?” Nerise asks.

“Life is interesting,” Brianna says.

“So I hear,” Nerise says.

“That depends on who you’ve been talking to, I suppose,” Brianna says.

“To be blunt, and, if I recall, you prefer bluntness…” Nerise starts.

“Yes.”

“You owe me a favor.”

“Yes, I do.”

“I have something that needs doing. I though you might be the person to do it and thus clear the slate.”

“I’m listening.”

“There is a man opening an establishment in my territory. I think you can appreciate my displeasure,” Nerise says.

“Yes, I can.”

“He seems to be unaware of the situation. He clearly did not do adequate research of his neighbors. I would like you to talk to him, bring him my demands and ensure compliance.”

“What exactly are your demands?”

“I demand 15% of the take. But if negotiated, I will settle for 10%. Obviously, I would prefer the 15%.”

“Is this a mortal or someone of our Court?”

Nerise smiles. “He’s a mortal. In fact, you know him. He’s name is Gould. I thought you’d be amused.”

Brianna frowns. “I don’t know if amused is the word I’m looking for.”

“As a persuasive measure, violence should be a last resort—I’m not looking for a street war. But feel free to let him know that your employer can ensure that his club will see very little in the way of business should he not comply. Feel free to use the Raith name as a tactic if you think it will get you somewhere.”

“It might. In my relationship with Gould currently, the leverage is usually in his court.”

Nerise smiles, a predator’s look. “Let’s see if we can change that.”

“Well, I guess I am very personally motivated that he does not come out ahead in any transactions in the city. I will persuade him,” Brianna says.

Nerise motions to Clive. Clive gives Brianna a business card. “Give this to him to contact me when he’s ready to play ball,” Nerise says.

“What is the name of this establishment?” Brianna asks.

“The Playhouse.” Nerise gives Brianna an address in northeast Portland.

“Out of curiosity,” Brianna asks," what have you heard about what’s going on with me?"

“Nothing to worry about,” Nerise says.

“Alright,” Brianna says and rises to excuse herself. “I’ll be moving on this and hopefully we’ll have results soon.”

She collects Joey outside the office and they two head out. In the car, she fills Joey in on the conversation and assignment.

They drive by The Playhouse and see an “Opening Soon” banner outside. It looks like a high-end gentleman’s club. Driving around toward the back, they see a few cars, including Gould’s gold-plated Lexus. They keep driving.

Brianna finds a rough bar at which to feed. She picks a fight and gets thrown out, but manages to feed on enough rage to sustain her. They then go to Sydney’s.

At Sydney’s, they meet Regi in the hallway, who tells them “Sydney says to go inside, she’s already started.” They quietly enter the apartment and see that the rug has been pulled back to reveal a circle painted on the floor. Incense is a burning in the room and Sydney is sitting within the circle with a bowl of water. Regi tells them to “Shhh.” Light shines out of the bowl and illuminates Sydney’s face. She’s is murmuring some sort of mantra over the water. Finally she stops and the light fades. Sydney looks tired.

“You okay?” Brianna asks.

“Yeah. Just takes a lot out of me.”

Sydney stands and goes to the sink, dumping out the water in her bowl.

“The wrapper was taken out of a backpack by a teenager in that cave. I’ve seen him. Then I saw him again putting it in the backpack at home. He was wearing a blazer, from a private school. It had a patch—Whittington’s.”

“The sick person that did this was a teen? Just a kid?” Brianna asks, incredulous.

“At the very least, he was in that cave.”

“Well, that’s our lead then.”

Brianna looks up the school on her phone. It’s a private school in the posh Irvington neighborhood. “You’d recognize this kid if you saw him?” Brianna asks Sydney.

“Yes.”

“Sounds like we need a yearbook. Do you have anything in your repertoire that’s going to make it easier to go and steal a yearbook from the library?”

“I can make things invisible, but it doesn’t last very long.”

Brianna checks her phone again and finds that the library is a separate building.

“Is there anything you can do with a security system?” she asks the sorceress.

“Hex it. Technology doesn’t work well around me.”

Brianna nods. “Ah. Phone interference and all that.”

“Well, I can do it on purpose as well.”

“Interesting. Breaking into the library is probably best done at night as they probably don’t let a lot of people on campus during the day with kids there and all. Is everyone up for a road trip?”

Everyone agrees and they all load up in Brianna’s car to go to Whittington’s Private School.

March 27, 2013 (10:00 pm, Whittington’s Private School)

Brianna parks the car across the street from the campus and sends Regi to go out and scout. He comes back a short time later with a report.

There is a guard station at the front gate. There are security cameras on the wall. The wall is approximately 8’ high and there are security cameras at the library entrance and the library wall.

The group discuss various plans for awhile before finally deciding on a course of action. Joey goes to move toward the front to watch the station guards. If they start moving, he’ll text Brianna. Sydney will hex the wall camera, signal Brianna, and then the two women will scale the wall.

As the two women approach the wall, Sydney runs and is suddenly not there. Next thing Brianna sees is a puff of smoke from the wall camera and Sydney at the wall signaling for Brianna to come. Both women climb the wall with ease. Then they approach the library.

Regi tells them where the library wall camera is and Sydney hexes it—and shorts out Brianna’s phone in the process. Brianna checks the library window for security measures and finds nothing.

Brianna whispers to the others, “I don’t have a phone anymore. If this triggers the police, we’re going to have to move fast. Can I get a light?”

“Allow me,” Regi says, and fills the area with a pale, green glow. Then he pulls a packet of tiny tools out of his pouch and he goes to work on the latch.

“Regi, you’re full of twists,” Brianna says, delighted.

The window is soon open and Brianna opens it all the way to allow them all entry into the Library.

“Our mission is to get in here, find a yearbook, see if we can ID this kid,” Brianna says.

Boarder_2.jpg

Everyone slips inside. Sydney makes a light globe to light their way. After about ten minutes of searching, they find a selection of yearbooks arranged by year behind the reference desk. Sydney takes the current year, starts with the freshmen, and works her way up. She patiently makes her way through the pictures until she comes across a sophomore by the name of Paul Whitlock. He’s a member of the chess club, Honor Roll, math team—and is the kid with the granola bar wrapper. She shows the picture to everyone else and then they put the book back and head out.

They traipse back over the grounds, head back over the wall, and go back to the car.

“Sorry about your phone,” Sydney says.

“Well, it’s replaceable,” Brianna says.

Brianna drives in the general direction of the guard house to pick up Joey. They spot him and get him in the car. They catch him up on the situation.

“We have a name,” Brianna says. “Can you do anything with that?” she asks Sydney.

“Not really,” Sydney says. They head back to Sydney’s and discuss possible plans.

“Our best scenario is following the kid home from school, which Regi may be good at due to not being noticeable but if he has. thing against the Wee Folk, I don’t want him anywhere near the bastard,” Brianna says. She turns to Sydney. “In your professional opinion, do you have a sense of time as far as him creating another one of these constructs?”

“It depends on how much innate power the kid has.”

“I’m assuming he has to go to school during the day,” Brianna says. “Is this something that can be started and stopped or must it all be done in one spell?”

“It would all be done in one spell in which he was pooling his power.”

“I’m assuming he’s using that cave to do his magic in—with the circle on the floor?”

“That makes sense,” Sydney says. “He’ll probably return there.”

“If all other ideas fail, that’s one place to lay in ambush. I’m going to try tomorrow and track him down online to find a place of residence.”

Brianna and Joey leave Sydney and Regi and head out to The Playground in northeast Portland. There are cars parked in the staff area—including Gould’s Lexus. Brianna notices security cameras watching the parking lot, so she has Joey park the car next to Gould’s. She gets out and leans against the Lexus and waits.

Ten minutes later, Gould and his driver come out.

“Ms. Karkana. A pleasant surprise.”

“Mr. Gould. I see you’re expanding your business opportunities.”

“To what do I owe this visit?”

“There is some business discussions we need to have.”

“I see. Well. Come inside.”

He opens the door for her and inside is an empty strip club. Very high-end. It’s no Nirvana, but some of the girls are rehearsing their routines, which says something already of the type of place it is.

Gould leads the way into a backroom office and invites Brianna to sit. He pulls out a decanter of some liquor and invites Brianna to have some and pours both of them a drink. He sits behind a large desk and sips his drink and Brianna sips hers—it’s a very good Scotch.

“So. To business,” Gould says.

“To business. This is a nice place.”

“Yes. It will be my little jewel once I’m done with it.”

“This is why I’m here.”

“Oh.”

“New club on the scene. People notice. My employer, for one.”

“Your employer?” Gould raises an eyebrow.

“Yes. She was very distressed to find a new business venture that had opened within her district that had not approached her first. She thought perhaps it was just oversight on your part and has send me to come speak with you.” Brianna sips her drink.

“And just who is this employer?”

Brianna hands Gould the business card that Nerise gave her. “As you are new to this particular venture, all enterprises of this nature go through Ms. Raith. She is willing to overlook such matters for a token percentage, a tribute of sorts.”

Gould turns a bit red and says. “You’re not going to extort from me , you puissant little street fighter…”

Brianna laughs. “You don’t have to worry about me. You have to worry about the House of Raith coming down on your head.”

Gould takes a drink. Brianna continues. “This is not to be ugly. She doesn’t want war in the streets. She just feels it would be a shame to not be properly compensated. It be a shame not to see such a business flourish. She has a vested interested in seeing such a business flourish. Business means profits.”

“What is she asking for?” Gould asks between clenched teeth.

“My employer feels that 15% will be adequate. I think that will help her overlook the insult and will help make a much more pleasant working relationship between the two of you.”

“15%. That’s outrageous!”

“You want the two of you to have a pleasant working relationship,” Brianna asserts, her tone dangerous."

Gould takes another drink. His hand is shaking. “She has that much influence?”

“Yes.”

“I’ve heard as much.”

Brianna smiles. “Tsk. tsk. You were aware of her in the city before you started this venture. Harder to claim you were unaware.”

Gould looks at Brianna coldly. “Get. Out.”

“I’m telling my employer what, exactly?”

“I’ll tell your employer what she needs to know.”

“Very good. I’ll let her know to expect your phone call.”

She leaves, collects Joey, and the two of them drive off. As Joey drives, Brianna borrows Joey’s cell phone to call Clive.

“Clive, I just spoke with Mr. Gould. I expect hell be compliant. I expect he’ll be contacting Nerise soon. At the percentage she was hoping for. However, I would like to be kept abreast if he changes his mind from when I left him. Please contact me either way.”

“That’s good. I’ll will inform her.”

“My phone died so if you have trouble contacting me, try this number. It’s Joey’s phone.

“Very well.”

The two head back home and go to bed.

March 28, 2013 (Thursday)

Brianna uses the burner phone to call people with this new number. She then goes to the public library to look up information on Paul Whitlock—no dice. So she goes to the University of Portland and gives a tip to Roy Dale to look up the information.

Roy finds Paul’s Facebook page with photos of home and various check-ins at Powell’s bookstore. He also apparently frequents various online forums as “WhiteWarlock”. Armed with this information, Brianna and Joey hope to find out more about this teenager.

View
Side Job: The Big Bad (Part Two)
Karkana Chronicles Eleven

March 26, 2013 (Tuesday, 9:30 pm: Forest Park)

Brianna, Regi, and Joey all head out to Forest Park. Brianna uses the GPS on her phone to get near Newton Creek and scout out the area. They decide to follow the creek. Regi provides light and guides the way, flying between Joey and Brianna.

At one point in their scouting, all three notice a set of canine eyes glowing in the darkness—from their position, it’s clear the creature is BIG. It pounces on Regi as Brianna punches at it and misses. Joey punches at the creature and misses as well. Even Regi attempts to punch it and misses. Brianna punches low and cracks—something—in the strange creature’s abdomen. Gooey ectoplasm spills out of it. It howls in pain. Now that it is out in the open, it is clear that it is not natural. It has semi-transparent skin and appears to be some hideous cross between a dog and a hyena.

It pins Regi to the ground. Joey pounds it with an elbow. Regi can’t seem to break free. Brianna yells “Let him go!” and hits him, but it seems to shrug it off. It grinds Regi down and the pixie’s light dims. Joey punches at it again and does not good, nor does Brianna. Regi just can’t seem to wiggle free. Brianna and Joey both try to force it to let go to no avail. Finally, the thing seems to lose its hold on the pixie. Regi shoots straight into the air. Brianna tries to hit the thing again but it bounds away into the darkness.

“Regi, are all right?” Brianna asks the beleaguered pixie.

“I think I cracked a wing!” the pixie squeaks.

“That thing was nasty! Do you know what that thing was?” she asks.

“The Big Bad,” Regi says, in awe.

“I don’t know if you’re in any shape to continue investigating tonight,” Brianna says.

“I can still fly,” Regi says, defiant.

“You need to stay high, then. Sydney will have my head if something happens to you. When I hit it, ectoplasm come out, not blood. What does that mean?” Brianna asks.

Joey shrugs.

Regi shrugs.

Brianna realizes it is a constructed body. She’s still unsure of the implications of that.

With Regi flying high, his light is too diffuse to light their way. She uses her phone as a flashlight. “Regi, are you sure you don’t want me to get you back somewhere safe?”

“No.”

“Stay high.”

The creature followed the creek as it loped off, so Brianna continues to follow the creek. She makes note of her current location (the attack location) as where its territory might start.

After about fifteen minutes of walking up the creek, all of them hear movement going away from the creek. Brianna darts toward the sound. She finds the creature padding down an animal trail. It turns and growls at her. Brianna hisses and attacks, hitting it. The creature bites Brianna, tearing her arm. Brianna hits it hard, bruising it. It bites at her again and misses her. At this point, Joey arrives but misses the creature with his elbow. Brianna attacks the creatures but misses. The creature attacks Brianna but misses. But then Joey drops it with a well-placed punch. Ectoplasm goes everywhere and an object drops into the dirt.

At first, Brianna thinks its a doll. Regi goes to pick it up and realizes its not a doll—but the desiccated corpse of a pixie. Regi goes still. “Ariella,” he whispers as he picks it up and hold it close.

“What?” Brianna says, incredulous.

“That’s Ariella,” Regi says.

“Is that one of the ones that disappeared?” Brianna asks.

“Yes,” Regi says, his voice hoarse.

“That’s the most sick and twisted thing I’ve ever heard of!”

Regi says, “I’ll bring her to Moire.”

“There’s something sick and twisted going on here,” Brianna repeats.

They head back to the car.

“That was a fucking awesome punch, Joey,” Brianna tells her partner.

“It’s what I do,” he says.

Brianna spends the car ride back to Mill Ends Park disgusted and angry.

When they get to the tiny park, Moire flies up. Regi shows her Ariella corpse. “We found the Big Bad and they defeated it, but we found Ariella inside it.”

Brianna elaborates. “It was some sort of construct. Some sort of horrible mix between dog and hyena.”

“A construct,” Moire says. “What is this?”

“Not a real body. It was filled with ectoplasm. I’m not a magic user per se. I don’t know too much more about it than that. I’ll have to do more research, but I think something horrible is going on in those woods.”

“But you defeated the Big Bad.”

“Yes, but I think something made it. And if it made one, it can make more.”

Moire turns to Regi. “Your fighter friend is not a magic user. Your magic friend is not a fighter. Maybe they can help each other.”

“I think that is a great idea,” Brianna says. “Let’s go Regi.”

Regi nods.

A couple of pixies take Ariella into the park. Regi tells Moire, “I will avenge Ariella. We will find the Big Bad Maker.”

Brianna, Joey, and Regi head for the car and go to Sydney’s. Once there, they send Regi ahead to give Sydney a heads up that they are there so that she can let them in. Sydney meets them at the door and invites them in.

Once inside, Brianna asks if Regi explained the situation to her. Sydney says that he explained to some extent. Brianna explains the situation in her own words. Once finished, she asks. “Someone had to make that thing, right?” referring to the construct.

“Yes,” Sydney says.

“That’s what I thought. It was the most horrid thing I’ve ever seen.”

“Whoever did this likely used Ariella as a symbolic link to control the construct,” Sydney says.

“I need you to repeat that for those of us who don’t understand how magic works.”

“The corpse was his remote control.”

“So he was seeing out of its eyes? The construct?”

“Possibly.”

“Why pixies?”

“I don’t know. I don’t thing he’s collecting them for sympathetic links. He could use anything for that.”

“So he’s using pixie corpses for fun?” Brianna exclaims, horrified.

“That’s not what I’m saying. I don’t think he has a stash of pixie corpses. That doesn’t make sense.”

“Clearly the construct went after Regi.”

“Exactly. Because of the sympathetic link.”

Brianna asks Regi, “Was Ariella the first pixie to go missing?”

“Yes,” Regi says.

“So something happens to Ariella. She becomes the first corpse. he uses her to power the construct to target other pixies?”

“Right,” Sydney says.

“I suppose that’s less terrifying than collecting corpses but it still doesn’t make sense.”

“So he’s targeting pixies for some reason. With a construct. Perhaps he’s gathering power,” Sydney says.

“By their deaths?” Brianna asks.

“Right,” Sydney says.

“Besides being a dickhead, what is this? Necromancy? This is bad, yes?”

“Yes. It’s blood magic and its bad. But this is just speculation. But it fits. At least as much as anything. I hate to ask it, but with Ariella, I might be able to divine something.”

Regi crosses his arms and says, “No. Wizards have done enough to Ariella.”

“We know what direction it was going. There was ectoplasm that dissipated,” Brianna says.

“Whoever did this is going to be very angry that their construct is gone,” Sydney says.

“Good,” Brianna says. That will make them stupid. We can go back and try to find the lair of this person."

“Who ever was controlling it had to be able to concentrate on it,” Sydney says.

View
Side Job: The Big Bad (Part One)
Karkana Chronicles Eleven

March 26, 2013 (Tuesday)

Once Brianna and Joey get home from Seattle, they wash their clothes and go to bed. Later that morning, Brianna gets a text from Carl that he wants to meet. They arrange a meet at Barry’s Drafthouse at 5 pm. At 5, the two spot Carl at the bar.

“What are we drinking tonight?” Brianna asks.

“Wheat wine.”

The three take a table and Carl cuts to the chase. “I thought you might like to know that we’re starting to ship medical supplies again.”

“Do you know where they’re shipping to?”

“Somewhere local, I know. I just load.”

“Have you seen Rupert around any more? Or any new faces?”

“No new faces. Gould goes out a lot. But I saw Rupert today. He came in empty handed. left with a briefcase.”

Brianna spends the next few minutes questioning Carl on some details. The trucks they use at the warehouse are unmarked and leave at nightfall, at the end of the day. There are usually at least two trucks that head out per day.

“Was Gould there when Rupert was there?” Brianna asks.

“Yes.”

“What’s been Gould’s mood lately?”

“Good.”

“That means trouble,” Brianna mutters. “That’s good to know,” she says.

She thanks Carl and pays him and buys the drinks.

In the car on the way back home, she tells Joey “I don’t like when Gould’s happy. It’d be interesting to know where the trucks are going. It’d be interesting to know what Rupert’s up to. It’s hard to maintain one’s innocence in such matters if we get caught at his home.”

Joey says, “I think it’s interesting that Rupert is getting a pay off.”

“You think he’s getting a briefcase full of cash?”

“He’s getting a briefcase of something.”

Brianna says, “My assumptions are that this society is kind of shady. I wonder if its Rupert that is. What’s Rupert doing for Gould?”

The two discuss their past transactions with Rupert and Gould.

When they get back to their apartment, Brianna notices that the front door is unlocked. She whispers to Joey that she’s going to go in quickly and to come in after her. She darts in with her inhuman speed and finds that Barnabas Gould and his associate, Silas Sharpe are in her apartment. Gould is sitting in an easy chair and Sharpe is standing at the ready nearby.

“You’re not a welcome houseguest,” Brianna says.

“My, you are fast,” Gould says in admiration, smiling.

“And to what do I owe this unexpected house call?”

Joey comes in and shuts the door.

“Excuse the dramatics, but I felt someone should get your attention, and as your silent business partner, I thought perhaps it should be me,” Gould says.

“We have agreements. that doesn’t make us partners. People have been trying to get my attention for two months straight. They can do that without sitting on my couch,” Brianna says through gritted teeth. She sits in a chair in front Gould.

“You say they’ve been trying to get your attention and yet you’re still out of business,” Gould says.

“I wasn’t referring to any specific group of people. However, my workload is light nowadays.”

“And yet, if you pay attention, that can be fixed.”

“This is starting to sound a lot like a conversation I had with Rupert. I told him I can’t help him. that whatever he’s looking for he needs to look elsewhere,” Brianna says.

“Look,” Gould says, smiling, “Its nothing me, seeing you out of work. There’s no love lost between us. I’m just trying to give you friendly advice.”

Brianna shrugs. Gould continues.

“Whether you can’t or won’t, it works out well for me. If you do, it works out well for me.”

“I see, this was break in to my house for a bit of a kindly gloating.”

“No. I truly want to advise you that things can get worse. Not to gloat, but to demonstrate that I’m not done playing. Come Silas. I think we’re done here.”

He and his hulking associate make their way to the door under Brianna’s watchful eye and leave. After they exit, Brianna tells Joey to lock the door. “Not that it seemed to make much of a difference before.” Joey does it.

Brianna then goes to her room and punches a hole in wall. “I should have ate him while I had the chance. I hate that man.” She goes the bathroom and rinses off her hand, drinking water from the tap. She comes out and talks to Joey.

“Well, I don’t know what that was about. As far as I can tell, he was sincere with everything he said. I can’t help but think he’s getting a bit of pressure to get that thing back.”

The two decide to check the house for electronic bugs. Joey is pretty thorough in his search and finds none.

“I’m really tired of people trying to manipulate me,” Brianna says. “I don’t know if they think I’m stupid. Yes I realize the recent Fed investigation probably has the shadow organization behind it, but at this point I don’t have a lot of options. I can’t actually produce he item for them. And if I could then they would give it to Gould, which would be the worst scenario ever. All I need is for them to start working with the Red Court vampires in Seattle and life will be complete.”

There’s a rapping at the window. Brianna checks it out—it’s Regi. She let’s the pixie inside. “Hiya, lady,” he says.

“Hi Regi. Can I get you something to drink?”

“Sure, but I don’t have a lot of time.”

“What can I help you with? What’s going on?”

“Us little folk have been getting taken as we travel through Forest Park at night.”

“Disappearing?”

“Yes.”

“How many folk so far?”

“Five. Come with me to Mill Ends to see Moire.”

Brianna looks at Joey. “You’ll come?”

“Sure.”

The three load up in the car and head out to Mill Ends Park. They park the car and walk over to the park. The tiny city park in the sidewalk median is lit up with motes of light. Regi says, “Wait here.” He flies into the park and then re-emerges with another pixie, this one a pretty female with dark hair. “I told you she’d help,” Regi is telling her as they fly up.

“We’ll see,” the female pixie says. She then addresses the others. “I’m Moire. I’m spokeswoman for the Wee Folk.”

Brianna and Joey introduce themselves.

“Regi told you what’s been happening?” Moire asks. Brianna reiterates what Regi said about the disappearances.

“There are rumors of a Big Bad in the park,” Moire says.

“Do you know what its doing with the Wee Folk? Is there any sign of them left?” Brianna asks.

“No and no,” Moire says.

“And you’re sure they’re being taken out of the park?” Brianna asks.

“That’s the last place they’re seen,” Moire says.

“Forest Park is really quite big. Is this concentrated in one area in Forest Park or all over?” Brianna asks.

“Near Newton Creek,” Regi says.

“I’ve heard weres are in Forest Park,” Brianna says.

“They just run,” Moire says, dismissively.

“They don’t hunt?” Brianna asks.

“Not usually. Not us.”

Brianna pulls up a map on her phone and finds Newton Creek. “I’m willing to take a look,” she says.

“We’d be most grateful,” Moire says.

Regi says that he will come with them. The three of them, Regi, Joey, and Brianna, all head out to Forest Park.

View
Side Job: Trials and Tribulations (Part Two)
Karkana Chronicles Ten

March 25, 2013 (Monday Afternoon)

After the trial proceedings for the day are done, Brianna approaches Detective Loomis to say hello.

“Good to see you. I don’t know if you’ve spoken to Ezekiel about the events of a couple of nights ago…”

“Yes. A lot of excitement,” the detective says.

“Lots of excitement,” Brianna agrees. “That will probably change my plans of staying here consecutively during the trial.”

“Oh?”

“A lot of it depends if much more excitement is coming my way.”

“Understandable.”

“Anyway, I want to talk to Ezekiel before I leave. Is this a good number to call him at?” Brianna shows Loomis the last number Ezekiel contacted her from.

“Yes.”

“Lovely. Well, he and I need to talk. Regardless, I still haven’t forgotten I owe you a drink.”

“Nor have I.”

“Very good.”

She breaks away from the detective to go chat with Quincy and his lawyer. She gets the lawyer’s card. His name is William London. She finds out that Quincy hasn’t been kicked out of his hotel, but has changed rooms after the attack. She takes her cousin aside to speak with him privately.

“With the events of two nights ago, the stakes are raised for staying in Seattle for an extended time for the entire trial. I may be a danger to myself and to others. I may go back to Portland and come back for the end of the trial. I’ll keep you posted.”

She and Joey head back to the car. As they get into the car, Brianna notices a gleam of light reflecting off of a gun scope and manages to duck in time for a bullet to graze her arm. The shot came from a red sports car that spins out and takes off. She didn’t recognize the shooter.

The two hop into her car and start to try and catch up enough so that Brianna can take a picture of the license plate. They also note that there are two people in the care—a driver and a shooter.

Brianna, furious, dials Ezekiel—there’s a lot of interference on the line. “I just got fucking shot!” she yells.

“Are you all right?” the Warden asks.

" I will be. I don’t know how or when you will be going after the Margrave, but he is making me angry and I’m now taking this personally. In the middle of the fucking day! I’m glad it wasn’t at the courthouse or there’d be fucking cops all over this. That’s all we need is another of us in jail! "

- interested—-raid—-indirect—-” There’s a great deal of static on the line and it’s difficult for Brianna to hear the Warden on the other side.

“I can only hear every other word!” she yells into the phone.

- Pike’s Place—-one hour—-”

“Alright.” Brianna hangs up. “Like talking to someone working in a fucking generator. Fucking wizards.”

To Joey she says, “I don’t know. Sounds like a raid to get at the Margrave. We meet at Pike’s Place somewhere in an hour. This is seriously damaging my calm.” She continues to fume. I guess we’ll get more details when we get to Pike’s Place. I don’t know if this is something you want to get into or not."

“So I’m supposed to sit in the hotel room and knit a sweater?”

“I like having you at my back, but I want it to be very clear that it is your choice whether you get involved. We’ll get more information once we get to this actual meeting. But I could catch “indirect,” so I don’t think we’re going against the Margrave in his place of business. The bastard’s tried to kill me twice now and I’ve had it."

The two head to their hotel room to change clothes and then to out to Pike’s Place market. They throw their luggage in the trunk in case they decide to go ahead and head back to Portland after their adventures tonight.

They decide to hang out by the large iconic sign first to see if Ezekiel shows up. Sure enough, the lanky Warden meets them there.

“Are you alright?” he asks Brianna.

“Yes, thank you. I have a picture of the license plate. Joey’s a good driver and was able to get close enough to get it.”

“Get that to Loomis and you could see some results.”

“I wasn’t sure if he would treat as an officer of the law, or as…”

“That’s his decision,” Ezekiel says.

“I didn’t want to get asked in for questioning for someone shooting at me.”

“He knows discretion,” Ezekiel assures her.

Brianna shrugs. “I’ll call Loomis.” She dials his cell phone.

“This is Loomis,” he answers.

“This is Brianna. I’m here with Ezekiel. He says you have discretion. I have a license plate number of someone who shot at me from the passenger seat as I was leaving the courthouse this afternoon.”

“Give me the number.”

“I have a picture of it, actually. Make. Model. One shooter, one driver. Thank you.” She hangs up and texts him the picture. She turns to the Ezekiel. “You’re hard to talk to on the phone.”

“Technology doesn’t agree with me.”

“Are we talking here or is there someplace we can talk?”

“There’s a park nearby. Why don’t we take a walk?”

Ezekiel leads the way and once they get out of the more populated market area, he begins. “I’m not directly after the Margrave. Yet. Too dangerous. But I am going after one of his establishments. A nest. It’s an apartment building. Chock full of Red Court. Tenants move in. Become thralls and are fed on. I’m taking it down.”

“Good,” Brianna says. “Do you have any sense of how many Red Court are actually in there.”

“Ten.”

“How many mortals?”

“Probably the same.”

“Is this a permanent solution of clearing out this nest?”

“How do you mean?”

“Is your sword getting involved?”

“Yes.”

“Good. What about the mortals? Won’t they need help?”

“They’ll need mental treatment,” Ezekiel says with a frown.

Brianna nods. “Yes, I’d like to help.”

“It’ll be me, Loomis, Dexter Quinn. You’ve not met him.”

“I’ve heard of him. Word on the street is that he’s the head of the local pack.”

Ezekiel nods. “Word on the street is right.”

“I have nothing against weres, though I haven’t worked with them. I take it Dexter Quinn isn’t going to have anything against working with me?”

“I don’t think so.”

Ezekiel gives Brianna an address on Aurora Avenue.

“What time do we go?” Brianna asks.

“We can’t do this in broad daylight,” Ezekiel cautions.

“Seems like that would be problematic. Unfortunately, they’ll be up.”

Ezekiel nods. “We begin at 9 pm. We meet a block away.” He gives her the block.

“Good,” Brianna says. “I’ll try not to get shot at between now and then.”

Brianna’s cell phone rings. It’s Loomis.

“This is Brianna.”

“It’s Loomis.”

“That was quick.”

“The car is hot.”

“Somehow that does not surprise me.”

“Sorry,” Loomis says.

“Somehow I did not think it would be that easy. Thank you for looking.”

“No problem. But your photo gave a partial of the driver. At least his neck tattoo—which is a sign from a local gang,” Loomis says.

“Charming.”

“You run into any gangs while you’ve been here?”

“Not that I know of. So either he’s got gangs working for him or he’s got my picture out to crappy shooters or what?”

“How far do you want me to pursue this?” Loomis asks.

“I don’t know. I’m not lodging a formal complaint. No offense, but I’ve spent enough time in police stations and courtrooms to last a long time. Do you know the name of the gang?”

“Anacondas.”

Brianna asks Ezekiel, “Does the Margrave have any known associations with the Anacondas? Apparently that was the gang sign of the asshole that shot me.”

“The Margrave has his hands in nearly every criminal organization in the city.”

“That’s reassuring,” Brianna says. To Loomis she says, “You’re the detective. I’ll leave that up to you. Unless you can find out who that person is in case he’s walking down the street towards me.”

“I’ll do what I can off the record.”

“I greatly appreciate it. On the upshot, if I can keep myself from being killed, then it appears we’re attending the same event tonight.”

“Oh, really.” Loomis seems pleasantly surprised.

“I guess I’ll see you then.” She hangs up and turns to the Warden. “Anything we need to bring besides ourselves?”

“You know what you’re going in for,” he says.

“Yep. Satisfaction.”

Ezekiel looks at Joey. “You have a weapon?”

The fighter shakes his head. The Warden sighs. “You may not want in on this. You’ll be in over your head.”

“I back up Brianna,” Joey says firmly.

“Do you think Loomis would let him borrow a Kevlar vest?” Brianna asks.

“We can ask Loomis,” Ezekiel says.

“Is there Accorded Neutral Ground in Seattle?” Brianna asks.

“No,” Ezekiel says.

“Was there Accorded Neutral Ground in Seattle?”

“Yes,” Ezekiel says.

“I’m going to try to avoid gang members for the rest of the day. See you at nine,” Brianna says and she and Joey head back to her car.

“I hope you’re okay with the Kevlar idea,” Brianna says to Joey.

“Yeah,” he says.

“I don’t want to be stupid about this,” she continues. Joey doesn’t say anymore about it.

They hang out and drive until time for their rendezvous at nine, trying to lay low. Later, Brianna texts Loomis: IF EZEKIEL HASN’T MENTIONED IT YET, CAN YOU BRING KEVLAR?

Loomis texts back: WILL DO.

They go to a supply store and Joey buys a hunting knife.

March 25, 2013 (9 pm)

Brianna and Joey meet at the rendezvous point about a block away from the apartment building. Loomis and Ezekiel are there as well as a ruggedly handsome man in a mechanic’s shirt and jeans. He introduces himself as Dexter Quinn. Brianna gets a strong supernatural “vibe” off of the man.

When Brianna introduces herself, he nods and says “So you’re the other kind,” meaning the other kind of vampire.

“I suppose you could say that,” Brianna says.

“Interesting,” Quinn says.

“Everyone keeps using that word,” Brianna mutters.

Quinn says to Ezekiel, “So we’re approaching from the rear?”

“Yes. I think it best if you go in your alternate form. You’ll probably be more effective.”

Both men then turn and look at Loomis. The detective nods.

Ezekiel continues. “So we approach from the rear. One door at a time.”

“Eliminate the Red Court, neutralize the thralls, I suppose,” Brianna says.

Ezekiel nods.

“Perfect,” Brianna says.

“Joey, why don’t you concentrate on the thralls. Get them out of the way,” Ezekiel says.

“I can do that,” Joey says. Loomis hands Joey a Kevlar vest and Joey puts it on.

“Follow me.” And Ezekiel leads the way through alleys to the rear of a small, two-story apartment building with outward-facing doors and exterior staircases.

“Gentlemen, I think it’s time to change outfits,” Ezekiel says. Quinn and Loomis begin shucking their clothes. Brianna and Joey start their limbering stretches they usually do before a fight. Behind them, they hear meaty, stretching sounds and then, padding up to join them are a wolf and grizzly bear. The bear looks at Brianna and shrugs its shoulders. Brianna looks him over and nods appreciatively, “Nice.”

Ezekiel points at the first apartment in the bottom row. There’s door number one."

Brianna leads the way and breaks down the door with her inhuman strength. Inside she sees a male vampire feeding on a male thrall. The vampire looks up in surprise and Brianna punches him in the face. Ezekiel yells from the back “Go for the belly!” Dexter leaps into the room and tears into the vampire’s stomach, tearing away the flesh mask there and blood flies everywhere. The vampire’s claws elongate from the remaining flesh and slash at the wolf’s belly but misses. Loomis pads into the room and attempts to bite at the prone creature and manages to miss it. Ezekiel stands in the doorway and shoots a stream of steam from the palm of his hand at the vampire, but the creature manages to squirm out of its path. Joey is blocked from getting inside by Ezekiel in the doorway, but keeps an eye on anyone coming up behind them.

Quinn manages to bite deeper into the vampire’s belly while Brianna reaches down and punches it in the stomach. The vampire slashes Quinn with its claws while Loomis, once again, misses the vampire. Finally, Quinn takes the vampire out with another deep bite. His muzzle and chest and are covered in blood.

The thrall is dazed and lying on the couch. Brianna looks to make sure that the apartment is self-contained and not connected to the next. Brianna starts to leave when she hears Joey say “Oh shit.” Outside the apartment, Ezekiel and Joey face off against another vampire.

The creature tries to slash at Joey but the experienced fighter is light on his feet and manages to dodge it. Joey punches the creature the in the stomach and Ezekiel fills its face with steam, melting away its flesh mask and blistering the bestial face beneath it. Brianna emerges from the apartment and punches the vampire in the stomach and Quinn manages to leap out of the apartment door and tackle the vamp. Loomis lumbers out of the apartment and actually manages to belly slash the vampire with his huge paw. Finally, Quinn buries his face into the vampire’s gut and finishes it off.

Brianna sees that the apartment next door is open. She peers inside and sees two thralls spaced out and lying on the floor.

Before going into the third apartment, Ezekiel calls a halt to regroup. “I have an idea. I can hit the room with a flash bang before we go in.”

“I still have to get the door open,” Brianna says. She then hears a door open upstairs. “Someone opened a door upstairs,” she warns and looks. She sees a heavyset man with a shot gun on the balcony. “Gun!” she yells.

With a roar, the shotgun goes off and the raiding party scatters. Brianna bolts for the stairs with her inhuman speed. The man, nearly as fast as she is, fires again, this time at her. He misses. She meets him, sweeps his leg with hers, and knocks him off-balance. He fires again and misses. Quinn arrives and bites the man, tearing away a flesh mask, revealing him to be a vampire. Ezekiel fires another round of steam at the vamp from down below, melting away more of his flesh mask. Brianna grapples with the man, inciting rage within him, and begins to feed upon the emotion, doing mental harm. Quinn bites him again. The vamp can’t break away from Brianna’s grip and continues to froth in rage. A slap of air from Ezekiel strikes the vampire as Quinn, once again, tears into the vampire and takes it out. Brianna takes the shotgun and the shells that remain and tosses them to Joey.

Finally, they head back down to the third door of the apartment building. Brianna, once again, breaks down the door and then steps aside to let Ezekiel do his flash-bang spell. She can hear a thunderclap go off and, even though she turned away, see lightning go off out of the corner of her eye. Brianna then moves in. She sees a couple of women standing in the living room rubbing their eyes and covering their ears, obviously distressed. She moves up to the them and checks them for bite marks. They’ve been fed upon. She calls out “Mortals” to the rest of the her compatriots and starts throwing open doors. When she throws open the door to one of the bedrooms, a Red Court vamp pops out and slashes her across the chest. “Motherfucker!” she yells. She pushes the vamp to get it off balance. It slashes her across the cheek, but Brianna shrugs it off. She then grapples with the thing, incites it to rage, and begins to feed on it. At this point, Quinn arrives and bites the creature in the belly as Brianna continues to feed on it and finally kills it, allowing its life force to heal her wounds.

At the next door, Brianna breaks it down and is met with a woman swinging a broom handle at her. The woman keeps missing her with the wooden pole, but not for lack of trying. Brianna manages to intimidate her and sees her glazed over eyes. Brianna knocks her out with one punch. Everyone comes inside and Brianna, cautiously this time, starts opening doors in the apartment. At the bedroom, a vampire surprises everyone again and Brianna and Quinn begin to engage it, when suddenly another one emerges from the bathroom. With the tight quarters of the hallway, Brianna takes the one in the bathroom while Quinn takes the one in the bedroom. The others are having a hard time helping. Quinn manages to takes a seriously bloody wound to his gut from the vampire in the bedroom while Brianna engages with “the bathroom buddy”. Loomis attempts to help Brianna by swiping at the bathroom vamp, but misses. Joey shoots at the bedroom vamp but misses. Ezekiel shoots his steam at the bedroom vamp and burns away his flesh mask and blisters it. Quinn manages to bite the vamp. Meanwhile, Brianna punches the bathroom buddy in the stomach. Loomis manages to slash him in the belly. Joey fires with the shotgun again—and misses everyone. Ezekiel strikes the bedroom vamp with an evocation of air. Quinn is on the ropes—his belly wound is bleeding and he misses the bedroom vamp. Brianna turns to the bedroom vamp and manages to take him out with a vicious punch, taking full advantage of his other injuries. She then turns her attention back to the “bathroom buddy”. The vampire in the bathroom misses Brianna. Loomis slashes the bathroom vamp across the face. Joey then shoots Loomis in the back. “Fuck!” he yells from across the room as the bear roars. Ezekiel steam jets the vamp while Quinn bites him and Brianna finally takes him out.

Breathless, everyone rests for a moment after the hairy fight. Brianna looks at Quinn. “Can you do anything?” she asks Ezekiel. “No,” the Warden says. “He needs medical attention.”

“Are we calling this off to get you medical attention or are you going to the back and take up rear guard? Loomis and I can go up front,” Brianna says to Quinn.

Quinn and Loomis nod.

At the last door on the bottom floor, Brianna busts open the door on an empty apartment. She goes through and confirms it. They then head upstairs, Loomis carefully lumbering.

At the first door on the second floor, Brianna bursts through the door and a vampire rushes forward to meet her. She rushes forward to meet him. The vamp goes to claw her but misses. Loomis enters the room and misses the vampire. Brianna strikes the vampire. The vampires claws at Brianna again and misses. Loomis then claws the vamp with a powerful paw. Brianna then takes the creature out. The raiders check the other rooms and find nothing of interest save for a thrall lying on the bed in the bedroom.

At the next door, Brianna once again breaks down the door and finds a vampire waiting on her who spits at her. She manages to dodge the narcotic saliva as he rushes her. Brianna its the vampire and he hits her. Loomis comes up from behind and misses. Brianna misses. The vampire hits, then Loomis hits, then Brianna sweeps the vampire’s leg, knocking it off-balance. The vampire then hits Brianna, bloodying her nose. Loomis hits the thing as Brianna grapples with it and begins to feed. The vampire cannot break away and Loomis manages to give it belly slash as Brianna kills it with her feeding.

Inside the bedroom, they find a couple watching television. “Who are you?” the man demands. “What are you doing here?” The woman says, “We’re calling the police!” Brianna manages to get the phone first. She pulls it out of the wall. “If you want to stay safe, then you stay the hell in this room.” She intimidates them into staying put.

As the party leaves, she mutters, “Those two are awful sentient.”

Ezekiel says, “Fine thralls.”

Brianna throws the phone over the balcony.

At the next door, Brianna breaks it down and is met by the barrel of a large-caliber handgun. “I don’t know what the hell is going on here, but it’s not coming in here,” she hears from the darkness within.

Brianna says, “I’m going to turn on this light. If you shoot me, you will be very unhappy with the consequences.” She reaches in and flips on the light.

She sees a young black man wearing a Seahawks jersey pointing a large gun at her face. He looks a bit dazed, scared, and she an see bite marks on his neck. She says, “I’m not here to hurt you, but I’m coming in here to see if you have someone else with you No you better not get in my way.”

“Is that a grizzly bear?” the man asks, incredulously.

“That’s my friend. You better sit your ass down in that chair in there right now.”

He clicks back the hammer. “I can’t let you in here.”

Brianna punches him. The man fires his gun, but misses. Brianna punches him again and knocks him out.

She and Loomis enter the apartment and start checking it out. Loomis starts to roar and attacks a shadowy corner of the living room. He gives the hidden vampire a bloody gash. The vampire attacks Loomis. Brianna moves to the corner and attacks the vampire. The vampire attacks Loomis and hits him. Loomis slashes the vampire across the face and Brianna takes him out.

“Is the rest of the apartment clean?” Brianna asks the bear. Loomis nods.

At the next apartment, Brianna breaks down the door and a vampire tries to run past her. Loomis rears up and lumbers down, knocking the vampire prone. The vampire sheds its flesh mask and slashes at Loomis from beneath him. Loomis tries to bite it, but misses. Brianna goes to punch it, but misses. Ezekiel steams the creatures, blistering it. Brianna misses it. The vampire misses Loomis. Loomis misses it. Ezekiel steams it again. Brianna cracks one of its ribs. It slashes Loomis. Loomis misses it. Ezekiel steams it a third time. And finally Brianna takes it out. Brianna searches out the apartment and finds that it is empty.

At the tenth and final door, Brianna breaks it down. They all search it out and find it clear of vampires.

Brianna, panting, says, “I think that’s everyone.”

“Me too,” Ezekiel says.

“So what happens now? We have dead Red Court. Dazed people,” Brianna asks.

“Loomis, can we arrange for a nice policeman to evacuate these people for awhile?” Ezekiel asks Loomis.

The bear nods and begins loping towards the rear of the building where their clothing was left.

“Loomis may be able to get the thralls to safety while I take care of the Red Court corpses,” Ezekiel says.

“Good. Is there anything else you need our help with?” Brianna asks.

“No. You’ve done plenty. I appreciate it.”

“I appreciate the opportunity. At this point, we’ll probably heading back to Portland.”

“Well, if you come back to Seattle, I’d be happy to count you as an ally.”

“Thank you. I count you as an ally as well.”

The two shake hands.

Joey and Brianna head downstairs. They meet Loomis coming back.

“Where’d Quinn go?” Brianna asks.

“He’s going to get his wound looked at.”

“Good. All right then.” She grins. “I don’t know why when we have an adventure together I wind up with a ruined wardrobe and covered in blood from head to toe, but I’m glad that’s done.”

“Me too. You hanging around?”

“I think I’m heading back to Portland for while. People are shooting at me in the street. Seems to be asking for trouble staying here. The Red Court doesn’t have as big a presence in Portland. Hopefully no trouble will follow me that way. I need a bath, a bed, and a whisky, but not necessarily in that order. It was good to see you.”

The two shake hands and Joey returns the Kevlar vest.

“Hopefully I’ll see you when I’m back in town for my cousin’s verdict. Or, if you find yourself in Portland, give me a call,” Brianna says.

“Okay,” Loomis says.

Joey and Brianna head back to the car, change clothes in the back of the car, and drive back to Portland.

“A were-bear. That’s not what I expected,” Brianna says as they drive.

“Nope,” Joey says.

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Side Job: Trials and Tribulations (Part One)
Karkana Chronicles Ten

March 15, 2013 (Early Morning)

Brianna and Joey talk about how crazy this last encounter was and how they hope the cult will actually move on. They go home and go to bed.

Later that morning, Brianna calls Detective Loomis.

“This is Brianna. I hear things are active up there. Word’s got all the way to Portland.”

“Things are hopping.”

“I know Ezekiel’s got a lot of people looking for him right about now, but I was hoping you could pass on a message for him to call me.”

“I can do that.”

“I’d appreciate it.” Anything I need to know about that you can say over the phone when I come up for my cousin’s trial?"

“Just watch yourself.”

“I usually do. You as well. Good day.”

Brianna hangs up and sends Quincy a text: EVERYTHING GOING OKAY? THERE’S A LOT OF ACTIVITY. HOPE TO COME UP FRIDAY OR SATURDAY BEFORE TRIAL.

Quincy texts back: EVERYTHING FINE IF BORING HERE. LET ME KNOW WHEN YOU’RE IN TOWN.

Later that day, Ezekiel George calls Brianna back. As usual when he calls, there’s a great deal of interference on the line and its a bit tricky to hear him.

“Thank you for calling me back,” Brianna says. “I expect you’re busy right now, but I just had an interaction with a group southeast of Seattle where someone had summoned a spirit, a phobophage of some sort. He had a cult of some sort. The spirit’s been sent back, the cult is broken up, but it may merit investigation to make sure there’s nobody lingering.” She gives Ezekiel directions to the compound.

“Thanks,” he says. “It has been busy of late, but I have some allies.”

“Lovely,” Brianna says. "They’re calling themselves “The Fellowship of the Sacred Lamb. A lot of kids. Just wanted to pass that on. Anyway, we’ll probably be back in Seattle in about a week or so for cousin’s trial.”

“I’ll be sure and check this out,” Ezekiel says.

March 18, 2013 (Monday)

Brianna calls Agent Roccelli of the Treasury Department.

“This is Brianna Karkana calling to see if there has been any updates on my accounts being unfrozen.”

“There have been no changes thus far, unfortunately. No one has come forward with any new information.

“Alright, I trust you’ll contact me when they do.”

“I will. And I trust you’ll contact me if you have any information of interest.”

“I guess. If I can think of anything, I will let you know. Alright, well have a nice day.”

“You as well.”

Brianna hangs up. “Joey,” she says, “at what point I don’t know when I need to get a lawyer.”

She and Joey then go and check in on Pastor Cartland at the Pentecostal Mission House. They see Aiden there as well. As far as how things are going, the pastor says they are taking things “one day at a time.”

March 22, 2013 (Friday—late night)

Brianna and Joey head out to the Seattle and stay in an economy hotel.

March 23, 2013 (Saturday)

At 8 am, Brianna gets up and calls Quincy.

“We’re in town,” she says.

“Great. Where are you at?”

She tells him the hotel name and location.

“Did you want to meet?” he asks.

“Yes, I would like to. We’ve got some stuff to catch up on and we need to find out what to expect on Monday.”

“Why don’t I come by then?”

“Very good. See you later.”

Quincy shows up later that morning. Brianna gives him a hug. “Good to see you,” she says.

They go out to find Joey some food.

" The Red Court’s been very active. I’ve heard rumors all the way in Portland. You’ve not had any problems? " Brianna asks.

“I know enough to steer clear,” Quincy says.

" Well, I guess you got some residue from some of that. Some that was residue from when I was here with Madeline. "

“Madeline Raith’s infamous messes.”

“I think she and I took care of what needed to be taken care of. I just agree there were ripple effects. I just didn’t expect you to get caught up in them.

Brianna and Quincy discuss the upcoming trial. Quincy is pretty confident that his lawyer can create enough reasonable doubt in the jury’s mind with the “blond woman” being caught on tape and Loomis’ testimony.

“Is this a ‘family’ lawyer or someone you hired?” Brianna asks.

“I hired him.”

“I may end up needing to hire a lawyer,” Brianna says, " Someone has given my name to the US Treasury Department for ‘fraudulent activities’ involving my accounts. The investigation is not really going anywhere right now, so I’ve been told. If my accounts are frozen for much longer, then I’m going to need to hire some legal representation."

“That’s rough,” Quincy says.

“Yep. Yeah, well. It means business is slow. Until this gets resolved, I’ve got a lot of free time.”

“My guy is good, if you want to go that route.”

“Well, I appreciate it. It may come to it.”

The two White Court vampires watch Joey eat and chit chat a while.

“I thought I would have a drink with Loomis. He spoke at your arraignment—I get the impression that was rare,” Brianna says.

“Yeah, that got me my low bail,” Quincy says.

“Other than that, I’ll stay out of trouble. Everyone expects I want to be in it. it just seems to find me. If he’s amenable, I don’t know if you’re interested in going with us or not?”

“Sure.”

They let Joey finish his meal and then head out to the car and call Loomis.

“This is Loomis.”

“It’s Brianna. I’m in town.”

“Oh.”

“My cousin and I were talking and thought it might be nice to buy you a drink. It was nice of you to speak on his behalf during his arraignment.”

“I only told the truth. I’ll take a raincheck until after the trial. I don’t want to jeopardize any sense of neutrality in my testimony.”

“Understandable. Until after the trial, then.”

“Thanks for the offer, though.”

“You’re welcome.”

Brianna reports the conversation to the others.

“Are you leaving Seattle after this?” she asks Quincy. “Did you get everything squared away with the relative you were here to meet with?”

“As much as I can. I can’t wait to leave Settle.”

“I imagine not. Do you get to stay home for awhile or will you be sent some place else?”

Quincy shrugs. “I don’t know.”

“I hope for your sake you get to not deal with crap and get to spend some time in your home.”

“Me too.”

They all chit chat for a while and go out to feed. Joey stays on the periphery as they do so. They then decide to go to Quincy’s economy hotel to hang out. He has a ground floor room. They go and hang out, watching bad television and talking for awhile when a figure breaks in through the sliding glass back door and another figure breaks through the front door, knocking off the front locks. Both figures brandish fangs and long claws. The one in the back is a man and the one in the front is a woman.

The man attacks Brianna, who meets him across the floor, speed for speed. He misses her. The woman meets Quincy and slashes him viciously across the belly with her claws. Brianna crushes the man’s nose with her fist, as Quincy does the same for his attacker. Joey then reacts and punches the man a pretty decent hook across the face.

Suddenly, Ezekiel George arrives in the fallen doorway and casts a jet of steam into the attacking man’s face, burning away part of the Red Court vampire’s flesh mask and blistering his skin. The vampire turns and goes to bolt out of the broken sliding glass door. Brianna leaps on him and tackles him. The woman turns and slashes Ezekiel across his chest. Quincy goes to attack her and misses. Joey kicks the tackled vampire in the head and knocks him unconscious. Ezekiel waves his hand and a fist of invisible force strikes the vampiress across the face. The woman takes in the scene and raises her hands in surrender.

Ezekiel draws his sword and lowers its point toward her throat. “Do you swear by your power to surrender?”

“I yield,” she snarls.

“Swear it!” he demands.

“I swear by my power to surrender.”

“Do you mind telling me what the fuck you’re doing in my room?” Brianna says.

“They were sent by the Margrave to kill you,” Ezekiel says.

Brianna gets in the woman’s face. “The next time you get an order like that, you better think twice.” The woman lowers her eyes. Brianna turns to Ezekiel. “So she just walks out of here?”

“She reports her failure to the Margrave,” Ezekiel says.

“I hope it goes poorly for you,” Brianna says to the woman.

Brianna can feel all the excitement of the battle getting to her and her hunger growing. She can tell the same is true for Quincy as well. The two stay away from each other, but pace at opposite ends of the room. She points to the unconscious vampire and says, “What about this asshole?”

Ezekiel turns to the woman, “Take him with you.” The vampire cautiously makes her way out, carrying the unconscious one with her.

“Your arrival was quite fortunate, thank you,” Brianna says to Ezekiel.

“I heard the Margrave had sent those two and tracked them here.”

“The Margrave sent them to kill us or sent them to kill me?”

“You.”

Brianna sighs. “I want to like Seattle. I really do. But this is getting ridiculous.” She looks at Quincy. “Ripple effects again. Sorry.”

“I’m not getting my deposit back,” Quincy says.

“No, probably not. Well, this is going to make waiting for the trial a lot more interesting. How close are you to taking care of this problem? Is it getting better or is it just getting worse?” Brianna asks Ezekiel.

“Do you mean how close am I to single-handedly winning the Vampire War?” the Warden answers, his eyebrow raised.

“Can the Margrave be touched?” Brianna asks.

“I win battles. I lose battles. It’s a war,” Ezekiel says.

“Thank you for helping,” Brianna says.

“Anytime.”

Brianna goes to splash some water on her face and take some deep breaths. When she returns, the Warden has left. She sits on the couch. “I need to go find people that are very angry and be around them for a while. I feel like crap. It’s nice to know the Margrave of Seattle has taken out a hit on me as well as the Warden. I suppose it means I’m moving up in the world.”

She turns to her cousin, “I don’t know if we’re safer together or not, Quincy.”

“I don’t know, either.”

“I need to go feed.”

“I need to go tell the manager about this.”

“Do you need us to stay?”

“Nah.”

“Keep in touch.”

Joey and Brianna look for a dive bar to find a fight. They find one with potential, but it just doesn’t seem to produce, so Brianna has to provoke a fight herself. She provokes a guy into throwing a punch, she dodges and grabs his arm and feeds on his rage. He swings again and misses. They get out there before too much more happens.

They get to their room and barricade the front door with furniture and go to bed.

March 24, 2013 (Sunday)

They both keep a low profile. Brianna texts Quincy: HOPEFULLY YOU WERE ABLE TO GET WHAT YOU NEEDED AND EVERYTHING IS ALL RIGHT.

They stay inside and keep in contact with Quincy until the trial on Monday.

March 25, 2013 (Monday—8 am)

Brianna and Joey put on their nice outfits and head out to the courthouse. Detective Loomis is there, as is Quincy and his lawyer.

The lawyer is good; in the opening arguments he brings up the woman and the video evidence, Detective Loomis’ testimony, and Quincy’s lack of a criminal record. The DA brings up the heinousness of the crime, that the killer will walk away “unscathed” with a not guilty verdict, and that Chandra Hinckley, the victim, will be yet another statistic, and that a guilty verdict will be justice for her. Brianna gets the impression that this trial could be a long one.

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