The Dresden Files: Portland

Changes: Part Four
Tabitha White

January 2, 2013 (Wednesday Afternoon)

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

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

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

“I don’t know,” Sabrina says.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

rosario_dawson_2010_25_15102012.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tabitha_White_Apartment.png

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Hiding is not a plan,” Tabitha says.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

images.jpg

untitled__3_.png

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

View
Side Job: Shadow's Price (Part One)
The Restless Dead

February 11, 2013 (Monday)

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

September 16, 2013 (Monday)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“If it is, he cleans up real good.”

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

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

“Geez.” Brianna says.

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

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

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

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

“No,” Loomis agrees.

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

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

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

“Yeah.”

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

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

“Newer model Escalades?” Brianna asks.

“Yes,” Loomis confirms.

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

“Probably.” .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No one objects.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ezekiel nods, “I can probably get some.”

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

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

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

“Then I have your back,” Joey says.

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

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

“I’ll do the same,” Loomis says.

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

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

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

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

“So Sunday then?” Loomis asks.

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

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

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

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

September 20, 2013 (Sunday)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“How long did that take?”

“Minutes,” Loomis says.

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

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

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

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

“Just walk away?” Brianna asks.

“Just walk away,” Ezekiel confirms.

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

September 21, 2013 (Monday, early morning)

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

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

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

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

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

“Just keep us posted,” Brianna says.

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

“Me too.”

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

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

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

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

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

“Ah,” Loomis says. “Alright then.”

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

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

August 29, 2013 (Thursday)

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

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

August 30, 2013 (Friday)

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

Once everyone is gathered, Ezekiel gives Angelique a jade pendant and tells her to wear it all times. She says, “I know, I know,” as if she’s already had this conversation a thousand times before, but he cuts her off.

“I’m serious. All times.” Ezekiel’s voice is deadly serious.

“Okay,” Angelique says, subdued, and puts it on.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“That’s the plan.”

“And we’re just going to see through her eyes with this necklace? We’re not leaving anything behind?” Brianna clarifies once more.

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

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

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

“Then you’ll have to describe what you’re seeing when it comes to that,” Brianna tells him.

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

The convoy goes lurching into the city. Dexter parks the van on one of the side streets and Ezekiel clears everyone from the magic circle. He places a piece of jade at the circle’s center. Dexter gives Brianna clear instructions on how to get to the club from here. Ezekiel sits in the circle and runs his hand over the circle, closing it with an effort of will. Everyone feels the ripple of energy that closes as he does so. Ezekiel places his hand on the jade and begins to murmur to himself; it sounds like a Native American chant.

Ezekiel, still touching the jade, says, “She’s inside. There’s a crowd of people. People are lounging. Dancing. She’s going to the VIP concierge. She’s asking to be let in. She’s gotten on a list. She’s going to the bar to buy a drink. She’s waiting until they come to fetch her.”

No one interrupts Ezekiel as he makes his recitation, then they wait quietly for Ezekiel to report more. It seems like forever, but finally he says, “They’ve come for her.”

“She’s in. I see her. The Baroness. She has two bodyguards. They look large. I bet they’re not human. The Baroness, she has long, brown hair, up, long neck, beautiful. Spanish features. Classically beautiful. I’d recognize her if I saw her again. Angelique is talking. The Baroness is asking questions. Angelique is answering them. The Baroness seems pleased. The Baroness gives her permission to continue her operation and dismisses her. Angelique is making her way out. Everything seems fine.”

Ezekiel frowns suddenly at something no one else can see. “The Baroness stops her. The Baroness asks her who sent her. Angelique says that no one sent her, that she needed to ask her questions. The Baroness says that something is going on, that someone is watching her. Angelique says that she doesn’t know anything about that. That she just came to ask her questions and that she got her answers and that she is fine to leave. The Baroness is raising her hand and says ‘You may go.’ Angelique is making her way out.”

The tension in the panel wagon is palpable.

“Angelique is quickly making her way through the bar. She’s in her car. She’s driving.” Ezekiel lets go of the jade.

“In the end, was Angelique able to fool her? Or did the Baroness not believe her story but let her go anyway?” Brianna asks.

“I believe Angelique was able to talk her into letting her go,” Ezekiel says.

“Well, let’s go back, let’s not be in this alley,” Brianna says.

Dexter starts up the panel wagon and they drive back to Ezekiel’s farmhouse.

As they pull up toward the farmhouse, Brianna notices another car parked in the weeds near the house, partly hidden. Brianna tells Dexter to call and tell Angelique to stay in her car until they get there.

As they pass, the car just sits there. The panel wagon pulls up to the house and Ezekiel volunteers to get Angelique inside. Brianna, Joey, Dexter, and Loomis decide to go check out the car. After a brief discussion involving each of their relative stealth abilities, they agree to let Dexter take point. Loomis and Dexter begin to shuck out of their clothes and Brianna averts her eyes. The men each take on their bear and wolf forms, respectively, then they all start stealthily heading out to the car.

As Brianna approaches the car, she can see that there are two figures in the car watching Ezekiel’s house. Neither figure looks familiar. She also does not see Loomis or Dexter.

Brianna heads up to the driver’s side door and flings it open. She grabs the man inside and pulls him out. “Hey, fucker. This is private property. Mind telling me what you’re doing here?” she says as she pushes him against the side of the car.

“We’re just lookin’!” he protests.

Brianna thumps him up against the car, hard.

“I don’t think that was quite the correct answer. Let’s try that again,” Brianna says.

The guy in the passenger seat gets out of the car. Brianna snarls at him. “Don’t you get any bright ideas.” He backs off.

Loomis, in bear form, comes bounding out of the shadows, swiping at the guy from passenger seat, but misses him. Both figures from the car are clearly moving at preternatural speed.

“Look, you’ve made my friend angry. If he’s angry, he might eat your fucking head. Who sent you? Why are you looking at this house? Tell me!” Brianna demands.

“The Baroness sent us to watch the girl!” the man stammers.

“What girl?” Brianna says.

“The drug dealer,” the man says. “See where she went.”

Brianna starts patting the man down for a wallet. She finds one and discovers an ID. “Hello, Allen. And where are you going to tell the Baroness that the girl went? Think carefully, I now have your home address.”

“You don’t have nothing on her,” Allen says.

“You’d be surprised,” Brianna says. Loomis has been holding the other man at bay. Brianna walks over to the other man and collects his ID. His name is Titus.

“What, exactly, is the Baroness to you?” Brianna asks them.

“She is our mistress,” Allen says.

“Are you just her lackeys? Does she send you to do her dirty work?” Brianna asks.

The two men say nothing.

“Now, the question is what to do with the two of you,” Brianna muses out loud.

Suddenly, bounding out of the shadows, is Dexter Quinn in wolf form. He bites Allen, who vamps out as his flesh mask is torn away.

Brianna punches Allen in the stomach, bruising him. Dexter bites again, but misses. Titus claws at Dexter, scoring a hit. Loomis attacks Titus, scoring a hit. Joey misses Allen.

Brianna hits Allen again. Dexter bites again, scoring a hit. Allen misses Dexter and Titus misses Loomis. Joey manages to hit Allen, but scores no damage. Loomis misses Titus.

Brianna grabs a hold of Allen and begins to feed. The Red Court vampire becomes enraged and starts thrashing about in Brianna’s grip. Dexter bites Titus and opens an artery. Titus attacks and hits Loomis, who isn’t doing well. Allen manages to break Brianna’s grip on him and attacks Dexter. Joey attacks and misses. Loomis attacks and misses.

Brianna reaches out and touches Allen and feeds again. She pours all she has into her feeding and manages to break him mentally and kills him. Dexter attacks Titus and misses. Titus attacks Loomis and misses. Joey attacks Titus and misses. Loomis attacks Titus and hits.

Brianna moves to Titus and hits him with the intent to feed. She scores a hit, snarls and begins feeding. The vampire begins to go berserk with rage. Dexter attacks and misses. Titus, still berserk, attacks Brianna and claws her mightily. Joey attacks and misses. Loomis attacks and hits hard, finally taking the vampire out.

Brianna and Joey stand there panting as Dexter and Loomis spit out vampire flesh.

“Well, I guess the Baroness will know something is up when her goons don’t come back, but at least she can’t point the finger at Ezekiel,” Brianna says. “We have a car and bodies that will probably dissipate upon sunlight. I guess we can head back and decide what to do with them.”

Brianna tosses the vampire bodies into the trunk of the car. Then they head back to the farmhouse. Once there, Loomis and Dexter shift back into human form and get back into their clothes. Brianna reports to Ezekiel what happened.

“Well, it’s a good news, bad news situation. The bad news is they were the Baroness’, sent to follow Angelique to see where she went. The good news is they won’t be reporting back.”

Ezekiel raises his eyebrows at that pronouncement.

Dexter says, “I made an executive decision.”

Brianna just shrugs. “The Baroness was going to be suspicious either way. This way she’s suspicious but doesn’t know where they went,” Brianna adds, “I have a set of keys and two driver’s licenses I don’t want to keep forever, so we need to figure out what to do from here. If we’re going to do something with the car and the bodies, doing something more quickly than not would be good. I don’t know where you have your magical ‘dispose of Red Court bodies’ pile. Who you call when you have Red Court lying around.”

“The White Council sometimes has teams that take care of these things,” Ezekiel says.

“Do you have a team? Is this something that you can get worked out tonight?” Brianna asks.

“This is something I can get worked out,” Ezekiel says. Brianna gives him the keys and the IDs.

“So, she clearly was suspicious, but not enough to stop Angelique. She wanted to follow Angelique home,” Brianna comments.

Brianna discusses the possibility of Ezekiel and Angelique putting their impressions together to come up with a sketch of the Baroness as they are the only two to have seen her.

Ezekiel speculates that the Baroness has probably employed ghouls as her bodyguards.

Brianna and Ezekiel both agree that they still don’t have enough information for a “War Council.” They want to bring in the Warden for it and will also need reconnaissance of the Baroness’ grounds. “We probably want to know more going in, or we’ll pay the price for it,” Brianna says.

“Roy did,” Dexter brings up. “But we knew that going in.”

Brianna also wants to know ahead of time if the Baroness is a necromancer. Ezekiel points out that it would be awful hard to find out.

“How much of this do you want to do if you don’t have the backing of the Warden?” Brianna asks Ezekiel.

“We could use her help,” Ezekiel points out.

“True,” Brianna says. “And I have more of a chance of the backing of my House if this is a White Council-approved event. Not that it’s going to dissuade me one way or the other. But it’s nice to know if things don’t go smoothly, I’ll have some support from my family.”

“I’m willing to do this with or without Deandra’s support, but it would be nice to have it,” Ezekiel says.

“Then I guess our next plan of action is to see if she wants to be part of it,” Brianna says. “I don’t if she wants us to go to her with a full-fledged plan, or if we’re going to just sit around the kitchen table and hash something out.”

“I’ll give her a call,” Ezekiel says and heads into another room.

Brianna drags her duffle into the bathroom and gets cleaned up. When she returns, Ezekiel announces that the Warden is on her way.

Brianna turns to Joey and says, “I’ll try not to call her ‘douche-canoe’ to her face.”

“That’s your name for her, not mine,” Joey says.

After a while, a large truck—about the size of a moving van—pulls up to where the Red Court vampires’ car is parked. Ezekiel takes the keys and IDs out to the truck and speaks with the driver. After a short while, the car is loaded up and hauled away.

Soon after that, Deandra Charles arrives.

Deandra comes in and acknowledges everyone. She looks at Joey, then looks at Brianna. “Business partner?” Brianna nods. She introduces herself and shakes the big man’s hand.

“Ezekiel let me know what happened tonight at the club, as well as subsequent events,” she says.

“I take it your evening was also eventful?” Brianna asks.

“There are some Red Court that won’t be reporting back in tonight,” Deandra says.

“Perfect.”

“So, next steps?” Deandra asks.

“We know what she looks like. We know she has two supernaturally huge bodyguards. We know a little about her patterns as far as where she is and when she’s doing it. We know her vehicle of choice. We know the layout of her house. And that’s what we have,” Brianna says. “As far as intelligence, I don’t know how much more we can hope to gather. As far as whether or not she is a necromancer or just has a necromancer in her employ, we won’t know until we make a move. Unless you’ve been able to find out anything differently in the last month.”

“No,” Deandra says. “Although the rumors say that she’s a practitioner.”

“So, at least there’s a pretty good chance that she’s a necromancer. So many shades of not right,” Brianna shakes her head. “I guess the trick is now is to figure out a plan that doesn’t upset the apple cart, so to speak.”

“Whatever plan we come up with is going to upset the apple cart. That’s the point of the fucking plan is to upset the apple cart,” Dexter says with heat. “I don’t understand a plan that’s not going to.”

“I think the whole point was to figure out a solution that was permanent, that’s going to basically going to get her out of the way and out of our hair. The question is whether getting her out of the way causes a power vacuum and something comes in that’s even worse. If it’s going to be ‘Oh, you messed with her, and now we’re going to send something worse after you’,” Brianna retorts, matching his tone. “Otherwise, yes, this is an incredibly simple solution: we go in and kill her. Executing it may be challenging, but again…”

“What can I say, I like direct,” Dexter says.

“Do we have any sense if the Red Court is just determined to keep a presence here in Seattle? Is this just a challenge to them essentially?” Brianna asks.

Deandra answers, “The Red Court is determined to keep as much territory as they possibly can. They certainly don’t wish to lose Seattle. They’ve enjoyed a strong presence here for some time.”

Ezekiel speaks up, “Perhaps we don’t need to be worrying about what’s to come next.”

Deandra asks, “What about the devil you know?”

Ezekiel looks at her, “So you put up with the devil we know? That’s wrong.”

Brianna adds, “If we wanted to put up with the devil we know, we would have let the Margrave live a long time ago.”

“And not doing that is exactly what has gotten Ezekiel into the trouble he is in,” Deandra says.

Brianna looks at the Warden, her eyes narrowing slightly. “And the alternative was exactly what? Leaving him alone to eat on the people of the city? Ezekiel was already busting his ass trying to help people from an out of control Red Court. The Margrave eats one person too many and we’re just supposed to say ‘Oh it’s okay, it’s the devil we know?’ Let’s just let him eat all the people! It’ll be okay! It’ll be fine!” Her voice is caustic.

“No. I suppose not,” Deandra says. “But that is how the Council is going to see it.”

“Haven’t the Red Court totally broken the Accords anyway? Isn’t that what this war about?” Brianna asks.

“They have,” Deandra says, carefully.

“Well, I can understand not having the manpower to go around and drive them all out, but why does it matter what we did? I guess that’s what I don’t understand. If the Red Court have broken the Accords, and if there’s a war going on between them and the White Council, then why doesn’t the White Council support the actions of those carrying out that war? And doing a much more direct hit than some other people can claim!” Brianna’s voice starts to raise in frustration. “I don’t understand! Do they only want it to be their idea before someone goes out there and does something?”

“It is not the place of a Warden to explain the internal politics of the White Council to an outsider,” Deandra says, coldly.

“Fine.” Brianna spits out the words. “I’m not asking you to explain it. But do you understand why this sounds like crap to me?”

“I can understand,” Deandra replies.

Brianna stares quietly at her for a moment, some of the rising tension easing between the two women. “I guess that’s all the satisfaction I’m going to get. Because this really sounds like crap to me.” Brianna sighs heavily. “I’m still angry on behalf of my friend. That has nothing to do with you. I apologize. Let’s get back to the matter at hand.”

“Let’s,” Deandra says.

“If we make a move, if we take her out, are we on our own again?” Brianna asks. “Are you going to work against us? As a representative of the White Council?”

“No,” Deandra says.

“Okay,” Brianna says. “So then it comes down to a plan.”

Brianna wants confirmation from everyone else that they are for taking out the Baroness. She gets it. She looks at Deandra. “And you?”

Deandra says, “I cannot sanction a hit on a noble of the Red Court. That is not, as they say, in my pay grade.”

“Politics. All right. So you can’t support us, but you won’t interfere, then,” Brianna says.

“I will not interfere,” Deandra says.

“What does that mean exactly? You can’t sanction it, you won’t interfere, does that mean you’re going to help?” Brianna asks.

Deandra just looks at her.

“I guess it just comes down to planning,” Brianna says.

Brianna thinks that going after the car is a more viable option than going after the house. This will involve more surveillance and setting up patterns, which means more waiting. But “we don’t want to lose people like we did on the raid at the Margrave’s.”

Dexter chafes at the idea of waiting longer, but sees the reason behind it. Not going through her stronghold and going through her wards and traps and such. She’s probably more vulnerable on the move.

Loomis is selected to be the one to look into her patterns and investigate the Baroness’ movements and to formulate a plan. The “War Council” will meet again once more information is available.

Brianna and Joey prepare for their long drive back to Portland. They shake hands with the Warden. They say their goodbyes to everyone.

August 31, 2013 (Saturday)

Brianna and Joey arrive back in Portland after a long drive.

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

July 28, 2013 (Sunday, Early Morning)

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

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

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

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

Brianna stiffens.

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

“No,” Brianna says flatly.

“Brianna is under my hospitality,” Ezekiel tells the Warden.

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

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

Deandra furrows her brow and says, “Oh?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“My partner was there,” Brianna tells her.

“Your partner?”

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

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

Dexter says, “Just me.”

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

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

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

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

“South America.”

“Is this is a promotion for her?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“She has bolstered those numbers,” Ezekiel confirms.

“Has she brought in people from South America?”

“Some,” Ezekiel says.

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

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

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

“I’ve not seen her,” Deandra says.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m sure,” Deandra says.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yeah, the latter,” Dexter says.

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

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

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

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

“You’re fairly distinctive,” Ezekiel says.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yes,” Ezekiel nods.

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

“Probably,” Ezekiel confirms.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ezekiel nods, “I’ll be there.”

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

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

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

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

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

“It could be worse,” Ezekiel says.

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

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

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

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

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

“He can stay here,” Ezekiel offers.

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

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

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

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

“Can you ward that?” Brianna asks Ezekiel.

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

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

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

Brianna starts pacing.

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

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

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

“At work, generally,” Loomis says.

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

“I’m not that worried,” Loomis says.

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

“Yeah,” Loomis says.

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

“Weeks,” Ezekiel says.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yes,” Loomis says.

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

“Yeah.”

Brianna kisses him and goes back to the couch.

July 28, 2013 (Sunday)

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

“How do you feel?” Brianna asks Loomis.

“LIke a truck hit me,” Loomis says.

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

“Probably,” Loomis says.

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

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

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

Loomis walks her out of the farmhouse.

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

“Okay,” Loomis says.

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

“Is that okay?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Is it a bomb?” Brianna asks.

“I think so.”

“What should we do?”

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

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

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

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

“That’s what I hear,” Loomis says.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yeah. They all did,” Loomis says.

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

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

Brianna takes another drink.

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

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

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

“Huh.” Brianna laughs and has another whiskey.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Loomis takes a deep breath and says “Okay.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I understand,” Loomis says.

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

“Ezekiel told me a few things.”

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

“How?” Loomis asks.

When we come into our power?” Brianna clarifies.

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

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

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

“Well, I’m glad you can see it.”

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

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

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

“I’m trying.”

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

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

“It wasn’t great,” Loomis says.

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

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

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

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

“Is it genetic for you?” Brianna asks.

“I don’t know.”

“When did you leave the Reservation?”

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

“Ever go back?” Brianna asks.

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

“Ever miss it?” Brianna looks up at him.

“The Reservation? Not really,” he shrugs.

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

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

Brianna laughs.“That’s not a bad trait,” she says, leaning in closer.

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

July 29, 2013 (Monday)

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

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

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

July-August 2013

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

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

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

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

June – July 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Cloak you?” Sidney asks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No, but it’s something.”

“I could try,” Sydney offers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Alright.”

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

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

July 27, 2013 (Saturday)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yeah.”

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

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

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

“We’re all different,” Loomis says.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 28, 2013 (1:00 am)

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

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

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

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

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

“Such as?” Ezekiel asks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Baroness.”

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

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

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

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

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

Loomis shakes his head.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“True,” Loomis says.

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

“I don’t see an alternative, either.”

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

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

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

“Yeah,” Loomis says.

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

“It’s not your fault.”

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

“Well, that’s something.”

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

“I appreciate that,” Loomis deadpans.

Brianna leans in quickly and kisses him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Tonight. She’s on her way.”

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

“That will be appreciated,” Ezekiel replies.

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

“I didn’t say that,” Ezekiel says.

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

“Sure,” Ezekiel says.

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

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

View
Changes: Part Three
Encounter at the Lake

January 2, 2013 (Wednesday)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7681877768_b7e014f93c.jpg

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

trillium-lake.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The goons catch up quickly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Who are the signatories?” Dillon asks.

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

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

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

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

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

“Come on!” she tells her friends.

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

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

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

View
Changes: Part Two
Plans and Preparations

December 31, 2012 (11:30 pm)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dillon offers Daymar a cot at the church.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 1, 2013 (Tuesday)

Dillon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yuriko

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nick

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

January 1, 2013 (Tuesday Evening)

Nick’s Place

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Let’s go then," Dillon says.

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

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

View
Changes: Part One
A Walk to Remember

December 31, 2012 (11:15 pm)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

View
Winter Interlude
A New Beginning

“Lucy”

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

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

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

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

The 888 Tong

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

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

Thanksgiving

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

Dillon

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

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

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

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

fairy.jpg

Inside it says:

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

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

Yuriko

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

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

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

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

Angelica

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

“The Spook Squad”

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

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

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

Dillon just nods, expecting as much, or worse.

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

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.