The Dresden Files: Portland

Scenario Eight: Part Two
Seasons: Part Two

November 14, 2012 (Wednesday)

Angelica

It’s early in the morning, a couple of hours before sunrise, and the Lone Fir Cemetery is still dark. Angelica sneaks into the grounds through the hole in the fence she followed the ghoul through the other day. She makes her way to the site where Wylie Peters was killed. Hovering over the patch of earth is the flickering figure of Wylie’s ghost. It groans at Angelica as she approaches. She traces a circle in the dirt around the ghost, murmuring a soft incantation as she does so. Wylie’s name is repeated several times in the incantation. Every time the ghost hears it, it seems to flicker slower, becoming more stable. Once the circle is complete, Angelica sits down, cross-legged, beside the circle and calls for Wylie to go home. She then begins the incantation again. She says it softly, beseechingly, trying to convince the ghost to move on of its own accord as much as possible. Finally, it fades away and is no more.

By this time, the dawn has just breached the horizon. Angelica picks herself up and scratches out her circle. She then makes her way deeper into the cemetery, looking for the grave of Lincoln Burgess. She finally finds it in one of the oldest quarters of the cemetery. It appears to be undisturbed. Relieved, she goes back and exits the cemetery the way she came in and finds her car. She looks around for any sign of Detective Fadil, half expecting him to show up even at this ungodly hour. She sees nothing, so she gets into her car and heads home.

She spends most of the day on the message boards, looking for signs of spiritual disturbance and necromantic activity. She finds nothing—things are pretty quiet out there, for now.

While she is working with one of her massage clients, Nick Salieri calls and leaves her a message:

Hey Angelica. I don’t know if you’ve heard or not, but I’ve been working on a project for practitioners and other low-level magical talents. People that can’t join the White Council, and can use computers without accidentally hexing them, in other words. It’s called the Paranet. We’d like build a network of contacts, run a hotline for practitioners. Then contact groups in cities across the country putting word out that if people are in a supernatural fix, they can get word into the network. Maybe even set up some self-defense classes. Get people to coordinate, cooperate and support each other.

It’s already been set up in some other cities and I’d like to get a branch of it set up here in Portland. So I’m contacting other like-minded folks that might want to network together. I was wondering if you might be interested? I know you usually keep to yourself, and that’s fine. But you have some real savvy that could be of benefit to others. I’d like to see that utilized in the network.

Anyway, think about it and let me know…"

Angelica is quite conflicted about Nick’s offer, so she doesn’t respond to his message. While joining this Paranet would give her the opportunity to help more people, and do it better, she has always been an outsider and just isn’t sure that joining this group is the right thing to do.

She also gets a phone call from Dillon, asking if she could talk to ghosts of Mount Calvary again and find out where Kendel is. Angelica says she will, and that hopefully she will find one that is more sentient and willing to speak with her. Dillon also asks “Could you talk to the Warden about setting wards around the hanged man’s grave, Nick says it will take a full wizard to do it?” She says that she will. “I’ve been checking the cemetery every day for signs of a disturbance, but I’d also feel better if it was warded.”

Later that afternoon, she goes to Kendria’s shop, New Horizons, to pick up some more supplies and to ask her about the Paranet. “Are you joining?” she asks. “Especially since the Edgefield incident?”

Kendria laughs. “Join it? I’m already hip deep in it. I’m helping Nick set it up. Especially because of the Edgefield incident. To me, that just advertises how much we need this. We need to stick together and learn to protect ourselves. The Wardens can’t be everywhere at once. You’re talking to a true believer.”

“Speaking of which,” Kendria stops smiling. “I hope you can forgive me for talking to Nick about your talents. It seemed important and I knew that he could be trusted. I only hope you can continue to trust me.”

Angelica connects some dots in her head about the information the gang had about her. “It actually was quite important and I’m actually working with Nick right now. I understand that it was necessary and I still feel I can trust you.”

Angelica awkwardly accepts a hug from Kendria and completes her transaction.

Yuriko

Yuriko knocks on Nick’s door. A bleary-eyed Nick answers. “Yuriko?”

“Nick. We’ve got to get your apartment ready for this meeting.” She elbows her way inside and puts a bag of cleaners on his dining room table. The smashed stereo has been replaced and now a large map of Portland covers his dining room wall, colored push-pins marking certain areas.

“What’s this?” Yuriko asks.

“The Paranet. The beginning of it, anyway. Kendria and I have gotten it started. I’m hoping to have a meeting later this month if I can find a venue. People are still skittish about Edgefield and, while Dillon was nice enough to offer the church, I’m not sure this is a ‘church crowd’, you know what I mean?”

Yuriko approaches the map and examines the colored pins. Nick explains that they delineate what kind of talent the person has. He comments that he’s going to have to come up with a better system, though. “There’s a diversity of talent in Portland that push pins can’t contain.”

“This is impressive. It looks like you’ve gotten a good start on this.” Yuriko cocks her head at him. “So is the Paranet is open only to practitioners or is it open to members of the supernatural community.”

“Well, the national organization was meant for practitioners and minor talents—folks that couldn’t join the White Council and wouldn’t hex a computer accidentally. But I suppose if someone that is a member of the supernatural community that doesn’t have a group looking out for them could count on it help.”

“Good to know. Until I met you and Dillon and formed my own pack, I had no one to turn to in Portland and I think that’s important. I think that there are others in Portland that are having their own experiences.”

Nick eyes Yuriko. “Were you wanting to join? That would mean sharing what you can do with others. I know you usually like to keep that to yourself.”

“For now, I’m happy with my pack of three—though I suppose it’s growing a little bit, with Sabrina and Father Buxman, and who knows? There may come a time where I change my mind. I’ll let you know.”

“Alright.”

With that, Nick and Yuriko go about cleaning his apartment in anticipation of a meeting to determine what to do about the Shrouded One.

After they’re done, Yuriko takes her leave and heads out to Flanagan’s Dog. She wants to talk to Troy about the possibility of running with Lau Hu in Forest Park. As the “alpha” of the wolf pack, she should probably get his blessing. As usual, the gang of teenagers are hanging out around one of the back booths. Troy is holding court, acting cool and aloof as the others smile and crack jokes. Yuriko approaches the booth.

“Hi guys.”

“Yuriko!”

The pack is glad to see her. They crowd around in greeting. Out of the corner of her eye, she sees Troy frown. She quickly turns attention back to him. “Troy, I actually came to talk to you. To see what you thought about something.”

This piques Troy’s interest and he motions for her to come closer so they can talk. The pack let her pass and Yuriko takes a seat in the booth across from the heavyset teenager. She explains that there is a were-tiger that she’d like to invite to join their games. She emphasizes that this could be an even bigger challenge for the pack to test their skills at tracking and hunting.

Troy seems reluctant at first, but quickly warms to the subject, declaring it to be “badass” and “cool with him” if Yuriko invites him. Yuriko thanks Troy takes her leave.

On the way home, she texts Lau Hu with a date and a time and the following message: A GROUP OF US WILL BE RUNNING IN THE PARK. LET ME KNOW IF YOU WANT MORE INFO. MAYBE OVER COFFEE?

Lau Hu texts back: WILL RUN WITH YOUR FRIENDS. COFFEE WOULD BE NICE BUT PREFER TEA. WHEN AND WHERE?

Yuriko does an internal happy dance. She texts back: TOMORROW AT 4:00. JADE TEA HOUSE IN SELLWOOD.

Lau Hu texts back. TOMORROW THEN.

Once Yuriko makes it back home, she heads straight to the kitchen and starts throwing together a dough for cookies. After they bake, she packages them up in some foil and heads back out to Powell’s to find Aleister. She finds him in the Rare Book room. She knocks on the window to get his attention and he comes out.

“Hello, Yuriko.”

“Hello, Aleister. I made you these. They’re very fresh. To say ‘thank you’ for all of your help.”

The old man takes the proffered package and smiles. “Thank you. Sincerely, thank you. This is very kind.”

Yuriko waves goodbye and heads back home to menu plan for the meeting.

Dillon

Dillon gets up, amazed that no one has called him this morning and woken him up. Having mulled over a question the previous night, he dials up Nick. “Nick, can we set a magical alarm at the hanged man’s grave and/or wards?”

“Theoretically, sure that’s possible. You can set a ward with a little ‘something extra’. But I don’t know how to do it. We’ll either need a full wizard (like the Warden) or a practitioner that specializes in wards to build it.”

“Great, thanks Nick.”

After he gets off the phone with Nick, he calls Angelica. He asks if she could talk to ghosts of Mount Calvary again and find out where Kendel is. Angelica says she will, and that hopefully she will find one that is more sentient and willing to speak with her. Dillon also asks “Could you talk to the Warden about setting wards around the hanged man’s grave, Nick says it will take a full wizard to do it?” She says that she will. “I’ve been checking the cemetery every day for signs of a disturbance, but I’d also feel better if it was warded.”

After Angelica, he contacts Butler Industries and tries to get a hold of Jim Butler’s receptionist. It takes some time, navigating various phone trees and talking to various assistants and lower echelon managers, but finally, he is connected to Jim Butler’s assistant.

When asked who he is, he responds, “Dillon Krister, requesting a sit-down with Mr. Butler. I’m hoping to discuss a competing organization.”

“Mr. Butler has a full-schedule, but I will notify him that you called and we’ll try to fit you in. If you give me a call back number, I will call you back once a date and time can be set.”

Dillon gives them his number and, frustrated at the slowness of it all, begins his day. Tonight will come quickly and then he’ll be meeting with Verikai and Valen. On the upside, at least he’ll be able to go out with Sabrina again.

Dillon’s phone rings. It is Jim Butler’s assistant. “Mr. Butler can work you in today at 3:30. Shall I pencil you in?”

Butler Industries is headquartered in a large building in North Portland. It is a one of the most successful construction firms in Portland, responsible for many of the high-end projects around the city. This building is the corporate headquarters of Butler’s legitimate empire.

Dillon walks inside and approaches the security desk. “Dillon Krister to see Mr. Butler. I’m expected.”

The security guard checks an electronic registry. “Yes, here you are. May I see your ID please, Mr. Krister?”

Dillon produces ID and the guard gives him temporary building pass to wear. “Mr. Butler is on the top floor,” one of the guards says. Dillon thanks him and heads to the elevator. Once inside, he hits the top button and waits for the doors to open again. The doors open up into a long hallway. Dillon walks down the hallway and up to a receptionist desk where he is met with Ms. Teller, Butler’s assistant. Ms. Teller announces Dillon via speakerphone and Dillon hears Butler tell her to let him in. Ms. Teller then goes to the office door and opens it for Dillon.

Inside is a large office with plush, leather furniture. The office is surrounded by windows, except for the wall that faces the receptionist’s desk. Dillon is thankful that it’s an overcast day or the sunlight would be brutal in here. Half the office is done up like a lounge, with a wet-bar, a big flat screen television, two couches, and a lounge chair. The other half is office. Butler sits behind his desk and motions for Dillon to shut the door. Dillon does and then approaches the desk.

In front of the desk are two comfortable leather chairs. “Have a seat,” Butler says. “I have to say I was surprised to get your message. But when the man that saves your daughter’s life comes calling, you pay attention. So what is this competing organization you mentioned?”

“Thank you for meeting with me. If I may ask, how is your daughter? The other girls?”

“Cecily is…well, we take it one day at a time. At least she is home now where we can look after her. I understand the other women have taken to various treatments with various rates of success. If my daughter is any indication, the going is quite rough.”

“To be honest, I’m not sure if competitor is entirely accurate, that’s just the terms I used with your receptionist to get this meeting. However, you are a man of resources and I am hopeful that you can provide more information than the police have on this group. Are we good to speak freely here?" Dillon indicates the office with a wave of his hand.

Butler nods. “We can speak freely here. I have the office swept for electronics daily. One can’t be too careful.”

“I was hoping that you might have some Intel on the ‘888 Tong’, I am working a case, and I think you understand the type of cases I work, that has lead me to China Town and the Tong. Since that is a tight knit community and will be difficult to infiltrate, I was hoping you might be able to provide assistance through information you may have acquired by being a resourceful businessman that is not readily available through Police channels.”

Butler rubs his chin. “I’m somewhat familiar with the 888. We have brushed shoulders, so to speak, in our business dealings. As you say, this is a tight-knit community. I have only socially met their leader’s right-hand, Wang Bai Hu, once. Their head is actually his sister, Wang Fa Hong, no one sees her.

“As far as infiltration, that could be difficult. You’re not Chinese and this is a very ethnic organization. Their front is that they are neighborhood association for Chinese immigrants. They do business in non-Chinese neighborhoods, but usually their runners and go-to men are Chinese.

“I owe you a favor, and would be happy to help. If you had someone in mind to infiltrate, I could have my organization corroborate a back story for you. Did you have any other sort of information in mind?”

Dillon responds. “Well, specifically, I need information about two people. One is Nicky Zang, a low level flunky, and the other is Dragon Tony, a higher up lieutenant. Both these men have been implicated at different levels of the same game. But all I have are names. I don’t know the extent of your reach, but, I could use photos, locations, daily routines, whatever might help separate them from their companions so they could be questioned.

“As for the offer of back story, can I get back to you on that? I’m not sure if sending a man in is the way we’re going to go, but that does sound helpful. Also, would it be alright to contact you again on this matter, in case I think of any other questions or have ideas that need a professional’s consideration before implementing?”

Butler nods. “I may be able to get some of the surveillance information you’re asking for, but it will take time to devote my resources to it and to gather the information. But, this is something I am willing and able to do for you.”

He writes something down on the back of a Butler Industries business card and hands it to Dillon. He has written down a phone number. “This is a secure line on which you may contact me directly. Obviously, this number goes to no one else. If the security of the line is compromised, I will be very…displeased.”

Dillon takes the card and offers to write his phone number down. “Thank you for your help. Let me assure you that you are helping to stop another nasty individual with no regard for human life. I will be looking forward to your call, is there a general time frame you can estimate for me to expect the information, I need to let people know that progress is being made. And, will you be contacting me directly, or will someone else be passing along this information? I know you’re a busy man.”

Butler takes Dillon’s number. “We’ll need at least a week to get people in place and actually observe some patterns. I need to be careful where I put my resources—if it were to get out that I have eyes in Chinatown, my motives may be misconstrued and I don’t need a conflict with the Tong at this time. You’ll be contacted by Laurence Storm. He’s the man I’ll be putting on this.”

Dillon shakes Butler’s hand and leaves.

November 14, 2012 (Evening)

Angelica to the Warden

That evening, Angelica calls the Warden. There is a lot of interference on the line. The Warden explains that she may have inadvertently hexed her own phone.

Angelica follows up on her initial text. "I did a bit of research and found that in Lone Fir, there is another hanged murderer buried there. And since the other hand is out of the Shrouded One’s reach, this other grave may be targeted.

“When I was there last night, at Lone Fir, it looks like the grave has so far been undisturbed. When I talked to Dillon, he brought up the possibility of warding the grave, to set off some sort of alarm if it was disturbed. It doesn’t sound like something he or his friends can do. It is certainly not something that I could do. Is it something that you would do, or could you refer us to someone else who would? My only other thought is that I will continue to visit the graveyard at night and keep an eye out.”

The Warden asks, “Did you want this ward to actually block someone from disturbing it or simply alert you when somebody has?”

“Originally, the thought was to alert us when somebody had. Hopefully to maybe let us catch somebody in the act. I don’t know how feasible that is.”

The Warden says, “Both could be done—establishing a barrier and setting up an alarm.”

“Ah, it may be overkill but I don’t want the Shrouded One getting a hand. it’s in one of the oldest sections of the cemetery; I don’t believe it would be easily disturbed by a casual visitor.”

“For how long do you want this ward to last?” the Warden asks.

“Is this going to be feasible for you to reset it periodically? I know you’re a busy woman…”

“Resetting it is really the least efficient way.”

“Then I would prefer it be a longer period of time. Maybe a month? My sincerest wish is that this thing is resolved by then.”

“I can do this, but it will take me some time to prepare the ritual,” the Warden says.

“Days?” Angelica asks.

“A few,” the Warden says. “This will be a complex ritual.”

“It is based on the assumption that the Shrouded One wants to make a Hand of Glory. However, I’m not sure that’s a chance we want to take, leaving it unprotected. I will watch the cemetery in the meantime at night. Or check back during the day until its ready.”

“As part of the spell, I assume you want a silent alarm or an alarm that you can carry with you?”

“Yes,” Angelica says.

“Okay.”

“Shall we wait until this is done before we meet as a group to discuss the Shrouded One and our plans moving forward?”

“Yes,” Capstone says. “This will give me more time to prepare the spell.”

“Alright, then I will let the others know.”

“Where in the cemetery will I be placing the ward?”

Angelica describes the location of the grave of Lincoln Burgess. “Contact us again when you are ready for us to meet.” Angelica wishes her goodnight and hangs up.

Angelica then texts Dillon: THE WARDEN WILL MAKE A WARD/ALARM AT GRAVESITE. CAN TAKE A COUPLE OF DAYS. WILL CONTACT US WHEN FINISHED TO MEET AS GROUP RE: SHROUDED ONE.

Angelica sets her alarm to wake up and get to the cemetery at midnight.

November 14, 2012 (Evening)

Yuriko and Hana

Before dinner, Yuriko approaches Hana. “So, one of the people I’ve run into recently is a were that doesn’t have much of pack here in Portland. This particular were can turn into a tiger. I’ve already talked to Troy and he’s okay with inviting this were with us to Forest Park to play chasey-stalky games. However, I want to make sure you’re okay with it, too.”

Hana is fascinated by the concept of a were-tiger and has a hundred and one questions for Yuriko about how it works—questions Yuriko probably has herself and doesn’t know the answers to. Hana says that she is perfectly fine with having another were join the group. If they’re a friend of hers and Dillon’s, she’s sure they’re fine.

Yuriko says, “Lovely. I’ll be meeting with them tomorrow to work out details and then we’ll all meet tomorrow night at Forest Park. I’m excited. I don’t think they get to shift much. I’m hoping this will be a good experience for the were-tiger as well.”

November 14, 2012 (Shortly before 8pm)

Dillon, Nick, and Yuriko arrive at the rendezvous point, the old abandoned strip mall that Verikai indicated. Yuriko excuses herself and goes behind the mall to change into her fox form and then find a place to hide and watch. Dillon and Nick try the various shop doors and find that they are all locked. There is no going “in” the strip mall unless Verikai has a way in.

“I’ll hide across the street. If I see any trouble, I’ll come running. Good luck,” Nick says and starts jogging across the boulevard. By the time Nick gets positioned, Dillon sees a large SUV pull into the parking lot. It’s lights shine on him and it comes to a stop. The driver cuts off the engine and the lights and Verikai emerges from the back seat.

“Mr. Krister.”

“Verikai. Where’s Valen?”

“He’s in the truck. But first, I have a question for you. You see, it strikes me that I receive no benefit from this little tete-a-tete you plan on having with my friend here. It also occurs to me that whatever benefit you derive from it is a net gain for Winter, which, you’ll pardon me if I don’t much appreciate.

“So my question is, what can you offer me in return for this little meeting?”

Yuriko, from her hiding place, gives a very tiny sigh and lays her head on her paws.

Dillon warily approaches Verikai. “If you don’t appreciate a gain for Winter, then understand this: By helping me you will be helping to impede two of Winter’s players. If Valen is able to provide useful information that will lead me to Hubbard, then two things will happen, Hubbard will be taken down, the Winter Fae that used a Summer Fae as his errand boy, right under your nose, a fact that probably reflects poorly on your leadership abilities, especially if you allow it to go unanswered.

“Second, Trevidian, former Winter Envoy, will lose his chance of delivering on a blood debt. If I deliver Hubbard to Winter, I receive the object of Trevidian’s obsession as reward, leaving him empty handed, unavenged, and back on ice.

“That means the failure and embarrassment of the Winter Queen’s former envoy to settle his blood debt and the satisfaction of bringing down the Winter Fae who has called your ability to control your court into question.

“All is accomplished by allowing Valen to help me.”

Verikai claps his hands. "I honestly cannot tell if you are trying to impress me or infuriate me. A little of both, I think. Your grasp of my hold on my court is tenuous at best. Do not try to guess at it. But, I do like what you have to say about the former Winter Envoy and Hubbard. You play a dangerous game, mortal. On a board at which you don’t understand all of the pieces.

“You have revealed much of your game with the Winter Court to me. For that, I thank you. You may speak to Valen. He’s in the truck.”

Yuriko sniffs and gets the distinct odor of rotten eggs and skunk coming off of the truck and also caught a glimpse of goat horn in the side view mirror as Verikai got out of the truck. She continues to keep a wary eye on Verikai as Dillon approaches the truck, in case he makes any sudden movements.

Dillon gets in the truck. The truck is filled with the smell of rotten eggs and skunk. He sees Valen wrapped in a dark cloak sitting in the back seat. He has tufts of fur missing from his large head and the exposed skin looks sunburned. He smiles when he sees Dillon.

“Back again, I see.” Valen’s voice is low and gravelly.

“Valen, tell me about Hubbard. How can I find him?”

Something in Dillon’s expression tells him of the urgency of his need. The gruff doesn’t equivocate and gives what information he has.

“Hubbard wanted to disrupt things as much as possible. Ensure that the murderer was never found. Ensure that the blood debt was never paid. Outside of that, he had an alternate plan. Perhaps he could form an alliance between himself and the murderer. Wreak more havoc that way. This is all I know of Hubbard’s plans. He didn’t share much with me. I don’t think he was much of a strategist.

“We always met in the house that you found me in, which I’m sure is abandoned by now, so that won’t help. But if he’s still trying to find the changeling’s murderer, he may be working through my police contact, Jerry Hines. He’s the one I had following your policeman. If you lean on him, you may find Hubbard. Hines is a beat cop that works at the same precinct as your man, Casing.”

Dillon peppers the Gruff with questions. “Why would a police officer help you take down a fellow cop?”

“Was it just for money, or did he have a problem with Casing?”

“Would Hubbard keep using this cop?”

“Are you aware of any other places Hubbard would frequent or hide out?”

“Can you give me a good description of him and any ‘glamours’ he was fond of using as disguises?”

“Just out of curiosity, why were you helping Hubbard?”

“Are you well?”

“Oh, is officer Hines aware of who and what you and Hubbard are?”

“Was he only in contact with you, does he even know about Hubbard?”

“Does he know you got caught?”

“What was your method of contacting him?”

Valen answers Dillon’s questions as best he can. “Hines did it for gold. Hines has been on the take for various things for years. I paid him in ingots. Would Hubbard keep using him? I don’t see why he wouldn’t if he still wanted a bead on the murder case. I’m not aware of any other hangouts than the house you found me at and he’s probably abandoned that by now. Hubbard looks like a young, Caucasian man, long light-brown hair over his eyes. Handsome in that pouty, youthful way young women like. Looks a bit like a rock musician. I didn’t see him disguise himself.”

“Am I well?” Valen chuckles. “I’ve been better. Let’s say I’m being chastised for my recalcitrance in choosing a Court.”

“I was hired by Hubbard. It was a job. I did it for gold, nothing more. More gold than I gave Hines, to be sure. No, Hines never saw my face, only the gold. He had no idea who or what he was working for. He never knew Hubbard’s name. I let him know I had a boss, nothing more than that. Does he know I got caught? The gold stopped flowing so he’s got to know something is up. I would text him a date and time signed “V” and we would meet in an old parking garage downtown. Slot 287. We’d usually meet after midnight, when the cars had cleared out."

Meanwhile, Yuriko watches as Verikai paces outside the truck. She also sees a shimmery/wavery Nick running from across the street and settling behind a light pole. Verikai doesn’t seem to notice Nick and continues to pace.

Dillon continues to interrogate the Gruff. “Would Hubbard use anyone else to contact Hines or would he do it himself now?”

“Would he show up if I texted him from ‘V’, or would he be suspicious after all this time?”

“What is his number and do you still have the phone you used?”

Valen shrugs. “I don’t know who else Hubbard would use in Portland. To my knowledge, I was his only other hireling in town. I think he would do it himself.”

“Would he be suspicious? Of course he would. But would that negate his hunger for gold? I think not. But much depends on what Hubbard has told him.”

“I do not have the phone I used. I can give you Hines’ number, though.” He gives Dillon a local number.

There’s a banging on the door. “Tempus fugit,” says Verikai from outside. “Let’s wrap this up soon, Mr. Krister.”

“Guess that’s my cue, thanks for the help, Valen, and I hope if we cross paths again it will be amicable and not adversarial. Assuming you stop hunting mortals for gold.”

He then exits the truck.

“Thank you for the time, Verikai, I hope this wasn’t too much of an inconvenience for you," he tells the Sidhe. Verikai salutes and gets into the SUV and it pulls out of the parking lot. After the truck is gone, Nick emerges from behind the light pole.

“Are you okay?” he asks Dillon.

Yuriko emerges from her hiding place and comes to sit in front of the two men. She barks once, sharply, and cocks her head.

The band gets ready to head for home, with Yuriko changing back into her human form and getting dressed, and Dillon texts Sabrina to contact him ASAP. On the way home, Dillon gives the run-down of his meeting with Valen.

Yuriko looks thoughtful. “Hines. Hmm. Wasn’t that the name of the cop that was watching us when we went to visit Tom at the police station?”

Sabrina returns Dillon’s phone call. “What’s up?” she says.

“We have a problem, I just had my meeting with Summer, turns out he had a police contact watching Tom. Officer Jerry Hines is the cop in question. He may be in contact with Hubbard and still spying on Tom. We need to interrogate this guy, but he’s a cop, a dirty cop, but a cop. My source also tells me that Hubbard may actually be wanting to team up with the killer, not just hold him away from Trevidian. That means more murders are coming, so we need to find Hubbard fast. I wasn’t sure how to handle the cop, so I’m calling you for advice on this.

“Also, should I give Tom a heads up, I don’t want to tip off Hines or Hubbard, plus I have no proof beyond the word of a fairy, but I trust it.”

Sabrina pauses. “Wow, this is a lot to process. I know this guy. He’s been here a while. A veteran. He’s not going to like being confronted with any of this. And if we have no proof, he’s going to laugh in our face.

“As far as Tom, he trusts you so if you give him a heads-up and tell him to keep it to himself, he will. I think we owe him the truth as much as possible.”

Dillon calls Tom and gives him the news, that Jerry Hines is an informant and Hubbard may be planning to help Abel ramp up his game, but “you gotta play it cool, we don’t want to tip them off we know. I’ll call you with my plan on ‘meeting’ officer Hines when I have one.” Tom says he understands.

Dillon is also convening a meeting of “The Other Guys” at Yuriko’s apartment at Sabrina’s earliest convenience. That turns out to be after her shift tonight, after she and Dillon go hunting.

November 14, 2012 (Midnight)

Yuriko’s Apartment

Dillon catches everyone up on his conversation with Valen. “The question is, how do we get information out of Hines, a cop?”

Yuriko says, “So far, all we know is that he’s motivated by gold … By money.” Yuriko looks at Sabrina. “Is there anything else you know about him that we could use to our advantage?”

Sabrina says, “I don’t really know Hines all that well. He’s a career cop. He never made detective, but that never seemed to bother him. He’s been around the precinct longer than I have. I think you’re looking to me for a magic bullet, but I don’t have one. It seems to me our magic bullet is that we have his contact MO. If we can lure him to this parking lot for a payment, then we have him in the midst of something shady and he’s on the defensive. Then we can pounce.”

Yuriko nods, “He won’t be expecting us, to be sure. Are you planning to be there as well, Sabrina? For the confrontation? It seems that another police officer knowing his “shady” secret might be the leverage we need to get him to spill the information we need. Also, what are we going to tell Tom?”

Dillon says, “Getting him to show up at a drop site is not proof of anything. We can’t present Valen as evidence or his testimony. Hines has been dealing in the supernatural world, even though he didn’t know it, it protects him from mundane courts. We are going to have to use supernatural coercion to get him to tell all.

“And, I’ve seen enough movies to know when dirty cop is confronted by straight cop, dirty cop always gets desperate and starts shooting.

“I think we need to learn from those movies. I think we need to disguise ourselves, nab him, and question him about his boss, then we’re just bad guys looking for another bad guy, just like in the movies.

“We can’t torture him to make him talk, but we could scare the truth out of him. Maybe Nick can conjure something up (looking at Nick), or, something simple like dangling him over a tiger pit. (Looking at Yuriko) “You know a tiger we could trust to be scary but not lethal?”

Yuriko raises an eyebrow. "I don’t watch a lot of cop movies, but I imagine that dirty cops also get desperate and start shooting at people trying to nab them as well. We need to be careful. I don’t want Nick … " She pauses slightly. “…or a tiger to get hit with a bullet by accident. Do you have an idea of where this interrogation would take place?”

Nick says “I don’t think I would be able to conjure up anything that would last long enough to do what you would want to do. That would take some thaumaturgy of an order that I can’t do. I might be able to do a quick illusion, tricks of the light, that sort of thing, but nothing lasting more than a few moments. I’m with Yuriko. Where are we going to take this guy once he gets nabbed?”

Sabrina says, “Now we’re talking about kidnapping a cop and the only car we have is mine. It’s not going to be too smart to use that to do it with.”

Dillon says, “I’m hearing a lot of negativity about my idea, but no alternative solutions. Anybody have an idea on how to approach Hines and get him to talk?”

Sabrina says: “I say we get him to meet at the parking lot, thinking it’s Valen, we confront him en masse that we know he’s been following Casing, that Casing, a good cop, got shot for his trouble, and we’re not happy about that and that we can make life hard for him if he doesn’t cooperate. With all of us there, and with one us being a cop, I don’t think he’s going start shooting—too hard to explain and cover up. Will he talk, maybe, maybe not. But with all of us there, maybe we can lean on him enough to get him to open up.”

“Well, you’re a cop, the rest of us are nobodies to him. Do you really think a group of nobodies will impress him to talk? And, once he’s seen our faces, it’ll be too late for my tiger pit movie plan," Dillon says.

Yuriko says, “We’re not exactly nobodies. He knows we have ties to the police department. He saw us working with Tom. And aren’t you on file as an official consultant?

“WE know that we really can’t produce Valen as a witness. But Hines doesn’t know that. I think we can use that to our advantage.

“We’ve got information and the element of surprise. We’ve also got people who are good at talking to others and getting things to go our way. I think we’ve got a shot at this.”

Yuriko cocks her head slightly at Dillon and Sabrina. “I suppose if he’s being reluctant to help, one of you could spit on him. A bit awkward perhaps, but that might make him more compliant.”

Nick shudders. “Let’s use that as a last resort, okay?” And Hana nods emphatically in agreement.

Sabrina says. "Yuriko makes a good point. If we can convince him that I have Valen, but that I want his boss, then maybe he’ll be scared enough to talk. I’m hot enough on the trail to have Valen and to have Hines, but I’ve got bigger fish to fry. Which is close enough to the truth to be convincing.

“She’s also right. Don’t sell yourselves short. You’re not nobodies. You’ll be there with me and if he’s been watching then he knows you, Dillon, at least. There’s power in numbers. Witnesses. Even if he doesn’t know who everyone else is, that’ll be part of the element of surprise, throw him off his game.”

“I’ve got a bad feeling about this, but I’ll concede to the group. When do you want to do this? Also, I want to let Tom in on this plan, I case he wants to put his two cents in or even join us, since we’re playing by cop rules," Dillon says.

Sabrina says: “I suppose the sooner the better if we think this Hubbard character is joining forces with a serial killer. Let’s contact Tom in the morning and see what he thinks and if he wants in and see if we can do it tomorrow night.”

Dillon’s phone rings. It’s Reverend Buxman. “Dillon, I thought you should know that there was a break-in at the Church tonight. The burglar was apprehended. The police are bringing her in now. No one was hurt. Father Riley heard a noise in the scriptorium and notified me and the police. The police arrived before she got very far.”

“A break-in? In the scriptorium, how did she get in there? I thought it had a super door on it? What was taken, who was it?” Dillon asks in rapid succession. He also notifies Sabrina and asks her to make some calls to her police contacts to get some more information.

Buxman says. “She broke into the door’s lock. She was apparently a professional. The warding was against supernatural attack. Nothing was taken, but she made it into the room. I do not know the woman’s name. The police have her and are questioning her.”

Sabrina says she can make inquiries with her contacts at the police department. She’s not in the burglary division, so she’s not sure how much access she can get to the suspect.

Yuriko looks anxious. “The Shrouded One is on the attack again. Let me text the Warden. She’s going to want to know about this as well.”

Sabrina gets off the phone and says, “Our burglar is named Jen Overland. She’s a pro but she has a record. She has a reputation of getting into trouble with gambling debts. They’re holding her on B&E charges right now. She was unarmed, so the bail isn’t going to be terribly high.”

Yuriko receives no immediate response from the Warden.

Yuriko turns to Sabrina. “Since the bail is set pretty low, I guess there’s a good chance this woman won’t be in jail for long. Will you be able to tell us when she’s back on the street?”

Sabrina says , “I’ll keep my eye on the situation and keep you posted.”

Yuriko turns back to the group. “Then are we in agreement to talk with Hines tomorrow night?”

View
Side Job: Chains (Part Three)
Karkana Chronicles Seven

February 25, 2013 (Cont’d)

Brianna Karkana and Joey Aragon head to the University of Portland library. She looks for a student worker to pay to do some research for her. She finds a graduate student by the name of Roy Dale to research Mr. Rupert and see if she can find some information on him. She has the name, a description, and a license plate number for his car.

Roy manages to narrow the search down to three Ruperts in the Greater Portland area that may fit the bill. There’s an Elliot Rupert in Beaverton; a Malcolm Rupert in Portland proper; and Leonard Rupert in Aloha. All three have home address information. Brianna pays Roy for the information and she and Joey head out.

Brianna waits until about 6pm and then drives out to all three addresses in hopes of recognizing the car that she’s seen at Gould’s warehouse. Bingo—she sees the car at Malcolm Rupert’s home in Portland proper. He has a small home, a shotgun-house in a small neighborhood near downtown.

Brianna stakes out the house. Around 8pm, she sees another car pull up and a man in a suit come out with a large, rectangular case. He brings the case up to the door and Rupert answers the door. The men shake hands and the man in the suit gives Rupert the case. Then the man in the suit leaves. Brianna takes a picture of the man’s license plate. Then she puts her phone on vibrate and tells Joey to text her if anything happens she needs to know about.

Brianna leaves the car and stealthily heads into the yard of the house, approaching one of the side windows of the house. She looks inside and sees Rupert sitting on the couch with the case open on a coffee table, looking inside. Inside the case is a wooden stand and a crystal ball.

Brianna makes her way around the house and finds that the rest of the house is dark. She goes back around to her window and looks again. The case is closed and Rupert is on the phone. She backs away from the window, but listens in:

“…merchandise is ready.”

“Yes, my superiors found the product to be satisfactory.”

“If your assurances that there are no side affects hold true, then we can do business.”

“I look forward to it.”

“Yes, I can demo it in the morning.”

“Very good then.”

Brianna then moves back to the window and looks in. Rupert is now seated at the couch and reading a newspaper.

She sneaks back to the car and relates what she saw and heard to Joey.

Joey asks, “Think he was talking to Gould?”

“I think so. Maybe he’s perfected The Juice so its not got the side effects that it had with the fighters.”

“Or he’s just not mentioned it.”

“There’s that too. I don’t know what he’s demoing.”

“You think he’s demoing whatever that crystal ball is?

Brianna sighs. “Part of what Nerise said was finding out what will hurt Gould—nothing I’ve found out will hurt him in any way. I’m not sue where I can insert myself into this transaction. Tell Mr. Rupert ’Don’t buy it, it’s really addictive?’ I don’t think that going to work. Steal this crystal ball? I don’t see that working. Mess up this deal? He does want this thing so its probably not good. I’d like to see what this demo is but I don’t have any way into that building, if that even where they’re doing it. I need to know what it does. I wonder if a crystal ball is worth $50,000. Gould wouldn’t get what he wanted, Sydney would be released from her debt, and Big Jim Butler would be happy. But I don’t know who Mr. Rupert works for and I don’t want to make those people mad at me as well.”

Joey says, “That’s a thought.”

“It is a thought. A lot of that depends on how much can be done undetected. Being caught could go very badly. It also means we’d have to move very quickly. There’s also the assumption that Rupert doesn’t work for Jim Butler because that would be awkward and by awkward I mean deadly.”

Brianna leaves the car again and goes to investigate the house for security measures. She goes once again to the window to investigate. As she approaches the window, she hears someone leave the house. She then bolts away down the alley. The figure gives chase. With her preternatural speed, she manages to lose her pursuer. She hides in a nearby alley and texts Joey: HE MADE ME. HE’S CHASING ME. NOWS A GOOD TIME TO GET THAT CASE.

A few minutes later, Brianna gets a return text from Joey: BARELY MADE IT W/CASE. DROVE OFF. CIRCLE BACK.

Brianna texts back with the intersection she’s hiding at and Joey picks her up. In the seat is the case. Brianna opens it up and inside the intact crystal ball and stand. They head to the apartment.

They make it to the apartment about 10:30pm. They place the case in the back of the trunk of the car and then head back out to the contact spot they arranged with Regi. The pixie arrives about an hour later.

“Hiya lady!”

“HI Regi. Would Sydney know of someone discreet that could identify a magical item? I’m looking into something that may be able to offset part of her debt.”

The pixie shrugs. “I can ask.” He flies off in a nimbus of light and returns in about 15 minutes. " Syd says that there’s a man in Alberta called Richard Brothers. He has a pawn shop called Big Brother Pawn Shop. He’s kind of a shady character but he could probably identify something. "

“She hasn’t gotten in trouble for talking to me?” Brianna asks.

“Not so far,” Regi says.

Brianna wishes the pixie farewell and he flies away. As its about midnight at this point, she and Joey head back to the apartment and put the case in the back of her closet.

February 26, 2013

Brianna gets up early and looks up the hours of operation for Big Brother Pawn Shop. It’s open from 9-6. She then goes out and looks for anyone scoping out her place. She notices no one. She moves the case to the trunk of her car and she and Joey head out to the Alberta Arts District.

They park close to front of the pawn shop and head inside. The shop is clean and well lit and has an extensive selection of merchandise. Behind the counter is a lean, older man with a white beard.

“Are you Richard Brothers?” Brianna asks.

“I am,” he answers, warily.

“I was given your name by Sydney. She said you would be able to identify an unusual kind of item.”

“I do see a lot of unusual things in my career.”

“Sydney also said you could be discreet. Because that’s what I intend to pay for is discretion.”

“Then Sydney did say I was a man of business and not charity.”

Brianna steps forward, getting into Brothers’ space. “Oh, I intend to pay for this discretion. But what I pay for I expect to get. I will be very displeased if I do not get what I pay for.”

Brothers nods, “My discretion is as good as your money.”

“Excellent. When can you take a look at this item? I’ve got it in the car.”

“Why don’t you bring it around back?”

Brianna brings the car around back to a small loading dock. She gets the case, locks up the car and heads inside.

The back portion of the shop is filled all manner of trinkets, gee-gaws, and strange objects of art. Brianna gets a distinctly odd vibe in the room, as if something supernatural and icky was in the room. Brothers meets her back there and leads her into an office. He clears off a desk and lets her set the case down on the desk.

Brothers names a price for his services and Brianna meets it. They shake on it and she opens the case. Brothers whistles. “If this is what I think it is…” he says.

Brothers gently takes the ball and the stand out of the case and places the ball on the stand. He asks Brianna, “Do you have someone’s True Name or a symbolic link to them such as blood or hair?”

“What does this thing do before I give you that type of information?”

“If this is what I think it is, you’ll be able to see there they are at what they are doing.”

“What if I give you piece of my hair? Would that work?”

“It might for a test.”

Brianna plucks one of her hairs and hands it Brothers. Brothers places one hand on the glass and then places the hair on the globe. The hair burns away like a fuse. The opaqueness of the glass turns clear and both of them can see Brianna standing in Brothers’ office.

“Can anyone use this?” Brianna asks.

“Yeah, if they’re shown how to focus their will. And if they have a symbolic link to their target.”

“Can it be used indefinitely?”

“It may need to recharge after use, but yeah.”

Brianna packs it up and pays Brothers for his services and heads out. She and Joey drive around a bit for awhile before finally parking at Edgefield to discuss their plans.

“This is a pretty cool thing we have in our trunk, Joey,” Brianna says. "However, I don’t think its something we need to hold on to. Let’s lay out our facts:

1. This is a very valuable object.
2. I don’t think we want Gould to have this item.
3. It seems like this might take care of Sydney’s debt, if we were so include. It’d be a pretty big favor she’d owe us.

Questions:

Do we want Big Jim Butler to have it?
Do we want it?
If it gets back to Mr. Rupert’s associates that we took it and we don’t have it, then it make it a bit harder to return it.
How can use this situation to hurt Gould and not ourselves?"

Joey says, “By having this, we’re hurting Gould. I’m more worried about Rupert. We don’t know who he is or where he comes from.”

“Yeah, I would have like to have more information on him before we moved but it seemed like an opportunity we couldn’t miss.”

Joey shrugs. “That ship has sailed.”

“Yes, it has. Do you think we should find out more about Mr. Rupert before we do something with this item?”

Joey says, “I’m not sure that’ll do us much good.”

The two discuss for a while what to do next. Finally, Joey says, “If we’re going to use it, use it.”

Brianna agrees. “I don’t want to hold it.”

Joey continues, “The damage is done. Bringing it back isn’t going to help.”

“Okay. Then I say we move it on to somebody else.”

Brianna calls the number on the Butler Industries business car she got the other night. A female voice answers on the other end. “Butler Industries.”

“My name is Brianna Karkana and I would like to make an appointment to speak with Mr. Butler about a business proposal.”

“Mr. Butler is a very busy man…”

“We met the other night and this is a follow-up to that conversation. If you like, I can leave my information for a call-back. Otherwise, you can put me on hold.”

“Hold a moment, please.”

“Thank you.”

After a few moments, the voice comes back on the line. “Mr. Butler is having a dinner at 6pm at Pazzo’s. He would be willing to discuss your proposal there.”

“It would be me and my business associate.”

“I will let Mr. Butler know.”

“Thank you very much. Let Mr. Butler know we will see him at six.”

The two then discuss whether to bring the crystal ball with them to the meeting that night. They finally decide to take it with them. They then head back to the apartment to wait and then to get ready for dinner at Pazzo’s. Joey dresses in his best suit and Brianna in her best red dress. They then head out to meet Mr. Butler.

February 26, 2013 (6:00 pm, Pazzo’s Downtown)

Brianna and Joey valet park the car and Joey carries the case inside. At the hostess station inside, Brianna takes the lead.

“I’m meeting Mr. Butler for dinner.”

“You are expected. Please come this way.”

The hostess leads them to a booth at the rear of the restaurant—not near the kitchen, but in a secluded corner. Butler is sitting alone in the booth. He invites the two to sit with him. He eyes Joey with the case but makes no comment. Joey sits at the edge of the booth and sets the case on the floor.

“Ms. Karkana, I was told you have a business proposal.”

“I do.”

“Good We can discuss over dinner. First, lets have some wine.”

He pours the wine. Brianna and Joey both get the impression that it is an expensive vintage. Butler toasts their health. He then asks Brianna to introduce her associate. She does. Butler says that he took the liberty of ordering dinner for everyone. It’s traditional Italian fare. The is pleasant, if quiet. Finally, Butler begins.

“So, what is the proposal you have for me.”

“I have acquired a certain artifact that may be of interest to you,” Brianna says.

“My interests don’t usually deal in artifacts.”

“This one is pretty special. May we speak somewhat freely here?”

Butler smiles. “For the most part. I value this table for its seclusion and Pazzo’s for its busy atmosphere.”

“I thought for someone in your particular line of work, it might give you an advantage over business competitors. When I acquired it, I though of you and Ms. Sydney’s debt.” She looks at him pointedly. “And also that my intent is that it not go to whom it was intended for.”

Butler cocks his head. “Ms. Karkana, are you passing off hot merchandise to me?”

Brianna says, “I would not want us to move much more forward without delicate circumstances being made clear up front.”

Butler sips his wine. “Hot merchandise is trouble. Makes it not worth as much.”

“Some trouble is worth having. It does make for some interesting times.”

“So I take it that this artifact is in that case?”

“Yes. I’m keeping it close.”

“And you think that the advantage this artifact will give me over my competitors will be worth not only the trouble of this thing being stolen but worth Ms. Benning’s debt?

“I do. I guess the question is whether you do”

“Well, what is this artifact?”

Brianna moves in, low and close. “It’s a genuine crystal ball.”

Butler looks skeptical.

Brianna continues. “With blood, hair, something physical this will show you what they’re doing.”

Butler looks thoughtful. “I’d have to see proof.”

“I’d expect nothing less. I don’t know if you want to do that here or someplace where discretion can be assured.”

“No, not here. After dinner.”

“Very good”.

The two chit chat over dinner. Joey mostly keeps to himself. After dinner, Butler says, “If you have what you say, then we’ll have an arrangement as you expect.”

“Lovely,” Brianna says.

“If.” Butler reiterates. “Are the two of you willing to take a ride with me?”

“I think so,” Brianna says. If we were to make a business arrangement together, trust is important."

“Very well, come with me.” And Butler leads them out of the restaurant where a limousine is waiting for them. They load into the limo and Butler instructs the limo driver to take them to the “Southwest site”. Along the way, Brianna reminds Butler about the need for a symbolic link to use the artifact. “I’ve got an idea,” Butler assures her.

Before long, the limo pull sup to a construction site. It looks like an incomplete industrial building of some sort. Butler alights from the car and Brianna and Joey follow. Butler goes to the driver and asks him to pluck one of his hairs. The driver is incredulous at first but Butler is insistent and the driver does as he’s told. Butler then leads the way into the partially constructed building.

There are scaffolds with electric lamps clamped onto them that Butler turns on for light and sawhorses with planks on them for tables that he motions to for Joey to put the case on. Brianna carefully unpacks the case, placing the ball onto the stand. She asks Butler for the hair. He hands it over. She places one hand onto the ball. It’s cool to the touch. She then places the hair on the ball and calls upon her will. The hair burns away like a fuse and the cloudiness of the ball clears away, revealing the driver sitting in the car fiddling with the radio. Its as if Brianna were sitting beside him.

“Can people tell if they’re being watched?” Butler asks.

“Not that I know of,” Brianna says, “You’ll have to ask your driver.”

“This could be useful,” Butler muses.

“I was hoping you’d say that,” Brianna says. “I would much rather you have this than who it was intended for.”

“And who was that?”

“A gentleman I’m having a disagreement with. A gentleman named Barnabas Gould.”

Butler doesn’t seem to recognized the name.

“Suffice to say,” Brianna continues, “we’ve been having territory disputes. And I’m looking for ways to cause him trouble.” She smiles wickedly.

“Is he who you stole this from?”

“I acquired this from a party who was going to give this Gould in exchange for a service. How much of that can be traced back to me, I don’t know. This may cause trouble for me as well, however I did not want him to have something that could do this.”

Butler asks, “How much trouble can I expect from this other party?”

“Well, I know that this representative’s name is Mr. Malcolm Rupert. No one saw us acquire said item, however whether or not there’s some suspicions remains to be seen. I’m not known to have a business relationship with you. That’s not a natural tie. But there will be people wanting it back. I’ve been up front about that.”

“Who does Rupert work for?”

“That I would be interested in knowing as well. As they had this nature of artifact with them, I must guess that they have access to interesting things. That they’re willing to do business with Gould tells me about the quality of business they’re willing to involve themselves in.”

Butler narrows his eyes. “When they come snooping around, are you pointing them to me?”

“When they come snooping around, I’ll have no clue what they’re talking about. As much as I’m enjoying my war with Gould, I do not wish to cross you, Mr. Butler.”

He smiles. “You’re smart. I like that. Alright. You want this gadget to pay off Sydney Benning’s debt. You realize she’s real useful to my organization.”

“As I hope this would be. And this doesn’t require you to put up in a house, feed it, guard it, all that. You’re doing all the watching.”

“Alright. You have a deal.”

“Lovely.”

The two shake hands. Brianna shows him how to use the device and boxes it back up.

“I hope this will open the door to any future business transactions I may bring to you,” Brianna says.

“I’m willing to listen,” Butler says.

“Sometimes, that’s all a lady wants, is someone to listen,” She smiles. “If you happen to hear who Mr. Rupert belongs to, I would appreciate a phone call.”

“We’ll see.” Butler takes the case and they all return to the limo. Butler takes them back to Pazzos and allows them to pick up their car.

Once back in their car, Brianna turns to Joey, who’s driving. “That seemed to go okay. These are big fishes we’re swimming with, Joey.” Joey agrees.

They swing by the spot to meet with Regi. They wait for an hour, but Regi doesn’t show. They then head back to the apartment. Brianna leaves the living room window open a crack and goes to shower and change.

After Brianna gets out of the shower, she goes to the living room and, soon thereafter, Regi comes flying in through the window.

“Hiya lady. I don’t know what you did, but Sydney says thank you. She owes you a debt.”

“Is there a better way to contact you or Sydney?”

“Yeah. Sydney’s place is a studio apartment on Burnside. She told me to give you the address.”

“My hope is to meet with her soon and raise a celebratory toast to her freedom. Can you carry my phone number to her?

“Sure!”

Brianna writes down the phone number and gives it to Regi.

“We may be stopping by in a day or two.”

“I’ll let her know,” the pixie says as he flies off.

Brianna, happy, goes to bed.

February 27, 2013

Brianna and Joey go to Sibley’s Gym to work out. About an hour into their routine, Malcolm Rupert walks into the gym, looks around and spots Brianna and makes a beeline to her. Brianna is beating a bag and continues to do so.

“Excuse me,” Rupert says.

Brianna stops beating the bag. “Yes?”

“Are you Brianna Karkana?”

“I am. Who’s asking?”

“The name is Rupert.”

“Is there something I can help you with, Rupert?”

“Mr. Rupert.”

“Then you can call me Ms. Karkana.”

“I think you know why I’m here, Ms. Karkana.”

“I honestly couldn’t say.”

He stares at Brianna with an odd expression on his face and says. “Not all is as it appears here, is it Ms. Karkana?”

He continues to stare at Brianna with an odd expression and continues. “Let me be frank. Return what you have stolen. You have made enemies far more dangerous than you understand.”

Brianna’s voice grows cold. “You’re not threatening me in my place of business, are you? I told you. I have no idea what you’re talking about. I think It’s time you left.”

Rupert backs away. “Have it your way, Ms. Karkana.”

“I usually do.”

View
Side Job: Chains (Part Two)
Karkana Chronicles Seven

February 22, 2013

Brianna is having a conversation Regi the Pixie about his friend, Sydney.

“What did Sydney do to owe $50,000 to anyone?”

Regi shrugs.

“If she pays the $50,000, are they willing to let her go?”

Regi shrugs.

“Its going to take her ages to pay off $50,000 fixing the fights. Could you show us where she is being held, Regi?”

“Sure.”

“Alright. How long does it take you to get where she’s being held?”

“It’s a bit of a flight…”

“Can you direct us if we go by car?”

“Probably.”

“Let’s get a jacket…let’s see if we can scope out the situation.”

She gets a jacket and Joey and they all three head out. Regi is not great at giving driving directions—not wanting to abide by road rules and all. But they eventually get there. They find themselves in Southeast Portland in a nice enough neighborhood with lots of large houses on smaller plots of land. Driving by the house indicated by Regi, Brianna can tell that the house is well-maintained. There’s a light on inside, though the blinds are drawn. There’s a car parked out front.

“How many men are in the house, Regi?” Brianna asks.

“Some,” Regi says.

“Where is Sydney in the house?”

“In the bedroom.”

“In her own bedroom? Does she share it with anyone?”

“No. it’s her own.”

“First or second story?”

“Second.”

“How do you get in?”

“The flue.”

“Do they hurt Sydney, or just hold her?”

“No, I think they’re afraid of her.”

“But yet they hold her against her will,” Brianna muses. “Is this Sydney’s house of the Man’s house?”

“The Man’s house.”

“Can she leave the bedroom? Can she go out into the back yard?”

Regi shrugs. “I don’t know.”

“I’d like to talk to Sydney. Can you ask if she’s willing to talk to me?”

“Sure.”

Brianna let’s Regi out of the car and he flies up toward the house. She and Joey wait in the car about fifteen minutes. Brianna takes a picture of the license plate of the car in the driveway. Regi comes flying back.

“Syd wants to talk. She’ll try to get to the back yard. Brianna tells Joey that she’ll keep her phone on vibrate and to text her if there’s any activity out front that she needs to know about.

Brianna makes her way toward the back stealthily and scales the fence, landing in the backyard. The nearly full moon makes things fairly visible. Also, the fact that Regi’s nimbus of light followed her nearly the whole way didn’t help. Near a patio at the rear of the house, she sees a waifish young woman wrapped in a robe. She approaches.

“You Sydney?”

“I am.”

“Regi tells me you’re the one messing with my fights.”

“I suppose I am.”

“This is all because you owe someone $50,000?”

“Yes, not just someone.”

“You owe who $50,000?

“Various bookies, but it boils down to ‘Big Jim’ Butler.”

“Who’s ‘Big Jim’ Butler?”

“Local businessman. Mob boss.”

“This is all debt you inherited from your father? Where’s your father?”

“Dead.”

“Regi tried to explain, but you’re being kept here, but what is the big game here?

Sydney sighs. “I use my talent to fix the fights so the mob makes money to work down my debt.”

“So ‘Big Jim’ Butler’s aware you’re a sorceress?”

“Yes.”

“Sorry, continue.”

“Once I work my debt, they’ll let me go—supposedly.”

“Is Big Jim known to be a man of his word in such matters? It seems to me that they have a bit of a meal ticket here…”

“That was my thought as well.”

“I take you didn’t like your chances of running,” Brianna says, “getting out of Portland?”

“I do owe the debt,” Sydney says, “and always running, looking over my shoulder—I don’t know…”

“I have to be frank. I don’t know how to help you. I have $50,000. That’s a lot to come out of our rings.”

“I see. Well, Regi thought you could help.”

“I don’t like the idea of people holding you against your will. But I don’t like the idea of people fucking with my fights, either.”

“If I don’t, they may kill me.”

Brianna sighs. “Is there anything else you can do for them?”

“I can’t turn lead into gold, if that’s what you mean.”

“No that isn’t what I meant. I mean it’s a big town. There may be another way they can use your talents than fixing fights. Without drawing attention to themselves. Well, it’s not like I can talk to Big Jim Butler on your behalf. I’m sure he wouldn’t be pleased that we’ve been talking. Would that cause more trouble for you?”

“I don’t know.”

“I hesitate to do to many things blindly because it’s your life that’s going to be on the line for it. I’m willing to do what I can, I’m just not sure what that is. When was the next fight you were supposed to be fixing?”

Sydney quirks an eyebrow. “It was supposed to be Saturday.”

Brianna frowns. “One thing that will have us not working together is if you touch my man.”

“I’m already in trouble for Saturday’s fight. For not getting the fix in.”

“Do you pick the fights for the fix or do they?”

“They pick the fights. I don’t have much more time here.”

“Is Regi a good way to get messages to you?”

“Yes.”

“Very good. I’ll see what I can do.”

Brianna turns around and scales the fence, heading back to the car.

“Well that just got interesting, Joey,” she says when she gets back to the car. She explains the situation to Joey as they head back to the house. “I don’t know about fighting with a mob boss.”

Joey asks, “So what’s the plan?”

“I got enough crap going down with Gould and now this sorceress thing.”

“You know,” Joey says, “The syndicate is run by mob elements.”

Brianna nods. “I don’t know if that helps or hurts us.”

The two discuss the pros and cons of going to Butler himself, finally coming to the conclusion that they Brianna wants to go to the man himself and discuss the situation.

February 23, 2013

After working out at Sibley’s Gym, Brianna and Joey head over to the house where Sydney is being held. They are watching for Regi. Sure enough, the pixie shows up and flies over to the car and greets them.

“Hiya lady. If you’re not careful, you’re going to be seen.”

“I just wanted to let Sydney know that I’m going to talk to Big Jim Butler and I wanted her agreement before moving forward. That’s all I got and I’m willing to do it.”

The pixie salutes and flies off. Ten minutes later, he returns and says that Sydney says “Go ahead.” They also arrange to meet Regi at the rear of the house in future.

Brianna and Joey drive by Gould’s headquarters to see if they see Rupert’s car. They do not. They keep driving.

Tonight’s fight night. When Brianna and Joey arrive at the venue, Brianna checks the parking lot for the car that she’s been seeing parked in front of the house where Sydney’s being held. She does see the car, but she doesn’t see its owner.

Joey has his fight and does quite well, winning handily. There are no bizarre mishaps to hamper his win.

After the fight, Brianna heads out to the parking lot to see if she can catch the driver of the car. She sees a man getting into the car. She approaches him saying, “Excuse me!”

The man turns, surly, and says “What?” The man is thick-necked and dressed in a nice suit without a tie.

“I was hoping you could get a message to someone for me. I would to speak to Mr. Butler.”

“I do a lot of things for Mr. Butler, but message boy ain’t one of them. Excuse me.” The man turns back to his car.

Brianna gets angry. “I’d like to talk to him about Sydney and someone using magic to fix the fucking fights!”

The man turns and puts up his hands, placating. “Look lady, you need to back off!”

“I need to meet with Mr. Butler at his earliest convenience. He’s probably a busy man.”

“I’ll pass the message along. How’s he to get ahold of you?”

“I manage fights here. I’m sure you saw me.”

“That’s right. You manage Joey Aragon.”

“I do.”

He gets in his car and drives away.

Brianna goes back into the venue and watches more fights. Joey has a date tonight, so Brianna goes home alone, works out, and goes to bed.

February 24, 2013

Brianna starts her day with exercise and then she and Joey drive out by Gould’s warehouse again to see if they see Rupert’s car. Again, no dice. She heads back home and tries another internet search for him and has no luck. She takes the cash out of the lycanthrope’s wallet under her mattress and then puts the wallet and pocketknife in a plastic bag and takes it out to a random dumpster and disposes of it. She and Joey have breakfast with the cash.

That night, Brianna wears red and they go out to watch the fights. As their watching, Brianna is approached by a man in a suit. “You requested a meeting?” He flicks a business card in his fingers. It’s for Butler Industries. “Come with me, please.” The man in the suit leads her outside and to a waiting limousine. He opens the door for her and she gets inside.

Waiting inside is a older man, balding, but with an intense gaze and a tailored suit. Big Jim Butler.

" You made quite an impression on my man Louis, " Butler says.

“I wanted Louis to take me seriously, " Brianna says.

“Thus this meeting.”

“Which I appreciate.”

“So what is it you wish to discuss?”

“As I intimated to Louis, I was distressed to discover that some of our fights were being tilted in particular directions. This is my place of business. My man is doing well, working his way up the ranks, I feel very proprietary about the men,” Brianna favors Butler with a predatory smile. “I love a good fight. But love it to be a good fight. So. It came to my attention that this Sydney owes you quite a bit of money.”

“She does,” Butler nods.

“And this business is a way she can chip away at that large debt she owes you.”

“That’s the idea.”

“Thus I wanted to arrange this meeting to see what other options Sydney has other than fixing our fights. Its distressing that this young woman is trapped in this situation.”

Butler says, “Coming to me takes a lot of guts. I like that. But a debt is a debt. I can’t let it be said that I don’t collect.”

“I understand. Are there options we can explore?”

“I’m listening.”

“It depends on you Mr. Butler. What will you accept for a debt of that magnitude?”

“You don’t have a proposal?”

“No. I’m new enough to Portland, I’m unfamiliar with you and what you would accept. I don’t know what currency you value. I don’t have $50,000 to pay Sydney’s debt.”

Butler steeples his fingers in thought. “But you want me to aim her away from the fights.”

“Yes. She has asked me for help and I am willing to give it where I can.”

Butler raises an eyebrow. “She asked you for help?”

Brianna just blinks.

“And here I thought this was about business.”

Brianna says, “It’s a little of both. Do business transactions matter more than people acting out of the goodness of their heart?”

Butler stares at her coldly.

Brianna shrugs.

Butler asks, "Do you have a proposal as to where I should better utilize Sydney?

Brianna lists other places in Portland where betting goes on, with higher stakes.

Butler says, “I’m prepared to redirect Sydney’s attentions.”

“That would be nice. I’d appreciate it.”

“And in return, you’ll leave it alone.”

“I won’t interfere, no. If you can think of some sort of business transaction that would offset the debt she has—information, someone you’re wanting intimidated, will you let me know?”

“Very well.”

“May I contact you if I have a future business proposal?

“If you have an actual proposal, yes. You may make an appointment.”

“I will see what I can come up with. I appreciate you meeting with me.”

The two shake hands. The driver opens the door and Brianna gets out of the limo.

Brianna heads back into the fights and finds Joey.

“Where you been?” he asks.

“Just talked to the man himself,” Brianna says.

The two head to the car and Brianna catches Joey up on her conversation with Butler.

Joey says, “That helps the fights, but doesn’t help Sydney very much.”

“Well, I can come to him with a business proposal.”

The two discuss their situation for a while and then Brianna says “Let’s go tell Regi.”

They go to the home where Sydney is being held and park behind the house, where they had arranged to meet with the pixie.

Soon, a nimbus of light comes flying up to the window. “Hiya lady.”

“Mixed success with Mr. Butler. He’s agreed to focus Sydney somewhere other than the fights, and is willing to hear a business proposal regarding her debt from me but no gains tonight.”

Regi salutes and starts to fly off…but Brianna continues…

“I don’t know how well Sydney knows Mr. Butler. What kind of information he’ll take in trade for $50,000. She can think on it.”

Regi puts his hands on his hips. “These are long messages, lady…”

“You’re right. I’m sorry.” She condenses the message down to a bite sized chunk for Regi and sends him on his way. Then she and Joey head back to the apartment.

February 25, 2013

The two workout at Sibley’s Gym and then go out and hit the streets, gathering information about the crime scene in Portland.

Essentially, Big Jim Butler’s organization is the top dog in Portland’s organized crime scene. There are also the tongs in Chinatown and some smaller outfits, primarily some Greek families. But Big Jim consolidated a lot of the action in Portland into his outfit.

TO BE CONTINUED

View
Side Job: Chains (Part One)
Karkana Chronicles Seven

January 28, 2013

After waking up from her long sleep after her encounter with the lycanthropes, she goes out and buys a burner cellphone and contacts the local Warden, Leilani Capstone.

She calls the number she was given and finds a lot of interference on the line. She hears a stern woman’s voice on the other end of the line. “This is Capstone.”

“Is this the Warden?”

“Yes.”

“I have some information you might be interested in. There’s a family of lycanthropes about 30 miles from town picking people up and taking them out in the woods, driving them before them like some kind of blood sport.”

“I would be interested in that.”

“Good. They picked me and my friend up last night and that was not a very pleasant experience.”

“They let you go?”

“We got away.”

“I need more information.”

Brianna gives the Warden a general description of where she thinks the farmhouse was and of Lucas Tierney, as well as the man’s name and of Eustace.

“Okay, I’ll look into it,” Capstone says.

“Good. I imagine they’re intentionally targeting mortals. I don’t know that everybody’s going to be as lucky as we were to get away.”

“It sounds like you’re not a mortal, then?” Capstone observes.

“No.

“Well, thank you for the tip-off.”

“You’re welcome.” Brianna hangs up the phone.

Brianna leaves the burner phone in her room. She places the lycanthrope’s wallet and pocketknife in an envelope and puts that under her mattress. She also finds a sling in their various medical supplies for the ring and places her broken arm in it. Being a vampire, all she needs is time for it to heal, but in the meantime, she’ll need to sling it.

She and Joey load up in the car and head to Edgefield. Brianna wants to check out the grounds of this Accorded neutral ground.

It’s quite impressive. 70+ acres of farmland with a hotel and brewery. Spa. Meeting rooms. While there, she is met by a groundskeeper/host by the name of Solomon Chalmers. Pure Iowa farm boy. He gives her his card. Then she and Joey have a beer in the nearby pub. It’s good beer.

January 29, 2013 – February 19, 2013

Over the next few weeks, Brianna is gathering various bits of information:

She wants to find out where various members of the supernatural community gather. She discovers that the wee folk tend to gather at Mill Ends Park. She also discovers that the Summer Envoy has a club called The Green Lady that he frequents, especially during the off-seasons. The Winter Envoy, she holds Court, holds it in the Elysian Ballroom. And she is also warned that at a group of weres frequents Forest Park.

She also keeps her ear to the ground and hears that the lycanthropes outside of town were, indeed, busted by the Warden. She and Joey have a beer and drink to that.

She also gets a phone call from her cousin Quincy. “The Patriarch sends his regards.” So word did apparently trickle down to him about her exploits in Seattle. She thanks him letting her know.

Brianna has also noted some strange mishaps going on with some fights. Nothing she can put her finger on, but it seems like some fights that were going well for some fighters would suddenly go south do to some streak of just bad luck. Enough to form more than a coincidence in her mind, but not enough to form a pattern. Strange.

On February 19th, she gets a text from Carl to meet at 8pm on the 20th.

February 20, 2013 (8:00 pm)

Brianna and Joey arrive at Barry’s Drafthouse to meet Carl.

“What are drinking, Carl?” Brianna asks.

“Stout.”

Brianna orders stouts for everyone and gets a table.

“So,” Brianna starts, “How are things at the warehouse?”

“Pretty much the usual,” Carl says, “except for the thing which I though should know about.”

“Okay.”

“The bosses have been meeting with a suit for the past couple of days. I don’t know who he is. But he seems intense.”

“Intense how?”

Carl shakes his head. “I can’t put my finger on it.”

“Okay, can you describe the suit? Or have you heard a name dropped?”

“He’s in his 30s. Glasses. Looks like an accountant.”

“Are they treating him like a boss or an accountant?”

“They’re treating him like a client. I’ve heard a name. Mr. Rupert.”

“That’s definitely interesting.”

“I don’t think this guy’s an accountant,” Carl says.

“Chances are good that he’s not,” Brianna says. “Does Mr. Rupert arrive with assistants are does he arrive by himself?”

“By himself.”

“Does he have a routine?”

“He comes in the morning about 8:00 am. He drives a dark sedan. He leaves for lunch with the bosses. They meet again in the afternoon.”

“Do you ever see Rupert leave with anything?”

“No.”

“That is interesting. This bears investigation on my end. This is the type of information I want to know. If you hear anything more that illuminates any more as to this exact business relationship, let me know.”

Brianna slips Carl some bills for the information, then she and Joey take their leave.

When they get home, Brianna tries searching the net for Mr. Rupert, but gets so many hits as to be useless. She then gets back out and buys and some binoculars at Walmart.

February 21, 2013

Brianna and Joey head over to Gould’s new headquarters and scope out a new stakeout position with cover. They begin a new surveillance of the place in hopes of seeing this “Mr. Rupert.”.

They see a dark, non-descript sedan pull up to the parking lot and a man get out. He’s handsome, in a very vanilla kind of way, in his early to mid-thirties, wearing glasses. Brianna notices a gun bulge in his jacket. She also notices a confidence in him that is belied by his weak appearance. She can see the intensity Carl was talking about. His weakness is a façade. Brianna notes his license plate number. They are Oregon plates.

They wait. Around lunchtime, He, Gould, and Pixie Hair come out and get in Gould’s car to go to lunch. Pixie Hair sits up front while Rupert and Gould sit in the back. Gould seems unctuous and deferential to Rupert. Around an hour and half later, they return. After a lot of hand shaking and good byes, Rupert returns to his car. He is carrying a small, plastic case.

Joey follows Rupert’s car. Rupert notices him but can’t seem to shake him. Brianna tells Joey to let him go, they’re already made. Rupert drives off.

They go back to the warehouse and stake them out again. Around 5 pm, Gould emerges and leaves. Around 7pm, Pixie Hair emerges and leaves. They follow her again and she leads them to her apartment building in Beaverton. This time, they note which apartment is hers before driving away.

That night, they head to the fights so that Brianna can sip/feed. It’s a typical night of mingling and watching. Afterwards, they head home.

At home, Brianna is awakened by a sound coming from Joey’s room. She quietly makes her way into the room and notices that his window is open a crack. She shuts the door and flips on the light.

Joey stirs. “What?”

“Joey, something’s in your room. Your window’s open. I don’t know if it’s still here.”

“I don’t see nothing.”

“We need to see if anything of ours has been moved or taken. Shut your window.”

“Joey gets up and shuts the window. Brianna looks out the window and sees nothing out of the ordinary.

Joey begins to search the room. While searching a corner, he comes away biting his thumb. “Ow! Sonofabitch!” and a small figure on a glowing nimbus of light flies over his head declaring “That’s enough of that!” The small figure wields a stick pin like a sword.

Brianna approaches the floating figure, menacingly. “I’m going to rip your wings off!”

It raises its hands, placating. It’s male, has green and yellow hair, and wears a little brown pouch around its neck. “Let’s keep things friendly, lady.”

“You broke into MY house and did who knows what to my friend,” Brianna says.

“Now, now, I didn’t hurt anybody. Just a little harmless snip-snip. Nobody hurt. Just helping my friend.”

After a very laborious conversation with the pixie, it comes out that he is helping his friend, Sydney, who’s a sorcerer, pay off a debt to “The Man”. This “Man” is keeping her prisoner in a house and making her do spells against fighters to fix fights to pay off this debt. She inherited the debt from her father. Syd is apparently guarded by men in this house. Brianna doesn’t like that Sydney is being held prisoner, but she also doesn’t like someone messing with “her” fighters. The pixie is called Regi.

First of all, Brianna gets Regi to dump his pouch. He does. It seems to be full of clippings of Joey’s hair.

“Can you get a message to Sydney, Regi?” Brianna asks.

Regi nods.

“I need her to leave my fighters alone. She’s messing in my territory. Ask her if she needs help. Maybe there’s some sort of arrangement we can come to.”

Regi salutes and Joey opens the window. Regi bolts.

Joey comments that this town just keeps getting weirder and weirder.

Brianna tells Joey to dispose of the hair clippings, there’s no telling what someone could do with them.

Then they go to bed.

February 22, 2013

This morning Brianna and Joey drive by Gould’s warehouse to see if Rupert’s car is there. It is not.

They return a little before lunch and stake out the warehouse. Joey follows Gould’s car as it leaves for lunch, but he is made and shaken off. He doesn’t know where Gould went.

That night, they go to the fights. Brianna sip/feeds. She tries to pay attention to the odds and if anything odd happens tonight during the fights. She doesn’t notice anything out of sorts.

They go home and crack a window in the living room in case Regi returns. Brianna stays up waiting for him. Sure enough, late that night, a nimbus of light enters the cracked window and she hears a voice.

“Don’t be hasty lady, it’s just me. Regi. I have a message from Sydney. She says she needs help. If she stops, she defaults.”

“Do you know if she owes money or something else?” Brianna asks.

“Money,” Regi says.

“How much?”

“$50,000.”

Brianna whistles. “Has she made any headway on the $50,000?”

Regi shrugs.

“Is this house guarded.”

“There’s men.”

“Inside and outside the home?”

“Yes.”

TO BE CONTINUED

View
Side Job: Bad Moon Rising
Summary

January 9, 2013 (Late Afternoon)

Brianna Karkana arrives at PDX after her trip to Seattle. Joey Aragon, who looks noticeably roughed up, picks her up in her car.

“I’m going to kill them. Who did this?” Brianna asks.

“That Silas guy. I don’t want to tangle with him,” Joey says.

The two get in the car—Brianna drives.

“Did you tell them where I was?” Brianna asks.

“Yeah, sorry.”

“Their fault. I’m more relieved that they didn’t have eyes on me in Seattle. If their reach stretches that far, it will make my path harder going forward. Whatever you told them, you didn’t tell them where the stuff was.”

“They were more interested in you.”

“Was it the three of them?”

“Yeah.”

Brianna gives Joey an abridged version of events in Seattle as they head to the apartment. Once they get home, she takes a shower and then she calls her cousin, Quincy Karkana.

“As I’m talking to you, it went well for our House,” she announces.

“Good,” Quincy says.

“I asked the representative of Lord Raith to speak well of our House when he makes his report. We didn’t particularly like each other, but hopefully he respects what I did for the family.”

“I have a question for you, Quincy,” Brianna continues, “The representative from the Raith family could incite emotion without touching. Are there those among us that can the same thing? I have not heard of such a thing.”

“There are some,” Quincy says, carefully.

“That was a disconcerting feeling, I can tell you.”

“Oh. OH,” Quincy says, understanding.

“Thus I didn’t get along with him very well. I about broke his nose. But he won’t do that again. Not with me, anyway. Not with any other Karkana. Anyway, just wanted to let you know the news. I’d be curious to know if anything did trickle down to the Patriarch.

“If I hear anything, I’ll let you know.”

“I’d appreciate it. Goodbye.”

Next, Brianna calls Clive.

“This is Clive,” comes the soft spoken voice on the other end of the line.

“This is Brianna. I’m back in Portland. Things went well in Seattle. I’d love to meet with Nerise whenever it is convenient for her.”

“Nerise will see you sooner rather than later. How is tonight?”

“Tonight is excellent. A particular time I should stop by the club?”

“After eight.”

“Thank you, Clive.”

Next Brianna calls the gym that Brian O’Malley, the fighter that was hooked on “The Juice,” is associated with. She asks for Brian and soon a breathless fighter picks up.

“Yeah?”

“I hate to tell you this, but the person you owe 5 Gs to may be coming back around.”

“What?!?”

“It’s what I heard. I wanted to give you a heads up.”

“Shit.”

“Yep.”

“I don’t need this right now.”

“What’s going on?”

“Everything’s turning around for me.”

“How much do you have, Brian?”

“I could probably scrape up 1 K.”

“Brian, I might be willing to make an investment in you. Maybe make some sort of loan. The difference being I wouldn’t send Joey around to beat the shit out of you if you can’t pay it back. But I’m going to be crystal clear with you—I only invest in clean fighters. I do not waste my money in fighters that take that kind of shit. So if we’re going to come to some sort of financial agreement, you’re going to need to be clean and you’re going to need to stay clean.”

“I’m clean. I’m off that stuff.”

“Good. I’m not concerned with how long it takes to pay me back this money but with the effort to pay me back, bit by bit. Do we have an agreement?”

“Yeah, sure, we have an agreement.”

“Alright.”

The two exchange details and Brianna will send Brian the money to pay back Gould.

“Thank you,” Brian says.

“Well, I want us to stickup for reach other.”

After she hangs up with Brian, she says to Joey, “Maybe that’s one person out of Gould’s clutches…”

January 9, 2013 (A little after 8 pm)

Brianna and Joey arrive at Nirvana. The doorman, expecting them now, waves them through the line and the two head up to the office area of the club. The club is busy, but not as busy as on the weekends. Brianna is waved into Nerise’s office by Clive, while Joey waits outside with the “goons”.

Nerise motions for Brianna to take a seat while she seats herself behind her desk. “Tell me about Seattle,” she says. And Brianna gives her an unabridged version of events in Seattle, including her transactions Gould over the phone.

When she’s finished, Brianna says, “It’s been an eventful couple of days.”

“Sounds like,” Nerise says. “Madeline tells me she’s gone abroad.”

“That’s what she told me as well. She did not offer to make me a permanent traveling companion and I had business to attend to here.”

“A permanent traveling companion is not Madeline’s style.”

“it would be exhausting,” Brianna says.

“By all accounts, you handled yourself well.”

“I hope so. I intended to do honor to my House.”

“Well,” Nerise says, “I hired you, you do honor to me as well.”

“I’m glad for that as well.”

“Do you have anything further you wish to report?”

“I was unable to bring your gun back. Madeline was going to take care of it, but I doubt it will come this way again.”

“Trivialities,” Nerise says, dismissively.

“There is still a matter of a debt between us and honestly I was hoping to ask you for some advice.”

Nerise chooses her words carefully. “I am not ready to collect on my debt. As for advice, I’m inclined to listen.”

Brianna takes a deep breath and presents her dilemma. “I’m having challenges to my territory. There have been a few. I tend to approach most challenges in the same way. However, with the next turn of events, I’m not sure my usual methods are going to be the most effective. My intent is to end this challenge to my territory permanently, which is what I should have done in the first place. However, rushing at the problem, fists out, I’m afraid I’m going to end up back where I am today. I need to approach this smart. Clever. Not with brute strength. I’m new enough in town that I don’t know where I can get this information from. That’s where I’m hoping you can give me advice.”

“What sort of information are you wanting?”

“Foremost, whether this is an individual player or if he is a cog in a larger system. I think it’s wise I know what ripples I’ll send through the city before I make my move. I want to find where he lives—however, if there are more clever, less violent ways to neutralize this problem, I want to pursue those as well—as much as I want to drain him for touching what is mine.”

“it seems to me that you tried clever and it backfired,” Nerise says.

“I suppose that was about as clever as I could get, but yes.”

“I agree, you need may need more information. You need to know what’s going to hurt him. You need to know what motivates him. He has a weakness that he’s not showing. But you know this.”

“I thought I had enough leverage before, but clearly I didn’t.”

“Because he had your leverage.”

“Yes, he did,” Brianna says through gritted teeth.

“You need an infiltrator. These other two are in his inner circle, but his organization is bigger.”

“Find someone else that works for him and see what info I can get.”

“Precisely,” Nerise says.

Brianna looks thoughtful. “That is a start. Thank you for your time.”

“Thank you for your service.”

Brianna leaves the office, collects Joey, and leaves the club. On the way back the apartment, Brianna briefs Joey on her conversation with Nerise. They also swing by the warehouse where they had followed Pixie Hair (Florence Machine) before. They see her car parked there as well as a loading truck. They then head home.

January 10, 2013 (Thursday)

Brianna calls Mel Landry and lets him know that they are back in town. She got her “family stuff” worked out. She thanks him for getting a manager to help Joey, but she’s back and can take over. He lets her know that he has a fight scheduled for the 12th.

She and Joey workout at Sibley’s Gym.

Over the next several days, Brianna watches Gould’s warehouse, looking for younger warehouse workers, non-family types, hoping to find someone to follow away from the building.

January 17, 2013 (Thursday)

As Brianna and Joey watch the warehouse from their vantage point, Gould’s car pulls up beside Brianna’s. He rolls down his window and, from inside, tips an invisible hat toward Brianna. Brianna gives him a side eye.

“I’m not surprised to see you here,” Gould says.

“I suppose that makes two of us,” Brianna says.

“In fact, I would be disappointed otherwise. Like what you see so far?”

“I couldn’t really say.”

“Good. That’s as it should be. Have a good day, Ms. Karkana.” His driver then drives off.

Brianna rolls up her window and then drives to a nearby parking lot and stews. “Well, that plan’s not going to work, apparently. We’ve been made.”

“Well, he was expecting you to watch him. Doesn’t mean he knows what you were up to,” Joey says.

“I suppose you may be right,” Brianna concedes. “It’s all I have to go with.”

January 18, 2013 (Friday)

Brianna and Joey take up their usual surveillance point. Later in the afternoon, they pick out a worker to follow that fits their profile. They follow him to the Hawthorne district to a bar called Barry’s Drafthouse.

Barry’s looks like a bit of a hipster hangout, which drives Brianna up the wall. Nevertheless, she and Joey take seats at one end of the bar while their prey takes a seat at the other end. He is a not huge, but pretty athletic. He has a beard. He drinks craft beer. He’s not chatty, but the bartender seems to know him, so he’s probably a regular here.

After a bit, Brianna leans over and asks what he’s drinking and if there’s anything he can recommend.

“Obsidian Stout,” he says. He seems to like what he sees in Brianna and says " Name’s Carl. "

“Brianna. Nice to meet you.” She orders the Obsidian Stout. “I’m relatively new to Portland. Is this a local brew?”

“Yes, it is. What brings you to Portland?”

“Me and my business partner here travel and Portland seemed like an interesting place to be. It’s a very nice city.”

Carl shrugs. “It’s all right.”

“Are you from here?”

“Yeah.”

“Weather seems decent. Work seems decent. People have been nice.”

The two chit-chat for while, Brianna trying to put Carl at his ease, though it isn’t her strong suit.

“Come here often?” she asks.

“Usually after work,” he says.

“What do you do?” she asks.

“Warehouse work.”

“That’s a lot of physical running around…”

“A lot of lifting,” Carl says.

“How’s the warehouse business in Portland?”

“Like most things, I guess, good if you’re the boss.”

Brianna laughs. “That’s why I’m my own boss.”

She tries to keep direct the conversation toward his work, but can’t seem do it.

“Nice to meet you, Carl.”

Carl shakes hands with Joey and Brianna and leaves.

Brianna and Joey then take a table in the bar.

“That didn’t go well, but not terrible. This may take longer than I thought.” They finish their beers, head out, and go home.

January 19, 2013 (Saturday)

At the fight that night, which Joey wins, they notice a grizzled older man taking an interest in the fight and in Joey in particular. He leaves after the fight. Must be a new fan.

January 21, 2013

Brianna and Joey head to Barry’s Drafthouse to meet Carl. They spot him at the bar. He spots them as well.

“Hi Brianna, how are you doing?”

“Fine. How about yourself? What’s good tonight?”

“Hefeweizen.”

“I’ll try that.”

The two chat for a while. Then Brianna goes to the restroom, comes back, leans over the bar at Carl, and makes her own beer recommendation, utilizing her feminine wiles. Then they chat for a while longer, talking about his job. He’s a warehouse worker who’s fairly indifferent about his job. He works about 30 hours a week, which isn’t really paying the bills. His bosses—he can take or leave them. He has a feeling the whole operation is kind of shady but he’s going to take what he can while he can.

Brianna says, “Well Carl, I have an interest in whether your employer goes down or not. I can tell you he is indeed in something shady and he’s done wrong by me and my friend.”

Carl immediately looks wary. “Are you some kind of cop?”

Brianna laughs at the idea. “I’m a woman done wrong. I’m not some kind of cop. But if you’re amenable, we can continue this conversation at a back table.”

“Alright.”

Brianna orders some beers and takes them to a table.

“Like I said, your boss is indeed in something shady. I could care less what he’s involved in, except for the troubles he caused me. But your boss is a slippery one, hard to get close to. And so I find myself looking for information. I know I can’t look to Silas or Flo—they seem to be his right-hand people. So I’m looking for someone who might be underestimated, who sees a lot, who knows a lot, but who no one pays attention to. That’s the person I’m hoping to employ. I think your boss has a weakness. A secret. Something he’s afraid of. Something that motivates. him. Something I can use. And I’m willing to pay for that information.”

Carl rubs his beard. “Wow. You want a snitch.”

“Yep.”

“I’m just a grunt. I don’t see that much.”

“That’s still eyes I don’t have inside that building. My hope is that because of your grunt work, no one will see you as a threat.”

“How much?”

The two negotiate a price and come to an agreement. Brianna gives Carl her phone number and tells him to send her a text with a date and time. They will meet at Barry’s. She then pays the bar tab.

She and Joey head out and go back to the apartment. “We’ll throw out this line and see how it goes,” Brianna says.

“Yep,” Joey says.

January 27, 2013 (Sunday)

It’s a fight night and Joey is in fine form. Once again, Brianna notices the grizzled old man watching the fight from the shadows. Joey wins the fight, though, which makes it all okay.

After the fight, Brianna doesn’t see the grizzled man. She asks around for him at the bookie stations, but no one’s seen him. She searches the parking lot, but no dice. She asks Rick the Doorman about him. He says he remembers him, that he’s been coming around the past few weeks, and that he comes alone.

Brianna goes back to the dressing rooms and comes back out with Joey and heads out to the car to go get a bite to eat after the fight. As they approach the car, a pickup truck comes roaring up with about 5 people in the back, men and women, whooping and hollering. Brianna feels herself get shot with a tranquilizer dart and, angered, rushes the truck. She sees Joey do the same. Both she and Joey jump in the back of the trunk and throw punches left and right at their attackers, but Brianna can feel the effects of the dart start to overtake her. She hears somebody yell “Wait till we get them to the farm” before the truck starts to drive away with them in it.

Angry, she grabs the man that shot her, disarms him, and grabs him to feed off him. She feels intense rage coming off him, coming off of him in waves, as if she didn’t have to incite it in him. She notices the others fighting, snarling, frothing, enraged, and wonders just what is going on with these people. Further, they seem to be possessed of inhuman strength. As she engages with the man, the tranquilizer overtakes her and she goes unconscious.

Brianna wakes up to the smell of damp earth and wood. She feels someone nearby and soon determines that it is Joey, who moans and comes to.

“How you doing?” she asks.

“I’ve felt better,” he says.

The feel around and determine that they are in a small wooden room with a dirt floor. Each end of the room has a hinged-top wall, like an enclosed rodeo chute. Joey gives Brianna a boost as she checks the hinges. Then they hear muffled shouts from outside and banging on the outside of the room.

“We’ll let you out soon enough. You’ll get a head start!” The voice has a raspy drawl.

“A head start from what, mother-fucker?! Let me out of this damn box!” Brianna shouts.

The two hear chuckling outside. “I don’t know what you are honey, but you did a number on Bradford. We’ll see you for that.”

“You let me out of this box, you better be running because I will end every one of you,” Brianna says.

“Soon enough, soon enough. The moon’s about high enough.”

The two hear howling and shouts of WOO! HOOROO! Brianna slams against the structure. It’s pretty sturdy.

“Steady on, in there,” the voice from outside says, “Eustace can’t even break out of there.”

“Let.” BOOM. “Me.” BOOM. “Out.” BOOM.

“We were going to leave you behind, little lady, but you proved to be far too fascinating.”

More banging on the outside of the room.

“We’re just about ready to go,” says the voice.

One of the two hinged doors opens to reveal a tunnel.

“Joey, these things, they’re lycanthropes,” Brianna says, revealing her thoughts. The banging increases on the outside of the tunnel. “Let’s go.”

They run through the long wooden tunnel until they can no longer hear the banging. Eventually, it opens up into the woods, lit by the light of the full moon.

Brianna looks for a defensible position to bottleneck all comers in the woods. She finds a small copse of trees that could fit the bill for her and Joey. They wait and listen, hearing eerie howls and yelps echoing through the forest.

Suddenly, a figure emerges from the darkness and attacks! It’s a young African-American woman, snarling and frothing and attacking. Brianna and Joey attack in turn, with Brianna breaking the woman’s arm and cracking her rib. Finally, Joey takes her out, and the two leave her unconscious in the woods.

The two still hear eerie howls out in the woods. “I’m tired of being hunted,” Brianna mutters, “We’ve got to find a way out of here.” She listens to the howls, but can’t really discern a direction for them. She climbs a tree and sees a clearing off in the distance. She decides to head for that. She climbs down and heads roughly in that direction.

As they’re traipsing through the woods, they hear an anguished cry of NOOOO! echo through the trees. “Good,” says Brianna. Soon, they hear a figure running up behind them. They turn to face him. Brianna takes him out in short order, leaving him laying unconscious as well.

Brianna climbs another tree to get her bearings and finds that she had gone off course. She aligns and she and Joey go walking in the woods once more, howls echoing through trees.

Soon, two figures come charging at them from the woods, howling and snarling. One is a woman and the other is a heavy-set man. Brianna and Joey fight them as well and manage to take them down, leaving them unconscious in the woods.

Once again, Brianna climbs a tree to realign herself to the clearing. She climbs back down and between the two of them keeping each other on a straight path, she and Joey finally make it to the clearing.

The clearing is occupied by a dilapidated cabin and a pond. As she and Joey head to the cabin, emerging from behind a tree is the man that had the tranq gun earlier. He’s unarmed now and he rushes Brianna, frothing at the mouth. The two engage and Brianna manages to crack his rib and break his jaw before finally knocking him unconscious. She kicks his inert body.

They then head to the cabin once again. The darkened windows reveal nothing about what’s inside the building. Brianna opens the door and is met with a fist. There is the grizzled old man from the fight venue.

He and Brianna have an epic battle. She attempts to feed on him and his rage to take him down, while he breaks her arm and cracks her rib. In the course of the fight, Joey manages to find a lead pipe inside the cabin and tries to clobber him over the head with it. Finally, Brianna is knocked unconscious.

Brianna wakes up and Joey is there with her. The old man is lying beside her, a vicious gash to the back of his head. Joey is holding a bloody lead pipe.

“You get him?” Brianna asks.

“I don’t know for how long,” Joey says.

They search the old man and find his wallet, keys, and a pocketknife. Joey finds some curtain cords to bind the old man. They find a trail leading from cabin that eventually leads to a fence and a farmhouse. The truck that they were in earlier is parked out front. They check the truck for their cell phones and wallets and find none. They head to the farmhouse and find their cellphones sitting on the dining room table. They get in the truck, use the old man’s keys and Joey drives off. Brianna looks through the wallet and discovers that the old man is named Lucas Tierney. Using the GPS on their phones, they discover that they are about 30 miles outside of Portland.

The two drive into Portland and head to the fight venue to pick up their own car. They then drive the truck to a bad neighborhood and leave the keys to the truck inside. They then get in their own car and head home.

Brianna takes a long shower and crawls into bed.

View
Side Job: Emerald City (Part Two)
Karkana Chronicles Five

January 6, 2013 (Near midnight)

Brianna Karkana and Madeline Raith drive through Seattle with a Red Court vampire in their trunk. Brianna is behind the wheel. “Where are we going?” she asks Madeline.

“Drive to the waterfront,” Madeline says.

Both hear a loud THUNK come from the trunk. Brianna drives.

THUNK.

“We better have a plan when we get there because she’s gong to be pissed,” Brianna says.

THUNK

“We’re going to need chains. Thick ones,” Madeline says.

“They might have some at the waterfront. Like to moor a boat?”

“We need a place to hold her,” Madeline muses.

“It’s got to be sunlight-proof unless you want to hand ash-covered chains over to the Margrave.”

THUNK

“Did you have a place in mind or are we just on the lookout for something that looks promising?”

“We’ll be on the lookout,” Madeline says.

THUNK

Eventually, they arrive at the waterfront. Brianna starts driving around, looking for an appropriate abandoned warehouse or office space they can use.

THUNK

Brianna finds a For Lease sign on a fence in front of a warehouse. The fence’s gate is locked with a padlock. Brianna parks the car and goes to the gate.

THUNK

Brianna breaks the lock, takes the small chain that was wrapped around the two parts of the gate, and then returns to the car to drive it through the gate. She stops, goes back and shuts the gate behind her. She then drives up to the warehouse.

THUNK

“Maybe we should look for some chains before we let her out,” Madeline observes.

Brianna nods. “And a lock or something to secure them with.” Brianna shuts off the car and gets out of the car.

THUNK

The warehouse is two stories high. There is a large set of bay doors along this facing wall and a smaller door towards the left end that probably leads to an office. Brianna and Madeline head over to the bay doors. They are locked with another padlock.

Brianna notices the flicker of a flashlight coming around the side of the building. “Pst. Madeline. There’s someone coming with a flashlight.”

Madeline turns and heads towards the light. Brianna stays at the bay doors.

As the figure rounds the corner, Madeline strikes him in the throat. As he chokes, Madeline strikes again, lightning fast, and the man falls. Madeline bends down and examines the unconscious man, takes his flashlight, and then saunters back over to Brianna.

“Does he have any keys” Brianna asks.

Madeline brandishes a key chain.

“Security guard,” Brianna observes.

“Or a groundskeeper—somebody keeping an eye on the place. So lets go inside.”

Brianna unlocks the bay doors and opens them. Both women go inside and start looking around. The layout is pretty straightforward—large warehouse space, restrooms, and small office. Brianna observes that the key chain has more keys than there are doors here. On the floor of the warehouse, Brianna does find a set of old, rusty chains. There is a door on the other side of the warehouse. Brianna unlocks it and goes to check for another gate and another padlock. Behind the warehouse is a parked pickup truck. Beyond the truck, Brianna sees another gate. She goes to the gate and finds another chain and padlock. She unlocks the lock and takes it and the chain back to the warehouse.

From outside, the two hear another THUNK come from their trunk.

“Is he dead or just disabled?” Brianna asks, referring to the groundskeeper.

“I didn’t kill him,” Madeline says.

Brianna drives the car into the warehouse. Madeline follows and shuts the bay doors. Brianna leaves the headights on for light. The two women then look for a place to put their prisoner. They decide on the restroom.

Brianna goes to the trunk. “Are you ready?” she asks. Madeline nods and then positions herself to open the trunk. Madeline opens it and then Brianna steps forward to take the brunt of whatever is coming.

They see the blonde woman popup from the floor of the trunk. Brianna pins her to the back of the trunk lid. Alissa punches at Brianna and misses. Brianna then grabs a hold of Alissa to haul her out of the trunk. Alissa breaks free, yelling “Who the fuck are you people? Do you have any idea who I am?”

Brianna says, “We have a very good idea who you are,” as she pins her to the trunk lid again. Alissa punches Brianna in the face. Brianna goes to haul her out again, but Alissa breaks free. Then Madeline steps forward and backhands the Red Court vamp.

“We’re going to let you out of that trunk. You’re going to be still. Or we drain you,” Madeline says.

Brianna stands there and looks intimidating. Alissa ignores Madeline, but realizes that Brianna means business. “Alright,” she says, “Only because this is getting ridiculous.”

Brianna assists her out of the trunk. Alissa stands there in the warehouse, hands on her hips. “What do you want?”

“To get your sire’s attention.” Brianna stays in Alissa’s personal space, being intimidating.

“Oh, you’ll get it. You won’t want it, but you’ll get it.”

Madeline makes a “shall we?” motion and Alissa starts walking. Brianna walks right behind her. Madeline leads the way.

Alissa then elbows Brianna in the face. Brianna shoves her to throw her off-balance. Alissa then sheds her flesh-mask, revealing her bestial, bat-like form. She claws at Brianna and misses. Then Madeline grapples Alissa to the ground and starts feeding. Alissa breaks free by clawing Madeline.

“Drain the bitch,” Madeline yells.

Brianna goes to grapple the Red Court vamp, but can’t get a grip on her. Alissa slashes her across the belly. Madeline goes to punch Alissa, but misses. Brianna punches her in the face. Alissa goes to claw Brianna again and misses. Then Madeline performs a spectacular roundhouse kick and breaks Alissa’s ribs. Alissa raises her hands in surrender and her flesh-mask oozes back into place.

“I’ll do what you ask,” she says.

“That’s the first intelligent thing you’ve said today,” Brianna says.

The two White Court vampires chain Alissa up in the restroom and then push her to back of the dark room, away from the door. They take her cellphone, keys, and wallet and leave the restroom.

Madeline checks the cellphone. “Let’s see if she has a number for Daddy.” The phone is locked. They go back into the restroom, shine the flashlight on Alissa, and ask her for phone code.

“Go to hell,” she says.

Brianna gets in Alissa’s face and holds her head. “Give us the code.”

“Why should I tell you?”

“Because I’ve not fed tonight and you’re looking awfully tasty.”

Alissa blushes and looks away. “6787”

Madeline opens up the phone and goes to the contacts list. There she finds a number for Alfonse Velasquez. “We have a number,” Madeline announces.

Brianna says, “You want to have this conversation at the car?”

Madeline nods and the two leave Alissa in the room as they head back to the main warehouse and the car.

“That was an impressive kick,” Brianna says as they walk.

Madeline smiles. “I’m able to take care of myself on occasion.”

“I can appreciate that.”

Madeline muses aloud. “We have the girl, we have the number. What to do now?”

“We also have an unconscious guard we have to do something with.”

Brianna’s phone rings. It’s Joey. “I’m sorry, I need to take this,” Brianna says and walks away. “What’s up?” she says into the phone.

“Hello, Ms. Karkana.” It’s Barnabas Gould.

“Where’s Joey?” Brianna’s fury is instant and barely contained.

“He’s fine. He’s right here. I find that I have been giving some thought to our arrangement. You see, what always bothered me about it was how one-sided it was. You took my product off the market. I think it’s only fair I do the same to you.”

“If you hurt him, I will fucking kill you.”

“Now, now, don’t get excited.”

“It’s a little late for that.”

Gould chuckles. “However, I do have a counteroffer. We could join forces. That way we both get what we want. You have one day. You should consider the offer.” And he hangs up.

Brianna throws her phone. “God fucking…” she says, then screams incoherently.

Madeline stares at the display.

Brianna mutters, “I should have killed him when I had the chance.” She then turns to Madeline. “You remember when I said I need to go back to Portland if things went south? Things just went south.”

“So you’re abandoning me,” Madeline says.

Brianna screams in frustration. “I have a day to respond to terms before they kill my man. What all still needs to happen here?”

Madeline speaks calmly. “We have an unconscious guard to take care of. Then I plan on calling Velasquez.”

“Let’s take care of this guard. I need to think.”

Brianna recovers her thrown phone and goes to look at the guard—but he’s not where they left him. Brianna runs around the corner to where the pickup is parked. There she sees the guard, slowly making his way to to the truck. Brianna runs and catches up to the man just as he reaches the truck. She pulls the man back, knocking him off-balance. The guard takes a swing at her, but misses. Brianna then throws the man to the ground and begins to feed. The man starts to become crazed, frothing at the mouth with rage. Brianna feeds until he falls unconscious. She then sets the man in the truck’s passenger and shuts the door, noting in the moonlight the bruising on the man’s neck from where Madeline had punched him earlier.

Brianna heads back to where Madeline still waits. “He’s out again,” she tells her, “We need to get him out of here.”

Madeline says, “If we take him somewhere else, he’ll just come back, bringing others with him.”

“What is it you want me to do, Madeline?”

“Kill him. Then take him somewhere else.”

Brianna is quiet for a moment. Then she says, “You hired me to protect you, not kill for you.”

“In this case, you’d be doing both.”

Brianna heads back to the truck and drains the guard of his life force. He dies with a rictus of rage upon his face. She then heads back to Madeline, grinding her teeth.

“Is it done?” Madeline asks.

“Yes.”

“Good.”

“I’m going to need to head back to Portland.”

“Then we have a dilemma. I need the car.”

“I can rent myself my own damn car,” Brianna growls.

“Are you planning on walking from here?” Madeline asks.

“Optimally, no.”

“Then I say again, we have a dilemma.”

Brianna shifts on her feet. “I have twenty-four hours and my time is ticking.”

“If you take the car,” Madeline explains carefully, “I won’t have it. I’ll be abandoned here.”

“You could take me somewhere or I could take you.”

“And leave her alone?” Madeline points toward the restroom.

“This phone call with Velasquez, does that end it or will I be guarding his get for weeks?”

Madeline shrugs. “I don’t know.”

“What were you planning to do before I got my phone call? Was the plan for me to stay here while you went and did something? Was the plan for me to go an deliver anything for you?”

“The plan was to call Velasquez. Illuminate him as to the truth of the situation, and see what form of satisfaction he would offer.”

Brianna nods. “Alright. Are you making that call here?”

“I was planning on it.”

“Do it.”

Madeline pulls out Alissa’s phone and hits dial on a number in the contacts list. After a moment, she says, “This isn’t Alissa. This is Madeline Raith.”

“She’s fine. Cowed, but fine.”

“What do I want? This is question everyone is asking. What does Madeline want? I want satisfaction. Your fool tried to kill me. He failed. He failed three times. That can’t stand.”

“Perry doesn’t speak for me.”

"I"m glad to hear that. It took a lot of work to get your attention."

“Don’t be gauche. This isn’t 1812.”

“Interesting. Proxies, huh?”

“What about Accorded neutral ground?”

“I see.”

“I’ll have your oath on that.”

“Safe passage and hospitality.”

“I’d be willing to do that.”

“Tonight then.”

Madeline hangs up, looking thoughtful. “This Alfonse if very Old World. He has some quaint ideas. But he possibly outlined a way to satisfy me. I the Old World, such a situation would call for a duel. But he says such an act may be beneath us and too much is at stake if either of us falls. But we could win through proxies.”

Madeline looks at Brianna. “Would this be something you’re willing to do? I will meet with him tonight at LaPorte to work out the details.”

Brianna asks, “If I do this for you, do I have to go time to go home and take care of business?”

“Do you know how long your business will take?”

Brianna sighs. “There’s a lot of variables. I’m being pushed to make this decision in twenty-four hours. If I can’t eliminate the problem, the decision is made for me.”

“I could make this meeting alone and delay the duel.”

“Will you be safe?”

“I am reasonably confident that he will follow his oath. If you’re asking my permission to leave, you won’t have it.”

“Let me get you back to the hotel and I will see how much of this I can get worked out over the phone,” Brianna offers.

Madeline says, “Because I already got his attention, I offered to release her as a peace offering.”

“I wish I’d had that piece of information before I killed that man.”

“If wishes were kittens…” Madeline says.

“I’ll go let the happy daughter know,” Brianna says and stalks back to the restroom. She sets Alissa’s wallet and keys down on the floor and then she approaches the chained vampire. “Lucky for you. There’s been an arrangement with your father. We’re letting you go.” Brianna gets in her face. “I’m going to unchain you. My expectation is that you’re going to behave and not come after me. But I’ve had a really, really shitty night and I almost hope you do. Because I feel like I need to beat the fuck out of someone.”

Alissa hangs her head down and nods, cowed. Brianna unlocks the padlock. She makes sure there’s enough slack to start unraveling the chain and then backs up, allowing Alissa to free herself. As Alissa works, Brianna turns around and walks back out to Madeline.

“Were you planning to keep the phone?” she asks Madeline when she comes out.

“No.”

Brianna holds out her hand and Madeline hands her Alissa’s phone. She then returns to the restroom and sets the phone on the floor with the wallet and keys. “Here’s your phone. You’re going to need to call for a ride.”

She heads out again and meets Madeline. The two get in the car and head back to the Hotel Sorrento.

January 7, 2013 (Early Morning)

Once Madeline takes her shower and heads to bed, Brianna tells her that she’s going to making some phone calls and that she’ll try to keep her voice down.

Brianna gets out her phone and calls Joey’s number.

Gould answers the phone. “Is this Brianna?”

“Yes.”

“Good. You’ve made a decision.”

“I’ve called to talk. First, before we get into negotiations, I need to know Joey is okay. So I need you to put Joey on the phone.”

“I can do that. One moment.”

After a moment, Brianna hears Joey’s voice. “Bri?”

“Joey, have they hurt you?” Brianna asks.

“I’ve felt better,” Joey says.

“Who was it?”

“Now may not be the best time,” Joey says, wary.

Gould’s voice interrupts. “See. Safe and sound.”

“This is all about your product,” Brianna says.

“This is all about business and how it is conducted,” Gould says.

“How so? What is it you really want, Gould?”

“To conduct my business unimpeded.”

“I don’t care where you conduct your business, just not in my territory.”

“Well that’s just it…who’s territory is it, really? You’ve not been in town very long,” Gould says.

“No, but I’m planning to stay here,” Brianna says.

Gould sighs. “What is the point of this conversation?”

“You talked about us both getting what we want. If we work together. I want to know exactly what that means.”

“I can work without impediment. You keep your territory.”

“I can get you back your book, your wand, your ledger. They’re obviously something of great value, otherwise you wouldn’t be sending Pixie Hair to find them. Perhaps she’s having trouble with her spells? I just don’t want you selling that crap to my fighters, polluting my feeding grounds.”

“Oh yes,” Gould says, “Silas mentioned that you were of the White Court.”

“I figured he might.”

“Then we have a problem. Such fighters are our most advantageous customers.”

“Portland’s a big city. There should be other opportunities. The professional sports market, for one. I’m surprised you haven’t gotten ambitious and sold the stuff overseas. I’m sure mercenaries, countries at war, would pay for it. It seems like quite a bit of money to be made, not just off my men.”

“There are limitations to the process,” Gould growls.

“Possibly, but I’m sure you’re a very competent businessperson that can work around such things.”

“So I take it you’re not interested in my offer.”

“I need you to be very specific and tell me what your offer is,” Brianna says.

“My offer is to let your friend go if you agree to let me conduct my business unimpeded. And return what you stole from me. I would like to have a more cooperative relationship with you, but now I’m not sure that is feasible,” Gould says.

“If I agree to this, yes you let Joey go. but he becomes a price you do not touch again.”

“I would hope we would not need to.”

“I would think so too. If you feel the need to have words, you will have them with me, not him.”

“Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.”

“Then I will agree to return what I stole from you. I will not impede your business.”

“Good. I think we understand each other.”

“Put him back on the phone.”

There’s a bit of a shuffle on the line and then Brianna hears Joey’s voice again. “Yeah?”

“They should be letting you go. We’re returning what we took. I’m not impeding his business.”

“Alright,” Joey says.

“I need you to arrange a drop. I hope to be back in the next few days. We’ll discuss outr next plan of action from there.”

“Okay.”

“Be careful.”

“I thought I was.”

“I want more frequent updates.”

Gould’s voice is back on the line. “Ms. Machine is releasing your boy now.”

“Good,” Brianna says, “Then I guess we are done here.”

“And my belongings?”

“My man will be arranging a drop location for you. You should have them shortly.”

“Good. Enjoy the Emerald City, Ms. Karkana.” Gould hangs up.

Brianna takes a shower, carefully as to not awake Madeline. She tosses her outfit in her bag of destroyed clothing and sets her alarm for 8 am.

January 7, 2013 (8 am)

Brianna does her exercises and then makes two cups of coffee. She knocks on Madeline’s door. Madeline answers in her bathrobe and thankfully takes a cup of coffee.

“The situation has been stabilized, for now,” Brianna says.

“I would not have thought of you as a negotiator.”

“I’m not sure it was much of a negotiation, but concessions when someone’s going to kill one who belongs to you.”

Madeline smirks and says “There were many concessions last night.”

Brianna says, “True. The crux of it is, I can be your proxy.”

“Good. Then we can meet Velasquez tonight.”

“On a purely practical note, I’m going to need to buy more clothes. I’m wearing the only outfit that isn’t burned, shredded, or bled upon. And if there is to be a formal meeting tonight, I wish to be properly attired.”

Madeline shrugs. “We have all day. There are shops nearby.”

The two women get ready and head out to go shopping. Brianna gets professional assistant attire and one set of practical workout clothes, as well as a sexy manager outfit (stunning and deadly). Madeline helps her pick out the outfits.

Back at the hotel, Madeline tells Brianna she needs to contact Perry and excuses herself. Brianna, meanwhile, gets texts from Joey informing her that he made it home alright and that the drop was made. He also apologizes for getting caught. She texts back that its not his fault and that we’ll fix it.

Finally, the time comes to get ready to go to La Porte Triple. Brianna decides to leave her gun behind.

They leave the car with the valet and head inside. Vanessa meets them at the hostess station. This time she recognizes Madeline. “Ah, Ms. Raith. You are expected.” She directs them to the third door. Once they get inside, they up to the ramp and are met by a ticket man who also recognizes Madeline and directs them to Room 4. They go down a hallway full of doors until they come to Room 4. Brianna raps on the door and a large man in a black suit answers the door. He seems to recognize Madeline as well and motions for the two of them to enter.

There are several well-dressed people milling about, socializing and several others watching the performance out of the glass. Through muted speakers one can hear the music from down below. Against one wall is a grand chair and in it is a distinguished looking gentleman in a grey and white beard. He motions for Madeline and Brianna to come closer. The doorman takes up a guard position beside him. Brianna does the same with Madeline.

The man stands and introduces himself to Madeline. “I am Alfonse Velasquez, Margrave of the Red Court of Seattle.” He speaks with a faint Spanish accent. “Forgive me if I don’t kiss your hand, but I’ve heard your kind may take advantage.”

“That would be bad form with safe passage and hospitality,” Madeline says, carefully.

“Of course,” Velasquez says. He motions to a few of the people near him and chairs are brought for Madeline and Brianna. “Please. Sit.”

Brianna continues to stand.

“I believe we were waiting for Perry to show up. A remarkable young man, but I like your ideas better,” Alfonse says, addressing Madeline.

“Remarkable, yes,” Madeline agrees with a deadpan expression.

There is a knock at the door. The guard answers it and it is Perry. Brianna gives him a side-eye. “I hope I didn’t miss anything,” he says.

“Just introductions,” Madeline says.

“I believe that there is precedent in the Accords for what is being proposed. Though I think this interpretation and use of it is ill advised,” Perry says.

“Only because you don’t get your precious concessions,” Madeline says, mildly.

Perry gives her a dirty look. “But it is elegant in its simplicity, I suppose.”

Madeline shakes her head.

“But as the representative of the Raiths, will you accept the results?” Alfonse asks Perry.

“I have been in consultation with Lord Raith and we will accept this if it will satisfy Madeline.”

“Excellent, then,” Alfonse says, “Then the details. It will be to the death, yes?”

“Of course. Blood for blood,” Madeline says.

“There is a warehouse, on the waterfront,” Alfonse gives an address. “This will serve as a venue.”

“I’m not certain we’re comfortable with having the venue chosen for us,” Perry says.

Alfonse shrugs. “You don’t know the city. I am happy to help.”

“While we’re doing concessions, I’ll concede that part,” Perry says wryly.

“The date and time I will choose,” Madeline says. “I choose tomorrow night at 10 pm.”

“Very good, very good,” Alfonse says. “Have you chosen a proxy yet?”

“I have.”

“Excellent, so have I.”

“Is there anything else?” Madeline asks.

“Only one thing. If you touch my get again, your entrails will litter Pioneer Square.”

“And you may be certain that anyone sent to kill me will meet with a similar fate.”

Alfonse smiles. “With that out of the way, I think that concludes our business.”

“Thank you, Alfonse,” Madeline says. “Under other circumstances, it would have been a pleasure.”

Alfonse nods. “My thoughts exactly.”

Madeline turns and leaves the room, Brianna following behind closely with Perry behind her.

“I can’t believe you’re doing this,” Perry says as they walk down the hall. “And I can’t believe you’re agreeing to it.”

Brianna keeps her face blank. “Are you sure this is a conversation we should be having in this place?”

“I told you before,” Madeline says, “it solves everything.”

“Except for the holdings.”

“Fuck the holdings,” Madeline hisses. “The King agreed did he not?”

“Not the point.”

“No, the point is that this little trip was not the feather in yours and Lara’s cap you hoped for. Now shut up, sit back, and watch the show.”

Perry stalks off in disgust. Brianna shakes her head after him.

Brianna and Madeline retrieve the car and head back to the hotel. Once there, Madeline gets in the shower. Brianna calls her cousin Quincy.

“Quincy.”

“Brianna.”

“Any word on our cousins or is it as we suspected?”

“It’s as we suspected. They were all taken out.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Yeah.”

“First and foremost, I’ve got some information that Jason may need. I’m currently employed as a bodyguard to one of the Raith nobles visiting Portland. The Margrave of the Red Court in Seattle tried to have her killed, which I stopped. However, there is now a blood debt and to the noble by the Red Court. I’ve agreed to fight as a Proxy on her behalf. I did not realize that when I accepted the first job it would evolve into such a political situation for a member of the House of Karkana. And I hope to do our House proud tomorrow.”

“Well, good luck,” Quincy says.

“Thank you. This is something I didn’t want rumor of to get back to the Patriarch.”

“I understand.”

January 8, 2013

Brianna spends the morning exercising until Madeline gets up and announces that she’s been on the phone with Mistress Felicia. She’s going to feed.

The two head out to Capitol Hill to Mistress Felicia’s townhouse. Brianna parks the car.

“If you want, you can wait in the car,” Madeline says.

“That’s far away if something happens,” Brianna says.

“I’m not anticipating any trouble here.”

“How long do you anticipate being in there?”

“A couple of hours.”

Brianna walks Madeline to the door, which is answered by the leather-clad doorman, but ends up waiting in the car. Two hours a later, a very flush Madeline returns.

“Back to the hotel?” Brianna asks, “Or were there other plans?”

“Nope.”

The two head back to the hotel.

At about 10 pm, the two arrive at the warehouse that Velasquez indicated. Before they go inside, Brianna asks Madeline. “If things don’t go as planned tonight, please make sure my man finds out.” Madeline says okay.

The interior of the warehouse is empty, though the lights are on. Inside are the Margrave, Perry, the Margrave’s bodyguard in workout clothes, Alissa, and a number of other security members stationed around the room.

Alfonse takes in Brianna in her workout clothes and comments that she is a very “fetching proxy”. He then calls for “Mikolaj” to come forward and the bodyguard comes forward. “You both heard the terms of the conflict, yes?” Both nod. “Good. You will go to opposite ends of the room. When Alissa—you remember Alissa, yes?—when Alissa says Start!, you will come to the middle and start the fight. Understand?”

Brianna says “Yes,” and moves to one end of the room. MIkolaj moves to the other.

Alissa yells, “Start!”

Both combatants rush to the center of the room. Only, instead of a large hulking male bodyguard, Brianna is now facing a hulking male ghoul with a mouthful of teeth and long claws. Brianna sweeps the thing’s leg to knock it off-balance and the ghoul rakes its claws across her arm. Brianna then grapples the thing to the ground and begins to incite rage in it, feeding off of the emotion as she holds it down. The ghoul manages to claw its way out of Brianna’s hold, but Brianna grabs it again and begins to feed. It tries to break free, but cannot. It becomes more and more frenzied in its rage beneath Brianna’s relentless attack but, finally, is still.

Brianna stands up, flush with feeding and victory. “It’s done.”

Alfonse shakes his head, “Mikolaj, Mikolaj…” He then turns to Madeline. “Does this satisfy?”

Madeline looks at Mikolaj, then at Alissa. “Yes. I think I’ve said what I have to say.”

Brianna saunters over to the group, sleek and well-fed.

“I think we’re done here.” He exits the room with Alissa and his security detail.

Brianna looks at Madeline and smiles.

“Come, Brianna. I think our business in Seattle is done,” Madeline says.

Perry follows silently.

Brianna looks at Perry. “When you speak of this to Lord Raith, I hope you speak well of my House.” Perry nods. She nods back.

Brianna and Madeline head back to the hotel. As the two pack, Brianna asks Madeline if she’s heading back to Portland.

“I think I’ll travel abroad for awhile,” she says. “I’ll arrange for a flight to Portland for you tomorrow.”

“It’s been interesting working for you,” Brianna says.

“Good.”

January 9, 2013

Brianna’s flight for Portland has been arranged. Brianna leaves her gun with Madeline, as she can’t take it on the plane. She’ll just have to owe Nerise a gun.

Before Brianna gets in the taxi taking her to the airport, she thanks Madeline for the opportunity. Madeline, in turn, says, “Thank you. You put your life on the line for me. I won’t forget that.” The two women shake hands.

On the way, Brianna texts Joey with the flight information he’ll need to pick her up from PDX.

A few hours later, Brianna arrives back in Portland.

View
Side Job: Emerald City (Part One)
Karkana Chronicles Five

January 5, 2013 (Early Morning)

Brianna Karkana drives the rented sports car to Seattle while Madeline Raith sits and seethes in the passenger seat. With the high emotions in the air, and Madeline giving off “food vibes” for her, Brianna cracks the window, hoping to tone things down in the car.

For the first two hours of the drive, no one speaks. Brianna stops at a rest stop due to the tension and gets out to walk around. Madeline stays in the car. After a couple of minutes of fresh air, Brianna gets back in the car. Madeline is on her phone. Brianna quietly asks if Madeline needs her to leave, if it is a private call. Madeline impatiently motions for Brianna to drive. It turns out she’s making a hotel reservation.

When Madeline finishes with the call, Brianna asks, “Where are we staying?”

“The Hotel Sorrento.”

Brianna takes this as an opportunity to ask some questions. “Is there a general agenda for the next few days? What do I need to expect?”

“I have a contact in Seattle. We’ll hopefully be meeting with her later today.”

“Is this someone you trust?”

Madeline shrugs. “Trust is a strong word, but she knows discretion.”

“Have you been to Seattle before?” Brianna asks.

“Only briefly.”

“Is there a strong White Court presence there? Or is it Red Court? I’m trying to get a sense of the situation we are walking into.”

“These are the things I hope to find out from my contact.”

Brianna quietly continues to drive.

They arrive at the Hotel Sorrento at about 5 am. The valet parks the car after Brianna gets their bags. Brianna leads the way inside and looks for threats. Madeline goes to the check-in desk. A bellhop comes and offers to take the bags. “I got it,” Brianna says.

The two head upstairs to the fifth floor suite that Madeline has secured. Brianna takes Madeline’s bag to the bedroom and throws her own duffle on the couch in the living room. She then sweeps the room and checks all of the entry and exit points, locking doors along the way.

“What’s the plan now?” Brianna asks.

“We get a bit of sleep. And then we head to Capitol Hill.”

“What’s Capitol Hill? Is that a neighborhood.”

Madeline nods. She then goes and takes a shower. After she’s finished, Brianna takes a turn in the shower and also uses the sink to wash her clothes. She hangs them up to dry in the bathroom.

Brianna goes into the living, folds out the sofa bed and lies down. She then texts Joey: GOT TO SEATTLE SAFELY. She gets a return text pretty quickly: GOOD. CALL MEL. Brianna then sets the alarm on her phone for three hours and goes to sleep.

At about 9 am, Brianna gets up and calls Mel. “My family business has been keeping me longer than expected. However, I want my boy to fight. So I was think you could arrange for one of the other managers to work with him while I’m out of town.”

“Do you have any suggestions?” Mel asks. And Brianna provides him with some.

“Joey’s doing well,” she says, “I don’t to him to skip. He needs to be out there.”

“I agree,” Mel says.

“Great. Obviously some kind of cut will have to be arranged. I trust you to do what’s fair. Just text me with the details.”

“I’ll get on it.”

“Thank you, Mel. I appreciate it.”

While she waits on Madeline to get up, Brianna exercises for a while. She then goes and puts the DO NOT DISTURB sign on the door. Finally, fed up with waiting, she lightly knocks on Madeline’s door. Madeline answers the door in a bathrobe.

“It’s 10 o’clock. I don’t know how late you wanted to sleep.”

Madeline yawns. “Rage is exhausting. I don’t know how you do it.”

Brianna smiles. “I suspect we’re both a mystery to each other.” She points at the bathroom. “May I?” Madeline motions for her to go ahead. Brianna goes inside and shuts the door. She then changes clothes and washes what she was wearing. She then leaves and goes and sits on the couch in the living room while Madeline gets ready. Finally, Madeline emerges from her room.

“Ready, then?”

“I am.”

The two head out and go downstairs to the car. Madeline gives Brianna an address to put into the GPS.

January 5, 2013 (11:00 am)

Capitol Hill is a neighborhood where the counterculture rubs shoulders with multimillionaires. If the number of Pride flags are any indication, it is also home to a thriving LGBT community. The GPS takes them to a nice townhouse. Brianna parks the car on the street, gets out of the car and then opens the car door for Madeline.

As their walking up to the townhouse, Madeline comments, “Felicia sees most of her clients at night so I hoping to catch her between jobs.”

Brianna quirks an eyebrow, but says nothing. Madeline rings the bell. Soon, the door opens to reveal an athletic young man in leather pants, no shirt, a leather bow tie, and a “gimp” mask. He unzips his mouth-hole and says, “Yes?”

Brianna is gritting her teeth and trying not to blush. Madeline says, “I don’t have an appointment, but my name is Madeline Raith. I’d like to speak with Mistress Felicia.”

I didn’t get enough sleep for this, Brianna thinks.

The young man motions for them to come inside. The town home is elegantly furnished and apportioned. The man points to a set of couches in an adjacent sitting room. Madeline sits while Brianna stands close by. The man nods and leaves.

Soon they are joined by Mistress Felicia, a woman in tall, leather boots, stockings, a bustier, and a black kimono. Her long, dark hair is pulled into a tight pony tail. Her red lipstick gleams against her pale skin. “Madeline! It’s been so long!” She sweeps into the room and greets a now-standing Madeline with a kiss on the cheek. She then sits and asks, “So what brings you to Seattle?”

“Revenge,” Madeline says in a serious tone.

Felicia quirks an eyebrow, “Please tell me I’m not on your path.”

“No, of course not.”

Felicia seems relieved. “Well then, how can I help. You know that I am always at the service of the White King’s progeny.”

“First, this one is off the books.”

Felicia nods. “Of course.”

“Second,” Madeline continues, “who is the Margrave of Seattle?”

“Alfonse Velasquez. Tell me he is not on your path.”

Madeline says nothing.

“No, Madeline. This is a bad idea. The Margrave is the power of the Red Court in Seattle. Surely you’ve heard of the war. They are winning over here. You aim too high.”

“Calm yourself,” Madeline says, “I only wish to talk.”

“He may see you. Your name obviously carries weight.”

“Of course he’ll see me,” Madeline says, annoyed. “He tried to kill me three times!”

Felicia frowns. “Madeline, what can I do?”

“How can I speak to him?”

“He holds court at La Porte Triple. That’s all I know.”

“Then that’s all I need.” Madeline looks at Brianna. “As my head of security, do you have any questions?”

“How strong are his forces?” Brianna asks Felicia.

Felicia looks at Brianna for the first time since entering the room. “I’m not intimately familiar with his forces…”

Brianna clarifies. “At this place—La Porte? Is it a large force?”

Felicia nods. “Large, yes.”

“What exactly is this La Porte Triple?” Brianna asks.

“It’s an entertainment venue. Three stages. Private rooms. He holds court in one of the private rooms.”

“What kind of entertainment?”

Felicia grins wickedly. “Don’t worry. Safe entertainment. Music. Dance. Perhaps burlesque.”

Brianna asks. “What did you mean by ’they’re winning here’?”

“By all accounts, the Warden here is overworked and understaffed. The Red court takes more territory every month.”

Brianna asks Madeline if she has ever met Velasquez. She shakes her head “no.” Brianna then turns to Felicia. “Can you describe him?”

“Tall, distinguished older man with a beard. He’s an old Spaniard. Very old.”

“Who has his ear to gain audience?”

“That would be Vanessa, the hostess. Oh, if you really wanted his attention, there’s his get, Alissa.”

“It may come that we want to get his attention,” Brianna says, musing.

“Yes,” says Madeline, “let’s get his attention.”

“And where is Alissa?” Brianna asks.

Felicia shrugs. “I know she is part of his court.”

“Does Alissa have a last name?”

“Tanner.”

“Is she also an old Spaniard?” Brianna arches an eyebrow.

Felicia turns to Madeline and says, “She’s a saucy one. I can beat that out of her if you wish.”

Brianna gives Felicia an unfriendly look as Madeline chuckles. “No, then you’ll ruin what she gets paid for.”

Felicia shrugs and answers Brianna’s question. “No, she’s a young blonde.”

Brianna looks at Madeline and says “I don’t have any more questions.”

Madeline rises. She and Felicia swap cheek kisses. “Thank you. You’ve been most helpful.”

“Always willing to help a friend.” Felicia sees them to the door and watches them exit.

Brianna and Madeline get in the car and Brianna drives in no particular direction.

“What is your end goal?” Brianna asks.

“Satisfaction. He tried to kill me three times. I want to send a message that this isn’t done.”

“I’m just trying to get a sense of what I need to guard you from.”

“It sounds like Red Court vampires.”

“If this is something where when he hears you’re in town, and he’s already tried to kill you three times, and you’re in the heart of his power, he could start sending people after you,” Brianna says. “So is your goal to take your revenge from the shadows or is your goal to be in his face about it?”

“I don’t get satisfaction if he doesn’t know where it comes from. So my thought was to find his get and then deliver her head to him at La Porte. I think it sends a message.” Madeline’s voice is clipped and full of pique.

“It sends a definite message. It makes our exit strategy more tricky, though. Assuming you’re delivering said head personally.”

Madeline sighs.

Brianna continues. "I’m here to guard and I will do that. And while I have quite a bit of faith in my abilities, and you’d put up quite a fight yourself, my goal is not to get in a situation that we can’t fight our way out of.

“Do you have any ideas?” Madeline asks, exasperated.

Brianna thinks for a few minutes. This Alissa does sound like she would be one of his weak points. I’m assuming that you wanted to be there to relish your revenge in his face?"

“It’s enough that he knows it’s me.”

“That will make it easier. Whether its her or his choke-hold on the city.”

“I’m not here to save Seattle,” Madeline says.

“Understood. Would you be easily recognized by his people?”

“It depends on how familiar they are with the White Court, but I’m not familiar in Seattle circles.”

Brianna nods. “That can work to our advantage. We follow his people, patterns, etc.”

“Do you have something cooking?”

“Nothing concrete. But anything you want to do, we’ll need more information. We have three names and a place. We need more on-the-ground information.”

“So how do you suggest we get that?” Madeline asks.

“Well, we’ll have to go visit his court. I have a name and a description for Alissa. I suspect there are a lot of young blondes in Seattle. Unless you have another contact?”

“I do not.”

“Then I’m not sure there’s anything to be done about it.”

“But it was my name that was supposed to get me in there,” Madeline says.

“Your name was going to get you in that room. If we go to the venue without going inside the room, it seems like people would be coming in and out of that room. We could watch those people.”

“I see.”

“Regardless, I see that as the first thing we do. Assess his territory.”

Brianna stops driving randomly and puts “La Porte Triple” into the GPS.

La Porte Triple is a fairly sizable venue. There is a valet station out front and parking garages nearby for parking. According to its website, it presents “unique entertainment”. Tonight, the first stage, is Boyesque—an all-male burlesque show. On the second stage is a jazz ensemble. And on the third stage is a local rock band. Dress appears to be casual, but with with a distinctly hipster vibe. Doors open at 6 pm. Brianna drives all around the venue, checking it out.

“Plan to come 2-3 hours after the opening.”

“I suppose so,” Madeline says.

“Did you want to go back to the hotel or did you have other plans?”

“Hotel.”

Brianna drives back to the hotel. The two head up to the suite. Madeline goes into her bedroom and shuts the door. As Brianna settles in on the couch, Mel texts her that a fight is set for the 6th and a manager’s name, one of Brianna’s suggestions. Brianna calls Joey to let him know and he says that Mel already called him.

“Everything still okay out there?”

“Everything is fine,” Joey reassures her.

“Is the security system in the apartment hooked up yet?”

“Yes.”

“Let me know how your fight goes,” she says and hangs up.

Brianna waits on Madeline to emerge from her room.

January 5, 2013 (6 pm)

Madeline finally emerges from her room, ready to go out. “I may need to feed before we do this.”

“Okay,” Brianna says. “Where did you want to go?”

“Pioneer Square.”

Brianna cleans up in the bathroom and then the two head out to the car. Brianna drives them Pioneer Square in the old downtown of Seattle. She parks the car and then she and Madeline start walking, with Madeline leading the way and Brianna shadowing her.

Madeline ducks into a nightclub, goes to the bar, and orders a drink. Brianna takes a cocktail table with a view of the bar. Men start to circle her at the bar; she flirts and encourages them. Finally, she begins to focus on one of the men and Brianna can her lightly touch his arm. Suddenly, she notices the lust-filled look in the man’s eyes. The man pays the bar tab and he and Madeline make their way out. Brianna tails them.

The two head toward a parking garage. The man can hardly keep his hands to himself and Madeline encourages him expertly. As they make their way into the dimly-lit garage, Brianna hides. She watches as Madeline shoves the man against his car and kisses him passionately, practically straddling him in the process. The she sees a ghostly wind stir Madeline’s hair and the man start to struggle, then return the embrace. Then the man collapses in front of Madeline and she backs up to let him fall. She heaves a breathy sigh and looks over her shoulder at Brianna, who is unhappy and miserable. Again.

“Let’s go,” Madeline says.

The two head back to the car in silence. Brianna drives to La Porte Triple and parks at a nearby parking garage. They then walk over to the venue from the garage.

They are met at the door of La Porte by a leggy, statuesque woman in an attractive business suit. “Welcome to La Porte Triple,” she says. “To which door may I direct you?”

There are three stages and a lounge off of the main anteroom of the venue. Brianna says, “The lounge.” The woman then motions in one direction and tells them that Scott will be happy to help them. As Brianna and Madeline walk away toward the lounge, Brianna can feel the hostess’ eyes on the back of her head. She reverses direction and takes cover by a pillar, looking back at the hostess. All she sees is the hostess greeting people. She catches up to Madeline and continues to the lounge.

The two then begin to circulate in the lounge and in the anteroom, hoping to overhear whether or not the hostess they encountered was Vanessa and hoping to see Alissa Tanner. Brianna also wants to get a sense of whether or not there are other “predators” about—but it’s hard in this environment, where every pickup artist is predatory in some way. As they mingle, men approach both Madeline and Brianna but Brianna is good at sending them on their way. Madeline, on the other hand, seems to be enjoying herself.

Brianna spots a handsome young man in a tailored suit speaking briefly with the hostess, who they are now able to identify as Vanessa. Brianna gets closer, hoping to overhear their conversation. She doesn’t hear it all, but does overhear the name “Raith” being mentioned. He is then directed to the venue with the jazz band performance.

Brianna catches up to Madeline, who extricates herself from a potential date. Brianna points to the man in the tailored suit. "I heard him say “Raith” to the hostess," Brianna explains.

Madeline nods. “It appears we have door number two.”

Both women head to the ticket counter at the second venue to buy tickets. The private rooms are all occupied, but they can buy seats even though the performance has already started. They then open the side door and head into the venue.

They walk down a hall toward the entry door into the actual venue. Near the door into the performance hall, the corridor splits, with a ramp heading up into the private rooms. The ramp is manned by a staff member taking tickets. Brianna and Madeline head into the performance hall and stand at the back. They see the private viewing rooms overlooking the audience to the left. They then head to their seats, hoping to catch a glimpse of the man in the suit inside the glass. Unfortunately, the angle is wrong, and all they see is a reflection in the glass.

“He’s up there somewhere,” Brianna says.

“Do you have something in mind?” Madeline asks mildly.

“I don’t like not knowing where he is up there. I don’t like that he said ‘Raith’. I don’t know if you wanted to get close to your prey tonight…” Brianna says.

“This isn’t my forte,” Madeline says.

Brianna nods. “My solution is usually to punch them in the face. I’m not in my element, either. Perhaps it would be better to get out and see if they come out. We can’t get into the private rooms. We can’t bribe our way in, they’re full.”

“I’m game, if you are,” Madeline says.

The two head out of the performance hall and Brianna looks back at the ramp. The staff member is letting in a young, blonde woman. Both Madeline and Brianna study the woman for a moment. She’s underdressed, based on the other guests at the venue. She’s a bit like a punk, in a dark tank-top and jeans. After she moves makes her way around the corner, Brianna approaches the staff member.

“Yes ma’am,” he says.

“Are those the private rooms?”

“Yes.”

“Are they full?”

“Yes.”

“Are they nice? How many people can they hold? I’m thinking of booking one for an event.”

“They’re nice. They seat about ten people.”

“Do they tend to book up fast? Do we need to make reservations?”

“Yes ma’am.”

“Thank you.”

As they’re heading out, Madeline says, “That ticket taker was not as nervous as he seemed.”

“You think it was an act?” Brianna asks.

“I think he’s Red Court.”

Brianna nods. “That would make sense. If the room holds then, then there’s one more with the ticket taker, that’s quite a force to get through.”

The two leave the performance hall and settle into the anteroom. Brianna looks for a place to observe the door to the hall that has good cover and selects an area of the room to stakeout. She and Madeline then proceed to watch the door for either the man in the suit or the young blonde woman.

“How good are you at following someone without being seen?” Brianna asks.

“I’m not used to stalking my prey, but I’m fairly good at it.”

“We may need to follow someone out of here.”

Madeline nods. “The question is who.”

Brianna looks at her. “I’m equally concerned about both of them. I want you to get a good look at the man in the suit. I want to know if you recognize him. I didn’t notice anyone following us, but someone has been talking. It’s too much of a coincidence, otherwise.”

“I guess we’ll see who comes out first,” Madeline says.

The two wait and observe. Finally, they see the young blond woman stalk out of the building. Brianna notes that she carries herself like a hunter. They decide to wait for the man in the suit. They wait some more and then see him come out. When he emerges from the hall, Madeline mutters angrily under her breath, “Peregrine Raith.”

“I take it you know him,” Brianna says.

“He’s a cousin,” Madeline says through gritted teeth.

“Why would one of your cousins be here of all places?”

“This is Lara’s doing,” Madeline says.

“Are we following,” Brianna asks.

“Yes.”

They follow the man to the valet station. He then turns and looks at the women, cocking his head, and says “Madeline?” with some surprise.

“Perry,” Madeline says.

Fuck Brianna thinks.

“What in the blazes are you doing here?” Perry asks Madeline.

Brianna can tell that Madeline is angry at Peregrine and at the situation. “I’m taking care of our family name. What are you doing here?”

“Well, we can’t talk about this standing out here, can we? Where are you staying?”

“Do you really need to know that information?” Brianna says.

“And you are?” Perry asks, looking at Brianna. Brianna then notices that this man is extremely attractive. She finds herself filled with lust for him, such a strong desire that its distracting.

“My bodyguard,” Madeline says.

“She’s cute,” Perry says. “What’s your name?”

“Brianna.” Brianna is blushing and extremely uncomfortable at the attention she’s getting from this man.

“Brianna, we’re all friends here. But we have private matters we need to discuss. We can do that at your hotel, at my hotel, or some other place where we can sit down together. But my motor is running.”

Brianna looks to Madeline. “Hotel Sorrento,” Madeline says.

“Thank you,” Perry says. “I’ll see you there.” He then gets in his car and leaves.

Brianna feels relieved; now that he was gone, she could see things clearer. But she’s confused about her sudden surge in emotion. The man never touched her.

The two head to their car and go back to the hotel. Perry is waiting in the lobby. When they meet up with him, Brianna feels her lust coming to the fore again. On the elevator up to the room, Brianna avoids standing near Perry and sticks close to her charge.

The three go to Madeline’s suite and take seats in the living room area. Even Brianna takes a seat.

“Lara called you, didn’t she?” Madeline asks.

“Well, you did make a mess and I’m the one she usually calls. I’m here to clean it up. Specifically, to stop a war,” Perry says.

“And what about me? No one gives two shits for that, do they?”

“As usual Madeline, it’s about bigger things than you.”

“So have you gone in, rolled over, and showed them our belly yet?”

Perry shakes his head. “We’re demanding a concession from him. We’re in negotiations as to what that concession will be. No one wants a war between the White and the Red. Not even Velasquez. It is against his interests. At least, that’s how I see it. No you’re here and all that could go up in smoke.”

Madeline crosses her arms, seething. “But what of satisfaction?”

“Surely you’re satisfied with the assassin? is that not enough?”

“No, it’s not. Not by a long shot.”

Perry sighs. “What are you planning, Madeline?”

Brianna excuses herself. “I’ll be back in a minute.” She goes to the bathroom and runs water on her face. She finds herself calming down. “Pay attention,” she says to herself. “Stop looking at his lips.” Now that her lust is no longer inflamed, she realizes that something supernatural has happened. Unhappy and embarrassed, and more than a little angry, Brianna punches the bathroom mirror.

“Brianna, are you alright?” she hears Madeline call.

“I am now,” Brianna says. She re-enters the living room with a bloody fist and a scowl.

“What’s wrong?” Madeline asks.

Brianna stares at Perry, her body shaking in rage. “I don’t know how you’re doing it, but stop it.”

Catching something deadly in Brianna’s eyes, Perry raises his hands, palms out in surrender and says, “Very well.”

Madeline sighs. “Oh, Peregrine, you didn’t. Bad form, Perry. Bad form. You’re lucky she doesn’t tear off your head, now.”

Perry eyes Brianna warily. She then swings and bloodies Perry’s nose. “Do not try that on a Karkana again. I’m no one’s food.”

Perry wipes his nose and nods. “I suppose I deserved that.”

Brianna draws a deep, shuddering breath and backs off.

“Karkana, huh?” Perry says.

“Yes,” Brianna hisses.

“That was exciting,” Madeline says.

Perry sits down. “So that’s what’s left. I have a job to do. I’d prefer if yo didn’t make it harder. Leave Seattle to me.”

“I’ll consider it,” Madeline says.

“That’s all I can ask for.” Perry rises and heads for the front door. Brianna watches him leave and then goes and locks the door.

“So what’s our next move?” Madeline asks when Brianna returns.

“What did I miss when I was out of the room?”

“I shocked my cousin by telling him my original plan. He advised me against it. As if I would tell him my actual plan.”

“You still want her dead?” Brianna asks, referring to Alissa.

“I want her compromised. Or neutralized. She’s a lever. But how to use her? Dead could work; it’s not elegant but I don’t care.”

“I don’t have any immediate suggestions on how to compromise her. Were you thinking of something?” Brianna asks.

“We need more information. Perhaps we should have followed her instead of Perry…”

“I can’t argue with that. Will your cousin tip our hand to Velasquez?”

“Only if it will help in his negotiation.”

“That’s not reassuring.”

“No,” Madeline agrees, “it’s not.”

“Did he ever tell you what kind of concessions they’ll be asking for?”

“Most likely territory in Seattle for the Raiths.”

Brianna says. “Well, if we need more information on Velasquez’s get, we’ll need to follow her again. I suppose if we know the right people to pay off or persuade, we might could do it, but we don’t. With her being Red Court, we have a limited time to follow her—with sunlight, she has to lair up.”

“We could try gathering information from the supernatural community here in Seattle. It will be more difficult, not being from here,” Madeline says.

“Also, with the Red Court being feared, some may believe there is a chance to so something against her,” Brianna suggests.

“We’ll gather some information tomorrow,” Madeline says. “Then we’ll try to follow Alissa, assuming she goes back to La Porte. Do you need to go feed?”

“I don’t trust myself right now, so no,” Brianna says.

“Then I’ll see you in the morning.”

“What was your cousin doing, exactly? How was he doing it?” Brianna asks.

Madeline looks confused. “He was inciting emotion in you…”

“He never touched me,” Brianna says through gritted teeth.

“Some of us develop that ability to the point where we can do it at range. Perry is such a one. Do none of the Karkana have that gift?”

“I don’t know,” Brianna says. “We’re not as close-knit as the Raiths. And I associate with very few family members.”

Madeline sniffs. “You’re lucky, then.”

“Too many Karkana in one place is not good for the mortals,” Brianna points out. “I’m sorry about your mirror.” She then gets up, goes to the restroom and washes her clothes, switching out her things. She lets Madeline take a shower and then gets ready for bed herself. She sets her alarm for 7 am.

January 6, 2013 (7:00 am)

Brianna gets up with her alarm and exercises. Soon after, Madeline rises and emerges from the bedroom. “Let’s go see what we can find out,” she says.

They head down to the car and drive out. Brianna also stays on the lookout for anyone following them—she doesn’t trust Perry. The two drive and walk all day, looking for the typical haunts that supernatural folk claim. Brianna talks to quite a few people, and finds that Madeline is no help at all in this regard. By the end of the day, Brianna has gathered a bit of information about Alissa Tanner.

Apparently, Alissa has staked out Pioneer Square as her hunting ground. Further, she has had run ins with a Special Crimes cop with the Seattle PD. That this cop is still alive speaks highly of him.

As the two return to their car, Brianna asks Madeline if she wants to go to La Porte, or give that time. She’s not sure about what Peregrine may or may not be telling Velasquez about them.

Madeline concedes that it may be smarter to wait to go to La Porte. Instead, they decide to go to Pioneer Square after sunset and try to spot Alissa. It’s a large area, being the old Seattle downtown. It’s full of boutiques, night clubs, and the like. It will be a bit like finding a needle in a haystack, but they both concede that they don’t have a lot of options right now.

January 6, 2013 (Sunset)

It’s Sunday night, but the Square is still lively with entertainment. Brianna and Madeline step into shop after shop, club after club, looking for any sign of Alissa Tanner. Finally, around 10 pm, they see a motorcycle pull up to a curb and a woman gets off. It’s Alissa.

“That’s her. That’s her bike,” Brianna says.

“Do we follow her?” Madeline asks.

“Yes.”

Alissa goes into a nearby nightclub. Madeline and Brianna follow. The club has a small dance floor and lots of loud music and lights. Alissa goes up to the bar and gets a drink. She then stalks to the dance floor, knocks a couple of girls out of the way with her hip, and starts dancing with an attractive young man.

“So that’s how she walks normally,” Brianna comments.

When the song is done, Alissa pulls the young man’s face close to hers and begins to whisper something in his ear. She then takes him by the hand and heads off the dance floor and towards the club’s back door. Brianna and Madeline follow.

Out in the alley behind the club, there’s a large dumpster. Alissa takes her prey to the other side of the dumpster.

“Have you thought about what you want to do with her?” Brianna whispers.

“We could always kidnap her,” Madeline says, musing.

“Where would we keep her?” Brianna asks.

“OH MY GOD!” they hear from behind the dumpster. Then they hear a couple of bestial snarls and snorts.

“Well, if we’re going to do something, now is the time,” Brianna observes, and moves to the other side of the dumpster. There she sees the young man lying in a pool of blood, his throat ripped out. Straddling him, feeding, is a flabby, bat-like creature with small beady eyes and stunted wing-like protuberances from its arms.

It turns and looks at Brianna. Brianna goes to punch it in the face, but misses. It attacks Brianna and the fight is on. Madeline joins in from the other side and at one point, Brianna manages to bloody the thing’s nose. Eventually, the creature collapses, unconscious.

“Did you have a plan for the kidnapping?” Brianna asks.

“No time,” Madeline mutters.

“Let’s drive the car up and put her in the trunk,” Brianna says. Madeline goes after the car while Brianna stays with the unconscious Red Court vampire. Brianna checks the young man—he is definitely dead.

Soon, Madeline brings the car into the alley and the two women lift the unconscious vampire and put it into the trunk. Brianna gets in the driver’s seat and asks, “Where are we going?”

“Out of Seattle,” Madeline says.

Brianna pulls out of the alley and starts to head out of the city.

View
Side Job: Yojimbo (Part Three)
Karkana Chronicles Four

January 4, 2013 (Night)

The four White Court vampires lounge in the hotel room, waiting for their prisoner to recover from his injuries sufficiently to talk. Brianna Karkana rises and goes to wipe the blood from her own injuries off of herself. Eventually, the Red Court vampire begins to stir.

Brianna looks to Nerise. “Were you wanting to talk or transport him at this point?”

“Talk.”

“Alright.”

Brianna hauls the vampire up. Nerise says, her voice commanding, “Tread lightly here, bloodsucker.”

The Red Court vamp breaks his meager bonds and stretches. Its ectoplasmic flesh mask slowly grows back into place over its frightful, bat-like body and before them stands ayoung man with blonde hair and pouty lips. He looks a lot like a 90s club kid. Brianna positions herself next to the vampire, close to Madeline Raith.

“Who sent you?” Nerise asks.

The Red Court vamp chuckles. “Why should I tell you?”

Nerise shrugs. “All we have is time. If you cooperate, we’ll take you out of here. If not, we’ll wait for sunrise and then open just open the curtains.”

Red Court loses some of his cockiness at that and looks wary. “I work alone.”

Madeline snorts.

Nerise says, “Somehow I don’t believe you. The Red Court is not active in Portland. Are you from out of town?”

“Nope. Portland, born and bred.”

Brianna says to the Red Court vampire, in a very quiet voice. “Stop lying or I’ll break your fucking fingers.” The vampire looks over at Brianna for the first time and manages to look cowed. Brianna continues. “Why don’t you tell the lady the truth. She asked you a question.”

Perhaps the vampire thought back to the feeding that Brianna had just had at his expense, or perhaps it was the dangerous look in her eye, but something clicked in the creature’s head that obviously made the thought of Brianna being angry a traumatizing prospect for him.

“Answer the lady,” Brianna says.

“I’m from Seattle.”

Brianna looks at Nerise. Nerise motions for Brianna to continue.

“Why were you hunting this young woman?” Brianna asks, indicating Madeline.

“Because she’s Madeline Raith.”

Brianna walks in a circle around the Red Court vamp. “Who sent you after her?”

“The orders came from the Margrave.”

“What were your orders exactly?”

“I was to release the weapon I was making.”

“What weapon were you making?

" I had a practitioner under my control. I was to use her to kill Madeline Raith and to make it look like the White Council ordered it. "

Brianna stops circling the man. “How did you get so much information about when Madeline was coming in, where she was staying? How did you get so much information?”

“I received the flight information from the Margrave’s people. My weapon tracked you from the club to the hotel. I watched you at the hotel.”

“How were you controlling your weapon?”

The Red Court vampire smiles. “I guess you could say she was addicted to me.”

Brianna makes a disgusted face and continues. “How long were you given? How long until your masters know something went wrong?”

The vampire cocks his head toward Madeline. “She wasn’t to leave Portland alive.”

“What’s your name?” Brianna asks.

“Ricky”

“And where are you staying?”

He names a nearby hotel.

“Is the red Pontiac your car?”

He shakes his head. " No, it was Laurie’s. "

“She drove you down here?”

“Yes.”

Brianna looks at Nerise. “Is there anything else you’d like to know, ma’am?”

Nerise looks at Ricky. “Why did you attack if you wanted the White Council to be blamed?”

“Desperation. You had defeated my weapon and I needed to get the job done. So I thought I could dispatch you both as a Warden.”

Brianna chuckles. “I guess the plan did not go accordingly.” She looks at Nerise again. “Did you have any further questions, ma’am?”

Nerise shakes her head.

Madeline raises her hand. “I have a question. Why is this sack of blood still alive?”

Brianna’s eyes flick between Nerise and Madeline.

Nerise sighs. “Because we can’t make a mess here, can we?”

Madeline hisses. “He tried to kill me. Three times. I can’t let that stand.”

Brianna holds in a smile as she drinks in Madeline’s anger.

Suddenly, Madeline is moving toward Ricky and Brianna makes a split-second decision. She places herself between Madeline and Ricky, forcing the other woman to come up short or plow through her. She gives Brianna a look full of rage.

“Perhaps there’s a better place to resolve this?” Brianna asks. “A place with less of a mess for our hostess to clean up. There’s been a lot of clean-up lately.” Madeline stares at Brianna balefully.

Nerise says, “I agree. Come, let us go. I know just the place.”

Brianna smiles at Madeline, her eyes dilated, clearly enjoying the display of rage the other woman is making.

Ricky says, “I thought if I cooperated, you would let me go.”

Nerise turns to him and says, “I said we would take you out of here. That’s exactly what we’re going to do.”

Brianna backs up closer to Ricky, watching Madeline.

Nerise says, “Madeline, why don’t you call the car?”

Madeline stops staring at Brianna and stalks into the bedroom. After a minute, she returns and says that Timothy will be ready in a moment.

Nerise motions toward the door. “Shall we?”

Brianna positions herself behind Ricky while Clive leads the way to the elevator. Nerise and Madeline fall into the line behind Brianna. They all load up into the elevator and Nerise hits the button to go to the lobby.

Ricky then moves to punch Clive. Brianna notices and moves quicker, trying to grab the Red Court vampire’s arm. She misses. But Clive manages to dodge the punch and then elbows Ricky in the face. A trickle of blood leaks from the creature’s flesh mask. Brianna then tells Ricky “You better settle the fuck down.” He sighs and seems sufficiently cowed.

The elevator “dings” and opens and Brianna says to Clive “You ready?” Clive leads the way once again. As they pass the front desk, Ricky mouths “help me” to the staff at the desk. Brianna notices and notes that some of the staff are looking in their direction. Brianna leans in real close to the Red Court vamp. “That’s enough of that.” Despite that, they make it through the lobby unaccosted.

Once outside, they make their way to the waiting limousine. Once they get settled into the seat, with Ricky pinned between Brianna and Clive, Brianna says “Not very nice, telling staff ‘help me’ as we left.” She also points out that a couple of the staff were paying attention as they left.

Madeline says, “We should have fed on him upstairs.”

Nerise shakes her head. “There’s only so much food poisoning that can occur at a 5-star hotel in one day.”

Nerise uses the speaker to give Timothy directions to their destination while Madeline sits and seethes. Brianna asks Nerise “Do we worry about our rooms being compromised while we’re gone? They wouldn’t call the police, go through our things?”

“Based on what?”

Brianna jerks her head toward Ricky.

“No,” Nerise continues “I don’t believe it would get that far.”

“There’s a lot of bloody washcloths, but it’s all my blood. I guess I’ll be bagging the trash when I leave the room.”

“At most there’ll be questions asked by a hotel detective when we return without our friend,” Nerise reassures her.

“Alright,” Brianna says.

The car finally arrives at Nerise’s destination, a marina on the river. Everyone unloads from the car. Nerise leads the way to a closed slip. Inside is a sizable yacht. Nerise climbs on board and everyone else follows. She leads them into a cabin area and then she continues on to the captain’s station.

Clive turns to Brianna. “Can you handle him? Nerise will need my help.”

“Yes,” Brianna says.

The boat vibrates as Nerise fires up the engines. Clive excuses himself, leaving Madeline, Brianna, and Ricky alone in the cabin.

Madeline turns to Brianna and says, very calmly, “If you get in my way again, I will end you.”

Brianna nods. “I guess we have an understanding, then.”

Nerise returns and the boat starts to move. Everyone takes a seat and Madeline sits and stares at Ricky. Nerise asks Ricky if there is anything more he wishes to tell.

Traumatized and cowed, Ricky hangs his head. “I think I’ve said enough.”

Nerise looks at Madeline, who smiles and slinks over to Ricky. She places both of her hands on his head. Soon, a lust-filled glaze fills Ricky’s eyes, then he seizes and slumps over, dead. Madeline, breathless and sated, re-takes her seat.

Clives comes down and nods to Nerise. Nerise indicates the slumped corpse and Clive takes the body in a fireman’s carry and hauls it up on deck.

Brianna raises her hand. “May I ask a question?” Nerise looks at her. “Who’s the Margrave?”

Nerise says “The Margrave is a title in the Red Court. So the hit on Madeline was ostensibly ordered by a noble of that Court.”

“That seems like an act of war.”

Nerise nods. “Lord Raith will need to know of this.”

Brianna looks at Madeline. Madeline nods. “I will call Lara.”

Brianna, knowing when she’s not needed, says “I will get some fresh air.” She turns and goes up on deck. She sees Clive up at the captain’s station, navigating the boat. Brianna sits in a deck chair and props up her feet.

After a while, Brianna hears a crash in the cabin. She rushes to her feet and runs, throwing open the cabin door to find Madeline and Nerise inside, and a broken vase lying on the floor in front of the door. “I’m sorry,” she says. “I thought something was wrong.”

“Something is wrong,” Madeline says “My cousin has no sense of family honor.” She begins to pace the room.

Brianna looks at Nerise. Nerise explains. “Word will be sent to Lord Raith. However, Lara is sure that satisfaction is met with the death of young Ricky.”

Brianna frowns, but is silent—but then changes her mind and speaks. “So this is not being considered a breach of the Accords? Especially in light of the conflict with the White Council?”

Madeline continues to pace, but Nerise says, “That decision is for Lord Raith, but his daughter does have a lot of influence.”

“I see,” Wave after wave of sweet rage is coming off of Madeline. “Perhaps it’s best if wait on deck.”

Madeline stops her pacing and turns to Nerise. “I think I am going to cut my business in Portland short. I’m sure our holding are in good standing, as always. I’m going to Seattle.”

Brianna starts backing out of the room.

“Brianna,” Madeline says, “you are welcome to come with me if you wish.”

“You are offering me to continue work as your bodyguard?”

“Yes. I’ll need someone watching my back in Seattle.”

“I wasn’t sure how satisfied you were with my services.”

“I’m quite satisfied with your services, but I also meant what I said before.”

Brianna nods. “I understand, but I also need you to understand that if I need to intercede in someway to protect you, I will.”

“Then let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.”

“How long do you expect to be in Seattle?”

Madeline shrugs. “I don’t know.”

Brianna crosses her arms. “I’m having a particular challenge to my territory that I’ve been keeping an eye on. If things start to move in my absence, I may need to come back to Portland to protect what’s mine.”

Madeline stares at her. “Do you wish to go or not?”

“Yes.”

“Can you leave tonight?”

“I have to make a few arrangements, but yes.”

“Then it is settled.”

Nerise says, “I think this is a bad idea.”

Madeline shoots her a look. “I didn’t ask.”

Brianna asks Nerise if she can speak to her for a moment. " I’m going to contact my associate. You’ve met him, Joey, to tell him of my absence. As I told Madeline, if things start to move in my territory, I will be returning to Portland. If Joey finds himself in need of immediate help, may he come to you, in full recognition that I will be in your debt for such assistance?"

Nerise thinks for a moment, and then says. “In full recognition that being on call in such a way incurs a debt.”

Brianna nods. “Very well.”

Brianna goes on deck and calls Joey. “This gig is going to take longer than I originally thought—I’ll be accompanying the client to Seattle.”

“Seattle? I’m not going to get to fight again, am I?”

“I’m going to call Mel so you can get some fighting in now. We can get a stand-in manager with my contacts around the gyms. Has there been any trouble since I’ve been gone?”

“No.”

“Well, keep sharp. I’ve talked to Nerise. If something starts to go south, call me and I will come home. However, if you need immediate help, go to Nerise.”

“Alright.”

“I’ll call you when I get into Seattle. I’ll call Mel tomorrow and get things arranged. I don’t want you to miss any more time in the ring than you have to.”

She hangs up as the boat begins to slow down, pulling back into the slip. Brianna returns to the cabin. As she enters, she overhears Madeline saying “…figure it out when I get there.”

Brianna announces that things are arranged on her end, although there are other details to work out. She touches her holstered gun. “I have something that still belongs to you,” she tells Nerise.

“Keep it. You may need it.”

“It may be hard to get on a plane. I’m not licensed. I’d rather not be stopped by the TSA.”

They all feel the boat come to a stop.

Nerise shrugs. “Then return it.”

Brianna looks at Madeline. “IF you want me to have a gun to protect you, then we need to drive to Seattle.”

Madeline looks exasperated. “Fine. Can we get on with this?”

Brianna continues. “Somewhere along the way, I’m going to have to get a change of clothing being as how the majority of mine is burnt or shredded. This can be done en route. I did not pack for an extended trip.”

Clive comes down into the cabin.

Brianna continues. “If you’re wanting to leave tonight, it’s checking out of the hotel, securing transportation, and getting on the road.”

Clive motions for everyone to exit the boat. Brianna takes a position ahead of Madeline. Timothy is still waiting with the car. Every climbs inside and the car pulls out of the marina. Nerise tells Timothy to return to The Nines.

Brianna turns to Madeline. “And if we get questioned by a hotel detective? How good are you at talking your way out of things?”

Madeline gives her a deadpan look.

Brianna shrugs and says, “That’s not my style,” and returns the deadpan look.

Madeline turns to the Nerise and says, “As far as transportation, may I borrow this car and Timothy?”

“No,” Nerise says firmly. “I’m not supporting this fiasco.”

Madeline actually seems to pout.

The car pulls up to the hotel and everyone gets out. Brianna nods to Clive and says goodnight to Nerise and then Madeline and Brianna head inside.

They make it through the lobby with no problem and head up to the room. They both spend a short amount of time packing. Brianna then takes all of the blood strips of shirt, washcloths, and the like and puts them in a trash liner and then shoves them in her dufflebag. Once they are both ready, they head downstairs.

Madeline checks out and arranges for a taxi to be called for them. The taxi takes them to the airport, where they go to one of the car rental companies to secure a car. Madeline picks a rather sporty model, but implies that Brianna is to drive by settling into the passenger seat. Brianna secures the luggage and sets the GPS for Seattle and the two White Court vampires head north.

View
Side Job: Yojimbo (Part Two)
Karkana Chronicles Four

January 3, 2013

That afternoon, Brianna takes a taxi to Nirvana. There in the parking lot, she sees a luxury car waiting for her with Clive and another gentleman. Brianna slings her dufflebag over her shoulder and approaches.

“Clive,” she says and Clive nods.

The other man, dressed in a designer suit, puts out his hand. "I"m Timothy. I’m the driver."

Brianna shakes his hand. “Brianna. The bodyguard.”

Clive opens the back door of the car for Brianna as Timothy slides into the front. Inside, resting on the seat is a shoulder-holster with a semi-automatic pistol. Brianna gets inside and Clive shuts the door. As Timothy pulls out of the parking lot, Brianna puts on the shoulder-holster under her jacket.

Brianna scopes out the back seat. There is a glass partition separating the driver from the passengers, as well as a small speaker box for speaking with the driver and a button for lowering the partition. Speaking of which, the glass lowers and Timothy calls out. “If you want, I can your bag up here.”

“That would be great, thanks.” Brianna shoves the bag into the front seat. "Do we have an itinerary?

“None that I’ve been given. I’m to pick up the client from the airport and take her The Nines. From there, I’ll receive further instructions. Anywhere she wants to go, I’m to drive her.”

As Timothy pulls into the parking garage at the airport, he hands Brianna a small sign with the name “MADELINE RAITH” printed on the front. Timothy also gives her the terminal information that Brianna needs to make the pick-up.

Brianna goes inside the baggage claim area and waits, holding her sign. Soon a beautiful brunette with an indulgent swagger comes walking up to her.

“I am Madeline Raith.”

“I am your assistant.”

“And what’s your name, assistant?”

“Brianna Karkana”

Madeline quirks an eyebrow. “Karkana? That’s a name I haven’t heard in a while. Well, Brianna, we must wait on my luggage.”

“How many bags do you have?”

“Just the one.”

Soon, Brianna is fetching Madeline’s elegant, though practical, bag from the carousel. Madeline makes no move for it, assuming Brianna will get it, which she does. Then the two of them start walking back to the parking garage. Brianna walks slightly ahead, looking for trouble.

As the two approach the car, Brianna spies a grey-cloaked figure popping out from behind a support pillar with its hands raised, a brass rod in one hand. Brianna shouts for Madeline to get down and rushes the figure, using her vampiric speed to hasten her steps. She reaches out and disarms the figure of its rod.

In the meantime, Madeline has moved behind the car. The figure, who is now clearly a woman, then mumbles something in what sounds like Latin and suddenly fire erupts from her hands, burning Brianna. Brianna yells, “Timothy, get her in the fucking car!” She then punches the figure in the face. She can feel the woman’s jaw break from force of her blow.

By this time, Madeline has made it into the car and Timothy has started the engine. The woman in the cloak then tries to run away and throw fire over her shoulder. However, she misses her mark and the flames catch under the hood of one of the other parked cars. Timothy pulls up the car as Brianna collects the brass rod and clambers inside the back seat. He then hightails it out of the parking garage.

Brianna turns to Madeline. “How are you?”

“I’m fine, my dear.”

Brianna looks down at her charred suit jacket. Fuck she thinks to herself.

Brianna then pulls out her phone and calls Clive. She hears a soft voice in a cultivated accent. “This is Clive.”

“There’s been an incident at the pick-up zone, Clive. Our client is safe. Someone threw fire at me. She left behind a brass rod, which I have. Shall I proceed to the hotel or does this change plans?”

“If Ms. Raith is amenable, come to the club.”

Brianna checks with Madeline, who says “Very well.”

“We’ll be there,” Brianna says and hangs up.

“She was wearing a Warden’s cloak,” Madeline says. Brianna turns pale.

“Do you have any idea why a Warden would come after you?” Brianna asks.

“None at all, except if they wish to escalate the conflict with the Red Court and draw in the White.”

Brianna doesn’t know a great deal about the Wardens, other than that they are the enforcers of the White Council and often act as judges and executioners for crimes against the Laws of Magic. She also knows that the Accords are supposed to protect against such open hostility between the various factions.

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Brianna thinks to herself.

The car finally pulls up to Nirvana. Brianna grabs the brass rod and gets out. Timothy lets Madeline out and Brianna guards Madeline up to the door, where the doorman lets them in. Brianna leads the way to Nerise’s office. There, as usual, are two armed guards at the door.

“We’re expected,” Brianna tells them, giving them a no-nonsense stare. They nod and knock on the door. Clive emerges and goes to Madeline, takes her hand and kisses it. “Ms. Raith. Please come inside.” Clive’s voice is soft and cultivated. He motions for Brianna to follow.

Brianna follows Madeline and Clive inside where Madeline and Nerise meet each other like old friends, giving each kisses on the cheek. Nerise motions for Madeline to take a seat and she does. Nerise sits behind her desk.

“An eventful arrival,” Nerise says.

“You always had a talent for understatement, Nerise,” Madeline says. Nerise simply smiles. “Brianna failed to mention that our assailant wore a Warden’s cloak,” she continues.

Brianna grits her teeth. Nerise quirks an eyebrow. “Oh really. A Warden. That’s bold.”

“I’ve had some dealings with wizards. This one seemed…underwhelming.”

“Do you believe you were the target?” Nerise asks.

“Who else?”

“Well, whoever they were, they obvious were not up to the task of facing a Karkana,” Nerise observes.

Madeline nods. “Yes, Brianna was adequate to the task.”

“I took the liberty of having your room changed at The Nines, just in case,” Nerise says. “Brianna?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“You fought this wizard. Do you have any insights?”

“She left this behind.” Brianna holds up the brass rod. “She’s a she. She should be easy to find as she has a broken jaw. Her element is clearly fire.”

“If she’s a Warden, she may have more than one element,” Nerise points out.

“I have to concede that she ran pretty fast. She was lying in wait—she followed our car into the garage. One could always call Ms. Capstone and see if she has a broken jaw,” Brianna says.

“Who is Ms. Capstone?” Madeline asks.

Brianna explains. “She’s the local Warden. Frankly, I’m more intrigued as to why someone would want us to think the Wardens are attacking and breaking the Accords.”

Nerise says, “That is curious..”

“…but not why I’m in Portland,” Madeline says. “I’m in Portland to complete these business transactions. But today I am tired. If I have rooms waiting for me, I’ll take them.”

“Of course,” Nerise says, “We can begin in the morning.”

Madeline rises and starts to head out. Brianna follows and hands Clive the rod on her way out. They leave the club and go to the car where Timothy is waiting. The two get in the back seat and Timothy pulls out of the parking lot.

As Timothy drives them toward the hotel, the partition between the driver and the back seat comes down. “I’m sorry, ma’am, but it appears that someone is following us. What would you like me to do?”

Brianna looks at Madeline, who shrugs. “See if you can lose him.”

Brianna turns in her seat. “Timothy, what are we keeping an eye on?”

“A 90s model Pontiac. A Grand Am, I think.”

“Color?”

“Red.”

“Let me know if it approaches the car too closely.” Brianna turns to Madeline. “I don’t know if it’ll come to gunfire in the street, but I may need you to lay flat in a hurray.”

“I will,” Madeline says.

After a few turns, Timothy announces that he thinks he’s lost him.

“How close are we to the hotel?” Brianna asks.

“Should be there in ten minutes.”

“Throw my bag back here.” Timothy complies and Brianna changes jackets, exchanging her charred one for another. She then sends a text to Clive: FOLLOWED BY RED PONTIAC. TIMOTHY MANAGED TO LOSE THEM. MIGHT NOT BE A BAD PLAN TO SWITCH CARS. THEY APPEAR TO HAVE MARKED THIS ONE.

She soon gets a return text: CHANGE IN A.M.

Brianna texts back: ACKNOWLEDGED

Soon they arrive at The Nines, a luxury hotel. A doorman handles the luggage as Brianna and Madeline exit the car. Brianna sticks close as they enter the hotel, looking for signs of potential danger. She backs off a bit as Madeline goes to the check-in desk and makes the arrangements. Making their way to the elevators, she manages to use her intimidating demeanor to ensure that only she, Madeline, and the bellhop are on the elevator.

Once they arrive in the room, Madeline tips the bellhop and begins to settle into the bedroom of the suite with her things. Soon, she hears a shower running. Brianna locks all of the bolts on the door and begins examining the room. They are on the fifth floor. A balcony is in the bedroom that opens with French doors. These are lockable, which she engages. She throws away the burned jacket and changes her outfit. She then goes to the kitchenette and wets a towel to wipe the smudge marks off her face. She notes that the front door opens into the room. She places the DO NOT DISTURB sign on the door.

The shower stops and soon Madeline emerges in a casual blouse and tight jeans. She looks at Brianna and languidly says. “I suppose I’m going to have to go out and grab a bite.”

Brianna looks awkward. “With all due respect, I’m not letting you out of my sight.”

Madeline smiles, a predator’s smile. “Well then, we have two choices. Either you’re going to see some things you don’t wish to see. Or we don’t leave the room.”

Brianna flushes. “I’m no one’s meal,” she manages to say firmly, not letting her anger get the best of her.

Madeline smiles, as if it all doesn’t matter to her. “Then we shall have an interesting evening.”

“I guess we will, ma’am.”

“Please don’t call me ma’am. Madeline if fine.”

“Very well, Madeline.”

“Speaking of which. Will you need to feed?”

Brianna blinks. “Optimally.”

Madeline smiles again, her eyes flashing. “Truly an interesting evening.”

Brianna says, “We’re out of my hunting grounds.”

“You have a grounds?”

“I have a territory. Although small, but it’s mine.”

“Intriguing. Shall we?”

“Alright.”

Madeline calls for Timothy to bring the car around. As the two women head downstairs in the elevator, Madeline asks, “So what do you know of the night life in Portland, Brianna? Any suggestions?”

“I know a few clubs.” She names off a few places and describes them the best she can. She has a feeling that her and Madeline’s idea of fun are two different things. Finally, Madeline decides that The Zoo sounds like her kind of place.

They meet the car downstairs and get inside. Madeline turns to Brianna and asks. “Where is this hunting ground of yours?”

“The warehouse district.”

Madeline nods. “I think, purely as a practical matter, that perhaps we should hit your hunting ground first before we visit mine.”

Brianna smiles. “I think you’re dressed accordingly.”

Madeline sniffs. “I’m a Raith. I’m always dressed accordingly.” Brianna gives directions to the fight venue to Timothy.

Once they get to the warehouse, Timothy waits outside with the car while Brianna walks Madeline up to the venue. Rick the Doorman is waiting and Brianna tells him that Madeline is with her. He lets them in. As they go inside, Brianna turns to Madeline and says “This is also a place of business for me. And not a publicly known event. So I’d appreciate your discretion.”

Madeline smiles and her eyes smoulder. “My lips are sealed.”

It’s a Thursday night, so there’s no “main event” fight; most of the fights here are lower echelon fighters working their way up. Brianna starts to feel the first tingling sensation of feeding. She makes the rounds, saying hello to people she knows with Madeline in tow. To those that ask, she’s “Cousin Madeline”. At one point, they run into Mel Landry, who seems enchanted with Madeline. Brianna takes the opportunity to soften the blow that Joey isn’t fighting this weekend, letting Mel know that “Cousin Madeline” is the family emergency that popped up.

Finally, after sipping at all the ambient violence and rage in the ring (and from the spectators), Brianna has enough to satisfy her demon—for now. She turns to Madeline and says “You ready?”

Madeline looks at Brianna flatly. “That’s it?”

“For what I need right now, yes.”

Madeline looks disappointed. “I suppose we’re done here then.”

The two leave the fight venue, get in their waiting car, and head to The Zoo.

Timothy parks the car near the night club and as the two women approach the door, they note a long line of party goers waiting to get inside. Brianna leads the way as the two head to the front of the line. Brianna slips the man some cash and seems to be satisfied with the looks of the ladies, because he lets them inside.

Inside, the music’s loud and the dance floor is crowded. People seem to be having a good time. Madeline heads out to the dance floor and Madeline sticks close—but not too close. She allows Madeline her space to have dance partners. And she has more than a few. Most of the dances are very touchy-feely and intimate. Brianna stays on full alert for any sign of danger, but Madeline seems in her element.

Finally, Madeline brings one of her partners over to Brianna, a blond young beefcake named Donnie. “He’ll be joining us for a night cap,” Madeline says.

“Nice to meet you, Donnie. Are we ready then?” Brianna asks.

“Yes,” Madeline says.

The three of them head out of the club, Donnie and Madeline pawing at each other the whole time. Timothy pulls the car up and the three cram in the backseat. Brianna makes sure that Madeline is between her and Donnie—not only does she not want Donnie touching her, but that way if there is trouble, she can grab Madeline and leave Donnie behind.

As they get inside, Madeline leans over to Brianna and whispers, “Don’t worry. I told him you only like to watch.”

Brianna spends the car ride to The Nines vibrating in suppressed embarrassment and anger as Madeline and Donnie canoodle.

Once at the hotel, the three get on an elevator and Brianna snarls at someone who tries to join them, scaring them off. Once they get into the room, the canoodling turns decidedly more serious. The two stumble into the bedroom. Brianna shuts the door on them.

Brianna makes sure the suite is secure and then does sit ups to relieve her pent up anger. She listens for any unexpected sounds coming from Madeline’s room. She hears nothing…unexpected…from there. Eventually, all grows quiet and Madeline emerges from the room in a bathrobe, flush and sated. Brianna can see Donnie lying sprawled, unconscious, on the bed. Madeline looks from Brianna, to Donnie, and back to Brianna. “That, my dear, is feeding.”

Brianna goes to the kitchenette and gets a glass of water. “I know it.” She gives a Madeline an unfriendly look.

“What happened to ‘never out of my sight’?” Madeline asks, all innocence.

The glass shatters in Brianna’s hand. “I didn’t think the situation was compromised.” She begins to pick glass out of her hand.

“We were going to have an interesting evening and you take me to your hunting grounds and talk to people.” Madeline says, incredulous.

“I’m sorry my feeding habits don’t entertain you,” Brianna says through clenched teeth.

“Then we were going to have an interesting evening with my feeding, and you shut the door in my face. I’m very disappointed.”

“I was hired to protect you, not be a voyeur for you. So if you want to go to Nerise and ask her to get someone to entertain you, that is your prerogative. But if you want someone who is going to throw down her fucking life to keep you safe, you better back off,” Brianna says, shaking."

Madeline blinks and says, “Goodnight, Brianna,” and goes back into her room.

“Fuck,” Brianna says. She then places a chair in front of the front door and takes another chair and places it in front of Madeline’s bedroom door. She texts Joey: HOW’RE THINGS GOING? THINGS INTERESTING HERE, NOT NECESSARILY IN A GOOD WAY. She then settles into the chair in front of Madeline’s door and goes to sleep.

January 4, 2013 (5 am)

Brianna hears muffled speech outside the front door. She rises carefully and looks out the peephole. She sees a figure in a grey cloak waving their hands in front of the door handle.

Brianna runs into Madeline’s room. She’s lying naked beside the unconscious Donnie. Brianna touches her arm, ignoring Donnie. Madeline grabs Brianna’s hand. Brianna whispers. “I need you to be able to move quickly. There’s a grey cloaked figure outside the door.” Madeline nods.

Brianna checks the door again. The figure is still there. She then quickly unlocks the door and grabs the person, pulling them inside. A ball of fire forms in the person’s hand. Brianna then throws the person down to the ground and lets her demon feed on them. The fireball fades. She recognizes the figure as the young woman from before, now with an Ace bandage wrapped around her head to hold her jaw in place.

Pissed at Madeline, pissed at the wizard, pissed at this entire evening, Brianna lets the rage flow and, before she knows it, she’s extinguished the life from the wizard. Brianna feels more sated than she’s felt in a long time. She looks up and sees Madeline staring at her, dressed. “Now that was a feeding,” Madeline says.

Brianna gets up and gets her phone, shutting the door to the bedroom. She calls Clive.

“This is Clive.”

“Clive, we had an early morning visitor at our door. Now we need a clean-up. Same person from before.”

“You’re in a hotel. That makes it…complicated.”

“We’ll probably not be leaving anytime soon. Why don’t you call me back?”

“I will call you back once arrangements have been made.” The phone goes silent.

Brianna turns to Madeline. “We need Donnie to get out of here pretty soon.” She then takes the body of the wizard, checks it over for ID and finds none, and puts it in the closet. She locks the front door again. Brianna then takes her turn in the shower, attempting to wash away this day.

When Brianna comes out of the shower, Madeline is reviving Donnie and sending him on his way. Brianna makes Madeline and herself some coffee. She motions to the closet. “Hopefully that’s the end of it.”

Madeline nods. “She was very determined.”

“She had no ID. That’s unusual.”

There’s a knock at the door. Brianna rises and checks the peephole. She sees two paramedics with a gurney standing outside the door. Then her phone rings. It’s Clive.

“I have two paramedics standing outside my door,” Brianna says.

“Ah, good. Then they’ve arrived.”

“Then they’re from you? There’ll be no questions asked?”

Clive says, “There was a report of food poisoning from this floor…”

Brianna lets the paramedics in. They collect the body without a word and secure it into the gurney, covering it in bedding, and then take it away.

Breathing a sigh of relief, Brianna turns to Madeline. “What’s on your agenda for today?”

“Nothing exciting. Meetings with Nerise. Perhaps lunch.”

“Why don’t you get ready and we’ll get started.”

“Very well.”

January 4, 2013 (7 am)

Madeline gets herself ready and calls Timothy to bring the car around. He informs her that they will be in a navy limousine today.

The two women head downstairs and get in the car. Timothy pulls out and drives them to Nirvana. Once there, they head up to the office and are met by Clive, who lets them in to see Nerise. Nerise greets Madeline and the two settle into chairs together.

“Normally Portland is not so inhospitable to visitors,” Nerise says.

“I don’t believe I will be having that particular trouble anymore, thanks to Brianna,” Madeline says.

“None of our people recognized the girl. When she’s found, perhaps our law enforcement contacts can help with that,” Nerise says. Madeline nods. “Do you believe the White Council is behind this?” Nerise asks.

“I believe we were meant to think it. But, no. I will not risk the diplomacy.”

Nerise nods. “Then the matter is closed?”

“As far as I’m concerned.” Madeline turns and looks at Brianna. “What do you think?”

“We don’t know her motivation. We don’t know if she was driving the red car that was following us. But she’s the only one we’ve seen. I still plan to be on guard.”

Madeline smiles. “That’s reassuring.”

Brianna continues. “She clearly had information. She knew you were arriving at the airport. She knew the car, she knew our hotel even though our driver thought he lost her, and she knew our room. I find that disturbing.”

“So you think she had an accomplice?” Nerise asks.

“She was getting her information from somewhere. Unfortunately, not being able to question her…makes things complicated.”

Nerise frowns. “Yes, it does make it complicated.”

Madeline sniffs. “Pft. She eliminated the threat. She did exactly what she was paid to do. So if the matter is closed, on to other matters, then.”

Brianna stands guard while Madeline essentially audits Nerise on the business practices of Nirvana. It is a long morning meeting. They break midday and all load up into the limousine, Brianna, Clive, Nerise, and Madeline, and head to a posh restaurant for lunch. Nerise and Madeline reminisce about old times in Chicago, as apparently Nerise lived with the Raiths at one point.

That afternoon, Madeline and Nerise have more private meetings and ask Brianna to wait outside. She chit-chats with the two “goons” as she waits. Eventually, Clive comes out, accompanied by Madeline, who announces that she is heading back to the hotel. Clive nods goodbye and the two women head out to the waiting limousine.

The sun is sinking behind the horizon by the time they return to The Nines. Brianna and Madeline head up to the room and Madeline immediately starts running water for a shower. Brianna makes sure the DO NOT DISTURB sign is still on the door, locks its, and sits down to read the newspaper.

As she sits, she hears a noise at the balcony door. She cautiously moves into the bedroom and sees a figure in a grey cloak entering the room. She rushes forward and the two exchange very hard and fast blows—inhumanly hard and fast blows. The person’s features melt away revealing a bestial bat-like visage that hisses at Brianna.

“Red Court fucker,” Brianna says. She calls out to Madeline in the bathroom. “Madeline, lock the door!”

She punches the vampire in the faces and then it spits at her, to no effect. Brianna goes to sweep its leg, but it nimbly gets out of the way. It rakes its claws across Brianna’s torso. Finally, Brianna sweeps the leg, knocking it off-balance. It manages to slash Brianna across her belly with its sharp claws, giving her a vicious gash. Brianna then pins the the thing to the floor and starts to incite its rage and feed on it at the same time. It thrashes about, enraged and tries to claw at her, but fails. Brianna feeds some more and it thrashes about with a crazed gleam in its beady, bat-like eyes. The thing tries to break away but fails. Finally, Brianna brings the thing to the brink of death—but manages to hold back, merely knocking the beast unconscious.

Brianna rises and goes to the bathroom door. “It’s okay to come out.” Madeline comes out in a bathrobe. “Red Court. Right there. I’m calling Clive.”

She grabs her phone and dials.

“This is Clive.”

“More excitement, Clive. We had a Red Court visitor. Temporarily unconscious. I need instructions.”

“Can you transport it?”

“The trick will be getting to the car.”

“Can you contain it until we come there?”

“Yep.”

“Then do so.”

“I hear you.”

Brianna takes off her shirt and tears it into strips and uses it to bind the Red Court vampire. She takes her burnt jacket out of the trash and uses it as a gag. Then she puts on another shirt and sits on the unconscious creature.

“You recognize this guy?” Brianna asks Madeline.

Madeline shakes her head. Brianna checks him for ID and finds none. “Spit in my face,” she mutters and pops him upside the head.

About an hour passes and the vampire begins to stir. At the same time, there’s a knock at the door. “Madeline, could you check at the door? Don’t open it—just tell me who’s there.”

Madeline looks in the peephole. “It’s Nerise and Clive.”

Brianna nods. “Open it up.” She then reaches down and feeds on the vampire again, drawing its life force into herself, feeding her demon. He stops stirring. Brianna realizes that he may have passed over from being unconscious to comatose. Fuck.

Everyone in the room is staring at her. She looks up. “He was coming in through the balcony window,” she says, trying to get everyone to stop staring at her. “He’s got no ID.”

Nerise says, “We’ll we can’t very well question him in this state.”

Brianna says, “I was trying to make sure he was contained. He will probably take a little while to come out that. Again, apologies.”

Nerise looks annoyed. She turns to Clive. “What are our options, Clive?”

Clive shrugs. “Few and far between, I’m afraid. I suggest we call room service. We have a long wait ahead of us.”

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Scenario Eight: Part One
Seasons: Part One

November 13, 2012

Government Island Stakeout

Dillon is awakened from his slumber by a phone call from Tom Casing. “I have some bad news,” the police detective reports, “or rather, some mixed news.”

He goes on to tell how the police had the Old Pioneer Jail on Government Island staked out, waiting to see if it was Edgar Abel who had set up shop there. Sure enough, one of the police identified a man arriving on the island with an unconscious woman in tow as fitting Abel’s description. But that’s when things get weird. Something happened that can only be described as a mass blackout of the police forces on the island. Most are blaming a flash grenade or some similar device. Another of the men to describe seeing another man arriving on the island shortly before the blackout, an unknown assailant, whisking Abel away. Everything goes dark after that.

The good news is that the unconscious woman was left behind and is unharmed. Her name is Audrey Hope Langley and she is currently in a nearby hospital, awaiting questioning once she becomes conscious and is cleared by medical personnel. Tom also mentions that she bears an uncanny resemblance to Feeney’s final victim, the victim that Abel witnessed being killed. Perhaps Abel was trying to establish a connection to what Feeney was doing by selecting a similar victim this time? At any rate, Abel has been upgraded from “person of interest” to “prime suspect” in the New Moon Murders and the stakeout of Government Island will continue, though both Tom and Dillon doubt Abel will return there. It will be considered a crime scene, however. Tom also wants to know who Abel’s accomplice is. Dillon suspects that it is Trevidian, come to collect his blood debt, but keeps that suspicion to himself.

Spa Day!

Later that day, Yuriko, Hana, and Sabrina meet at an Asian spa in the Pearl district for some rest and relaxation. While resting in the soaking tub, Yuriko turns the conversation to Dillon. She laughingly tells her about how when Hana first came to Portland, she thought that Dillon was Yuriko’s boyfriend. Yuriko also notes how Sabrina’s eyes narrow during this part of the story. But Yuriko reassures her that that would be silly because Dillon is like her brother. She tells Sabrina that she’s glad that he’s found someone to talk to who has shared interests and that she hopes she sticks around for a long time.

Sabrina doesn’t seem to know what to think about all this, but takes it all in stride, simply saying “Thank you”. At the end of the day, the girls all hug and say that they should do this again some time and go their separate ways, all with new sparkling nails and glowing skin.

Edgefield—Black Rabbit Restaurant

By 8:00 pm, Dillon has made his way to the outskirts of Portland to meet the Envoy of the Winter Court at Edgefield. The Envoy’s aide, Gordon, is waiting for Dillon at the Hostess station of the restaurant.

“Come with me,” he says and leads Dillon to a booth where Abby Miyazaki, Envoy to the Winter Court for Portland, Oregon is waiting.

“Thank you for meeting with me,” Dillon says.

“It was my pleasure. Gordon tells me you wish to register a formal complaint.”

Dillon explains that he had a speech lined up but it may be a moot point now. He then explains the situation with Trevidian, his threats and actions against his friends, and what happened on Government Island last night.

As Dillon tells the story, Abby begins to look more and more cross. Dillon emphasizes that Trevidian’s actions do not reflect well on the Winter Court, but that it may be too late now, he’s already got his man.

Abby then reveals that they have been keeping tabs on Trevidian, to make sure he doesn’t get into “too much trouble”. And that he was not on Government Island last night.

That’s when Dillon realizes that it could be the other Sidhe, Hubbard, who apprehended Abel. Probably just to mess with Trevidian and push him over the edge enough to get him put back in his prison.

“And to make me look like a fool,” Abby adds.

Dillon doesn’t understand. “It makes it clear that I cannot control what goes on in my city,” Abby explains.

“Does Hubbard have something against you?” Dillon asks.

“Only that I’m the Envoy and he is not,” Abby says.

“Do you care about what happens to Abel?” Dillon asks.

“The Queen of Air and Darkness wishes to end the blood debt.”

“Then our end goals do not mesh. Your accords are about each faction policing their own. This is a mortal matter. I don’t suppose life imprisonment will be satisfaction in the Queen’s eyes?”

Abby says, “It would have to satisfy in Trevidian’s eyes.”

“Ah. Could he not accomplish that with a mano-a-mano thing versus Hubbard?”

Abby shrugs. “Except that Hubbard didn’t kill his son.”

Dillon asks, “Do you know where Hubbard is?”

“No. But didn’t you have one of his associates? And you turned him over to Summer?”

“Yes…”

“Perhaps you could get that information from him.”

“I don’t really know how to contact Summer.”

Abby sighs. “And I don’t really have a working arrangement with him.”

Dillon perks up and speaks very carefully. “So it sounds like you want me to acts as an intermediary between you and Summer to get information about Hubbard.”

“Is this something you can do?”

“I don’t know. I can try. I’ve met them once. We were friendly when we parted ways. That’s a start.”

“I already owe you a boon, Dillon. I don’t like having two hanging over my head.”

Dillon nods. “I’m willing to do this if you guarantee Trevidian doesn’t harm innocents, my friends, myself, or innocent bystanders—and we get Edgar Abel, or the guilty party.”

Abby thinks for a moment and finally frowns. “Then we have an arrangement.”

Dillon asks “Do you have a way to contact Verikai?”

“He has a music club in the Alberta district called ‘The Green Lady’. You can find him there.”

With that, Dillon rises to see himself out. Gordon walks with him to the door. He asks if Gordon is going to take him home, but Gordon says no. So Dillon heads out with a long walk ahead of him.

During the long slog back home, Dillon calls Yuriko to explain the new situation. She, in turn, calls Nick and explains it to him. Dillon also calls Tom Casing,

“I don’t know how much you want to know,” he begins.

“What do I need to know?” Tom asks.

Dillon explains that the man at Government Island was not an accomplice or Trevidian but a second Sidhe, an enemy of Trevidian that simply wants to enrage him by taking away his prey. That this has to do with “faerie politics” and gets very complicated. Tom listens and says, “I want Edgar Abel. Keep me posted.” Dillon says that he will, that he intends to set up a meeting with some people that may have more information on where this other Sidhe is.

Dillon then calls Sabrina. “Can you be my backup? And give me a ride?”

“Sure,” she says.

Sabrina picks him up and he explains the Trevidian/Hubbard situation on the way to The Green Lady. Along the way, he compliments her on her new nails.

The Green Lady

As they pull into the parking area for the club, Dillon explains his plan. Dillon will go inside first. Sabrina is to wait 15 minutes, then enter the club, look for Dillon and wait and see what the situation is. If Dillon is trouble, bail him out. If Dillon is running for cover, go in shooting if needs be. He doesn’t anticipate that kind of trouble, but you never know. Sabrina says “Okay.”

Dillon goes inside. The club is a large, but surprisingly intimate jazz club with lots of wood paneling and dark seating spaces. He spots Verikai up in a balcony seat with two other men. There is a staircase leading up that is blocked by a velvet rope and another man in a nice suit. Dillon approaches the “mook” at the velvet rope and says, summoning all of his confidence, “Dillon Krister seeks an audience with Verikai.” The man raises an eyebrow, but then speaks into a device hidden in his lapel and soon thereafter removes the velvet rope blocking Dillon’s path. Dillon heads upstairs to the table.

Verikai, a very handsome man with short hair and v-neck t-shirt smiles and says, “Mr. Krister. I have to say I’m very intrigued. Have a seat.” Dillon takes the proffered seat.

“I was wondering if I could talk to Valen,” Dillon says, getting right to the point.

Verikai purses his lips. “I suppose that could be arranged. Might I ask why?”

“I am trying to locate the Sidhe he was working for and I’m hoping he can help with that.”

“I see. When did you want to speak with him?”

“As soon as possible.”

“Where would you like this meeting to take place?”

“Wherever is convenient for you. Wait a minute…I will be safe, right?”

Verikai smiles. “I don’t see why not…”

“Then wherever is convenient.”

Verikai says, “There is an old strip mall near here,” and gives Dillon an address. “We could meet say, around 8 pm.”

“Did you say ‘we’?”

“I did.”

Dillon says that the meeting will work for him and excuses himself. Downstairs, he spots Sabrina, makes eye contact and leaves. Shortly thereafter, Sabrina exits and meets him at the car. As they leave, he fills her in on the details of his meeting.

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