January 9, 2013 (Late Afternoon)
“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.
“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?”
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?”
“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.
“I hate to tell you this, but the person you owe 5 Gs to may be coming back around.”
“It’s what I heard. I wanted to give you a heads up.”
“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.”
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?”
“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.
“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
“Hi Brianna, how are you doing?”
“Fine. How about yourself? What’s good tonight?”
“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.”
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.”
“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.”
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.