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 sure 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.” She pauses for a moment, thinking. “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.
“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.
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.”
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.”
“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.”
“For someone in your particular line of work, it might give you an advantage over business competitors. When I acquired it, I specifically thought of you and Ms. Sydney’s debt.” She looks at him pointedly. “And also that it not go to whom it was originally 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 forward without these 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 also 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.”
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 are 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 pulls up 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 recognize 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 third party who was going to give it to 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 the 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 an artifact of this nature, I 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.”
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?
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?”
“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.”