December 15, 2012
A couple of more weeks have passed in Portland since Brianna Karkana and Joey Aragon last encountered anything strange. Brianna’s cousin, Quincy Karkana, made it to Seattle and made contact with another of his relatives and has since backtracked to San Francisco and confirmed that his contact there had been murdered—most likely by Henry Bascomb. Brianna caught Quincy up on what happened with Henry’s body and the van.
Joey is still not fighting in the main event fights, but is slowly working his way up the chain in the syndicate. Tonight is another fight night for the two of the them. He fights a guy by the name of Jerome Tanner. Joey is confident that he can outclass Jerome and take him down easy. In fact, Joey comes out strong with a punch that should have rung the guy’s bell—but the guy just takes like it’s no big deal. This annoys joey to no end. Then the guy comes at Joey with a punch like a truck—like something Brianna could dish out. Joey senses something very wrong with this guy, but still manages to knock the guy out.
As they’re heading back to the dressing room, Joey tells Brianna under his breath “There’s something up with that guy.”
“What do you mean?” Brianna asks, who noticed nothing.
“He hit like you and could take a punch a little too well.”
Brianna waits as Joey gets ready and then sees the opposing manager and fighter approaching. She shakes hands with the man and says, “No hard feelings for the fight.”
“No,” he says, “It was a good fight.”
“Perhaps we’ll meet again.”
He introduces himself as Abe Ventrue. She’s heard his name around the gyms. Brianna reconnects with Joey and heads out to the parking lot. While heading out to the car, she notices some shadowy figures having an altercation toward the side of the warehouse. She tells Joey that she’s going to check that out and then proceeds to march over there.
As she gets closer, she can see a large, beefy man with a shaved head and five o’clock shadow talking with Brian O’Malley, one of the local fighters. The large, beefy man punches Brian in the stomach, hard enough to double the fighter over. At this point, Brianna’s about two hundred feet away. She calls out “Hey lard-ass!”
The big man looks up and says “We’re done here.”
Brianna says, “I’d say you are.”
The big man turns to Brian and says “You just remember what I said, Brian.” He then turns and get inside a dark sedan and drives away.
Brianna approaches Brian and makes sure he’s okay. “What was that about?”
“Brian, don’t lie to me. You’ve made a woman walk out here at night in these shoes…”
“Alright, not here.”
“You can explain on the way to dinner.”
She, Brian, and Joey load up in her car and head out to dinner. Once at one of the local greasy spoons, they head to a back table and Brianna stares at Brian until he starts to the spill.
“I don’t know if you noticed or not, but some of us have been getting an edge in the fights.”
Brianna gives him a sad shake of the head. “Do tell.”
Brian continues. “Some get juiced.”
“You mean anabolic steroids?”
“There’s this new stuff. They just call it call it ‘The Juice’ but its better than that stuff you’re talking about. It starts cheap. Now I owe $5000. And I need the stuff.”
Brianna sniffs. “You sound like a junkie. How do you take the stuff? Pills? Injection?”
“Injection. Right before a fight. It doesn’t last very long.”
“Who gave you this stuff? Who’s your contact? That gorilla you were with tonight?”
“Him? No, you don’t see him until you can’t pay. Barnabas Gould is the contact. He’s the boss. He came by the gym and set me up.”
“How long has this been going on?”
“At least a couple of months.”
Brianna shakes her head. “Does you manager know you’re on this shit?”
Brian shakes his head. “No…”
“This may be a conversation you need to have with him, you think?”
“Or maybe you need to mind your own business?”
Brianna gets in Brian’s face. “If you don’t tell your manager, I will.”
“Jesus, Bri, back the fuck off, alright? I will.”
Brianna and Joey take Brian back to his car and then head back to their apartment. Joey asks, “So what you going to do?”
“Talk to Gould, though that probably won’t work. I hope this isn’t connected to that Karkana blood we found.”
Joey shrugs. “Could be a potion. Magical potions can do all kinds of things.”
Brianna says, “Let’s hit the gyms tomorrow to find these guys. We’ll start with Brian’s gym. He’s part of the same gym as the guy you fought tonight.”
December 16, 2012
Brianna and Joey head to Brian’s gym to schmooze and talk fights with the fighters and managers. They find out that a guy fitting Gould’s description has been talking to fighters. Brianna sees Brian with his manager and notes that there’s some tension around them—they probably had “the conversation” they needed to have. Good.
Finally, Brianna sees Gould walk in. Gould is a heavy-set man with long hair and a beard. He wears a tailored suit and carries a gold-headed cane. He scopes out the room and then takes a stool near where Brian and working out and watches.
Brianna grabs a stool and drags it next to Gould and sits down. Gould looks at Brianna and nods. Brianna nods in return. Both sit and watch Brian for a moment. Then Brianna turns and says, “He looks like he might be promising.”
“Perhaps, if he’s careful.”
“It pays to be careful. It’s hard for these young fighters to get mixed up in thing they shouldn’t. Lots of temptations come their way. Everyone wants to be the strongest, the best. They don’t think about what it costs them in the end.”
“No, there’s always a price.”
“I know that. You know that. These young guys sometimes forget.”
Gould turns to Brianna. “You are?”
“Barnabas Gould.” He doesn’t put out his hand.
Brianna continues. “It’s important for these men to get back on track. Around these parts, we like clean fighting.”
Gould laughs. “No. Around these parts, you like to win, else I’d be wasting my time. I never waste time.”
Brianna narrows her eyes. “There are always people who are weak, in for an easy win. I’ve been around enough to know that those are the people who drag this sport down, and that it becomes rotten at its base.”
Gould purses his lips. “Ah, a purist. Do you have a point or do you simply wish to lecture me?”
“Just a promise. I’ve seen this go to shit in other towns. Not here…”
Brianna gets up and collects Joey and heads out. In the parking lot, they note a grey and gold Lexus with a professional driver in the parking lot—probably Gould’s car. Brianna takes a picture of the license plate with her phone. They decide to try and follow the car, so they load up into their own car and wait for Gould to come out.
Eventually, Gould comes out and gets in the car. Joey pulls out behind the Lexus and starts to follow. However, soon the Lexus pulls into a nearby parking lot and seems to be waiting for Joey to follow. Joey keeps driving.
On the way back to the apartment, the two discuss what to do next. Should they tell the managers about this? Follow the “gorilla”? Follow Brian? Eventually, they call Mel and confirm that Brian is fighting tonight, as well as on the 23rd. They decide to look and see if the “gorilla” looks for Brian tonight and follow him tonight. The two decide to dress in black, just in case.
December 16, 2012 (8 pm)
It’s fight night and Brianna and Joey are at the warehouse, scanning the crowd for the bruiser who roughed up Brian O’Malley last night, the guy they’ve dubbed “The Gorilla”. Brianna spots in loitering in the crowd toward the back. She tells Joey to find his car in the parking lot and to park their car near there. She’ll stay here and keep an eye on their prey. Joey heads out to the parking lot. Eventually he texts her, saying FOUND CAR. PARKED NEAR. WILL WAIT. She texts back: GET PLATE #. Joey dutifully gets the plate number.
In the meantime, Brian wins his fight by a KO, gaining him a $500 purse. As the crowd begins to disperse, The Gorilla heads outside, taking up a position in the parking lot. Brianna follows him, unnoticed. She texts Joey: GORILLAS OUTSIDE BY EXIT. WHERE R U? He texts back: SIDE LOT.
After a while, people start heading back into the warehouse—but The Gorilla doesn’t. Brian comes out of the warehouse and The Gorilla puts his arm around him, leading him toward the side lot. Brianna follows—still unseen, thanking the fact that she thought to dress in black this evening. She overhears part of what The Gorilla has to say: “You still owe five gees, Brian? When are we going to see that money?”
Brian attempts to hand a bundle to The Gorilla. “Here’s $500 I won tonight. That should help.”
The Gorilla bats his hand away. “$500? That’s shit!” He grabs Brian by the shirt and brings him close. “That’s not going to cut it Brian-Boy.” He then throws Brian over the hood of a car—OVER the hood the car. The Gorilla then goes and kicks Brian in the stomach for good measure. He bends over and gets in Brian’s face. “You have a week. Which is real generous in my book, but Mr. Gould is a real softie. One week. Or people find out what happens if you don’t pay.” He then kicks Brian again.
The Gorilla turns on his heel and starts walking toward his car. Brianna eels toward her car and gets in. Joey is tipped over in the front seat. As The Gorilla pulls out, Joey starts to pull away and follow. Soon, however, The Gorilla makes a hard turn down a side street—it’s apparent that Joey’s been made! But Joey’s pissed. “Fuck it,” he says, and gives chase. Eventually, after a chasing the guy down the side streets of Southeast Portland, Joey pulls out in front of the guy and turns and cuts him off. The Gorilla nearly T-bones them but brings his car to a halt. “Let’s talk to this guy,” Joey says, and gets out of the car. Brianna follows.
All three get out of their cars in the middle of the quiet street in the middle of the night. The Gorilla looks at the two fighters and says “What the fuck?”
Brianna steps forward. “I need you to tell me where your boss is.”
“Yes.” She moves in closer.
“You don’t know who you’re messing with, little girl.”
“I know exactly who I’m dealing with. Scum getting our fighters hooked on juice.”
“You best be moving on.”
Brianna gives him her best intimidating stare. “I don’t think so.”
The Gorilla shrugs. “So be it.”
The two exchange powerful blows. Then Brianna “vamps out”, her eyes turning milky white and her hair whisping about her in a ghostly wind as she sweeps the big man’s leg, knocking him off balance. “Vampire?” he says as he takes another swing at her and misses. She then takes advantage of his off-balance state and pins him, inciting him to rage and begins to feed. Soon, he is unconscious. Brianna easily fight off the urge to feed further and leaves the man be.
They pat down the unconscious body, confiscating the man’s keys, wallet, gun, and phone. Inside his wallet they find identification for Silas Sharpe. Brianna unloads the gun takes it and the wallet and phone. She and Joey then haul the big man into his own trunk and lock him in there. They drive to a nearby parking lot and search the car. Inside, Joey finds an insurance card listed for a Gould International, Ltd. with an address in North Portland. They lock up the car and huck the keys as far as they can throw them. They then load up in Brianna’s car and head to North Portland.
The turn the phone to silent as they drive. Joey checks it out—it’s a pretty basic phone and is not locked. One number comes up pretty consistently in the call log. The phone then vibrates—it’s the popular number. They let it ring.
Eventually they arrive at the address for Gould International, Ltd. It’s an office attached to a warehouse. The grey/gold Lexus is parked out front, as is another car. They drive around the building, looking for all the entrances and exits. Lights are on in the office, but they can’t tell if the lights are on in the warehouse. They park a distance away from the building and contemplate their next move.
Finally, Brianna gets out of the car and walks toward the building, looking for security cameras and the like. She notes that not only are there security camera but there are also security lights that come on when people approach the building. She returns to the car.
Then, a woman with a short, black pixie-like hair emerges from the building and gets in the other car and leaves. Soon after, Gould and his driver exit the building, get in his Lexus and leave.
Brianna and Joey then head to the front door and check it out. There is a badge-swipe lock at the door. Brianna checks inside Silas Sharpe’s wallet and, sure enough, he has a swipe card. She swipes the card and she and Joey make their way inside. Inside is a small reception area that leads to a cubicle area that Brianna suspects is part of a front. Next is a small office with the name B. GOULD on the door. Inside is a computer displaying security feeds from all over the exterior as well as parts of the interior, including the warehouse and a heretofore unfound lab area. Brianna gets on the computer and manages to erase the portion of security feed that has her and Joey on it.
Outside the office is a door that has another swipe lock on it. Using the card opens the door and access a narrow hall leading to a door at the end or a door on the left. The door on the left opens into a small laboratory. There are various vials and tubes and burners all over the room. Joey finds an area of interest toward the rear of the room—a small worktable with a tiny cauldron and a notebook. The notebook details various mystical motions for the movement of wands as well as the proportions and ingredients for a potion involving a base of anabolic steroids and including other ingredients such as raw steak and eggs, the sound of thunder, steel filings, sweat, pictures of body builders (shredded), the Superman logo, and the Rocky theme (“Gonna Fly Now”). They also find a refrigerator with vials of anabolic steroids and vials of a greenish liquid marked “Juice”. Brianna dumps all of the steroids down the sink, as well as all but one of the vials of Juice. One vial, she keeps in her purse.
At the workstation, there is a locked cabinet, which Brianna opens by brute force. Inside are various chemical supplies and a rosewood case. Inside the case is a wooden wand. Brianna takes this as well. She also takes the notebook.
They head out of the lab and down the hall to the end door, which leads into the warehouse. At this end of the warehouse are shelves with boxes of empty syringes. The other end of the warehouse has boxes of various sizes with a wider variety of goods. Brianna doesn’t linger to check it all out as daylight is fast approaching.
They go back to the office and begin to search. Joey finds a coded ledger, which Brianna takes. They then head out of the office and back to the car as a truck pulls up to the warehouse and starts to load up goods. Brianna and Joey pull away and start to head home. As they drive, Joey says “The phone is vibrating again.” Brianna answers clicks it on.
Gould’s voice is on the other end. “Silas?”
“I’m afraid Silas isn’t answering his phone right now,” Brianna says.
“Ah, the young woman from the gym.”
“That would be me.”
“What have you done with Silas?”
“He’s hanging out in his car somewhere. He may not be very pleased this morning.”
“What is it you want?”
“I want you out of my territory. I’ve happened upon some interesting things. A wand. A book. Someone’s been up to no good and I suspect the powers that be would not be pleased to know what’s been going on in a certain warehouse in North Portland.”
Gould’s voice takes on a very cold tone. “I would not cross me.”
Brianna laughs. “I don’t care where you take your nasty little operation. Stay the fuck away from me and from mine. If you push this I will take you down with me cause I know sure as shit this isn’t legal in our communities.”
Gould gets very quiet. “What are your terms?”
“I don’t want to see you, Silas, or your dark-haired Pixie girl. Stay away from me and the Syndicate. Peddle your drug someplace else.”
“I already have much invested. I stand to lose quite a bit.”
“I don’t see how that’s my problem.”
“Then what do I stand to gain from these terms?”
Brianna sighs, “I don’t turn over all these things to the powers who might be interested in them. I imagine its quite damning. You’ll have my silence on this matter.”
“There are other ways to gain silence…”
“If you want to play that game, we will. I left your man alive tonight. I’ll even tell you where to find him.”
“You have a wand, a book…” Gould says.
“And a vial and a ledger. Looks like its coded but someone could figure it out.”
“Brianna, was it? You drive a hard bargain. I will not guarantee we will not meet again but I will pull my operation away from the syndicate.”
“I’m glad we came to an understanding. The last time I saw your man, he was in his trunk.” Brianna gives the address of the parking lot they left Silas in. The phone clicks off.
Joey notes Gould’s phone number and tosses the phone out at the next stop light. They then go to Union Station and secure a locker to keep the wand, the vial, the notebook, and ledger in. They also throw the gun over a bridge into the river. Once they get home they take the key to the locker and duct tape it to the inside of an air vent to hide it. They then lock the door and sleep the sleep of the justified.
December 18, 2012
As usual, Brianna and Joey go to workout at Sibley’s Gym this morning. When they come out after their workout, they find that Silas and Pixie-Cut are waiting by their car for them.
Pixie-Cut says “You have something that belongs to me.”
Brianna raises an eyebrow, “What would that be?”
“A wand, about yay long. A notebook, about yay thick.”
“Maybe your boss didn’t explain it to you, but I’m not supposed to see you around here. It’s part of the arrangement we have.”
“I don’t like thieves.”
Brianna takes a menacing step forward. “I don’t like people fucking with my fighters so I guess we’re even.” She stands up straight. “Go away, Pixie Hair. Your boss said you wouldn’t be darkening my doorstep. I hate to think he’s breaking his word so soon.”
Silas says, “C’mon, Flo. Let’s go.” The two move over to Silas’ sedan, whose trunk is now being held shut with a length of rope. They drive off.
Joey and Brianna spend a portion of the day trying to get a bead on who the Warden of the White Council for the area is. They discover that her name is Leilani Capstone and that she’s very busy. They also discover how to contact her.
They also check on Brian, who’s not doing too well—he’s jittery and his manager not sure if he’s still fight-ready. Brianna tells him that she’s heard that he may not have anyone collect from him. That the operation has moved on. Brian thinks that’s too good to be true. “We’ll see.”
December 23, 2012
It’s another fight night, this time around Brian’s up but he loses. He was looking pretty shaky out there. But he was out there, that’s the important thing. Joey was up and a winner.
Coming back home, Brianna’s driving, when all of a sudden the car goes out of control and flips. Luckily, nobody was hurt, but the car is totaled. She and Joey are helped out the car and discover that all for tires blew out at the same time. Brianna also notes that near one of the puncture marks is some rapidly melting ice—there was no ice on the road.
After speaking to the police, the two take a taxi back to their apartment, both speculating on whether or not this was the work of their enemies or some coincidental accident.