The Dresden Files: Portland

Side Job: Kristallnacht (Part One)

Karkana Chronicles: Twenty

June – July 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Cloak you?” Sidney asks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No, but it’s something.”

“I could try,” Sydney offers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Alright.”

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

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

July 27, 2013 (Saturday)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yeah.”

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

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

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

“We’re all different,” Loomis says.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 28, 2013 (1:00 am)

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

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

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

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

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

“Such as?” Ezekiel asks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Baroness.”

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

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

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

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

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

Loomis shakes his head.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“True,” Loomis says.

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

“I don’t see an alternative, either.”

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

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

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

“Yeah,” Loomis says.

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

“It’s not your fault.”

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

“Well, that’s something.”

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

“I appreciate that,” Loomis deadpans.

Brianna leans in quickly and kisses him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Tonight. She’s on her way.”

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

“That will be appreciated,” Ezekiel replies.

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

“I didn’t say that,” Ezekiel says.

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

“Sure,” Ezekiel says.

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

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

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