The Dresden Files: Portland

Side Job: Retribution

Karkana Chronicles Fourteen

May 6, 2013 (Monday)

Over the past week, Brianna has gotten word that her cousin Quincy has arrived in Colorado safely. She and Joey have secured a new apartment, one that hopefully Gould and others do not know about. Joey’s hand, thanks to Bill Mundy’s magic, has finally healed quite nicely. Still, she has been in a foul mood over the whole Borland debacle.

On this day, she and Joey go to Sibley’s for a light workout. With Joey’s freshly-healed hand, they don’t want to push it, but Brianna wants to get her boy back into the ring as soon as possible. After the workout, she gets a phone call. There’s a lot of static on the line, but she recognizes the voice.

“This is Ezekiel. I’m setting up a meeting. It’s important. You wanted to help?”

“Yes,” she says.

“I think I’m going to need it,” the Warden says. He gives an address—apparently a rural address, just outside of Seattle. He says there will be more information at the meeting. “Can you be there tonight?” he asks.

“Yes,” Brianna says. “There will be the two of us.”

“Alright,” Ezekiel says.

“See you tonight,” Brianna says and hangs up on the static-filled line.

She explains the situation to Joey, who quips “Just when I get my hand back.”

“It’s been a week. It’s been boring,” Brianna dead-pans.

The two pack their gear, including an illicit shotgun, pistol, and switchblade they’ve acquired on their adventures. Brianna packs her athletic gear and her “manager” outfit.

They then load up in the car and head to Seattle, going to the address that Ezekiel gave. They arrive at the address around 5 pm. The address is an old farmhouse. Out front is parked Ezekiel’s old pick-up, Loomis’ extended cab truck, Dexter Quinn’s tow-truck, a Harley Davidson motocycle, and an unfamiliar Toyota Camry.

Brianna and Joey get out of their car and leave their duffles behind. They go up to the porch and knock on the door. Ezekiel comes to the door and invites them inside. Brianna thanks him and they go into a spacious living room decorated in Native American art and family photographs. The dining room table is surrounded by people. Ezekiel makes introductions. There’s Loomis and Dexter Quinn, whom they’ve already met. A large biker with long mutton-chops is introduced as Terry. Another man with a mechanic’s shirt with a patch proclaiming him to be Mike is introduced as such. An African-American man dressed in a shirt and tie, looking like a middle-aged office worker is Roy. And a professionally-dressed Latina is introduced as Mara. Dexter indicates that Terry, Mike, Roy, and Mara are “pack”.

Brianna turns to Terry and says “I understand that you helped my cousin out. Thanks for that.”

“Yeah, we kicked a bit of ass that night,” is all Terry says about it.

Mara extends her hand to Brianna. “Its about time we have another female at these proceedings.” Brianna takes her hand.

More chairs are brought around the table for Brianna and Joey and Ezekiel takes his place at the head of the table.

“Essentially,” he says, “welcome to my war council. I’ve decided to take the battle to the Margrave’s doorstep. Literally.”

“You mean his place of business?” Brianna asks.

“No, I mean his home,” Ezekiel says.

“I think you may have gone off the deep end, hoss,” Terry says.

“It’s time,” Ezekiel insists.

“Good,” Brianna says. “I’m tired of the fucker sending assassins after me.”

“It’s a bold step,” Loomis says. “It’s putting all our eggs in one basket. I assume you have some intelligence?”

“The grounds have security lights. There are cameras. Security details cover the grounds.”

“Human?” Brianna asks.

“During the day,” Ezekiel says.

“Thralls? Or hired people?”

“Not sure. I’m assuming thralls.”

Brianna looks disgusted at the prospect.

“The mansion is on Mercer Island,” Ezekiel continues. “The gatehouse has three guards at all times. As for the inside, I haven’t seen it. No one has, outside the Red Court.”

“What about a threshold?” Brianna asks.

“Creatures such as he, no offense, don’t tend to have thresholds,” Ezekiel says. The pack shifts uncomfortably at Brianna’s question.

“I’ve gathered all of you to form a plan. If you want out, I understand,” Ezekiel says.

Roy looks around and says, “Everyone else seems eager enough to do it.”

Mara says, “We’ve been nipping at his heels long enough.”

Brianna says, “I owe him.”

“So. Plans,” Ezekiel says.

“I’m assuming we’re able to get aerial photographs from the internet?” Brianna asks.

“I can’t,” Ezekiel says.

“I can, if you have an address,” Loomis says.

“I do.”

“Then I can get an aerial view, and more.”

“During the day, or at night? He’s probably conducting business at night and won’t be home,” Brianna says.

“I was thinking of hitting during the day. I thought that would be safer for us,” Ezekiel says.

“Less cover for us in broad daylight,” Dexter points out.

“Is the house on acres of land or right next to the neighbors?” Brianna asks.

“Acres of land,” Ezekiel says.

“Dexter brings up a good point. Maybe night time is better,” Loomis says.

“A pack of wolves attacking people in the middle of the day is awfully conspicuous,” Dexter says.

“That’s another point,” Roy says, “I signed on to attack vamps. But thralls? I’m not as sure about.”

“Buck up, Roy,” Terry says, “Thralls minds are gone. They’re as good as dead.”

“They shouldn’t be hard to incapacitate. I assume someone could get them help,” Brianna says.

“It depends on how far gone they are. If we go at night, there will be more vampires,” Ezekiel says.

“Do we have any indication of how big a nest it is? Even his own get didn’t nest with him. She had her own place,” Brianna says.

“I don’t. I’ve not gotten that close. And I don’t have anything close enough to divine it, either. As Brianna says at night, the man himself may not be in, but we can bust in on his doorstep and spit in his eye,” Ezekiel says.

“If he’s not there, and we mess with his home, when we better have a plan-B. He’s a vindictive son of a bitch. He will not be happy,” Brianna says.

“What do you think, Brianna? Day or night?” Ezekiel asks.

“Do you have any way of masking our approach? I’m not as worried about a bunch of mind-rotted thralls seeing the wolves as much as security devices detecting our presence on the grounds.”

“I can hex a lot of the devices,” Ezekiel says.

“La Porte Triple opens at 6 pm. Sundown is at 7 pm,” Brianna observes. “Without seeing aerial footage, it doesn’t sound like the guards are visible to others”

“So you’re leaning towards day,” Ezekiel says.

“I want him to be there. However, late evening brings shadows and such. We can catch him before he leaves. Maybe dusk is a better time.”

“That gives us a very short window,” Loomis says. "Let’s get an aerial view. I can get that tonight. I think, though, Brianna is right. If we do this, let strike with decision. If the grounds are large, the wolves can run free. Daylight neutralizes the security spotlights.

“If Ezekiel can hex the security cameras that will be helpful,” Brianna says.

“I’ll go get that aerial view,” Loomis says.

“Everyone just want to wait here?” Ezekiel asks.

Everyone nods. Loomis starts to leave, then pauses slightly. “You want company?” Brianna asks.

“Sure,” Loomis says.

Brianna looks at Joey, who shrugs. “I’ll be back,” she says.

Loomis and Brianna load up in his truck and head in to the city. Loomis is quiet as he drives.

“What changed Ezekiel’s mind? Do you know? I wasn’t expecting to came back into Seattle this quickly,” Brianna says.

Loomis sighs. “Ezekiel’s getting tired. Fighting a lot. Then there was the body he found two nights ago. It was a college student. Just a kid, really. He said it reminded him of why he fights. People like us fight—we can handle ourselves. We can make choices. These kids, they can’t.”

“No, they can’t,” Brianna says with resolve. “There are some things kids shouldn’t have to deal with. Well, I’m glad he called.”

“I just hope we’re not in over our heads.”

“I never think I am,” Brianna says, “even when I am. You think he’s acting rashly?”

“I’ve just never seen him angry.”

“I understand anger.”

“I suppose so.”

“Does the rest of the pack know about me? I don’t hide my nature when we’re in battle,” Brianna says.

“Well, hopefully it’s okay, but Ezekiel laid out the basics beforehand.”

“Good. I don’t want to be worried about watching my back.”

“He made it clear that you were one of us.”

Brianna looks pleased at this. They pull up to the police station in Seattle where Loomis has his office and Loomis gets out. Brianna follows and they both head to Loomis’ office. Loomis sits down at his desk and starts pulling up the needed information.

“I wasn’t expecting to be back in a police station so soon, either,” Brianna comments.

“You said you were trouble,” Loomis murmurs as he works.

“I normally try to avoid police entanglements.” Brianna moves behind the desk and leans in close to Loomis, looking at his computer screen. He prints out an aerial view of the mansion in question and the surrounding community. He also gets a layout map of the first floor of the mansion that was submitted for city inspection purposes.

“Looks like ownership of the mansion is layered in several holding companies,” Loomis says.

“I doubt he’s put it in his own name. You could find these holding companies?”

“If we had the time, sure.”

Brianna touches Loomis’ shoulder briefly, then goes and fetches the printouts. The two head out and load back up in Loomis’ truck to return to Ezekiel’s farmhouse.

On the road back, Brianna says, “This doesn’t get you out of your promise to show me around Seattle.”

“Oh, you haven’t seen anything yet,” Loomis says.

“Just so you know.”

“Maybe this will make things a little less crazy,” Loomis says, hopeful.

“It would be nice to come here without people shooting at me. Makes it easier to enjoy myself.”

When they get back to the farmhouse, Loomis turns to Brianna and says, “I’m really glad you came.”

“So am I, actually. I’m glad to see you again.”

Loomis gets out of the truck and Brianna follows. They go into the farmhouse to find the others spread out in the living room. Once Loomis comes in and starts spreading the maps on the table in the dining room, everyone comes in to join him.

The mansion apparently sits on about five acres of property. The surrounding estates sit on similar lots. The are copses of trees, as well as open spaces, throughout the grounds. There are no hedgerows or other such topiary to use as cover. There is a stone fence, about eight feet high, with additional iron grillwork that adds another two feet in height. There is a servant’s house on the grounds as well as the mansion itself. Entry is through a main gate with a guard house.

“Do we think there’s some kind of basement he’s living in?” Brianna asks.

“I think we can assume so,” Ezekiel says.

“If all the human guards are thralls, we need to worry about the fine thralls? Or the ones that are more zombie like?” Brianna asks.

“Either can kill you just as dead,” Dexter observes.

“So, incapacitate the thralls, kill Red Court Vampires, find the Margrave, kill him too. That’s the plan?” Brianna says.

Ezekiel nods.

“Good. I like to be clear on such things.”

“Our approach?” Ezekiel asks. “Over the fence? Through the front gates?”

“A select few of us over the fence, take out the guards at the front gate, then let the rest in,” Brianna says.

“I suppose one of those few would be me,” Ezekiel says.

“I’ll go over,” Brianna says.

“I’ll go with you,” Joey says.

“Can you get your hands on that Kevlar again?” Brianna asks Loomis.

“Yeah. I have it in the truck.”

“That’s three going over the fence for the three gate guards,” Ezekiel says.

“You’ll also have to take care of the cameras,” Brianna says.

They set the last copse of trees from guard house to the house as the rendezvous point for everyone to meet. They then spend the next hour planning their attack on the house. They decide to go in through the motor court, secure the apartment over that motor court, then enter the mansion through the west foyer, securing each room as they make their way east through the house. They will pair up and stay roughly together as a group.

They will meet at 7:00 am the next morning at the ferry to take them across to Mercer Island. Loomis offers to let Brianna and Joey stay at his place. Everyone disperses and Brianna and Joey follow Loomis back to his house. At Loomis’, Joey takes the couch while Brianna takes the spare room.

May 7, 2013 (Tuesday)

Brianna wakes up to the smell of fresh coffee. She gets up and puts on her workout clothes. She goes into the kitchen to find Joey eating breakfast and Loomis making eggs. She politely declines the eggs, takes some coffee, and finishes getting ready.

“We came with our own guns,” Brianna brings up. “Is that going to be a problem? If so, we can take our own car.”

“I take it they’re not registered?” Loomis asks.

“Sometimes, with us, you should not ask questions if you don’t want to know the answer. Plausible deniability is a nice thing.”

Loomis looks bemused.

“You said it. I’m trouble,” Brianna tells him.

“Put them in,” Loomis says, directing them to his truck. Joey loads the guns and then they get in and head toward the ferry.

At the ferry, they easily meet up with the others in their party and head across the water to the island. Once they all get across, they drive as a convoy toward the mansion.

By this time, dawn has definitely arrived. The convoy holds up a few estates short of their destination. They all exit their vehicles and Joey gets strapped into his Kevlar vest. Brianna touches Loomis’ hand. “Good luck,” she says. “You as well,” he says.

Everyone finds Ezekiel, who is there in his Warden’s cloak with his staff in one hand and a sword strapped to his back.

With a nod from the Warden, Brianna, Joey, and Ezekiel approach the gate at an angle. As they get close, Ezekiel mutters a word and they all smell the whiff of ozone come from the direction of the gatehouse.

The three scale the fence and stalk quietly as they can toward the gatehouse. A guard comes out of the side door of the house and Brianna rushes him with her inhuman speed. She punches at him, but he manages to dodge. Joey runs to the far side of the guard house. Ezekiel conjures a bolt of focused air and knocks the guard to the ground. The guard gets up and draws his gun. Brianna punches him, holding back her full strength so as not to kill him.

Meanwhile Joey encounters an armed guard emerging on the other side of guardhouse and punches him.

Brianna’s guard fires his gun and misses. Joey’s guard fires his gun and misses. A guard from inside the guardhouse fires his gun at Joey and hits him in the Kevlar vest.

Brianna then takes down her guard. Joey hits his guard. Ezekiel brushes by Brianna and goes into the guardhouse.

Joey’s guard fires a gun at him and misses but the guard in the guardhouse fires and hits him in the Kevlar vest.

Brianna moves inside and hits the guard that’s been firing into Joey. Joey finally takes out his guard. Ezekiel floors the final guard with his staff.

Looking around, the monitors are smoking and the keyboards are sparking, as are the guard’s walkie-talkies. Brianna goes to the gate and opens it manually, sliding it open. The pack and Loomis start coming in and gather inside the gatehouse, shucking off their clothes. Soon five wolves and a bear emerge and start running toward the garage.

As the group starts running across the vast lawn of the estate, Brianna is grazed by a bullet. She shrugs off the wound but looks to see a security detail of six more guards poised and firing at them. The pack takes off at the detail. Brianna rushes one of the men and punches him. Brianna takes a shot from the security detail. The security detail continues to shoot at the pack. Loomis follows Brianna and takes a swipe at the man she punched but misses. Brianna weakly punches the guy, doing no damage. Loomis swipes at the guy, gashing him across the face, hard. The security guy shoots Loomis to no noticeable effect. Brianna, Loomis, and the security guy all miss each other. Then Loomis knocks the guy to the ground, unconscious.

Brianna moves to help the wolf pack. She moves in and punches another security guy, dropping him. With Loomis’ help, the pack manages to drop the rest of the security detail. They all start heading toward the garage. Brianna suddenly spots the glint of light from the upper apartment and the hears the “shunk” of a silenced gun as a shot misses Loomis.

“Gun in the upstairs apartment!” Brianna calls out. Everyone scatters. Brianna heads straight to the garage. She’s missed by another silenced shot. She makes it to the garage, heads upstairs and then breaks down the door. She sees a man with a high-powered rifle on a tripod facing her drawing a pistol. She punches him. The man shoots at her and misses. Brianna exchanges blows with the guy and the man manages to pistol-whip Brianna, knocking her dazed. Suddenly, Dexter Quinn is bounding into the room, knocking the man to the ground. Brianna finally manages to knock the man out.

Dexter yips and leads the way out the door. Brianna manages to shake off the dazed feeling and takes the high-powered rifle with the tripod. She heads downstairs to the garage where everyone is gathered. She unloads the rifle.

“Upstairs was a recon room, so if any footage was taken, that needs to get zapped before we leave,” Brianna announces.

Ezekiel heads upstairs and comes back, nodding. They group checks out the garage before heading into the house. The three-car garage contains a limousine with heavy-tinted windows. The two-car garage contains a Jaguar with heavy-tinted windows. The storage rooms contain oil, gasoline, and other automotive supplies.

Brianna is pacing, ready for the ensuing violence. “Ready?” she asks everyone. Everyone nods.

They start with the rear foyer of the house. Two wolves head south for the guest bedrooms while the rest of the group head north to the breakfast room/family room. They open every door along the way, checking for vampires or whatever else they can find. They can faintly hear moaning upstairs. “Anyone else hear that?” Dexter Quinn nods.

“Let’s concentrate on this floor,” Ezekiel says.

The group gets to the family room when they hear snarls coming from back down the hall where the wolves went to the guest bedrooms. Dexter goes to check it out. Dexter and only one wolf come back; the one covered in black blood. “What about the other?” Brianna asks. Dexter shakes his shaggy head. “Was it Red Court?” Brianna asks. Dexter nods.

The family room and breakfast room are well-apportioned, but empty of people. Connected to the family room is a spacious kitchen. Inside is a woman in an old-fashioned maid’s uniform. She sees the entourage and screams. Brianna rushes her and punches her. She drops like a sack.

From the kitchen, they go into a dining room. Laid out on the table, cruciform-style, is a nude body. The person suffered multiple wounds, bites and cuts covering it from head to toe. Blood is everywhere. Another body lies discarded, crumpled in the corner.

In the grand foyer, Brianna opens all the doors and windows. She does the same in the rear foyer. They find a great room full of old paintings, probably originals, all very valuable. In the conservatory they find another body sprawled on the grand piano, puncture wounds all over it.

From the conservatory, they can hear moaning coming from the next room. They approach it with caution. It’s a ballroom. Inside they see eight Red Court Vampires in their bestial forms, not even bothering with their beautiful flesh masks. They are feeding on moaning victims sprawled all over the floor in ecstasy. The vampires’ long tongues caress their victims as they drain the blood from open wounds on their arms and legs.

Brianna rushes into the room yelling, “Die motherfucking vampires! Joey, shoot out the windows and open that damn door!”

She, in turn, changes and her eyes go milky-white and her visage takes on a sharper tone as she calls upon her own vampiric heritage and attacks one of the Red Court creatures.

Dexter Quinn bounds into the room and bloodies one of the Red Court vampires as well. His pack follows close behind. Joey shoots at a window with the shotgun and misses. Loomis bounds in and misses one of the Red Court vamps. Ezekiel places his staff on the floor and utters a word. All of the glass in the room, including the windows, shatters. The vampires begin to burn and shriek as the sunlight strikes them.

Brianna takes out her vampire by feeding on its rage in a grapple. Dexter Quinn continues to attack his prey, as does the pack. Joey opens the curtains and doors in the room. Loomis manages to break his opponent’s nose. Ezekiel draws his sword and begins to attack.

Dexter continues to bloody his opponent while Brianna seeks out a new vampire to slay. The pack continues to attack while the vampires return with their own attacks. Joey opens everything up, shedding much light on the subject. Loomis continues to attack his vamp while Ezekiel continues to slice with his Warden’s sword.

Dexter takes his vamp out while Brianna takes another out by feeding. The pack continues to fight, as do the vampires. Joey gives one of the vampires a belly wound with the shotgun. Loomis manages to give his opponent a black eye. Ezekiel continues to slash at his opponent.

Dexter manages to kill another Red Court vamp while Brianna grapples Loomis’ opponent to the ground and takes it out, feeding upon it. The pack manages to take out their opponents. Ezekiel’s opponent misses him. Joey fires on Ezekiel’s opponent, but misses. Loomis goes for Ezekiel’s opponent but misses. Ezekiel finally manages to finish him off with his Warden sword.

Examining the victims, they all seem to be in a drugged, narcotic state; probably will be for hours, maybe even days.

Brianna says, “There may be another nest of these upstairs. Are we ready?” Everyone nods grimly. They continue to explore the ground floor.

They find a stately library, filled with first editions and other treasures. It is attached to a comfortable den. Joey and Loomis find a secret door panel in the den behind a bookcase. Behind the panel, is a staircase going down.

“Do we go up or down?” Brianna asks.

“I think we know who we’re here for,” Ezekiel says. He utters a word and his staff begins to glow.

Brianna heads down the stairs, followed by Ezekiel, then Joey, then Loomis, then Dexter, then the pack. As they head down, Brianna finds a light switch, which she turns on. The staircase leads into a large media room. Rows of tapes, discs, and the like line the walls. A large media system, with a screen and speakers line the far wall. Seats take up the main area. There is one door continuing on from the room and two doors to the side, to the left and to the right.

The door to the left reveals a mid-sized mechanical room. The right-hand room is a storage room, containing row upon row of discs and tapes of various types. The door straight ahead opens to reveal a hallway which ends at a set of double-doors and a door to the right.

At the door to the right, they discover that it is locked. Brianna goes to break it down and she meets a mystical resistance—it is warded.

“Can you do something about that?” she asks Ezekiel.

“It will take time,” he says.

“Let’s move forward.” she says.

The double-doors open into a large square room. At the far end of the room is another set of double-doors. There are chains on the walls of this room, otherwise it is bare of decoration.

“Can you see any wards before I run into them?” Brianna asks Ezekiel.

“If I open up the Sight,” the Warden says.

Brianna frowns, distrustful of the Sight. They enter the room.

As they make their way across the room, they can now see that in the far corner is a man in rags and a long, scraggly beard. He rises from a pallet on the floor and cries “You’re not supposed to be here!”

He makes a motion with his hand and a whirlwind of air whips across the room. The wind manages to blow dust into everyone’s eyes, but not much more. Dexter Quinn bounds forward but misses the wily man. Brianna punches at the man, but manages not to hurt him. But the pack takes him down and Joey runs forward and kicks him in the head, knocking him out.

The double-doors open out into a room. Ezekiel stops short. “There’s a ward—and hidden cameras,” he says. Ezekiel hexes the cameras—and everyone’s cellphones go out as well. The pack and Loomis begin growling at something beyond the double doors in the darkness.

Ezekiel draws a circle in the floor with chalk, sits down within it, and begins to chant something in his native tongue. Brianna sees a shimmering in the doorway and feels a shifting of energies. Ezekiel then stands, breaks his circle. “The ward is gone,” he says.

Suddenly, five Red Court vamps come bounding out of the darkness.

Brianna engages with the first of the vampires. She sweeps its leg, knocking it off-balance. Dexter Quinn misses his prey, as do the pack. Joey fires his shotgun and misses. Brianna’s vampire gashes her face, which she shrugs off. Loomis engages one which hits him hard and the one that the pack engaged manages to them. Ezekiel draws his sword and strikes out at one.

Dexter Quinn misses his while Brianna feeds on hers, making it crazed with rage. The pack gives their vampire a gash. Joey fires at Loomis’ vampire and misses. Loomis misses his opponent. The Red Court vampire fighting the pack manages to give Mara a belly wound. Ezekiel misses his prey.

Dexter misses his opponent. Brianna kills hers, while the pack brings their down as well. Joey misses again. Loomis breaks his opponent’s jaw. Ezekiel misses his with his sword.

Dexter once again misses his opponent. Brianna grapples and feeds on Loomis’ opponent while the pack breaks away to help Dexter. Dexter’s opponent gives him a severe belly wound and Ezekiel’s gives him a bloody gash. Joey misses again with the shotgun while Loomis crushes his opponent’s skull. Ezekiel manages to slash his opponent soundly with his Warden sword.

Dexter, as usual, misses his opponent, while Brianna sweeps the leg on Ezekiel’s, knocking him off-balance. The pack gives Dexter’s opponent a bloody gash. The vampires each miss, as does Joey, while Loomis goes to help Ezekiel. Ezekiel manages to hit the vampire again with his sword.

Dexter finally belly wounds the vampire while Brianna causes Ezekiel’s opponent to go into a berserk rage. She feeds on him and holds him down. The pack manages to drop the Red Court vamp on Dexter while the vamp on Ezekiel can’t break Brianna’s hold on him. Joey comes up and kicks that vampire in head, finishing him off.

Brianna looks around, taking stock of her allies. Ezekiel has a bloody gash. Dexter has a bloody gash and nasty belly wound, as does one of the wolves in the pack.

“Do we go on?” she asks Ezekiel.

“I think it’s too late to turn back now.”

She turns and faces the darkness of the double door. “Velasquez, you cowardly Spaniard. Sending out your henchmen, are you? I was there when Alyssa died, you bastard. What happened to ‘if you touch my get I’ll have your entrails strewn all over Pioneer Square?’”

A voice floats from the darkness, a cultured voice with a slight Spanish accent. “I must commend you, Warden. You found a strong champion. I have seen her fight before.”

“She tasted delicious!” Brianna calls out.

“You will be quiet!” the voice, Velasquez, demands, angry.

Brianna laughs.

“Warden, are you sure you want to do this?” Velasquez asks.

“In the name of the White Council, this ends today,” Ezekiel says.

“So be it, mortal.”

The pack starts growling. Slow, deliberate footsteps echo from beyond the darkness. Velasquez emerges into the light. He seems to take in the force arrayed before him and smiles. “I’m flattered.”

“I wonder if you’re going to taste as good as your get did?”

In an instant, Velasquez sheds his flesh mask. Before them is a bigger, more primal-looking version of the Red Court vampires they’ve been fighting. In a guttural voice, the thing says, “Your dog should keep a civil tongue, wizard.”

Dexter Quinn springs into action, attacking Velasquez. Brianna moves in, sweeping the leg to knock him off-balance. The pack attacks as well. Joey fires with the shotgun and misses. Loomis attacks and hits. Ezekiel strikes with a focused gout of steam from his outstretched hand—to little effect. Velasquez attacks Brianna with a gash.

Dexter misses the vampire. Brianna grapples the vampire to the ground and begins to feed, making it crazed with rage. The pack moves in and begins to slash at the vampire. Joey runs up and kicks the vampire’s head in, killing it.

With its last breath, Velasquez looks at Brianna and says “Hay mas a venir…”

“Does that mean anything to anyone?” Brianna asks. One of the pack nods.

“Are we done here? Do we want to clean out the upstairs? We’re pretty beat up…” Brianna says.

“I think we’re done here for the day,” Ezekiel says. “We’ve got some pretty injured folks.”

“And we have one body we need to retrieve,” Brianna says, looking at Dexter.

Brianna leads the way back the way they came, back into the media room, the den, back through the ballroom, and the dining room, finally to the rear foyer and the guest rooms. There they see an eaten up Red Court body and the nude body of Roy. Brianna picks him up to carry him. They then make their way out of the house and back to the guard house. There the shape-shifters turn back to their human forms and get dressed.

Once shifted, Mike takes Roy’s body from Brianna. “I’m sorry he didn’t make it,” Brianna says.

“I don’t know what we’re going to tell his family,” Dexter says.

“Did they not know he did dangerous things?”

“They didn’t want to know.”

“What did the Margrave say as he was dying?” Brianna asks the group.

“‘There is more to come’,” Mara says.

Brianna gives an exasperated sigh at this. She turns to Loomis, smiling wryly, “Ruined wardrobe. Covered in blood.”

“Another weekend in Seattle,” he says, nodding.

May 7, 2013, 2:00 pm (Ezekiel’s home)

Joey, Ezekiel, Terry, and Mike volunteer to go get cars. Mara, Loomis, Brianna, and Dexter all stay behind. The others finally come back with the vehicles. Everyone loads up and heads to Ezekiel’s—except for Mara and Dexter who head off for medical attention from someone they know.

At Ezekiel’s, he lays down old sheets on the furniture and lets everyone sit down to rest. He gets everyone beers and water.

“I want to thank everyone for what you did today,” he says.

“It was a pleasure,” Brianna tells him.

“There may be repercussions.”

“He said as much,” Brianna shrugs.

“There always are, hoss,” Terry says.

“It had to be done. He was spreading through the city like a cancer. And I take it personally when people try to kill me,” Brianna says.

“You all can rest here as long as you like,” Ezekiel says.

“Thank you for your hospitality,” Brianna says.

“We’ve won a major battle in a war. But, strangely enough, I don’t feel like celebrating,” Ezekiel says.

Everybody nods.

“Feels more like stiff drinking,” Brianna comments.

Terry is the first to go, says he’s got things to do. “You’re a scary one,” he says to Brianna. “I don’t want to get on your bad side.”

“You sweet talker,” Brianna replies.

Mike leaves to check on Dexter.

Brianna says to Loomis, “Joey and I are going to have to clean up before we drive back to Portland. What are you planning to do?”

“We can head back to the house. I don’t think there’s anything else to be done here.”

Ezekiel shakes each of their hands. “This battle cost us much.”

Brianna says, “It did. But I still think it was an important one. Even outside of my personal vengeance. It was horrific to walk through that house. I’m glad he’s dead.”

They all load up in Loomis’ truck and head out to his house. As he’s driving, Loomis asks, “There was something the Margrave said. What did Velasquez mean by he’s seen you fight before?”

Brianna stills momentarily, then turns and looks at Loomis. “I was somebody’s proxy for a bit of family business.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Well, some of it is White Court business, but it would be safe to say that the Margrave made a grave insult to someone else and the insult was settled in a fairly old fashioned way. Each side had a proxy to do their fighting for them.”

“And you were this proxy.”

“Yes.”

“So you’d encountered Velasquez before?”

“Um-hum. There was a reason Alyssa didn’t like me very much and targeted my cousin.”

“Hmm.”

Brianna continues to look at Loomis. “Anything else? I’ll tell you if I can.”

“No, just puzzle pieces.”

4:00 pm (Loomis’ House)

Everyone is taking turns cleaning up. While Joey’s in the shower, Brianna asks Loomis, “Did you have plans for tonight?”

“No.”

“I’m trying to figure out if we should head out tonight or if we should head out in the morning.”

“You’re welcome to stay.”

“Do you have a place you’d recommend for dinner?”

“I’m sure I can find a place you’d like.”

Once Joey comes out and is ready, Brianna lets him know that they’re going to stay there for the night and head out in the morning. He says it’s fine with him if it’s fine with her.

Loomis finds a place for dinner and they all go out. Brianna finds reasons to touch him on the arm and hand during the course of conversation and Loomis seems to do the same. Joey seems to keep leaving the table, though Brianna can’t seem to figure out why.

After dinner, they head back home. “I need to walk around the block a bit,” Brianna says, and invites Loomis to join her. He says okay. The two take a walk around the neighborhood.

“Well, there’s something I wanted to talk to you about. Just wanted you to know,” Brianna says.

“Alright.”

“Since the last time we saw each other, I had casually been seeing someone from work. More hanging out than anything, I suppose. He wanted to go one way. I didn’t think it was going to work, so I told him I wanted to be friends. Found out he was hired by someone I don’t like very much to get close to me, so I guess it worked out for the best.”

Loomis raises his eyebrows at this.

“Portland is exciting as well,” Brianna says drolly. “Anyway, makes a girl somewhat skittish, I suppose.”

She stops walking and faces him.

“I’ve not really done anything like this. Seeing people. Since I was a kid. Since things changed. And I’m not the best at reading people so all I can do is be really blunt. I’m interested in getting to know you better. But if this is something where you’re wanting to be just friends, I need to know that now.”

Loomis looks at her and says, “If we’re being blunt, I’m interested in getting to know you better, too. And I’m too attracted to you to be friendly.”

“Then we’ll just see how things go.”

“Okay.”

Brianna takes his hand and finishes the walk around the block.

May 8, 2013

“Thanks for letting us stay,” Brianna says as she and Joey get ready to leave.

“Anytime,” Loomis says.

“Call me.”

“Count on it.”

Brianna reaches up and touches his cheek. Then she and Joey get in the car and drive back to Portland.

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