The Dresden Files: Portland

Side Job: Signs and Portents (Part One)

Karkana Chronicles Nine

March 5, 2013 (Tuesday)

After arriving back in Portland from their encounters in Seattle, Brianna Karkana calls Mel Landry to let them know that she and Joey Aragon are back in town, but that they will be returning to Seattle in about three weeks. She tells him not to book a fight for Joey on the 24th. Mel grudgingly obliges.

Before heading home, Brianna hits her contacts in the supernatural community to see if there are any shockwaves from their encounters in Seattle. Apparently there has been some escalating Red Court activity there, with worries of a spillover into Portland. And a bounty has been placed on the Warden’s head in Seattle by the Margrave.

March 7, 2013 (Thursday)

After Brianna’s and Joey’s workout at Sibley’s Gym, see notices a street preacher preaching on the corner nearby, pontificating on the verse Proverbs 27:8 “Like a bird who wanders from her nest, so is a man who wanders from his home.” Unnervingly, the man makes eye contact with Brianna as he preaches.

March 9, 2013 (Saturday)

Saturday night is fight night for Joey, who is off his game and loses the fight. The good news is that he’s worked his way up into a class where his opponents are more of a challenge.

March 11, 2013 (Monday)

Brianna discovers that she has been locked out of her ATM account. She goes to the bank where she told by a very apologetic bank representative that the account that account has been locked due to its being investigated by law enforcement for “fraudulent activities.” They are sorry, but there is nothing they can do until the matter is cleared up by the U. S. Treasury department. There is a contact left, an Agent Glen Roccelli with Treasury.

An angry Brianna leaves the bank. Fortunately, Joey’s account is fine, so they have money to live on. They go home and get the burner phone they got from a previous encounter and go out to a park and call Brianna’s accountant, Stan Lyman.

According to Stan, the sting started this morning and started from high up. They’re working really fast. He advises Brianna to stay out of trouble and he’s going to do the same. If they found her, they could find him. He’s obviously in a hurry to get off the phone with Brianna and hangs up.

Brianna then uses the burner phone to call Mel.

“Mel, it’s Brianna.”

“Are you cancelling again?”

“Someone has tipped my name off to the feds.”

“Are we talking RICO?”

“Roccelli? You know this asshole?”

“Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.”

“Oh. I don’t know exactly, but they’ve frozen my accounts, so chances are good,” Brianna says.

“Then you stay the hell away from this you’ve go the plague.”

“Why do think I’m calling you? Professional courtesy.”

“I appreciate that. But you don’t know me.” And Mel hangs up.

“Fuck!” Brianna says. “That might’ve just been the end of our career here in Portland. This will impact us going to the gym, because there’s probably things going on there that they don’t want us to know about as well.”

They then go to the public library to use their computers to look up information on Agent Roccelli. No luck there. Brianna then calls Agent Roccelli on her own phone.

“Agent Roccelli, I guess you’re the person I’m supposed to talk to. The bank gave me your name. This is Brianna Karkana.”

“Ah yes, Ms. Karkana. Are you aware of any fraudulent activities associated with your accounts?”

“No.”

“Well, we have information from reliable sources that allege otherwise. So we are currently conducting an investigation.”

“Was someone planning on calling me and telling me I was falsely accused of this and my accounts were locked or were you just hoping I’d find out?” Brianna asks, her anger barely contained.

“I apologize for the lack of communication, but the investigation is running quickly.”

“What exactly does that mean? Does that mean I’m going to have a resolution at some point?”

“Yes.”

“Good. At what point do I get to hear the accusations made against me?”

“As I said, there are allegations of fraud associated with the account. Do you know a Stan Lyman?”

“Who?”

“Stan Lyman. He’s an accountant. Operates in St. Louis.”

“Name’s not ringing a bell.”

“Mr. Lyman may have accessed your accounts.”

“I don’t really want anyone in my accounts. Is your office local? Are you in Portland?”

“Yes,” Agent Roccelli says.

“My only hope is that my money is where I left it,” Brianna says.

“At this point, I can assure you that it is.” Roccelli says.

“Thank you. Do I call you directly for updates to see how this is going?”

“You may.”

“Wonderful. How long do these things take before they get cleared up?”

“It varies,” Roccelli says, “It largely depends on how intractable the person perpetrating the fraud can be. Anywhere from a couple of days to weeks. Sometimes the guilty party even returns wheat they took. That can make things go a bit smoother and resolve the situation more quickly.”

“Well, I appreciate your help.”

“Feel free to call me if there’s any information you may have.”

“I will.” And Brianna hangs up.

She relates the conversation to Joey. Then they go home and clear the history on both their phones.

That night, they find a rough underground thrash rave. Joey stays on the periphery while Brianna participates in the rave. She manages to feed and start a fight in the middle of the rave and not get hit. She collects Joey and goes back home.

March 12, 2013 (Tuesday)

The two manage to get a workout in a fitness gym.

March 13, 2013 (Wednesday)

Brianna and Joey go back to the fitness gym to get a workout in. When they come out, they see the street preacher they saw at Sibley’s a few days ago preaching on Psalms 44:5, “Through You, we will push back our adversaries; through your name we will trample down those that rise against us.” Once again, he makes unwavering eye contact with Brianna.

Brianna goes into a nearby shop and buys a bottle of water and then sits nearby to listen to the sermon. Throughout the sermon, the preacher watches Brianna, who watches him in turn. When he finally wraps up, she offers him the bottle of water.

“Bless you,” he says as he takes the proffered bottle.

“Someone on high must think I need preaching to. I’ve seen you twice in the past week,” Brianna says.

“To be honest,” the preacher says, “I’ve was hoping to talk to you.”

“I’m not really looking for saving.”

“No, but there’s someone else who needs it.”

“Is this a conversation for the middle of the street?”

“Probably not.”

She, the preacher, and Joey head into a nearby café and find a private booth. The preacher is clean but has the scent of crazy on him.

“I’ve been looking for you, or one of you,” he says to Brianna. Then he whispers “I know what you are.”

“I’m confused,” Brianna says. “What exactly do you need from me?”

“My son, Aiden, when he was born, we lost his mother. I raised him alone, but on the path of righteousness. But now, he has run off and joined a cult. I want to get him back from the clutches of that vile demon that has him But I may need your power to do it. You can fill me with God’s fiery wrath so that I might smite that demon.”

“God has nothing to do with this,” Brianna says. “How old is your son?”

“Seventeen.”

“Do you know where he is?”

“Yes. The cult has a compound about 30 miles outside of Seattle. I’ve been there. Tried to persuade Aiden to leave. But that demon has his claws in him.”

“And this demon’s name is what?”

“Keegan Doyle.”

“What makes you think its a cult and not some type of hippie commune?”

“Is there a difference? Besides, I saw my boy’s eyes and they were scared.”

“But he wouldn’t go with you?”

“No.”

“Are there other kids up there?”

“Yes.”

“And you think Keegan Doyle is a demon? Or are you just calling him that because you don’t like him?”

“He speaks with the tongue of Satan.”

Brianna thinks on what she knows of demons. That they usually have to be summoned from the Nevernever and that they are different from the Fallen.

“Did this Keegan Doyle try to stop you from taking your son?” Brianna asks.

“He tried to scare me off.”

“What does that mean?”

“He threatened my soul.”

“Are you really a preacher Don’t you have ways to protect yourself?

“The Lord Almighty will protect me. Make no mistake, Keegan Doyle is evil. So I looked into all manner of tomes and talked to all kinds of people and learned of the legendary Karkana.”

“And what pointed you in my direction?”

“The Lord.”

Brianna sighs. “Like I said, I don’t know what you think I can do, but I don’t instill God’s holy wrath into anyone. However, the idea of someone collecting kids like this doesn’t sit well with me, so I’m willing to check it out. I assume you haven’t called the police. Your son is not an adult yet and has ran away from home.”

The preacher looks uneasy. “The police and I don’t often get along.”

“In any capacity I need to know about before we start working together?” Brianna asks.

“They are worldly tools. This is holy justice,” the preacher says.

“Do you know how your son got involved with Keegan Doyle? Is there something about your son that would make him attractive to this creature’s eyes?”

“Only that he walks the path of the righteous—before now. So you’ll help me?”

“I’ll help you get your son back. Let’s see what goes from there.”

“God bless you,” the preacher says, with obvious relief. He takes Brianna’s hand and shakes it. " I’m Broderick Cartland "

“Brianna Karkana.”

Joey introduces himself as well.

“Shall we go out there and see if your son would like to come home willingly?” Brianna asks.

“Doyle won’t let me see him no more.”

“He won’t let you on the property?”

“No.”

“I guess you need to describe this place where they are,” Brianna says.

Cartland describes the compound in rural Washington that is fenced with a eight-foot concrete fence, gated, with a central church, two sets of barracks, a large central building, several smaller buildings, and that sets about 5 miles off of a main road.

“About how many people are on the property?” Brianna asks.

“About 50.”

“All kids?”

“Mostly.”

“I need to see a pictures of Aiden.”

Cartland produces one from his wallet.

Young_man_with_dimples.jpg

“Before we go on a road trip of any sort, we need to pick up a few things. Is there anywhere we can pick you up?” Brianna asks.

“At the Mission House,” Cartland says. He gives her a card for the Pentecostal Mission House with a downtown address on it.

“Okay, we’ll see you soon then,” Brianna says.

With that, Brianna and Joey head to their car and to their apartment.

Brianna tells Joey, “I can’t tell how much of him is crazy and how much is straight shooting.”

“You really want to get involved?” Joey asks.

“Well, here’s the weird thing—even though we’re completely not around where we were, he still found us. I don’t know if that’s just really good word on the street. We haven’t noticed anyone tailing us. But there’s enough weirdness in this town that I can’t completely distrust what he says off-handedly.”

“And that makes it our problem?”

“If it’s true, I don’t like the idea of a demon preying on kids. That doesn’t set well with me. If he’s just crazy, then maybe we’ll take this kid who doesn’t want to be anymore with crazy dad and considering how quickly I got away from home, I can at least understand that feeling.”

“Well, I guess I don’t have anything on my calendar right now.”

Brianna laughs bitterly. “I suppose I don’t either. If this is a true demon, this could be interesting. Cartland has clearly gotten some info about the supernatural. Karkana isn’t something that is common. Even in my Court, we’re fairly rare. I guess we’ll see.”

The two head home and pack an overnight bag, including an all-black outfit for stealth, a small flashlight, and small pack. Brianna also gets online and looks up the Pentecostal Mission House. They have a basic website, circa 1990s. The mission is apparently open 24 hours, 7 days a week and is available for the worship needs of the indigent population of Portland’s downtown. It is open for “all who would seek the Lord.” It is a non-denominational, Pentecostal ministry. Broderick Cartland is the main pastor.

Brianna and Joey head to the Mission House, finding it in a not-great neighborhood. They park the car and head inside. There they see a few homeless folks watching Broderick pray over a woman, speaking in tongues. The woman is crying in joy at being saved. Then Broderick calls for any others who want to come forward and be saved. No takers. He then says one last prayer and wraps up, giving a Kleenex to the woman and helping her to a chair. Then he goes into a backroom and comes out with a bag and a jacket.

“I suppose you’re ready to go,” Cartland as he approaches.

“Are you going to leave the building unlocked?” Brianna asks.

“It’s open 24 hours a day. There are other pastors,” he says.

The three head our with Joey driving, Brianna in the front, and Cartland in the back. Once the car gets out of the city, Cartland asks “Have either of you accepted Jesus as your savior?”

“No,” Brianna says firmly.

“Me and the Lord have an understanding,” Joey drawls.

“Really?” Cartland says, intrigued.

“Yeah, we leave other the hell alone,” Joey says.

“But you are filled with a gift from the All Mighty?” he says to Brianna.

“What I have is not a gift from God,” Brianna says.

“All things flow from His divine hand,” Cartland says serenely.

“Pardon me for saying so, then he’s got a really twisted sense of humor,” Brianna says.

“Well, I’ll pray for both of you.”

For the rest of the trip, the preacher hums hymns to himself from the back seat.

“Do you know how Aiden got in touch with this man?” Brianna asks. “Do you know enough about how that relationship formed to make him run away?”

“No,” Cartland says, “He just up and left and I tracked him down. It’s hard raising a boy on your own and running a ministry. You don’t see everything.”

Eventually, they arrive at the turn off the main road. Here they pull over and discuss their plan. They can’t go through the main gate—Cartland reveals that the boys they station at the main gate have rifles. They decide to make the turn, pull the car off the road, into the trees, and wait for dark.

March 13, 2013 (Night)

“I want to get up close, scout around see what I can see,” Brianna says. Joey will go with her up to a point. Both change into their all-dark clothing.

Cartland makes to go with them. “How stealthy are you?” Brianna asks.

“Not as good as I used to be, but if you’re going to assail the Walls of Jericho, I need to be there to be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

“I’m just gong to take a look around…”

“And then you’re coming back?”

Brianna nods.

Cartland sighs. “Then I’ll wait.”

As Cartland waits with the car, Brianna and Joey creep through the woods toward the compound. Brianna whispers to Joey, “This idea of me filling him with the Holy Spirit creeps me out. I don’t know what he thinks I am, but it is not a vessel of God.”

As they approach the compound, they see 8’ tall concrete walls and a wide metal gate. There are lights lit by the gate area. They do not see any security cameras in the area. Joey says he can see people, one or two, at the gate area.

Joey maintains his position, watching the gate, while Brianna makes her way closer, walking around the perimeter of the fence. Suddenly, bright light sweeps down and around her position. She hides from the light and manages to avoid it. She eventually makes her way to the opposite side of the gate from Joey’s position. She can hear the voices of young men talking—they don’t sound excited or on guard. She sneaks back around the perimeter back to Joey and describes what she saw and heard. Joey tells her that she saw the guards at the fence signal with a flashlight shortly before the sweeping light made its round.

“Possible demon or not, this is an odd encampment. Compound is the right word.” Brianna hands Joey the car keys and turns her phones to silent and heads to the side of the compound. She then hefts herself over the side of the fence as stealthily as she can.

When she gets to the other side, she can see a barracks, the two armed guards on the other side of the gate, and a church with a belfry containing a large reflective light. There are also lights on inside church and she can hear singing going on inside. She stealthily makes her way to the side of the church and can more clearly hear them singing a hymn inside—“The Old Rugged Cross.” She peeks into a window and can see about fifty people inside, mostly young people singing inside, being led by a young man. She also sees an older man at the rear of the congregation, watching, but not singing along.

Brianna sees Aiden at the front of the congregation with other younger members. It appears that most of the congregation ranges anywhere from 17 to 25 and the majority of them are women.

Brianna watches as they finish their song. Then the man leading the congregation speaks. He gives a very fire-and-brimstone sermon about the end of the world and how he lead the promised ones through The Ceremony. At the mention of this Ceremony, Brianna can see a ripple of fear go through the congregation—except for the older man at the rear. Then the man calls for volunteers to go through this Ceremony. A few raise their hands—not Aiden. These come forward and then the man chooses one from among them. He announces that Dixie will be going through the Ceremony. A hush falls over the crowd—which seems to anger the man. He harshly calls for the crowd to clap for her, which they do—except for the man at the rear. The man leading the congregation then admonishes the crowd to pray that they can face the Ceremony like Dixie and then dismisses the congregation. He leads Dixie to the rear of the building as the congregation begins to file out of the church.

Brianna starts to turn back and head to the rear of the church when light starts to sweep again. She hides from the light and gets to the rear of the church. She sees a door at the rear of the church and checks it—it’s locked. She then heads to the other side of the church. She stops here, no longer hearing people moving.

The lights go out in the church and the back door opens. Two sets of footsteps and murmured prayers in a female voice follow and then the jingle of keys and another door opens and shuts at the large building behind the church.

Brianna goes to stealthily make her way toward the other building. Then she finds herself bathed in bright light. She sucks up to the church and church bells start to ring. Brianna runs to the wall and tries to scale it stealthily. She fails, tries again, and then makes it.

Once she gets over the wall and into the woods, she texts Joey: BEEN SPOTTED. GET BACK TO CAR. Then she tries to make her way back to where she and Joey separated. She is once again bathed in light. A gunshot rings out, but misses. Brianna manages to get out of the light and runs to the car. Joey and Cartland are already there and Joey has the car started. Joey pulls away.

“We heard gunshots!” he yells as he pulls away.

“They shot at me!” Brianna says.

They drive until they find a 7-11. Brianna tells what she saw and heard. “And then they spotted me.”

“He’s definitely crazy,” Brianna says.

“He’s a demon,” Cartland says.

“They’re definitely afraid of something he’s doing,” Brianna says. “Do you know who the older gentleman is?”

“No,” Cartland says.

“The young man is Keegan?”

“Yes.”

“Unfortunately, I don’t think we should go in again tonight, they’re too riled up. But we can try it,” Brianna says. She gets out of the car to pace and think. She then gets back in the car.

“Does anyone else think its weird that most of the congregation were women? How exactly were you planning on getting rid of the demon?” Brianna asks Cartland.

“I would be filled with the Holy Spirit and then smite it.”

“With what?”

Cartland hold up his hands.

“You were going to get rid of a demon by punching it?”

“These hands, through the Lord, will work might works. ‘Through You we will push back our adversaries; through your name we will trample down those that rise against us.’”

“How do you think you’re going to get to him?”

“Call him out.”

“What makes you think he’ll come if you call him out?”

“He’ll look weak before the congregation otherwise.”

Brianna says, “Seems like a plan fraught with peril. Well, I guess they’re all up.”

Joey asks, “So what’s the plan?”

“Well, if our preacher here thinks he can solve this problem by taking a swing at this asshole, then maybe its a bit simpler than we think it is,” Brianna says.

“That’s not a plan,” Joey says.

“No, not yet,” Brianna agrees. “A lot of it depends on how negotiations at that gate go down. They have to let us in. I don’t see the three of us scaling that wall and stealthing around—well, I shouldn’t speak for you, gentlemen. It’s going to take a fair amount of bluffing and pushing our way in there. There are two ways in there: one, climbing over the fence, and two, going through the front door. As I don’t intend to kill kids to get in there, I don’t know how to subdue the guards at the gate to let us in unimpeded.”

The three debate various plans to get in.

Cartland says that a frontal assault may not be necessary if they get the boys to summon their leader.

Brianna says, “Possible. I’m pretty good at getting people to do what I want them to do. You’re fairly confident that you can do this one-on-one combat?”

“So long as I can lay hands on him and I filled with the righteous fury of God.”

“What did your book tell you about the Karkana?”

“That they are vessels of fury.”

“I suppose that would be fucking right. I don’t understand how me making you angry is helpful.”

“The fury of God carries power.”

“I have seen people filled with fury and they are hardly ever godlike at that moment.”

Cartland is not to be deterred. “Then they were not worthy to carry it. I have prayed on this many days. Preparing openly. I am a worthy vessel.”

“I can only make you angry as long as I’m touching you,” Brianna says.

“The laying of hands?”

“For lack of a better explanation, I suppose so.”

“Then you must walk with me.”

“I guess you’re going to have to smite in one blow or thing are going to get real awkward, real fast. We can see if they’ll let us in the front gate. If they’ll call out their leader. I’ll walk with you to face him.”

They then drive back to the compound—all the way back up the gate, and flash the guards with the high beams. Cartland, Joey, and Brianna all get out of the car. Brianna walks up to the guards. They are two young men with rifles. “Here to see Doyle,” she says. “Go get him.” One of the boys points a rifle at her while the one moves into the compound. “If you shoot me, you’ll fucking regret it,” she tells the boy with the gun. “You point that gun elsewhere.” The boy points the gun up in the air, but still looks wary.

The young man that lead the congregation earlier in the evening arrives with the other armed guard.

“I’m Doyle. Who’re you?”

Brianna notices that Joey is uncharacteristically shuffling in the background and that Cartland has drawn in on himself.

“I-I’m here about my boy,” Cartland manages to stutter out.

“Aiden wants to be here,” Doyle says, perfectly calm.

“I sincerely doubt that,” Brianna says, belligerent.

Doyle turns to her. “You are?”

“None of your damn business.”

“Funny. I didn’t wake you from your home to harass you.”

“Cartland, you had something to say this gentleman?” Brianna prompts.

Cartland hesitates.

“Remember your scriptures…” Brianna continues.

“I think I’ve made a mistake,” Cartland says.

Brianna looks at Cartland, moves to face him, and takes his hands. “Don’t you remember? They have your son. You told me they’re holding him against his will and he’s afraid. Is that all you’re going to say to this man?” She incites rage within him.

Cartland, rage incited within him, pushes Brianna out of the way (though she keeps a hand on him), rushes the gate. The guards lower their weapons, pointing them at the street preacher. Brianna screams, “Don’t you fucking dare!” Then Cartland punches Doyle.

Doyle, calmly, wipes his bloodied lip, and then puts his hands on the shoulders of the two young guards. “The Lord says to turn the other cheek. And the law says trespassers might be shot. Go home.”

Brianna looks at Cartland who is standing there panting, saying “I don’t understand. I don’t understand.”

“Let’s talk this out in the car,” Brianna says. Joey, Brianna, and Cartland get in the car. Joey turns the car around and drives away. Joey comments that “That guy scared the shit out of me.”

“There’s something bad going on here. That’s not a natural thing,” Brianna says.

Cartland shakes his head. “I don’t understand. I felt it. The righteous fury of God. I don’t understand it…”

Brianna says, “I’m sorry it didn’t work. I don’t think anything that comes from me comes from God. Joey, what do we know that can cause fear?”

Joey suggests, “One of your relatives?”

“The thought crossed my mind but this whole religion thing doesn’t make sense. Maybe one big excuse to feed. If he’s keeping them in a constant state of fear…I think we’re going to do a bit of research before coming out here again. That plan did not go well. No one got shot but it did not got well. You said you have books, Cartland?”

“Yes.”

“Do you mind if we look at some to get some clue as to how to proceed next?”

“That’s fine. If you’re still willing to help.”

“That man’s pissed me off, so yes.”

Joey drives the group back to Portland.

March 14, 2013

After dropping Cartland off at his Mission House, Joey and Brianna head back to their apartment. take a shower, and go to bed.

At 8 am, they both get up and head back over to the Pentecostal Mission House where they are greeted by one of the other pastors. Brother Cartland is in his office. They are brought inside the office which is made up of floor-to-ceiling shelves of books. Cartland greets them and says that he has been doing some research of his own with no results. Brianna does some looking around and finds some information on House Malvora of the White Court, as well as some mentions of spirits known as “phobophages”, creatures that feed on fear.

“If he’s Malvora,” Brianna says, “that may give us an advantage. I’m going to do a little more information gathering and I’ll get back to you. We’ll work it out.” Brianna puts her hand on Cartland’s shoulder and he flinches.

“Thank you,” he says.

Joey and Brianna go to see is Sydney Benning is home.

“Good afternoon,” Brianna says.

“Good afternoon. This is a surprise,” Sydney says.

“I’m looking for a direction to be pointed in. We won’t be long. May we come in?

“Yes, of course. Come in.”

“Joey and I have been doing a bit of research. We are running out of resources. There is not exactly a Barnes and Noble of this sort of information. We’re looking for information on phobophages. So I didn’t know if you knew of a place that might have the resource we need?”

Sydney thinks for a moment. “Well, most of us keep our knowledge to ourselves, but, believe it or not, you mentioned Barnes and Noble, but Powell’s actually contains quite a bit of occult knowledge.”

“The bookstore?”

“Yes.”

“That’s something. I appreciate it. How are you? Are things going well for you?” Brianna asks.

“Yes, things are fine.”

“Glad to hear it.”

The two women chit chat for a while and then Brianna says “Pass along our greetings to Regi.” The two say goodbye. Then Joey and Brianna head to Powells.

Once there, they immerse themselves in the stacks upon stacks of books in the immense bookstore and manage to find some of the information they need. Phobophages are spirits that feed on fear and can travel between the realms of reality and the Nevernever without summoning. They can also possess a host. They can be damaged, if not destroyed, by sunlight outside of a host or an ectoplasmic vessel. Unlike demons, they can understand human emotions, right and wrong, etc. They are also vulnerable to exorcism if possessing a host and can be forced back to the Nevernever.

After their research, the two head back to the Mission House to talk to Cartland.

Comments

pencilneckgeek

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.